Wednesday, January 30, 2013

So this happened...

H. and I just had this conversation, about an hour ago.  Please recall that this girl has a college degree.

Scene: I'm attempting to spice up some refried beans for the burritos we're having for dinner.  As I hacked and stabbed at the gracefully removed the cylinder of beans from the open can, H. asked if I needed anything from the pantry.

Me: Sure, can you grab the garlic and the oregano?
H. (from the pantry): Ok, I've got the garlic but your oregano isn't in alphabetical order like it's supposed to be.

*Side note: Yes, my spices are alphabetized.  We Type A people really need our own support group.  Moving on.*

Me (as I walked into the pantry): Um...I'm pretty sure it is, actually.
H.: Nope, it goes "allspice" and then "basil."  See?


Me: That would be because oregano starts with an "o"... Which would make it much more likely to be

And there it was, just behind "nutmeg" and in front of "parsley."

Kids these days.

* * *

Postscript: H. is my best friend, and in actuality, I never doubt her intelligence.  She can talk politics and journalism and history in circles around me and she is (or used to be) able to recite the first amendment all the way through.  But this conversation sure did make me laugh.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Confessions of a Saturday Night Student

1.  I refuse all help when making my bed.  I am usually pretty gracious, and accept and offer help with many things but none of you people get the corners of the fitted sheet on tight enough, so help me God.

2.  I downloaded Spotify because it seemed like the obvious thing to do if you're human and like music.  I have no idea how to use it and I just delete every email I get from them telling me that "So-and-so has a new playlist for you!"  I think I feel like I'm missing out more now that I have it and can't figure it out then I did before I ever downloaded it.

3.  It makes me incredibly happy when people come over and compliment our home.  It's not fancy, by any means, but it's filled with hand-picked (thrifted) things that we love and it's more gratifying than I could have ever imagined, creating a space that feels like home.

4.  We call Lucy by her real name so infrequently that I'm not sure she knows it.  Goose, Gooseifer (rhymes with Lucifer, and not coincidentally), and Goose-in-Round are her preferred monikers.  Soon she'll stop meowing and start honking.

5.  I learned several years ago that bananas are easier to peel from the bottom, like how monkeys do it.  I still stubbornly peel them from the top because I don't like having the butt end be my first bite.

6.  I get very, very seasick and yet managed to row for most of my college career without incident.

7.  My very first email address was on Hotmail, and it involved the word "froggy" and the word "gurl." Oh yes.  Yes it did.  I didn't even like frogs.  I'm still not sure where that one came from.

8.  I think marshmallows are disgusting.  The taste, the texture, the fact that they are made out of horses' hooves.  And then...fluff?  Marshmallow as sandwich spread?  What the what?

9.  I never had a set of keys until I went to college.  We didn't lock our house growing up and the car keys were just that - for the car, and certainly not mine.  I was more than a little bit excited about having a lanyard with an ID card and multiple keys (house, room, closet, etc.) dangling from it for at least two whole days at the start of my first year.

10.  A fellow midwifery student and I were talking at close range the other day when she suddenly stopped me and said, "Did your mom nurse you?"  "...Yes..." I replied, baffled as to where this was going.  "You have a tongue-tie!  She must have been a tough lady."  I explained that I was last in a long line of other eager nursers and that my poor mother's nipples were probably sufficiently toughened by the time I came along to withstand my imperfect latch.  Learn something new every day, huh?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Self-Care: It's Not Just for Everyone Else

When we all showed up for Pharmacology at 8 AM on Monday morning, bleary-eyed and coffee in hand, it didn't take long for the room to begin to buzz with stories from break, exclamations over new haircuts and fresh tans, and plenty of hugs to go around.  There are 84 of us, and though it took us a few months to figure it out, we are a group now.  We have formed.  We are friends.  I went to what's considered quite a small college, and I graduated in a class of about 600 students.  No way did I know everyone's name in my class, let alone anything about most of them.  But I looked around the room on Monday as we all settled in for a long first day of class of our second semester and it hit me again, that this is all of us.  And it felt good.

