A Random Header Image
3rd November 2022


(A devotional I gave at a Mormon women’s retreat called Northwest Pilgrims in April, after which I promptly came down with Covid).

– – Thread – –

Like Mendel’s peas, I inherit a dominant gene passed on from my mother. Hereditary multiple exostoses. It causes bony growths on the edges of my bones, twists my wrist, shortens my finger. All because a single gene, EXT1 on chromosome 8, had a mutation that prevented it from placing a heparin sulfate complex on signaling proteins that direct bone growth.

When I am 15, I overhear my grandmother, one of my favorite people in the world, telling a neighbor how selfish my mother was to have children and pass on this disease; that she wishes her son had married another woman and given her healthy grandchildren.

Selfish. For having me.

Was this the beginning of her dementia that warped her brilliant mind and turned her brain into a psychological prison of torture? Did I inherit genes from her that will cause the accumulation of amyloid plaques and tau proteins and break down my brilliant brain, turning me into a stranger to myself? 

– – Thread – –

By the time I’m 25, I realize that I won’t be able to have children. I have new pain in my hip, deep in my pelvis. My doctor finds a tumor the size of a grapefruit, arising off my iliac crest. He excises it, leaving me once again with scars. Imaging also reveals multiple small bone growths dotting my pelvis, shifting the way muscle tendons attach my back to my hips. I couldn’t carry a pregnancy without tremendous pain.

In many ways, I am relieved. I worried about passing on the dominant gene, of the surgeries and pain and disabilities my offspring would experience. 

My imaginary children won’t have my red hair and they won’t be diseased.

The realization of my childless future is a gradual one and I don’t mourn it. My friends have married and are having kids and I am their pseudo-aunt. My youngest sister, with her perfect EXT-1 genes, will have 4 perfect, healthy children, whom I will love and love and love. 

– – Thread – –

When I was 12, I discovered a place of pleasure between my legs.

When I was 12, I had my first interview with a bishop to determine my worthiness.

When I was 12, I stayed with my aunt for a summer. My aunt had left the church and had become a feminist who painted vulvas and hung them on her walls. She had a collection of books in her basement, and besides the guilt-reads of bodice rippers, there was another book collecting dust. The Miracle of Forgiveness.

Masturbation, I learned, was a sin next to murder, and if I didn’t repent, I wouldn’t be in heaven with my family for eternity. Worse, if I did repent and returned to my sin, my sins would multiply in their weight, because I would be rejecting the gift of Christ’s sacrifice. My words and actions and thoughts would be used to condemn me, the scriptures said, if I couldn’t master them.

When I was 12, I was suicidal and I was so petrified to die.

I confessed my sins to over a dozen bishops over two decades. Each time I got a temple recommend, having gone through repentance and fire, I never felt worthy.

– – Thread – –

I find myself in college and for the first time, I like myself. I make friends for the first time, since moving to my small, standoffish town at age 9. My high school years are a blur of bullying and unkind barbs because I was different and I’m all too glad to leave them all behind.

So I make friends, friends who will become family. We go to church together, worship together. I attend Institute where I study my inherited religion like I do other courses and I fall in love with my religion. My dad is a Mormon Democrat and like him, my faith influences my politics, and my political beliefs share my faith. I become Julia, Liberal, Feminist Mormon. 

When I leave my birth religion, after a decade of questioning and searching, when the identity of “Mormon” chafes as much as the elastic of the garment cuts into my legs, I don’t know who I am. I am lost and go to therapy to piece me, Julia, back together.

– – Thread – –

I went through the temple when I was 22 with my best friend by my side. I had completed temple prep and I hadn’t messed up for nearly a year. For the first time, I felt worthy. 

I loved the ritual and the symbolism. I loved the feel of the garments against my skin, holding and hiding my imperfections; loved how the sewn marks were tactile reminders that I was part of God’s family.

– – Thread – –

I had my first surgery when I was 12, followed by a half dozen more in high school. 

When I was a junior in high school, I pushed off the side of the swimming pool and a tendon caught on a bone growth like a crochet hook, leaving me unable to walk and in unbearable pain.

My grandmother, loving and desperate to help, visited an herbalist and sent me a package of dried alfalfa. If I took a capsule a day, all of the calcium would dissolve off my bone spurs.

I refused to take it. Science refuted that it would work.

My aunt demanded to know why I didn’t want to be healed. I guess, she said, you just like having surgery.

The blessings from my father, when he placed his hands on my head before every surgery, didn’t mention being healed.

– – Thread – –

I was supposed to get married by the time I graduated college.

I wanted romance, wanted somebody to see my flaws, see me and love me and want me.

It didn’t happen. 

My crushes were embarrassments kept deep inside. I longed for romance but couldn’t bear the thought of telling a righteous man that I hadn’t kept my virtue. I fell in love with my best friend from medical school and never told him. We made better friends anyway. (I never got a chance to find out). 

I never got a first kiss. I never got the sexual sacrament for which I tied my soul into knots. 

I’m happy and fulfilled being single. It suits me. 

Being unloved will always be a secret wound that sits deep in my heart.

– – Thread – –

A patient dies because of me. I didn’t put together the signs of their decline and two hours later, when the rest of the team arrives that morning, their low blood pressure that I had frantically tried to fix has caused end-organ damage and they never recover.

A patient lives because of me. For six hours, I stand by their bedside, taking them off the ventilator when it alarms that their oxygen is low, hand-bagging air into their lungs. I push meds of adrenaline and watch their blood pressure rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and .. stabilize. A week later, they walk out of the hospital.

I stop believing in a god of miracles long before I lose faith in the church.

– – Thread – –

I am 31. I have just placed my fingers on my clitoris, even though I had promised myself that I wouldn’t and I am crying after the orgasm. 

“Stop.” I hear in my head. “You are worthy. You are loved. And this. This is not a sin.”

I feel a wave of warmth that I associate with the spirit.

Was it an answer to prayer or just me, so tired of the endless guilt?

I buy my first vibrator that month and I feel whole. I stop being accountable to bishops and answer “yes” to any questions about my worthiness.

– – Thread – –

After I leave the church, I fall and injure my fingers. I can no longer bend them. I can’t shake hands with my patients, can’t place a central line, can’t intubate. I go through months of therapy with no improvement. I see a surgeon who diagnoses me with “an abnormal pain response” and dismisses my concerns.

I go to San Francisco Pilgrims and women from my faith background, women that I know and women that I don’t, lay hands on me – on my head and shoulders and broken fingers. I cry at their petitions. I am not cured. But I heal.

– – Thread – – 

I left my religion at 37 after hanging on by my fingertips for years. The infantalizing of singles, the treatment of women, the conservative beliefs – it rose to a blister on November 5, 2015 and I walked away.

