Friday, April 24, 2009

Back!

I'm back from my meeting in New Orleans. It went well, and it gave me a lot to think about. Not too much time to go into it all here, but I hope to think over a few things in my head and then ramble about them later.

I'm still recovering. If you've heard the song, "I left my heart in San Francisco," then you'll understand when I say that I left my GI tract in New Orleans. I'm still not better. I have also not gotten a lot of sleep. We were up late every night in New Orleans, and Tim and I have had a rough time sleeping the last few nights because of the pug we are dog-sitting. She snores, moves around in the bed all night long, and generally makes sure that no one sleeps more than 20 minutes at a time. She makes Macgyver look calm, and that is saying a lot!

I've got a last bit of grading to do today. Then tomorrow I'm driving out to Hiram to turn in grades and papers, picking up J from the airport (and giving her back the pug ASAP!), going to my friend's bachelorette party, and hopefully coming home to get some sleep!

I'm going to try and post some pics soon, but I doubt anything will be up before Sunday. Just wanted to let everyone know I am home safe. And thanks for all the emails/messages on Facebook for my birthday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stream of consciousness

I've been burning the midnight oil to try and get grading/errands/household stuff done before I leave for my scientific conference on Saturday. I had a poster due for a university-wide research symposium today. That was fun--rushing to gather data, lamenting that I didn't have that "one more experiment" to make data significant, trying to fit everything on the poster, realizing I have extra space on the poster, formatting text and figures over and over and over...

So yeah, all day today is that research symposium. Tomorrow is wrapping lab loose ends. Then Saturday, I am going to the Big Easy. Not as great as a nice, sunny beach, but also not Cleveland. I wish I had Tim & Sophie coming with me, and I wish I had time to sight-see, but neither is the case. Tim will have his hands full with Sophie, Macgyver, and J's pug. I did Sophie duty earlier this week while Tim was in crazy early every morning/working late at night for his project. I'm sure he'll be able to handle things while I am gone (and if he can't, that's the perk of having both sets of parents in town).

I've had a lot of little random moments in the past week or so that have struck me. For instance, yesterday there was a student seminar about teaching in undergraduate institutions. It really mirrored my experiences with teaching this past semester--things like enjoying the class but hating the grading. I didn't realize how tough it is to get teaching experience as a graduate student or post doc. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity that I did, even if it was stressful and low-paying. I'm not sure how much scientific research I want to do in the future, but I definitely would enjoy teaching again. Especially if it paid over minimum wage.

Tim and I also had a long money talk the other night. We had originally planned to take out a loan to build a nice deck this year. Then we had our credit card hacked, so we had to put a credit freeze on our accounts, which meant no loans. We eventually decided that it was for the best--in this economy, even a home equity loan can set us up for disaster if something changes in our monthly income. So, we decided to only spend what I made from teaching and what we got in our tax refund. This is a much smaller number, so we decided to do a simple chain link fence.

We got quotes for the fence last year, and we got a few more this year. The numbers are all basically the same. We were ready to pull the trigger on it up to a few days ago. Then, Tim and I started talking about life plans. Since we moved in summer 2007, our finances have been very different. The mortgage is now double what our old house was--this is more because our old house was way cheap. We are still within our means in our new house. At the same time our mortgage went up, we didn't lose the mortgage on our old house for 10 months. That was definitely unexpected and set us back. And we started daycare after Sophie was born. Overall, we were able to get by, but we weren't able to save the way we were in our old house.

We're starting to get back on track. Tim and I decided the other night that financial security was more important than a fence. We completely liquidated our savings since moving in 2007. We need to rebuild it. A fence would be great, and so would a deck, but knowing that we have living expenses saved in case one of us loses our job is even more important. It's not sexy, and it's certainly not fun, but it'll (hopefully) have me sleeping better at night.

I dream about taking a long vacation, or buying a plasma TV, or driving a car with less than 120,000 miles on it. While I know those things would make me happy in the short term, it doesn't help us. And really, it probably wouldn't make me happy in the short term. I'd just fixate on how much it cost and think about what else I could do with that money.

