Thursday, February 26, 2009

Working Girl/Mom

For the next two weeks, I am doing some accompanying for Mr. Smith, a local instrumental teacher. I'm playing for his high school students' solo festival this coming weekend, and I'm rehearsing with them for two weeks. I played for them last year, and I agreed to do it again this year because the kids are pretty great. I am taking the baby with me to the rehearsals at the teacher's home. Tuesday, the first rehearsal day, didn't go very well. Poor Gunner was having a bad day, and he did not appreciate being suddenly awoken from his nice carseat nap to a loud piano/clarinet duet. Turns out, he doesn't really enjoy the sound of the clarinet all that much. He couldn't sleep through it, and he was so tired that he screamed the entire hour and half I was there. We both returned home exhausted and irritable, and I was regretting my decision to do this tiny bit of work because it seemed so bad for the baby.

Mr. Smith hired a babysitter for Thursday's rehearsal, and the whole thing went much better. The baby had a better day in general, and he was very well-behaved for the sitter. Plus, since I was in the other room, I could hop on back between kids and feed him, rock him, or change him. It was so much better! The one downside was that the babysitter wasn't very interactive. When he fussed, she would just sit there, staring at the TV. I'm sure it's just because I'm his mom, but I know what he wanted when he was fussing, and she wasn't doing anything to help him solve his problems. She wouldn't rock him, or interact with him in any way. After I fed him and he took a nap, he just wanted to be played with, and she wouldn't even do that.

I am happy to help Mr. Smith out with the festival. I'm happy to see the kids again, and it is nice to be playing for something again. Accompanying these kids is fun because they work hard, they're talented, and I get to do a bit of teaching and coaching them as to how to play in an ensemble. However, I am so grateful that I am not a full-time working mom. I know people who do it, and love it, and are so good at this type of multi-tasking, and I admire them for all they do at work and for their kids. But I am grateful that Spiff makes it possible for me to stay home, even though we are living on a student's loan budget. I wouldn't make a good working least to a little baby.

This Friday is the festival, and Spiff is taking the afternoon off to stay home with Gunner. I will be gone for long enough that I will miss a feeding, and so we have been working on getting Gunner to take a bottle. He doesn't like it at all, and we can only get him to eat by feeding him out of a medicine spoon. It's actually pretty amusing to watch him as he realizes that the stuff dribbling into his mouth is actually food.

And for the record, Gunner seems to have gotten used to the piano, and I have been able to effectively practice with him by my side several times. My performance of Clair de Lune at the church function last weekend went okay, after I got over my initial nerves. He has also allowed me to do several hours of practicing. I'm sure we'll go through another entirely different phase of the baby/practicing relationship once he gets mobile.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The human face of our economic state

So, I could probably rightly be accused of being youthfully callous. I have two conflicting sets of beliefs regarding helping other people. On the one hand I subscribe to a Jeffersonian ideal wherein everyone has the means to help themselves, provided they possess the willpower and drive to accomplish a goal. On the other hand, I also believe King Benjamin's discourse in the book of Mosiah chapter 4 wherein he states :

"v. 16 And also, ye yourselves will succor
those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
v. 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
v. 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God."

We often hear the debate at church about whether or not the beggar is really begging and in need, or if he's just scamming you, or the fact that maybe the beggar is going to buy alcohol or drugs with your money. King Benjamin clearly states that as long as we're willing to give, then it doesn't matter if the beggar is misleading us or not.

