Saturday, October 30, 2010

Farewell, old friend

Dear Toshiba Satellite,

I first became acquainted with you in 2003, after I spent nearly my entire summer wages that I had earned working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home to purchase you. Perhaps it was because you were my first laptop. Perhaps it was because you were so much faster and sleeker and less bulky than my old desktop Gateway. Perhaps it was just the thrill of working hard to earn something. Whatever the reason, I fell in love with you from day 1.

We had a lot of great times, you and I. Your mobility ensured that we saw (parts of) the world together. We traveled to Maryland, Wyoming, California…and places in between. Together, we discovered the webcam, immersed ourselves in instant messaging, emailing, and minor gaming of the cute, female variety. We blogged together, made purchases together, you stored my precious pictorial memories, and when I needed to vent, you calmly listened while I typed to you my problems. We spent long hours together during finals weeks in college; even though you once lost my 40 page cell biology research paper the day before it was due and I (briefly) cursed at you, my overall love for you remained undiminished. You helped me to waste untold amounts of hours during the first 2 years of medical school – you most likely contributed in a major way as to why I nearly failed my very first gross anatomy written exam, but again, I forgave you. I also mostly forgave you when you had a mini-meltdown and refused to access the PowerPoint lecture presentations that I was using to study the night before one of my pathology examinations. You were, perhaps, the only piece of electronic/technologic equipment that I did not thump soundly with my fist during times of frustration.

And then the unthinkable happened. One evening during the end of my 3rd year of medical school, as I was logged on to the VA computer system remotely to update a progress note, you made a sickly noise. If a patient made a similar noise, I would have admitted them to the hospital forthwith. I realize now that you were trying your very best to warn me. But alas, technologically savvy I was not, and I ignored the signs and continued on with my work, oblivious to your peril. Three days following, I woke up to check my email and found that you had simply given up. No whirring sound or cheerful “Windows hello” greeted me upon the pressing of your power button. As I am female and quite aware of not only what the appropriate buttons are, but when and where to push them, I valiantly attempted to wake you a second time. But you were gone. I was heartbroken. In my saddened and slightly panicked haze, I did manage to remember that you had lasted me over 5 years. This was a feat that made me somewhat proud, not only due to my former track record with electronics, but because with the rate that technology advances, 5 computer years probably = 95 human years. Perhaps it was just your time.

So I saddened my wallet and replaced you – with *another* you. A newer model. I tried my best to remain faithful. Again, we had some good times. You kept me occupied on the epic residency interview trail of late 2008/early 2009. You helped me to keep in contact with friends and relatives, share my pictorial memories, and stay up to date with current medical literature. I have done my best to treat you with dignity and respect, to keep your “vaccinations” up to date with Dr. Norton, to keep you free from spyware and other malicious and obnoxious entities. I do not leave you on for insane lengths of time, and I do my best to shut you off in a proper fashion. (I apologize for that one very unfortunate incident involving an uncapped plastic water bottle which necessitated turning you upside down on top of a towel so that you could *ahem* dry out). Yet I fear that our relationship has run afoul. Your USB ports, which functioned perfectly fine several days ago, no longer appear to work – and your pop out disc drive has not dared to pop out on command in several months. Running more than one program at once has apparently become too taxing for you, and the presence of more than 3 simultaneous internet windows sends you into a slower-than-molasses panic attack. You have developed a more-than-slightly annoying habit of choosing to play videos so that video and audio no longer occur simultaneously. I feel that I have been pretty tolerant of your recent behaviors, willing to overlook many sins given our years of happiness together. But my dear Toshiba Satellite, the one behavior that I cannot abide by, cannot forgive, is the royal blue screen of doom that you choose to present me with unexpectedly this evening. I cannot overlook this slight – for where there is one blue screen of doom, there are many. I feel somehow cheated, especially because you are just over 2 years old. I do not understand. I am baffled. I have been good to you. In comparison to my very first computer, a large desktop Gateway in the fall of 2001, I have treated you like royalty. In return, you have given me a meager 2 years. I am upset, Toshiba Satellite, and I fear that our association may be nearing its end.

