Monday, June 30, 2008

On the subject of oddities...

There is a ghost living in my phone. Or controlling my phone. Or something.
Because not every night, but often enough so that it's creepy and not so often that I always expect it, my phone alarm will sound at midnight. I've noticed that it usually happens if I'm home alone and alseep... not, say, partying.

The alarm sounds, and I pick up my phone and press the OK button so I can see whatever appointment I apparently scheduled and forgot about and the phone, without fail, goes to the calendar date January 6, 1896.
That's EIGHTEEN ninety-six. As in, long before there were cell phones. Or digital alarms.

There's nothing actually written for the date, apparently my phone just wants to make absolutely sure I am aware of it. Which I am.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Depths of My Insanity

One thing that has been mentioned a lot at school is the possibility of human error-- nurses mixing up medications, physicians removing healthy limbs, x ray techs photographing the wrong hemisphere of the body... these things happen.

Everyone is doing whatever they can to prevent this from occurring. The government is regulating the hours personnel can work on hospital floors. Machines are being built ever more sophisticated to handle IV drips. And evidently my school is using shock value to train us to be as alert as possible. "Everyone makes mistakes" my professors cheerfully announce before reading a newspaper article in which a patient received epinephrine instead of antibiotics and her heart sped up so fast it killed her. My classmates and I sit, wide-eyed and paralyzed with fear.

Okay, they've got me terrified. And with very good reason. No one wants to make that kind of error.

I'm already arguably somewhat borderline OCD. I am consistently worried about burning my house down. I straighten my hair. I turn off the straightening iron. I unplug it. I finish whatever else I need to do before I go. I gather my belongings. I check once more to make sure the hair straightener is unplugged. I leave.

Occasionally I don't do all of these steps. I will unplug the hair straightener, get my stuff, and go. I will be on my way somewhere, likely in the act of stepping onto my train when a little voice in my brain will say, "Hang on a second, is the straightening iron unplugged?"
"Of course it is," I think to myself. "I have a tremendous fear of burning my house down, stemming from the fact that my cousin did burn her house down. So I'm sure I turned it off and unplugged it."
"Are you really sure?"
"Did you check?"
"Well, I-"
"I think you should go back once more and check again."

And I have to. Because if I argue and think to myself "I'm sure it's off. I'm sure I would have turned it off. I always turn it off and unplug it," my brain will shoot back with, "Wouldn't you rather walk a few blocks and look one more time than be sorry you didn't later?"
And so I'll head back home, unless I can come up with a memory that sufficiently proves to myself that the hair straightener is off. Often times I can. I will recall that the straightening iron almost fell off the counter or that the button to turn it off was particularly sticky that morning. But if nothing remarkable happened, that is, if everything went according to plan, I can't be completely certain that I didn't forget. Because, apparently, I'M INSANE.

But I really feel better after I have made sure the straightening iron is off. Yes, I'm sometimes irritated at myself. Not for being crazy and obsessive and potentially making myself late, but for not being thorough enough the first time. "Why didn't you just check to make sure before you left the apartment? You were right there." I'll ask myself. But aside from some harmless self-berating, I am generally happy and believe I may have possibly prevented a fire.

Apparently this is a welcome quality in nursing. Checking and re-checking and checking once more and asking someone if you are in doubt are standard procedures. I'm in heaven.

Contemplating going to bed at 8:00

I'm sort of wondering if this is how tired I'm going to be for the next year of my life. I'm hoping that maybe the level of exhaustion I am feeling is stemming not just from the long day and long commute I just had, but also the stress of starting a brand new program. Not to mention learning to negotiate a brand new city and get my little apartment organized. And I really am hoping that maybe I'm extra tired right now since this is the first week and I have been stressing over that and not sleeping very much or well.
I am hoping these things because eventually the newness of the program will wear down, I wil become familiar with the city (hopefully), I will get somewhat more organized, and I will start being able to sleep better. These are things that I am hoping will happen, because the other factors-- the fact that I am going to have to arrive at clinicals at 6:45 am for the next 4 weeks, and then at 6 am after that, and the fact that the commute is an hour each way, and the fact that I'll get home after dark-- those are not going to change. Not for the next few months anyhow. It's a tad cruel that those of us with the farthest away clinical setting actually have the earliest start time.
Miss Jenny once came to visit me after I had been working at Kennolyn for about a week. She told me that I looked so tired, I had "chicken eyes." That is, that my eyes were at about half-mast and closing from BOTH the top and the bottom. I think that's about what I look like right now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day Three

I can't believe it's only Wednesday. And it's still the first week of school. I feel like it could easily be mid-August right now. I'm tired and kind of overwhelmed, but feeling pretty good about school. It seems like it will definitely be tough and very time-consuming, but I think the teachers all "get" that we all are here with the best of intentions and that we worked really hard to be here. So far the environment has been challenging and intense, but not in a way that makes me feel like I can't ask questions. Plus, they are all very enthusiastic about the material they are teaching which definitely makes it easier to listen to their lectures.

