A Walk in the Woods.

Last weekend I decided/resolved to roll my lazy, hiding from Life in (really, actually REALLY good) GOT books behind out of bed to go and take advantage of my last free time to take pictures before the long Reign of Scary Call Shifts begins.

I might be completely broke right now, and have already taken pictures of (most of, I’m sure I’ll find more!) the interesting things within walking distance of my apartment, but fortunately, I am also really good at finding opportunities/places to take cool pictures on the cheap.

This weekend I considered a few options, and then after a brief web search decided to take a chance on an arboretum a short drive down the interstate. Even though I’d heard how awesome the place was from a few people over the last year, I still didn’t know exactly what to expect, but was heartened by the great pics on the place’s website. I did the photog-on-a-budget (of pretty much zero) math in my head: < $10 admission fee and basically no gas costs + probably excellent opportunity for many photographs/fun afternoon of taking said photos + facing long stretch of scary calls = WTH, let’s do it.

I am glad that I did.

The arboretum was located deep in the woods that do occur at random intervals around this highly urbanized place, and basically a quiet, beautiful, tranquil, oasis of nature, infused with the lovely sounds and scents of a place essentially untouched by man and the changes and stresses we bring in inherently with all of our messing and industrializing.

I was thinking as I was walking around, enjoying the quiet nature sounds, sniffing up the tantalizing flower and woods smells, that I understood why some people I’ve heard or read about over the years would want to run off and live in the woods, off the land and all that jazz. What a peaceful, simple life that might be, full of quiet and nature’s beauty.

(I understood, but then thought about having to catch and clean a fish or catch, kill and skin some sort of varmint for food, or sleep in the poorly constructed shelter I would be capable of building, and I was personally glad to live near but not necessarily in such a place.)

As I was walking around sniffing, enjoying, and snapping pictures, I ran into another camera-toting nature lover. “Do you feel like we got here too late?” they asked me as we crossed paths.

I knew what they meant, I’d seen it too, and you can see it plainly in some of the pictures I got. The signs of summer’s retreat and the early onset of winter were everywhere. Leaves starting to fall, only a few varieties of hardier flowers left in full bloom, and produce starting to wither on the trees. It wasn’t worrying me though, and there was so much still to enjoy and appreciate, I just smiled and shrugged at my fellow photog’s comment.

Before I started to go through the pictures I’d gotten, I went through my WordPress reader and found an awesome new photography blog to add to my blogroll. I perused the blog, soaking up some tips about lighting and admiring all the beautiful pictures, and then I went back to my own. And promptly got super self-conscious about them.

Having gotten into photography by just decided that I really liked taking pictures one day, and then saving up and buying a sort-of fancy camera figuring I’d learn the rest as I went, I remembered that in addition to finding affordable photo ops, I still have a lot to learn to about taking good pictures when I find them.

But here are the ones I thought were decent enough to share.




































































State Fair.

On a lighter note, I did take some of the free time I’ve had over the past few weekends off to go hunting for pictures.

I was driving to work one morning and heard an ad for the local county fair. I usually compulsively flip past ads to get to the good stuff on the radio, the music, but I had to stop when I heard this one.

Growing up, I loved a few things, animals, learning, the promise of the future and the adventures I’d have, and retro movies including everything Rodgers and Hammerstein. One of my favorites was State Fair, and one of my favorite things to do as a child was go to the fair, and the few times I got to participate as an exhibitor growing and showing animals for 4-H.

As I listened to the ad, it all came flooding back.

And, as luck would have it, the last days of the fair coincided with one of my weekends off. So I roused myself early and coffee, camera, and extra batteries in hand went to immerse myself in it, and the memories of fairs past, to try to capture some of it.

It was a perfect fair, with all the sights and smells I remembered and loved. I wandered only briefly, making my way quickly to my favorite parts, the exhibition barns. I went through them all, sometimes twice, snapping away. And then I wandered some more sniffing up the delicious smells of the fried foods I couldn’t afford to actually buy and eat (which is a very good thing, given my complete abandonment of any sort of exercise and subtly but undeniably expanding self at this point!), and observing the people also in attendance, also enjoying the sights and and smells of the fair, wandering, watching, snapping photos, eating, riding, and shopping.

