Monthly Archives: January 2013

Another first

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It’s a little embarrassing, but today was the first time I’ve checked my mail in the new place. The leasing agent gave me a bunch of keys, and I figured the little gold key would belong to the little gold lock on my mailbox, but it didn’t fit. None of the keys fit. I bent the heck out of the keyhole, and nearly broke several keys trying to get it open, but nothing worked. Eventually I kind of gave up, but important things come through the mail, so I knew I’d have to deal with it sooner or later, and put in a work order. There was some quality stuff in there though (no electric bill, which was what prompted me to take action in the first place, but I don’t mind that so much), and I love getting mail, so I’m glad I straightened that out.

I just signed up for unlimited drop-in fitness classes at the gym ($45 for the semester, which is pretty reasonable), but to offset that additional expense I didn’t grocery shop last week. It worked out- I had plenty of food, and there were free onions last week at contra dancing (I didn’t go last night because it was raining too hard. I made it about two blocks before deciding that dancing for three hours in soaking wet jeans wouldn’t be comfortable), so I ate lentils, and made more stir fry (I love it so much. Look out kale- cabbage is climbing the Favorite Vegetable Charts!), and it’s fine. My milk went bad, which was unfortunate (on several levels- waking up to a mouthful of bad milk is very eye-opening, but not in a good way), but I’ve been managing with grapefruits for breakfast. The biggest hurdle I’ve encountered is my intense, crippling addiction to sugar. It’s bad. I have graham crackers, but they aren’t cutting it, and I’m trying to make them last, so I’ve been struggling. I don’t have a microwave, so mug cookies are out, but I tried to make one last night in the oven. It was pretty bad- I overcooked it, so it was dry, and I just made up the recipe, and it didn’t work at all, but I ate it anyway because waste is bad and I really wanted something sweet. 003(It looks kind of nice, but it was super dry and heavy.)

I need to get excited about food again. I wish I had a food processor so I could make baba ganoush.

Oh honey

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Part of not being a hermit now that I live on my own is going out and seeing the world outside of nursing school from time to time. Sometimes this means chilling with friends, but my friends are busy people, so sometimes it means going out on my own. Last night was one of those nights- we have a test on Monday, so everyone was busy studying, but I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting in my apartment all night, putting my pajamas on at 7:30, and lumping the night away- I wanted to go out. As it happened, there was a stand-up night at the Homewood campus, so I walked over. It was a perfect night- cold, but not too cold, and quiet, since everyone in Baltimore closes up shop and hibernates if snow sticks. The auditorium was packed, which I took to be a good sign, but I soon realized that that was misleading, as I sat through an hour and a half of truly terrible comedy. There were jokes about airport security, and how Baltimore is full of black people who say and do the darndest things, and of course the requisite ginger kid jokes, but more often than not they didn’t tell jokes at all, and just said stupid, unfunny things. I kept flashing back to Marshall from How I Met Your Mother’s fish jokes, these kids were so bad. I don’t have a ton of experience with stand up comedy, but it was interesting to see their influences- one guy wanted so hard to be Jim Gaffigan, and another kid went all in with his attempt to channel Chris Rock, but it just wasn’t there. It was better than sitting at home though, so successful night out!

One of the reasons I like living near the undergrad campus is because I get to take advantage of all the college-y perks. I go to the university gym, which it turns out is slightly more expensive than other gyms, and is full of undergrads who take up all the machines, and I study at the student center, and could theoretically go to free campus stuff, though last night was the first time I did that. It was dark in the auditorium, so I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure I’m too old for college stuff. You’re never too old to learn, but there is such a thing as college-age, and I’m past it. People started to leave before the show was over, and as I sat there watching girls in Uggs and tights walk past I was struck by how young they looked. My clinical group went into an elementary school to do hearing tests a few weeks back, and if you had slapped a kilt and tie on them, the kids last night would’ve fit right in. It was a little depressing, sitting there in the dark, by myself, surrounded by kids, and it made me feel a little bad about passing judgement on their terrible routines, but it was also weirdly reassuring. I do not miss college. It was fun, and young men are very handsome at that age (although that’s becoming less true too- their faces are taking on a babyishness that I didn’t see when I was their age), but they never change out of their pajamas. It’s nice knowing that I’m past that, though a part of me hopes that last night was a fluke- it’ll be time for spring a cappella shows soon.

