Monday, January 30, 2012

Lights Out, Eyes Open

Talk about weird.  It was just recently the yarzheits of my parents (they passed away almost exactly a year apart) and I decided it was only right to visit their graves.  They're physically much closer now to me than when they were alive - just 20 minutes away verses a hour by car.

The bad thing is, every time I visit them, I cry like crazy.  Boxes of tissues crazy.  Not surprisingly, all that emotion gives me a migraine.

Which means my day is over.  It's like all the electrical circuits in my brain fry out and I'm left only with the ability to lay down and close my eyes.  In a very strange way, it makes me feel calmer than ever.  I think it's because I'm grateful for what I can do (move my fingers) instead of what I should be doing.

Granted, we all need a little down time sometimes, but this is ridiculous.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Full Day

It's raining in the Southland (aka, Los Angeles), and once again, the freeway has morphed into a parking lot.  So when I set out for class this morning, after making a quick detour to a friend's house and freaking out when my van's engine stalled, it was with much trepidation that I entered the 101 freeway going south.  Since I could see no movement, I wasn't sure how I would merge in.

I was also driving our family van, which is 16 years old, older, in fact, than half of my children.  The transmission has been doing this kinda funny thing where it jumps out of gear, like, suddenly.  So with the bumper to bumper traffic and the tranny swift, I was practically in tears on my way to school.

I made it in time for class, which was a miracle.  The guest speaker was a bit of a blow-hard, so impressed with her own accomplishments that she sounded like her own best friend, which she probably is.  Afterwards, my dear friend and I filed for graduation, hoping to write and finish my thesis and have it accepted by June, 2012.

Next up, my registered dietitian exam study group got together to, um, study, and somehow ended up talking about epidurals and inducing labor.  We all promised to stay more focused next week.

Fear, mixed with even more fear was the ruling emotion on the drive to perform carpool duties.  Made it to the girls' school, so I guess my van's number is not quite up yet (may it live to 120!).  Got home, sat down to spicy meat stew and freshly baked bread, and started to organize my day tomorrow.  My preceptor called to invite me to a meeting, but unfortunately, my day is booked.

Not sure how I could have added more to this day, other than to say, G-d was with me every minute of my stay in that van.  Yes, I cried.  Yes, I refused to listen to music for fear of missing the absence of engine noise.  But that van made me proud.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

Last night, I was all worked up about having to make a company soup on my own time. A dear friend text me after she read the post and told me, essentially, to suck it up.  The real world isn't fair, and it's high time I got the big picture.  Of course, she didn't say it quite like that, but this dear friend has a way of making sense out of disorder, which was my brain last night.

You know what?  The food presentation was a rousing success, even among those people in the audience who didn't speak English.  I was ecstatic, and so was my preceptor.  We had a great day together, walked to and shopped in, the 99-cent store, and schmoozed the day away.

My dear friend was right.  The real world may not be fair, but it's certainly a place for people who work hard and care about what they do.  It takes this friend to ground me, which she does with great ease.

Thank you dear one.  You and I both know who you are.  You are truly a gift.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Down Home Cooking

I pride myself on few things, none of which have anything to do with cooking.  So when my preceptor asked me to put on a cooking demonstration, I thought, well, how hard could that be?

I haven't even gotten to the demonstration part and it's already hard.  I thought I would be smart and make the dish before hand - Vegetarian Tortilla Soup.  I threw it together on Monday and really liked it.  It's the perfect thing for someone with few cooking skills to make.  Basically, you BUY vegetable broth and add stuff to it.  Then boil it.

Today, my preceptor mentioned in passing that I would have to make the soup tonight and bring it tomorrow, along with my crock pot and the ingredients to display for the cooking class.  Excuse me?  After a long, hard day of trying to figure out what the heck she's talking about in general, now I have to make a soup and schlep it to the site of the cooking class?!

I hope you can imagine my excitement at this turn of events.  Yes, I smiled.  Yes, I told her how I'll have to bring all the other utensils since I keep kosher.  And yes I wanted to go into the hallway and scream.

I'm on site at 8:30 am and leave about 4:45 pm.  I think my day is done when I get home and eat dinner.  I should be able to relax, read a book, surf the web, work on my thesis.  You know, chill out.

Okay, three more weeks.  Three more weeks and I get a little down time.  Not that I want to take it easy, but I would like to set up boundaries between my life and my internship.

