Monthly Archives: October 2012

Walking in the rain

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I love wet chilly weather best of all. Our handyman came over to fix my roommate’s leaky window today, and when I let him in and felt the cold, damp breeze I knew I had to go for a walk (I was also crawling the walls after being cooped up for two days).  I don’t actually have a raincoat (it seems like an oversight given all the rain Baltimore gets), but I pulled on my Smith hoodie and forest service jacket, and laced up my hiking boots (I have mixed feelings about hiking boots in the city, but they’re my only water-proof shoes), and ventured out to see what was left of the city after the hurricane. Everything was fine. There weren’t even downed branches- the trees still had leaves, everything was wet, but you would never think we had gotten giant school-closing weather.

I walked over to the Homewood campus, and then on a whim went down into a little park that I’ve passed a million times without a thought. It was slippery, and the path was really more of a trail, which totally validated my choice of footwear, and at the bottom there was a pot of gold. Ok, not really, it was better than that- at the bottom was the Hopkins men’s rugby team. They weren’t playing on a real pitch, there weren’t any uprights or anything, but I found their practice field, and I was very pleased and filled with Feelings. I miss rugby very much. I kind of told myself that I was done with team sports because I’m never any good, and I always end up feeling underutilized and frustrated, but I love rugby so so much.

While I was walking I wished I had a dog to walk with me. At the time a corgi in a raincoat seemed like it would be pretty terrific (there are so many good corgi names but I think if it was a boy I’d call him Bertie, and a bitch would be either Cora or Sybil), but I’m still thinking I want a toller. Tollers don’t need raincoats, and a Google Images search didn’t turn up any pictures of them wearing jackets just for fun, so that’s a shame, but I think a toller better suits my dog needs, particularly if I go to Alaska, or some other cold, remote place next year, which is my current plan.

(Ok, I’m just going to write this down so it’s out there, and because I’m thinking about it, and maybe if I say it it will come true. I don’t know where I want to do Transitions because my lease is up in May and I don’t want to renew it, but I don’t know where I want to go. After I graduate I want to work with either the Indian Health Services or National Health Services Corp. for two years so they’ll at least make a serious dent in my student loans, and then I want to go back to school, maybe full-time so it’s faster, and get my Masters in midwifery. Once I have my Masters I’d like to give a couple more years of service to pay back my new loans, and beyond that I don’t have any plans. I’ll be 30 though, which is weird, and hard to imagine, but lots of my friends are in their 30’s now and they still seem youthful, so I think it’ll be ok. That’s what I want. Now I just need to figure out how to get it, but I can do that. Pressure makes diamonds.)

Stormy weather

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School was cancelled again today (even though it’s barely even raining at this point), but I’m happy to curl up under the covers with some nursing homework, so no complaints here.

Sandy was mostly talk in Baltimore as far as I can tell- we had wind and rain, but mostly what we had was an excuse to plank around and use stuff in the freezer in case we lost power (which we didn’t). My roommates actually invited me to go with them to the store yesterday, so I bought some candles (they were out of emergency candles so I was extra glad we didn’t lose power because our apartment would have stunk to high heaven if we had to use the scented ones for light), glowsticks, and more importantly, wine (for making beef stew) and beer.

I’ve had the Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA before, but it was my first time trying The Fear. I like pumpkin beers, but this wasn’t particularly pumpkin-y. It was good though, and worked well with all the chocolate and beef stew I was eating.

The stew was exciting-I had been planning on making it for a dinner party, but the storm pushed that up a bit (I invited some friends over, but no one felt like coming through the rain). I didn’t really follow any particular recipe, but I browned the meat, and then added onions and baby carrots, wine, beef stock, flour, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper, and edamame, and potatoes.

I ladled the stew over kale, and it was delicious.

One interesting thing about my otherwise largely uneventful storm experience was that I actually hung out with my roommates. We went to the store together, and then while I was making the stew they came downstairs to make their dinners, and we all just got to talking. We ended up hanging out for almost three hours, and it was surprisingly pleasant. Granted, I don’t think things would have gone nearly as well if we hadn’t all been drinking, but that’s ok. I don’t know if it’s going to change things in the apartment at all, but we had a pleasant evening of talking, and drinking, and sharing food, and that’s enough for now.

