Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Public decency

It's interesting to think about what we share and what we don't. I am an avid user of the app/website goo.dreads and I set a reading goal at the start of the year to read 40 books. Then in November I realized I hadn't really watched my progress and had logged only 25 books. I quickly opened my reading app and browsed the contents, realizing I'd read 20 books in the previous month or two alone and if I just listed those, I had exceeded my annual goal.

Then I looked twice at the covers of the books. Mostly naked or shirtless guys, some partially clothed women, almost all romance novels. I decided that the more NC-17 sorts of books would stay off the public list because...  I really couldn't tell you why my romance novel habit is so embarrassing that I won't list all the mediocre smut I read publicly. I suppose it's a way to protect my anonymity and maintain my privacy. The particular sub-genre I read a ton of this year is perhaps more mortifying in the light of day than just some R or NC-17 romances.

It makes me wonder why the shame around sex sticks in my mind so well. Or I'm not even sure if it's shame or not, but it probably is. The other folks at work were having a borderline nsfw discussion and I certainly could have added to it in a suitably raunchy way, but I just smiled and said nothing. On the one hand, perhaps that's boss-like to avoid saying inappropriate things. Mostly I suspect it's the result of the closet I am still kind of in. My policy on my sexual orientation and gender identity is that I will tell if someone asks but I don't volunteer information. My relationship looks hetero and cis so nobody questions and I don't tell. A chunk of it is that public, face-of-the-company employees get held to a higher standard than everyone else and I don't want who I am to impact things in this small town if I can hide and keep being me in private and respectable in public.

I also wonder what life would be like if we were totally honest. Would it hurt us all or would we be better for it? Why do we have moral standards anyway when the taboos being broken through different sorts of sexual relationships aren't hurting anyone (thinking of teh gayz and the polyamorous folk, maybe polygamy, non-cis gendered folks specifically)? Who is kept in power by all that moral high ground they claim and why is it so beneficial to have (or argue that you do)? People are so weird sometimes and then needlessly cruel to each other.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


I have made a lot of giant leaps based on intuition in my life. I'm not sure if that's good or bad or what, but it is fact. I knew within ten seconds of meeting my spouse that it was love and that I was all in, for better or worse. We were engaged 6 weeks after we started dating. Before I hung up my coat on interview day, I was sure about where I would go to pharmacy school. And this job, this move, that was a huge leap. I saw the job description and went "aha! The perfect job, aside from not being the most perfect job that I didn't get! It actually requires all of my skills and no nights and short weekend hours!"

The strange thing to me is how much I have second guessed this job. I know I questioned myself previously either as or just after taking those big leaps, but I don't remember this level of disquiet and insomnia. Granted I think it's normal work insomnia that seems to just be part of my life as a pharmacist - the mistakes wake me up at night, usually the little ones that repeat themselves in a dream loop until I'm wide awake.

Tomorrow we take another leap. My spouse and I decided on a Really Big outdoor scenic adventure (that I'm henceforth abbreviating RBA because I love three letter acronyms) for next summer and we start training tomorrow (well, later today). I have no idea how this trip will be possible but we need the goal to get us into gear. We plan on a week-long bike trip with big daily mileage goals to see everything. I am starting to work on my balance, my bike goes to the shop for repair, and my spouse is tasked with gathering an equipment list and training plan. There will be a chart or three. It's daunting to know how far there is to go and yet to know it's possible.

I liked what Josie's mom said the other week (excuse the bad paraphrase): being overweight is hard, working out is hard, eating right is hard, eating junk is hard (on your body); choose your hard. Today I choose to work hard toward a week of playing hard and relaxing away from work. Tomorrow I will choose it again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The case of the red lentil pasta

When I first got this job, I had a week of training in another city at another store. The company put me in a hotel, a pretty nice extended stay with a pool (that I didn't use because I was sick either from the antibiotics or the infection that raged on despite the antibiotics) and my own dinky kitchen. This meant I cooked. One night I was at Giant Red Box store getting laundry detergent and dinner. I was perusing the dinner-in-a-box choices and discovered a kit for mac and cheese that has some veggies and green lentil pasta. The price was within my dinner budget so I decided to try it. Only the next day when I was raving about its deliciousness did I realize it was gluten free. 

So then I demanded my spouse try it. While viewed as tolerable, it was not much favored. I decided to try red lentil pasta, because why not? It might be awesome. And it totally is awesome. Om nom nom. BUT! The best part? Little Monster is forever stealing my food. I always make extra just in case. Tonight she liked my red lentil pasta with Parmesan cheese so much she needed her own fork. So instead of cereal for dinner that my spouse served the girls (no judgement, cereal happens, I get that today was busy and such), Little Monster also got fiber and protein and a bit of fat from my pasta. Victory!

On the food front, I have no real hope of the Kid expanding what she eats, although today she did try a cinnamon roll and ate it. That's not technically a new food since she ate them until maybe 18 months ago so it's a return to an old food. Still! baby step maybe. Sigh. Yesterday LM discovered her ribs and noted how much bigger and poke-ier her sister's ribs are than hers.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The here and now

At long last the Kid really reads. She didn't feel confident she could read well enough up until just lately when it clicked that she could do it. I could pretend that I have no idea where she gets the "it must be perfect or I won't even start, it's too hard if it takes more than 2 tries, fear of failure paralyzed me" mentality, but clearly it's her parents modeling that in some behavior or other. It sure isn't in what we tell her or how we praise her efforts (and she often points this out and uses great effort as a reason why something must be kept FOREVER) so we adults need to look over ourselves and root out the perfectionism. Her favorite books are Wayside School gets a little stranger and Calvin and Hobbes. She got really into a patent law discussion recently when we tried to explain it after a strip where calvin's dad starts telling him the story of the Extra Awesome Tool Patent or some such. 2nd grade. Whoa. I mostly kick myself for not having taken a job that meant we could have stayed put because this school is so inferior to her previous one. She may learn something this year but it's hard to say. We do multiplication at home, they do single digit addition to equal something under 20 in school. Her outfits tend toward bright and with patterns regardless of whether the patterns match each other. Unicorn socks are much sought after but we just have the one pair, 3 sizes too big because I guessed wrong at the store.

