Sunday, November 29, 2009


This was our first holiday away from family.

I had been approaching it with a mixture of homesickness, apprehension, and dread. The dread mostly came from the thought of having to cook a turkey. By myself. For the first time.

But I was rescued from this when some friends from medical school that also live in Iowa invited us to have Thanksgiving dinner with them. (Seriously, it is shocking how many people in Iowa are from Utah. Shocking.)

Having our little family of four expanded to a crowd of eight was wonderful. Dinner was delicious, company was wonderful, being rescued from facing an uncooked turkey on my own was heaven-sent.

Even so, I missed the loudness of Thanksgiving at home. Too many people in the kitchen at the same time. Turning around and finding new finger-shaped divets in the top of all the pies. Too crowded tables. Chasing children (and the occasional adult) away from the marshmallows on the top of the yams. The constant rumble of conversation.

Obviously, there is nothing like home.

But spending Thanksgiving with friends put the homesickness, apprehension, and dread at bay for some amazingly pleasant hours.

Not to mention, we have been enjoying what may truly be the best part of Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

2 hours, 10 minutes later...

I guess since it's been over a week since I saw it, I should finally share my thoughts on New Moon.

Overall opinion? I liked it.

Even with the over-enthusiastic giggles throughout the theater of girls under the age of 14. Despite the fact there were moments so cheesy and ridiculous that I couldn't stand to look at the screen. Despite the fact that Kristen Stewart had this strange chin movement and grunt noise that irritate me. Despite the fact the movie seemed to want to focus on the sex appeal of the male characters instead of the plot. (Although...can you blame them?)

Actually, maybe the giggling teens made it more enjoyable. Otherwise the periodic gasps at the sight of Jacob's abs, or the jaw drop over Carlisle (why is he so overlooked?) that came out of our group would have been much more noticeable. And who wants to feel self-conscious while trying to immerse oneself into a world of mythical creatures and romance?

As far as the technical aspects go, the larger budget is obvious. The special effects were actually believable, instead of slightly painful, as they were in the first movie. The acting was improved over the first film, as well (as it usually is as actors age and settling into their roles a little more).

The movie caught the feeling of the book remarkably well. A story that is focused on depression and isolation, these emotions come across on screen nearly as well as they did in the book. I felt the movie caught not only Bella's depression, but Edward's as well.

It could be that I'm just easy to please. I enjoy the books and had every intention of enjoying the movie. And it could have been that I was out with other girls and estrogen in that high of a dose may impair my judgement.

How does the movie come across to someone who hasn't read the Twilight books? I don't know. I'll have to wait and find out when I force Hubster to watch it with me when it comes out on video.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Day After

I have never gone out shopping on Black Friday. Not at 3 am or any other time. I once did go see a movie with my mom the day after Thanksgiving and kept wondering why it was so busy.

It could be that I'm just not that big of shopper. I am still trying to reconcile that I may have to pay more than $20 for a pair of jeans. It could also have to do with the fact that usually, that particular Friday rolls around, Hubster and I haven't even started our Christmas list. No reason to go stand in lines and fight off aggressive soccer moms when you don't have any idea what you are looking for.

But this year, with my December being consumed by a arduous surgery rotation, the only way Christmas would be successful would be to start early. Not to mention the need to ship most of our gifts 1200 miles, which meant putting things off until December 24th really wasn't going to work this year.

So, one week ago, Hubster and I, much to our complete bewilderment, found ourselves nearly done with our Christmas shopping. We had two gifts (not including each others) left to buy.

Reeling with the shock of this, we found ourselves wandering a department store, looking for winter coats for Bug and Monkey. We had finally unpacked their old ones, which we had thought was a good idea considering it has started to get below freezing overnight. However, upon unpacking said coats, we were a little surprised to find that our boys had grown in the last year. Seriously, who wound have thought? So, a Midwestern winter staring in the front window, we went looking for coats. As we wandered around, dropping overpriced coats as if we had been tazed, Hubster casually mentioned that he had heard this particular store opened at 4 am for Black Friday. Maybe they would have good deals on winter coats so we wouldn't have to turn off the heat to afford them. (Of course I'm kidding. We'd stop buying groceries way before we turned off the heat.)

