Monday, April 30, 2007

Pat's bush

Roommate (that's her real name, by the way) and I were dropping something off in the administrative offices the other day when we ran into our very favorite administrative assistant, Pat. We stopped to chat, and Pat said, "Hey, ya wanna see a picture of my bush?"

There must be a little teenage boy living inside me, because the first thing I thought about was not a picture of an azalea.
I said, "Uh...what?"

She said, "Well it was just so nice and sunny yesterday, and my bush looks so good in the sun, I thought I'd take a picture." By this point, I'd figured out what kind of landscaping she was referring to, but it still struck me as hilariously funny.

Roommate, apparently, wasn't in on the joke. Damn her. Usually, she can be counted on to be amused by the same things that I am, and we can share one of those "Did you just hear what I just heard?" looks. She let me down this time, though.

So, I was all alone in the world trying to think about tortured kittens to keep from laughing. And Pat just kept going on and on about her bush.

"Here it is! I took this picture from my deck. I just love to sit out there in the spring and look at my bush."

"Oh, it's purple," Roommate said.

"Of course my bush is purple. Purple's my favorite color."

"It's gorgeous," Roommate said.

"Yeah," Pat said, "I just love it. I've been showing everyone my bush."

I count myself lucky to be among the many who now can say, "Pat showed me her bush, and it's lovely!"

It's over! (the test, not the divorce)

My exam is over! It is was my last exam of the pre-clinical portion of medical school, and I felt amazing as I walked away from it. Trekking to my car, I thought about how fast these first 2 years have gone. It feels like just last week I was looking at my first perfectly normal pathology lab slide and thinking, "I don't know, looks like a tumor to me."

We normally take our exams as a class in huge lecture halls. We have to be there 15 minutes before the exam starts so that Carol, Queen of the Test Nazis can yell at us about how important it is to be there 15 minutes before the exam. It is important, because she has a full 15 minutes of screaming to do before we can start. After the verbal thrashing, she reads this very long, very official statement that basically translates to, "If you little bastards cheat on this test, I'm going to hang you up by your toenails and beat you and then let the 1st years practice physical exams on your bruised and broken asses." In the middle of this statement, she says something about no cell phones or pagers being allowed in the testing room and then stops, puts her paper down, and waits to see if anyone has any banned electronic devices they want to pull out of their pants and fork over to a proctor.

After all this, just after we've forgotten everything we've studied for the past month, she gives us permission to write our names on our answer sheets (do this without permission and you just bought yourself another 2.5 minutes of yelling) and start the damn exam.

Today, though, I took the exam separate from the rest of the class because I had a court appointment during tomorrow's scheduled exam time. (More on the had later.) I took the exam in the campus testing center, a high-security compound where they often administer standardized national exams. They wouldn't even let me take my car keys with me into the testing room. I had to lock them in a locker and then hand the locker key to a proctor. I was understandably bummed--all that time I spent copying a months worth of notes onto my keys completely wasted.

The testing room has separate stations for each test-taker. This morning, I was the only one. A sign on the door warns you that your every move is being audio and video recorded, and there's a camera over every station. Proctors sit behind mirrored glass watching you, both on the monitors and in the flesh.

I sat down in my assigned station. I thought that since I was the only one there, I should get to choose my station, but no such luck. (Damn Test Nazi.) The Nazi stood over my shoulder and read the whole, "If you, little bastard, cheat on this test..." statement. She even stopped at the banned electronics portion, lowered her paper, and looked at me, waiting to see if I was going to pull a cell phone out of my ass. At this point, I couldn't help it--I started laughing. It all just seemed so asinine. Who the hell could cheat in here? The laughing confused her, but we pressed on. She gave me permission to write my name on my answer sheet. I nearly misspelled my last name. (Apparently, I don't work well under pressure.) She then turned my test face down in front of me and said, "Ready, go!" I was a little slow on the start because I was trying to suppress the laughter and kegal myself out of peeing my pants.

I started the test and quickly forgot I was being watched. I got to a particularly annoying question and said, "What the fu--?" I stopped myself just before the "ck" and looked up at the camera to whisper, "Sorry, protor lady." Normally, I wouldn't feel so bad, but some of these proctors are old. I mean really old. Like volunteer for the board of elections, get excited about jury duty, work as part-time Walmart greeter old. I generally try not to use the really potent curse words around the elderly. You know, out of respect.

All that said, the exam went just fine. And I was really glad to be done!

