Saturday, November 8, 2014

Deep Thoughts by Nurse Bananahammock (yes, politics again)

I am amused that folks will sometimes create a narrative to make the world easier to deal with on their own terms and will not move from it regardless the evidence that smacks them in the face every day.

Example: "Republicans hate women, minorities and gays." is easier for some to embrace this credo than to face that the concept of personal responsibility is universal and not a "rich, white male" concept.

In just this most recent election, Mia Love and Tim Scott, both black, both Republicans were elected.  Mia Love is also a woman.  Other Republican women who won elections, my hero, governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico was handily re-elected, Joni Ernst, the first woman vet elected to Congress, is a Republican, Shelley Moore Capito and lest the "rich, old, white men"story continue, I present Elise Stefanik, woman, only 30 years old.

Carl DeMaio, a Republican who is openly gay, nearly won and certainly still has a future in the Republican party.

Can we now drop the rhetoric and the entrenched stereotypes and labels that get slapped on and deal with actual issues?

I'm not exactly sure why it brings such comfort to some to cling to these ideas they have about Republicans or why it is so important to put all Republicans into a little pigeon-hole they've created in their mind.  But, they are wrong.

And, frankly, those who are so entrenched in the idea that only white people are Republican that they then demean anyone who is black for simply being conservative, it seems to me, are racists.  If you think that the simple fact of being born black in the United States requires that someone think certain things and that it is not permissible for them to stray from that thinking, how is that NOT racist?

My favorite response to that is my other hero, Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor.  "I find it insulting.  As a Republican black woman from the south." and, "I've been black all my life.  I don't need anyone to tell me how to be black."

I have several friends and acquaintances who are gay and Republican (btw, there's a whole thing called Log Cabin Republican, been around a long time).  And the same rule applies. If you truly are open minded, you cannot say things like, "How can you be gay and Republican?"

The actual core of Republican thought is personal responsibility.

Mia Love's husband was recently quoted as saying that Mia doesn't want to give anyone a phone, she wants to provide a situation for them where they can work and earn the money to buy their own phone.

So, deal with that school of thought.

Republican ideals have zero to do with racism.  They have zero to do with hating poor people or women or gays.

It has to do with making an America where everybody can work and improve their lives and be productive.  It has everything to do with Dr. King's admonition to judge people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.

If it makes folks feel better about themselves to continue to pigeon hole Republicans and say that we all hate everybody, then I guess do what you have to do to get through the day.

Reality is my preference for getting through life.

It causes me to be disappointed and surprised a lot less often, I think.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nurse Bananahammock goes to Washington....for real this time. Day One.

Too much was shoved into my few days in DC, so the rest of the trip will be relayed in future posts.    

When I was a kid, my class in Jr. High school went to Washington, DC.  In the vein of walking to school in the snow, uphill, both ways, barefooted...we were too poor for me to go.

So, being in Baltimore this past summer was the perfect time because it was only about an hour away.

I was so excited to do this as an adult, solo.  I'm a complete history nerd and I love zoos, so I had this trip planned to a T.  I booked a room at a nice (though not crazy expensive) hotel that was right in downtown DC only about half a dozen blocks from the White House.

The evening I arrived, I just settled in and had a nice dinner at a cafe with sidewalk seating where I was able to take Cookie and we just people watched and I had the most amazing dates wrapped in bacon.

Before heading to bed, I ordered my room service breakfast for in the morning.  Before it arrived, I took a  dawn walk with Cookie.  Just a few blocks away, I happened to realize I was looking at the sun coming up behind the Capitol Building.  I was awed.

The plan for the rest of the day was to go figure out the Metro to get to the National Zoo.  Now, it is no secret that I am not a fan of tax funded, well, most things, generally.   But I do feel that there is a time and place for taxes.  Folks, this is one of them.  What a beautiful, beautiful zoo.  It almost made me happy to pay taxes.  Almost.

I always feel oddly proprietary about Wyland paintings

It was huge and well managed and unlike the San Diego Zoo that goes on and on about their pandas and then make you stand in line for hours for a glimpse before being rushed on, at the National Zoo, there are several aspects from which you can watch and you could park yourself and sit for hours if you want.  Just wonderful.

That evening, I had arranged a guided walking tour of the monuments on the mall.

This was, for so many reasons, one of the highlights of my trip.

Among the reasons was this guy ^ Dan.  Our guide.  He was so peppy, and knowledgeable and just a load of fun.  He spoke at the speed of a farm equipment auctioneer, but his obvious love of the city and the history just brought it to life.  And, seeing all the sights as the sun was setting was every bit as beautiful as I'd imagined.


The final stop of our tour was the Lincoln Memorial.


I wish I'd had a better camera to catch a shot of the stone that shows the spot where Rev. King gave his "I have a dream" speech.  That was so moving.  I stood there contemplating the meaning of having the image of the writer of the Emancipation Proclamation looking on as Dr. King changed the world with his words.

I also thought about how much my life has changed from the kid whose family couldn't afford to send me to DC on a school trip to being able to go to DC and really enjoy all it has to offer without worrying whether I can make the mortgage payment.

People can say what they like, but regardless of what this country gets wrong, it really still is a place where hard work and perseverance can lift anyone up.

Yup.  I'm a flag-waving American and I'm ok with that.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sometimes you just have to smile and nod and keep moving toward the door...

The prevalence and variation of crazy that exists in people who present themselves to the ED really is limitless.

Here is one such case.

Mrs. Poiaag presented herself to the emergency room for one or all of the following:

*Chronic left leg pain for anywhere from weeks to years and years duration
* New onset left sided weakness
* Abdominal pain
* Chest pain

I was unsure which was the overriding concern she had on this day as she had listed one of these complaints to the triage nurse, another to me and still another to the doctor and the longer the doctor stayed in the room, the more symptoms she appeared to recall.

She walked into triage and walked from triage to her treatment room, required no assistance to disrobe and put on her gown and seemed for all the world like a perfectly healthy person.

Mrs. Poiaag had a visitor with her that she referred to as her 
fiancĂ©.  At some point during her stay in the emergency department, I was paged for a phone call.  It was a gentleman identifying himself as Mrs. Poiagg's husband. 

I entered the room with a phone and said simply, "I'm sorry, I'm confused, there's a call for you from your...(glance in the direction of the 
fiancĂ©) husband.  With a frustrated sigh, she put down her cell phone, muted the television and reached for the phone.

