Friday, December 31, 2010

NYE

Happy new year, y'all.

More tomorrow. Honest.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day of rest

Yeah, I got absolutely nothing done today.

I got up way later than usual. I made my way over to Larry's to check on his cats (he, of course, did not make it home yesterday). The driving sucked (SUCKED) so I just came home. And then...I think I putzed for a little while. Maybe read. Watched some TV. Took a nap. Putzed some more. Laid on the couch. Read. Watched more TV. Went to therapy. Book, couch, TV, dinner (frozen pizza and a glass of wine). And then I came upstairs, thinking I'd clean, but...

I just have no motivation today. And, really, I figure that's okay. It's vacation, after all, right?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Merry

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Wednesday. Thursday was my last day of work for TEN DAYS. Did I mention that? Ten whole days! Thursday was a little rough, but the situation at work will be changing when I get back, in what I hope will be a positive way.

Friday was excellent. Coffee was languorous and led to breakfast at the little Greek place nearby. I came home, I wrapped presents. And then I went out on the bike. I went 13 whole miles!! On real roads! In traffic! I was excited. And I gassed up the bike for the first time! By myself! Without overflowing the tank!! It was excellent. But when I came home, my legs were pretty cold (note to self: I have GOT to get some motorcycle pants already!!). So I crawled under the blankets in my bed. And was still cold. And was lying there being cold when the doorbell rang. Who could it be, I wondered. When I opened the door, there was a box. And in the box?? A fleece blanket!! The second half of my unexpected Christmas gift from Claudia.


Talk about psychic. What great timing! It warmed me right up when combined with my comforter. So much so that I PTFO'd. Zzzzzz.....

I woke up in time to go to dinner at Shady Pines. My mom made cookies yesterday, so they were still a little warm when I got there (YES, for those of you who are interested, it's true. The chocolate chip cookies continue!! She just uses the mixer now). Dinner with their friends was lovely. Came home, more zzzs.

Christmas morning I could NOT get up. In spite of having something awesome to go to! I finally dragged myself out of bed for reals (this was, like, the third attempt) around 9 (Maggie was like, whew, finally!!). I went over to Larry's to wish his cats a Merry Christmas (and also fill their food dishes), and they were so excited to see me. Despite being mostly a dog person, I've actually come to adore his cats. The little calico is all kittenish and playful, and she spent quite a bit of time chasing my fingers and purring like a motorboat. The black cat, who is long haired and soft and just gorgeous but who also sheds like a fiend, had previously been apprehensive of me and my smells-like-a-big-dog self. He appears to have gotten over this. He is all love and snuggles and even let me pick him up today.

I left them and went to Richard and Nellie's house. Since the coffee shop is closed on Christmas, they had us all over for coffee. Not to mention cinnamon rolls, eggs, and hash browns. Richard, of course, is Jen's ex-husband. Who lives next door to Jen's mom. And they still hang out with Jen and Bill.  It's all very absurd and of course they get along beautifully. It's a nice lesson in how to be an ex, frankly. Anywho, it was such a wonderful time. Kim and Quinn came by, Garth and Ginny, several other friends, and one of my favorite Villagers who is going to school up north and I don't get to see him nearly enough. Oh, my heavens, it was such a lovely time. Oh, and there was this cocoa...Richard's secret recipe....it was like drinking a Hershey bar, but better. Wow, so good.

I left there, picked up Maggie, and we went to Shady Pines. We opened presents, kibbitzed a bit, and then shared a Christmas meal with two of my parents' friends. Which was also lovely. The staff was great, the food was good, and some random staff member (I think he's a maintenance guy, actually) played Christmas carols on the new Steinway that was just donated to SP by the local Maggiano's, of all places. I hung out with the folks for another three or four hours, catching up on gossip and talking about the relocation and our life as it is now. My uncle called. My dad napped. Maggie intermittently demonstrated her new knowledge of "gimme your paw." It was really wonderful.

I came home from there via the cats (Mags, much to her disappointment, stayed in the car) and then decided I was going to put an hour into cleaning the house. I made it about 45 minutes, but decided I'd done enough to go over to Garth and Sherry's. Where we were again joined by Ginny, Jen, and Bill. Bill immediately peeled off to go play Xbox with their 14 year old son, and the rest of us drank wine and ate chocolate truffles and told stories. It was the perfect cap to a wonderful day.

The only thing that would've made it better would have been having all of our Chicago and Ohio friends and family nearby, and everyone else who is dear to us. Merry Christmas, y'all!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two more days of work...

...and then I'm off for TEN. WHOLE. DAYS.

I can't even tell you how much I need this.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

So tonight is the Winter Solstice. It's also a full moon, and there's a lunar eclipse. Apparently, it's only the second time in recorded history that's happened. How cool is that?

Went to a ritual at Jen and Bill's tonight. It was nice to be with friends and speak of our hope for renewal, revitalization, and transformation.

Here's hoping.....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I love a weekend.

This morning, I was a little miserable. Didn't have much to say at coffee because there wasn't anything positive rattling around in my brain and I refuse to be that girl who's perpetually negative. But I got some work done. Jen and Bill and Garth and I got lunch at this new burger place in town which used to only be a food truck but then decided to add a brick-and-mortar store. It was a darn good burger, and the company was excellent. I came home, I putzed around, I tried to take a nap. And then I went to my friends' house for dinner. They asked me to come shoot their Christmas pictures this year. I was really honored. And some of the pics turned out really well (some of them were underexposed and blurry, but that's the beauty of digital cameras). My friend made lasagna, and we had a lovely dinner, and then watched the end of the Baby Blue basketball game. I left when it was bath time for the little one, stopped at the grocery to get dog food (I ran out yesterday. Earlier today I felt bad that we had no kibble so I gave the dog a bagel) and came home and watched the beginning of Titanic (I only like that movie until the iceberg hits). All in all, today was better. And hopefully tomorrow will be as well.

And then do you know what happens?

I have four days of work. And then TEN days of staycation. I'm so looking forward to that I can't even tell you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

At least it's Friday.

My day...was long. And can be summed up by this verse from one of my favorite Ani DiFranco songs, which has been running through my head all afternoon...

Everything I do is judged
I usually get it wrong, oh well
The bathroom mirror has not budged
The woman who lives there can tell
The truth from the shit that they say
She looks me in the eye
Says, "Would you prefer the easy way?
No? Well, okay then, don't cry." 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fiery Thursday

So I get up this morning, and the whole world is covered in ice.

It was starting to melt, but the roads were still crappy. I made it to coffee, which was lovely; made it to work, which was not. And of course Thursdays are the days that I run like a headless chicken to State Hospital in the afternoons. The roads were better, but naturally no one canceled until I got out there. Then? Everyone canceled. Even my supervisor. I still had a lot of work to do from the big house, though, so I thought, fine, I'll stay and do that.

Which, of course, I couldn't, because it wouldn't let me on to the medical record from SH.

Fine. So I took my ball and my bat and went home. As it were.

I got home, took the dog out, changed out of my wet (because it's still raining) work clothes and into my PJs. How nice, I think, to be doing my work at home, with my dog, in my PJs.....alls I need is a roaring fire. So I try to build one.

And fail.

So I try again. And fail. Try, fail, try, fail. Give up, whine to my friends over text message.

At which point Bill shows up at my door. Bill, who is the master of the fire pit. Builds me a fire in no time flat.


No problem. Milked that for a good four hours. It was lovely. It made all the note writing and collateral calling so much better.

I love a good fire. I love having a fireplace. And mostly? I love my friends.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Parry. Thrust. Repeat.

I know the weekend isn't quite over yet, but I'm calling it - this has been a pretty good weekend.

Today was notable for several things. We had a good time at coffee. They had a little group of caroling girls there today (the Snowflake Sisters. How cute) who were pretty darn good. They looked like they were probably middle schoolers, which made their willingness to stand up in front of a coffee shop full of people and sing Christmas carols that much more impressive. It made me a little nostalgic (okay, a lot nostalgic) for my choir days. Had some good conversations with the usual weekend suspects. Had a good (decaf) mocha.

Met up with Larry later for noteable activity #2. Our friends' son has gotten into fencing. In a pretty big way, actually. So much so that he quit his other sports and now goes to fencing classes three days during the week and then has stuff on weekends. So last week, when Kim was talking about this upcoming fencing tournament, Larry suggested we go and support Quinn. Neither of us had ever seen a fencing match before - you know, movies and things, but not a real one - and thought it sounded pretty interesting. And it was!


