Monthly Archives: July 2012

The new normal


I’m going home in less than a week, and while I’m super excited to see my parents, and do fun Buffalo summer stuff, I’m not looking forward to walking into my house and not having my cat be there to greet me. I’m actually kind of worried about how sad I’ll feel being at home without her- she had such a large presence, and when I was home she usually stuck pretty close. She would beg from me at the table (or sit on the table and watch me eat if I was by myself), and sit with me while I watched movies, and sleep with me in my bed, and now I have to do those things without her, and it makes me sad. I may need to switch things around and sit and sleep and eat in different places.

On a happier, better-adjusted note, I went over to my friends Scott and Emily’s apartment yesterday, and Scott showed me how to make cucumber salad. It was a little strange at first- Emily called me in the morning and invited me over to hang out with Scott while she went out and studied, which didn’t make a ton of sense since I don’t know Scott very well, but I’m very glad I went, because it was a nice time. We made salad (it isn’t rocket science, it’s just cucumbers, vinegar, garlic, and yogurt, but it is tasty), and then Emily came home and we had soup, and watched Avatar: The Last Airbender. I had never seen it before, and they’re in the middle of the series, so it was a little confusing, but it’s very good. More than the soup and tv though, I loved spending time with such pleasant people. They’re great on their own, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to hang out with Scott one-on-one, but together they’re just adorable. They tell stories together, and sing in rounds, and they’re very happy and in love in a way that makes them nice to be around. It was a very laidback evening, just sitting on their couch, watching cartoons and passing around a jar of cookie butter, but it made me really happy.


Out last night


I actually went out last night! To a bar! With youths! It was a classmate’s birthday, and he invited me, so even though it was largely people I don’t know (he’s in 201, I’m in 101, he had a star on his belly and eats his bread butter-side down, and I don’t want any of that business) I decided to push out of my comfort zone a bit and go have a beer. It was a little anxiety-producing, and I had to take two buses, but I’m very glad I went, because now I think I have a new friend. I love other girls’ boyfriends- they make the best buddies. Growing up I always wanted brothers (and now I have one!), because guys are fun, and when you take the dating element out I get along with them really well, but when there’s any whisper of anything other than friendship I clam up and get nervous and self-conscious, so I like them to be dating other people, just to eliminate the weirdness. Lucky for me, lots of my classmates have boyfriends and husbands, so I get to chat, and joke, and play around to my heart’s content. I even played beer pong last night, for the first time in AGES, and it was actually super fun. I didn’t drink very much, since I didn’t have time to go to the gym and eat dinner, and I really wanted to get a workout in, and I know not to drink on an empty stomach, and I have to run today, and I didn’t have a clear plan on how I was getting home, so I had to keep my wits about me, and I didn’t know the people I was with very well so I didn’t want to drink too much, and I never really get drunk (lots of reasons!), but I still had a good time. Everyone else had been drinking for hours by the time I showed up, and the party didn’t really break up until around 1:00, but it was very laid-back and fun, and not immature and gross the way parties can sometimes get. It was nice to break out of the routine a bit, and stay out late with friends. I like my life, but it doesn’t hurt me to act my age sometimes, and 23-year olds go out to bars and have hijinks.

Getting better


And now comes the hanging in part. The part where I’m still sad, but I’m also managing. I haven’t cried all day, which was a step, and I’m ready to reintroduce non-pickle vegetables into my diet. Ice cream is no longer a viable dinner option, and when people ask me how it’s going I say I’m ok, because they’re not actually asking about Lancaster, it’s just a greeting.

I had my last Health Assessment class today, and because I’m super duper impressionable, now I want to get into Forensic Nursing too. I’m just adding it to the list, which includes Midwifery and Public Health Nursing, since everything sounds exciting and awesome. The thing is, they do all tie together, and I think I would be a better midwife if I had a better understanding of public health, and if I was really good at identifying and helping victims of domestic violence. I’d be Super Midwife! I need to talk to my adviser though, especially since my schedule is sort of up in the air still, since I haven’t heard back on whether I made the cut into the Birth Companions class yet.