I left her, saying I'd return for the phone in a bit.

I returned several minutes later and overheard Mrs. Poiaag to now be speaking with a poorly affected British accent that hadn't been present on our previous encounters.

Intrigued, I listened for a few seconds, then walked into the doorway where she could see me.  Whereupon, she immediately broke off her conversation, held out the phone and said,

"It's my ex-husband.  I don't want to talk to him."  British accent again absent.

Great.  So, I get on the phone.  The "ex-husband" asks me why Mrs. Poiaag is in the ER.  I  say, "I'm sorry sir, my patient has instructed that she does not wish to speak with you and due to federal privacy laws, I'm prohibited from telling you anything further."

He then asked who I was.  I introduced myself as Mrs. Poiaag's nurse.

The "ex-husband" then said, "Well, she was just trying to say she was you."

Now...this fascinated me for a few reasons, not least of which was why this chick thought I had a British accent.  I just said, "I can't speak to that, I can only reiterate that I am constrained by federal law and can say no  more."

Eventually as Mrs. Poiaag's cardiac, neurologic, GI, GU and all other systems were checking out as completely normal, and after receiving a complimentary chicken dinner and several hours of fluorescent light therapy, she was discharged, smiling, happy that she still had time to make her hair appointment.

There's no real point to this post except to I really

sound British?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Because Jimmie said so...

My friend Jimmie has a fabulous blog.  You should read it.  She's funny and witty and just basically wonderful.  And I lurve her.
She is so funny and witty and wonderful and writes so pleasingly that she won an award!

Now, this award caused her to point to me and some other bloggers to tell about other bloggers that we think folks should read.  Jimmie did 11.  I am not in the Nigel Tufnel club of blog following, but there are several that I enjoy.  So:

Obviously,  Jimmie's World, for all the aforementioned reasons
but also,
 Runner Girl (she's pretty famous, but she's also local -- to me-- and awesome) She's super fit but so encouraging to anyone who wants to try to become fit or more fit

 No Bags to Check is a personal favorite.  I am a travel junkie and this is right up my alley.
911 You Can't Make This Stuff Up is less of a blog and more of a facebook page, but I love it.

and finally, The Happy Hospitalist, it's irreverent and right on.

Jimmie also asked us to answer her stolen interview questions.  That sounds like fun, so here goes:

What is your favorite word?

Purulent.  No, really.  It is.  It is much better than trying to relate, in writing, a patient's complaint of drainage from, say, an ear, than trying to turn "pus" into an adjective.  Trust me on this one. 
What is your least favorite word?
Ratchet.  As in, "I thought she was cool, but that bitch ended up being ratchet."  First, it's a bastardization of the word, "retched" and second, it alludes to the scariest, worst example of a nurse of all time.  
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
It's sick, it's twisted, I know.  But, the hardest shifts, with the sickest and most injured patients, when I get to really use all of my skills and experience to make a difference in a patient's life.  That's what covers all of the above for me.  
What turns you off?
A sense of entitlement.  From anyone.  Whether you think someone owes you some sort of deference because of your supposed social standing or whether you think just the world in general owes you.  I can't stand it.  No one owes you anything.  No one.  
What is your favorite curse word?
Jimmie stole mine.  It's fuck.  And any of many variations on that theme.
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of my pups' paws clicking on the tile.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Monitor alarms that are being ignored.  Set your parameters so that shit only goes off when it means something and stop ignoring it!
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I've tried others.  This is it.  Maybe teaching, but even then, I'd want to teach nursing.  
What profession would you not like to do?
Respiratory therapist.  I know and love many of them.  But, dude...I can't deal with snot.  Just. Can't. Do. It. 
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Your Pop is standing over there, he's been waiting.  And be careful, because Erica is hiding behind the gate waiting to jump out and say, "Boo!"


Yes, Ebola again...
How did this whole conversation about quarantine or no quarantine become political? It's ridiculous.
Here are the facts:
* No, it is not airborne, though it can be spread by droplets (cough, sneeze)
* It is not super contagious, but it IS contagious enough that whole counties are overrun with it and even medical professionals who know how to maintain precautions have become infected
* If someone becomes infected, they have a 70-90% chance of dying. That same mortality rate is the reason we give tetanus vaccines to EVERYBODY for even minor scrapes and give updates even when we aren't sure whether you might have had one recently enough.
Even though your chances of contracting tetanus are very, very low.
So, how has a simple 21 day quarantine been turned into a political battlefield?
Reason, folks.
It's somewhere in between the panic and the insane need to insist that this disease is no threat at all.
And it's apparently beyond this country.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No video required...

You's almost Labor Day, so now seems an appropriate time to post this:
I think it's great that so many people have jumped on the "ice bucket" bandwagon and tooted their own horn for a good cause. ALS is a horrible disease, absolutely. It seems to always strike the most active and vibrant people, slowly stripping them of the lives they've built and leaving them with an active mind and a useless body, eventually leaving them unable to breathe on their own.
For more than 50 years, though, the Muscular Dystrophy Association has worked toward finding a cure and treatment and provided needed assistance with care to the sufferers and their families. For ALS and also for more than 40 other neuromuscular diseases. Trust me, all of them are horrible. Many of them affect children -- thus "Jerry's Kids".
Any charitable impulse will always be applauded by me, but let me offer the MDA as an alternative for your ALS dollars.
According the the ALSA's own info, only 27% of the money they receive actually goes to research. Compare that to the Muscular Dystrophy Associaion (MDA)-- yeah, Jerry Lewis' schtick.
I incorrectly listed an old stat a bit ago that that greater than 90% of every dollar taken in by MDA goes to research and treatment, it's sadly dropped in the post Jerry Lewis era to about 74%, but that still outstrips the ALSA by 300%.
So, this Labor Day weekend, it'd be great if you could send a few bucks along to the MDA.
No video selfies required.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Pop

August 5, 1941

Japan had not yet attacked a US held port in Hawaii, pulling America into World War and out of the Great Depression.

Susan Dean gave birth to a ginger haired, blue eyed boy.  He was the 5th boy, the 8th child (of the 10 she would eventually have).

By all accounts, he was a cheerful and inquisitive boy.  He would go on to be popular in his high school, in the drama club, a jokester. 

He would become well known for his loud, Santa-like laugh and his jovial countenance.

After returning from his 4 year Army stint, he married Florence, known to all as "Sissy" and becoming the father of 5.

