New Beginnings

21 May

I’ve been weighing in my head for months how to write this post, and I think there’s no better way to write it than to just dive in.

I’m leaving veterinary medicine.

It weighs on me, because I have accumulated a number of vet tech readers, and I know a lot of the traffic I get to the site is about my experiences as a technician. And while I’m not quitting completely anytime soon, I’m going to begin transitioning out of it.

Why?

It’s difficult for me how to explain how I’ve arrived at this fork in the road, because many things that happened in the last 6-7 months that led me to this decision. If you’ll humor me, a list:

  1. PENN FOSTER ABANDONED ME- I’ve talked in the past about the benefits of the program, and I’ve since considered deleting that post. But after years of doing practicums and acing all the tests, I came to the final practicum which required me to do film x-rays. Most clinics are digital, so it took months for me to find a place. When I did, the program waterlogged me for months and didn’t approve my location until the clinic had transitioned to digital. The head veterinarian at my clinic, Dr. S, even called the deans of the vet tech program to try and fix the situation. “We have an intelligent, talented technician here,” I heard him say on the phone. “And we are going to lose her to another industry, and I don’t want that.” Penn Foster continued to not follow through on their promises to rectify this situation. So here I sit after years of work, unable to take my licensing exam and without the vet tech degree I worked so hard for. Dr. S’s compliments rang in my ears as I decided it wasn’t worth it to me to fight Penn Foster, that maybe the industry should lose me.
  2. I DATED A MIRROR IMAGE OF MYSELF- Last fall I was dating someone who had a penchant for moping. He wasn’t where he wanted to be in his life, which I understand. But I found a deep well of frustration at him for not doing something about it, about not chasing down avenues that would move him forward. I would nag him and found myself losing respect for him. But at some point, I saw my own hypocrisy. I am not where I want to be in my life, and I have a lot of things lacking. I tend to mope and whine about it. I don’t know how many times I’ve added to my to-do lists “Figure Life Out” half-joking, half-serious. So I took my own nagging to heart. I broke up with him and decided I had to set myself on a new path.
  3. I WEARIED OF MY NEW YORK LIFE- Around this time, newly single, I found myself sliding into old patterns. Online dating, staying out late drinking with friends, complaining about how poor I am. Like waking from a dream I realized these weren’t things I wanted to do. These things were not making me happy anymore, and it was time to tackle the biggest item on my to-do list. I decided I had no time and no interest in dating. I stopped spending time with friends whose lives revolved around bar tabs and nursing hangovers. I took three days off of work and camped out in my apartment and hashed out what I REALLY, TRULY, DEEPLY wanted to make happen in my life. What my experiences and what my talents can lend themselves to.  I researched careers. I talked to a variety of people. I looked into schooling length and costs. I spent countless weekends alone at my apartment with delivered Thai food sorting through all my data.
  4. I STARTED DIPPING MY TOES IN THE WATER OF SOMETHING NEW- And I realized that this wasn’t suffice; it was better to dive in. I’ve made a commitment to pursuing something different and yet somewhat similar. It’s terrifying. It’s uncertain. But I feel more alive and more excited about the years to come than I have in so long.

So I’ve started taking the necessary steps toward becoming a Physician Assistant. All the whys and wherefores are better left for posts to come. And like any transition in life, although I’m poised to do something great in the years to come, my heart stirs with a subtle melancholy at what I know I’ll leave behind.

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This is a one-month old rescue kitten found under a porch in Queens. After I gave it a deworming solution, put some ointment in its tiny infected eyes, it nuzzled its whiskers against my cheek in a kitten kiss.

OF COURSE I’M GOING TO MISS THAT.

The four years I’ve had as a veterinary technician have been so meaningful to me and led me to understand that I’m way better at science than I had ever realized. That I have a passion for medicine. That I have to be in a field where I alleviate suffering and improve quality of life. I have to be challenged and excited. I’ve loved being a veterinary technician, but I always felt it was a stepping stone to something else, and I’m ready for that next step.

Like I said before, I’m still a full-time technician for the next couple of months, and my “family” at the clinic are being nothing but supportive, offering to work around a school schedule and allow me to stay on part-time. So this isn’t the end yet. And I’ll be writing about each step of my PA journey. But for now, that’s all I wanted to get off my chest. On to the next thing.

