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May 30th, 2010

Let's fly away...

I saw this quote on the 1 train a couple of weeks ago and have fallen in love with it for some reason:

My heart burns in flames of sorrow
Sparks and smoke rise turning to the sky
Within me, the heart has taken fire like a candle
My body, whirling, is a lighthouse illuminated by your image

-Khatun Mihri

It's been an intense and amazing journey so far. And I feel my patients in a lot of ways when I see this quote. I miss terribly not being at MSKCC. It was hard to end my great ride there and bittersweet to graduate, though it felt good :) Just hard not to see all the friendly faces every single week. And then add moving to the mix and it can feel overwhelming. But I'm feeling good about the move. AND in the midst of it and driving a car for the first time in NY got a phone call for an interview at Mt. Sinai hospital and I think it went well. Have a second interview in 2 weeks. But for now, I leave for ITALY!! I leave in a couple of hours and definitely need the R+R. I need to disconnect from the world here and reconnect with my heart and get some peace of mind. Hope I can do that a little bit in Italy. I'm going with my friend Dianna who went to NYU with me. We are starting off in Rome and working up from Siena to Florence to Cinque Terre and finally Venice. I will be back June 13th! Until then, arrivederci!

September 5th, 2009

This is probably one of the most important entries I have ever written. Please if you can, read this although its long. It will effect ALL of us at some point.

This has been an unbelievable summer for me. Unbelievable in the rollercoaster fashion that I have come to expect in my life. I finished my summer fellowship at the cancer center last Friday. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the 10 weeks I spent working full time there. It was emotionally draining and taxing. It uncovered my many clinical weaknesses in therapy that I have to continue to work hard at to overcome. But more than anything, the patients I met this summer taught me more than just clinical skills. In working with the dying, I feel like they truly taught me how to live. I'm eternally grateful for that. Because with palliative and end-of-life care, that is what we are talking about. Living...in all its infinite forms. I work with dozens of interdisciplinary team members at the hospital and we work hard to ensure that when it comes to end-of-life care, we are helping people to live. To live the time they have left the way THEY want to live it.

Nonetheless, during this very time came the national out-cries of Sarah Palin's "Death panels" and arguments that Obama is trying to tell "your grandma how to die." I can't begin to describe how heartbreaking watching this health care debate has been for me not only from my personal experience but from my newfound professional experience in end-of-life care. Obama's team had put together a health care plan that could change the course of not just our nation's health, but also our economy. I think the media and conservatives have done a good job muddy-ing up the facts of the plan. If you have time, please PLEASE read this very concise and factual overview of the health care plan from the White House that was emailed to me, please take a few minutes to read it: Health Care Reform Facts

Ten years ago my mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had no insurance (we were all denied because of family history and prior diagnoses). She was forced to go to a teaching hospital that treated her poorly. They tried to work out a payment plan for her. The cost of her life-saving surgery to remove her uterus? $25,000. That was just for the surgery. No other treatment. And she had two kids to continue raising, and debt from my dad's own treatment. Until this day, my mom has not been able to pay off her medical bills. How can a waitress making less that $17,000 a year possibly pay off a bill like that?