Because I have a small, sneaking suspicion that you just might suck.

Fondly yours,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reflections on a Lost Life

When I was (much) younger, I had a picture of how my life would happen. I pictured things very simply. I saw myself going to college (University of Wyoming) where I would room with my best friend (Sarah). I’d major in something artistic and fun (violin performance) and minor in something equally funky-cool (creative writing). Along the way, I’d find romance and break hearts before finding the one perfect man who would sweep me off of my feet and into the sunset. We’d get married, get jobs teaching so that we could have our summers to live semi-spontaneously. We’d buy a pretty little house that would always be spotless – the dishes (and china) would always be clean and displayed handsomely. The laundry would always be found in neatly folded piles. There would be a place for everything, and everything would always be found in its place. We’d go on weekly date nights where we’d rekindle the magic of our early dating days. We’d always have enough sleep, time, and (somehow) money to do everything we could dream of doing. Perhaps I’d write a great symphony…or maybe a bestselling novel. We’d be blissfully happy, ever after.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I look back and I realize just how much time changes things. I’m 27, halfway to 28. Not only am I in my late twenties, my late twenties are quickly on their way to leaving forever. How about a reality check?

I did go to college, although when it came time to apply, the University of Wyoming had been relegated to a mere “back-up” school – the thought of going to a place where I’d have a built-in network of contacts left me with a bad taste in my mouth. After a deal with my grandparents regarding college financing that I just couldn’t turn down, I made my way to Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University) – and somehow found myself in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I never did room with my childhood best friend – but did manage to find a core of girls that are still my besties today, even though we don’t see each other much. I re-evaluated and decided that music performance and creative writing were simply not going to give me a solid foundation – I wanted something steady and stable – so the artist in me died a quiet death and lo! A scientist rose from the ashes. I got a degree in biology and spent my summers working in nursing homes and doing basic science research into the molecular pathways of lung and esophageal carcinoma (apparently). I made back-up plan after back-up plan and took the GRE, PCAT, and MCAT (for grad school, pharmacy school, and medical school, respectively). I got accepted into Ph.D programs for toxicology and microbiology, several pharmacy schools, and medical school. I went to medical school in southern California. Those four years are still, to this day, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s hard to describe medical school to someone who’s never gone – I say that it’s probably the Marine Corps boot camp of academia, except that it lasts for 4 years instead of 3 months. Somehow, I found myself becoming a pathologist…in Vermont – a choice that I think few people, including myself, really understood. Along the way, I found romance; I don’t necessarily think that I broke hearts, but I certainly had mine broken once or twice – and to some degree, I don’t think I ever really healed completely. There are parts of me that are bitter and wary and walled off tightly – I guess that’s what happens in love and heartbreak. I did manage to find a decent man. He’s not perfect, but perfection is hard to come by. Our dating days are long gone – we’re generally too tired to do more than watch Netflix on the sofa one night a week – goodbye romance. Perhaps we’ll meet again one day. I don’t own a home (thanks, $300,000 medical school debt) but do rent a nice townhome that’s probably way out of my budget. There are always dirty dishes in the sink, piles of unfolded laundry, and nothing is ever in the place it belongs. There is never enough sleep or time (thank you, insane hours of medicine) and definitely never enough money. I wonder how my life changed track so drastically.