A kid in a candy store

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I had a very fulfilling clinical experience today. Lots of people don’t care for psych nursing, but I love it. I think it’s very rewarding, even though there aren’t any quick fixes, and every patient is a psych patient when you get right down to it. It can be hard, and troubled kids are especially challenging, but as soon as I heard my patient’s profile in preconference this morning I knew I wanted her. I even passed up an opportunity to shadow in the NICU, just so I could work with her. The nurses on the floor hate getting psych cases, and none of my classmates felt particularly drawn to the case, but I felt like I could help. We got out early because it was supposed to snow, so I didn’t get to spend that much time with her, but it still felt like a solid day.

On the way home my friend Jesse and I stopped by this enormous Asian grocery store. He had mentioned it to me before, but it’s near the hospital, and so far away from where I live, and I had never been there before. We went on a whim, and I didn’t have my wallet, so I didn’t buy anything, but I had a lot of fun looking. They had all kinds of interesting produce- roots, and unusual fruits, and an entire mushroom section, and tons of dried fish (and a large fresh fish section). I could have stayed and browsed for ages- I wish I knew how to cook with all of those fascinating ingredients. I don’t know what to do with lotus roots, or freeze-dried squid, and I’m not sure I’d like it, but I would like to try. I didn’t get the chance to browse through the seaweed aisle, but I want to go back sometime and check it out- I’ve wanted to make seaweed bread since I read Catching Fire. The whole place was just awesome, and they have lychee jello shots! I almost caved and asked Jesse to spot me so I could get them, but he was being all hardcore and buying exotic stuff like a pro and I didn’t want to buy candy in a jar shaped like a teddy bear in front of him. It isn’t really jello season anyway, which made me feel a little better- if it was summer I would’ve just swallowed my pride and enjoyed some lychee jello-y goodness.

Come hither

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I finally got back to contra dancing last night, and it turned my whole week around (ok, not really, but this hasn’t been a great week. It would take more than a few hours of dancing to do that). It was a great time though, and I’m going to try to get back in the habit of going. There was one dance in particular that was especially fun- the women had to lure their partners after them with come hither looks, and it was very silly, but fun at the same time. There are never very many young men at these dances, and I was dancing with my favorite partner who is probably in his late 50’s- early 60’s and married, so I didn’t feel self-conscious about my goofy over-the-top flirting. I was thinking about it last night, and I don’t know if it’s sad or not, but as much as I love the music, and the dancing, and the element of play, I think my favorite part is being in men’s arms, even if they’re old enough to be my grandfather. That’s probably sad. I don’t mean it in a creepy frotteur way- it isn’t sexual- it isn’t even romantic, I just like being held. My friends are a pretty hug-y bunch, so I’m not just starved for affection, but there’s something about being in a man’s arms that feels great, and I don’t get it enough. The solution is probably going to fewer contra dances and instead meeting young men, but I honestly don’t have the energy for that kind of thing.

On a less weird note- they had free groceries at the dance last night, so I helped myself to a loaf of bread, a jar of hot peppers, and several big onions. It’s the makings for a highly flavorful and aromatic sandwich, but the bread is kind of stale (I’m not 100% clear on where this food comes from, but I know it’s the fruits of dumpster diving), so I’m going to use it for other purposes. On the one hand, it’s a little suspect, but on the other, free onions! I go through tons of onions, and they’re perfectly good, so I don’t see the harm. It’s just an added perk to a fun night out, and makes my entrance fee feel lighter (not that $6 is terrible, but it adds up if you go on a regular basis).

This week has been a bear, and next week kicks off with a test, so my weekend isn’t going to be much fun, but I’m in a pretty good mental place anyway. I’m going to go to the farmer’s market with my (kind of) new friend on Saturday (she moved into my old room, God help her), and spend Sunday studying with Sarah and Sam, and things are ok. I turned in my care plan earlier tonight, and I have my peds clinical tomorrow, and everything bad that happened this week feels less dire now.

I watched the first episode of American Horror Story tonight, just to be masochistic, and now I’ll probably have nightmares, but it was good. It’s wicked creepy, but not so much that I can’t watch it by myself, and I like a little scare now and then. I miss Gossip Girl- I love Downton Abbey, but it doesn’t make me need to watch a whole streak of episodes in a row, and Switched At Birth is entertaining, but ABC Family shows are more fun if you watch them with someone. I’ve given up on Grey’s Anatomy, and How I Met Your Mother jumped the shark ages ago.