The first few months after, I had panic attacks that I was throwing my life and my salvation away. My skin felt foreign without my garments. I didn’t like the sensation of the wind blowing through my jacket without that protective barrier.

I grieved the loss of my religion. I left behind my surety of my purpose in this life and the next. I separated myself from my community that welcomed me no matter where I moved. Relationships with my family and my friends altered – they couldn’t understand why, not entirely, and I was now outside the fold.

I also left behind shame. I no longer had to justify the actions of the church that I disagreed with, actions that hurt my loved ones. I discarded fears of not being worthy enough, of not being enough.

Leaving was the hardest decision that I’ve ever made. It was also the best.

– – Thread – – 

The destruction of the natural world aches now without the promise of rebirth. I struggle for purpose. I don’t know about God. I don’t like the idea of God.

I like the idea of humans though, of human emotion and human connection. I like the idea of a human family, brought together by our 23 chromosomes that are more alike than different. 

I find meaning in books and poetry, in the repetitive crash of waves on the beach, in writing the love stories I never got to experience, in the smiles of friends. 

I find comfort in the study of the brain. All that I perceive: touch, sight, pain, arousal, the position of my joints, the pressure of the atmosphere; is processed and experienced in my brain. All that I am is here. 37 trillion cells working in coordination to make me human. 

It terrifies me, too, this electrical jelly of neurons and salt and proteins, that makes up all that I am. 

I don’t know about what happens after death, if this consciousness continues. I don’t have answers anymore. I just have me.



And perfect.

And enough.

posted in All About Me, The Spiritual Side | 0 Comments

2nd November 2022

Travel map

A few friends on facebook were posting this. I don’t want to do the arithmetic so I don’t know how many points I’ve earned. (ETA ooo, it calculates it for you!)

There weren’t really instructions so I made the following interpretations:

  • Lived Here: had a physical address OR (in the case of Wyoming), lived next to the state border and did half of my shopping/attended church, etc.
  • Stayed Here: stayed with friends or family at least overnight.
  • Visited Here: spent at least one day here.
  • Stopped Here: spent a few hours here. Delaware is on the cusp between visited and stopped.
  • Passed Here: at least crossed the state line.
  • Want to be Here: I want to be a lot of places, but then it would ruin the states that I’ve visited, so I’ve put the next place I want to visit. Puerto Rico, I am going to see you some day.
  • Never Been Here: so many islands.

You can fill out your own map here.

posted in All About Me, The Great USA | 0 Comments

9th September 2022

House progress

House progress

Last year, after I bought the house, I knew that I needed to do something about the deck as there were several rotting boards (the back deck saga I’ve written about previously). My house, if you’ll remember is all deck, and replacing it seemed daunting and very expensive, as lumber prices were astronomical. So I bought some pressure treated outdoor boards and my dad and I patched it up.

This summer, we found more rotting boards and started to replace them, but after doing that, we decided that it probably would be best to replace all of the boards with cedar boards so that it would last for years. This was our progress after nearly a week.

To say this project has felt daunting would be an understatement! Hours of hard work barely made a difference in the appearance.

My parents came out again this week and we tackled it again. And this time, finally, we’ve made obvious progress (we really hit a groove the last couple of days). The wood is gorgeous and cost $20 less than in July.

24 rows completed, 16 more to go for the next visit, plus more work on the stairs (I’m ignoring the two lower decks for now). I finally feel like I can see an end.

All of the wood we’ve pulled up in the last 4 days.

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership, All About Me | 0 Comments

15th June 2022

A Fresh Look

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 house around here hasn’t been painted in 20+ years, so it really pops.

I love it with the contrasting white.

As a reminder, this is what it looked like before, a putrid, faded orange-pink brown that might have been rose colored at some point.

I had asked them to paint my garage door purple too, but things got mixed up. It’s fine – it looks great in a solid color too. There’s a small area of siding that I’m a little concerned about, but you know what, I’m giving it more protection than what it had before.

Onward to the next project.

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership, All About Me | 0 Comments

10th February 2022

a little less light (but that’s a good thing)

a little less light (but that's a good thing)

The rotting siding has been removed. The chimney was completely taken apart and cleaned and flashed properly – there were rusted holes where you could see the sun and where it was evident that water was just pouring in. The fresh air vent had a screen on it that had a hole the size of my fist in it – a hole where mice and ants could get directly into the house, and that’s been fixed now.

It was a 8 day process, 3 days longer than what the initial estimate was for (well, the first estimate was for 6-8 hours, but that quickly changed). The weather mostly cooperated (I won’t think about how that’s not a good thing for our climate or summer water supply). It was terribly expensive, but it’s done now and I can breath easier for a little bit.

Next up: getting a landscaper to put in a french drain and paver stones I think. I have an appointment to get the downspouts replaced next month. And I still have to get the house painted – I waffle about getting all of the siding replaced now and painting it afterwards, but I just don’t know. It would make sense from a maintenance perspective but just to have this small portion fixed was so much money that it makes me a little panicky.

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership | 0 Comments

2nd February 2022

housing nightmare update

(This is long)

1) My washer decided that it wanted to be a helicopter this summer and started making “vroom vroom” noises and wasn’t cleaning clothes quite as well and then started leaking in October. Yeah. So I researched and got all kinds of contradictory information from friends about top loaders and front loaders and impellers and agitators. I fretted about it for weeks and visited Home Depot and Lowe’s and Costco to try out different models. I finally ordered a set from Costco that was on backorder. I knew they were bigger than my previous set, but they had the reversible doors that I needed, so at Thanksgiving, my parents came out and we tore down dry wall and moved the water faucet and the light switch so that they would fit.

They were supposed to be delivered the second weekend of December. The delivery truck arrived, some guy got out, ran upstairs to my laundry room and said that I had the wrong outlet for the dryer and that the space was too small and refused to deliver them.

My dad came out the middle of January and we installed a new outlet at the right amps and painted the walls. I ordered a new set, smaller so they’d fit into the space, so they’d be delivered while my dad was there, to ensure that we had everything right. Costco was out of the pedestals, so I picked up a set from Best Buy. Tuesday came. I heard the truck start down my driveway … and 30 seconds later, I heard it backing up. Their truck was too big so they had to postpone for a week.

A week later, they deliver the washer and dryer. It fits! And one of the pedestals was missing the installation screws. They installed the washer on the pedestal, refused to put the dryer on the pedestal, and basically left me a mess.

I nearly started sobbing on them.

I called up my parents and they offered to fly out on points for the weekend to help me get it fixed. We ended up having to get screws mailed from Amazon, because nothing was available at any of the hardware stores, and Dad and I jimmied things around with an appliance truck and got longer hoses so I could switch them around and finally got them in position – did I mention that I was working nights and had a really horrible weekend so was exceedingly sleep-deprived?