I know that in the overall scheme of life that I shouldn’t complain. After all, I had the opportunity to go to college and graduate school. I got accepted to and (somehow) graduated from medical school. Even though it doesn’t pay nearly enough, I have a job and relative job security. I have a roof over my head, clean clothes to wear, and I always manage to pay the grocery and water bills. In spite of all of these blessings, I still feel discontent. In spite of all that I have been given, all that I have earned through hard work and dedication, I want something more. There’s a gap in my life – a spot waiting to be filled. But I don’t know where that gap is or what it needs for completion. I feel lost, rudderless, and adrift. I feel as though I’m trudging mindlessly along in a straight line to some destination, and I feel uneasy knowing that wherever I am bound is not the place I need to go. I have this irrational urge to wake up one quiet morning and leave. Leave the cell phone, leave the pager, and leave the responsibilities that choke up my life. I don’t know where I’d go – someplace where I could find myself, wherever that might be. I just want, for one moment, to feel free, to be spontaneous, and to find deep contentment. I want to find a purpose, something to love so deeply that it hurts.

I feel guilty for wanting these things, for wanting to leave this life behind, for wanting something different. It’s nobody’s fault – only mine.

What kind of person am I, to feel this way?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Newest Obsession

My current obsession is a newer group on the music scene, Mumford & Sons. They're a relatively new folk rock band out of London, and I think they're pretty fabulous. Seriously. Check em' out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love the Way You Lie

Oh Eminem, I have missed you. And now you're finally back...with a pretty disturbing but otherwise awesome ditty. You've put out some great tunes in the past (you're one of my guilty pleasures), but you've finally gone and done it. You've put out what will probably be your most socially relevant tune. Your lyrics, my man, are sick. I'll admit it - I love, love, love this song. I love that you don't glamorize the destructive cycle of domestic violence - you give the audience realistic glimpses into the minds of the men and women who live in these relationships every day. I also appreciate the layering of emotion from both you (the abuser) as well as Rhianna (the abusee). It's brilliant. Really brilliant.

Admittedly, there are some aspects of the video that I don't really understand, like why you are wearing a wife-beater and hopping around in a wheat field like an overexcited, hormonal bunny-rabbit or why Rhianna is running around half-dressed in front of a major house fire (isn't she worried about 3rd degree burns over a significant portion of her body?). I still love it. Good job.

Monday, July 26, 2010

If I Die Young

Without further adieu, I give you an introduction to The Band Perry and their newest song, "If I Die Young."

I discovered them by happenstance. While I can't say that I'm in love with some of their other songs, I find harmony and a certain amount of charm in "If I Die Young." I think that this song could be interpreted in a lot of contexts. To me, it's highly reminiscent of a segment in Anne of Green Gables. In the segment, Anne is re-enacting/reading her favorite poem, "The Lady of Shalott" by Tennyson. I think that this is just a more modern take on both Tennyson's poem as well as L.M Montgomery's scene. Or not. However you choose to interpret, it's a beautiful song.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jaron and the Long Road to Love

Ok. So perhaps the new song from country artist Jaron and the Long Road to Love takes the idea of prayer a little out of context. Or a lot. Whatever. It's a fun song nonetheless...and let's face it, who hasn't felt like this at some point?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

To Spawn or Not to Spawn...

When did it become “inappropriate” or just “appalling” for a woman to not want children? That’s what I’d very much like to know.

For the upcoming rant, some perspective may be in order: in my residency program, there are 16 residents. Of the 16 residents, 13 are female (Rosie the Riveter would clearly be proud). Of the 13 female residents, 5 are currently pregnant (and one male resident has a wife that is expecting). That’s right - 37.5%-ish of our program is pregnant.

So naturally, lots of babies means lot of questions about babies. If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me, “So when’s it your turn?” I’d probably have enough dollars to buy me a very nice pair of Danskos. If you added another dollar every time I get a rude look or incredulous comment after replying, “Well, I don’t want children…so my time will never come,” I’d probably be buying a new 50” flat screen TV this weekend.

Just a few comments that I’ve heard:

“But it’s a beautiful part of being a woman.”
“But...but…that’s what women DO…”
“You’ll miss out on the most fulfilling experience you could ever have.”
“What about the miracle of life?!”
“Don’t you realize that God gave you this gift…if you don’t have children, you’ll be thumbing your nose at God.”
“Bearing children is the duty and responsibility of women.”
“Why don’t you want to share your genius with the world?”
“Well, when you meet the right man, things will all fall into place.”

