unbelievable

There is definitely something, at least for me, very distinctly odd about 2012. This might be a good year to define who I am, without boxing myself in. But I am also noticing a shift in perspective all around me, and it seems to be gaining unbelievable momentum.

For example.

The day we buried Wolfgang, we also found out while Bryan got average grades in most classes, he failed a major class. Long story short, we decided that a law career just wasn’t in the cards. The prospect of the day-to-day reality of a lawyer was unbearable, school was intense pressure and a lot of debt, and the payoff was looking increasingly distant. Eventually I told my mom about this, on the day that she was laid off of a job that has been the culmination of a 25 year career.

My mom is not famous for being positively upbeat all the time. She tends to focus on financial stability, so I thought she would be very disappointed at this news. Her response, to my surprise, was that sometimes these things tend to work out better than we thought they would. I am proud of her and I hope that we can all maintain this attitude when times unexpectedly change.

I could go on and on about the world evolving.

For now, I’m appreciating my recent demotion by relearning to knit, taking more time off, and starting to define this new person I call myself.

Step 1, making this Afghan:

 

Viola Afghan

 

r.i.p. wolfgang

In the midst of life being hectic, insane, messy, and stressful (and yet somehow still wonderful, beautiful, and amazing), we get a very unexpected phone call.

Bryan’s dear and very cool, talkative, artistic, and inspirational uncle Wolfgang (real name Michael Golden) died inexplicably while riding his motorcycle on the highway. His aunt was not with him, thankfully. He was only 62, in good health, and will be incredibly missed.

I wanted to write about how busy I am, how terrible work is for me right now, how the world always seems to kick me while I’m down. But I think instead I’ll just write about Wolfgang and how much he meant to me.

Wolfgang was always the type of person who would just keep talking. He never stopped. It didn’t bother him if his audience didn’t seem to care, but Bryan and I always looked forward to visits with him. We got to talk about art, life, photography, the desert, motorcycles, and society. He used to be an art professor at the university here, so he taught us a lot about local Vegas/Nevada art culture. That said, his father apparently lives or lived in Gerlach, NV, and he once apparently literally ran into Burning Man back in 98 or 99 on his Harley. He never stopped telling us about how we just had to make it to Burning Man someday.

Of course, being teenagers, we didn’t make it to Burning Man until this last year. And of course it was the most incredible experience, and we couldn’t wait to come home and tell him all about it. We took about a million polaroids and shared them with him and his wife. Then we saw him again on Christmas, where he gave us the best gift (he always does) – some homemade birdhouses made from found wood at the local mountain. He got a little drunk and said some silly things to his wife that he probably shouldn’t have said in public. It was great getting to spend that time with him, even though I was sick and tired.

He was a legend that I wish I never had to tell my kids about wistfully. He will be missed more than words can ever express. Hug someone you love today.

thoughts on the holidays

Going to try to hurry because I have a lot of goals today, it being one of my first weekdays off in a while. It’s early and I’m trying to clear out (and read) my google reader, and it seems like everyone is posting about 2011/2012 holidays/new year. I will have to write the obligatory resolution post later.

I wanted to just express a touch of disappointment about the holidays. With moving into the new house less than 2 weeks before Christmas day, this got a little hectic. We didn’t get a tree (wasn’t meant to be this year), and honestly it’s all just fine. We are super thrilled to be in our house, but Christmas just felt a bit different this year. No tree, no presents, no opening in the morning. We did have a sweet rib roast (sous vide – yum!) and went snowboarding, so while it was an awesome day, it just wasn’t Christmas. And the evening turned pretty sour with our friend’s testing boundaries in our own house before we even got a sofa, that kind of sucks. Or maybe it’s because we have no real plans for NYE this year, which is exactly the opposite last year. Or I spent all December last year traveling. Or a combination of it all?

Anyways, my point is that I am inspired for next year. I can’t wait to wrap up presents and get a tree and decorate it all wacky. We go get Charlie and Miles, and probably Rusty, in a few days from my parents’. As well as the rest of My Stuff, and squeezing in a snowboarding trip to Wolf Creek (of course) and visiting ABQ friends. I can’t wait to see my babies again. I haven’t seen them since May! Once they’re here, I think this house will feel a lot more like home. 