2) As I mentioned previously, I found rotting siding where the back deck had abutted to the house in the fall. I was hoping to get it replaced in the spring, but we’ve had new ants in the house and it was making me really nervous that I’d be seeing more furry critters soon. So when my dad was here, I found a construction company who came out and basically said that just replacing that part of the siding was too small of a project, but they recommended residing the entire house – well not residing exactly, but replacing the rotting wood and then putting a composite plank siding over it all. I was skeptical and it was expensive for the whole project so I waffled and called a handyman company.

The handyman service took my information and said, yep we can handle this. It sounds like it’ll be a 6-8 hour job, we’ll have a technician out to do the work tomorrow. The handyman arrived the next morning, walked around, took some measurements for 4 hours, and at the end said that it was going to be a 40 hour project with two people.

They started Monday. They don’t think they’ll be done on Friday. There’s no vapor barrier under the siding. The windows and the chimney didn’t have flashing installed. The flashing over the foundation had rusted completely away and half of it was buried by dirt. I’m going to be hitting $15k easily just to fix this.

3) I have ants coming out from the side of my tub at the joints. I’m pretty sure that’s the next thing to fall apart.

I hate it all.

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership | 0 Comments

30th October 2021



Luckily, only about 15-20 feet of siding will need to be replaced, rather than the 50 that I had feared. The rest of the siding look okay – there was flashing over the foundation further down that drew a lot of the moisture away. I’ll be getting the siding replaced in late January. In the meantime, there’s now a railing so people don’t fall and some plastic to protect the foundation until I can get a landscaper to come in and build a french drain and grate it. I’m thinking about putting down paver stones or tiles, with planters maybe, to make the space more usable and attractive – give me your thoughts!

I had the back portion of the fence removed to access the area. I might put up a gate there, I don’t know.

I also installed a new bit of railing on the front deck. It looks a little awkward, but I’ve had three people miss the two steps when they’ve visited and fall and it’s only because they were friends/family that they didn’t sue.

The gutters got cleaned out thoroughly, though, which is a huge worry off my plate. It should help with the water that collected in the crawl space last spring (and probably collecting again this fall). The downspouts still need to be fixed as does the chimney flashing.

I got somebody to come by to give an estimate for painting the house. It’s been a week and I haven’t heard back. I messaged another company to get an estimate, you know, so I can make an informed, compared decision, and also have heard nothing. It’s majorly frustrating.

I just realized that I didn’t show you all pictures of the deck after it was power washed. It looks good. There’s still a few boards that need to be replaced but I should be able to replace those and get it stained and sealed this spring.

I’ve mentioned that my house is all deck, right?
Back deck and landing

All this to just get the house to a “maintained” level.

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership | 0 Comments

23rd October 2021

the rotting state

the rotting state

When we first moved into this house, on the inspection, I noted several boards that were rotting on the back deck. The deck was virtually unusable when it rained (which, since I live in the pacific northwest is often) because it was so slick and it was always covered coated with leaves and decaying matter (landlord had people come through and remove leaves once a year but stopped after I got angry that they were removing ALL grasses on the hill beneath the trees so it was just eroding away). Anyway, noted problems but my landlord didn’t do anything about them.

Last November, I looked out the window and noted that there was a hole in one of the boards and texted the landlord, who did nothing about it.

When I purchased the house, the sale was delayed because the bank wouldn’t authorize the mortgage until the back deck was fixed, which landlord refused to pay for (it was an issue). In the end, I had the worst of the boards replaced and the house closed.

I always knew that I’d have to replace the back deck, so I hired a friend who came out this week and started on the project. He power-washed the front deck for two days and it sparkles – I’ll only have to replace a few more boards there and will get it stained and sealed in the spring and it’ll be nice. I’m excited about that.

But when he moved to the back deck, he noted an area where there was moss and rot into the siding. We removed boards and the rot is more extensive than I had feared. I’m going to have to replace the lower part of siding across that entire side of the house.

We’re removing the deck, all except for the steps down. I have to get a landscaper to come and grate it and put in a french drain to deal with the water and maybe put in concrete. It needs a retaining wall.

I had hoped to paint the house in the spring. But I can’t until these problems are fixed.

(The washer also started leaking and needs to be replaced, although I think I may be able to delay that at least another couple of weeks so I can look for the holiday deals).

(I finally got somebody to answer my emails/texts/voice messages to schedule cleaning my gutters this week. So there’s that at least.)

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership, All About Me | 0 Comments

1st November 2018

1st of November

It’s been over a year since I posted here – and what a year it has been! It’s my 40th year of life, so I have tried to make it My Year.

Unfortunately, I am sick with a cold and I’m on service this week, so you’re not going to get the big update. Maybe daily morsels?

Here’s the sum up: Road Trips (Southeast, Maine + Nova Scotia and Prince Edwards Island, Kentucky/Tennessee, with Oklahoma/Kansas/Arkansas in two weeks). Cruise to Alaska. Hamilton. Visits with my niblings. Harry Potter and the Curse Child. Darren Criss/Lea Michele concert.

Stay tuned. 🙂

posted in All About Me | 0 Comments

1st February 2015

perfect month take two

Six month ago, February 1st started on a Sunday, creating a perfect month. At that time I was going to blog every day that month. I did manage to do it for 14 days before I gave up. I make no promises this time. I still delight over perfect months.

Doing: I’ve had the week off service and I have been utterly lazy. Bad Julia.

Thinking: I made an appointment to see a therapist tomorrow. I mentioned before that I’ve been having some difficulty dealing with things. I’ve been fighting a pretty severe case of “Impostor Syndrome”, some “Single and Unwanted” and “Religious Floundering,” and wow, I have problems with intimacy and vulnerability. I’ve referred people dozens of times to therapists but I’ve never gone to therapy myself. In high school, I was petrified that my parents were divorcing and met with the traveling counselor once, who basically patted my head and told me that I worried too much. It really takes a lot for me to open up: I’m so much more of an active listener. So this is petrifying for me.

Reading: I’m taking a class this semester on leadership. So I’ve had lots of reading for it. Some interesting. Some boring. It’s been a good class – we’re starting to work on some group projects and there are so many good ideas and I’m making connections.

Watching: Glee’s final season started and it’s been brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Witty and biting, emotional, and just tight writing. It’s been everything that I love about glee. I’ve always loved glee, from the very first time I watched the pilot and I am truly heartsick that it’s ending. And it’s also disappointing that it’s had such poor ratings this year. I hate that it’s ending, but I hate more that it’s ending and nobody will remember what a brilliant show it was. I’m also watching Orphan Black, which is also brilliant. I’m in the middle of season 2; I’m dragging out the episodes because I don’t want to it to end; it’s still way too long of a wait until season 3.