My classmates all seem to be very nice. In one of my classes we did the thing where we went around the room and all said who we are and something interesting about ourselves. My "interesting thing" was that I'm a huge USC Trojan football fan. And it just shows how brainwashed my fellow Trojans and I are because as soon as I said that about 3 other people, who had evidently gone to USC as well, chimed in with "Fight On!!" But anyhow, it was insane. I felt like I was in that scene from Legally Blonde (yes I've seen that movie, yes I think it is fantastic).... you know the one where she's with her little orientation group and there's the guy who spent the last 18 months de-worming orphans in Somalia and the chick who singlehandedly organized the march for lesbians against drunk driving? That's exactly how it was. Everyone had a fancy story about starting some clinic or working in the peace corps for 6 years. Which meant that it was pretty cool to listen to them all, but also made me feel kind of lame with my piddling little graduate degree.

Tomorrow is the first day of clinicals. Orientation at the hospital where I'll be providing excellent care to patients by cleaning up vomit. I'm nervous because I'm brand new and don't really know what to expect, but I'm also excited because this is the reason I went back to school-- to help people.

We learned how to properly wash our hands yesterday in clinical lab (yes, we are starting with the very basics, which is fine with me). This is good for obvious reasons. But I'm already kind of OCD about handwashing. So putting fake germ powder on my hands and then washing them and then looking at the specks left on my hands with a blacklight pretty much means I'll be soaping up for the extended dance version of "Morning Train" instead of the first 2 verses. But hopefully that won't hold me up too much.

because people keep asking me

I tell people I am from LA because I lived there for 8 years. I moved there to go to USC (Fight On!) and then ended up staying. I never really felt comfortable in high school so when I moved away I only kept in contact with a few people. And I went to high school fairly far away from my hometown, so I didn't really have friends there. I still identify with it as the place I grew up and where my family is. But LA became my home.

And it's interesting to hear people talk about LA. If I tell someone I live in LA, they ask "Oh really, do you like it?" which is a fine question, but it's usually accompanied with an I-feel-sorry-for-you tone and head tilt. Which usually causes me to wildly overcompensate and say things like "Yes, I LOVE it. I absolutely love love love it!! It's fantastic. It really is." Which probably confirms everything they were suspecting about LA....

But it's true. I do love LA.
I love LA for being the place where I came into my own and became the person I wanted to be.
I love LA for being difficult at first-- for making me decide if it was really worth it to stay.
I love LA for all the different kinds of people it attracts. And how I can relate to many of them.
I love LA for its ridiculousness. For the touristy areas, the valleys, the seedy bars, the tiny boutiques with scarves for $45, the eighteen billion Indian restaurant within 6 blocks of each other, for the horrible way the city is set up and its stubborn refusal to change, for the people who have no concept of what weather is supposed to look like.
I love LA because you can find anything there. Anything.
I love LA for my Trojans, of course.
And I love LA because not everyone can.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Love me my meats.

I would write about my first day, but I just got off the phone after telling 3 people about it and wrote an email to my parents so I'm kind of tapped out on it. Suffice it to say I'm pretty exhausted.

Just got off the phone with Kelly who is awesome and who was very excited to hear I was in the city and friendless. Turns out she is working at a summer camp teaching art classes which is right up her alley if you ask me. She told me a little about the camp. Apparently it is located at a Jewish school. The camp is not Jewish, however, they are just using (presumably renting) the school. On Friday they had orientation and went over some basic rules including:
- No meat is to be kept inside the refrigerators
- No meat is to be consumed inside any of the school buildings

So Kelly can bring meat to work for lunch as long as she does not keep it in the fridge and she eats it outside. But if it is raining then no one can eat meat because they can't go outside. Which I find kind of fantastic.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Well here goes. Tomorrow is officially Day One of my program. Whence I shall begin what is consistently touted as the most intensive yearlong program ever. I've been reassured by various current and former students that it's "tough but ..... doable." There's always the pause before that last word.

