Monthly Archives: June 2015

Hail and Farewell

Today is Dr Burns’s last day.  She was the CEO back before we became a med school in our own right.  Back then, the administration offices were just around the corner from my office, so I saw her regularly.  In the restroom.  Getting coffee.  Stopping to chat in the hallway.  She was a good boss.  I always felt that we worked in collaboration with administration when she was at the helm.

But that’s not why I’ll miss her.  (Okay, not entirely.  But our department hasn’t reported to her in three years, so as far as work itself is concerned, we’ve been missing her for a while.)

You may remember a story I told after Sofia died.  I said that a colleague told me that she wished she could make it better but that she’d left her magic wand in South Dakota when she moved here.  That was Dr Burns.

I can’t remember if I mentioned that someone made a memorial donation in Sofia’s name last year, a year after her death.  That was Dr Burns.

She was there to listen if I needed that.  When I was pregnant with Anna, she was there to reassure me that I was surrounded by caring physicians, even when I was at work.

She is off to a much-deserved retirement.  And the third floor will be very different without her.


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A Very Happy Week

There’s really one thing, ultimately, that’s making me happy this week.

The Supreme Court

I mean, do I really need to go on?  Housing discrimination, the ACA, gay marriage…  It’s been a good week for civil rights.

I’m giddy.  I really didn’t know what to expect in any of these cases.  The Court has been so conservative, so while I was hopeful, I was trying not to keep my hopes up.

But this week?  This week humanity won.  The world into which my daughter was born has become a little bit kinder, a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more open-minded.  And that is what we ask of progress.

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Thinking of Mother Emanuel

The attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston had me thinking at two o’clock this morning.  And I probably should have just written about it then.  I seem to recall some pretty coherent thoughts.  I hope I can remember them now.

My heart aches for the families of those who were killed.  At a prayer service, one of those speaking said that if we believe Jesus did not die in vain, then we must also believe that their family members did not die in vain.  I hope they can take comfort in that thought.  I know I would have wanted to scream if someone had told me that a day after Sofia died.  But I don’t have that kind of faith.  As far as religion is concerned, I’m not really sure what I believe these days.  And if their family members do not find comfort in their faith, maybe they will once they’ve had time to grieve.

It makes me angry.  It makes me sad.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand how one can hold such hatred for strangers.  Are there people I don’t like?  Of course.  Are there people who annoy me?  Absolutely.  But I can’t imagine hurting them.  And I don’t understand how one could extrapolate to sheer bigotry.  I may dislike a person who is tall, but I don’t extend that dislike to all tall people.  I don’t hate all tall people simply because I’ve been treated poorly by one.  And I don’t hate all blonde people because I’ve heard that they can be mean sometimes even though they’ve never actually done anything to me.  I don’t understand how, in this day and age, one comes to such a place of hatred.

And this violence stemmed from a very strong hatred.  The 9/11 terrorists did a horrible thing.  But they did not look at each passenger as an individual and say, “I’m going to kill you.”  How can we treat the attack at Mother Emanuel as something less?  To me, despite the fact that fewer people were killed, it is in many ways much much worse.  To sit with people for an hour before pulling out a gun, looking at each person in the church, and saying, in effect, “I don’t know you, but I know I hate you.  And I’m going to kill you.”  (If you haven’t seen Jon Stewart’s monologue about the attack, you can watch it here.)

But in my home in Michigan, removed from the South with it’s legacy of Jim Crow, mostly it makes me sad.  I’m sad to know that my daughter was born into a world where this sort of racism still exists.  Yes, I believe the First Amendment protects even the most hateful of speech.  The government should not be in the job of condemning speech.  But that doesn’t mean that we, as a society, have to condone it.

Of the reporting I’ve heard, there’s one thing that has made me say, “I want to hear more.”  Apparently one of the terrorist’s friends has described him as a white supremacist who had been plotting this attack.  The reason I want to hear more is because of that word:  friend.  Is the media using the word “friend” because there is no better word?  But “neighbor”, “acquaintance”, “classmate”…  There are other options.  So I want to know if this individual considered himself a friend.  I want to know how, if he knew about the terrorist’s views, they were still friends.  Because to me there are two ways you’re still friends.  1:  You listened to his ramblings and agreed with them.  2:  You listened to his ramblings and said nothing.  And both of those are bad.  I hope that my daughter grows up strong enough that if she confronts such bigotry in one of her friends, that she does just that.  Confronts it.  That she has the strength to challenge her friend’s views.  I hope she has the strength to say that she does not hate them for their views, but that she cannot call herself their friend while they hold such unsupported hatred in their hearts.

And being a theatre girl, of course I kept thinking of South Pacific.  “Carefully Taught” has always been my favorite song.  Even when I was a kid, I loved that song.  Even when I didn’t totally understand its message, the rhythm of the music and the meter of the lyric made me feel that there was something special about it.  And as an adult, as a parent, it means even more.  I hope I teach my daughter to recognize the humanity in all people.  I hope that I teach her compassion and empathy.

I’ll leave you with this version of “Carefully Taught”.  It’s one of my favorites.  It’s a mash-up with “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods, sung by Mandy Patinkin.  It really increases the impact of the message of each song.  Does he over-emote at times?  Did Count Rugen kill Inigo Montoya’s father?  But I still love it.  It still reminds me of the responsibility each generation has to help teach the next to be better.  And maybe someday we’ll have a world where this hatred has finally burned itself out.

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I really do intend to post more than once a week.  Really.  I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.  I mean, I thought I’d do it at work.  You know, on my lunch break.  But I’ve been so busy doing, you know, work that I don’t even think about it.  And then I get home and someone keeps me busy.  And then it’s bedtime, and I’m tired, and I think I’ll worry about it tomorrow.  And I really mean to write the next day, but then, well…

And there’ve been some tough things in the news this week.  Really tough things.  Just that little mass murder in Charleston.  At a church.

