021 // two thirds through

Technically I suppose there should be a hyphen in that title, but my blog, my choice, and I’m feeling lazy.

Obviously not so lazy that I can’t write a sentence (or two) about it, though.

 

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I am still in India and am officially two thirds of the way through my summer, although that can range from 66-72%, so it really depends on how you look at it.

Personally, I’m looking at it as being nearly three-fourths of the way through my time here in India. It is a difficult place to live, and not only because I’ve learned the hard way that I cannot eat spicy food. At all. No, it is difficult for so many other reasons.

But the time here has also been an incredible experience and opportunity, and I have learned quite a lot, about myself, public health, and program implementation. In the end I think I will be able to look back on my time here and feel that it was all worth it. For now, though, I admit to looking forward to my birthday gift to myself – two weeks in Europe. There will be face-stuffing with all the non-spicy food, packing extra croissants into my luggage to take home with me, and lots of hugs with friends and family that I have not seen in 9-10 years.

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In public health you frequently hear two quotes being repeated. The first relates to the quality of work – “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.” The point being that if you hold out for the best quality, or the perfect program implementation, you will be waiting for an awfully long time. Don’t let that quest for perfection stop you from doing something that is good and needed in the meantime.

The second quotation is to “Go where the problem is.” Alright. I am here. I am seeing children who will die because they don’t have enough food, and mothers who will die because they don’t have access to appropriate care. I am working with an organization fighting to care for the people here, and it is heart-wrenching. There are so many aspects of daily life in the US that I think, “Geez, XYZ would be great right about now and would take care of this completely,” but then I have to take a step back and realize that not only is that not here, the possibility is such a distant dream that it qualifies as the “perfection” in the first quote. I am learning that what is good here is something that I never would have anticipated.

 

Perhaps there was no point to this. I am here where the problem is. I am learning good versus perfection in this setting. I am learning. That is the point with summer internships, isn’t it?

 

Time spent: 19 minutes

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005 // The picture says it well

Last fall I applied for graduate school. A lot of stuff was happening during those months and I did not feel too comfortable or confident with my applications. To counter the rejection sure to come my way, I sent my application packet to more schools than necessary. The schools would reject me, I thought, and thus help me make my decision.

About 2.5 months have passed since I hit “Submit” for my grad school applications. My first letter arrived within three weeks, and they’ve been trickling in since. So far they have all been letters of acceptance.

The flurry of emotions surrounding this is complicated. Part of me wants to call it luck (“luckily they’ve all been acceptance letters”), but that would diminish the effort exerted to get to this stage. Part of me wants to bury my head in the sand and let someone else make the final choice for me – it would absolve me of fault if I fail sometime in the future (“it’s because I went to X University instead of Z University, and So-And-So picked it out”).

Mainly I feel incredibly grateful. Grateful for the work I put in to get where I am today. Grateful for the opportunity to go back to school and study something I find interesting. Grateful to know that there are people, programs, and schools out there who think I am a worth-while investment. Grateful that the most complex decision in my life right now is answering the question “which school should I attend?”

Someday I will share with you the list of schools I applied to. Maybe I will share their responses. There might be information on how I made my final decision. All of it will wait until after I put down my deposit and accept a spot in the program.

From one of the schools. 2/6
From one of the schools. 2/6

Until then, anyone want to tell me where I should go?

Time spent: 30 minutes

004 // The Bandwagon

A lot of things fell apart at the end of last year and then, as I struggled to catch up, I let a lot of things stay by the wayside.

But my goal for 2015 was to get my life back to some semblance of normal. So come January I found myself trying to jump back on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon. My refrigerator was full of veggies, my countertop host to a bowl of fruit, and my running shoes next to the front door.

The weeks went by. I threw away the old vegetables, held my nose as I dumped the spoiled and smelly fruit, and wondered how my shoes had accumulated such a thick layer of dust. My work schedule was crazy and fifty hour weeks with no lunch breaks were my new normal. The elusive work-life balance was nowhere to be found and things were heavily weighted towards the work side of the equation. I ate cereal or ice cream for dinner more times than I care to admit.

So here I am, six weeks into the new year and still trying to crawl my way back to a normal, healthy lifestyle. Instead of throwing away spoiled veggies, I have a salad for lunch. The fruit no longer rots because I set phone reminders to eat it for snacks or dessert (or both). The layer of dust on my shoes has been replaced with a layer of dirt from my weekly trail runs.

It’s been three weeks and it is still difficult to view these changes as habits. Everyday I find myself questioning why I do it. Trying to justify it. And many days I fail, climb back in bed, and remember when this part of my life came naturally.

But sometimes I do roll out of bed, climb into those shoes, and hit the ground running.

Me at the top of Mt. Diablo after a six-mile trail run. 1/31
1/31: Me at the top of Mt. Diablo after a six-mile trail run.

Sometime soon those days will outnumber the ones where I choose to sleep-in. It won’t be today, or even next week. But it will happen soon.

