Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why I Do What I Do

Last week at my internship, I met with a woman who had an overwhelmingly long list of challenges she was facing in her life. Over the course of an hour, she opened herself up to me and told me her worries - the biggest of which were financial. I listened, empathized, and told her I'd work on connecting her to resources that could help her. I followed up with her later that afternoon after she had met with the resource specialist, but didn't get to see her again after that, as they were discharged the next day.

Today when I returned to work, I found a note waiting for me. It was from this woman to the three of us with whom she had worked most closely, and the first few sentences really summed up why I do the work I do - because often I can make a difference - and every now and then (like today), I get the honor of knowing that I've made a difference:

"Getting to the point of having to ask for help at our age in such a humiliating and shameful feeling. Thank you for your grace and sense of ease in making the process feel slightly less embarassing than it really is."

No list today.

Just that.

Backed Up

Ok, so the irony is that on Sunday night, I was telling a friend who doesn't read my blog about my new committment to posting my list every night, and I was saying it was great because I was posting on my blog more, and also it was helping me to focus on the "good stuff" and now, here I am on Tuesday morning not having posted since Saturday. Oops.

A combined list of 6:

1. Buying baby gifts (and then wrapping then in my trunk in the parking lot).

1b. The helpful woman in the parking lot of Babies 'R Us who told me that there was a table inside the store where I could wrap my gifts (as I was wrapping my last gift).

2. Singing loudly in the car.

3. Starting up a new line of emails among my old singing group, and then getting all the responses and photos of babies and weddings.

4. Splurging on my favorite face wash and getting lots of samples of other fun products.

5. Debating the pros and cons of taking a break from studying to go see a friend in a show, deciding to go, and then realizing that I had really needed (and deserved!) the break.

6. Writing (and finishing) my first paper.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

September 22nd List

Things for which I am grateful for today:

1. A rousing rendition of "10 little monkeys jumping on the bed" performed by a 2-year-old and myself.

2. The fact that my allergy medicine kept me symptom-free for 4 hours in a cat-infested house.

3. The Red Sox winning.

Survivor China: Episode 1

Another season of Survivor, another few months of Saturday mornings spent in bed catching up on the week's events (thank you, school, for always scheduling my classes on Thursday nights). After a scary moment when I couldn't find the full episode online, and then having to sit through no less than three "commercial" breaks where I was subjected to this horrible commercial, I am now ready to share with you my first impressions after week 1:

- I realize it's easy to say "if I were on Survivor, I'd..." but seriously - it's season 15 - if you were on Survivor, wouldn't you want to be prepared for anything and show up to any and all events wearing clothes that you would want to have with you? I don't know off the top of my head the exact number of times survivors have been sent to their camps with no warning, but I know it's happened a few times, so just assume that it might happen on your season and wear practical shoes and a BRA, for godsake.

And maybe they all had literally just arrived and they were wearing what they had worn on the plane ride, but seriously - who flies to China to be on Survivor and wears a business suit!?!?

- Interesting theory about a poker player having an advantage by being able to better read his tribe mates. Looks from the preview for next week that perhaps he's not so good with his teamwork skills, but I'll be interested to see if he has any good/interesting insight into any of his fellow competitors.

- Courtney is absolutely the most rediculous survivor player in this game so far. Did she score negative points on whatever socialization test they must have given her before being on this show? "People who live in NY don't act like this"!??!?! Wow. Can't wait to see how long she lasts (or, more optimistically, how long it takes before she has some sort of epiphany and realizes that "different" does not mean "bad"). UPDATE (since I wrote this 30 seconds ago): I just read her Bio, and she grew up in Boston, and studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal, so it's not like she's never left the confines of NYC. What is her deal!??!!

- Did I make this up, or did the Christian radio host really say "I'm not religious, but..." in her defense of walking out of the ceremony at the beginning? Please tell me I mis-heard that.

- I hope Frosti stays in long enough that we get to see him do some fun Parkour moves.

- I have a crush on James the gravedigger.

- What on earth made Jeff decide it was a good idea to let the loser tribe at tribal council bring their fire back to camp with them!?!?!? I can't remember the last time that happened - at least not at the first tribal council. I wanted to see them suffer a little more.

- Finally, I'm bummed that Chicken got voted out early, as he would have been a fun character to have around (for us anyway, probably not for his tribe). I did see why they voted for him, though, because he was stupid and stubborn and wouldn't share his opinion with the tribe. Man, he was funny for one episode, though. Great character.

Person I hope to see a lot more of in the future: Denise. C'mon - she's a school lunch lady and she rides her scooter to work. Oh, and did I mention her Budweiser memorabilia collection and her skills at axe and knife throwing (please please please let there be a challenge where we get to see these skills in action!).

September 21st List

Things for which I am grateful today:

1. Babysitting for three amazlingly well-behaved children.

2. The Red Sox winning.

3. The Yankees losing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

September 20th List

Things for which I am grateful today:

1. A great phone converastion with a friend.

2. Spending 2 hours this morning playing outside with a 15-month-old and making him laugh with really bad shadow puppets.

3. EFS, for reminding me that I own this photo...

... and this video:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19th List

Things for which I am grateful today:

1. Interacting with a patient for more than just a smile on an elevator, and being able to have a real conversation and to make her laugh.