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30 Before 30: Visit One World Observatory

19 May

In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

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Manhattan from so far above

On a clear and sunny day, my friend Zach and I trekked downtown to visit the One World Observatory at the top of the Freedom Tower. My obligatory tourist indulgence in a city overflowing with them. At this point, I’ve done Top of the Rock, top of the Empire State Building. So I knew at the very least, I’d get some great views. The whole thing was so orchestrated; though, it ended up feeling surreal.

After going through airport-level security, everyone was shoved into elevators that as they rose to the top floor, displayed on screens a 360-view of Manhattan developing over the centuries. From when it was home to Native Americans, to the first Dutch traders, to the Industrial Revolution, and present day. It was the most interesting part of the visit, but it went by so fast, and everyone in the elevator expressed varying degrees of nausea.

Upon exiting the elevator, we were ushered into a theatre, showing “street scenes” of New York, the kind of imagery constantly fed to people who aren’t from here. Women in high heels catching taxis, smoky hot dog stands, the rumble of a subway train. It’s a little less exciting and hypnotizing when it’s just an expression of your day-to-day. At the end of the movie, the wall lifted to reveal a floor to ceiling window, showing off Manhattan. All the tourists gasped and then clapped before we were ushered into a room where they tried to sell us interactive iPads to carry around. Then we were taken through a gift shop. Then we were forced to take a picture which Zach ended up convincing me to buy, because he’s a sentimentalist, even though I wasn’t ready and look like a goon.

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The green screen photo I CLEARLY wasn’t ready for, but Zach somehow was.

Finally we got to the floor with the views. My phone promptly died after one picture, but it felt better that way. Instead of worrying about the perfect picture, we took our time wandering around, admiring the city from every bird’s eye angle we could find. Once we felt like we had absorbed most of it, we left, caught a cab, giving the driver an address on the West Side highway.

“Oh, you go to the bar!” Our Island cabdriver said.
“You clearly know us.”
“I should park my cab and join you,” he said.
“I’d buy you a drink, man!” Zach told him as we all laughed.

At the Frying Pan, a bar on a pier, we drank cold Pale Ales and ate sandwiches. We laughed about the morning and chatted about innumerable things, the kind of conversation only possible between two people who have known each other 12+ years. Once it got too breezy, we wandered through Chelsea and stumbled upon another dive bar we like, and we grabbed one more beer to cap the day.

THAT’s New York to me. THAT’s the thing they will never be able to appropriately sell to the hordes of tourists. It’s a city full of lovely, kind people, chance encounters, wanderings that usually result in something memorable and familiar. It was great to take in the city from above, but it’s so much better to be living right down in it.

Notorious RBG: the Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

17 May

I had written before about how I had read a book filled with essays about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legal legacy and how it was boring. This book was not. This book was a more biographical survey of Ginsburg’s life coupled with her legal legacy. I loved this book so much, I bought a t-shirt.

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The book comes from a popular Tumblr account put together by a law student, Knizhnik, along with a reporter from MSNBC, Carmon. Together they created a narrative about the amazing work Justice Ginsburg has done in her lifetime, especially in the realm of civil rights. I found myself getting choked up during various sections by how much the world has changed for women as a result of this tiny powerhouse. The fact that I am allowed, as a woman, to pursue a career and an education that interests me, is a relatively new development in American culture.

The authors also paint the picture of a complete human being that lost her mother at a young age, that faced gender discrimination, that bonded with her ideological opposite (Scalia) and sang opera with him in DC, that enjoyed a deep love with a man who was more than willing to subsume his own ambitions to help her pursue her own. She has lived a life so meaningful and robust that an autobiography of her is naturally fascinating.

The book itself is a joy to read. Full of annotated dissents to help the reader understand the legal jargon, a description of her workout routine (this octogenarian still does 20 push-ups a day!), and numerous artistic tributes to her over the years. The last couple of pages of the book talk about how to be more like the RBG, and I soaked in every word. I’m so grateful to this woman for the work she has done and hope to live a life as full as she has. I think every American with even a slice of inclination toward equality should read this book. We truly do stand on the shoulders of this tiny legal giant. An absolute hero. An absolute legend.

