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31st December 2009

Happy New Year’s Eve, my friends! How glad I am that all of you are part of my life! I hope this continues through next year and the next and the next… *hugs*

I’m on home call tonight, which means I have to carry a pager all of the time. My last call on Tuesday went really well. I got sleep and a minimal number of calls. My friends are having a small New Years Party and my church is having a swing dance (!!!) tonight, and I so hoped that it would be quiet enough that I could go for a couple of hours, with pager and cell phone close on hand. Alas, shortly after I got home, the pager went off. Some outside physician was asking me how to control status epilepticus (uhhh…) and that they were transferring the patient to my hospital here. So I’m waiting for the call that the patient has arrived. Hopefully once the child has been tucked in, I can grab my saddle shoes and skirt and get in a few dances.

I’m at the children’s hospital this month. It’s been a month that I’ve been dreading. Home call every other night (which means that even if I get a lot of calls and little sleep, I still have to show up for the entire day the next day. By the end of the month, pretty much everybody is hallucinating from the s. Lots of consults. Lots of patients to see every day. Lots of floppy, fragile babies to examine and figure out what weird two or three name syndrome they have. It’s all diseases that I’ve never heard of: the kids either outgrow them or they die of complications.

So far (it’s only been 4 days), I’ve enjoyed my month. It helps that I really like my attending. She’s funny and we get along really well. Of course, the attending switch on Monday, so I’ll have somebody else to deal with, but I haven’t had to deal with the rounding until 9 pm horror stories that I heard about. I’ve learned more than what my feeble brain can absorb. And the kids are precious. I get to hold brand new babies all the time.

Argh, the kid is still not here. It’s been two hours!! Maybe there won’t be dancing after all. 🙁

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29th December 2009

My Done List

My Done List
  • I have asked the last person needed for a letter of recommendation. He was gracious enough to agree. So I’ve got the neurology chair, the program director, the ICU director and my favorite stroke/intensivist writing letters for me.
  • My CV is completed. I think that I managed to play up my strengths of teaching and leadership, while minimizing my deficiencies in research. We’ll see.
  • Finalized the list of places that I’m applying. All over the country, I think 15 places in total. I may add one or two more to the list.
  • Have half-way finished my “statement of intent.” I know, I know, it should be done, but I’m having a hard time verbalizing (I guess writing is the more proper gerund) my ideals of blending the neuro and medical critical care worlds together and how my empathy and interest in doctor-patient communications also fit. I have a few more days to play with it and hopefully will have a workable draft by Thursday/Friday for editing this weekend.

I have Friday/Saturday to finish any secondary applications and get ready to register for the SF Match on January 4th. I’ll submit all of the letters of intent and secondary applications by that Wednesday (mst likely that day). Letters of recommendation should be sent out that week, completely the application and just leaving me with waiting to hear from those who are willing to interview me. I’m not planning on interviewing at 15 places, but do hope to get 5-6 interviews. There are various and sundry other little things that I have to do, but I’ve gotten most of the big ones done. Hooray!

And that’s the update!

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6th December 2009

The Grand Old Opera

The Grand Old Opera

The thirty days of sharing became 2 days of sharing. Mostly because it was taking a lot of time. I wasn’t satisfied with just saying “This is my favorite move, tv show, book, etc;” I had to convince you that it should be yours too. And it dawned on me that if I’m wanting to get my fellowship applications submitted by the first week of January, that meant that I had a month to do everything… and a week of that month includes vacation and the last week I’m starting child neurology which will suck my soul into an abyss from which I will be lucky to arise again. So. Two weeks and change. Two weeks to write to programs and get their applications. To get letters of recommendation. To write a personal statement (Becks, can I borrow you again?). To manage to sweet talk my program into doing what I want to do. To put the final touches on my research proposal, which won’t be even started by the time applications are due, but will at least give me something to talk about on the interview trail. To rewrite my CV and describe how not-lame I really am. Not to mention the studying I need to do for the rotation that I’m on and the quality improvement project that I have to do for my clinic which is time-consuming and due the same time as my applications. And did I mention this whole “trying to exercise” and be “down 5 pounds by the new year” thing?

So. No thirty days of sharing. No posting every day. I’ve thought about having somebody change my passwords to my email accounts so they’re not a temptation, but as I need them for actual communication, I can’t do that. But I am going to have to take a break from my blogs and my reading lists and all of my other frivolous pursuits. This may be the last post with substance for a long time.

