Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Open Letter To My Boyfriend, Ben Zo

Dear Ben Zo:

Since we met about a month ago (can you believe it's been that long? How time flies!), you've completely changed my life. For the better, mostly. You've taken away most of the anxiety of this last - and hardest - semester of school. It's true - because of you, I simply just don't get worked up over the little things. You've helped me see the silver lining in the clouds that make up my sad little student life.

Through all the deadlines, the exams, the quizzes, the care logs, the teaching plans, the clinicals, the senior practicums, the ATI tests, the presentations, etc., you've been there for me, helping me stay calm, stay focused, and keep my perspective. You've taught me that school is just a bunch of random facts and arbitrary rules, and I just need to play the game and get through. For this I am grateful.

You've even helped me relax a little and have fun this semester. I've gone out drinking a few more times than I would have thought; even a few dates. "Who has time for dates?" the old me would have said. But you've changed me. For the better. And again, for this I thank you.

Even my friends have noticed the change. "You seem happier, less stressed this semester," they say. "What's your secret?" And of course I tell them it's you, Ben Zo.

Not only that, Ben Zo, but you've completely changed my eating habits. Yeah - it's true! I'm not hungry - like, at all. As in: at no point during the day do I get hungry. I have to remind myself to eat! And because I no longer seem to have the time to exercise, since you've come along you're preventing me from ballooning into a stressed-out fattie!

However, as much as I love you and thank you for changing my outlook and helping me get through school, we need to talk about this whole sleeping thing. It's like this: Since we met, I just don't sleep.

You keep me up at night

And on the one hand, staying up late is helping me crank through some homework (why, just tonight for example, after midnight I read a whole Saunders NCLEX chapter! Yay for me!). But on the other hand, lately
when that alarm goes off early in the morning, I am bleary-eyed and simply unable to get out of bed because I'm plain tired.

You see: it is now 2am and I'm (still) wide awake (btw, I need to get up for clinical in just 4 hours), contemplating going out for a 5-mile run just so I will fall asleep.

See my point? When it is two in the morning and all I want to do is go for a fucking run through the mean streets of Columbia Heights and Logan Circle, I think it is safe to say we have a problem.**

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that you need to cut me a break, OK? I love you, Ben Zo. But let me get some sleep. Please.

Thanks and good night.

** And yeah, before you even ask: I already masterbated tonight and that didn't do anything.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Accidentally Got Drunk...

Is it bad to show up to a second date drunk?

I had no choice, really. This week was mid-term week, and it was hell. I pretty much bombed two of my three exams, and after the last one ended this afternoon, a few of us headed over to the closest bar to blow off some steam. And sorry, but if you put half a pitcher of beer (or more) in front of me, I'm going to drink it, goddammit. So sue me.**

Besides, I am kinda nervous about this date, which starts in about 15 minutes. I'm not sure I'm very compatible with this guy. He's really cute and very sweet. But personality-wise we may not be in sync. So a little alcohol-fueled bravado might be a good thing. For me, anyway. Maybe not so much for him.

But anyways...

** PS - In case you were wondering, I was drunk when I wrote this post. Yay for me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

These Are Days

The semester continues to freight train down the track, and I'm barely holding on.

The meds are definitely helping, though. Thanks to the benzos, I can barely care about anything. It is a beautiful day today and here I am holed up in the library, trying to study for my Complex II exam on Monday.

I know I should be more freaked out about the semester and all I have to do, but I'm not (again, thanks Klonipin!). After class yesterday, instead of heading to the library, I met some of the Cobras for a beer at Epicurian (ugh). A beer turned into a pitcher but who cares, I was surrounded by good friends.

The evening ended with dinner for Gina's birthday at a Mexican restaurant in Glover Park. Gina's a private person, but someone needed to tell the waitstaff to sing her happy birthday. She wanted to kill me, but hey. This is life.

These last few weeks have been different for me. It is as though things are clicking in ways they never did before. Warm sun in the afternoon but cool evenings. Days and nights of The National, Band of Horses and Arcade Fire. But I'm not sleeping well - pools of sweat at 2 am. Is it the meds?

Nine weeks from today is graduation. Yay. And Yikes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Open Letters to My New York Tricks

I see you after midnight, towards the back of the bar, talking with someone. My friends are ready to go, but I’m not, so I walk up and said hello. I tell you you’re the Hottest Guy in the Bar and we talk.

After awhile, you excuse yourself to the bathroom and not long after I follow you and soon we we’re making out in the downstairs hallway near the exit. PDAs aren’t my thing, but what the hell I’m in New York and I’ll never see these people (or you) ever again. In the cab back to my place I kiss your neck, your chest, lifting your shirt to kiss your stomach.

For hours we share each other, and I fall asleep in your arms. In the morning you walk with me and the dog to a West Village cafe. You buy us coffee and we sit on the step. We exchange numbers and say goodbye and now you leave messages, calling me by my full name in your French accent, saying you want to see me again. But there’s something I should have told you: I’m No Good at This Type of Thing. A relationship with you, or with anyone, is the last thing I need right now.

I’m a bit damaged goods. Can’t you see that?


First I see you standing against the wall. You’re handsome. And blonde. A short time later I see you again, this time near the dance floor and as I walk by you say hello.
O God, are you Australian? As you talk, I look at your blue eyes, your wet lips and tell myself, That fucking accent. Don’t do this. Then you kiss me, right there, and not long after we’re walking back to my place.