“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her wellbeing and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When government controls that decision for her, she is treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

-RBG during her confirmation hearing for the position on the Supreme Court

30 Before 30: Compete in a Crossword Competition

27 Apr

In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 30 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

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At the finals of the 2016 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, the three best cruciverbalists were readying themselves on the stage in front of their giant crossword boards, their ears covered with sound-canceling headphones. The two announcers (one a puzzle constructor, the other a Connecticut sports radio personality) discussed crosswords.

“So what does it take to become good at crosswords? What makes someone enjoy them enough to come here and compete?” The sports radio personality asked.
“Two things. It takes a desire to acquire and retain a great deal of knowledge. And it takes a passionate love for language and words.”

I sat in the crowd (SPOILER! I wasn’t a finalist) and nodded in agreement. I think those are two of the biggest things that define me. An unending need to learn more and an obsession with the beauty of language and how we communicate with one another. As I told friends, co-workers, and family that I was competing in the competition, they all responded with a resounding “NERD.” So be it. Perhaps I am. But it was a special experience to spend the weekend with others who are as wordy nerdy as me.

I took the Metro North train from Grand Central up to Connecticut, and as I walked to the hotel where the competition was held, I started to see people wearing crossword shoes, scarves, dresses. In the lobby of the hotel were stacks of xeroxed copies of the crosswords that had come out that morning in various publications. Everyone was scattered around, chatting about the puzzles, discussing different themes and puns.

Since I didn’t know anyone, I headed into the ballroom and settled at my seat. As other contestants filtered in, I made friends with two of the ladies sitting near me. A retired science teacher from Long Island and a retired Internist from Michigan. They talked to me about past years’ competitions, their favorite crossword blogs (that’s a thing!), and pointed out to me some of the crossword “celebrities.”

“Oh, I just feel so star struck when I come here,” my friendly neighbor said as she pointed out her favorite blogger.

The competition consisted of 7 different puzzles. 6 on Saturday, and the final, large puzzle on Sunday morning. Top scorers then got to compete on an eighth puzzle, Sunday afternoon. My friends (despite relentlessly teasing me for being a nerd) had also encouraged me and almost convinced me that I could win the whole thing. But as soon as time was up on the first puzzle, I realized it wouldn’t be the case. Points are rewarded based on correct answers, finishing the puzzle early, and a bonus for a completely correct puzzle. I decided to take my time and make sure my answers were right. This led to me only being able to finish one puzzle. And it hurt my pride to see so many of the people around me raising their hands and finishing when I hadn’t even gotten around to all of the clues. I’m also used to doing the puzzles on my computer and had to adjust to doing it on paper. I kept losing my place, looking at downs when I was trying to fill in acrosses. Classic rookie mistake.

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The one puzzle I finished: #6.

I didn’t get to stay for the Saturday night festivities, since I had to cat sit in Manhattan, and it was my friend’s 50th birthday party in Chelsea. And I was sad to run out when the “party” was just getting started.

Sunday morning, I dragged myself back to Connecticut, feeling a bit down that my ranking was 542 out of 576. I didn’t think I’d do THAT bad. Puzzle 7 was Sunday-style, meaning it was much larger, and I learned from the previous day’s mistakes and worked through it a lot faster. At the end of the day, I bumped my rank to 536 out of 576 which made me feel a little bit better about myself. After the puzzles were done, there was a talent show dubbed “Crossworders Got Talent,” and it featured song covers about crosswords, spoken word, comedy. It was incredible and weird.

THEN, the finals. If you think that watching other people finish crossword puzzles isn’t fun, you’re wrong. You’re dead wrong. There were three final rounds, with the top three finalists in three different division. What I thought was interesting is that all three divisions had the same answers, just different levels of clues. For instance, a division C clue was “Dots on i’s and j’s,” the answer is Tittle. Difficult, and a term I’ve never heard before. The clue for division A? “A trio in Beijing.” Get it? Because there are three tittles in Beijing?! That’s one I would never have gotten…in either division, honestly.

So the finals were Division C, then Division B, then Division A (the big guns). Everyone in the crowd had the clues in front of them, and by the time Division A got up, we all knew the answers. In the center of the Division A was a man who has gotten first place in the tournament for the last 6 years. If he won this year, he would have the longest winning streak in ACPT history! And he had a 8 second head-start, since he had scored higher on the puzzles. Everyone was sure he was going to win. Then, the second place contestant started to pull ahead. A gasp stirred through the crowd as everyone realized, he was almost done, that he might just dethrone the champ. Then he filled in the final answer, turned around yelling, “Done!” The crowd exploded! He had won!

