Friday, March 25, 2011

Vegas Bound

I've been to Las Vegas twice. The first trip was back in the stone age, in the pre-children 1980's when Denny and I flew there for a short vacation. The second time was 25 years later, in March 2008 with Ms. Laura for her spring break Both trips focused around the 4.5 mile Las Vegas Strip. They were very different visits from a number of standpoints not the least of which was the enormous change in the appearance of that sinful strip.

I'm going back. This trip will be a third, totally different Vegas experience. I'm so excited; have been since I bought the tickets in late January.

This time I'm visiting my dearest girlfriend, the one who worked by my side for many years in Houston, the one who moved to Florida in 1990, the one who I've kept up with over the years by snail mail, emails, intermittent visits and a very rare telephone call (she knows I shun the phone and maybe accepts my quirkiness). She's also the one who enjoys sipping rum and diet coke, splashed with a bit of lime with me and makes me roll with laughter. She's the one who doesn't take herself too seriously and can take a dare (alright, our dares are getting tamer all the time). She's the one who tells me I'm an unusual and complex person (I like this). She's the one who coined a phrase close to my heart; "I don't know anything about it." (you sort of had to be there to get the relevance and power of this). She's the one who knows everyone, who will talk to taxi cab drivers, who is my reserved social phobic alter ego.

She is Pate. I call her by her last name, always have.

Only Pate would move from Tampa to Vegas. That's a long story.

Only Pate would leave her husband behind in Tampa to sell their house and live in an Airstream trailer in a trailer park before buying a house in Vegas.

I love this woman. She makes me laugh, always has.

In addition to spending time with her, I'm going to cool my heels while in Vegas in a trailer park instead of a glitzy hotel on the the strip. That's an enormous plus.  I told Pate earlier this year that I had to make my first visit to see her while she was still parked in that silver bomb in the midst of other rigs; both big and small, luxurious and otherwise.  She apparently knows all her neighbors and this is not surprising. That's Pate.

Whether I put money in a slot machine while I'm in town matters not. I'd only lose it.  What matters is a few wonderful days away, a chance to renew a friendship of a lifetime, and the distinct privilege of sleeping and drinking rum and cokes in that trailer.

Till later.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lovely Diversions

When work and related pressures threaten to knock me off base, retreat into one of a number of lovely diversions offers relief.

This past week mental exhaustion was beaten back by:

1. A great book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I've been reading the book and listening to the audio version when on the road. This is a great tale and totally mesmerizing. I can't wait to get started  with Stieg Larsson's next two books in this millennium trilogy. I've seen people reading this book for several years and have had a copy for some time; finally decided now was the time and indeed, the time is oh, so right.

2. A totally addictive TV series: LOST. I'm hooked. Denny and I started with Season 1 back in January. It was a slow-go getting excited about watching the series but by the time we made it to Season 3 we were both hooked. Now we're flying through the episodes. Did you know there are 124 episodes covering six seasons? I hate to see this wildly provocative run come to an end. Some of the episodes are like watching the night sky on a clear night; pondering the expanse of the universe and feeling totally unable to comprehend space and time. I've heard so many people rave about LOST and have to wonder: where I was all those years when the show was broadcast week to week on ABC? Obviously doing something else. Hmmmm.

3. My bad; Dreyer's Coffee Ice Cream: sprinkled with mini-chocolate chips, of course.

So there you have my three suggestions for a grand evening after a long day at work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Loving the "Couch to 5 K" program

The Danskin 2011 Triathlon is on my mind and I'm launching the push to get my "swim, bike, and run" skills up to par. This is a process, especially for the couch potato. I'm focusing on the run, mostly to get my cardiovascular system in better shape.

So now I'm going to sing the praises of the "Couch to 5 K" program, a wonderful way to ease in to a 5 K run over a 9 week period by working out 3 times a week in a graduated run/walk routine.  The best part is the C25K app for the I-Phone which allows you  to listen to your own music during the run/walk work out without any need to keep an eye on the watch. The program sends an audible alert to prompt the switch from walk to run and walk. Very cool.

So, I'm a couch gal. Running has never been my thing. But....I must say, listening to all these great tunes on my I phone motivates me nicely. I'm in to week two and so far so good. The right knee is acting up a bit but I'm pushing ahead.  Next month I'll phase in some swimming. And after that, biking.  I've got a plan.

I hear my Mom's voice when I'm running. She whispers, "Go!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

The End of a Bust-Ass Week

I'm plowed under; emotionally and physically beat. This has been a butt of a week.

I'm beginning to feel as though this so-called 0.8 time is a joke; it's every bit full-time by the hours and probably more. I'm off on Mondays but Tuesday-Friday I'm working 8-9 hours with 2 hours plus on the computer at home every evening cleaning up work that I couldn't finish while at the office. Paperwork is strangling me or better said, computer documentation is claiming my life, infiltrating into my home time, my me-time and on and on.

Complain, complain. Yes, I'll complain.

We're short staffed at work; there are too few doctors for the volume and complexity of our patients. We're short staffed with office personnel who seem to be calling in sick regularly. Today I had another migraine headache; my third this week. Pop an imitrex and get to work. Go. Just. Do. It. It really bugs me that not all on our team share in the work ethic and think nothing of leaving us in the lurch to make do without them. Call me intolerant, demanding, and wed to unattainable ideals of teamwork. I am. That, I am.