Not my best

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Today was probably my worst ever clinical day. Nothing went right, and I walked out of the hospital feeling utterly miserable, and absolutely hating Adult Health II. I didn’t do good work, and my patient didn’t trust me, and my instructor spent the whole day making me feel like a moron, so by 3:30 I was ready to pack it all in and go be a hobo. I just came off of a three-day weekend, but I’m already feeling burned out and grumpy. It doesn’t make sense, but I sort of thought that once I moved into my own place all of my troubles and frustrations would just melt away, and I would be happy all the time. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way, and so even though I have a swinging new pad I still have to deal with papers, and tests, and breakdowns in communication with instructors, but at least I get to go home to the consolation of a calm apartment.

I’m still getting over my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, but something that helped was making my first-ever batch of granola. It was supposed to be granola bars, but it didn’t hold together well enough, but it’s still very tasty. I’m baking to show my thanks to the friends who helped me move, and the granola is for my friend Sarah. She’s vegan, which complicated things a little, but the granola works. I used coconut oil instead of butter, and rolled oats instead of bacon, so it isn’t what it could be, but it’s very good despite the lack of animal products. Because it was my first time I really should’ve used a recipe, but I didn’t want to go to the grocery store or feel inadequate because I don’t keep fun granola ingredients around the house, so instead I improvised. I tossed some oats with some wheat germ (full of folate goodness!), and toasted it in the oven while I melted some crunchy peanut butter with maple syrup and coconut oil. Once everything was all toasty/melted I mixed everything together, spread it out in a baking dish, and put it in the oven for about half and hour. It was solid when I took it out, but trying to cut it into bars didn’t really work, so then I just crushed it into big granola clusters (and loose granola bits). I could have gotten a little more adventurous with the flavors, but I wanted to play it safe-ish. I think it’s quite tasty as is, and it made the apartment smell terrific, which is important- I made chicken stock the other day and then the whole place smelled grimly of soup, and my delicious stir fry lingered in the air in a very unappetizing way. These kinds of things are important because I don’t like using scented candles or incense, so I need to cook and bake things that will make my home smell pleasant.

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Today was so awful in fact, that I actually considered not nursing around for a couple of years, and instead applying for Masters programs ahead of schedule. I’m currently lusting after UPenn’s Midwifery program (You get to go to homebirths for course credit! Hopkins kind of just pretends that all babies are born in hospitals and come out of the womb wearing patient ID bands), even though it is very very fancy, and I can barely hack it on my stupid GI floor and so won’t be getting any letters of recommendation from my instructor. I want to go to there though, and so I’ll see what I can see about applying (I can’t go this fall because applications are past due and they recommend you apply a year before you plan on starting, but maybe someday!). There are also great days, when I want to be a pediatric ED nurse (my instructor keeps talking about all the pull she has with local hospitals, so I have considered just staying in Maryland and doing that), but I know in my heart of hearts that I need to be a midwife. It will all be worth it then, so for now I need to grit my teeth and somehow get through the frustration and necessary evil of Adult Health.

Making an impression

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One of the many nice features of my new place is the fact that I have a doorbell. People no longer have to rattle the grate in front of my door in the hopes that I’ll hear and come let them in- it’s very exciting. The downside is of course, that it’s loud, and so far the people who ring it aren’t actually people I know. I’ve had Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this morning, one of my neighbors who had locked herself out. Because I don’t know these people, and because my friends aren’t the dropping by unannounced type, I always go down to open the door myself, which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole buzzer thing. I don’t wear shoes in my apartment (it’s carpeted and I don’t own a vacuum, so my plan is to just never dirty the floor), and today when I bounded down the stairs to get the door I slipped, and fell tail over tea kettle, and I think broke my toe. Being half a nurse, I’m not qualified to make that diagnosis myself, but it’s purple, and swollen, and hurts like billy-o, so my nursing diagnoses are risk for impaired activity (since if it’s broken I shouldn’t run on it), and acute pain (I have a bag of frozen peas on my foot as I type this). I let the neighbor in though, and she seems nice, but I think I scared her with my stairs acrobatics.

