Thursday, October 30, 2008

Night moves

So, here I am again. Floating.

It's 4:30am and I'm waiting for the ER to call me about some dimwit who cut herself because she got into a fight with her boyfriend. She's saying (according to the ER notes) that it was impulsive and silly and she's not suicidal, so I don't really need to see her but $20 says they call me anyway. Technically, they're supposed to consult us on potential admissions; stuff like this they're supposed to be able to handle. And who knows, maybe they will. But they stole all her clothes and dressed her out in those silly blue paper scrubs we give to potentially suicidal people, and that's a very strong indicator that there's going to be a psychiatrist sometime in her near future.

Meanwhile, I blog.

It amazes me sometimes how much people don't want me around. I think I went from the one profession people really don't want to go see to the only one they want to see less. When I was a gyn, I had a woman tell me she'd rather get a root canal than have to see a gynecologist. As the shrink, I think most people would rather have a gynecologic exam. Some, I think, would rather have a gynecologic exam in Times Square than have to talk to me. People get so resentful that their "real" doctor called a psychiatrist to see them. Because my presence clearly indicates the other doctor thinks either, a, they're crazy, or 2, they're making it up. Not so, folks, not so. You wouldn't believe the reasons we get consulted (earlier tonight, Fang fielded a consult on a burn patient because she was crying. What?! Someone who's burned badly enough to end up in the ICU is - gasp! - crying?! Holy cow! Fire up the ECT machine, STAT! Seriously, though, I think "crying patient" is probably #4 or so on the list of reasons we get called by other inpatient services). What always makes me a little nuts, though, is the people who do things like, you know, try to kill themselves, and then get all pissy when someone calls a psychiatrist. Because, you know, they're not crazy.

Please. Like crazy is such a bad thing.

Is it bedtime yet?

So I've actually spent the evening seeing patients (and writing up long-ass interviews with same) and haven't gotten any knitting done. Which is a shame, because all I have left on my one project is the duplicate stitching and then I can felt it, but, I would've SWORN I had yarn needles in my desk, and alas, I do not. So sad. That's about all I can tell you about the projects I'm working on right now, though, because they're super top secret. Because I'm knitting for the CIA. No, okay, because they're gifts. But I promise pictures just as soon as I can post them.

I'm trying to decide what to put on the needles next. More simple socks? A throw for the new intern work area? An afghan? A new scarf? I'd really like to knit a nice thick sweater coat thing, but that seems like a fairly big undertaking, and I might not finish it until it's warm out...

Aaaand there goes my pager. Because they want a full consult on the dimwit. I got news for you, kids, it's not a committable offense to be stupid....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - take 1

So there's this thing that exists in the Blogosphere, Wordless Wednesday, where you're just supposed to show pictures that are fairly remarkable or something like that. I've been meaning to start doing that occasionally, and today, because I've GOT to get to bed, and (you are correct, Carol) the terms of the Blog 365 thing are such that I "can't" miss a day, it seemed like as good a day as any to start...

Coming soon, though, will be another real post about interesting things and knitting an such. Or at least, knitting and my usual amount of babbling...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, and PS -

Lest the Night Float Gods think I don't appreciate all this down time I've had the last two nights...I'm so lovin' it. I know it can't last the whole week, but...well, a girl could hope...

More please!

Okay, I'm going to do a couple more laps and then maybe some knitting....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Babbling the midnight oil

Night float, day 2...

I've seen exactly one patient, who was here when I got here, but you know what? I feel good about that patient. It was an adolescent that I took a long time with and I think I managed to get the situation to work in her best interest. It helped that there was a Pedes ER attending on who was just incredibly helpful and interested and invested in this kid.

You know...I have this soft little place in my heart for adolescents that I didn't have any sort of awareness of until this year. Previously, I mostly found them annoying and juvenile and always felt like they were making fun of me. I forget, though, what a complicated and tumultuous time adolescence is by its very nature. Add in screwy social circumstances or caretakers with limited parenting skills, and gosh, these kids just have so much trying to coalesce on them. And, you know, maybe it's the population of kids that I deal with, but I see so much...I don't know what it is. Energy, color, potential, much raw possibility, this sort of effervescence of conflict and recombination, this complexity that's simultaneously developing and concluding... It's fascinating. And when you're underneath it, it's overwhelming.

I just don't see it in a lot of my adults. I mean, sometimes I see vestiges of it. Sometimes I see outright mature correlates, these peculiar and disorganized qualities come to fruition. But honestly, a lot of adults seem to have just lost this ineffable, diaphanous quality. Sometimes it seems like it's been sublimated into the unconscious, sometimes it seems like it's been partitioned off and redirected...but just seems like it's gone. Like they've gone flat.

I don't know what that is. I don't know what it means. I obviously can't even describe whatever this is that I'm talking about with any degree of significant eloquence, but, well, it's 3 in the morning.

Does this make sense to anyone who lives outside my head?


So the other interesting thing about my night has been this - when I got here and read my email, I discovered that I'm being audited for inappropriately accessing a patient's confidential medical records without a release of information on file. Which, I wasn't too concerned about, because, I figured it was one I opened on accident who had the same name as my patient, or, a patient I treated a while ago whom I was checking up on for continuity of care and, you know, silly things like learning. Until...until I got to the patient's name.

It's my record.

From the email conversation that's ensued, apparently, I'm being brought up for disciplinary action for - wait for it - violating my own privacy. And when I explained why I went in, that I added my medications which are prescribed by an outside provider, she told me that was a grave misuse of my access to the system.

Oh, come on.'s an abuse of power to "alter" my medical record in such a manner. Because, you know, if one day, whilst I'm walking home, I get run over by the Chapel Hill Transit system (God forbid), and I wind up in the ER, all unconscious and bleeding, it's really not important for those doctors to know what goes into my body on a daily basis. Because it won't affect my treatment at all. Thank heavens I was all "ethical" and didn't "alter" anything.

I'm really pissed off about this. I mean, forgetting the fact that my record contains exactly this: the medications I've entered and two test results (a rapid strep and a Flu A aspirate) from when I went to employee health with the flu last year. Oh, and now, it probably shows a pending appointment with a family doc next week (FINALLY I'm going to go get all of this exhaustion and falling down checked out). It has my address wrong. It doesn't have my insurance information. And until said employee health flu visit, it had my name spelled wrong. Forgetting that there's NOTHING THERE, it's my information. It can't tell me anything I don't already know!

So, one of the things I did tonight was fill out a release of information form - to release my own information to myself. For the love of Steve....

Disciplinary action, my fat white ass.

Again I say...anyway.

So, now, I'm hanging out. I finished some paperwork, I disinfected my desk (Ruthie seems to have the plague). I did some laps around the psych department. I read my newly-arrived copy of Franklin Habit's cute new book of knitting cartoons, "It Itches." (SO cute. So Franklin. I love it.) I'd pre-ordered it months ago, so I was excited when I found it on my stoop this evening when I left for work. Last night I watched House and 30 Rock and Doogie Howser reruns on Hulu.

I keep trying to read more important things (like my readings for class tonight), but damn if I can concentrate on anything like that. I concede that I slept well today and thus tonight hate night float a little less, but, considering it's taken me over two hours to write this blog (I keep wandering off to do other very random things and then suddenly thinking, oh! Was I done with my blog?), I don't know that I'm up for great feats of concentration...

Yeah, don't think I'm going to class tonight.

Oh, in related news, I had my last interview for the psychoanalytic society this morning. It was much more pleasant than the one with the intrusive old guy who lived in the country. And I'm relieved that it's all wrapped up and done with.