Finally, explaining that "I had a court appointment" part. I heard from the lawyer man this afternoon. He had just received notice of a last minute continuance filed by Ex's attorney. I was really pissed. I was really looking forward to being divorced this time tomorrow. I talked to lawyer man, though, and we came up with a plan of attack to get this whole thing over with sooner rather than later.

So, all that emotional upheaval this weekend for nothing? Yeah. Except, that I actually feel much better about my ability to handle all of this now. I'll revisit all of your amazingly supportive words and kind thoughts before I go to court June 20th. In the meantime, I'm reminding myself to let go of the things I can't control and focus on what I can.

All in all, this was a pretty great day for me. How was yours?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Christine Daniels, Sportswriter

Old Mike, new Christine
A column from LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner who will be taking a few weeks off and coming back as LA Times sportswriter Christine Daniels. think her readers will love her as much as they loved him?

I hope so.
There aren't enough great women sportswriters.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Studying, fuming, and preparing for a solo flight

I just read a comment from Cheryl that said, "Time for a new post. Where are you?" I'm here, I'm here! But my computer isn't. It wasn't running off of the battery and is now out for repairs. Hopefully, it will be back by early next week. For now, I'm writing from my roommate's. Truth be told, though, I may not have posted anyway. I have been busy studying for an exam I take Monday and have been spending every spare moment burning calories fuming about my family.

My divorce is finalized on Tuesday. I go to court at 9 am. There have been many court dates, but they were all pre-trial hearings, so I didn't have to go. The lawyer man took care of it for me. I have to be there Tuesday, though, for the grand finale of my marriage. I thought that it would feel kind of like that--like a grand finale, complete with fireworks. Now I'm not so sure. I think I'm just going to be exhausted. I'm sort of exhausted just thinking about it.

I haven't seen the prince-not-so-charming since the restraining order hearing this summer. My parents were with me at the time in case they had to testify about all the sick and twisted shit he said to them after I left him. The whole thing was extremely embarrassing. Mr. Ex sent me 78 emails after I left, some of them disgustingly sexual. These were photocopied as part of the evidence, and by the time we got to the hearing, dozens of people--the civil mediator's office, the prosecutor's office, legal aid, his attorney, my parents--knew about them. I felt like I was on a Springer episode.

The day of that hearing was one of the most stressful days of my life. At one point, his lawyer threatened to question me on the stand in front my parents about my sex life. When I said, "Bring it on," he backed down. I will never forget how that felt. He was going to ask me about things that were completely untrue, but I didn't even want to go there. I wasn't thinking, "Bring it on." I was thinking, "Somebody just fucking shoot me."

What the hell does this have to do with my current fuming about my family? Well, completely immature as it may sound, I'm more than a little pissed that not a single one of the six of them has offered to be with me on Tuesday. I am not going to ask them because this is, above all else, my mess. I have no place asking them to take a day off work and drive 2 hours for a what will hopefully be just a 10 minute hearing. I'm an adult. And I'm capable of handling this (she says, trying to convince herself). Plus, they spent the summer treating me kind of like I was going to break in two if they didn't hold on for dear life. I don't want to start that again. (Does all this sound a little contradictory? It should, because my feelings are nothing if not ambivalent.) The sight of my roommate sends the ex straight to Rageville, so she is definitely not coming. And, as far as other friends go, there is an exam at school that day (the one I'm taking Monday), so they are out.

So...Tuesday will be a solo flight. In some ways, this will be a good thing. It will be good for the prince-not-so-charming to see me standing on my own two feet, not propped up by the loved ones, as I officially dump his ass. Unless he sees it as an opportunity to approach me after. Just in case, the lawyer will walk me to my car, a copy of the restraining order will be in the glove box, my emergency overnight bag packed in the trunk, my cell phone charged, my pepper spray peppered. It will feel a bit like my summer all over again, even if everything does go off without a hitch in this getting unhitched.

Well, that's what I've been thinking about. That, and reproductive physiology, the subject of my exam. Those last 82 paragraphs of emotional baggage and verbal diarrhea oughta serve as a warning--be careful what you ask for, Cheryl.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Play bingo with Phil Spector tonight at 8

I thought about this post while I was in the shower. So...if you read it and it sucks, I suggest you print a copy, put it in some kind of waterproof sleeve, and try it again in the shower. It will probably sound much better with those great bathroom acoustics. Plus, what the hell else have you got to do in there?

