Monday, December 14, 2009

October 30th, 2009

It's beautiful here in Maryland right now. Back home, it's cold, and I hear that all of the leaves are gone. But here, the leaves are still on the trees and displaying deep reds and yellows. The weather is still warm, but there's a nice fall crisp in the air and under your shoes. It's perfect for walks in the park at night. On Friday night, Thomas and I did just that in the City Park in Hagerstown. We strolled around the pond and talked about the past, about the future, how good it is to be together and helping one another with life. Then we came to a point in the path where Thomas slowed way down. Then he stopped. He said, "I've never asked anything of you before, but now I have to ask you something." He lowered himself to one knee. "I'm not sure exactly where I'm going in life, but I know that I want to go there with you. Will you be my wife?"
I look at my hand, and it has the most beautiful ring on it. And I'm going to be my best friend's wife! We are planning to be married in Bottineau on December 19th.
Oh, it was so lovely. The future is bright and very happy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rocks and Houses

For some terrible reason that I can't mention, I wasn't there yet. I can't mention it, because I didn't know what it was. The best thing I could come up with was, "It didn't turn out that well before." Maybe it's not understood how that thing that happened before screwed me up so much. Maybe it's not understood how it let a whole house of fear be built for me. I didn't like it that way; I didn't. But it just took some time to tear it down. I can't help it. Ruth would say, "This, too, is part of our journey with the Lord." Dad would say, "You're not supposed to have everything figured out; you're only 22."

When I was in high school, I dated a guy for six hours once. It was terrible, really. I mean that he was all wrong for me. We argued nonstop. He wanted to date me for a long, long time. We hung out enough to be called dating, even though I kept denying that title. He kept asking me, asking me, putting the pressure on, putting the pressure on. And finally, I felt like it was okay to say that we were dating. He was really happy. And then, I left his house and immediately felt awful, like it was the dumbest thing I ever did. I just sat in my car and thought, "How do I get out of this?" Then I called it off over MSN. Ha. It's funny now. It wasn't funny then. We weren't friends after that.

I also used to be confident that everything, when I got married, would be just fine. I knew things would come along that were difficult, head-splitting difficult, but "not handsome enough to tempt me". Then all of the sudden, after that thing happened, I decided marriage wasn't for me. At first, I thought it would be like wishing death upon myself to get married. Then, I was just deathly afraid, too many unknowns, too probably terrible, even though I would be, I don't know, neighbors with this person forever just to be close. Travel the world, help each other, be honest with one another, eat together, have parties every night with close friends. I used to try to set him up with my best friends, because it was the surest bet I would see him often. Oh, it's so dumb. You marry the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. I had that whole sentence down except the first two words.

But now something has happened. I'm not sure what, really, but the house of fear is gone. It was all built upon a rock that's over, a rock that used to be my reality. Well, the house fell, because the rock was old, crumbling. It's not my life anymore. That thing that happened won't happen again. There's a new rock now, and maybe someday, we can even live in the same house for good.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