I was the 4th of 5.  It just occured to me that we were the same fraction, I was just a reduced fraction. 

He loved being a dad.  He actually looked forward to those long road trips that have become fodder for standup comedians and TV shows.  And he made them fun.  The end point was always worth the long road miles, too.  King's Island most every summer, camping/hiking in the deep hills of My Old Kentucky Home, seeing my oldest brother graduate basic training in New Jersey and then jump school in Georgia.  Picking oranges and playing in the surf in Florida. 

And there was always education along the way.  Everything was a game of trivial pursuit with Pop.  Whether watching a movie or helping with homework or driving down the road.

He loved learning and he loved teaching, things he passed on to me.

I'm missing him pretty hard lately. 

But, it's getting easier.  Mostly when I think of him now, it's good.  It's sometimes bittersweet and sometimes it still hurts like hell.  But, mostly it's good. 

Happy Birthday, Pop.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Oh, NOW I get it!

I haven't posted much political stuff lately, and will largely refrain in future, but this resonated for me.

So, I'm actually just sharing someone else's blog.

This doesn't apply to every left leaning person, but to too many.

"Truth is that which serves the party." The capital-R revolution was such a good, it could eliminate all that was bad, that manipulating facts was not even a venial sin; it was a good. If you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. One of those eggs was objective truth."
This part I have determined for myself.  Truth is meaningless, feelings and good intentions are everything for a certain element of the left.
But, the following was a revelation and finally explains something that I have never understood: the disconnect folks have when the current president is doing the same and worse as the previous president and yet they refuse to acknowledge it:
"messages in this left-wing forum publicly announced that they did what they did every day, from voting to attending a rally to planning a life, because they wanted to destroy something, and because they hated someone, rather than because they wanted to build something, or because they loved someone. You went to an anti-war rally because you hated Bush, not because you loved peace. Thus, when Obama bombed, you didn't hold any anti-war rally, because you didn't hate Obama."

Most conservatives I know will quickly agree that W signed every spending bill that was put in front of him and will objectively review his bad decisions.  Anyone who reads this who loves the current president, please name one thing that he has done with which you deeply disagree.  I'll wait here.

If you are reading this, and you lean left and your immediate reaction was to mentally call me names, read the attached blog again.

I think it bears thinking  about.

It actually makes me rethink my own positions to ensure that I'm coming from a place of building and improving and not hating. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

I'm not really digging this revelation

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” 
 John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Grief does not change you, it reveals you...
Well, hell.

So, when Pop died, I felt broken.  But, in not too long a time, a year, two maybe, I was able to learn to cherish the memories and push the sadness down so that it wasn't the overriding feeling.

And, it hasn't been such a long time since she died.  Just a few months.  So, maybe I'm expecting too much.  But, I'm sick of being Debbie Downer. 

Being in Colorado, with my Colorado Peeps, minus was hard.  It was meant to be all about celebrating the happy, long marriage of a couple of our friends, and it WAS about that.  But, I felt her absence so acutely. 

I drank too much at the vow renewal reception and did a whole Granny Gert Ugly Drunk Cry.  Thankfully, not anywhere where the bride knew about it.  Publicly, I was just the friend who got tipsy and everybody laughs and a few shake their heads.  I was trying to celebrate.

But, just now, I was walking Cookie, on a perfectly lovely evening and I haven't touched a drop, and I started doing an uncontrolled ugly cry.

Now, it probably doesn't help that I'm currently reading The Fault in Our Stars.  I keep wondering what she was really thinking at the end.  She kept up such a cheerful countenance, until the very end when pain and probably the knowledge that she was really losing caused her to lash out at those who were there with her.

I've been having a rather rough go of it and I keep trying to just push the sadness into the background again, but it just doesn't seem to want to go.  It's all wrapped up with this anger that I keep having, anger at her, anger at the cancer, anger that I no longer have someone who will text me goofy, random stuff and call me so we can talk on our respective drives home from work.  Nearly daily conversations and/or messages for two plus years just stopped.  And I feel robbed.

And, I wonder if I was a good enough friend.  I keep flashing on a conversation we had the last time I actually got to see her.  I'd gone to Denver to go to a speakeasy themed party as her date and one night we were talking about her frustrations with various people and how they related to her and her illness.  She didn't want to be "the chick with cancer".  This is part of my anger with her, btw, because this need on her part to not be viewed as her disease caused her to omit and even outright lie at the end so that no one would realize how bad it really was. 

My medical experience made it difficult for me to deny how sick she obviously was.  Still, I tried to go along with her program. 

But, that night, as we were talking about how she disliked it that some folks could only look at her and think, "cancer", I said something to the effect of, "Right, I mean, damn, so you have cancer.  YOU arent't the cancer. You're just Erica.  We're all going to die of something."

We looked at each other and there was a split second of acknowledgement before I said, "Not that I'm saying you're going to die..."

She made a joke and we moved on.

But, I always wonder if she felt betrayed by me in that moment. 

And, I wonder, a lot lately, what grief is revealing about me.  Am I just a weak, weepy jerk?  Because that's what I feel like lately.  I feel like I'm dishonoring her by feeling so sad so much of the time.  But, I just don't know how to not be sad, sometimes.

I'll keep working on focusing on the joy that is available in life, and there is a lot of it.  I'll keep loving the people in my life and being grateful for their love.

And, I'll keep trying to live up to her memory.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Life is beautiful

Cookie and I are settled in now.  Enjoying life in Baltimore, enjoying working at Hopkins (well, Cookie isn't working at Hopkins...).

I started at Hopkins with a group of 9 other travelers and there was another group of 4 travelers who started a couple weeks before us.  Several of us have sort of bonded and we have had some good times on our days off and have plans for some other fun downtime activities coming up.


And, Cookie and I have had some other adventures on our own.  We've been hiking

and checking out the city and some of the cool things it has to offer.  This weekend (July 4th weekend) there were tons of people at the Inner Harbor area, and even though the coworker I'd planned to meet got sick and backed out, I had a good time just wandering around, people watching, feeling like I was part of a community.

Now, I'm floating on the euphoria of knowing that I'll be back west, if only briefly, in just a few days and I'll get to sleep in the same bed with my husband and get to hang out with my CO peeps.