I read an article in SF Gate today about the debate over cameras in the courtroom. This debate has experienced a rebirth as the murder trial of record producer Phil Spector starts today--a trial that will be televised on Court TV. I, for one, think that cameras in the courtroom are a bad idea. Not because they may interfere with justice (who are we kidding, that woman is blindfolded with cheesecloth) but because they make for bad TV. People who can afford televisions already spend entirely too much time sitting in front of them watching utterly useless crap, and this only adds to the cesspool.

It's almost as bad as the new bingo game that will soon be on prime time. Bingo, a game that is too boring to play outside of nursing homes and catholic church basements, will now be taped for your viewing pleasure.

Who on earth thought this would make a good spectator sport?

The TV gods, that's who. They realized that people have entirely too much spare time on their hands (time they could be spending reading my blog in the shower, by the way). The TV gods noticed that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has been on for over 60 seasons now, and they realized that people will watch anything.

I can hear them now:

TV god 1: Hey, I've got an idea, let's videotape people playing bingo and then put it in a prime time spot right in between that British nanny with her naughty chair and Howie Mandel with his Mr. Clean earrings.

TV god 2: That's the stupidest fucking idea I've ever heard.

TV god 1: Listen, dude, these idiots watch Meredith Viera ask poorly dressed accountants from Idaho questions about the pyramids. They'll watch anything.

TV god 2: Yeah, did you see that one last week with the lady from Tennessee? I really thought she was going to win the million. That's what happens when you use your life-lines too early, though. You don't have anyone to help you with the hard ones.

TV god 1: So...that's a go on the bingo, then?

The moment they televise traffic court and solitaire, I'm throwing out that damn TV.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I beat up Dive and stole his meme

Nothing good to post. Too busy studying to be my normal cute and charming self. So...I lifted some questions from Dive's favorite meme.

1. You can flip a switch that will wipe any band or musical artist out of existence. Which one will it be?

Toby Keith. I'd rather sit through restless leg commercials than watch him sing about Ford trucks.

2. What is your favourite cheese?
Most of the cheese in this town comes in a squirt can. My favorite cheese is any cheese eaten elsewhere.

3. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your immediate disposal. What kind will you make?
Make your own damn sandwich!

4. You, Elvis and Princess Diana (yeah, I know they both smell a bit now but you'd still give 'em one; right?) are in a dog sled, fleeing across the Siberian wastes with wolves in hot pursuit. The wolves are catching up fast. Who would you throw out to gain speed and why?
Myself. I'd rather go it alone with the wolves than be stuck on a dog sled with those two.

5. You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie celebrity of your choice. We are talking no-strings-attached sex and it can only happen once. Who is the lucky celebrity of your choice?
Richard Gere.
But it will be happening more than once.
They always come back for more.

6. You have the opportunity to sleep with the music-celebrity of your choice. Who do you pick?
After watching that Hallelujah video, might have to be k.d. lang.

7. Now that you’ve slept with two different people in a row, you seem to be having an excellent day because you just came across a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Holy shit, a hundred bucks! How are you gonna spend it?
Morning after pill.
(I realize that Richard's probably too old to get anyone pregnant, but k.d. looks frighteningly fertile.)

8. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?
San Francisco to see friends.

9. Upon arrival to the aforementioned location, you get off the plane and discover another hundred-dollar bill. Now that you are in the new location, what are you gonna do?
Treat my friends to dinner. I know, it sounds lame, but they are always paying for me and I'd love to return the favor.

10. Your dream date. Who, where and why?
I'm not dating or dreaming of dating.

11. An angel appears out of Heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. It is…?
This question is too hard for a stupid medical student.

12. Okay; girls and gay guys stand over here; guys and lesbians over there (I know and love my readership) …
Girls and gay guys first: You're in bed with Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day and Salma Hayek. Who's gonna be the lucky girl? (you're only allowed one).
And similarly, guys and lesbians: You're in bed with Cary Grant, Paul Newman and Johnny Depp. Who's gonna be the lucky guy? (again, you're only allowed one).
Give your reasons.
I think I'm going to turn in my straight girl ID and switch teams so I can sleep with Cary Grant. I can think of no better reason to become a lesbian.

13. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?
Don't touch my stuff.

14. What is your favorite curse word?
You expect me to pick just one?
What the cock is that shit?

15. Your house is on fire! You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object (that's "inanimate" … leave your kids to burn; you know you want to). So what’s the item?
A key-chain my father gave me for Christmas. It was a gift to him from his mother.

