Tag Archives: work

A Post from the Frontlines

23 Mar


The world is a different place from the last time I was able to write a post. That is an understatement and obvious enough. It’s a time when we are all reaching out more than ever to the people we love and care about to check in. But I find myself reminded that I am in a different position in this global pandemic than most. I’m a registered nurse working in an emergency room in the heart of one of the most affected places on Earth, New York City.

It’s humbling and encouraging and strange to receive messages from family members and friends saying how grateful they are and how “heroic” me and other medical professionals are. I think it’s an odd thing for us to comprehend, because our worlds are still operating. I still go to work, clock in, do my job, eat my lunch, clock out, go home, and rest up for my next day of work. I understand the curiosity and interest in life at the frontlines, and I hope to give some insight into it.

I was told that the first year of being a nurse is the worst and the most difficult. I was obviously not expecting this on top of everything. My biggest frustration at the moment is the very fact that I’m still considered a “new grad” nurse with under a year of experience. I’m technically still in the training phase of my fellowship, and I’m not supposed to pick up shifts. I asked management if maybe we could work around that since these are extraordinary circumstances. They are still on the fence and leaning toward no. So even though I have a nursing license and 8 months of experience, I’m not allowed to pick up shifts within my hospital system. I’m not sure if that will change, but I’ve been in talks with other hospital systems and the state of New York about being on emergency surge lists. Right now I’m trying to use the days off that I have to rest, eat healthy, and exercise. Working on getting my immune system in the best shape it can possibly be in.

When I think about how this thing has unfolded over the last couple of weeks, I know that everything changed for me when I started hearing the stories coming out of Italy. Like most Americans, I had heard of Covid-19 and didn’t want to buy into the panic of it. The panic didn’t make sense. There’s only a 2% mortality rate, so why are we so nervous? I’m a part of a couple of different nursing forums online, and I started to see desperate pleas from Italian nurses. Their healthcare system was collapsing beneath the weight of this virus. Doctors were having to choose which patients could live or die due to the lack of resources, and cities were unable to find space for the dead bodies that were piling up. From across the globe, nurses were begging us to take this seriously, to prepare for what was coming, to avoid their mistakes. It was the first time I realized this was going to get bad and fast.

The cases started to pile up at my ER. Not confirmed cases, of course due to the unconscionable lack of testing, but patients were showing up with tell-tale stories. “My chest just feels tight.” “I felt better for a couple of days, then everything got worse.” “I just can’t seem to get better.” The news articles I read on my phone began speaking of social distancing and working from home. In Italy, people were locked down in their homes, and I wondered if it would come to that. About a week ago, on my lunch break, I left the chaos of the ER to grab some food and saw the park across the street teeming with people. Everyone was smiling and laughing and enjoying the warmer weather. I stared in disbelief. After an exhausting shift, when I got on the subway to go home around 8pm, the train was packed with people in their 20s, most already a few drinks deep. Their laughter caused them to throw their heads back and whoop. I thought of the petri dish of a train car we were sitting in.

The next day was when they began shutting bars and restaurants down. I felt as sad as anyone to watch my vibrant city be shuttered, but I also knew it was the only way. Something horrible is coming. Or more accurately, it’s here. It’s likely on most surfaces, in most bodies, in thousands of homes, and it has the capability of crumbling everything down. I still look to Italy and hope we’ve done enough to avoid the horrors they are seeing, but only time will tell. As I write this, the country of Italy has 63,927 confirmed cases. My city has 12,305.

The spirits among my co-workers are mixed. Some are in a panic, frustrated and stressed about our lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) and dizzy from the hourly protocol changes from the CDC. Some of my co-workers shrug their shoulders and say that we have to keep going and just get through this, and we will be okay. Regardless of reaction, everyone still shows up every day and puts on the masks that we have, the gowns, the gloves, the goggles, and we do what we can. It’s not an ideal position to be in, but it is our job. I think of my professors from nursing school who talked about working through the AIDS epidemic. I think of nurses of the past that treated typhoid fever, tuberculosis. I think of the mother of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, who founded nursing as profession by volunteering to go to Crimea and help treat the wounded soldiers in a war zone. It’s the legacy of our profession, and I’ve always felt deeply honored to get to do it, especially at a time like this.

