Monday, May 30, 2005

oh! you wanted to see what I bought?!

on the right is 6oz romney wool from Fantom Farm, the cascade 220 (there's more there then you can see) is from Webs, and on the left is a bag of "colorful bits of wool" also from Fantom Farms. My 1.46 oz Cocobolo spindle is in the middle!

Here it is posing with the coopworth wool I got from the Sheep Shed. I liked the merino/tencel, but didn't think it was a beginner's fiber. I'm headed north to my parents house now; they had lobster this weekend and made sure to make enough for a homemade stew. My whole family is in town, and I'm packing up my books and a limited ammount of fiber. (I can't leave my spindle here - are you kidding?) Posted by Hello

the day in pictures

a sheep, loosing it's winter coat of fleece. (it's hard to see, but there's a black sheep to the right of the picture)

Risa trying the left handed/footed hitch hiker before bringing it home. Notice the beautiful feather and fan sock....

Claudia showing Laurie how to park and draft. (what you can't see is how amazing her singles are; they are a consistantly perfect lace weight!)

Sara and Risa looking at the great finds.....

.....great finds that included this fleece. It was spin-able as is, without needing to be washed! (it had some grease, but wasn't overly greasy) I finally understand the concept of "buying a fleece" now, and hope that my first fleece (many, many years from now) is as nice as this one!

a sheep on the mailbox welcomed us back to Cate's! Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

happiness is....

-the sun! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
- getting to Webs before they closed, on the last day of their sale
- an evening with Cate and Rys, Sara, Risa and their Amazing kids
- a brunch to meet Marcy, Helen, Lynn and her daughter
- a fiber festival where I met up with Laurie (and her incredible husband), Claudia, Rosemary and several others who enjoyed the Linzer Tart and Death By Chocolate brownies
- Linzer tart and Death By Chocolate Brownies
- a new spindle, one that felt right and was the correct weight, and knowing how to use it

It’s phenomenal how one word can change an entire thought, and how much I heard it used during my time in Massachusetts. This magic word can turn these thoughts

*I don’t know what I’d do with those colors.
*I don’t know how to spin.
*I’m not interested in a spinning wheel.

Into these thoughts….

*I don’t know what I’d do with those colors yet.
*I don’t know how to spin yet.
*I’m not interested in a spinning wheel, yet.

The people I met had a great way of introducing me to possibility: nothing was impossible, and their positive attitude and amazing ability to introduce an idea (and not push it but rather say, with a knowing smile, that once I tried it myself I’d be hooked) was infectious. Cate, Risa and Sara taught me the basics of a new fiber language and helped me pick out a spindle and fiber that would work best for a beginner; Claudia (in her amazing “wire” top – it’s nothing like I thought it would be and is actually flexible and almost “soft;” nothing like chain mail (as I imagined it would)) and Rosemary appeared (almost out of nowhere!) and after a demonstration they had me trying to use my new spindle. Claudia didn’t leave me any time to be nervous or worried about it and had the patience of a saint when it came to showing my fingers where to be. I’m sure that part of my enjoyment of spinning is due to the way I was taught, and I owe them! (in another few years, when I finally feel like I’ve got this down (ie no longer park and drafting; I don't see an end to that anytime soon) I vow to spread the enjoyment and will teach a few newbies in a similar way….)

What people say, and how passionately they say it, about spinning is true – it has a lure that is unlike knitting; the process of turning fiber INTO yarn hasn’t (yet) lost it’s novelty on me, and even though I know I’m turning out a beginners fiber (lumps and bumps aplenty) I love it. I even giggle every now and then when I look at what I’m doing and laugh when I think about how simple it is. One of my favorite college biology professors used to tell us how the first yarn from a spinner has lumps and bumps and often frustrates the person attempting to create an evenly spun yarn. He told us that if we ever spun we should hold onto the first yarn because at some point, when we want to be able to spin unevenly, we won't be able to. I don’t think he spins (I think the story came from his wife’s experiences) but I plan to put a bit of what I’ve done in the mail to him.

If I “saw” you from a distance, or if you said “hi” but didn’t get an amazing response from me it’s partially because I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole weekend. I wish it didn’t take me so long to “warm up” and feel comfortable around people, as those who saw me for more then a few minutes saw! [My awfulness at first impressions is one of the reasons why I’ll never work in an ER; my patients would probably hate me. (the other reasons include how the first and only time I’ve truly passed out was on an ER preceptorship….) Those who get to know me have learned to disregard the first few minutes of the meeting.] Though, in the first few minutes of meeting Lynn (spelling may change if I've spelled it wrong!) we have agreed to knit Rouge together. As soon as she finishes spinning the yarn for it (can you believe it? spinning that much yarn?) we'll dive in. I can't wait, and think it'll be nice to work on it while another person is also knitting along.

When Risa and her kids and I returned to Cate’s house they set about trying to corrupt me to stay another night. Everyone – including Sara’s kids and Risa’s twins (albeit indirectly) had a reason for me to stay and Cate (don’t ever get into an argument with her: you will loose. I’m not sure how she does it, but she can get a person to change their mind and think they are crazy for ever believing otherwise!) devised a schedule that included me studying in her house, spending time at the library and still getting in some quality knitting and spindling time; she assured me that she’d feed me, and that a good time would be had by all. She *almost* had me, but the three hour drive was going to be long either day I traveled and in the end I hit the road. (If boards weren’t in just over a week I’d have been asking her I could stay!) In the end I’ll admit that I probably could have spent another night and gotten just as much done, but now I’m home and have the hope to meet up with her again. (and after learning where Risa is I may go ahead and do a peds rotation at a hospital I’d been considering; it happens to be right near her!)

