Sunday, November 14, 2010

"I worry that Jesus drinks himself to sleep when he hears me talk like this." - Anne Lamott

(Laugh. It's funny.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Many a good woman has had to learn that she can't always have what she wants. Such is life. And when you're too sad and tired to be happy for those who do, it's time to peace out, girl scout.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong...

Go home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cardboard boxes

I know, I know. It's been awhile. In fact, this may be the longest I've ever been away. I'm not sure I can say why I've been gone so long, exactly.

I spent the last month in the pain management clinic. The hours were good, but those posts would have sounded like my old ones from medical school when I was on a rotation I really didn't enjoy and the writing was so caustic that anonymous commenters felt the need to tell me I probably shouldn't be a doctor. I always wondered if those same people asked the mommy bloggers who occasionally admit to a bad day, "Have you ever thought you should maybe just give away your kids?"

In my non-pain clinic hours, I've had a great six weeks. I'm a little overwhelmed with the prospect of summarizing it, though. Beyond a bulleted list of all that's happened, it's hard to catch up here.

My brother got engaged, and I went home to celebrate with the family. They were just drunk enough to let me pick up the tab. Only in Ohio can you buy four rounds of drinks for 20 people with a couple hundred bucks. Midwest pricing and a gay waiter who appreciated the fact that I (mostly) kept my drunk sister-in-law from flirting with him made for some very cheap liquor. Although, I'm pretty sure when she readjusted her bra, popped a potato skin in her mouth, and told him, "I still have some to go, but I've lost 50 pounds since I had a baby six weeks ago," he was thinking, "Until a second ago, I liked the fellas; but girl, you had me at I used to be fat."

There's another amusing story there about gift giving gone wrong and one of the weirdest things a middle aged man has ever yelled in a crowded bar. In order to truly appreciate it, though, I think you had to be there in the moment when the bride-to-be opened the world's tackiest engagement gift, and my dad, in all sincerity, yelled "Oh, I love it! I'm a sucker for a snow globe." Now we know what his Craigslist personal ad will say on the off chance he outlives my mother: I like long walks on the beach, single malt scotch, and sparkly, magical globes of snow.

A few weeks after the trip home, Blake, Evan, and I spent a weekend in New York. La Cage Aux Folles, drinks at the Algonquin, more drinks at Marie's Crisis, brunch (and a fair bit of time spent in the ladies room) at Lips... Hungover and staring down a plate of eggs Benedict, I almost threw up in a drag queen's hair. (In Evan's best South Georgia drawl: But girl, you know that weave so tragic, little vomit won't hurt it.)

We drove Evan's car this time. Comparing this to the Bolt Bus, the back seat passenger summed it up as follows: "You know what the best thing is about your car? No one has come back here to take a shit since we left." There really is something to be said for not riding around next to a bathroom. And I said it.

A week later, my dad celebrated a birthday. After a few hours on the phone and a few drinks each, we decided that from now on, for the purposes of filling out census forms and applying for scholarships, we would count ourselves among the last remaining Blajewskimos. That's right. From here on out, on all official paperwork and government documents, we are Black Jewish Eskimos. (Also official: Having written that, I can now never run for public office.)

It was during that same conversation, before the aforementioned ethnicity changing decision, that I said, "You know how you buy little kids expensive crap for Christmas, and all they ever want to play with is the damn box? Well, the older I get, the more I think that all of life is like that. I laughed the hardest last weekend while drinking and singing showtunes off key in a basement bar at 1am...and then again hungover, nauseated, and stuck in New Jersey traffic on the way home."

"Well kid," he said, "I think you're right. I think all of life is like that cardboard box." And he would know. For he is the wisest of all the Blajewskimos.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's like riding a bike

I was having a particularly tough day at work. I communicated this to my father like I always sending him a text message that referred to work but in no way mentioned the shittiness of the day.

Your Iron Girl is doing two kidney transplants today.

I started my first case. My attending was exactly as I was warned he would be--old, and slow, and wheezy, and mad at me because he has gout. The longer it took me to get the central line in, the worse his gout got. That's the pathophysiology of gout. Inept anesthesia residents, maybe even intentionally, cause terrible foot and ankle pain with their inability to cannulate the internal jugular vein in less than 10 seconds. Incompetent cruel bastards, the lot of us.

I was glad for the warning, but in the moment, it didn't really do much to help. It never does, does it? Someone tells you something is going to be painful...and then it is. The heads up removed the element of surprise, reassured me that it wasn't just me, that everyone exacerbates his gout. But, starting the case was still like swimming through wet cement. Reminding myself, "He's like this with everyone," didn't make the central line go in any faster.

But go in it did. Eventually. And he left the room. Finally.

I texted Blake to say, "This morning, I was worried my attending may not survive the day. Now I'm worried he might."

A few hours later, Wheezy came back to give me a break. Everything was settled by then, the patient tucked in, the charting all caught up. The Goutmaster sat down at the head of the bed, propped up a swollen appendage, and opened his email. I gave the patient a dose of this and that and vacated the premises.

I didn't realize until I stepped out of the OR just how shitty the morning had been. I had been doing the one foot in front of the other thing to get through the laundry list of tasks that have to be completed at the start of a case. I hadn't had time to really think about miserable it was. As I walked away from the room, I thought, "Given the chance, right now, I would walk to my car, go home, and not come back until tomorrow."

I turned to cut through the PACU on my way to my coffee cup. As I walked under the hand painted white and black sign that says, GENERAL RECOVERY ROOM--a sign hung back in a time when they actually used to call the recovery room, The Recovery Room--I found a text message from my dad.

They got the right gal on the job. Just be glad you're not your sister... She's working in the 'beyond' dept of Bed Bath & Beyond today...and who the hell knows what's beyond?

Seriously, if that were me lying there, I'd want you in the room!

Nothing anyone else would have said could have made me feel better than I did in that moment. I walked to my coffee cup feeling a thousand pounds lighter. The shit eating grin was stuck on my face for another two hours.

Later in the day, I texted my dad to say that Blake was returning to work after two weeks in London. He had received some rather unjust criticism prior to his departure and was not looking forward to coming back. My dad, the Union President, sent a little something for my friend.

It started with, This is great...he is facing down the beast early in his career...always best to meet that bastard (unjust criticism) while you're young and strong...

I forwarded it to Blake. He wrote back, Where do I pay my union dues?

The next day, I emailed Dad. To understand this email, you need to know two things:

First, it took me for-fucking-ever to learn how to ride a bike. My father used to run marathons. He didn't even have to train for the first one. After all the miles he spent jogging back and forth down the driveway holding me up on my two wheeler, he was a power bar and some Gatorade away from his first race. His eldest child was the biggest little chickenshit on legs. You've never met someone so afraid of falling.

Second, this is in sharp contrast to the way that he learned to ride a bike. When he was a little guy, the Weber boys put him on a two wheeler and pushed him towards Bailey Road during rush hour traffic. They yelled, Pedal! and Turn! In that moment, he realized that if failed to follow their instructions, he'd die. So, he pedaled and turned. And that's how he learned to ride a bike.


Everything you said yesterday, both to me and to Blake, was freakin' perfect. The older I get, the more I wonder if shepherding us through adulthood might be even harder and more important than all of that stuff you do when kids are still in the house. And yes, I say that as one who took a full 17.5 years to learn to ride a bike. Every single day, I feel like one of the Weber boys is throwing me on a two wheeler and pushing me into traffic...with a patient strapped to my back. I'm still not sure how I'd pedal myself upright without you.


It's true. Every day does feel like that. But, there is this feeling when the lines go in like buttah, the intubation looks like I throw yard darts in my sleep, the patient and I soar through a big operation...when I Pedal! and Turn! and we avoid being crushed by that bus barreling down Bailey Road...and the job is even more fun than this girl thought it could be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why aren't you writing about your job?

Because no one really wants to know what happens while they're asleep.

That's why they asked me to put them to sleep. There are many surgeries for which they could probably be wide awake and numb from the (insert surgical site here) down. But, they'd really rather not be. As it turns out, ignorance is, in fact, bliss.