I fear for my city. I fear for my fellow nurses. I fear for my friends that no longer have jobs. I fear for all the small businesses that I love in my neighborhood who now have an uncertain future. I fear for what my life will be like in the coming weeks, the uncertainty of what I’ll be asked to do. While I know things are going to continue to get worse, I also know that things will eventually get better. I’m looking at Italy as a worse case scenario of what comes next, but I’m also looking to China as to how to get through. The number of new cases there has dramatically dropped off, and they’ve begun to close their emergency hospital facilities. Our time for that will come too.



Penn Foster Vet Tech Program: A Review

13 Oct
Cat Restraint for Practicum 1.

Cat Restraint for Practicum 1.


The vet tech career is unique in the medical world, because many vet techs don’t necessarily need a degree to work. Personally, I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with no interest in medicine. However, I ended up as a receptionist at a vet clinic, trying to make ends meet. Within a year, I realized I loved being around the animals, was fascinated by the medical aspect and the head vet tech was willing to train me.

It was a rough road at first. But, at my job, I am surrounded by talented technicians who I am still learning from. And while I saw that apprenticeship and experience was all that was needed to have a job as a veterinary technician, I also saw that without a degree in the field, I was limited in my upward mobility. I have an ambitious personality, and I didn’t just want to be a vet tech. I wanted to be a licensed vet tech. I want to become a board-certified anesthesiology vet tech. The first step was a degree.

After weighing a number of different options (including the leap of faith of going to vet school), I settled on enrolling in the Penn Foster online vet tech program. That was almost three years ago. Now here I sit, still working as a vet tech, done with my four semesters and first practicum and pulling my hair out trying to complete the second. These are my honest, not-sponsered views on how the program went for me and advice to others thinking about pursuing this program.

  1. Time management is key. I can’t stress this enough. Penn Foster advertises that the great thing about the program is the ability to make your own schedule. Realistically, this isn’t going to work for some people. I’m a book nerd who enjoys studying and has always been good at pushing myself. So I was able to sit down at the end of a long day at work and study. I loved that I was able to keep my job and not have to balance work with a class schedule. But at the same time, that structure would have been nice. I went through a 6-month period where I doubted whether this was really what I wanted to do, and I didn’t study. I wish I hadn’t squandered that time, and if I was enrolled in a community college program, I don’t think I would have. Penn Foster has tried in the last couple of years to set up suggested deadlines for tests and classes which could be a big help to less-motivated studiers. But self-discipline is a prerequisite to finishing the program.
  2. The Proctored Exams are difficult. So how does an online program establish legitimacy in their students? After all, it’s all open book, submitted over the internet, surely it is ripe grounds for cheating. These are true things. The way they eliminate the cheaters? Proctored Exams. At the end of each semester, you are given a live, timed exam. And it is difficult. It is in essay form and asks some of the most minute details from the courses. I’m still haunted by the memory of opening my first semester exam and seeing, “Name the six types of bird feathers.” Sure, I had read over that in the Integument section of Anatomy and Physiology, but I had spent no time memorizing them. Despite meticulous studying, I don’t think I got above a 75 on any of the Proctored Exams. And, yes, it is quite easy and possible to cheat on the Proctored Exams as well, but after all is said and done, we all still have to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) which I hear is quite difficult. The degree from Penn Foster is worthless without passing the VTNE, so cheating is only doing yourself a disservice.
  3. You need to be already working in the fieldThe most difficult part of the program is the Practicum. After the second and the forth semester, every student is required to complete an externship at a veterinary office under the guidance of a veterinarian or a licensed veterinary technician. I had already been working at my vet clinic for years when the first practicum came around, and all my co-workers pulled together like the dysfunctional family that they are and helped me get all my skills and paperwork completed. I don’t know how possible that would have been without already having worked in the field. Experience is more important as a vet tech. The degree is in many ways a formality at larger clinics and veterinary institutions. I suggest to anyone not already working in the field to get a foot in the door any way they can. Become a receptionist, a kennel assistant, volunteer at the ASPCA and befriend some of the people that work there. Find a way in.
  4. It’s less respected, but who cares. An online program doesn’t carry a lot of weight with people in the veterinary world. But the nice thing I already mentioned is that experience is more key anyways. Laws are slowly being passed, and the veterinary world is shifting to a more corporate atmosphere where licenses are becoming more required. But I’ve seen licensed vet techs come through my clinic doors that can’t hold a dog correctly and think diarrhea is icky. (If you can’t handle icky things, run away, run away now.) Some of the best vet techs we’ve seen are the unlicensed ones that come with references from other clinics saying that they are competent and know what they are doing. Again, it’s key to get your foot in the door somewhere to start learning immediately about holding and about the inner workings of a vet office.
  5. It’s shockingly affordable. If I haven’t scared any prospective students away, this is the biggest plus for the program. It was easy to pay off. They let me make monthly payments, without any interest added on. They also offered me deals on paying it off faster. For instance, when I had only $1400 left to go, they offered to knock off 30% if I made one final payment. So I finished paying the program off almost a year ago, and I don’t owe the school a thing. All textbooks, webinars, study guides are included. It’s clear that they make their biggest profit from students who sign up on a whim for the first semester and don’t stick it out. Just make sure that you aren’t one of those people!
  6. More than this, I did it my way. When all is said and done, I’m glad I did this program, because it was the right thing for me. I could spend my days off and my weeknights studying while still working, playing softball, writing. I could travel without worrying about missing class. I didn’t have to commute to a classroom, but could instead sit in my pajamas with a pot of tea and study. I liked that I had that freedom and that school became a part of my life without taking over. There are times I wish I had done an in-person program- for the networking, the face-to-face with professors, the structure and lack of Practicum paperwork. But at my age, and at this point in my life, it was the right thing for me.


