i apologize for the four-month hiatus. actually, i had to count the months between april and july several times on my fingers before writing that, because i can’t believe it’s only been four months since my last post. this week alone has been nuts. at times exciting, stressful, entertaining, and tragic. let’s take inventory:

50 annual gynecologic exams performed
25 postpartum and progress notes written
4 babies delivered vaginally – including a set of twins whose mother is my new childbirthing hero
3 C-sections scrubbed in on

2 friends who lost their fathers this week – blair and emily
3 hours fulfilling our college tradition of bowling after the viewing
Hundreds of prayers for both of them and their families

16 inches of silky straight hair cut off my boyfriend’s head
15 times i’ve told him i love his new tousled-on-top, short-on-the-sides, adorable look 
3 hours spent perusing engagement rings together
2 emphatic statements to the effect that, while i do want to go ring-shopping with him a few times so we both know what styles i like, i still want to be surprised!

12 hours spent drilling the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems at Sheetz, my new fave study spot
10 new pens (and 4 highlighters) bought for the express purpose of studying for boards
6 hours i’ve planned to use for studying and instead spent reading my new favourite blogs
(and– eek! 25 days ’til i take that Test of Tests and earn my PA-C!)

not to mention the important strides that have been taken towards my goal of Moving To Altoona And Actually Being Able to Buy Things:

1 internal medicine doctor who’s talking to his partners about hiring me
1 dermatologist who called yesterday to set up an interview (if they deal with medical derm conditions, I’m in; if it’s mostly cosmetic procedures, not so much)
1 set of keys to my new adorable apartment which-i-love
1 hour spent researching the checking/savings plans offered by different banks, because apparently PNC doesn’t exist out here (and in some ways the best thing would be to start banking with Nick’s bank because then it would be easier to set up joint accounts!! but they’re not open on the weekends and don’t have many options when it comes to saving plans and don’t offer online bill-pay and poop. maybe i can convince him to switch!!)

time to stop tabulating the week’s events and get ready for the next one — Nick’s cousin’s wedding. also i have about 3 loads of laundry to do and ought to get started on the ins and outs of the gastrointestinal system (har har har).

when will it be my turn?

today i started my OB/GYN rotation at a cozy little office about fifteen miles south of here. i was a bit nervous going into it because there is so much to know and so little i’ve retained (or learned in the first place!) from our three-week module last year. suffice it to say, the doctor’s fantastic, the office girls are hilarious, and i can’t wait for tomorrow.

the highlight was seeing three prenatal ultrasounds (one at 11 weeks, the second at 22 weeks, and the third at 24). and it was the 11-weeker’s first time onscreen… so amazing to see the mom’s face. i just stood there with a huge smile for all three. well, actually, the playful 24-weeker was so adorable that i had to comment on his vigorous kicks and untiring efforts to get his thumb in his mouth.

tonight, of course, i recounted my rapture to the ever-patient Nick. “so,” he said, “does this make you want to have a baby?”

it was pretty much a rhetorical question. i melt at the sight of one-year-olds and can barely contain my delight in newborns. their smell… that downy spot at the nape of their neck… their grave, wide eyes… their wrinkles and rolls… their round bellies. and those tiny squirming miracles in utero? i could watch them all day.

this is going to be a fabulous six weeks.

do you need a little more Jesus in your life? be you Reformed or Roman Catholic, you’ll find it in the hour-long devotion known as the Stations of the Cross. my church has it every Friday during Lent, and i’m sure you could find a church nearby that offers it as well. the meditations on Christ’s Passion are interspersed with Old Testament passages that prefigure each step of His path to Calvary, and followed by prayers of contrition and worship. to be immersed in His suffering settles a longstanding quibble i used to have with the Easter season. until this year, i would wait ’til Holy Week arrived to think about the most pivotal point in church history, and then would half-heartedly try to meditate on it to gear myself up for the “surprise!” and joy on Easter morning. it makes so much sense to me to fully embrace His passion for the entire Lenten season — to redecorate the church in purple, redo our weekly menu, redefine ourselves in relationship to His holiness and love. and as a whole community, we die to self more consciously and deliberately. not to say that we aren’t to practice sacrificial love and self-denial year-round, but it’s a good (and often necessary) kick in the pants.

reading for the third station (Jesus falls the first time under the cross):

Our Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself to the point of death, even to death on the Cross. That is why God exalted him above every creature, and gave him a name that is above all other names. Come, let us adore and bow down in worship before God; let us weep in the presence of the Lord who made us, for he is indeed the Lord our God.

prayer:

Almighty God and Father, we confess that we are weak and that we often fail in the midst of trials and sufferings. Through the merits of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, your only begotten Son, give us new courage and hope. This we ask in Jesus’ Name, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

reading for the tenth station (Jesus is stripped of His garments):

They came to the place that is called Golgotha, or Calvary, the Place of the Skull. There they gave him wine to drink, mingled with gall. He tasted it, but would not drink. They divided his garments among them by drawing lots, and thus was fulfilled what the prophet had said: They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.