But I have also seen so many cases this summer of doctors who did not have time to talk to patients about end-of-life care. I watched children, spouses and other loved ones who were COMPLETELY HELPLESS because they never had that kind of conversation with the patient or medical team. There were several moments like this. In one case early on in my summer, a patient and her family never discussed what is called the "Advance Directive." Lately in the media that has been dubbed as a "death sentence" forcing you to "pull the plug" on your loved one. Quite the contrary, the advance directive allows patients to ENSURE that their wishes are honored. They can be as specific or vague as one wants it to be simply by writing out scenarios in which a patient would or would not want a procedure done. In its most basic form there is the "Do not resuscitate (DNR)" and "do no intubate (DNI)" orders. This means no extra measures of CPR/shock to the heart or no tubes for breathing. DESPITE WHAT CONSERVATIVE MEDIA ARE STATING, YOU CAN WRITE WHEN YOU WANT TO BE DNR OR DNI AND WHEN YOU DON'T WANT TO. You can make it whatever you want. But having the conversation with your doctors and family is important because if you are at end-stage disease and you become unable to speak for yourself, if your family does not know your wishes it leaves them in agony and turmoil. In this one case, because there was no advance directive discussed and documented on paper (this is important, even if you write it yourself, in most states there just needs to be some type of letter stating wishes) then doctors have no choice but to resuscitate. Often this is brutal and invasive to an already weakened body. Especially if already given a terminal diagnosis. This daughter I met with didn't know what to do when her mom starting to crash. So she let the doctors attempt to save her. But as she watched and saw the machines and the brute force of cpr breaking her mom's ribs, she screamed for them to stop. The patient ended up dying 5 minutes later. Did her last moments really have to be like that? If doctors were allowed to spend time and be able to charge insurance for this type of counseling, moments like these would be far less frequent. It would also save time and money for unnecessary procedures that in the end are not going to save someone. ER procedures such as that cost tens of thousands of dollars where as pain control can be done for a couple hundred in most cases.

That's what this "end of life" provision Obama proposed was for. Not to tell you how to die but allow for a thorough and thoughtful conversation about one's wishes with your doctor and medical team. It is a personal insult when I read and hear that end-of-life care is about the medical team taking away people's freedom to choose. If anything we are trying to be supportive and give patients and family TIME to think about it before it is too late!!!! Allowing doctors to have this time with patients provides more comprehensive care. As it stands, doctors specializing in end of life care often can only get paid for talking about pain control as opposed to the larger picture of advance directives and a patient's goals for living in the remaining time left.

Another example from this summer was when I met a wife and daughter whose husband died on the floor. She had no idea what he wishes were because they never talked about it. She looked at me as we sat next to his body and said, "I have been married to him for 49 years, but I have no idea what he wanted. I don't know whether to bury him or cremate him. We never talked about it. I don't know what to do." And she sobbed. This is what I see more often than not. This isn't just some structured email. This is Lauren. And I'm telling you from this experience real stories of what happens with lack of end-of-life care planning. And these, are some of the less horrible accounts. So when it comes up in conversation share these stories and facts. Or if you have TWO minutes to support the health care reform measures you can go online and sign the white house petition at http://www.healthreform.gov/support.html. I know I focused on one sliver of the reform plan, but the entire agenda will save lives and tons of money from a medical system that is crumbling and spilling billions of dollars of debt into our economy.

I'm not a particularly religious person, but this passage from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech has always meant a lot to me and I feel has new meaning and vibrance today in the 21st century:
"But I wouldn't stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, 'If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.' Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — 'We want to be free.'"

This is the time to continue our fight for freedom- no person should die or live in utter poverty because of lack of insurance. And some argue that we all were created equal and therefore shouldn't be handed insurance. We, some would say, all have the ability to attain the "American Dream." That is noble and I wish it were true. Racism and the aftermath of decades of it are still very much in effect. The poor may work harder than anyone, but they may not get benefits. It is fact that poorer neighborhoods have higher trends of disease not just because of lack of insurance but because the evolution of our country also made poor neighborhoods closest to environmental hazards, increased crime, decreased police presence, etc. A little known fact, insurance companies because of these increased environmental factors, can deny people OR make their premiums so ridiculously high that they cannot afford it. How is this equal? This is how car insurance works too. If you are a younger guy in a city your insurance goes up. Human lives are held to the same standards as vehicles? How is this free? How is this equal? Trying to change the trend in poverty will take continued decades to undo, but sadly I find it difficult to argue that all people have the ability to move up the social ladder if they work hard enough. As great of an idea that is, it is not the social construction of our country.

Yes I'm being long-winded, so if you are still with me, thank you so much! I am MORE than happy to provide articles and references to this information. All I guess I'm asking, is to think about it and, if you believe it, please share with as many people as possible. Sign the white house petition. It's time for some change!!

March 24th, 2009

In my 500th post on LJ I pay honor to that ever present number in my life: 25. On my last day as a 25 year old I can't help but look back at all that has happened this year. It sure had its ups and downs- a lot of which I have yet to process because as great and challenging a year it has been, its more than anything been a whirlwind.