16. The Angel of Death has descended upon you. Fortunately, the Angel of Death is pretty cool and in a good mood, and it offers you a half-hour to do whatever you want before you bite it. Whatcha gonna do in that half-hour?
Kill the Angel of Death.

17. Truthfully, what underwear are you currently wearing?
The boring kind. I never could get used to thongs.

18. You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again?
Everyone always tells teenage girls that they will regret "going too far" with their dates. I actually regret not going far enough with one of mine. I'd kind of like to see where that kiss could have gone...

19. Moses trips on his robe and drops the stone tablets. Commandment number eleven is broken off. He leaves it there as his back is killing him. What does it say?
Don't eat yellow snow.

20.You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
Junior High.

21. Rufus appears with the time machine and a custard pie. Who's gonna get it?
The jackass who ranted about the need for enhanced border security while we sat in a Mexican restaurant.

22. What part of your body would you change (no, you are NOT perfect; you gotta answer this one) and why?
Chin--I could use one.

23. You have been eternally banned from every single bar in the world except for ONE. Which one is it gonna be?
Rick's Bar in Casablanca. (I stole this answer from Dive, and I'm not even sorry.)

24. What's the last thing you ate?
Lentil salad--yum!

25. Hopefully you didn’t mention this in the super-powers question…. If you did, then we’ll just expand on that. Suddenly, you have gained the ability to float. Who are you going to show this to first?
I didn't answer the super-powers question, so no danger there.

I'll show my roommate--she's the only one who's ever around.

Now that I think about this, though, she'll probably want me to float into the kitchen and get her something to drink. So...on second thought, I'm just keeping this to myself. The less people expect of me, the better.

26. The Celestial Gates of Beyond have opened, much to your surprise because you didn’t think such a thing existed. Death appears. As it turns out, once again Death is actually a pretty cool entity, and happens to be in a fantastic mood. Death offers to return the friend/family-member/person, etc. of your choice to the living world. Who will you bring back?
No one. I think we pretty much die when we're supposed to.

27. What’s your theme song?
Right now, it's Get Out the Map by Indigo Girls.
Because I hate this town.

28. When did you last have sex?
With someone else?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Something to drown out the ringing in my ear.
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Thursday, April 19, 2007


With every lesson learned a line upon your beautiful face.
~ Indigo Girls

I was looking in the mirror today, examining 3 pimples and trying to formulate my plan of blemish attack, when I got distracted by my wrinkles.

I know what you're going to say. Wrinkles? What wrinkles? Isn't she like 26?

Yeah, I am. And I've got wrinkles. Several on my forehead, and fairly prominent laugh lines between my mouth and nose. They are especially noticeable with makeup. They appeared in the last year and are a gift from my mother. She passed them on from my grandmother. Because sharing is caring.

I have mixed feelings about them (the wrinkles, not my female relatives). I really don't mind looking older. I appreciate the way a woman's body can tell her story. In that way, I think aging can be really beautiful. On the other hand, I'm a little afraid I'm going to look like a prune by the time I'm 30.

For now, I've decided on sunscreen and acceptance. I'll let you know how that works out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thank you

To those of you who so generously offered words of sweet encouragement after my last post.
And to my roommate, who woke me up this morning with a hug.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nobody's crying

I had to go to the bank today to try to remove my name from a joint checking account with my ex--one of the last loose ends to be tied up before this divorce is final in a few weeks. I had been avoiding running this errand for months. After I left him, there was so much to do. Collecting and organizing all the documentation for the restraining order was a part-time job. And frankly, it was probably good for me. It gave me something to do. Made me feel like I had some control over the situation. Once things settled down and the paper was all filed away, though, I never wanted to touch any of that shit again. Today, I was reminded just how miserable dealing with all this crap can be.

The woman at the bank said I had to contact him to take my name off the account. I explained that I couldn't do that. That there was a restraining order. I hate having to explain that. Believe it or not, I'm a pretty private person. With the exception of my roommate, people don't know much about my life. Hell, for five years, no one knew what a nightmare my marriage was.

Plus, when people hear restraining order, they quickly feel really good about themselves. It's like an instant self-esteem booster. Like, "Wow. I thought I was a loser. But this idiot is such a poor chooser, she has to get judges involved in her break-ups." The woman at the bank grew three fucking inches when I said it. Then she looked at me like I was part of what was tearing up society.

I wanted to say, You know, I tried the best I could. I really did. I loved him more than anyone ever has. It didn't fix him.