Here's a picture of some nondescript children fencing that I stole from Kim's photos of an old tournament. I figure, since they're all covered up, it doesn't violate my no-people-on-the-blog rule. Cute, though, huh? Quinn is 10, I think. Those silver jackets they're wearing and their helmets (I'm sure they have a more technical name than that, but I'm also sure I don't know it) are made of some sort of mesh that senses when they come in contact with the other fencer's foil or sword. Those cords on their backs actually connect their gear to some big electrical apparatus that lights up and makes a noise when there's contact made, to help the referees know.

Larry described them as "tiny little fencers on leashes."

It was really a fascinating experience. I expected more swashbuckling. The kids appeared mostly to be stabbing at each other, but there seemed to be some ritual and finesse to it. One tiny little girl kept whacking her tiny opponent in the head, which cracked me up. Apparently the scoring has something to do with who is the aggressor, but you can also win points on a counter attack. There was a series of matches that somehow led to a bracket system, and then they all got set up into an elimination round. Larry and I had a hell of a time keeping up with the scoring and trying to figure out the complicated hand signals the refs kept using. We repeatedly thought Quinn won when he hadn't (but then again, we might be biased). He did okay, though. He was 5/10 in the "pools" (the thing that set up the brackets), and although he lost the first elimination round, he did really pretty well. Apparently he earned a bronze medal for his efforts, and did really well in the second tournament against the older kids. It was a good time.

We, however, didn't stay for the second match-up, because I had notable event #3, yet another applicant dinner to go to. It turned out to be a really good time, however. The restaurant we always go to is amazing, and tonight the company was great, too. We only had two applicants, and three residents, and one of them was Juliet, whom I just totally adore. The applicants were a lot of fun, actually. Both would fit right in to the program. Of course, I have no idea what the rest of their applications look like, but nonetheless.

It turned out to be a good weekend. Halle- fucking-lujah.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday

What a great day. I needed one of those.

I've been bound and determined to ride the bike all the way to the coffee shop for about two weeks now. Last week, of course, it was too cold, but this morning, I decided, I could handle it. It was only about five degrees warmer, but I finally picked up my spiffy new armored, textile, winter-weight jacket the other day, and knew this time to wear a scarf, and put a second pair of gloves on under my motorcycle gloves. No problem, right?

Eh, it was still chilly. But I did it!

I rode the whole mile and a half on real roads with cars and things to the coffee shop. I parked the bike. I walked in...and looked at my watch. And realized I was there a good half hour before anyone else usually got there.

Oops.

But I got my (decaf) mocha, and hung out, and eventually the crew trickled in. All were pleased with my accomplishment. Larry - who hadn't yet met the bike - and Bill came out, sat on it, kicked the tires, looked at stuff. We hung out for a while, and then I rode it back home and swapped it out for the Jeep, so we could head over to the third annual Charity Breakfast With Santa that the Housestaff Council was hosting. I've worked it (and helped run it) the last two years, but this year, I finally said no. Still, I wanted to support the cause, and so the whole lot of us - me, Jen, Bill, Garth, Larry, and Ginny - went over, bearing canned goods and our nominal donations.

Residents were $5 at the door; others are $10. Now, in previous years, when *I* was working the door, if a resident came with a group of family members, friends, or whatever, I'd charge them all the $5 rate, especially if they came in with a sizable food or toy donation to the charities in question, and also if they were a particular friend to the Housestaff Council (like, say, last year's vice president). This time, however, I was not working the door. So I was told I could bring my spouse in for $5, but that was it. I turned to the group and said, "Who wants to be my husband?" So Larry was my temporary spouse. Which is lucky, because he ended up having to pay for me since I didn't have any cash.

We had a lovely time. The boys ate quite a lot of bacon. We saw some friends from work. I had really good eggs. None of us got our picture taken with Santa, however.

I came back home and got back on the bike. Drove it around the neighborhood a little bit, and then expanded my circle. I went on bigger roads this time. With more cars and things. And faster!

It's so funny. I get nervous about things like stopping and starting. Like, I worry when I know I'm going to have to stop and turn up ahead. But when I actually go to do them, it turns out fine. I make my turns. I slow down and stop and start back up again. I get my feet out of the way and back on the pegs. And while I don't have that muscle memory quite down yet, I'm getting the hang of things, enough that I can start worrying about things like sight lines and traffic and what part of the lane in which to travel. And there's this curious, whole-body intuitiveness to riding that's so different from being in a car. On the bike? It's a little more like...just being. You move, and the bike moves with you. You want to turn? Lean over. You want to swerve around a little pothole in the road? You just sort of wiggle your body the right way. All four of your limbs have a job, and they work together. You feel the road, you feel the wind. Today, when I got over 50 mph, I realized what it really meant that my coat and my body would act like a sail. I mean, I understood it conceptually when I read it, sure. But today I felt it.

It was awfully chilly, though. But I also discovered that if I pull my knees in more, I can warm up my legs with the heat from my engine. Sometimes that "air cooled" thing is a real bonus. 

I got home, and swapped out the bike for the Jeep again. Just in time, too, because as I was backing out of my parking space it started to rain. I ran over to the local Harley dealership, because I'd ordered a copy of the owner's manual for my bike and it had come in. So while I was there, I also picked up a neck warmer (its pink!) and a set of glove liners. The cashier and I had a nice conversation about our respective Sportsters. I have a 2007 extra low - she has the 2005 custom. She gave me some welcome props for riding in this weather. I pointed out that right now, the biggest thing I need to be doing is just staying on the bike regularly. I may not have gone for super long rides today, but it all adds up.

I made a wrong turn and took the scenic way home, which was fine with me. I hung out with the dog a bit, did some dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and then my godbrother (we have the same godparents) came down from Virginia to visit. It was interesting, actually - we figured that we haven't seen each other in person in about 15 years or so, but we're Facebook friends and he reads my blog (hi, cuz), and so it wasn't weird at all, once I got over the whole, "Wait. You're standing in my living room" phenomena. We had a really nice time. Had dinner, got coffee, hung out for a while with my parents. Caught up, talked about family, talked about new stuff, talked about old times. It was quite lovely. And a nice way to end the day.

Mike is having his annual Christmas bash tonight, and I'd planned on going, but I'm still a little wiped out, and so I think I'm just going to bed. It was so nice to just have a nice day after the week I've had.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Zzzzz

Yeah, this "no caffeine" thing is not going to be an easy adjustment.

Even my med student said to me today, "You seem...slower."

Thanks. There went your grade.

(I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I don't get to grade them...)

And THEN my attending was waiting for me so we could interview this one kid, but I kept getting tied up with my other two, and so she was like, okay, I'm going to go get some coffee. You want some?

::whimper::

Anyway. I made it through work with a lot of yawning. I then went and met up with my mom at the Shady Pines Christmas party, which was amusing. Visited with them for a while. Came home, ate some dinner, finished my notes. Read Facebook. And now....it's a quarter till nine and I'm so ready for bed...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Crater

So I have an ulcer.

I kind of had a feeling. The symptoms fit. I consulted with my esteemed colleague, PenguinShrink, who agreed, and confirmed with our esteemed colleague, Dr. Wikipedia. Two shrinks and a website can't be wrong.

Mercifully, I also had enough sanity left to consult my primary care physician. She listened intently. She took notes. She - wait for it - pushed on my stomach. I said, "ow!" She said, "I agree, I think you have an acid problem." She used fancy words like "esophagitis," which sounded even more wise and learned in her British accent. And she wrote me a couple of prescriptions.

And then.........but then she said.......

I have to give up caffeine.

I KNOW!!

When I came to, I asked if there was a specific milligramage of caffeine I should stay under every day. But my entire social life revolves around a coffee shop! My mind was racing. Okay, maybe I can live with decaf coffee - if I must - but half my fluid intake comes from iced tea!! She failed to grasp the gravity of the situation and waved me off. "I don't remember, but the more you can cut out, the better."

I blinked incredulously. I'm a doctor. I'm a fellow, for God's sake. How am I supposed to get through my day without caffeine? What, am I supposed to get SLEEP or something?! Does she not know what an insomniac I am?!

So I did a little research. Turns out, no one knows the caffeine content of my beloved iced tea. But an 8 oz cup of brewed black tea contains about 50mg of caffeine. As does bottled Lipton iced tea. My daily mocha? 160 mg. And when I think I'm being good and getting brewed coffee? At Starbucks, a grande coffee comes with a whopping 330mg!! Decaf coffee, in case you were curious? 13mg.

So, I'm gonna let the iced tea slide, for now. Because cutting down from 210 mg to 63? That has to be a big improvement.

