Friday, September 23, 2011

1000 Delicious Ways to Die

Believe it or not, I am still alive, but just barely. Vet school has tried its hardest to remedy that situation, but without success. In the past three weeks, I've poked and prodded annoyed horses, stuck my hand in an angry cow's mouth, been stepped on by an animal weighing more than half a ton, been exposed to what are most assuredly non-OSHA approved levels of formalin and noxious fumes from over 30 dead animals in a single room for hours on end, and been chronically deprived of sleep. How is it that I overcame all those challenges intact, yet almost met my demise at the hands (or stem, as it may be) of a squash? Not even once, but twice!
While dirt cheap, easy to cook, nutritious, and far too delicious for its own good, squash, I posit, poses serious hazards to one's personal safety. While cutting into an acorn squash several days ago, the stem popped off, sending the vicious teeth of the saw (yes, I was using a jigsaw to cut open vegetables. I probably should have seen this coming) into an innocent bystander (ie: my finger). For such a tiny cut, I felt like a total pansy for being in so much pain for a good 24 hours (the pain has stopped now, but it's still bleeding here and there). Come to think of it, I should have felt ridiculous for using woodcutting tools on produce, but in my defense, those buggers are hard to get into and I was really hungry at the time. As I was slicing my cadaver in anatomy lab (with more appropriate tools), my hand cramped up, and all I could think of was, "Oh God, when was my last tetanus shot? I'm going to die because of squash!"
In all honesty, if I had to choose a way to go, death by squash doesn't sound too bad. As long as I got to eat it first, it would totally be worth it. How does that old poem go? "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country, but delicious to die for one's dinner." (That last part may or may not be a personal addendum.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A surprisingly expected and unexpectedly surprising week