I said nothing, of course. I couldn't have said any of that without crying, and I don't cry in public. I sat there and let her have her moment of self-righteous judgment.

I came home to listen to Nobody's Crying by Patty Griffin... and cry.

Well he jumps in the taxi, for the sky
He's off to slay some demon dragonfly
And he looked at me, that long last time
Turned away again and I waved goodbye
In an envelope, inside his coat
Is a chain I wore, around my throat
Along with, a note I wrote
Said "I love you but, I don't even know why"

But darling, I wish you well
On your way to the wishing well
Swinging off of those gates of hell
But I can tell how hard you're trying
Just have this secret hope
Sometimes all we do is cope
Somewhere on the steepest slope
There's an endless rope
And nobody's crying

Well a long night turns into a couple long years
Of me walkin' around, around this trail of tears
With the very loud voices of my own fears
Ringin' and ringin' in my ears
It says that love is long gone
Every move I make is all wrong
Says you never gave a damn for me
Or anything, for anyone

But darling, I wish you well
On your way to the wishing well
Swinging off of those gates of hell
But I can tell how hard you're trying
Just have this secret hope
Sometimes all we do is cope
Somewhere on the steepest slope
There's an endless rope
And nobody's crying

May you dream you are dreaming, in a warm soft bed
And may the voices inside you that fill you with dread
Make the sound of thousands of angels instead
Tonight where you might be laying your head

But darling, I wish you well
On your way to the wishing well
Swinging off of those gates of hell
But I can tell how hard you're trying
Just have this secret hope
Sometimes all we do is cope
Somewhere on the steepest slope
There's an endless rope
And nobody's crying
Nobody's crying

Monday, April 16, 2007

What a way to go

At about 8:30 this evening, I decided I was hungry. We don't have any food in the apartment except fiber cereal, Clif bars, and mustard, and I wasn't in the mood for mustard. So, at 9 pm, I was trolling the grocery in ripped jeans and a stained hooded sweatshirt (I'm bringing sexy back, by the way) looking for dinner. What resulted was nothing short of a culinary masterpiece.

Here's how it works: Spread 2 lb. of frozen hash browns in a casserole dish. Add a stick of melted butter, a couple cups of sour cream, a can of cream of chicken, a chopped onion, and a couple cups of shredded cheddar. Top that with crushed corn flakes and more melted butter. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes covered and then another 15 or so uncovered. Eat this at about 11 pm, and then sit around on your ass for a few hours talking about the things you'll miss most when you die from the coronary.

In all seriousness, I should warn you... this meal is not for everyone. If you are under the age of 16 or over 65, you probably shouldn't eat this. If you have a history of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, you may want to chase it with some Hydrocholothiazide, Lipitor, Procrit, chemo, insulin, booze, and prayer.

The roommate and I are really brave, though, and have decided we're going to make the dish again next week. We are going to substitute some of the sour cream for more cheese and skip the extra butter in favor of some bacon crumbled on top. That right, I said bacon. I realize that I may not live to blog about that, but what a way to go.

Sing it with me now,
They tried to make me go to cheese-hab but I said 'no, no, no'

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Blame Maria. She tagged me.
To read much better answers to these questions, visit Matthew. He and I have very different feelings about showers.

3 Things That Scare Me
1. People who own handguns. (This isn't a political statement here--they really scare me.)
2. The dark when my roommate's not home. (When she's here, I sleep like a baby.)
3. My own mediocrity. (The most frightening right now.)

3 People Who Make Me Laugh:
1. My roommate.
2. My dad. (The funniest IRS agent ever!)
3. David Sedaris. (If he ever does a reading in your area, go! It's worth every penny.)

3 Things I Love:
1. Showers followed by naps.
2. The ocean.
3. Avocados.

3 Things I Hate:
1. Dressing up. (I've got no nice shoes.)
2. The ringing in my left ear.
3. The food in our fridge.

3 Things I don't understand:
1. God. (Trying, though.)
2. Women who aren't feminists.
3. The cardiac cycle diagram.

3 Things on my desk:
1. New thank you notes.
2. My incomplete FAFSA (financial aid paperwork).
3. An unpublished research article I told someone I would read. (I'm never going to finish it.)

3 Things I am doing right now:
1. Listening to a song from Maria's latest post.
2. Struggling to keep my eyes open.
3. Thinking about how I have to pee.

