Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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Dead Week, Day 2

Posted by Lucille on December 7, 2011 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Today was the last sorority business meeting, followed by our holiday party/white elephant gift exchange. I gave away an elmo head (yes, really.) I remember when I was packing for college and struggling to stuff it into the outer pocket of my bag, and my mom asked what on earth I thought I would need that for. Even elmo heads come in handy now and then. We were playing the version where you can steal gifts from people ahead of you, and the girl in front of me got a pair of super fuzzy Christmas socks I was planning to steal. Then I opened mine, and it was a pair of super fuzzy socks AND gloves! Win.

       We ate chocolate and played charades for a few hours and then I went up to Kidd Hall for their holiday party. More hot chocolate, and cookie decorating, too! The secret santa gift exchange was hilarious and had all of us rolling on the floor trying to breathe through our laughter, and then someone would snap a picture, and the sight of our facial expressions would make us start laughing all over again. Plus a grad student I'd expressed interest in earlier in the semester (before being told regretfully that, as a Berkeley student, he did not have time) caught me as I was walking under the mistletoe to wish me a good term at PSU. I like the holidays.

Dead Week

Posted by Lucille on December 6, 2011 at 3:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Because Berkeley is on the semester system, we have a whole week off before finals. I've never had a dead week before so I wasn't sure what to expect. I now understand. Dead week is purely magical.

       In the morning there was a note on my desk from my roommate, letting me know that she would be going home for the entire week. Hallelujah. I ran upstairs and made myself chocolate chip pancakes, and then grabbed my camera to go with a family friend and his partner to Point Reyes. After a beautiful drive we got lunch at a cheese shop and then went out to the ocean and hiked until dark. We saw cows, vultures, hawks, sea lions, elephant seals, deer, and a great horned owl, and they all had babies: calves, pups, and fledglings, Point Reyes was alive. As the sun was setting we hiked way up over a cliff to try to see the green flash. There was an enormous bull elephant seal on the beach below us that looked up at us and started doing his mating call.

       When the sun had set we drove back to my uncle's for pizza. Coming back after Thanksgiving, I was struck again by the surreal qualities of Berkeley. No one walks in groups. Even when the streets are crowded, everyone walks by themselves, their eyes on their little screens... 40,000 undergraduates packed on campus, and none of them look at each other. Talk about an alternate reality. So spending the day with my bay area family was absolutely exhilarating, a source of some much needed human contact, with some of the most compassionate, intelligent, and goddam funniest people I know. Then I went to an all night Israeli dance marathon. Best. Day. Ever.

Speed Learning

Posted by Lucille on December 6, 2011 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Because I got back Monday night, there were four days left to the term, and a final project due for each class. My chem partner and I did a lab project on the equilibrium constant of post combustion ethanolamine carbon filters. The next day I was tasked with carrying the tri-fold board across campus. I remarked that you never notice the wind until you carry a tri-fold board, and then it nearly knocks you over (until I got home and saw on the news that the wind that day had broken concrete light poles). The GSI, who is normally very apathetic and critical of student work, really seemed to like it and stayed by ours to ask questions. Perhaps there's hope for my grade in chemistry after all. I got my economics done (though I rushed through the second half and turned it in seconds before the bell) and gave a French presentation on the politics of polyamorism. And then went home and went to sleep. Mission accomplished.

Highlights of Thanksgiving

Posted by Lucille on December 5, 2011 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

My roommate has a habit of getting up at seven and turning the lights on, listening to the radio, and talking on her phone (sometimes about me). I got into Portland and planned to get up early to make productive use of my time with my family. Instead I slept in until noon, and it was glorious.

       I made pumpkin pie with my brother. As I was taking it out of the oven, the heat came through my gloves, and I yelled and dropped it. Pumpkin pie splattered all over the floor. I stared at it for a moment, and then started silently crying. I haven’t seen my family in months…can’t I have a nice night with them without ruining it? My dad and brother shooed me away from the cleaning supplies, picked up the part of the pie they could salvage, and insisted we could still serve it. I dried my tears, grateful, and sat down at the table. I took a bite…and realized I had forgotten to add sugar. It tasted vile. I looked up at my dad and brother just as they each took a big bite. They looked at me with defiant smiles, and then I started laughing, and we all spat it out and laughed for a few minutes before getting up to clean together. I don’t know what I did to deserve these guys.

Over the next few days got to see most of my Portland friends. We shared stories, laughed until we cried, ate whipped-cream-on-cheetos-on-doughnuts, went to the Saturday Market and OMSI, laughed again until we cried... It was a good time. And that was in three days, without even getting to see some of my closest friends. I'm so excited for winter break!