We had a party today to celebrate the last day of lab, and I brought rhubarb cupcakes. If I had asked anyone they would have told me rhubarb cupcakes weren’t a good idea, but I didn’t, so this morning I found myself with a dozen leaden little cakes, and a giant vat of soupy rhubarb buttercream icing. It was bad, and I got a little angry, but I had promised to bring something, and I didn’t have a Plan B, so I chucked them into a foil-lined shoebox and washed my hands of the whole thing. In theory. In actuality I spent the whole day fretting and apologizing to people for my failure, since my cracks show more when I’m under stress, and so I’ve been even more neurotic than usual this week, but I knew there wasn’t anything to be done about the cupcakes, and I tried to accept that.

My diet has been truly terrible all week, and so today when I got home I decided to pull myself out of my funk with vegetables and spiciness. I got a cabbage in my CSA basket last week, and it’s been niggling in the back of my mind, begging to not be forgotten and left to rot in my crisper in the manner of other cabbages I’ve known, so I pulled it out and turned it into slaw.

It doesn’t look like much, but it was cabbage with a couple of teeny CSA carrots, and green onions, with sriracha, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar, on a tortilla with homemade refried beans (for some protein, which has also been lacking in my all-sweets diet this week). Delicious. It could probably use some more heat, but it’s sitting in the fridge now, soaking up all the flavors, so it’ll be even nicer tomorrow for lunch.




I got halfway down the block on my way to contra dancing tonight before I realized that I didn’t feel at all like dancing and came home. Part of me thinks I should have tried to go, and forced myself out of my head, but I’ve tried dancing when I’m sad and it isn’t fun for anyone, so I get a pass on this week. It might have helped me feel better- a couple of times today when I got caught up in things I found myself having fun and not thinking about Lancaster, but then it hits me again and suddenly I’m crying on the bus or in patho lecture (although having my instructor ask in class if anyone has a cat, on today of all days, was just cruel). I figured out yesterday that eating ice cream for dinner doesn’t help, but does give me a stomachache,  so I should probably, you know…not eat ice cream for dinner, but I did again today anyway. I’ve also eaten an entire jar of pickles in the past 24 hours, some of the only vegetables I’ve consumed, but pickles, unlike ice cream, never make me feel sick, so I’m not worrying myself about it. My friend Judy told me she’s done the grief-fueled pickle binge too, so maybe it’s a thing. Maybe it’s replacing electrolytes we lose crying or something.

I registered for Fall Semester today. I didn’t get the one class I really really wanted (it might be for the best though. I’ve spent an awful lot of time thinking about eating disorders, and working on an ED floor might be too much for me. They’re dark and scary disorders, and my interest makes me feel guilty), which was a huge drag, but I think it’ll be a good semester anyway. I’m going to be on an HIV/AIDS floor for the first half, and then working on some mystery psych ward for the second half (the website is vague). I also worked on my ethics board poster, but I think it needs some polishing since “vote for me because I want this position” lacks flair. I do want the position though.

My classmate came to school utterly wiped out this morning because she and her boyfriend adopted a dog yesterday. She claims it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, but I don’t fully believe her, since it was so very poorly thought out, and they’re bringing him back because he isn’t a good fit for a couple with a tiny apartment who are never home. On one level it really bothered me that they could be so casual about adopting and then returning a pet, but I know taking him back is the responsible thing for them to do, and I recognize that my emotions surrounding animals are a little extreme at the moment. Part of me wants to run to the nearest shelter and adopt a kitten right now, or better yet, get a dog, but I know I can’t give into that urge.

Every time I turn on my phone I see a picture of Lancaster. I’m really conflicted on the issue- should I take it down? It feels a little morbid, not to me, but like an outsider might see it that way. I hate the idea of changing it, but I seriously feel sad every time I see it. All of her pictures look so solid, and real, it’s impossible to totally accept that I won’t see her again. I keep thinking of things as though they weren’t final, as if I could go back to a few weekends ago and go to Buffalo and see her a last time. “If I had gone then”, I think to myself, in a butterfly-flapping-its-wings way, “would she still be gone now?”. It would have cost hundreds of dollars to fly, but I never looked up bus or train fares, and I keep thinking that it’s something that if I can figure out I can fix. It doesn’t make any sense, but I can’t shake the feeling that this has all been a mistake, or worse, a terrible unfunny joke. It doesn’t make sense that I should miss her so much more now than I did when she was far away from me in Buffalo instead of far away and gone, but I really really do.