Okay, maybe it was a “you had to be there” moment, but I had a blast. Not just watching the finals, but the whole competition. I met smart, kind, interesting people. And despite my poor showing, I learned so much about crosswords and improved a lot. I now find myself actually finishing Fridays and Saturdays, which I had never been able to do before. I learned some lessons in solving, and I’ll be back. I have to go back. I have to somehow make my way to that Division A stage.

I took the train home, exhausted from my hectic weekend. I changed into my pajamas and crawled into bed. I took a long deep breath and sat there for a moment before I reached into the backpack sitting at the side of my bed, pulled out some of the xeroxed puzzles I had collected and started working on them until my eyelids were so heavy, I feel asleep pen in hand, puzzles spread out on my comforter.

Book Roundup #7

25 Apr

As I sat down to write this post, I came to the sobering realization that I haven’t written in a month. What on Earth have I been doing with myself? I’m not even entirely sure. Some fun things have happened which I’d like to write about in the coming days, but I guess the answer is that it’s Spring in New York, and everyone wants to hang out and do fun things. Who am I to say no? But lots of train travel has led to a lot of reading.

The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ed. by Scott Dodson

 

RBG is legit. She’s amazing and incredible, and all American women owe her a great deal of their freedoms and opportunities to the work she has spent her life doing. I delved into RBG scholarship by reading this book of essays about her work. I read the first third (the portion about the gender equality cases she championed) with gusto, but I’ll be honest I didn’t finish the rest of the book. The last two sections were about her much less sexy work, mainly her obsession with Swedish civil procedure. This book was more geared for law professionals which I am not. And this book made me realize how happy I am that I’m not.

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

After how much sleep I lost while reading “The Shining,” I decided I needed even more Stephen King twistedness in my life. In type A fashion, I googled a variety of rankings of his novels and decided “‘Salem’s Lot” was a good next step for me. It’s about vampires taking over a small town in Maine. I wasn’t too wild about it. Maybe because in the last decade, the vampire thing has been beaten to death and forever tarnished by the abysmal Twilight series. But I also think my adolescent adoration for everything “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has skewed my perception of anything vampire.

In any vampire story, rules are created. How to kill vampires, how to make them, what their abilities are. I subscribe to the Buffy rules, and I don’t stomach other worlds’ rules well. Secret fact about me: Sometimes when I’m at kickboxing class, I pretend I’m Buffy.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

My sister is a librarian and got an advanced copy of this book at a library conference that she attended. The cover was dramatic, while the title seemed benign. I was skeptical when she said she liked it, but I ended up loving it. The plot is odd. A Korean woman decides to become a vegetarian after a dream she has. It throws her whole life upside down and creates turmoil with her family. Sounds like a stupid plot, but the book was beautiful. The imagery, the hint of insanity. It was poetic, and I couldn’t put it down.

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

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Another book that my sister picked up at the library conference and worked its way through the readers in my family. It follows the investigation of a missing child through the eyes of the mother and the eyes of one of the detectives on the case. Another title that I found to be melodramatic. But the unraveling mystery was fun. Macmillan does a good job introducing suspects and revealing clues. A great, easy read.

 

 

 

The Shining by Stephen King

24 Mar

Other than Goosebumps books from my childhood, this was my first horror book. It was also my first Stephen King book. I try not to be a book snob, but I sometimes become one, and for that I suffer. I’ve always considered Stephen King to be a “grocery-store novelist.” The kind of author that churns out a couple of books a year that are big type, poorly written and can often be found in the check-out lane at the grocery store. Not good books. Trashy in some sense. But that’s not fair. I’m turning my nose up at something I’ve never taken the time to try. Surely some of those books must have some merit.

So I read “The Shining,” and from the first couple of chapters, I couldn’t put it down. No, it wasn’t beautiful and elevated literature, but it was interesting, it had levels of humanity and supernatural interwoven. And I didn’t want to stop reading it. I’d spend my days at work, thinking about the book, counting down the hours until I could get home and return myself to the Overlook Hotel. I fell asleep with the book clutched in my hands and haunted with some twisted nightmares.

