Do you love me, do you, surfer girl?

I don't like apologizing for not posting. I'm the real victim, as my thoughts haven't been summarily cataloged since I last said anything in this form Whatever.

So the boy is almost two. That happened. Time is relative, I suppose, and I am beginning to understand that much of parenting is trying to forget the terrible moments and clinging to the good ones. The rest of parenting is realizing that in the long run, the universe fades to black, so this 8 minute car ride home with a screaming 2o-month
old in the back seat will also end. I suppose I'm not as sentimental as some parents and not as pragmatic as others. It's hard to wax poetic but I feel like a parent who doesn't is selfish or grumpy or just plain depressed. I have great times with The Boy. There, I said it.

Work is well. I wish that in nursing school I had learned what the role of nursing was; that is, the patient advocate, the doctor's eyes and ears, the family liaison, etc. But I don't think I could have learned that without doing it. So I'll keep doing it until I figure it out and then make profound speeches at dinners out and such.

I guess there is more to write but there never is. It's all been done. Except this.

Also, here is a picture of us now.


All around me are familiar faces, worn out places...

Okay. So here's what happened: we had a boy and named him Robby. So far, he's been pretty cool. He cried a lot when he tried to sleep for about 6 months, we "trained" him, then he got better. And then we got better. He started sleeping more and so did we. This taught me one thing: parents are as crazy as their child's sleep schedule. The first few months were a blur.

But now he's an amazing kid, which is exactly what a parent should say. So how to quantify that? He's pretty much the only thing in this world I would willingly die for. Does that make him or me unique? No.

So I graduated with a degree in nursing and got a job. And somehow, now, it feels insignificant. I know that for the rest of my life I will be a nurse, but it just doesn't seem as important as being a parent. And if I had read or heard those words before I had a kid, it wouldn't have made sense, because the measurement of how good a parent one is seems to be how good one's child is, which I know isn't fair, but how else to determine it? Results are results. Despite that, I think it's safe to say it's impossible to be the best parent ever. Even good parents have crappy kids. And all of this logic might lead one to follow the writer of Ecclesiastes who said, "Everything is meaningless..." Which it might be. One of the major problems about believing in nothing is that you'll fall for nothing.

I know this is getting a bit loquacious, but my point is this: even if everything is meaningless in some cosmic sense, it matters to me now. And that is what matters. And I think that if everyone could have that mindset, and respect that everyone else has that mindset, things would be better.

Enclosed please find a picture of my sister and her husband.



Sweet Child of Mine

Dear son:

I think it's important for you to have a glimpse into my mind in the days leading up to your delivery, so I've decided to put a few thoughts into 1's and 0's and forever immortalize them on the internet. You can ask yourself: was my dad a narcissist? And the answer is clearly yes. But more than that, I'm curious as to what MY father was like before I knew him and though I can intellectualize that he was probably similar to the man I met in my teens (or how I view him now), there is something about my presence in this life that has changed him.

So here is my attempt at what life was like without you as well as little nuggets of advice that will probably be pretentious.

1) The world was overall pretty odd, but from what I understand, that's nothing new. Politicians are fighting about taxes and Tea Parties and health care and how they're all corrupt. And again, from what I understand, that's old news. So this is where your dad stands on everything related to politics: everyone can be bought, politics IS a popularity contest, and the United States is still one of the greatest nations on Earth. Why? I can vote however I want, swear at whoever I want, and own whatever I can afford. And that's nice.

2) Your mom and I haven't been to church since Christmas and before that, we hadn't gone in several years. Maybe we're bitter, maybe we're jaded, maybe we just don't know any better, but we also like sleeping on Sundays. Feel free to choose whatever path you want, just don't compromise who you really are (whatever that means to you). As near as I can tell, the sun comes up every day and it rains on the just and the unjust.

3) I love your mom a lot. If it ever seems like I don't, remind me that I do.