Anyway, so that decision is settled. If I somehow find another job to add to lab time, maybe we'll have enough saved in a year or two for that deck. We'll see.

Back to the research symposium. Time for more people to not come and look at my poster!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An important issue

Ok, so I am not trying to start an argument over politics, and really, I think this issue has less to do with politics and more about a physician's right to choose. Despite the fact that this will probably get a few people upset with me, I think it is the right thing to do. So, here's an email I sent out to my family, and I hope you do something with it too.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I'm not a big mass emailer, but this is an issue near and dear to my heart. No matter what your political leaning, I hope you'll agree that this is something that is bad for everyone.

As recently discussed on CNN and other sources, Congress is currently planning to repeal the "conscience regulation" for healthcare providers. This provision has been in effect for nearly 30 years, and as stated on the HHS.gov website (http://www.hhs.gov/ophs/programs/policy/conscience.html) :
  • You cannot be required to perform or assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if it would be contrary to your religious beliefs or moral convictions.
This will in effect mean that health practitioners will not be allowed to refuse procedures based on their own moral beliefs, and in effect can be fired or even prosecuted for refusing to perform procedures they do not believe in. In the same CNN.com article, it was predicted that "a large number of specialists in obstetrics and gynecology would leave the medical profession if the rule is repealed." (from http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/08/conscience.clause/index.html)

Let the government know that healthcare providers have the right to their own beliefs.

The HHS website has set up a unique email address specifically for this issue. It is consciencecomment@hhs.gov. Please send them a quick email and tell them not to rescind a healthcare provider's right to abstain due to conscience.

Thanks a lot. This really hits home for me as a medical student. I don't want to have to choose my specialty based on which area I think will challenge my morals the least instead of the one in which I think I can do the most good. I appreciate it.

Hope all else is well with you!
Love, Bridgette

Coming back

Well, it's been a busy few months, but I am hopefully getting back into a groove. I finished teaching Saturday night, came home and chilled for a bit, and then really jumped into my to-do list Sunday. I got bills paid, organized (some) of the house, did some shopping, and prepped a bunch of food for this week's meals. And, I fit that in between church, a doggie playdate, and dinner with my parents. It was a very productive day!

I'm slowly getting back into a rhythm. I've missed the organization. I'm a list-keeper and an Excel-lover. Ask my family--I am teased about Excel on a regular basis, but having a spreadsheet for everything keeps me organized! I've been more scattershot and last-minute with teaching, and it really reached into all aspects of my life. When I feel out of control, all of my bad habits pop back up. I've been working hard to control the coping mechanisms that have been my fall-back in the past (hello, chocolate!). I've had moderate success with it, but I've accepted that sometimes I just have to let things go.

Now, I am starting to regain control. It helps my mood tremendously. My house is still far from spotless, and I am still way behind in reconnecting socially, but I can tell I am improving. At least now I have food for us to eat when we get home, even if it isn't cooked yet. There were a few times when I got home with Sophie, looked in the fridge/freezer/pantry, and wondered what was toddler-edible. I've never been a gourmet. But at least there's usually bread and cheese for grilled cheese. Some nights in the not-too-distant past, we didn't even have the fixings for that!

Tim's been a big help too. He's covered Sophie duty here and there so I could get caught up. Last night I scored a huge pile of girl's 2T clothes, shoes, toys, and a baby gate, all for under $50. I've decided not to pay retail for things if I can help it--if Sophie is just going to dirty/rip it up, why pay an arm and a leg for it?

I've got a ton going on at work over the next week or so, and so does Tim. I'm trying to get everything situated before I leave for my scientific meeting, and Tim's got a huge project going in. I'm just glad his project goes in before I leave and not after--Tim is watching my co-worker's pug, along with Macgyver and Sophie, while we are gone. I told him I owe him big! I'm trying to think of something to do for him, and I'll take suggestions.

I'm still busy, and way behind on fun things like posting pictures, but I finally feel like I'm moving forward instead of marching in place. Once Tim is done with his class, I am counting on life settling down much more. I can't wait!