Things will return to normal tomorrow, so I’m trying to soak up every relaxing rainy day moment that I can, while also keeping up with school stuff. It’s working out pretty well- I’m under a blanket with a cup of tea, and An Unquiet Mind (I have to read it for psych class, but at least it isn’t a textbook).

Hunkered down

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It’s possible that I underestimated this storm thing. Nothing’s happened so far, but they cancelled school for tomorrow, and Hopkins never shuts down, so I’m starting to take this a little more seriously. My friend Emily and I went to the grocery store to pick up some supplies (tonic water and Worcestershire sauce for her, candy, peanut butter, and tortilla chips for me), and it was mobbed. All the bottled water was sold out, and it was interesting to see what people were buying to have while they weather the storm (lots of chips. Maryland is stupid and doesn’t sell alcohol in the grocery stores (AND it’s Sunday, so the liquor stores are all closed- don’t they know there’s a storm coming?), but if we were in New York I imagine there would also be a run on beer).

I’m not sure what to expect. My roommate appears to have run for the hills (nothing has happened, so I’m not worried, but if it starts getting nasty I’ll text her to make sure she’s safe if she doesn’t show up. I’m not totally heartless), so I might be on my own for the storm, which is fine. Depending on how things go I’ve been invited to hang out with Emily and Scott if it’s safe to venture out, or I could invite people here, especially if we lose power and I need to cook up all the stuff in the freezer (gotta love having a gas range). I’m not scared. My worst case scenario was that it would be rainy and windy and messy and I’d still have to get to school somehow, but now that that’s taken care of I’m less worried. I’d rather not lose power because it would disrupt my studying- I was supposed to have a test tomorrow, but now it’s been pushed back, and I want to use this extra time wisely.

Happy Halloween

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Tv and movies always make Halloween seem so fun, but I usually find that it’s similar to New Year’s Eve- best when it’s left casual. I loved trick-or-treating, but ever since I aged out of that it’s been a bit of a letdown. I like passing out candy, but I’m not expecting any kids to come knock on my apartment door, so I sort of figured I’d contra dance on the actual day since it’s on a Wednesday and I always dance on Wednesdays, but I didn’t plan on anything more festive than that. Yesterday though, I had an itch to go out and have a few drinks, and be social, and as luck would have it my new-ish friend Alex invited me to a haunted house put on by the Maryland Institute College of Art. I hemmed and hawed, but in the end I chose fun, and put on my Kaylee costume and hopped on the bus (my costume earned me some odd looks- one guy asked me if I worked on cars). I was nervous about hanging out with Alex and his non-nursing friends, but to my absolute delight when I got to the bar it turned out that my friends Emily and Scott were there too, and dressed as Bill and Ted no less! My costume was very well received (a sign that I’ve found a good group of people), and we all decided that if we’re still in Baltimore next year we’ll dress up as the whole crew of Serenity.

I wish I had taken a picture after my hair dried, but you get the idea. It’s decidedly not a “sexy” Halloween costume, but I love it (also I need to clean my mirror. Yikes).

We stayed at the bar for one round, and then walked over to the haunted house. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since the website said there would be nudity, and it was being put on by an art school, but I was happy to be out with friends, so I just went with it. Unfortunately, I’m a big chicken, and it turns out haunted houses scare me. It was standard haunted house stuff- blood, screaming, smoke machines, plus a few artistic touches, like naked women with horses’ heads, and a minotaur on stilts. I didn’t like it because I don’t like being scared, and the people in my group were unimpressed because it was an $8 haunted house that we walked through in ten minutes, but that was not the point- the point was that after the haunted house we went back to the bar, and now I can say I’ve had a successful grown-up Halloween experience. I didn’t even have to stay out late, which was good, since I was wiped out from my early morning and day on the psych ward.

