Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chicago to Miami- Day 2 (part 1)

We woke up in LaGrange, Kentucky feeling pretty refreshed and ready to take on the day. We wanted to spend some time exploring the land around our cabin. The owners lived on the property in a house; there was also a much larger, gorgeous cabin near us. I think it was at this point that Bandit finally began feeling like hey, we are having a lot of fun because there are horses here and I haven't been thrown to the side of the road yet! 

Day 2
Destination: LaGrange, KY to Cosby, TN
Stops: Lexington, KY and Knoxville, TN

 Bandit saw a horse one time who was pulling a Santa carriage in Normal, IL and he has been in love ever since. Really though, there hasn't been an animal (beetles included) that he hasn't totally loved. The second he saw them, the Bandit thought process began. First comes the stare rudely and contemplate the next move (even though there is really only one next move):

Next is the army crawl, the go-to move for being sneaky and camouflage:
And finally comes the reward: making friends!
His curiosity about everyone and friendliness will always amaze me.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chicago to Miami- Day 1

In late May/early June, we moved from Chicago to Miami. Because we had our omnipresent buddy Bandit, we wanted to split up the trip into several days to make it a little easier on both him and us being in the car so long. He was certainly the thing we thought about most during the journey. In the days leading up to the trip, he was stressed out watching us pack everything up. I can't even begin to imagine what he was thinking and it breaks my heart to think that he might've thought we were leaving him.

We ended up booking places to stay on Airbnb, which I think made the trip a lot more fun than staying in hotels. Since we had the dog, we focused our trip on finding dog-friendly places that would be fun, rather than planning a ton of activities. We knew that we had to get to Miami before June 8, but other than that, we didn't have many restrictions... so, ridiculously, the trip ended up being planned around the availability of a tipi that I wanted to stay in.

Day 1
Alex loaded everything up in the car as I did last-minute packing and my parents came to see us off. My mom packed a ton of fruit for us, which was a life saver to have as a snack on the road. Growing up, my mom always washed and cut fruit for us after dinner and before bed, which is a tradition that I always loved. Most of our drive was gloomy and rainy, but it actually ended up being perfect road trip weather, except for when it was pouring to the point that we couldn't see the road.

Final destination: LaGrange, Kentucky
Stops along the way: Indianapolis (for a stressed out dog) and Louisville, KY (for food purposes)

Our first stop was about 3.5 hours in, at Indianapolis. We were feeling pretty sleepy so we found a coffeeshop, which turned out to be closed. Most places were closed, but we were able to stretch our legs a little bit and found a few places to hopefully check out "next time," although I admit that I don't necessarily hope to find myself in Indianapolis in the near future, charming as it may be. The theme of the trip was balancing the heat with being able to spend enough time walking and decompressing as well as finding quiet areas for the dog. This is his "I love Indianapolis!" face.
Much of the rest of the midwest was idyllic.

We stopped in a bar/restaurant called Hammerheads that had good reviews on Yelp. They don't typically allow takeout unless you have a really small party and actually show up and look sad because they have a small kitchen. They told us differently on the phone when we had called in so they let us place an order. The place was packed, despite the fact there was no air conditioning, which I considered a good sign... if you are willing to be in a stuffy place, the food must be worth writing home about. We walked around Louisville and met some cats while we waited. They were super accepting of Bandit and brought out a water bowl just for him.

We arrived at our cabin in LaGrange a bit later than expected (another theme of the trip), but it was a really cool cabin--and comfortable. We ate on the porch and Bandit enjoyed one of the Barkworthies treats I brought for him on this trip.
I loved my mushroom veggie burger and truffle fries; Bandit didn't love the Cocolicious wet food we brought for him as much as I thought he would. Based on his usual love for wet food and coconut oil as separate entities, I thought he would be obsessed with this stuff, but as excited as he looked in that first picture when I let him smell it, he still didn't finish all of the food right away. Of course, he was also really stressed out that first night. Which is fair. He was all, "Why are we in a cabin in the middle of nowhere in Kentucky?"
I love the peace and quiet of the place, as did Alex, although he did think it seemed haunted since it was pitch black outside and sooo quiet. It was a nice change from the light shining into our bedroom window in Chicago. And sleeping in a king bed with Bandit... so luxurious, words can't even describe it. We got an amazing night of sleep!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

settling down in miami

Although I can hardly believe it, our little family has somehow found its way to Miami. It was a last-minute decision involving many attempts at determining what the "right" decision would be. In the end, I didn't take any notes and the order I ended up putting everything seemed to fall into place, except for my top two choices, Chicago or Miami. I oscillate between a variety of different emotions now. I am thrilled to be in a new place, for the most part; at times frustrated at the bizarre expressways, heat, and mosquitos, but mostly in love with my quirky, tree-lined neighborhood replete with dogs, parks, coffeeshops and yoga in the park. There have been some adjustments to be made, but for the most part, we have settled in well.

Bandit has been on many adventures as well. He was stressed out when we first began packing, naturally. And farted many a silent fart in the car (complete with a self-satisfied smile). But he took everything like a champion and only peed in one Airbnb place we stayed on the way south, thinking ahead and choosing the only place that had a washing machine, so we were able to wash the sheet right away. He saw the ocean for the first time, as well as a few different swimming pools, all of which he has refused to jump in with equal certainty. He has picnicked at South Pointe Park on Miami Beach and even become big foster brother to two puppies, Ollie and Kicks, since moving to our bright pink house. He was definitely stressed out in the beginning but has been mellowing out every day... and when we are laying in bed at the end of a long day and his ear flops onto my foot, everything is perfect.

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. 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!"