These are the best of the pictures I got, and I have to say that while I think they do capture some parts and joys of the fair, they leave a large and important part out. Namely the people, as I regrettably continue to be too shy to snap away at random people or to ask to.

I need to work on that, but in the meantime, here is what I did get……..

Police horse.

Police horse.


The requisite carousel.

The requisite carousel.




Prize peppers.

Prize peppers.


Priceless collection.

Priceless collection.


Instant princess.

Instant princess.


Beautiful bunny.

Beautiful bunny.


Cock of the walk.

Cock of the walk.


Precious piggies.

Precious piggies.




Mr. Ed.

Mr. Ed.


Hero of the Herpetology Society.

Hero of the Herpetology Society.








Monster truck.

Monster truck.


Corns dogs mmmm.......

Corns dogs mmmm…….


Sweet corn, fresh from the farm.

Sweet corn, fresh from the farm.


(Note: I thought of this while I was getting pictures, and now while I’m writing. I just have to add a disclaimer of sorts, with all the animal pictures that I’ve posted, that I definitely do not condone any cruelty to animals or intend to with the pictures. I love animals and wish that I could be a vegetarian because I do, and have tried several times, but sparing details, seem to physically unable to. So I personally don’t judge people either way. And, all of the animals I took pictures of were by all appearances very well cared for, and I thought an integral part of the experience I was attempting to capture. Just saying!)

I want more.

I love art, and one of my very favorite mediums is music.

Of course I can’t carry a tune with a five gallon bucket, and I’ve always been too impatient to learn to play any musical instrument with any sort of skill. But I love searching for and finding, or just by chance hearing that Perfect Song that pumps me up, makes me laugh, soothes, or expresses exactly how I’m feeling at the perfect moment. (I was lucky enough to discover The Black Keys during Gyn Onc last year – Yes, yes I have been living under a giant media-deprived rock – irregardless, fairly certain that was the essential factor in surviving until the next rotation.)

My brother and I have developed a habit of exchanging mix CDs of these Perfect Songs we find since I started med school. We send them to each other as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and at random intervals just because we’ve accumulated enough of them or one of us really needs a new infusion. I’m not exactly sure how he feels about them, but not being a big accumulator of ‘stuff” myself, they are some of the most useful, meaningful, very best, and really my favorite of gifts to receive. (I’ll never forget my study buddy’s horror second year when he introduced me to the Drive By Truckers with “Nine Bullets” and “Gravity’s Gone”. I was busy falling in love with a new band at the time, but it still managed to register. Hah.)

So, my contribution to the Intern Welcome Basket this year was a mix CD. Initially I asked for input from friends for songs for the Perfect OB/GYN mix CD, needless to say the majority of the suggestions were not fit for general public consumption, but did give me a good idea of what the general population thinks of our specialty (and let me just say: #1. Yikes!! and #2. Really guys???!!). Luckily I have headphones or the radio on most of the time when I’m on my way into or out of work so I heard a lot of those Perfect (and not necessarily X-rated) Songs over the course of intern year and I ended up compiling a list of songs I thought embodied the ups, downs, and in-betweens of OB/GYN intern year.

I made a bunch of copies for the interns and one for myself, and listened to it constantly until a couple of weeks ago when in a fit of 5 am, sleep deprived, pre-coffee frustration/irrationality I tried to fix my car’s CD player by cramming two CD’s in to try and make the mix play. (Yes, yes I realized then, and still do, what a terrible idea this was, and have to reassure that I am a much better MD than user/fixer of technological equipmentry. Much better. I swear.)

That being said, here’s the mix:

  1. First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes
  2. Portions For Foxes – Rilo Kiley
  3. Help I’m Alive – Metric
  4. Blackout – Breathe Carolina
  5. Land Down Under – Men At Work
  6. Let’s Talk About Sex – Salt-n-Pepa
  7. Push It – Salt-n-Pepa
  8. I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
  9. Over My Head – The Fray
  10. I Need A Dollar – Aloe Blacc
  11. Breathe – Anna Nalick
  12. Paradise – Coldplay
  13. Some Nights – Fun
  14. Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.
  15. Hold On – Alabama Shakes
  16. Keep Your Head Up – Andy Grammer
  17. Do It Anyway – Ben Folds Five
  18. My Body – Young The Giant
  19. Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
  20. I Love It – Icona Pop

I haven’t heard any the of interns’ reactions to the CD, or if they even actually got their copy as I was in the middle of my South American Medical Mission Adventure when they were supposed to have received it, but I really miss being able to play that CD. There is a Perfect Song for everything I am needing or feeling on my way into or leaving work if I can’t find it on the radio.