in spite of unknown

I have found myself happening upon books that speak life right into my current situations. Perhaps it is the Spirit's way of exemplifying this thought, expressed by my latest author-addiction, Medeleine L'Engle.
There are many times when the idea that there is a indeed a pattern seems absurd wishful thinking. Random events abound. There is much in life that seems meaningless. And then, when I can see no evidence of meaning, some glimpse is given which reveals the strange weaving of purposefulness and beauty."
The weaving has been strange. It's all culminating a little bit, but it's certainly strange. I mean how things that seemed meaningless just fall together so perfectly, but we're not allowed to see it sometimes. We're not allowed to see it until it's all put together or sometimes we see it not at all, like the saints in Hebrews 11.
There has been a lot out of my control lately. Losing control sometimes feels like danger and fear - those dreams when you're going down the highway, and suddenly your brakes go out. Sometimes it feels like freedom and exhilaration - those dreams when you're suddenly weightless and flying free. Sometimes it feels like both.
I find myself caught up right now in the idea of reading things which have already taken place, because there's an element of control about it. My thoughts have been accompanied by a good book: Two-Part Invention, an autobiography of sorts by the aforementioned author.
I think I should take note to mention something of the present: a black man is sitting two tables down from me in this huge county library. He is snoring intermittently. And that is that.
Back to the book. In the first part of two, Madeleine tells historically - her childhood and growing up times, her husband's, and their courtship. The second is being written as the story unfolds. She writes of the Unknown she is feeling now, as she writes. Part I, where Unknown had no place, is suddenly specifically more appealing to me. Isn't it true that reflection of the past is the only place where Unknown begins to fade? No, there must be some other place, but I can't think of it now. I just mean that history offers a sense of control. No, I cannot change the past, but I can deal with it, and that's real power. She says, "What one has had, as long as there is life and reason in one's body, can never be taken away." That's power. What has happened will not change. Conversely, you can't deal with something you've never seen before. You can't know if you're going to be okay after Unknown becomes Known. You can't know if you're going to be able to find peace and happiness again after Unknown becomes Known. Everything you have can be taken from you.
Oh, the answer is trust in spite of
Just trust in spite of

Friday, September 25, 2009

You're My Best Friend

Do you know that when I say "You're my best friend," I mean that there is a chute between our hearts? A thick, cylindrical channel of communion. I don't mean that you're merely a favorite acquaintance, a fun sport, or a familiar comfort like potatoes.

I have had the same best friend for a very, very long time. I held her hand sometimes, because it is, at times, the most natural thing to do. We rode home together from school or practice or the game almost everyday. Some days, we took the long way, or stopped alongside the road to prop ourselves on the hood of my car and look at the stars. It was very cold where we lived, and there wasn't much daylight during the several winter months. So usually, after practice, the stars had already come out. Once, we drove east of my house and managed to get my car stuck deep in the snow. We ran home, just shy of a mile, in our winter coats, gloves, jeans, and tennis shoes. My thighs were numb by the time we got home, but our eyes were still bright in the adventure of togetherness.

We shared thoughts with one another and considered the other's just as precious as our own. Once shared, we often pondered them in silence. We disagreed about some things, but each knew the other so well: upbringing, weaknesses, strengths, demeanor, surroundings... We could predict the differences so easily, and we could understand, and we could accept full well. It wasn't always that way, but those are the times that fill up my memory of us. Let it be written on the stone tablet of memory that way. Then, it will always remain just that way.

I've moved across the country, like I mentioned before, and she's far away from me now. I hadn't thought much about moving until the realization hit me with cold tears that I wouldn't be able to see her casually whenever we were just passing through one another's cities. When you live less than 300 miles away, you find reasons to be passing through. She was always enough of a reason to be passing through. It was a panicky feeling I felt, one of the very few pits I feel about being here instead of back home. Not that I don't like it back home, I'm just not much for staying anywhere. Going isn't much for me, really, like it is for some.

My sister, Heidi, says it's my dad's fault. He told us we could do whatever we wanted to do when we were growing up, be whatever we wanted. She says I was the only one who really believed him. She says that even though I only came six years behind her and nine years behind my brother, I grew up in a different world - a world that I believed I possessed.

Just because you're going to see the world with a new best friend doesn't mean that you don't have enough room in your heart for the old ones, doesn't mean you forget them, doesn't mean you won't take them with you. I grew up with her; I hope to grow old with him.

Would you accompany me to the edge of the sea
Let me know if you're really a dream
I love you so, so would you go with me

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Look.

Do you like it?