Today has been a very quiet, stay-at-home day. I went to church, and cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, and Flora’s cage, and did some homework, and read a lot of The Orchardist (a Christmas present from my parents-it’s very good so far), and watched the Sabres kick the Flyers’ asses, and just hung out. I didn’t do everything I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t do everything I need to, but it was a pleasant sort of day anyway. This afternoon I made my first ever attempt at rice pudding, and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. I don’t know quite what inspired me to make it, but I’m glad I did, because it’s great- thick, and creamy, and I know pudding isn’t healthy, but I did use brown rice, so at least it has fiber. I was very pleased. I’ve been having good luck with food in the new place- I made a nice chicken pasta dish last week, and then yesterday I made some very tasty stir fry with homemade hoisin sauce that should last for a couple more meals (provided I don’t just nom it all). Having my own kitchen is the best- I’m falling back in love with cooking, and it’s a very pleasant feeling.

House rules

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I’ve been on my own for a while now, even if I only just moved out this week, but now seems like as good a time as any to set some rules for myself. I want to be realistic, but I also want structure, particularly because I don’t want to become a 900-lbs spinster recluse, which feels very possible as I sit on my bed watching Netflix with a very full stomach (which is probably due in no small part to the fact that I’ve had like four glasses of milk today, but fullness is fullness, and I shouldn’t do that- I’m as bad as a panda, eating things that will make me uncomfortable). So I need rules.

1. Never leave dirty dishes overnight (this is the most important rule- it’s actually the rule that inspired me to make official rules. I don’t want pests, and it’s much nicer waking up to a clean kitchen than a messy one).

2. Always have fruit in the house (dried, fresh, or frozen, there needs to be some kind of fruit).

3. Make my bed every morning (it dominates my main room- leaving it unmade will make the whole place look like hell).

4. Clean the bathroom and kitchen every week.

5. Eat at least one veggie snack every day (in place of something less healthy- I don’t have to have any snacks if I’m not hungry, but I’ve had so many goldfish crackers today I’d have been better off with a straight salt lick).

6. Clean Flora’s cage every week (an absolute must).

7. Go to the gym every week (I don’t have to go every day, but I paid for it, and I’ll be happier and healthier if I make it a regular thing. Besides, I get out of class at noon on Wednesdays, so there’s no good excuse not to go).

8. Study for at least an hour every day (including 12-hour clinical days- I’m tired when I get home, but I can do an hour).

9. Spend time with people outside of school and clinical at least once a week (studying during free time counts, but ideally also fun things, like contra dancing, or games, or working out with a friend. Carpooling to clinical does not count. Birth companions kind of counts, but only in a pinch).

10. Drink more water (and tea), and limit other beverages (I actually bought orange juice, and it’s so darn delicious I could drink it all in an afternoon. I’m not going to though! I’m going to make it last. I can buy one non-water beverage every two weeks, and that’s it- if I run out early then I’m out of luck, and that doesn’t mean I can buy a mini carton of milk at school for my cereal, it means I eat something else for breakfast (you can’t eat High Fiber cereal dry, you just can’t)).

11. Pack lunches, and eat breakfast at home! (I can get a little lazy sometimes and not bring anything, and I always wind up eating something decadent like a pizza bagel or a reuben, and then suddenly it’s the end of the day and I haven’t had any veggies. Not good.)

12. Dance around at least once a week. I live by myself- I should live it up.

Do you have any house rules? Can you think of any good ones that I’ve missed?

First day reflections

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I was out of the house most of the day, but so far living alone freaking rocks. I woke up this morning and had a nice bowl of cereal, and then took a very chilly shower. I couldn’t remember yesterday when I was at Target whether or not I had a shower curtain rod, and so I didn’t buy a shower curtain. I didn’t think it would be a problem, though trips to Target are few and far between (it’s very out of the way), but it turns out that shower curtains aren’t just for keeping the floor from getting wet (which also happened)- they also trap heat.

When I got home I hung my pictures up, which was fun, and made the place look much cozier. I also unpacked my last box, which was kind of nice, except all the empty boxes are just stacked in the hallway. I know I have to throw them out, but I’ll regret it come July when I have to move again. 013

My oven isn’t currently working, but I’m going to call the landlord about it tomorrow, so hopefully that will be fixed soon. Everything else is great though, and I think my room is pretty darn cozy.

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I’m out!

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I have had quite a day, and it isn’t over yet (I still have a (short) paper to write), but I’m feeling pretty good about life. For starters, I love my friends. So much. I couldn’t have gotten through the day without them. Literally everything they did today made me grateful to know such wonderful people.