Last time I was in Denver, it was decidedly sad and somber.  I'm very much looking forward to celebrating, celebrating the happy, long marriage of my friends (they are having the big wedding they didn't get to have originally) and just enjoy each other's company, spending a couple days at the home of our friends Brunhilde and the original Paulie D before the big party.

I'm about to enjoy the gorgeous early evening sunshine as I walk down to the lightrail and head off to another mellow shift at work with great people.  And, appropriately for a Sunday, give thanks and praise to God for my blessed life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So, I ran.

I had let my weight sort of get out of control again and my hips felt it.  I had gotten to the point where even short runs left me with painful hips.  And then I started having pain in my hips even when I hadn't run.  So, I took my own advice to a friend with a back injury and gave it a rest.  I've still been walking a bunch, but no running for nearly 3 weeks.  However, I've also lost 12 pounds in the last 6 weeks or so.

Since I've had no pain for several days now, I decided today was the day to start breaking back into running.

I decided to use C25k again.  Just starting with week 3.  I'm going to stick with that and get up to where I'm solidly running again and see how I do.  I've been doing intervals for a few years and that's been good, but I at least want to see how I do on short runs just straight running.  But, I want to be smart about it.  So, I'm going to take my time.

Then, I'll start training for the Spacecoast Half in September.  I'm going to be here in Baltimore until early October, it seems, so all these hills will make for some good training, I think.

But, this morning was beautiful, and I felt strong.  I realize that I've missed running.

Hopefully the weight will keep coming off and I'll get faster and better and stronger.  But, I will definitely enjoy the process.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Be serious. Seriously. For just a minute.

Yeah, well, it's gonna be hard to find a picture of Erica being serious.

But, grief.  It's so weird.

I mean, when my Pop passed, I thought it would kill me.  No shit.  For an hour or so, I felt like I must die, because it hurt too fucking much to keep going.

But, eventually reality and life sort of insinuated themselves.  And, while there are moments when missing him is almost palpable, now almost 4 years out, I have a whole different perspective.  Especially in light of Erica's illness and passing. 

My Pop got to live a somewhat truncated, but, basically full life.  He got to enjoy several years of retirement and grandchildren.

Erica got robbed.  And, in her passing, we all got robbed.  And, sometimes I still get pissed off about it.  And, I rage inwardly at the unfairness of it all.

And, then I think about my friend Hagertha, and the very sudden and truly tragic loss of a husband, the father of her young son, who was even younger than Erica.  And another tall, nordic appearing friend who lost a husband to cancer, far too young. And my cousin, one of the kindest people anyone ever met, who lost not one but two young husbands over a couple of decades.  And little Sammy, a 3 year old girl who was my mother's darling in her church nursery class, who died from cancer, and my friend Beth's little boy, Nolan, who died at 7 from a recurrence of the osteosarcoma that everyone thought he'd beaten.

These moments, I struggle with the intellectual knowledge that life goes on vs. the feeling that it should just stop.  For a minute.  In honor of them.  All of them.  All of the great people who died too soon...mortality.  Mortality sucks.

So, what's left to do except carpe diem.  I can't know how many days I have left.  Or anyone else whom I love.

All I can do is live.  Really live.  Suck all the life out of every single minute.  And love them.  And tell all of them how very important they all are to me. 

So, there.  I promise to try to get back to some light-hearted Nurse Bananahammock nonsense soon.  But, right now... I need a minute.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It Takes a Village. Or, Village Gains New Idiot

So, I’m in Baltimore.  Yay!  It’s actually a cool town (so far).  The public transit is AMAZING.  I spent a whole day just wandering around, getting my bearings.   I’ll blog separately about my adventures in public transit (never a boring minute).   But, let me tell you about where the stellar housing folks at my agency have bunked me.

Getting here was an adventure.  My GPS took me through downtown Baltimore to get here.  I’m not entirely sure that was necessary.  I think she (the snooty, overly cheerful voice that tells me where to go) was having a go at me, frankly.

Once I was out of downtown, though, and headed north-ish, I drove through some rather alarming looking little areas (really, about the same as the area where I grew up, y’know…ghetto).  But then I drove into a wooded area with older, large houses nestled on hills and then I saw a little “village” (that’s what the sign said).  It’s a grouping of little shops and a tavern near the light rail station.  As I turned up the hill, I was taken by how beautiful the neighborhood was.  Then I pulled into the apartment complex itself.

It’s definitely been here a while.  I’m guessing it was the hot, new place to live when disco was all the rage.  Still, the grounds seem well maintained.  There’s a tennis court, a pool with a hot tub, a gym a nature trail, parks for kids, parks for dogs…It’s pretty cool. 

The apartment itself is really adorable.  It’s a subfloor  unit.  My bedroom reminds me of Laverne & Shirley, looking up at the sidewalk outside.  I want Lenny & Squiggy to come down the stairs.  The living room/dining area and kitchen are “downstairs” from the bedroom.  It feels very roomy.  I also have sliding glass doors out to a little patio that opens to a grassy hill and the nature trail.  It’s absolutely perfect.

Once I got the car unloaded and about halfway through unpacking, I decided I needed to eat.  I used my handy dandy GPS and this time the snooty voice took me directly to where I’d wanted to go. I had dinner (and a Blue Moon draft!) at a tony little tavern that had a fairly limited, but appealing menu.  I had grilled salmon over kale and a half a tomato stuffed with feta cheese.  It. Was. So. Good.  I think the kale must have been marinated in butter and wonderfulness for days prior to cooking it.  Greens were never so delectable.
Then I walked to the Whole Foods (aptly nick-named “whole paycheck” by my friends) that is the closest grocer and got supplies for my breakfast then sauntered back up the hill.

On the way, I initially had the absurd idea that I was a Disney princess, the sound of the babbling brook that ran along the road was accompanied by birdsong that was cheerful to the point of parody.  But this sound was broken by what at first sounded like some large machine, a metal stamp of some sort.  Then I realized it was sort of rhythmic.  Oh, drums!  I realized that there was a garage band somewhere up the hill to my left  and I eventually identified the tune as “Call me Maybe”.  Then it blended into Saio’s “Dynomite”.  I’d moved from a Disney movie to the soundtrack of some sort of 2010’s version of “Grease”.  Found myself singing along and dancing up the hill back to my very cute apartment where I finished unpacking, made up my bed, took a long bath and fell asleep in my Laverne & Shirley bedroom.