Working too hard can give you a heart attack-ack-ack-ack

18 Apr

March was a rough month for me. I brought it all upon myself but that didn’t make it any easier. The head technician at work took the month to go tour around Asia, and I volunteered to cover his shifts. This meant a month of working 6 days a week and close to 60 hours. Add on top of this cat sitting, dog sitting, studying for my final semester of school and this led to a life limited to work and animals. Work wasn’t the most joyful either. I had to work with Dr. Z who is quite possibly the most difficult, arrogant man in the world. But he signs my paychecks, so I have to grin and bear it. We also took in a precious little pug puppy who after weeks of intense nursing passed away, leaving me devastated but too burnt out to even think of sitting down and crying.

At night I would come home (sometimes to cat/dog sitting clients’ apartments), eat, shower, study as much as possible, and maybe allow myself a bit of time to write in my journal or read. The exhaustion of a long day would overcome me as I turned out the light. This is when my heart would start to pound. I could feel it in my ears, in my hands, in my feet. Breathing would become difficult. It felt almost as if I was drowning. I’ve been having nighttime anxiety attacks for the last 3 or so years, but those were maybe once every other month. This was happening every night. I became accustomed to listening to Buddhist podcasts I had downloaded. I used them to slow down my breathing, to let go of anger, to breathe loving presence into myself. But night after night, there it would be, my pounding tell-tale heart. As my anxiety attacks became worse and more frequent, I found myself almost unable to focus on the teachings. I could hardly even focus on the words the teachers were saying.

Then one night, toward the end of the crazy work run, I left work and on the train home thought over the list of things that I had to do: catch up on schoolwork, update blog, clean the bathroom, book flights to San Francisco. But as I walked into the door of my apartment, I said fuck it all and changed into my workout clothes, grabbed my boxing gloves and went to the kickboxing center. Every muscle in my body felt wound up, and I guiltily walked into the room, knowing my instructor has noticed that I haven’t been in to work out in a month. He just smiled at me though and said welcome back.

The workout began. Running, jumping jacks, burpees, crunches, planks, and the millions of varieties on all of these. But unlike other times when I have worked out, I moved with an intensity, with an energy burning inside that I was unaware of. When we got to the point in the class where we got to punch and kick the bags, I went crazy. I hit and kicked harder than I knew was possible. With each swing I thought of all the things that have made me angry, disappointed, frustrated. I saw the face of Dr. Z and punched with each condescending thing he has said to me. I thought of the puppy dying. I thought of people shoving me on the train. I thought of every moment where I tried to breathe through an emotion instead of confronting it.

