Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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How Time Flies

Posted by Lucille on November 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

My apologies for the temporary absence- I'll do my best to get this blog caught up quickly. It's been a busy summer.

There were a few weeks that were so blissful, hectic, stressful, and amazing they made my head spin, where Travis and I were falling more in love by the day, and staying up all night cramming for the onslaught of finals. And then spring ended, Travis went back to California, and I started my summer microbiology course.

Moms Know Everything

Posted by Lucille on July 6, 2012 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I related this story to my mom the next time I was home. I commented that I knew the timing was not ideal, what with my recent exit from a relationship, and Travis going home for the summer.

       "Mom, do you think I'm being stupid?"

       "Honey, I think you're nineteen."

       I smiled. "That's a yes, isn't it?"

      She laughed. "Come help me set the table."


Posted by Lucille on July 6, 2012 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Over the last two terms, Travis has become someone I trust, care about, and confide in. I'd also known for several months that he liked me. This had absolutely no bearing on my decision to break up with Matthew. (I know the timing will make it seem otherwise, but it didn't-- Really.) However, that being done, it did open other avenues of possibility.

     One night after having a study party and watching a few TED talks, we decided to go for a walk up the hill from campus, to this huge wall where you can look over the entire city. I'd been up here before, but always in the daytime. The lights of the skyline were breathtaking. I dangled my feet over the edge, quizzing Travis about campus dance groups. I'd been disappointed with the lack of Israeli dance options. He told me he was going to join the ballroom group next year. "You could come with me, you know. We could be partners."

      I admitted, embarrassed, that I didn't know how. I've done a lot of folk dancing, but our dance experience seemed to perfectly not overlap.

     "Then come here," he said, standing up and holding out his arm, "I'll teach you." And so we danced over the city in the moonlight. We didn't go back for hours.

Painted Ponies Go Round And Round

Posted by Lucille on July 4, 2012 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the challenges of keeping this blog going post-Africa and Berkeley is learning to adapt my writing to the changing nature of my adventures. When you're writing about leaning over a crocodile pool or running naked through a library, there aren't a lot of ways to go wrong, and the more detail the better. This is in stark contrast to the humility and consideration required when writing about experiences that intimately involve other people. I do my best to tell my story truthfully while being respectful of the privacy and wishes of the people in it.

       M and I broke up, and this was a decision I initiated. There was no fight, no argument. Just change. I don't say that to belittle it. It was a giant, earth-shifting kind of change, and I'm aware that I got the easy side of it. It's just my own attempt to maintain perspective. Things don't simply end--that's not the way the world works. Everything is a change.

       I felt different afterward. I'd never broken up with anyone before, though I'd been on the receiving end a couple of times. I felt like I'd gone through some bizarre rite of passage. When you let someone in, you hand each other the knife, and sometimes you have to use it.

     As weird as this is going to sound, it was healing retroactively, to be on the other side and realize that cliches like "It's not you, it's me" can be honest, that it doesn't devalue what you had before, and that wanting change is not the same as anger or regret of any kind.

       One thing I firmly believe about break ups is that the phrase "Let's stay friends" should not be said unless it's sincere. I meant it. M continues to be one of the most amazing people I know. We've hung out a lot since then, and while I know changes like this come with a lot of pain, we've also had a lot of fun. Time tends to shift the balance in that direction.

Looking for a Window

Posted by Lucille on July 3, 2012 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I did the advanced training and an interview for PDX doulas, and got turned down. There's a limit to the number of volunteer badges they can get, and they had a lot of very well qualified applicants. They invited me to reapply if I can get some birth experience in the US. I've been calling local doula apprenticeship groups, but so far no one has called me back.

Faith in Honors: Restored

Posted by Lucille on June 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I met with the head of the honors program, who told me that since she was hired last summer, she has been working to expand the honors program to other subjects and hire new teachers...including an ecology teacher from Berkeley. Since I'm already a year ahead, she said it would be no problem to make up this term of honors by taking a term of honors ecology next fall.


Posted by Lucille on June 6, 2012 at 3:00 AM Comments comments (0)

A friend of mine got caught in a trimet sting. I had always assumed that you could buy a youth pass as long as you were a student, but apparently not. Police started searching every bus a stop away from campus and pulling off dozens of kids all day. I wasn't on the bus, but I offered to accompany my friend to court.

It was like a twisted version of prom. Tons of people I knew from high school were there, all dressed in formal clothes. "Trimet?" they would ask each other. "Yep. You too, huh?"

All the trimet violators were taken into the court room at the same time, and I waited outside. There were a number of people in dirty clothes who were wandering around, repeating themselves, and occasionally talking to some social workers that were working their way up the hall, a collection of tired security guards, and a half dozen eccentrically dressed individuals who strikingly did not seem to belong there. They were talking animatedly and passing a clipboard around, creating an email list, and brainstorming possible courses of action. "Are you anarchist?" one asked me, passing me the clipboard.

"Um, no...not really."

"No problem," he said, "Well, if you're ever anarch-curious or anarch-questioning, this is a welcoming place."

I stayed and chatted with them for a while, and found out that most of them had been arrested at Occupy or a recent police brutality protest. Since then I've run into a couple of them on-campus. They were all found not guilty and are helping to plan the anti-tuition increase rally at PSU. Talk about making friends in weird places.