Pick Fickle

So I've been interviewing, like I said. Did I say that? Well, I have been. There are these two facilities. Facility #1: orthopedic position. Patients walk in, get surgery; they walk out. Their biggest complaint is surgical pain. The nurse manager talks a lot about patient satisfaction. They're competing with all the huge, metropolitan hospitals in the area. They make it a priority to please their patients, so they'll pick their facility. Everyone's job depends on it. It's the nurse manager's biggest concern, really. Like a restaurant. Interviewed three weeks ago. Still haven't gotten back to me, because they are interviewing everyone, then picking from the crop. Everyone who gets an interview is qualified. Otherwise, they wouldn't make it that far in the process. There truly aren't that many positions open nowadays - even hospitals are crimping as much as they can. So she has a lot of applicants. There is a sheet of paper that some of the employees have to fill out on each applicant. Each response has a set score. The scores are tallied, and whoever has the best score wins the job. But all the logistics about this job make it something worth considering. It's close to my family, so I could live with them. Save a lot of money. Get to be part of their lives every day. My job would be relatively easy, truly. Ortho. Yes, I am a new grad. But seriously, people, ortho? From hematology/oncology/BMT to...ortho? It's just so different. I'd have time and energy to spend on things other than my job.

Job #2 is in one of those big, metropolitan facilities, the kind I'm used to. Everything is done, because it's been researched and proven to be the best. Everything is set up so well. It's on a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU, people say PEEK you, or PQ, really). I interviewed on Friday, got a verbal offer on Tuesday. This nurse knows what she wants. She's not afraid to make a decision. Because of her diverse patient population, her biggest concern is hiring competent nurses. The children are very acute. She has to hire strong personalities, because otherwise, her nurses won't be able to correct one another and get over it. They won't be able to handle the stresses of caring for a small life, of inner-city abuse, of congenital freak anomalies, of death.

I've been listening to this audio book on decision-making. It's something at which I am absolutely terrible, especially lately. Let me tell you how bad it gets. In general, my honest priority in decision-making is the most changeable option. For example, if one option allows me to change my mind, and the other does not, guess which one I'm picking. Recently, I've discovered: that's so stupid! Seriously, I pick the option most adaptable to change above, say, the best option? Another way I make decisions is to ask others to make them for me. Another way is to wait until I no longer have a decision, because all of the other options have ceased to exist (aka: procrastination). Well, this guy on this audio book is telling me that I'm a cop-out and a coward for it. And he's dead on. I make decisions by avoiding them? He says that I'm forfeiting my God-given opportunity to make my own decisions in life.

The nurse manager for Job #1 is doing the same thing. When she told me her methods, interviewing everyone who is qualified before offering the positions, it annoyed me so much. "Just make a good decision. You're competent enough for that. You're prolonging your own agony. You have the authority to pick someone for a reason." Should I really have to tell her that? Oh, it just hits too close to home. My sister said, "Katie, you have to trust yourself enough to know that the decision you make is going to be okay." Should she really have to tell me that? I am qualified to make decisions in a crunch that affect whether or not someone lives. I am trained to recognize life-threatening scenarios and do the right thing in response to them. But I can't decide how to cook the fish, what side to have, how to prepare the side... I can't decide so much that I ask someone else to do it! Seriously, kate, you can't handle fish?!

Big things, too, though. I think it all goes back to deciding to go away for college, and regretting that decision for such and such a reason. But I think I can lay that all to rest now. I made the right decision for me. To stay would have been like venous insufficiency. Blood is supposed to go, and so am I. There were difficult things. I would have saved more money. But I wouldn't be where I am now. I'm in a good place. Enough challenges to keep me interested, enough easy joys to keep me remembering that life is good. And even choosing to work at MJM instead of Bethesda, another decision I battled afterward. What it the right one? Bottom line: I made a good decision. They both would have been good. It's a fine decision that I made. It's just fine.

Anyway, for me, this decision all comes down to purpose. No, I won't save as much money. No, my life won't be as easy. Yes, there are definite sacrifices, the biggest, being further from my family. And I feel it. There will be a little grieving, starting right now. It's okay to admit that. But of the two jobs, where do I belong? I think I belong with those kids. It's never been me to pick the pillow over the hammer, and I won't start doing it now. I'm competent to make this decision. My whole life has been leading me toward this decision. And pretty soon, this decision will be a factor in leading me somewhere else in life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Relief to the utmost.

