Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Gross Anatomy. No, really. It's gross.

I can't tell if, for me, nursing school has been more about that whole becoming a nurse, caring for the ill, soothing fevered brows-thing or if it's just been one very long endeavor to gross out fellow students who A) need a good laugh B) need a good laugh at themselves and C) feel they are immune to being grossed out -- all for the sole purpose of my own entertainment. I have spent the last 4 semesters striving to the utmost to find the perfect blend of educational experience, audience participation and healthcare related jokes.

Last Spring, I gave my unsuspecting clinical rotation group a riveting presentation on episiotomies – the quick surgical snip of the lady bits to allow more head-room for the impending fetus barreling down upon it. Without going into gory detail for you dear folks who I have no questions about your low gross-out thresholds, there are different ways to make the cut, as it were. After a heavily sarcastic and euphemistic laden power point on the topic (I called it a “ripping presentation”), I handed each student a fruit roll up and an apple. Their task was to each cut into the fruit roll up and evaluate the ease that particular cut lent to the apple you were about to force through it. And the best part? It’s a scientific experiment you can eat! I got an A+ and the professor scolded the other students for not being nearly that creative in their presentations.

Later that semester I found myself having to give another clinical group a presentation on head lice among the elementary population. Because I hate going to a show without a snack, I brought every class member a Ziploc with Pull-N-Peel Twizzler strands mixed with chocolate and yogurt covered raisins. Another A+ and another group of horrified, albeit, well-fed nursing students. The real measure of my success was when I was told, "I don't think I can ever eat chocolate covered raisins again. Thanks." Ahh, I really reached them.

I was vetoed by the group last semester, in the name of cost-reduction, when I wanted to bring in IBC Root Beers for our “The Dangers of Underage Drinking” presentation. Can’t win all the time, right?

So now, in my last semester, I find myself stumped. It usually comes right to me. Maybe it’s pure exhaustion from school or some sort of humor vacuum that I find myself in. It’s the last presentation of my degree and I am at a loss to find the perfect snack. Can I graduate without having that one last presentation where after a drum’s rim-shot and Ba-dum-dum wouldn’t be most appropriate?

You tell me. The topic is: The Morning-After Pill.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Pride goeth before the fall(s)

It sure does.

Now that my reasons for holding down the couch for 6-10 hours a day have faded in the light of the new semester that started this past Monday, I decided to get-it-on again with a training schedule. And just in the nick of time, too. Come April (or hell and/or high water, whichever comes first) I'm planning on my first half marathon -- and much like before, just completing it will suffice as a total, overwhelming success for me.

And I decided that seeing as how it's my last semester, I really ought to utilize that tuition amount to the max. George Mason, though perhaps shoddy in many other areas of academia, has a totally kick-ass fitness center. Yeah, it's not even a gym -- it's been elevated to a "fitness center". {Sidebar: It occurs to me that the quality of an higher-learning institution's gym facility is inversely proportional to it's academic prowess. The real Alma Mater's gym, was as I recall (and my "recall" is basically from when I once gave blood in it, once got a massage there and one other time was completely murdered on the racquetball court -- if for no other reason than because I play racquetball with one arm covering my head and face because I am more than likely going to take a hard rubber ball to that area at some point during the game. And I bruise easy.) included very stained, gross carpet, a very funny smell and scary, gothic-looking machines which could double for torture. When I tell people I graduated from William and Mary I hear, "OOO, that's a great school!" When I say I'm going to George Mason, I get, "They have an amazing fitness center!" You get the point.) Each machine in the GMU facility has its own television set attached, which is, in a word, awesome. Even if I keep the headphones on (and I do, because I already did my time having to hear those other sorority girls chirping and giggling and abusing the words: like, totally and hot.) I can watch, with closed captioned anything from The Match Game to the Food Network.

Because of the last big-run I trained for and my boredom/bridal trips to my own gym over break, I'm pleased to say that my current level of fitness is probably above average. Not far above, but above nonetheless. I feel that when I walk through a gym now, I can walk upright and proud and not skulk around the room imagining all the things being whispered about me by people in high-tech sweatsuits. My facial expression proudly exudes, "Hello, fellow In-Shape people! I have come to break a sweat with you, as I, too, am in-shape! Where shall we all work-out today? What are we saying about those out-of-shapers today?"

I made my first trip to the GMU fitness center on Tuesday -- during an insanely large break between classes. My first observation included the fact that this gym has an extremely large percentage of late-teen, early-twenty bodies in skimpy sports bras, perfect blonde ponytails and droopy soccer shorts with dirty baseball caps. I fall into none of these categories, nor was my own attire likely to fit in. (Though I thought my sweet "Virginia is for runners" shirt may indicate to the others that I really am fitness-oriented. Don't sweat my style.)

I climbed onto the treadmill and pushed "Start". My treadmill at home has a conveyor-belt like surface and the sidewalks I run on are, generally, one piece as well. The GMU treadmills have a surface like a tank-tread. Long, horizontal pieces of plastic latched together somehow and spinning around like just that, a tank-tread. Yeah, that was going to be a problem for me, apparently. Trying to blend in, get a good workout and generally "be cool" was a feat of multi-tasking out of my reach on Tuesday. Let's just say that it was a good thing I had my headphones on as loud as I did because when the toe of my shoe got caught in the tread and I tripped on three separate occasions, bearing the stares from the people around me out of the corner of my eye was enough. I couldn't stand to hear the snickering, or even the grunting sound and heavy-footfalls-of-recovery I was surely making. (Though, in all honesty, I don't think I can blame the tread entirely. I trip a lot on my runs outside, too. Maybe I drag my toes or maybe I'm just plain uncoordinated, but, in my defense, I haven't face planted yet. After 28 years, I've mastered my fall-recovery techniques. )

I finished the workout without the need of any medical attention only to learn how comfortable other women are with their own, and each other's, nudity.