The weekend was about more then just fiber; it was a break from my books and a chance to learn and see what else is out there. I’m glad I went, and can’t wait until the fiber frolic so I can do it again. (maybe by then I’ll have plying questions that need answers….)

(not to worry, I am getting studying done. I might need to head to Borders without my spindle tomorrow morning, but I’m slowly (and not-so-willingly) finding my groove again.)

Mission: accomplished.

further details to come, after a few more hours of playing with my drop spindle, er studying. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 27, 2005

over the river and through the woods...

off to Cate's house I go....

Before the NHS&W weekend Cate emailed me to see if I was planning on venturing over, in hopes that we could meet up. I wound up staying local that weekend, and thought out loud (via an email) that perhaps I'd be at Cummington. Cate, the kind soul that she is, wrote me back and offered up her house if I wanted to split up the drive and spend the night there. I'm taking her up on the offer and am looking forward to knitting with people while kids run around. It feels like it's been a long time coming and I'm almost in disbelief that this weekend is here!

(the disbelief could be due to me having a mere 10 days left to study for boards; I'm choosing to ignore that little fact)

I think I have everything I need...I'm not usually a "make a list" person, but before trips it's my best method for not forgetting anything. (I make lists so that I don't forget the obvious things. for example, on the top of my list it says "YARN for striped sweater AND NEEDLES and THE SWEATER." Because, me being me, I'd only remember one part. (see previous entries) I restarted the sleeve only to rip it out again due to several small mistakes. Maybe I'll make progress on it this weekend?)

My first stop is going to be Webs - I have a mental list for what I want, and the ammounts that are most useful but really I'm just going for the experience. I thought I'd be on the road by noon but now it looks like I've got a 1:00 departure - it should give me just enough time to get what I want/need and look around a bit before they close (and I feel totally overwelmed!).

I am bringing a few board review books simply because I haven't been out of their sight in so long I'm not sure what they'd do without me. Sleeping with one under my pillow can't hurt, right?

My goal for the festival, aside from seeing sheep (I love sheep)and rabbits (I love rabbits) is to find a drop spindle. I'm hoping that one will jump into my hands and scream (or wisper) "pick me, pick me!" Otherwise I'm going for the experience, and for a chance to be with other people who love fiber as much (or more) then I do. I've got limited ammounts of cash and that should curb (some) of my purchases (though if they accept credit cards I make no promises....)

Then it's back here to dig into the books again, pausing only briefly to remember what a great weekend it was while I stare at my great finds. This is going to be a nice break.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

what my doctor ordered

Three people have all claimed responsibility for giving me the cold/cough/sinus headaches I've been fighting for the past week, but I don't blame any of them. All of this (along with some prescription asthma meds) is keeping me going. Knitting has slowed to a crawl, and as time passes the idea that I might still be working on the striped sweater (instead of wearing it) is becoming a reality. (but better to be sick and curled up in a blanket studying board questions early this week then this weekend or closer to the boards!) (again, I'm okay and will be okay, but am disappointed that I'm not making more progress on my sweater!) Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

coat hanger math (or perhaps I should, someday, invest in a scale)

this is an attempt to figure out if I'll have enough yarn to finish the striped sweater.
on the right: the finished "body" of the sweater. (I undid the 10 stripes of a sleeve that I'd done in preparing to rip the whole thing out). On the left: an assortment of full skeins of yarn that totals 500g.

so, figuring that two sleeves is about 2/3 of a sweater body (I wrapped it around my arm and then doubled it and 2/3 was the best I could do), I put 325g (2/3 of 500ish) in the bag on the left (thank goodness for my occasional novelty skein that is 25g instead of the usual 50g). The yarn I have remaining for the stripes is in the bag on the right. It's not going to be enough for two long sleeves.

The same ~325g on the left, and I added 75g to the remaining yarn on the right. It looked just about even to me, and so I need at least another 75g to finish.

the same 325g-ish on the left; the right is the remaining yarn with the skein of brown fleece I picked up yesterday (100g). This looks even too, and the math is easier with 100g. (stay with me, I think it'll make sense...) SO: I need 325g to make two sleeves. 100g of the 325g is all one color; the other 225g is made up of seven different colors. In order to make this work, I'm going to have to have a ratio of 2:1, old stripes colors:new purple. This means that I'm going to need to fit two seperate stripes into the seven color pattern, or I'm going to need to break up the seven color striping with 4 rows of solid striping. Any thoughts on what would look better? (and does this make sense to anyone other then me?)

please ignore the not-so-organized bookcase in the background; "fun" reading hasn't been a priority for awhile! Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

if I do it on both sleeves, does it make it a design element?

In fear of running out of yarn for sleeves I ran to a local yarn shop near school at lunch today. I was hoping they'd have the same colors of cotton fleece I bought from them before, but they've cleared out their brown sheep stock and only one color matched the striped sweater.

If I add a new color of striping to the sleeves, will it look odd? (the new color is a lighter purple and would fit in between the dark purple and the antique lace color)

If the answer is no, then what if I make that new color of striping three knit rows instead of the usual two knit rows (to make the other yarn last longer?)?

Where does making it up as I go along meet intentional design element?

(and will I be able to get it done by Friday? (I doubt it, but who knows; it is only Monday.))

Sunday, May 22, 2005

happiness is....