Alright, I feel better now.  Can't wait until tomorrow!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Walking the Walk

Friday afternoon, I gave a lecture to clients of the clinic where I am interning on the subject of diabetes.  There were about 14 people present, none of which had diabetes, but this was a mandatory class for those people who wanted to continue receiving food benefits.

I love speaking to people, but always have a rough time starting off presentations.  I should just start with a joke.  But the audience was wonderful and participated fully in the discussion.  But I think what meant most to them was when I told them about myself.

I think it's natural for people to want to hear about someone else's trials and tribulations.  So I told them about how for the first time ever, I scored "pre-diabetic" on my fasting glucose test.  How I went to my doctor and cried to her about my score, and how she upbraided me about that.  (I mean seriously, I know what to do.)

Therefore, I now exercise 30 minutes a day 5x a week, and am now counting my carbohydrate intake at each meal.  I told them how I do it, and then we discussed how truly, everyone should do it.

When it was all over and everyone said goodbye, the comments that stood out most in my mind are the acknowledgement I got for "walking the walk."  I just have to work on talking the talk.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Little Kindness

On the way to my internship site this morning, I was witness to, and even reluctantly participated in, two acts of kindness.  Both involved my bus trip south on La Brea Avenue.  

First, I waited for the bus wearing my backpack, my purse, my lunch box, holding onto a book of Tehillim and my coffee mug.  Slight overkill.  So when the old lady with two suitcases approached I really didn't pay  much attention to her until the bus came.  

A very nice woman offered to help her carry one of her bags into the bus after the driver refused to lower the handicap ramp for her to roll them on herself.  I admit, I was kinda in a rush and this lady was taking her sweet time with the other suitcase so I grabbed it with my one free hand (I had the coffee mug and the Tehillim in one hand now) and dragged it up the stairs.  

Oy vey.  I looked at the driver and told him the thing was full of rocks.  I then sat down.  The old lady didn't have the right amount of money for the bus which meant her trip was gonna be a short one.  The next stop she was off, with the same sweet woman helping her take her cases off.  

I'm not proud of ignoring her, but her stuff was heavy and I was overburdened already.  But the kindness doesn't end there.  A few stops later, another old lady got on the bus with plastic bags, and another woman jumped up to help her with them.

I was amazed.  I announced to both women how wonderful it was to ride a bus with such kind people.  One of the women answered that one day we'll be old too, and it would be nice to know someone would help us.  

How true.  What a wonderful way to start the day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Learning Something New

After I took my DTR exam, I was off to work at another internship site.  I was not very happy about having to work on Friday, and was nervous about getting home time for Shabbat candle lighting.

Usually the first day of the internship is orientation - you get to learn about what you'll be doing, what they expect from you, and you can begin to settle in.  My first day actually was Aseres B'Teves, or last Thursday at another site, so I was completely confused and exhausted.

So I listened with half an ear and tried to breathe, when I began the tour of the facilities.  APLA, or AIDS Project Los Angeles, serves an HIV clientele for nutrition, medical and psychological needs.  One thing I will be doing is nutritional screening of patients, so it was important that I see it done.

The volunteer I was supposed to watch was late, so my preceptor went looking for her appointment sitting in the waiting room.  He was there, but so was another man.  He stopped my preceptor and complained that his email wasn't being accepted, and he felt the email system had been hacked.  He than listed out everyone he had spoken to about the matter and felt that his issues had not been addressed.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who would have blown this guy off, but my preceptor was not.  She listened to him, even thought this wasn't her area of expertise nor her problem.  She then asked him to write down on a piece of paper how he would like this issue resolved.  What resolution was he looking for?  My preceptor would then take the paper, make copies and send it to the appropriate people.

The change that came over this client was amazing.  He felt so empowered, and so respected.  And me, well, I learned a lot in those 10 minutes.  Respect goes a long way, and everyone needs that.

Even though I didn't want to be there, I was in exactly the right place and where I needed to be Friday afternoon.  Humbling, indeed.

Taking The Test

Friday morning was the time set for my DTR exam - Diet Tech Registered.  I signed up for this exam last May, thinking that when I passed, I could get a job in a hospital.  But things didn't really work out that way.

In terms of taking the exam then, that is.  It took seven months before I could decide on a date to take it.  I took the practice exam, and it didn't seem that terribly difficult.  I studied a little, and then showed up bright and early Friday morning at the test site.