I met up with Susan downtown in Chicago yesterday for our last bash of the year. The Lyric Opera of Chicago performed The Merry Widow, which is my all time favorite opera. Even since staying up all night to watch it on PBS, I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect version live. The original opera was in German (which it is only rarely performed in now days), so finding a translation that captures the wit, sweetness, and romance of the version that I saw so long ago has been a challenge.

The opera was at 7:30. Susan and I made plans to meet up at the hotel at 6 for dinner. Google maps confirmed that the hotel was 1 hour and 42 minutes away, but in bad traffic, could be 2 hours and 20 minutes. Since it was a weekend, I figured I didn’t need to calculate for traffic and left my house at 4:30, stopping to get gas and heading on my way. I called Susan as I left the toll road (hate toll roads, but I’ll save that rant) that I should be there in about twenty minutes. 30 seconds later, I hit bumper to bumper traffic. The 1 hour and 42 minute drive became 2 hours and 32 minutes. Once I finally arrived, I then managed to get off the freeway and turn into a parking garage structure that had no exit!! I had to go back out the entrance to get out. I’ll skip the frustration that it was to drive in downtown Chicago, mostly because although we had navigation to direct us to the opera house, said navigation didn’t let us know where parking was and all of the roads are one way.

Long story short, we were 7 minutes late. I left three hours before the opera started and was late AND didn’t get dinner. *sigh* Needless to say, it took a while to get into the performance. I was in jeans, instead of the velvet dress I had brought, because there hadn’t been time to change. We had to sit downstairs in their lobby to watch the first part on a television set. The sound quality when the characters were speaking was terrible. But once the first act ended and we found our seats, I was able to relax and enjoy myself.

It was a gorgeous performance. Luscious costumes and lovely sets. The actress who played Hannah had a beautifully sweet voice that lingered over the high notes of “Vilja”, the haunting love song about a huntsman enraptured by a woodland sprite or witch. Danilo was much much more of a play boy that the other version, but this performance seemed to play everything more as a comedy, more lighthearted, more risque, so Danilo suited it and he was redeemed enough by the end. The Merry Widow waltz had a somewhat prominent role, which I appreciated and melted every time the violins played the melody. The third act, which is already short compared to the first two, was sliced in half, which was a disappointment and really left me wanting more.

Overall, a very satisfying opera. Still not quite as good as the Live at Lincoln Center version, but I’ve become resigned to the fact that I was exposed to perfection the first time and have been able to enjoy the different interpretations. I’m so glad that I got to go. Even with all of the irritations (including paying more for parking than I pay for gas for an entire month and not being able to order pizza properly and completely making a fool of myself in front of the hotel concierge (yes, it was a swanky hotel. Suz and I both felt out of our element) trying to pick up said pizza and not getting internet so I could make a dent on my long to-do list because the ridiculous hotel charges $15(!!!)), it was well worth it.

To see pictures and video and hear commentary, you must go to the Lyric Opera of Chicago homepage . I especially recommend the videos, they’re gorgeous.

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2nd December 2009

Thirty Days of Sharing – Movie

Thirty Days of Sharing - Movie

Day 2 – Your favorite movie.

I love dance movies. Maybe even more so than period dramas, which is saying something. 🙂 Strictly Ballroom, Mad Hot Ballroom, Swing Kids, Dirty Dancing, yes, even Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. There’s something about the swirling of couples in fancy dress, moving to the rhythm of a waltz or tango, of finding love through the mastering of difficult routines. I’m such a sap.

Two favorites tonight. I was going to make picspams, but I really want to get to bed early tonight, so we’ll have to make do with googled images.

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“Shall We Dansu?” was a little movie that was made in Japan in 1997, about an accountant who found the passion that he was missing in taking dance lessons. It was later remade in 2004, starring Richard Gere, Susan Saradon and Jennifer Lopez. I like both movies very much, but this one has a quiet charm and a simpler story that I think is just a tad more engaging. I love the secondary characters so much. They all have a different personality and are three dimensional.

You can find it on amazon to buy, or on YouTube to watch in 9 minute segments.

