Monday, November 28, 2011

For the back of my closet

Press play.
Right Ahead, You Sailor! by Right Away, Great Captain! on Grooveshark

Dear [Secret],

I cannot pretend to understand you fully. I quite honestly can hear what you’re saying and I can even see the value of it and where it possibly could be logical, but cannot fathom what event has made you so fearful to take a chance on someone. And while you probably think that our last conversation was about friendship and travelling, it was actually about the ability to take a chance on someone and valuing love. To think that you cannot date someone until you know everything about them is ridiculous (and as someone who values getting to know someone well before you marry them, even I find it extreme). Even after years of knowing someone intimately, you will still discover things you didn’t know about them before. And dating and friendship are not the same. Dating someone, in my mind, develops a different kind of closeness than being someone’s friend. I respect your need for friendship; I think its perfectly smart and it is something that I want, a base of friendship in my relationships, but I also think that it is partly an excuse you use. A barrier and obstacle you put in your own way. A way for you to eliminate and ease your conscience for not dating people and setting your priorities on a career and other aspects of your life, because you never really have to romantically invest your feelings and you can say that you’re just developing friendships and act like you aren't completely closing yourself off to people. But I think it limits the potential certain relationships could have. I think you sometimes choose to have inappropriate levels of intimacy with people. And I pity you for not knowing the difference. And I pity them for allowing you to cheapen their emotions. I think that there are some emotions, intimacies and affection that shouldn’t be shared with every friend and ought to be reserved for when you are actually dating someone. If they were married, you would find such intimacy inappropriate. But because both parties are single, somehow you have convinced yourself that you’re just developing friendships. And it’s a fine course of action. And I think your intimacies allow you some of the benefits of a relationship without you ever having to commit and take a risk on any one person and allow you to eliminate people without any real feelings. You think you know best, and I can picture the slight head shake and defiant eyes you have as you read this. What I say is not going to change your opinion. Of that I’m sure. But while I am often frightened of being hurt, I am never above taking a risk on someone -- obviously. No matter the pain or disappointment that is left in the wake of such bravery. And even though it has yet to pay off in any respect, I still hold out a hope that it might.

I’m taking the chance that you will read this. And I know, that you will know it is meant for you, if you do. I realize that this format may not be the place to respond to you. But truthfully, the thought of playing this out in secret and directly to you makes me ill. For you have wounded me far greater than I could ever convey to you. Or have you understand. And that is just one of those things. Sometimes things don’t work out how we think they will. But our previous intimacy feels inappropriate now. Like I am asking for you to continue to wound me. Because I have real feelings for you and you can only logically and rationally see me as a fresh perspective you are missing in your wheelhouse of friends. I felt like I was very open and honest about what I wanted. I told you what my intentions were. And I tried to be direct, even though such openness is hard for me, because I thought it might protect me in some manner. Because knowing is better than wondering. And I thought you were worth the risk and the effort. But that was for naught. I thought that for my directness, I would be rewarded with equal frankness. I had thought I knew what you were saying to me, but it now turns out that you were not as straightforward as I had thought. You may not think it but you hinted at having romantic feelings for me, playing on my hopes, when that was so clearly not the case for you or not your intentions. And maybe for your other friendships, that works. But for me, that was a betrayal of my trust. And as such, I now realize I gave you far more credit than you deserved. Unintentionally assuming far too much in your favor. I now know that you cannot give me what I need. Even if you never read this, it doesn’t matter. Because having it said is what’s important.