One thing that's hard is that I know tomorrow when I walk through the halls of my clinic, there will not be my dear friend Jamie hiding the secret that when I open my office door there will be decorations everywhere and love abound. My dental buddies won't be around. No having lunch at La Fiesta. Tomorrow I will not come home to my partner-in-crime with a dozen pink balloons. There will be no gang at the Melting Pot. 25 had such an incredibly rich start and its very interesting/hard that I end 25 feeling the polar opposite: alone and isolated. Lately I have felt like NYC isn't home, but I'm not part of Florida either. I'm kind of drifting. A complete juxtaposition.

BUT. That's just it. I'm on my own again. A scary thing to do at 25 going on 26. I'm here in my favorite (U.S.) city. Since playing "college" with Jessica and Kara in 4th grade I always said I wanted to go to NYU and live in the city. Well I don't live quite in the city but I'm here. It's pushed me more than I ever could imagine and more than the last few years have. It's amazing how different this time has been compared to when I moved at 18. Let's just say I see the maturity :) It's hard but 25 has opened up a whole new can of worms that I get to work on in the next 25 years ahead.

I've seen my major flaws play out amplified, but also my strengths. I have a much better picture of how I want to live my life professionally and personally in the future. And it's nothing like I expected a few years ago, thank god!

That's what I need to stay focused on. I feel pulled in a million directions right now and honestly, I will until May 1st. Its easy for my inner critic to tell me how I'm a horrible friend or incompetent student. That's the piece of the puzzle I hope to solve this next year. More peace in my life. But until then, there are the memories and support I have all around me. I know I will get there.

Thank you 25, you were everything I wanted and more.

The Big Moments of 25 (in chronological order):
1. The birthday
2. Getting into NYU
3. Cancer scare '08
4. Boston
5. Leaving Florida :( farewell party, leaving UFCD and realizing I can't ever be a pack rat again.
6. Moving to NYC
7. Graduate school. period. The work, oh the work. But the classmates!
8. The random NY moments (shows: Slackers Cruise, Amanda Palmer, Alice's tea cup)
9. Finding out I had new family members on my dad's birthday. strange.
10. Obama! The election, going to Philly and knocking on a million doors.
11. Mom's health scare and the time I realized I can do anything in grad school. Nov. 2.
12. Kate Winslet!
13. Holidays back in Florida
14. Savion Glover

And now some lyrics...

Are you gonna live your live wondering,
standing in the back, looking around?
Are you gonna waste your time thinking,
how you've grown up, or how you missed out?
Things are never gonna be the way you want
words are gonna get you acting silly
Things are never gonna be quite what you want
even at 25 you gotta start sometime

I'm on my feet
I'm on the floor
I'm good to go
All I need is just to hear a song I know
I wanna always feel that a part of this was mine
I wanna fall in love tonight

Are you gonna live your live wondering,
standing in the back, looking around?
Are you gonna waste your time
gotta make a move, or you miss out

She was gonna ask you what it's all about,
stick around and won't let you down
She was gonna ask what it's all about,
what you're gonna say, show yourself

I'm on my feet
I'm on the floor
I'm good to go
All I need is just to hear a song I know
I wanna always feel that a part of this was mine
I wanna fall in love tonight

Crimson, and Clover
over and over
Crimson, and Clover
over and over
Crimson, and Clover (our house in the middle of the street)
over and over (why did we ever meet)
Crimson, and Clover
over and over (starting my rock and roll fantasy)
Crimson, and Clover (don't don't, don't let start, why did we ever part)
over and over (kickstart my rock and rolling heart)

I'm on my feet
I'm on the floor
I'm good to go
So, come on babay
sing me something that I know
I wanna always feel that a part of this is mine
I wanna fall in love tonight (Crimson, and Clover)
I wanna fall in love tonight (Crimson, and Clover)
I wanna always feel that a part of this was mine
I wanna fall in love tonight
I wanna fall in love tongiht
I wanna fall in love tonight...