- making a mistake in my sweater and choosing to smile and leave it in rather then ripping back to fix it
- two back to back season finales that are leaving me on the edge of my seat
- having all five different colored highlighters in one place (they've been spread out all over my apartment and it took more then I'm willing to admit to find them all!)
- one of the best lecturers we've ever had giving three seperate reviews this week
- finally knowing what some of my extra sewing machine feet are for!

The weekend is almost over, and it looks like it's going to be a busy week. This is our last week with scheduled reviews and the end is near to my daily trips to campus. (it's 2-3 times a week in June) I am very much looking forward to my trip to Webs and Cummington this coming Fri/Sat and can't wait to get my hands on a drop spindle.

A classmate of mine was married a few weekends ago; she is near and dear to my heart, and kept the whole thing on the down low. I knew that she was planning a small family-centered ceremony, but wasn't sure when the exact date was; I had hoped to have time to make her a wedding shawl, but didn't get the news of the date until the day before it happened! I think it's time I ventured into lace knitting, and I'm hoping to find something that screams "make me into something The Harlot would knit up" for her. (it should actually scream something more like "make me into something The Harlot started doing lacework with" but I'll take what I can get!)

(I'm drawn to a Kiri, and am still captivated with Ann's cotton rendition (see April 2nd) and think that might be just what I'm looking for....)

a (really, really, really) bad picture of the (further along then the last picture) striped sweater! That's all the yarn I have left - will it be enough for two long sleeves? (and can you spot the mistake I choose to leave alone?) If the sun comes out this week I'll try and get a better picture of the actual colors.  Posted by Hello

remember when things were hard?

Earlier this semester, things were hard. I shared part of what I was experiencing because I felt I needed to let people reading along know what was going on in hopes that it’d explain the sporadic knitting posts.

The truth is that at the point of that post I had just gotten news that I had failed components of the cardio system and I needed to take a re-test exam to show that I did know the material. It was a major hit – emotionally and mentally I was exhausted, and the knowledge that all of my studying hadn’t helped me get through an exam was just too much. It was our first system back for the spring term, and I worried that it would set the tone for the rest of my classes; if it could happen once without warning, it could happen again.

I made it through the retest with flying colors, and changed how I was studying and reviewing the material for other systems. Now my second year is (essentially) over, and aside from one grade that we’re all still waiting on, I passed everything.

When I wrote the “hard” post, I got in touch with my own doctor; things weren’t right with me, and I wanted to either know that I would be okay eventually, or that I needed help (in one way or another). My doctor watched as I struggled through my first classes in medical school, and suggested that perhaps it was time for medical intervention when I all but stopped sleeping. Weeks went by where I averaged 3-4 hours of sleep a night, partially because I was so wound up with anxiety that I wasn’t able to calm down, and partially because every time I fell asleep I’d wake myself up again with dreams of being in the gross anatomy lab, usually during an exam.

It took several months and three rounds of different types of medication before I found one that let me sleep and return to functioning as a human. I hated the idea of drugs, and was incredibly disappointed in myself for how I was handling med school. No one told me that it might affect me like this, and there was no way I could ever talk to my classmates about how things were really going – not only was it a sign of weakness, but I thought for sure someone would comment that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for being a doctor.

Over the summer between my first and second years I gradually, with quasi-doctor approval, stopped taking the meds, and on my own returned to feeling like myself. I wanted to start my second year off with a different mindset, in hopes that I’d be able to remain myself and make it through in one piece without disruption in sleep, or emotions.

It took the cardio exam to show me that things just weren’t right again. My sleep was off, and instead of not sleeping I was sleeping all the time – but waking up tired. My anxiety levels were back up, and my own interventions didn’t feel like they were working. I got in touch with my doctor again, and let her know that I needed help; there was no way I was going to get through the rest of the year in the state I was in. As much as I hated how I felt and hated (hated hated hated) the idea of needing drugs to feel human again, I recognized that there was a place for them, and that I couldn’t do it on my own.

Slowly, with a return to meds and knowing that I could step away from it all if I wanted to, things improved. It’s been several months since I felt as awful as I did then, but now, studying for boards, aspects of how I felt after I tanked the test are back. My own anxiety is getting harder and harder to keep at bay. The national boards are a big deal, and not everyone who took them last year passed them. I hope that what I am studying is what will be on the exam, but there’s no way to tell – some years they focus on a few areas, other years those same areas have only one or two questions!

I am okay, and will be okay; the place I’m in now is very different then where I was my first year, or even this January. I am not sharing this for pity, or sympathy, but rather because no one told me that it was a possibility. Early on in our medical training it’s assumed that we are super-human, and that we may never again be the patient; the truth is that I’m human. The good news is that the days I regret deciding to enter med school pass quickly, and I’ve heard that once I’m done with this round of boards (absolute worse case scenario is that I fail the ones in June and have to take and pass the set in October) things lighten up a bit.

I’m still knitting (the body of the striped sweater is done and I'm taking bets on if I'll have enough yarn for two full length sleeves), and happier things will still make it in today – but for now this is where I’m at.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

look! more un-dyed spots! (I think these are the last ones, but it makes 8 (I think?) spots total. My fingers are crossed that this marks the end of my bad luck with brown sheep.... Posted by Hello

how many feet does your sewing machine have?

do you know what these feet are for? I was cleaning off my table (so I could spread all of my books out) and came across the bag of attatchments that came with my sewing machine; I have no idea what they are all for! (the one in the lower right hand corner looks like a regular foot but it's HUGE compared to the one that is on my machine now; I think one must be for a zipper, but which one?) Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005


I'm going to do my best not to wax poetic about how balance is essential to life, but instead am going to try and express my frustration with not being able to find that one key point of balance, when everything evens out and feels as though it's where it should be.

