Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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SARC Update

Posted by Lucille on May 29, 2013 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

So far I have had five calls on the line, and they have all been wildly different. Some have left me looking for other things I could have said, and others have been downright uplifting. I was chatting with my roommate while I was on call the other day and realized that I hadn't told her about the painting project.

       "What if someone calls you while you're doing it?" she said.

       I shrugged. "I only get a couple calls a shift, so the chance it would happen in the two minutes I have paint on my, it's only a finger print, I'd just take my phone out with my other hand."


       We talked for a while about other things, and then when she went into the kitchen to get something to eat, I got up, unannounced, and went into my room to add a fingerprint to the canvas. This time it smudged a little, though, so I touched it with a different finger to try to smooth it up and smeared it even more, so I got a little black paint to try to cover it...and just then my phone started ringing. There was paint all over both of my hands.

       "Oh, crap! Help! Help, I can't get my ph-" I ran into the living room, where she was holding her phone to her ear and laughing so hard she couldn't speak.

       Well played.

A Shout-Out For Massage

Posted by Lucille on May 29, 2013 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

But first, a quick story. In SARC training one night, one of the women was talking about how she was excited about a massage she was going to with a friend. The woman next to her spoke up, "Yeah, massages are great. I really need to go see a misogynist soon."

      One of the women, a masseuse, smiled. "Aren't they great?"

      "I try to go see misogynists as often as I can," a fourth woman said.

       "I know, right? There just aren't enough misogynists in the world." This went on for several minutes, and then our trainers came into the room, looking absolutely horrified.

       "What are you all talking about?!"

       Everyone burst into laughter, and the woman who had made the mistake laughed harder than everyone, and this became a running joke for the whole of training.

       PSU hosted a midterm stress relief event that included free 5-minute massages. I had slept badly and had a knot in my neck that was tight, so I stopped by. The masseuse greeted me, and after a few questions, led me over to a floor pad and had me lay on my back.

       "Can you feel any difference between the two sides?" I asked as she worked her way up my shoulders.

       "You're a little tense, but nothing too bad," she said, and then she reached my neck. "Oh," she laughed, "Well then."

       She started pushing harder and harder, and it felt uncomfortable, like she was pushing on bone. I tried to relax, and she pushed harder, and it went from uncomfortable to painful. Just as I was opening my mouth to stop her, she rubbed over the muscle again, and it spasmed once and then relaxed completely with a flood of endorphins that lifted me up off the floor, better than chocolate, better than orgasm, better than sleep... I lay there stunned, while she laughed a little at my face and rubbed the last bit of tension out of me. I stood up feeling like jello and managed to thank her through my dazed smile and ask for her card.

If any of you have been considering getting a massage and have been putting it off, I highly recommend it. And if you are a masseuse, know that the work you do is important and you are appreciated.

Selective Burnout

Posted by Lucille on May 29, 2013 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (0)

There were several days between my biology and molecular midterms and my geology midterm, plenty of time to review and catch up on the reading. But when I walked out of my second midterm in two days and picked up my geology textbook, my eyes glazed over the words.

       I expected this term to be easier than the last few. Because I'm getting internship credit for my time with SARC, I'm actually taking fewer classes than last term, yet I'm still struggling to get everything done. This discrepancy has been troubling me for a while. Am I just losing self-discipline? Am I hitting burnout? Am I doing something that's killing off my brain cells? Was I just not half as intelligent as I thought I was to begin with? None of these possibilities are particularly appealing. I chugged along through my pile of work, increasingly troubled by how many times I had to read through something for it to stick. It didn't feel like burnout, because I still had plenty of energy for other things, but studying was like walking through quicksand. Am I just getting lazy?

       And then an idea: last term, even though I was taking more classes, I had a healthy mix: a primarily memorization class, a problem-solving class, a writing class, a seminar. This term, all three of my classes are primarily about memorizing and regurgitating huge amounts of information. So actually, it does make sense that that one part of my brain could be exhausted while I had energy for other things, without laziness or toxic insecticides being to blame. This realization made me feel a lot better, but didn't actually reduce my need to study. Back to work. I went to bed when my eyes refused to focus on the page, and woke up early to get a few more hours of studying in before the test.

       I left knowing that I'd failed that test more completely than I'd ever failed a test in my life. I knew maybe 1/5 of the questions, and guessed on all the rest. It felt horrible. No idea, no idea, Ooh! I know that one!, no idea, I don't even know what these words mean, maybe a or c, no idea. The test felt unending and my confidence and self-respect dropped with every question. Ugh.

       The next class, we got our scantrons back. I stared at it, sure there had been a mistake. I got a B. To my disbelief, that left my class grade a solid A. I think I have to be the single luckiest guesser in existence. Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets. And now to go sleep for a century.

Midterms and Flowers

Posted by Lucille on May 29, 2013 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Midterms, round 2. Who's winning? I have no idea.

       I normally study in the library for a few hours every day. The last few weeks, I've been spending more time in the library than out. Biology and Molecular Biology are my higher stakes classes, because they are prerequisites for classes I will be taking fall term, so I've been putting off geology a little bit to focus on them. They are so fast paced that even with hour after hour of reading, it has been a struggle keeping up. Between the two of us, Travis and I have seven midterms next week, and as we've both taken to locking ourselves in our rooms to study for hours at a time, it's been a few days since we've seen each other.

       I knew Travis was as stressed out about midterms as I was, so when I had studied as much as I possibly could, I went out and got a bouquet to drop off at his room, hoping to bring a little bit of spring into midterms week and make him smile. To my surprise, he wasn't there. Where was he? Over at my room, bringing me flowers.