Alright, I think I'm going to go knit. If anyone's still reading at this, you're awfully tolerant...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Up all night, sleep all day

(If you missed the reference, click here.)

So I'm at work. And there's about a half dozen other things I could be doing in this moment of down time to make the ensuing hours easier, but, I'm blogging instead.

I'm on night float again. Which means I work from 9:30pm to 8:30 am from Sunday night until Friday morning. I relieve the intern, so, I basically get to be the intern on call. Which is better than actually being the intern on call at this hour, because I haven't spent all day getting worked up and hammered by the ER and the crisis pager.

I'm a fan of night float, because I think it's easier on the system as a whole, but I'm not particularly a fan of doing night float, because it's not especially easy on MY system. I am not one of those chosen few who can reverse their circadian rhythms at will. I? Have enough trouble maintaining a circadian cycle under the best of circumstances. But, we all have to do our part.

I've been here an hour and a half, and thusfar mostly what I've done is answer the phone. I tried to convince a man who claimed to be "confused" that he should stop drinking and get a clinic appointment in the morning, and argued with an outside ER doc (who sounded for the life of me like he was tweaking...or at least manic...) that I cannot accept a patient for transfer with a critical lab value, no matter how pleasant she is.

Even if you don't let me respond, the answer is still going to be no.

And now there's a patient to see in the ER. Guess I'll go do my job....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A very embarrassing story...

One morning in high school (I think it was in the morning), we were running in gym class. Now, as I think I've mentioned before, I was in fat gym in high school. Which was actually way better than being in regular gym. We got to wear what we wanted, one day a week we had classes on stuff instead of dressing out and sweating, and not once did we have to spend weeks at a time playing Ultimate Frisbee. We did more actual working out than any regular gym class. And no one was the fat kid. In fact, not everyone was really fat. But, we won't single them out (even though some of them read this blog).

So anyway. We're running in gym class. I think this was my Junior year. I had on at least one sports bra (I eventually progressed to three before the jiggling was sufficiently contained). I'm running along, talking to whomever I was running with, and my friend says something behind me. And I made a very poorly timed look over my shoulder...

...and smacked myself in the face with my boobs.

Now, naturally, the four of us involved dissolved into giggles, and my gym teacher suggested moving up to two sports bras.

I'm a little afraid of a similar incident tonight, frankly.

I'm all vamped up and ready to go to Cleo and Tony's Halloween party. And I look like the prow of a ship.

A glittery, black-lipsticked, giant-hoop-earringed prow of a ship. Wearing jeans, because I never could find the skirt I wanted, and a name tag that says, "Hello, my name is Id. How can you serve me today?"

It's all very tawdry (that was a psychiatry joke, sorry. My anxiety's up a little, here).


The funniest thing, I think, is that this whole costume started with a ridiculous black and pink wig that Ruthie talked me into buying. Which annoyed me so much I'm not actually wearing it.

Okay. I'm going to stop babbling and go find my boxing gloves. Wish me luck, y'all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sleepy girls

Maggie and I are tired. Which does not bode well for my plan of staying up really late to help switch my schedule for night float.


I have nothing particularly witty or insightful to say right now. So, instead, I give you, random cute picture of my dog.

'Night, all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Where Id was, there shall Ego be."

Freud, of course.

So, I had today off. It was actually a really nice day. I ran some errands. I had some therapy. I had my second interview for the Psychoanalytic Institute - an old, semi-retired shrink who lives out in the country (there were cows! And cute little turtles at the pond sunning themselves) and who got way too intrusive (I was there to apply for an education in analysis, not to actually undergo analysis!). And then I came home and spent a few hours creating the finishing touches for our trio of Halloween costumes. Eva, Matt and I are going to be the Ego, the Id, and the Superego.

We had a hard time coming up with an Ego costume for Eva that actually meant anything. This is what we ended up with.

Not the strictest Freudian interpretation, but...

Matt's going with the Clark Kent Superego thing. Peng's loaning him a cape, Eva's lending him her riding crop, and I'm providing this:

My costume centers around this.

And, you know, my boobs. And that goofy black and pink wig Ruthie talked me into buying. And I'm thinking of wearing my boxing gloves. Id is all about libido and aggression and all of those primal things.

It should be a good party on Saturday. And good practice staying up, for me, because I'm on night float again next week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How I imagine it....

So I covered up the hole by the fence this morning with the recycle bin, ran off to work and prayed that my dog would still be there some 13 hours later when I returned. But I was reasonably sure she would be - after all, Maggie had occasionally been known to be corralled with a strand of yarn, and besides, the fact that they were at Maxine's house tells me that they stayed more or less together. Because I don't think Maggie knows how to get to Sparrow's house. And they were out there for a while...I left at about quarter to 7 (egh. I know) and our gardener/handyman/lawn guy got here at about 8:30, and he told Sparrow he hadn't seen hide nor hair of them (or, as he said, in his thick Mexican accent, "No rar rar rar!" Maxine likes to bark at him). I think Sparrow got home at ten or noonish or so.

I'm sure, in their little puppy minds, they had quite the grand adventure. That's a long bit of freedom for a couple of house dogs.

It's so funny to me, too, because Mags and Max do this thing where they sort of pretend to hate each other. Or at least be indifferent to each other. But they're so buds. This is sort of how I imagine it went down yesterday....

Maggie: Kate! Kate! Oh! Kate's leaving! Ohhhh.....I don't think she's ever going to come back...

Little Maxine: We should go over to my house! I bet my mom is home. I bet she's there and she doesn't know where I am and she's all sad because there's no little dog to protect her and chew on her earlobes.

Maggie: We can't go to your house! There's a fence! I always get in trouble when I try to walk around on the other side of the fence.

Little Maxine: No, it's okay! I can get us out, it's noooooooooo problem. I used to do it all the time when I lived over there. Wait, just....let me find.....the right place.....

Maggie: I don't know. What if Kate comes back?

Little Maxine: She's never coming back, you said it yourself.

Maggie: Well, but what if she does? She'll be mad if I'm not here.

Little Maxine: No, she won't! I promise!

Maggie: Well, maybe. But she'll do that thing where her eyes get all leaky and my fur gets all wet and she says "Maggie! You scared me so much! Don't ever do that again!" She doesn't seem to like it when I go on the other side of the fence without her.

Little Maxine: She won't mind! Wouldn't she want you to have a big adventure? Plus, we have to find my mom!! Ooh! Look! I can get under the fence right here! Now we can go to my house!

Maggie: I don't know, Small Heel Nipper. I really don't think I'm allowed to go to your house without Kate or your mom.

Little Maxine: There...I've almost got it...can you help me, here?

Maggie: I don't think I should. Well...maybe just a little over do look like you're having so much fun...

Little Maxine: I'm almost done. Can you get through this?

Maggie: No, maybe a little bit wider. Thanks.

Little Maxine: Success! Come on! Let's go find my mom!!

Maggie: I don't know about this, Short Barky One...I think I should wait for Kate...

Little Maxine: What if she's with my mom?

Maggie: Well, that is true...

Little Maxine (from the other side of the fence): Come on!

Maggie: Well, maybe just for a little while...hey, this is kind of snug...

Little Maxine: Come onnnnn! (distant)

Maggie: I'm telling you, I'm not so sure about....hey! Wait for me!!!

Little Maxine: My house is this way! It's not very far!

Maggie: Hey, is that a squirrel?