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nurse Bananahammock's Adventures in Public Transit - warning, language and general grossness included

I am no stranger to public transit.  I grew up in Northern Kentucky where there is a fairly extensive bus system that coordinates with Cincinnati’s system across the river.  All of my growing up years and very early adulthood were spent taking buses and walking to wherever I needed to get. 

Where I live in FL, the public transit is pretty sparse, but I use it as much as I can.  I have used public transit in Albuquerque a lot (including the day that a river of puke rolled down the center aisle from the homeless Listerine drunk who was sitting in the back row) and in Phoenix and Houston.

Baltimore is proving to be a lot of fun on the score of public transit.  Now, first let me say that they have a very good system.  I spent the whole day just moving around on the various forms: bus, light rail and subway.  The handy light rail station at the bottom of the hill has an automated fare machine where I was able to buy a pass for the entire month that is good for all three forms of transit.  Thank God I did a dry run before I needed to be somewhere on time, I’d have missed my bus for waiting on the wrong side of the street.  But, I got on the right bus and rode into town.   

It’s Sunday, so there were a couple of older ladies all dress up for church getting on and off here and there.  Then we started getting closer to downtown.  I saw a large-ish group getting on the bus.  This was a sorry little lot.  The first of them actually said, loudly, as she boarded, “Yeah look at all the meth-heads and junkies!”


Just before the bus pulled away from this stop – which was apparently near a soup kitchen (I presumed as the obese “meth-heads and junkies” MC was loudly critiquing the fare) I saw a chick who looked for all the world like a walker.  Shambling across the street, she stumbled onto the bus and could barely stay awake to slide her little ticket through the reader.  The last nodding junkie sat alone near the front of the bus and I played a little mental game of “will she fall out of the seat”.  She didn’t.  But the larger group behind me was carrying on simultaneous loud conversations.  The overriding voice was the MC.  She was decidedly displeased with the free food on offer at the church.  When she finally debarked, another voice could now be heard loudly discussing his current legal woes and how “that cop didn’t have any right to impede my progress”…obviously a budding legal scholar.  Finally the last of that group got off the bus as well.

At some point a young woman boarded the bus with 2 children, ages about 5 and 7.  A boy and a girl.  They were very well behaved.  This is not surprising in and of itself, but it was a nice little lesson for me on not being too swayed by appearances.  The mother was young, had to be early 20s.  She was wearing some stretchy pants with a garish design on them that accentuated the fact that they were probably about 2 sizes too small for this woman.  Her t-shirt didn’t fill the gap of her slightly pudgy belly that hung over the top of the too tight pants.  But, she spoke softly to her children and they obeyed with an obvious respect for their mother.  And she treated them both with a clear command, but also with such apparent love that it really touched me. 

I became so fascinated with this little scene that I didn’t realize till too late that I’d missed my stop.  So, I made my way toward the front to speak to the driver as we came to the terminus of his line. 

Now.  Before I continue, if you don’t know who Idris Elba is, stop now.  Get out the big Google and look him up.  He is delicious in any language, but that British accent…wait…where was I?  Oh yeah.  The driver.  He was a dead ringer for Elba.  He was also very friendly and helpful.  Asked if I was from out of town.  I said, “Well, I’m new in town, anyway.”  He said, “Welcome.” And winked at me.  I swear I couldn’t decide whether to faint or pee in my pants.  So, I just sat down.  Far back enough that I couldn’t see him lest I have difficulty breathing. 

I then decided to backtrack so I’d know where to go to make my connection when I need to the next morning.  I then rode the subway all the way to its terminus and back.  At one station where I decided to get off and explore a bit, there was a shady guy standing by the exit asking, in a low and sort of sinister voice, “You got a extra bus pass you wanna sell, dahlin’?”  Bus pass scalpers?  How does that work?  I just said, “No, sir.” And got back on the subway.

I then rode to another stop that I wanted to investigate as it would link to a couple of buses that would get me to/from places I may need to get to frequently.  As I climbed the steps to the platform, I was behind an older lady who kept looking over her shoulder at me.  I realized at some point that she’d actually picked up her pace.   Did  I look threatening in some way?  I laughed it off.  Once on the platform, I realized it was actually kind of chilly, so I decided to sit in the sun to wait for the train.   The older lady apparently had the same idea.  I strode toward her and was about to sit on the opposite side of the little bench and strike up a conversation.  She very quickly bundled up her things and scuttled off.  I’ve never scared an old lady before.  Maybe it was the Anna Maria Island hoodie. 

I took the subway back to the light rail to make my way home and there, in the same car with me, had to be the offspring of the MC from the bus.  She spoke loudly, as though on stage, even though she was nominally speaking to the gentleman in the seat next to her.   I came in too late to know the topic of her diatribe, but whatever it was was fucked up.  I know this because she kept saying that in cycles of three:”Dass fucked up, man.  Dass fucked up.  Dass fucked up.”  It had kind of a tempo to it.  I almost wanted to write a song about it.

Then, this little chick who was almost wearing a handkerchief tied on with a shoestring for a blouse got on.  She started playing her demo tape (disc?) loudly on a set of speakers she was carrying with her.  You’ve never seen a group of people who’ve never met look at each other with such clear communication.  “Whaffuck?” was on all our faces.  When she got off a couple of stops later, a gentleman in a seat a bit behind me said, “Were we supposed to tip her?”  Gentle chuckles from the “dass fucked up” lady. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Nurse Bananahammock Goes to Washington

Well….sometime in the next  13 weeks, at least.  I’ve never been to DC in my life.  But now I’m within an hour by train.  Because, I took an assignment for the summer.  To a little hospital called THE Johns Hopkins.  Like, the actual one, not a satellite somewhere in Podunk.  I will be in the actual Johns Hopkins ER. 

Now, as one of my fave ER docs ever, TRex, said, in the end, it’s just another ER.  And this is so, of course.  They have no magic there (here!) the medicine will be the same.  However, I haven’t truly worked in trauma in at least 3 years.  And, much as I love my FL ER, our docs are a bit resistaned to definitive IV access except for EJs and IOs.  My previous experience in trauma (and with unstable patients at all) was that they got central lines.  With central venous pressure monitoring.  (If you don’t understand that part, it’s ok.  It just means a lot of really hard core invasive stuff, but very helpful in making unstable patients more stable in a lot of cases). 