I felt a light tap on my shoulder, as my instructor told me class was over. I was dripping with sweat, breathing heavy, every muscle in my body shaking.

“Good workout today, champ,” he said to me. All I could to was nod and try to catch my breath.

At home in the shower, I felt elated. I felt ready to take on the world. My mind was awake and refreshed and clear. I thought of things I wanted to write, places I want to go, paths I want to go down. I felt like I could deal with it all. “Bring it, world. I can take on anything.” And that night, my heart stayed calm as I slipped into sleep with ease.

I love Buddhism. I love what it teaches, but I can’t help but disagree with this idea of sublimating anger and negative feelings. Maybe I’m not doing it right or I’m approaching it wrong. Maybe my crazy workout fits in with Buddhism. I didn’t take my anger and put anything negative into the world. I didn’t hurt anyone, start a fight, say something that I might later regret. I did nothing but strengthen my body and improve myself. But it had to come out. All that anger. It didn’t go away with breathing.

Life is back to a beautifully healthy balance now. And my workouts have stayed intense. Maybe they are a form of meditation in themselves. A way to exist in the present moment, to feel alive and aware and connected. To confront the truth. Maybe sometimes the truth is simply that I’m angry and that’s okay.

The Right Path

27 Jan

I’ve had so many ideas for posts this last month or so. But something weird happens to me if I don’t seize on an idea in a specific amount of time. I sit down and try to write, and it comes out stilted. So I delete it and walk away. I’ve also just been busy. I was excited for this Sunday-Tuesday stretch. Minimal plans. A couple of writing ideas. A blizzard to keep me from going out. Then this happened:

IMG_2350Flag football is not my favorite activity. I think from now on I’ll just stick to soccer and softball. It was extremely painful the first couple of days, now it’s manageable. I can’t handle how messy my handwriting looks, and I’m typing without the use of that finger and pinky. Way to go, Wilson. Way. To. Go.

On a happier note, I spent a couple of days earlier this month in Florida with my family for our annual Christmas in January. We walked barefoot on the beach. We ate an obscene amount of delicious seafood. We even did some water aerobics. But my favorite moment of the vacation came at the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital.

After touring the hospital, looking at X-Rays and case histories, we headed over to a water tank where they had a handful of Cownose Rays. The docent gave us a little lecture about them and about their care and then invited us to feed them. Of course, little kids got to go first. I eyed each little kid jealously until the docent opened it up to big kids. Me!


The kid behind me just had his mind blown by the experience.

The lady placed a piece of shrimp between my fingers and had me lower my hand to await the Ray. It came around to me, stopped and hovered. Then it felt like a little vacuum cleaner popped the shrimp out of my hand. It was surreal and strange. The little creature swam away but rubbed its slimy belly on my outstretched palm before it left. I squealed with delight, made a goofy face. It was amazing, and I loved it. I ended up buying a Ray patterned wallet and some earrings. That little guy stole my heart.

This was the highlight of my vacation. Hanging around and feeding animals. Next month I’m using up the rest of my vacation days to also spend time with animals, albeit much larger ones, but still. My job is to be around animals, yet I can’t seem to get enough.

The other night I was listening to a Buddhist podcast while falling asleep. I only remember two things from it. Other than the awesome joke about slutty parrots, the main thing I took away from it was this quote:

“True happiness is finding beauty in the detours.”

I have so much more that I want out of my life. And I’ve had to face the reality that I don’t know what is actually going to stick. I don’t know if I’ll stay a vet tech. I don’t know if I’ll ever make my bones as a writer. I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay in New York. I don’t know if I’ll ever find my Rhett Butler.

What I do know is what I realized that day at the Sea Turtle Hospital. I love what I do. I’m endlessly interested and fascinated by animals. So I must be doing something right.