It's really lucky for them they're so cute....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh, holy shit

So my dad calls. I'm in the middle of a dictation, because I'm in the middle of clinic, but I answer. He's fine (my dad had cataract surgery yesterday...didn't even get an eyepatch. Or a parrot. What's the fun in that?). So I hang up with them and notice I have two voicemails and four text messages. Weird, in the middle of the day and all...

So, apparently, Sparrow went over to my house this morning to retrieve Little Maxine, and not only was there no Little Maxine, there was no Maggie. Because Little Maxine had dug them out. Sparrow says the hole was pure Maxine (she used to break out this way routinely), and she seemed to make it wide enough that flexi-Maggie could make her way through there just fine.

Sparrow found Maxine underneath her car - you know, at her house, two blocks away - and Maggie in a yard near her house. They are both safe and cozy at Sparrow's.

Little conspiratory twerps.

I haven't managed to slow my pulse rate down yet.

Jesus, Mary, and the immortal words of Charlie Brown...I can't stand it....

Monday, October 20, 2008

A picture's worth at least a hundred words....

First off, a while ago Allison and I were discussing the joys of being office supply junkies in the comments of one of her posts. I was reminded of that scene in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks tells Meg Ryan how much he loves New York in the fall and how he wants to send her bouquets of sharpened pencils. I love that line. So Allison promised to send me a bouquet of sharpened pencils if I taught her how to make socks on non-DPNs. So I put up a little tutorial on Magic Loop.

And what arrived in the mail this weekend?

Okay, so, technically a box of pencils, but they readily bouqueted. And technically they're still unsharpened, because, well, my pencil sharpener is still in a box somewhere. But they're still lovely nonetheless. They also came with a package of wicked cool mechanical pencils, and some nifty colored pens, but those have already gone to work.

In other pictorial news, Sparrow is on call, so Little Maxine is over.

They're just the cutest dogs ever.

Little Maxine is now asleep on my shoulder all parrot style, which is making it a little hard to type. So I guess I'm done posing...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tina Fey for President!

Did y'all see this?

Cracks. Me. Up. And, honestly? In good humor by Palin.

Still don't want her as vice-president, scary, gun-toting, anti-feminist wacko that she is. "Ohh! Look! Russia's right over there!"

It's a funny race, as it turns out. Check out McCain and Obama at the annual Alfred E. Smith Foundation fundraiser.

McCain -

My man Obama -

An impressive effort on all sides (although, I think Obama was a way better recipient of the jabs).

Oh, and in case you didn't catch the Joe the Plumber interview...

How can you listen to this man speak and not vote for him?

(Plus, sorry Joe, but I don't have a whole lot of financial pity for you once you pass the $250K mark...)

Come on. Even Colin Powell - former Republican Secretary of State - is voting for Obama.

Are you registered? Some states have closed registration, but some offer same day registration a long as you've been a resident more than 30 days. Many, such as, say, North Carolina, have early voting available (and some places, like Chicago, offer both "early" and "often" voting).

Go, Barack, go!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


It's definitely fall in North Carolina.

Which means it's chilly. Although yesterday when I went to work it was 82. It's now 50. And still humid. Which, the sudden temperature changes and the cold dampness make it feel all that much chillier. And I, like a moron, am stubbornly refusing to turn on the heat. Because it's not THAT cold yet. And it's bound to get all hot again. So last night I slept under two thick, heavy comforters. I actually enjoyed that a lot, being all warm and snuggly, the tip of my nose all cold.

I think I'd like camping if it wasn't so much for the outside part.

And I think I'm going to suck it up and turn the heat on before I go to bed, because says it's going to get down into the low 40s tonight. And the 30s later this week.

Crap. I need to figure out where the plants are going to live inside the house...I'm not even sure where Maggie and I have space to live in the house yet....unpacking is still slow going.

Today was productive, although not in the way I'd planned. I started reading for my analysis courses, but of course I did so all bundled in bed, and oh, wow, wasn't my pillow just so comfortable...if I put my head down for just a minute, surely, that won't be a problem...fortunately, Ruthie called before I actually did fall asleep.

So you'll remember how the pink chair in our office broke and swallowed me up like a venus flytrap a couple of weeks ago. We started looking online once we got me up off the floor and found a new one at Ikea that is not only, well, pink, and a chair, it's also a fold-out twin bed with a memory foam mattress (you know how I like to sleep in our office). Ruthie bought it, and is graciously letting the rest of us in the office use it. It finally arrived this week, and, like all Ikea furniture, is some assembly required. So she called me this afternoon and was like, wanna come put it together?

Of course I did.

We got there, and amusingly, Fang and Mike were in their office down the hall assembling a desk (not pink). Apparently today was an industrious day of DIY projects for the second year psychiatry residents....

Anyway, it was a pretty easy assembly. I meant to take pictures as we put it together, but, well, I was too busy putting it together.

Here's the old pink chair (may it rest in peace)...

And the new one. Here it is, all folded out as a the hallway...

And once it was all put together and slipcovered, in its new home. Step into our office...

It eats the office a little, but, on the whole I think it's a really good (and functional) addition. We have a great office. It's small for three people, but it's cozy. The mood lighting helps. Because of all the pink, it's got many nicknames (The Brothel, The Dorm Room, The Pink Light District), but we just like to call it home. Or at least, home base.

Here's my desk...

The computer is currently on a file box thing that used to live under the phone. The little three-headed lamp on my desk is the smaller version of the five-headed one that's over by the door. We all hate fluorescents, so, Ruthie brought a lamp in. It was pink. And then it spawned I found the desk version on clearance at The ridiculous amount of binders is my clinic organization system. And the poster was painted by one of my patients.

Here's where Peng and Ruthie live...

Peng, on the left, you can tell has taken the much more Spartan approach to clinic organization. Ruthie's responsible for the coffee pot and grinder, her own non-hospital-issue desk, the microwave that sits on top of the fridge Peng found on Craigslist for $20 (those are behind the door, next to my desk), and a few other touches. Not to mention the original pink lamp, and the old pink venus flytrap chair.

It's nice, right? We like it. Having two stellar cellmates helps a lot, too.

We then went off to Staples and then Office Max to look for a laptop stand and some file-y dealies for my desk. I've been using my old laptop at work (because otherwise we only have one computer per office. That's ridiculous) and the power cord won't stay plugged in. The IT guys looked at it this week and tried to re-solder the plug-in piece and concluded that the only way to fix it was to replace the motherboard. On a four year old laptop. Um, perhaps not. So for the moment, we're doing the peripheral attachments thing - the laptop up on a stand, with an umbilicated mouse and keyboard that the boys are generously letting me borrow until I decide if I want to eventually replace the computer or try to beg for one of the department desktops. I found a stand (we'll see how it works), as well as the dealies. And I also bought a mousepad (I'd previously been using a notebook) - it was cheap, but it's the kind you can put your own picture in. Here's the one I picked:

So funny, my dog. I printed out a few others just in case I want to change it up a little.

We then stopped by the TJ Maxx so Ruthie could buy sheets (pink polka dot, of course) and a pillow for the new pink chair, and then we stopped at the Chili's and had dinner. All in all, a very enjoyable day, although did not accomplish the things I needed to get done. I think I'm going to try to get a relatively early start tomorrow, run a bunch of errands, go back to the office to get some stuff squared away there, and then hole myself up and read for the rest of the day. We'll see how it goes...

I love a weekend off....

Friday, October 17, 2008

A post about sex, and religion

One of my friends emailed me this article today.

I've always liked the Jesuits.