I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot more of this kind of thing at Hopkins, even though travel nurses don’t get to work actually IN trauma, generally.  And I’m rusty.  So, I’m a bit daunted.  But, hell, a good healthy dose of humility can certainly not hurt.  Eyes and ears open, mouth shut.  Well, for a while anyway.  My mouth stays shut too long and there’s likely to be a thermonuclear explosion.

So, I just drove from FL to Maryland.  That was fun.  No, really, it mostly was.  The constant and sometimes torrential rain from Tampa to Gainesville was, perhaps, a little less enjoyable…but…

I made a detour through Atlanta and got to hang with my friend Nurse Poofy as well as Weeniece and Hagertha.  Hagertha is the friend who tragically lost her young, vibrant husband a bit over a year ago.  This was the first time I’ve seen her in person since and I hope she felt all the love I have for her in that hug.   I gave her a big ole smackeroo on the face, too, forgetting that she just got braces.  Ouch.  Sorry.  But, we had a really nice, quiet little lunch and then Poofy and I went to see Maleficent.  (see it.  Seriously)

I then hit the road at 3:30am as the apartment complex office closed at 5pm and I figured that the 11 hour estimate by Google maps would actually be more like 12 with pee and food breaks, construction, etc. 

I was wrong.

It was more like 13 hours.   And, no shit an hour of that was JUST in Baltimore. 

However, I arrived and was greeted very cheerfully by the office staff of my amazing apartment complex (strong work, housing department at my agency!!).  Only glitch…when they asked to make a copy of my ID, I realized…yeah, I don’t have it with me.  As soon as I realized it truly wasn’t in my wallet, I knew exactly where it was.  My giant Coach purse that I used when I flew to Cleveland.  I had put it in easy reach in a side pocket of the purse for the lovely TSA peeps.    

Thankfully, I wasn’t pulled over on the way here.  And, thankfully I had digital copy of it that will suffice for the apartment and, hopefully, at work.  And, hopefully I won’t get pulled over.  I do have a copy in my purse now, and I suppose they can look me up if it came to that.  But, damn.  This whole dizty thing just isn’t working for me.

In the last year or so, I have worked on focusing on positives.  I am no Pollyanna and this “look on the bright side” thing is absolutely NOT natural to me.  But, the attempt has been successful to the point that I really didn’t get upset at all.  I just knew that it would get sorted and I moved on.

I’ll blog separately about getting to know my temporary new town, but, y’all!  Location, location, location.   I’m right by a train station that will take me directly to the airport when the time comes (flying west in July) and?  I can get on that same light rail train and take it to the Amtrak what will take me to DC.  The general state of public transit is such that I will rarely have to drive.  And thank the sweet baby Tebow for that.  Did you see that it took me an hour – on a SATURDAY—to get to my apartment even once I was actually in Baltimore?  All traffic.  It’s insane. 


It’s going to be a great 13 weeks.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Miles for Moffitt 5k

I think that I'd heard of this race before, but it was never really on my radar (races in Tampa mean an hour's drive).  However, one of the trainers I have intermittently utilized has a son who has been fighting (it appears successfully, thank God) a rare form of Lymphoma and there was an effort  organized to raise money for his team and recruit runners.  I was so happy to be able to be a part of it.

Moffitt Cancer Center is where my late brother in law was treated, where my late father in law briefly received treatment and where my Pop received his initial staging and treatment plan before he could actually start treatment. 

Running in this race meant something to me.

I fucking hate cancer.

So, I was feeling good, I had schlepped all the way to north Tampa to pick up my packet so that I wouldn't have to get up super early for pre-race packet pickup.  I was ready.

Got up in the morning, hydrated, ate a banana, got in the car, plugged in the audiobook I'm currently listening to and hit the road.  Just as I got to the exit, I bib was at home on my dining table.


I actually thought about just calling it off, but only briefly.  And, any idea of flaking on it (since my time wouldn't be officially tracked anyway) went out the window when I heard someone yell, "Mel!" and turned to see RunnerGirl.  She's such an inspiration to so many people.  I hadn't seriously considered letting myself down (although the thought that I'd already paid, so it didn't matter did run through my mind) but I would NOT let RunnerGirl down. 

Not to mention, looking around, seeing all the folks wearing "In Memory Of" signs...I got a little weepy.  I miss my Pop so much.  And now Erica.  How I feel about them is so different.  With Pop, I miss him, but I also feel really angry at him sometimes because he could have very likely survived his cancer had he not buried his head in the sand.  With Erica, she got screwed.  She never had a chance.  And I just get angry with the fucking cancer that robbed her of the long life she deserved.  But, thinking of both of them, and of my husband's very sweet father and also my husband's brother (my Pop and the Rickster's brother died within a year of each other)...I needed to do this run.

So, I lined up with7500 of my closest friends and ran what felt like an easy pace (felt fast because there were SO many walkers and I just kept passing people and passing people -- I always start way in back because I run slowly).  But, I didn't really feel like I was pushing.  It was a very nice run, lots of cheerful support folks, beautiful area -- around the USF campus -- and I felt strong.  It was a smidge hot, but toward the end there was quite a nice breeze. 

I had arrived early enough that I was parked very near the start/finish line. So, I basically just turned off right at the finish instead of going all the way through the long finish shute -- again, I knew my time wasn't being tracked, anyway, so why go through the long shute, fight through crowds and then backtrack to my car.  But, I checked my running app on my phone and saw that I'd actually kept quite a good pace (for me).  I felt pretty good about that.  I was feeling that pride, walking back to my car when I saw RunnerGirl again, doing a little cool down jog through the parking area with (I presume) one of her track kids.  I smiled and did the "what's up" head nod and then headed to my car with a sense of accomplishment.

Then, I drove home where Chef Ricky made me a delicious plate of huevos rancheros and I saw my bright yellow bib, right there, on the table, where I'd left it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Oh no, huh uh, not even a little bit.

I am watching some true crime show.  There is some "reporter" who is intermittently speaking about this nurse who was murdered.  One suspect was the doctor with whom the nurse was having an affair. The "reporter" says, "It was a bad idea for this doctor to have an affair with a nurse at the hospital where he worked, because she was his subordinate..."
No.  I am NOT subordinate to a doctor.  We are teammates.  We have different scopes of practice, but I am NOT subordinate.
If he had a private practice and employed her in that office?  Then, yeah, but in the hospital?  No.  No. No. No. No.
That idea went out with metal freakin' bedpans.