Now that I’m finally here, I can’t wait to settle in!

Well, there are so many more updates I could share, but I really need to get it together today and gets lots done. So much laundry!

new house, also what’s with OB/GYNs?

From here on out, I’m going to stop apologizing for never posting. I hope that my readers can expect rare, intermittent postings, while being pleasantly surprised with any increased frequency that I obviously cannot predict.

We’ve looked at more resale houses. Everything we like is old because since 1980 they haven’t come up with a building aesthetic we care for. Old is fine, even fixer upper is fine, though we are living there so it can’t be a total do-over. Problem is, FHA requires that our house pass rigorous inspections in order to move in, the most concerning being water damage from old pipes. Just about every house over 20 years old that is affordable has water damage, either in the roof or near the washing machine, that would not pass FHA inspection. There are tons of good houses that age in great areas of town, but are they going to sell their gem in the middle of a recession? Not likely.

Not only that, but we’d end up living in a part of town that might be worrisome for the pets, future kids, having a nice car and nice things inside. That’s really one of the least of our concerns, because we know that affluent areas are as likely to be robbed. Another big concern we had was the bills. All those old houses have walls made of cinderblocks. The insulation is old, the roofs leak, the walls have gaps, the foundation is cracked. Cooling a cinderblock home in the desert is no cheap task, and ants are a big problem.

So we determined that in order to get the house we wanted, we’d have to spend a little more money. Eventually the goal price creeped up to the point of building a new house. Why buy a resale for the same as brand new, and then have to convert the parts you don’t like?

We decided to buy a new house from Pulte. We were careful about the upgrades. It should be done mid-December. We are so excited! I’ll post more about the house as things progress, but it’s a 2-story 3 bed 2.5 bath on a small lot (although we bought one of the bigger lots). I didn’t want a small lot, but the builder really utilizes space well – we opted to get an extended private balcony off the master and a balcony off the 2 front bedrooms. That builder also has courtyards in every front yard, so that space is used.

The neighborhood backs into the Mesa, which has beautiful hiking and is great for views of the Valley. It’s very close to Red Rock, and also the highway.

This is our floor plan and elevation and color scheme, but we're getting another balcony over the garage

Right now only the foundation is poured, but the frame should be up soon and I’ll keep posting.

I really wanted to write this to describe a terrible experience I had at the doctor’s office. I had been due to a PAP smear for a while, and a coworker told me how much she liked her OB/GYN, and he has this one office that’s a short wait. I made an appointment for later that week. I get there, and there are tons of people in the waiting room, but there are a few doctors in that facility. So I wait… 2 hours until I make it to the back. She tells me the Dr has to see one more patient then he’ll see me, so they have me wait in a secondary waiting room for about a half hour. Then I finally get to go in the room, I’m waiting for about 10 minutes when the fire alarm goes off. We evacuate, then a girl calls me back up and says they can’t turn off the alarm, but a child pulled it and there’s no danger if I wanted to wait inside. The Dr then tapes off the alarm and proceeds with the exam, albeit it more loud than usual.

I tell him we use only condoms and don’t mention the charting that I do. He asks if that works for us, I say yes, and that’s it. Then he asks how long we’ve been together, I tell him 10 years. He asks us if we’re considering having any children. I guess pap smears just don’t pay the bills these days. Any children in your future ma’am, perhaps a C-section!? Note to self: don’t write this one any Yaz, she won’t be needing it. Apparently he tried to schedule a C-section for my coworker when she was still in the first trimester, and then said it was to accommodate patient requests.

Oh and then at the end of my visit he tells me I have a lump in my breast. Apparently it’s benign but of course requires follow up. He’s a specialist but my insurance swears that it should be free because it’s a preventative visit (not if he could help it), and they keep sending me a bill for $60 – my specialist copay. Perhaps I can follow up with a mid-level, a midwife or something. Any advice?

vegas: modern homes, dermatologist, and being broke

It took me about 40 minutes to get around to this! New mid-year resolution: better time management! lol

I wanted to post another update with my life situation. For those with inquiring minds, and also because my “plans” keep changing.