It's just not fair that I leave whoever might happen upon this blog with "I woke up sad today" for such a long time. My life is very different nowadays. I'm a nurse now, officially. Passed my boards. Have yet to work at a real job, though. I live across the country. It feels temporary, and perhaps it is, in a slow sort of way.

Coffee shop hunting. It's going okay, but there's nothing like the Rooster yet. Perhaps you just never know what ya got till it's gone. Although, I haven't visited any on their live music nights. I think I need to do that this week.

NO SCHOOL! I saw a school bus in late August and felt that panicky, dreadful clause in my gut: "back to school". What a relief when I remembered that it isn't true. It just isn't true.

Rocking a crying baby until he falls asleep. Satisfying. Connecting with another soul.

Driving in chaos. I didn't think it could be as bad as everybody says it is. But not having a GPS is a bugger, let me tell you.

Sight-seeing. Thomas lives near DC, so we walk to monuments sometimes. We try to find skyscrapers where you can overlook the city.

Cleaning. Cooking. Baking. You should see my newly discovered mad food skills. I knew I liked it, but I didn't know I liked it a lot. I surely didn't know I was good at it. I haven't made a flop for my family yet. I don't think they understand why I'm surprised every time something tastes good. I'll let you in on it: I've never really done this before.

I'm in this relationship. We help each other with life. We have fun, even doing the dumbest things. I'm Katie as much as it's possible to be Katie around him. It's like being in a room with the TV blasting, screaming children, dishes clanging, people trying to hear one another above the uncontrollable noise. It's putting you on edge in the worst way. Then you walk outside and shut the door behind you. This friendship - it's just like it is right then. You hear something that brings the life back into your drained soul: nothing. You involuntarily breathe the relief deep into your lungs and rest for a moment. You think of God. You love Him so much. That's sort of what it's like to be with him, doing life. I'll be transparent. There are a few things I feel. Can't help it. I can't help feeling like the carpet is going to be pulled out from underneath me, like before. It's not rational, but there it is. I can't help wanting to be around him forever, but the M word still freaks me out. I suppose it's just not quite time. It might be soon. It might be a whaze off. Is that a word? Whaze? Ways. Awaze. How far is a whaze, anyway? "Oh, it's a whaze."

Speaking of being freaked out, I've been anxious lately. I think it might have something to do with everything in my life changing drastically. I have a friend who says women have a thing about control. And other people would probably say it's not a woman thing. Either way, I don't have any. It's all up in the air. I've interviewed at three places. My last choice gave me a job offer a week ago. My first choice just offered me a position yesterday. I think I will accept today or tomorrow.

So, I still don't know anyone here except my family, my boyfriend, and a couple of each of their acquaintances. But I met this guy at church who's about my age. I think next time I see him, I'm going to find out if he hangs out with people. Ha. That's right. I'm going to go up to him and say, " you hang out with people during the week, because I don't know any."

Friday, March 06, 2009

I woke up sad today

I was dreaming about home-home.  I don't really remember what happened, but life was carefree and it was hot outside.  My mom and my dad were there, and there was nothing to worry about.  And my alarm woke me up.  It took me a few minutes to remember where I am - at school, in my room that feels so temporary.  You know, I've been in this town for four years, and my bed here has always felt temporary.  Katelyn says that when people ask you where you're from, your answers change over time.  You start saying you're from your college town.  It just seems like that's not what people are really wondering.  And maybe it's not what I want them to know about me anyway.  I'm from North Dakota.  

I've been thinking for a while about recording how many hours a week I do homework.   Reminds me of something Ben Olson would do.  He recently sent me a list of bookmarks he's saved up.  One of them is about how Yellowstone is going to blow up soon and take half the United States with it.  Another one was a video about how to make a whistle out of a piece of a willow tree.  One was a YouTube video about a guy who thinks he knows how they made Stonehenge, and he's doing it himself.  

One time, I got a CD in the mail from him.  It said, "Project Bladder Buster".  Also, written inside was, "I don't believe you."  I listened to the CD and heard two voices on top of each other - both sermons.  He sent it to me, because one time, I told him that I could listen to two things at once.  I took notes on the sermons and sent it back to him.  