I have my Muni pass. I have my little breakfast/snack all packed to eat on the train. My clothes are all set out. I have my notebooks. I cannot, however, lay my hands on my favorite note-taking school pen which I guess is not that big of a deal... I suppose I can buy a new one at the bookstore tomorrow or else use one of these other crap pens. But where has it gone??

I told Jenny that I had purchased new shower curtain rings at Target.
"And did you find the old ones?"
"No! I haven't found them. And I actually don't mind because I was going to be annoyed if they just showed up right after I bought new ones. So that's good."
"Well, not really. Because that means you have a vortex in your apartment."

And apparently the pen is there now too.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just until the novelty wears off

Okay, I promise that I won't spend tomorrow in front of my computer. I will go outside. I will bask in the sun and enjoy this uncharacteristically warm weather.

But I must say I am enjoying this laptop gadget. I got it because my school recommended that if our computers were more than 2 years old, we might want to at least think about doing some serious upgrades since there are certain applications that we'll need for classes and such.
Since my computer was a good 6 years old, I decided to get a new one. So far I'm really enjoying it. As a Mac, I expected that it would look sleek and pretty and it has certainly lived up to that. Crisp is a good word for it. And I know I rolled my eyes at the "convenience" factor for years but it's true! It really is convenient. When they told us at Orientation to make sure we were registered for classes, I just popped the top and did it right there. No frantic scribbling on my note paper, no worrying that I wouldn't remember. Done!

I mean after, of course, I had the nice boy behind me figure out how to add my computer's number to the school's web site or ........ something.. ??

Anyhow, I haven't owned a laptop since the administration forced every student in my high school to buy one. This they decided to enforce my senior year of high school. Which meant that my classmates and I had a rather skewed perspective of laptops. We had no concept of how valuable they were. I was constantly leaving my laptop in the library. Not forgetting it. No, I would go to the library, set it up, and leave it there for a couple hours and come back and use it intermittently. This was completely normal. People jammed their laptops into lockers or left them under benches in the gym. They covered them with stickers. Drew on them with sharpie. "Can I borrow your laptop for class?" was a perfectly reasonable request.

The laptops weren't novel, they weren't interesting. They were just a presence. And and occasional annoyance. And apparently it has now taken me the past 8 years to realize how cool they really are.

On the other hand....

Okay, looking on the bright side:

At least everyone was in the proverbial same boat. The general consensus amongst my fellow students was that no one knew much of what the hell was going on. Everyone had to go rushing around campus and stand in a variety of lines and feel overwhelmed and confused. So I suppose that makes me feel better.

Also, I bought new shower curtain rings from Target and got my shower all set up. And today the zit is less angry looking and I also managed to dig out some makeup from one of the garbage bags in the bedroom. Thus I arrived today looking coiffed and glossy.

I had my little green Puma purse that I bought a few months ago when my other purse quite literally fell apart. And yesterday I purchased a neoprene sleeve for my laptop so I can bring it to school-- and the only fun color they had in the right size was green. And then this morning I was rooting around for a sweater to go with my nice white shirt and I came up with the longish green cardigan I used to wear to work all the time. So at least maybe after today my classmates will remember me as "the chick with all the green" and not "the chick with crazy hair and a monster zit."

And I'm spent.

Well today was orientation and I. Am. Exhausted.

After a fitful and nervous night of sleep I got up at 6, got myself primped and ready, and headed over to my train stop at around 7. I promptly hopped on the wrong train because call me naive but I didn't realize more than one train came through that stop and I didn't think to double check since it had been so easy the first time. I finally made it to school and promptly spent the little "welcome reception breakfast" ignoring all of my classmates and gorging myself on fruit and bagels. This is the problem with having no seating area-- it makes me feel like it's okay to just plant myself next to the buffet when I'm supposed to be mingling.

We then sat through a variety of welcome speeches, and got info about housing, financial aid, classes, clinicals, health services, registration, books, uniforms, etc. And then they sent us chasing about all around campus trying to get all of our stuff in order before school starts on MONDAY.