For instance:

it's a thin line between sleeping in and sleeping late and how do I balance that with getting up "early" on my mornings "off?" and how does a midafternoon nap fit into my productive time?

where, in the knitting scheme of things, does what I want to knit fall when compared to things I "should" be knitting, or my charitable knitting?

(at this point I'm working on my striped sweater, but it's hard to make progress when I juggle the needles with highlighters. I made the exeuctive decision last night that my Dulaan knitting is done for this round, and packed up the 10 double thickness hats I made and the two too small for me sweaters to send off. The chemo caps to be are all waiting for their turn on the needles, and I have to finish a yoga mat bag that I auctioned off awhile ago. As much as I enjoy knitting for others, especially others who appreciate it, I've found myself wanting to make progress on my own knitting (but then feel a bit guilty when I'm not working on the charity knitting...))

studying, motivation, memorization, etc: I'm either too relaxed about studying (as in, "I know this!" and will just skim through the material, only to find out that I don't remember everything I learned a year and a half ago) or too worried about what I don't know to focus on what I'm looking at. In order to make it through this stretch with any semblence of sanity I think I need to pull back in, and take stock in what I do know. Somehow I need to find the right balance of studying with learning with long term memory recall and the timing of making sure I cover everything, instead of skipping parts or sacraficing topics for the sake of time.

(I'm working on it, and know that as much as I want a solid answer about how long I need to study micro to get everything down again, such an answer doesn't exist. "Worrying about it is counter-productive" has become a bit of my newest mantra. Boards are a necessary evil, but with any luck they'll be done and over for good in a little over two weeks...)

It's time for me to pull in again - my phone is turned off (and has been for days and days) and I've been leaving my computer turned off for longer stretches of time. We're expecting periods of rain this weekend (fifth weekend in a row for those keeping track) and I'm hoping that with a diminished want to go outside and a few cups of tea I'll feel like I'm back on the right track.

(I think it's helping that I'm going to head down (over?) to Cummington next weekend. MamaCate had offered up her couch/floor, and the chance to talk/play/look at sheep with kids in the under 5 set, and it'll be a nice break from the books! (she also has said that she'll help me figure out what the big deal with spinning is all about, and with any luck I'll get a drop spindle to practice with so that I can have it down in time for the fiber frolic! (the fiber frolic is, ironically, the weekend after my boards...)))

my "big plans" for the weekend...... Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


for those who got here via searches of:
- failed med school class
- average schedule of a med student
- how to get to med school

please feel free to email me.

for those that got here via
- pic of a med student
- good luck knot
- how to start labor
- or the (ever popular) EKG interpertation

I'm sorry I can't help you, but let me know what you find out.

(I'm off to school for a three hour embryo board review class and then it's back here to do more of my own reviewing. To paraphrase Mia, "boards in less then a month, EEK!")

in lieu of a boring "I'm still knitting stripes" post, I bring you pics from a walk in the park....(the best study break I can come up with!)

The duck house is back! It showed up sometime in the last 48 hours.....

almost full bloom

in a sea of yellow tulips,

there was one that had a wisp of red! (..."we're painting the roses red, we're painting the roses red..." ran through my head a few times)

in another part of the park the red tulips were standing tall,

complete with one that was half yellow and half red; it was striking.

my favorite bed of all: the pinks and yellows and peaches and not quite open purple flowers were beautiful. What you can't "see" is that they all moved together like a school of fish when the wind blew, and the smell was sweet but not overpowering.

and around the corner pale pink flowers were getting ready to burst open! I am going to miss not living near the park next year.... Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hypothetically speaking, of course...

if one were to think about the knitting project they wanted to carry around (and work on) during a 24 hour time period (during which one will be away from home and one's yarn stash) it'd be important to make sure that it was enough of a project to keep one busy during the whole time, yet be simple enough to be picked up and put down again. Should this project be a multi-colored striped project, it'd be important that all of the yarn was untangled.

Once the yarn is untangled, it'd be important to make sure that all 7 colors are accounted for and safely packed together so that they will be easy to find, and one would want to double and triple check that, indeed, all seven colors are there.

Once one is sure that all seven are there, one should remember to also pack the sweater itself, as the thus-far completed project and needles do one no good (no matter how many colors of yarn are with one) when they are left on a rocking chair an hours drive away.

(I'll be knitting Dulaan hats tonight/tomorrow and once the whole striped sweater is back together I am not cutting the yarn again until I bind off!)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

is three enough to be addicted?

My newest addiction. They are easy and take about an hour and a half to make (that includes time to make more tea, a trip to the bathroom and me taking my time trying to figure out if I really do want to use that fabric with that one....). The lemon one is for my mom, and has a yellow pocket on the inside.

The middle one was made as a way for me to carry all of my medical "tools" around. The lining? it's a well used and loved scrub shirt that has seen better days. (I'm especially proud of the pocket part of the shirt being on the pocket of this one!) My stethescope tubing is blue, hence the coloring for the bag. The one of the far right is my newest bag for carrying around knitting. (I'm not sure other people would have lined it with blue/green batiked fabric but it works for me!) The pictures aren't great, but I can't figure out how to show the whole finished project... Posted by Hello

happiness is....