And my all-time favorite. I have watched it probably close to a hundred times and I still love it:
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Strictly Ballroom. I think that this was Baz Luhrmann’s first movie, styled as a mockumentary and is somewhat a “Ugly Duckling” retelling in dance. The costumes and acting are over the top (you should watch the movie just to see the main character’s mother’s eyes. Wow). Once again, it’s a movie that really fleshes out the secondary characters. They all have side stories that are important overall.
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My friend Becka, when I insisted that she watch it, reported that she felt frustrated with the stores that have the girl take off her glasses to become beautiful, to conform to what society agrees is beauty. While I admit that that is part of the story here, I’ve always felt that the story transcends that. Yes, she removes her glasses, but doing so means that she has to learn to trust in herself and her partner. It’s resisting conformity that’s the take home message. I love that she is feisty and knows her own mind. Even after being ridiculed, she’s out on the dance floor, because that’s what she loves.
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It is broody Scott who makes the movie, though. He has the most yummy biceps.
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You can’t find the whole movie online, but you can watch the finale in all of its glittery glory here.

A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.

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1st December 2009

Thirty days of sharing – music

Shall we continue to blogging thing?

One of my LJ friends posted a meme called the Thirty Days of Sharing, which I thought would be fun.

Day 01 – Your favorite song.

I have a hard time with favorites. Except for colors (any shade of purple) I have a hard time saying that Such-And-Such is my favorite Fill-In-The-Blank. My tastes change. I have a variety of interests and likes. Some days certain things stand out sharper than others. And I can never just pick one. So these are my “I really like it and would propose marriage if it would have me” songs, of the moment.

1. The Atheist Christmas Carol – Vienna Teng. I’ve gushed and gushed and gushed about Vienna to whoever will listen to me talk. I’ve seen her live 4 times now and if here was any way that I could go home for Christmas a few days early to catch her performance in Park City, I would (instead, all of my Utah friends must go in my stead). This is the only Christmas song that I listen to year around and although the title may turn some away, this song best captures the hope, the grace, the love that surrounds the holiday.


Lyrics | Vienna Teng lyricsThe Atheist Christmas Carol lyrics

2. Return to Pooh Corner – Kenny Loggins. I always feel silly when I confess how much I love love love this song. But I do. It makes me happy and nostalgic and peaceful all at the same time. The YouTube video can’t be embedded, but here it is if you want to click.

3. Jai Ho – Slumdog Millionaire. I’ve never seen the movie (I know!), but this is my favorite workout music right now.

4. Getting Late – Rob Thomas. I could drown in his voice. I love the way his songs have matured. I’ve always thought that Matchbox 20 was deeper than the other bands that were popular in the 90s. Their lyrics had layers. I love layers. This is one of my favorites from his latest album, Cradlesong.
‘Cause it’s getting late, it’s time to go
The paper moon is fading slow
But the night, it keeps moving on
‘Till it takes you in, it brings you home

5. Lead, Kindly Light – The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Growing up in my little tiny town, we had the same chorister every Sunday who picked the same songs. I think she had a selection of 30 songs that she rotated through (and insisted they be sung at a snail pace). So there were several songs in the hymn book that I never knew existed until I went to college and gained exposure and experience. This was one of them that floored me with its message. I love the expanding faith in the lyrics, the idea that one can struggle, have problems, but still turn towards the light. This is my favorite arrangement.

6. Right Angles – The Paper Raincoat. I never would have been exposed to this song if I hadn’t fallen in love with Vienna Teng and thus got acquainted with her accoustics friend, Alex Wong, who can play a waterphone as well as the piano, drums, guitar and I think any instrument that you put into his hands. Anyway, at one of the concerts, he sang a song called “In the Creases” which I fell in love with. It was a song he had written in a side project, a duo called The Paper Raincoat. When they released their first album this October, I snagged it as soon as possible. This is my second favorite. (You can listen to In The Creases here.)

7. Sway (Quien Sera) – Dean Martin. I have a hard time picking my between Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as favorite crooner. I love the sultry rhythms of this song. It makes me want to find a swirling black skirt and a dark corner in Argentina.

Click to listen or download.

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30th November 2009

in which i find out i still like boys.

The boy in the cafeteria just gave me two apple dumplings. For free.

The flirty thing to do would have been to offer to share the dumplings after his shift was over. Alas, the hospital was not made for flirtation. I had only a few minutes to grab a drink before my patient was scheduled to arrive (orders are done. I’m working on the H&P and waiting for my fellow to call me back) so there was really no opportunity. All I could do was give him my best coquettish smile (do I even have a coquettish smile?) and thank him.

