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30th September 2006

sick

I’ve got that bleak, almost sick feeling to my stomach tonight. Guilt. About everything that I should have done with the accident yesterday and didn’t. Worry that it’s going to mess everything up with my insurance. Even though there’s nothing that I can do about it now, it still is making me ill.

Add to the fact that Chris now tells me that he’ll be gone 3-4 days of the week that I’m going home. He forgot when I was coming, even though I’ve told him every time I’ve talked to him the last month. Lonely. And Liz will be gone for a few days as well. I wonder why I’m even bothering going. I’ve been looking forward to this, forever, finally being home and with the people that I’ve missed and it’s not going to be anything.

New rotation tomorrow. ER. Haven’t exactly decided if I’m looking forward to it or not. Lots of days off. 8 hour shift work, both are pluses. But it’ll be busy and stressful. And right now, I’m just not wanting that.

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30th September 2006

crash into you

My day started off with a bang… literally.

I made the awful mistake of stopping for an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens going…. and the car behind me ploughed into me.

Don’t worry, I’m fine (although a little stiff and achy in the neck and shoulders) and my car is mostly as well. The lady who hit me was pissed that I stopped (horrors! how dare I obey the law!). I in turn was pretty upset with her as well, as I ended up spending my morning trying to track down police stations (I was in a different city than I thought. Don’t ask. It’s confusing), and then the afternoon calling my insurance. Not a pleasant start. I’m just so excited about the increased insurance premiums! And spending all of my free time getting estimates and filing traffic accidents.

Suffice it to say, it was a learning experience.

The rest of the day was pretty good. Well, seeing as three patients died (mostly expected, and it’s a good thing in all cases, to help the families say goodbye), probably good wouldn’t be the word you’d use to describe it, but I had a good time. It was my last day, though, the end of my ICU rotations, at least for a while and it was hard to say goodbye. My attending, the one I’ve worked the most with, and who I really admire for, told me I did an excellent job, and when I suggested that I was interested in doing ICU as a career, he did not heavily hint that I should pursue other ambitions. 🙂

Now I think I’m going to take some ibuprofen, heat up my nice lavendar and flax heating bag and get some sleep.

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20th September 2006

loverly life

I think only doing one post a month like my last would be a good idea. That was hard work! But I am trying to get more into the creative writing again, and one of the books that I was reading suggested making your journal entries into stories. And I’m always amazed at the bloggers who manage to do just that (check out Barbados Butterfly, a surgical registrar from Australia as she tells the story of her early days in the residency. I wish I could write like that.)

My vacation has been wonderful so far. Alas, I am already halfway through my 9 days off, and I hate seeing the moments of time creep away. My best friend, Susan and her husband came and visited me over the weekend and we had so much fun. I showed off my little city, which they liked far more than Chicago (score for me!), and promised to come back and visit soon. We visited a bakery, which promised an elaborate tour and consisted of standing outside of a window, while a woman described what went on inside. It lasted 5 minutes. We also visited the Jelly Belly factory, which turned out to not so much be a factory, but a warehouse. The tour consisted of riding a train around the perimeter of the warehouse and watching a video. Even the promised giant jelly belly beans and the animated dancing jelly belly were less than advertised, and by that point, I was willing to accept mediocrity. But I did walk out with pounds of Jelly Flops, which made it all worth it.

It was wonderful being around Susan again. Since she moved to Illinois, our visits have been much more infrequent, and I have feared that the distance and time would have weakened our friendship (I keep meaning to do a longer post about me and my history to illuminate some of the reasons for my insecurities. Maybe that will become my next journal entry essay), but that hasn’t been the case. We manage to pick up right where we left off. We’ve both changed in the years–I’ve known her for nine years now, but we’re still as close. And it’s taken a few years, but her husband and I are pretty good friends now, too. 🙂

I’ve missed her a lot today.

Today, I just lounged. I need to do laundry and dishes now and actually pack. Bah.

Tomorrow, I’m headed to Pennsylvania for the wedding of another best friend, Sam. I actually get to play bridesmaid–all of my other friends have married sans bridesmaids. *pout* I’m so excited. (The dress, btw, came back from the tailor. While it still isn’t perfect, it at least fits (mostly). Now to get the shawl to behave!) Quite a few of my wonderful friends will be there, Brooke, Liz, Laura, and it promises to be just like old times, before the boyfriends and husbands and children. I can’t wait!

And Monday, bright and early, I’ll return to work. I’m excited to be back to the NICU for one last week, but I can’t say that I’ve missed it at all this week. Maybe if the vacation had been longer…

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20th September 2006

this moment now. and this moment, now.