3 Things I want to do before I die:
1. Find my work.
2. Raise a child.
3. Master bravery.

3 Things I can do:
1. Knit. (But only scarves.)
2. Talk. (I just don't know when to stop.)
3. Swim.

3 Things I can't do:
1. Play an instrument. (Played piano as a child. Now, I can barely find middle C.).
2. Cartwheels.
3. Speak a foreign language.

3 things I think you should listen to:
1. Your intuition.
2. Patty Griffin.
3. The person who knows you best and loves you anyway.

3 Things you should never listen to:
1. This President.
2. Gossip.
3. People who dismiss your potential.

3 Things I'd like to learn:
1. Sign language.
2. Suturing.
3. When to shut up.

3 Favorite Foods:
1. Salt and vinegar chips.
2. Aforementioned avocados.
3. Artichokes.

3 Things I regret:
1. The way I criticized my little sister. (I was too harsh, and now she won't return my calls.)
2. The way my marriage ended.
3. Signing a Verizon wireless contract.

Phew! I'm way too tired to tag 3 people.
And tomorrow, I'm going to regret staying up so late.

See Jane hide

Med school quote of the week courtesy of Dr. Endocrine, PhD:

My next door neighbor is 101 years old.

Her name is Jane.
She lets me pull her skin once and awhile.
She's really quite a nice lady.

I bet Jane spends a lot of time pretending not to be home when he knocks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I almost forgot...

My roommate and I shared the best lunch today. A local Lebanese place offers a lunch special--4 sides for $5.99. We shared grape leaves, fatoosh, lentil salad, and some yummy chicken stuff (whose name I have forgotten).

We ate out of a styrofoam container on our way to the library. I almost killed us several times as I tried to eat while driving in the rain in a car that really needs a brake job. But barring the near death experiences, it was lovely. The food was good, and my friend's company was delightful.

I'm writing about it because, sometimes, the great little moments are the ones that I seem to forget.

15 months

U.S. is Extending Tours of Army in Battle Zones from 12 months to 15. This isn't 15 months in college, or a factory job, or office work.

This is 15 months in the desert. A desert where 3,294 soldiers have been killed and 24,476 have been wounded.

It's a volunteer army, but I guarantee you that those young people picking up free pens and mouse pads from recruiters in the high school cafeteria had no idea they were volunteering for this.

Going postal

I have had it up to here (she says, chopping through the air 6 inches above her head) with people bitching about the post office. My roommate and I were at the post office today, and as she was standing in line, she overheard two old ladies snickering, "This is why we should never let the government take over healthcare."

Here's the thing. When you walk into the post office, there is an automated mailing station that accepts credit and debit cards--the little pieces of plastic most Americans carry in their wallet for just such an occasion. Now, the automated station is in fact a computer, and computers can be scary. This one is pretty user friendly, though. You are never presented with more than about 4 choices at a time and it's all written in about 86 point font, case you forgot your spectacles. You just put your little package, letter, gift, or cooler of donated kidney on the little metal scale and it tells you exactly how much it will cost to send the damn thing. Then, you can walk over and slip it into the hole in the post office wall clearly marked Letters. Have I lost anyone?

If you don't have anything to mail, but just need stamps, turn around. Because right behind the automated postage center is a vending machine. Except, instead of soda, condoms, or cigs, guess what it dispenses? That's right--stamps! You put money in, it spits out stamps and change. It's like magic!

Best part? You can do anything in the preceding two paragraphs without waiting in line. If you are too stupid or scared to go it alone at the post office, or if you have some complicated maneuver you want them to perform on your behalf... you can wait. Without charging you extra, some underpaid government employee will walk you through your mailing options and then hold your hand as you say goodbye to your package.

I know, I know...occasionally things get lost in the mail. But if you have ever, even once uttered the phrase, "Check's in the mail" or "Well, I swear I sent that" when you haven't even thought about paying that bill or sending that kidney, you have nothing to complain about. If the post office was 100% reliable, you would be screwed, as no one would believe your bullshit stories.

Finally, quite whining about the rising postage rates. You do realize that you can hand these people 39 cents and they will take your letter to Alaska, right? I suppose this is less impressive if you live in Juneau, but you get the point. And... you can mail cash. They tell you not to, but I've done it. And you know what? It gets there. Why? Because they don't pilfer through the mail.

For 39 fucking cents, I wouldn't carry your shit next door. And if I did agree to take it, I'd definitely go through it on the way and pocket anything of value. I wouldn't even feel guilty, seeing as I was grossly underpaid for this chore in the first place.