Bee heard from the law school here in Vegas, he spoke to the admissions director or something. That gentleman informed him that he is essentially at the top of the waitlist, and he should call back if he hasn’t heard anything by June 7th. This is great news, and hopefully it means he is practically accepted. At least, that’s been our tentative assumption now.

So we’ve been looking at some houses. Basically our game plan is to try to buy a house that’s livable now for under $100,000. Since usually house prices are determined by zip code compared to quality of the house itself, that means we’re probably going to live closer to the inner city. Which is great, because we’re trying to find a house that was built in the 1960s or 1970s. This is what our ideal house should lack:

• terra-cotta tile roof with harsh angles that meet at the center of the house

• carpet

• windows with fake shutters on the outside

• copious amounts of stucco, at least in pale oranges and pinks

• random stucco circular ports on the facade

• ghetto old kitchen

• garage door that looks like a barn door

• dead grass “landscaping”

What our house would ideally look something like:

Built in 1963

Which, ideally, we would convert (although that particular house would need minimal work) into something like this:

Built in 1950, energy-efficient remodel

Gorgeous dining room

Living room - love the windowed divider!

So that’s the grand plan. Find a cheap little house with some character, over time convert it to a more modern looking, energy-efficient home. Maybe move and build a new house on land out in the mountains, maybe never leave, who knows. Not really planning that far ahead right now. But doesn’t that just sound uh-mazing?

Other than all that school stuff. I graduated (yay!) and now I have zero work. I moved to Vegas and my work assumes that I want to work as a pharmacist. However, although I have my degree, I have to take 2 big tests (scheduled 3 and 4 weeks from now), pass those tests, wait 2 weeks to get my license, before I can even think about being a pharmacist. Then I have to apply everywhere, no discretion, because apparently I don’t have the experience or connections to be picky, interview like crazy, hope for the best, probably do a million background checks, fingerprints, and drug screens. And then, hopefully, at the end of it, I can get 40+ hours a week and get benefits.

But in the meantime I just want to pass my tests and make a little money before all that. So I’ve been trying to get a few hours here and there and it’s not really working out. Don’t know why.

Also, I went to a dermatologist to finally get some Accutane, and he does the same thing every dermatology/physician has been doing for me for the last 15 years. “Let’s just switch your medicines around a bit.” And they switch everything in each drug class from one to another: “You were on generic minocycline, now you’ll be on this obscure brand-only doxycycline. And I know you’ve been taking Benzaclin for almost 10 years and it doesn’t work anymore, but try this Duac, it’s pretty much exactly the same thing.” Except they don’t tell you that.

I just want to take some really strong pills for 6 months and tell my acne to shove it. I don’t want a regimen that involves a prescription face wash and 2 antibiotic gels, as well as antibiotic pills, every 12 hours every day until I’m either pregnant and can’t take anything, or my acne mysteriously vanishes when I’m 50, revealing scarred, red skin underneath.

So if anyone knows a dermatologist in Vegas who either listens to patients, reads the occupation on their chart (it’s really annoying for a pharmacist to be told how to take a medication, not gonna lie), or is a big fan of Accutane, let a sista know about it!

Alright, so my allegedly brief update was long, and I also need to go to the gym.

Oh, one more thing. I need to lose like 20 pounds (not really, but I am not looking so svelt these days). I went to the Kung Fu school for a Qigong class last week and met the Sifu (Sigung) there. He seemed really thrilled to see my shirt from ABQ, and he seemed like an insanely down-to-earth, chill guy. Not that any of that matters, but it made me feel really comfortable to be at the school. As soon as I can afford it and know my schedule, I’m buying a month’s worth of classes. They even let you buy your classes for a year as a time if you want, that would be so nice once I know I’m staying for sure!