We decided to check the Black Friday ads before we did any more coat shopping.

And that was the end of that.

I spent hours (okay...many 15 minute intervals) persuing sale advertisements. I was shocked. So this is what drove normally sane people to fight off the effects of tryptophan and stand in line in the dark and cold. We carefully looked for a few things and found that we could get our remaining two gifts and the coats at one store.

So, this morning, I set out early and headed to our selected store.

I thought that was all that was needed.

As I drove, I passed other stores, not opening for a hour, that had lines wrapping down the sidewalk and around the corner. Parking lots were packed to overflowing. People were parked on the grass. Of course, anything resembling a shopping cart or a basket was gone long before I ever showed up. The people surrounding me not only had lists of stores, what time they opened and the must have items at each of those stores, they also had maps of the inside of each store, letting them know exactly where each desirable item was.

I instantly felt under-prepared. I approached a helpful-looking employee. I just need to know where coats are. That's all.

I'm proud to say that I got through the entire ordeal in less than one hour. I did not elbow anyone; I was not run into by anyone else's cart. And most importantly, I left with the coats and the two remaining gifts (which, by the way, were completely gone when we went back this afternoon to return a purchase made earlier this week.)

Hubster offered to go out and do the shopping. I was tempted to let him, because after all, he is much bigger than I am. But, ultimately, I decided to let him stay home asleep while I ventured out. And because he doesn't read my blog, I can tell you the true reason I choose to go and let him sleep.

Because his gift was on sale, too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Tomorrow is the day to gather round and say what we are thankful for.

I feel absolutely no desire to be left out.

I am thankful for my family. For Bug, Monkey, and Hubster. They are the true heroes of my life. They have put up with me through the long road to where we are, even though most days it feels like it is just starting. They love me both for me and in spite of me. They have all felt loneliness and uprootings to support me and to strengthen our family.

I am thankful for health. I am surrounded every day by people who do not have this. I do not have the ache of hugging a bald-headed child. I do not have the pain of holding a hand of unresponsive spouse. I can walk around my block without becoming short of breath or having chest pain. I am so very thankful for health, both mine and the people that I love.

I am thankful for opportunity. I may gripe about my job and the difficulties that come with it. But I will forever be thankful for the chance that I had to do this amazing thing. We own our first home, we can provide comfortably enough for our family, and all because of opportunity.

And tomorrow, surrounded by friends and family, I will remember to continue to be thankful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Incomplete List

Give me one hour of uninterrupted alone time, and I know exactly what I will do with it.

There are abundant things that I should do with that hour. Do the dishes, do the laundry, sweep, sleep, exercise. There are countless things I enjoy that I could also do. Paint, Photoshop, catch up on my DVR recordings, listen to music, blog.

But the one thing I choose above all others?


Since I was little, reading has been my favorite activity. In second grade, I would grab a blanket and sprawl in the sun on our back porch with novels far too advanced for my age. I didn't understand the subtleties of the plot, the emotions were often beyond the range of my own experience. But the adventure, danger, and romance swept me far away from my 8-year-old life. Any given afternoon, I was exploring tropical jungles, settling the West, or attending balls in the courts of France.

AS a teenager, I would walk around the house with my nose in a book. It was propped behind the sink as I washed dishes, it joined me at the dinner table. And often, I would sneak into the bathroom for completely uninterrupted reading, only to emerge, sometimes an hour later, and usually to frustrated siblings. I could disappear for a weekend at a time, curled up in my bed, exploring space, surviving wars, or discovering radioactivity.

I read nearly every book of the reading lists for high school. I made lists of book to read, and methodically crossed them off.

As soon as I had money, I began buying my own books. If anyone draws a blank on what to get me, they get me books.

