Well, this little experiment didn't turn out to be as fruitful as I would have hoped. Sadly, I got a little caught up with life, and poor bloggy was left behind. Oh well, I know that nobody missed me that much. ;) A quick summary:
May: Medical school graduation--see lots of friends and family, and stay at the Peabody! Mom visits Lexington.
June: Move to Shelbyville after a long, frustrating search for a house. Cathy & Chris visit. Stephen turns 27.
August: IM wards at the VA...again. Big Mama passes away after briefly suffering from meningitis. Visit Memphis for her funeral. Amanda gets engaged. Visit Nashville to see Sheila for one day. Cathy, Gram, and PA visit Lexington.
September: 2 weeks of Nephrology at Norton Hospital, then 2 weeks of vacation! Visit Chattanooga and go to UT football game with Dad and the boyz. Stephen and I celebrate our first anniversary with a weekend at a bed & breakfast in Cincinnati. Fly to Jax to visit Mom.
October: Cardiology/CCU at University Hospital. Month from hell. But, Stephen and I finally get smart phones! Also, visit Marietta the first weekend.
November: IM wards at University. On call on Thanksgiving Day, but off on my birthday (27!). Cathy and Chris visit. My niece Makinley Rayne is born (Graham's daughter)!
December: 2 weeks of Allergy elective ROCKS. Take Step III. Lots of snow. 2 weeks of Wards at University with the resident from hell. I work Christmas. :( Mom and Trey visit Shelbyville right after Christmas, then I get to see family. New Years' Eve at Hennen's in Chattanooga, then at Matt & Christy's in Ringgold.
So yes, now I have officially finished half of my internship!
January: 2 weeks Gyn clinic; 2 weeks Pathology
February: 2 weeks Cardiology at VA; 2 weeks Night float
March: Infectious Diseases at VA
April: IM wards at University
May: Pulmonology at Audubon Hospital
June: 2 weeks of Cards at University; 2 weeks of vacay and MOVING TO CLEVELAND!!!
I REALLY cannot wait to start Dermatology. Internal Medicine is alright, I guess, but it's not what I want to do. Add to the that the fact that I am working 80 hours a week and staying overnight at the hospital, and you get a tired, frustrated, busy intern who is counting down til the last day (164 days to go).
Now, shall I make a New Year's Resolution?!? Hmmm...
Meet the Grand Am.
I distinctly remember walking down the stairs to the garage at my Dad's house on December 8th, 2001. I turned to the left and saw a pretty, shiny white car with a big red bow on top...and I knew immediately that it was my 18th birthday present!! I screamed and grinned and jumped up and down, and when I got inside, I couldn't believe how nice and new and fancy it was. I loved the pink/amber display lights and the fact that it had a CD player. That night, I drove the car to one of my last Nutcracker performances with Chattanooga Ballet.

Over the next 8.5 years, this car carried me to many more classes, rehearsals, performances, and events. I took it to college (the picture above). I took it to medical school (below). I drove it thousands and thousands of miles to visit Stephen while we were in a long-distance relationship. I drove it thousands of more miles to most of my medical school and residency interviews. I cruised the streets of Chattanooga, Jacksonville, Nashville, Memphis, and Lexington peering through its windshield. I braved snow, rain, ice, and heat from within the protection of the Grand Am. And I shed many a tear on long drives home while my trusty car listened and didn't try to interrupt (how thoughtful of it!).
Over the years, the Grand Am was surprisingly reliable. Despite 148,790 miles, it gave me relatively few problems--just a few flat tires, 2 dead batteries, a blinker problem that was fixed under Pontiac's recall, and typical maintenance issues (timing belt, brake pad replacement, wheel alignment, etc.).