The most amusing aspect of this is that this boy has only ever seen me on call nights and I am the epitome of Not Attractive when I’m on call. Scrubs are not flattering to my figure (I think that I’ve been asked if I was pregnant 7 times wearing those scrubs). My hair is a disaster. I’ve been in the hospital all day so my skin is greasy. And yet, I’m pretty sure that he’s flirting.And I’m kinda happy about that.

(And this wouldn’t post last night. So you get it on 12/01. But I’m post-dating it, because gosh darn it, I worked hard to post every day in November, and I’m not going to let a little technical difficulty keep me from my goal. It did mean that I missed out on getting one of the prizes. Next year.)

And also: nablo.didit.1109.120x90

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29th November 2009

lost in austen

lost in austen

So a couple of weeks ago, I finally discovered how much easier Google Reader made my blog reading and stalking. I put on all of my usual haunts, it suggested more… and more… and more. I’m now subscribed to more than 50 blogs. Luckily, most of them only post once or two a week. Right now, I think that Google Reader can’t decide whether I’m a happiness-seeking, frugal-living, eco-friendly Buddhist, a Mormon mommy/infertility/woe-I’m-single blogger, or a fiction author stalker. Probably a little of all of them.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled on an all about Jane Austen blog and added it to my reader. Well, that brought a flood of suggestions! Now, I’ve got Austen book reviews (what is with all of the paranormal “retellings”??? This is getting ridiculous!), JA quotes and best of all, regency costumes on my daily readings. Today, I browsed through a dozen different blogs, which stirred my longings to make proper stays and shifts, so my own gown would hang properly. My favorite gown that this particular seamstress made was this one. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I’m not one of those who wishes that I was born in a different time period. I like my indoor plumbing, electricity, quick transportation and electronics, thank you very much. But I do wish that I had excuses to dress in exquisite gowns more. And also that I had been blessed with the desire to be a seamstress. Mom tried her hardest to instill her sewing loving ways into us girls, but it’s only now that I’ve been hit with the bug – when I completely lack the time or know how.

I also just discovered that the Jane Austen Society has a Wisconsin branch that has “book discussion groups that meet three times a year. We also have a fall event in Milwaukee, toast Jane Austen’s birthday at a luncheon in December, hold a Spring Gala in Madison and celebrate summer with a Box Hill picnic.” Sounds like heaven to me!

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28th November 2009

Milwaukee afternoon

I did not wake up before dawn to photograph the city. Instead, I aimed for a more reasonable time and caught the sunset. We are definitely in the waning part of daylight. I left my house at 3:15 and even by then, I was shooting mostly in shadows. Milwaukee has some gorgeous cathedrals and churches that I drive past on the freeway. I’ve always wanted to stop and photograph them. I then went down to the waterfront and wandered around the ferry port. It was getting dark by then, but rather than getting on the freeway, I found myself in the industrial district. It was like being in a different city. I ended my trip going to see the art museum, which I absolutely love. I’m still working on night photography, but I think some of them turned out okay.

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27th November 2009

gilmore girls

gilmore girls

A few weeks back, one of my patients brought in the first season of Gilmore Girls to watch (she was in the hospital for a really long time and needed some form of entertainment). My favorite part of the day was going in and saying hi to her and getting to watch a few minutes. All of my love for that show came flooding back. It helped that she was watching the first season when the dialogue was witty and the characters charmingly quirky rather freakish.

Amazon is having a sale on the DVDs for GG – but only for the last 3 seasons. They’ve stopped selling the first season entirely. I never watched any episodes of the last season, not even the series finale. But I still miss it.

I found an old fanfiction that I had written 5 years ago and had never posted. I still liked it. I actually tracked down my login information and posted it to ff.net – the first time I’ve activated that account in years. I’m considering finishing Like Never Before. It’s always bothered me that I didn’t. Never mind that I don’t have time and need to concentrate on fellowship applications. I know that, and I will. Just right now, I’m feeling nostalgic and missing the friends that I made in that fandom and the freedom and acceptance I felt then.

I was also rereading some of the Literati fiction, and man, we really were a fandom that attracted some very good authors. I’m disappointed that Elise, Becka, Mai, and Ali have not become published authors yet.

