Sunday, October 30, 2005

Going to the Zoo

Here are some of the finished bowls. Some of them came out well, some not as well, but overall I'm happy with them. The problem is that I like some of them so much that I can't bring myself to give them away quite yet. I'm working on that, too.

M. and I spent the day yesterday together after another big fight on Friday night (seems to be the weekly occurrence). But yesterday was nice. We went to breakfast and the zoo where there were tons of cute little kids dressed in Halloween costumes. The first one we saw was a little girl dressed as a purple monster. She was pretty cute. There were also a couple Napoleon Dynamites running around--one of them even had the moon boots. I think that is the most costumes I have ever seen in one place in my whole life. The animals didn't seem to care much. They have some newish river otters who are very cute. And they gave the gorillas some sort of treats in jack-o-lanterns so it was fun to watch them discover whatever it was they liked.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hurrying to Find Quiet

Interviewers sometimes ask you hard questions that you answer as best as you can in the moment, but that still leave you thinking even after the meeting is over. In Seattle, the resident who interviewed me was very persistent to know how I handle stress. "What do you do when you get overwhelmed?" I'm thinking that I rarely feel very overwhelmed these days. I have been in such perpetual overdrive that I seem to have adapted to the speed and stresses that it brings. I am numbed to feeling "overwhelmed" anymore. I just keep going--over, under, or just whelmed.

As I'm thinking this, she kept pressing. "What about when you have a really frustrating day at the hospital?" I think to what I do to unwind. "I go to the studio. I read my novel. I work out. I spend some alone time to recollect myself so I can return the next day." She nods, seemingly satisfied with my answer. She does some of the same things--at least the work-outs. I find that she has done some of the same triathlons that I have (Danskin); that is what helps keep her sane in her very busy intern year. A year which awaits me somewhere in just about eight months. I'll have to remember my answers; I'll have to remember to balance myself so I can learn and grow and somedays just survive.

It has become harder and harder these past few years to relax. It really becomes an effort to stop and just sit and not think about anything. My mind races before I fall asleep. I find it increasingly difficult to work out without music or reading or studying or some sort of other stimulation. I cannot simply go for a drive without feeling like I need to be doing something else to maximize my time. I should call my grandmother. I should listen to NPR and catch up on the rest of the world. I should listen to music at least. Everything just keeps going so fast.

I remember when I was in college and thought about going to med school. I knew then that I was working hard and putting in many hours as an undergrad, but I also knew that I could do more. I knew I could spend more time and be more efficient, as I assumed I would have to once I got to med school. I was right.

Those first two years of studying here, every second had to be maximized. I could not do dishes without being on the phone or listening to my lectures on tape. Every sense had to be utilized or I could not get everything done. And still things had to be cut. Grocery trips were taken only when absolutely necessary and now required a list. Even time eating was spent with the books. I stopped doing ceramics for a while. I did manage to stay in touch with my family at least--I could multitask that on the phone with the workout or dishes or cleaning.

When I visited London last year, it took me days of alone time ambling around the dripping streets to even slow down a little. There was so much I wanted to see and do. I started by planning several activities each morning. I generally accomplished most of them--and enjoyed them. By the end of the short week, my task list had just begun to give way to my waunderlist. I felt myself just beginning to build in that quiet time--the time that ebbs and flows with your mood or desire. Free time to enjoy just in the moment. One day I bought chocolate pastries for lunch and sat in a discovered park to eat and watch the rare February London sunburst. A Scottish man sat down and asked me why I was smiling. "Was I?," smiling now consciously, "Just enjoying the sun." And the peace.

With three years of being revved up, it takes usually takes days to weeks for me to calm down to how I seem to vaugely remember I used to feel. I remember some peaceful place inside me that was much more accessible than it is now. Perhaps it's hidden down some rarely trodden overgrown path hidden by responsibility and worry. I know it's still there, somewhere; I hope, sometimes, I have a few quiet moments to wander down that path.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


It has been a fun two days here in Seattle; and the big interview is tomorrow. I should probably try to sleep, but I want to make sure I'm tired enough to fall asleep right away. Besides I just ate a yummy caramel apple from downtown and shouldn't lay down right after that.