Sign offs went well today. I mixed insulin, and injected pretend morphine into a model bottom, and poured malox into a cup (yes, that was part of my test. pouring out a measure of liquid. I also tapped pills out of a bottle!), and gave a model vagina a straight catheter. I was less nervous today than I’ve been for other sign-offs, and it was almost a non-event, but now I’m one final closer to the end of the semester. My hard tests are all next week, so I need to regain my ability to study, but I’m having a hard time concentrating.

I wish I had someone here. My friends have been lovely, truly, but I’m more ok during the day, and I need someone at night when I’m extra glum and inclined to plank around OkCupid talking to people I have no interest in meeting in real life. It’s times like these that make getting a puppy seem sane, if these online people are my only other option.

You are my grey cat


My sweet, beautiful, wonderful cat died Monday night. I wasn’t there, but from what my mom said, it was peaceful, and on her own terms, so I take some comfort in that. If things had ended before I think I would have wondered if there was more that could have been done, but it happened naturally because it was just her time. She was ready.

It’s still kind of hitting me, and I’m not sure how long it will take before I fully understand that this death thing is forever. Part of me is struggling to believe that she is really gone, and I’ll never see her again. I knew it was coming, and the scare a couple of weeks ago actually really helped ease me into the grieving process, and made it a little easier. People sometimes get impatient with me for being unrealistic and thinking life should have a point, like in a book or movie, and things should happen for a reason, but I really thought when she rallied she would hold on until I got home so I could say goodbye and be with her in the end, and it’s hard to accept that things just don’t always work out that way. It’s hard, since I’m going home so soon, and if she had just waited a little bit longer I could have seen her, but I wouldn’t want her to suffer for a single minute, and if it was time then it was time. I know she was sick, and I know she was old, so I can’t be too sad that she’s beyond hurting now, although I already miss her terribly. I keep thinking about the last time I saw her, before I moved to Baltimore. I had stripped my bed, so we slept snuggled on my sleeping bag, and she stayed there the next morning as we packed up. I gave her a kiss, and told her that I loved her, and to be good, and that I would see her at Thanksgiving, and then after I went downstairs I ran back up to say goodbye and kiss her again. Even though I wasn’t with her in the end, I have to believe that in her little kitty mind she understood that she was so very loved, and not just by me, but by our whole family. And that helps.

I didn’t have classes today, so I was able to fall apart a bit, and cry, and try to figure out what if anything could help me feel better. I went swimming, and ate ice cream, and listened to the David Sedaris essay about his cat dying, and napped, and so far none of those things have really helped, but they pass the time. I played “You Are My Sunshine” on the mandolin over and over until I got it perfect, and that did help a little. Music is tricky right now though- sad songs are a bad idea, so no bluegrass really (I can’t listen to “You Are My Sunshine” but playing it is ok for some reason), but Avenue Q is acceptable, as is The Book of Mormon. Popcorn makes me cry. What I really need to do is study, but my laptop is still in the shop, which makes it even harder to get things done.

It’s obviously too early to think about these things, but I’m already worrying about future pets. I can’t stand the idea of getting another cat. It could be magical and wish-granting, and voiced by Bing Crosby and I know I wouldn’t love it as much as I loved Lancaster, but the idea of never having another cat is terrible too. It’s problematic, especially since the thing I think would make me feel better would be kitty cuddles, but I only want Lang, and that’ll never happen again. I don’t see a solution, but it’s still very fresh, so I suppose I just have to give it time.

For now, I can take comfort in remembering good times with my girl. We had a great run, and I loved her so much that there are plenty of them to reflect on. She was such a great cat- beautiful, funny, silly, bossy, affectionate, and sweet, and I feel very lucky to have had as much time with her as I did.