Also, the day after that Qigong class I got rear-ended. I almost forgot to mention this! A pickup stopped in front of me really fast (far right lane on a busy road), I stopped in time, the chick behind me didn’t and ran into me. Which then shoved my car into the pickup. And it actually hurt a bit. I had a headache and my neck ached that day and yesterday my neck was really stiff, to the point where I felt like I couldn’t really “shoulder check” very well. My car is probably totaled, I can’t get a Lexus for at least 3 months, so I will probably drive a little Corolla or something crummy once I get my check for my car until I can get a Lexus. I’ve seen 2 of them already. It really is a nice car. But it’s a shame all this is happening and I can’t even get one yet. My car right now drives fine, but it has damage to the front and rear, and the damage is worth about 70-80% of the value of my undamaged car.

The girl’s insurance tried to settle my injury with a $500 settlement check yesterday. Per Bryan and my mom’s advice, I’m not taking it until I know what is going on with my “property damage” i.e. to the car. I think I’m going to make an appointment to see a Doc right now about my neck. It’s not really severe, just achy. I wake up some days rather uncomfortable, but not in typical pain. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Yeah so that was a bummer. Other than that, and living off of my credit card, life is pretty good! :)

i may be slow…

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I’ve always sort of been jonesing for the future. In one way, maybe the more impulsive side of me, wants to get married, buy a house, have kids, live the dream. Things keep getting in the way, and I’m not bitter for the lack of those things, and it’s not like anything could truly stop it if I wanted them badly enough. However, I do sometimes get pangs of envy for my friends from grade school who are married, have kids, etc.

So a while ago, I got to thinking about it. I mean, logically there are very good reasons that I’m not in that position right now. I’ve made deliberate choices to wait until I get to play house. Now I’m starting to see my friends break up with the father of their child(ren), get divorced, lose their house to foreclosure. In no way, shape, or form do I take any sort of pleasure in seeing that. But it makes me grateful that because I’ve taken longer to get to that point, I am less likely to go through all of that. I may seem rash, but I’m really not. I take my time to make sure I’m doing something right. I am not about instant gratification, I’m patient.

I’m working on the envy part, but as long as I recall my mantra (slow but right, slow but right, haha), I am doing better.

In other news, B and I are probably going to end up living in L.A. at least for the next 3 years. Maybe forever after that, I don’t know. He still hasn’t heard anything from the law school in Vegas, so it’s not written in stone yet. Regardless, L.A. is close to Vegas but also has better weather, culture, architecture, etc. It’s much more expensive, but if B’s career is better off, then it’s worth a few years of extra cost. And I get to move out into B’s parents for a few months, and hang out with everyone in Vegas for a while until we move out permanently. It’s exciting stuff!

One of the things I need to be doing is going to gym about 5 days a week. I have these love handles that have creeped up on me the past few months, and I am rather unimpressed by it. In fact, I am now at a weight where I am able to join “Weight Watchers” although I won’t do that unless exercise alone doesn’t do the trick. Mostly because I don’t really care about my weight as a number, I care much more about the distribution of my body fat and muscle. So, wish me luck, send good vibes, etc. There are a lot of things I’m ambivalent towards, but my body is not one of them.

In other news: Coachella was insane, hot, and great fun. It was weird that each artist only performs for 45-60 minutes, then gets cut off. It’s almost like a teaser of your favorite artists. I am pretty bummed every time I see the 2010 lineup, but now I realize it wouldn’t have been that amazing to see deadmau5 for 50 minutes anyways. There were lots of fliers there for Lightning in a Bottle, which is on Memorial Day weekend.

Yeah I know. Looks incredible. However, I bought tickets to see deadmau5 on Sunday of MDW, and don’t regret it, so I won’t be making it to LIB this year, but really would like to go in 2012.

So on the calendar:

deadmau5 on MDW

EDC in Vegas @ Speedway in late June (not camping during the day for any reason)

Burning Man in August (not sure how I’m surviving this one yet)

Okay, running on like 12 hours of sleep for the last 60 hours of life, so I need to hit the hay!

fate update

You know plans are more like hopes, and I don’t know about you, but mine are in flux. Maybe it’s being optimistic, loving change, loving the unexpected, living in the moment that explains why I am that way.