The west coast still feels like home. I like being able to make U-turns. I like being near the ocean. I like being able to turn right on a red light without feeling guilty. I like that people are out and active and having fun. I like that they are friendly and generous. I like that they live consciously. I like that the bumps and lines on the road are reflective at night. I like that people don't use phrases that I don't know. I like that there is a carpool lane. I like that there are recycling receptacles in public. I like that it feels like home. It suits me much better.

Yesterday I visited Pike's Place Market and walked around downtown a bit. It was an unusually sunny October day for Seattle. Everyone was out and enjoying the weather and each other.

Today was gray and drizzly (more typical). I slept late and woke up in my less than stellar SeaTac hotel room (it was cheap and I got what I paid for in that case). I decided to head back toward Seattle to check out the hospitals but on the way I saw the sign for the art museum and found myself heading back downtown instead. I walked along the waterfront, looked around the market some more, had a very pleasant and tasty lunch at the Market Seafood Grill, and visited the art museum where they have a beautiful Tiffany exhibit on display. The only rotten part was that I couldn't find my car for a very long time and wandered around the street where I thought it was several times. It was on that street just further down past this wired dead-end thing. At least in the wanderings I found a place to get my hair cut and grab dinner (also tasty, this time a chicken empanada).

Oh, and finally talked with M. also. He didn't come home because he didn't want to fight. Counter-productive if you ask me.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Have made it to Seattle and it's actually sunny! I just booked my hotels (should have done that sooner--everything downtown is full already). Now just some studying up on the program so I can ask intelligent questions...hopefully.

M. didn't come home at all last night despite saying that he would be home early and wanted to take me to the airport this morning. Last night was pretty emotional for both of us. Just a lot of hurt on both sides right now. I left a note for him and texted him but still haven't heard anything. I hope he's okay. I'm starting to worry a little.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Pitter patter, lub dub

We see each other once a week for a few minutes or few hours if we're lucky. I saw him today and, as always, my heart gets that nervous patter and my stomach flops as I try to calm my autonomic nervous system. One time he caught my heart beating outloud. I flushed so deeply when he walked up that he asked me if I'd been running or something. "" As I turn an even darker shade of pink. Then he catches on...and starts teasing me lightheartedly until I start to return to my normal pale Ohio shade of tan.

That's what I like so much about him. He's fun, kind, honest, real, and a wonderful friend to everyone he cares about.

Is it a bad sign that I have crushes on other people? Or does this happen to everyone just to remind you that you're alive. I hear stories about people who feel that way (pitter patter) every time her spouse gets home--even after years of marriage. Does that really happen?

Lost and Found

I'm flying to Washington tomorrow for my first interview of the season. I have been fretting over it every night before I fall asleep. And tonight I tried on my suit and it didn't feel great...just okay. Maybe I'll get another one when I get there tomorrow.

And, just as I started to head out to meet friends at a concert tonight, I can't find my wallet. It is not in my backpack where I thought I'd had it last. It is not in the pants I was wearing for work. It is not in the pants I changed into for ceramics. It is not in my backpack. It is not in my white coat pocket. It is not in my leather jacket pocket. It has not fallen out into my car seat or trunk. It is not in my backpack. It is not in the bathroom. It is not in the bedroom. It is not in my backpack.

I flop out on M.'s leather couch thinking what horrible timing this is (the night before I leave town and will need my driver's license to fly). And even worse because it follows an awful fight with M. who left again tonight. I am now resigned to missing the concert with my friends. But I still need to find my wallet. I run through the day in my head:

The last time I distinctly remember having it was on the way to the lunch meeting. I'd grabbed it to take just in case I didn't make to the free food talk and had to buy the grilled cheese and tomato soup from the hospital cafeteria (the only good day of the week there). I did make it in time, though and listened to half a talk on ICU delirium before having to get back to clinic.

From there on the wallet travels are purely conjecture based on how well I know myself and my habits. I don't like it being in my pocket because it feels bulky, especially under the white coat I donned to see my patient. I know I took my keys out and put them in my backpack so the wallet probably accompanied them there. That places it in the backpack, where I thought it had been in the first place. But it is still not there.