Now I horde them. Do not ever, ever ask me to throw out a book. It does not matter that our five bookselves are overflowing and stacked every which way with tattered paperbacks from the book exchange or shiny new hardbacks from the chain store. The books are not books any longer. Each one is a character, a personality, well known and well loved.

I even love the smell of books. Open a brand new book and the smell of paper is intoxicating. I used to study on the second floor of the university library, not for the silence, but for the inviting, soothing smell of the rows upon rows of books.

It is hard for me to come up with a list of favorites. I can name my favorite people or favorite songs much easier than I can my favorite books. But I will do my best.

Some are on this list because of the story, some because of the impact they made when I read them, and others, purely from the joy I have every time I turn the first page.

A Tale of Two Cities

In my mind, this is Dickens' best book. The imagery is breathtaking. The strength of the writing and the plot development never disappoint. Not once.

Pride and Prejudice

I love Austen. Her witty, nearly sarcastic view on women's lives at the time appeals to both my feminine and feminist sides. And there is no character that I love more than Elizabeth Bennett. She is both perfect and flawed, and therefore, completely human.

Harry Potter

Yes, I am counting all 7 as one book. I have read these books more than I have any other (although Pride and Prejudice does come close.) Rowlings mastery at weaving a plot that takes twists never expected, her brilliant character development, and the sheer magic (pun both intended and not) of the books make it so they captivate me just as much the seventh time through as they did the first.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Exquisitely painful and beautiful at the same time, the range of emotions of this book nearly overwhelm me each time I read it. There are few literary characters that make you want to stand beside them as Atticus Finch.

Crime and Punishment

Dostoevsky's examination of guilt, conscience, justification, and redemption are both frightening and captivating, without letting you be sure of which emotion is stronger.

The Hobbit

I was sure at one time that I loved science fiction more than I loved fantasy. Now, I'm not so sure. The one thing I am sure of is that I can trace my shift in feelings back to when I first read a story about a hobbit stepping out of his little round door and setting of in search of gold, adventure, and self-identity.

I think I should stop at 6. Otherwise, I will be perusing my library all night, reading through books and deciding if they should be on my list or not.

This is not be any means a complete list. Not even close. Mary Shelley, Ray Bradbury, Leo Tolstoy all belong on this list as well. Nor is it even close to being a list of books I feel are must reads. I'll save that for another day.

What books are on your "favorite" list?

Let me know, so that, given enough uninterrupted alone hours, I can add them to mine.

White Water

I was told that I absolutely had to take the boys to the tailwater at the reservoir. I was told this by two people.

They tried to explain just why. It was noisy. There was a lot of water. The water moved fast.

I hope that you're just a little confused about why I absolutely had to take the boys there. Because after hearing this, I certainly was.

But we decided to go. In part, because, like I've said many times before, we just can't stay cooped up at home.

The reservoir is very high this time of year and at the tailwater is where the water comes out of the reservoir and joins the river. When the water is high, like now, it is quite impressive.

The water comes barreling out from under the dam at impressive speeds and when this fast moving water reaches the wide, slow, calm river, it collides with a roar. The crashing of the water creates spurts and waves and noise.

And all this delighted the boys.

So, yes, I guess I did absolutely have to take them.

I'm pretty sure I've done a terrible job explaining. I was sure that I would. So here is a little video that does better explaining. (with atrocious sound...I'm not sure how to fix it that doesn't involve a completely new camera.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Girl's Night

Last night was a girl's night out.

I met three other women and we saw New Moon.

It has been a very long time since I've gotten together with girls, without kids, without Hubster. In fact, after I got home and thought about it, I couldn't remember the last time I had done that.

Estrogen is therapeutic.

I had been looking forward to my night out all week. That morning, I spent a little extra time doing my hair, a little more time picking out my clothes, a little more time just trying to look nice.

When I got to work, I got all sorts of compliments. That I looked nice, that that color really looked good on me, that I should wear my hair down more often. My attending commented she had never seen me wear boots or wear my hair down. I explained that I was having a girls night out and was very excited about it.

She gave me a strange look.

"You get dressed up nice and do your hair for girls, but not for your husband?"