So, I, myself personally, am not Catholic. Or Lutheran. Or particularly religious, for that matter, although I identify myself as Orthodox Christian. But I tend to find my spirituality much more important than organized worship, and in my own faith have learned from a lot of different traditions. And yet I went to a very religious, conservative Lutheran college, and a very religious, more liberal Jesuit medical school. Maybe it was just that the Jesuits seemed so much more realistic than the crazy fringe Lutherans we went to undergrad with (okay, they weren't all crazy, but some of them were reasonably extreme. I once witnessed an LCMS Lutheran and an ELCA Lutheran get into a fistfight over who performed the baptism sacrament most according to God's plan or something like that. I thought this was especially ridiculous, because from the Orthodox Christian perspective, you're both doing it wrong!), but I really got comfortable in that environment. We had a ministry office in the commons of the medical school, replete with priests and nuns and other ministering types, and I tell you, that was the nicest place to be on a bad day. I sang in the Gospel Choir every year on Martin Luther King Day (it was really the only time we performed, but man, you should hear this crazy white girl belt out "We shall overcome"). We celebrated Ramadan, and the Jewish holidays, and Orthodox Easter. They were such a welcoming, accepting, inclusive bunch, and that really surprised me.

We also had 12 full time chaplains on staff at the hospital, and a bevy of part timers, and they all had pagers and specialties and assigned areas of the hospital. There was a chaplain in-house, on duty, 24 hours a day. They responded to traumas, codes, and plain old requests. The medical students had to do shifts with the chaplains. I cannot tell you the impact this had on patient care, and frankly, the whole mood and mode of the hospital was influenced by the Jesuit ideals. The way we practiced was more holistic, more inclusive of families, more centered on the patient as a person.

It definitely tied our hands sometimes - i.e., one of the most heartbreaking cases I had as a med student was this woman who had a baby with anencephaly - a baby in whom the brain had not, and would not, develop. This kid's head literally stopped at its ears. These babies, obviously, cannot survive long, if at all, when disconnected from their mothers. We were a Catholic hospital, so we couldn't offer her a genetic termination. She was Catholic, so she wouldn't have done it anyway (or so she said...who knows, if we'd been able to provide it, if that would've changed things). It was absolutely heart-wrenching, to watch her go through the pregnancy, feeling her baby move, having strangers come up to her and ask when she was due, if it was a boy or a girl, did she have a name...knowing her child would be born with no chance at life. It struck me as months and months of torture, and I couldn't fathom the idea that God wouldn't understand her decision to terminate.

But that whole respect for life thing was, in general, a really positive influence on my education. I did a rotation in Child Advocacy my 4th year. I talked to my patients, their families. I did a sub-internship in the NICU, and watched the way those little lives were cared for as they walked that line between life and death, how they were respected as full human beings with resplendent potential. How they were held up in those final hours. One night, I stayed several hours after my shift was over because one of the 24 week twins I'd delivered a few days earlier (when I was doing an OB rotation) was dying. Her sister had passed the night before, and her parents were so distraught they couldn't bear to be up there once they'd made the decision to let her go. We took her off the ventilator, swaddled her tiny body in handknit cloth, and the nurses and I took turns holding her until her little heart finally stopped.

I know a lot about end of life care, and am comfortable with the inevitability of death, at least professionally. I can deliver bad news like no one's business. I think I've mentioned on here before how, at the Emerald Palace, I felt like the angel of death on my ICU month, because the team always waited until I was on call to withdraw support from our patients, because I was "so good with the families," and I was "just so much better at it." Likewise, when I was on the labor deck, I always, always took the genetic terminations. Because my cohorts would check in at the beginning of the shift, and then leave them alone until something happened. You know, "so they could have their privacy" (read: "we don't know how to deal with them, so we won't"). I, on the other hand, went in, introduced myself, asked how they were feeling, learned everybody's names in the room, asked if the baby had a name and referred to it as such if it did, and checked in every two hours like I did with my other laboring moms. Plus, delivering a significantly pre-term, dead, and often deformed fetus takes some skill - not so much technical skill, but skill at knowing how and when to do things. They're fragile, their skin is delicate, you can damage them easily. It's important to know how to collect and present the fetus so it looks like a real baby, so they can touch and hold and understand their child. It's important to understand the pain of malpresentation, even for someone so small, and how much it hurts to force an immature uterus to contract. It's important to respect the life ending and the ones being left behind. It was such a horrible, traumatic experience for most of these women anyway, that a cold, impersonal stranger rushing in awkwardly at the last minute to deliver their child was just unacceptable to me.

Interestingly, it was my Jesuit medical school at which I also did my sex therapy training. We only treated married couples in the clinic, and we would talk about God if the patients wanted to, but beyond that there was little to brand the therapy as "Catholic" or "faith-based". But there was something there that went unsaid, this undercurrent of respect and celebration of life, union, and effort that imbued the way we taught, and interacted with, our couples. So many of them came in with taboos, misconceptions, and shame that had been imparted under a guise of "religion"; we were open, accepting, unfazed. We touted sex as a good thing and an important piece of a good Christian marriage. We taught masturbation (yes, yes we did) as a means of exploring, accepting, and learning about one's God-given body. We "preached" love, tolerance, compromise, and connection. It was a nice view.

The article above reminded me of all this. I particularly like how she holds casual sex up not as "sinful" and in a punitive light, not as a "violation of sex", but rather, a disappointment, a failure to expect enough of themselves and their partners, that they are "not asking enough" of sex. That good sex is an expression of incarnation, a celebration of our physical nature, given to us by God. Who can argue with that?

Just an interesting read, and a nice foray into musing philosophical.

(PS - Comment with reckless abandon, but, I don't want to hear about the evils of abortion or how abstinence is the only way. Go blog about that on your own space.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Maybe God remembered how cute you were as a carrot."

A classic Olivia Benson line from this week's SVU (which I finally watched today after I got home from a ridiculously long flight on the tin can. At least it was a pretty day). Which...well....I liked it.

They really need a psychiatrist on the consulting team.

Now, maybe things are different in New York. But holy cow, Kathleen totally could've been committed in North Carolina. In fact, I think I've treated Kathleen a couple dozen times. And I can't believe Bernie only got sent to the hospital once. But on the whole, a well-ish done episode. Ellyn Bursten was good.

Hmm. I had more to say about this, but then I got distracted by the GIANT COCKROACH on my wall. Ew.


I have to go call my landlord.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sea legs

Oy. Two days off of work, and I'm exhausted.

But dudes. It was a long-ass day.




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Love/Hate Tuesday


I present to you the three ads at the side of my Facebook page when I opened it up this morning:

Dude. Really. I'd been single and "over" 30 (30 + 1/365th) for about 9 hours at that point. Let it go, people.


In more awesome news, the postal holiday in honor of my birthday yesterday (although I think some guy in Ohio tried to claim it was his) resulted in a nice buildup of birthday cards today. Including one particularly great end of internship/birthday/general well-being one from my old knitting group, via Lorna and Valerie.

That is so going in my office tomorrow. Oh, the many, many reasons that's so funny....

(I'm thinking both would bill the same, by the way, as the diagnostic code for a 90805 or 90806 visit, which is Individual Psychotherapy, 35-50 minutes, +/- evaluation and management services. It's so, so very sad that I'm even thinking about that right now, much less that I can pull those billing codes out of thin air....)

Included in the fabulous card (which was a marvelous gift all by itself!) were gift cards to fuel two of my greatest addictions - Whole Foods and Starbucks. guys just know me so well.......seriously, thanks so much!!!

I miss you people back home. Really. A lot.


Anyway...I have done next to nothing with my last two days, as I took vacation days to avoid my two busy clinic days this week. It was decadent and wonderful.