Friendship is important to me. To presume that because some of my closest relationships are with my family, they are not as valid as outside friendships, is to belittle the hours that have gone in to make those relationships. I realize that I do not easily make friends. So the importance of my friendships increases because of the rarity and how much effort it takes from me. Each and every friendship I have is something I treasure. And it is something I have worked at. And to look down upon some of my friendships, because they are with my family members is insulting. My family associations provide me with some of my greatest life fulfillment. And I plan to always make the effort to be emotionally close to them, even if I am physically far away. I am grateful to be so close with so many of my immediate and extended family members. Being close to them has been an intentional effort. Because I wasn’t always. But I realized early on that my greatest joys will come from my family associations. And I don’t think that their friendships are of any less value because we are blood and have an implied relationship. I CHOOSE them. And I thank God that I was blessed to have my lot cast with theirs. Because the variety and extensive value each of them offers to me is immeasurable. Their lives each take such different paths. Their experiences so varied. And I am lucky to be able to draw from their strengths and be a strength to their weaknesses. Our love as a family is one of my greatest sources of happiness. But the love I have for them as my family is separate from the love I have developed as I have truly sought to become real friends with them. Their friendships have been made with the exact same effort and forethought that I have used to make friends outside of my family. And the relationships are kept close with the same effort. I too chose CLOSE relationships. But where we differ, is I believe my family is supposed to be there for me. And should be a priority in my life. So yes, I hope that who I marry, values family as much as I do. Family is what is important, in the gospel and in life. And I refuse to feel bad for needing them in my life. And choosing to need them. I make them a priority and try to not undervalue them. Do I think they are the only people I can depend on in my life? No. Do I see the value of having independence from my parents (both emotionally and financially)? Absolutely. Do I plan on uniting with my future spouse and clinging to them for support and when appropriate to solve problems together? Of course. But I would never purposely create distance between myself and my family just for the sake of my pride, so I could feel that I am so perfectly fine on my own and don’t need to depend on them. Family ought to be there for you. They should be a source to draw from. I don’t usually outright disagree with people’s opinions (trying to allow people the benefit of differing viewpoints), but I think that you do not value your family enough.

Also, to presume that my family are the only friendships I value is to belittle another group of friends who have been such a crucial part of my life. I agree that life experiences are only valuable if you have people to share them with. And I have been lucky, that I have found, in each place I have lived, people with whom I could bond and share life experiences with. Moving away to dental school was hard. And I quite literally could have had no success if I had not developed friendships with my classmates. I know because I always tend to do things the hard way first. My first year of dental school was one of the hardest years of my life, with little satisfaction, as I was far from my family and my friends. I felt lost and lonely because I had yet to make real and lasting relationships with anyone in Boston. And I am forever grateful for the inclusive nature of John, Derrick and some of my other friends. They may not have realized it when they began to include me, but I needed their friendships. I needed them to sit with me occasionally in class. And notice me. I needed to have people in the same city that I could depend on and have depend on me. That give and take was so crucial for me. Yes, I’m sure that for you travelling has helped you realize the value of friendships. But that isn't the only way. And it causes me some irritation when people assume there is only one way of learning and experiencing something. My dental school friends and I have survived because of each other. No one understands better than they do what I have gone through in the last three years. In fact, if you have not been to dental school, you don’t get it. And I have no doubts that they will be my lifelong friends. We have shared too much for me to think otherwise. What has allowed me to survive, and in some cases succeed and thrive, in each new life experience I have had, has been the friends I have made. Sometimes it took years to find them, as is the case with Ali and Stef in Edmonton. But I could not have survived without knowing them. They taught me many important lessons. And I would never de-value their friendships, just because we don’t often have the opportunity to catch up. Or their friendships weren't made under flashier circumstances.

You seem to be under the false assumption that things far away from home mean more. “Oh, our first world problems don’t matter at all!” And while I don’t disagree that there are many people in the world that have it worse off than us, I could never agree that that makes them more important than people I know personally. I cannot fathom, finding strangers more important to me than my own friends and family. And I think you are at a wrong for having such a belief. Because it says that you care more for people you have never met, than for people who have loved you with no expectation of anything in return (as is the case with friends and family). Just because we do not have to struggle with torn apart families, war, hunger and famine doesn’t make our struggles of so much less value. Our problems are different for sure. There is beauty in the day to day, ordinariness of our lives. I agree that some things ought to be put in perspective by greater events. But I would never call someone’s personal and emotional struggles trivial. And I think that is where you truly do not get it. People’s emotions and experiences matter.

