Monday, February 16, 2009

the end of an affair

Getting up at 2:30am Phoenix time,flying across the country, then working a full day is sheer torture...After four interminable hours of contorting into a pretzel in an attempt not to touch the large folks on either side of you who are so rudely encroaching into your personal space, you "wake up" from a rocky plane ride feeling hungover, slimy, and let's be honest, drool-encrusted. Of course, US Airways exacerbates the ordeal by accusing its customers of stealing pillows from the first class cabin (uh hello! does it look like the scarf-covered textbook I'm using is a pillow?), guilt tripping them into paying $2.00 for a bottle of water (oh, you want the free stuff, do you? the stewardess taunts when you ask for tap), and ensuring that regardless of plane mechanics or weather conditions, you always depart at least 30 minutes late.

While there are lots of reasons why I enjoy traveling for work, I'm looking forward to the adventure that lies ahead in exploring new places in grad school. Since I'm pretty certain I'll be somewhere on the east coast, I will be fortunate that I should be able to take less painful forms of transportation...thank God.

So, US Air, it's over. Together, we've gone to places I've never been. We've flown faster and farther than I could have imagined. It took a long time for me to get my head out of the clouds and realize that you hurt me in so many ways. Physically, when you couldn't give me what I needed (typical guy! kidding...but really, couldn't you have spared even one blanket or half can of soda?). Emotionally, when you kept me waiting for hours and then canceled with no notice. Psychologically, when you wreaked havoc on my emotions by making promises you knew could never keep. Granted, I should have known better than to believe your unkept vows of on-time departures, but yet I turned a blind eye again and again. And spiritually, when you taunted me over and over, urging me to "Enjoy my flight" while I silently writhed in pain.

Let me speak frankly, US Air. It's not me- it's YOU. And so, to quote the poetic genius that is REO Speedwagon, "Although it hurts to say goodbye, it's time for me to flyyyyyyyy).

Or more likely, drive.

Monday, February 2, 2009

merrily we roll along

Well, sadly, there's nothing new to report on the grad school front, just the waiting that has encroached every aspect of my life: upon waking, in the shower, during meetings, while sleeping (often at the same time as the aforementioned meeting!). Ah waiting waiting is no fun, it makes me want to hurt someone! (More likely, myself as I stumble around blindly after another night of tossing and turning).

Things are rolling along at the hospital as well. It's an interesting and precarious balance, just a month after startup, because some departments are dragging while others are already slammed, yet without quite the volume to justify additions to staff. Although the hospital is mostly outpatient based, because of the acuity of ilness of most of our patients, our inpatients are quite ill, and several have already passed away. It's sad, moving, and inspiring to have a constant reminder of the preciousness of life, and also interesting to see how this professional kind of grief tempers the 'feel-good' nature of the motto that we preach. When an organization is founded around the central tenet of hope, what happens when hope is gone?

The other week, I heard our chief of staff describe hope in a way that really resonated with me. As opposed to the cliches we toss around about this oft over-used term, he talked about how nuanced hope can be, and how it can take on many different forms. Hope can mean fighting for a cure. Hope can mean increasing quality of life and/or prolonging life so that a person can have a bit more precious time with his or her loved ones. Hope can even mean a peaceful, dignified death.

I love the fluidity of this definition -ow beautiful (and necessary) for hope to change along with our circumstances. How else could we maintain courage and peace in spite of life's unpredictable twists and turns? If it's an all or nothing thing, you either win or lose and then you have no choice but to give up. Anyway, I am not even going to attempt to draw a tenuous analogy between grad school and these cancer patients. I can only to say that in a life where I am so blessed but yet still perpetually hoping for the ever-elusive "more", I am fortunate and humbled to work in a place that continues to put life into perspective every single day.

***Edit- I wrote this post last week and forgot to actually publish it. There is (good) news on the grad school front, which brings to light a whole new batch of decisions to be made, discussions to be had, and melodramatic crises to stress about...stay tuned!