I've seen so many patients this week they're blending together, their complexities and individual issues jumbled into a ball of pain. Once dictated, the details implode. Thank goodness for a medical record. I have to remind myself to never, ever walk into an exam room "cold". The prior notes need scrutiny or else the first five minutes of the encounter is me trying to cover up my confusion and seeming lack of sharpness. I cover well but inside the landscape is really scary.

I've got the next three days away from work. Can I keep myself disengaged or will there be this insane and unhealthy pull to log back on and work remotely, to get ahead of the wave of work coming my way next week? Oh, my God but I'm weary.

The problem is....once I get a bit of time away from work, my focus shifts to my Dad and his social needs. He needs me to visit, to be his daughter, to take him to church, to just be there for him.

I'm strangling.

Meantime, I'm trying to get in shape for the Triathlon. That's a good thing because whenever I can drag my sorry ass through a workout, I feel better instantly.

Where's the balance? How can I navigate this terrain without as we say, "shorting out" big time?  I've been there, done that and it wasn't good.

I'm trying. I'm trying.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17: of This and That

This will be a quick post; rather un-edited for lack of time.  I've only minutes before I'll head out to a very busy day and an hour commute in both directions.

Today is my niece Jeanne's birthday; she's 41 today. I remember when she was born and have watched her grow from infant to toddler to school girl to young woman to bride and mother of two. This amazing woman is a firestorm of energy and passion. Happy Birthday, Jeanne!

Today is Mark Burke's 57th birthday. He was a high school chum and a crush of mine for a number of years. He and I were paired together at our graduation and I walked on his arm into the St. Stephen's School chapel for our rite of passage into a new world at the tender age of 18. Today he's an internal medicine doc somewhere in Minnesota. I haven't seen or heard from him in decades but this day never passes that I don't think back.

Today is St. Patrick's Day and we usually celebrate with a corned beef and cabbage feast, dark bread and Guinness stout. This being a working Thursday however, we've planned our meal for Saturday and hope that Chris and Heather will be able to join us. My Dad will celebrate today with a special party at the activity center for his adult family home. He's actually rather excited; it's a chance to get out and see something different and listen to a live combo play music from his era. Good for you, Dad.

I've nothing Irish green to wear today; those shades were purged from my wardrobe a while back and I'm left with shades of olive or chartreuse which somehow isn't really green. That's OK though. I'm remembering what my Mom would do back in the days when she was teaching in Aruba. To make a point, she'd always wear something orange on St. Patrick's Day. Why?  As she explained,  "Our Irish fore bearers were from northern Ireland (e.g. Protestant) and I shall wear their color on this day."  Is their color really orange?  I'll have to research that, Mom. You were probably correct. She'd often pull out her patent leather, shiny orange pumps with the plexi-glass heels. Awesome, Mom, awesome. Your spunk made an impression of everyone.

I have no idea what I'll wear today; my closet is the next stop on today's journey. What I'd love to wear is this gorgeous green dress.....of which I wrote in this blog post.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Five Months Ago....

March 12. Saturday. I've been so busy that blogging has been left behind this week.

On my drive up to visit Dad today, I thought about the date; March 12th. Five months ago, on October 12, my Mom died. That seems so long ago and yet  in other ways, I can't believe she's really gone. I often feel like she's close by and that I can pick up the phone, dial her number, and hear her voice on the other end of the line. And then, I reorient myself and remember that those days have passed.

In another month it will be six months since her death; a half year.That six month mark will land on April 12, what would be Mom and Dad's 70ths wedding anniversary.

I remember celebrating their 69th Anniversary last April. I'm so glad there was a big party with music and cake and happy memories. No sense waiting until the bigger celebration coming along down the line; best party on when you can. And party we did. What would we have said or thought had we known that six months to the day, on a crisp October day, she'd say her final goodbye?

I miss you, Mom. I miss you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spokanistan Weekend

We call it Spokanistan, this the largest city between Seattle and Chicago (at this latitude give or take a little). I'm spending the weekend with Miss Laura; arriving Friday late afternoon and heading back home later on today. It's a quick trip, made much easier by flying instead of driving the 4.5 hours on potentially slick winter roads this time of year.

I'm sitting in her living room finishing up my "instant Starbucks coffee". Her roommate, owner of the coffee maker, moved out recently and took the coffee pot. My addiction to a hot cup of coffee the second I'm vertical  had us buying supplies Friday evening, intstant coffee granules infused with cocoa. Quite good actually. Laura is just up, watching TV.

We've had a great time together; lots of visiting, enjoying mojitos (homemade), great food, shopping, and last night took in a movie. Black Swan was intense, in one word. No wonder Natialie Portman won the Oscar for best actress for her magnificent performance in this film. From her body, thin and vulnerable, yet powerful to her spirit, tortured by demons and visions, yet propelled forward by the illusion of perfection, this film was riveting. Loved it. Loved it.  I also loved to see her looking pregnant and very healthy at the Oscars, such a contrast to the image portrayed in Black Swan.

Today we're going to bake a cake for her boyfriend's birthday and perhaps get out for a walk. It's partly sunny (optimistic) out and not too cold.  I don't leave until late afternoon so there's still time for more.

This next week will be extremely busy; I'm back on the hospital service for the next 7 days.  Nice to have a totally different 48 hour experience in Eastern Washington to balance out "the wards". 

Till later.