March 15th, 2009

One thing that I am really starting to appreciate about my social work program is their constant push for our use of self-awareness. Everything in class, in internship, in papers is "How did you feel about that? What were you thinking in that moment? Has that happened to you personally?" It's exhausting and constantly pushing us. But I am starting to learn a lot more about myself than I imagined. It's really unexpected, but very much needed. Of course, a lot of it is hard. One thing my supervisor pushed me on a lot is about the concept of regret. I talked to her a lot about my personal philosophy of TRYING my best to live life without regret, a lesson I learned from losing my dad. I have had some people ask me before what exactly about that moment made that philosophy. I usually think of the day he died, not being by his side enough and feeling horrible and realizing how precious life is and how fast it can all change. But there is more to it that I had COMPLETELY and utterly pushed out of my mind. It wasn't just that day. It was the months leading up to it. After his first round of chemo he began to change. He didn't talk as much, was depressed. My mom was a great caretaker but the pain was too much for her. After making him dinner she would go to the garage and smoke cigarettes and forget her life alone. My brother was so young and so incredibly vulnerable that he hid in his room. I didn't know what to do. I would hang out with my dad for a little bit but I would feel SO very helpless. I couldn't make anything better. I couldn't take the cancer away. I couldn't make the reality that he was going to die go away. And so, I was an average B-C student when he got sick. And I became obsessed with school. It was the one and only thing that as a 13-14 year old could control. And I became an A student. And I would try to cheer up my parents with that. And I would also use it as an excuse to hide in my room and work incessantly all night on homework.

But I would come out to get a drink or snack and there would be my dad. My dying dad. Sitting alone in his wheelchair watching TV. Sometimes in the dark. Just staring out. Blankly. There was something about his face. The heaviest weight of sadness. And it hurts more than you can ever imagine. I have no way to describe in words what it was like. But this is the moment that really taught me about regret. I should have sat with him, hung out and tried to LIVE WITH HIM with what life was left. And that memory is so painful that over the years I have slowly pushed it out of my mind. This memory and the whole overall experience didn't just teach me about regret or give me my personal and professional future goals. I think looking back on it now, it shaped my perfectionism tendency I hate so much. It has also reinforced the guilt I always feel with everything. I think the guilt was something that started out of my parents' drinking but I think this played a role to.

Now in hindsight I know there is nothing I could have done differently. I was so young and had so few resources. It was too much to for one early adolescent girl to handle. I already was acting too much like the parent as it was. But its hard to forgive myself. To actually feel that it is okay. That it will always be painful. But what I am starting to find is that I can sit with that pain and deal with it. It doesn't go away but I can deal with it. I can handle it.

Its AMAZING how much you can remember when you are pushed to recall things. And not only remember an event but, once remembered, see how incredibly important those events are in shaping how we behave and think of ourselves in people NOW, even years later. The events impacts can be subtle. It can be so painful you repress it and forget all about it. Whatever it is, I am realizing that to truly grow and have a fuller, richer life (not just career as a therapist) means going through those memories. I'm not sure where I'm going with all of this yet because I am realizing so much about myself but as my 25th year winds down, I look back in wonder. I cannot believe I am where I am at 25. I may feel alone 87% of the time and I may have an inner critic that is as mean to me as Hitler, but I am proud that I have come this far and I have to try harder to believe that I can handle anything. Human beings are resilient creatures and its why I love working with people so much. It's a beautiful thing.

December 6th, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things (tonight):
1. THE FLORIDA GATORS WON THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP! Woo hoo we are going to the National Championship and it was an incredible (if not anxiety-provoking) game and I will add to my treasures of Florida Football experiences. I'm glad I got to watch it with a fellow Gator fan and eat ridiculous amount of homemade food (and brownies mmm). Only bummer is that the National Championship is in Miami on Jan 8 and I leave the 3rd. Sucks but I'm still excited to watch it on TV!