I'd really rather they be asleep, too. I still like to talk to people...before and after. But during, I prefer them in peaceful slumber. Trust me when I say, I'm awake enough for the both of us.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The friends

It occurred to me the other day that if you don't have any good friends, it may be my fault. I may have them all. I was talking to Graci at the time, telling her that I think of her every time the pathology resident comes to the OR to tell the surgeons that the tumor is not a tumor. Then, the surgeons tells her she's an idiot and to send in her attending. She rolls her eyes and walks away.

A few minutes later, a little, old Asian man comes in and says, "Is not a tuma. Is a chicken egg. Your patient chicken?"

And the surgeon says, "How the hell should I know? I didn't examine him. But I KNOW this a tumor."

And the pathologist says, "Listen, we put zee tuma stain on dis and we poke it wit a stick and it say, I am not a tuma. We put zee chicken egg stain on dis and we poke it wit a stick and it say, I AM A CHICKEN EGG!"

The surgeon retorts, "But radiology said it was a tumor."

"Padology better dan radiology. I say dis all zee time." Then, the little old man crosses his hands behind his back and walks away.

Replace the words chicken egg with cystic adenoma and that's a true story. If you're ever telling Graci a true story, you should replace the words cystic adenoma with chicken egg. She has no interest in the true pathology of a pathology tale but will laugh her fool ass off if you sprinkle in a little poultry.

This brings me back to my original point, which is that I have the very best of the friends. By best, in this case, I mean most easily entertained. It is never a struggle to make that girl laugh...and I love her for it.

Blake and Evan are in London right now. Rhee (their pup) and I are holding down the fort in their absence. We miss them terribly and, if we weren't such Iron Girls, would certainly sulk these two weeks away. But, we are, in fact, Iron Girls. And as such, we are making the best of it. We have found that cheese and napping help us keep up our strength in these trying times.

Last weekend, before the boys left, we all watched Fried Green Tomatoes. I start crying some time during the opening credits of this movie and stop some time two days later. Graci, Evan, and Blake are the only three people on the planet who can resist the urge to mock me for this. Although, to be honest, two of them don't really have any room to mock. Graci was the most impressive crier I'd ever known...until I met Evan.

As I learned earlier this same day as we watched Rick Steves' tour London, Evan is particularly moved by the Rosetta Stone. "I don't know what it is about this," he said, his voice cracking, his bottom lip all a quiver, "but it gets me every time." I looked over to find him taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes. I looked back at the screen to see if maybe I was missing something. Perhaps an innocent animal had been crushed under the stone, or a small child had just lost his mother in the mass of tourists?

But no, it was just the rock with those translated hieroglyphics. I started to ask him what it is about this that gets him, but, as he'd just said, he doesn't know. Crying at the Rosetta Stone is sort of like having a crush on Hillary Clinton. You can see how anyone might appreciate the brilliance...but you can't logically explain that depth of feeling. It just is what it is. (That said, if Evan ever confesses that he has the hots for Hillary, I'm going to have some follow up questions.)

All of that is to say, Blake resisted the urge to mock my crying all the way through Fried Green Tomatoes. The other two can't mock. Crying fools, the both of em.

When the movie ended, I wiped my eyes (for the 57th time) and slipped on my shoes to go. I don’t often leave late on a Saturday night. (The boys call the guest bedroom T's room for a reason.) But, we hadn’t had much at all to drink, and I had a few things to get done the next morning at home.

Fried Green Tomatoes made me miss Graci. It made the boys miss the South. As I stood to go, they began to reminisce. Evan started telling a story. "My older cousin used to try to scare me and my younger cousin. One time, he told us the woods behind the house were full of Indians who would scalp us..."

I sat back down to hear the rest of this. Evan tells a tale beautifully. He whispers the quiet parts and sprinkles in pitch perfect dialogue. His boyhood stories are like Stand By Me...with just a touch of flair. And no one can end a story quite like he can.

In this one, he and his younger cousin ventured into the scalping jungle and crept around a small shack. "Are there Indians in there?" Evan's cousin asked. (Blake and I were on the edge of our seats.)

"I don't know," Evan said, wide eyed and dead serious..."but if there are, they drive a Monte Carlo."

We laughed like idiots.

Blake's childhood stories are more like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. As he tells them, part of me wants to snort laugh. The other part wants to hold him and stroke his hair and assure him that in spite of all that, just in case he forgot, he grew into a (mostly) normal and very good man who moved far away from the nut jobs and only has to see them on holidays.

Speaking of which, we then somehow got onto the subject of our most recent Thanksgiving. Blake's mom and brother came to visit. I spent the whole weekend asking Evan, "Who are these people, and where did your boyfriend come from?"

"This year was nothing," Blake said. "You should have been there when my grandma tried to shoot my mom." He then launched into a story about the year his mother and his paranoid delusional Alzheimer's afflicted grandmother wrestled over a loaded handgun on Thanksgiving morning. (So much for watching the parade.)

"My mom yelled at me to go for help," Blake said. "I still remember hurting my bare feet as I ran across my grandma's gravel driveway to get to the neighbors'."

This is where he got me. I used to spend summer months playing outside barefoot. I remember the stinging in my feet as I ran across gravel drives in summer's early warm days, before my heels had a chance to grow calloused and tough. I swallowed hard as I pictured the boy from Blake's childhood photos running barefoot and scared.

As with all of his childhood stories, though, this didn't end with the tragic and scary. It ended with the utterly ridiculous.

The police came, disarmed Grandma, and tied her ass to a chair. And then they left. As if that's what you do with crazy old people. Tie 'em to the furniture. Problem solved.

Blake's mom found a psych unit to take his grandma for a few days. But then, they had to get her there. They carried her out of the house, chair and all, turned it and her on its side - it was the only way it would fit - and loaded her into the back seat of the car. She road to the psych ward that way.

Picturing this, I laughed so hard I pulled an abdominal muscle. Exhausted from all that laughing, I kicked off my shoes and headed down the hall to my room.

The best of the best friends. An embarrassment of riches, to be sure. I assure you I am sufficiently humiliated...but I'm not letting them go anytime soon.

And I'm not beyond tying them to the furniture to keep them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

God bless the edentulous

This job really makes you appreciate people without teeth. In fact, when my patient has a mouth full of 'em, I can't help but think, "Well shit, now I have to work around these damn things."

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday morning

It's finally cooled down enough to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. I'm sure this will only last a few hours, but still...a breeze wafting through these walls is just what this house needed. (Well, a breeze and a dust rag perhaps.)

My second cup of coffee and I are sitting in a rocking chair next to my front window, listening to the birds, watching the old men take their morning walks. Seems like sort of an old lady way to start the day, eh? Yes well, when the time comes, after years of practice, I'm going to rock at being elderly.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Text message to my mom, the former children's pastor

I have all the patience of Job.
Not the good, vacation bible school Job, but the bitchy, whiny, "what the fuck happened to my goats?" Job.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The one that's too long

Text from Blake: "Btw, I'm tired of waiting on you to post an orientation blog, so I'm just gonna come out and say... Blog."

Then, he started bitching about how long the post was going to be. This post. A post that had yet to be written.

I get home from a long day at work. All I want to do is relax and put my feet up. Instead, I have to listen to him complain about the ways he anticipates I may annoy him in the future. Coupled with the fact that neither of us has any desire to see the other naked, this friendship is a lot like a thing called marriage. (Not your marriage, of course. No, your love is special. I'm talking about other people - the ones you don't like.)

Orientation started with a few days of... Well shit, I don't even remember what we did those first few days. There were hospital tours, and lectures, and piles of human resources paperwork. We signed five copies of a form which said, in effect, "I will not take naked pictures of my patients and post them on Facebook. And if I do, I'll scratch out their medical record numbers with a sharpie first." The program director handed out anesthesia books and then, just to get it out of the way, yelled at us for not reading them enough this year. Just to get it out of the way, we went ahead and felt a little ashamed of all that reading we, apparently, won't be doing.

After a few days of this, the department took us out to a local restaurant and we all drank free booze until the tab ran out. Then, too drunk to care how much we were spending on liquor, we all opened our own tabs and, just to get it out of the way, drank our first paycheck.

It was somewhere in between their tab and ours that Blake and I told the program director the impound story. The more colorful version of this tale involves eight uses of the word fuck and at a single uttering of the phrase, ass virginity. (As in, Blake said, "There we were driving through the ghetto with four hundred dollars, my pretty truck, and your ass virginity, and I thought for sure we were going to lose it all.") I managed to retell it with only four uses of the word fuck and no mention of ass or virginity. And to think, Blake says I have no filter.