Making: Nothing, unless you all want to hear about my failed attempt to repair the LCD screen on my camera.

Writing: I attempted to work on my book chapter this past week. See above’s failure. I have this week off service as well, so I’m hoping to make more progress.

posted in All About Me, Frivolous Fandom | 1 Comment

6th November 2014

we have to go back kate



I went to Hawaii last spring, one of the first real vacations I’ve had in years (most of my vacations have been traveling home or to Arizona to see family). I was so lucky to get to go with my dear Susan and her husband, not only because it was a chance to spend time together, but because they also understood and completely supported my need to get my fangirl on.

It’s been 10 years since it first debuted and four years since it left the air, but there were still many, many remnants of old filming locations of LOST. We were staying on the northern side of Oahu, in a town where many of the flashbacks/forwards/sideways were filmed and I found myself a google map and tracked down as many as I could during our stay. There were a few big ones that I missed, like hiking to the lighthouse and going to the bamboo forest. Luckily I have a friend who lives in Hawaii, also a Lost fan, who has promised to take me anywhere when I come to visit again. I just started rewatching Lost in honor of its 10th year anniversary (wut), and it’s been even more incredible because I have now actually been there.

(You can see pictures of my Lost escapades here, although I need to label the locations).

I’m afraid that this activated my travel bug. Now I’m itching to go all over. I have a friend who just moved to Japan – and she’s wanting to go to Italy this summer; another friend is making plans to go to Japan in the spring. Greece is on the list. As is England, and Cape Town in South Africa. And. And. And.

Not to mention my fandom must-sees. New Zealand for LOTR, which needs to be soon since they are finished up with the Hobbit. And I just stumbled upon this, and oh my word, I absolutely have to go on a location tour for Anne of Green Gables. Have to.

I better get that passport renewed, eh?

posted in All About Me, Lost, Passport Stamps, The Great USA | 1 Comment

5th November 2014

polishing the old times

I had lunch with Chris yesterday. I think I mentioned in my sum-up post from January that he had gotten into the surgical critical care fellowship here. We don’t work together at all, although both of our ICUs are right next to each other due to ongoing hospital construction, so there is some hall passing on occasion. I was kinda looking forward to bossing him around. 😉

Things have changed in the 12 years since we’ve became friends. He got married (an event that still hurts to think about how much I was excluded). He has a 1 year old son. We went from seeing each other every single day for nearly 3 years to barely talking on the phone once a year (part of that was definitely me avoiding and licking wounds). So I was understandably nervous about having him in the same state again. Overall, it’s been nice.  I’ve been over to their house for dinner a couple of times and had lunch with Gretchen and Oliver once (a very brief meeting in the cafeteria, mostly spent in preventing a runaway). Chris and I meet for lunch a couple times a month, depending on our schedules. And there’s no denying that I have missed my friend. There are very few people who just understand me and unexpected hallway hugs after a tough family conference are just soul-saving and precious.

Anyway, he is currently interviewing for attending positions across the country. He interviewed at Utah and the interviews went well and they seemed to like each other. He’s got a potential interview here at OHSU. Both would really be a great start to his career with support for research.

His wife wants him to go back to Wisconsin and take a private practice job.

I wanted to laugh at him. Because I could have told him that he was going to get into this 5 years ago when they were in the middle of dating. She was saying then that she loved the idea of raising her family in Wisconsin, because that’s where her folks and her sisters lived, and that she was trying to convince him to not pursue public health because she didn’t want to raise her kids in a foreign country. She went to Boston because it was a short term gig. She came out here because it was only a year. He didn’t ask me then; I didn’t offer because  I like Gretchen quite a lot; she’s a heck of a lot more patient about some of his personality ticks than I am.

His marriage. He gets to have this fight. They’ll figure it out. I didn’t offer any advice, just listened. I don’t know what our friendship is going to look like in the future, but I’m glad for these few moments to connect again.

posted in All About Me, Chris | 0 Comments

1st January 2014

This Is The New Year

(I wrote this on New Year’s and then didn’t publish it. But I felt a strong urge to finish and publish. So.)

-The start of my last 6 months of fellowship. Strange how quickly it seemed to arrive after all.
-Rotation: Anesthesiology. Which went better than the last time, but that’s not saying much. I did about 2 or 3 intubations a day, which made me about as proficient as a first year anesthesia resident, but enough to give me hospital privileges (I still call for anesthesia backup).
– First RealGirl job interviews! I interviewed at Portland Oregon. The interview went really well – I enjoyed the people, the job description seemed like a perfect fit, they liked me, my presentation went well. I had a preliminary job offer by the end of the two days there.
– I then flew to Salt Lake City and interviewed there. The differences between the two programs could not have been more stark. The interviews verged on antagonistic, the department chair had drastically different goals than I did, and it did not feel like “coming home” – I barely recognized the hospital from the 7 years that I had been away. We mutually decided that we were not the right fit for each other.
– Socially, I hug out with my friend Jen frequently. We went to movies and to watch Stanford Men’s Volleyball
– Wicked! First time ever seeing it. Wow. (Until the fire alarm went off in the middle of Defying Gravity – it was a fluke but ruined my favorite song).

-Work: At SFGH on the neurocritical care service. Risk management was called for a different patient about every other day for two weeks. Long hours. Looooong, exhausting hours.
– My attending, who had been my co-fellow the previous year, screwed me over in terms of time off. My friendship with him fizzled at that same time. #correlationequalscausation
– I went to Portland for a second interview and accepted the position. I cancelled my one other interview.
– My car was broken into at the Oakland airport. Nothing was taken, just the lock completely removed. I honestly think that somebody just used it as a place to sleep. I never got the lock fixed, which made getting into my car ever so fun.
– Socially: Virtually nonexistent. My friend Michel and his fiancee Claire came to town – oh, how I missed them. We went to dinner at the best Thai restaurant in SF and our visit was way too short.
– I went to see The Fourth Messenger at the end of February with one of my residents. Lovely musical with gorgeous music by Vienna Teng.

– Still on SFGH neurocritical care. Lots of family meetings and sick patients. I think I worked 22 days straight without a day off (one evening off in that time, the rest of it I was on call). Don’t remember much except an epic argument with said attending above. I was pretty much in charge of everything, and it was nice being able to move into that role.
– Went to Sunstone NW Synposium. A truly lovely day with discussions of progressive religion and meeting wonderful people.
– Did I do anything social? I hung out with my friend Dan and his boyfriend a bit. Dan really became one of my closest friends in SF, despite him being one of my residents (my plans to keep a “professional relationship” aka no friendships with the residents, of whom I was technically in a position of authority died within 6 months because I need friends like whoa).