I did go to my Psychoanalytic class this evening, though (there are usually two, one on Borderline Personality Disorder, and one on development, but the latter was cancelled. Hooray, because that's the one for which there's just SO MUCH READING). I'm not sure they were pleased with my two days of vacation. I showed up all well-rested and full of obnoxious questions ("So if the patient's transferring their disavowed affect onto me, what the heck am I supposed to do with it?") and with tape flags all poking out of my book...

Tomorrow it's back to the grindstone, though. Actually...I have an interview in the morning which is part of my application process for the psychoanalytic certification thingie, and then I don't know if I have supervision or not, and then I have a patient at 11 (totally not within my normal clinic hours). And then we have lectures all afternoon, as usual. I fly off to the coast on Thursday, and my Friday is a little bit more relaxed than usual. So, on the whole, a calmer week. Which is such a mitzvah, because, next week? Crammed to the gills. And then the week after, night float.

It's been a nice little break in the action, though. Full of nice things and good people and you know? You just can't ask for much more than that in life.

(Well, you could, but the last time I checked the BMW Fairy was still being all snooty...)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Report #1013...

Tonight, at approximately 8:25 pm, the primary resident of my house returned to find a package hanging on the front door. Further investigation revealed this package to be suspicious for a birthday present. On the front of this package was the following image:

Inside the package was this item:

(It's a bank. It's hysterical. It says, "Is wool your dirty little secret, too?" and on the side, there's a picture of a woman with a ball of yarn in her apron pocket, her knitting in one hand and a phone in the other, with the quotation, "I need a half gram of wool and quick! I'm starting to come down..." It also comes with a warning that sharing knitting needles may be hazardous to your health.)

The perpetrator left no signature, no trace evidence. Details of the crime indicate that this was not a random event - whomever left the package had clear knowledge of the target's habits and likely had an extensive profile of the target. Detailed tail-wag analysis reveals that Maggie may have been familiar with the person who left the package, but she has not yet given a statement. Tire track evidence at the scene indicate this may have been a walk-by gifting.

Several suspects are being considered at this time, and a particular person of interest is being questioned. However, the whereabouts of her and her accomplice are currently unknown. We appeal to you, please, if you have any information about this incident, come forward. We need your help so that appropriate action can be taken regarding this clearly premeditated act of awesomeness.

(Turns out my hunch was correct - it was Sparrow and Little Maxine. Thanks!! That rocks!!)

Closing a door

Hey, I'm 30.

No, for real. Not in the sense of how I've been answering "thirty" to casual queries about my age for the past two years. But in the sense of, thirty years ago today, at 8:06pm (Central), I was pulled screaming from a Pfannenstiel incision in my mother's abdomen at 35+3/7 weeks.

Hmm. I miss the days when I used to use phrases like "I was born."

Yeah, no I don't.

So the thing about it is...I'm surprisingly cool with turning 30. I feel like it's kind of a landmark, actually. And kind of analogous to pregnancy, in a weird, only-in-Kate's-head kind of, I think, can more or less be divided into trimesters. For the first 30 years, you develop and change a lot. There's a lot of energy expended in this. You disrupt other peoples' lives a lot, and you're fairly demanding because you just need so much to pull off what you need to accomplish.

But then you cross into that second trimester. The transition itself is relatively subtle, but hitting that 12 week, er, 30 year mark is a pretty big milestone. Because if you've made it this far, you can't be too defective. You're reasonably well differentiated. The vomiting has usually stopped. Things calm down. Everyone relaxes a little. You refine your skills, you develop yourself, and you continue growing.

Eventually you hit the third trimester. At first, there's not a lot of difference. You still have quite a bit of growing to do, but, you've come a long, long way. But eventually, you just get more and more uncomfortable. You gradually become more burdensome to others again. And then one day, you hit a point when this state of being doesn't work anymore, and it's time to move on.

For the record, I may have come into this world preterm, but I fully intend on going postdates.

Yeah, I know, these things only seem profound to me...but, oh! It's my blog!

So, Tim McGraw may have said it better. That song's been in my head a lot over the past few days, for the obvious reasons, and I've been thinking a lot about my own Next Thirty Years...and, my previous thirty years.

And what a long, strange trip it's been.

I've been thinking a lot about myself on my previous "landmark" birthdays. Who I was at 16, at 18, at 21.

My mom called me in "sick" for my 16th birthday (actually, I think she called in and said, "I'm taking Kate for her driver's test today, she won't be in"). We went to the Sec State's office (the Illinois version of the DMV), and I dutifully turned on each blinker in succession, maintained a two-second space cushion between me and the car in front of me, and backed around a corner (I don't know why that's part of the road test). The examiner was looking for a reason to fail this clearly spoiled whippersnapper who had the audacity to skip school on her birthday. But, alas, I didn't give him one. I took an awkward picture on a red background and my mom and I went out to lunch.

Wow, what that guy didn't know.

I barely remember those years. I was so miserable. I was in this deep, obsidian abyss. That was the year I got sick - mono, EBV, somatization from a soul-sucking depression, we never did figure out what was wrong with me. I slept all the time and had a mildly elevated sed rate and some lymph nodes that lit up on a gadolinium scan. I missed a year and a half of high school before all was said and done. It was just as well. I hated being at school. I hated my life. I hated the very essence of myself. I was detached, chaotic, and fractured, and consumed with self-rejection and self-loathing. I was broken and distorted. I was floating somewhere between wanting to survive and being overwhelmed with the reality of being me, of who I was and what I'd been through. And it wasn't over yet. And I knew that.

Not exactly a high point in my existence.

The night before my 21st birthday, I went bowling with some of my sorority sisters (we were in a league. I had a three-digit handicap), and Lisa bought me my last illegal drink - a fuzzy navel - at, like, 11:55pm. Because I'd promised my dad he could buy me my first legal one. And he did - an amaretto stone sour at lunch the next day. Then I drove back to college and went out with my friends. We went to my favorite Mexican(-ish) place for dinner, then the over-21 among us went to a local bar I can't remember the name of. I had a margarita at dinner and three drinks at the bar. Robin was my designated driver that night. She had about an inch of her gin and tonic and was more buzzed than I was. Kate's roommate brought me a stick (to beat off the men in the bar, she said). It was a good night.

College was a rough time as well. There was a lot of internal conflict and a not insignificant bit of external conflict and I couldn't figure out for the life of me who I was or who I was supposed to be. I had three majors, and was president of five organizations my senior year. I fell in love with a really manipulative man and ended up in a bad relationship ("relationship") I couldn't quite extricate myself from. I wanted to be a doctor, but I got pulled into my advisors' offices on two separate occasions and got the "your GPA sucks ("sucks") and you're taking your MCATs too late (because I was having my gallbladder out the day I was supposed to take them the first time). You shouldn't even apply to medical school. Have you ever considered podiatry?"

I hate feet.

But then my MCAT scores came in, and they were all like, oh....huh. Well, that's okay then. And of course I got into medical school. But I distinctly remember driving home one night my senior was a crisp, cold night and there was a full, bright moon over the cornfields and I had the sunroof open and the heat on...and thinking, God, I hate my life. But I knew the end was in sight. I don't think I'd been accepted to med school yet, but, I knew I was going to graduate at the end of the year, and then I'd be somewhere else, doing something else, away from the toxic, draining people I'd somehow accumulated. Not that everyone in my life was toxic - far from it. But it only takes a few. And I had a lot.