My recently-pregnant officemate assures me, too, that she now is equally satisfied by decaf versions of our favorite afternoon ritual.

And I'm not real fond of this nausea and epigastric pain routine.

Hmm. I wonder what a decaffeinated Kate looks like?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tough Tummy Tuesday

I'm sick. Weirdly, weirdly sick.

I woke up around 4am yesterday feeling pukey and with a significant case of the dry heaves. So I stayed home from work, and slept through most of the day. I didn't feel a whole lot better today, but I sucked it up and went to work for the first half of the day. I canceled my clinic and came home around 1. I wrote my notes from home, and ended up napping between each one. Good times.

I think I may have given myself an ulcer. I've been thinking this for a while, actually. And I'd blame all of this on that, except for the whole sleeping all day thing and the fact that my joints are all sore. But regardless, I picked up some Prilosec at the Rite Aid.

Whine, whine, whine.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

It's my blog, and I'll whine if I want to

So this particular blog entry comes with a disclaimer. Believe it or not, I keep a lot of personal shit off the blog. But I'm having one of those days weeks months moments when I just...don't care. To the best of my knowledge, no one who's about to be mentioned reads my blog, so it's probably not you (although you may know the players involved, keep it to yourself). No, I don't know that I want to talk about it. I just want to bitch.

I'm not doing so well. I'm going to be honest. I'm in a pretty dark place right now. I generally hold up the facade remarkably well, and even that is starting to falter. I'm finding myself much more negative these days than I want to be.

Friday was a horrible day. I got chewed out at work by my boss. I cried in her office for 45 minutes, after which I ran into the person I least wanted to see right then and had to walk straight into a family meeting. What almost makes it worse for me is that she thinks she's helping. I'm not going to perseverate any longer on whether she's right or wrong or just looking at part of the picture, because it's irrelevant. Yes, I'm off my game at work, because my entire life seems to be busy imploding. I'm not saying it's okay. I'm saying please give me some consideration for the fact that many people would not look okay from day to day. Please hear me when I say I don't understand what I'm doing wrong in any sort of prospective way. Please understand that I'm a little bit fragile right now and treat me accordingly. And know that my professional identity is such a part of the core of who I am, that right now I'm going to internalize every moment of potential criticism.

Friday after work, I spent an hour sitting outside the hospital in my car waiting for them to discharge my dad. And mostly crying. They finally let him loose, and I took him home, and promptly got into an argument with my parents about what essentially boils down to a tension between their needs and mine. I'm trying to keep my head above water, and I'm feeling like no one is acknowledging what I need. I don't care if that need doesn't get met, truly; I just want someone to recognize the kind of pain I'm in from the fact that my life currently sucks in multiple ways and both my parents are actively dying.

Meanwhile, I have this friend who is being remarkably ambivalent about what kind of friends we are. No, that's not true. I'm interpreting this friend's actions as ambivalence; in truth, they may be clear in a way I can't currently see, there's no way to know. But I feel it very acutely right now. I'm as needy as I get, which frankly isn't usually asking too much. I just want some consistency. I just want to know where I stand. And I just want, mostly, to feel like I have consistent support. I don't want anything to be this complicated right now.

And then, of course, there's this particular circle of friends that I have. And there's a developing schism in that group. I, truly, have no idea what to do about this. I feel like I'm going to need to choose a side in the near future, and I don't want to. It's not fair. I don't want to feel like my friends are choosing a side of this division over me, and I don't want to feel like I'll have to relinquish those friendships to stay neutral. Because then I might as well have chosen a side, which  feels like a lose/lose for me. I really value people on both sides. And I don't like being strewn akimbo in this process.

I'm feeling so unbelievably incompetent in pretty much every corner of my life these days. Personal, filial, romantic, professional, familial. I feel like a failure as a grown up. I pretty much hate my life right now. And in the middle of all of this chaos, on goes my personal work in therapy - dealing with my issues, figuring out who I am, what I want, and what's authentically me, trying to understand the things that repeatedly get in my way.

I want my life back. I want myself back. And I don't know how to get there.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Omen? Or not.

So my dad's in the hospital again.

He's going to be okay. It's a COPD exacerbation, it's that time of year. I expect that he'll be home tomorrow.

So we're sitting in the ER yesterday, and this trauma's coming in. And people are bustling around, and this nurse walks by, and says "all they said was that there was extensive damage to the bike and extensive damage to the helmet."

Oh, shit. I thought. A motorcycle accident. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Did I just make a huge mistake? Oh, my God....

So he rolls in.  He's talking, he's moving all four extremities, it's not as bad as it originally sounded. I'm a little relieved. I listen to the controlled chaos as the team runs the trauma. I listen to him scream when they roll him over. I think, wow. I'm glad he's okay. That could've been so much worse. I still wonder if the universe is sending me a message about having bought a motorcycle this weekend...

And then, the cop shows up.

Long story short? This guy ran a red light. He didn't have a motorcycle license. He didn't have insurance. He was high, and carrying drugs.

Okay, Universe. Point taken. I solemnly swear not to do that...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'll keep drinkin', and you'll keep gettin' skinnier..

The song stuck in my head today.



My favorite line? "I don't have to be hateful, I can just say 'Bless your heart.'"

Which may be an indication I've been living in the South too long...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fun on a Monday

Coffee. Work. Supervision. Therapy. It's Monday, alright.

I did come across this, however. Which I find kind of fascinating.

Enjoy.

PS, I'm so going to bed at 8 tonight....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday.

What a great day I had.

I went to work, which was, well, great would be pushing it. But tolerable. And I was out by 11, so I went to coffee with the few who were still lingering. It was delightful. Good company, good mocha. Mmm. I spent most of the afternoon on the bike. And then I went to a recruitment dinner with Peng and a couple of the interns, and I think we showed them pretty well what a fun bunch we are.

After coffee I came home and futzed around on the internet for a while (okay, I was looking at jackets. It's the last thing I need to feel safer on the bike. It's surprisingly difficult to find non-black). I'd been waiting on Garth to ride, but he wasn't texting me back so I figured he was probably busy. So, ultimately, I geared up and hit the road.

Literally. Okay, "hit" is an overstatement.

I dropped the bike again. No, that's not true. It tipped, and the easiest way to get it back up was to set it down and start over. Both times I was stopped and perpendicular to a hill. The second time I did it, these two women came over and helped me get it pointed back in the right direction. One of them was a biker chick herself. We had a good chuckle at how female-identified the whole thing was. And then I got back on the bike and off I went.

I rode through a bunch of nearby neighborhoods. Eventually I ventured out onto a slightly bigger street, braved the roundabout, and made it to the big parking lot down the street that Larry used to practice for his road test. I rode in circles for a while. Practiced stopping, turning, weaving. And eventually connected with Garth,who rode over and joined me. He had me running drills for a while - shifting, figure eights, turns from a stop. All very useful and increasing my comfort level. We still have to raise the suspension a bit so I'll stop dragging my pegs in the turns, and I think that'll help my comfort level even more.

I came back home through the same roundabout, and this time - at Garth's urging - did the whole loop. Dragging my left peg, sending up showers of sparks the whole time. Which, for those of you unfamiliar with the idea, is fine. It looks dramatic, but it isn't a big deal at all. Garth? Thought it looked cool. Here's what I was thinking:

"I'mgonnadieI'mgonnadieI'mgonnadieI'mgonnadieI'mnotdeadI'mnotdeadI'mnotdeadI'mnotdeadohthankgod I'm going straight again. Ahh."


It'll get better. In that, I'll feel better soon. I wasn't even close to dying.

The progress I've made in the past couple of days has been good, I think. And I'm definitely doing better than I was at the end of class. Which was WAY better than I was doing at the start of class!

Here's a relevant statistic for you: According to the 2006 NTHSA study by Hurt, et al, which studied over 4,000 motorcycle crashes for causative factors and modifiable variables, only 8% of riders involved in crashes had formal training, like the MSF course I took. Stated another way, 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends.

Makes you think.

Honing one's skills with experienced friends who've had formal instruction, however, is generally encouraged. My instructors in the class said over and over that they highly recommended finding a mentor.

How amazingly lucky am I? I have five.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A tale of two Hogs...

So I finally decided that the Harley Sportster was my bike.

You know how, sometimes, you just know these things? Two weeks ago, I dragged Larry to the Harley dealership in Durham. I had planned to stop in and see a friend who was working there, maybe get these boots I had seen in Long Island. And, you know, while we were there, we sat on a couple of bikes. I threw my leg over this Sportster Extra Low, and was immediately like, yep, this is my bike. It's short enough, it's got a low center of gravity, it's heavy enough that it can accommodate even my weight without shifting said center of gravity up too high to be stable. It was comfortable. The pegs were in the right place. And there was something ineffable...