I had seen the movie years ago, but it was almost nothing like the book, which I wasn’t expecting. And here, the golden rule for books rings true. The book was better than the movie. And, more to the point of Stephen King adaptations, the book was far scarier than the movie. (Stephen King agrees.) What I remembered about the movie was the haunting cinematography and the psychotic nature of Jack Nicholson playing Jack Torrence. The book doesn’t focus on Jack that way. It’s more about the little boy Danny and about the hotel itself coming alive. I left the movie afraid of Jack Torrence. I put down the book terrified of hotels. Some of my favorite parts of the book weren’t even in the movie. The hedge animals?! Wendy being a badass and not a whimpering mess?! The fire extinguisher hose?! Tony?! There’s hardly any Tony in it.

I’m officially a big Stephen King fan now. I’m officially a horror book/grocery store book fan now. I might have a lot of sleepless nights ahead of me, but my favorite part about reading is getting absorbed in a book to the point where I don’t want to put it down. On that count, Stephen King delivers.

“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”

Hi, is (Voter Name) there?

22 Mar

I’m not going to get political other than to say that I support Bernie Sanders. (And yet push come to shove, I’d vote for almost anyone over Donald Trump. I’d vote for Elmo over Donald Trump.) That being said, I signed up for the Bernie Sanders campaign months ago and have received between 3-6 emails a day about strategy, about his beliefs, and of course asking for money. “C’mon, Christine!” These emails seem to say to me. “Isn’t $3 worth it to show the billionaire class that they can’t control our government!” It totally is. But I don’t contribute, and I use the excuse that I’m saving up to go back to school, and it’s going to be expensive. And I’m stressed about the tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt I’m about to take on. Bernie would understand! This approaching storm cloud of debt didn’t stop me from spending $15 on a carrot, cucumber, and Pimms cocktail this weekend, and I understand the hypocrisy there. But it was delicious, and it made me feel healthy and buzzed at the same time, so that’s that.

But I do believe in the Bern, and I’d love to see him elected, so I decided to give my time instead of my precious dollars. I signed up for a Phonebanking “Party.” Last night, as I headed to the stranger’s apartment in Long Island City, I felt waves of anxiety. I hate the phone. I hate talking to strangers. I hate when strangers call me asking for things. I don’t want to annoy people while they are trying to eat dinner. I told myself a million times, on the train, on the walk, that I should turn around and go home, but I felt committed.

It was a small group. The host and one of her friends were middle aged tech-hippies who have been phone banking for weeks. A young guy named Lee who looked like he had just come from a mock UN trial, clear braces on his teeth and everything. A millennial girl like me, same MacBook Air and everything. Later, an odd guy showed up who had a Bernie puppet. Instead of making calls, he practiced the arm movements of Bernie and asked for feedback. Brie and crackers, Modelo beer, and some wine. Temporary tattoos of Bernie dressed like Robin Hood. Everybody settled around their laptops with their phones.

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Bernie Sanders puppet. 

I picked Washington State since those are my people. I read through the pre-written script a hundred times, terrified of turning my caller setting to ready and initiating the first call. “If I get one person yelling at me, I’m going home.” I told myself. I guess I’m still traumatized from my Upper East Side receptionist days. But I took a deep breath and did what everyone else was doing and felt the sway of mob mentality. I hung up on the first few people I called, because I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t hear the telephone ring. It was just a beep, and then I was supposed to start talking. Oh shit, I’m doing exactly what I feared. I’m annoying people.

But it wasn’t so bad once I got going. Most of the people I called were wrong numbers or they hung up on me right away. I always wondered what that must feel like. It’s relief. As long as I wasn’t being berated I was happy. The script in front of me was ridiculous. A big lead up about Sanders and why he’s great and how I’m voting for him. And then finally the question, “Are you planning on caucusing for him on March 26?” I couldn’t do it. To me that felt like the most annoying part of these automated calls. Instead I just said, “My name is Chrissy, and I’m calling on behalf of Senator Bernie Sanders. Do you have a minute to talk?”

Totally off script, no question like that exists in the script. I was just supposed to launch into my speech. Lee looked over his laptop at me, mouth agape. I’m a rebel, Lee; I refuse to annoy people. I get it though, the reason we aren’t supposed to ask that question is because people say, “No, I don’t have time to talk.” But that’s their prerogative in my opinion. Overall I got a lot of kind responses (I knew Washingtonians would be polite) saying they were busy, but “Go Bernie!” I reminded people of the caucus date and directed them to Bernie’s website for more info. I didn’t see how much good I could possibly be doing. Until I got a hold of Karyn.