Medical school was better. I liked my life, I still hated myself. As it turned out, I had a lot of work left to do. I still hadn't figured out who I was. I had no idea what I wanted. Things shifted; some gave. My sense of self finally started to coalesce. I started to solidify.

And then I headed off to New Hampshire. Where they pushed me until I broke completely apart.

I spent the next two years underwater, fighting a number of currents that threatened to suck me back down, but, you know...sometimes you have to fall apart in order to put the pieces back together in the right order. And so I started this process, piece by piece.

Robin told me a couple of years ago, when I was sitting on a tiny chair in her first grade classroom sorting misplaced puzzle pieces, that my dislike of puzzles surprised her, because I was such a problem solver, and besides, the smart kids always like puzzles. I have no patience for anything with more than, like, 5o pieces. I think it's because I spend so much time examining my own patterns, trying to find what fits where. I have enough almosts and not-quites; I just can't handle tiny little pieces of die-cut cardboard that somehow become a picture of kittens.

They're still not all back together. There are still a number of shards that don't seem to fit right and sometimes they slip or have to be re-broken and sometimes I get just so frustrated. But sometimes they set right in. More often, I have glue all over my fingers and slice myself open trying to put things in order. Either way, I keep working. And every day, I get a little closer to wholeness.

So, in my next thirty years...I'm going to keep going. I'm going to strive for authenticity, for excellence, for integration, balance, acceptance, and temperance. I'm going to let the pieces fit where they may and receive whatever form that turns out to be. I'm going to pay more attention to where I am instead of where I'm trying to go. I'm going to conclude that first trimester, acknowledge everything I accomplished - which is a lot -and move forward to what has yet to be.

Acceptance. That's going to be a big task, I think. Accepting myself. Accepting what comes. Accepting what is, whatever that is.

And I think I might get another tattoo...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Opening a window

(I suspect this might be long, so be sure you don't miss the first post from today. In which I solicit money.)

Last night was a really good time. Unfortunately, this is the only postable picture (i.e., sans identifiable humans):

Those aren't all ours, I swear it.

So we started out at this nice Italian place downtown. Sparrow had the forethought to call and make a reservation, but as it turned out we wouldn't have needed it. It was football day - the masses all came in later (Baby Blue won, ps. Sorry, Domers). For dinner it was me, Peng, Ruthie, Sparrow, Faye, June, and Liz (who was my co-intern and sanity anchor on Neuro). Dinner was wonderful, the company was even better. We talked, we laughed, we ate, we watched a very drunk man wander over and pee for an impressively long time on a car in the parking lot. And Faye, Ruthie, Peng, and Sparrow pooled their resources and got me an awesome spa gift certificate. I'm so excited. Soexcited. I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to get, but, I'm going to enjoy myself a lot.

We talked a lot about work, as we tend to do (because, what do we do with all of our time?). Liz, of course, doesn't actually work in our department, but she held her own. And she reminded me of this story, which I'd kind of forgotten...when we were on Neuro, we had this sweet older lady who had myasthenia gravis or ALS, we never were quite sure. Her husband was there, like, all the time, and they were just this very cute old couple, who'd been married way longer than anyone on the team had been alive. She had this thing going on called a pseudobulbar affect, in which you can't really modulate your expression of emotions, and your responses are often very exaggerated (it's often referred to as "emotional incontinence," which is actually a really good description of how it manifests). So anyway. We had respiratory therapy doing these tests on her called NIFs (negative inspiratory force) and FVCs (forced vital capacity). We do these because they often are the first signals that a patient's respiratory musculature is starting to fail, so we can intervene before it becomes emergent or catastrophic. But the point is, for the first you need to suck air in, for the latter you need to blow air out. Our lady couldn't get this, for some reason. She could drink very nicely through a straw, but could not do her NIFs. She would blow every time (I'm guessing she was a whiz at birthday candles). So one day, the whole team is in there - me, Liz, two junior residents, the chief, and our attending, the Pocket Narcissist -and the respiratory therapist is all exasperated, like, she cannot, or will not do this. And we're all coaching her, you know? "Like you're sucking water through a straw," "No, no, you have to suck for this one," etc, etc, and finally her husband says...

"Suck it, woman! Suck it!"

We all sort of froze for a second...her husband was obviously clueless about what he'd just said (and actually continued to be so even after we all started laughing). Liz said last night she remembers standing there thinking, don't look at Kate, don't look at Kate, who was standing next to her repeating a similar mantra of you will not laugh, just don't make eye contact with Liz or Dr. N (because then all non-laughing bets would be totally off)...until the patient just started cracking the hell up.

For months after this, Liz and I would randomly text page each other with "Suck it, woman!"

Gosh, they were so cute. I wonder how that lady's doing....

Anyway. We then wandered across the street to this big swanky hotel in town, which has this nice little bar with leather armchairs and the world's best froofy martinis. Cleo and her husband Tony showed up with a friend of his that I met last year at a party of theirs, and later Tyler and Matt joined us. And we hung out there for probably about four hours. And had a very good time. And everyone kept feeding me liquor, which was also delightful. I'm trying to remember how many martinis I had, but frankly, I just don't. I'm thinking it may have been five. Because the last time, I sent Tyler to the bar for water, and he came back with water...and another martini.

Tyler? Good man.

And I may have talked Matt into being the superego to my id for Halloween. We'll see if that stands up in the sober light of day.

And, I didn't even fall down once, in spite of much alcohol and my FMBs. It seems I need to be unintoxicated and wearing sensible shoes to do that...hmm.

We had such a good time. Did I mention the good time? It was a very lovely evening. I like my friends.

Dude. I'm going to be 30 tomorrow. I kinda like that.


Something very important is going on today in Raleigh - the 20th annual Thad and Alice Eure Walk for Hope. It's a fundraising event for the Foundation of Hope, a local organization aimed at Mental Health research, awareness, and treatment.

You know I rarely (if ever) make requests like this on the blog, but, I highly encourage everyone to donate.

It's tax deductible, it's good for your karma, and it directly funds research at Big Hospital and State Hospital, as well as treatment for those who need it most. If you want a walker code specific to our department, email me and I will be happy to provide it. Even $5 can make a big difference.

No one lives a life untouched by mental illness - if you personally have never struggled with a mood or thought disorder, then you have a family member, a friend, a loved one who knows its trials. If there's one thing I've learned over the past year, it's that we all live one step away from madness. Mental illness can manifest as a life-clouding depression, a paralyzing anxiety, or terrifying descent into psychosis. It can rob you of your memory as a dementia or make that memory untenable in PTSD. It knows no class, no color, no gender, family, profession or station.

But there's no such thing as false hope.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My poor dog

It's game day in Chapel Hill.

Which means two things: A, parking downtown tonight is going to be a bitch (don't care! Going anyway! Dragging all of my local friends with me!); and 2, people keep setting off cannons and fireworks and generally making lots of noise. Maggie is not pleased.

Apparently we're narrowly losing with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. Although, that burst of gunpowder and rah of cheering tells me we may have just fixed that.

I wish I had more "school spirit." Mostly, I view football and basketball games as impediments to my ability to get around where I live and work.

I'm finally ready to go to dinner. I've been putzing and primping and fussing and swearing (I still can't find my stupid green sock) for over an hour. I'm wearing my favorite but most uncomfortable footwear and a new brown sweater. And I just called Ruthie, who's responsible for getting me there tonight, and said, " when are you picking me up?" And she said, " would think it would be soon, since we're supposed to be there at about 6:15?"

I said, um, dude, no. How about 6?

We'll see how it goes....