– Elective this month. I was so burnt out from the last three months that I basically spent it doing paperwork for the new job.
– Social life! My friend Lisa and I went to the Palace of Fine Arts and admired the swans (from a distance as they were nesting). I went to more volleyball games with my friend Jen (she really loves volleyball. I really like men playing volleyball).
– VACATION!!!! Oh, thank goodness for time off. I took two weeks and went on a cross-country trip. Arizona to see my nephews (highlight of the trip: going to the zoo), Milwaukee to see residency friends, down to Illinois to see Susan and then to Pennsylvania to visit with Sam and her brood. By the end, I was ever so grateful for my decision to be child-free but I loved every minute of it.
– I spent a week diligently trying to get tickets to see Darren Criss, only to have them sold out within seconds. I may have cried.

– Rotation: Medical critical care at SFGH. Like last year, this was again my favorite rotation of the year. I worked with some awesome people. It felt like being back in residency in many ways.
– Time definitely started feeling like it was running out in San Francisco. Jen and I went to the zoo and to the movies (Grease Sing-Along!) and to a Giant’s game (I should have gone to more baseball games).
– I SAW DARREN CRISS IN CONCERT. A lovely girl from Tumblr gave me her ticket and I had a fantastic time. Well, except for the fact that they confiscated my camera at security. Still bitter.
– Made a new friend: the girl from Tumblr, Jennifer, and I went to dinner and instantly connected.

– Last rotation of fellowship: on the UCSF stroke service. I was pretty much the attending for the first two weeks (my supervising attending actually was out of town for 5 days).
– I missed my own graduation party because of a sick, crashing patient. I think that really sums up my training.
– I flew to Portland to look for an apartment/house to rent. Stressful, so very very stressful, but in the end, I found a cute little bungalow that captured my heart.
– Good-bye bonfire on the beach for my friend Dan. Wearing 4 layers of clothes. Yep, that’s SF for you.
– Went hiking and camping in Calaveras Big Trees State Park with church friends – such gorgeous large redwood trees.
– Marched in Pride again, which was extra awesome because of the repeal of DOMA and Prop 8. Again, such a powerful, spiritual experience.
– Visited with Susan. Sadly, due to many circumstances our visit turned into just an evening together, but so wonderful to reconnect.

– As of July 1st, I was no longer a “physician in training,” but an actual attending. 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of residency, and 2 years of fellowship to get me to that point. Surreal.
– I had the month of July basically off. I did some board studying, but mostly spent it saying goodbye to friends and San Francisco. Highlights include going to a local karaoke bar (It’s Raining Men has more than just the chorus, sadly), dinner at a Moroccan restaurant where I belly-danced with my friends, dinner with Lisa, another trip to the zoo to see the baby tiger, tour of Pixar, going to the Legion of Honor and admiring the Rodin sculptures and impressionist art (my favorite era) and kite-flying on the beach.
– I moved! The movers came and packed up my stuff and I flew to Utah that afternoon for a few days before we drove the rest of my stuff to Portland.
– I almost rolled the Jeep and trailer in Idaho – when they tell you to put all of the weight towards the tongue, believe them.
– My parents and sister helpd with the move. So good to spend time with them.

– August 1st. Started the new job: Assistant Professor and Attending Physician.
– The first month was spent setting up my office, trying to figure out parking and doing Epic training for the 4th time (seriously, why can’t I test out of this??). Never thought I’d ever get paid for picking out pens from Staples… I do have a fantastic corner office with a beautiful view of Mount Hood.
– Toronto for a weekend to see my friends Michel and Claire get married. Beautiful ceremony and reception. It was the first time I had been to Toronto. I went to a baseball and fulfilled a 20 year wish to see my beloved Blue Jays play.
– I then promptly flew out to Chicago, where I parked my butt in a hotel conference room for 6 days straight for a neurology board review course. So boring, but it did the trick and helped jump start my studying. I did get to go up to Milwaukee for an evening to see my friends.
– Chris, my BFF from med school, came out to Portland to interview for fellowship. As always, his visit was abbreviated, but I did feel like I had healed a bit over the hurt at being excluded from his wedding last year. Our relationship is different, so different and will likely never have the same level of intimacy that it did before. He and his wife had a new baby, Oliver (the irony) in May, so there’s that factor as well. I don’t know whether I want them to move out here or not.
– I bought a car! My dad and I looked at cars when they moved me to Portland. I initially decided to wait, but my little faithful Ford Escort was having more and more problems. I am now the proud owner of a pretty little cherry red Ford Fusion Hybrid. I spend way too much time monitoring the amount of time I’m in the electric mode and recharging the battery.
– The last week in August was my first week on service. It wasn’t as horrible as I had feared. Nobody died unexpectedly (hooray!) and no codes. I struggled with figuring out how to direct a team of medical students, midlevel providers and a fellows from a variety of specialties. I still don’t know how well I’m succeeding.

– I had two weeks off of service to study for the boards. It consumed the majority of my September.
– The test was much better than the previous year. I did not start crying 50 questions into the test, I didn’t almost go home at the lunch break and I didn’t cry the entire way home.
– I reconnected with my friend Shanae! Austenland, an after-performance visit after Les Miserables, lunch at a cafe (Portland has the best Reubens).
– Visit up to Seattle for the weekend to visit Brooke and her family. We visited the Aquarium and Pike’s Market.

– Another week on service, where I was the only one of my partners at the hospital and I was horribly, horribly sick with the cold from hell.
– My newest nephew was born! I didn’t get to meet him but I can vouch for some adorable toes in pictures.
– Weekend drive to the coast of Oregon. Ocean, I missed you!
– I dyed my hair for the first time ever. One of the hardest parts of getting older is having my hair become more and more dull in color. So I paid a heck of a lot of money for highlights and my hair looked exactly the same afterwards. I’m going for henna next time.

– Birthday! I worked that whole week, so my new coworkers brought in treats, mostly pumpkin related. One of my residents made me a pumpkin spice cake.
– Vienna Teng concert. Her new album, Aims, may be my favorite yet and the concert was electric. I got to meet her prior to the performance and may have fawned too much over her.
– Brandi Carlile performance with the Oregon Symphony – amazing. Just amazing.
– Thanksgiving was spent at my bishop (church leader’s house). Nice but dull and I didn’t know anybody. I worked the next 5 nights.
– Chris got the fellowship position. I still don’t know how to feel. I guess we’ll find out in July.