- a weekend off: no studying, no school reading, no board reviewing, no deadlines and no place to be other then where I wanted to be.
- one of my best friends making the two hour drive to get here
- liquid sunshine for the fourth weekend in a row (it's not really something I'm overly happy about but I figure if I take the time to appreciate it next weekend maybe we'll see some sun!)
- The SuperEggplant tote bag pattern
- music sung by David Grey, John Hiatt, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, Dar Williams, Nickel Creek, Howie Day and Enya, all perfect for a lazy afternoon

I woke up simply content this morning, and have been holding onto it all day. Katie got here yesterday and we meandered as we saw fit, getting a chance to catch up on what has been going on. We became friends in college, and our friendship was solidified (for life I'm going to assume) when we ran into each other in the Miami, FL airport on our way to the Bahamas to catch up with the rest of our January class. Due to a massive snow storm in the northeast we had each been delayed on our seperate flights, and we re-routed with new flights and travel plans. The whole event deserves more then a few sentences, and now I can laugh about it, but for a short while we both wondered what in the world we were doing. (we were headed to a tiny, tiny island in the middle of nowhere with some of the slowest and latest running planes I've ever travelled on...).

I did consider trying to convince her that we should head over to NHS&W, but before we knew it the afternoon had arrived and we were both in the mood to sit around and knit/watch a movie. I had really wanted to see "What the &%*&$ Do We Know?" and she was willing to watch it too. It was a great movie, and I want to watch parts of it again so I can write down what a few people said. Much like the people I know who saw it and reccomended it to me, I can't put into words what the movie is about, or what the "plot" is. It's about the physics of life and the neuroanatomy of love and how our own experiences fit into the puzzle of it all. I enjoyed it.

(we also decided that we are well on our paths to growing up; we're two single 25 year olds who were in bed by 10:30 last night. By 10ish we were both yawning and contemplating pajamas. We never did break out the alcohol and instead drank clear soda and plenty of tea. This coming from two gals who used to go grocery shopping a midnight on the weekends, simply because we could!)

On the knitting front I was able to get another few "liner" hats done for the Dulaan project. I have two more to make before the ones I've been working on are done, and then I'm going to send the box out! The hats will be joined by two (in good condition store made) sweaters that are made of thick wool and are a bit short on me. They are two of the ones I typically pull out to wear on the coldest days here and it's my hope that they'll fit someone else better on their cold days!

I did get a few additonal stripes done on the striped sweater, but spent just as much time untangling the seven skeins of yarn. I had been pulling the strands through the mess of yarn, but the mess got to be too much and my only option was to cut the colors and spend some time getting everything sorted out. (it didn't help that the center-pull skeins were starting to collapse on themselves!) Now I've got to make balls out of what is left and figure out a way to keep everything seperate before I pick it up again. (I've been eyeing what I have left and really, really, really hope it's enough for a long-sleeved sweater....)

Tomorrow our board review classes start, and I'll hit the ground running again. I'm headed north to my parents neck of the woods tomorrow night to catch up with them and for an acupuncture appointment on Tuesday. I've been seeing an acupuncturist for almost a year (on the reccomendation of my doctor) and it's helped to keep me going. She has taught me a lot about my body and how some aspect of Chinese medicine can be applied; I look forward to the appointments and how I will feel afterwards!

My newest quandry is about heading to Massachusetts - do I go next weekend to the Web's Tent Sale, or do I wait a weekend and go to MAS&W? Decisions, decisions......

Friday, May 13, 2005

....but I play one on tv!

Yesterday and today were full of lectures and practice rotations and today we had both a written and practical exam. The days were long (partially due to being in a windowless conference center) but now I'm certified to run a code (think "code blue") and should be able to follow the prescribed steps to bring a person back to life. All of this week's classes have been like an episode out of ER, or Grey's Anatomy or (it's a reach but perhaps?) Scrubs. I can tie knots with suture material; I can stitch someone up; I can bring a person out of a life-threatening heart beat pattern. This is the stuff that we've all been waiting for.

Most of my classmates had plans to hit the bars tonight and I had a few invitations but instead chose to come home and change back into pajamas and pick up my apartment. I got my sewing machine out and have been making SuperEggplant tote bags, and hope to stay awake long enough to knit more of my striped sweater during Numb3rs tonight. (I want to try and get a few truer to life pictures of the sweater; people who saw it on Wednesday remarked that it looked much nicer in person, and I accepted the challenge of trying to get a better picture of the colors!) I still haven't heard back from Brown Sheep, and this week I found three additional undyed sections. I know the spots aren't the norm, and the other skeins are fine, but it's still frustrating to happen upon a white splotch in the purple yarn!)

I was on the fence about going to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival; I really want to go, but it's a drive to and from and I don't want to be stuck in traffic again. I called a good friend of mine (one of my closest friends from college, and the one who now keeps a stuffed cow in her lab) and she might be in town this weekend. If she comes through then we'll eat good food, drink a few margaritas and knit. If she isn't able to get here then I'll probably hit the road with a course drawn to Concord, NH - either way I'm expecting to have a great (study-free for the last time until boards) weekend. :-)

(if I owe you an email, please hold on - I'll get around to getting back to you this weekend!)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Velveteen Hare(lot)

I’ve been trying to come up with additional words to describe what I took away from the bookbookbook reading last night, and everything I come up with doesn’t seem to fit. There have only been a few other times when I’ve had the pleasure of being in a group of people who knit, and each time I leave the experience thinking about how great it was, and how addictive it could be. I knit for myself, but it’s nice to be surrounded by people who “get it.”

One of my all time favorite stories is that of the Velveteen Rabbit. The boy in the nursery loves and plays with the rabbit, and as a result he looses some fur, his stuffing begins to pop through and he shows wear and tear from the adventures. When he is discovered by the “real” rabbits he feels inadequate, and as a result wants to become real.

