Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


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It's A Big World After All

Posted by Lucille on November 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Travis drove up to Portland as I was finishing up my finals and we stayed with my family for a few days. I asked him what he thought about meeting my dad, and he smiled and said, "You make perfect sense now."

       With finals done, I resurfaced from the world of academia, and found that we had the whole summer ahead of us and a wild world to explore. We'd been talking for a while about going backpacking, so we collected supplies and poured over maps of local national parks, and decided to hike Mt. Lassen on our way to visit his parents and my family in Berkeley.

       I reached into the closet and pulled out my traveling backpack, still covered in orange dust.

       Time for another adventure!


Posted by Lucille on November 15, 2012 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I was thrilled to get to study many of the diseases I encountered in Gambia. I had quite an advantage. I already knew that people with malaria walk like this, with a sort of daydreamy crouch, and you have to stick them with the malaria test that you get from Isatou and take them straight to doctor Ben. If you are working pharmacy that day, you must give them the green package, and ask Aisha to tell them in Wolof that they must take all the pills in the package, one a day. To keep from getting it, you use your mosquito net every single night, unconditionally, unless it's so hot and humid you'd probably drown. What's that? The malaria life cycle? Pathological mechanism? You mean I'm supposed to know that stuff?

It was a very educational course.

       Our professor was actually in the midst of in the early stages of collaboratively designing an experiment regarding CMV, the virus I had last fall, beginning with administering surveys to people who have had CMV, including both people who are HIV positive and negative, to identify any differences in the diseases progression. I got to fill one out, and learned a lot about the virus in the meantime. It specifically targets immune cells. This is why it is particularly significant for the immunocompromised, and associated with aggressive secondary bacterial infections. I also learned that it has an incubation period of seven weeks, meaning I got it in Africa, and I need to return my award for being the only person who didn't get sick. Thanks once again to everyone that helped walk me through that.

       Overall, my favorite part was getting to wear a lab coat. Some part of going into mom's microbiology lab on take-your-child-to-work day made me label wearing a lab coat as an imperative step in becoming a grown up. One step closer: check! By this logic wearing a lab coat and a black belt at the same time must make you some kind of super human. This is my new plan for world domination.

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.