Little Monster is going through the most terrible part of being two. She has strong opinions about everything, including that the only song in Just Dance that can be played is Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants and that the color of her controller's light change at least twice a song. Screaming and tantrums occur every few minutes because she is so MAD. Naps are mostly gone but sometimes that means a sane bedtime near 8pm so that's all right. She loves her purple "fizbee" and her toy bulldog and white rat. The rat looks real enough that I often start and think a dead rat snuck into my bed or onto the driveway before I look again and see its fluff and tag remnants. She keeps changing her identity from Donnie (fav ninja reptile) to Little Monster, Esquire (her full name with all its syllables, no nicknames or omissions) and then to Princess Something (Sofia, Elsa, McStuffins, Mer-da, Anna, Baymax, etc.). She must be going through a gross motor growth or development spurt because she crashes and leaps to her crashing scraped-up sadness often. Last week she was being raced down the block in the stroller by the Kid and she got tipped forward onto her face. I think a front tooth moved in addition to a tiny chip but it didn't bother her too much so we let her be. The girls now can only go 2 houses from home and never across the street for LM and absolutely no stroller. Today she first refused bandages for her dripping blood scrapes, then demanded them, then cried and hid when we tried to put them on her at all, with hitting and writhing when the bandage got within 6 inches of a scrape. Most nights she sleeps on our floor and still has the accursed baby plug (aka pacifier) and someday that will change but not yet. I can't bring myself to make her give up that last baby vestige.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fantasy versus reality

I am recognizing that my ideas about life after pharmacy school were, well, idealized and wrong.

When the Kid was little, we both read her bedtime stories and shared the tuck-in routine. It was nice. When I started pharmacy school and she discovered being an insomniac no matter how early we put her to bed or how totally we attempted to exhaust her, I ceded all bedtime routine to my spouse. I always expected it to be temporary during school but then just-about-bedtime became my regular study group time so I would get cut short reading a story, crying would ensue, so I stopped helping with bedtime entirely. When Little Monster was tiny and during the summer she was zero, I would read her story and my spouse would read the Kid's story. Even as she started toddling I still helped with Little Monster's story, reading it ten times over while the Kid had her story read to her. Then rotations happened, I was gone for the year, and then I was hunting for a job or waiting in near-snarl suspenseful anxiety. I opted out of bedtime because I get super short-tempered when I'm tired and I am fed up (see: bedtime with a stressed anxious kid and a 2 year old for the definition of "things which push a parent to get fed up"). Now that I have the long-awaited job and things are almost settled, I had thought I would be getting back into bedtime.

Instead I am realizing that I am snarly and short-tempered when my feet hurt, as they do every day lately, and I make bedtime so much slower and incite triple the Kid rioting that my spouse does. I kind of hate that in the morning I'm the taskmaster who is hurrying the kid along and at night I am hurrying her along to bed so I can get some rest and we never have the chance to go her speed (because she ignores my prompts that would keep her on schedule and then demands a full hour wind-down starting 30 minutes after her bedtime. For now we just need to get through with as little tension as possible so I will continue to opt out of bedtime. Hopefully the solutions will present themselves soon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Turn and burn

We have been wildly busy this last month. I got the job offer on a Friday at noon and started training that Monday, with no time to do much packing over the weekend. It will be an interesting place to work for, and I think it will be lovely in time. The first year will be hard or horrendous or both alternating days, but that's life. I have no night hours and only a half day every other weekend so that's amazing.

This move has gone somewhere between very badly and "train wreck" level awful. The new house is bigger, with 4 bedrooms upstairs and a larger overall downstairs (before the third bedroom was next to the living room downstairs). It came with no fridge and broken central air, so we bought a fridge and sweltered until our landlord could get here to fix the AC. The windows open at least, even if the lead paint chips are plentiful. None of the cupboard doors latch or fit right, but there are plenty. The washer and dryer hook ups exist but no appliances there either. The literal closet half bath is missing a toilet, and that's fine by me as it's kid sized at best.

The first weekend we had a moving truck, only 2/3 of our stuff made it on when we ran out of time, then the next weekend we rented a truck that was way too small to load up the rest so a lot of things vanished (in addition to the dumpster of junk we intentionally ditched on top of the dumpster of stuff we ditched back in May). It's freeing to have less stuff, and yet it is still more than we need so we will pare down some more. There will be more discussion of this.

Little Monster is handling the change in residence fairly well. She didn't have many little friends she saw often anyway. My spouse will be home for some time to hang out with her. In cool weather I can walk to work. The Kid is floundering badly but that was expected but it's still so hard. She is testing every boundary almost every day, if not every moment.

I am enjoying how varied this pharmacy is and it's nice that it keeps me on my toes all day. I just wish I could take 5 minutes for lunch. Maybe in a few months I can find the time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

This is home

Growing up on a farm near a claustrophobic little town, I ran as fast as I could out of there after high school. Much to my surprise, I only ran to the nearest city for college, but it worked. City! I loved it for the first year or so. Then I wound up with my own apartment in a big old house that had been split up. It was the oldest house for miles around and had originally been at the center of a big estate so it was on the highest hill around. It was 27 steps up from the garage (aka carriage house) to the front door. Sitting in my living room I looked into the third floor windows of the apartment building next door. The best part about that apartment was the giant yard. If anywhere reminded me of Tatania's bower, it was that oasis. So much green, lovely flowers, big old trees, it was awesome. Back there I could pretend I was out somewhere with no neighbors for miles around for up to 10 minutes at a time. Then someone across the street would shout or kids from the next block would come screaming by on their bikes or there'd be a car crash.
Since we've been together, the spouse and I have wandered a great deal. In the last ten years, we've moved ten times and lived here for three of those years. Nowhere before has come close to being ours. Some of those changes have been good, a few very sad, but hardly any nostalgia. We took a picture of us with the kid in her baby bucket when we left the apartment where we lived when she was born, but I have no idea where it is now. We would have stayed there if we could have but the place and the people weren't worth cobbling together work until a real job opened up at the time. In pictures I have to guess the age of the kid to tell you where we lived then because the places are meaningless, hollow, just wherever we had landed.
I've noticed that folks either want a job and that takes them to a place, but they don't let it become home most of the time because they know they're chasing the job wherever it takes them, or they are attached to the place and will take whatever work there might be to stay, sometimes to the point of starving during unemployment. Complex place-work relationships seem to be the norm these days with so many people unmoored or feeling tied to a place.
I've been trying to see what I think about this place we live now. I mean, it's been a good three years here. We've built a good niche in the community and have improved our little corner of it. But when the moment of truth came, we didn't choose to stay and take the work this place offered. We decided on chasing the dream job (spoiler: dream 1 didn't work out so there has been frantic job searching while I've mostly stayed pretty chill that the right job will appear). I guess I'm not sure if that choice means this place isn't worth fighting for, or if all that wandering has meant we are no good at recognizing a great place when it's right under our noses. At any rate, here we are, at an end and a beginning.
It's further interesting to have a job interview where the employer really wants to be sure you want the place as much as the job. I get that rural healthcare is hard because since most folks train in cities, they get used to cities and want those amenities, so rural places are a pit stop used only to get enough experience to get the city job that's always been the goal. I believe I've complained about it as a patient. We've been here three years and I've run through five primary care providers (and the ob I liked has also left) and I didn't have one for the first 8 months we were here. Still it's strange to have the "why this place?" question weigh so heavily. I have to decide how honest an answer to give in the second interview - the place meets my minimum criteria of a pizza place, grocery store, school, and job by far and it even has a dealer for our quirky little car, or I could try to capture the intangible "I think this may be my place" gut reaction I had when I visited the town. I'm a very private person. In almost no interviews have I mentioned the girls early on. In one, I got asked "so you live with your parents in Town then?" and I laughed so hard. So I explained that no, none of my parents are in the "we" who have lived here three years. For this second interview, my family is asked to come so my spouse can also be on board with this move and this place so hopefully we stay for years to come. Strange to think of an employer who wants an employee as invested in the place as the job, but yet that's the kind of place I want to work, where when they say they're committed to quality rural healthcare, they mean it.
I just hope we have time to get ready to move if this job happens since I'm likely to start right away.