There are many times when I cannot perform a certain function without a physician's order (administering narcotics, for example) but as an ED RN, I have a vast amount of autonomy that comes with a hefty dose of responsibility.  In many circumstances I will assess, initiate care and order labwork, radiology exams and even some medications sometimes hours before a physician is aware the patient is even there.

I have been trained and educated and mantain several certifications and constantly strive to improve my practice.  In the course of treatment a patient may spend a total of 5 minutes in the presence of a physician who may spend a minute and a half writing orders for that patient.  However, I will be the primary person that the patient sees throughout their care and I will be the one who notices changes in their condition and will act on those changes independently.  I will notify the physician of changes and will potentially receive new orders, but I am under NO obligation to follow those "orders" if they are not safe and reasonable for the care of my patient. 

I decide, based on my education and experience and the standards of care whether the "orders" I receive are appropriate and safe.  If they are, I will carry them out.  But let me tell you how many times I have had to just say no.  How many times I have had to say, "Are you SURE you want me to do that?"

Nurses are not mindless automatons waiting for physicians to tell us what to do.  And despite shows like House that would have you believe physicians carry out the total care of their patients.  In the words of that title character, "I don't use nurses."  No.  He doesn't.  Because that's fantasy land.  No physician in a hospital setting can accomplish the care of their patient without nurses. 

Consider this the next time you hear someone say that nurses are subordinate to doctors:

I can completely and effectively care for any patient without the aid/direction of a physician when it is necessary (and have).  But, show me one physician in any hospital setting who can give total care to any patient without the aid (and sometimes direction) of a nurse. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

To tell the truth...

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.

I don't ever say or do anything with the intent of hurting anyone.  And, I don't feel good knowing that, despite that, I have said and done things that hurt people.

And I will again.

Know why?  Because I place a very, very high premium on truth.  And, sometimes?  The truth hurts. 

Now, I agree that there are times that the way I speak the truth could, possibly, be approached in a softer, more gentle way.  But...I'm not a confectioner.  To me, it's just so much simpler to start with the bare, ugly facts and work outward from there.

Not everyone can handle that, I get that.  So, I'm not everyone's cup of tea.  And that's ok. 

When I blog or write on facebook, I use shortcuts to identify individuals without actually identifying them.  Sometimes that means using terminology that irks folks.  If I'm referencing someone who daily uses drugs of whatever sort and who will resort to thievery and deception to get those drugs, I will probably call them a junkie.  Or a druggie.  I am fully aware that the people I'm labeling are people.  I have not negated or ignored their essential humanity.

But, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and shits like a duck?  I'm gonna go ahead and call it a duck.  I will not take the time to call it  a Waddling, Flat-billed American.

If someone were to try to describe me and said, "You know, the loud, fat chick wearing teal" would be an accurate descriptor and would not, in the least, offend or hurt me.

I mention all of this because I got a random message from someone who took offense to me calling someone a junkie and said, "It's a disease, just like that teal ribbon on your facebook wall". 

Ok, I'll bite, being a junkie has an element of disease.  But it's comparable to alcoholism, or obesity.  NOT to ovarian cancer.  Get that straight.

I am fully aware that it truly is by luck of the draw that I am not a junkie or an alcoholic.  And I fight obesity every single day.  I know how hard it is.  Maybe even harder for obesity because, while I would be able to live my entire life without ever going near drugs or alcohol, I couldn't live more than a few weeks without food.  It's something I have to be able to deal with.

Only I am responsible for my weight.  100%.  It's harder for me than it may be for others, but it IS possible for me to eat right and work out and get my weight under control.  I recognize that it's the same for those addicted to alcohol and drugs. 

But do not, for one millisecond, equate diseases of choice with a disease like ovarian cancer.

There is not a single choice that my friend ever made that caused her to have ovarian cancer.  And she fought it with all that she had for as long as she could.

Also, when calling someone out for being insentive?  Terms like, "You friggin' hypocrite" come off sounding, oh, I don't know, a little friggin' hypocritical. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Girls Goofing Off Cabibbean Cruise version

L to R:
Tara, Ophelia, Natasha and Farah
 Ever plan something way in advance and then count down the days, the excitement building to a point where you thought you'd just start spontaneously dancing (ok, maybe I actually did start spontaneously dancing once...or twice...)?

I've done that before and then ended up with a reality that just didn't match the anticipation. Not that the planned activity was a disappointment or not great in its own way, but just...not what I'd expected.

The cruise with My Girls was NOT that.  This was one of the best, most relaxing vacations I have ever had. 


I think it may be because I had no actual expectations for this trip other than relaxation, fun and time with people I love.

To cover everything that happened in 7 days of cruising would be impossible, but I'm going to cover the highlights.

For the purposes of the cruise, we all picked code names.  I was Ophelia -- which I love because to say, "I'm Ophelia" comes out sounding like a threat of sexual assault.  Then there is Tara, my roomie, Natasha (previously referred to as Stretch in this blog) and Farah.  Now, Farah always has big, sexy hair, so you'd think remembering her code name would be easy.  You'd be wrong.  Neither Tara nor I could keep it straight for the entire flippin' cruise.

The gals all flew in.  Stretch, er, Natasha was first by a few hours, so we had lunch at PF Chang's and saw a movie.  At lunch, I got the most perfect fortune cookie:

It was raining when we got to the restaurant, and Natasha is having knee issues, so we had the valet park for us.  That ended up in a bit of an adventure when I couldn't find the stub.  I just randomly decided to check for it as we left the restaurant and went into the movie.  I ran back out to just square away with the very busy valet that I would be able to get my car.  He was very nice, said he would recognize my bright orange and blue "Team EMS" key fob when I returned and I rejoined Natasha in the theater.

We, and 27 girls ranging in age between 11 and 14, saw Divergent, which I never read because I thought it would be a rip off of the Hunger Games series.  I'm glad we saw the  movie, though.  The actor who played Four will be making frequent appearances in future fantasies. 

After the movie, the rain had largely stopped.  We made our way to the valet and were able to get my car with no glitch.  For the heavily bejeweled, perfectly coiffed older Southern Belle who was at the kiosk when we arrived, notsomuch.  She said she'd been waiting 20 minutes.  They couldn't find her keys.  Natasha is sort of my hero and just started giving it (in a very calm, sweet but decidedly authoritarian voice) to the valet.  Giving him suggestions on things he should check to find the nice lady's keys.  We had to get Tara and Farah from the airport, so we wished Rue Mclanahan bon chance and were on our way.