The next day, I drove to Connecticut to see Graci. It was 105 degrees. My car has no air. I sat in parked traffic in New York for two hours. At one point, I stopped sweating and had to concentrate really hard on not throwing up. I think this is called heat stroke. I don't know for sure because, as my program director predicted, I have not read that chapter.

The whole drive took almost eight hours. I nearly died. And it was completely worth it.

Graci's apartment looks almost exactly like the one we shared in medical school. Books, pinned bugs, wood carving craft projects from her camp counselor days - everything about it is just so...Graci. And it feels just like home. I packed anesthesia books and notes but didn't read a word all weekend. Instead, I just talked about how nervous I was to start in the OR without knowing anything from those books and notes.

My very first case on my very first day was a craniotomy. Fucking brain surgery. That is, in fact, what I said when I heard it. "FUCKING BRAIN SURGERY? Are you fucking kidding me?" I called Blake and said it. I called my mom and said it. I said it to Graci every four and half minutes all weekend long. She reminded me over and over again that they weren't going to let me kill anyone. (At least, not on my first day.)

Blake's first case was some simple little kidney procedure. It was complicated only by the fact that his patient was mostly dead. In fact, his anesthetic plan looked a lot like this.

Three weeks later, Blake and I are almost sort of kind of maybe in some small way getting used to this job. Partnered with another first year resident and an attending, we're rarely left alone in the OR. This all changes after next week when our month long orientation officially ends and we start doing our own cases. Once again, we will be scared shitless. (In my case, I mean this literally as stress gives me terrible diarrhea.)

At the end of every day this month, we have an hour long lecture on one of the basic topics in anesthesiology. Last Friday, Blake collapsed in the chair beside me in the lecture room and sighed. He looked like he'd been hit with a bus. He always looks 17 times better than I do, so I can't even imagine how I must have looked - like I'd been hit by 17 buses, I suppose. As we waited for the lecturer, we talked about how exhausting it was to spend all day trying not to kill the mostly dead.

And then, suddenly, as if the room was on fire, Blake grabbed his bag, stood bolt upright, and yelled, "Fifteen minute rule. I'm out." And with that, he was out.

I looked over the room of stunned, silent faces. They'd never seen such a dramatic exit from a non-event. I shrugged a little, reached for my bag, and said, "I'm uhh...I'm with him."

"I wish you could have seen the looks on their faces," I told him. We laughed about it all the way to our cars.

Blake, I could get through this residency without you. But friend, moments like these make me so glad I don't have to.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Could someone direct me to the OR?

I start my anesthesiology residency tomorrow. My medicine internship is finished. I ended with two weeks of nights. I thought about writing when it was all over, but frankly, I was too fucking tired. I stuck a note on the call room door for the incoming interns...

Sicker patients than this have survived dumber doctors than you.

And with that, I was done.

I stopped by the new hospital the other day to drop off the last bit of my anesthesia paperwork. I managed to park a full seven blocks from the office where I needed to be. When I finally found the elevators, I couldn't figure out which floor the anesthesia department was on. A housekeeping employee explained to me that since I was looking for room 1408, I was probably headed to the 14th floor. She asked if I was new. When I said yes, she asked, "Which department?" I could almost hear her under her breath, Please don't say housekeeping, please don't say housekeeping...

On the 14th floor, I stumbled into the Chairman's suite. His secretary directed me to the clearly marked education office that I had walked right past to bother her.

On my back out of the hospital, when the high pitched beeping started and security appeared, I looked up from my phone to read, Emergency Exit: Alarm will Sound.

Tonight, Blake suggested that we ride together tomorrow. I readily agreed. Mostly because I think it's only a matter of time before housekeeping and security have a drink and get to talking...and then I won't be allowed to go to work unaccompanied by a sighted companion or specially trained dog.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Houston, we have a problem

People always ask me if I'm like Blanche. Well, Blanche was an oversexed, self-involved, man-crazy, vain Southern belle from Atlanta—and I'm not from Atlanta. - Rue McClanahan

The dinner conversation started, as I imagine all in depth discussions of the difficulties unique to space copulation do, with a rather banal question. I asked Blanche, “Do you enjoy your job in medicine?”

“No,” she said, “I hate it.”

“What would you rather be doing?”

“Well,” she said, “I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut.”

I choked a little to keep from blowing onion soup out my nose. Like the Great Wall of China, the pile of toiletries Blanche brought with her for the weekend could actually be seen from space. The thought of her willingly donning a flame retardant jumpsuit accessorized with hose attachments made me aspirate a little.

“An astronaut, eh?” I squeaked, still struggling for air.

Rose, the voice reason chimed in with, “You can’t be an astronaut. Space is really bad for aging.”

“Wrinkles?” I said. “That’s why she can’t go to space…because she might get wrinkles?”

"Yes," she said, nodding. "I heard you age like five years for every week you’re up there. It’s a real problem."

Blanche looked at Rose like this was the single most idiotic thing she had ever heard. Aging. As if that was something that could ever happen to her. It was utterly ridiculous, as though Rose had just warned against the possibility of growing a third boob with a single trip to the moon.

Blanche had other concerns. Principally, how exactly would one clean up after space sex.

“You’re going to be having sex in space?” I said.

“Well, yeah,” she said, looking at me like that was the dumbest question anyone had ever asked an astronaut.

You know, you think you’d never be part of discussion about the potential difficulties of sex clean up in a zero gravity environment. But then, you have a little more wine, and suddenly, you’re saying things like, “What about a butterfly net?” As if that would even work.

Monday, June 7, 2010

In preparation

When I asked Evan what he wanted for his birthday, he said, “I want to make lobster for us. I am happiest when we are all together having French food.”

“That's when I’m happiest, too,” I said.

And so it was settled. For Evan's birthday, we would make lobster.

Blake had two friends from medical school, Blanche and Rose, coming into town for the weekend. Rose’s one-eyed on again off again boyfriend, Willie, was supposed to join us as well; but there was trouble in lover’s paradise. I, for one, was quite disappointed to hear of their falling out. Lobster Thermidor, beautiful china, fine wine…and a guy who lost his eye to a pair of brass knuckles outside a bar in Texas. Hell, that post practically writes itself.

Willie’s place was taken by Evan’s friend and coworker, Woman Who Looks Just Like Reese Witherspoon Except Chinese. (Reese, for short.) Reese is a fabulous dinner party guest because she is forever raising interesting philosophical questions like, “What is the meaning of the phrase, What’s up chicken butt?” Suddenly, you find yourself wondering, what is the meaning of that phrase? And then, it’s not long before you’re thinking the hokey pokey may actually be what’s it’s all about.

Evan proposed a five course meal for the six of us: French onion soup, salad, Lobster Thermidor, chocolate cake (which has a proper name I can never seem to remember), and finally, just to ensure that none of us would be able to get up from the table in our own strength, a selection of cheeses.

Evan made the soup and the cake the day before. The cheese was crafted by a couple of French farmers with a gift for mold preparation. That left the salad and the lobster. The salad is nothing. I mean, it didn’t taste like nothing. It was delicious. But, when it comes to preparation, the salad is nothing. Evan wiggles his nose like Samantha from Bewitched and a salad appears. So, in short, that left the lobster.

Julia Child’s Lobster Thermidor is no joke. If you had something else you thought you might like to do in the five and a half hours before dinner, if you balk at the thought of brutally murdering helpless animals in your kitchen, or if you weren’t already planning to repaint the walls after the mess this makes, just close the cookbook and walk away.

I can't claim that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I told Evan I’d make lobster with him. He and I have done this once before. Granted, my memory of that experience is a little hazy, what with the five and a half hours of wine consumption that went along with the cooking. But, I do recall that the whole process took for-freakin'-ever. I had to grab the dog and go cringe in the other room while he did the killing. And four days later, I was still picking lobster out of my hair. I also remember that Evan and I had a fabulous Lucy and Ethel making French food.

This time, we would be doing it for twice as many people. Oh yeah, and I would be post call. This is to say, I would be doing all of this on about two hours of bad sleep.

I worked Friday night and ignored just enough pages to get that two hours of bad sleep. Saturday, after a short morning nap, I poured myself the first of about seventeen cups of coffee and headed out to pick up some flowers. Evan wanted tulips. Though it’s not really tulip season, I just sort of assumed, since it was his birthday, there would be tulips.