The website told me she was 26 and in a suburb outside of Seattle. She did have a minute to talk!

“Can Bernie count on your support on March 26?” I asked.
“You know, I love Bernie, but I’m really on the fence, and I wonder if Hillary is a better option.”

I saw on the script what I was supposed to say. “I understand! Check out Bernie’s website.” But the script is bullshit, and I was talking to a human being, a fellow countrywoman who was on the fence about an important political decision. We spent about 10 minutes talking. She told me about her concerns about Sanders campaigns, some that I’ve thought a lot about too. Doesn’t Hillary have better foreign policy experience? Doesn’t she have a better chance of beating Trump than a self-described Socialist does? I told her how her concerns were valid, and why I came down on the side of Sanders in regards to these issues. I don’t know if I persuaded her, but I gave her somethings to think about. Lee was glaring at me. I had gone SO off-script. I color outside the lines, Lee. Deal with it.

“I’ll definitely do some more research, I guess,” Karyn told me. “I really appreciate you calling. I think what you’re doing is good.” I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT.
“Thanks for agreeing to talk to me, and seriously, check out his website, there is a lot of good information there, and you can volunteer like this in your area if you are interested?”

I can’t believe that I might have persuaded someone. It made the whole anxiety-filled two hours feel worth it. I hung up smiling. And after a couple more calls, I packed it in.

Will I do it again? Maybe. Not against it. Was it worth it? Maybe. If I got out a couple of extra votes. Will I approach campaign callers differently in the future? Absolutely. I had forgotten that on the other end is just another person who believes in something and wants to share it. It really is just a quick conversation. A yes or no. Is it easier to just donate the $3 Bernie keeps asking for? FOR SURE.

The Greatest Drinking Scam

15 Mar

Sometime last Spring, I decided I wanted to drink much, much less than I have through my teens and twenties. It was a culmination of things. As I get older the hangovers are getting crippling, I hated how it affected my kickboxing, I realized how much money I was dropping at bars, etc.

This had rather bad timing with the arrival of my best friend Zach in New York City. Friends since the first week of freshman year, we once got so drunk together that we took turns vomiting in the same toilet. Talk about bonding. He’s a bartender by trade and decided to move to New York after going through a rough breakup. He arrived wanting to hit the town hard. A precarious situation for me, trying to stay away from the sauce. How could I say no? Two of his cousins who I’m also close with (Brian and Jeff) live here as well, and they love to order and take shots. The worst! Even when I was going out a lot, I hated taking shots. It felt like the express train to illness and hangover. But weekend after weekend, we all go out, and they insist on shots. I protest and say no, but eventually give in.

Late in January, on the eve of the biggest snow storm of the winter, we went out to Brooklyn to celebrate Zach’s 30th birthday. I sipped on my beers and was enjoying a happy buzz. As I made my way back to the table from the bathroom, I spot Brian at the bar. I sidle up next to him, weighing whether I want another beer or not. I can see the bartender with three shot-sized glasses.

“No, Brian, no. I can’t do shots. I can’t.”
“Don’t worry about it. I got Zach whiskey, and I got us shot glasses of water.

It takes my mind a moment to wrap my head around this level of genius. While I’m catching up, Brian tells the bartender to add limes to the side of the glasses, for added panache.

“Why has no one thought of this before?!?!” He exclaims before we head back to the table. I’m known for my ick face when taking a shot. So I pulled out my best acting chops after throwing back the cool, refreshing water. I contorted my face and yelled “Poison!” Zach laughed and pointed at me, as he likes to do. Happy birthday, buddy.

We left the bar well after midnight, the blizzard starting its rage. We trudged through the empty streets, facing an onslaught of flurries. Despite the water scheme, I felt nicely buzzed, and we all laughed as we shoved handfuls of snow in each other’s faces. A pretty epic snow fight ensued. Finally in the train station, dripping from the snow melting on our coats, we all embrace in a group hug.

Genius. Genius! Water masquerading as tequila. But of course, as any true crime aficionado knows, criminals love to brag about their victories, and I got this text message when I was in Savannah.

