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28th February 2006

with the dawn comes the broken dream

I went out to dinner tonight with Chris. At a fancy restaurant. {everybody oohs}. In fact, it was so fancy that I:

A. Did my hair in curls. It looked slightly freakish, but with mousse and holding gel, I got it tamed to something resembling waves.

B. Put on makeup. An accomplishment.

C. Wore contacts. The late night stayups watching M*A*S*H and X-Files have not been nice to my eyes.

D. Pressed my dress pants. Okay, they were extremely wrinkly and I would have been mortified to step out of the house in them, but wow!

All in all, a rather amazing and different experience for me. It was fun, getting the opportunity to dress up. {everyone ahhhs at Pretty!Julia} Chris, gentleman that he was, helped me into my coat and held the door for me. He was not so gentlemanly that he offered to pay the whole bill, however. πŸ˜›

We had a great time, talking again about traveling and international experience and long term career goals and dating. I mentioned my current love interest, where he raised the valid point of “are you sure it’s dating that he’s not interested in, or not dating you?” which made me frown a bit and took me back. He didn’t mean it as a insult, I think, but I’m not sure that I really want to think about that.

I think he’s backing out on our Mexico trip. Well, not so much the trip as he would still be doing it, but me doing it with him. “I think it might become a family trip” was the proffered excuse. I’m hurt about it, I really am. I mean, geez, I knew it wasn’t going to be just me and him – we’d kill each other in two days and hello, do you think I want to have the fulltime job of distracting him from remembering that if things hadn’t gone badly, he would be getting MARRIED at that spot, on that day? I knew that it was his parents and brother and SIL going down and that it would be me hanging out with them and that was going to be cool–I like all of them from the few times that I’ve met them. It was going to be our last trip, our last hoorah. He leaves for Asia the day after my graduation, and I’ll be gone before he gets back. We’ve never travelled together, ever and I saw it as one of those “never again” opportunities that he’s always telling me to seize.

I just… I’ve been struggling with a lot of self-esteem issues recently, exacerbated by the fact that I’m bored and actually have time to think about these things, but I’m really not liking myself very much right now. And this just feels like another slap of rejection, a poorly veiled excuse where he really means “yeah, Julia, I just don’t want you there”. I’m feeling very vulnerable and knowing that I’m leaving–I get panicky that this is a great excuse for him to just slip out of my life. I was really looking forward to this trip. I thought he was too.

You would think that after all of this time, I would be getting used to rejection. I just hadn’t expected it from him.

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27th February 2006

boredom

I probably should actually use this thing to update on my life.

The sad thing is that nothing is going on right now. I came home from Kenya in the middle of the rotation blocks, so have had nothing to do. It’s been nice having a break, really and I find ways to use my time, but it doesn’t lend to a lot to talk about. I had intended on taking a literature class that sounds fascinating: “The Doctor-Patient Relationship Through Literature” and had actually signed up for it, but it started before I came home and with the President’s Holiday, they decided that I couldn’t get credit for only going to 4 days of class. Worse is the fact that I can’t drop it, since the rotation already started, so I’m actually getting a failing grade. For something that I wanted to do. It doesn’t matter–I’m matched and I’ll still be graduating just fine, but it’s a little on the frustrating side.

So, I’m starting a new rotation today… or at least I’m supposed to. Registered the end of last week, didn’t hear about any details (where and what time to meet, etc), which made me a little worried, but I am a slacker right now and didn’t follow up with it until this morning. Found one phone number, it was wrong. I was interviewing potential medical students this morning, so after that finished, I finally tracked down the right number–only to discover that they had been expecting me in clinic at 8 this morning. It’s always nice giving such a good impression on the first day.

The good news is that I got ahold of the attending with whom I will be working and clinic is over for the morning and she’s out of town tomorrow, so I’m not starting until Wednesday. Sweet! And it sounds like that there are many people working in the clinics which will spread the workload and make things a little easier. I’ve definitely hit the “end of the year” slump in motivation and just want to do enough to get me graduated and that’s it.