As soon as I turned my phone on after taking my pediatrics test (which was ok. I didn’t walk out feeling great, but I woke up incredibly depressed today because I was dreading moving and inevitably fighting with my roommates, so it would have taken a lot to make me walk out with a smile on my face) I saw a message from one of the roommates telling me to get my stuff out of the apartment (I deleted her texts- all of them, after moving my last box. Part of me wanted to keep them as evidence, but I didn’t want that negativity on my phone anymore). Then, when I went to pick up my new keys, I walked into a freshly painted door, so now my forest service jacket is covered in white paint. Needless to say, I was not in a good mood when I got back to my (old) apartment, and my roommate immediately told me that I had to get everything out of my room, and then practically barked at me to do it now when I paused to take off my jacket. I was on my own at that point, but my friend Buki showed up soon after, and the two of us moved the brunt of my stuff into the dining room. My friends Sara and Emily showed up soon after, and then my friend Matt, so I had plenty of help. Throughout this process my roommate was standing in the kitchen, watching us carrying things, and baking, which made the whole apartment hot. Have I mentioned lately that I’m happy to be away from that place? It’s honestly like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Of course things wouldn’t have been complete without one last confrontation, which came when I had moved the last of my stuff and went back into the old place to get my food. My roommate had taken it all out of the fridge (though not my ketchup, which is lost to me, along with my paring knife. I don’t mind about the ketchup, but the knife bugs me- it was a nice one that my parents let me take from their house, but I couldn’t find it anywhere while I was packing) and put everything in plastic bags that she put on the floor by the door (except for one tupperware of chicken, sweet potatoes, and kale, which she either ate or threw away- the empty container was in the sink). I was prepared to walk out and leave it at that, but she asked me what I was doing with my keys, and when I told her I had planned on giving them to the new girl she balked. She said she didn’t want anyone in the house while she was out, and I didn’t live there anymore, and I had to leave the keys with her, the implication being that I would come back once she had left and mess with things. I told her I would give the new girl her keys, and when she refused to accept that my friend Jen stepped in and told her to back off (it was very gallant actually. Jen is one of the most peaceful people I know, but she’ll mess a bitch up if she thinks it’s necessary). C. was very rude to her, which was validating, since no one else had seen them in action, and so didn’t understand what I had been up against all year, but also infuriating, because she was so out of line. In the end I left the key with the leasing agent, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve felt like crying all day, from worry, and tiredness, and gratitude, and relief. I’ve really been through an emotional ringer, and I’m honestly exhausted- I don’t know how I’m going to manage for the rest of the week, because I’m spent.

On the bright side, the new place is lovely. It’s small, but it has more storage than I initially realized, and I have the whole thing to myself, which is glorious. It’s all freshly painted, and the carpeting is nice and new, and I’m so, so glad to be here.

Jen took me to Target after the move, and on the way in I told her that while my living situation has been a nightmare, there is a point to it. I know life doesn’t always make sense or have a moral at the end, but because I lived with the worst people I’ve ever met I’ve been able to fully appreciate some of the best. Being unhappy has made me appreciate being happy so much more than I might’ve otherwise. It’s also probably made me stronger and all that jazz, but mostly the appreciating good people thing. And now I worry less about whether I’m a bad person, because I’ve seen what bad people are actually like. So there’s that.

Last time

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The last time I moved was also the last time I saw my cat. I don’t know how that hadn’t occurred to me before, but it did today in church, and I actually started to cry, right there in my pew. The night before I left I stripped my bed, so we slept on a sleeping bag, and she stretched out next to my head. I had forgotten until my parents adopted their kittens how sweet it is when a cat rests its head on you and goes to sleep, but it’s such a trusting gesture, and Lancaster was always doing that. Most of the time I can think about her and feel ok- I don’t have a lot of regrets because I loved her absolutely and she understood that as much as cats can, but today I feel sad. I really miss her, and it keeps hitting me that I won’t see her again, and no matter how solid a goodbye I said it can’t make me feel better because I didn’t want to say goodbye at all. Fortunately, my friend Sam just called, and we’re meeting to study pediatrics, so I can’t just sit in my room (in my running clothes, because before I got into this crying-over-my-cat thing I was planning on going to the gym, so wore workout clothes to Mass, like an inappropriate person) and look out at the fog and feel miserable. It’s a good day for that kind of thing, what with the chilly, gray weather, but that’s just too self-indulgent. Instead, I have to wash my face, and get dressed in real clothes, and go be a functional person. I’m not sure I’m cut out to have pets.