Before I start my mini-rant, I’d like to say that all statements appearing above are valid. I’d never dismiss someone’s thoughts because they don’t line up to my own. But with that being said:

The fact that one can decide whether or not to have a child means that the very act of having a child is (or should be, anyway) a conscious choice. It’s a choice….and to me, if any part of you decides to have a child based on the idea that child-bearing is the “duty and responsibility” you were given, then perhaps you should not be having a child. I may not want to have a child of my own, but I also do not believe that a child should ever be a “duty” or a “responsibility” that is thrust upon you. Sure, once you actually HAVE a child, you have a duty and responsibility to be the best parent you can be…but I believe that those things start after the child has been conceived – not as the reasons that the child was conceived.

The ability to bear children is an incredible gift…yes, I realize that. God bestowed upon woman the ability to do something absolutely miraculous and mind-blowing; I’m not even going to deny that. But I also believe that God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, gave women free will and the power, ability, and intelligence to think for themselves. I think that He understood that human beings are all different – we have different wants and needs and the ways in which we find fulfillment are different. I think He realized that even with His gift that not all women would choose to be a mother – and clearly He was OK with this, because He gave us this choice anyway. In fact, although the Bible makes allusions to motherhood, I do not recall a specific chapter or verse where it says that a woman will be condemned for her refusal to be a mother. As far as I’m concerned, motherhood is a suggestion, not a requirement.

I also respect and understand the fact that my choice not to bear children is also, due in rather large part, because I am basically pretty selfish. I choose 52” flat screen TV’s, nice furniture, a clean home, and European vacations. I choose buying nice things for myself and my spouse over buying braces. I choose going to the symphony or a play instead of a soccer or T-ball game. I choose the R-rated movie instead of “Bob the Builder Goes to Hollywood.” I do not ever want to hear Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, Gumby, or Mickey Mouse blasting out of my living room. I choose to be sleeping at 2 am, not bottle-feeding someone ad nauseum. Thanks to call, I already live semi sleep-deprived - why would I prolong that misery on the nights where I am free to ignore the pager? I choose to sleep until 9am (or later) on my weekends. I choose a nice, sporty little car over a suburban or a mini-van. I choose to never have to get up in the middle of the night to comfort a sick child or clean up their vomit. I choose peaceful, quiet afternoons spent reading a good book over hectic, screaming children that need to be entertained. I choose “Me” time over trips to the aquarium or slumber parties. I choose a career over having a family. Yes, folks, I am selfish. And you know what else? I’m O.K with that. At least I’m honest about it. Before you judge me for my selfishness, I think you should also remember that everyone finds their happiness and fulfillment in different ways – and not all ways end with a child.

My point is that NOT having a child is every bit as valid a choice as having a child. The decision to not have a child does not make me a bad person. It does not mean that I have engendered the wrath and punishment of God on Judgment Day. It does not make me less of a woman or less of a wife. It’s a choice, folks. It’s just a choice – and a valid one.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Here’s a riddle for you…what sound do you get when you cross an active garbage disposal with a shot glass?

The sound you get…and I quote, is “Whir…whir…clink…clink…CRUNCH….” followed by silence.

Yes, folks…I was minding my own business and washing dishes. The sink was starting to get a little clogged so I flipped the switch to the disposal and that was the sound that arose from the mysterious depths of my sink. Though I am not overly familiar with garbage disposals and how they work, I am at least knowledgeable enough to know that they don’t normally make that sound. Frowning, I turned off the switch and turned to Chris, who was also in the kitchen.

I think we both said, “Uh oh” simultaneously, but I can’t be absolutely sure.

After making sure that the switch was in the “off” position, Chris gingerly reached his hand down into the disposal (are you cringing yet…? I know I was!) to find whatever item had begun the wild rumpus. While he was doing this, I was sitting in the corner with my hands over my eyes, absolutely certain that in some freak twist of fate, that the disposal would turn itself back on and munch on Chris’s hand.