2. Seeing incredible hope and strength in a mother who, by all accounts, should have very little at this point.

3. Walking home from school tonight and having time to myself to decompress.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 18th List

Today I am grateful for:

1. The fact that I own many seasons of The West Wing to watch when there is nothing on TV but I want to relax by watching TV.

2. The fact that still I fit into nice work pants I bought over 2 years ago after losing a lot of weight (I'm not quite sure how that worked out, since I definitely weigh more than I did after the weight loss... magic, I guess... redistribution of weight???).

3. Still gotta say the all-you-can-eat dinner for $1.

Monday, September 17, 2007


The first summer that I was a camp counselor, I was given the gift of a gratitude journal. I was supposed to write 5 things every day for which I was grateful. Being the resourceful person I was, I decided to only write three, and then I could use it for 2 years (it made sense at the time). It was great, because even on days that sucked, I still forced myself to come up with 3 things to write. And on those same days, I could go back and read old entries and be brought back to specific memories like the smell of eucalyptus trees in Australia or the sound of a loon on a lake or my 21st birthday (yes, I remember it).

And so I'm beginning a new gratitude journal now. It's not an official one like the first time around, but it will work just fine to help me remember all the good that is happening in my life when I might start to get overwhelmed with the challenges I see people facing everyday at my internship. I can't promise that I'll always share everything online, but I'll try to share as many thoughts as I can. Sometimes they'll be boring. Sometimes they'll be funny. Sometimes they'll repeat. Always, they'll be real.

Today I am grateful for:

1. My supervisor, for taking the time to get to know me as a person in addition to getting to know me as her intern.

2. Paying $1 for an all-you-can eat dinner.

3. That Ellen Degeneres has clips of her show online so I can watch them and laugh before I go to bed.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

And so it begins...

So school has started, and with it my internship and 2 regular babysitting jobs. Fortunately for me, I find most of those things enjoyable, so even though my life has gone crazy in the blink of an eye, I'm not freaking out.

Well, not entirely.

I've been a little overwhelmed with everything lately. I don't think I went through this stress last year when I started school because I didn't know what I was getting into. I was really excited about everything, and that was about the only emotion I remember having.

This year, I'm both completely excited for my internship and classes, and also completely terrified. This internship is a huge deal, as I'm the first person from my program to ever have an internship working with patients at the hospital I'm in.

Now, after a week of my internship, I am still both excited and terrified. Every day, I walk into the hospital and am filled with this amazing feeling of knowing it's exactly where I'm supposed to be. At the same time, I'm thinking, "I can't do this!" There is so much to learn (finding my way around the hospital, learning the heirarchy of doctors and nurses, and God forbid my pager ever goes off - I won't have a clue what to do!) and some of the family situations I've seen are just tragic. I escaped working with (or seeing) any really hard cases last year, and I have more than made up for it in my first week here. Just reading a case report about the abuse of a child is hard, but then when I see the adorable helpless baby I just read about, it makes it sickeningly more real.

That said, I know that I have the skills and support to do the work I'm there to do. My supervisor is incredible and even though it's only been a week, I trust her completely not to put me in a situation I can't handle.

My uncertainty is a funny feeling to have, because I came off of last year so self-confident across the board - in classes, in my internship, and in life. Now all of those pieces of my life are being re-set in this new school year, and I'm still getting my feet under me. I know it's going to be an incredible year and I definitely feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be - I just need to be patient and trust in that feeling.

And so I remind myself to breathe, because really that's about as much as I have control over in the end, and I try to make sure to notice the happy stuff, laugh at the silly stuff, and to do familiar things that make me feel like me (instead of like the half-crazed alien-me that keeps sneaking in and trying to take over).

This summer at camp, I spent a lot of time working in the office, and it was easy to forget the bigger picture (that there were hundreds of kids running around and having fun right outside). My coworker and I used to share stories of camp moments with each other to help us remember why we were there.

One day, we were walking down the path together and heard a little 11-year-old boy say to his friend "Cool!" and when his friend said, "What?" the boy said, "I just burped and farted at the same time!"

Another time, there was a group of kids headed to dodgeball, and their counselor led them in a chant: "What do we want?" "DODGEBALL!" "When do we want it?" "DODGEBALL!"

These were moments we couldn't have scripted, and we never knew when they'd happen, but they were the highlights of our summer.

So I was walking into the hospital the other day and starting to have that "I can't do this!" feeling of panic, and I stepped onto the elevator with a little girl who was with her mother. The girl was probably 9 or 10, and had a scarf covering her head. She ended up standing near the elevator buttons, and a man asked her to push "8."

"Certainly!" she said in the most cheerful voice I've ever heard in my life.

Man: "Thank you."

"You're welcome!" (again, super-cheerfully)

Woman on elevator: "You are a very polite girl!"

"Thank you!" *pause* smile and look over at her mom, "My mother taught me well!"

Woman: "Well, you are lucky to have such a good mother!"

Girl (smiling): "I know - she's wonderful!"

I walked off the elevator with a huge grin on my face, and a feeling of cheerfulness to replace my panic.

It's gonna be quite a year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Important Research

I am long overdue for a post that has even the remotest bit of substance in it, but since I have just entered into my first full week of classes, internship, and multiple babysitting jobs, I am instead going to post this article heading:

Exercise unleashes a bounce bras can't handle
Breasts fly up and down a distance of up to 8 inches, study says

Thank you to MSNBC for making sure that my visit to your website was a most entertaining way to procrastinate.