I stopped by the small flower shop near my house, walked in, and proclaimed, “I’ll take a dozen tulips.”

The woman behind the counter, a true retail professional, immediately apologized for something that couldn’t possibly be her fault. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but tulip season is over. ”

“I know, but it’s for a dinner party and it’s his birthday,” I said, as if that would make the requested flowers shoot out of her ass.

She smiled and, as if trying to distract a toddler on the verge of a tantrum, suggested, “Perhaps we could find something else?”

I sighed pathetically. “I guess I’ll take the orchids." She offered to pick them out, mostly because she imagined me destroying two dozen stems to get to the five I wanted. As she pulled out the bucket of flowers, Evan called me in a panic. He had been to three grocery stores and there were no lobsters. He was driving an hour away in a last ditch effort to find some. Dinner would be late. If they didn’t have lobsters the last place he knew to look, our lives would be over.

I hung up with him and started calling a few of the places I thought might carry them. Suddenly, I was distracted from my conversation with a local market by the crappy flower selection happening on the counter in front of me. Covering the phone, I reminded the florist, "These are for a dinner party."

"Yes," she said with a patronizing smile.

I clarified, “A dinner party with gay men.”

“Oh,” she sighed, as she laid down the tragic stems she had selected. “I guess I’ll start over.”

I smiled an equally patronizing smile and then resumed my conversation with the fish monger. I found an alternative to suicide just in case Evan's road trip didn't pan out and, a few minutes later, left the flower shop with orchids fit for a queer eye.

Evan’s pilgrimage was a success. In the end, cooking only got started about an hour behind schedule. I won’t bore you with all the details of lobster preparation…mostly because scant sleep beforehand and a bit of wine during left me with little memory of much of the day. I will however, offer the highlights: the murder, and the table setting.

First, the murder: Killing lobsters brings out something in sensitive, sweet, tender-hearted Evan. All the hostility, antagonism, bitterness, resentment, and general acrimony that the rest of us slowly leak out onto florists, meter maids, and loved ones, Evan quietly stores up and unleashes on sea life. The fact that those lobsters didn’t happily swan dive from the grocery bag into the pot of boiling water really pissed him off. As he abandoned the tongs and, with his bare hands, reached into the bag to wrestle them into a watery grave, he yelled, “Do NOT fuck with me. I have had a hard year.”

He has had a hard year. It’s not easy to be in love with a resident. Unfortunately, the call schedule doesn't taste right boiled, so the crustaceans had to bear the brunt of a year's worth of frustration.

Second, the table setting: A dinner party is not only an excuse to unleash wrath onto undeserving shellfish, but also to dress Evan and Blake’s beautiful new table with style. I admit I had to Google images of a proper place setting and watch the How to Fold a Napkin YouTube video seven times for six napkins. But, the lovely result was well worth this uncultured nitwit's exhaustive research.

“Oh T, it’s so beautiful,” Evan said.

“It is,” I agreed. I stood at edge of the table and smiled at him. It has been a hard year. There were parts of it you couldn’t pay me to do again. But, as I looked at that lovely table and my dear friend, snippets of every meal he and I have poured ourselves (and bottles of wine) into wafted over to me. I swallowed hard to keep from leaking a few tears.

After the table was set, Evan and I went to work on dressing ourselves in style (or, at least, in less shellfish). I, for one, spent not a few minutes picking lobster out of my underwear and spackling concealer over the dark circles under my sleep deprived eyes. While we were getting ready, Blake came home with Blanche and Rose. The three of them had been to the mall and to Sex and the City 2. When I stepped out of the bathroom, the Golden Girls introduced themselves. Then, they grabbed a leash and Blanche's dog and headed for the door.

“Um...I walked both dogs an hour ago,” I said.

“There’s a hot guy in the parking lot,” Blanche explained, as she adjusted her bra and made haste.

I would have joined them, but everyone who lives in Blake and Evan’s building has already seen me in all my sexiness. Rainbow pajama pants, a hugely oversized hoodie, pair of men's flip flops, and a baseball cap? Yep, that was me, dog-sitting and seducing the neighbors.

While the girls headed out to hunt the locals, I chatted with Blake about their day. He bitched a bit about how long they were at the mall and about how Rose embarrassed him by bartering for a deal on a bedazzled phone cover. I said something agreeable like, "Oh yeah, that would be embarrassing," all the while thinking, "Who are you kidding?" If those two are Blanche and Rose, Blake is their Dorothy. Dorothy was never so happy as when she was annoyed with those girls.

I just got through chatting with Rose on Facebook. I told her they must come back more often. I say this for purely selfish reasons. Hanging out with them, Blake looks like I feel when I’m with Graci. It is nothing but fun to see.

I’ll say more about the rest of the evening later. Right now, I have to go admit a patient.

In the meantime, to summarize dinner: Completely worth it. Worth the time. Worth the toasty seat in hell we reserved for ourselves with the brutal murder of helpless animals. Worth the lobster in my underwear.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vacation, week one

I went home to see the family for a few days. My parents (and sisters, and Logyn) recently moved out of the 720 square foot home where we grew up into a 3,200 square foot condo. Their friends are all downsizing. Convinced that my sisters aren't going anywhere any time soon, they've done just the opposite. "We couldn't do it anymore," my mom said. "I mean, I know in many countries, several families live in a space smaller than that...but those are better people than we are. We were all ready to kill each other."

It was rather close quarters. The girls and the baby shared a small room. When I visited, I slept on the couch in a semi-finished room in the basement that also served as my dad's home office. There was only one bathroom.

The condo is huge by comparison. It has three bathrooms. Three. The girls have their own bedrooms. ("Now, we'll really never get them out of here," my mom says.) There's still no real privacy. Logyn is two, after all...

Logyn: "You go potty, TT?"

Me: "Yes, I'm going potty."

Logyn: "Can I come?"

My sister: "You can say no."

Me: "I was planning on it."

But, even with the occasional unsolicited assistance in the bathroom, it is a much easier place to stay.

Logyn loves her new house. That's what she calls it. Her new house. When my sister told her I was coming a few weeks ago, she ran around unlocking doors..."So TT can come to my new house."

The morning I left, she wrapped her little arms around my neck, and with tears in her eyes, said, "TT, you come back to my new house pretty soon?"

"Yes," I said, "I'll come back to your new house pretty soon." And then, I was the first person ever to cry her way through a flight from Ohio to the beach.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lucy goosey

A point d'appui

Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe....through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake.

An English literature professor named Bob Davis introduced me to Thoreau and to this, his favorite passage from Walden.

Bob's class was at 3 o'clock in a third story room in the corner of the humanities building. Even in the air conditioning, it got too warm in there in the afternoons. Dr. Davis sat on a stool in front of a bunch of overheated, lethargic college students. They gazed out the windows at kids drinking beer from Nalgene bottles and playing frisbee golf, counting down the seconds until they could join them.

In this group of Gap kids, I stood out like a sore thumb in the scrubs I wore to class because, right after, I had to go to be a nurse's aide until midnight. I dug at the wedding ring that cut into my swollen finger on hot days like this. I added a few things to a grocery list I had started in the corner of my planner...paper towels, ground beef, Tide.

Then, he read Thoreau. And suddenly, I was swallowing hard to keep from crying all over my scrub top.

Thoreau was like a gift. I felt like I must have been incredibly hard to buy for. Nothing else I had--the job, the ring, the grocery list--really fit. But then, Bob Davis read from Walden, and it was exactly right.

At the end of the passage, he laughed a little and said, "In a couple months, I'm going to give all of you a final exam. You're going to write for me for a few hours. At the end of that, I've always sort of hoped someone would throw it at me and say, 'This is, and no mistake.'"

A few months later, he gave us a final exam. I wrote for him for three hours. At the end of it, satisfied with every last word, I laid it on the desk in front of him, looked him in the eyes, sat my finger on the page, and said, "This is, and no mistake."

Then, I straightened my scrubs and went to work until midnight.

It took me a few years to find the hard bottom and rocks in place. I still lose it from time to time. But then, there is the gift--the voice of Thoreau reminding me to settle myself, and work and wedge my feet...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In spite of it

It has been a beautiful day. Ninety degrees. Sunny. I was on call last night but got several hours of sleep so I've been up to enjoy it. And enjoy it I have. Mostly.