I have been spending the week developing my culinary skills. My friend got a cook book (Rachel Ray’s 365: No Repeats – a New York Times bestseller, I’ll have you know) for Christmas and insisted I buy one as well, so we could try different recipes and share our successes. So, I’ve made Rosemary Orange Pork Chops with Lemoned Asparagus, Basil and Spinach Chicken Burgers, and last time Pesto Mustard Chicken, which was very yummy. They’re supposed to take only a half hour to make–but I’m a slow chopper and I forget the recipe and so am constantly consulting it, so it ends up taking more like an hour or more. It’s been okay; I’ve had nothing better to do. Today, I think I’m try the Bacon and Egg Stuffed bread. I really love cooking with fresh herbs, though; believe me, I could gush for hours about the wonderfulness that is fresh cilantro. That’s one thing that I’ve decided about my new place–while I don’t want a garden, it must have place where I can grow a few herb plants (I think I could probably manage to remember to water them). I get absolutely giddy at just the thought of having my own rosemary to pick!

I really should clean my room. I tackled the living room and kitchen when I came home, but the room is a disaster and I haven’t wanted to touch it. Last night, however, I knocked over a box of potpourri and this morning, printing off applicant information set up a Goldberg pandemonium that only worsened the general state of things.

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26th February 2006

Icons of many shapes and sizes

I decided to go through and collect all of the various icons that I’ve been practicing on over the last several months. (Why I’m doing this and not sleeping I don’t know–especially since I start my new rotation tomorrow and have no idea where I’m supposed to go).

I had started out making Olympic icons this year, and realized shortly that the icons that I really wanted to make were of skaters of the past. Unfortunately, all of the pictures that I could find of such skaters were of very poor quality, so these few were a bloody pain to make. And, yes, I realize that the Olympics are over, but I’m a nostalgic kind of person. If there is an interest, I have a few more pictures of the skaters that I could try to manipulate into something.

Quite a few are variations of each other–different coloring that is much more subtle once they are uploaded, different wording. Most of these are the product of late night emperimentation. You’ve been warned.

If you like any, could you let me know? Just an idea of what’s working, what should be avoided at all costs would be nice. πŸ˜€

Olympics (18 – including variations. 3 Sasha Cohen (inspired by behrbemine devotion), 3 Sergei Grinkov/Ekaterina Gordeeva, 3 Jamie Sale/David Pelletier, 6 Torvill/Dean, 1 Torino Olympic logo, 2 SLC Olympics (the best of all Olympics!!))
Olympics

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22nd February 2006

Foiled again

I missed out on my chance to try for the iTunes billionth giveaway. I thought they still have 25,000 songs to go–I refreshed the countdown page, and it was over. πŸ™

To rub salt in the wounds, iTunes then sent me my bill of the $37 that I had spent to just get one of the sub-prizes with no luck. I suppose I must console myself with the great music. I did end up sticking to mostly tried and true–I found some Loreena McKennitt songs (and since I felt guilty because all of the music that I have of hers is from CDs borrowed from the library, I had to get the few that I don’t have), Rob Thomas, and Vienna Teng.

It’s still disappointing. I was having such nice dreams of the 20″ iMac, surrounded by black and white iPods…

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21st February 2006

Irresistible

There have been funny moments associated with all of this that I must share. But first a bit of a background.

Flashback to the first year of med school. The reason Chris and I became friends was because he was in a friendship with a classmate named Candice, who developed a crush on him and told him so, just about the time when he started dating Melissa. Obviously, he didn’t reciprocate the feelings (and told her that frankly), and she had problems dealing with it. One of the problems was that they were study partners, and after that Candice felt uncomfortable studying with just him. So, she befriended me, and clueless little me was dragged into the entire mess. I had NO idea what I was getting into, I was just gleeful that I finally had friends (that’s not to say I didn’t have buddies in med school and study partners, I just wasn’t particularly close to anybody until then).