Recently, however, Grand Am (which was never given its own name, interestingly enough) has begun to show its age...in many ways, it is similar to an aging human. There's a big crack in the windshield (scars). The alignment is messed up (something in the frame is bent), so the car shakes every time you get to 20-45 mph (I think of it as a limp secondary to stroke). The steering system has some rusty joints, so the car moans every time you turn it right or left (arthritis). The brakes have started making a scary squealing noise after it rains (...?). About a month ago, the engine began stalling at stop lights and "coughing" as I pressed the accelerator, and we found that a hose was rotted through and had to be replaced (COPD? pneumonia?). One day later, another flat tire. Last week, the Low Coolant light came on, and the engine temperature began to rise. We realized that coolant was leaking out of the engine and forming a big puddle on the driveway; by the next day, ALL of the coolant was on the ground (kidney failure...or incontinence). My car, was in fact, dying.

Today, we took the Grand Am to its final resting place. I felt like the undertaker as I cleaned out my junk and tried to clean up the dash, steering wheel, etc. It performed surprisingly well (after being topped off with coolant, of course) on the drive to the dealership. As we dropped it off to be traded, I got a little nostalgic...but I knew it was time to let go. So, RIP 2001 Pontiac Grand Am. You were a good little car, and you served above and beyond your purpose.

But now, it's time for an UPGRADE!!!!Presenting....

the NEW 2010 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI!!!

I LOVE IT!!! It has a freakin' awesome panoramic sunroof...
A touchscreen iPod media system and Bluetooth...
Plus black leather interior, a 42 mpg highway-averaging turbo diesel engine, a big ol' trunk, and that delicious new-car smell. :)

Can I just interject here that I love love LOVE my wonderful husband (my sugar daddy) for wanting to get me a very nice, very safe new car that was a serious upgrade from my old car??? He is awesome. I couldn't ask for a better hubby.

We are heading to Marietta this weekend (in the new car, of course!) for Mother's Day!!

T-minus 21 days til M.D.
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Though I did not grow up in Nashville and I don't live there now, the Music City feels like home to me. To see it underwater is absolutely heart-wrenching.
The magnificent Opryland Hotel, where I have admired Christmas lights for years, is covered in 10-20 feet of water. Nearby, Opry Mills Mall, where I frequently shopped, ate, and saw movies, is entirely flooded.

The famous Grand Ole Opry has muddy water filling its rows. The streets of downtown Nashville are covered in the same muddy water as the Cumberland River crested 12 feet above flood stage last night. Even LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, suffered damage from water covering the field and first few rows of seats. Country Music Hall of Fame, Schermerhorn Symphony, Bridgestone Arena (home of the Nashville Predators), Bicentennial Mall...the list goes on and on! Streets that I drove down daily while in college were shut down days ago and are still underwater. The pictures of familiar gas stations, restaurants, and other buildings are unbelieveable. Thousands of people lost their homes, and 28 people lost their lives due to the storms last weekend. Now, the citizens of Nashville are facing a water shortage, as water treatment plants were flooded, as well. It will take months, perhaps years, to recover from this tragedy.
Thankfully, my friends and family stayed safe and had no property damage. Big Mama, my 103-year-old great-grandmother, had to stay alone on Saturday night because my grandparents, Mimi and Pappy, could not get home to her; however, she was able to take care of herself without any problems.
Though the gravity of this news has somehow evaded the national media, I hope that word is getting out to people far away from Nashville. It may not be on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, but the effects of this flooding on many Nashvillians are certainly comparable. I am still confused as to why a failed bombing attempt is getting ten times more coverage than a major, historical city covered in water.
Despite being ignored, Nashvillians have certainly proved their resilience in the last few days; there have been no reports of looting, and relief organizations are having to turn people away because they have filled up their spots already. My alma mater, Belmont University, is giving employees three days off PAID in order to volunteer throughout the city. These people (and I still consider myself one of them!) truly love their city and each other, and they will work to protect what they love.

p.s. T-minus 24 days 'til M.D.
This past Friday (April 23rd) was my last day of medical school. Unlike the last day of high school, college, and even the last day of M2 year, I had no trace of sadness or nostalgia as I exited the hospital for the last time. Instead, I was grinning from ear to ear, occasionally pausing for a brief "happy dance" on my way back to the car (much to the dismay of the M3 walking with me), and contemplating whether I should burn my short white coat or throw it under a bus. Upon arriving home, I immediately fell into bed for a 2.5 hour nap. Later that night, I celebrated with champagne, baguettes, French cheese, and a French movie with Stephen.
It wasn't until the next morning that it really hit me, though...I finished. I completed the requirements. Assuming I passed the last 2 clerkships, I'm pretty much an M.D.
And I have nothing to do until June 23rd.
What on EARTH am I going to do with myself for two months?!?