So, I'm thinking-- couldn't they have done this just... a tiny bit sooner? I mean, for instance there's this patch I'm supposed to buy from the bookstore and sew it onto my uniform.
Now, I quit my job over a month ago and had plenty of time that could have been devoted to sewing said patch, had I known about it. But no. They kept that little detail a secret until today.
Oh, and we were instructed to bring our laptops, if we owned laptops, so that we could change our settings and get on the school's network. So I, like many of my classmates, brought my little laptop with me to campus. Unfortunately the administrators forgot to mention that in order to use the school's wireless internet you FIRST have to go online at home and enter your computer numbers or some such nonsense. So everybody's computers were picking up wireless signals but we couldn't use them. Awesome.

Other than that, I found out that I'll be commuting an hour to clinicals.

And that I need to pay my school tuition and fees with a check because they don't charge extra for that. Now if only I could find my checkbook in this black hole that is my apartment.

AND they are raising said tuition by a hefty couple thousand dollars!!! Which apparently "went through" less than a week ago. So remember those student loans you all applied for, kids? Well call the bank and ask for more!

I think I'm cranky.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And when she got there, the cupboard was bare.

Until last night, the contents of my fridge and cupboards was as follows:
- 7 bottles of Budweiser
- 5 bottles of Smirnoff Ice
- small pack of croutons
- microwave popcorn
- Tapatio sauce
Then, last night I walked over to the grocery store and hobbled back, carrying 2 heavy (reusable) full bags plus one 12 pack of soda. This made my arms hurt. And prompted Miss Grace to remind me that Safeway delivers. And if you spend $50 on your first order, delivery is free. So I decided to stock up on things I need to "start" my kitchen. That way, I don't have to bother with the heavy carrying all at once and I can just walk on over to the grocery store when I'm out of one or two items or I when I need pie ingredients or whatever.

I made it to the fifty dollar mark with only alcohol. Is that bad? 

Moving Along

Well I dinglehoppered (dinglehopped?) my hair and it looked okay, if a bit mussed. The zit was neon red due to my premature attempts at ridding myself of it.

I wasn't certain about taking mass transit for the first time but I didn't want to pay upwards of twenty bucks for parking and I really, really didn't want to experiment with driving in this city because that prospect terrifies me moreso than I can adequately describe. And I'm from LA-- a city not known for its user-friendly streets and highways. So after a few unsuccessful attempts at understanding the web site, I asked anyone I thought could help me. Flynne's boyfriend who lives in Marin gave me general directions. Prav gave me a more specific idea. The guy downstairs told me where to get to the Muni stop and which one I should probably get on. What I was really looking for was someone to take my by the hand and lead me directly to where I needed to go, starting at the door to my apartment. Failing this, I figured I would rely on my sense of direction and lack of shame in asking stupid questions to strangers.

I made it down to the Muni and a nice woman on the train helped me figure out where I was going. Apparently I didn't look like a "local" as I attempted to put money into the automated Muni scheduler thing so she took pity on me. She told me exactly what to do and I made it to school right on time. I made sure to get her phone number in case I ever got lost again (she is now listed in my phone as Cassandra Nice Train). So I've figured out my commute and so far it was not too hard. I'm sure it will be trickier in the rain and so forth but I accomplished my mission for today: take Muni to school.

Being from LA, I don't have a lot of experience with public transportation because I drove everywhere. If I had to buy more than two grocery bags full of stuff, I would drive to Trader Joe's, which was across the street. If I think hard, I can detail the experience I have had in other cities:
- London, with kids from my high school. Managed to negotiate the entire city. Generally by letting others take the lead.
- Boston. My sis took me all over town. She also sent me to her apartment for a nap and gave me extremely specific, landmark-oriented directions for meeting up again.
- New York. My parents and I tried to go to SoHo. Got completely lost.
- France. Flew into Paris. Stephanie picked me up at the airport, helped me buy my ticket and put me on the train to Rennes. Coming back to her house was trickier. She had relatives coming into town so she couldn't come meet me at the train station so she had told me to take a cab to her house. Michelle heard this and told me to forget about that and take the Metro since a cab would be around 30 Euros and the Metro would be no more than 3. Since I had lost a lot of my money simply by changing it from dollars to Euros, I decided to do it. I knew the general area where Stephanie lived and I thought I could probably recognize her house. So with Michelle's directions, I walked to the bus stop and took the bus to the train station in Saint Malo. I changed trains in Rennes. I arrived in Paris and took the 9 Metro and transferred to the 6 (it could be the other way around, twas a few years ago). I had been instructed to get off at one of the 3 last stops so I picked the very last stop and then wandered around until I found Stephanie's house.
Did I mention that I was carrying a medium-sized rolling suitcase, along with a coat and a large paper bag full of souvenirs that might as well have said "I'm a tourist. Rob me!" on it? Did I also mention that I don't speak any French? Well, actually, Michelle taught me to say "one ticket, please."
I suppose after that experience, it makes sense that I wasn't too worried about today. At least I speak the language....

