Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When I was in Nepal…

…I was blessed by a lama. 

It was a lovely little ceremony in an ornate temple before I embarked upon my journey to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas.  It was meant to be a good luck charm.  A simple blessing for a safe journey. 

It was a thin piece of yellow string that the lama tied around my neck and then he said a little prayer. 

I loved it.  I still do. 

That was in November of 2013.  Now it is January 2017 and I just took it off.

For the fist time. 

I’m not entirely sure why.  It was a blessing after all, why would I remove that? 

But it felt like time. 

While I was there, in Nepal, hiking in the Himalayas, I have this one very specific memory.  I was trudging up this steep, stone stairway (there were lots of those).  I had just applied for grad school when I left and was contemplating (and admittedly stressing about) what I was going to do if I didn’t get in.  Then this thought occurred to me. 

What if I do, actually get in?

That was almost more terrifying. 

And, well, I got in.  I went to anesthesia school.  And as I have said before…

…it sucked. 

They say it’s the hardest thing you will ever do in your life.  I think they are right.  Of course there are worse things that can happen to you, I’ve witnessed a few in fact.  And also, of course no one exactly held a gun to my head and made me do it.  So don’t feel sorry for me. 

But still…

It was 27 months of my life.  And now it is over.  What seems to have started with that realization in Nepal, when the possibility first seemed real and frightening, that was the beginning. 

And now that journey is complete. 

So maybe that’s why I removed that little memory.  I put it in a new memory.  A small jar, a
“dresser jar” that belonged to my husband’s great grandmother.  My husband gave it to me on my birthday, and inside was his late mothers wedding ring…he gave it to me as he proposed.  So that little jar is sort of a symbol of the next chapter.  So I put the last chapter inside of it. 

Does that make sense? 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

I'm feeling inspired

I’m feeling inspired. 

Picked up Lidia Yuknavitch’s book The Chronology of Water and 112 pages in I am utterly blown away.  Her story.  Her language. 

So inspired that I’m feeling like writing again.  Little stories from here and there.  Musings. 

Where to begin? 

It’s late (or early depending on your point of view) and my brain is admittedly addled by a bit of alcohol and  Benadryl to help my stuffy nose and me sleep. 

So what to write about?

I think it was SARK who wrote about creating.  Just do it.  Every day.  I had a painting professor in art school say the same thing.  He kept a studio, away from his home and he would go there every day.  Get up.  Go to the studio.  Make a pot of coffee.  Read the paper.  Maybe paint.  Maybe stretch some canvases.  Have lunch with his wife (another painter who preferred to work at night) and head back to the studio to paint…or whatever. 

So maybe that is what it’s time to do.  Use my new found freedom to create something.  Not sure that it will be worthwhile but Hell, why not say what I have to say? Random little stories and musings.  Why not? 

2:59 am

2:59am.  The first day of the rest of my life.  Or so they say.  This is the end of a long, arduous road.  I passed my NBCRNA after 27 months of grueling study and countless hours of demoralizing practice.  Learning.  Facing fears.  Putting people to sleep.  Numbing them to the pain and physical insult of surgery. 

It sucked. 

Twenty-seven months followed by over six weeks of fretting over passing my boards.  And studying. Well, yesterday I did that.  Passed.  That little piece of paper that said that one precious word: PASS.  And so this chapter comes to an end.  I contacted a professor to share the good new and she said “welcome to the rest of your life.” 

So here I am. 

I get my life back.  And the fist thing I feel compelled to do is write.  And with that comes the tears.  And sadness that I didn’t have the wherewithal to do so during my journey.  But I just couldn’t.  It was too close. 

So, now here I am…its 3:05 now and my kitten is perplexed by my wakefulness at this ungodly hour.  But this is how it goes from here. 

New chapter. 

I’m moving home but not.  Spokane.  A new place amid a familiar field.  The Northwest.  But east of the Cascades.  East of what everyone knows as Washington.  Dryer.  But holding its own beauty and potential. 

I recently married a man that I love.  And inherited his child.  And then there is the little muppet of a dog and the aforementioned kitten.  One big, happy family. 


A new chapter. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I have a new place. A room in a funny house by the beach. There are five longboards in here with me in my little room...the landlord/roommate told me he would take them out but I'm not totally certain I want them to go. Actually, there are surfboards everywhere in this place. Longboards and stand ups. Tools. Tools for playing in the ocean...connecting with that raw power.
That power is right outside my door here. I hear the waves crash on the beach while laying in my bed. It reminds me of when I was a child...a child in the desert...I got

a walkman for Christmas one year. I had this tape that I would listen to at night of waves crashing on a beach. It sounded just like the waves crashing on the beach that I hear now. What an odd circle to round out...

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Monday, November 25, 2013 retrospect

"And it was grace to live among the fruits of summer, to love by design, and walk the startling Earth for what seemed an endless resurrection of days."
-Diane Ackerman

Nepal. The Himalayas. Annapurna. And Machapuchare...the most beautiful; the most sacred; home to the gods. That final point seems obvious in its presence. What majesty!
The first time I saw them with my own eyes, I cried.
I went without expectations. I left with clarity and peace.
I was blessed by a lama in Kathmandu.
I have never traveled so far on foot. The simple act of walking, miles and miles to Annapurna Base Camp, was an exercise in empowerment. Today I feel stronger for it.
Along the way, I was lucky to reconnect with a dear friend of 18 years but one who has been a seeming world away, our divergent paths crossing at unexpected intervals over the years. She called me randomly one night this fall and in a moment of drunken clarity I suggested she join me on my trek. And she did. She was my witness. We laughed and cried, remembered and hoped. We drank cup after cup of sweet masala chai.
I learned that I prefer to put sugar in my soften the bitter with the sweet.
I remembered how to laugh out loud, and to relax into a smile.
I learned about Buddhism...from my sage Nepali guide as well as from books that found their way into my hands along the way...and conversations over dal baht at the dinner table.
Finally, I met an angel. Or, in the event that he was actually human, perhaps a soulmate? Perhaps. Chance and luck brought us together multiple times along the trail and in the cities. We shared so much. Those few short days and long conversations will occupy a special corner in my heart forever.
I believe that it's possible to fall in love in a day. Be that with mountains or men.
But eventually, you have to walk away.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When I was a little girl I wanted to fly around in helicopters when I grew up…

…okay, well not exactly. 