Other parts about this week, not so much.  I got into what felt like a lot of nice, healthy patterns during the first two weeks of January after Puerto Rico and before school started.  I exercised almost every day, I did a lot of cooking of healthy meals (many of which are neatly stacked in my freezer for the coming semester), I cleaned and did laundry, I went to bed at a reasonable hour and got lots of sleep.  I also relaxed quite a bit, watched trashy television on my computer, went to the library, and read for pleasure.  And this week that all went to shit.  I didn't run, not once.  I ate pizza for dinner one night and then again for breakfast the next morning.  One night, I had three beers for dinner instead of food.  I drank enough coffee to dig a new ulcer, and I went from 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night down to 6.  My room is a mess, there are clothes on the floor, and I'm pretty sure I showered yesterday although I can't be sure.  And all of this would be one thing if it were finals week, or I had seven care plans due at once but no dice.  I had almost no homework this week, given that it's only the first week of class.  All of my textbooks are still in the mail and I don't start clinical for another two weeks.  Patterns of association can be hard to resist: it is school, therefore I must be too busy to take good care of myself so I will be too busy to take good care of myself.  I feel like crap.

The reality is that in two and a half short years, when I am done with school, there won't be any more academic calendar.  There won't be three or four times a year when it all eases up and I get two to four weeks to recharge and be ambitious about forming good habits.  I will be working, full time.  All year round, no vacations, babies being born.  So even though my potential excuses for slacking on exercise and self-care seem pretty flimsy now, they're going to be downright useless pretty soon.  Staying healthy and balanced and doing the things I know I need to do to take care of myself needs to a year-round endeavor.  And for me, perhaps more so than for other people, it's a bit more crucial to my mental stability as well.  When I start to slack on the basic self-care things, I feel bad about myself.  I feel sad, I get self-critical, and I start to spiral.  When I drink, and I drink even one beer too many, I beat myself up about it for days.  I start to glare at myself in the mirror and wear sweatpants to school and eat pizza for breakfast.  The inside of my head morphs into a dumpster, into which I insist upon diving, over and over again, to come up with fresh criticisms and nasty feelings.  It's not a good place to be, the inside of my head this week.

So tomorrow, I will try again.  I will take a deep breath, and turn out the light tonight.  Get up tomorrow, and go to the gym.  Not to go crazy, but to go for a run on the track, where it's not snowy and icy and 20 degrees.  Do some laundry, clean up my room, run some errands - and yes, do some homework.  See some friends.  Strike a balance, even if I have to keep reattempting and readjusting again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Roll up your sleeve and shut up about it

Hi, I am your friendly neighborhood nurse (in training), and I am here to tell you about something really important that you might not want to hear.  Ready?

No really.
I get that this will upset some people.  I get it.  And you still need to hear it.

But, I never get the flu shot, and I never get the flu.

Uh-huh.  And if someone told you that they never use condoms and have yet to contract an STI, would you...applaud them and wish them well?  Think to yourself, "Wow, excellent logic, I'm going to stop gloving the love and take that kind of chance too!"  I'm guessing not.  I'm guessing you'd think to yourself something along the lines of, "That is so awesome for you until the day that you DO start oozing fluid and scratching sores at which point I will have no sympathy for you."  Assuming you can dodge the flu when there is an easy way to drastically decrease your chances of catching it is using logic that a four-year-old can walk circles around.

But I am young/healthy/not around sick people/not going to catch it/invincible/made of Kevlar.

Fine.  But your 2-year-old niece isn't.  And neither is your elderly neighbor.  And neither is the pregnant woman sitting in front of you on the bus, or the cancer patient who has just finished a round of chemo who you're shaking hands with at a dinner.  You may very well not catch the flu, even if you are exposed to it, but you can certainly pass the germs on to others who are far more immunocompromised than you - and who even if they have received the flu shot, may not have the immune systems capable of mounting an appropriate response - and now you've just shat all over them. Way to go, you.

But this one time, I got the flu shot, and three days later I got sick.