So quite bitching, and be grateful I'm not in charge of the post office.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

But at least I'm wearing regular pants

Test is over! And it went just fine.

These tests have gotten a lot easier--not the material, but the actual test taking. Last year, I woke up at 4 am before my first medical school exam to have four solid (or rather not-so-solid) hours of diarrhea. I didn't feel all that nervous, but apparently med school scared the shit out of my bowels, literally. This pleasant little ritual continued for most of my first year. A few tests in, I came to expect it and had gotten pretty good at reclining on the nearby sink and catching up on some light sleep.

I don't have a lot of spare weight to lose, though. By the time the 8 am test rolled around, I looked scary. Nicole Ricci Olsen twin scary. Plus, I had to wear the same damn outfit to every exam--gray, draw-string sweatpants. Why? Because they were the only things that I could keep on what was left of my ass.

But I wore jeans! That's right, I have since grown out of my go-like-a-son-of-a-bitch routine and back into my wardrobe. This morning, I told my roommate, "Well, I don't know all the pharmacology, but at least I'm wearing regular pants!"

Monday, April 9, 2007

Get in touch with your inner hippy

No time for a real post. Studying for an exam. Fun Todd Snider song.

Conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American male.
Gay bashin’, black fearin’, poor fightin’, tree killin’, regional leaders of sale.
Frat housin’, keg tappin’, shirt tuckin’, back slappin’ haters of hippies like me.
Tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, porn watchin’ lazyass hippies like me.
Tree huggin’, love makin’, pro choicen, gay weddin’, widespread panic diggin’ hippies like me.
Skin color-blinded, conspiracy-minded, protestors of corporate greed,
We who have nothing and most likely will ‘till we all wind up locked up in jails
By conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American males.

Diamonds and dogs, boys and girls, living together in two separate worlds
Following leaders of mountains of shame, looking for someone to blame.

Conservative Christian, right wing Republican, straight, white, American males,
Soul savin’, flag wavin’, Rush lovin’, land pavin’ personal friends to the Quayles
Quite diligently workin’ so hard to keep the free reins of this Democracy
From tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, barefootin’ folk-singin’ hippies like me.
Tree huggin’, peace lovin’, pot smokin’, porn watchin’ lazyass hippies like me.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Today's study break

Bruce and Melissa sing Thunder Road

I have crushes on both of them.
When I was 12, I decided I was going to marry Bruce Springsteen. When my dad told me that he was already married, I said, "That's okay, I'll just wait for his wife to die." Charming, huh?

In hindsight, I should have stuck to that plan.

Jim's mom

I talked to Jim on the phone today. He is a physician I used to work with and one of my friends who just lost his mother. Jim is not a young man, but losing a parent is hard at any age. He said, "You know, your parents are your connection to a certain part of your life. When they're gone, you feel like that connection is lost."

When I first heard that Jim's mom died, I thought of a conversation he and I had in the nurses station a few years ago. It was a Wednesday evening, and he was headed to his mother's for dinner. He had dinner with her every Wednesday. He said that after dinner he always fell asleep on her couch, and when he woke up, apologized for sleeping. She always said the same thing, though, "Jimmy, I love it when you come here and sleep."

I have thought of Jim every Wednesday evening since she died.
And although I'm not a big hugger, I really wished I could hug him as we talked today.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Sympathy notes

I have two sympathy notes to write.
It's hard to find those words.
I'm writing to two people who just lost their mothers.

When I worked in labor and delivery, I took care of lots of women who lost their babies fairly late in their pregnancies. I worked at a large hospital that received all the high risk obstetrical patients.

I got very good at knowing what to say to these mothers. They all seemed to feel more than a little guilt when they lost a baby. As though, "If I were a better mother, I would have grown a better baby. My uterus would have been a safer place for her. I would have sent more of the nutrients he needed through that placenta."

They very rarely verbalized these thoughts, and I don't remember how I realized that they were thinking them. At some point, though, I told a woman I was taking care of, "You know, this is not your fault." She looked at me, and her quiet sobbing turned into full blown crying.

She said, "I feel like it is, though. Like if I were a better mom, he would be okay."

I said, "You know, this baby is one of the luckiest babies in the world. He wasn't here for very long, but during his short time you gave him a warm, safe place to live and you loved him. You took such good care of him. And, even now, he has a mom who will keep loving him and will miss him and remember him forever. He is a lucky baby because you are his mom."