Okay. It would have sat there until I left clinic around 3 pm and went straight to my car. There I had to get my car keys out and the wallet was probably still there. I went to a friend's house to check out some (beautiful!) shark tooth earrings he made for his ex-girlfriend as the last ditch effort to win her back. I changed into my ceramics clothes in his bathroom. Maybe if I hadn't moved the wallet to my backpack it would be there. I call him. He runs upstairs from his neighbor's place where they have just succeeded in "sharing" the high speed internet and cable TV lines. The wallet is not there.

Back to the backpack. I would not have taken it out while I was at the studio glazing a bunch of my bowls.

Next stop was home. As I was getting out of the car, I was loaded down with several new bowls and vases that had just been fired. And it was raining. I balanced the bowls around to the trunk, to get my backpack and the bag with my work clothes. I remember dropping my keys as I grabbed something from the trunk. I had to precariously kneel down to pick them up and got my knee wet from leaning on the pavement. When I got into the house, the pocket in my backpack where my wallet would have been was wet, meaning it was open.

So that leaves the wallet to have fallen out in my trunk, perhaps. I trudge back down to the car for what is now the third time and pull all of the crap out of my trunk: gym bag, ceramics tool bag, spare chair, text book, and cloth shopping bags. It is dark and I can't see well but I don't feel it anywhere still. For some reason I am not panicking, still.

Then...something under the front of the car behind mine, something catches my eye. It's dark, but could it be? It's square-ish and about the right size and could be the right color. I reach down; the touch says it all. It's my wallet. Wet, but there. Sweet Relief.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Shower Curtains

I spent most of yesterday looking for a new apartment. I made so many calls that I can no longer keep them all straight and keep having to ask people who call back to give me the address of their building. Fortunately, it is easier to move in the winter, it seems. Everyone wants to be tucked in and warm in the winter. Not hauling their stuff all over town and setting up in a new place where you don't already know how the heat and snow clearing of the driveway work. And where you have to live without your boyfriend of three years who is very warm (plus lots of other nice qualities).

I will not be sad to live again in a state where I do not have to scrap snow off of my car in the morning--or ever. Don't get me wrong, I love to visit snow. I love skiing--the crisp cool wind in your face. I love the quiet white blankets and the hushed fall of snow from over-loaded trees. I just don't love having to walk into it as I open my front door. I don't love driving in it.

Anyway, I have looked at a few places already. They are nice. One I saw today actually felt like it could be very right. It still had the furniture in it from the previous occupant (a girl who moved in with her boyfriend--how ironic). Furniture in the place makes it look so much more livable--obviously.

When I looked at the first place a couple weeks ago (the one right next door, which I'm now finding was a great deal, but it would have been hard to be this close to M.), the thing that struck me most was the shower curtain.

When I was packing all of my stuff to move in with M., I downsized, sold things, gave things away, and generally tried to compact my life. When you are combining two lives and apartments into one there are several items that are duplicated: microwave, couch, table, desk, chairs, etc. And shower curtains.

Of course a shower curtain is not something that you'd save to use later. They cost, what, $2.49 at Target? For the plastic lining, at least. The outer pretty part is more, but you wouldn't necessarily save that either. I ended up donating mine to the Goodwill store. And the plastic lining was donated to the dumpster.

As I packed, I considered the fates of my shower curtains, I remember feeling excited that I could get rid of them--glad that I could trade them in for a shared curtain, shared bathroom, shared apartment, shared life. Of course parts of it would be hard, I knew. Adjusting to chore distribution and allowing for private time for each of us.

It actually turned out to be much smoother than I'd ever anticipated. It was fun...and still is fun. I like living with him. We get along well. We are comfortable enough with each other to walk around naked still. We visit (some) and squabble over dishes and make up and make each other dinner and tease and laugh and hurt. It feels as if we are really close roommates--ideal roommates, actually. Just maybe not ideal lovers...not ideal forever. It makes me sad.

And seeing the shower-curtain-less bathroom in that empty apartment reminded me of all that. I would be alone again. I would have to depend on myself alone. Make my own dinner. Eat it alone most nights. Sleep alone. Come home to an empty place where everything would be exactly as I'd left it. And, I would have to get my own shower curtain...again.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Some Picts

These are some fresh thrown pots with the glisten of the water still on them. Most of the darker clay ones are mine.

