Saturday, May 16, 2015

too blessed to be stressed.

This dream was a long time coming. Medical school is the brunt of a lot of jokes, and for good reason. I think it makes you question everything you do. Then again, it must have different effects on different people. For me, the process of medical school made me feel really unsure of myself, really determined, more conscientious, and obsessive about thinking meticulously (and usually failing at that).

When I say that it has helped me learn how to think, I don't mean that I can now figure out every phenomenon of the human body. I mean that I learned how to fight (with myself) for complete open-mindedness when approaching people--to doggedly and stubbornly preserve kindness and understanding toward everyone. I've always heard and believed that I understood the idea of compassion, but in practice, I don't think that remaining poised when inconvenienced by others or even giving the benefit of the doubt comes as second-nature to people as they think it does.

I learned the importance of this from two perspectives. The first lesson came from my patients, as most of my lessons tend to come, and with the help of attendings who were generous enough to share their experiences and thoughts with me. It's easy to grumble about the patient who misses their clinic appointment, but when we learn that they take three buses, or travel four hours, to get to us, it's easier to accept--but we then unfairly write off all the people (whose stories we don't know) as irresponsible.

The second lesson came from my interactions with people around me. I am grateful for the people who always understand: my absences, my cancellations, my thorough exhaustion and thus boringness. Although my appreciation for these friends shouldn't require a comparison, it is because I have also dealt with the people who don't understand and are incapable of sparing someone else the benefit of the doubt that I realize compassion is a gift that must be consciously practiced.

My goal with this long tirade is to create a reminder for myself of the feeling of having recently graduated: that even when you don't know much, kindness is something that you can always have, and always fight for.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

adoption announcement

Bandit didn't really have an official adoption day I guess, but sometime in December, we wholeheartedly decided we would want to take on this problem dog (said affectionately) into our lives forever. It doesn't feel There isn't a single day that he doesn't cause some form of stress or destruction (recently he has been reaaaal bad), but we love this silly goose more than we ever thought possible. 

Dear Bandit, I love it when you are having hilarious puppy dreams and hide under the table when you are supposed to be going to your crate... only when you know we are leaving. I think it is really gross when you lick your butt for like 10 minutes straight. You can sleep in my bed forever anyway and fight over my blanket. I promise you lots of adventures for the rest of your days and to protect you if you need that sort of thing. Please stop grabbing my sweatpants... while I am wearing them. 

Dear Alex, I love that you love Bandit as much as I do and your impression of him actually being an old man in a dog body. I think it's really gross when... well, several of your habits, but thank you for making me mac and cheese whenever I really want it. I promise you lots of adventures too, and also to remember to make time without Bandit and to not ignore you for our dog... every now and then.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What's a dog for?

A friend of mine posted recently (aka awhile ago, but time passes in crazy ways for me) about a book called, What's a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend. This weekend, I added it to my list of library books, as I am challenging myself to try to actually read a book instead of just articles online. And by "reading articles online," I unfortunately am actually pitifully referring to having several tabs up and reading a couple paragraphs of each and clicking aimlessly amongst them as I indulge my short attention span. Books have always been my way of calming down and focusing, so I'm hoping I can return to that.

Although I don't even have the book in my hands, its title is something that I contemplate often. After all, I have had a dog in my life of one form another for a short 1.5 years now and I'm not sure I can remember life before dogs. Alex said to me yesterday, "I don't think I ever want to not have a dog again." Sometimes things are more real when Alex says them because he tends to have fewer nonsensical thoughts than I do.

In some ways, you could say that we thought long and hard about adopting Bandit. The way that we should have thought of everything before we adopted Abby. We considered how right now really wouldn't be the perfect time to have a dog, as so many things in our lives are in flux. We considered how expensive it is. We even considered how owning a dog would possibly limit our ability to foster dogs as easily, or at least to foster one who didn't like other dogs. We did think of those things, as the responsible adults we strive to be (and often fail). But mostly we looked at the non-smiling face of what most would assume is the most serious dog ever--this dog who seemed to trust us to always be there more than any dog we had cared for--and simply realized that we needed to make it work. 

And so all that in the context of wanting to live a carefree young adulthood, to travel, to move around the country uninhibited does lead me to wonder, What's a dog for (anyway)? I don't know if I fully know the answer to that yet. People write all the time about the unconditional love a dog provides. That's true. But I think my love for Bandit is also related to the fact that whenever I am having these negative little things happen to me (e.g. broke my glasses), I turn around and he is rolling on his back on the floor for the simple reason that he is on carpet. Time to enjoy the glorious textures! I think having a dog teaches us what it means to take care of something thoroughly and thoughtfully, and that extends into other parts of our lives and we learn to take care of ourselves and our friends as well. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

In Bandit's Words

Bandit wanted to share this photo and some thoughts:  "This is my family: Me and my dad. There is another pillow-shaped figure who walks around the house I think... who knows, I don't even really know what her face looks like. Maybe someday I will get to know her. Doesn't really matter to me either way because I HAVE MY DAD!"

Friday, February 6, 2015

Who wore it better?

Bandit vs. Zane? These are two of my loves. We are currently a three-animal household (two cat fosters at any given time). Zane was adopted two days ago, and I miss our sweet middle child. We joked about how our three kids kind of fit the first, middle, and youngest child stereotypes. Bandit is our adventurous (read: impulsive), charismatic leader. Zane is the gentle, least attention-needy middle child. And Zoe is the adorable attention hog who comes to sit on your lap baby.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

a poem

She is a year ago.
She is the ache in the empty,
the first time you changed your mind
and the last time you were sorry about it.
She is a city sleeping beside you,
warm and vast and familiar, streetlights
yawning and stretching,
and you have never. You have never.
You have never loved someone like this.
She is your first stomach ache.
Your first panic attack and your
favorite cold shower.
A mountain is moving somewhere
inside of you, and her handprints are all over it.
Here. Here. Here, you love her.
In the fractured morning, full of
too tired and too sad, she is the first
foot that leaves the bed.
She is the fight in you, the winning 
and the losing battle
floating like a shipwreck in your chest.
When they ask you what your favorite moment is, 
You will say Her. 
You will always say Her.

Caitlyn SiehlHer, Her, Her