I got up at 6:30 this last Saturday so I could go feed some cats before work. Walking from that apartment to work in chilly drizzle, I felt a lightness in my chest. I was practically skipping. My boots gracing the tops of puddles. My two braids dew-covered in the rain. I was inexplicably, supremely happy. I don’t know where I’m going, but this has to be the right path. It has to be. It’s just so beautiful.


Cat Sitting

16 Dec
A couple of rescues from the NYPD.

A couple of rescues from the NYPD.

Last week, Dr. L introduced me to a new cat sitting client. His cat, Midnight, had that day been diagnosed as a diabetic. Him and his wife often go to Long Island for the weekend, and he needed someone to stop by and give Midnight her insulin. I quoted him my rates, and we had made a deal.

“You know,” I told him. “I also do cat feeding and litter box changes if you wanted me to take care of all of it while I stop by.”
“Oh no. There’s a lady in our building who does that and..um… she does that.”
“No problem. I’ll just take care of the insulin then.”

He sent me a nicely detailed email about the times he wanted me to stop by. The cat sitter that lives in the building would feed the cat in the afternoon, and I was to come over in the “early evening” to give her the insulin.

So after work I walked to the apartment, and as I entered, I heard someone rustling in the kitchen. I called out a hello and a slight-of-frame woman came out from the kitchen with a phone cradled between her shoulder and face.

“The technician just got here,” she said into the phone. “Yes, she just walked in. So I’ll help her.” She hung up the phone and turned to me. “I’m the other cat sitter. That was Bruce. He told me you were coming in the early evening, and it’s almost six.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you’d be here.”
“I’ve been waiting for you since 3 when I fed Midnight. I called Bruce to tell him that I could just give the insulin. I know how to do it myself, you know.”
“Oh, okay,” I said making my way to the kitchen to draw up the insulin. I wanted out of that apartment.

“Bruce is such a nervous daddy,” she continued. “I mean, I can give the shots. I know how. I don’t know why he hired you. I’ve done this before. I’ll hold Midnight for you. She doesn’t like strangers.”
“I actually met Midnight at the clinic.”
“She likes me better.”

So I let the woman hold the cat while I gave the quick injection. We both left the apartment together, and she told me to call her tomorrow if I needed help giving the injection in the morning.

The next morning I walk into the building and tell the doorman at the front desk the apartment number that I’m going up to. He picks up the phone and starts calling someone.

“Oh, they’re not there,” I tell him. “They left a key for me to let myself in.”
“That’s not who I’m calling.” I swallow my annoyance as I hear him announce to my cat sitter friend that I have arrived.
“She will meet you at the apartment,” he tells me.

I head upstairs and let myself in. I get out the insulin and start drawing it up as the cat comes out of the bathroom and circles at my feet. A couple of moments later, the cat sitter enters.

“When you said late morning, I didn’t think you meant 11!”
“Here. Let me hold Midnight. I can do this myself you know.”

I smile and nod and give the injection that I was paid to give.

“I’ve given injections to other animals before. I don’t think Bruce will be using you again. I’ll just do it from now on.”
“So I’ll leave my key here for them, so they don’t have to come by the clinic,” I say, placing the key on the living room table.
“Sounds like a good idea,” she says to me. “I mean, I have my own set.”

So, needless to say, I don’t think that client will use me again. I felt a mix of frustration and guilt. I never meant to step on this woman’s territory. I wasn’t trying to steal her client. I had no idea Upper East Side cat sitters could be so territorial.

Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran

10 Apr

whywewriteI found out about this book from the ever amazing Brain Pickings website which is a great place to find inspiration and guidance in leading a creative life.

The book (despite consisting of 20 author interviews) is short and quick to get through. I read it in two days on subway trips to bars on a Saturday night and to softball games on a Sunday evening. But the advice and the guidance within is invaluable.

What I admired about this book is while I’ve read similar amalgamations of writerly advice, this isn’t just one type of author. You have some very commercially successful mystery thriller writers, some nonfiction writers, some indie writers, a little bit of everything. And for being a book about creativity, it’s also down-to-Earth. The authors talk about their literal journey to where they are now. The logistics of paying the bills, getting published, finding time to write, changing careers.