4) We did a lot of fun stuff before you got here but I don't really resent you for us having to change that. We waited for a long time before having you and the reason we waited was because we were selfish. We wanted to do everything we could before having the additional responsibilities of kids. We've traveled, gone to concerts and plays (ask your mom about the time we tried to go to Lion King twice), played a ton of video games, gardened, fixed the house and broken the house and overall, we lived the life we wanted to. So life before you was just what we wanted and we expect that life with you will be better. Don't let me down.

5) We want you here. We wanted you here. This was a wonderful time in our lives to bring a child into the world and so we did. That's how we roll. We've found that if we want something, we have to plan for it, work for it, and then get it. There aren't a lot of shortcuts in life and if you find one, great, but don't count on them.

6) Being a teenager is hard.

7) When I was born, my parents threw out all their old records that they thought weren't for kids. I felt like I missed out on so much good stuff. I mean, Dad tossed Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, and a host of other amazing music that I had to discover on my own. I resented him for it, but now understand: they wanted me as protected as possible. If you ever think we are entirely lame for whatever line in the sand we draw (no dating until 16 or no R-rated movies until you're 9 or no swearing in the house), just know that at one point, we didn't really care about those things and just want to protect you. And while it's true we are lame, we have sacrificed something to make you the coolest kid we know.

8) I should have composed a rough draft of this.

9) Technology is never a salvation. Make sure you control it, not the other way around. And whatever you do, make sure you can sync your calenders with your mobile device.

10) When you fall in love, it will seem like no one understands just how much you love this person. But that's because they have probably experienced it too and know that that feeling doesn't last forever. Just enjoy it anyway, but protect your heart and the heart of the other person. As Outkast says, "If what they say is nothing lasts forever, what makes love the exception?"

11) Before you got here, we mostly slept in on weekends, went out to eat once a week, watched a lot of TV, walked the dogs, and worked or studied. I played a lot of Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3, read a little, and messed around with projects (most recently replaced the garbage disposal). Your mom read magazines, worked, and watched tv. I'm sure she did more than that, but all I can remember is the last month of pregnancy, when she was mostly waddling everywhere and exhausted from carrying your chunky butt around.

It's odd, but we already love you and can't really explain the bond we have with you. I suppose that's the mystery of humanity and the beautiful enigma of having language to try and describe what we feel. So that's that: We love you.


Recommended reading list

I found something that should be read before Robby gets here.


My favorite things

Found this beauty in my phone during a lunch break at clinicals. Makes me so happy.


All the small things...

Here is the update. New family portrait (seen at right), baby due in a few months, school is a little bit lighter this semester but somehow I'm busier, and we got a new car.

The lighter schedule has given me some time to think about existential things again (finally?), and I still have no clear answer. Which seems to be the answer. Definitives and absolutes really don't seem to jive with the world I see around me, and maybe that's because of my subjectivity within it, or maybe because that's one of the absolutes: the world has no absolutes. And I'm sure there are philological truths (or falses) within everything I've just dismissed, but I just don't see a lot of consistency in the natural realm.

For example, entropy. Or earthquakes. Or Everyman. (Not sure about that last one, but I went for it because it started with an "e.") I mean, when scientists and mathematicians and theorists state that even on the infinitesimally small level of quantum mechanics that we can't observe the fundamental building blocks of literally everything in the universe because as soon as we try to look at them, they've already changed. That means that we can't even know for certain our precise physical location, let alone anything beyond space time (ie deities, demons, et al).

One might say, "But I don't care EXACTLY where I am right now; I know enough to function in my day to day life." And practically speaking, I agree with them. My day won't change if I can't map out my every atom. My day will change, however, if you start to tell me that there are things beyond the measurable that I should (or could) KNOW for certain. The measurable and observable are beyond prediction and understanding; how can I believe that the answer(s) to life itself are somehow knowable? I'm just not that certain.


Mother should I build a wall...

The following post is a response to a discussion started elsewhere. Granted, starting a fight and walking somewhere else and trying to start it again isn't exactly sporting, but Facebook walls, oddly, aren't the best place for extended conversations.