2. AND THEN as if that was not enough, a little while after the game I SAW SNOW FALL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE! I have never acted/felt like that in a loooong time. I was like a five year old screaming outside "It's snowing! It's snowing!" My roommate was frightened. I just ran and skipped and jumped around in the snow flakes. It was like playing with bubbles but with snow. It was so much fun...except when I realized I had no shoes on and a tshirt and the frostbite began to settle in. Seriously, the "Favorite Things" song played twice on the Christmas radio I was listening to on my computer while working on finals...a sign? It seems so.

3. I made some progress on finals which feels good, now I just need to keep it going. 9 pages downs, 31 to go.

It was a cool night. Go Gators!!

December 1st, 2008

My life took a VERY surreal turn today. I went to the New York Times Center in the middle of Time Square to see....KATE WINSLET! The movie obsession of my life. In person. Live. Third row center in a teeny tiny theater. It was absolutely utterly incredible and unreal. She has been my favorite actress for the last 11 years. I cannot believe it. I came so very close to actually getting to meet her but alas her bodyguard had other ideas at the end of the evening. Nevertheless it was an incredible experience. It was an hour and half of her and her hubby, the ever-brilliant director Sam Mendes, talking about their new movie (which previewed two clips that were phenomenal!), past projects and each other. First of all, I am pretty sure they are the most amazing hollywood couple anywhere. They were incredibly honest and funny and most of all just genuine and warm. It was great. Better than great.

So on my way to the center, I got out of the subway tunnel and was in front of a building that looked oddly familiar. There were construction guys taking it a part piece by piece. I noticed a lime green door and I realized where I had seen it. A little over a year ago with Debbie. It was the Nederlander Theater "Rent" played in for 11 years. There was one little poster left saying "No day but today. Last performance Sept 7." It was so strange to see the place where a play changed my life and helped me cope with my grandfather's impending death. I first saw Rent when I saw my grandfather for the last time. Then I saw it last year when two of the original cast members returned (Sigh...Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal). I realized that meeting them was my last surreal moment in new york and then I walked literally NEXT DOOR to my next surreal moment. It was something. One ending leading to a new memory.

In between these two events I went to buy a granola bar since I had no time for dinner. As I went to pay I realized that I had left my wallet in my office at work. I sadly explained that I had to put the granola bar back and this older woman, who frankly did not look like she had much money, said "No no, I will buy it." I kept saying no but she insisted, saying, "It's only 75 cents and you need it."

Whoever said that New Yorkers aren't friendly are wrong. They are just different. They are not like Southerners and may not be outwardly warm but are friendly. It's just that when you do come across the occasional rude person they are usually exponentially rude, therefore giving everyone else a bad rap. Anyways, thats just my thoughts about NY so far.

Also, I got to see Jack's Mannequin a little over a week ago in concert. Andrew McMahon is wonderful and a humongous musical talent. I hadn't been to a show in a long time and although I had a sinus infection, I was able to find a nice seat in the front row away from the General admission crowd and just watch and take in his whole incredible show on the piano. If you ever get the chance see him live, do it. If only for his performance of "Caves," a song he wrote about cancer and surviving, just go. <3

Well, I am 17 days away from finishing my first semester of grad school. That is INSANE. I have worked my butt off and learned more than I could have ever imagined. I have been through every range of emotion (From feeling like a complete failure to "wow, I can rock at this one day", or being lonely/isolated to being with amazing cohorts that get it) and have grown so much. If there is one thing that is frustrating other than the given lack of a life, its that I wish I had more time to take in the huge amounts of knowledge and experience coming at me. I wish I could retain it all but finals are making me realize how easily I forget things. Hopefully it will come back when needed.