Chris made me laugh, I amused him as well, and before long, we were friends. That friendship deepened over the summer over emails, (he was in Ghana and I was recuperating from surgery) while the friendship between him and Candice completely withered. Candice and I were good while he was away–she came over and read Harry Potter (#5) aloud to me because my eyes couldn’t focus properly after the surgery (due to the anesthesia), but when he came back…well, it got ugly fast. The next semester consisted of me trying to be the glue between the two of them, Candice’s jealousy over the time I spent with Chris, etc. etc. Ironically, she’s the one that introduced me to LJ (Vindictive!Me wants to give out her LJ so you can read the entire saga over there. But I won’t. Because I’m good that way–the higher road and all of that) and a comment that I made on a post was what completely destroyed whatever remained of our friendship, while Chris defended me gallantly and has been my best friend since.

Since then, I could count on my hands the number of words that we’ve exchanged–and there’s been even less said between her and Chris. Candice doesn’t acknowledge our presence at all. The first few months really hurt, but I haven’t really minded or even thought about it much since then. I’m comfortable with knowing that I tried everything within my power to make that friendship work, and she was a very negative influence in my life and if I had stuck by her, I would have gotten the worse end of the deal.

So. To the present. Through a very rapid gossip chain, she found out that the wedding was off. And she called him. To tell him that she was very sorry and that if he ever needed to talk, she would love to go out for coffee and just talk.

ROFL! Wow, she didn’t take much time to try to slip in for some rebound lovin’, did she! I started giggling hysterically during the story and have been unable to resist ribbing Chris about how unforgettable he is.

I should give her the benefit of the doubt, that she was just trying to be friendly and supportive with no ulterior motives, but after three years of not talking, did she honestly think that he would just open up to her?? And seriously, three years on a crush where the guy told you to your face that he wasn’t interested, is even masochistic by my standards! Sheesh, give it up!

Part of me, the not-so-forgiving side that I don’t usually show people, has been seething at her mere suggestion that he didn’t have anybody to confide in. Um, hello? What do you think I’ve been? *stabs* Die, fiend! Chris has assured me that if he does need to talk, he’ll be calling me and not Candice. Am much relieved. Very glad that I came back in time to save him from resorting to desperation. *grin*

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20th February 2006

The nature of comfort…

I’m trying to avoid going to bed for just a while longer, so that I might sleep all night long, so hence another post. I think having a computer connection and being back to my lovely Flower iMac has made me a posting fiend. πŸ™‚ Four whole posts in one day! I’m insane!

I’ve been rather introspective due to everything that has been happening. As first year medical students, we took a class called “Physical Diagnosis” (it’s the class that I helped teach this past December), where you learn to do a physical exam, but more importantly, you learn how to conduct an interview and how to talk to patients (which really uses different communication skills than just carrying on between two friends or acquaintances). One of the first lessons was how important physical touch and sympathy were to establishing the rapport and caring between the patient and doctor–that illness affects us all and to be able to show concern is the best way to develop the relationship. At the end of the week, we had to perform an interview with standardized patient. I still remember the patient I had — an older woman, coming in to get some sleeping pills, where I discovered that her husband had died only a few weeks previously. I remember sitting there, trying to think of something to say, wondering how you could comfort somebody with such an acute loss, and feeling like an absolute failure.

I’m not sure that it has gotten easier since then. I’ve gotten better at placing my hand on a knee, leaning forward, holding patients’ hands after they found out that they might have cancer or some other horrible diagnosis, but the right words to say still seem to stick in my mouth. “I’m sorry” seems trite (and half the time followed up with “it’s not your fault”, which aggravates me to the point of grinding teeth.) At least the sympathy, which felt so fake during the first year (oh yeah, they were ACTORS. It was fake), is real and sincere now, and I care very deeply about my patients and all of their problems, but it doesn’t change that uncomfortable feeling of intruding.

I think I’m worse with my friends. That’s not to say that I’m a fairweather friend who disappears with the first sign of trouble, but that I feel like an absolute idiot in trying to comfort. It’s strange too; everybody seems to know how to comfort me, but that might be because I’m pretty simple that way–hug me tight, let me cry and rant, and I’m good to go. Honestly, I think this is the one area where having a male friend is more difficult, because I communicate my sympathies and pain at their heartache through touch, and Chris is not a touchy kind of guy.