I looked up in time to see him pull out a chunk of glass. I was baffled, because I’d already washed the two glasses that were in the sink. I wondered whether one of our smaller table glasses had somehow mysteriously bent the laws of physics enough to fit down the disposal inlet. After grabbing one and twisting and turning it, I was able to conclude that it probably wasn’t one of our small glasses.

To make a long story short, in a very tense and terse 30 minutes that involved a lot of glaring, grunting, and “ewwww” noises, Chris unscrewed the disposal apparatus and began to pull out pieces of glass with a pair of pliers (his hands were too big…and let’s face it; I was NOT going to put my hands down that thing!) to ascertain that one of his shot glasses had fallen into the disposal. Oops.

By the way, I can’t stress enough just how disgusting the innards of a disposal are, for those of you that are unaware. I deal with deceased people, a myriad of unpleasant smells, and parts of people every day so you’d think that nothing would faze me. Clearly, this is not the case because I nearly vomited when I saw the disposal. I’m not sure whether it’s a testament to the grossness of the disposal or to just how immune I have become to my job, but I can honestly say that I would much rather perform an autopsy than clean the disposal ever again. And I wasn’t even the one with my hand in there. *shudders*

Anyway, I wish I could say our problems were solved by Chris and his magic pliers, but alas! It appears that the garbage disposal is, for the time, rather unusable. Chris wants to tackle it again tomorrow. I want to call a plumber. Mars and Venus are going to go head-to- head over a garbage disposal.

Somehow, I think I’ll win.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cinderella's Shoes

I’ve taken up running again. To be fair, I’m not currently and never have been much of a runner. I’m definitely not one of those hard-core runners you see on the streets. You know, the ones in the SERIOUS running gear, even down to the waist belt with multiple slots for trivial little things like water bottles – the ones that run every day, no matter what. Rain, sun, sleet, snow…nothing stops the SERIOUS runner.

No, I am definitely not one of them. I am an indoor-running kind of gal…the one that *gasp* prefers running on the treadmill to running out-of-doors. I am the kind of runner that likes even, modulated room temperatures, a distinct lack of flying insects, a readily available sink faucet, and the upstairs bathroom. I am the kind of runner that cannot, even to save herself, modulate a running pace outside – I need the treadmill because it forces me to keep a steady pace. I need to be able to listen to music unencumbered by obnoxious ear-buds or sweaty headphones. I will never run in a marathon, and if I’m being completely honest, I don’t even have desire to run in a half-marathon. No, folks, a SERIOUS runner I am not.

Be that as it may, even a not-so-serious runner needs the proper equipment. I am not of those people that can just pick out any old pair of running shoes and go about my merry business (apparently, there are many things I am not). What I am is a relatively flat-arched, significant overpronator with history of surgery on both feet. It means that when my running shoes are not exactly right (or when the exactly right shoes are old and worn down), running causes me significant pain. As a result, I was professionally fitted for running shoes while I was in southern California…and they were fantastic. I was pain-free. I felt that I could exercise for days (although, clearly, I did not).

A few weeks ago, I revved up the motor on my trusty treadmill, laced up my shoes, and began to jog. No more than 3 minutes into my journey, the old, ugly pain began to rear its head. The unthinkable had occurred – my Brooks Adrenaline shoes (yes, I am name dropping, because they are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G) had given up the ghost. I pushed through the pain for a couple weeks - or at least until payday – before hitting up the local running store.

I walked in and made a bee-line for the Wall O’ Shoes, where I spied the Brooks Adrenaline. The salesman walked over to me, asked how he could help, and I immediately pointed to my shoes. “I’ll take the Brooks Adrenalines” said I.

“I am not sure they are the appropriate shoe for you,” said he.


Somehow, I found myself seated across from this man, inches from my precious Adrenalines, explaining that I was re-entering the running world and needed to replace my running shoes.

“What shoes are you currently wearing?”