Well, this week, I decided to try baking. I got an awesome KitchenAid stand mixer from my mother-in-law, Cathy, for a wedding shower gift, and I decided that I need to use it more often. I also recently purchased an adorable pink apron that orders you to "Kiss the Cook" on the front pocket, and I love wearing it around the house. Even better, I have a brother in seminary and a husband who works with all guys, so I can find plenty of people willing to take the desserts off my hands so I am not tempted to overindulge (though, of course, I will allow myself to savor my fair share of the goods).

Project #1: M&M cookies. I got the recipe from Rachel Kelley, my aunt in Pulaski, TN. I'm still having trouble getting the baking time right on cookies; one batch of these was perfect, but the other was a little overdone. I have those AirBake cookie sheets, and they make the cookies look deceptively underdone ...hmmm... Still, these turned out pretty tasty. I sent a box of them to Trey, and I'll be curious to hear his verdict.

Project #2: (Almost) Fat-Free Cheesecake. Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens Bridal Cookbook. While I have definitely eaten my fair share of cheesecake in my lifetime, I have never actually made one or watched one being made. So this was a little scary! I used Fat free cream cheese, but did use 3 real eggs rather than the egg substitute recommended in the fat-free recipe. I also couldn't get the crust (crushed graham crackers) to stick to the sides of my springform pan, so the crust is only on the bottom. Plus, I didn't really know what the cake was supposed to look like once it came out of the oven...so I think it's a little overdone. But I have yummy strawberries for a topping and a sweet (hungry) husband who will eat the cheesecake as long as it's edible. :)

Other thrilling events of week one of freedom? I bought a cute dress for graduation as well as a Crock-Pot...I got mah hair did and it looks fab...I went to my first church choir practice and even got Stephen to come with me...
Freedom...I'm lovin' it!
I've always needed a creative outlet of some kind. For years, that outlet came in the form of dance--ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, swing, tap, you name it. Planning our wedding last year was fabulous for my creativity, as I took ideas from their conception and carried through to completion on the day of the wedding. I also enjoy taking pictures and scrapbooking, and I am currently contemplating what to do with the 19 photo albums sitting in my living room.

As a child, I also loved to write and illustrate stories, and I even got a poem published in the National Library of Poetry as a fifth-grader. I find writing to be very therapeutic for me. Perhaps I like it because it is a way to channel that creative energy into a meaningful and possibly even logical composition on which I can reflect at a later date...perhaps I like it because the paper (or computer, in this case) can't talk back to me as I spew my thoughts onto it.

Unfortunately, the rigors of med school do not lend themselves well to pursuing outside interests with much zeal or commitment. What little free time I had in school was directed toward my husband (rightly so!!) and, of course, wedding-planning (which was uber-stressful in the 12+ month planning process, though I couldn't be happier with the end result). As a result, I have felt creatively stifled since entering medical school. Sadly, my body lost all conditioning for dance in the meantime, and even my picture-taking enthusiasm seemed to decrease.

This is where the blog steps in. I am resolving to unleash my creativity once again, and writing/blogging is my first step in the process. I'm sure this blog will also serve as a platform to announce exciting news and to vent my frustrations as an intern next year. However, I want to take the everyday occurrences of life and describe them in a way that is refreshing and passionate. I want to find other new outlets of creativity and exercise both sides of my brain once again. I don't think I can promise you much as you read this blog, but I hope I can entertain you once or twice and occasionally prompt you to consider difficult issues in a new light.

If you're still reading, bless your heart.

T-minus 31 days til M.D.