I laughed it off, saying I do look nice when I go out with Hubster, but that spending Saturday afternoons curled up on the couch watching college football together, while one of my favorite things, hardly inspires me to put that extra effort in the my hair and makeup or wear a pair of sexy shoes.

I've always put more effort into looking nice when I go out with girls. And up until yesterday, I didn't really think anything about it.

Maybe I don't feel the need to impress men anymore. I'm happily married to Hubster, and attention from any other male just really doesn't mean anything.

It doesn't mean that I've given up on impressing Hubster either. Although after 8 1/2 years, impressing someone just by doing your hair is a little harder. Although I have been complimented just on managing to get dressed post call, so maybe it's not. Hubster and I have just grown comfortable with each other, like an old pair of jeans or shoes that are the more comfortable thing you own.

But does all that mean I feel the need to impress other women?

I've come to the conclusion that women are much harder on other women than men are about other men. In an instant, we draw conclusion and make assumptions about other women based on their clothes, their body type, their posture, their company. We let other women make us feel self-conscious about ourselves more than any man ever could.

But I don't think that had anything to do with why I word lipstick and heels last night.

I don't think the women I was with last night would judge me if I had come looking like I do every other day of the week, like the harried, fatigued, mother-of-two, 80-hours-a-week-resident that I am. I don't think the women I was with last night would have noticed, or cared, if I had worn my work clothes out. I don't think the women I was with last night judge me for the extra "baby" weight I carry.

No. Sometimes pink and glitter and make-up are just sitting around, waiting for an excuse. And last night was mine.

Free Time

Today marks the first day of my first vacation of residency!

Well, vacation actually started last night, after a much needed girls night out to see New Moon. It was great. No work, no kids. I haven't had that in a long time.

I go back to work on December 1st, at which time I start Trauma Service. This excites me about as much as being told I have a cavity at an annual dental exam. Or Blaise falling asleep on my bed without a Pull-Up on.

So my goal is to make the most of the next 10, now 9, days. They are going to be the fastest days of my year so far, that much I am certain. Already, I can see the end of vacation and feel myself whirling through time towards it.

We thought a lot about going back to Utah for Thanksgiving. This is the longest I've gone in my entire life without seeing my family. I last saw them in June, 5 months ago. I'm not "homesick" in the slightest, since I don't miss Utah or our tiny, dingy apartment for a moment. But I am completely "family-sick." I do miss my family a lot. Since I managed to get vacation over Thanksgiving, we initially thought it would be perfect to go back home. But the 1200 miles were just an obstacle we couldn't overcome, at least this year.

We thought about flying. We could drive to Chicago and fly non-stop from there. But there are four of us, and financially that put that option out of reach. We thought about driving. But that would mean driving I-80 across Wyoming in November. First of all, the trip itself would take at least 1 1/2 days, one way. Which would mean 3-4 days out of 10 on the road. Yuck. Second of all, have you ever driven on I-80 across Wyoming in November? A storm would probably come up and then we would get stuck in Rawlins, Laramie, or Rock Springs for 3 days. Seriously. This happened to someone I know.

So we've made the decision to stay put here in Iowa for Thanksgiving. Although some good friends from medical school have invited us to spend Thanksgiving dinner with them, so we won't be spending it alone.

Keith and I also decided this "vacation" would be a great time to get some more work on the house done. We're already halfway through a project. Which I will post. Later.

We are going to finish Christmas shopping, put up Christmas decorations, sleep in, read books, and watch movies.

But most importantly, I'm going to use these days to spend as much time with my family as possible. Games, stories, outings, arts and crafts, blanket houses.

And in between and during all that, just being together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Game Night

It now gets dark long before I leave work. The weather has been cold and wet (but fortunately no snow yet.) Between these, our ability to get outside and explore, or even take a walk around the neighborhood has been almost non-existent.

Many of our evenings have been filled with races, stories, or movies. But sometime, nothing beats a good game night.

While Roman and Dad fought it out over a very competitive game of BattleShip, I played Candyland with Blaise.

