Friday, July 30, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tired Thursday

I'm home. I'm exhausted. And I'm going to bed shortly.

I still hate funerals. But, in the spirit of Love Thursday (which I haven't done in a while, I know), here's ten things I loved about this trip:

1. Being surrounded by family. I forget sometimes how much I enjoy them.

2. The fact that we could put the things that have complicated our relationships aside to come together and support each other. It's a shame it sometimes takes a tragedy.

3. How Greeks take at least 30 minutes to say goodbye.

4. How my "little cousins" are growing into such good and thoughtful people.

5. Having a conversation about tutti-frutti naturopathic stuff with my cousin while sitting at her kitchen table eating chocolate covered espresso beans.

6. Feeling like at least some of my family has started thinking of me as an adult (even if, in that context, I don't always).

7. Time to think while driving through beautiful scenery.

8. Satellite radio.

9. How well my folks did. Also how well they did with Mags.

10. That I have awesome people back home who could hold down the fort and let me be gone for three days on a day's notice.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


No, it's not cold. But it is late. And it was an exhausting day. Hopefully I'll have time to write more about that tomorrow. And I don't have a good Wordless Wednesday picture to share, so instead, I give you this. It's cute, even to dog people.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm safely in Ohio.

It was a good decision to come.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The long and the short of it

So, last week, when I heard that my cousin wasn't doing so well, I made plans in my head. Who was going to cover for me, what I needed to reschedule at work, who was going to check up on my mom and dad while I was gone, what would need to happen if they wanted to go with, what arrangements needed to be made so I could represent the family in a difficult time. And I had a plan. Alls I needed, though, of course, was....a plan.

So here's something I know about myself: I'm not as proactive as I might seem. I'm actually very reactive - and though I may come up in advance with alternate scenarios of how to deal with various permutations of what "might" happen, I rarely act until I have something to which I can react. So although by the time I got the news of her actual passing I had three (hundred) possible scenarios lined up for the various dates and times they could hold the family actually had to, you know, tell me what I was doing. Which contingency to activate.

As it turns out, they had some difficulty getting my cousin's body released to the out-of-state funeral home (I was thinking about this yesterday. I can't even begin to figure that one out. It's not like they can just strap her in the car and go...), so we didn't have actual plans until this afternoon. The funeral is Wednesday. Okay, I thought, check. Commence with plan for Wednesday!

Until, of course, my other cousin, her brother, called me and said, "Don't come."


And then my uncle texted and was like, "You shouldn't go."


Both of them, I think, were looking out for me. My cousin's point was that I had my hands full and should use my time to come at a happier occasion (like an upcoming wedding, he suggested. To which I haven't been invited, actually...). He's not wrong - my cup definitely runneth over right now (Happy first day of fellowship! Here's our policy on bereavement leave). But...later isn't really the point....

And so I polled my coworkers. I argued with my parents. I felt confused and abandoned. And then I did what I should've done in the very first place - I emailed my deceased cousin's oldest daughter - who, frankly, also seems to have an interest in healing this rift in the family - and I said, "What is it that *you* want me to do?"

She said, "Come be with us."

And so go I shall.


It also didn't help that today - my very first day of fellowship!! - I rounded with the pedi neurology team. Whoa. That was...devastating. In the middle of rounds we got called to do a brain death exam on a four year old who'd been found floating in a pool. EMS and the ER had apparently worked on this kid for over an hour to get any signs of life back.

We walked into the patient's room, right, and there, amidst multiple IV lines, tubes, wires, fluids running with life-maintaining meds, there in this chaos was one of the most beautiful, sweet little cherubs I'd ever seen in my life. Who was, very clearly from the moment I walked through the door, merely a shell. What the family describes as a vibrant, friendly, personable and loving child was simply gone. There was just nothingness. And my heart broke.

Life and always amazes me. One expects trumpets, fanfare, a glowing ball of light, something, right? But in truth, the line is remarkably blurry. You're alive; you're dead. It's a process, usually. What is that moment of crossing over? Does it happen at physiologic death? Brain death? Some time before or after either of those? Where is that innocent little soul tonight?

Sunday, July 25, 2010


My cousin died last night.

It wasn't totally unexpected. She lost a hard-fought battle with ovarian cancer. But she just went into hospice Friday. We weren't expecting it to happen quite this fast (although, my family does this. My grandfather did the same thing. Had dialysis one day, decided the next to stop dialysis and enter hospice, died the next night).

This. Sucks.