What struck me was despite how vastly different they all are in every sense, they all kind of said the same thing. Write for yourself, work really hard, don’t give up when someone doesn’t like your stuff, work hard, write about what inspires you, work even harder.

It includes some authors that I already know and respect like Michael Lewis and others that I’ve never heard of. All of their stories were valuable though, and I recommend this book to anyone who desires a writerly life.

Becoming a Vet Tech vs. Becoming a Veterinarian

23 Nov

Alas, the white coat life is not for me.

It was about a year ago that I decided I would like to pursue a career in the veterinary field. I knew I would start by being a veterinary technician, but I harbored a dream of one day becoming a veterinarian. I’ve debated this ardently with myself for the last year. Some days I would stomp my foot and just know I was going to go to vet school. Other days I would look at the career of a vet tech and think it was the more viable option. So many different people weighed in on it that I ended up feeling absolutely stuck, not sure which path was the right one for me.

The good news is about two weeks ago, I settled on a career path as a veterinary technician. I enrolled in a correspondence program to get the necessary degree to apply for my license. I am so excited, yet calm at the same time. I finally feel as though I have a direction, and I am doing exactly what I should be doing at this point in my life. I have made vet tech friends in the last year, and I have watched some of them settle for this career, and I have watched others begin pre-med programs. All I know is that this is what is right for me. For anyone going through a similar dilemma in the vet world, here are the things to think about, the information I have gathered in the last year.


  • It’s your dream. You’ve held onto this ideal from childhood when you held your first kitten, puppy, foal, piglet, whatever. This is what you’ve always wanted to do, and you can’t imagine a life without it. Who cares about doing anything else? You get to save animal lives, and you will absolutely love dedicating yourself to it.
  • You will be a doctor! Oh, the prestige of making other people prelude your last name with”Dr.” I’m not being sarcastic here. It’s definitely a plus. You will become an expert with animals, and the possibilities are endless. You can own your own practice, specialize, become a professor, write a book.
  • You get to do the best parts. By the nature of your license, you will get to do three of the funnest things in veterinary medicine. You get to perform surgery. You get to diagnose animals (It’s like a big puzzle!). And you get to prescribe medication.
  • You’ll make more money. You are the doctor after all, and the practice hinges on your license, which means you obviously get more take home pay. You can also become a practice manager and have an even greater opportunity for profit.
  • What’s a vet tech? Since becoming one, I’ve had to explain my job to countless people. It’s not a well-known profession. A veterinarian, though? Everyone knows about them.


  • It’s one of many dreams. You love working with animals, but there are also a lot of other things you care about. For me, this was the biggest factor. My passion has always been writing. I spoke to one of the doctor’s about this, and she reassured me that in vet school, you have no time for anything else. A lot of her classmates ended up dropping out a year or two in, because they did not have the single-minded determination to put aside everything else to focus on their studies.
  • You don’t have to put your life on hold. I went to an information seminar for Ross University’s vet school. One of the girls in the audience asked if there were work-study opportunities. The admissions person told her no, that school would be her life. For me, that was a huge sacrifice, moving to an obscure area (only 26 vet schools in the country, mostly rural), doing nothing but studying, and not being able to work in the meantime. The vet tech program I started allows me to take classes on my own time, while still working a full-time job, gaining experience in the field I love. Not to mention that I will have time to travel, time to write, time to visit every baseball stadium in the country, time to play softball, you get the point.
  • You get to do most everything a vet does. Granted the things listed above are the coolest things in vet medicine, there are still a lot of things you will be capable of doing. Once you have a license, you can become board certified in a number of fields and do just about everything a veterinarian does.
  • You will save money. Sure, the starting salary of a veterinarian is about what a veterinary technician will top out at in their career. HOWEVER, vet school costs around $200,000, not including pre-med requirements. As mentioned before, it is also four years of not working. Vet tech school is costing me about $5,000, and I’m working full-time throughout while still making a decent wage. Once I get licensed, there are a variety of opportunities for more money as well. So at 32, I won’t be making as much as I could as a vet, but I will also be relatively debt free.
  • What’s a vet tech? One of the best parts about being a vet tech (this has been verified by countless veterinarians) is that you have much less exposure to the clients. They want to hear from the doctor, they want to talk to the doctor, they might eventually try and sue the doctor. All you have to do is show up and do your job. There is still some client interaction, and the veterinarian could hold you liable for mistakes, but the vet has way more at stake (their license) and will generally support you and make sure you’re comfortable.