I can't believe that my "baby" is old enough to actually play a board game with me. Well, kind of.

Roman is able to set up his BattleShip board by himself, think out his coordinate calling strategy, and win a good portion of the time.

Blaise, on the other hand, is learning the ropes. After drawing a purple card, he kept insisting he be allowed to move to the purple near the end of the course. At least he knew you need to get there to win. He did tip over his piece so it was laying face down. "He doesn't want to play anymore," he said after I got the gumdrop card he had wanted. In the end, he did end up winning (completely fairly.) After a high five for winning, realization crossed over his face and he pointed at me.

"That means you lose, Mom!" He giggled loudly.

Yes, this is only the beginning. The competitive streak is alive and well.

The Lost Symbol

I am finally reading again.

Okay, let me clarify. I am reading for pleasure again. I've been reading large quantities of material over the last several months, but it is hardly what I would call recreational reading. After all, "Anesthesia Techniques for Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease" or "Cricoid Pressure Results in Compression of the Postcricoid Hypopharnx" are hardly pleasurable pursuits at the end of long day. You only think I'm joking.

It has been months since I've read a novel. I did reread the entire Harry Potter series over the summer, but I finished that in July. It's been even longer since I've reviewed a book.

What better way to start reading again than with Dan Brown?

I enjoy Dan Brown novels. They fall into my brain candy category. The stories are interesting, the actual reading easy.

The first Dan Brown novel I read was The DaVinci Code. I love this book. The story and the thoughts behind the story captivated me, and I must admit, spoke to the feminist inside of me. Not to mention make me desperate to travel to Europe.

After reading The DaVinci Code, I was excited to read Dan Brown's other books. I looked forward to The Lost Symbol.

But here is the confession.

The book disappointed me.

Since it is new book, and there may be people out there who haven't finished (or started) it yet, I won't put in any spoilers.

The first part of the book was thrilling. I will admit that. There were a few chapters where I just could not put the book down, partially because my heart was beating fast, and I had to know if things turned out okay or risk not sleeping that night.

I felt the book reached it's climax about half way through the book. I kept waiting for this amazing reveal, something that would cause my jaw to drop and my mind to reel, even just a little.

It never came.

As I reached the end of the book, it became easy to see where the story was heading. After that point, the last several chapters became tedious to get through.

Brown has a way of just slightly overstating things in his book. This would change the world. This could effect everyone. I could see that with the themes of his two previous Robert Langdon books, but with this one, I just couldn't see it. The amazing things of the book were in the research done by the main female character, and while Brown describes some of her work, he does not frame it in a way that shocks or surprises the reader.

Like The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, Brown's description of the architecture, art, and history of the settings is breathtaking and detailed. I went to Washington D.C. for a class trip in middle school and reading about the buildings and art in this novel brought back vivid memories of that trip. However, it may have been that desire to maintain historical and cultural accuracy that may have caused the story to come up lacking in the end. I felt it would have been okay to exaggerate just a tiny, tiny bit. Maybe not. Maybe that would defeat the purpose, whatever that may be.

There is also the issue of character. I can easily overlook a slightly poorly written book if I connect strongly to the characters. I do genuinely like Robert Langdon. He is a great main character: logical, sceptical, with phobias included. (Although does anyone else just keep on picturing Tom Hanks?) However, the rest of the characters are 2-dimensional. The main female character in The Lost Symbol could have been interchanged with the main female character in his other novels. Attractive, intelligent, but not much more. The villians, while especially unexpected here (althought I figured it out halfway through) are not complex, but literarily complete evil.

I do not think that The Lost Symbol was a bad book. I rather enjoyed reading (most of) it. But I felt that it fell short of its potential.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A little bit early

Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year.

When I had a retail job during college, I would go back to work the day after Thanksgiving to be welcomed by Christmas music and decorations that had been hung the night before. It was after Thanksgiving that the Christmas season started.

This year, there was a Christmas display up when we were getting candy for trick-or-treating.

I used to fight it. I would tell myself (and more importantly, Hubster) that I wasn't going to do my Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving.