Tonight's going to be fun. We're going to dinner, and then drinks down the street (maybe I'll take different shoes....just in case). Because I'm getting old! I'll have a full report later...or in the morning...or after I recover from my hangover.....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun Stuff

So it's a bit past midnight, but hell, I have four days off. Four. Days. Off. Ahhhhh.....

Ruthie kidnapped me again (well, in that she asked me, "what are you doing tonight?") and took me for dinner (and a mani/pedi while we waited - yay! It WAS right across the way, and the wait for dinner WAS awfully long...) in honor of that day that's coming up on Monday. There will be more festivizing tomorrow, don't worry.

We also wandered around looking for Halloween costumes in preparation for the costume party that Cleo and her hubby are throwing in a couple of weeks. Ruthie got a silly nurse's outfit (as I explained to the purple-haired pincushion of a punk chick that checked us out, no, it's funny because we're doctors....) and I found a ridiculous black-and-pink wig. I'm going to be the Id.

And then we dognapped Little Maxine on the way home, because Sparrow's on call tonight. She was happy to help me show off my Affair in Red Square polish job (you gotta love those O.P.I. color names...):

Pretty, huh?

Also worth a gander - Li'l Kate sent me this:

It's worth it just for the music. And the mind boggles at the shear amount of pot that must've gone into that production. Because I have a degree in biochemistry, I get protein synthesis, and that...well, that was not helpful.

Here's what Little Maxine thinks of it....

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Who doesn't?

I think of this scene every single time I try to fax something at work....

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Oh - and!

A very happy birthday to Sarah, who was the impetus for me to start this whole blogging nonsense in the first place. Sarah was one of my co-teachers/yarn whores at the yarn shop. She's a doctoral candidate in physics. We went to the same college (although not at the same time - it was a narrow miss, though).

I think she's turning 12 this year....

(Don't mind me, hon. That's just the bitterness of the aged....)

Things that make me love my job

We had the first half of our yearly inservice exam today, and then had lecture until 5:30. Today was long. I tried to take a nap in the pink chair in our office, broke. We still haven't figured out how or why it broke, but, the event looked something like this:

Me: (settles into chair. Something seems off) Ruthie, I think there's something wrong with the chair.
Ruthie: Oh, no, it's fine. It's just because Dr. G sat in it (Dr. G had just left our office)
Me: No, something feels weird....
(about five minutes pass. Suddenly, I
Me: Uh, Ruthie? I think there really is something wrong with the chaaaaaaaaaair!

And over I went. I actually ended up under Peng's desk all tangled up in the chair with my legs up in the air. It was.....let's go with.....highly comical.

So then later, Ruthie offers to drive me home. Which, great, because I walked today. So she goes out of the parking garage, and turns house is about a mile and a half to the left. But, okay, it's hard to make a left turn out of there. So then she keeps going, gets to the point where you can turn right and double back to my house...and turns left. I waited about a block, and then said, "Um.....Ruthie......? Where are you taking me??"

Her answer?

"This way."

And this would be why Ruthie and I are friends.

She ended up taking the most convoluted route possible to get me home. Which worked out okay, because we ended up having to stop for provisions finding this cute little restaurant that was a little odd, but very tasty, and had nice ambiance.

It's been a long, weird day.

But then I read this, and you know? It made me very glad I was not the White Plains, NY medical examiner. Or a park worker. Can you imagine? "Oh, look, a suitcase....."

Okay, also glad I'm not a drug mule. Out of all the involved parties, I think his day was worst.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

All dogs DO go to heaven...

My mom forwarded this to me today in an email. Apparently, this little rivalry was played out in a "Southern Town" (my guess is SC or GA, from the foliage). Makes me want to send Our Lady of Martyrs a fruit basket.

I was just saying to a friend of mine the other day, if you've ever read The Lovely Bones (which, PS, is being made into a movie, apparently. I didn't know that until I googled it for the link. About time. Good book), the best part of the book, and the part at which I cried the hardest, was when her dog joined her in heaven.

I mean, it stands to reason. Dogs don't have the stain of original sin on their little puppy souls, so, they should go straight in. Because I'm not sure they possess the malevolence required for the capacity to sin, so I don't think they can screw it up on Earth, either (you know, if you go in for all this sin/heaven/hell stuff). And if you've ever had a dog, or, you know, met a dog, well, there's no question of whether they have souls. Good, pure, innocent souls.

I suspect these are doctored pictures, but if not, the Beulah Presbyterians are morons. Who compares a dog and a rock? And, who says rocks don't have souls (the Taoists might disagree)? Plus, the Catholics? Way funnier. In a good way.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Vote, dammit!

I stumbled across this yesterday:

I freaking love it.

And, while, yes, some states closed their registration Friday, most others just stated that you needed to be living the place you plan to vote by Friday. So, if you're not registered, do it now (DO IT NOW!!!!!). And freakin' vote, already.

Seriously, though, folks. Regardless of how it turns out, this is the single most historic presidential election since Washington. No, really. We're either going to have a black president or a female veep. That's huge.


Plus, there all sort of pertinent congressional issues, referenda, local's important, people!!!!!! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Hundreds of thousands of men and women died for your ability to stand in line, poke a hole in a card, and get a sticker that says "I voted!". It's your patriotic duty. It's a basic, but amazingly precarious, human right. It's one of the most valuable things we as Americans can do.


Sunday, October 05, 2008


So, fine me. What is it, a library book?

Today was a nice day. Lots of fussing, cleaning, settling. Did some fussing regarding my kid in the hospital, but mostly it was a Kate-and-Maggie sort of day. The den (office? Den? I haven't quite decided what to call it yet) makes more sense now, and you can actually move around in it. Plus, the cable works. The front room, well, makes less sense than it did when it had a sofa in it, but, everything in its time, you know? We hiked up Dish Mountain again today (twice! There were so many dishes I had to let half of them dry and put them away before I could finish the rest. This is why I need a husband. I'll wash, he can dry. Partnership, right? Anyway...) and the last load of laundry is in the washer. I even got groceries. Wowie.

On the way home I stopped and picked up Little Maxine. She and Maggie amused each other (it sounded like they might actually have been playing together) while I made chili. Then they helped with the accidental cheese spill (as opposed to the frequent volitional cheese incidents that happen around here so often...).

And now we are tired.

Maxine's trying out the new comforter. I think she approves.

Anyway. Before I go off to bed, I wanted to FINALLY share the pictures from last weekend. It was an interesting day. I was postcall, hadn't slept, and then proceeded to go out and try to ride my new bike that I bought Sunday morning (again, postcall), and, long story short, fell off my new bike a lot.

Now, long about then, Mike had been hosting a little get-together, centered around the Carrboro Music Festival. I hadn't really planned on going...I was tired...I spent a lot of time falling off my bike...but then I got home and had two text messages and a voice mail from various people saying, "Where are you?"

What could I do?

So I went. And oh, my gosh. So much fun. The festival itself has bands sprawled all over the streets of Carrboro, which fortunately for my poor choice of shoes, isn't very big. It's amazing, the different types of artists, the scope of genres, the amount of people...and the weirdness that I'm told is inherent in NC street festivals.

Namely, hula hoops. Lots of people with hula hoops. I....weird.

And of course, there were the political pitchers...who...strangely....all seemed to be Obamites (actually, that's not that strange around here. But 20 miles out, it would be).

My favorites were the Obama Mamas.

They were having an Obake Sale.

He he.

There was a giant commemorative sand castle.

Impressive, especially when held against the ones Peng and Mike and I made last year.

There were the obligatory weird people.

Yes, that's police caution tape she's wearing as a bra. We think they were with some Hoopers.