She was only 56. She has two kids, 20 and 24.

And here's the other thing. She and my mom - my mom, who also has cancer. Don't think that's escaped me - haven't spoken in years. It's a long and complicated story, as these things always are. She wasn't perfect, but, who of us is? They both played a part in the estrangement, obviously. But, now, there's no fixing it. There's no changing things. There's no closure.

It just sucks. The whole thing is awful, and unfortunate. It just serves as a reminder that one can never take things for granted. That this life is ephemeral, and we can all be snatched away at any moment.

And it hit home really hard that my mom has late stage cancer. I can't handle thinking about that for too long right now.

Honestly, I'm having a really hard time with a lot of this. I've been scattered and irritable all day. I spent some time with my folks, and actually got a few things from my every day life taken care of. I've talked electronically to a bunch of family members. I stressed out over weird things and laughed at things that weren't especially funny.

I also snarked pretty hard at a friend of mine, which ended in one of us picking a fight with the other (although I'm not entirely sure who started it). He had enough sense to press pause on the argument, came back at me several hours later and was like, what can I do? I told him I was displacing, apologized.

I hate it when people get to see the crazy. I try so hard to keep it under wraps.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A little bit of quiet.

I had a generally uneventful day today, and it was lovely.

I had a little coffee. Ran some errands. Spent a lot of time on the phone with a friend. Hung out with my folks. Watched some TV.

I meant to get something real and industrious done today, but you know....I really needed a restful day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I was going to write more about the move tonight...

...but then my dad fell and gashed open his arm and I had to break off and take care of that. He's fine - I stole supplies from the ER and fixed it up. It's not pretty, but it'll heal better than it would've otherwise. And, we didn't have to sit in the waiting room for like six hours just to get  it steri stripped and be sent home.

But, meanwhile, it's now late and I'm exhausted. More tomorrow, I promise. Really.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rock Lobster

Today the stuff arrived from Chicago. I'm totally exhausted. The move that was supposed to be over around noon turned into a nine-hour chaotic affair. Stuff is missing. Stuff was busted. Not the least issue - they forgot to put the beds on the truck. But a lot of stuff made it just fine. My house is much more full of very nice things, not the least of which is a real bedroom set (well, most of of the dressers was broken and then erroneously ended up in storage. But regardless, it's the first time I've had a dresser in, like, five years) and my great-grandmother's piano.

I also acquired one hell of a sunburn standing outside directing the movers. I'm a total lobster. It's really unfortunate...

Nonetheless. I'm so very grateful to all the people who helped pack, and especially to Robin and Claudia, Brett, Ali, and Jer, for being so un-fucking-believably awesome. Love you guys.

More tomorrow. Did I mention the exhaustion?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's only Tuesday?

I could do this Neurology thing for at least another couple of weeks. I'm doing nothing relevant.

I left today at like four, came home, and should've gotten some work done, because there's a truck full of stuff arriving Thursday, some of which is coming here. Except, then Bill called and convinced me to come to dinner with the crew.

Much more enjoyable.

Meanwhile, though, I didn't do a whole lot today, but I'm freakin' exhausted...I'm hoping for more sleep tonight....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, Monday

For a day of not doing much actual work, it was a surprisingly busy and exhausting day.

And I have to get up in 7 hours.

I had a really good time tonight, though. My aunt and uncle had me over for dessert because my cousin's in town. We had a lot of fun (and some WICKED good brownies. Don't tell Jenny Craig).

Dad back from Chicago tomorrow. Stuff coming Thursday.

I'm tired.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sheesh, that must've been a long nap...

Have I really not posted since Thursday? Holy cow. Sorry about that...

It's been quite a weekend. Had a nice dinner out with friends on Friday, which was the perfect end to a CRAZY day. My friend Mary brought her baby, who's like three months old, and he provided excellent "snorgles."

My dad's back home in Chicago this weekend, supervising the packing efforts on their house. Robin headed up and organized the troops, who were Claudia, Brett, Robin, Ali and Jer, my mom's boss and coworker, and a bunch of my crazy Greek aunties. I hear there were great piles of donated things, lots of good memories relived, and much serenading of the moving crew by my aunt Lynn. They got the whole place packed up! In the middle of this, I also got a package from my mom's work, where they took up a collection for my mom and helped defray the cost of the move. Amazing!!