“The Brooks Adrenaline 8.”

“Oh. It’s been awhile for you, hasn’t it? We’re now on the Adrenaline 10. And anyway, why do you think that the Brooks Adrenaline is what you should be running in?”

“Because I run in them and they work well for me. Oh – and I was already fitted for shoes in California, and the Brooks are what I was recommended.”

“Well, be that as it may, I never sell shoes to someone unless I’m 100% happy with how they fit. I must observe the body mechanics and the alignment and the ------ (lots of other factors that I, a mere running peon, am not familiar with).”

(Excuse me, but this is not the Project Runway ® of shoes, sir. The only thing you need to observe is my credit card as I pay for the shoes that I want. You know, the ones that actually work for me…)

As he was the only salesman in the store, and this was the only running store in the vicinity in which I had a hope of getting my Brooks, I was doomed.

So I sat through a lengthy session in which he told me many things that I already knew – from my previous fitting: that I overpronate significantly (and more on my left foot), that my feet are different sizes (one is an 8 and one is a 7…inconvenient, trust me), that my heel widths are different from foot to foot, and that my arches are pretty flat. I tried on many, many pairs of very uncomfortable shoes and a variety of equally uncomfortable inserts while the salesman tried desperately to find a shoe that he was happy with. At this juncture, may I add that we were both frustrated, but for different reasons – he had no clue what shoe I needed so had to go back to the drawing board repeatedly, and I knew exactly what shoe I needed but had to keep trying on pair after pair of stupid shoes.

Finally, he came back with just two pairs of shoes in his hand. He looked at me with an air of defeat and said, “You’re really hard to fit. If neither of these pairs works for you, I’m not sure what we’ll wind up doing.” So, like Cinderella, I dutifully squeezed my feet into the first pair of white running slippers with inserts…which really didn’t work at all.

“Sir, they rub against the top of my foot, and the insert feels like a hard knob underneath the ball of my foot. I don’t like these. I don’t like them at all.”

“Ok. Here’s the last pair of shoes that I think might work…I only have them in an 8. I don’t know if they’ll work or not.” (Said with an air of desperation and a facial expression close to tears)

I slipped my foot into the last pair, stood up, and walked – and somewhere along the way, the magic happened. They didn’t rub anywhere. They didn’t slide or slip. They didn’t pinch. My overpronation was corrected, my body mechanics and alignment and goodness knows what else were corrected.

The salesman was happy. I was happy.

“Sir, I like these shoes. They are stupendous. I will take them.”

He looked like he’d just won the Golden Ticket into the Willy Wonka factory.

At the register, I handed him my credit card and he rung up and boxed my new pair of shoes, exclaiming all the way that I had been “…challenging, but we mastered the challenge!” Apparently, he felt like a million bucks. Good for him.

As I walked out of the store nearly 2 hours after I had entered, with my new shoes tucked firmly under my armpit, I looked down at the box and nearly laughed…ok, I did laugh (the maniacal laughter that comes only after extreme frustration) but managed to hold it in until I was safely in my car.

There, wrapped in tissue paper, were the Holy Grail of shoes…the very shoes that had cost everyone 2 hours of time and frustration to find. Cinderella had finally found her slipper…

The Brooks Adrenaline 10.

I hate to use this phrase almost as much as I hate to hear it, but…TOLD YOU SO, Mr. Salesman…TOLD YOU SO!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Histotechnologist Day

Apparently, this year was the first annual histotechnology day nationwide. There were a lot of lab-related celebrations and happenings (scavenger hunts, potlucks, gifts, etc) to celebrate...and seriously, our histology department deserves some celebrating. They are pretty amazing. Apparently, they also made and submitted a video for some contest as part of the festivities - and the video won! So here's the video - with a variety of our staff, transcriptionists, attendings, and residents. Thankfully, I do NOT appear in this video - trust me, you don't want to see this white gal shake her tail feathers! It's a little corny, but I think it shows that we have a pretty fun department.