I was going to get up at sunrise and go and take pictures downtown. Hmmm. I may have to rethink that at this point. 🙂

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26th November 2009

Giving thanks

I woke up before dawn to drive down to an IHOP near the airport and meet Chris and Gretchen for breakfast. They had a scant hour before picking up Gretty’s family for their holiday celebration. I rather enjoy these hour-long reunions. They’re short, but intense and gratifying. There’s no distractions, no multitudes demanding equal attention. We had a lovely breakfast (pumpkin pancakes are fantastic. I may have to try making them this weekend) and caught up.

I’m grateful for friends who stretch my mind and my comfort limits, who support me, who love me unconditionally. I have truly been blessed by wonderful people who enrich my every day.

My friend Sarah invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner. I made pumpkin bread (not quite as good as at the tea. Susan does a much better job) and healthy mashed potatoes: enriched with cauliflower, blended with neufchatel cheese and non-fat yogurt, flavored with garlic, salt/pepper and fresh dill. They were actually quite delicious. Company at Sarah’s house is always entertaining and this year was no different. Her little sister (14) took me on a tour of her bedroom which is all Twilight (she likes Alice and Jasper the best) and showed me all of the magazines that she had collected and all of her journals that she’s been keeping, transporting me back to when I was 14. I’m glad I’m beyond those years!

I’m grateful for friends who have made me part of their family. I’m reminded that I’ve been blessed with plenty: shelter, food, companionship.

My parents called from the land of the warm (Arizona), where they were tickling baby Carden. Apparently he has developed rolls for knees and can stand up and holds his head up. My sister called, telling me all about the delicious Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s house. My aunt sent me a lovely email, detailing the evening from her perspective. We worry about my grandparents, on both sides. Sharp minds are withering, and independence is slipping away.

I’m thankful for my family. For the reminder of the frailty of life and the promise of eternity. For their example and their time. For their love.

I came home and ignored my pile of dishes (tomorrow) and am now sitting down with a new book (Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow – I love fairy-tale retellings and soon, I’ll get to go curl up in my bed with a warm rice pack at my feet and arise late tomorrow morning.

I’m grateful for my mind. For the gift of empathy and compassion. For the opportunity to serve and heal (and whine a little as well!). I’m blessed with a body that has held up to the rigors of residency (three and a half years without surgery!).

I’m grateful for my religion, for the comfort it provides and for a relationship with God that I’m constantly trying to improve, for faith in things not seen but felt deeply.

And I’m thankful for all of you. For sharing my life, and opening yours in return. Thank you!

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25th November 2009

procrastination is not my friend

There are times when I hate being part of two residency programs.

I found out today, that fellowship applications “open” on 12/1 for the July 2011 positions, meaning that programs start downloading information and offering interviews. Yes, that’s right 12/1. I only found out about it today, because it’s the medicine fellowships that use this program, and not neurology (complicated and boring as to why) and one of the internal medicine people sent out an email reminding everybody. Because I’m s doing neurology rotations right now and had limited contact with the medicine side, I didn’t realize this. I haven’t gotten letters of recommendation, put together my lame CV, started brainstorming for my personal statement. I haven’t even gotten the registration token yet!

I still have time, I think, to get everything ready. It’s not a hard and firm deadline, but I feel like I’ve been treading water and really just struggling to find the time, find the motivation to do it all and confronting this paralyzing fear of rejection. I haven’t been able to get up the courage to ask for letters and I’m not sure why.

I’ve been having a little more trouble with my wrist. Not much and more related to the fact that I sleep with my wrists in odd positions, but enough to make me wonder if I should take an extra year before starting fellowship and get those kind of things taken care of. Apply next year instead of this year and get surgery (or steroid injections), go through physical therapy, work as a hospitalist or possibly overseas in between. I just wish I had clear answers.

I’m meeting Chris and Gretchen at freakishly early in the morning for breakfast, so I’m off to bed and not able to linger on these matters. I do plan to devote a good chuck of my four glorious days off (!!!) to doing the applications. Maybe once I get into to it, things will fall better into place.

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24th November 2009

seeking forgiveness

The final autopsy results arrived in my mailbox this week. Perforated cecum. Mixed neuropathy. End stage muscle disease. Pneumonia.