– Neurocritical care boards. Hopefully the last test that I will have to take for 8 years. The test was so terribly difficult. I really fail to understand why, after 7 years of training that I should walk out of a test feeling like a failed every time.
– The pipes froze in my toilet (yeah, don’t ask me how I can move to Portland and deal with frozen pipes for the first time). Am I ever glad to not be a home owner!
– I am starting to realize how much of my career revolves around working with neurosurgeons. Since I made the decision years ago that I didn’t want to be a surgeon, this is unsettling. Work was hard – too many patients with terminal illnesses that I was given futile care to. Too many family conferences.
– Work Christmas party. Where I knew 4 people and mingled awkwardly. The department of neurology is huge and each subspecialty is isolated from each other.
– Portland MoFem (Mormon feminists) Christmas party – so much more my thing. I am so grateful for these people because I feel like I have ready-made friends.
– I had a couple of days around Christmas off, so I spent Christmas at home in Utah, visiting with my grandma and then going to my hometown for Christmas day.
– Back to work for a couple of days, then off to Arizona to see my sister and her kids, where I’m currently at. I have a brand new nephew to admire and shower with love. I’m here for the rest of the week and then to San Francisco for a mini-vacation and a conference.

News and events that were note-worthy:
– The Kenya massacre. Such tragedy to a country that will always have my heart.
– Overturn of DOMA and Prop 8. It was a magical time to be in San Francisco.
– Women prayed in my church’s biannual conference (yes, it’s pathetic that it is 2013 and this is big news. But. It was big news and it made me cry)
– Cory Monteith died on July 13th. I was utterly crushed and grieved for days. I’m still grieving in some ways.
– The Oakland, California and Texas brain death cases. So much misunderstanding about brain death.
– “Obamacare” rollout. I still feel passionately about access to health care and while I still hold out how for a single payer system, this feels like the best temporary solution, but man, I wish it had not been fraught with so many technical difficulties
– Gay marriage is legal in Utah. Legal. In Utah. Being on facebook when the news hit was the best thing ever. I was in med school in 2004 when Amendment 3 passed and it was the first time that I faced the question of what would I do when the beliefs of my church and my religion didn’t match mine. I wasn’t vocal against it, more just uncomfortable, and was relieved once the election was over. This really was the best news of the entire year – I was so overjoyed to witness the happiness of my friends.

Overall themes: I hate moving. I hate saying goodbye to my friends and to the city that I love. I hate being a stranger in a new place. I don’t transition well. But Portland is lovely and I am falling in love.
– I still don’t feel like I’m ready to be an attending. And yet here I am.
– If I never have to take another standardized test, it will be too soon.
– I am more and more comfortable with my singlehood, more so than any other time in my life. I toyed briefly with online dating once I moved here and then didn’t, partly because of body and emotional issues, but partially because I am baffled as to how somebody would fit into my life – and also because for the first time, I don’t need it. I can foresee a happy life being completely and totally unpaired.
– Faith transitions, even if they’ve been ongoing for years and you still believe to a degree that varies week to week, are painful. Particularly when people are telling you that you shouldn’t even bother.

Books read this year:
– The Book Thief (reread, but I pretty much had forgotten it all. Including the very unforgettable ending.)
– Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (must read. must read. must read)
– Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell per Becka’s recommendation (if there was ever a book that almost completely encapsulated my college years and my fandom life, this was it. Adorable.)
– Tankborn and Awakening by Karen Sandler (a friend of mine works for the publishing firm and recommended. I enjoyed it quite a bit. The world building was quite incredible. Looking forward to the last book of the trilogy).
– The Fault of Our Stars by John Green (I liked but I wasn’t as in love with this as others.)
– Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (again recommended by my friend. Not as good as Tankborn).

Movies seen:
Struck By Lightning
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Iron Man: 3 (I haven’t seen 1 or 2)
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Grease Sing-A-Long
The Princess Bride (absolutely timeless)
Girl Most Likely
Despicable Me 2
Monsters University
Much Ado About Nothing
The Great Gatsby
(Still to be seen: The Hobbit, The Book Thief, Frozen, 12 Years a Slave)

TV Shows:
Glee (Favorite episodes: ‘The Quarterback,’ ‘Love, Love, Love,’ ‘Puppet Master,” ‘I Do,’
Dancing With the Stars (yay, Amber Riley!)
A little bit of Castle, but not consistently

Favorite songs of 2013:
Rihanna (feat. Mikky Ekko), ‘Stay’
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert, ‘Same Love’
Pink (feat. Nate Ruess), ‘Just Give Me a Reason’
Lana Del Ray ‘Young and Beautiful’
Fall Out Boy, ‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)’
BOY, ‘Little Numbers’ (it was released earlier as a single, but I’m counting it anyway)
Sara Bareilles, ‘Brave’
Maroon 5, ‘One More Night’
One Republic, ‘Counting Stars’
Darren Criss, ‘Words’
Of Monsters and Men, ‘Silhouettes’
Vienna Teng, ‘Landsailor,’ ‘Copenhagen,’ ‘Goodnight New York’, ‘The Human Experience’ (yeah, I can’t pick)
Bastille ‘Pompeii’

Favorite Glee-Covered Songs
All You Need Is Love
Got To Get You Into My Life
Come What May
If I Were A Boy
Seasons of Love
Make You Feel My Love
This Is The New Year
Piano Man
Marry the Night

posted in All About Me | 0 Comments

8th November 2011


My stolen internet is down again. Why can’t people be more reliable in the things that I am mooching? People these days are so inconsiderate! So this won’t be posted until the morning. It’s probably for the best, because otherwise you would have to endure me swooning about Glee and how perfect Darren Criss is as Tony and oh my word, did you see his arms and those eyelashes that go on forever??  See, much better.

Instead, you get pictures of my nephews in their Halloween costumes. I know, Halloween was a whole week ago, but their preciousness is timeless. 🙂 

Carden loves trucks and cars. Loves them so much. So he got to be a policemen in a police car, while his brother David is a fireman in a firetruck. Are they the cutest boys ever? I’m so sad that I don’t get to see them for a while.

posted in All About Me, Family | 0 Comments

4th November 2011

Richard Brautigan, ‘Real Estate’

Real Estate

I have emotions
that are like newspapers that
read themselves.

I go for days at a time
trapped in the want ads.

I feel as if I am an ad
for the sale of a haunted house:

18 rooms
I’m yours
ghosts and all.

posted in All About Me | 0 Comments

21st August 2011



1. I am exhausted and have a headache. I haven’t been sleeping well recently. I was on night float last week and did a really good job of switching my schedule to sleep during the day and be awake at night. I’m naturally more of a night-owl anyhow so that wasn’t difficult, but the converting back has been dreadful. Add in the stress of looming boards (Aug 24th, as in 2.5 days from now) and the house situation, yeah, insomnia and I are becoming good friends. It’s 19:30 now and I think I’m going to try to go to bed by 20:00.