Like most things in life, I think it comes down to how much a dream is worth it. There is more that goes into becoming a veterinarian, but if it is such a burning desire for you, it’ll pay off in the long run. I don’t want to discourage anyone. I wholeheartedly admire my friends that are pursuing vet school. But, if it’s not a big enough dream to account for all the time, money, and sanity, then a vet tech career is also a fantastic option.



5 Sep

I have spoken here before about the sage advice of Dr. G. He’s just my favorite. Today I assisted him in a spay while he regaled me with stories of him traveling around the world to do a rare procedure known as a PU for various wealthy people’s pets. During the spay/story time, a receptionist interrupted to let him know that a client was on the phone about her dog’s persistent diarrhea.

“Jesus,” Dr. G muttered. “Tell her to wipe the dog’s ass, and leave me the fuck alone.”


Recently, I found a book that the office manager started of Dr. G-isms. It’s a gold mine. You’ve got the traditional phrases that we hear all the time, like, “I should have been a mortician.” And you’ve got your situational quotes. In reference to expensive makeup: “It’s all just horse piss. Why don’t you buy a gallon of horse piss and put that on your face?”

But there’s one that I found in there that I simply can’t stop thinking about. I think it’s pure genius.

“You can’t just be a whore. You’ve got to be a whore with tricks.”

To me, this is such a good philosophy to life. Dr. G is one of the best veterinarians and the best surgeons in the country. But that’s not the only trick up his sleeve. He loves to cook and cook very gourmet meals. He’s an obsessive Yankees fan. He loves fish. Yep, fish. He has bowls of them in his office that he takes care of every day. He goes to special fish stores and gives them special fish food. Every year, he takes a week to volunteer at a camp in Colorado for terminally sick kids. He has whole other aspects to him besides being a sharp-tongued surgeon.

I guess this is something that has bothered me. My life has been at the vet office the last month or so. I spend all my time there. I’m looking into vet schools, looking into other volunteer options for animals. It’s become all consuming, and that’s not healthy.

I don’t want to just be a veterinarian. I want to be a writer too. I want to write novels (crappy or amazing, I don’t care), I want to see all the baseball stadiums in the country. I want to be a coffee snob all through Western Europe, then a beer snob through all of Eastern Europe. I want to play soccer AND softball. I want so much more out of life that I think I’ve even realized.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in something that seems bigger than yourself: a relationship, a job, even a hobby or a passion. But none of it is bigger than yourself is what I’m starting to realize. I’m not just a whore. I’ve got tricks.


5 Jul


I didn’t have any big plans for the fourth of July this year. I expected I’d get together with some amalgamation of friends, drink beer, sit in the sun, watch fireworks. It would be nice. But when my boss asked me to work the holiday shift, I sighed and said yes. This is life at the bottom of the totem pole.

So I worked 8am till 8pm on the fourth of July, and it was a relatively slow day. There was a rush between two and five where we had a slew of emergencies come in. We even performed a surgery, the name of which I can’t remember. In layman’s terms, we sewed a cut on a Vizzla’s nose under light sedation. Oh, we also saw a cat with ringworm. So we were all scrubbing ourselves like crazy and bleaching every inch of the hospital. I’m still itchy and constantly checking my skin for lesions. So far, so good!

Most of my day was taken up by the gentleman pictured above. Crane.

Crane is a bulldog. Crane is a hot mess. His owner is kind of a jerk, but he’s wealthy and travels constantly. So Crane boards with us often. So often that when Crane’s owner walks him into the clinic, all he has to do is unleash him and Crane marches straight to the back area of the hospital, through all the swinging doors and walks up to a cage and waits for us to let him in. He knows the drill. So on Tuesday when we heard a loud thump through the doors of treatment and heard labored, phlegmy breathing, we all just looked up and said, “Oh hey Crane.”