Oh, and I guess I did have a little experience with public transportation in LA. Back in freshman year when I didn't have a car, I would take the bus to the Santa Monica mall (not realizing, I guess, that there are about seventeen thousand other acceptable shopping areas between South Central and Santa Monica). It would take 2 hours each way but I would do it. In fact, Jenny and I went on a little shopping excursion there and ended up getting on the wrong bus back to town. Since it was so late in the evening the Dash from downtown to USC wasn't operating anymore so instead of paying, oh nine or so dollars for a cab, Jenny and I walked. From downtown. To USC. At some points we had to shout to hear each other over the screaming of car alarms and sirens. For two seemingly reasonably intelligent people, this is one of those moments I look back and realize book smarts will only get you so far.

NOT how this was supposed to happen.

Today I have to go to school to be fitted for a TB mask. Which in itself is a little off-putting. But I'm going. Nevermind the fact that I actually have no idea how to get from my apartment to school, but I figure that's the sort of thing that comes on its own. Right?

First I need to take a shower so as to look bright eyed and silky haired and so I feel clean and healthy. But before that can happen I need to lay my hands on the little packet of shower curtain rings that I know, I KNOW is somewhere in my apartment. I have the curtain, I have the rod, all I need are those rings. I am certain I brought the rings up from the car when I brought the curtain and then placed them in a box together. I then removed them from the box when I took it down to the recycle bin. I set the curtain on the couch and then I apparently placed the rings inside another dimension because they are not anywhere in the apartment. Granted, the apartment is a bit chaotic at the moment due to the fact that I am in the process of unpacking and downsizing. And this is a small package of clear rings. But I need them!!

Upon further inspection, I realize that I also don't have a hairbrush. It may be down in the car still, or it may be hanging out with the rings doing whatever it is you do in a parallel universe and you've never been outside WalMart. I can lay my hands on no less than 4 new, still wrapped toothbrushes because I thought I didn't have a spare so I bought two and then I made my sis buy me another one because her kid dropped mine in the toilet.

Adding to all of this, I have a gigantic zit on my chin. Why?? Why??? I had acne in high school. I will admit this freely and say that for all the warnings, Accutane was a godsend for me. Cleared my skin right up and did NOT make me feel like committing suicide like it apparently did for several other teens. But my skin remains incredibly sensitive. "Sensitive" as in I can't wash it with soap. I starting using Cetaphil a few months ago because I thought I probably should be using something on my face and I didn't realize the association between this and the fact that I was breaking out a lot until I packed it up and sent it to SF whilst I remained in LA. My skin got better without it. And I still haven't been using it so why? Why the enormous zit?? Stress? My dirty pillow cases? What???

So here I go to wash my hair in the bath and attempt to finger-comb it into something acceptable. Oh, and I can't cover up the zit because I loaned my only tube of concealer to a friend who needed to cover her hickeys.

This is not quite the first impression I was imagining.

It's been awhile

If you haven't heard from me for awhile it may have been for between one and all of the following reasons:
- I moved out of my apartment and was homeless in LA for a good 2 weeks
- while I was homeless, I didn't have a reliable source of internet
- while I was homeless and without internet, I was living out of my car and a series of garbage bags while simultaneously attempting to prepare for my next round of grad school, applying for financial aid, completing paperwork, requesting final transcripts from LACC-- my life was just a tad chaotic.
- I also went to Coos Bay, Oregon and spent a lot of time in WalMart.
- I got a horrible sinus infection
But I now have a new home. And a reliable source of internet. And my car is in the garage and my clothes are in the closet. Oh, and the sinus infection is gone, which is good. But school starts on Monday which will arguably turn my world upside down again, though I am hoping to keep up some semblance of a social life. We shall see....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Because Jenny is a trendsetter.

So I'm doing this because I'm tired of MySpace. And because I like to tell stories. And because in an offhand comment Miss Grace told me I should. So here I go.