       I stayed through Monday so that I could go by PSU. I stopped by the admissions office to ask about the status of my application. "It looks like it's incomplete... We never got your Berkeley transcript." I had looked at the status of my transcript request online a few days before, and it said, "Guaranteed to be sent by: Nov 17. Status: In process." Despite the fact that it had been after the 17th. I went by the library and looked it up again. This time no request was listed. So I called the office of the registrar, recited my ID number, waited while she pulled it up on the screen: "Oh, there it is. It looks like...did we not tell you that was cancelled?"

       It turns out that the transcript doesn't show classes that are in process, so it was blank, and they decided not to send it. I went back to the admissions office and was shown to a room where a woman who was probably in her late twenties/ early thirties was sitting at a desk, and I immediately knew she was pregnant. Not visibly, at all, but she was sitting on a birth ball, with her left hand idly caressing her lower belly, a picture of her partner on her desk, and her eyes smiling with that glow of the newly pregnant. She nodded when I had explained what had happened and said that in that case I needed to get a verification of enrollment. I'm thinking it'll be days before they send it, a week before it gets here, another week for them to process it, and then a week to move the application into could start before I was admitted. The woman was frowning in thought. "Although that sounds like it would take you a lot of time...let me see if I can just...(she starts typing)...override...that...yes, there you go! It's marked as complete. You should hear back from us in a few weeks."

       I love not being a number.

By The Moments That Take Your Breath Away

Posted by Lucille on December 5, 2011 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Every now and then something reminds me of the ridiculous degree to which I love my life.

       Today it was stepping off the plane and being nearly asphyxiated by an overexcited ten year old.

Sometimes Spontaneous Decisions Are The Best Ones

Posted by Lucille on December 5, 2011 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I hadn't been planning on going home for Thanksgiving because it's only three weeks from the end of term, but I made an impulse decision and bought a plane ticket, and now I am incredibly excited and trying with mixed success to focus so I can get my homework out of the way.

Reflections in the Air

Posted by Lucille on December 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I went aerial silk dancing today with the friend from GRL that worked in a rape crisis center last year.

       "It's so weird, coming back from it, you know? Being in school, surrounded by freshmen who are going through the typical off to college experience... Being overwhelmed by their sudden freedom to try drugs and have sex whenever they want... And feeling so separate from it. And when you try to share your experience... Well, some people just don't want to hear about it, don't want to confront that darkness. And other people are just like, you chose it, you know? Like electing to do something like that takes away your right to struggle with it. My partner thinks I have PTSD because I keep having flashbacks, nightmares and stuff."

       She nodded to me as we reached the top of the silk and started doing a slow angled twirl. I'd already told her there was more to watching Firefly every night than just being a sci-fi fan; it helps ensure I dream about space ships instead. I nodded, flipped into a partial twirl, and then pulled myself back up to her eye level.

       "I don't think I have PTSD," she said, "But I don't think he's completely wrong, either. There were definitely things I saw- a lot of them-- that could be traumatizing. Yes, I have memories that are painful-- but what I can't seem to explain is that that doesn't mean I don't want them there, you know? Yes, I have nightmares, I wake up in the middle of the night sobbing, I have memories that I can't contain...and I'd do it again. There's fear and hurt but there's also that significance, the feeling of being there for someone in a moment they're going to remember for the rest of their lives and holding them steady. Pushing yourself further than you ever thought you could go, and then going further, and then further still. There's just something about that, you know?"

       She met my smile, and then glanced at the silk rope we'd twisted ourselves into and grinned. I smiled back and nodded, and in unison we let go and tipped backward, and did a spinning flip down to the bottom, something neither of us had done before.

I Need A Force Field

Posted by Lucille on December 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

At work today one of the teachers told me that her daughter, who had come to work with her the week before, was sick. The insides of my lips were so swollen I didn't want to talk, so I gave her a sympathetic look. "Yeah, she has know, that one that makes the inside of your mouth blister. We have that at this center; almost all our student assitants get it their first term. In fact, I'm surprised you haven't gotten it!"

       Shouldn't they have to tell you about these things?!

       I love my job, and I may return to childcare at some point in my life, but I think for now I won't apply to the center at PSU. At this point I feel like taking myself out of the crossfire of anything I can avoid.

This Is Why It's An Apple A Day

Posted by Lucille on December 5, 2011 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I currently have the mother of all canker sores. So, what do you do to get rid of a viral infection? Support your immune system with lots of vitamin c! What foods have vitamin c? Oh, yeah! Orange juice!

       ...Not a good idea.


Posted by Lucille on December 5, 2011 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I promise not to use this blog like Tumblr, but this seemed relevant.