Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Proud to be from Wisconsin.

It's not just the cows, folks. Or even the beer. Democrats in this state are awesome, and I'm so happy to be one of them. At least for today--I was officially a California Green Party member until 3:45 pm when Matt and I finally found our polling place (the basement gym of an elementary school, with one scant cardboard sign that read "VoTing" which had clearly been written by an eight-year-old) and re-registered in our new home state, where we're allowed to vote for whichever presidential candidate we choose in either primary (which, incidentally, I think is a totally sensible way of doing things--I'm not really a Democrat or a Republican, I just wanted to vote for Obama). I actually felt GOOD casting my vote, and I am thrilled Obama is probably going to take this state, and I'm genuinely excited to see where this election is headed.

I also just think it's fantastic that there were twice as many democratic votes cast in this state as republican votes, and 1 in 7 voters were new voters. I don't want to get over-excited, but the young people here are so dedicated and involved right now, and it really seems like Obama is a huge part of that. I feel like my demographic matters, and I hope we can contribute to something momentous come November.

Don't get me wrong, I am as disillusioned as anyone about the state of US politics and I don't personally believe that any of these candidates will be able to singlehandedly right our country's wrongs in one or even two terms of office--no way. But lately I've begun to believe again that Americans have the ability to mobilize in a way that is forceful, optimistic, and impassioned--and not arbitrarily, but because we truly DESIRE change. I mean, come on. It was 5 degrees outside today, absolutely miserable, and the turnout was awesome.

I'm hopeful. Check back with me this summer, but for now, I will officially say: Wisconsin has given me hope.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I watched Blood Diamond last night and was seriously disheartened. I watched Apocolypto tonight and was absolutely disgusted. I got home ten minutes ago and read this article about the guy who opened fire on a college auditorium at Northern Illinois University and am currently thinking about human nature and how it is pretty much the same everywhere, all the time, and it's always this surprising and this horrifying, and even though Mel Gibson is OBVIOUSLY a creep and a sadist he's pretty much just showing us the darker side of what has existed as long as we have inhabited this planet. We're a scary bunch, man. I worry about what we're going to end up doing to each other.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I love my job.

I wanted to write tonight for a couple reasons. First of all, it is still snowing. You know, I'm getting used to it, I really am. But it's getting OLD. As of now it's Milwaukee's snowiest winter in 25 years, and by the end of winter I'm sure that statistic will be even more impressive. Everybody just seems worn out by it; I was talking to a nurse today who said she was thinking of retiring a year early just so she doesn't have to "drive to work anymore in this crap weather." I would sympathize, except that I now drive a 4x4, and it is absolutely AWESOME in the snow. In fact, it's way better in the snow than in any other kind of weather, when it just seems ridiculous and huge and excessively bumpy. I pretty much don't feel justified driving it unless it's snowing. Lucky for me, that's been every other day for the last three months. So I consider it a good investment as of now.

The other reason I wanted to write is to tell a funny story about work before I forget about it. Today I got a haircut (finally--I don't know if I was beginning to look more like Ringo Starr or Marsha Brady), and my new hairstylist was asking me what I do, and she was absolutely blown away that I work with kids in a psych hospital. Her surprise momentarily surprised me, but then it occurred to me that as a result of this job absolutely nothing fazes me anymore, whereas the general public would probably be completely shocked by even some of the more benign stories I have to tell.

We've had this girl in again, one I wrote about earlier this year. When I see her name on the admit list, I feel, simultaneously, the deepest sense of dread and a little spark of excitement because I know something crazy is going to happen. This girl is utterly, completely out of control. Well, last Friday she put on one of her most wonderful performances. Angry because "nobody likes her" and every other patient we'd had that morning had been discharged except for her, she threw a small cup of water at one of the teachers (out of nowhere) in the middle of a movie. The teacher and I exchanged surprised glances, but didn't really react yet because you can never tell with this particular girl if she's going to de-escalate or just blow. Well, she blew, about 10 seconds later. She got up, walked toward the door, picked up a full pitcher of ice water, and hurled it in my general direction before running screaming into the hall and locking herself in the bathroom.