The death has weighed on me for several months. I’ve questioned my actions. Shifted through my decisions. I think of the family left behind, remembering their tears as they witnessed the prolonged dying. My patient had come to death’s door so many times over the two months spent in the ICU and had survived. Only a few hours before the final downfall, I had run into the patient’s spouse in the cafeteria and had cautiously expressed optimisism that maybe this time, we had turned the corner. Hubris, I suppose. I don’t believe in a spiteful God, but I’ve struggled since with my faith and doubts that gnaw at the soul.

The final complication that led to my patient’s death was preventable. I should have pushed harder for a decision, but it wasn’t my decision to make and in the end, looking at the whole picture as the autopsy report described, it likely would not have changed long term outcomes.

I don’t know if this precious family will receive any comfort from the official autopsy report. It didn’t shed any light into the questions of the cause of the underlying disease process, or why my patient became sick in the first place and suffered for so long.

I am going into critical care because of this patient, because of these patients who’s memory lingers on. Not because I expect to gain knowledge to save everyone. There will be patients that I won’t know the answers and will be helpless in reversing death. Because they expect me, demand of me, to give it my best. To try my hardest. To know when to fight and to accept defeat with peace when that time comes as well. That I can do. That I can strive to always remember.

(Now if I could just work those sentiments into a personal statement, I’d be set. So slow going.)

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23rd November 2009

Exhausted

Intraoperative monitoring is truly the most boring thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Including my two months of radiology. Seriously, you look at squiggly lines and make sure that they don’t change. That’s it. And some of these surgeries can last for hours. And it’s especially boring since I’d doing it over the shoulder of an attending, so it’s not like I have any responsibility for those squiggly lines at all. When I mentioned this to one of my colleagues, she stated “oh it’s so much fun! This is how you can tell the people who want to go into critical care from those who want to do real neurology.” I guess so, because if it was to be my life, reading EEGs and evoked potentials for the rest of my life, I’d promptly go for a career change. It’s a good skill and important knowledge for me to acquire, especially the EEGs, true, but I need patient contact and time away from a computer screen to be happy.

My home teacher and his fiancee came over and cleaned out my gutters and raked the rest of my leaves. I’ve really been blessed by service this month. The trucks came through last week and swept away all of the leaves on the street, so I had to pile these in my backyard for removal next year. It’s incredible how many leaves I still had. I’ll take a picture if I get home before dark in the next couple of weeks.

I am going with my friend Katie to see New Moon tomorrow. It’s going to be so fantastically terrible, I can’t wait. This made me laugh (thanks, [info]calenfenwen!)

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22nd November 2009

A perfect end and beginning of a year

A perfect end and beginning of a year

My weekend has been everything for which a girl (still in heart) could wish.

Susan arrived late on Friday night. We decided that it would be wiser to go grocery shopping then, rather than waking up early and going in the morning (which is funny because since she got married, she has become an early morning person. How quickly I corrupt her back into her late night habits!), so we wandered around the grocery store looking for fresh cranberries and hoping to find clotted cream (we were unsuccessful on both accounts). We did find crumpets though! I’ve never had crumpets before. We gathered all of the ingredients, plus a fresh bouquet of flowers for the table and went to bed.

Saturday, I woke up remembering that we forgot to pick up chocolate chips for the scones. So after a mad dash to the corner store and a quick breafkast, Suz and I set down to work. She made the pumpkin bread while I made the apricot chutney and cranberry sauce. We then realized that I had underestimated how much flour and butter would be involved (a pound and a half of butter. Writing that is making my arteries clog!) and I ran off to the store again, and then I cut butter into flour and kneaded the various scones, while Suz made the sandwiches. Of course, I underestimated the time it would take to make everything, so all my friends arrived while we were still cooking. They were fabulous though, and stepped in, and before I could blink, we had the spread laid out, complete with mock clotted cream. It was worth all of the effort. Everybody seemed to have a good time, trying different teas and sandwiches and talking about boys, Jane Austen, more boys, and sundry other topics.

No one was tempted by the offer of four hours of the new Emma, so soon, Susan and I found ourselves alone and relaxing on the couch. We’ve been friends for almost 13 years now: she was one of the first people I met when I started college. She lived down the hall from me during the summer right after graduation; we were in a summer science program for women and Susan and her roommate painted her room as a jungle and had a Kermit frog that sat on her shelf (I think, the details are getting blurry). I still remember dissolving into hysterics when we were writing our mathematics proof paper. I think most who initially meet Suz thinks that she is a fairly reserved person, but somehow, the combination of her wit and my foolish nature matched. We bounded over X-Files and Darth Maul, Mr Y and the entire Oliver saga. I have a collection of scraps of paper that detail mathematical equations of love from random conversations in church.