Here’s the latest update.

Bryan got into law school. One, Willamette, in Salem, Oregon. Not the first choice, but Oregon is rather lovely. He also got into the waitlist at USF, a Jesuit university in downtown SF that specializes in intellectual property law. That school was unusual because he is below average on all their stats, and yet they seem unusually interested in him. He wrote his personal statement on graffiti, so that was a risk that they apparently liked. A couple of the Ivy leagues denied him outright, but for the most part he didn’t get many answers during that “first round” of responses.

At this point, we’re actually really hoping that we go to Vegas. Believe me, I pretty much despise the town. And I fought that a lot. But eventually, I realized how cheap it would be to live there, how much opportunity there is for us, and how much opportunity there is for the town. In a way, we can mold the town now, more than ever, at it’s most vulnerable point. I feel like we could truly “own” Las Vegas.

So that’s where we’re at now. Hoping beyond hope that UNLV will let him in. Maybe we’re spiteful because there’s all this news about UNLV losing funding because Nevada doesn’t prioritize education (even worse than other states).

When I graduated high school, my art teachers highly encouraged us to stay in Nevada and promote the culture there. Then, Vegas was like a raging bull, at the prime of the economic bubble. It didn’t seem like there was anything any of us could do to make a difference, Vegas was already on the path and what was the point in trying to catch up? Now the bull is paralyzed and down, and everyone is running away from it, nobody is willing to stick around and see if it recovers. Maybe Vegas needs this downtime to recover, and come back brighter, more rooted, and better than before. I think that Vegas needed this recession to knock it down and find power in coming back up.

Not I honestly cannot wait.

Especially since Kaskade and Tiësto both have residencies there, and deadmau5 seems to love visiting. Oh, and EDC will be there this year! ♥ ♥ ♥

 

How can you deny the rainbow?

 

 

warning, kvetch train ahead

So it’s career week. And today we got told how competitive it is getting into a residency, but how much we should do it anyway. But we should have a back-up plan in case we don’t get in. And then how much money we should be saving (while making $35k a year doing a residency for 2 years and then another 2 years for fellowship ideally, after graduating) after we graduate. And how we can have a nice car or a nice house or nice vacations but not all three. And how in California some pharmacists can’t even find jobs anymore because the market is so saturated (so much for a recession proof career). And how “sign on bonuses are a thing of the past.” And everything was “because of the economy” this and that.

It was really bleak. It was like “Congratulations on getting a doctorate by 24 but it’s not actually any better than anything else.” Yay!

And I can’t compete in this clinical skills competition, which would win me a trip to Anaheim for the residency midyear meeting, because once again I am the odd person out, and it is competed in groups of two. I emailed the entire class, to no avail. I’m beginning to think I am just hated. It just sucks that this happened last year too and everyone just partnered up with the same people. So that’s one thing I get to not put on my resume.

And speaking of resumes for residencies, we are told how they really like faculty and dean letter of recommendations.

Which would have been really nice if I got one faculty rotation before the application was due. It would’ve been nice if the third of the class that planned on not working for Walgreens was given more clinical rotations.

Does anyone have a happy pill I can take? Or twenty?

thoughts on Buddhism and killing for food

Recent dilemma. A BBQ is being held, many people are expected to come. Say 2-3 dozen. How to feed so many people on a budget?

Well it’s a BBQ, so how about meat. How about a lot of meat. How about cooking a big huge roast of some kind, maybe over a spit or something. How to get a big huge chunk of meat for cheap?

Costco?

A butcher?

How about just go directly to the source and kill an animal (deer, for example) yourself?

To which my Buddhist priest and Sifu responds, “Never kill unless you have to.” And a fellow student adds, “There are plenty of dead animals on the planet, you don’t need to kill another one.”

On the surface, I agree with this attitude. But on further examination, I take great issue with this aspect of Buddhism.