Where do I start with his issues? He’s not castrated, so he has prostrate issues and urinates everywhere. He has dermatitis in his face folds. His eyes give off this thick green discharge, as do his ears and nose. He overheats easily and makes creative breathing noises. He requires so much care. Most everyone at the hospital finds him amusing but chooses not to deal with him, because he is simply disgusting. The only one who really loves Crane is Christine who is out on maternity leave. So with her gone, I had to step up.

He requires treatments almost every hour of the day. He has different pills to take, different ointments, drops, cleaning routines. He’s nearly blind, so he doesn’t like to leave his cage. I often have to climb into his cage with him and scruff him by his folds to get his eye drops in. He hates having his face folds cleaned, but I must. Crane, I must!! So I have to wrassle his head still while he snorts and spews weird bodily fluids all over me, and I try my damnedest to get into those folds with some wipes which quickly turn brown and black from the debris that gets caught there. Crane is a full-time job.

After it slowed down on the fourth, I sat idly flipping through his chart, the catalog of issues, and I got to wondering how happy he can be. I thought I was alone in the hospital so I went over to his cage and squatted in front of it, just looking in at this disgusting, slobbering mess, thinking about his life.

But I wasn’t alone. Rob, a kennel staff member, was there. He was reading his book out of boredom when I asked him, “Do you think Crane’s happy?”
“Of course he is. It’s Crane. Why wouldn’t he be?”
“I don’t know. He’s gross and weird and has all these problems and no one pays attention to him. That’s gotta get him down.”
“He’s Crane, though. He is what he is, and he’s happy. He doesn’t know any better.”
I looked down at Crane, listening to the gurgling of his brachiocephalic trachea pushing air in and out with such effort. He thumped to the floor and started licking his paws, slobbering over them.
“He’s totally happy, Chrissy. C’mon, it’s obvious.”

So I let myself believe that, as I take the time to take care of Crane. Somebody has to love and take care of the messes of the world. Right?

I Gamble

29 May

I got so many wonderful responses to my “I Quit” post that I thought I should write a follow-up.

The main reason I quit my job was because I hated working at the reception desk. I knew it wasn’t for me, and I was only sticking it out so that I could one day move to the tech position that was promised me. At some point, I felt like I was being shuffled around and was never actually going to get my chance. It seemed the only way I would ever have a chance at being a full-time technician was if I quit the reception desk and cleared up my schedule. So I gambled.

I’m a good Reno girl who knows how to gamble responsibly. For me, the key is always to not put at risk too much. Sure, you have to bet big to win big, but no one wants to lose their house or their entire life savings. Gamble what is feasible to lose. I am in a lucky position in life where I can be unemployed. I have the financial resources; I don’t have anyone depending on me; I have a lot of support from those close to me.

So I felt it was a 50/50 chance that in quitting my job I would be offered the technician position. But if that didn’t happen, I was still okay with my decision. It was still worth it.

So I quit. The following week was difficult as some of the upper management began acting rude towards me. It hurt, because I was under the impression that I was a good employee, that I’d put in over a year of hard work, and I deserved much better treatment. I accepted that my time at the clinic was over, and I was meant to move on.

Then, last Tuesday, I was called into the clinic owner’s office. I thought he was going to hand me some sort of a project for my last few days. Instead he sat me down, said a lot of uncharacteristically kind things to me and offered me the technician job. Apparently, the woman that has been training me the last couple of months insisted that they hire me, that they were being foolish if they didn’t. I was surprised by his offer, and I decided to take it.

It’s good training, and in many ways what I wanted to happen, but at the same time, I find myself disappointed. I’m not entirely happy with where I work, and oddly enough, a part of me was excited about being unemployed. I feel like that is such a callous and foolish thing to say. There are millions of people out there that are struggling with unemployment, so I find it hard to sit and whine about having a job. I should be grateful. It is the job I wanted after all.

But a part of me wanted to have time to write, to travel, to lay in the sun in Central Park, to visit friends and family, to spend an afternoon plotting out my life and scheming for the future. But it’s off to work I go. Don’t get me wrong I am happy, but there is always a part of me that will wonder if I could be happier.