There's only one problem.

I love Christmas. I love everything about it.

I would look longingly at the displays of wrapping paper, decorations, and cinnamon scented candles, but drag myself past them to continue with more practical shopping. I would hold off until after Thanksgiving, but it was always so hard.

Part of the reason for waiting is that I always thought Thanksgiving must feel left out. Yeah, the only reason you're looking forward to me is that it means shopping deals the day after. And I do love Thanksgiving as well. The traditions, the family, the hustle and noise, and candied yams and the pies. I love Thanksgiving, and it always felt like I was slighting the holiday by preparing for Christmas too early.

This year, we've started to prepare for Christmas a little earlier. We've already finished over half of our shopping. Partially because I convinced Hubster that Christmas would be so much more enjoyable if we weren't stressing out about gifts and crowded malls right before hand.

We'll still wait until after Thanksgiving to put up lights and the tree and wrap presents.

But already there is a hum in our house, the hum that Christmas is coming. And the fact that the joy and wonder of Christmas is slowly filling our home already doesn't bother me a bit.

Friday, November 13, 2009


"I imagine parenting is fairly intuitive."

This was told to me by someone who is not a parent.

I guess the statement itself would make that obvious. All I could do was stare at the person. Really? Intuitive? That would not be the first word that comes to mind when I think about parenting.

Your child has just rammed the shopping cart into a complete stranger. You put him in the shopping cart and he promptly flings out a package of tortillas, which hits another stranger in the head. What does your intuition tell you to do?

Your baby has not stopped crying for three days. You've been to the pediatrician, and everything is "fine." The crying has made it so you haven't slept for three days. What do you do?

You go running upstairs in response to a loud crash to find a dresser has been toppled over and the culprit has locked himself in the bathroom before he can be interrogated. 15 minutes later you run downstairs in response to another crash, to find another child climbing up a bookshelf and the globe in pieces below him. What are your instincts in this case?

(All of these represent true, first hand accounts of parenting. Ask me how I know.)

I feel like most of parenting has been about overcoming my instincts. I want to scream, yell, spank somebody, or just turn them into the customer service desk and say that someone really needs to keep an eye on this child. I've done more than my fair share of screaming. There have been occasional spankings. As of yet, no one has been left at a store. Maybe I'm a bad parent, but nothing about parenting has been very intuitive for me.

Well, other than thinking that my kids are cuter than everyone else's kids. Even with above mentioned stories.

I've run into people that have very well-defined parenting styles. I don't think I've been doing this job long enough to have good sense of exactly what it is I'm doing. For one thing, I knew that I was never, ever going to raise picky eaters. Because picky eaters are one of my pet peeves. And wouldn't you know it. Bug is the pickiest eater ever. He does not eat food that is red. Or things that he hasn't already had. Or things with milk. Which leaves us at French fries and....yeah.

As someone who has only been doing this for 7 years, I'm still a novice.

I listen to other people. Half the time, I feel desperate for advice. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me to please control my children, just so I can ask them earnestly, "I would love to. Please tell me how!"

Parenting styles come in more varieties than there are parents. There is no right answer. Finding a system that works is a delicate balance of multiple personalities, schedules, and plain old trial and error. There are some things that are definitely wrong. And there are things that almost always work.

One person once shared their parenting style with me. "I don't raise children. I raise adults. Just like you don't raise puppies, you raise dogs. You don't raise chicks, you raise chickens."

At first I liked this. That my parenting should be focused on instilling in my children the skills that would be most beneficial to them as adults.

But my children are not dogs or chickens. They are children. They have value in what they are right now.

I hope that I do prepare them to be amazing adults.

But I am also going to allow them to be children, and I'm going to enjoy every moment of that time I can.

Maybe it is all more intuitive than I thought.


Most of the time, I feel like our house is filled with stacks of unwashed dishes, piles of half-finished laundry, sand-filled shoes, books on the floor, paper airplanes stuck behind the couch, bouncy balls stuck behind the bookshelf, half eaten apples, untouched tuna sandwiches, too many text books, piles of junk mail, half-finished home improvement projects, unbalanced check books, missing coats, and "hurry, hurry, hurry."