Posted by Lucille on June 6, 2012 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Since the start of term, more than half of the students in my honors class have switched into other classes. We've gone from over 30 students down to 12. We are reading biographies. Not the books- we are reading the footnotes, and creating excel catalogues that for every single footnote in the book includes the author's name, title, translated title, dates of publication, publisher, and whether it is a primary or secondary source. As far as I can tell, it is the definition of busywork.

This week we were supposed to complete a six page paper analyzing the sources of an approved article, and two articles included in the footnotes of that article. I sent a number of articles to Dr. Smith, all of which were turned down. 24 hours to deadline, I sent him another article. Six hours to deadline, he sent it back and said that, while it was not an ideal article for the project, it would do. I skipped all my other classes that day and got the paper done.

Today in class, he started talking about our next big project, due next week, and handed back our papers. Mine had a sticky note on the front that said he had taken a closer look at the article, and was confused as to how I ever thought it would be appropriate for this project-- please do it over. More than half the class got this response.

I dropped the class.


Posted by Lucille on June 5, 2012 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Once upon a time, there was an overbooked flight, and the airline offered four tickets to Hawaii for any family who would step off and catch a flight the next day. Consequently, by a bit of airport magic, we got to go to Hawaii for spring break.

I couldn't help noticing the similarities to Africa. Sand roads, mangoes everywhere, birds chattering... and yet, it was also so different that they were polar opposites. Many of the plants and animals were the same, but while everything about Africa seemed ancient beyond imagination, everything about Hawaii feels brand new. Moreover, everything is exactly what it seems. If you lifted up a rock in Gambia, you were likely to find a terrifyingly gorgeous spider, an ancient huntress spirit weaving an intricate and mathematically mesmerizing lair. In Hawaii, you would probably find more sand. Maybe a colorful beetle. Though it was nowhere near as complex or fascinating as Africa, everything about Hawaii felt safe (with the possible exceptions of sharks and volcanoes, both of which you can easily avoid) and much more fitting of a vacation spot. We didn't do a lot of the fancy tourist stuff, we just rented snorkeling gear and spent every day at the local beach. I think that was the best way to have fun, anyway. My little brother certainly agreed.

A Lesson in Humility

Posted by Lucille on June 5, 2012 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Because of insurance reasons, I ended up going to a different doctor for the IUD insertion. A young nurse led me back to the room. Because the doctor was on call in another part of the hospital, the nurse was going to stay to speed things along.

     I was not very worried. I had done a lot of reading about this, and though I knew to expect discomfort, I also knew that I was pretty good at being able to consciously relax my body even when experiencing pain, and if all else failed, to bring my focus to my breath. Yoga and theater principles, essentially, and add to that two doula trainings...I figured I would be fine.

       I learned that the actual IUD insertion doesn't hurt. I barely felt it. What hurts is the tenaculum, which they use to hold your cervix in place. I looked up at the ceiling, counting the lengths of my breaths.

      I felt a hand lightly running down my arm, a doula technique for gently distracting a person with other sensations. "You're doing great," the nurse said.

       "Are you a doula?" I asked, and she nodded. I didn't pay much attention, though. I knew I was doing great. I knew all the things she could say, and I was busy memorizing the ceiling.

       Suddenly the room spun, and I thought I was going to throw up.

       "Oops," the doctor said.

       "Oops what?"

       "The tenaculum slipped, nothing to worry about. It happens sometimes. It just tore the sides of your uterus a little."

       "It what?!"

       She nodded to the nurse. "Hand me the silver nitrate sticks," then back to me, "They're just to help me stop the bleeding. There we go. Now I'm going to count to thirty, okay? That should stop the bleeding, and then we'll get the IUD put in."

       "Okay." I stared hard at a spot on the ceiling, trying to make it hold still.

       "Don't forget to breathe," the nurse whispered lightly in my ear.

       Oh, yeah. That.

       I breathed in, and let the breath out evenly.

       "Relax," she smiled, running her fingers down my arm again. I'd been tensing without realizing it. We went through that cycle a few more times, while the doctor counted with agonizing slowness.

"'re done. Good job," the doctor said. A few seconds later, she was gone. I sighed in relief and started to get up.

       "Whoa there," the nurse said, putting a hand on my shoulder and sitting me back down. This was probably a good thing, because as soon as I moved, the room started to tilt in strange ways again. "It makes you dizzy, doesn't it? You can take your time. This room is yours for as long as you need it. In fact, do you want something to eat? We've got cookies in the break room. I could bring you some. How did you know I'm a doula?"

     Her pager went off at that moment, and I gathered my things and left before she came back. I stopped at the front desk to write a note for her supervisor. If I'm ever a nurse, I want to be a nurse like that.       



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HIPAA Disclaimer

Sometimes I have the privilege of being a part of intimate, powerful moments in other people’s lives. I cannot and would not share these stories, because they are not mine to tell. However, they touch my life and become part of my own story. When I share these moments here, you can trust that I have not broken anyone’s confidentiality. The characters are invented. They are not real, but could be. I take creative license to communicate the essence of my experience while respecting the privacy of others.