I guess my irrational anxiety wasn’t so irrational after all. My doubts were founded. And I feel hurt. And foolish. But I know that I will get over it. And I hope that things do work out for you. Please don’t feel like this experience has caused me to hate you or something (not that you would care if I did, since I’m sure such a feeling would be categorized as just another one of those trivial things in life that don’t matter since its not occurring on a grander stage). Because I don’t hate you. I think you are foolish at times, and that you don’t necessarily have your priorities where I think they should be, but that doesn’t negate your good qualities. I wanted to give you a chance again because I can recognize your value. And I realized that it hurt you a bit to be called a robot. But not unlike when you called me out for being selfish, I did it because I wanted you to realize how you can be perceived, with the hope that you might learn to value people’s feelings and emotions more and change for the better. Its not something you’re good at and it truthfully was my biggest concern about you. But it is something that is critical for all people to learn. I wish you luck, [Secret]. I really and truly do but I’m done, which is not an easy conclusion to come to or stick by. But I can’t play these sort of games anymore. There is more out there and I’m not willing to have you occupy a spot that ought to be reserved for someone who would actually be willing to care about me, as more than just a well read, pro-education, grad school student perspective. I am more than that. And want more than that. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Travelling home fills me with irrational trepidation. And even though rationally I know there is no real ground to the feeling, I can't shake it. I become extra sensitive. I become needy. And I cry - Oh I cry. I know generally the feeling is just my fears. Fears that people I care deeply about won't love me once I'm not far away. That their love is conditional upon me being an arms length away at all times. Fears that all the pressure and expectation that has been building in me, will be for naught. I do it to myself. But knowing that doesn't really help me. The anxiety courses through me. Imagined slights becomes intentional hints at people's true feelings. Friends and family try to talk me off the ledge. But I can't pull myself away. Because that is my deep dark secret - On the precipice of seeing those dearest to me again, I almost believe that my feelings are not reciprocated. It is irrational. It is stupid. It is part self pity and part self loathing. But it is there.
"Our love story could be kind of gory
we'd meet at a post-apocalyse
Yeah, I'd be slowly walking
in a group stalking you,
you'd be the only man alive
that I could not resist"
I quietly sung as I walked home, texting Alisun all the while. Maybe I ought to keep walking and get some of the anxiety out. Either way I should at least stop at home. Check my flight. Call for my morning cab. I love that sometimes Alisun and I think to text each other at the same time. I just like us. Maybe I should stop and get a snack for the plane. No, healthy eating. Candy will not fix anxiety. A small smile and a quiet laugh sneak out as I read Alisun's texts.
Someone runs past and with a big grin turns to me.
Suddenly I am wrapped up from behind. My first thought: "Has one of my friends seen me and is grabbing me from behind?"
The smiling boy commands "Give us your bag." And suddenly there are many people around me.
"No. Don't do this. NO, I will not give you it."
There are so many hands on me. Why do people do this?
Hold tight to your phone. Don't let it go.
The boys grab my bag.
But I will not let them have it.
"NO. Stop. Stop. Don't do this." Instantly, I flash back to walking home alone, thinking about what I would do if someone accosted me. And I know I would not go easy. I'd fight.
Hands still on me. They are pulling. I am pulling. But I have nothing but the strap. And there is a smaller hand that grabs my headphones and yanks, while simultaneously the strap of the bag breaks.
The two boys turn and run, with the smaller girl with my iPod following close behind and the bigger girl trailing.
I start to run. My lungs hurt. The air is so cold. It burns and stings. I quickly catch up to the bigger girl who has started to walk. She's out of shape.
I grab her arm.
"Ok, ok. Just leave me alone. Guys! Guys! Come back!"
I should phone the police. I've never called 911 before. But I don't want to lose this girl. I divide my attention between her calling out and the thought that I should also be calling out.
Why is no one around?
"Guys! Guys!"
The little girl in the grey hoodie and black puffy jacket saunters her way back towards us, my iPod still dangling from her hand. I grip the bigger girls' arm in my hand. Her green jacket firmly planted in my hand. My cell phone in the other hand.
As the little girl comes up I request, "Give me my iPod back." And begin to try to use my phone to call the police.
Suddenly, both girls turn and begin trying to pin my arms.
"Grab her phone! Grab her phone!"
Pushed against a fence. Two on one. But I will not go easy.
My feet are lifted off the ground in the struggle. Hands on my hands. Tearing and clawing to reach my phone.