This is my favorite one.  First of all, flu season is all-germ-season.  Chances are, it was coincidence that you got the flu shot and then came down with some sort of virus - probably a cold, but lots of people call anything the "flu" even when it is not caused by the influenza virus.  Tough titties for you.  Second of all, the flu vaccine is not perfect!  You very well might have caught the flu.  But having the shot made sure that you suffered a lot less than if you hadn't gotten it, because you developed a bit of immunity before you contracted the virus.  Immunity takes about two weeks to develop, which is why we recommend that people get flu shots in November.  Before flu season starts.  Third of all, you did not - DID NOT - get the flu from the flu vaccine.  You didn't.  It is impossible.  The flu vaccine by injection is a dead virus.  As in, it is scientifically impossible for the virus to replicate in your body and make you sick because it is already dead.  The nasal spray vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine that also won't get you sick because the virus has been chemically weakened before use.  Even so, if you are nervous about this, ask for the injection.  Very simple.

About a week and a half ago, both my roommate, H. and the boy came down with this year's flu.  Presumably, they each caught it separately on two different airplanes.  Hear me when I tell you how sick they were: extremely.  H. was on the couch for days, coughing up mucus, running a fever that could cook eggs, taking Tylenol around the clock and drowning in misery.  The boy was in a similar situation.  Both of them are young, strapping, otherwise healthy individuals and they were incapacitated by this illness.  This year's flu is a bad one.  It's killing people.  I didn't mind taking care of either of them - I'm a nurse, it's kind of my job and also I love them - but you can bet your polka dot panties that I didn't even get a throat tickle because oh yes, I got my flu shot three months ago.

Vaccinations are a public health concern.  Let's think globally and act responsibly by shouldering our portion of the responsibility for keeping everyone healthy.  Get the flu shot and get on with your life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Puerto Rico, Part I

Two weeks after the boy and I went on our first date (literally), the following took place:

Him: Do you like the beach?
Me: Yes, in fact I am a human and not a vampire who is afraid of the sun.  Ergo, I like the beach.
Him: We should go on vacation together, like, to a beach.
Me: Okay, you're probably kidding, but in case you're not, my last day of school in December is the 17th but I want to spend Christmas with my family so I'm not free till the 26th.

That was the the only real conversation we ever had about going to Puerto Rico.  Half of me did not - could not - believe that we were actually planning going on a vacation together after knowing each other for less than a month.  Also, school happened and I was a little, you know, busy.  And then, all of a sudden it was Christmas break and I realized I needed to drive back to New Haven in order to catch an 8 AM flight out of White Plains on the 26th because - yes indeed - we were going on a beach vacation.

And it was incredible.

First of all, Puerto Rico is 86 degrees in December.  Every day.  Frogs chirp as you fall asleep, it rains for about an hour in the morning and then clears to breezy, sunshine-y paradise every day.  Every.  Single.  Day.  We stayed at the Puerto Rican equivalent of a B&B - a fun couple that own a horse farm rent out the rooms in the "little house."  Complimentary hammock outside each room.

We had lots of relaxing beach time, mixed in with plenty of adventurous rainforest hiking time too.

This was a 300 year old ceiba tree...
...whose roots actually get stretch marks as they expand to hold water.

Rather than overwhelm my picture-loaded post with a glut of words, I'll save the PR stories for another post.  I'm going back to the mirror to longingly admire my fading tan before it's gone completely.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's 2013

1.  What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

Started nursing school (Welcome to Yale, this is a bedpan.)
Fell in love with a boy.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  

I try to operate under the philosophy that I don't have goals that depend on a start date of January 1st in order to be accomplished.  But some things I want to accomplish for this year include: keep running, keep doing well in school, pass the NCLEX and become an RN, and keep working on moving through "the tiny gigantic revolution wherein you move from loathing to loving your own skin." (Paraphrased from Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Well, we weren't super close, so this is a stretch, but a first-year midwifery student friend of mine had a son in December and named him Jasper.  He is a bucket of cute and I want to squeeze him.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, but there but for the grace of God go I.  Tragedies abounded in 2012 and the victims and families are not forgotten.