This is a quote from “Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” that is written by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and it beautifully sums up the message of becoming real:

“…In order for toys to become Real, they must be loved by a child. In order for us to become Real, we must become lovers of real life in all its complexity and uncertainty. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, we long to become Real, to know what authenticity feels like. Sometimes this hurts. The thought of loosing our whiskers and having our tail come unsewn is frightening. In a world that judges by appearances, it’s embarrassing having all the pink rubbed off your nose. The Velveteen Rabbit isn’t alone in wishing to become Real without any uncomfortable or unpleasant things happening.
One of the ways that we become Real without too much discomfort is by growing gradually into our authenticity. As you learn to acknowledge, accept, and appreciate what it is that makes you different from all the other toys in the cupboard, the process begins. As you learn to trust the wisdom of your heart and make creative choices based on what you know is right for you, process becomes progress. …You become not only Real to those who know and love you, but Real to everyone. You become authentic.” (copyright 1995)

With that in mind, last night I saw a glimpse of authenticity. Stephanie spoke from her soul, and though most of what she said had me laughing out loud, it was also profound in a way that someone who knits can appreciate. She spoke of how she is using the “promote the book” tour as a way to meet knitters, and how much fun it is. People who knit aren’t always able to say why they do it, and unlike some things that people do, we aren’t forcing ourselves to knit.

When she spoke of using the work “knitting” as an adjective it fit! She is knitting, as were many people there last night. (I am a firm believer that almost any work can be used to describe something and in our family I call it “verbing.” It started when things like being “squirreled” happened when I woke up and saw that a squirrel and come in through my open window and was stuck in my room. Thus I also like the idea of “adjectiving” and will try and use “knitting” again in the future.)

I’m grateful to the members of the knitting community; I can accept those who use fibers I’d rather not use, and those who are product knitters and process knitters. We’re a diverse group, and I’ve learned a lot from you.

(if Stephanie aka The Harlot is going to be anywhere near you I recommend taking the trip to see her; she is downright hilarious, and it’s truly a “real” experience.)

(the acls class today was brutal and I know have to go review a million algorithms so I can recall them without thinking tomorrow when I'm grilled by the testers. I know that reviving people is improtant, but my motivation is missing in action......)

an adventure

She was wonderful; funny and sincere, a bit motherly and willing to see the hilarous side of parenthood and everything everyone else has said she is.

My knitting and she who is the Yarn Harlot in the same picture. (that's the same sweater that hasn't seen much progress lately because I keep working on other things.I hope to do some serious striping this weekend!) The adventure part? I left Willows around 9, thinking I'd be home by 11:30. At 10:30 last night I was sitting at a gas station in Massachuttes waiting for Kennedy's engine to cool down. It took almost an hour to go a few miles in bumper to bumper stopped traffic due to a car accident that had happened earlier. I crossed that Mass border at 11:30, and was home and in bed by 1:30. Would I do it all again? Yup, you bet!! (it was also worth it to travel and meet Laurie and Mia (who I wish I'd gotten more of a chance to talk to!) and Theresa and Danielle!) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

My second year is (essentially) OVER!!!

The test this morning was all of 24 questions long, and the two people who always finish first got a round of applause from the rest of us when they stood up to hand in their exams. (it appears they were racing and one finished a mere three seconds before the other - they have been the first out of every exam we've had in the past two years and always do fairly well on them...) We were warned that the danger of this exam was the whiplash students faced as they jumped up to hand the exam in and run out of the room; the whole thing took me just under 9 minutes to finish and I was glad to be done.

I'd love to say that this year is really and truely over, but that isn't exactly the case. We have two full days of advanced cardio life support training tomorrow and that "test" is on Friday. There are hours and hours of board review courses being taught by our professors, and the boards are June 7/8th. Then we have one last case-based "course" that will challenge us to think like real doctors; ie how to write orders, prescriptions, discharge notes, etc., and will review how to read x-rays and mri/ct scans. It's only 9 hours long and is spread out over a few weeks so most of us aren't counting it as a class. I also have one last "standardized patient" exam with 8 patients; we have the usual 14 minutes with each one, then 10 minutes to do the "after exercise" (writing things out, or summerizing what we saw with the patient). The difference this time is that we aren't allowed any feedback from the patients and though we're videotaped we won't be watching them. It's a four hour long exercise and shouldn't be too, too hard.

Now I've got to gather a few things together and then I'm hitting the road with a course that is due South: the Harlot speaks at 7pm, and I will be there. My nervousness to meet up with people had disapated and I'm excited - though I warn you all I look like something the cat dragged in...

hand knit socks on? check.
camera, with charged batteries? check.
striped sweater to work on? check.
map of how to get to where I'm going? check.
shopping list for Trader Joes? check.
the bookbookbook? check.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

(International) Mail Call!

some days, my mailbox is empty; other days? things from other countries arrive! The sock yarn arrived today from the UK, looking as good as it did when I saw it for the first time. I can't wait to get started on a pair of sock for myself! And, thanks to J. from the other side of the world (see Adventures in Asia) I know have a chibi! She was kind enough to send me two of them, and threw in some stitch makers she made as well! One of them is a cow and the other is a tiger, and both will be in use soon! Posted by Hello

Knot Tying

Today was a short day, with only 2 one hour workshops on our schedule. I was in the 8-10 group, and throughout the morning heard (over and over again) that I looked like I'd just rolled out of bed. The truth wasn't that far off, as I'd actually spent more time in my car getting to class then I had been awake in my own apartment...