But no, no. That was way out of my price range! I couldn't afford it. Maybe for my second bike. Moving on.

And then last weekend we went to the other Harley dealership in town to look at their used bikes. Frankly, we went to look at a Yamaha (they have a bunch of pre-owned bikes that they've taken in trade). And lo and behold, they had a used Sportster. Which, that one felt a little high, but the salesman assured me the seat could be lowered a little more. And it had clearly been dropped, but Larry and Garth assured me it was cosmetic damage. And it was only a little out of my price range. But still...

So THEN. Wednesday. I have minimal work commitments, so on my way out to State Hospital, I drift by the first Harley dealership. And, you know, ask what they've got. And we're looking at this one that was priced roughly the same as the first one I'd sat on and he says, "You know, I've got a 1990 Sportster in the warehouse. Why don't you come on back?" So he started it up and let me out on the range and I rode gleefully in circles for five or ten minutes. And the price? Was right. But it was a 20 year old bike...

Hmm.

What do I do?, I asked my boys. Larry said, not an obvious mistake. Garth said, you can do better.

Truthfully? I think they were both right.

And ultimately, Garth prevailed, but only because he did better. He found this bike online, which was a consignment sale through a local independent dealership. It was a 2007 Sportster 883 Low. The price was crazy. And it had - are you ready for this? - 57 miles on it. 57! It's basically a new bike. With engine guards! And street pegs! And standard controls! And stock pipes! And...well, it's black, which I'm not thrilled about, but I'll just have to get a fuchsia jacket or something.

And today? It's all mine.

Garth and I went to check it out. They didn't let us test ride it, which I wasn't thrilled about, but, again, basically a new bike. We fiddled, we looked, we sat, we proverbially kicked the tires. I looked piteously at Garth. He said, you aren't going to find a better deal. I looked piteously at the bike. And I took a deep breath, and said, "I'll take it." And I did.


Isn't she pretty? I've decided it's a she, because apparently the Sportster is a "chick bike." Which, that's fine. I'm a biker chick.

Garth drove it home for me, because I've still never gone above 20 mph. We stopped by Jen and Bill's, and showed it off to them. And then, Garth being the good, good man that he is, we went over to the local high school parking lot, where I rode in circles for a solid hour while Garth froze his ass off watching me (it was not warm today). It was blissful. I didn't hit anything. I didn't drop the bike once. I just rode. And I love the bike. It handles well, the clutch is good, it's not too loud.

It's my bike.

And this whole process has been great for recognizing (again) what an awesome bunch of people I've landed with. Garth, Larry, Bill, Jen - all have been infinitely patient, tolerated my neurosis, soothed my anxieties, and have been amazingly supportive. As they are, to me, in most things. Thanks guys.

Let's ride!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey

So today wasn't so bad.

I left for work at 6:15. Tried to go to Starbucks for coffee, but of course they weren't open yet. Fortunately, the Bojangles across the street was, and they had coffee. But of course I'd forgotten my wallet, and couldn't pay at the Boj with my Starbucks card. So I dug around my bag and my car, and came up with exactly the amount needed for a coffee and a blueberry biscuit. This made me happy.

I got to work, did my prep work, and hit the floor. I ended up rounding on all the eating disorder patients and most of the adolescents. My attending rolled in a little later than I did, but he also brought me donuts. I was done with my notes by 10. I spent a little while talking to John, who was also working today, and had just stepped out the door of the hospital when my pager started going off.

::sigh::

But I made it home, and then to Thanksgiving at Shady Pines. We had a very nice turkey dinner, with the works - cranberry sauce (from a can, which sort of cracked me up), dressing, ham, sweet potato casserole with the little marshmallows, that green bean casserole with crispy onions on top, etc, etc. We sat with some of my parents' new friends, and it was very nice. One of their friends is not a whole lot older than I am, and was only allowed to move in to SP because he's blind. He was also instrumental in creating the rehab organization that has the movers who've moved me the last three times I...um...moved. He and his fiancee were great to talk to. As was her cousin and the cousin's husband, who are also residents there. Their "adopted son" and his wife sat with us, too. It was a nice time. I hung out with my folks for a little while afterwards.

I stopped on the way home and checked in on Larry's cats, who are in my charge for the holiday. I've met them before, and they know I smell like a big dog. Larry maintains that they have no idea what a dog is, but I think cats know. Anywho, they've not had a problem with me before, but do seem to notice that I smell funny. The calico was all purrs and love.


(This is us, sitting in the dark because Larry doesn't appear to have any lights in the living room...)

The black cat, not so much. He kept looking at me suspiciously, like, "Who are you and what have you done with my person?". He was civil, and happily accepted the cat treat I gave him, of course. It's funny, though, because he's got the reputation of being the affectionate one.

It also reminded me, though, of the differences between cats and dogs. I tell my dog, "Hey, Maggie, come here!" and most of the time, she'll come trotting over. She listens, usually. She does a few commands. The cats? After walking around the kitchen with the calico at my heels, I finally sat down and called her over.

She sat.

And looked at me.

And cleaned her face.

Hmm....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can't make this shit up.

I met a woman today - here, in NC - who used to live in a house I lived in. In Chicago. We were obviously some years apart, but we had the same bedroom growing up. It was very, very spooky. And pretty damn cool.

What a weird week I'm having.

What a weird life I have.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Squawk!

I had this incredibly ridiculous, headless chicken kind of day. Early therapy patient, then breakfast with the applicants, rounds, team, family meeting, applicant interview, resident support lunch, family meeting, supervision, therapy...filling the occasional spare minutes with phone calls, notes, emails, and one sticky bun that took me four hours to finish.

All on an inexplicable four hours of sleep.

I don't care if it's 8pm. I'm goin' to bed.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanks

Wait, has it really been since Wednesday that I've posted anything? Is that sentence even English?

Last week was, as you can probably guess, difficult. For a lot of different reasons. But fortunately, the weekend was awesome.

You know my circle of friends that's centered around the coffee shop refers to itself as the Village. Yesterday was the annual Village Thanksgiving celebration. It's a standing tradition, that's been going on for a number of years now from what I gather, but this was obviously my first. And it was wonderful.

It's a potluck, so I spent the afternoon baking cornbread. LOTs of cornbread. Regular, pumpkin, and pumpkin pecan. Because when I bring a side dish, I bring the heck out of it, apparently. There were some mishaps, but I ended up with a large amount of a passable product (actually, the pumpkin was reeeeally good). I picked up Larry (since he lives a stone's throw from me) and his casserole, and off we went to the north end of town. There were probably 25 or 30 of us, and enough food for a small nation. Turkey, dressing, beans of many kinds, scratch-made cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes, some sort of broccoli soup, brussel sprouts, on and on and on. And the desserts!! One friend in particular made the most a-maz-ing cheesecake I think I've ever had. Garth and family came with a fabulous apple tart. Misty made rockin' apple pie. Oh, my gosh, it was such a spread. And the evening concluded with ten or so of us sitting around the fire pit toasting marshmallows and laughing a lot. At one point we ran out of storebought firewood, so our hostess sent her husband into the woods behind the house for more. We set a good dozen marshmallows on fire and I stole sips of Larry's whiskey and two friends melted parts of their shoes on the fire pit. And my sides were a little sore by the end of the evening from laughing so hard.

We debriefed on the way home and discussed how I was a little tense going into the evening. I'm new to the collective, some of whom have known each other for quite some time, and I always worry a little about how I'll be received. But invariably I end up feeling welcome and being reminded how grateful I am to belong to the group.

And then, today, after coffee and breakfast with our inner circle, Larry and Garth and I went bike shopping again. Garth was a good addition to the entourage and is by far the most mechanically minded and knowledgeable of any of us. Larry has been incredibly tolerant of me dragging him all over North Carolina while I try to make up my mind about what sort of bike I want. Both of them have been very patient and reassuring and, being very proficient and experienced riders, a wealth of wisdom. We made some real progress on the motorcycle front, today, I think, even if I didn't actually come home with a bike. But I was driving back from Southeastern Nowhere, NC this afternoon, with Garth in my back seat fiddling on his iPhone and Larry next to me humming some Aerosmith song that had been playing at the Harley dealership, and I couldn't help but smile as we headed into the lengthening shadows of an afternoon well spent.

I'm so grateful to be continually collecting good people in my life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oh, what a tiring day.