Monday, July 20, 2015


During one of my rotations, I worked with the physical therapy department on a resource about medications that suppress the vestibular system for them to share with doctors when managing mutual patients. While attempting to review the literature (it's slim) and then designing a table of medications relevant, I often imagined the little circular deal in cartoon form saying, "Help! Help! I'm being suppressed!" 

(Nitty gritty aside: if we are retraining the body and the vestibular system so the patient feels not dizzy while doing ordinary things, suppressing the vestibular system is bad because it prevents the development of compensation, so while the meds help a dizzy person feel better in the short term, it hinders their ability to get better in the long run.)

Anyway, the vestibular system is what should help keep a person in balance. Fluid, little crystals, all that jazz with technical names I could bore you with. The cool thing about this particular type of dizziness that happens when the rocks get into the wrong place within the ear, the kind treated by PT that we can kind of manage with medications but not really and the side effects are big, is that the PT works very suddenly. One minute the world spins and then the patient is guided through some fancy falling in just the right way, and the world is right again.


6 or 7 weeks ago, I was reaching into the closet for something at the back, diagonally from the far side of the open sliding door. I whapped my head on the frame of the closet and was immediately super dizzy. I thought it would go away, and it got better, but not much. I could barely move my head without getting super dizzy and sometimes a bit nauseous. No bending, certainly no bending and then getting up quickly or repeatedly (say to pick up the thousands of blocks on the floor and return them to a bin), no quick turns of the head to see Little Monster scaling the coat rack moments before it started to tip toward a table covered in books and no darting to rescue her, or picking her up from the floor when she tipped the thing over and banged her knee again.

After about 2 weeks of the dizziness, I went to see a doc and got referred to PT, but then had another 10 days to wait before the appointment. After just that first session I felt 60% better and I picked up the floor of the garage for 25 minutes before I nearly threw up. Then after the second session, I was miraculously all better.

I mean it's one thing to read the literature and hear from experts that the "poof" moment happens, often even when treating this condition. It's another to suddenly feel normal again, to remember what normal was like and to experience it again just like the memory. Whoa.

I think that "poof" sensation is what we are conditioned to think will happen if we've experienced infertility and/or a loss and then start parenting. It is certainly a lie we get fed and a myth we need to dispel. I must admit I was sure this "poof, now the dizziness is gone!" might exist for some people but based on my experience, I doubted it would work for me. I'm never so lucky as to have things go smoothly or simply of as expected. But then it did.

Maybe I will try being less jaded in the future. Mostly I plan to remain cautiously open to miracles and "poof" moments.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Of monsters and bedtime

Friday morning, the spouse and Kid went off to some science-y adventure or other early on. I was still sleeping on the couch when they left after a long night attempting to sleep and failing. At about 10am I was awoken by Little Monster crying upstairs. I figured she would tromp down any second to announce she wanted seeral for breakfast. Eventually she arrived, still sobbing and dragging her blankets. We have a "no downstairs blankets or pacifiers" rule and she had both so I figured she must be really upset so I hugged her extra tight.

She told me "I have a bad dream. The monsters scare me. Then the dragon come flying around and it carry me away." I hid my shocked face, because seriously, whose 2 year old says stuff like that, and how did they sneak her into my house and why does she look so much like my aunts? Then we talked about it until she had settled down under her blankets next to me on the couch. I let her watch all the princess movies she wanted because she seemed feverish and yanked on her ear so I suspected yet another ear infection.

Then at noon she perked up and demanded food. She ate a vast quantity of food and then demanded another hot dog upon learning the berries were all gone. The rest of the day she was pretty close to normal but at "nap time" she had a fit about being alone in her bed and wouldn't sleep anywhere, despite being staggeringly tired. Bedtime rolled around and I knew big measures were needed to convince her to sleep at all.

So I told the girls about Monster Spray. You spray it around the room before bed and it keeps all the monsters out. (Some pharmacy in North Dakota made all the pharmacy news blogs a while back selling the stuff. Smart. I bet theirs smells nice.) They settled in for stories with my spouse and I dug out a little spray bottle, one I thought was broken and wouldn't spray even if there were water in it (why do we have so much junk?), loaded it up, and then sprayed around the room twice for good measure. On the second pass we discovered that the bottle still works eventually... Whoops. Saturday night I sprayed the room again after stories, because routines are always wise.

Sunday night after we put Little Monster to bed on time for once (after a 1.5 hour battle, but still before we officially crossed the line into "whoa it's late"), the Kid finished her stories and bedtime routine and seemed to be staying put in bed after a half hour. Then she snuck downstairs and asked me if I would use the Monster Spray on their room.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer money project update

Why yes, I did notice that it is well past Sunday, when I expected my weekly post to be written. What happened? I got a spot to take my last licensure exam last Thursday to test Tuesday, so I did nothing but study from the time I registered for the test until I took it. Currently I'm librarying to check my score, and I passed! License and job here I come! Wheeeeee!

Currently I am wrestling with my spreadsheet to output percentages properly that mean something useful and I have the budget numbers crunched and spending analyzed but not yet presentable.

Today was the first day with no home internet so that's been different. The library isn't open again until Monday so it will be a thrilling and screen-light weekend. 