Today is World AIDS Day and working in an HIV/AIDS clinic has changed my life as well. I am so glad that my internship is there- it was a slow start but has really worked up to learning so much about people, cultures, society and myself. Today for example, I had a patient who is in her 50s from West Africa and is at the moment an undocumented resident. She has NYC's emergency AIDS insurance for her AIDS meds- a program that was started to help prevent people from dying. However, she recently has been having many multiple abnormal pap tests. She was referred to an Oncologist. He said it was "probably vaginal or cervical cancer" and gave her a prescription for a cream to apply once a week for 10 weeks and to come back. Now I KNOW from personal experience that is absolutely NOT the standard protocol. The standard would be a biopsy, ultrasounds and blood tests. But the doctor didn't do any of those things. She was in my office shaking. Bad enough to already have AIDS. But to hear the word "cancer" and have a doctor do almost nothing, not even additional tests? That's an outrage. Her emergency insurance doesn't cover the cream. What is she to do? Some may argue, "Well, she is illegal." This may be true HOWEVER, in the US no ER can turn away patients of any kind. When or if she does start dying from this and collapses in the street, paramedics are going to take her to the ER and we are going to end up spending THOUSANDS of dollars on her care regardless. So why not help her upfront, before all the agony and more costly care? This is what I see everyday. It's hard to look at a woman shaking, literally, and into her eyes and say "There isn't anything I can do, but I will make every phone call I can to try." Its heartbreaking. We have to remember that some of these people leave Africa and come here illegally out of desperation. They are impoverished, beaten in many villages and raped by men, and have no way to thrive. They come to this country with hope but with little knowledge about how to take care of themselves and the dangers of these medical conditions. I could go on and on and on, sorry. I just see the injustice everyday and will fight for my patients. And that's one of the unexpected but rewarding aspects I am discovering about the field of social work- to fight for justice.

I wouldn't want any other career.

So although it may be stressful and school is hard and I get lonely and dealing with my mom getting in the hospital again (for the 2nd time after Thanksgiving) is rough and it's REALLY freaking cold outside, I feel really fortunate. I am living in NYC and going to the best clinical program in the country. It may suck at times but god damn I'm lucky. I need to hold on to that more. So although New Years is a month away, I am realizing how much my life has changed and grown in 2008.

November 5th, 2008

I don't even know where to begin. I have been through the most intense, emotionally grueling at times and fantastical at others. I was working on a midterm when I got a call from a very upset mother at 9:30 pm who said she was in the ER in Miami and was having surgery very quickly. All weekend she had been complaining of intense pain in abdominal area, sleeping a lot and losing weight recently. I pushed her to call doctors but no one would see her until late december. I pushed her, "Please go to the hospital, please." After urging her all day she did. A lot is still unknown and I hope to find out more this morning but she underwent emergency surgery to remove something that was rupturing. She told me the doctors said if she had waited one more day she would have died. At 3 am I got word that she is safe and in recovery and I will get more information soon. Although I am sure she will be completely fine, the quickness in which it all happened and having her already have cancer and already having lost my fathers made it frightening beyond words.

As my mom was being wheeled in my dream came true of Obama being elected President. I can't even begin to describe the juxtaposition of these two events. I just couldn't stop crying for the life of me. In an attempt to keep myself calm, I watched Obama's speech and haven't been so moved in a long time. I believe in change and can finally breath again and hope that the future of America will be bright. Emergency plans to move to London have been postponed.

There is also this mix of anger. I am disgusted with Florida for voting into law a ban on gay marriage. It is incredible that in electing a Black man into the presidency, the same state could turn around and display such narrow-mindedness in equal rights for the LGBT community. What's hard to swallow about it is that it wasn't a narrow win, it was a landslide.

It goes to show that although we are making progress in this country we can NOT stop fighting for social justice and impacting the myriad of policies in this country. Like Obama said in his speech last night, there are tough times a head and we as Americans need to step up in the days and years to come.

November 1st, 2008

(no subject)

I have had TWO NYC "celebrity" sightings in the last week and a half (my first ever in fact!) A week and a half ago I saw the comedian Jeff Ross and today on my way to watch the gator game I saw Richard Kind (he's been in a million things but was on Spin City and Mad About You forever). Mr. Kind kindly smiled at me when I was smiling staring at him. He seemed like a cool guy. Anyways it was interesting. I followed that experience by joining the NYC UF Alumni club, appropriately named the Gotham Gators at the Gin Mill on the Upper West Side. I was kind of dreading being in a bar with a bunch of drunk people after the disaster that was Halloween (story for another time...) but actually had a BLAST! It was like being in the stadium since everyone was screaming and yelling and doing cheers. It was cool...and we COMPLETELY kicked GA's butt which was AMAZIIIING!