I wish I could come up with some moving words of wisdom tonight. Instead, I give you the song that's been rolling around in my head all day...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day "off"

So, I took today off so I could get some things done that I can't do on the weekends. I got about half of it accomplished.

Did go to the DMV, took the written motorcycle test, gave them my little card and $18.75, and in 5-7 days will have a reissued driver's license with a big "M" on it, which says I'm allowed to ride a motorcycle on public streets.

God help us all.

Nah, it's fine. It did take me longer than anticipated, though, partly because I went to the one in the county where I used to live. The lines were usually shorter, and beyond that, I got a call while I was at coffee this morning that one of my patients was out of his prescription of one of those things you can't call in or prescribe electronically. So the trip worked double duty, because I went out to the clinic at State Hospital and wrote him this month's scripts. But it also meant I had to move Maggie's vet appointment. I ran some other errands while I was out there, and made it back with just enough time to check my email before I took Maggie to her rescheduled appointment. Which, we went to a new vet today for the first time. Which turned out to be crazy expensive, even with the "senior dog" discount.

You heard me. Senior dog discount. Maggie's in the AARC (you know. The American Association of Retired Canines). No wonder she gets on so well at Shady Pines.

But the vet was WONDERFUL. And she said my dog is awesome. And she reassured me that the bump on my puppy's head is just a bump, not head cancer. And Maggie is no longer out of heartworm pills and has a nice, shiny new 3-year rabies shot. And the vet has weekend hours for established patients, which we now are. Win. Oh, and they took what appears to be a mug shot for her file:


Where are the numbers, though?

Of course, though, it took longer than I'd hoped, which meant I was late to therapy. Which always ends on time, of course, and I made it in on schedule to my next appointment, which was...interesting.

And then I had chocolate for dinner.

I'm so glad I'm going back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Someday this is going to be really funny.

So after I hung out at coffee for a while, I had lunch with a friend from work. Which was tasty, and it was nice to have time to catch up. And then I started Day 2 of BikeQuest 2010. Larry and I reconvened (after I stopped by my parents', because they were worried. Maggie was acting like she wasn't feeling very well and her nose wasn't cold enough) and were headed to Western Nowhere, NC, to look at a Honda Nighthawk, when he was like, um, have you ridden Jen's yet? Maybe we should do that before we drive all the way to WN.

I hate it when he's all logical.

So I called Bill, because Jen was up on a ladder. I asked him, he asked her, and of course, Jen was like "Sure!! Come on over!" Because she's just that awesome. Bill had the bike all pulled out for me, but it was facing the wrong direction. So, okay, I hop on, mess around with the clutch a little to find the "friction zone" (the spot where the clutch engages and it starts moving the bike forward when in first gear) and I'm turning the bike around....and it's turning...and it's turning...and it's leaning...anditsleaninnnnnng......and boom. I'm down. Under the bike.

As usual.

Okay, fine. We got it back up. They bravely put me back on it. I get the thing moving, and it's nice! I get to the cul-de-sac, I do a little turn. There's some shifting, there's some breaking, there's some leaning, no problem. Until, of course, I try to stop. And I put my foot down...and the ground isn't there. It's about two inches lower than I need it to be. And then it's leaning...and I'm trying to lean the other way but it's still leaning....aaaaaaaand I'm under the bike again.

Fuckin' a.

Apparently my head hit the curb when I went down that time - not hard enough that I even noticed it inside the helmet, but hard enough to make a noise that scared Jenny. So I crawled out from under the bike again. The boys got it back up. I did a lot of swearing. And we concluded the Nighthawk is too tall for me.

Well...okay. They concluded it was too tall for me. I concluded I was the worst rider ever. Although apparently I looked fine when the thing was actually moving, so on the whole, I consider it a win. But mind you, it took a lot of reassurance from Jen, Bill, and Larry that I actually did look fine while riding and my legs are just too damn short.

We went back to Larry's and I sat on his bike for a while. We concluded his was too small for me. I felt a little like Goldilocks. So which one is "just right"?

That remains to be seen. Since the bike I really wanted got sold, one bike we were looking at was just like Jen's and one was just like Larry's, and the fourth one was in South Far Away, NC, we scrapped the mission. I invited myself back over to Jen and Bill's, hung out there for a little while until I went and hung out with my folks for dinner. And it makes sense to wait a minute - I'm taking a mental health day tomorrow, and one of the things I'm doing is going to the DMV to get the M added to my license. So, after that, I can actually test drive the things myself (don't worry. I'll take one of the experienced people with me to do an actual test drive). Meanwhile, I keep watching Craigslist. And I continue to hope the Harley Davidson Fairy will visit in the night.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Biker babe

Nope, don't have one yet. But looking for a bike was the predominant activity of my day.

Had coffee this am. Made a side trip to this little local place which advertises the world's best BLTs. Had a BLT for breakfast. It was tasty, but I'm not sure I'd be quite so generous with the title (I mean, I haven't tried ALL the BLTs in the world, after all). Got into a complicated decision-making process about who was going with me. And ultimately, Larry - who's one of the most experienced riders in our group - and I wandered off in search of Kate's Motorcycle.

We started at the shop where I've gotten my gear thusfar. I sat on half a dozen bikes or so, messed with the pegs (which is the fancy biker word for pedals), clutched the clutch, played with the buttons. Found a few I liked, compared the ones I had on my radar from Craigslist. Then we went to the local Harley dealer, where I sat on my favorite bike yet (which was way too expensive). And then we hit another bike shop, where I sat on nothing but got a lot of helpful advice. Which was...well, helpful.

We finally ended up back at Larry's apartment, with me sitting on his bike. Which, actually, I liked. But then we stood around yapping for a while. So long that the skittish little neighborhood stray hopped right up on the bike.

This would be the same neighborhood stray that Larry's been trying to convince me to take as a pet. I was very resistant to this idea, even thought Maggie would LOVE LOVE LOVE a cat (Maggie's a cat person). I'm allergic. And I don't need another animal to worry about, nor another expensive thing in my life (the bike will be enough). And I don't really like most cats. I'm a dog person. Right? Right.

Except my resolve is wavering since I met the cat.

(I do not need a cat. I do not need a cat. I do not need a cat.)

He's awful cute, though, isn't he?

Friday, November 12, 2010

You know those days....

...when, no matter what you do, you feel like you absolutely, positively, totally, and completely CANNOT do anything right?

Yep. Been one of those.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

BEEP! BEEP!! BEEEEEEP!

It's the most irritating part of my job.

That noise my pager makes. During hours I'm not supposed to be working.

I'm wishing right now that I'd gone into one of those specialties that boasts a "pager-free lifestyle" (although I don't think any of them ever really do, especially not as a resident).

That's alls I'm going to say about it. Except this: I REALLY AM NOT INCOMPETENT! And this is not an emergency!! And I really don't want to talk to Patient Relations at 8:30pm.

I should really start leaving the damn thing in my car. Except I'm too hypervigilant about my patients...

At least I have Maxine to keep things in perspective....

Monday, November 08, 2010

Best foot forward

Look! It's my right tootsie!



It was a long day. I actually had a whole other blog post written, but then decided that I didn't like it. So I'm posting an x-ray of my foot instead.

Which, incidentally, still hurts. ::whimper::

Time for some ibuprofen and snuggling in bed with my puppy....

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Success

So, I've spent the last two days riding in circles (and weaves, and s-curves, and over 2x4s) around a parking lot. On a very badly abused motorcycle. I dropped the 300-lb Kawasaki Eliminator on my foot. Twice, in fact. I stalled the bike out at least three hundred MILLION times, and I don't even know how. And yet, I'm currently in possession of a card that will allow me to walk into the NC DMV, take a ridiculous written test, pay $10, and then have a Class M endorsement on my license.

And then I can legally ride a motorcycle on the streets of North Carolina.

Hey, I didn't say I'd ride it well.

Nah, I did okay. I mean, I passed, after all. And my instructor commented that I came a long way (I can only imagine what I looked like yesterday!). Of course, he told me this during the talk when he said specifically to me, "You need to get a bike. You need to start riding. You need the practice."

I didn't love it the way I'd expected to. I think that I will, actually, but he's not wrong that I need practice. I went in thinking, "How hard can this be?" and left thinking "Holy shit, that's hard work!" I expected to be a natural. Why, I don't know, because it's not like I'm a natural at walking or anything requiring balance. But I expected handling the bike to be a lot easier. I'm wicked sore today - in my back, my thighs...oh, yeah, and my foot.

Right? Because my feet weren't messed up enough.