Trends I've noticed in our spending is that it really didn't take into account medical costs outside of meds and that's awkward. We also have a serious eating out problem, but because we are eating from the stash instead of buying most groceries, the eating out plus grocery budget is not that far out of line. I also paid for a shirt I ordered some months ago. While comics aren't technically in the summer spending embargo, I decided books were, so my spouse is getting new fun stuff to read and I'm not, so that will need addressing eventually.

I also realized the lawn service wasn't in the budget today. Since a lawn mower would cost more than the lawn service, it isn't something we could cut expense-wise. With that, I think our budgeted items cover about 97% of our monthly income so I'm gonna look for any job at all to fill the gap until my real job starts, whenever that might be. 

I hate money. That's all. Hopefully next week will bring two money posts once I get the rotting numbers properly crunched.

Happy Canada Day yesterday! Happy upcoming American Independence Day! We had poutine to celebrate the former and we will have ice cream for the latter.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sneaky toddler

You know how every now and then, a story hits the news about a 2 year old found at 7am a couple blocks from home? Everyone gets so judgy about how awful the parents are for letting the kid escape.

We have to lock the doors at night now that Little Monster has her crib changed to a toddler bed. After she started climbing out a week ago we figured we had no choice but to convert it. Three days ago she was crying in the morning because she got into the kitchen, shut the gate (or scaled it and couldn't get back), and was trapped. Last night I didn't think to lock the back door...

This morning the Kid came in to report she had convinced Little Monster to come back in from outside. They both arrived 5 minutes later (with Fluffinella, whew!) and Little Monster's hands were icy. She was in the fenced-in yard for some time. 

Oh my.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trigger warning

A few years back, I was on a committee with a representative of the university veterans' club. I think we were working on "student concerns" generally - about the 4 hour wait for the bookstore at the start of semester and cafeteria food somehow and lack of childcare on campus. She was very deeply concerned that syllabi didn't have trigger warnings, particularly a class that required students to attend a field trip to an international street market downtown. Evidently a veteran had a nasty PTSD episode attending it and had no way to get an accommodation to do something else - it was attend or fail the class, and the student hadn't realized what cultures would be represented or zie would have tried to opt out more forcefully. My response (in my head) was that if you came home with PTSD or just some general twitchiness, then the world is a trigger and no amount of warnings could keep you safe. I'm still not sure if that was as insensitive as I thought it was at the time, but I didn't say it then and I probably wouldn't say that now in such a conversation. Not that bluntly anyway. Fundamentally I think though, there's no way to predict even your own triggers so how could anyone warn everyone about potentially triggering content?

I decided to get an IUD a few weeks ago. I was indecisive, we were indecisive about additional biologic children, I wasn't home anyway to get one installed, so after my annual check-up I stuck with the pills for a few more months. I stink at staying pregnant on the off chance I do get pregnant so I had no interest in any surprises, plus with PCOS I would rather not ovulate if I can avoid it to hopefully skip some cysts.

So I got the pesky thing installed and then it quit hurting, and then it got all newly stabby so I had to go back in to have it checked. The strings were out of place some too. Then a date with Wanda the wonder wand for another ultrasound. I was trying to think through how many of those I have had over the years and I had no idea how many. Too many.

It was such an unpleasant experience. I was tempted to cry. I may yet remembering it. Mostly because it went just like the ultrasound for a miscarriage - friendly banter with the tech, "oh you managed to have a full bladder for the external part! Most people seem to misunderstand that part..." "I've done this a few times before," "how many kids do you have?" and then silence when we got to the part that might be medical evaluation if the tech commented. Knowing everything is probably fine is one thing, but the silence still stung.

Of course there's also the obligatory recitation over and over of my pregnancy history, to every rotten person involved (and why does this ultrasound require knowing if they were vaginal births anyway?). The peppy young gal who did my procedure seemed totally unfazed by it, which stings too. The most visceral memory I have from my d&c was coming out of anesthesia and hearing the docs and nurses discussing their holiday plans with their kids and it's not one of those things that gets less painful. I have that nightmare maybe once a month still.

Of course when my doc called with the results (she sent a message saying "I'd like to speak to you about the results" online... totally useless and just out to scare me) I was outside planting something with the Kid and my spouse didn't make an effort to find me, so we wound up with "I guess the report online says everything I would have, she can read that." Except the report isn't online for a number of days. I gave up calling back because then I would certainly have cried, and who cries over an IUD? That's outrageous! I feel so... diminished because such a supposedly simple thing is so fraught.

In May I visited with my friend whose three kids are the ages of the Kid and pregnancies 2 & 3 would have been. That was hard driving there alone to remember, and then just once when the oldest was reminding me of their ages. I don't think he remembered me much since it had been 2 years so he doesn't remember how very well I know his birthday - the day my blood pressure was up and my doc threatened to induce me, but then it settled down just enough I could loaf on my couch another 4 weeks until I went into labor on my own. After that first hour, it was fine, we all had a blast hanging out and playing and soforth. Not much of a problem. I had this fantasy that it was better now, that I was "over" infertility kicking my tailfeathers for so many years. Hah.

Usually I don't notice any more the families that look like I'd thought ours might. I went to a baby shower willingly (for 5 minutes) and I visited a newborn and didn't cry. When people announce pregnancies, I don't have to actively not cringe and I'm usually genuinely happy with no residual sadness lurking. I am ditching baby stuff left and right without trying to save anything "just in case." This might be everyone in our family and I might be all right with that.

But sometimes the trigger sneaks up on you. Pesky infertility. It will really and truly always be parenting through (maybe adoption,) infertility, and loss. There will never be an "after." Sigh.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Project Summer Budget Crunch

I'm currently in the midst of all the magical limbo that is "I have a job, probably, almost certainly, but not yet and not until... eventually..." and also packing/preparing to move a 20+ hour drive away. It's a great mix of excitement and yet all the uncertainty.

Noemi over at Not A Wasted Word is doing a stick to a budget challenge for the summer and I decided to jump in with a personal spending embargo for our family. Until the end of the summer (so probably the start of September but maybe just before, depending on if my spouse needs a work wardrobe revamp) we are buying no clothes (except I need a third sweater and my spouse replaced 3 pair of underwear), no music, and no toys. There will be some kind of weekly (during the weekend) post about how this goal was met. Not sure what this will look like yet, but here's a starter!

At the same time we are doing some heavy purging of things in preparation for moving. First we thinned our expenses down to the bare minimum. We are ditching our TV service, internet, and a monthly donation to a cause we are lukewarm about. That nets us almost $100 a month, but we are increasing our trash pick up to potentially double its current cost so we only save about $65 total. There was no other room in our expenses to cut aside from eating out, groceries, and driving places. Lucky for us, we have food on hand to last us most of a month if not two, so our grocery budget shrunk as well.