Still no sign of Big Bad Weather, but I broke down and bought a gallon jug of water, just in case, and if things look ominous I’ll fill the tub. I don’t think anything is going to happen, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Everyone seems to think the storm will hit and classes will be cancelled, but I think that’s a little unrealistic. What’s much more likely is that we’ll have to Brave Irene it through some nasty rain, since Hopkins is notorious for never closing (click the link! It’s Al Gore reading Brave Irene!).

On a lighter note, brussels sprouts are amazing and wonderful, and I think I love them more than kale, if that’s even possible. They haven’t had the stalks at the farmer’s market, but I bought a basket last week, and finally got around to cooking them tonight. I cooked them with apples, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, and they’re so darn tasty I want to eat them for every meal.

A storm’s a-comin’!

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I’m very lucky to have great friends, but there are still times when I find myself sitting at home nights, wishing I had someone to play with. I have great friends, but we don’t always sync up when it comes to evening fun, and tonight I want to get into Halloween shenanigans and maybe get a little drunk, but my friends are unavailable. I have an offer from a new friend, but I feel a little shy. It won’t stop me from going, but I do wish I had some back-up.

There’s a hurricane brewing, and while I might lose power, and I don’t have any bottled water, I’m more nervous about possibly being trapped with my roommates (they have storm supplies- they went on a special storm prep grocery run. I’m choosing to resent them for not inviting me even though I don’t have a car despite the fact that I doubt I’d have gone, just because I don’t like them so they’re automatically wrong). I’ve weathered storms before, so I’m not worried about the weather. We had lots of big scary storms over the summer, and I grew up in Buffalo, home of storms, so I think I can handle what’s coming (especially since it might just be some rain. Or nothing), but I mostly get by by avoiding them, and that will be difficult if we’re thrown together by extreme weather. I also have lots of food in the freezer, and I’ll be sad if we lose power and I have to find a way to cook like ten pounds of meat. It would be a fun premise for a party, but I’m not sure people will be leaving their houses so much if things get hairy. I have flashlights though, and an iron will, so I’m sure things will be ok.

What what what am I doing?

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Standing by myself in the dark chilly fog at 5:20 this morning with fields on three sides was kind of novel, sort of like being in the beginning of a horror movie, but it’ll be less fun when it’s freezing cold. Heck, it’ll be less fun tomorrow morning when I have to do it again- it’s the kind of experience that’s only fun once, and not even really then. I don’t have any choice though, since no one in my clinical group lives near me to carpool. On one hand I’m sure it’s somehow building character, but on the other I kind of hate myself for waiting so long to get a license and then not buying a car. The hospital is literally four miles away, it would take fifteen minutes to drive there, but because past-Caroline didn’t feel like learning to drive present-Caroline has to drag herself out of bed at 5:00 to get to clinical.

I started my psych rotation this morning, and while I think I’ll like it, and it’ll be more exciting than boring old med/surg nursing it opened my eyes to some misconceptions I’ve been holding. Part of me has sometimes wondered if being in a psych ward is actually all that bad. I’ve seen Cuckoo’s Nest, and Girl, Interrupted, and I’ve read the eating disorder books and blogs, but I always kind of thought it would be a relaxing escape- you read, you nap, you talk about your feelings- it sounded a little like being at Smith, but without all the pesky classes and assignments. I’ve also wondered about my mental health from time to time, and wondered if there might be something a little wrong with me (just in a navel-gazing way, I’ve never thought there was anything seriously wrong, but I also thought of psych wards as spas, so I was clearly at least a little out of touch with reality). As it turns out, I was wrong, and while the nursing staff at my hospital is nothing like Nurse Ratched, it isn’t the pleasant place I imagined. The patients do get to read, nap, and talk about their feelings, but they’re also really sick, and I feel guilty for ever thinking that it might be fun to be held in a place against my will because people think I might be a danger to myself or others. Psych wards aren’t vacations.