I wrench my hands away but they lock me in tight. Lifted off the ground I wrap my legs around the smaller girl, as I fall to the ground on top of the bigger girl who has stumbled part way to the ground; simultaneously trying to contain that small girl and keep her greedy hands from getting any closer to me as I grapple with the larger girl. I struggle to keep my phone away from their hands. Their pawing and clawing hands. Someone pulls my hair
The little girl, my legs both wrapped and pushing her away, lifts her foot and begins to kick. But they are not hard kicks. This is a brawl of unseasoned fighters. Of girls who have always appeared tough, but may not have had any need to prove it. Punches and kicks thrown without any weight. Without any real force.
"Do you have her phone?"
"No, I can't get it."
My right shoe falls off as they right themselves and begin to run in opposite directions.
Call the police Melissa.
"911 What's your emergency?"
Don't lose her. Follow the girl with your iPod. Leave your shoe. You'll come back for it.
"I've been mugged. I'm following one of the girls." I can barely get it out. The air stings and burns my lungs. I can't run and talk to the dispatch.
"Where are you?"
"I'm following one of the girls who mugged me."
We both walk. I follow her through the alley. Onto the path that leads through the subsidized housing.
I keep expecting her to start to run again. To turn around and see me. But she doesn't. She walks quickly ahead of me. Past the brick subsidized houses. I have a fleeting thought that chasing after is not the smartest idea. What if more people come out of these houses to attack me? But I push it quickly from my mind. Unlikely.
"Where are you?"
"I'm following the girl, between Shawmut and Tremont."
"Cross street? We'll send a squad car your way."
Where'd she go? The path turned. I didn't see where she went. I was too busy trying to figure out where I am. I don't know exactly where I am. I know I'm by the post-office. Where did she go? Probably into one of the houses. How could I lose her?
"Where are you? Where is the girl? What is she wearing? What did she look like?"
"I lost her. I can't see her anymore. She was wearing a grey hoodie and black puffy jacket."
"Are you by Shawmut?"
"No closer to Tremont. Let me just see what street I'm on."
What is that man saying to me?
"Do you need help?"
"I'm on Agwedilla Street and Tremont," I direct the dispatcher.
"Aguadilla? The cruiser will be right there. What did your attackers look like? What did they take?"
"There were four of them. Two boys and two girls. One of the boys came in front of me and the other grabbed me from behind"
"Can you describe them?"
My foot is cold. I need to find my shoe. I only have on one shoe. The man who had called to me tosses me a glance as he enters his building. Did he see where she went? Blue and white lights whip past on Tremont.
They probably can't find this tiny street.
The dispatcher peppers me with the same questions. Descriptions. What did they look like. What were they wearing. When did this happen. Where.
I don't know. They were black. Young. Teenagers. I didn't get a good look at the boys. Why do people have to do things like this? I can't believe I lost that girl. I think one of the girls was wearing a green jacket and a touque.
"A what?"
"A touque. A winter hat."
Curse. America never knows what I'm saying.
Blue and white lights pull into the street.
"Are you the mugging victim? Can you tell us what happened? Are you hurt?"
"Four people jumped me. I chased after them and caught the bigger girl. Then the little girl came back and they both started to fight me. I lost my shoe."
"Are you hurt? Do you want to get in the cruiser? Here, get in."
"I lost my shoe. A couple blocks over. I lost my shoe when I was fighting the girls."
I slide into the back seat, pushing aside whats on the seat.
And I cannot stop thinking about Mike Rolin. The night before his flight he was mugged. The night before my flight I am mugged.
"What did they get? Where did this happen? Can you describe them? How many of them were there?"
Police hats. That is what is on the seat. Police hats and paper.
"Are you ok? Do you need an ambulance?"
"I'm not hurt. Except perhaps my pride."
What an easy target I made. iPod in. Distracted. Singing softly to myself.
I know that is what the cops are thinking.
"Can I call my parents?"
"You still have your phone. Of course."
There's blood of my phone. My hand. The back of my hand is bleeding.
"We'll call you back..."
"Mom. No. I've been mugged."
Tears burst forth as I tell my mom what happened. And stupidly lament the loss of my possessions.
"I know it doesn't matter," I sputter.
"You're probably scared. I'm sorry this happened."
But I'm not scared. Fear has been absent through this entire ordeal. I wasn't going to let them take my stuff. But I couldn't stop them. I just wish I hadn't lost my stuff. I wasn't even a block from my house. And I don't understand why people do this. I want to find my shoe.
My hair is dishevelled. I only have one shoe. And my jaw hurts. I leave in five hours to fly home.
"Where do you live? We'll take you home."
"Can we find my shoe first?"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I'm ________ about coming home.
I'm trying to __________ my ____________.
I'm ___________ about how it'll ___________.
But it _______ ___________ ______ ________.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Riding High