Today we cleared out Little Monster's clothes and shipped a box to a friend who is expecting soon (along with a box of cloth diapers and other baby miscellany) plus 5 grocery bags of additional clothes between the girls (but mostly hers). Then we boxed the first bookshelf and donated a full box. Tomorrow we will purge adult clothes and hopefully the Kid's as well. #whoneedsit

I'm thinking I will post our different categories of budget for the week as a percentage - did we meet, exceed, or undershoot our goals - in addition to the specific categories where we should spend zero. Next week at the latest I will post what portion of our monthly income is budgeted for each of these categories. It's depressing how tight we are in terms of budget and income right now so the clear solution is for me to get a job already... 83% of our monthly income goes to fixed expenses, not including car operations. When you include internet and phone, it puts us at 88% and the car is only for show. If we use 2 tanks of gas, we are up close to 93%. Sigh.

Monthly budget categories
Health insurance
Car loan
Credit card
Student loans
Car insurance
Car operations (oil changes and fuel etc.)
Entertainment (aud.ible, DVD rental)

Did I miss any budget or spending categories? Anyone suggest a tracker that might be appropriate? Tracking what?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Things are about to be wildly different around here. I didn't match to a residency but the interview process was super revealing to me. I am very different than I remember myself being and largely in a very positive direction. I handle stress in a generally positive way day-to-day. I have systems and checks to ensure I get the job done. I can creatively solve any problem. Nothing shocks me or throws me off my game anymore. That's neat.

I've accepted a job that's a two-day drive away in a fantastic location to practice. It's super rural and quiet and beautiful and has all the rural problems that are unexpected - high teen pregnancy rate, lots of substance abuse, drunk driving and traffic fatalities are very high. The downside I see is a lack of diversity but that isn't the end of the world. I suspect that the nature of the job being so rural will mean few to no amusing anecdotes about work, so I expect there will be more cute kid anecdotes in the future.

In the process of accepting this job, I decided to turn down an offer to practice in the second best place (in my view) to launch my career. It was a bit wrenching because it would have meant we could have stayed here and the salary was maybe 15-20% higher, plus half salary until I got licensed. Instead we decided that the perfect job was too great a chance to pass up.

I'm stuffing my brain for board exams coming up in the next few weeks. Chasing down the last bits of paperwork to be eligible for licensure is exhausting. I can now tell you entirely too much about the right forms to use when ordering different kinds of medications. Hopefully it's enough. Happy thoughts for the G_d of Partial Credit to smile on me appreciated. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_qcimweZYF8

I wish there were a way to make transitions easier for the kid, but I know she needs to learn to cope. We can provide coping techniques but she has to use them herself. Tonight was her first big crying jag about moving and school ending and everything. I hope it won't be a nightly thing but I likewise wouldn't be surprised if it were.

Little Monster is a very sassy two year old but is so much better at directions and listening than the kid. It's funny to watch them together where the kid suddenly realizes she should also follow directions when she sees Little Monster in action (especially putting away dishes after a meal, when Little Monster will carry hers halfway to the kitchen,turn around, and say "come on sisser!"). Little Monster has discovered that talking can be at a different volume and is using either shouting or whispering/squeaking at all times. Often she starts a sentence quietly and then finishes with shouting.

Overall despite turning things upside down, it's been nice to be home. I was gone for the best part of January through the first week in May so it's been an adjustment. It's weird that it won't be home much longer.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Is this romance?

I got asked to edit a friend's romance novel a few months ago, so naturally I started thinking critically about the genre and its moments of unreality. Here are a few observations:

1. What's with all the fake marriages/engagements/etc.?

Only once in my life have I known anyone to consider a marriage for some reason other than intending to be married thereafter (so everyone else has gotten married because they luuuurve each other or were arranged to be married). In the case of the considered fake marriage, they didn't end up going through with it anyway. In my recent reading of way too many romance novels, I'd estimate about 1 in 15 is a fake marriage/engagement that becomes real and about another 1 in 10 is what I'll call an accidental marriage (amnesia/too drunk to remember/etc). I understand that it's more interesting if they met some improbable way but those odds are over the top.

2. What's with every conversation about ditching condoms including her saying "I'm on the pill" and almost universally him saying "it's been a long time since I was with anyone else so I'm clean?"

Two problems here: I really hope more women are using some contraception besides the pill than the only one in about 100 romances I can vaguely recall from the last year or so (implant, IUD, shots are much more reliable and require much less attention from the user). Granted it may be cost, but I really hope women are using something better than just the pill at a higher rate than that.

Secondly, STDs do not magically vanish just because you haven't had sex in a long time. They need treatment and you need to be tested to know you had them. HIV is silent until you are late in the disease and have AIDS. I am strongly in favor of the joint testing visit and the reading results together and then swapping in a new relationship before you ditch condoms. No heat of the moment "oh, everything will be all right baby" conversations should be accepted either.

3. Why are all the strong female characters so interested in being dominated by a guy, often a guy who is of a very different status in life (ie she's a lawyer and he's a welder or a farmer)?

In real life, women tend to attach themselves to folk of a similar level of education and status within the community. This big disconnect that is very common in romances just doesn't happen nearly that often. See: CEOs married to CEOs of other companies. I'm not saying it's impossible, just so improbable that it bugs me. Likewise you see a lot of the big, powerful man (usually physically big and economically powerful) rescuing a plain and simple woman from her drudgery.

I get the appeal but it's a nasty heteronormative trope that even the most successful woman wants a man to take charge of her life (or some part of it).

4. The "jerk factor" gets overcome all the time. He's a jerk, she ditches him, they get back together because he apologizes. I feel like this kind of story is great for telling women who are in an abusive relationship to give the abuser just one more shot because this time things will be different. That makes it dangerous to glorify it as the only way a relationship could ever work (he screws up, she forgives him). I worry that this story tells women also that they should be forgiving of any transgression. It makes women doormats to be traipsed all over. Dislike.

5. Where are the "we met on the internet" romances? I don't think I've read any like that in the last year (again I read about 100 to 125 different romances in that time) or ever. Yet I know quite a few people who met their spouse on the internet somehow or other (ranging from a random blog hop to twit.ter to internet dating sites). I imagine this will be a growing area but I'm shocked it hasn't exploded already. I've been on the internet the majority of days in the last 15 years so it follows internet hook-ups have been common and getting more common that entire time.