But sometimes, I have a chance to clear my head, take a deep breath, and actually look.

And then I realize that our house is actually a home.

And it is filled with bedtime stories, extra marshmallows for hot cocoa, doors that open as soon as I get home, laughter, slobbery kisses, hugs around the knees, Candyland, bright shiny blue eyes, high fives for everything, jumping as high as you can, socks that slide perfectly, the chance to be a hero, stuffed animals that are real, memories, noses pressed against windows, stacks of artwork, snuggles, and love.

Oh, and a whole bunch of silliness!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Indian Summer

After an October that was the second wettest and third coldest on record, we are now enjoying delightfully warm days. Today was actually warmer than several days we had in July.

With the cloudless blue skies and warm breezes, there was absolutely no chance we were spending it indoors.

Although the first part of the day was spent raking leaves (which was been long overdue), the second part of the day was once again spent wandering along our favorite trails.

The warm weather lured us farther than we usually go. Even Blaise's normally strong little legs eventually tired out (although from the look on his face, it appears he may not have been quite as tired as he was putting on.) We can home with sore feet, tired legs, and well rested souls.

This beautiful weather is almost enough to make me forget that winter is nearly upon us. The weather forecast actually predicts that we may have just enjoyed our last nice weekend. But driving home with windows down and views like this, it is easy to imagine they will last forever.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The healing process

Years ago, someone very close to me hurt me in such a way I thought I would never recover.

I'm not going into the details, because now, years later, the details themselves mean very little.

At the time, I felt angry, betrayed, neglected, and above all very, very sad. Heartbroken.

I know that this person never intended to hurt me. I understand that the circumstances surrounding the event may not have been possible to change. Even then, I knew that most of what happened was the perfect storm of bad events.

Knowing all that, I could have forgiven the person and moved on. However, one thing prevented me from doing this. It has prevented me for years from doing this. I have carried this hurt inside for a long time and it has severely influenced my relationship with this person.

The thing that prevented me from ever getting closure was this person's refusal to acknowledge what had happened. We both knew things probably couldn't have been different. However, in this person's mind, because he couldn't change things meant he didn't have to recognize the damage it did. Every time I tried to talk about it, all I was met with was justifications and excuses and even accusations. Why couldn't I recognize that it was the best he could do, and that should be good enough for me?

I eventually stopped talking about. I eventually stopped crying about it. I eventually stopped thinking about it all the time.

But it was always there, a giant gorilla that stood in place of our relationship.

I don't want anyone to think that I have spent the last many years carrying a grudge. It is not a grudge. It is such a big event for me that I needed to talk about it, and have only been met with resistance. And because of that, I felt I have never been able to start to heal.

My least favorite movie all all times is Love Story.

I felt it was less of a love story, and more of story of people using love as an excuse to treat each other badly.

"Love means never having to say you're sorry."

I don't believe that.

I think we are only truly sorry about hurting someone we love. And admitting a wrong and truly apologizing to a loved one is one of the most difficult things to do. Being able to say sorry, and mean it... now that is love.

Many people think that an apology is just words. That it doesn't do anything to change the action that happened. It's true that it doesn't go back and erase what happened, but it is not true that it doesn't change things. A true apology can be one of the most healing things there is.

During conversations with patients and patient families regarding bad outcomes, many of them say the same thing. They knew that things probably couldn't be different. They knew everyone did their best. But still bad things happened. The one thing many of these people wanted was an apology. Just to have their physician recognize what had happened and just say they were sorry. No defensiveness, no excuses, no justifications. Just an apology.

I had long given up on an apology.

Several days, I was on the phone with this person. We were talking, as we often do, about things that are "safe." Our families, our jobs. Then, out of no where, this person said apologized. Things have been rough for a very long time. And I'm sorry for that.

It was the first time in my life I have ever heard this person say "I'm sorry."