prayer:

Strip us, Lord Jesus, of our former self, with its evil deeds and ways. And clothe us with that newness of nature, which you have created in justice, holiness, and truth. This we ask of you now living and reigning forever. Amen.

that was Friday. this is Sunday, and it found me sitting with my eyes closed in Heinz Chapel listening to the Compline Choir sing Palestrina’s Super Fluminia Babylonis. i think only the most cold-hearted listener could sit through an entire Palestrina masterpiece with eyes open. when i was younger, i used to describe things as “beautache” when they were so beautiful they hurt. Palestrina is the pinnacle of beautache. i’d like to meet the man behind the piercingly perfect melodies and complex counterpoints. my sneaking suspicion is that he was the hilarious life of the party among friends, and then retreated to his room at night to pen his haunting pieces in secret.

 

why i keep “home” on speed-dial

technically, kelli’s the one i called. but since she was walking through the door when she answered the phone, i got kelli plus kira plus krista plus james plus mom. throw in dad and john, and you’ve got Home. a very handy thing to have at the press of a button.

this was how the conversation went.

Kelli: “Hello!”
Me: “Hi!”
Kira’s voice in the background: “Helllooooo!”
[discussion about how Kelli soundly trounced her finals and is bringing friendship bread starter home for Mom, and how I just got back from a pharmaceutical rep dinner with Dr. Lindenbaum during which he breezily introduced me to every other doctor and inquired if anybody knew anybody hiring in Altoona. yay networking!]
Kelli: “Krista’s sitting on my lap.”
Me: “Oh, baby! Can I talk to her?”
[muffled conversation]
Krista, sounding very confused: “H-hello??”
Me: “Hi!”
Krista: “KELLI! It’s Katie!” [then, rolling her eyes — yes, I could pretty much hear them rolling] “Katie, she told me it was a friend. Did you know I’ve been doing softball?”
Kelli’s Voice, ostensibly directed to James: “Hey there, pooh bear!”
Krista: “Wanna hear a doctor joke? The nurse comes in and says, ‘Doctor, we have a patient here with a wooden leg. His name is Smith.’ The doctor says, ‘What’s the name of his other leg?’ “
Me: “Ohhhh.” [and managing a pretty big laugh]
Krista: “You didn’t get it.”
Me: “Oh, I think I got it.”
Kelli, back on the phone: “Well, we’re about to eat. Mom thinks you should sing ‘Glory To Thee’ with us.”
Me: “You may kindly inform Mom that I’m in the grocery store.”
[mirthful discussion in the background; I prepare to be told that I should sing along anyway]
Kelli: “Alright then. I’ll talk to you later. Love you!”

this summer, during my elective rotation, i’ll have a whole six weeks of that. can’t wait.

 

well, vivaldi worked. or something. because right now, at seven p.m., it is sixty-five degrees. and even though it’s now dark outside (can’t wait for daylight savings!), we have our windows and front door flung open to welcome any stray warm breeze that might wander down trenton avenue.

today was one of those days when (almost) everything turns out splendidly. for example, i had just enough time to stop in at crazy mocha for a nonfat irish cream latte before dr. lindenbaum’s office opened. then i saw several cute little old ladies, including one who confided in me that she always wore a dress that zipped down the front whenever she had an appointment so that the doctor could listen to her heart. then she looked at me quizzically and asked, “what happens when people come in wearing high-necked shirts?” i smiled and said that actually, our stethoscopes work even if you’re wearing clothes and that we usually can hear your heart and lungs just fine. her eyes widened. “oh, honey, they must think i only own three dresses because i always wear a zip dress to my appointment!” i told her we would be glad to see the rest of her wardrobe if she’d like to wear it!

then i wandered around goodwill for a delightfully long time, picking up the key costume pieces for my character in jon & blair’s murder mystery dinner party. i’m supposed to be an elderly woman, and i found the perfect flower print dress (complete with elastic waistband in the back and oversize buttons marching down the front), beige shoes, a fake pearl necklace, and gold-and-pearl earrings. the finishing touch was a white beaded handbag that the cashier kept admiring. (i greatly enjoyed not telling her that i was buying a costume, especially as she made a valiant effort to compliment my taste in purchasing each item.) i nearly bought a cane but couldn’t bring myself to spend the extra $3. and that $3 went to a much better purpose — temporary hair spray-paint in “snow white”. now all that remains is to find out whodunnit!

then some of my favourite tunes powered me through some hardcore ellipticaling, and that was followed by a dinner of salmon and brown rice tossed with lemon pepper and Italian seasoning. mmmmmmmm. now i’m just relaxing with a “beer” … miller lite, because elizabeth had leftovers from her party last night. mr. roddy would be proud!

and last but not least, we’re going to a lindy hop tonight. yes. but not just any lindy hop. it’s the lindy hop that the nurse practitioner at the psych ward regularly attends, and told me much about when i was there, and now that jon is there on his rotation she convinced him to come. so we’re going.

because it’s that kind of day.