And I haven’t made it through the pages I’ve been saving that I want to read because I think they’ll be interesting to share.  So I’ve been trying to think of what’s been making me happy this week.

  1. Good customer service #1.  Someone hacked my Hulu account and was using it to watch premium content.  Now the only way to guarantee that a hacker no longer has access to your Hulu account is to completely delete the account and start new.  (I’d been debating about dropping back to a free account since I have so little time to watch TV anyway.)  I emailed support to express my frustration.  A rep with a name (Catherine, in case you’re wondering) wrote back to tell me how she could help with canceling my account if I wanted to do so.  When I hadn’t responded in a couple of days, she wrote again, just to follow up.  Since the person was still using my account, I wrote back that I did want to cancel.  She canceled my subscription, refunded my last payment, and then wrote to let me know that she’d done so and to let me know how to delete my free account.  It still sucks to lose my queue, but I’m really impressed that a single rep followed through on my entire ticket.
  2. Good customer service #2.  I got a really weird call today from the company that supplied my testing strips when I had GD.  My autofill order was scheduled to be shipped on Monday.  I should call back to confirm.  I called back and said that I didn’t need the supplies.  She apologized, canceled the order, and said she’d update my record to show that I had GD and wouldn’t need additional supplies.  Oh, and she looked me up by birthdate.  That’s it.  I gave her my birthday and she responded with my name.  (I did suggest that there might be something weird going on in their system since a resupply should have happened back in February or March if I’d been signed up for autofill.  She seemed perplexed by what I was trying to say…)
  3. But what’s really making me happy this week is that I have my pendant back.  I picked it up at the jeweler’s yesterday.  It is exactly what I wanted.  And the stones look amazing together although that was unintentional.  So I once again have my little remembrance of Sofia around my neck.  And a little remembrance of Anna is there, too.

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A Belated Thank You

What’s making me happy this week?  Well, what’s making me happy is really something that was making me happy last week.  It’s something that I meant to write about last week.  But a certain someone has been keeping me busy.  (Not to mention work… and errands… and sleep…)

So this post is at least a week late.

My village is making me happy this week.  And last week.  And the week before. 

As I’m sure you recall, my parents had the nerve to have another kid.  And they have such chutzpah that they went and had him before I was born!  And now and then, they think they should actually go and visit!  Well, it was once again time for Grandparents’ Day at my nieces’ school.  Which is fine.  Except for the fact that left me sans childcare.

I put out the call, and the village people stepped up.  Amanda even took a day off in order to take care of Anna.  So a huge shout-out to Margaret, Erica, Issa, Amanda, and Becky for taking a day (or two — Margaret & Issa).  And also to Molly and Preston and Clare and Nicki for being available (or willing to make themselves so) in a pinch.  And to Terese for bemoaning the fact that the school year wasn’t over so she couldn’t make herself available.  And Rachel for wishing her husband’s work schedule would have made it possible for her to take a day or two.  I’ve said multiple times that I knew I could do this single mom thing because I knew I had an awesome group of friends.  (Yes, only one of these people is actually related to me.  I love my family, and I love my family of choice.)  The ten days I needed help, my friends reminded me that they really and truly are there for me.

Maybe next week I’ll manage to put together a post of the interesting articles and sundries that have been amusing me.  For now, I’ll just leave you with this article about the sound design for Jurassic Park.  It’s both interesting (I think sound design is a fascinating job) and funny.

Thanks again, village people!  

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A Happy Birthday

  1. Something I forgot last week… and the week before…  We had lunch with Jess and Patty, and with Jess’s kids.  Her son told my mom about a March of Dimes walk he participated in.  There was a tree with blue and white stars, one color for babies who were alive and the other for babies who had died.  He hung up a star with Sofia’s name on it.  Happy tears!!!
  2. Yes, it’s my birthday.  Anna decided to sleep until I got her up to go to Nonna and Gpa’s for the day.  And she was happy the whole way there.
  3. Yesterday, I was singing scales while walking around Costco.  Anna really likes it when I sing scales.
  4. My mom meets me at the door when I drop Anna off in the morning.  Today, she was holding a container of Golden Grahams S’Mores.  (That’s what my brother and I always took to school as our birthay treats.)  And then she sang happy birthday.
  5. My nieces made me adorably awesome birthday cards.
  6. The card from my brother was a blessing from the Dolly Llama.  I laughed harder than may have been appropriate…
  7. My parents (and Anna, of course) gave me two wonderful things.  The first is a journal in which photos and notes will continue to be added over the years.  The first is dated 2013 and is from Sofia.  The second is current and from Anna.  And I now have a framed picture of each of my girls to put in my office.  Lots of happy tears!!!

Yes, I’m probably still missing some things.  I’ll keep adding them in the future.  But now?  Now it’s time for supper.  Salmon.  Another thing that’s making me happy!  Yum!


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She Knows What She Likes

To mix things up these evening, I was singing some spirituals.  Your basic “Wade in the Water”.  Your hopeful “No More Peck o’ Corn”.  Your melancholy “Poor Children Suffer Here.”  During that last song, Anna was not impressed.  She wailed and cried.  Which, really, is kind of fitting.  It is a sad song.

Anyway, since she was clearly not enjoying my spiritual medley, I switched to “Cockles and Mussels.”  Immediately, a grin spread across her face and she cooed and laughed.

Sad Negro spiritual?  No.

Sad Irish song?  Most definitely yes.

She’s three months old and is already developing firm opinions on her folk music.

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