So why does it matter? Romances are the one genre where you can get published because they sell better than hotcakes. My spouse buys me a grocery bag of them for a dollar at the semiannual library book sale and there's always a vast quantity left over after the sale. Many women read romances, lots of them. The magnitude of the messages that get repeated is therefore high just because the same things are being said over and over again.

Just like the way little girls get the "someday my prince will come" story stuck in their subconscious after hearing fairy tales about the prince saving the princess a thousand times, likewise these story lines matter because of sheer repetition.

Can we do anything about this? No idea but I think knowing the problem is a good first step. At the least it gives us all a chance to critically consider what media we consume so we know when someone is selling us something we'd rather not buy - ideas included.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Life with limited internet

It is very strange to be without the internet at home. It's been a good break from being excessively plugged in but also hard because it means no video chatting with my babies who are far away.

It's really weird to not have access to any social media or news. I'm in this bubble where the only news I get is from the local paper that is usually in the break room, and even then, they really only cover local things (police officer killed in the line of duty, family of dead shooter says he was a nice guy and leave us alone, upcoming school events, etc.).

I caught up on blogs today and it blows my mind how out of touch I have been and yet how nice it is to read a physical book too. I'm not sure I properly remember the time before I caught up with friends online.

The big challenge is applying for jobs. On weeknights my borrowed internet at a neighbor's house is too slow for most online application sites, on weekends I am either busy or fed up with more applications. I didn't match but I'm not done scrambling for a residency yet, so it's hard to feel super driven to apply for things like I really should. Then again after the grueling residency application and interview process, I'm also a bit burned out on the whole thing.

It's a very complex experience trying to keep how much I miss home in check so I can remain functional on this rotation. It has all sorts of awesome opportunities and projects (that mostly require the internet to complete... hmm...) and I need to keep my head in the game. Everyone keeps asking if I miss the girls, and I never quite know what to say. If I think about it too long, I just cry, and it's awkward to cry at work or during a party, so I've been not thinking about it much, only crying every couple of days. I did a lot more crying my first rotation away and then was only kind of successful at getting my head in the game for my first rotation after winter break, so I know what I shouldn't be doing...

The other big thing I miss now that the internet is mostly unavailable is library downloadable books. My mobile doodad only connects to the interwebz over wifi and my borrowed internet is wired only so it means no new books for me. Given that I have a remarkable amount of time to read on this rotation (when I'm not working on projects or actually at work or theoretically studying for my boards) this is HARD. Luckily I have a heap of physical books I could be reading, but few have struck my fancy and there are no libraries or book stores here...

Next weekend I'm going to the city (6 hours away) and I am certainly going to get some new books, either digital or physical, so I don't get stir crazy and start hiking in ill-fitting shoes or something. Any suggestions? I'm interested in just about anything but especially sci fi/fantasy, romances that aren't awful, and non-fiction related to science or sociology or history (but not WWI) or maybe even parenting.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Check your privilege

It's easy to get lost in the shuffle of daily life and forget just how much you have.

This rotation I'm in a very rural area with a very high poverty rate. It hits me over the head pretty often that I am incredibly fortunate.

For example: I own an iDevice. Usually I make my grocery list on it. This week I opted to copy it onto a piece of paper because it is incredibly rude (in my view) to flaunt that wealth here. Half of people don't have cars and people live very spread out, sometimes an hour from town (where there's a grocery store, one restaurant, a gas station, post office, and two churches). The post office here is the trailer that has a blue mailbox in front of it, and it's in slightly better shape than almost everywhere people live around here. This is not saying all that much. I spent $30 on supplementary groceries (milk, meat, cheese, frozen green beans, hand soap) and got about half what I would at home. No wonder everyone is broke. There is a wall of canned meat. 10 feet across the bottom and at least 12 feet up. I couldn't find any plain chicken breasts in the store, but I saw the price tag and it was double what I'd pay at home. Chicken thighs with the fattiest skin I've ever seen were on sale for a nearly affordable price.

There is no internet at my place but I can go visit some neighbors and plug into their internet. It's patchy and reasonably slow (no streaming video is possible) but it connects. It's the fastest around here by far, probably double what most people have access to. I have a computer and it works and I get to use it to connect to the world and apply for jobs.

I have this incredibly huge floppy sun hat that I wear when I walk to work. It's objectively hideous in olive green and I love it because it keeps the sun off of my face and I can skip the sunblock since it's UV protective. It blocks my peripheral vision almost totally though. I can see only what's in front of me when I wear it. Then I get to work and take the thing off and I get it. The blinders are off and I see the pack of stray dogs and the spirit behind the people who have a hard time keeping hope.

It's beautiful and raw and painful and hopeful all in a single glance. The blinders are off and my vision has expanded. Privilege checked.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Waiting Place

On my first day of high school, our principal sat us all down in the gym for some various "rah rah welcome to high school" announcements and such. Then our principal read us the Dr. Seuss book Oh The Places You'll Go. It was a nice reminder that we were in charge of our destiny based on what we did with each day.

I also have fond memories of our principal announcing it was time for classes in the morning 5 minutes before the first bell, first yelling to everyone lounging in the cafeteria and then to everyone just off campus lurking while smoking. Ah to be young and idiotic with few consequences...

But I digress. Ever since then, I have loved Oh The Places You'll Go. If anyone had read it to me or I'd read it before that first day of high school, I don't remember it. I'm sure someone got me a copy when I finished high school (maybe even my parents) and I have it somewhere or other in physical form. I also have the audio book and I've pulled that out to listen to it a few times lately. The part that strikes me now is so different from what I'd caught reading it before.

The Waiting Place.

I'm actively (mostly) looking for jobs and applying to things and have an upcoming interview. I miraculously got several residency interviews and am about to submit my ranking for the match. This match business is a complex way of ensuring that as many people as possible fill residencies and get offers. You might have heard about medical school residency matches and it's the same deal but their match day is the week before ours. First the applications happen, then the interviews (long interviews, some with several panels of interviewers, most with at least one presentation and sometimes multiple presentations, some with pop quizzes even), then everyone ranks (places you interviewed and people you interviewed, depending on if you're a candidate or a program), then there's some magic behind the scenes, and on March 20th the results are released. Hopefully I get a third miracle and match, but if I don't, I'm honestly not that stressed out about what will happen after that. (The first miracle was a single interview, the second was MULTIPLE interviews, at about half the places I applied, because WHOA that really happened and I am so fortunate to have this chance to seize.)

It is such a strange place, to be waiting. I look forward to the Boom Bands at the end of the Waiting Place. I am trusting that this is a moment in time and on the other side is whatever awesomeness comes next. Because this is certainly Another Chance and I am going to seize it.