Back to being sad.  I was thinking about not being home, the home that represents freedom from this heavy workload, freedom from being behind every second that goes by.  But I have to watch my mouth, because I chose it.  Am I allowed to say that I'm tired?  And today, I'm very sad.  Really, there's no particular reason for it.  My friend Thomas is going into the army.  He signed up a week or so ago.  He's leaving on March 17th.  We have fun together.   But I tell myself that I'm glad he's leaving, and I believe it.  I don't get much done when he's around.   Plus, I want him to go, because it's the right time for it.  It's just what he needs to do.  But if I was telling myself something else, it might be that I wish I was going, too.  

Actually, the thought occurred to me the other day in conversation with him that the army would pay for me to become a doctor.  And I would be in shape, which I really miss, because all this studying and cortisol is making me fatter.  But there are other ways to become a doctor and other ways to feel fit.  I think I'll look into that option a little more, though.  

My friend, Hebu said, "Talk about following the man."  
I thought that was preposterous.  I wouldn't go into the army just because my friend Thomas did.  So I told her that.  
"No.  I mean, you'd have to follow man's rules."  Kinda funny, the misunderstanding.  I do have a sort of struggle with following rules that don't make sense.  And it seems like the army comes up with a lot of those.

What I'm saying is, I'm sadder than I should be.  It's the kind of sad that comes and rests on your head without you thinking about anything in particular.  I took a shower this morning, and I thought, "I forgot what it was like to feel this sad."  It's been a really long time.  Isn't that strange?  It feels so uncontrollable.

My dad says being happy is a choice.  I don't buy it.  This feels like it's bigger than I am.  Sure, there are lots of reasons that I could think of.  Maybe that's it: everything is just catching up in one forceful, slapping wave.  I'm going south today to work in the ER.  I'll be there for all of spring break.  I work five twelves this week.  Am I happy about it?  No.  I'm nervous, and I feel incompetent just thinking about it.  Just thinking about being in a new place with new people and new patients every hour.  It's spring break, but I have five twelves and homework.  And one of my days off, I'm going to the dentist to get my tooth fixed.  I had a root canal this summer, and it didn't work.  So they have to do their dentist thing and fix it.   When I had my root canal put in, I stared at a sign that said, "Sip all day, get tooth decay," for an hour and half and studied the acidity and sugar content of about 12 beverages.  A common thought was how much I wished they would have suctioned the spit out of my mouth so I wasn't drooling on myself.  I also wished they would have said more than ten words to me the whole time I was there.  I also wished that something Picasso was on the ceiling.

That was the day the same day I went to the cities and spent all day with Matt Nelson and laughed until I peed my pants a little.  That was a good day.  Maybe there's a day like that coming up soon.  

I think the other thing is that I was sitting in Sr. Vicky's office, waiting to take a look at my less than favorable leadership test.  I stared at the clock while I was waiting for her to finish an email.  And the clock sped up in my mind.  My life sped up in my mind.  My whole week is planned out in twelve hour increments.  And beyond this week, eight more weeks of school.  Then graduation.  Then NCLEX, then MCATs, then July.  Hopefully I'm done by July.  Then a real job and more school.  

Is this really how I want things to go?  Maybe it's too much.  Someone asked in class yesterday, "How much will you give up to be a nurse?"  Nursing shortages running rampant, the economy - it all means more hours for less pay and potential for burnout.  We talked about the ethical issues that nursing shortages hand us.  If you have a good job, you're a family with the other nurses, you help them out when they need time off, even when the real story is that you need it just as much as they do.  But the multitudes are still sick.  They still need competent nursing care.  So there you are, neglecting whatever else it is in your life for the sake of your patients.  That's how I've always thought about being a doctor.  The sacrifice that you can measure.  I don't think that people who aren't in healthcare really understand.  I don't think you understand until you see your patients.  You don't see it until you have an exchange with your patients that presses on you the reality that they are people who love and work and feel, and they needed you, and you were there.  Sometimes they need you to live which is enough to drive anybody with a heart and a brain to study harder.  Sometimes they need you to make them feel like a person again.  Sometimes they need you to touch them the way nobody else can, because you are a nurse.  