Buddhists historically almost never butcher their own food. They have kept many a Muslim in business by having them butcher instead.

I really take issue with this attitude. Because if you refuse to take a role in how your food lived and died, then you are opening the doors for that animal to have been abused or killed in a way that minimized their suffering. And I am a strong believer that if you refuse to kill an animal for food, then you should not eat an animal.

You are the one with the incentive to minimize suffering, not the butcher. And if you take no active role in the life of your food, then expect that animal’s suffering to have been needlessly excessive. Because you do not know any better.

It’s like wearing fur. You didn’t kill the animal, but you are promoting the industry by buying it, and another animal was killed for their fur. Not that I have a problem with using all the animal and wearing fur, but it’s the same concept. Promoting bad practices by being a passive consumer.

So that’s my opinion. I think it’s fully possible to be a Buddhist, eat meat, and still very much care for and have compassion for your food. In fact, I think it’s necessary, as a meat-eating Buddhist. Just my 2¢.

how to be even more selfish

In regards to my last post. I have been thinking about the kids thing a lot. Most people tell me to wait as long as I feel I need to have kids, to not rush things, to get whatever accomplished before that I’d like since I might not be able to when I have kids. However, there are like a couple of people who feel like kids don’t ever get in the way of anything, or maybe they feel like kids shouldn’t get in the way of your life.

So perhaps I should rephrase my stance. I can have kids now. And I can probably make compromises and get at least some of the stuff done that I want after/while I have kids. And I still want to share a lot of what I want to do with my kids when I have them, like traveling in particular.

I always tells people I’m too selfish to have kids right now. I want alone time with my future husband, I want to buy nice things, I want to travel with just him. I want to cook and go out to movies whenever I want, and go dancing and see concerts anytime, and go out on dates to a fancy restaurant without having to find a babysitter first. That’s selfish and I know it and I don’t beat myself for it, because I’m being honest with myself.

As selfish as that is, I still think it’s way more selfish at the other end of the spectrum. To have kids and then act like you don’t, to make your family babysit your kids because you want to do fun things all the time. To make the decision to bring a child into this world, it doesn’t matter if the child was wanted, you made the decision to keep the child. Which means you made the decision to raise a human being. That person deserves attention and loving, committed parents. Take some responsibility. It isn’t fair to that person nor the people who are having to make up for your shortcomings as a “parent.”

Maybe that’s just me jealousy talking. But I feel more justified in my own resolve to wait, so that I am a better parent. That’s not at all to say that it’s right for everyone, but I think that when you decide to be a parent, you must prepare for the fact that your life will no longer belong to you. I refuse to let my biological clock compromise the lives of my future children. In a way that’s selfish, and in a way, since it’s a hard battle to fight, maybe it’s a little selfless too.

In an unrelated note. I just would like to reiterate the failure rates of contraception with typical/average use, since although we like to think we’re perfect, we certainly aren’t. This is for the first year of use.

IUD 0.2% (perfect 0.2%)
The Pill 8% (perfect 3%)
Male condom 15% (perfect 2%)
Symptothermal method 25% (perfect 3% – this is less reliable since it depends on the method, the “rules”, etc., I’ve seen failure rates in large studies of less than 1% when used correctly among average users)
Source

My point is, when you used protection and you still got pregnant, your baby didn’t beat the odds and it certainly isn’t necessarily a miracle baby. That doesn’t mean that that fact alone should convince you to keep the child. I am so sick of hearing “well we used a condom and we still got pregnant, that’s like a 1 in a thousand change!” or that they used the pill perfectly and got pregnant, so they decided to keep the baby since it was “meant to be.”

Sorry. Doesn’t cut it for me. 3% is damn high odds, and nobody uses the pill perfectly anyways. It’s more like 5%, which is 1 in TWENTY, by the way. Don’t let your shoddy interpretation of statistics make you believe your baby is any more miraculous than the next one, since half of pregnancies are unintended. And certainly don’t use it to justify the ill timing and try to pretend you’ll be a good parent because of it.

Okay rant over. I feel so much better now. : )

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