I’ve been trying to be the best friend I can be through all of this, but it’s been hard. I distracted him with two hours of looking at pictures (“Lions. And more lions. And look, another picture of lions.”) and discussion of his trip to Thailand and our trip to Mexico (!!! – I was worried when I suggested tagging along, but he seems as excited by the idea as I am. And it will be our last time together for who knows how long.), but the conversation still seemed to wind back to the unmentionable, and I felt so lost as to what to say. I feel so much for him, but I can never find the words for it.

So a question… what are some of the best methods/words that you’ve found to comfort a friend? And in times of personal loss, what are some things that others have done/said that have made things if not better, then tolerable? I know that some of you have gone through incredibly hard times, and I’d really love some advice on how to be a better sympathizer and friend.

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20th February 2006

Cold makes Julia whiny…

I love winter. I do. I get all excited over the possibility of walking in a snowstorm (much better than driving in one), or sitting wrapped in my fuzzy robe with a cup of cocoa in my hands. I even like the cold, if my feet are warm, which is a good thing, considering how the weather in Wisconsin is going to be brutal (you had to show those pictures, mrschimpf, didn’t you?). And honestly, I don’t really like summer — I hate being hot and I feel like I waste most of my energy moping around, whining about the heat.

That being said – the cold and snow here is not agreeing with my summer adjusted self. The skin of the sole of my feet have split (right across the blisters I developed from walking around Amsterdam, I might add) and I’m having a very difficult time walking. I can’t seem to get my feet warm, regardless of the number of socks I’ve put on and the toasty rice bag from the microwave seems to lose its heat the moment I take it from the microwave.

*sniff* I miss Africa…

And this is the first time that I’ve missed watching the Olympics. I haven’t even turned them on, since I missed most of the 16 days. I still have tapes at my parents home of the 1994 Olympics and after experiencing the Olympics here just four years ago, it’s a bit of a loss not being glued to the screen, admiring the athletes of their skill and grace that I completely lack.

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20th February 2006

Does worthless blabbing really need a subject?

I rarely do memes, but when you get one that is just so accurate… well, I couldn’t resist.

julia —
[adjective]:

Pretentiously academian

‘How will you be defined in the dictionary?’ at QuizGalaxy.com

(And yes, I’m posting a ton today. I’ve been away from fast internet for a month! Deal. πŸ˜‰ )

I’m not doing very well with the timing of the purchasing of music, if the on-line counter is anything to go by. I’m either under or over by at least 2000 songs. And since I’ve purchased more than $30 of music, I think this could turn pretty dangerous. There’s a reason that I don’t gamble!

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20th February 2006

Jet-Lag and Music

After years of sleep deprivation and learning to fall asleep whenever I can (thank you med school!), I scoffed at the idea that I would be affected by jet-lag. My transition to Kenya time (which is in the same time zone as Moscow, Russia. How amazing is that??) was so smooth–I took my Ambien and slept like a log. I had a few days of some mild sleepiness for a few hours, but it passed very quickly.

I crashed mentally, absolutely exhausted, at around 5 pm yesterday (around 3 am in Kenya) and it was all I could do to keep myself awake until 10 (of course, I then got involved in checking my email so I didn’t actually go to bed until 11–addicted? moi?)… and woke up promptly at 5. The funny thing, is that the times really aren’t corresponding to my sleep cycle in Africa, so I’m not sure what’s happening.

I’ve been spending the morning surfing iTunes, because I’m bound and determined to be at least one of the 100,000 download winners (http://www.apple.com/itunes/1billion/) and since I only found out about it this morning, I have only a few chances left. I’m now the proud owner of the “Rob Thomas – iTunes Originals Album” and have been swooning listening to Rob talk about making sweet music all morning. I own 114 songs sung by Rob in one band or another. That tops Eva Cassidy (84), Loreena McKennitt (63), Fisher (61), and Carbon Leaf (51). Rob is not the most populous artist on my playlist, however. At 162 songs, Alan Parsons takes that award. πŸ™‚

I have been out of the music world for quite some time, and I’m running out of ideas of songs to purchase (not to mention money). Suggestions of songs that I must, must have? New or old, it doesn’t matter. I just want a chance at a black nano!