2. I have 228 unread messages on my email. For those who understand the signficance: I miss you! [info]bjorks_defender has been making me feel all nostalgic and remembering LJ from 5-6 years ago and how much time I spent on here and how few are still around. I’m so glad that I’ve reconnected with [info]shirerain again and I’m going to try really, really hard to start writing here more often.

3. Did I mention that my test is on Wednesday? I’ve done pretty well studying over the last couple of months, getting in an hour or two after work. Haven’t been so good this week. Mostly because I’m emotionally and physically drained. I’ve been studying for the last year for this thing. I will never be able to differentiate between all of the different pulmonary fibrosis/interstitial pneumonias. I will probably miss most of the cardiology EKG questions because I will overlook a U wave or not see that the QRS is widened. I will probably give a patient methotrexate for the autoimmune disease and the answer will be to give the azathioprine. I will completely overlook that the kidney patient has Fabry’s disease or some form of renal acidosis (Type II or IV) and will diagnose them with Wegener’s or something like that.

In short, there is still a lot that I don’t know, it’s overwhelming. I have oncology and hematology left to review and then it will be trying to memorize a few tables and going over questions so that hopefully something will stick. The passing rate is about 85-90%, so I’m trying not to get too worked up, but there is still that possibility…

4. Adjustment to SF has been hard. My roommate and I get along pretty well and she moves in a couple of days, but because of work and board studying, I haven’t been able to see the city at all. I’m lonely, I miss my friends and my very comfortable lift back in Milwaukee so much. So much. I’m making “acquaintances” but things are different. Residency almost came with ready made friends – since we spent pretty much every waking (and sleeping) moment with each other, it didn’t take long before they were your best friends. Here, there’s a smaller number of fellows – there’s only 4 neuro critical care fellows total, and 2 are the year ahead of me and I’ve never even met them – and we’re all on different schedules and at different hospitals. I’m slowly getting to know a few people, but not enough to have somebody to go to the movies with or out to dinner or just wander the city. And I miss that.

I’ve also become somewhat agoraphobic and/or social phobic over the last several months. I’ve talked myself out of taking the bus to the movies or to the grocery store. I’m not sure why, the few times I’ve been out I’ve been safe, but I’m just so completely out of my element that I just cling to what is familiar. I felt the same when I was in the Netherlands and in Ireland that last day and I was all by myself: both times I could barely get myself to leave the room and see the city. In the Netherlands, I met sombody and we ended up spending the rest of the day with each other and it was fantastic. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t think I could do one of the “backpack trips across Europe” by myself – I need to have somebody else with me to share the experience. I’m trying to do better.

5. I made brown rice, black beans and corn for dinner tonight with a balsamic vinaigrette over it. It was not my best experimentation. It really needed cilantro and I didn’t have cilantro. The balsamic vinegar with raisins and mandarin oranges, chopped almonds and pecans topping that I made last week was incredible, however.

6. I go on “vacation” in 3.5 days, after I finish my test. So excited. I’m flying home to Utah, going see friends and family for a few days, go through all of my stuff that is being stored at my parent’s house and then driving back. It’ll be nice to spend almost a week in the same place. Then I work for a couple of days and that weekend, I fly to Phoenix to see my nephews. Who are adorable and are just waiting for their Auntie Julia to spoil them.

7. As of tomorrow morning, my house will be coming off the market and I am so sad about it. One viewing. I thought for sure somebody would fall in love with my house because it is perfect, but it didn’t happen (I thought for sure that someone would fall in love with me and that also hasn’t happened, so I probably should have had lower expectations). I’ve learned from this experience. One is that when I try to sell it again, I’m getting a different agent. I liked her – she’s the one who helped me buy the house in the first place, but she usually deals with more expensive homes and I don’t think really devoted her attention to my home. The pictures that were initially taken were awful (my roof looked like it had holes in it. The rooms looked dark and scary). And she never had an open house and it felt like I was doing all of the work trying to come up with creative ways to get it out there. So next time: new realtor with new perspectives.

I haven’t been able to talk to a rental manager (see #3 above – that’s sort of been my life), which of course is freaking me out, because I really have to get this house rented in the next month (preferably by September 1st). Thanks again for all of the advice and links, it’s given me a lot to think about!

And now it’s 8 and I still have dishes to do and bed is sounding like a really good idea.


posted in Adventures in Home Ownership, All About Me | 0 Comments

30th November 2010


I did not succeed on my Nablopomo quest. Being away from a computer for 5 days puts damper on even the best-laid plans. I thought about cheating and going back and filling in some of those days, but man, am I tired. It’s okay; I was doing it more for the principle of getting into the habit of blogging more and documenting my life, rather than the prizes. Right? Right. And there’s always next year. In any case, I had started doing the two 30 day memes because I didn’t think that I could find words of my own to fill a month. I underestimated myself. I hate leaving things incomplete and I’ve put a lot of thought into some of upcoming questions, so I guess I’ll be continuing this into December. Should I make a “Blog Every Day for 365 Days” goal? How did everybody do on their Nanowrimo/Nablopomo projects?

My “vacation” was lovely. I arrived in SLC around 1:30 on Thanksgiving; Dad and I traveled down to Provo where we had a mighty feast and gorged on pie (death by pie would be a lovely way to go) and then played Dominoes into the evening. Friday was spent renewing my driver’s license – since my car is registered in Utah, I’ve kept my Utah license, but they wouldn’t let me renew in online; it’s one of the reasons that I jumped on the chance to go home. We then visited my aunt and cousins and little 1st-cousin-once-removed Cora (hee) who was quite adorable. We actually did participate in Black Friday and bought shoes. For me. Specifically these shoes. I’ve wore these shoes pretty much every day since third year of medical school – super comfy and padded; I can endure marathon rounds without too much pain. Alas, they don’t last forever (but this is only my 3rd pair, so they are pretty durable). I also found a pair of fluffy slippers that are definitely what I needed in this cold weather – my feet feel like they are blanketed in feathers.

Saturday we spent with my dad’s family. My cousins and their kiddos drove all of the way from Connecticut (and managed to skirt most of the storms), so we had a second Thanksgiving dinner with them. The kids were entertained endlessly by moving small toys around and hiding things and crawling up and down stairs and playing with the swinging doors that lead into the kitchen- I had forgotten how fun this age can be. We capped the evening by visiting another cousin, Sara and her 3 week old baby. He is a doll. 🙂

Sunday, I slept in. 🙂 Karin and I finally manged to get ready and surprised my friends Laura and James by coming to church with them (ignore the fact that we arrived late). I have to say that when I walked in and Lucas (their 7 yo son) lit up and hugged me was one of the best moments ever. I lovelovelove and adore all of my friends’ kids, but Lucas has a special place in my heart – he was the child that I watched grow up. I went over to L&J’s house virtually every other week during his first year or so of life. Being away from these kids, all of them, having them grow up without me has been hard – but having Lucas recognize me and hug me: heart swelled big time. I almost started crying. It’s still hard to believe that this baby:

can now write me notes during church.