 

it pleases me greatly to announce that we’re expecting a high of 39 today, followed by temperatures in the 40s and 50s tomorrow and friday. winter needs to be done. i’m listening to Vivaldi’s Summer in hopes of encouraging the weather gods, which in turn makes me want to give Lesley some loving. she was very obliging the other day when elizabeth’s boyfriend steve had a pseudo-lesson, and she deserves a luxurious trip through the Bach unaccompanied suites and maybe some Bloch or Hindemith thrown in for good measure. there is some secret part of my soul that only sings through my viola.

more exciting than the sunshine or even that velvety-voiced instrument, however, is the fact that my darling parents are flying all the way across the country to be with me for the Rite of Confirmation at the Easter Vigil mass!!! and they’ll be there for Easter Sunday, when i receive the Eucharist for the first time. i’m a little surprised at how important the Eucharist has grown in my eyes. just a few months ago, i thought of it from a purely doctrinal standpoint and didn’t feel too put out that i received a blessing and not the actual sacrament at each mass. a few weeks ago, i was kneeling in the pew and praying in a contemplative sort of way rather than having an ordered conversation in my head, and i was surprised to find myself almost heartsick with yearning to taste and experience His presence. at every mass, that feeling has grown stronger and stronger. there’s the logical (?) voice in my head that says “it’s only because you’ve been taught that it’s more important that now you suddenly want it, and you only want it because it’s forbidden fruit until you’re confirmed.” i’m sure those things have something to do with it, but i’m not convinced it’s entirely because of them. there’s a part of me that wonders if it will “feel” different from taking Communion in the past. of course, the feeling isn’t what matters, and i’m sure Jesus is smiling & shaking His head at my silliness. praise Him for His grace and faithfulness that has gotten me through so much silliness (and worse!) in the past. i am in awe of how carefully He has orchestrated this journey, and of how He has poured out so many blessings. He knew how much it would mean to me to have mom & dad there, and laid it on their hearts without me saying a word … and they listened and are making incredible sacrifices to come! more touching & humbling than their physical presence is their validation and emotional support for my faith journey, and their recognizing how important this is to me. oh, i’m going to be a basket case…

before i get too flibberty-gibbery with emotion, let me share with you a little about the saint i’ve picked. many many hours were spent poring over books and websites trying to find a woman who embodies my passions and goals. a role model who would challenge me to continually die to self and follow hard after Jesus, but who, if she were still living, would laugh with me over everyday hilarities and rejoice in simple things. i was about ready to settle for one or another admirable saint with whom i felt no personal connection when i stumbled across a description of St. Gianna Beretta Molla’s life. my first clue should have been the image on her prayer card. everybody knows kate geiger wants lots of babies, and how should this lady appear but toting two adorable curly-haired ones on her hips? in brief, she was an Italian pediatrician and mother of four who devoted her life to serving mothers and their children, providing excellent medical care as well as spiritual guidance and support. she died of septic peritonitis, a complication from having a uterine fibroma removed while she was pregnant with her last child (she refused to abort the baby, who was born healthy and named after her mother). the clincher was when i found her book, love letters to my husband. and guess what? from the tender age of twelve or thirteen, i’ve been writing love letters to my husband too.

saint gianna

 

i enjoy food.

i always have, although my tastes have grown up along with the rest of me. and no matter how many Glamour articles or spiritual books i read that decry emotional eating, i think i always will. how better to start the day than with the mealy burst of blueberry flavour on my cereal, or the creamy white hush of yogurt, or the flash of pepper immediately soothed by cheese in an overstuffed omelet? how better to end it than with the sweet guiltiness of general tso’s chicken, or the robust sunshiney flavor of tomato basil sauce that hugs each strand of linguine? my head knows that if i’m stressed or sad, an oreo McFlurry won’t help. and yet it always does.

in years past, i’ve managed to indulge my tastebuds without too many adipose cells to show for it. but a combination of an erratic schedule, freezing weather, and good oldfashioned laziness has sapped my grand plans for exercise lately. a few days ago, jon made the unfortunately accurate observation that my rear end is getting “plumptuous.” at my look of horror, he added, “… in a good way.” dear readers, i am confident that you will agree with me that there is, in fact, no good way to be plumptuous. especially when it’s a result of being out of shape and not from having children or some other understandable and biologically important reason (“maternal fat stores” is the actual medical term).

so in the near future, you may find me up in the gym just workin’ on my fitness, a la Fergie. more likely i’ll be in the living room doing bicep curls and grapevines and plie squats. maybe even some bicycle crunches. i’m going to be more mindful of what i eat, too, but i refuse to go on a strict diet. portion control and a good balance of veggies and whole grains ought to suffice. tonight, for example, i’m making chicken, brown rice & lots of veggies. this is to balance the fact that last night, julie and i went to the bloomfield bridge tavern to partake in the city’s best polish food. i’m convinced that God made me with at least twenty-seven taste buds dedicated exclusively to the spicy & sour delight of kielbasa mounded with sauerkraut and grainy brown mustard. and it sure would be a pity to waste them.