I've been alone.
And lonely.

I'm not new to this alone thing. I am actually one of those people who requires a good bit of it. But, as it turns out, I also have a good bit more of it than I require. This is (mostly) my own fault. Today, in particular, it was my fault. I can see how I orchestrated this. It feels sort of like the time I shut my tiny finger in the bathroom door. I was six and was playing tag with my brother. I would have liked to have blamed it on him, but it was me. Knowing that somehow made it hurt even worse.

Like I said, though, it's been a beautiful day. I spent much of it in D.C., lying on the edge of this, my feet floating in the water.

A group of kids splashed next to me. At one point, the sky darkened briefly above me and I opened my eyes to see a lithe six year old boy soaring over my head. His mother yelled at him, "Hey, go around next time."

Ducks paddled past. One stopped on the ledge next to me to shake a little water from his fanny. He was standing so close, he got me wet. What he and the boy gazelle lacked in social graces they more than made up for in comic relief.

I read Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies for maybe the third time. I listened to Astral Weeks. I got a little sunburn. Alone, I enjoyed the beautiful day.

It was on the drive home that I realized I had distracted myself from this lonely, not cured myself of it. It's still here. With me. A shit ass companion, if ever there was one.

But, I'm okay. There's something to be said for calling a thing the shit ass it is...and now, maybe enjoying the evening in spite of it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blake's Proust questionnaire

When I read this, I said, "I'm going to ask if I can post it...but part of me just wants to keep it for myself." It almost felt like a little present.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Those times when I sit down, can take a big deep breath, the air feels light, the weather is nice, and there’s not a thing to do.

What is your greatest fear?
Snakes. On a plane or otherwise.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Napoleon Bonaparte. I can at least understand the desire to be in charge of everything.

Which living person do you most admire?
It comes and goes, but I most admire my friends. I feel like I have an amazing group of them and I admire a little something different in each one of them.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
The need to blend in.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
When people lack insight.

What is your greatest extravagance?
If I had to pick one, definitely electronics.

What is your favorite journey?
Sitting on a hillside in Parc Guell.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Impartiality. It seems to me that this virtue is at odds with another, loyalty. I much value loyalty over impartiality.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I don’t want a response to the truth, or when you don’t really want the truth either.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My height and skin.

Which living person do you most despise?
It’s a lot of effort to continue to despise somebody. I’d rather just ignore your existence.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
The vocal interrupter “like”.
The response “maybe”.

What is your greatest regret?
It depends on the time of day. Usually, I regret leaving everything I need at home.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Hard to answer that question, because I think it is difficult to say until right before you die. But, at present, my boyfriend.

When and where were you happiest?
I’m happiest when I feel that I’ve just had a very genuine moment with somebody and we both get our feelings and thoughts out there, in the open. There’s that twinge of relief and also of knowing that you’ve shared this moment that you can hold on to.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be one of those people that can just fix ANYTHING, you know those people? You take them a broken music box made of rare jade from 682 B.C. (I don’t actually know when the earliest music box was made) and they can make it seem like it was made yesterday (and also make it play Dancing Queen).

What is your current state of mind?
I’m tired of this survery, it’s making my ADD flare up.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would seek less extrinsic approval and find it from somewhere more personal.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
They would accept that I’m gay, join PFLAG, and donate to the HRC instead of the Southern Baptist Association and the NRA.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Matching into residency.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Yoda I would be. Powerful the force is. Live for a millennium I would, many things I would see.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A lazy brown dachshund.

What is your most treasured possession?
Pictures. From old family photos to new journeys with friends.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Saturday night internal medicine call in the hospital admitting somebody you have admitted 10 times before for another missed dialysis appointment.

Where would you like to live?
Washington DC or SF Bay Area.

What is your favorite occupation?
Firefighters. They’re hot.
I’m sure this was supposed to be a question about the favorite occupation for me, but I already know what I have to do.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Some people might say the fact that my personality is chameleon-like. I say my most marked characteristic is my moodiness, let’s call it my mini-bipolar.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
The ability to read my mind.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
The ability to put it all together. Looks, book smarts, wit, and street smarts. It’s hard to wear all of those together, but that’s the perfect woman. She can pull it all off (in heels). Oh yah, and good teeth.

What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, disclosure, and support.

Who are your favorite writers?
Asking me this question is a bit like asking a vegan what meat they like.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
James Bond.

Who are your heroes in real life?
I look up to many of my friends. I like to have tangible heroes.

What are your favorite names?
Ashleigh, Austin, Jack, Jacqueline, Kyoto, Amberlie.

What is it you most dislike?
People who are unprepared.

How would you like to die?
Old and quick.

What is your motto?
If you’re gonna do something, better do it right (or at least appear that you have).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Old text messages

April 15, 2010~
Terroni: You know why I just come to your house?

Blake: ?

Terroni: Because it's better.
Better than everyone else's.

Old text messages

March 19, 2010~
Terroni: It's nice out, and I'm bored. Let me know when you're done with your shit. We should go outside.

Blake: If rounds end...

T: You want me to page you out of them?

B: The suffering will be over soon.

T: Sounds like you're going to hurl yourself from a 14th floor window.
If so, I'll see you on the ground. I've been looking for an excuse to go outside.

Old text messages

April 14, 2010~
Blake: I don't care if you're an arborist, pussy willow can't be said on tv.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Old text messages

January 1, 2010 ~
Terroni: Are you guys eating sauerkraut today?

Blake: Collards and black eye peas on New Years.

T: Oh, that's right, you're Southern.
You know, I don't think I've ever had a collard green.
What do they taste like?

B: Cabbage or turnip greens.
Except more chewy.

T: What do cabbage or turnip greens taste like?

B: Oh god.

T: It's not easy to be my friend, is it?

B: It has its difficulties.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday morning

I'm sitting in an oversized chair in Blake and Evan's living room, drinking my coffee, listening to Patty Griffin, quietly, so as not to rouse the boys. When, as an old lady, I think back on this time in my life, I will think of these Sunday mornings.

I get up and collect the glasses from the night before. Pitching the vodka soaked olives from Evan's martini, rinsing the sticky lemonade from Blake's Arnold Palmer. I'm not sure what it is about this that I enjoy so much. There's probably something stereotypically female there for a woman's studies professor or a freshman psychology major to chew on. Have at it. I'm getting too old to care about any of that.

When I think back on my time here, I will think of Sunday mornings when I washed cocktail glasses, started some coffee, and read The New York Times until two of my favorites woke up.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Birthday

Dear Owen,

Happy Birthday! This is sure to be the first in a long line of late birthday cards you’ll be receiving from me. This time, I blame it on your mother. It took her several days to get me a decent picture of you. Also, there was that brief period—2 or 3 days in the beginning there—when I didn’t actually know your full name. (The out-of-towners are always the last to hear the details.) As it turns out, you’re named after almost all of your male relatives. In fact, if I posted your middle names here, this would no longer be an anonymous blog. Here, we will just call you Owen.

I do love that you carry your grandpas' names, though. I very much look forward to watching the amazing men in your life—your grandpas, your dad, your uncle—teach you to be a scholar and a gentleman. You will learn to be compassionate, insightful, funny, and kind. You will hold open doors for people. You’ll carry groceries for old ladies. You'll be a very hard worker, an extremely loyal friend. You will have a great sense of humor, especially about yourself.

You’ll also get into a fair bit of trouble. But, when your dad calls your grandpa to say, “You will not believe what this kid did…” your grandpa will remind your father of the time he accidentally laundered pot it in his jeans. Even the scholar and gentleman sometimes gets caught with stems and seeds in the dryer vent.

Your sister Lucy could not be more excited about your arrival. She alternates between kissing you and sticking her finger in your eyes. You are covered in spit and have corneal abrasions, but you are well loved. Lucy and Logyn have great plans for you. Mostly, they plan to boss you around and take your stuff. Don’t look to your cousin, Eli, for any help here. He weighs more than the two of them combined, and yet they’ve somehow managed to purloin everything the kid once owned. Turkey sized and most dangerous when they work in tandem, those two are the toddler equivalent of Velociraptors (from the Latin for swift seizer).