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19th February 2006

Protected: Homecoming

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15th February 2006

dear diary

Today, I was close to consumed by a Lion. Most improper for a Lady to end her Life.

Luckily, some Very Brave and Couragous locals helped assist in fending off the Deadly Beast. My Shoes, alas, have seen Better Days and I fear will never recover.*

πŸ™‚

I leave the continent of Africa in approximately 3 hours. It is truly depressing to see my time here come to a close. I feel like I’ve been here a lifetime and yet, there’s still so much that I want to see. Especially here in South Africa. Six days down here in South Africa was much too short and I’ve vowed, someday, to return.

To my dear friends, shirerain, melancthe and claidheamhmor, thank you so much for the hospitality, warmth and welcome that you have given me. I have never enjoyed days more than I have the few that I’ve been here. It has been such a wonderful time and I really, sincerely hope that one day, you can travel to the US and I can show you as great of a time.

{{{HUGS}}}

*details and pictures will be forthcoming when I return to American soil.*

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8th February 2006

Protected: stunned

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7th February 2006

I realized last week that the posts that I thought I had been emailing to LJ were getting lost in cyberspace… And here I thought you all were ignoring me!

Anyway, I’ve finally had time, so I’ve gone back and posted more adventure stories. You can read them all at the following URLs:

http://jcd1013.livejournal.com/56047.html
http://jcd1013.livejournal.com/56165.html
http://jcd1013.livejournal.com/56572.html

If you’re a Plethorite, it’s the same stuff as what was on the emails, so don’t read back through if you don’t want to!

Only two and a half more days and my time in Kenya will be at an end. It truly is amazing how fast the time goes…

(to be continued…)

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3rd February 2006

small update

Not much of an update this time. Things haven’t changed much since my last letter on Monday. Wards are still difficult. I don’t mean to complain, but having a 19 year old suffer a heart attack and died and not being able to do anything about it, watching another 30 year old get sicker and sicker and finally end up in a coma without anybody knowing why (or bothering to find out. That was the most frustrating. He died this morning right before rounds) has a way of bringing down the even most optimistic spirit. And to add to it all, I spent 30 minutes this afternoon coding a one month old. He was sick with chicken pox, which thanks to vaccines is almost nearly gone in the US (such an odd concept to think that we’re eradicating a disease that I have scars from!)–but to little tiny babies with no immune systems is very very bad. One of the attendings from IU told me this afternoon that I should come and see the baby, since it’s becoming such a rare disease and I might not ever see the lesions again, so we went over this afternoon, with medications to help control the infection. We were just in time to see the baby stop breathing, with no heart rate. So we found a small mask and air pump and pumped air into his little lungs and compressed on his chest, until we got a heartbeat, and the baby started gasping–which was better, but not very assuring of his longterm survival. And there’s nothing more that we can do. There are two ICU beds with ventilators–but they are over on the surgery ward and completely full, so it really is unlikly that this little fellow will make it.

It was very hard on me. It was the first time that I’ve actively participated in a code and to see this tiny baby just lay there… well, I don’t think I can put words to my emotions. Worse was that I so desired to help, to do something to bring life back, and yet there wasn’t much I could do. He was so small, that there wasn’t room to be of assistance, and I hated standing at the back, waiting.

Anyway, that’s been this week. I’ll be rounding tomorrow morning, and then the Utah group (with all of the husbands that arrived this week–which is why, I’m sitting in my room typing this, because I finally have an wireless card!) is headed to spend the weekend at Lake Naivasha, where we’re going to be boated across to see some hippos and do a walking safari on the island where they filmed Out of Africa. There’s apparently a large python that is the “Where’s Waldo” adventure of the trip. It should be a good time–and because I now have a functioning camera, I should be able share the good times with all of you!

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