When a person has appendicitis they’re in a whole lot of pain, but when their appendix bursts inside of them they temporarily feel better (until they start going into septic shock). Unfortunately, my computer is the same way, and now it’s having the computer equivalent of multi-system organ failure. I’m hoping tech support can bring it back, but I know next to nothing about computers, so I’m not sure if that will be possible. If it was a person it would probably die.

This weekend is going entirely too fast, and I’m starting to worry about the next two weeks. Things are about to start happening very quickly, and it’s a very bad time to have a sick laptop. It was so bad this morning that I packed up my stuff and hiked over to the library to hole up for the day. Unfortunately, the library doesn’t open until 1:00 on Sundays in the summer, so that was a little pointless, and I ended up studying in the gym for three hours. The gym at Smith actually had study spaces, but if the Hopkins gym does I couldn’t find them, so I just sat on a bench in the hallway and tried to tune out the sound of boys running stairs. I considered taking the bus down to the School of Nursing, but I wasn’t sure if it was open, and I knew I wanted to work out, so I stuck with my bench until 12:00 and then rowed for 500 meters as a warm-up, and ran some intervals on the treadmill. It wasn’t that bad actually, and it was good to feel like I was actually achieving something, since my studying wasn’t going as well as I had hoped. When all else fails though, even a bad run is a good run, and a good one is great.

After my workout I went to the library and was fairly productive, but I don’t like working in libraries. I stuck with it for as long as I could, and tried to copy a lot of things down in case my computer was totally kaput (it’s hanging on for the purpose of blogging, but it’s coughing, and keeps telling me it wants to shut down), and then came home. I’m feeling a little glum, truth be told, and I wish I could just jump ahead past finals. It isn’t the tests- I realized today that I’m weirdly excited to really dive into my Patho studying, I’m just also very tired.

Possible, not practical


Because I signed up so late in the game I feel like I have to go to the gym a whole lot between now and the end of the semester (August 3) to get my money’s worth. I paid for unlimited classes too, so I need to Spin as much as possible, and maybe check out their yoga offerings, but as long as I’m in the building, getting sweaty, I’m going to view it as a victory.

Caroline B. and I went to the gym together last night, which I thought was kind of nice. She drives to the gym, which I think is a little silly and not green (we live about…four blocks away. Maybe five), but the sky was threatening, and it was hot, so I could appreciate her logic. She did her own thing, and I went to Spin, which was pleasantly hard. It’s been a long time since my last Spin class, but it felt great, though the saddles are the most uncomfortable things ever. Class ended around 7:15, and I decided that I was going to try to make contra dancing at 8:00, so I ran through the shower when we got home (I invited Caroline to come with me, but no one will ever come with me ever, so I’m going to stop asking. I have a grand old time by myself anyway), grabbed a quick supper to eat on the road (half a tortilla with hummus and cucumber), and ran out the door with wet hair.

I think I missed the first dance, but I jumped right in as soon as I got in, and had another wonderful night of dancing. People are starting to remember my name, and I do think I’m improving, even if that just means I can follow a strong partner and lose my balance less. I love waltzing. I made a waltzing Pandora station, and I’ve tried practicing by myself in the kitchen, but I don’t think it’s that helpful. Listening to waltzes might help, since it gives me a better sense of the rhythm, but I want someone to dance with so I can practice the turns and tricks.

I was exhausted by the end of the night, but it was a very, very happy kind of exhaustion. I’m not sure whether I’ll do Spin and dancing next week, but it’s nice to know that I can if I feel so inclined. Wednesdays are my favorite night, but Thursdays are my longest days, so it’s a balancing act.

Taking the plunge


I have a gym membership! …kind of. Prompted by the heat, I decided to bite the bullet and pay for my school gym membership so I could run on a treadmill instead of on the surface of the sun that they’re calling the streets of Baltimore. A friend had told me that we could sign up for the year whenever, but when I got to the gym it turned out that I could only get a summer membership, which at this point, with two weeks left in the semester seemed a little silly, but I didn’t let that stop me. Two weeks of access to weights, and spinning classes, and a pool will be well worth it. I’ll have to sign up again in the fall, but I’m honestly just excited at the prospect of seeing young people outside of the school of nursing. The Homewood campus is abuzz with high school students right now, but in the fall there will be slightly more grown-up people, and even though I’ve never made friends at the gym before, it’s nice just to see some unfamiliar faces and remember there’s life outside of nursing school.