My mom and I were of course still here in the North Cack. We had a good time this weekend. Yesterday my mom went to coffee with me, and out to lunch with some of my friends. She also spent all of yesterday afternoon and much of today at my house, which is no small achievement, given the number of stairs she had to climb to get into my place (I'm working on getting ramps this week). She helped me unpack and we got almost the whole first floor unpacked (which is helpful because there's a bunch of stuff coming to me from Chicago on Thursday). We had a lot of fun, actually. We also got a lot done.

It was a nice weekend. It was a busy weekend. It was a stressful weekend. It was a productive weekend. And it was capped off by this, which appeared outside Shady Pines as I was leaving today...

It doesn't show up well in this cell phone shot, but that's actually a very sharp double rainbow. It was a full, perfect arc.

I think it's going to be a good week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Or, you know, one of those dwarves.

I'm having such a grumpy day.

I don't know that there's really a reason to be grumpy.

Then again....maybe there are, like, forty reasons.

Maybe I'll just go to bed.....

Monday, July 12, 2010

Funny stuff for a Monday

One of the adolescents told us about this on Friday. But I think it's more appropriate for a Monday.

Makes everything a little better, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


What a nice Sunday.

Maggie went to coffee with me this morning, which, she had so much fun playing with the owners' kids (who are like 18 mos and maybe 4 and just the cutest things ever). Our other friend brought her dog as well, but she and Mags didn't seem to care much about each other.

I then spent a good portion of the rest of the day unpacking boxes from the kitchen. I'm not quite done yet, but I made a lot of progress. And the tiny little kitchen? Is rather cozy, it turns out. Plus, we have dishes again. Plates, bowls, glasses, the whole nine yards. And silverware! It's like I actually live here or something. Huh.

Had dinner with the folks, did some laundry, hung out with the dog. Sometimes it's nice to have a fairly boring day..

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I totally passed out when I got home last night. So why was I up at 5:45 this morning? (I'm going to try not to repeat that tonight...)

Yesterday was long. I spent the day wearing too many hats. My hats, Cleo's hat, it was just a lot. But the day ended well - I managed to get out for dinner last night with Chandra and her boyfriend, Sonia, and Scott (who, incidentally, is now completely hooked on the afore-mentioned fiction author. I might love that just a little bit). We went to this South American place in North Durham. The food was great, the company better. It was a nice ending to a crazy week. Seriously. How does a short work week feel so damn long?

Today was also excellent. Coffee until NOON (awesome). Played the Wii for a while. Unpacked a bit of my kitchen (I have dishes again. Although, still no silverware). And then I picked up my folks and we met my aunt, uncle, cousin, and future cousin-in-law for dinner at this Greek restaurant nearby. It was delightful. My cousin's fiancee is hilarious. He's a good addition to the family.

They're getting married in India at the end of the year. I'm trying to figure out a way to get there for the festivities, but they might be cost prohibitive. We'll see what creative accounting I can come up with...

I love weekends.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Narrative thread

So my friend walks into my office today with a book I loaned him four months ago.

Wait, let me back this story up a little bit.

Sometime in March, Scott loaned me a book. Not a super-unusual occurrence. And then the next day we had a conversation about something, which I'm thinking was an esoteric discussion of sex and the underestimated ways it alters relationships and the way Freud and Jung and all them deal with the energetics and more mystical ideas about sex. Again, not an uncommon occurrence. Scott and I have had this very conversation in varying degrees of depth before, and, let's face it, Scott and I are big into discussing esoterica. And because of the recent book loaning, I was like, "Ooh!! You have GOT to read this book I have. You'll love it."

And so the next day, I come into work with Paulo Coelho's Eleven Minutes, which I'd stumbled across in a bookstore in Maui and had led to this flurry of new-favorite-author endearment and reading of multiple Coelho books. I love this book, and pretty much everything else of his that I've read. So Scott comes into my office at the end of the day and I, all excited, present him with this book.

He looks at it for a moment. And then he hands it back to me and says, "Yeah, I don't read fiction."

I was taken a little bit aback. " what now?"

"I don't read fiction."

"You read every piece of mythology and mysticism you can get you hands on," I say slowly, "but you categorically deny FICTION?"

"Right," he says. "I don't read fiction."

I, of course, said, right, okay, whatever, but in truth, I did not take this well. And so he leaves my office and I'm sitting there thinking, doesn't read fiction. What the hell is that? Who doesn't read an entire category like "fiction"? What the hell is wrong with Scott?! Jeebus... And, of course, somehow decided this was a personal affront and that was the world's LAMEST EXCUSE for not wanting to read my contemporarily favorite book.