To quote The Seuss:

The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

For all of you out there who find yourself waiting, I hope you discover the bright places soon and get to enjoy whatever you discover in the newfound light.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Two and two

I can't believe it was two years ago that I was noticing my maternity clothes were suddenly much looser and that Little Monster would make her appearance so soon! That sneaky baby, turning up ahead of schedule. She has flouted all schedules ever since. She waited forever to get teeth, finally cutting her first, second, and third teeth within a week at 9 months old. At 5.5 months she stole a pizza crust from my hand so we let her eat food. She started walking very deliberately to get her favorite book from across the room.

She is using more and more words all the time. Tonight she was showing me the dried pinto bean she has been hauling around for a few days and told me "Look mommy! I have a peanut bean." Then my spouse took the bean from her to show me up close via web cam, and when she took it back, she pinched it perfectly between index finger and thumb. Her favorite things are equal parts adolescent turtles and princesses (sparkly dresses and skirts and brushing everyone's hair, even her fluff). When we read a flap book last weekend while I was home, she pointed to each animal and said, "Look mommy! This is the mouse, he's hiding in the flower (or tree or rock or whatever). What a nice mouse. Squeak!"

Little Monster, you're a pretty excellent toddler. Keep up the good work.

The other thing of note is how long we've now had two children. They get along really well sometimes and fight other times. The biggest struggle is keeping the Kid from over-parenting and over-helping with Little Monster. Once the Kid helpfully took Little Monster's diaper off to help her potty train... and after 5 seconds in the bathroom, Little Monster ran off and the Kid got distracted and forgot all about her. Often the Kid is very concerned with keeping Little Monster in line, usually to the point that she ignores taking care of herself, like when she demands Little Monster sit down while she eats breakfast but won't do the same and is reminded to stop dancing while eating.

The pair of them are super cute too. When we are in a parking lot, Little Monster is good about holding someone's hand better than 90% of the time (and she gets scooped up and carried if she won't). She gets to choose whose hand to hold and she nearly always reaches for her sister's hand first. It's amazing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A moment of classic sassy toddler

One of the other kids at daycare who is a bit older than Little Monster is potty training. They have similar verbal skills despite close to a year in age difference (I think?) so she has been inspired to want to potty train too. Due to a laundry emergency where some fool (aka me) went to bed without restarting the dryer to ensure the cloth diapers would be dry in the morning, she got to wear undies for a bit. There was so much excitement about the undies. She did a little stamping-in-a-circle dance while chanting "undies!" over and over for maybe a minute or so. They are actually really training pants that are highly absorbent, but she doesn't know anything else is an option. Then after a couple of hours, it was time to change out of the now wet undies. Little Monster had a full blown tantrum and tried very hard to prevent them from being pulled off of her.

Then we put another pair of undies on her (pesky dryer only running on low heat), and she immediately stopped crying and yelling and said "I told you so!" and then attempted to run away with no pants on.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Out of the old

Over at Not A Wasted Word, Noemi is working on moving toward minimalism. It's pretty awesome to behold. Around the Future PharmD household we are in a similar place where we have too many things and want to ditch most of them so we have enough room to be a family. There are plans to rent a dumpster when it's spring so we can easily dispose of the trash/junk/things nobody else wants. It's amazing to consider how much stuff we have in surplus. I'm looking forward to ditching it all and having more space.

It's been interesting how many experiences I've had with hospice or nearly hospice care this year. I didn't intend for that to happen but it has. There has been a case of a very medically complicated patient who is now in hospice after months in the hospital and the doctor in charge who has few hospice patients and maybe never any as complex as this one. The way things happen in hospice is very different than if the focus is healing for a patient and it worries the doctor a lot to be managing this level of suffering and pain, the patient's and the family members'.

A lot of the work that needs to happen in order to let someone who is ready die is about those around her. We need to get used to our mortality and accept that some day we will be at the end of our lives. It makes people panicky at first to see so much of the end of life. A rookie hospice nurse called the pharmacist on call at 3am  on one of my rotations with a rather simple medication question that any less rookie nurse in this practice would have handled according to protocol with no need of a pharmacist to reassure her.

I think a lot of the work of dying is about moving out of the old and into whatever is after this life. It puts things into a stark perspective to serve dying patients. At the end of life, before the sharp decline just before death anyway, the dying get to work clearing away the things that don't matter and reconnecting with those people and things that do matter.

I decided recently to get to work on doing that very thing, because we are all dying. There's no sense waiting for some mystery "future" when things will be different to get rid of things and people that are meaningless and reconnect with the ones who do matter. No day but today is guaranteed so I'm attempting to seize now and get to doing the things I really want - spend time with friends and family and less time managing the mess.

When I worked in a library once, we had a big donation that came with these stickers for us to put in the front in honor of the donor who died young. They had this Mary Oliver quote on them: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I got really tired of reading it over and over for weeks as we got those heaps of new books, but now I like it again. I try to live with that outlook, that this is my one shot at life and I'm going to quit doing the things that don't matter and get busy doing those things that do. Nobody knows how much time they have left and I at least plan to get busy living well. No more junk crowding out life.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Infertile ambassador

This rotation I'm at a rural community pharmacy. It's a lovely place. Nobody has yelled at me or any employee while I've been there. I mean, once the family member of a young hospice patient got kind of loud when worrying about making sure the patient got enough pain medications and that nobody was diverting them. We were taking a list of exactly who may pick up medications and making sure every person in the pharmacy knows to check IDs every time for this patient so I get it. That's a really hard thing to handle and I think the family member was doing a very admirable job. Aside from consulting for the local hospice agencies, this pharmacy does a variety of things including filling any and just about every prescription that comes through the door.

This week that meant a prescription for 5 days of an antibiotic prescribed by a doc at a fertility clinic a few hundred miles away. We had some trouble with billing it and didn't have the drug in stock and it cost a lot so we called the doc to see if we could switch it. By "we" that means me, of course. It's a lot of fun most of the time, calling for lots of transfer prescriptions. This kicked me in the gut. Nobody else had a clue what those antibiotics were for, but I knew. The rest of the medication profile reminded me that few people land right on IVF and it kicked me again. Infertility stinks.

So I practiced what I would say in my message for the doctor in my head and made the call. Later I got the call back from the nurse and then I got the patient herself to talk about the new medication. This pharmacy counsels everyone on a new medication and often otherwise. This was one time for sure I didn't need the pharmacist to help me with what to say about the medication or its use. I wish I were less familiar with the ins and outs of infertility treatments.