I stood there for a couple seconds, sopping wet, literally head to toe soaked, speechless. Then I turned to the teacher and when our eyes met, we just cracked up. I couldn't help it, I laughed until I cried, the whole thing was so ludicrous. And at some point I realized I was laughing partially because of the fact that the entire situation didn't even really bother me, that in the scheme of things, it wasn't really even all that ludicrous. In a 'normal' school, if some kid dumped a pitcher of water on a teacher, I imagine the whole place would shut down. I mean, I don't really know what would happen--nothing like that ever really went down at any of the average public schools I attended. But in our situation all we can really do is laugh, and move on, because hey, if it doesn't kill you, you pretty much just come back to work the next day (side note: this was proven true just the other day when a staff person was strangled--almost to death--by a patient hearing voices and was back in the hospital the next day).

So anyway, luckily, one of the teachers had--I kid you not--a hideous Christmas sweater and a pair of black leggings in the office. I could explain the sweater but it's too long a story--suffice it to say I'd borrowed the sweater before purely because it was so incredibly hideous, and she'd never taken it back home after I returned it to her. So I took off my soaking wet clothes and wore the hideous Christmas sweater and leggings for the rest of the afternoon. You better believe I got numerous compliments on my festive attire, but frankly, I don't think anyone even thought it was that strange that I was wearing a Christmas sweater in February. Also, the patient came back to class 20 minutes later, freshly medicated, and apologized to me, explaining that the voices made her do it. I accepted her apology and we watched the rest of the movie and ate popcorn.

In conclusion, when you work in a psych hospital, you can wear whatever the hell you want. I could elaborate on this, but I won't, because I need to get some sleep and I could honestly go on about this for days.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Well, I was hoping for a snow day and I got a bit more than I bargained for:


We're basically in the midst of a blizzard. We've gotten at least a foot of snow in the past 12 hours, maybe more. It seems like the plows have given up on the roads; I wouldn't think of leaving the house, even in the truck, which has basically disappeared under the snow anyway:


Everything was canceled today: my work, Matt's physiology exam, my class, my soccer game. No one is on the roads anymore. I watched a couple people get stuck earlier and someone in a truck came along and dug them out. I dug a path for Vinny in the yard this morning and it's already all covered up again. The winter storm warning was extended until 6 pm, although the weather channel says heavy snows and winds won't taper off until 9 pm. I gotta say, this is definitely the most impressive storm I've experienced here. Wisconsin just continues to amaze me.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A white groundhog's day, and big news.

Here in Wisconsin, I'm pretty sure the groundhogs don't come out until May.

In general, what I'm realizing is that white holidays are pretty much the norm around here. We had a white Thanksgiving, a white Christmas, a white New Years, a white Martin Luther King Jr. day, and now a white groundhog's day. Not that groundhog's day really qualifies as a holiday, but it happens to be my sister's birthday, which is DEFINITELY worth celebrating. Happy Birthday Marisa!!

Anyway, point being, it never stops snowing here. As of November, snow was the new sun. I've pretty much forgotten what warm weather is. I can't remember the last time I didn't tramp smud into my kitchen (smud=snow/mud). The Subaru is a perpetual swamp. It's getting kind of gross, to tell you the truth.

So I'm trying to adapt. I'm getting pretty good at not acting like a 6 year-old every time it snows (SO much of me just wants to sled all day and have snowball fights and drink hot chocolate; native Wisconsinites generally just appear really inconvenienced and bored). I'm starting to understand that life actually does continue even in 8 inches of fresh snow (I have to go to work?? WHAT???). Part of adapting to that aspect of it meant selling my cute little Hyundai:


And buying this monstrosity:


I have never owned a truck, I never even considered owning one, until I moved here and experienced one of the worst Milwaukee winters in recent history. I have never had so many near-death experiences as I did driving the Hyundai around town on any normal snowy day; my coworkers were genuinely worried about me and even offered to drive me to and from work occasionally in the hopes that I could avoid serious injury. So now, Matt and I are back to two cars, but I'm hoping the 'Splorer won't get too much action--just snow days and days we can't manage to carpool.

In other big news I just found out today that I was accepted into Marquette's direct entry Nurse Practioner program! It is a well-established and very respected program and I'm SO excited to start in May. It's a three year program: the first year is intensive RN training (culminating with the board exam which licenses you as a nurse, assuming you pass), and the second and third years consist of Master's level courses in whatever specialty you choose. At the end of it all you sit for and pass the national Nurse Practitioner licensure exam in your chosen specialty area. I'm not sure what my specialty will be yet; at first I was thinking acute care but since I don't have to choose until the end of my first year, I'm keeping an open mind. I'll definitely keep you updated!

Well, that's about it for today. Supposedly we could get between 10 and 20 inches of snow tonight, which would be absolutely ridiculous. I'm definitely pulling for a snow day tomorrow. :)