I made friends with this random dog who was tied to a tree.

Which of course brought more friends. The little ones were not so blurry in real life.

I found this at a neat little bar that's next to a bigger bar I've been to a bunch of times, but I'd never been in this one.

The band was iffy. The piano was wicked (click to enlarge, as on all of the pix).

On the walk home, I managed to get a great shot of Sparrow next to this sign:

It's really a shame I have that hangup about not showing people I know on my blog, because she is cute in this picture, y'all.

So then we went back to Mikes to do more drinking, and eating of meat.

Mike has some darn cute kitties. This is Madeline.

She was posing well for me that night.

Her little sister, Clementine.

Sooo sweet.....she was curled up on Mike's blanket for most of the evening, except when the humans got too loud and annoying.

Madeline was a little more social.

She even got her boogie on a little (Mike helped).

See? Good people around me. Fun stuff.

And now, me and the girls? We're going to bed.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Note to self:

Brown flannel attracts light-colored dog hair LIKE A FRIGGIN' MAGNET.

I didn't even put it on the bed. It got all full of dog hair in the dryer. Or to be more properly named, the still damp-er.


It's really soft, though. And currently hanging over the bathroom door to fully dry.

AND THEN, guess what just happened? My bathroom sink fell off the wall. I didn't know they could do that! I got it back on, but, dude. And it looks like it wasn't on right when it was caulked in place.


I hate this house. Stupid Kyle, who stole all the light bulbs and let the place run down. Why did I move here again? Oh, right, Sparrow, Maxine, and Melody. None of whom live here anymore. And then there was the walking/biking distance to work. Which, we all know how that has thusfar worked out.


Atlas stomped her feet

I never took heavy words for granted
And I never took the undeserved advantage
No, I never took the easy way
So why don't you take it a little easy on me now?

- Dar Williams, The Easy Way

It's been a long damn week.

Next week isn't looking a whole lot shorter.

Okay, that's not fair. Because the main reasons last week sucked had very little to do with the fullness of my work schedule. But I've spent most of today alternating between worrying about how I'm way past broke (as in, my therapist and I are going to have a conversation Monday about how I may need to drop out of therapy because it's that or my rent, and believe me, this is not the time for me to leave therapy), trying to get the house ready for showing, getting completely overwhelmed and hiding in my bed, doing laundry, pretending to read, thinking about getting back on my bike, and trying not to kick things in sheer frustration.

It's days like this I really wish I drank more.

So my new landlord, who is of course my neighbor, who, if I haven't already said this on here, bought my old landlord's house along with the two rental cottages, kicked Sparrow out of hers, partitioned the land on which it sat onto his property, said he was going to tear it down to build a garage, decided not to tear it down and instead use it as his office (neither Sparrow nor I can figure out exactly what it is that he does, but he clearly makes a shitload of money doing it), and cannot figure out that my automatic bill payer sends him a check in the mail, that landlord, finally put my house and the main house up for sale. Which means my house, which is a DISASTER and looks like I just moved in, needs to be showable, and soon.

Now, it's crossed my mind, I'll admit, that I could leave the place a giant, box-filled mess covered in dog hair tumbleweeds in some passive-aggressive protest against the fact that this is not the arrangement I signed up for, that my rent is too high (I knew that moving in, but, it was worth it for the situation I was moving into), that my lease had better be protected when he sells it, or about thirty-seven other things I could come up with to be pissed about (he hasn't made he repairs on my property the old landlord promised; the dead thing under my house apparently didn't get removed by the handyman, it got dragged out in the middle of the night by something that I frankly don't want to cross paths with in the darkness; he keeps parking in my spaces; etc). But I will concede that I have a vested interest in helping him sell the place, because, frankly, I don't like him, and don't especially want him as my landlord. Plus, I kind of want my house to be finished and feel like I live here for reals.

But that's a really big undertaking, to be quite honest. That's why I've been hiding from it for so long.

You remember how I couldn't even get in to the office when I first moved in?

Okay, in all honesty, I'm rather proud of what Maggie and I were able to undertake today (because she was an integral part, of course). I stacked the boxes of books along the wall where someday (when I can afford secondhand things again) the bookcases I need will go. And I finally got the desk where I want it (although I didn't know I wanted it there until I finally got it moved to where I didn't want it - although I thought I wanted it there when I started - and then went, oh, wait, what about over there...), and I got the TV set up (the cable box doesn't work, but, whatever, I'll call them). And I moved the sofa into the office. Which made it way more cramped in there. Waaaaaaay more cramped. But, oddly, I really like it. And there's still an aisle to the dog door.

Maggie was not quite as pleased with all of the fussing today, though.

She'll get over it. We already had a nice little snugglefest on the sofa, even though we both had to climb over the couch arm to get a seat. Whatever, it's cozy. Once the fussing is finished, and I get it decorated, it'll be a wonderful, comfortable room.

Which will undoubtedly be right before the moment my lease expires and/or Jud sells the house to someone who doesn't want a renter and I get kicked out.


The crazy thing is, though, I'm progressively more grateful for my life with each passing day. Yes, there are certainly many things that I wish were different. And, I'm making progress on a lot of those. And yes, I certainly have my moments of wanting to trade it all in for a rich, adoring husband and a tropical drink. But I can't imagine the horribleness of my life if I'd stayed on the track I was on four years ago. Or fourteen years ago, for that matter. I love my job. I need a break (I have two days of vacation coming up for my birthday. Okay, I probably need a longer break than that, but...), but I love my job. I have good friends. I have lots of people I consider family. I have a unique perspective on a lot of issues because of what I've experienced.

One of my patients gave me the best quote the other day, though, in that regard - he says to me, "just because I can explain it, doesn't mean I can handle it."

I like that. It's over my desk at work right now on a post-it note. Along with another patient quote: "Every day I spent in Hell, I chose to be there."

That one gives me a lot of perspective.


At least I have clean sheets. And a new comforter (clearance! Under $20! Flannel!), which I bought at Target this morning as part of the renovation effort. I know, I know, I'm broke, but dude, under $20. And as much as I love the one I currently am hiding under, I've had it since college, and it's been sewn back together way too many times at this point to be presentable. I also have to find a sheet to put over the armchair Maggie sleeps in (the one I want is in a bag somewhere around here). Because I'd really like this place to look appealing - for both me and any prospective buyers. I'd also like to look like a good, clean, responsible tenant, so they'll keep me and I won't have to friggin' move again.

Crap, I bet this means I have to start making my bed in the mornings...

Alright. Maggie and I are going to get some dinner. All the moving stuff and the fact that this place looks much like the day I moved in (not to mention the fact that I never really got to the grocery this week) has left me with a Bojangles craving. I'm sure Mags will be happy to help me with that....

Friday, October 03, 2008

Big news day

So, a couple of interesting notes in the news today.

Apparently, the Cubs...oy, the Cubs. Have they not figured out that every time the try to lift the curse, they just do worse? I guess one more try can't hurt.

Amusingly, the priest is from my old church in Valparaiso, and, was a deacon at the church where I grew up for, like, ever (Danielle - you remember him from Fanari?). Nice guy. Reportedly, back in the day, he asked this woman out, and she said no, and he told her, "Give me three dates. If you still don't want to go out with me, I won't ask again." They're married now.

Yes, our priests can get married.

Oh, and then there was this little tidbit, too. Finally. But weird that they tacked it on to the bailout.

Kind of ironic, really.

And as long as I'm posting stuff I pulled off the Trib website...

I love Dog Eat Doug. Aww.