Our friendship has weathered some very tough years. I’ll admit that I had a very hard time when she dated, then became engaged and subsequently married, which had nothing directly to do with her husband, as I really could not have picked a better guy for her. Rather, it was being replaced as her best friend and knowing how much things would change. There was a time, towards the end of my first year of med school, that I was pretty sure that we weren’t going to make it as friends. I’m sure that Susan would agree. I was overwhelmed and absorbed with medical school and all its drama and I didn’t recognize her struggles with her life: changing career directions, adjusting to married life, and trying to balance the upheaval of moving with an emotionally dependent friend.

I sobbed on her wedding day. I cried on the day she moved, feeling that I had lost my friend forever. That first year was rough, but slowly, our friendship recollected itself. I moved to a city only 4 hours away, allowing for intermittent visits and reconnection. We rediscovered each other through our blogs, as we got to experience each others’ daily life in a way that we hadn’t been able to do since we were roommates. So yesterday, as we sat on my couch, talking about our fears, concerns and hopes for the future, there was no awkwardness, no hesitancy, but just the comfortable, intimate feeling of being with my friend. We laughed ourselves sick driving to Trader Joe’s, then to the opera, remembering some road trips and giggled all the way home. Just like old times.

The opera was lovely. Milwaukee Opera has very minimalistic sets, just a couple of simple props (lights on the floor, a small desk, etc) to set the stage, which probably helps reduce their costs of performing a opera, but does make it more difficult to be drawn into the story. The tenor was phenomenal, the soprano less so, but the music was as gorgeous as I had hoped (although I think Turandot is my favorite Puccini opera music-wise. It’s obvious how much he had matured in his composition by the time he wrote it.). We ran into one of my attendings that I worked with on the infectious disease service, which was weird.

Today, we munched on scones and watched Emma (she declared that there weren’t enough smoldering looks) and went to church, where I hugged my friend goodbye. We’re meeting again in 2 weeks to see The Merry Widow, so the absence will be of short duration.

My day ended with phone calls, emails and messages from friends and family wishing me a happy birthday (Chris even remembered, the first time in our 7 year friendship. That girlfriend of his is definitely doing some good!). I couldn’t have asked for better.

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21st November 2009

An Afternoon Tea

An Afternoon Tea

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20th November 2009

food, glorious food!

My afternoon tea is at one o’clock tomorrow (I know, a proper English tea is not until 3-5 pm, but I have opera tickets and it would have made plans a little tight and hurried). I have not yet gone grocery shopping. But I’ve done most the cleaning (the floor needs to be mopped and I still have clothes to do) and I bought the most soft, delicious marble rye bread today at work in the cafeteria. Most of the food shouldn’t take long to prepare, so doing it tomorrow should be fine.

The menu tomorrow (I think)
Smoked Turkey with cranberry relish on white
Roast beef with apricot-date chutney on marble rye
Cucumbers with mint and dill butter on white
Cranberry orange scones
Chocolate chip scones
Pumpkin scones (if I have time)
Pumpkin roll with cream cheese (pumpkin bread maybe?)
Strawberries
Cream puffs (bought)

For teas, I’ve got 3 different varieties of rooibos tea (plain, with orange and a chai flavor), a vanilla chamomile, and a mint. I’ve also got a few choices in hot chocolate. Maybe an apple cider as well?

I also want to make the butternut squash soup again for dinner tomorrow before the opera. And I have bananas that I’d like to make in banana bread since I’m doing all the cooking (but that could wait).

I haven’t entirely decided if I’m going to wear my Regency dress or not. I’m tempted: it is my birthday party, I’m going all out as it is, and I love my dress. I’ll probably ditch the shawl and the gloves though.

My friend Susan is expected any minute. She’s driving all of the way from Urbana, IL to spend the weekend with me!! No adorable preschooler this time or even a husband. I can’t think of the last time I got to spend so much unadulterated time with her!

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19th November 2009

Wii fitness anybody?