Storms caused Tara and Farah to be delayed, so we missed our planned Chipotle carry out and Rickaritas on the couch.  Somehow, no one cared. We got back to Casa de Hammock and everyone sacked out nearly right away.

That night, the Rickster reminded me that, while we have had physical separations due to travel contracts, we almost never go more than a day without speaking to one another, but on the cruise, we may go the whole week. I fell asleep to his voice saying he'd really miss me.

The morning of the cruise, we got up early and the Rickster was our chauffeur to brunch with Panda Girl and then to the boat.  Tara and I got pedicures as the ship pulled out of port and then we just lounged around, checked out the ship and saw a beautiful sunset.  We all turned in fairly early and our room was small but just right and the beds were very cozy.  Slept like a rock.


Our usual perch overlooking the pool
I woke very early Monday and the ship was nearly deserted.  I watched the sun rise and enjoyed some coffee in total solitude.  I managed to be up early all but one morning and it made for a few amazing runs around the track. 

No ports that first day, we were in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean with nothing around but blue water, blue skies, sunshine and joy.  Oh yeah.  Joy.  In the afternoon, there was a Calypso group playing at the bandstand by the pool called the Joy Band.  The musicians were good -- a bass and steel drums -- and the male singer was decent.  The female lead singer, presumably Joy, had this annoying habit of being awful.  The band would move on to another song, but Joy, in a grating monotone seemed to just keep "singing" the same song over and over.  The Joy Band was our punishment for sloth.  Most time spent vegging  out by the pool was accompanied by Joy and her foghorn voice. 

However, I also caught a glimpse of a tall, dark gentleman of unknown rank wearing a naval uniform that looked like something out of An Officer and a Gentleman, only 10x hotter than Richard Gere ever dreamed of being.  This guy had just the perfect amount of swagger and I would admire him from afar for the whole trip, mostly as he wandered about the pool, apparently a manager of some sort. I named him Lt. Swagger.

Monkey Lala!
There was a variety show to get a glimpse of all the onboard entertainment options.  There, we learned that we really wanted to see Tim Kaminski - a comic - perform but had ZERO interest in ever having to sit through Joe-say and Patty's kitschy, Catskills musical talents.  Kaminski is more a sketch guy than a standup and he pulled members of the audience to participate.  One such was a gentleman who didn't immediately proceed to the stage, rather he seemed to be searching for something near his seat.  Kaminski teased him about it and the gentleman carefully made his way to the stage, someone assisting him up the stairs.  A few minutes later,  the gentleman's wife was holding something out to Kaminski and asking him to take it to her husband.  It was his cane.  The gentleman was blind.  Oops.

We were adventurous in Roatan, Honduras and it paid off in the form of entertainment from our very young, charming and startlingly frank tour guide, George.  The primary take-away from that day was "Monkey Lala". 

In both Costa Maya and Belize, we didn't really stray far from the port and just shopped and drank...drinking was a running theme throughout the trip, actually. 

Costa Maya's port was clean and bright and had a pool with a swim up bar and Tara and I hung out there watching people, dophins and pelicans.  And having a random local come up and attempt to "amaze" us with a card trick.  It was reminiscent of my niece when she was 4 and learned the "pick one from this row" trick.  It was interminable.  Belize was the one place the Rickster has wanted to go for years and I've resisted because of its reputation for crime and political unrest.  That was the only port where we had to tender in and that was fun.  Our hosts on the tender boats there and back were cheerful and told us to have an "Un-Belize-able" time.  The port gave a definite feel of gratitude for the guarded walls that surrounded it.  I bought several souvenirs (especially for the Rickster) and then Tara and I hung out at a cool open air bar and just chatted for a couple of hours.  It was pretty awesome.

In Cozumel, Tara and I had pre-planned a snorkeling and beach trip. 

We got up and, as per Tara's usual, she worked out.  I did as well, and then we both showered up and got ready and went into the port to our assigned spot for our excursion.  Natasha and Farah were also doing an excursion where we expected to hook up with them at some point.  Tara and I eventually joined about 50 other people on a catamaran where our host told us the plan for the day, including no alcohol until after the snorkeling lest we "feed the fish" (aka hork).  We were meant to snorkel for about an hour and I suppose we did, but it felt like a lot less. It was amazing.  The water was an impossible clear blue.  We started at the "shallows" which were about 20ft deep and swam into the deeper section which was about 80ft deep.  There was coral and there were colorful fish and a few stingrays. 

With my head in the water, listening only to the sound of my breathing through the snorkel, it felt like frequent dreams I have of being able to breathe underwater.  It was an experience I will never forget. 

Tara's underwater selfie
The best thing about Cozumel, though, was getting free wifi and being able to call the Rickster and hear his voice.  After nearly a week, I really did miss him. 

The last day at sea was literally spent sitting by the pool, here Tara and I had spent a great deal of our time.  There, during the cruise, we got to know Cesar, a tiny Filipino who was funny and talented (one brief time, he sat in Joy's usual spot playing guitar and singing and was just amazing).  We had taught him our game of "Do, Not Do" -- which is how Natasha/Stretch and I had first bonded on our first Vegas trip.  You just people watch and pick out someone who catches your eye and decide on the spot if (hypothetically) you would or would not "do" them.  Cesar thought this was hilarious.  Especially when I pointed out Lt. Swagger.   Cesar threatened to tell said gentleman of my admiration...ok, I guess what I actually said was, "I'd do him till I broke him".  Still, what's said in "Do, Not Do" should stay in "Do, Not Do".

That last night, we all (minus Farah) went to a martini tasting event.  Guess who was hosting?  Yup.  Mr. Swagger.  I got to watch him up close for an hour or so and he was quite entertaining and the martinis were tasty.  And copious.  The ticket price entitles you to 5 martinis.  They were not just shots, FYI, they were about 1/2 the size of a regular martini and each had 2 oz of vodka.  We were told by Lt. Swagger that there would be extra martinis to the persons who could correctly answer his trivia questions after his History of the Martini lecture. 

We took notes.

So, Tara and I each ended up with 7 martinis.  It was fun.

Then Farah rejoined us and we all made our way to dinner.  Dinner was filled with one of the most marvelous conversations between the four of us.  I love these girls, but I have to say that this cruise made me love them even more.  Vacation of a lifetime.  It was...epic.