The reason I bring up these two conflicting beliefs is because of an experience I had tonight. The doorbell rang in the middle of dinner which happens rarely, so I answered it. In front of me was a middle aged man clutching a clipboard, wearing a grimey hoody with an ID tag on it. He spoke in a way that made me wonder if maybe he wasn't perhaps less well endowed in the intellect department. He told me he was the paper deliverer, and that he was trying to boost his subscriptions. Evidently the local paper has cut a portion of its publications that made up fifty percent of our paper carrier's income. As a consequence he was trying to make up the deficit by getting the neighborhood to subscribe at a discounted rate to the Sunday paper. I felt really sorry for the guy, and his pitch was such that I was really having a hard time saying no. I don't really have the time to read the paper, despite my belief that newspapers are essential in a democracy (that's another topic for another time). As students as well, our budget is pretty tight, and the newspaper is a luxury I don't think we can afford.
I demurred to his offer, though I wished him luck in his endeavors and hoped he would find enough subscribers to make ends meet. Here I had been presented by the real face of the current economic downturn. The man had not chosen for the newspaper to stop a portion of its publications, and given his modest intellectual endowment, might only be able to be a paper deliverer. I realize that I have probably given too much weight to the "everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps" portion of my dichotomous beliefs, though this man epitomizes that ethos since he was actively trying legitimately increase his income.

As I closed the door, I thought of the inflated comparisons between the current recession and the Great Depression, and as the door shut it seemed to me as though I had just said "no" in response to the song of the 30's, "Brother, can you spare a dime?" In my head I justified my refusal of the subscription because we don't have a lot of money, but in reality, I could probably have found enough to help the guy out. Next time I won't say 'no', if he asks me if I can spare a dime.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I wish I were a turtle

I'm not a declensionist, but it sure feels like I am sometimes. I currently would like to run away to some pristine island, and start over again. Wait, I think that people did that in the 19th century and the fact that none of those utopian communities are still surviving is a testament to the fact that even if I could run away, nothing would change in the long run. I get pretty discouraged by the health care system sometimes. We have been battling our insurance company for 4 months, since our son was born to get them to pay our bill. The two hospitals administered by Tenet (our Tier 1 providers) in our area do not do OB. Ergo, you have to go to another hospital. For some reason, the other hospital doesn't realize they are my tier 1 OB provider, and bills me accordingly. Now, all of the University's OB cases go here, but somehow they think that, as a medical student, I'm somehow not affiliated with the University. Fortunately, last week, I got the Dean who administers the university health plan on my side, so hopefully he'll lay the smack down on the Hospital.

I would also like to move away to avoid a government that is pissing money away so fast it's like the US Treasury is on fire. I feel like it's 1864 and Jefferson Davis is busy administering my fiscal affairs. Of course we haven't gotten to the point where we're printing worthless money, but I worry. I don't usually wax political on here, but man I am tired of these trillion dollar packages being ram-rodded down my throat. For a government that promised greater transparency, why was the full 1200 page text of the latest debt-fest not published for public viewing until 18 hours before the final vote? Thank you Jefferson and Madison, but there are a few common citizens with grey matter who would like to know just what those bozos in washington are doing now that we've elected them.

Can we please, please, stop the hemorrhaging of money into companies that aren't viable to begin with? If the American automobile industry can't be bothered to understand the market enough to make a car I want to buy, then why should my tax dollars be used to bail them out? If you won't support us by choice, then we'll make you support us by taxation! whee! The trouble is, right now I don't even get the joy of owning a Chevy that will die in 3 years, I just get to pay for them to be made. Yeah, yeah, I should be patriotic and 'Buy American'. Trouble is, american cars suck. I'd rather own a Toyota made in mexico than some crapper from Detroit. Why is the Camry the best selling sedan? hmm. I think it's because it's reliable. And let me reiterate, it's reliable.

For your information, things could be worse. The picture above is a bona fide picture of a 100 Billion zimbabwe dollar bill. That's right folks, $10^11. That currency is worth more as an eBay novelty than it is as a piece of money.

OK, I'm done. You don't have to agree with me, and I promise, it will be a while before I indulge in another street corner rant. Speaking of which, my wife and I saw a street corner prophet on our way to church today. He was wearing white leggings (or whatever you call those close fitting pants) and a matching white smock, I guess you'd call it. My question was this, where do you get those kinds of clothes? I assume you have to either be handy with a sewing machine, or know someone who is, because when I was last at Old Navy, I didn't see a "raving lunatic" section.