5. What countries did you visit?

Puerto Rico is technically part of the US, but I'm still throwing it in here because yeah.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Despite huge (enormous) improvements in life in 2012, I think that something that was still lacking was any sort of rooted sense of self-confidence.  Not the kind that makes girls take duck-face photos in bathroom mirrors and post them everywhere.  The kind that allows me to stop wasting time feeling like, I can't do nursing school, or I can't run a half-marathon so why bother, because okay, yes I can.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 29th - got accepted to Yale
early April - found out my dad had cancer
June 29th - said goodbye to my sweet nanny girls
August 1st - moved to New Haven
August 26th - the boy and I went on our first date

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Far and away, finishing my first semester of nursing school still intact, and ready for more.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Leaving yet another nanny family behind.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Bad stomach flu in May, and some sore hip flexors in October but that was IT!  Knocking on wood right now for nothing else.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Probably my stethoscope.  It'll be with me for decades to come.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The boy's, my mother's and father's (always).

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

H. and I had our moments this fall.  And some of the doctors at the hospital could use a talking-to.

14. Where did most of your money go?


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Getting accepted into Yale, moving into our sweet little New Haven house, falling in love again.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Hard Way Home, by Brandi Carlile.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder?

Happier.  Hands down.

b) thinner or fatter?

Fatter.  Moving on.

c) richer or poorer?

Poorer!  Didn't think that was possible.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I'm convinced that Twitter, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, and even Facebook to a certain extent are sucking the life-blood slowly from our nation.  Let's fight back!

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my wonderful parents, sister, two brothers, and the one brother's new wife and step-son at my parents' house by the lake.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

I did indeed.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I watched very little TV this year!  But the Olympics were awesome, I thoroughly enjoyed them.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hate is not only an awfully strong word, it's an incredibly imprecise one at that.  I ache for the perpetrators of this year's tragedies but as for my personal circle of people, no, I do not hate anyone one bit.

24. What was the best book you read?

Impossible to pick.  The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was incredible.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart, Of Monsters and Men

26. What did you want and get?

Always, another year to grow into something better.  Bonuses: the path to my future career, the chance to fall in love again, and another year with the people I love the most.

27. What did you want and not get?

Can't I just be [blank] weight and eat sometimes and not be hungry but also not throw up, ever, and food be normal and exercise be normal and I be the size I used to be?  No?!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

H. and I had a grand time seeing Pitch Perfect. 

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 24, and it was low-key and a little depressing.  But my nanny family made me a card and we ate cake, and the ball of terror called Lucy (or Lucifer) rounded out the week.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I feel awful saying money.  But.  I have never before been in a situation where I lay awake at night and worry about being evicted.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Scrubs.  Sweats.  Running clothes.

32. What kept you sane?

The boy.  Running.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I was uber-pumped that Obama won the election.  I mean, obviously, right?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Access to healthcare

35. Who did you miss?

I missed Alix, for a little bit.  Then I missed my nanny girls, desperately.  I miss my parents, always.  I even missed H., as we would go for days without seeing each other this fall.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

The boy, without a doubt.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

The small things you do with love and compassion add up to the biggest things of all.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.

Long post!  Congrats if you got through it all!

Here's to a happy, healthy 2013 for us all!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Year in Pictures

My yearly wrap-up posts are late.  My apologies.  I was far, far too busy in the last week of December applying sunscreen, wading in the ocean, and hiking in the jungle to log onto the interwebs.  But now I'm back!  And even though at this point I'm sure you're all mighty sick of seeing wrap-up posts, well, I'm still going to publish mine anyways.  SorryI'mnotsorry.

* * *


If blogs had sound, there would be crickets chirping.  As I started the hunt for a picture that would represent January 2012, I came up with...nothing.  Maybe a better indication of how depressed I was this time last year is not a sad picture of a snowy field but rather the hard truth that I simply didn't pick up my camera - not even once - in the month of January.

This little ball of terror (Lucy) was a 24th birthday surprise.

Previously published on this blog, yes, but it was easily one of the best things that happened this year.

April flowers (and showers)
One of my last months in Boston, we went to the Pride Parade.
Said my very last nanny goodbye to these sweet, sweet girls.
Some much-needed time at home, building a scaffold with my dad.
Moved.  Again.
I met this boy who rides a bike.  I fell in love.  Hard.
All day studying, looking out the windows onto the world.
Early morning clinicals, more school, and a short break home.
Reward for one semester of nursing school finished = vacation in Puerto Rico!

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for following me along on yet another year of this crazy journey called life.  I love my little corner of the internet world and all the wonderful people that come with it.

* * *

The 2011 picture wrap-up