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Saving Alice

"A novel?" I read out loud from the cover of the book I got for Christmas from my sister. "This thing is blasted science fiction!" I've been flipping the book half shut to yell at the cover for the last two hours or so. Ever since he dodged out of his awful, emasculating life into a...I won't say it. I can't ruin the ending! I'll just say a few things to alleviate my exasperation. There was no evidence of this in the first three quarters of the book. I mean, there was one line. One line! And now this! What am I supposed to do except be delightedly furious at this author's craft. He beat me, that's for sure. I did not see this coming. And this whole time I was thinking, "This is awfully womanish to have a male author."

Dah! What's a girl to do? What's...a do!

Heidi, you were right. I'm glad you gave me this book (even though it is fiction), and I'm glad I read it (even though it is fiction). But just don't try to pull another fast one on me like that again. I don't think my sanity can handle it. Surprise ending...I'd say!

I would say more, but I just can't. This book had me giggling out loud. I got so frustrated, I yelled at it several times. I told the man he was an idiot and a complete loser-face (and I was right). And I still cannot believe what happened. You thought it was bad, and then it just got worse and worse and worse and worse. And then....that's when I started really yelling. And reading as fast as I could, skipping as many details as I could muster. "What?!" Oh man. And then I was giggling out loud again. You gotta read this, Heidi. You just gotta read it.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Men Card

Apples to Apples is the game.

"Corrupt" is the adjective card. "Men" wins that precious green point. Maybe it wouldn't bother me so much if I could just read the card. Maybe it would say, "Men: humankind, homosapiens, the human race." I forget to look at what it says, but it might as well say, "Men: Aren't all males idiots?", because that is the way the card is treated as it comes up during our game. I think, "It is true: every man [and every woman] is corrupt at some time," but that's not what anybody means right now. I feel sad.

I observe this harangue about men almost everywhere I go. I hear it from the genre of liberal feminists in the media and in real life. Of course they have their strong voice, but I also hear it from those women who say that they are Christians and/or those who would confess that they love their husbands and are happily married. I hear it from the soccer moms, and I hear it from those high school girls around my table, who, like sponges, have learned to speak like Job's wife. These girls have learned the art of projection which Freud defined, but which the women around them demonstrate to them when they act out their belief. Men are bad.

Don't get me wrong. It's easy to associate some feministic or anti-feministic emotionally charged political banter and attach it to the words that I am saying, but it would be inaccurate to do so. What I am saying is that when the heart of a woman is displeased with men as a whole, and she throws around that "men" card as the blonde of every joke, the butt of life, she is a catalyst for that very thing. She has contributed to the corruption that she says is outside of women and outside of herself. What's worse, as she calls a heart a spade, she transfers that negative thing into his thoughts, existence, and behaviors.

I want to say something to those girls at my table.
You will experience many things, and you will make judgements about those experiences that will become part of what you believe. You will observe everything in your life from the eyes that believe those things. You will compare what you know with what you experience, and you will find what you know in what you see. Many women I encounter have been hurt by men. Some women have only experienced men who have hurt them. Do not listen only to the voices of those women, though their cry may be loud in your ears. See the hate caused by deepset pain that is foaming around their mouths at the outpouring of their words. Now hear another voice. Hear the voice of the only One who makes men and women whole. Let Him make you whole, and believe that He makes others whole. Perhaps you will learn to respect men in the deepest part of your heart. Perhaps as you look at the world around you, you will not see "men" as the noun that best manifests the adjective "corrupt". Perhaps you will not see men and corruption as they contrast women, but mankind as we contrast God. Perhaps you will even perceive the transforming power of God in men and women as their faces are unveiled and they begin to reflect His glory.