Life here has been good I guess...just that there is only one piece of my life and that is school- morning to night, 7 days a week and it feels like twice on Sunday. Im learning so much but I am definitely battling some burn out. I am working my ass off and hopefully I won't lose grip of it now, really need to stay on top of things. Its just getting hard to absorb everything. Anywho, I still love the program and the city, if I could just explore it more :) Soon hopefully. Just need to make it out of midterms (2 papers left) and then finals. Almost there and then a break!

September 11th, 2008

(no subject)

Today has been such a crazy day. It's Sept. 11th and I'm living in NYC. It was weird- but alas I had classes and so was in the city. Walking around it seemed like the whole city was so unphased (im sure that wasn't the truth but its how it appeared). I worked hard all day and got to share my passion of Social Policy with Crissy and then after my last class there was a social with some of my social work cohorts. We ate at this great place and shared in a lot of our fears of starting social work and also lots of laughs too. It was a really amazing time. It was so fantastic to finally get to meet some people from my program and bond. But what was weird was that we are all walking back to Washington Square Park and one of the girls was talking and somehow the topic of cancer came up and I told her how I got interested in SW to begin with was because my dad had died of cancer. She stopped in her tracks and told me her mom had died of cancer. We were both 14 when it happened. And whats weird is where we stopped was right on an avenue corner that was completely uncluttered of buildings and a clear view of the two giant spotlights representing the twin towers. It was reaaaaally freaking weird. I was awestruck with how much those two spotlights stood out against the night sky and served as such a stark reminder of how much pain there is in that event and in this world. I think our whole group just kind of stop and stared for awhile. I don't know what it is about those lights but it gets to me. Then the aforementioned girl gave me a huge hug and said she was glad someone could understand. We all walked into the park where we were given professional hula hoop lessons by another girl in our program who does it on the side. Upon my turn a guy came up and gave me a dollar. No kidding. Like I said, It was a REALLY crazy day...not one I will soon forget.

September 6th, 2008

A month in!

I really need to document my life better because I am already forgetting a bunch of stuff I said I was going to write here. Damn. Well I will start backwards and hope I remember everything:

I watched the Gator v. Miami game tonight and it was AMAZING- Go Gators!!! But as exciting as it was to watch (and win!) seeing them film Gainesville made me homesick. Im glad I got to watch it on TV but I miss the spirit of the town, the cheers and being able to celebrate with everyone around you. Its not quite the same here in NYC. Just a little sad for me- especially since Tropical Storm Hanna is howling outside and raining.

HOWEVER, with that being said I had my first week of graduate school and I do know this- I ABSOLUTELY picked the right school for me and im in love with my professors. I wish I could be best friends with them. I also realize what it means to be going to a top clinical program because this curriculum, as amazing as it is, is going to kick my ass. Seriously. So, friends, please don't be mad if I disappear entirely until the summer. I have hundreds of pages of reading and my 21 hours at my internship required every week on top of classes. Its a lot but I will go forward and do my best. I feel like I am going to learn and grow so much (to be really cliche ;) ). Learn to be patient with the many younger students who are waaaaaay too tightly wound, to actually live the lesson of not being involved in EVERYthing and take a step back (particularly, to truly realize that doing millions of things do not prove what kind of person I am...I can still be that person and deserve to have a life) and hopefully learn lots of different therapy while I'm at it!

So other than going through school and adjusting to student life again I got to have some fun last weekend. My friend Ashley came to visit and we got to explore the city tons and I got to visit the David Letterman offices/studio and, yes, I tap danced on the Ed Sullivan Theater stage. It was pretty cool. Thank god no one was there :)

I am getting used to life here...I miss a lot but I'm trying my best not to dwell on that because it is easy to do but got me no where my first couple of weeks. I am getting along with my roommates and have met one friend in social work that likes chocolate and the arts. I love the city- there is so much stimulation here and I feel like options are endless (good and bad) and i love that about it.
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