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Brian gave us away and bragged to Zach about the ploy! Alas, the Great Water Con of 2016 will have to be retired. But for one night, as are most ideas during a night out drinking, it was the best idea ever.

My Elite, Top 5 Favorite Patients

9 Mar

I love the majority of patients that come into the clinic. Of course, mean cats and misbehaved dogs are par for the course, but in general, I love animals, and I love working with them. However, there are a few that are special. Some of my patients and I have a special bond, and I end up thinking of them as my own. It happens to all my co-workers. No rhyme or reason, the heart wants what it wants. I started referring to my beloved patients as an elite top 5.

ELLIE MAE

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My darling Princess. One of the owners of the clinic, Dr. S, has a special affinity to pugs. We work with a pug rescue organization and have become known as the premier pug veterinary hospital in New York. Therefore pugs have a special place in my heart. Ellie Mae is one of the greatest pugs, and for us, it was love at first sight. Those tiny black ears, her feminine cankles, the grey fur on her chest. She has back issues and walks with an odd little strut that drags her back legs. I think she is perfection. I’ve become friendly with her owner and take care of her when she’s out of town. And despite the fact that she pooped on me once when I was putting booties on her feet before we walked in a blizzard, she’s still a special, special dog to me.

RAJA

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I took this picture of Raja, because it is the happiest I’ve ever seen her. I often refer to her as “My Cranky Darling.” She has horrible allergies which cause her to have scabby pustules on her body and horrible, goopy discharge from her eyes. She is also VERY protective of her owner. Whenever I go into the room, she growls and snarls at me. Her owner and I laugh a little as she hands me the leash. Raja trots along behind me, willing to walk, but growling with displeasure. Once we are in the treatment area and away from the owner, she is a sweet, loving dog. This was after Dr. N changed up her treatments and recommended special grooming. I think it’s her sass and chubby waddle that stole my heart.

MR PHELPS

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Blurry picture, because he’s so squirmy! At heart, I’m a dog person, but cats play a huge role in my work life, so I had to squeeze one in. Mr. Phelps was born with a genetic abnormality. He’s about half the size of a normal domestic shorthair, he’s missing an eye, and he has a deformed front leg. But all his flaws add up to perfection in my eyes. He comes in every couple of weeks for nail trims, and I love going to the front area, throwing my arms up and joyously announcing, “It’s Mr. Phelps!” His owner does it right back at me as we have a duet of announcing Mr. Phelps.

RAFFEE

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Raffee is a classic rags to riches tale. His owner was summering in Florida when she saw Raffee alone and running around on a tennis court. Once she was back in New York with him, he seemed off to her, so she brought him in. During the routine exam, I noticed he felt cold. We took his temperature, and it was something in the 93, 94 range. A dog’s normal temperature is 101.5, so something was very wrong. We ran bloods, and Dr. L racked her brain trying to figure out what was going on. I did all a technician could do. I heated up some water bottles and plugged in an electric blanket. I bundled him up with the warming aids and held him close to me. With that temperature, he was only a couple of hours away from dying. He kept staring into my eyes, and it was the first time as a technician where I could sense the gratitude of a patient. Dr L figured out that he has Addison’s Disease which is a manageable adrenal disease. Within a couple of days, he was fixed. He’s so very special to me, because I’m convinced that he remembers me from that time. When he comes in for his steroid shot (that’s why he’s so fat), he runs straight to me , tail wagging. He’s a perfect example of why I love my job and why it feels good to do what I do.

MELVIN

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An underbite is the quickest way to my heart. And I have encountered no finer underbite, than that of Melvin. An amazing puggle that boards with us occasionally. He’s such a great dog and always down for a belly rub. He can shake hands, dance, roll over. Swoon! His owner is one of our more difficult clients, but she is tickled by my adoration of her dog. She started calling him my boyfriend and making a big deal of bringing him in to see me…his girlfriend. I mean, I’m at a point in my life where a relationship doesn’t really fit, and I’m enjoying being single and focusing on moving myself forward. BUT, Melvin is a real catch, and I could definitely could see myself settling down with him. Total boyfriend material.