Speaking of spit and eye injury, I can’t wait to see you in May. When I tell you, “Owen, I’m going to give you a thousand kisses,” I mean it. I’m also going to blind you with my camera. I apologize in advance. I can’t help myself. Take a hint from Logyn who now closes her eyes when she sees me coming.

It appears as though you may have that part down pat…

Aunt TT

Monday, March 15, 2010

All in the first day's work

I talked to Graci tonight. She just started a forensic pathology rotation in The Bronx. She's been there one day and already she says things like, "Yeah, we had a decomp today. Big old green, bloated thing. Been dead about two weeks. We're not sure what got him. Coulda been anything really."

Then, she takes a puff off her cigar, blows smoke from the corner of her mouth, sips her scotch, and buys the pretty lady at the end of the bar a drink.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring forward

Blake was on call last night. Evan and I had a Blake's on call date. On these nights, we make French food. More specifically, Evan makes French food. I follow very simple instructions. "Cut this into pieces just like these," he will say, holding up an example. When things get complicated, I grab my wine glass and the dog and head to the living room to flip through Vogue. Their apartment's open floor plan allows us to chat away while he cooks and I, well...drink. When dinner's ready, we eat and then take some to the hospital for Blake. Yesterday was a wet, chilly day. It made for a great French onion soup night.

French onion soup and red wine and vodka tonics and dirty martinis... I suppose it's no surprise that on call nights, Evan and I tell each other things we, perhaps, otherwise wouldn't.

After dinner, we went to the piano. It's been months since we've done Broadway. I'm sure the neighbors missed it almost as much as we did.

Blake got home around 9 this morning. 9 this morning was actually 8 this morning, which almost completely explains the fact that we all slept until 11 this morning (which was really only 10), had some leftover chocolate cake and some breakfast quiche, watched Blake accidentally solve a Rubik's cube, and went back to bed until 4 (which, again, was really only 3). The point is, saving daylight is exhausting.

When I rolled back out of bed this afternoon, Evan asked, "You ready to go home?"

"Yeah," I said. I wasn't so sure that wasn't a little bit of a lie. There are times I really need to get home, back to my quiet apartment to curl up on my couch with my favorite mug and my softest throw. I require a certain not so small amount of time alone. But, there are also times when I could quite easily overstay my welcome at the boys' place. It is very easy--a bit too easy--to feel right at home there. Resisting the urge to feed the clingy monster that occasionally lives in me, I try to leave before they are really sure they're ready for me to go. In that spirit, I said, "Yeah," when I probably really meant, "Nah."

There's a big old harbor in the middle of this town. When traffic clogs a few main roads, it can be a total pain in the ass to get from my place to the boys' without swimming. Evan picked me up yesterday because he was teaching at a math convention in my neck of the woods. As such, he had to take me home today. We made it as far as the harbor where we ran into a veritable parking lot. A St. Patrick's Day parade, Alice in Wonderland in 3D at the IMAX, a dental convention of some sort--it was the perfect storm of traffic, a real fuckery of ground transportation.

If I had been alone, I would have crept my way home. Because I was with Evan, though, and I really didn't want him to have to spend the next two hours in the car, I suggested we just turn around. "Listen," I said, "it's not like I was going home to split the atom. Let's just go back to your place and we can try this again in a few hours."

I felt bad. I didn't want to go home, but I didn't want to stay, either. Blake and Evan hadn't seen much of each other this weekend. When Blake got up from his post call nap, I thought it might be nice if he had his boyfriend to himself.

I have to say, though, that traffic was just one in a series of great things to happen to my weekend...right behind onion soup, vodka tonics, and breakfast quiche.

Blake got up shortly after we got back home. (You see how I call it that? Oy vey.) If he was disappointed to see me, he hid it well. (He's a good friend. He would hide it well.) Evan suggested a movie. Blake put in Licence to Kill.

I'm a Bond fan. Blake is a Bond connoisseur. He owns and knows them all. Watching them with him is great fun. Licence to Kill was no exception.

After the movie, I made the only thing I ever make for the boys--fettuccine Alfredo. Impossible to ruin, it's my kind of dish. Dinner was excellent for two reasons: First, it's two main ingredients were cheese and heavy cream. Second, cooking something made me feel a little less guilty about the day I'd spent squatting on their couch. In short, cheese and heavy cream make me feel better about myself in more ways than one.

French food, vodka tonics, shared secrets, off key show tunes, and friends like these two make me feel better about the rest.

Prepare to be underwhelmed

I used to leave little notes to myself here about my day. I thought of this as a place to jot down a few lines about the things I didn't want to forget. I've realized that lately the very best things are being left out...and forgotten.

I apologize in advance for what I hope will be a deluge of uninteresting posts. It's not that I hope they'll be uninteresting, it's just that I hope to get back to writing about the best parts of my day, even when I don't have anything clever to say.

A woman wrote a book called, No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog. I'm sure her blog is endlessly clever. I highly recommend it (if endlessly clever is the kind of thing that interests you). If, however, you're intrigued by the hopelessly mundane, stick around. I'm your girl. I had French onion soup for lunch.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Today I met the boys I'm going to marry

Setting the scene...

Dinner in a crowded restaurant. On one side of a booth, it was Blake, Evan, and Terroni. The three of us easily fit as we are all about as big around as the average pepper mill. On the other side, it was Dawson and Joey. (Yes, as in that Dawson and Joey.)

Joey said to Blake, "Hey, remember that deal we had where you guys will get married when Dawson and I have a baby?"

"Uhh...yes," he said, more like a question than a statement. He raised his eyebrows, turns his head to the right a bit, parted his lips and sucked in his stomach. I realize that sounds like he was posing for a photo op, but the effect is actually a bit different. When he does this, he looks like a man who is about to witness a head on collision--something he is powerless to stop and will not particularly enjoy but somehow cannot tear himself away from.

"Well," said Joey, "Dawson and I are thinking about having a baby sometime in the next year."

Then, it was as if Blake was part of a head on collision with a heart attack. Eyes wide in abject terror, he clutched his left chest, made a little choking sound, quit breathing, turned blue, saw his dead grandmother who called to him to walk towards the light, and for a moment...he actually died.

Resuscitation commenced.

For awhile there, it wasn't looking so good. I delivered chest compressions while Dawson gave rescue breaths. There were no signs of life. Things turned around quickly, though, when I took over the rescue breathing. The moment I put my lips on his and exhaled hot, garlicky breath into his mouth, Blake sat bolt upright, tousled his bangs a bit (the effortless hair look is never truly effortless), and yelled, "Alright, alright. I'll do it. I'll get married."

I'd like to think it was the very essence of life flowing from within me during that single breath that revived him. I suspect, however, that in that moment, something else might have shaken him from the grip of death.

The next day, during brunch, I listened to Blake and Evan discuss wedding plans with Dawson and Joey. I had only one request: that I not really be involved. "I'll sit and watch with Dawson and Joey's baby in my lap. You know how much I love babies, and sitting, and sitting with babies. I'm looking forward to it." It was then that the rest of the table decided I would be geting ordained online and officiating the ceremony. "It's like sitting and watching," they said, "except not really at all."

I was initially reluctant to play this new role but have since warmed to the idea. I think we'll be kicking things off with a story of the near death and subsequent brilliant resuscitation that started it all. It's a rather charming little how we got to where we are today, don't you think?

The best part is it's all true.
Every word of it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

It was all very Olympical and Lenten (and it turns out, they're the same thing really)

Regarding Lent
Graci: I missed the first day, so I'm just going to do an extra day at the end.
Terroni: (laughing) Uh...I don't think that's how Lent works.
Graci: Why not? It's really just about seeing if you can do it.
Terroni: (hysterical laughing) Yes. That is what Lent's about.

A few minutes later, while watching skiing
Terroni: Come on now girls. In the spirit of Lent, let's git er done.
Graci: That's right! That's what Lent's about.

During curling
Graci: You would be good at this one because you're a clean freak.

Graci: The tension is mounting...
Terroni: Can the tension really mount in curling? I mean really?

(By the way, two google searches and a wikipedia article later, we still don't understand curling.)

During the skeleton
Graci: How do they steer?
Terroni: They use their chins.

Terroni: It's like they said, "Here's your piece of metal and your helmet. Now, go." But some people looked at it and said, "I'd actually like to crawl inside my helmet for this." And they said, "We have a sport for you. It's called the bobsled."