(Author’s Note: Trying something different. Don’t know if it’ll really convey what I want it to, but this was the way the words were coming to me.)

At just half past 7, the sky has already darkened to black, the street-lamps glowing a hazy yellow. The air has taken on the crisp chill of autumn and I am grateful that I had ignored the calendar and now wear a warm sweater and jacket.

The neon sign above the nondescript building glows white, contrasting black letters. “In concert,” it proclaims, “Vienna Teng, Sept 19.” The building is one of those relics from the sixties and seventies, when local bands found music clubs to perform in, little more than a bar with a stage at the back of the room. Or at least that is the impression they are trying to create, as I read the history of Shank Hall papered on the walls. The fictitious music club from the documentary “This Is Spinal Tap” brought into existence much as a self-fulfilled prophecy. I’ve never seen the movie–perhaps if I had, being in the building would have had added more significance to the evening.

The walls are brick, painted red, covered with scrawled graffiti and posters of past musical acts. The guy behind the counter–bald, with a bright red beard–manages not to gape in amazement when I ask nervously if the show is sold out. I am used to disappointment–find out about opportunities the day after the occur, and I still can’t believe my good fortune at discovering that she would be performing in my city, a week before she was scheduled to tour. But lady luck is with me tonight (would luck be male in this case?), for there are only a half dozen people scattered across the room.

One of them is a coworker, a nurse whose office I inhabit in the mornings, furiously writing down laboratory results and medication changes. She doesn’t remember my name, which since I had to sort through my memories to place her, doesn’t bother me. Her companion is a radiologist and we soon fall into comfortable conversation, passing the time, until the lights dim.

I’m sitting at a table, just mere feet from the stage–front row seats. The stage is small, with a keyboard and guitar stand, just two chairs. By now, the room has filled with another twenty people, still far from the three hundred that could fit into the hall. A man who sits next to me grumbles about the idiots of Milwaukee, how the performance in Illinois had sold out in days and states that it is a “disgrace” that the place is so empty. I can’t give him a satisfactory answer–personally, I am relishing the intimate setting, the sense that it is almost a private performance.

The opening act is a duo, Ellery, a couple from Ohio. She’s on the keyboard; she sings while he plays the guitar as backup. The lyrics are stirring, she has a sweet, ethereal voice, but I strain to understand all of her words. Dictation is not her strong point, but I enjoy the performance. There is something charming about a wife and husband touring and creating music together, and their love for each other is evident. “We’ve learned to forgive each other quickly” she states wryly. He smiles at her with that remark, and I am caught again in the desire to one day possess that–the shared communication of just a glance. I have gotten used to the idea of being alone, but the extended weekend of being around my best friend and her husband has awaken the realization that I still wanted more, a partner with whom to share my life and more.

The break is short as the team moves the keyboard around on the stage, adding another chair, replacing the guitar rack with a viola and violin. The nurse, her companion and I spend the time discussing the music and the other concerts they have seen; I am relieved to discover that while Milwaukee may have atrocious radio stations, there is a high selection of bands and artists who tour through the city. I resolve to keep my eyes open–perhaps there is the possibility of catching other favorites.

Vienna enters the stage without any fanfare or introduction. She and the other two members of her “band” sit and begin playing and I am instantly immersed. She is unassuming, warm and human on the stage. Her fingers fly across the keyboard, effortlessly. Every song seems to have personal meaning, meaning that even in my multiple listenings I have never discovered before. Her speaking voice is surprisingly deep and husky, in starch comparison to her fragile voice in song that soars in height.

Many of the songs are new; chagrin spreads over me as I realize that the reason she was on tour was because of a new album release. It is not long before the new songs seep into me.

it’s the quiet night that breaks me. I cannot stand the sight of this familiar place. it’s the quiet night that breaks me, like a dozen papercuts that only I can trace. all my books are lying useless now. all my maps will only show me how to lose my way.

oh call my name. you know my name. and in that sound, everything will change.
tell me it won’t always be this hard. I am nothing without you, but I don’t know who you are.

it’s the crowded room that breaks me: everybody looks so luminous, and strangely young. it’s the crowded room that’s never heard. no one here can say a word of my native tongue. I can’t be among them anymore. I fold myself away before it burns me numb.

oh call my name. you know my name. and in your love, everything will change. tell me it won’t always be this hard. I am nothing without you, but I don’t know who you are.