My friend is offering her Wii machine (console? thingamajig?) for a sort of reasonable price. Does anybody out there have one? Have you found it to be helpful? I’d like to branch out a bit from just using the elliptical but I want to make sure that it’s worth it, you know?

And on the note of suggestions: anybody have any good ideas for workout playlists, songs that get the blood pumping and feet moving? How about workout DVDs? Anything else that I should be adding to my regime? I have free weights ( 2.5, 3, 5 and 7.5 pounds) and a weight bench to do upper body strengthening, a balance ball and my elliptical, which apparently can no longer change resistance levels. Exercise bands?

My goal for this next week is to workout for 45 minutes everyday. 25 minutes is just about killing me (I have to stop for 5 seconds every minute), but it’s getting a smidgen better, so we’ll see how it goes. So far, I’ve been excited to get back into this. I hated working out when I first joined my gym four years ago, but over time, it became more enjoyable and I really enjoyed being able to climb stairs without feeling winded. I hope it’s enough to keep me motivated.

Lastly:

Happy Birthday, [info]mrv3000! Hope you have a great one! <3 0038xsb8
0038yt4q

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18th November 2009

I will reveal it only on your lips

I saw the Metropolitan Opera tonight perform Turandot. The soprano, Marina Poplavskaya had a truly lovely voice, but it was the tenor aria of Nessun Dorma (Marcello Giordani) that overwhelmed me with its beauty. Ah, opera, you so break me with your beauty. Even when I scoff at the idea of the hero instantly falling in love and magically forgiving her for the murder of 27 men and his devoted servant. Never mind all that, it was just because she was icy cold and hadn’t been thawed by love. Ah, but Puccini can even make a believer out of me.

I shall be seeing Tosca (my first exposure!) this Saturday and The Merry Widow in two weeks. It just might sate the cravings for a soaring tragedy for the winter.

And now I shall leave you with the definitive version of Nessun Dorma (although, I’m rather partial to Marcello. Maybe its because he was already being compared to Pavarotti and he hadn’t even had a chance to open his mouth. And I’m fond of the underdogs). Enjoy!

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17th November 2009

scrooge

When I started this wellness journey earlier this month, I bought myself a new scale, because my old one was bouncing around too much to be accurate, and a pedometer.

I admit it. I’m a penny pincher, somewhat miserly, and I tend to settle for things that cost less but are of less quality, because they are cheap. It’s certainly become worse recently as I started repaying my student loans and became poorer again. One of my favorite inspirational blogs: The Happiness Project writes that she had a similar problem: where she’d hoard the “new underware” and reuses and reuses and reuses the old, and I’m very much the same. In any case, I looked at the pedometer selection at Target, which wasn’t very good to begin with. Pedometers ranged from the very cheap “only senses your steps if you walk the right way” to the very expensive “monitor your heart rate, calories burned, distance walked and for free, we’ll throw in a trip to the moon” GPS watch. I can’t tell you how long I lingered by that stand, making internal calculations. In the end, I gave into that voice of frugality and bought the second cheapest pedometer, thinking that I didn’t need all of the fancy features, I just wanted something solid that worked.

I wore the pedometer to work on Saturday when I was on call to see how many steps and how far I walked on call. The darn thing read every hip movement as a step, even when it was just bouncing on my toes because rounds were lasting forever. And I’d brush my hand against it and it would reset. In the end, I have no idea how much I walked (a little less than usual, I think, but probably close to 4 miles altogether) and I was just as good guesstimating without it.

I’m looking to get another pedometer. But this time, I’ve done the research to figure out what is the best brand and works the best for the price, which I should have done in the first place. Lesson learned. Again.

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16th November 2009

Music recommendation

Music recommendation

My day consistent of looking at EEGs. Brainwave patterns scrolling across the computer screen for hours and hours. I find it very tedious and mentally numbing. I was seriously struggling to stay awake all day.

My friend of mine posted a link about a concert that he and his new girlfriend (aww, people do date in my ward! How refreshing!) went to, I clicked on the link and was blown away. I had no idea that a ukulele could produce such beautiful music.

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    • A Fresh Look June 16, 2022
      10 days later (thanks rain!) my house is almost all painted (there’s a few more finishing touches). Karin and I argued a lot about the color. She wanted a light blue; I wanted a sunny yellow and we compromised with a green. It’s called peacock plume and it changes hues depending on the sun. Every […]