Those on the right are drying on the shelf after being trimmed.

Below is a finished product with a design.

The fall bouquet of birthday flowers from M.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

44 minutes

Forty-four minutes until my birthday! (Actually three hours and forty-four minutes since I wasn't born in this time-zone.) I think my mom is as excited or more excited than I am. She has been fixated on it all week. It's how we have both been remembering the dates for the entire week. Everytime someone would ask me the day I would think, "Duh, it's two days before my birthday and therefore the 12th!" Of course I would just answer "the twelfth."

I'm trying to get my friends together for a day at the park over the weekend. It was oddly difficult for me to send the invitations. "What if they don't want to come? What if no one comes? What if I can't handle being around that many people on that day?" I finally just faced my anxiety and sent it. Sometimes the hard things that stretch us keep us flexible.

I visited the library the other day and got three new fun books to read. The one I started first is called "The Birdcage." Good so far. I missed reading for fun. I knew there was something missing. Though it still sometimes feels like something is missing.

Maybe 27 years will bring clarity.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Head-in-and-out-of-knots Day

For some reason I am really tired tonight. It has been a long day and I didn't get to bed as early as I should have last night. The morning was spent reading about neurology at the hospital waiting for a patient who never came. The days are very long when there is nothing to do with patients. At least I had my iPod with my new Hillary Hahn violin sonatas with me so I could put that on to drown out the chatty neruo residents. Lunch was fun, though. I texted M.C. and we met for lunch. It's nice to have friends to just meet and talk with on a whim.

The afternoon brought a lot of rounding on patients which I had not seen. Then (exciting thing!) I checked my email after work and found that I had been offered an interview at a really good program. I got viscerally very excited for some unknown reason. It felt like something good was beginning. Maybe that is the program where I am supposed to end up. Who knows. It will just depend on what feels best...and what I think about things with M.

On sort of that note, I stopped at the gym on my way home and he was there (I saw his car anyway). So I changed quickly then scoured all his favorite work-out spots--mostly the weight room and the pool, but he was no where to be found. I discovered later that he'd probably left when I was changing in the locker room. He saw my car, but didn't come to say hello, not that he ever does. I just would like it if he did sometimes.

My workout went really well for the most part. I was speeding along on the elliptical listening to music and reading the "Outside" or "Outdoor" (or something like that) magazines that I'd discovered on the rack the week before. One of the stories was about scary things that have happened to people on their adventures. There were thirteen stories. I made it through about seven. And all except two were about being endangered by other people. I thought it a sad unspoken commentary that as a species we harm ourselves more than any natural disaster does (even with this awful earthquake in Pakistan and the hurricanes and the tsunami).

Once I got to the weights I was feeling strong and like I had a period of clarity. I need to be on my own...break up and move out. And in that moment it didn't seem so hard. Now it seems much harder. In the midst of doing the lat pull, I thought of M. and how strong his lats are. I suddenly and strangely lost a lot of my energy for the workout. I don't know what happened.

I finished anyway. By the time I got home, M. was here and had made some dinner for us (pasta, his specialty). I was starving so it tasted really good. The rest of the night he had been absorbed in football and the Big Lobowski and downloading music. And now we're both tired (which is probably why this is such a scattered post and why he wanted time alone) and heading to bed.

It was just sort of a weird head-in-and-out-of-knots day.

Friday, October 07, 2005

White lilies

"Come down and help me with the groceries, honey," this from my typically very self-sufficient boyfriend is a red flag. "Help you with groceries? Um, okay." Something must be up, I'm thinking to myself, but slip on my clay-covered flip-flops and head downstairs anyway. He's parked across the street with groceries in the three cloth bags that I have finally convinced him to use. When I get closer, I see there's something on the seat of his Explorer also. White lilies.