More Terroni: And, you know, no one from the bobsled should get a medal. Their medals should go to anyone who doesn't die doing the skeleton. In the skeleton, if you survive, you get a medal.

Terroni: Hey, what's she doing out there? Didn't they just say that has a baby? People with babies shouldn't be allowed to do this.
Graci: Who should do it?
Terroni: Criminals.

During bobsledding
Terroni: I would want to be the one hiding in the back.
Graci: You'd have to be pretty trusting to be back there with someone else doing all the steering.
Terroni: You'd have to be a hell of a lot more trusting to be back there if I was doing all the steering.
Graci: True.

During Apolo Anton Ohno's race
Terroni: What's on his chin?
Graci: Pubes.

During some other country's national anthem
Terroni: They should put up the words so we can learn the songs.
Graci: Uh, no one wants to hear you sing their country's national anthem.
Terroni: HEY.
Graci: You know it's true.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Proust questionnaire

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Making you laugh, especially if you didn’t see it coming.

What is your greatest fear?
Being a bad doctor.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Virginia Woolf. Except...I’m not a very good writer or particularly depressed and am far too good a swimmer to ever kill myself by drowning.
But, we both have prominent noses, and neither of us is an especially good dresser…so there’s definitely something akin to kinship there.

Which living person do you most admire?
Mary R. Smith.

Which living person do you most despise?
I’m not really in a despising mood today.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I am, by my nature, unkind. This is to say, kindness does not ever come naturally to me. It is always a choice.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Bad tipping.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I eat amazing French food at least two nights a week. And, because the chef’s boyfriend considers me incapable of properly loading a dishwasher, I don’t have to clean up after dinner.

What is your favorite journey?
The walk along a South Florida beach early in the morning…and then again at dusk.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

On what occasion do you lie?
When it spares your feelings.
When it spares mine.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
The amount of time I spend worrying about it.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Like you do.
It’s a relative scale.
Note to file.

What is your greatest regret?
I regret about 35-95% of the shit that comes out of my mouth, depending on the day and whether or not I’ve left the house yet.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I’m going to be optimistic (which, like kindness, goes against my very nature) and say that I’ve yet to have the greatest love of my life.

When and where were you happiest?
This weekend, I was happiest curled up on Graci’s couch, watching the Olympics, mocking the suicidal sport that is skeleton. It felt just like it did when we lived together and I got to make her laugh every single day.

Last week, I was happiest sitting across from Blake in the back of a small pizzeria, drinking beer in the middle of the day, toasting the dawn of my 29th year.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Having no one who calls on you to love them when they are sad.

What is your current state of mind?
Is hungry a state of mind?

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be able to sit down at the piano and play Jungleland again. There was a day, 15 years ago, when I could do this. In the time since I have forgotten how to read music and find middle C.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be a more insightful friend…and also friendlier.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
They would have all been born on the first day of the month. As it is now, with them scattered over the calendar all willy-nilly like, I can’t ever remember the birthdays.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Today? Well, I started the dishwasher this morning. That’s something.

What is your most treasured possession?
1055 pictures…mostly of the nieces.

What is it you most dislike?
Dirty public restrooms.
The Pennsylvania turnpike.
Taking out the trash.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I’d be a snapping turtle at a petting zoo.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A niece’s favorite stuffed animal.

Where would you like to live?
I’m pretty happy right here.

What is your favorite occupation?
Some days, doctoring. Some days, anything but doctoring. I’m still trying to figure out how to get paid for all that corn I’m not growing.

What is your most marked characteristic?
I think they call it an acerbic wit. I’m funny if you’re laughing and bitchy if you’re not.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
He must be a scholar and a gentleman. The former implies curiosity, work ethic, and at least an 8th grade reading level. The latter implies class, kindness, and guts.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
She makes fixing it look easy. Curiously enough, this is also how I define maternal instinct.

What do you most value in your friends?
Laughter, loyalty, liquor. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Who are your favorite writers?
David Sedaris, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, Anne Lamott.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Atticus Finch.

Who are your heroes in real life?
People who know how to cut hair.

What are your favorite names?
Logyn calls me TT.

How would you like to die?
With my hair washed, my toenails painted, and my legs shaved. As such, there is a certain amount of grooming that must take place before I can drive on the highway, get on a airplane, or go skydiving.

What is your motto?
“I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell my daughter…when you get to a certain age, there’s no such thing as natural beauty. It all takes work. Now, go put on some lipstick.”
–Elaine, secretary and life couch

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lap 29, off to a good start

Blake: "Good morning! You want a beer?"

Terroni: "You know, if you weren't taken, I'd swear we were made for each other."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh the weather outside

As I stared at the pile, shovel in hand, a guy walking past asked, "Are you really going to try to get that car out?"

"You remember that story about the guy who got stuck in a crevice while mountain climbing and then cut off his own arm to free himself?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said.

"Well, my car isn't that guy." And with that, I started digging. About an hour into it, the men in my neighborhood all came out to tell me there was no way I was going to get the car moved.

I said a thing or two about how chivalry was, apparently, dead and then suggested that guys who weren't willing to help should get their asses back inside.

As they walked away, one of them said, "Man, that bitch ain't trifling." Truer words were never spoken.

Two hours later, I sent my dad a picture of my handy work with a text that said, "Iron girl digs out vehicle." Iron girls--it's what he calls his daughters when we do something especially tough. He called me back to tell me he was impressed.

After all I did to get the car out, I wasn't going to leave it on a city street to get plowed in again. I threw my shovel in the trunk, dumped some clothes in my back seat, and headed for the hospital parking garage. The pile I left in the middle of the road behind me rendered it impassable--a friendly, little suck it, bitches for the neighbor men.

On my way, I ran into one other person digging out. A woman my age, no less. As I slid past her, I rolled down my passenger window and yelled, "Keep at it, iron girl. You got this."

She pumped a fist in the air and yelled back, "I GOT this."

Blake and Evan, my knights in shining four wheel drive, rescued me from the hospital. This was especially impressive considering they started the day without a shovel. When I told my dad that, he laughed. "Let me guess, they went out yesterday to buy one."

"Well, yeah...but you can't really blame them. They're Georgia peaches for God's sake."

Blake, ever the resourceful knight, "borrowed" a shovel from one of his neighbors, dug out his truck, and came to get me. Chivalry, as it turns out, is not dead. It's just gay. I sent my dad a text with the borrowed shovel update. "Wow," he said. "The peach becomes a pirate. Strong work."

When we got back to the boys' place, the three of us cut onions until our tear ducts bled. Then, Evan, tapping into his inner Julia, made soup. Afuckingmazing French onion soup. Soup and bread and cheese and wine and soup and wine and wine and wine...

Let it snow.
Let it snow.
Let it snow.

Abdomen: soft, nontender, nondistended

"How long have you had this abdominal pain?"

"Since October 2008."

"You've had pain just like this since 2008?"


"Does it keep you from eating?"

"No, not really."

"Ok, when was the last time you ate and what did you have?"

"Well, we had pot roast for dinner with mashed potatoes and carrots."

"You have anything to drink with that?"

"Uh...a couple glasses of wine."

"How many is a couple?"


"How many nights a week do you drink fourish glasses of wine?"

Meanwhile, I'm pushing on her belly with the force usually reserved for chest compressions. Distracted by the arithmetic involved in quantifying her alcoholism, she forgets to wince.

She finally settles on, "Well, you know...most."

"So, what made you decide to come here to the ER at 3 o'clock this morning with the abdominal pain you've had since 2008?"

"Well, I called my GI doctor at 2 and told him I've had about enough of this pain. He said, 'Go get yourself admitted, and I'll see you in the morning.' He's here at the hospital anyway doing scopes today, so he said it would just be easier this way. Are you going to call him?"

"Am I going to call him right now, at 3:30 in the morning?"


"No. No, I am not. Mostly because I'm not sure I'd be able to resist the nearly overwhelming urge to explain to him what the E in ER stands for."

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter storm warning

It's the people stocking up on water I really don't understand.

We're going to get two feet of snow.
Worst comes to worst, you can bring that shit inside and let it melt.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A well loved woman

Text from Blake: Hungry?

Me: Yes.

Blake: See you soon.