I’ve sort of wondered if I might be interested in some psych nursing after school (I was a psych major in Undergrad), but I have a long way to go, since it’s very different from other kinds of nursing. There’s less mess (so far, don’t hold me to that), but it isn’t a walk in the park by any means. I shadowed a nurse today, and she spent the entire shift putting out fires (not literally, thank goodness). I sometimes struggled to connect with non-psych patients, but the ones on my new floor present a whole new slew of challenges. Facial expressions are very important, and patience is crucial. I’m already worried that my patients will hurt my feelings, which shouldn’t happen, and can’t impact how I treat them, but feels slightly inevitable knowing how thin-skinned I can be. I’m excited though, and I already adore my instructor (she’s the opposite of my previous instructor. Just based on first impressions I think psych nurses are more touchy-feely than their med/surg counterparts).

This waking up early thing is for the birds- it’s barely after 6:00 and I’m already thinking about bed. Today took a lot out of me- I had leftovers from last night’s dinner waiting for me in the fridge, but instead I treated myself to junky Chinese food, hard cider (I can’t tell if hard cider is acceptable or shameful, but I love it. It’s like juice that gives you a buzz!), and zombies. I also broke my streak of eating dinner at a table. I’ll start again tomorrow (probably), but some meals are made to be eaten in more casual settings, and Chinese food straight from the carton is a perfect example.

Just for fun

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I haven’t posted my meals in ages, so just for fun, here’s my dinner from tonight. I’ve been making an effort to improve myself by cooking more and eating at the table instead of my room, and I’ve managed to eat dinner downstairs every night this week (if you count popcorn as dinner, which I did last night). It’s a little thing, but I think it’s important.

Tonight’s dinner was kind of meh. I was in the mood to experiment, so I cooked up some chicken pieces in apple cider vinegar and garlic, but it was bland bland bland. It was nicely moist, and the garlic turned blue for some reason, which was kind of neat in a gross way, but it was a dull meal. The kale and potato were good, but it was a Wednesday night kind of dinner- relatively quick, but nothing special.

Promises promises

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In 70 days I’ll turn 24. That’s pretty old. On the bright side, my life is super awesome, so it’s not like I’ve been wasting the past 23 years (Walking Dead marathons not withstanding- good thing I never wanted to sleep again now that my brain is full of zombies). Honestly, 24 isn’t that old though, which I’ve learned from having friends of all ages- most of my nursing friends are in their late 20’s/early 30’s and they all seem about as young as I am, just more together, so if you get to stay fun but stop having popcorn for dinner and do your laundry on a regular basis then I say bring it on. If that’s what getting older is like then sign me up.

I would like to run 100 miles before my birthday. It seems do-able- I like to do between three and five mile runs, sometimes more if I’m with someone else, so that’s like twenty-five runs in seventy days. I can do that.

Rolling back down the hill

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I love nursing school- I really do, but it’s kind of killing me. I feel like I’m constantly running to put out academic fires, and while I’m happier here than I’ve been in a long time I also can’t wait for it to be over so I can just be a nurse. I’m learning lots of stuff on how to do that, but I’m really struggling to demonstrate this knowledge on tests. Adult Health may be over, but Research has decided to step up to the plate and kick my ego while it’s down for a bit. I beat Adult Health though, so I know I can lick this too (it doesn’t hurt that there are four tests and they’re only worth 15% of my grade).

Surgeries this week were wicked cool. I don’t want to be a surgical nurse, but it was great seeing some guts. I was primarily there to see what surgical nurses do (it’s a lot of fetching stuff and taking notes) and not to look at guts but they were right there on the table, so I at least got a peek. I shadowed one nurse the whole time, and she was the least sentimental person I think I’ve ever met (she was very nice, but she didn’t have any romantic ideals about nursing). She did tell me all about the nice financial part of nursing though, which is a reassuring thought for a poor student like myself-someday I will make a good living. Of course there will be loans to repay, and these nurses have been working for 20+ years, so they make more than I will, but hopefully in the next…5 years I’ll be able to do fun stuff like see a movie from time to time, or go to Scotland.