After I finished my charting on talking to the patient and wished her all the best this time and that I hoped I wouldn't see her again getting this medication, the pharmacist said, "I wish I knew more about fertility treatments." I gave her the 5 minute run-down on what medications get used in a typical cycle since we had a complete med list for this patient in front of us to look at, pointed out that I'm super lucky to not have personal experience with treatments but that I have a number of friends who have gone through different treatments, and that goo.gling "IVF regimen" would net her a selection of blogs with a great listing of the different regimens.

I forget how different things have been for me and us sometimes. It's the new normal, knowing about icing your progesterone injection site before the shot so it hurts less and that sesame oil is supposedly less burning than peanut. It's the new normal to know that birth control pills are used sometimes not at all to avoid pregnancy but to induce a period for a medicated cycle in hope of a baby. I didn't giggle at the note in the chart where the pharmacy student before me talked about how she discussed using a back up method of contraception if this patient missed a pill, not very much, I just smiled to myself.

It's nice now, that I can use my knowledge for good. It helps to do something for others. Even though it's a small something to be a sympathetic ear to a patient, to help someone learn how to be a little less clueless for the next patient, I'm glad I can do it. Sometimes I wish things had been different and I hope nobody in the world ever goes through infertility because it is awful, but yesterday I was glad to have the knowledge so I wasn't another clueless person on the journey for someone. I'm glad I could be a reluctant ambassador from the lands of infertility to the realms of the fertile. I guess there really is a silver lining in every stinking nasty cloud, even in the hurricanes.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My life in jars

Now that I am at long last out in the world working (even if I pay for the privilege of working) I bring my lunch to work. At every rotation, very nearly every person I've had lunch with has remarked on my lunches for the same reason. I pack lunch in jars. Since its been such a conversation starter, I thought I'd write a little bit about how I wound up with so many jars and why I love them.

First, I would like to mention that I'm not opposed to plastic at all. I have a lovely plastic water bottle and popcorn bowl and so forth. Some people who choose jars do so because they worry about plastic, and that's fine for them but not me (yet). I don't have the enthusiasm to read the literature on the subject to form an opinion so I remain silent on that subject. Reviewing that literature is on my to-do list for the next mystery amount of time.

In the beginning, it was left overs that got lost in the fridge too long that started the debate. Cleaning out the containers was miserable so for a time we only bought cheap plastic food storage and tossed it often but it was expensive. There was also the risk that the container would break before the food had been eaten. It was the pits to save and store something delicious to only end up with a mess.

Then we opted to invest in better quality containers and swore we would quit abandoning left overs in the fridge. It lasted a few months at most... and then they all ended up in the fridge festering. Some we salvaged and others we gave up on and then followed a phase where we tried not to have any left overs. It didn't work super well. We decided to just buy one kind of plastic container so we would have a smaller selection of lids and they'd all be interchangeable and accepted that we'd need to replace them maybe once a year.

A couple of years ago I got this bug to make apple pies in little half pint jars because they were cute (and turned out to be delicious too). Then we had this lovely set of half pint jars around the place and I started putting snacks in them. Eventually it dawned on me to put crackers in jars for lunches and I started dishing out the entire packet of orange fish all at once into snack sized portions.

Maybe 18 months ago we were due to get some new storage stuff and I priced out half pint jars as compared to new plasticware. It only cost a little bit more to buy jars than to buy middle quality storage stuff and it was actually less than to buy nice stuff. We decided to get jars instead of more plastic stuff.

The advantages have been that it's easy to package up lunches. I like that it's simple and I can load up each jar easily to match so I only have to measure once (depending on what it is, obviously some meals are too lumpy and need individual servings measured out). I like that I can put them on either rack in the dishwasher. This meant that on the rotation I drove at least 3 hours for every day that I could load up an entire dishwasher's worth of jars Friday night and reload them all Saturday when I got around to it. I can freeze things with no worry that it will taste like icky freezer when I open it later, and I can even take a jar from the freezer and pop it into an oven without worrying that I will destroy it. I can label the jars in permanent marker and use a dab of alcohol on a cotton ball to clean it off later with no damage to the jar and no left behind label gunk. The stacking well thing is a bonus that saves on fridge space and jars happen to be a great size to go in fridge doors so I don't lose lunches somewhere in the depths.

The biggest benefit is probably how food tastes out of jars. It doesn't wind up tasting vaguely of fridge and it keeps its textures better than food stored in plastic containers, probably because the seal is extra tight. The cheap replacement lids are fantastic and that the lids for all the wide mouth jars are interchangeable is even better. No more attempting to keep lids with containers or to sort and stack them for ease in finding the lids or fitting everything into a drawer.

Overall: jars make me happy. Less waste! I can cook a big meal once or twice a week and stash away left overs for lunches and then not worry about it! If I get fed up eating the same thing 7 days in a row, I can just pop some into the freezer for later! Decent conversation starter for shy people who would rather write a blog post during a lunch break than chat.

EDITED TO ADD: I have half pint wide mouth jars for snacks and pint jars for leftovers. Most casserole dishes or rice with some topping are in the 1-2 cup meal size so it works well. These are my favorites for snacks and side dishes (lots of applesauce for lunches).

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sneaky success

For ages I have tried hard to relax and let go of whatever is coming next in this job search. Historically my reaction to a stressful situation is to give up completely or be so stressed and panicked that I avoid or do very destructive things (14 hours of a video game the day before something is due for example... is something that happened to a friend once... yes...). It's been a part of my daily meditation practice to let go of things I can't control and accept whatever is happening next.

I have felt like a total failure most of the time. I have tried to stop worrying about things and it just wasn't working. I fret. I worry. I have lists of lists so I have the illusion of control.

But. I'm in the process of applying for residencies and I'm not one bit nervous about it. Or maybe only a single tiny bit. I'm debating whether this means anything beyond that I am tired of explaining why I want someone to hire me but at the moment it seems like all that practice at letting go has worked.

I never expected there to be a day where I could say that I'm not nervous about the future. I hoped it might happen but I never really thought I'd be in a place where it was true. Today I was focused on today and nothing more. This focus didn't stop me from attempting to be organized and applying to a couple residencies, but it did mean that I'm not afraid of what happens now. I have zero worry about getting an interview for a residency. I'm only marginally concerned about getting a community job because a chain I interviewed with doesn't start hiring new grads until March so there is plenty of time, and my marginal concern mostly is inspiring me to apply for more jobs rather than panic or worry or be angry at someone for no reason.

It's very surprising to find my mental state so... sane and balanced for the most part. Usually I feel like I'm caught in a tornado of "what's next? how do I get there?"

Today really is a miracle.