Then, Evan made the best fried chicken ever in the history of fried and chicken.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

By land, by sea, by dirigible

The summer after I left the Ex, I slept like a crazy person. Literally. Like a crazy person. In medical school, when I had to do admit psych patients to the state hospital, I always asked how they were sleeping. I clearly remember the way they would sometimes look at me with wild, bloodshot eyes and say, “Not so good…not so good.” I was once scolded by my attending for not asking them to tell me more about that. I didn’t ask, because I didn’t need to. When they said, Not good, I would nod knowingly, thinking, Been there, done that.

During one of the hotter summers on record, in a third story apartment without air, in a building that smelled like smoke and fish sticks, I spent months of fitful nights. And by that, I mean, my nights were full of fit. I had bad dreams so vivid I still have to remind myself some of those things didn’t actually happen to me. Every footstep in the hallway, whistling pipe, and wind whipped branch left me sitting straight up in bed, wide eyed and shaky, fully expecting to find him standing over me.

Somehow though, through all those nights of terror, an amazing dream occasionally crept in. It’s an early Summer or maybe a Fall morning in New York. A Sunday. It’s not hot, just warm enough. I’m walking from an apartment in the Village to a neighborhood coffee shop. Walking beside me is a little girl, 5 or 6 years old. She is talking a mile a minute, looking up at me every few seconds, prodding me a bit to hold up my end of the conversation. I am smiling, occasionally throwing out a, “Is that so?” As I look down at her, I am struck by two things: First, I can’t understand how anything so incredible as she is could be my life. Second, I can’t believe she’s a morning person.

We walk on. She chatters. I nod at her observations, laughing at moments when she is funny without meaning to be. Suddenly, I look up and see him walking in our direction.

He walks hand in hand with a little boy who looks just like him. On his other side is a woman, his wife. She pushes baby a stroller. They look just like normal Midwestern tourists in New York. He looks amazing. It is as if a normal, content man has somehow grown inside of his skin. And here I am, walking towards him, completely unafraid because he is so clearly just…fine. He is happy and healthy and fine. The terrifying psychotic nut job I was married to in what feels like a hundred years ago simply is not here. He has been replaced by a content, middle-aged man with the wife and kids he always wanted. In that dream, in that moment, I got a taste of what it is to feel ok. It felt like everything was just suddenly ok.

A while back, my friend John posted a story about seeing someone he was once married to years later. He said that he felt beyond. He told the story, in part, for me…as a reminder, or a hope, or a wish that I would one day feel beyond.

Recently, I found myself thinking about that story, thinking that I might never get there. I didn’t realize until I moved away just how much I still lived like I was afraid of the Ex. “Preoccupied,” Blake said. “Not that I blame you, but you’ve clearly been preoccupied with it.”

Blake was right. I didn’t realize until I physically moved away from the imminent danger just how much of it I had internalized and carried with me all the time, everywhere. It didn’t consume me or keep me up at night. It didn’t rob me of joy or even of contentment. But it was there, like a sore muscle about which I constantly, quietly told myself, “Keep moving…it’ll loosen up.”

Last week, I reconnected with an old friend on Facebook. She said, “You know, I’ve searched for you a few times on here but couldn’t find you. You must have some wicked privacy settings.” I got to thinking maybe I could lighten up those settings a skoch. I decided to search for the Ex on Facebook first. If I didn’t find him, I figured maybe that meant he was one of the four people on the planet who hasn’t yet succumb to the lameness of social networking. If so, maybe I would feel a little better about being a bit more Facebook public.

And that is how I learned that the ex just got remarried. He got married, and in the photo he posted online, he looks ok.

I cannot describe how I felt in that moment, except to say that it is probably something akin to the way you feel when someone asks you how you are and you honestly answer, “Fine.”

I was overwhelmed with fine.

I danced (don’t picture this part, it’s not pretty) around my apartment to The Decemberists’ Sons and Daughters which happened to be playing on my iPod at the time. Days later, during unseasonably warm weather, in a torrential downpour, I had an amazing run through my neighborhood fueled by the same song.

I’m putting some space between myself and preoccupied...and for the first time, I can see beyond in the distance.

Friday, January 15, 2010

27 years ago today...

Graci showed up.
And the party was suddenly so much better.

Happy birthday, friend.

Love, T

Since the last time I said that... one year ago today...

You became Graci, MD. (Granted, you have chosen a specialty that will never really provide you with cause to write that on a prescription pad, but looks sorta sexy when you scrawl it on the bar receipt, doesn't it?)

You matched into your first choice residency program. An ivy league program, no less. (Which almost makes up for the fact that your local airport is a freaking Twilight Zone shit hole that flies people into town but then can somehow never figure out how to fly them back out.)

Since starting said residency program, you've only lost one testicle. (And to be fair, it's not like he was still using the thing.)

You became an aunt. (There is absolutely nothing humorous to say here. That baby is so cute, it's not even funny.)

You spent a Sunday morning strolling through Central Park with a friend. (Your friend felt like the luckiest woman in all of New York that day.)

Speaking of starting that residency program, in order to do so, you moved far away from home. (So far, your mother has survived that move.)

You have not just survived the move. You have thrived. I know this has not been an easy year, but you have handled it all with such incredible grace. When I called tonight, you sounded amazing. You were having real beer instead of one of those stupid girlie drinks! You were laughing with new friends. You were totally sucking at Fussball...but yelling, "Shut up, it's my birthday!" seemed to be earning you the points your abysmal eye-beer-hand coordination could not.

Happy birthday, Graci.
I couldn't be more proud to be your bif.

Love, T

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What I meant when I said

First of all, I just want to say that Anonymous' comment on that last post cracked me up (entirely without meaning to, I suspect). I can't help but agree with you—my blogging has much improved, with that particular post showcasing the height of raw my talent in both the creative and original categories. In all seriousness, thank you for the compliment. (And if you were just being facetious, I appreciate that as well and thank you for the laugh.)

When the rest of the world eventually realizes what Anonymous already has (he or she is a truly ahead of his or her time) and I win that Nobel prize for blogging, may I suggest that you shop for my gifts in Anthropologie's kitchen section? You really can't go wrong with these. Or anything with a bird on it. Trust me. I spent two hours there today talking myself out of buying everything with a bird on it.

Anyway, what did I come here for again? Oh yes, that's right. I was supposed to talk about just how hot "really hot" really is. First of all, I wasn't actually trying to be elusive when I posted that as the totality of my date update. Honestly, the guy is cute and...the end.

He's really just cute. And that's really just enough. I don't have the time or emotional energy to invest in dating someone who's much more. In this case, I throw on a little eyeliner, and I've pretty much done all I need to rise to the occasion.

And again, you ask, "How cute?"

Well, when he came to pick me up last week, I thought, "You look sort of like that guy who's married to Buffy the vampire slayer. What's his name? Something sort of absurd...oh yes, Freddie Prince, Jr. You look like Freddie Prince, Jr. Except, you have better hair."

I suppose the next obvious question is, "When are you and Freddie going out again?" Well, that was supposed to be tonight. We were actually on the phone deciding on a movie just before 6 when his pager went off. Damn those traumas. He just called to say he was finally done for the night. He said he was disappointed about missing our movie but that he had a hell of a lot of fun in that big, bloody case. I don't blame him. I would have enjoyed it, too.

We now have tentative plans to get together on Friday. He was hoping for Saturday, but I already have a date with a cute boy on Saturday. Isn't that right, Evan? (He's the taller one on the left.)

Blake is on call on Saturday night, and well...the other half of that piano bench isn't going to fill itself now, is it? Evan's going to make French food and cocktails. Then, we're going to sit on that bench while he does Virginia Woolf doing I Dreamed a Dream. That's probably really only funny if you have known Evan, read Virginia Woolf, seen The Hours, and loved Les Misérables. But in that case, it's really, really funny.

Although I very much appreciate all the delightful trouble you can get into with a Freddie, I'm saving my Saturday night for all the hysterical laughing you can get into with an Evan.

Finally, I think Maria may have been on to something when she said...

Mostly, everything depends on three questions:

1) Do I look forward to our talks more than the kissing?
2) If something really good or really bad happens to me, is he the one who I want to tell about it?

3) Am I comfortable dancing with him?

If you can answer yes to all three, you have yourself a possibility.

In this case, not a possibility...just a whole lot of hot.