I still haven’t talked to the Transitions coordinator, but I’m not too worried. I’d kind of like to go to Boston, and establish a relationship with a hospital there and get a job after graduation, or maybe work in some really rural area, like Appalachia, or go to Alaska. There are lots of things that would make me happy. I do still like the idea of going back to Western New York, but maybe it can wait a little while longer. Part of me is worried that if I just move back I’ll never leave and do all the kickass stuff I had planned, and that led me to spend all the dollars on a fancy schmancy Hopkins nursing degree. I want to do all that stuff, but I feel like it’s almost similar to going for a run- I’ll be glad once I get going, but getting out the door is the hardest part.

Speaking of running, my friend Jen invited me to join her for a run with the Baltimore branch of Back on My Feet tomorrow. I’ve read about Back on My Feet in Runner’s World, and it sounds like a terrific organization (it’s a running club for homeless people). Jen has done it a couple of times and says it’s great, so I’m excited to try it myself.

 

 

Catching up

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I’m done with Adult Health! (Kind of, not really! I still have to have passed the final (which went…ok. I’m hesitant to say more than that since so many of the questions are instinct and not knowledge-driven), and I have two more clinical days, but I’m done with lecture!) After the test the course coordinator kept my clinical group back and told us that our instructor will not be returning (it’s kind of a long story, but she was deemed “not a good fit”), so instead of wrapping up on our infectious diseases floor this week we got to observe surgeries! I’m very excited.

After hearing the good surgery news I came home and lived up to my promise to myself with ice cream and Sherlock. I won’t give anything away, but it was very good. Not quite Scandal in Belgravia good, but very good nonetheless. There may have even been some tears (not that that means much, since you can tell me it looks like rain and my eyes will fill up). It was 100% worth waiting for, and holding off for a special occasion was the right way to go. It’s a little silly after all of these years, but I’ve never gotten over my deep love for British men. French guys look like mice, and my summer working with international teenagers turned me off of Italian guys forever, but my love for the Brits has never wavered. There’s a corner of my mind that would love to take my midwifery show on the road and move to the U.K. and settle down with Martin Freeman.

British men are all hobbits, right?

While I was watching Sherlock my roommate knocked on my (closed) door and asked me to keep my door closed. *major sigh and eyeroll* Both of my roommates have now asked me to keep my door closed at all times because of Flora, and while it’s a little thing I resent it anyway. It just so happens that I don’t like the way their scented candles smell (if I wanted my home to smell like a mall I’d…no, there’s no reason to ever want your home to smell like a mall. A lot of people would disagree with me, but I think most scented candles smell tacky and gross), but I would never ask them to always keep their doors closed. It’s rude, and I’m debating whether I should passive aggressively leave my door open tonight when I go dancing, just to be a jerk. It’s so tempting, but I don’t think I will, more out of a desire to avoid more conversations about how I ruin the apartment than out of maturity.

I have too many awesome options for this Saturday, and I can only do one. Technically I could do two, but I have a pharm test and part of a research project due next week, so I need to accomplish a lot this weekend. It’s hard to make up my mind though! Option #1: Johns Hopkins men’s rugby game (pros: rugby! men’s rugby! I haven’t seen men’s rugby since May, and I love it so! Cons: watching other people have fun while standing on the sidelines). Option #2: free contra dance on Saturday night (pros: dancing! It’s even on a non-school night, so I can stay the whole time AND my friends have said they’ll come, and maybe if they like it they’ll come with me more often! Plus, you never know, there might be cute people I could flirt with (this is also a possibility at the rugby game, though neither is actually likely. There might be cute people, but I’m almost guaranteed to not flirt with them). Cons: I’m already going dancing tonight. How much contra dancing do I really need? Why is all of my free time spent contra dancing? What’s wrong with me?). Option #3: Indian Party at the School of Nursing (pros: I’m not going to lie, this is not my first choice. There’s free dinner, and my friend who invited me said we could wear Indian outfits, but she didn’t say if we have to supply our own, and I don’t have a sari just hanging in my closet waiting for this kind of event. On the other hand, I never hang out with this friend and it would be fun to spend some time together. Cons: It doesn’t sound as fun and tailored to my interests as the other options). My problems are kind of awesome.