It was actually these patients who I enjoyed taking care of the most. During my last shift in labor and delivery, I sat in bed with a young girl as she held the baby she'd just lost. Her family had all left for the day. She was only 15, and was receiving much less support from the staff than older, married mothers do. There was some thought that she was better off. That she wouldn't have made a good mother anyway. That she would bounce back and be pregnant again in no time. I decided to ignore all that and say the same thing to her I did to other moms, "You know, this is not your fault." And she had the same outpouring of guilt and grief as every other mother. I told her that he was a lucky baby because she was his mom, and I cried with her and held her as she held her baby.

Two weeks later, I had relocated and was working as a receptionist, a job to hold me over until school started. I cried all the way home from work one night because I missed taking care of those mothers so much. It was such a privilege to share that space, that time, that grief with them. Without really knowing me, they let me into their lives and laid themselves bare. I always felt so incredibly lucky to be there, and I still miss it.

Buying sympathy cards today for people who lost their mothers made me think of the mothers I took care of. I guess this is how it's supposed to be--children burying their parents, rather than vice versa. I still don't know what to write in these notes, though.

A PSA (of sorts)

Last night (or rather, very early this morning) around 1 am, I decided I needed a study snack. I popped some popcorn, drizzled on some garlic butter, and sprinkled it with sea salt.

Delicious, huh?
Yeah, for about 20 minutes.

Then, I got really, really thirsty. So I drank a ton of water. Tons of water with tons of salt. I experienced what is technically referred to as hyperosmolar volume expansion. Translation: I was bloated--really, really bloated. I looked like a snake that just ate a rat. I was so miserable I had a hard time getting to sleep.

This morning, I woke up with three monster "blemishes" on my forehead. Let me tell ya, garlic butter isn't nearly so appetizing when it's erupting from the pores on your face.

Graphic, I know. But it's all for your benefit. You know, like that Don't Do Drugs PSA where the woman takes out her dentures and explains that methamphetamines stole her teeth.

Learn from my mistake.
Eat an apple. (Unless meth already got the best of your teeth.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Mother's Curves

I talked to my mother tonight. She just joined Curves. Apparently, my sister-in-law joined and told her how much she likes it, so my mom decided to sign up. Signing up was much more difficult than she had anticipated.

The first thing the Curves employee wanted to do was perform a body analysis and help my mother set some goals. That didn't go so well. The employee was a very perky woman with a huge smile and a sing-song voice. "It was like I was stuck in one of their commercials," my mother said. "The whole time, I was thinking, I can't believe a real person talks like this!"

My mother fixed the woman's voice condition by saying, "I'm not having a body analysis, and I don't want to set any goals. I'm just here to work out." The woman didn't know what to say. The smile was frozen, and she temporarily stopped breathing.

After recovering from the shock of the Curves train wreck that is my mother, she tried again. My mom replied with, "Look, I don't have goals, I don't want goals, and there is no way you are touching my thighs with that tape measure. I just want to work out. I don't even want to lose weight. I just don't want the weight I have to shake so much."

The woman wrote that down--less shaking--because it was as close to a goal as she was going to get with my mother. Finally, she managed to sign her up to work out. My mom agreed to a year, but there is no way in curvy hell she's going to stick with that. She went this morning and said, "You know, those women talk the whole time they're exercising." The nerve!

The best thing about it so far? She doesn't sweat. She said, "I figure I sweat enough during my nightly hot flashes, I don't need to sweat at the gym." I didn't bother explaining that perhaps this means she's not really working out. I'll leave that to a perky, unsuspecting Curves trainer.

I'm sure my mom will get her best workout ever strangling the employee with her tape measure.

{This evening, I also learned that my childhood friend and summer camp buddy, M, just lost her mother. As I write about my mom, even in humor, I think about how incredibly hard it would be to lose her. I can't imagine life without these phone calls. Tonight, I laugh at my mom, and I cry for M.}

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Earlier...we saw The Queen. Helen Mirren was phenomenal, and the movie was excellent. The British people's relationship with their monarchy is extremely fascinating.

While we were out... it looks as though someone tried to break in. The screen of the kitchen window was knocked in and bent a bit. The roommate's wife is very handy and was kind enough to fix it. Clearly, we need to be much more careful about making sure this window is closed before we leave the house. Lesson learned.

Right now... I'm listening to Todd Snider sing me Anywhere.

Hey baby
I'm not afraid to be your man
I don't need a destination
I'm not waiting to hear the plan

Let's get out of here
I'll go anywhere... with you

Ahh, and on that note... I'm headed to bed.