My first hour was spent learning how to tie knots. It seems that the medical community has a habit of taking a fairly easy, straight-forward concept and making it ten times more difficult then it should be. I remember having to practice getting my shoelaces in the right place at the right time, and this had the same sort of feel to it. I'm pretty good at being able to watch someone demonstrate it once and then fumble through it on my own, but today my hands and eyes weren't coordinated and I did much better if I had a flow instead of having to stop and work out each step. (here is a picture/video clip of what we were doing; they show the basic square knot but then go on to add all sorts of twisting and wrist flips!) I'm glad have plenty of time to practice before I'm out on the wards.

The second hour was used to teach us how to suture. I had visions of sewing apples or bananas up, but we used "life-like" arms (as life-like as plastic skin with lots tiny little holes from other people's "practice" and bright red foam that would "bleed" (or simply fell apart, as the case may be).) I grew up using a needle and thread, but this was unlike any other sewing I've ever done. The needle is curved, much like a sliver of the moon is, and it was hard for me to manage getting it through and back out at the right spots. After many practice rounds I feel okay with the technique, but worry that I'm going to leave people with crazily shaped scars. I hope they have plenty of long-lasting anesthetic on board too, as it might take me a looong time to get to the end of the wound.... (in the hour long lab I managed 6 stitches without mistakes!)

Today was a glimpse into what the doctor's on TV do, and what people expect that I've already learned how to do. Most think med school teaches you had how to use the fun tools, and how to interview patients without realizing that the majority of my time thus far has been spent in the classroom learning about various disease processes. All of it is important, but things like knot tying and suturing are MUCH more fun.

(knitting: I started and finished another chemo cap yesterday and got another "liner" hat done for the Dulaan project. I skipped out of the last few hours of lecture yesterday to come home and sleep, and the rest of my evening was spent in a post-test daze. Today I hope to work on my striped sweater and need to get some laundry done. (otherwise I'll either being wearing scrub pants or a toga made out of clean sheets tomorrow, and neither is a great way to meet people at the Harlot's shindig...)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

happiness is....

- Annie's mac and cheese (with the rabbit of approval!)
- hot tea with fresh lemon
- knowing that this week I'll get a chance to meet both the Harlot and a few medical types who knit (note to self: in order to avoid being stuck with only scrubs to wear, do laundry before Wednesday.) (AND there is a Trader Joe's near by so I'll be able to stock up on good food!)
- quality, not quantity
- looking forward to reading everyone's stories from MS&W
- Regia Sock yarn on it's way here from overseas
- tomorrow's exam being the last major one before boards; and after it's over (tomorrow morning) I'll be able to knit myself into a dazed stupor during the rest of the day's classes.

There is an on-going debate amongst my classmates about if a Friday exam is better or worse then a Monday exam; and how both compare with a middle of the week exam. Some insist that they need the weekend before a test to study, and thus a Monday exam is better; some say that a Monday exam makes the week drag on, as they never feel like they get a break and therefore a Friday exam is better. The one thing we're all in agreement about is that two midweek exams followed by a major Friday exam followed up by a HUGE Monday exam is the worst case scenario. It's a scenario that we're all in the homestretch of right now, and we'll be glad when it's over. I need to do exceptionally well on tomorrow's exam in order to boost my overall pharm grade, and as far as I'm concerned the evening is young. (right now I'm in okay shape as far as the material goes, but I'm not giving up yet!)

All of the pharm studying cut into my knitting time. I tried to work on the striped sweater but I'm worried that my tension will be off, so I put it aside. I started a chemo cap using the LB boucle, but it's tough yarn to work with when I'm not looking, so it got cast aside as well. My last study break was used to pull out the Dulaan hats and the microfleece I have to see what it'd take to line the hats. It's do-able, but looked to be a lot of work either by hand or with my sewing machine. I think I'll line a few of them, but my solution for most of them was to combine them, and sew/seam two hats together. They are toasty warm this way, and I feel better about sending fewer yet warmer hats then many that will need to be layered. (It's also easier for me to knit new "liners" at school then it would be to hand-sew the fleece in with thread and a needle.)

The comments after the "help!" post were helpful, and I emailed both companies mentioned with my own committment to buy the yarn from whichever company got back to me first. The UK company was first, and it wasn't until much later that I realized the time zone difference probably worked for them.... I am looking forward to getting the yarn and finishing up the other socks I've started (for other people) so I can begin a pair for me!

I am looking forward to this Wednesday evening, though I'll admit that I'm a bit nervous to meet up with people that I've met via the virtual knitting community. Laurie is planning on being there, and Mia thought she might be able to zip over. Another knitting med student or two may come up too, and I do think it'll be fun to meet people in person. I had a blast with the Boston Knitters (at the afghan sew-up) and have to remember that my "was this really a good idea?" nerves will fizzle as soon as I see other people knitting in public. :-)

(now if only Lorette , Kristin, Alice and Anne-Caroline were closer.........)

MOM is WOW upside down...

(poor lighting because it's been raining!!!) Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 07, 2005

love at first sight (?)

Stripey bscf sweater, I'd like you to meet the pharm book. Pharm book, I'd like to introduce you to the brown sheep cotton sweater and a potential chemo cap. You'll all be spending a lot of time together this weekend..... Posted by Hello

why I (love to) knit.

(note: I've been trying to put this into words for awhile now; this is the best I can do this morning, and I may return to this thought in the future. I warn you that it might not be your cup of tea.....)

Through knitting in class, I’ve remembered what it’s like to divide my attention.

I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to explain it, but all I can do is share my experiences in hopes that they’ll make sense. The background info that I’ve tried (many times) to incorporate into this just doesn’t fit, but I will say that now that I using all of the tracks/channels/streams of thought in my mind (again), I’m a much happier person.