Happy Spring, everybody.

Oh Dear

Posted by Lucille on May 29, 2013 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)

When I got to Travis's room the other day, I opened the door and immediately smelled smoke. Travis was facing the wall, artfully burning his major requirements. I guess it's that part of the term. I really hope the sun comes out soon.


Posted by Lucille on May 29, 2013 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

My roommate has been considering getting a kitten for a while, and recently had the opportunity to catsit a kitten for a week, with the option to adopt it at the end of the week if it was a good match. It became quite apparent that they were not a good fit, however, so Travis and I offered to take care of it for the remainder of the week. We fell in love. The kitten was a tiny fluffball with lots of energy who loved to chase string or sit on your shoulder and watch you read. He especially like laying on Travis's chest while he was asleep, and I don't think I've ever seen anything more adorable in my life. We had to say goodbye at the end of the week (don't worry, he found a good home), but I've been catching myself daydreaming about kittens ever since. Maybe someday.

Budget Cuts

Posted by Lucille on May 28, 2013 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the problems with working in social justice is the perpetual threat that your funding will be pulled out from under you. The City of Portland's proposed budget would result in the number of case managers in the CSEC program (commercially sexually exploited children), both at SARC and our community partners, being cut in half and cut the adult program entirely. These case managers are already working with hundreds of girls each, far more than I thought was humanly possible, and this funding cut would double that number, greatly reducing the services these girls would have access to.

       SARC rallied the volunteer base, and we have been calling, emailing, and writing the city council, trying to impress upon them that pulling services from people in crisis and exploited children is not an acceptable way to address budget cuts. We planned to go en masse to the budget hearing (best sign award: the Trix bunny holding a sign that says Tricks Are Not For Kids), when suddenly the heads of the community partners were called together, and in exchange for us not going to the budget hearing (to give them time to hear arguments about other cut programs, including the mounted patrol and Buckman pool), all of the funding for trafficking victims will be renewed for the next year.

      Relief, congratulations, and joy. We quickly turned our planned sign-making party into a celebratory pizza party, and I was thrilled to have more time to get to know these extraordinary women. Thank you, Portland, for upholding your commitment to trafficking victims, and to the people who depend on these services, don't worry: if it gets put on the chopping block next year, we will be here to fight for it again, and again, until commercial sexual exploitation in Portland is nothing but a distant memory.

First Round of Midterms

Posted by Lucille on May 28, 2013 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Geology is by far my favorite class this term. Every class, we look at spectacular pictures of the national parks and talk about the history and notable features and basic geology of some of the most beautiful places in the country. I wasn't worried about the exam, but I decided to go to the review session anyway. I sat down cheerfully and picked up the sheet of sample questions on the desk, then stopped, staring at it. "In which national park would you find the greatest concentration of andesite?"

       First question: What on earth is andesite?

       Second question: When exactly did we learn about that?

       One of the things I most admire about this teacher is his advocacy for the 'free classes for seniors' program. The downside that I didn't consider about that is that exams aren't very relevant if you're not working toward a degree, so the 'trivia style' learning that is tested on exams was expected to take place outside of class. I cancelled my plans for the evening and tore through hundreds of pages of the textbook until my brain ached and I was sure I couldn't remember anything more, and ended up getting an A.

       Phew! Let's not do that again, okay?


Posted by Lucille on May 7, 2013 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

On our last day of SARC training, I showed up with eight of my peers for 'graduation', with no idea what that would entail. The mothers in the group had all brought their infants, and we took turns comforting and playing with them while passing around a bowl of chocolate and going through last minute paperwork. After a while, we turned out the lights, lit candles, and did a brief meditation, which had a more communal nature than others I've done because we were still all in tune with the babies' needs and taking turns answering them. As the leaders passed out our certificates, we went around the circle and all shared things we appreciated or admired about that person. I made a point to say something personal and meaningful to everyone, amazed by how much we really had grown to love and rely on each other in the last five weeks, and together we fed that energy such that passing out certificates to nine people took almost two hours. Everyone was grateful for the dim candlelight as we all cried and blushed when it was our turn to accept praise, and long after it was officially time to go, we stayed and dallied packing up, hugging each other, exchanging numbers, and running over to tell people more wonderful things about them before they got out the door. A whole bunch of women meditating with babies and chocolate and talking about their feelings? Isn't that the epitome of some feminist stereotype? Yes, and it was all kinds of beautiful.

Long Term Planning

Posted by Lucille on May 4, 2013 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (1)

I have tried to arrange my schedule so that I will have taken all of my pre-nursing prerequisites and major science classes by the time I apply to OHSU at the start of my senior year. The result is that I have squeezed so much into my first three years, by the time I am a senior I will have nothing left but an internship and thesis for Honors to complete, and will largely have the year open to fill with work, internships, electives, or other pursuits.

       Meanwhile elsewhere, my little brother has been having puppy fever. Dad dismissed the idea at first because no one would be able to be home with a dog during the day, until I suggested that he could train it as a therapy dog. He's been really excited about this idea for a few months now and has talked about how wonderful it would be for his Hospice patients. Though things are still being kept quiet, out of the risk of getting my brother excited over something that is still a long way off, the idea is to get a puppy at the end of my junior year so that I can use my extra free time in the next year to help train it. We've spent a few days researching breeds, trainers, and breeders. So far the top breed choices are: mutt (rescue), golden retriever, and malamute. I have never had a dog before so if you are a dog person and have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks! <3