So I was trying to come to a stop yesterday and I think I had the handlebars turned when I hit the front brake. And I dropped the bike. It just got away from me. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get away from it. The engine (read: the heavy part) fell on my foot, and of course the first thing I thought was Shit. I just broke my foot, didn't I? But I pulled it out and put some weight on it and it hurt, but it was stable.

So what did I do with my potentially broken foot? I got back up on the bike.

Okay, and I cried a little bit.

But I got back in line and I stuck it out for the next five hours. I went out to dinner with Jen and Bill for moral support ("I'm the worst rider ever!" "Uh, no, let me tell you some stories..."). I came home and took some ibuprofen. And I woke up at 4:30 am (thanks, Daylight Savings Time) with a very sore foot.

So I made the time calculations around 5, and figured I could probably make it through the ER in time to get to class if the dumb thing wasn't fractured. So I packed up my gear and went to have the foot looked at. It went a little something like this:

Front desk nurse: How can I help you? 
Me: I think I might have broken my foot.
FDN: How?
Me: I dropped a motorcycle on it. 
FDN: What part?
Me: Well, the pain's in the lateral -
FDN: No, I mean, what part of the motorcycle?


So it turns out both he and the resident who treated me rode. I had an x-ray and a very nice chat with the doc about what sort of protective gear I should get. Which started with "You need to get you some damn boots."

He warned me to be careful out there and offered me some painkillers I didn't take. And then I got in my car and headed towards the community college, all the while arguing in my head about whether or not I should go to class. But my foot hurt! But it wasn't broken. Was I using that as an excuse to not go back? I could've quit. Easily. I almost did. I mean, I'd already decided to take the class again in the spring. So why bother?

But my stubbornness prevailed. I got coffee and more motrin and I sucked it up. Although I dropped the bike again, doing pretty much the same thing. I thought about leaving then. I thought about leaving several times after that. After all, I had such a great excuse...

But I stayed.

And I'm glad I did.

By the end of the day, it was a lot more enjoyable. I felt a lot more comfortable, even on my crappy bike. The anxiety abated a bit. Things started making more sense. Leaning into the curve was actually a lot of fun.

And so, we'll see. I'm going to look at bikes soon. I'm going to think about what I want and what I can handle skillfully, emotionally and fiscally. And either way I've got the M on my license. Go me!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Start your engines....

Today blew.

But tonight was my very first MSF motorcycle riding and safety class. Four hours tonight, and then ten hours each tomorrow and Sunday. It's a lot to pack in to a weekend! Tonight was all classroom, and made me anxious about the whole process. I'm a little bit worried my whole left-right dyspraxia issue (read: I sometimes can't tell my right from my left). I'm a little bit worried I won't be coordinated enough to do the whole both-hands-both-feet thing. I'm a little bit worried about falling down. I'm a little bit worried about going too fast.

But I'm also a lot excited. Yay! Motorcycles tomorrow!!!!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Clogged

So one of my patients looks at me the other day and says, "You know...I love long hair on a woman."

It was a wildly inappropriate thing to say, yes, but it's not a narrowly held sentiment. In fact, part of the reason I grew my hair back out to its current almost-at-my-waist length is because a guy I was kind of dating when I had short hair saw old  pictures of me and said, "Damn, that hair is hot as hell." And, you know, I like it better this way, too.

But here's the thing - it's not all Pantene Roses and Redken Dreams.

A, it gets tangled up in everything. Two, I shed like a fiend, and it's a lot more noticeable. But, three...you will not believe what came out of my shower drain tonight.

And on a related note, it's time I got a man.

Not that I wasn't wildly successful at unclogging my shower drain tonight with a makeshift coat-hanger-turned-pipe-snake-hair-puller-outer-thingy. There's no longer four inches of standing water at the end of my shower. I won't be constantly slipping on the conditioner residue for at least the next couple of months. But I would greatly have appreciated being able to twirl my long auburn locks around my finger and say, "Honeeeeey...."

Oh, who am I kidding. Any man attached to me would've been handing me the pliers.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

There's clearly something wrong with me...

I'm wrapping bagels to put them in the freezer (I brought home two dozen, which I distributed between friends and family and my tummy, except for the last eight) (and no, that's not what's wrong with me, be patient) and I'm humming to myself, and suddenly I bust out with this song:



From Sophomore Madrigals. Sixteen years ago. And I don't remember it being in German. But I'm sure we sounded just as good.

Still, it's pleasant, and I thought I'd share. 

It was a long ass, 12-hour day today. Which was supposed to be longer, because I was supposed to meet Gomer at 7. But I told him I had a meeting. I barely slept last night and my knee hurt and I couldn't handle the gym tonight. So we try again next week.

Oy. What a day. I'm so not ready to be back at work.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Week at (some) Length

So I'm home from New York.

It was such a good week.

Let's see, I left you last on Sunday night....

Monday Buie and I hit Long Island. Really? We ate New York. We had bagels for breakfast (how did I not know about these? Long Island bagels are, like, unbelievably good).We had New York pizza for lunch. We went to a diner for dinner. SO yummy. In fact, I ate a lot of New York staples over the next week. Damn, that's good food up there.

We also hung out, caught up, visited her sister (whom I know) and her brother (whom I hadn't met yet, but have been hearing about for years, from both her and her mom). We got mani-pedis. It was lovely. We met her boss for dinner, too. She's a hoot. In that "hoot is code for crazy" kind of way. But it's a generally good crazy.

Oh, my gawd, I'd forgotten just how much I missed Buie. But I pulled up to her house and it was like I'd seen her yesterday. You know how you have those few friends where you could literally not see each other for five years and then just pick up right where you left off? Buie's also one of those very few people with whom I can be totally and utterly myself - not just the good stuff, or just the neurotic stuff, but all of it, plus that little bit of really well-hidden crazy I rarely let anyone in on besides my therapist.

I also got to meet Buie's husband, whom I never had. He's very tall (Buie not so much). I liked him. Not a big talker, but an affable guy. And I met his dad, too, which was amusing.

Tuesday was my first day of the conference. WHICH WAS HUGE. Three floors of conference rooms full of Child Psychiatrists! It was so good, though. SO good. Did I mention the good part? And I had falafel off the falafel truck. That? Also so good. And I did a really good job with the whole public transit thing. Like, even I was impressed with the cleverness of me, what with the whole LIRR to the MTA and then walking a mile to the Hilton in a city I'd never seen before. Without getting mugged or looking (too much) like a tourist.

Here's your Wordless Wednesday:



Thursday was a very triggering morning at the conference, even though I went to the BEST talk of the whole week. I left early and sat in Central Park for a while (so soothing) before getting back on the subway. But you know what I really loved about Thursday? Meeting Barb!!! In real life!!! Like, face to face. Once again, it was as if I'd known her for years ('cause I have). I walked into her house and immediately it was like I'd been there a million times. We played with the dogs and hung out and then we had dinner with her daughters. Oh, my gosh, it was the best. AND she even gave me SOCKS!!!



Love.

We also worked on her daughter Jane's Halloween costume. She was a giant green gummi bear. It was hilarious and way too much fun. I mean, really, any time there's a glue gun and duct tape involved - especially lime green duct tape - I'm there. Oh, my gosh, and the dogs - Austin is SUCH a love. So cuddly! So hyper!! Such a lab puppy!! Scout tried to eat Maggie at one point, but they got over it. I loved 'em.



Friday was conference-y. And then I came home and played with the dogs until Buie got home. That night I met some of Buie's crazier friends.

Did I mention the dogs?? I LOVE HER DOGS. She has two Vizslas (they're Hungarian pointers), Rusty and Buddy. They're just adorable. The first night I was there, Buddy, the older one (he's three), came up and burrowed under my covers and slept with me all night. He kept that up for several days, actually, until Buie locked him in with her at night (I would've done the same thing if Maggie had abandoned me). Maggie and Rusty (he's two, and the more puppyish of the two) played and wrestled and ran and chased all week. She and the boys got along famously. And I...I mean. I just adored them.


(Buddy's kind of my favorite. Don't tell Rusty. But Buddy's sort of an old soul...)


There were such awesome dogs on this trip....



Saturday was more Long Islandishness. AND we went back to the long side of the island (yeah, I made that up) and hung out with Barb some more. Buie and Barb? Clicked right away. The three of us had a good, good time. And then Saturday night we hung out with Buie's boss again. And her dog! Hilarity ensued.

Sunday...I didn't leave as early as I'd planned. We got some bagels to take home, we got a present for Peng (who was AWESOME and covered me for the week), we got into an amusing situation with a crazy bird lady. We ran a couple of errands. And then...I had to leave. I mean, I had to.