An exercise to divide one’s attention: pick a piece of music that you are familiar with, and know the “in’s and out’s.” It works best if it’s an instrumental piece, and something with many types of musical instruments. I keep a variety of cd’s in my car and the one I fall back on is Heartland; it’s a collection of “fiddle” music and has a variety of styles of music on it. (I linked it so you could listen to the type of music I’m talking about.) The first thing I do is listen to the first few moments of a song and take the whole piece in. I listen to what the strongest section is, and allow myself to hear just the “biggest” or “strongest” part. Then I allow myself to acknowledge it, and let it “fall away” from my attention. What I was just focusing on is still there, but I shift my focus to another instrument, or another section of the piece. I try and pick out one single “line” of notes, and once I’ve “got” it, see if I can broaden my attention to the whole piece again. When I have the whole piece again I see if I can listen for the aspect I was just focusing in on, and if I can listen to how the smaller section plays a larger role in the entire song. Initially it was hard for me to effortlessly move between instruments or sections of a piece of music, but with “practice” (I use that term only because I can’t think of a better word to use!) it became easier and almost second nature for me to “float” through a musical piece.

Another exercise is thinking about how a mom of young kids can keep track of everything going on in a busy situation; I’ve witnessed moms pull together multiple kids and dogs and hats and coats and snacks and phone calls and stuffed animals all the while keeping up in a conversation with me. I asked one how she learned how to do it, and she said she couldn’t ever remember not doing it. If I think back to situations I’d been in like that, I had to agree; I was able to get several kids of varying ages out of the house on time with several unforeseen events along the way.

Using intention to shift my attention is one of the things knitting in class has re-taught me how to do. While in college I was able to sit in class and simply absorb all of the information that was being thrown at me; my scribbles of notes would help me remember key points, but in general I felt like I got it all when I left a lecture. After the car accident it was as though my thought process has become dull, and my memory wasn’t working. Now I know that it was because I was in “survival” mode, and was doing all I could to just get through whatever was going on (I returned to college to get through the last few months so I could graduate; I made it through the medical school admissions process so I could get to med school). Instead of using all of the different levels of my attention, I was “stuck” in one train of thought. It’s been three years, and it’s only been in the past few months that I’ve been able to put together how I used to think.

Knitting in class started as a coping skill during my first year of medical school, though I didn’t know that at the time. I picked up the needles again because I was spending an awful lot of time in lectures, and I was sure I could be more productive with my time. (I was also a broke grad student who figured I could knit everyone a scarf for Christmas that year!) Eventually I knit so that I could figuratively step back from the lecture and focus on what was going on with my needles. It offered me a break from situations I was unhappy being in (hours and hours of lectures), and gave me a “way out” in my mind’s eye. I also found that I could keep up with the lecture and take notes as needed without thinking about what my hands were doing; they could knit and purl and turn my work by themselves.

This year I had the opportunity to work with a few different clinicians during one of my classes. Almost all who saw me knitting commented that they wish they’d had something “like that” to do while they were in class, and a few said that learning how to do more then one thing at a time now would be helpful for me when I was seeing patients. I pushed them to see what they really meant, and one person likened it to listening to a stethoscope on someone’s chest and hearing not only the heartbeat but also the patient’s breathing, and the sounds of their lunch digesting. Some people will put the stethoscope on to listen to only the heartbeat and they’re missing out on all the other information.

This made sense to me and in the past few months I’ve used my intention to shift my attention in many situations. Med school can lead people to think on one track, and for most that is perfectly acceptable. I spoke with musically gifted doctor who said that it wasn’t until she finished school that the ever present “song in her head” returned. It bothered her more to know that she hadn’t noticed it missing then it did that it wasn’t there! Like that doctor I’d come to think that this was how it was “supposed” to be. Now I’ve found that by using more then “one track” I’m better able to remember the information I read/see/write and hear, and in general the material is clearer. After the accident I complained that it was as though my brain and memory had taken off, and “gone’ somewhere. I’m happy to say that it’s back.

The problem with having my mind working together in a million different ways is that it can be hard to settle it down. Again, I turn to my knitting. Trying to focus on just the stitches between my fingers instead of worrying about what I need to be doing and where I need to be is another exercise I try and practice. Some may argue that it’s not meditation, but it’s the closest I can come up with to quieting my mind, and for now it’s sometimes what I need to do before I go to bed.

I am so glad I picked up my knitting needles last year.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

an 05/05/05 study-break

I have a (big system exam final) test tomorrow, and this is my "official" (school issued) schedule for next week. I was going to meet up with Julia (of Moth Heaven fame) on Friday the 13th when the Elegant Ewe hosts The Yarn Harlot (of, well, Yarn Harlot fame) until I got my "latest" schedule. It seems the school has other plans for my Friday, and instead of sitting in a yarn shop with my knitting, I'll be attempting to bring "realistic" plastic patients back to life. (acls = advanced cardio life support) After careful consideration and many minutes staring at the Harlot on Tour webpage, and a few emails sent out (to see which shops really are closest to me (speaking of which the customer service at Kalidescope Yarns is amazing! I emailed to see how long it'd take me to get there and got a personalized email complete with "it's a bit far to get here, but she's going to be at places closer to you, such as the Elegant Ewe." I want to order something from them just so I can experience more of the great customer service!)) I'm going to be at the bookstore in Acton, MA next Wednesday. I added it to my schedule, and then, so I wouldn't forget, highlighted it (tests are blue, boards are green and exciting things are yellow). I can't think of a better way to end my semester, and (essentially) my second year of medical school. Posted by Hello