I'm not exactly sure what the apology was for. I'm not sure it was a recognition of the hurt I have been coping with for years.

What I do know, is that now, for the first time, there is a chance to start healing.

New Trails

The leaves are pretty much gone (everywhere except out of our front yard.)

The weather has been pretty chilly.

But that hasn't stopped us from exploring new places. If the day is even remotely dry and the temperature tolerable, we are gone.

(Don't ask me what we are going to do when there is snow and below zero temperatures.)

We just found an amazing trail that goes through forests around the reservoir, complete with the huge gnarled oak trees I have fallen in love with. This trail loops down to look out over the lake.

And the loop is a perfect distance to be exercise for everyone, but still manageable for the boys.

One of the things I miss most about Utah is the fast flowing clear mountain streams that gurgle loudly. Here in Iowa, while not flat, the streams and rivers are slow, quiet, and murky. I was commenting to Keith how much I missed seeing water that I had no reservations about the boys playing in, about how much I missed those fast, sparkling streams. Then we turned a corner in the trail to come across a beautiful wood and steel bridge.

And under the bridge was a small, fast flowing clear stream, complete with two sets of small waterfalls.

I am definitely coming back here in the summer. In fact, I may not wait that long.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Plow Ahead

Oh blogesphere, how I've missed you! I've fallen woefully behind, not just in my writing, but also in reading so many of your blogs that I love so much. I've been trying to leave comments, just to let you know I really am still here, but even that has been spotty.

There are times when I really, really don't like my job.

The pre-dawn mornings, the frequent all-nighters, the constant crises, the eating every meal by myself, the potential for true disaster around every corner, the fatigue, the stress.

All of this is part of my job. I know that. I knew it before I ever decidedto go down this path. And there are days when none of it phases me. And then there are days when it overwhelms and crushes me.

Originially, when I was thinking about this post and trying to decide exactly what to say about my feelings, it was going to be a post about choice and having a say in the direction your life took.

But that is not what this post is going to be about.

There are mornings, when I wake up warm and comfortable. The sky is just turning from black to gray outside my east facing bedroom window. Hubster is sleeping next to me. The house is still. All I want to do is stay in bed next to Hubster, get a few more hours of sleep, wait for the boys to wake up and have breakfast with my family. I think to myself that maybe I'll just quit residency.

And then I think about how much I like our house. And if I quit my job, we'd have to live in an apartment again, and Hubster would have to go back to work, and then he might not be able to go to dental school like he so desperately wants to. I think all these things. Fine! I'll go to work, I yell at myself in my mind.

On one of my call nights, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. I was missing my family a little more than normal that night. It had been a busy night. Finally, at 1 am, I managed to find time to run down to the cafeteria to grab my first food of the day. The hospital was quiet, most of the lights off, all the doors to the clinics shut. All that made me feel even more sorry for myself.

Then, around the corner, I saw a man cleaning the carpet in the deserted hallway. He does it every night.

It wasn't just me working in the middle of the night. It wasn't just me away from my family. Here was a janitor, working in the dead of night, alone.

The cafeteria was staffed at 1 am by people who are also away from home. Some of these people may be working their second or third job and be away from their loved ones more than I am.

Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and plow on. The majority of us who work don't do it purely because we love our job that much. Or because we get so much personal satisfaction for what we do that we can't live without our job.

Okay, maybe some people do. I'm just saying I don't.

We go to work because we have a house and a car. We work because we need food and clothes. We go to work because people depend on us.

My views on work have completely changed since I know that I have three people back home that depend on me. I can't quit, even if it isn't exactly what I want to do (which would be sitting at home, playing with my children, and having time to read a good book.)

To be honest, my job is a pretty great job. Yes, it is exhausting. It is more demanding than many other jobs out there. Seriously, they had to implement laws to make sure residents didn't work more than 80 hours a week or 30 hours on one shift. People can be seriously injured if I have an "off" day.

But it is also a job that can be amazingly satisfying.

As long as I just have to suck it up and plow ahead, which I plan on doing, I'm glad I get to do what I do. People have it worse.