I love flowers. I know they don't last long. I know they sometimes cost a lot for what seems like a little. But I love them anyway. They are so perfect and beautiful. I like the fragrant ones best. I will spend 15 minutes at the store smelling all of the bouquets before choosing the one that smells the best and looks like it will last the longest. I will put them in the refrigerator while I am gone for the day just so they are suspended in time until I can get home and enjoy them some more. I will clean up at least a corner of the cluttered apartment so that they have a nice place to sit and be seen. I will move them around with me from room to room so I can keep them in sight. I love flowers; and he knows this.

So, of course, I make a big deal out of getting them. "They're beautiful! Thank you, M.!" I say with a smile and a kiss. He's a little shy about this display in the middle of the street, "You're welcome, [insert pet name for me that I'm not quite willing to share yet]. It's not that big of a deal." It's a big deal to me.

It means that he was thinking about me at the store. I picture him in front of the flower stands trying to figure out which ones to get. He is explaining as we walk toward the house that he chose the ones that were all still closed because then they will last longer and I will get to watch them open slowly. And he knows that the lilies smell so sweet when they finally open.

I picture him at the check out line with his predictable groceries of milk, oatmeal, OJ, chicken breasts, salad dressing, raisins, rice...and lilies. In my mind, the check-out person smiles as she places the flowers to the side so they don't get squished. Or perhaps he picks them up again right away to protect them from the 8 lb. milk attack.

Back in the apartment now, I check to see if any of my ceramic vases are tall enough, but they're not so I grab a faux glass (plastic) vase from under the sink for just such a happy emergency. He takes gets them all set up in the vase for me, cutting the ends off and putting the plant food in the tepid water. He's always very good at paying attention to detail and likes things done right. This will serve him, and his patients, well in the future.

That was four days ago. Today the lilies are opening at last. Even with the windows open to the first of the cool fall air, the entire apartment smells like a springtime garden. When I lean close, the fragrance is intoxicating. I have to be careful not to get too close, though because the thick powdery pollen likes to stick to the tip of my nose (as I have learned from personal experience). As I write this, one of the lilies opens right before my eyes.

Before M. goes out again with his friends for the night, he sits next down next to me as I stare at the flowers. He looks more serious than usual. He's upset, he tells me. Not angry, just quietly in emotional turmoil. It's my fault. It's all about these interviews and decisions coming up for me. "I hate this," he says. He feels out of control about what happens with us.

He really wants me to follow him to his program next year. He also wants me to be happy and do what's best for me. It's a complicated situation and we both know it. I have not made him feel confident in my feelings for him (because I don't feel sure of them myself...and I'm afraid of being wrong). It's making him wary of investing any more emotions into me--even making him withdraw from me more. I respect that he needs to protect himself.

Nothing will be solved tonight, but I get a little teary and tell him that I will decide as best I can. His leaving me tonoight makes me lonely, I say. We have both been busy this week and have spent very little time together. "I'm lonely, too," he says as he puts on his shirt to go.

At least the lilies keep me company. Maybe that's what he knows best to do right now. The newest bloom is almost completely open.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"Men, women, or both?"

As we start new rotations each month my 160 classmates and I are continually shuffled and redistributed. Just as with any group, I know some better than others. Some are my close friends, some are acquaintances, others simply future colleagues. And, of course, some I like, some I tolerate. But by and large they are an interesting and diverse group.

This month I have once again started a new rotation and am working closely with two guys from my class. Both with whom I've known and been friendly, but neither have I really known well. Having plenty of down time between lectures and consults and residents running around, we often get a chance to chat and learn more about each other.

One of them, K.'s, wife just had their second baby boy and he's stressed out at home with all of the chaos of having a two year old plus a two month old. On the first day of the rotation I asked him if they were having more. He replied, "Not anytime soon. My kids are driving me crazy." He wants to wait at least three years before the next one comes.

I have been on rotations with him in the past. Actually on a rotation last year we were asked to write about what is important in life and how we want to be as future physicians. He wrote a very poignant story about having his first son and how holding him in his arms made everything feel somehow right and complete and precious. It was by far my favorite essay among the group of thirty because we could all tell how real and close it was for him.

Today he shared another piece of writing with me about his career choice and how his mom dying from multiple sclerosis during our second year affected him and his future. It almost made me cry right there in the computer lab.