A word on Nudity & Me. I have literally spent the last 10 years either encouraging or asking for the nudity of others. As an art major I spent close to 10 hours a week staring at some naked dude's manbits and coaxing sorority sisters into disrobing for my sketchbook (Oh, yes. You all know who you are. All of you who have been immortalized in my sketchbooks in some topless pose or another. Your identities have been preserved, I assure you. But every once in a while, when someone new is appreciating my old work, they'll say, "Wow, who knew it was so easy to get sorority girls to get naked?" Who knew, indeed.) Now I ask old men remove their gowns so I can put tubes in or out of them or roll old ladies over so I get inspect their backsides for any skin breakdown. It would appear that no matter what profession I decide to spend a lifetime in, it will always include nudity. But me? Nah. I don't believe that my modesty stems from my Catholic-ness or even some pangs of personal body-insecurities. I find there is a place and time for nudity and the locker room isn't it. Years ago, the Betrothed surprised me with a day of spa treatments -- one, in particular, was a mineral bath. In my coushy robe and spa flip flops, I followed the spa-worker (who couldn't have been more than 16 or 17) to the bath- room and listened as she explained that the bath would make me float and it would be constantly running over the edges of the tub. Then she stopped talked and started at me. I stared back. Finally I broke the silence and said, "Well, that sounds great. Is there something else before I get in?" She said, "No, I'm just here to take your robe and make sure you get into the tub ok." Instantly my head began to process the math of this situation: If I hesitate, she'll think I'm a newbie at this whole spa thing and I'm trying to blend in with all of the women who get regular spa treatments. On the other hand, if I just whip it off, I'm going to be naked from where I stand into the tub. I suddenly came to terms with my own nudity and opted to hand her the robe. By the end of my spa day, I found myself sitting quite satisfied in the steam room with the other ladies, basking in my own nakedness.

And now I find myself in a locker room and unwanting, nay, unwilling to look at the nudity of the ladies sauntering past. The GMU locker room isn't a spa. I've had to tap into my old college days of showering when you learn to make the fast break from taking off the towel to getting into the shower stall without soaking your towel. The days of those first few weeks of freshman year when you get dressed in the morning behind your wardrobe door and master putting on a bra while still holding up the towel to your body so your roommate didn't see (but after a while you didn't care, and neither did she because you figure, hey, if I've held her hair while she vomited her life out, she probably won't die if she sees my boob.)

But good Lord. Does every locker room everywhere have at least one very old, very saggy lady who must towel dry her hair while she walks past you completely in the raw? I applaud their nod towards a healthy lifestyle by being in the gym. How does this keep happening?

Thursday I kept my head down in the locker room and kept to the ellipticals. I figured that was safest.

Monday, January 15, 2007


A whole lot of nothing going on...

Really, I don't think enough can be said about the subtle joys and pleasures of the College-Christmas-Break. You remember. Long, leisurely and lazy. And while this is my last real, true, unobstructed college-length break before the life saving, name changing and baby making (hopefully in that order? And maybe a rinse & repeat on 1 and 3?) I feel I ought to really make the most of it : by doing absoloutly nothing.

Nothing is an art, I think. I struggle to stay in bed past 9:30. It took me the last few weeks of December to really perfect it. Then I have to trudge to the kitchen to make something that will likely suffice as a breakfast/lunch until about 3:30 when I'm hungry again. I have to catch up on judge shows, Maury past-guest video-updates and whatever's on E!. Out of boredom (but more, really, from the recent call from the bridal shop that "the dress" is in and I can come visit it at any time) I'm spending a nice amount of time everyday at the gym. I make the Betrothed dinner, watch some tube (waiting patiently for all my shows to set aside their holiday merriment and come back to my TV again) and then do it all over again.

Oh, com'on now. I'm not TOTALLY useless. I've made some good headway on the upcoming nuptials: phone calls, we registered, paperwork, china patterns and bridal undies. I've done some spring cleaning on the old iPod, de-junked our sparest of spare rooms, reintroduced myself to my smutty romance novel collection and singlehandedly unChristmased the house (much to the cats' chagrin).

Funny thing about long breaks -- and every year you swear it won't be like that -- I'm looking forward to getting back. I don't idle for long very well. I need purpose, drive and intent. I need tasks. I need to keep my damned hands busy (Please see exhibit #1 on my coffee table -- Needlepoint. I'm so domestic.) I've squeezed every last drop of lazy out of this break and now I'm ready to buckle in, shift into gear and finish out this nursing road-trip.

One week from today I expect I'll be sitting in class (The Last Semester: Nursing School's Final Hurrah! -- be there.) wishing I could watch the mullets duke it out on Divorce Court.

2007 is set to be a big year: Graduation, Real-Job, Wedding and then Super-sweet-honeymoon. Not the least of which is that in a few weeks I'll be learning how to insert IVs into people, a nursing skill they hold off until the end just to keep your interest. And while I (and my lab partner -- Hi, J!) spend most of February looking like drug addicts with bruises and track marks up and down our forearms (maybe not me, cause she's pretty awesome, but she certainly might)-- it isn't too far of a leap until spring break and then a quick dart to May, complete with funny hats and windbag speeches.

For your entertainment, if you think you can muddle through my first 7 weeks of boring classes (hell, if I think *I* can muddle through them), then you'll be justly rewarded with the tales that are sure to abound from my final 7 week preceptorship at the hospital (specific floor to be determined; pray for something gooey) -- all patients, all the time.

In the meantime, I am determined to spend this last week really paying homage to the ghost of Christmas-Break. Wish me luck.


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