You’re funny and smart and that goddamn accent and by the time we get to the apartment our hands are all over each other. At 5am we finally convince ourselves to get some sleep, and the next morning my exploration of your body, your sweet smell and soft skin continues.

And now I’m on the bus back to DC and can’t stop thinking about you and then you text and we’ve already got these inside jokes to each other and I let myself wonder what it would be like if you weren’t just vacationing here. And you’re asking me when I’ll come back to Sydney and it’s probably time to tell you: This has been a fun little game, but you know, I’m not good for anyone right now and this could never possibly work out.

I’m a bit damaged goods. Can’t you see that?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Still Love You, New York

I’m sitting on the bus, heading back from an amazing weekend in New York City. It is my first time back in about three years, and it had been a long time coming.

I love NYC, but it turned into a complicated relationship a few years ago. Back when I lived in DC the first time, I spent some time working a job in which I spent 3 days a week in Manhattan and 2 working from my home office in DC. It was a really difficult time in my life personally, and I was miserable through most of it. I was walking wounded, living in a daze in Manhattan, not happy and not wanting to be there. That was 5 years ago, and before this weekend I’d only been back to NYC one other time. And until this trip, it’s been hard to think fondly of it until now.

The Manhattan of this trip was different than the last, concentrated down to the West and East Villages, SoHo and Greenwich Village. There was no Midtown, no Upper West Side. Aside from a trip to the City Café on 18th with Jacob, a run along the Hudson River Greenway all the way up to 33rd, Friday night in Chelsea and Saturday night stops in the East Village, I never moved north of Waverly; never further south than Canal; never more than a 15 block radius of the apartment. In fact, the days seemed concentrated on four-block concentration between West Broadway and Bowery.

Weekends like this make you think; make you marvel at the way life can unfold. Drinks with friends at the Lakeside and Cherry Lounge in the Village, and raiding bodegas at 3 am can do that. I had brunch at Freeman’s with three great friends. We all used to work together in London five years ago, and now we’re all living in different places. And yet, here we were at a table catching up and laughing like old times. It was a genuinely perfect moment. And reminds me that even though school is rough right now, there is a world outside of it with people who care about me.

It’s a lesson I’ve known my whole adult life, but often forget: Time is a great healer. The pain and memories from hard times, difficulties and heartbreak get replaced with new experiences that can heal you, give you some good perspective. Sitting at that table at Freeman’s, surrounded by old friends, good food and good energy, reminded me of that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

You Have Nice Veins (Or: The Best Complement From an Anesthesiologist, Ever)

Last week during my clinical rotation, I was assigned to observe an open heart surgery (which was awesome and deserves a separate post, but HIPAA compliance prevents me) where one of the anesthesiologists came up to me and initiated the following conversation:

Anesthesiologist (pointing to my hand): "You have really nice veins."
Me: "Oh, um. Thanks."
Anesthesiologist: "Trust me. I'm someone who appreciates good veins, and you have good ones."
Me: "Ahh. Um, thanks."
Anesthesiologist: "No, seriously. I know people who work their entire lives to get veins like yours."
Me: "...Thanks."
Anesthesiologist: "I work out all the time and don't have veins like those. Do you work out? You must..."
Me: "I swim. And run."
Anesthesiologist: "Well, keep up the good work."

I'm keeping this conversation in my back pocket. You know, for those times are tough. Life may be kicking my ass on a regular basis, but you know, at least I've got good veins going for me.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Something Close to Grace (And I'm Not Even Religious)

It's pouring rain - the first time this season - and Yep, suddenly it is really, finally Fall. September 30th and for the first time this year it feels like Fall.

Students are walking through the lounge here in Leavey, shaking off the rain drops from their heads and umbrellas, dressed in jeans and windbreakers. Not a pair of flip-flops in sight.

Perhaps it is because of the weather that tonight I'm acutely aware that this experience is coming to a close. Thirteen months down an just three more to go. Holy crap. I'm giddy and relieved and scared and sad by this reality. School makes me anxious and fills me with dread and most of me wants it to be over. But on a night like this I realize that I will miss it very much when it is.

I sit in classrooms pouring over material that is more often than not difficult to grasp, yet I am surrounded by people and relationships I cherish. It can be as simple as a teacher making a joke, or a classmate rolling his eyes, or my partner in crime Lisa, reaching over to me during an ATI test, with a gentle hand on my elbow saying, "You're fine. It's going to be alright."

I called my parents tonight and had the typically short conversation with my Dad. Although brief, it seemed different. He seemed different. He asked how I was doing and I said, "You know, I'm surviving. It is tough and I'm stressed but getting by." Then he asked me if I was alright. I said, "Yeah, I'm OK."

And then he said, "You know, if there's anything you need, all you have to do is ask. You know that, right?" It was all at once so pure, loving, joyful and completely unexpected that it made me laugh. Genuinely laugh. And I thought back to that afternoon in April 2009 when I told him I got into Georgetown on a scholarship and he hid his eyes from me and started crying. I may not be the smartest kid here in my program, but who gives a fuck - there are people that love me and that I love right back. And this place, this program and me being a part of it is an amazing experience.

I've been here on campus all day - over 14 hours - and I have so much work I could easily stay another 5. But I'm looking out this dark window out at the football field, which is all lit up even now at 10 pm and I'm watching these crazy kids on it playing ultimate frisbee in the pouring rain and I think life is funny and this is a cool moment and maybe I should just enjoy it and give myself a break. The work will get done.