The two hours slip by too quickly. Once, she stares out and asks the small crowd if we were familiar with her music and which songs would we like for her to perform. She seems stunned by the avalanche of requests–we may have been small in number, but devoted. She manages to play all of our favorites, many of them as solos, others joined with the haunting cello and the souring violin. Each song is introduced with a small insight into the writing process, the inspiration behind the lyrics.

Lullaby (my request) is her encore, followed by an a cappella performance of a Chinese lullaby. As she stands away from the spotlights, without a microphone, it doesn’t matter that the words are in a language that I don’t understand–I feel comfort, as if I found my home here.

I approach Vienna after the show, as she stands by the little stand of merchandise (my plans of buying the CD and getting her autograph are lost after discovering that I was seven dollars short in cash), conversing with the patrons. I try not to be a celebrity seeker, but I can’t resist the opportunity to express how much her music has meant to me. She hugs me , and I leave the music club, slightly heady at the experience.

The street is even more deserted as I make my way to my little car, wrapping my jacket closer. But there is music running through my head, and, at least for a little while, I have forgotten the loneliness.

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13th September 2006

blah blah blah

You know when you have one of those days where nothing really bad happens, but you still end the day in a very crappy, “get out of my way” mood? Yeah, having one of those today.

I overslept because I forgot to set my alarm yesterday, was so late that I decided it wouldn’t hurt to be later, so actually had somewhat of a leisurely morning (10 min shower instead of 5). And nobody was too upset that I was gone–I hadn’t missed any important lectures, just one of those cutesy “what color is your personality” tests that ALL conferences must include. Most of today’s lectures were interesting, just long, long, long. Third day of 8-5 classes, and I’m dreading the next two days.

My clinic patient called. Again. Fifth time since I saw her a week ago. It’s really wearing on all of my sympathies. Note to patient: believe me, I believe and sympathize with your pain; as one who does have chronic pain, I do actually know something of what you are going through. But since you have tried 50 medications in the past several years AND NOTHING HAS HELPED, you can not expect over night improvements from me. I appreciate the trust, but you have to allow some leeway into figuring out what is going on.

I could continue the rant, but I think I’ll stop. It gets my blood pressure up.

The parking people called and changed my parking pass to the one that is clear on the other side of the hospital and clinics where I work. (gee thanks) I go to park there today… and the gates won’t open. Wonderful.

I can’t access the computer programs that I need at the VA where I’m doing classes this week, so trying to fix my above patient’s problems is even more fun.

I haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping in over 6 weeks.

I haven’t been able to go to the gym in a month.

I probably won’t be able to fit into the bridesmaid dress that I paid over $100 to have altered because my weight is skyrocketing because of the stress.

I’ve spent the last five days working with Chris on his personal statement for residency. It’s been slow and painful, trying to edit it and make it sound good and professional, and above all memorable in the right way. He’s already freaked out about applying because of some earlier difficulties, and so there’s been all this pressure to really make an excellent product.

Last night, we decided to scrap half of what the PS was focused on. I just about cried.

I have friends visiting for this weekend. I haven’t been able to clean my house at all. It’s a disaster. I’m working on the paper again tonight and still won’t have time to clean.

I’m up to two migraines per week. This isn’t good.

It’s rained for a week straight. Last night, it downpoured. And I discovered that the basement leaks, because the sidewalks and front porch drain towards the house. I don’t even want to contemplate how much it’s going to cost to fix that.

I’m really missing the sun.

Thanks for letting me get this rant out of the way. It was either whine here or break down in tears. And Michelle was wanting me to update. 🙂

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2nd September 2006

wanna hear a scary story?

Someone rang my doorbell and then walked into my house about a half hour ago. I’m still a little jumpy over it.

It’s okay, I’m okay, ’twas my neighbor’s friends who apparently got the houses confused… but I had been downstairs watching X-Files episodes, and it’s been long enough since I watched them that I was already on edge. And it was my own stupid fault… I had been out on my front porch sweeping it a bit (my place is looking a little worn down because I haven’t had time to mow or anything), and didn’t lock the door when I came back in. I think I’ve cured myself of that little slippage.

Anyway, I ran upstairs, yelling. I honestly don’t know what possessed me to do that, except the thought that if somebody was robbing me/waiting to rape me, I’d make enough of a ruckus to bring everybody in the neighborhood over. *shudders* They had left by the time I got up there, which is a good thing–I think I would have had a heart attack if I had actually seen somebody in my house.

I will not be telling this story to my parents. I can’t even imagine their freakoutage. But I am putting bats/heavy objects on the “to buy” list to keep by my doors.

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