We'd stalled as much as we could. I apparently tried to leave half my stuff there (I still can't find my deodorant). I hugged the dogs like three hundred times.

It was really hard to leave New York.

I mean, I'm glad to be back to my people and my life and my own bed. And today I ran around and got some things done and saw my shrink and my supervisor and my chiropractor. But there was a distinct lack of Buie, Barb, and Buddy (and Rusty, even if he doesn't alliterate. And Austin. And Jane and Ana. And even Scout).

Thanks for a great week, NYC!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The week in a nutshell

I didn't have regular internet access.

Mags and I had an awesome time. We're both pretty sad to leave our friends (both human and canine) in NY. The conference was also useful.

But, alas, we are both pretty worn out from the drive home. Fortunately I had the forethought to take tomorrow off as a vacation day, so I'll fill you in on the week tomorrow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lawn Guy Land

So I'm in New York.

What should've been an 8-ish hour drive turned into a TWELVE HOUR TRIP with traffic. Holy crap.

But now I'm at Buie's. She's like the best hostess ever and even if I haven't seen her for reals in 5 years it's like no time has passed. Except she's married and I'm a psychiatrist, little things like that.

It's one am. I really need to go to bed. We're going for real NY bagels in the am and then kicking around the Island. And, of course, plotting my journey into Manhattan on Tuesday for the conference....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Procrastination

I didn't get nearly enough done today.

Ah well.

Tomorrow I leave for NYC for a child psychiatry conference (don't rob my house. People have keys, and I'm underpaid, so there's nothing there worth taking, anyway). I'm pretty excited. The conference should be really good. AND I've never been to New York City before, except for a two hour layover at JFK. AND I'm staying with my good friend Buie, whom I haven't seen in like a million billion years. AND I get to see my friend Barb, whom I've never even met in person! AND Maggie gets to come to NY with me. AND...um...did I mention I'm really excited?

I'm also not really packed yet...

I'm a little anxious, and it's been getting in the way, frankly. I've never been to NYC before. I haven't been to a child psych conference before. I don't know what to do with all those child psychiatrists! There's going to be like a bazillion people I don't know. Not to mention, the last time I went to a national conference was right before my life fell apart in NH. Which....okay....this is a whole different time. And a whole different life. And, okay, I'm pretty good at dealing with people I don't know.

I'm just wishing I was feeling a little better about myself these days.

One thing I did manage to accomplish today (after spending like three hours at the coffee shop) was procuring motorcycle gloves. My riding and safety course is the weekend after I get back, so today Larry and I went shopping for the last item required for the course (he needed winter riding gloves, too). We spent way too much time trying on the same four pairs of gloves. I decided faster than he did, though, and wandered over to look at armored jackets (which were surprisingly more reasonably priced than I thought). I promptly got stuck in one when the zipper malfunctioned. He couldn't get me out of it. I finally got it off over my head. It was really comical. And I was hesitant to try on any others, but I think I found one I like. I took a picture of the tag and tucked that away for later. But in the midst of all this, I'm being all neurotic and anxious, and I keep pointing out my anxiety and neurosis. And Larry finally tells me, "You know you're no different from anyone else, right?"

It was, perhaps, a little bit of the pot calling the kettle neurotic. But it was a nice reminder, too, how we all have a little bit of crazy.

One of these days I'll really be able to own mine. I think that's the goal, you know? Not to eliminate it, of course - it's what makes us who we are - but to work with it. To reduce distress.  It's what I do professionally, and it's what I'm trying to do personally.

It's kinda tough....

Friday, October 22, 2010

And this is partly why I voted for him.

Think Dubbya would've ever taken the time to make a statement like this? Or even thought about it in the first place. I'm going to guess not.

Continuing our theme this week of disarming bullies, I give you, the POTUS.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It really does.



Honest.

There was a push today to wear purple in support of those LGBTQIA kids who get bullied and harassed at school. And, by extension, all kids who get bullied.

It was a timely day for one of my patients. His sexuality is still mythical, from what I can tell. But he's an easy target for bullies. In fact, I'm pretty sure I knew this kid in high school - we all did. Introverted, sensitive, socially awkward. Keeps to himself, so there's no one to stick up for him. Doesn't fight back, so he just keeps taking it.

Until, one day, he won't. I'm worried about what that means.

My hope is that he'll use therapy, learn to say, "Yeah, you people are insecure, and fuck you all, I'm fine," and get on with his life (remember when I said I knew this kid in high school? I still know this kid as an adult. He's done quite well for himself). But there's other possibilities. At best, he limps along, holds it together, emerges on the other side intact. At worst? That's the stuff that keeps shrinks and parents up at night. The kids that externalize take guns to school in their trenchcoats and shoot up the school. The kids that take it to heart? Kill themselves.

I don't like either of those options.

So, today, on purple-people-against-hate-and-bullying day, I gave him the "It gets better" talk. The "everyone in high school (even the kid you think is perfect) feels bad about themselves and awkward sometimes". I say, do you believe me? He says, no. I say, then I'll have to keep telling you. Don't give me words, give me proof, he says. I think about this, and then I tell him, "Look. I'm in 26th grade. I survived. Every one of us survived. It wasn't easy for any of us. I promise you, it will get better."

I still don't think he believed me.

When did I become "that" grown-up?

I'm not one for cheesy pep talks, really. Especially not in therapy. But it seemed to fit today. I don't know if he heard it, but I really wanted to tell him, I'm here for you. I really wanted to give him some hope.

Because, no matter what the bullies say - whether they're in the locker room or the boardroom - just because someone says something, especially something meant to keep you down, doesn't mean it's true.

Just keep moving. It really does get better.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mousey business

Dear mice who were previously living in my house:

I know there were a bunch of you. I've given up my "lone mouse on the grassy knoll" theory.

But REALLY.

There has only been minimal evidence - ONE TINY HOLE in a bag of organic turbinado sugar. TINY - that you ever were in my kitchen. You don't seem to have eaten anything.

So why is there mouse poop EVERYWHERE in my basement? I haven't seen any new poop, which makes me think you've relocated to the neighbors'. Okay. But every time I look somewhere I haven't previously? More damn mouse crap.

It's disgusting. And I hate it.

Alls I'm sayin' is, watch your step. I have friends. With cats. And you know how badly Maggie wants a cat.

Cheers,

Kate

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Intern, turn, turn

So I'm playing intern again today.

We sent our actual interns to the beach this weekend. Unfortunately, it's pretty cold here in NC. But I bet they're having fun anyway.

I, on the other hand, am not at the beach. I'm sitting in the Neurology call room waiting for the 8pm shift change. Which isn't so bad.

I mean, except for this, in the shower...

And the mousetraps in the call room itself.

What is it about me and roaches and vermin?

Although....look at the publisher of the bottom book. That, at least, cracks me up.

It's been interesting. I haven't actually been on a non-psychiatric service in, what, over two years? And I think my neuro month was about three years ago. I was really anxious about this morning. Turns out, of course, I needn't have been worried. It's like falling off a bike.

I forget sometimes, too, what a difference it makes to be a senior resident. I was thinking earlier about my first day on Neurology as an intern. As luck would have it, it was also my first day at Baby Blue. Ever. There was supposed to be someone replacing the anesthesia intern, so they told me, hey, don't worry about it. But of course, that person didn't show up until Tuesday. Suddenly? Oh. Hey. Could you cover his patients? Just go see them and write notes. Don't worry too much about it.

Yeah. Right. Not to mention, I had no idea how to use the computers here. I couldn't remember how to write orders. I'd totally forgotten my log in for the electronic medical record.

I sat in the workroom, right off the nurses station, trying not to cry. I was absolutely determined to figure this out. I called the help desk. I dove in. And, of course, I figured out enough to get by. They were happy.

Of course, that didn't actually address that I knew practically NOTHING about neurology. Recovering gynecologist, remember?

But it turned out to be a pretty good month. I had good attendings and reasonable residents and my co-intern was AWESOME. I had a nice white cloud for call. I caught some really interesting cases. And generally, I had a good time. Notably, I was the only one in my class who actually liked their neuro month...

So, today? Not so bad. And I get two days off in compensation for this, one of which I'm taking tomorrow.

Which is useful, because I could really use some sleep. Yesterday was loooong. I went for coffee, then did the headless chicken thing preparing for Cleo's not-a-baby-shower (nothing like doing it all in the last few hours before the party, you know?). Then, of course, was the actual not-a-shower. Which was a lot of fun. Fewer people actually showed up than had RSVP'd, but we had lots of fun, even if there was too much cake (is there such a thing?).