I always expect that people will surprise me, which  makes it sort of a self non-fulfilling prophecy because an anticipated surprise is no surprise at all. This week has seen far more than its fair share of surprises. Take today, for instance. This afternoon, I peered out the window to see what jerk was blaring tasteless rap as he drove by (purposefully slowly just to piss me off, I think). What did I see but a '99 Chrysler minivan rolling down the street, rusty body pulsating and rattling with every beat of its souped-up subwoofer. Later, walking out of church, I couldn't help but chuckle at the tackiest hat I've ever seen: a black trucker hat with red and orange flames emblazoned all over it ... worn by an 87-year-old woman with a walker.
As I speak (well, type), six little surprises are running across the keyboard, thwarting my efforts. When I applied with a local rescue to foster a cat (a being the operative article), I was waiting for some elderly feline citizen to grace my couch with its presence for a few months. Surprise! I got an entire litter of kittens. Like a box of kids' cereal, these little guys had a prize inside: coccidia. For those not in the veterinary field, that basically means that my life at home for the next week to twelve days will be defined by two unique sensory experiences: diarrhea and bleach.
My life at veterinary school so far can also be characterized by poo (which I fear will remain a theme not only for the next few weeks but for the foreseeable future in my chosen career path); the first few weeks are cows, horses, and everything that comes out (and gets all over) them.3333333333333333333333`-==========09999999999
I almost deleted that last line, but Marjoram worked so hard on it. She let out a very proud purr as she tiptoed across the keyboard.
With all the surprises this past week, the only source from whom I did not anticipate the unexpected (which is the definition of unexpected, come to think of it) was myself. Prepared for exotic experiences and unforseen circumstances with my foster babies and school, I55555tr (Marjoram again) I didn't even consider how I would have to change to meet these novel challenges. I've never even owned a cat before, now I have six. And, as of 3 am this morning, those six are spewing bodily fluids out both ends. What to do? I've been in school before, but never in a course of study that requires 6776(kind of getting annoying, but still cute enough to leave in) the kind of intense study, dedication, commitment, and lifestyle changes that vet school demands. How would I handle it? Had I stopped to think, I probably would have concluded that I would fail miserably and should capitulate now. I should give in to the urges that overwhelm me in my quiet moments: pack up my things, hop on a plane, and retreat back from this intimidating (yet thrilling, fascinating, and promising) new world to my familiar home, family, and dogs (for whom cats, even six impossibly adorable little ones, are a poor substitute).
Thank God I didn't stop and think. I just did. With every challenge presented to me, I put my head down, put my nose to the grindstone, and got the job done. =-e-----[[[[ (Coriander this time, now gnawing on the corner of my laptop) Sometimes I got it wrong (no matter how I jerry-rigged the many kitty enclosures I constructed, the little buggers managed to escape, and no matter what I did, Bessie the cow just would not let me examine her mouth adequately), but sometimes I got it right. Overwhelmed by responsibilities - studying, going to class early and staying late, confining, caring for, and cleaning up after kittens - I could have just shut down and conceded defeat, abandoning my commitments like I've done so many times in the past. (Marjoram managed to traverse the keyboard without stepping on a single key - she's an evil acrobatic genius, I tell you) And yet, I didn't. Something is different now. It seems like a neon sign suddenly lit up over my head that said "Adult" with a giant fluorescent arrow pointing straight at me. I got it right when I didn't let go of that damned cow's head and wrestled with her until I won. I got it right when I sprung out of bed every hour from 3 am onward this morning to check on the kittens as they horked up their kibbles 'n' bits, when I sat with them for hours auscultating hearts, assessing hydration status, taking heart and respiration rates, and cleaning noxious bodily fluids from my bathroom floor. I know I got it right when I chose this life for myself because in every such instance, the consistent (and sole coherent) thought in my head is, Damn I love this.
Looking back on this week, I've surprised myself with my diligence in keeping commitments, so unlike how I have historically. A few months ago, I never would have gotten up at 5 am every morning so that I would have time to sit with kittens, clean up, and get tho class early, especially after staying up until 1 am every morning putting the house in good order, re-duct taping the kitty prison after numerous jailbreaks, and over-studying for an anatomy quiz. So what's changed? What made that adult sign appear? In the pre-dawn gloaming, I sat in my pjs, bleary-eyed and groggy, on a bathroom floor spattered with kitty litter and diarrhea residue, my stethoscope around my neck, taking the pulses of some very sick kittens, another neon sign flickered to life. Three shining iridescent letters lit up the dim pre-dawn room, the ones that mean more to me than any others in the world and that now define who I am, what I do, and why I do it: VET.
The spiels they gave at orientation - that we're members of the profession now, part of the veterinary community - were true. I've run myself ragged upholding my commitments this past week because my actions bear new significance. It may be another four years before I get the next significant three letters (DVM), but moments like this morning have made it abundantly clear that I have accepted the responsibilities, privileges, frustrations, joys, and pains in the ass (stop chewing on my power cord!!! no, don't claw the couch, dammit! Gah! that was my toe!) of a veterinarian. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~################5666666\\ (Speaking of pains in the ass)
I love the role I've chosen, so it should have come as no surprise that I will do whatever it takes, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable or out of my comfort zone, to live up to it and be worthy of those three magical letters that have already begun to set the course of not only my future, but of each and every exhausting, smelly, squishy, pre-dawn, and post-midnight moment.
A real-time image of this blog entry

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Still here

It's 9:22 and here I am waiting for my now stand-by dinner of roasted eggplant and heirloom tomatoes to cook. What better way to pass the time than to break my blogging fast (well, besides doing something productive)? Here's a quick recap of the past two weeks:
I saw lions and tigers and bears.
I ate stinky cheese at a very hoity toity restaurant.
I went to the Minnesota State Fair. I still don't get what all the fuss is about. I must still be a New Englander at heart and not yet fully integrated with my new home.
I rolled on the floor laughing (the best way to deflate an air mattress, the rolling that is. The laughter is an unintended side effect).
I went to camp with my new classmates, all 100 of them (four other Megans among them). Best soundbite from the two day excursion: I milked his trunk. No context is needed nor will any be provided. What happens at camp stays at camp (unless it's a venereal disease).
I bought a windows laptop just so I wouldn't have to infect my beautiful mac (risking personal safety in the process - you never know about people on craigslist).
I ate eggplant and corn almost every single day.
Speaking of eggplant, my supper is calling. My usual in-depth reflection and deep insights about the nature of life and the human spirit will follow in the next few days. I know you'll be waiting with baited breath, hitting the refresh button on your browser like the snooze on a particularly vicious Monday morning.