I'll repost the original comment and thread here:

Michael Schoon - "I'm not trying to become a demagogue (although maybe I should), but start here before being antivaccine: http://antiantivax.flurf.net/"

My friend (who I won't name because there has been no consent to that) - "Not that I'm anti-vaccine, but there are always two sides to every story. Like the CDC constantly proclaiming that over 30,000 people die from the flu every year. More Americans are receiving flu vaccines now than ever, but still every year 30,000 people die? This number hasn't decreased since vaccinations have increased? Seems ineffective to me. In actuality, the CDC's hard data show that the highest recorded flu death rate was 826 people in 2006. The other 29,000 'flu' deaths were more likely caused by pneumonia, but these two afflictions are lumped together for the sake of simplicity...and perhaps number skewing. All that to say that both sides of the argument are suspect. The CDC has an agenda, considering that many if its top people are involved with pharmaceutical companies, and the anti-vaxers are alarmists, so it's not such a simple delineation. Do your own research. And with that, I'm done."

And my response, heretofore unpublished:

Couple of points: 1) As far as seasonal flu vaccinations go, sure, take it or leave it. The 20-70% efficacy rate (depending on who you ask) isn't the most amazing. And you can attribute the roughly same number of flu deaths to anything (aging population, better diagnosis techniques, differing methods to collect data, the vaccine just doesn't work in the community as well as in the lab, etc). It could also be that the wrong people are getting vaccinated (young, healthy, middle class adults) while the sick, old, poor folks aren't. [As a side note, it would be interesting to see if productivity rates have remained the same as death rates over the years mentioned. If healthy people are getting vaccinated and then not contracting the flu like they might have in previous years (which wouldn't have killed them anyway), they would be taking less time off work, etc.] Ultimately, I'm not a researcher and I'll let them figure out the math. Until then, high risk people (who have upper respiratory diseases) should probably get the vaccine even if it reduces their chances by only 20-70%. The benefits outweigh the risks for that population.

Yes, CDC numbers show a lot of people dying and they've chosen to include the complications (pneumonia, et al). If they stuck with just counting those deaths that listed flu as cause of death on the death certificate, the numbers might not be accurate, because (in their words) the "influenza virus infection may not be identified in many instances because influenza virus is only detectable for a short period of time and many people don’t seek medical care until after the first few days of acute illness" (1). So the CDC is in a predicament: use an estimation or use the actual printed numbers. I say use the estimation. Why? Upper respiratory infections are fairly closely related in etiology and the inclusion of flu-related deaths allows for a more accurate picture of the number of people affected by the disease. It's similar to including pneumonia in AIDS deaths. It's not the disease that kills, it's the sequelae. How accurate is the estimation? Pretty close, from what I have read.

2) Granted, there is a lot of hype surrounding the flu vaccine. Does the CDC/government/medical profession play on people's fears of dying a horrible death by flu/swine flu? Perhaps. Would most people survive the flu virus? Most certainly. But the claim that the CDC has suspect motives because of links to the pharmaceutical industry is a little unfair. There isn't a lot of money in flu vaccines ($20, once a year at a Mollen Immunization center) and I find it hard to believe that this might encourage the members of the world's most foremost disease research institute to push something on the public that wasn't warranted. Can I prove this? No. It comes down to trust, and when Pink Floyd asks, "Mother, should I trust the government?", I answer with a clear and resounding, "Meh. Why not?"

3) You raise an interesting argument that I rarely hear: don't get a particular vaccine because it doesn't work. That argument should be applied to every medical treatment, from herbal medicine to prostate exams to coronary bypass surgery. All that to say, I appreciate critical thinking.

4) As mentioned previously, if a person doesn't want the flu vaccine, they shouldn't get it. It's the childhood vaccines that people's children should be getting. Those do work, the benefits outweigh the risks, and they are safe.

1. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-related_deaths.htm