I ran home, showered, ran and picked Maggie from my folks', ran to drop her off at home, and then ran to Jen and Bill's. A bunch of us went to a not-so-local haunted house last night.

I'll be honest. I had significant reservations about this. We didn't leave until 7:30 pm, which I knew was not going to get me home at any reasonable hour. I was crabby and wanted to hide from the world before I even got to Jen and Bill's. And, let's be frank - PTSD girl in a Haunted House? Not necessarily the best idea. But I like my friends. And it's fall. And really, why be responsible?

It was okay. I enjoyed the time with my people. The Haunted House itself was pretty good. The headless horseman rode up on a real horse! I, however, spent too much time figuring out what was going to jump out at me from where, which figures were props and which ones were people. I don't really relish that feeling. I don't really like being scared - it brings up too much. I don't like people getting up in my face. It was reassuring knowing that they weren't allowed to touch me, but they came closer than a bratty younger brother in the backseat who's "not touching you! Not touching you!". On the whole, thought, it was fine. And I enjoyed the drive there and back and the silliness waiting in line (for-ev-er). And my friends were pretty amusing to watch going through the haunted house.

I did get insulted by a redneck zombie, though. He came up to me and said, "Looks like we could feed on this one for a couple of months." I was pretty pissed about that. In fact, I'm still kind of pissed about it. But, then again, he did invite me to stay for dinner....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I have no idea what this has to do with birthdays...


....but it came up when I ran "birthday" through a Google Image search. And I liked it.

Happy birthday to me.

It was such a good day. Good coffee time this morning, good therapy session, then I went and bought a motorcycle helmet (I'm registered for the course. I'm acquiring gear. I guess this is actually happening!). There were cupcakes at our test (inservice exam part two). Cleo and Olga and I went for mani/pedis. And then a whole bunch of my friends came out for dinner - including friends from two different social circles. Who blended really well. AND there was (almost authentic) Chicago deep dish pizza - broccoli, peppers, and feta, my very favorite from the place we had dinner.

Plus, like, everybody in the world (well, in my world) who wasn't actually here texted, called, or left me a Facebook message.

I love my people.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sadness

We got some sad news at work today. My friend's niece drowned in their family pool. This is the same friend whose father died not long before my mom's stroke.

Cleo and Olga and I had lunch out on the patio today in an effort to regroup. We were talking about how we all walk around in such significant denial about the tenuous connection between life and death, how at any moment any of us could be gone, the ones we hold dear could be taken from us. But, we have to, you know? Because otherwise we'd take to our beds in fear and never leave...

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family tonight. Meanwhile, hug 'em if you've got 'em.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy National Coming Out Day

Yeah, I'm straight, but I've long sympathized with the LGBTQIA community, even back when it was just called "gay people." I feel for their inability to change who they are, and that society will tell them they're defective for it. Did you know that you can still be fired from your job in 29 states for being lesbian, gay or bisexual and in 38 states for being transgender? This is 2010, people.

Twelve years ago I spent a morning washing off hateful graffiti from our college campus. That day was the only day in my four years there that our daily Chapel service was canceled. Instead, we had an anti-hate rally. Not pro-gay, not anti-anti-gay, just anti all forms of hate. I was so impressed with my little, conservative, religious Midwestern university.

What I was not prepared for? Was the number of people I thought I knew, liked, and respected that declined to participate. They couldn't condone that, they said. Someone very important to me at the time stated he couldn't get behind that, and besides, he was junior faculty, he couldn't be seen at something like this. Two hours later I was standing on the lawn holding hands with my physics professor - even more junior faculty - singing We Shall Overcome. I learned a lot about some people that day that I would have rather not known.

Meanwhile, now, over a decade later, in 20-fucking-10, there's a growing epidemic of suicides among GLBT teens and young adults. There's still so far to go, my friends.

We shall overcome. Someday.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not enough weekend

It's been busy. It's been fine. It's been full of good friends.

Met my new trainer this morning. Kit. Yep, Kit and Kate. She's perky.

Dug through the storage unit for an hour in 80 degree weather later.

I need more weekend.

But I have a 7am patient, so I reeeeeeeeeeeeally need to get to bed! More tomorrow. I'm working on a substantive post in my head.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Sated

Psychiatry Book Club tonight. Had a WONDERFUL time. Did lots of arguing with Scott. Pulled Sonia into it. Great contributions from the underclass residents. It was very much a success. Also? There was good Indian food involved. Can't go wrong there, unless their buffet is both expensive and expansive and you all end up eating too much and have to drive home with your (new, stiff) jeans unbuttoned.

Just sayin'.

But now it's 11pm and I'm a sleepy Kate...

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Who knew?

It's National Depression Screening Day.

Which, frankly, is every day in my world.

(Click here or here for a link)

Mind your mental health, people.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I know it's Tuesday, but...

Love is in the air.

No, sadly, not around here. But as a child of the '80s (and thus a teen of the early '90s), I couldn't help but totally love this:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Today...

...not so good.

I'm not really sure why, to be honest. It was just...difficult.

I think it's still part of my Crisis of Something. But wow am I in one of those awash in your emotions, stuck all up in your head, mulling over life kind of funks.

And I have a 7am patient tomorrow. So I'm going to bed on old lady time.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

It may just be a matter of time, really....

...until I buy a donorcycle.

Relax, not this weekend. But I've been thinking about it for about ten years, and now I've known people who've ridden that long, and also now that I have a lot more bikers in my social group, I have a better appreciation for the benefits of safe riding techniques, good gear, etc, etc. So....I'm still thinking about it.

The weather was beauuuuuuutiful in NC today. Cool, clear, gorgeous fall day. Garth and Larry had been planning a ride today, and I half-jokingly invited myself along. Until they both were like, "Um, yeah, why don't you come with us?"

So, I did.

They warned me it was going to be long. I said, okay. They warned me it was likely to be fast at times. I said, great. We devised a plan for how to find me if I got lost. They suited up, I opened the sunroof and rolled down all the windows. And off we went.

We had a hell of a good time.

The drive was absolutely gorgeous. I'm hoping we can do that again in a couple of weeks when the fall colors have really developed (I may try to con my way onto the back of someone's bike for that, actually, but the Jeep really was excellent). The roads were a little twisty and the countryside was quaint and it was very pleasant.

We ended up at this lake, first driving across the dam that held the lake in. It was incredible. The view was absolutely spectacular. We stopped for a while to admire the view, and in the midst of that whole sitting out looking at the lake thing, I commented, "I didn't even know we had a dam."

Garth said, "Virginia has a dam."

Hmm, well, good for Virginia, I thought, kind of wondering what that had to do with anything. We enjoyed the scenery for a bit longer and then saddled back up, and were off again until we got lost. This ultimately entailed pulling off at a visitor's center (that was closed, but the boys TOTALLY got credit for stopping to ask directions) and fussing with my GPS, which Larry was messing around with and got somewhat discombobulated so I took it back and hit the "My Current Location" button. And made quite a discovery.

"SonofaBITCH!" It suddenly dawned on me. "We really ARE in Virginia!!"

They both looked at me like, um, yeah. Don't you remember the big "Welcome to Virginia" sign??

Totally missed the sign. Apparently saw the one next to it that said radar detectors were illegal, but missed the giant one announcing I was passing into a whole different state.

We made a pit stop shortly after that revelation as one of the bikes needed filling up and all three of us needed draining, so we stopped at this little gas 'n' go kind of place. So I walk into the little general store, and of course the first thing you see coming through the door was the display of ammunition, fireworks, and liquor. There was also a large tub full of minnows and fishing poles hanging from the ceiling. It was...quite an experience.

This led to more fun being poked at the city girl, of course...

But we made it back and the drive back was also just as lovely. We stopped at a local place for beers and a late lunch (since it was about 4pm by this point) and some good conversation.

I finally made it to the gym after that, came home, spent a really long time trying to comb the knots out of my hair from having the windows open in the car, and then made my way back to Jen and Bill's. Maggie got to come too, and she and Eddie had a wonderful time running around and exploring the backyard. Jen, Bill, Leigh, Garth, Garth's son, and I sat around the fire pit and enjoyed the crackling fire and the yummy, yummy s'mores, and a couple of other friends joined us later. Once again, good time, good company, good conversation. And, of course, chocolate.

One thing (of many) that I love about this circle of friends is that, you know, I see them every single morning. You'd think that, being in the different life situations, different occupations, and being from different backgrounds that we wouldn't have that much to say  to one another. But we can still do things like spend an entire day together and still look forward to seeing each other at the coffee shop in the morning.

It's good. It's really, really good.