High on what you say? High on life baby. Lately I have been feeling such overwhelming joy. Yes, sometimes Dr. B makes me want to punch something. Yes, I still get stressed and feel insecure. But riding below the surface of all of that is a happiness. A joy about where my life is. I feel secure despite the uncertainness of my future. And I would have to say that a large part of this recent feeling is due to an increased effort of mine to be more open. I feel such satisfaction, because instead of worrying and wondering, I have made the bold move to vocalize my thoughts, feelings and needs. There is such gratification in this new approach. I honestly don't know why I ever held out. Because knowing>wondering.

Wanna know the nitty gritty of things that are making me happy in the last few days?

1. I heard a hilarious story the other day, that has had me grinning like a fool every time I think of it. And I think of it often.

2. One of the assistants took me grocery shopping at lunch today. I bought this pesto and sun dried tomato cheese... Oh, Lordy. It is freaking unbelievably good. I had my doubts... but goodness gracious. Expectations? Blasted to smithereens.

3. My father is the bomb. Yes, sometimes I ask for things short notice. But he always does his best to make me happy and give me what I ask for. He's kinda great like that. And I'm extremely lucky.

4. My Alberta flights are booked. And I found out that the patient I was debating coming back from Alberta for, can come on other days besides Friday. Thus negating my need to come back early. So that is a flight scheduling win.

5. And did I forget to mention that I'm coming home for Thanksgiving too? Yup, booked my flight on Monday. Epic sibling reunion? I think so.

I'm just happy. And thats kind of noteworthy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

International First

I am going to go on my first trip outside of the US and Canada!
With two of my best friends in dental school!
For ten days!
I don't have a lot of information about the actual trip, but I'm so excited. And nervous!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday in the Fens

I think I should take more Sunday walks and more Sunday naps.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Small fact about Me:
I usually give myself a post-haircut haircut.
Oh, and I got hardcore bangs.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Every ounce of my grit went into today.
I woke up in a delirium, wishing for just a little bit longer of joyful unconscious oblivion.
Adam and I walked to the office at ten to 8am.
Only to discover it locked and empty.
Staff meeting.
Which no one had told us about.
I was one part ecstatic and one part annoyed at the thoughtlessness of the staff.
I could have slept longer.
And so I did.
And when Adam's knock came at my door for a second time, it took all my power to pull myself from my blankets.
Every inch of me felt heavy.
My feet dragged.
Though of course the cracks in my heels weren't helping any.
A slight lack of patients this morning, allowed me to fully go through the cases I'm trying to get credit for on externship. Scouring the calendar and quizzing Dr. B about the protocol for each step.

There is one cardinal rule for every dental student to learn to survive school.
At all costs, you must keep your head down, work hard and above all else, don't look too far into the future.
And today, I forgot that rule. The more you need to get done, the shorter the timeframe you should look at and plan for.

I have six weeks left of externship. And I foolishly started mapping out the logistics of all the cases I'm starting for credit. Even six weeks in advanced is too much right now. My stress mounted and it clung to me. It filled my lungs and was palpable in every room I entered. And once you start to look ahead, its hard to stop. Snowballing from there, I thought of being off externship and all the work that would need to be done, and started to think about boards and licensure exams that need to be planned for and scheduled and after that, the wholly unknown future post-dental school life.

There is nothing more terrifying than seeing all that needs to be done and trying to see how it will all work out.

I forgot the cardinal rule. Turns out, even on externship, I can't afford to look that far ahead of me.
Dr. B told me that all my incessant planning was giving her a headache. Twice, I got told I seemed stressed and asked if I was ok. And I wasn't. I was on the edge all day and felt that I might crash and burn up at any moment. I know that the stress made me less capable.

I hate forgetting the rule. Because this rule, controls my entire life. Personal, professional. Everything that has a future, requires me to not look or think or worry in advance.

I hate that today I forgot that I need to appear capable at all times with my externship staff. The length of leash they give to me depends fully on them believing that I can handle everything and anything they choose to send my way. And I know that despite the reasonableness of my being stressed (because seriously, I really need to accomplish a hell of a lot on externship if I even want a hope of graduating on time), I know that the respect I have built over the last four weeks is diminished with today's display of stress.

And I can't afford to have them respect me less. Because I need them to believe that the amount of work they've given me, is an amount that I can handle. Even if it is overwhelming, I greedily don't care about the stress it causes. I need it and I want it. I would rather strain and stress over the burden placed on me here, than have to go back to regular dental school without the credit. Because the alternative of doing it all at school is even more daunting.