Ok, now I'm really done, I promise.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Attempt #1

I have been asked to play "Claire de Lune" at a church event on Saturday night. I don't have a lot of time to learn it, and I'm hoping that I'm not too out of practice to play it decently well. But I really do need to practice, seeing as how I haven't played in public for about four years. G.A. got up from his morning nap in a good mood, so I decided to pull out the piece and practice up a bit. I set him up in his bouncy chair with his toys, right next to the piano. I got through the first page before he started fussing. I checked him, and he smiled at me, so I figured that he must be fine. I turned back to the piano, and he immediately let some a string of loud, sad sobs. I picked him up, and he calmed right down.

This is what I learned from this attempt:
1. If Gunner could talk, he would say, "Momma, stop ignoring me!" But since he can't do that, he uses his very effective attention-getting sob.
2. If I'm going to play the piano more often, I'm going to have to ease the baby into it, one page at a time.
3. It turns out that he was hungry. I should try again after a he's well-fed and well-rested and see how it goes.

It makes me wonder how my former grad school colleague accomplished her last two doctoral recitals with a new baby at home. I am also glad I'm not trying to do what she did.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


So, I was a jerk. I put some rather sarcastic stuff on a post that has been removed. Thank you to those people who put up some rather undiplomatic (and thus not posted) comments. Apologies to the individual implicated in the post.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Die is Cast

Well, I have registered for and selected the date of my Step I of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (or simply Step I). June 12 is the fateful day, when I shall dance with fate and her hideous gavotte shall spin me round and leave me no options but to become a psychiatrist. In order to mitigate the affects of said gavotte, or even fate's repulsive minuet, I have begun to study for step I. This would probably classify me as a gunner in the eyes of most of my classmates. I take exception to that, however, as a gunner is someone who subverts other's learning by providing erroneous information in order to maximize their own chances at doing well. I fail to see how my studying will in any way change the outcome of Step I for anyone else. Like a certain husband in Miss Margaret's blog, I have started reviewing micro biology and also reading through First Aid, my step I review book. My hopes are that I will do well enough to have my pick of anesthesiology residency spots, which means I will have to score in the 270's. Ok, that's totally false. Lets just hope I do better than the national average. If I surpass my personal goal, I will let you guys know, trust me.

In other news, I continue to have the persistent hip pain that has dogged me since my mission, 8 years ago. I had hoped that a month and a half of working out at the Y would at least begin to lessen the constant muscle pain, but a run on friday prove me wrong. Back to the drawring board and time to strengthen those crappy little abductors. Maybe Dan could set me up with an early arthroplasty. Of course, that would leave me lame at age 50, but, that's still 23 years away, right? If any of you have any ideas for how to treat my piriformis syndrome (self diagnosis from the internets), let me know. I'm particularly interested in colon detoxification.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Car Troubles?

Spiff and I decided to treat our 13-year-old Mazda 626 to a new radiator today. We decided that it deserved one, after putting on almost 200,000 miles. That and the fact that its old radiator had a hole in it and was leaking antifreeze, an issue we discovered when our car started overheating on our way to church yesterday.

On the plus side, we found a repair shop two blocks from our house, and the guy actually seems to know what he's doing. He's close and competent. And he fixed our squealing car! The belts have been squealing off and on for a year and half. All of our neighbors know when we leave, and everyone we visit can hear us coming from two miles away. Every mechanic we have taken it to hasn't been able to fix it. They claim, "We didn't hear it squeal, so there's nothing we can do." He found a loose bolt that wasn't allowing the belts to stay tight, and he replaced it.

New radiator, new bolt, tight belts...What a good day for our car! I'm hoping that if we occasionally treat it to new parts, it will feel loved and continue to run for us for a long long time.