And I stewed a little more, and then I realized how bloody well pissed off I was. And so I marched down to his office, threw the book at him, and said something to the effect of, "Who the hell doesn't read fiction? READ THE DAMN BOOK." He argued, but he took the book.

Then, this past Monday night, I get a text message from him that he's 100 pages into the book and befuddled about something. 

So today, he brings the book back to me, and we're talking briefly about it, and he says, "you know, I wish Coelho had just talked about his philosophies and skipped the story."

I looked at him and realized, this made my heart a little sad.

Because to me, all of life is about the narrative. It's about the stories we create, the ebb and flow of events, the cascading of life's nuances. So much is connected to the narrative, and it's fascinating to me to watch how people's narratives crash into one another, tangle and tussle and are forever altered. We spin our threads and then weave our lives together in ways that must even awe the Fates (who were, of course, the women at the cosmic spinning wheels in Greek mythology). It's remarkable, it's infinite in its reach, and it's never, ever simple.

And in the telling of the story - the language, the arrangement, the allegory - there is often so much more to be learned about the author than about the sequence of events themselves. This is part of what I love about doing psychotherapy. I have an awareness about how my brain works, that it often thinks in analogy and metaphor, but the fact is - that's not particularly special. Everyone does this, whether they're aware of it or not. We all construct our stories in ways that relate to those things we know; we tie things together, we make connections. The depth and complexity of those analogies vary, and often, it's not the conscious mind that's making these connections so generally only a small portion of these analogies sees the light of conscious awareness. But the removed (i.e., non-defended) and trained ear can hear the soft bubbling of the subconscious beneath the torrent of details. It can see the significance of the order of events in the retelling, know the influence of the past and future, recognize the cacophony of defenses trying to drown out the siren song of the shadow self. It acquaints itself with the ambivalence of life, the veracity in every lie and the perjury of truth.

So often, though, this requires listening with one's own subconscious, and that is a tricky proposition, because we're trained to cling to our words as mere words and not as symbols and analogies. So it comes out as affect, or imagery; it stirs the listener's own metaphors and associations. Which creates, then, its own, new, narrative.

And the web expands.

Seriously. It does not get cooler than that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Told you I needed more weekend

So we had a lovely day on Consults - remarkably quiet for the first week of July (when all the newbies hit the floors in the rest of the hospital) and the first day following a three day weekend. But hey, we'll take it. I'm doing this Junior Attending thing right now, since we don't have any clear leadership on the team (the old primary attending went off to grad school; the new one doesn't start until Monday), which means the new third years are staffing with me and then I staff the consults with the actual attending du jour. It's kind of neat, actually. One of the residents who just graduated was in this role for us last month, and it was a huge help. But he also commented how useful it was for him, that it made you think about things differently to look at it as the attending and to talk through it with the junior resident. He wasn't wrong. This whole Junior Attending thing is now built into the Child Fellowship, too, and I think that's a good thing.

Also nice, the kids took the pager and threw me out around 3:30. I was stoked, because my house is still a big big pile of boxes. So I was all going to come home, unpack, make some progress....go me, right?

Yeah. I fell asleep.


Monday, July 05, 2010


Today was a better day. I still need a little more weekend, but I got some things done that were needed. Had a good go at coffee this morning, saw my shrink, cleaned up the kitchen a little, went to the office for a bit, flopped in the overstuffed chair in the living room for a little while and watched a bit of NCIS. I wish I had gotten a little more unpacking done, but, well, whatever.

I wish I had something big and meaningful to say today. I'm still just so drained, it's all I can do to keep moving forward...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th and whatnot

Back from Rene's wedding at the Biltmore in Asheville.

The wedding itself was a-ma-zing.

 The Estate is phenomenal.

She looked incredible, the scenery was breathtaking...

A good time was had by all. In fact, um, a few had a little too good of a time. Which led to some significant badness after the wedding.

But, in the end, I think all will be well. And fortunately, I have an appointment with my shrink tomorrow...what a night.

Friday, July 02, 2010


Long day. First day for the newbies on consults. First day for me as the senior on consults. Then Ruthie and I went and got prettied up for the wedding tomorrow (I got my eyebrows done - Claudia would be proud. Also a mani-pedi). Sonia and I are leaving at 10:30 tomorrow. I've got to be up in like 7 hours because I still have so much to do before we leave. But it's gonna be a good time......

Thursday, July 01, 2010