It's really phenomenal how sharing this often grueling experience with those who are at first complete strangers can bond you in the way that soldiers must unite in the military or teammates come together on an especially intense sports team. I was sharing things with these 'strangers,' and they with me, with complete honesty and freedom.

Perhaps it is related to our training. People will, and have already, shared the most intimate details of their lives with us on the very first meeting. We nervously joked first year about having to gather the history, including sexual orientation and activity, but now it has become a more comfortable and vital part of knowing as complete a story as the patient is willing to share. "Men, women, or both?" our mentors taught us to ask. Assume nothing; accept everything, but trust no one; be sensitive to differences.

The sharing, after all, makes you feel so much less alone.

Monday, October 03, 2005


My younger brother, C., who is an aspiring (and very talented if I do say so myself) writer has given me an assignment. He says I should write a couple paragraphs about what type of person I like, "you know, a boy," he says "And try not to think of any particular person." Apparently this was prompted by his girlfriend asking him what he likes in a person. Though usually ready with an apt remark to any question, he had so many thing running around in his head that he couldn't express them coherently. So he asks me if I'm busy ("only moderately," I reply, having started a new rotation today) and tells me I have this assignment. I was thinking about it at the gym today and started to sympathize with him having all sorts of things running around in his head. It's hard to pin in down...but here's attempt #1:

I want someone who is intelligent and strong and confident in himself; and who can encourage and cultivate those parts of me, as I can for him. I want someone who enjoys positive fun in exploring the world and the people around us; someone who makes sharing life, or a joke, or ice cream, or anything with him more than what it would be alone. I want someone to trust and depend upon. I want someone who pushes me to the edges of my abilities, and who is there to catch me and hold me when I need a rest.

I want someone who is thoughtful and caring. He will be a great, fun and loving son, husband, father, and grandfather. He will be quietly respected by those who know him best. He will be unafraid to love and share himself. Unafraid to take that risk, though knowing the depth of joy and pain it involves. He will be someone to love without restraint or apprehension; someone with whom to shape a life of growth, learning, and joy; and someone with whom I would look forward to growing old.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Eleven Pots!

I survived the test. It was actually not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was a very long day. I was at the test center from the time it opened to the time it closed. Watching people taking shorter tests come and go...and come and go...and come and go. Yep, that's me, the first there and the last to leave. Hey, at least it's over. It didn't really hit me until this morning when I woke up and thought I would have to study and then remembered with that great glow that you get like when you were little and woke up thinking you had to go to school, only to remember it's Saturday and you get to snuggle beneath the covers a while longer.

So I spent the day at the studio throwing bowls...eleven of them! I'm donating them to a charity event to raise money to feed kids ( I don't think I have ever thrown that much in one day. I'm quite pleased with some and less pleased with others. And as I'm throwing them, the instructor tells us that mostly it will just be professional potter's stuff and that people get to choose which one they want. The ones that don't get chosen will be given away for cheaper as seconds the following year. I can just see it now. My poor little pots will be left all alonee at the end of the night. We get a free ticket to go if we donate ten or more, but I'm not sure I can take seeing them get picked last...or not at all. I might have to give the ticket to a friend.

In addition to throwing, I also got a couple pieces back--hot from the kiln (literally, I had to carry them to my car with leather gloves like the kind that falconers use). They turned out fine. I like the glaze combinations. It's always a bit of a risk since they look so different before they're glazed. You have to try to imagine them when they're finished. And then often when they are finished adjust your imagined image to what they really are--usually beautiful, but not usually what you thought you'd be. These two actually turned out mostly as I'd expected for a change.

On the way back from the studio the landlord next door was out at their rental building so I stopped to look at the place with him. It's a nice apartment, especially for the price. And I already love the neighborhood. The big struggle is what to do about the rest of it. The relationship part. I've caught myself over the last couple days imagining living on my own again and it has been sort of fun. On the one hand, I don't like to be alone, but on the other I'm just not sure this whole thing with M. is the right way to go either. Sometimes he is so sweet, but other times he is so crabby that he tends to just "run me over emotionally." (A quote from my previous self that he still teases me about.) I'm feeling like I want to move, but I'm worried about it; and not quite sure yet how to navigate that change.