Actually not at all.  It was more like “When I was a little nurse I wanted to fly around in helicopters when I grew up.”

That one is true. 

“Context?” you ask?  

I was sitting in a lecture in nursing school, a class about professionalism or some shit, and they passed out these fliers for different types of nurses.  One of them was “Flight Nurse.”  Hmmmm…fly around in helicopters and scrape people off the pavement after motor vehicle accidents on remote mountain passes?  Sounds fun!  Especially being the “extreme” little lady that I was at the time, all retired “pro snowboarder” and all (are you wondering how many time I am going to use quotation marks in this post yet?  I sure am….)

That is literally how it started. 

My first nursing job after I graduated simply followed in the footsteps of my senior practicum.  Based on a strictly pragmatic decision (namely that I spent my second to last quarter of nursing school abroad and didn’t want to move home, take a senior practicum and have to move again to Tacoma to work at a hospital system that had given my a scholarship for school with the understanding that they owned me for the first 18 months of my nursing career) I wound up in the only available nursing school senior practicum in Tacoma: Neonatal intensive care….NICU…and that, like I said, turned into my first job.

I don’t particularly like babies.  I had never actually even changed a diaper when I started (seriously!).  But I soon realized that babies, especially the premature ones, periodically have to go for rides in helicopters to get to hospitals that can deal with their unfortunate illness or tiny-ness.  SO, maybe this would be a good road to start out down on my way to flight nursing. 

It was. 

And then babies turned into sick kids and sick kids turned into sick kids with heart defects, which is how I ended up traveling around the world and also at Stanford. 

My 6th nursing birthday is this June (I know, I’m growing up so fast!).  And recently, I felt like I might be ready to take a stab at the whole “ultimate professional goal” thing.  Airlift Northwest, a very reputable flight company affiliated with the University of Washington Medical System was recently hiring peds nurses.  Like me! 

So I applied.

And I interviewed.


(Drum roll please)

I did not get the job. 

And I honestly couldn’t be more relieved about it. 

Moving back to Seattle for my dream job couldn’t be more complicated than it would be right now between finances, relationships, and home leases.  Not to mention the fact that I would like to not to burn bridges at Stanford and have only been there just shy of a year.  And don’t forget that I actually do like it here in California, living in the mountains off the central coast, thirty minutes from surfing, two hours from the city and five hours from climbing in Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. 

In short, I have never been so happy to fail at something that I have always wanted.  But then again I guess I don’t really consider this a failure.  It seems like the kind of thing that I can only become more and more qualified for and that the circumstances of the rest of my life can only become more accommodating of than they are a this moment.   

SO, yay! 


Friday, February 24, 2012

“You can’t bring the machine gun in there.”

 Those where the words that started my latest adventure in international travel…because going to Iraq again just wasn’t enough…so we had to make going home more interesting. 

We left our guesthouse, Pasha, Christine, and I at 0500 this morning in two vehicles.  One car with us and our driver and the second one a large, police/military truck with a machine gun on top that contained our security detail and all of our luggage.  We got stopped at the first checkpoint for the airport and there was clearly a problem.  There was a lot of back and forth, a lot of yelling, and then an American contractor type guy came out to straighten everything out for us and I distinctly heard him say “You can’t bring the machine gun in there.” 

The police truck that carried our security detail had been without any large, automatic weapons for our entire trip, but for some reason guys decided to outfit it with a large machine gun the day before we left.  And apparently they just didn’t anticipate that it would be an issue at the airport. 

So we go on ahead and are assured that our luggage will follow.  We have to go through multiple checkpoints before arriving at the terminal and eventually make it to the check-in counter.  But, alas, can’t check our bags yet so we can’t really check in for our flights yet.  We wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Oh, and by the way, our driver here in Iraq…a lovely man really…speaks as much English as I speak Arabic.  This has been a challenge to say the least.  Now, we don’t know what the story is with our bags or even what is going on. 

Eventually, bags arrive.  Not sure if they just drove home and dropped off the problematic machine gun and came back or if they went and found a cab to carry our bags into the airport compound.  But at this point we have less than an hour to get checked in and get on our plane.  And we are at the end of a sea of people. 

We make it on the plane.  I am told that my bags are checked all the way through to San Francisco via New York…which is hard to believe since what they have handed me is a hand written ticket that says IST, JFK, SFO and little else. 

Plane takes off late.  Plane lands late.  Delay in deboarding.  And then when I go to the information counter to get my new boarding pass, I’m S.O.L. because Najaf couldn’t check me in for my flight and the check in was closed by that point. 


But not to worry, Christine is a veteran airline traveler, even more so than myself and has way more experience haggling with airlines.  So, with her help and some extra frustration, I was able to book a new flight to San Fran via Paris for the following morning, which means, I get another day in Istanbul for site seeing and I get to do it with my friend Christine and her friend in Istanbul!  However, it has been a very long day and I am beyond tired.  Two hours of sleep before we left for the Najaf airport and maybe two hours on the plane, followed by two hours in the hotel after our day of seeing the beautiful historic sites in one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.  I am, like I said, beyond tired. 

But now, I’m checked in and on my way to Paris, then one more plane to catch and