I could do without any more snow. Those of you in warmer climates can laugh, but for those of us living in NE Ohio, snow in April isn't unexpected. That doesn't mean I like it. Really, we went through a very mild March--I figured winter wouldn't be that nice to us. Still, it makes me really think about where we want to live for residency/fellowship and beyond...

So, pictures hopefully in the near future, and then it's back to your regularly scheduled musing/pondering/rambling. I know you missed it :)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Done!

I am home from my final class. That's it--no more teaching! I have a mountain of quizzes/papers/labs to grade, but I am so relieved to be done.

The funny thing is that I really liked the teaching part. It's the prep before and the grading after that drives me crazy!

It was pretty sweet though--I gave them their course evaluations to fill out at the beginning of class (which I don't see until after grades are in), and afterwards someone asked if I am teaching in the fall. I told them no, this was a one shot deal, and they should be hiring a full time faculty to teach next time. Several of the students said that they wish they could have their evals back so that they could tell them to have me teach again! And then several of the students thanked me for making the class so interesting, and then they all clapped for me!

It was really touching--of the 26 students, at least 20 of them came up to me and said how much they appreciated me teaching instead of talking down to them. So many of them were petrified of chemistry--many of them saved it until their final semester. I had a lot of very sweet comments. It really made my night.

So, I have grading to do, then I have to drive out to Hiram one last time to drop off their papers, and then I am done. I can't wait to have every other weekend back (and let's face it, many of my "off" weekends were spent working on class). April is busy for other reasons, but it will be nice to be able to plan things for weekends again.

Still, it's a little bittersweet. Now that I've done all the prep for this class, and I've figured out what works, I wish I could teach it again. It's the perfectionist in me. Overall, this class went pretty well, but I know I could do better next time.

Sophie's in bed for the night, so Tim and I won't be going out to celebrate, but it will be nice to sit at home and watch some trashy television with my hubby. Ciao!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Soon!

This weekend is my last teaching session (hooray!), so very soon things should start to get back to normal around here. I did decide something this week: I need to take a break from clinical trials. I've been signing up for every one I can find, but this week, I decided I am done. It happened after several failed IV attempts by a nurse. The trial took three hours total, it was a big pain (and painful!), and I only get $40 out of it. I'm in one long-term study right now, but otherwise, I am done for a while. I've been in "earn as much as I can" mode for a while now (well, my whole life, to be honest). The shaky economy has me nervous, and the home improvements we've been talking about aren't going to pay for themselves.

Still, I think I've finally come to understand that my time is valuable. I've always known that my time is scarce, but I'm starting to assign a monetary value to it. I'm trying to work on getting the most out of my time--for instance, when teaching averages out to less than minimum wage, it's not worth my time. When I factor in pain, a clinical trial either has to be short, sweet, and painless (like the time I made $270 for a total of 45 minutes of rinsing with mouthwash) or pay pretty well (the long term one I am in now isn't great, but it's not terrible either). These several hour, get poked a bunch, make 20-30 dollar ones aren't doing it anymore. The hassle factor is high. And while I hate the idea of turning down "free" money, I have to think about whether I'd rather be spending those few hours at home with Sophie (and not being poked constantly with sharp needles).

I've decided to stop looking like a junkie with my bruised arms from constant needle pokes. After this long term one finishes in June, I'm out. More money is always better, but I need a break.

So, teaching is over soon, and clinical trials will be soon as well. That means less money coming in. I am working on shuffling and trimming some of our monthly expenses--I just filed about 20 pages of paperwork to challenge our property tax assessment--so hopefully we'll stay at equilibrium without the extra income. We aren't in over our heads, thank goodness, but we aren't moving as far ahead in saving as we'd like.

We'll decide how much we like satellite TV and cell phones, and we'll see where we end up. But I'm already excited about having more of my valuable time free in the near future.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Freebies!

Hey! Sign up for A Full Cup and participate in the freebie madness! A Full Cup is a couponing site that's easy to use--it was one of my first sites when I started couponing. And freebies are always good, right?