 

Book Roundup #6

7 Mar

Big things happening here. Big changes in the works and due to stress and an insane to-do list, I haven’t been able to write. But I have found time to read, because I will always find time to read in the same way that I’ll always find an excuse to buy Oreos, it’s a part of who I am. And despite my former post going against reading challenges, my librarian sister convinced me to sign up for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge. So instead of aiming to read a certain amount of books, the challenge offers different types of books to be read. A biography, a book by a transgender person, a book about religion, etc. It’s been a great way to search out books that I might not normally read.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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A beautiful book written as a letter from Coates to his son about being black in America. It’s eloquent and heart-breaking. It pairs well with the Black Lives Matter movement and how frustrating it is to be a person of color in the 2010’s. As a white person, I don’t know how to talk about these issues. I support what black people are doing, but I also know that it is not my movement. It is not for me to claim it or to comment on it, because I can’t sympathize with the racism and discrimination they experience on a daily basis. But this book helped me understand it better, and for that I’m grateful.

“It was only after you that I understood this love, that I understood the grip of my mother’s hand. She knew that the galaxy itself could kill me, that all of me could be shattered and all of her legacy spilled upon the curb like bum wine. And no one would be brought to account for this destruction, because my death would not be the fault of any human but the fault of some unfortunate but immutable fact of ‘race,’ imposed upon an innocent country by the inscrutable judgement of invisible gods.”

Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw

This was for the play requirement of my Read Harder challenge. I’ve seen “My Fair Lady” dozens of times, but this is the first time I’ve ever read the play. And I think it’s the first play I’ve read outside of school. It’s a strange thing to read a play, to have access to dialogue and some descriptions, but having to plug in everything else. It’s the story of a poor flower girl (Eliza Doolittle) in turn of the century London who is taken in by a couple of linguists who wage a bet on whether or not they can turn her into a lady and pass her off at a royal ball. The play, more so than the movie, focuses on Eliza’s humanity. The linguists that teach her begin to see her as an object, since she is both poor and a woman. It’s an interesting study of society and how something as simple as how we speak can isolate us.

“I sold flowers. I didn’t sell myself. Now you’ve made a lady of me I’m not fit to sell anything else.”

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

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This translated book is by a journalist who lived with a family in Kabul after the invasion and the expulsion of the Taliban. It follows the patriarch, Sultan Kahn, who owns one of the few bookstores in Afghanistan’s capital, and the lives of his family members. The book goes into detail about living in a post-Taliban Afghanistan, accessing education, the lives of his sons. But it is the lives of his wives and sisters that shines through. As much as I can sit and complain about the United States and my current place in the world, I’m quite blessed to be a woman who has had access to education and has been able to make my own decisions. The women of Afghanistan (at least the ones described in the book) live their lives almost as slaves. They have little choice about where their lives will go. The family decides who they marry and for what price, then their husband decides how she will lead her life. Some benevolent husbands allow their wives to pursue education and jobs, others force them to stay at home cooking and cleaning. I’m not sure how much has changed in the past decade since the book was written, but it made me grateful for what I have. For being able to make my own choices about relationships, about what I wear, the jobs I’ve worked, my access to books and school. It made me feel blessed.

Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America by Kati Marton

Dr G lent me this book, although I’m not entirely sure why. It’s written by a Hungarian immigrant whose parents were journalists in communist Hungary in the 1950’s. As an adult, Marton goes back to Hungary and reads through the state surveillance papers about her parents. She discovers unsavory things about her parents’ extramarital affairs, but also reads about their time in prison and how much they missed their children. Overall, the book was a little dry, often times reading like a book report. But it also felt like a story that has been told before, maybe because I studied in Prague and read about so many stories like this. I didn’t find anything remarkable about it. It made me want to rewatch “The Lives of Others” which is an incredible film about communist surveillance in Berlin. This book wasn’t bad, but I’ve seen it told better.

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

The premise of this book sounded so interesting. In Mississippi, a young boy is found hanged from a tree in his back yard in the middle of the day. His baby sister decides to investigate his murder 12-years-later as a young girl in a small town. I’ve also read “The Secret History” by Tartt, and I think both books are similar in their failings. An interesting plot, great characters, beautifully described setting, but so much superfluous information. Pages about inconsequential moments. This book took forever to finish, and there wasn’t any great payoff in finishing it either. I felt like I worked really hard to get through the book only to be disappointed with the ending. Tartt is famous for her book “Goldfinch” which I’ve wanted to read. But how many hours of my reading life can I possibly dedicate to this woman?