The two things I’ve been most dreading this semester are at my door, and I still don’t want to believe it. One of them shouldn’t present any issue- I have to write a three page book report, but my instructor wants it to be written in a very specific and awful way (“The purpose of this paper is…”), and I really need to do well, and those things add up to anxiety and dragging of feet. The other thing is my med math test, which I’ve been worrying about since I received my admission letter. I am not a math person. I’m actually the anti-math person, and I need to get a 90 or better in order to pass. It doesn’t go into my class grade, and there are opportunities to retake it if I do fail, but I don’t want to fail. I want to take it once and get it over with, but it freaks me out, and I hate it.

I finally finished my red beans and rice last night, but by the end I was so sick of them I could barely stand it. In an attempt to avoid that kind of food exhaustion in the future I tried to think of something I could realistically eat every day, and I came up with burritos. Burritos are quick, and easy, and they can be healthy, and so this week’s protein was refried beans.

I suspect refried beans are one of those things that would be cheaper to buy than make, but buying a can of beans only takes a couple of seconds (not counting the time spent walking to the store), and I had a paper to put off writing, and dosage calculations to avoid studying, so that wouldn’t have worked. Besides, making my own refried beans was easy and delicious! I put a cup of dried beans and half a pot of water on to boil, and once it boiled I brought it down to a simmer, and then went upstairs to do homework for the next two hours (because while I am a procrastinator I’m not crazy, and I’ve been working hard on my dreaded projects all weekend). This next part of the recipe is optional, but I forgot about the beans until I smelled them burning, at which point I ran downstairs and dumped them into a colander to see if they were salvageable. I rinsed them off, and because they didn’t look too bad I decided that they were good to go, and put them in more water and left them to cook for another 45 minutes, and went back to my books. When they were just about done I chopped up two onions and sauteed them in olive oil until they were clear and smelled heavenly. I drained the beans, and tossed them in with the onions, and because I don’t have a potato masher I smooshed them with the back of a spoon as best as I could. I added a half cup of water, and some shredded cheddar cheese, and took them off heat. They looked pretty good at that point, so I put them into a tupperware, but I wondered if I could make them creamier, so I pulled out my roommate’s magic bullet and ladled an experimental scoop of beans in, just to see if it would work. I was worried they might liquify too much and turn into refried bean soup, but blending made them even more delicious, so I did the whole batch, and came out with better-than-canned beans! As I’m typing this I’m wondering whether they might be improved with a dash of Tabasco, but they’re darn tasty as they are now. Will I always make my own refried beans? I don’t know. It’s pretty easy and rewarding, but so is opening a can of premade beans. I would recommend that people at least try making their own, just so they have a point of comparison, because they’re very nice. I know life can get crazy though, and I actually bought a bread product for the first time since I’ve lived in Baltimore (I’m pretty sure) this week because sometimes you just don’t feel like standing in front of a skillet for an hour making your own tortillas.

I’m not going to lie and tell you I wouldn’t have enjoyed this more if I had made the tortilla myself, but it was still delicious (whole wheat tortilla with homemade refried beans, brown rice, kale, cheddar cheese, and yogurt).



What sounds better, a class on complementary and alternative medicine in healthcare, or a class on family violence? I could see how both would fit with midwifery and underserved populations. Of course, the elective of my dreams has to be the class on breastfeeding, but I’m going to have to have a quick trigger finger on registration morning if I want to get in, and I want back-ups.

Electives aside, I’m going to be taking Pharmacology, Psych/Mental Health Nursing, Nursing Care for Older Adults Across the Continuum, and Research Process in Nursing. My plate is going to be Thanksgiving-levels of full, but I’m excited. I’m really looking forward to psych nursing, what with my degree in psych and all.