Time spent: 23 minutes

003 // One of those lists…

  1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
  2. Swam with dolphins
  3. Climbed a mountain
  4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
  5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
  6. Held a tarantula
  7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
  8. Said “I love you” and meant it
  9. Hugged a tree
  10. Bungee jumped
  11. Visited Paris
  12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
  13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
  14. Seen the Northern Lights
  15. Gone to a huge sports game
  16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
  17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
  18. Touched an iceberg
  19. Slept under the stars
  20. Changed a baby’s diaper
  21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
  22. Watched a meteor shower
  23. Gotten drunk on champagne
  24. Given more than you can afford to charity
  25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
  26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
  27. Had a food fight
  28. Bet on a winning horse
  29. Asked out a stranger
  30. Had a snowball fight
  31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
  32. Held a lamb
  33. Seen a total eclipse
  34. Ridden a roller coaster
  35. Hit a home run
  36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking
  37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
  38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
  39. Had two hard drives for your computer
  40. Visited all 50 states
  41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
  42. Had amazing friends
  43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
  44. Watched whales
  45. Stolen a sign
  46. Backpacked in Europe
  47. Taken a road-trip
  48. Gone rock climbing
  49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach
  50. Gone sky diving
  51. Visited Ireland
  52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
  53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
  54. Visited Japan
  55. Milked a cow
  56. Alphabetized your CDs
  57. Pretended to be a superhero
  58. Sung karaoke
  59. Lounged around in bed all day
  60. Played touch football
  61. Gone scuba diving
  62. Kissed in the rain
  63. Played in the mud
  64. Played in the rain
  65. Gone to a drive-in theatre
  66. Visited the Great Wall of China
  67. Started a business
  68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
  69. Toured ancient sites
  70. Taken a martial arts class
  71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
  72. Gotten married
  73. Been in a movie
  74. Crashed a party
  75. Gotten divorced
  76. Gone without food for 5 days
  77. Made cookies from scratch
  78. Won first prize in a costume contest
  79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
  80. Gotten a tattoo
  81. Rafted the Snake River
  82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”
  83. Gotten flowers for no reason
  84. Performed on stage
  85. Been to Las Vegas
  86. Recorded music
  87. Eaten shark
  88. Kissed on the first date
  89. Gone to Thailand
  90. Bought a house
  91. Been in a combat zone
  92. Buried one/both of your parents
  93. Been on a cruise ship
  94. Spoken more than one language fluently
  95. Performed in Rocky Horror
  96. Raised children
  97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
  98. Passed out cold
  99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
  100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
  101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
  102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
  103. Had plastic surgery
  104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
  105. Wrote articles for a large publication
  106. Lost over 100 pounds
  107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
  108. Piloted an airplane
  109. Touched a stingray
  110. Broken someone’s heart
  111. Helped an animal give birth
  112. Won money on a TV game show
  113. Broken a bone
  114. Gone on an African photo safari
  115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
  116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
  117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
  118. Ridden a horse
  119. Had major surgery
  120. Had a snake as a pet
  121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
  122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period
  123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States
  124. Visited all 7 continents
  125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
  126. Eaten kangaroo meat
  127. Eaten sushi
  128. Had your picture in the newspaper
  129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
  130. Gone back to school
  131. Parasailed
  132. Touched a cockroach
  133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
  134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
  135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
  136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
  137. Skipped all your school reunions
  138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
  139. Been elected to public office
  140. Written your own computer language
  141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
  142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
  143. Built your own PC from parts
  144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
  145. Had a booth at a street fair
  146. Dyed your hair
  147. Been a DJ
  148. Shaved your head
  149. Caused a car accident
  150. Saved someone’s life

 

Time spent: 16 minutes

Updated: 6/12/16.

002 // Rainy Autumn Mornings

My alarm woke me at 4:55 this morning. I kept my head on my pillow as I pondered clothes for the day. It is a generally useless activity – the first outfit I plan is never the one I wear. The cold air hit my legs as I pushed away the covers and sought the comfort and warmth of my slippers.

Sleepily I dragged myself to the dresser and pulled on workout clothes. Feetures socks. Nike capris. Champion sports bra. Aasics tank. Champion long-sleeve. REI vest. Nike jacket. As I shuffled around the apartment, I tried to keep track of what was left to do. “Purse. Brush teeth. Gym bag. Clothes for work. Water bottle. Watch. Yoga pants. Phone.”

I grabbed black pants and a red sweater for work and was out the door into the pitch black by 5:30. The ground was wet from a night of rain. The air had that crisp, sweet smell. I love this time of morning – no one is around and you get to enjoy the few minutes you have.

Also, I don’t know why I packed yoga pants. I’m not going to do yoga today. Instead I’m going to nap in my car or eat leftover pizza. One of the two. I should read my homework, but I know it will not happen.

This morning was my first time running at the track in nine weeks. I started early so that I wouldn’t feel compelled to keep up with people as I get back in shape. Instead people joined me for my cool down as they warmed up. It was nice to have company on the dark track. By the time 6:00 rolled around, I was back to being bundled up in my layers, and by 6:15 I was yelling encouragements and times at the other runners. It isn’t much, but it is the only social activity I have on some of the more stressful and jam-packed weeks.

I liked being at the track this morning. Everyone was in a good mood. It was dark. It was quiet. It was raining again, and by 6:30 all you could hear was people breathing and their wet shoes hitting the rubber track. It was a comforting morning and a good way to start off the day.

Time spent: 23 minutes