What I should have realized before is that after the first of the year, everything changes.  There's new laws, new  requirements, and new testing taking procedures.  Took bad the test givers didn't know about the latter.

Schedule for 9 am, it was already 10 am before the test giver started to throw in the towel.  They could not load the test.  I was offered the option of rescheduling, which I refused.  Sorry, my life, or time, is not my own these days.  I just can't reschedule like I'm a stay-at-home mom with live-in help.  I was adamant.

By 10:30 am, they had figured out a way to load the test, and away I went.  Oh my gosh, this test was 10x harder than the practice exam.  I was like sweating, my face was flushed, I thought I would gonna faint.  No food or drink was allowed, so I did the next best thing: I took off my shoes and tried to settle in.

Long story short: Passing grade was 25, and I got a 26.  Not too proud that I passed by the skin of my teeth, but relieved nevertheless.  The DTR exam is a mini Registered Dietitian exam, which I will be facing this summer.

Oh boy - I've got a stomach ache already.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting the Message Loud And Clear

Despite the fact that the academic quarter doesn't  begin until next week, my preceptor-to-be insisted that I meet her for training today.  I can't say I was happy about that - today is a fast day, Aseres B'Teves, commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians that ended with the destruction of the 1st Jewish Temple.

For Jews, the siege is taking place right now, even if it really happened 2500 years ago.  We live our history daily, happy or sad.

So I got on the bus, switched to the train and showed up for "work" just before the appointed hour.  But guess who wasn't there?

That's right - my preceptor-to-be.  She was sick and couldn't get to work today.  She gave me permission to stay half day.  I helped with the food distribution and loved it, and the staff sent me home at noon.

I did not want to be there, and G-d heard me.  If my preceptor had shown up, it would have meant a full day, which I was not physically or mentally prepared for.  Fasting really messes me up.

When I got home, I checked that all the kids were okay (fast day means half day at school) and literally fell into bed.  I slept nearly 3 hours, and woke up refreshed and ready to eat.  Which I will do soon.

Thank you G-d, for making a really weird day workable.  I can tell I still have issues to iron out with the preceptor (Friday is a big day for them, a really short day for me), but since I take everything as a sign, I'm sure these issues will work out just fine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Being Back In The Swing of Things

I'm not exactly a control freak, but I do like to know how things turn out in advance, which is why I read the end of books.  The other day my friend started to tell me about a new movie she saw and stopped short of giving me details.  I looked at her and told her not to worry - I'll watch it knowing exactly what happens anyway.

So I took the time yesterday to case my new internship site in order to know where I'm going tomorrow.  That meant getting the bus schedule, taking the bus, walking from the stop to the site and back again.  Felt good.

Friday morning I need to take a test at Los Angeles Trade Tech, a vocational college which happens to the the site of the test-giver.  I stopped by there as well to see where the room is I need to be in by 8:45 am in the morning.  That felt good too.

Now here I am, back on CSULA campus, in my little cubicle, relaxing.  I need to go find some articles I requested from inter library loan but was refused because they are on-site.  Got my change ready, finished my Starbucks coffee, and just about ready for action.

I know I can't control the world, but it's good to control what I can.  The rest is in G-d's capable hands.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Trusting Myself

A dear friend and I went to the matinee today to see Sherlock Holmes 2.  We planned to meet early, and when we did, found that the box office wasn't open yet, which meant we could run a few errands.  While my friend ran off to the bank, I volunteered to get us coffee at Starbucks.

When it came to be my turn, I stared hard at the young man taking my order.  He looked very familiar and I'm good with faces.  So I took off my sunglasses and looked right at him.  He took my order, and then mentioned that I looked familiar.

"Yes, Dan," I cried, "it's me, Nana, from Econ 150."  I told him that I was seeing the movie with another classmate of ours, and when she came back from the bank, it was a fun reunion.

She was impressed that I remembered him.  That's because I make it my business to interact with the other students, and this class was headed up by Dr. Kim, who was a real character.  We had a fair share of military veterans in the class, including Dan, who sported a mohawk dyed purple.  He's still a theater arts and graphic illustrator major, and appears far more conservative now than I remember him.

But remember him I did.  Good to see old classmates every now and then, especially so close to home.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

To all my dearest friends and family, to the world as large.  Happy New Year.  May it filled with peace, love, understanding, good deeds, positive energy and happiness.  Sending much love to everyone.  The  year 2012 is gonna rock, in all things good and right.  Moshiach Now!!!