After church, we went over to Laura and James’ house, where Liz and Edgardo and daughters braved the weather and joined us for dinner. Such a wonderful, companionable evening that was over way too soon! Oh, oh, I’ve missed my friends – it’s hard to believe that we’ve been friends for more than 13 years at this point. It had been snowing all day long and I really, really, really hoped that it would have snowed enough to cancel my flight, giving me one more day. Alas, my flight actually departed on time, getting me back to Milwaukee in the wee morning hours.

I didn’t take as many pictures of the weekend as I wanted, as I was too busy lapping up the company and conversation. But you can see a few pics:

And now, off to bed. I’m determined to make it to Board Review tomorrow and 6 o’clock arrives way too soon. Ugh.

posted in All About Me, Family, Friends, Plethora, Social Life | 0 Comments

17th November 2010

we used to wait

we used to wait

Both my dad and sister reminded me that I had been there when Laura was burnt by the tar. Apparently, my mom, sisters and I had gone on a bike ride and Laura had ridden her bike directly into the hot tar pit. So my memory was correct!

Speaking of nostalgia and memories, have you all seen the latest Arcade Fire video? I shared it on my Facebook a couple of weeks (maybe even months now!) and I still love it. Go here to their website, type in your address (nostalgia is one of the ingredients to making it powerful and mindblowing – it’s best if its the address of a place you grew up) and wait for it to load. It only works on Google Chrome or Safari and it also uses a lot of memory and processing ability, so it is best if you only have that one program open. And then after you see it, read/listen to the interview on NPR about how they made the video. It’s amazingly magical.

The video of where I grew up: http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/#1339+E+Allen+Rd,+Tucson,+AZ+85719,+USA. The first time I saw it, it made me cry.

All About Me Day 07- A picture of where you live
I’ve inundated you all with pictures of my house over the last month. Does anybody not know what my house looks like?

Instead, pictures of my other “home”: Read the rest of this entry »

posted in All About Me, On doctoring, Resident Life | 0 Comments

15th November 2010

brain ded

I’ve had a bad tension headache/migraine for the past two days. My fellow let me leave work early and I came home and crashed and if it wasn’t for my grumbling, hungry tummy, I’d slept longer. The muscles in my neck are really tight and tense and I got dehydrated which triggered everything. Anyway, there’s the explanation for the lateness in some of my blogs. I can sleep in a little tomorrow, but I’m still kinda achy so I think it’s off to bed again. I’m behind in the 30 day memes, but promise to resume them tomorrow.

How was your weekend?

posted in All About Me | 0 Comments

8th November 2010



I got my flu vaccination last week – as a health care provider and one who has gotten the flu before, I get one every year. This year, I went for the nasal mist. I’m working on the consult service, so not in as direct of contact with the immunocompromised patients (those on chemotherapy) and I’m not that fond of shots. Both forms don’t reach full immunity until approximately 2 weeks after and the spray is a little bit of live virus which can make you feel a little ill. I woke up this morning with the sniffles (I initially typed “snuffles” but found out that that is a upper respiratory infection of rabbits and since my name didn’t change to Harvey overnight (oh I kill me), I had to be accurate and change it) and have been feeling just a little less than healthy today – not terrible, not enough to try to go home or even beg for chicken soup, but just bad enough that I think I’m making it an early night.

All About Me Day 5 – A picture of a place where you have been. I really should just remove the “A” from all of the questions and make it plural, because there’s no way I’ll ever be able to limit this to just one.

First stop: Guatemala. March 2004.


I went to Antigua, Guatemala to learn medical Spanish. It was a course for intermediate to advance speakers – and I didn’t know a word, but the program agreed to let me go. So at the last minute, I asked for a rush passport (with truly the most terrible passport pic ever. No, believe me, I win), bought a ticket and away I went.

Tina and I, early morning in Tikal

My traveling companion was the unlikely combination of a procrastinating perfectionist. She would always put off doing important things, but then wouldn’t hurry up because everything had to be just so and we were often late. Very late. We almost missed the plane down there. And the plane back up. And the bus from Tikal, etc. It was the first time she had ever left home (except for her mission) and she had to talk to her parents every single night -which mean we missed out on seeing a lot of the city. I was much too nervous to break out on my own and go sight-seeing.


We were there for just over three weeks. During the day we went to spanish language lessons or to programs around the city that provided care to the poor and the ill. We visited orphanages, an AIDS clinic, a poor farmer’s hut, a primary school, the mental hospital, a nursing home. The weekends we took trips: up north to Tikal and then to Lake Atilan.

Lake Atilan

Some of the culture was overwhelming. I never got used to the begging of the children, which usually occured only at the tourist sites. When we stepped foot out of a bus or a boat, they would come swarming. I hated haggling prices for souvenirs – I didn’t know the language and I found it frustrating. The food was pretty incredible, though and cheap. And the scenery more than made up for the frustrations.

Learning how to Salsa with Antonio

Tikal ruins

Learning the language was extremely difficult for me. The only language I had attempted to learn was sign language and there was very little cross over (the few months of online German in the 7th grade does not count either). I spent most of the month not knowing what anybody said. I had difficulty with the grammar and the pronunciation – I have a hard enough time with English, you should hear me slaughter drug names!

Admiring silk blankets

So while I came home only knowing how to say about 10 phrases (and I’ve forgotten most of those now), what I gained was an appreciation for a beautiful culture and the desperate need that other countries had. I realized how very spoiled I was by the American culture. I stayed in a middle class home, but even there, the showers were limited, the plumbing was fragile, electricity and food was very carefully utilized.

Colored sand with borders of flowers and fruit arranged in a Catholic cathedral for Semena Santa (Easter) Festival

I know it’s an overused phrase, but I can honestly say that Guatemala changed my life. It opened a thirst to see and experience new cultures and to make a difference.

I think I’m going to extend this over the next couple of days, because I’m am becoming more and more stuffy and my head is aching. Bed sounds really, really good right now.

posted in All About Me, Guatemala, Meme me, Passport Stamps | 0 Comments

  • Julia’s Journal

  • Just an ordinary girl.
  • Monthly Calendar

  • December 2022
    S M T W T F S
  • Archives

  • RSS Red Head Snippet

    • Tapestry November 4, 2022
      (A devotional I gave at a Mormon women’s retreat called Northwest Pilgrims in April, after which I promptly came down with Covid). – – Thread – – Like Mendel’s peas, I inherit a dominant gene passed on from my mother. Hereditary multiple exostoses. It causes bony growths on the edges of my bones, twists my […]