I just finished my first rotation of second year on L&D and the song I most listened to on my way home, and most wanted to hear before I completely ruined my CD player was #18. The lyrics of the chorus played through my head most nights as I walked out and drove home after the ruination anyway, “My body tells me no oh, but I won’t quit, ’cause I want more….’Cause I want more!”

It was, hands-down, the best rotation of residency so far.

I was exhausted most days, after 12 to 15-ish hours of non-stop L&D action – high-risk, high-volume, 5000 deliveries per year, one resident on at any given time and responsible for pretty much everything action – and I loved every minute of it.

I think, I have found my calling, and I absolutely loathe leaving it, even for an out-patient “vacation” rotation (followed by another Gyn Onc rotation, the very contemplation of which makes me nauseated even though, rationally and logically, I know The Worst Rotation Ever was primarily due to the The Most Giant A-Hole Chief Ever, so I’m going to not think about it until approximately 5 seconds before it actually starts).

Until I am happily running up and down your hallowed halls again L&D………..

The Daily Something: Thursday Thug Life.

Sometimes I hear a song and it’s so good, everything else stops while I listen, and I think, Where has this band been all my life??? And then I remember where I’ve been for most of my life, namely buried in the cultural deprivation tank that is deep, rural Middle America. Mostly sans the Intranet.

Looking on the bright side, which helps me feel (slightly) less lame, now that I’ve escaped to a place so ridiculously, comparatively rich in cultural, ethnic, and artistic diversity, I get to make up for all the lost time and be pretty consistently amazed with all the enthusiasm of a severely underprivileged person flipping a light switch, or eating fast food for the first time.

Today it was this song, thanks to awesome local college radio station #4. (That’s right, four local college radio stations. They play it all – Indie, Alt, Rock, Rap, Reggae, Retro, Soul, etc. Versus the four radio stations total where I came from. That all play Country, often the same song at the same time, more often than you would think is possible. Not that I have anything against Country, being a huge fan of Lucinda, Loretta, Patsy, Cross Canadian, Hank (specifically I & III), George (specifically Jones and old-school Strait), Merle, Willy, the Truckers, etc. Not they ever they played them.)

Anyway, the song. (And, Yes, I listened to the lyrics. Hayseed that I am, I like it. I like it a lot.)

Improvising and Inspiring

I am currently in the middle of an ungodly long stretch of work days. I made the call schedule this year and one of the interns ended up with more weekends on than anyone else, and being the one who made the schedule, if anyone was going to end up with a disproportionate number of weekends, it was going to be me. Hence the current ungodly-long stretch.

Its fine actually. It means I get more time on L&D, and I knew it was coming, so I took a vacation day today, right in the middle of it, so I wouldn’t be triggering any GME investigations. Unfortunately, after my last crazy-busy week, most of my Big Day Off today consisted of me laying in bed until 5 pm eating, spooning with my cat, and finishing Gone Girl.

This kind of day off might be perfectly acceptable, warranted (and probably healthy) for most people, but I hate it. There is SO much I could be doing. Of course there is the residency-related stuff like the 10 Tons of Reading I Should Be Doing In Any Spare Second and learning an entire second language before June and getting cracking on The Research Projects, and then there is blogging and taking pictures – the two main pursuits I want to be pursuing when I’m not buried in residency-related stuff.

By the time I managed to make myself crawl out of bed, it was dark outside and I could hear the wind howling. Crap. The opposite of ideal conditions for any kind of easy, outdoor photo expeditions. And any easy, indoor expeditions I could think of require money. And enough ambition to shower, dress in something other than fuzzy, pajama-type clothing, and drive somewhere. Of which I currently have neither.

So I decided to improvise.

I recently downloaded Instagram. I really like it, because as I have mentioned previously, I see pictures everywhere, and 99% of the time I don’t have my camera with me. I usually like the quality of the pictures that I get with Instagram, and I really like the editing tools. Normally, with my real camera, I only use the editing available with the basic Windows Photo Gallery, so it’s fun to do something beyond that.

Hence, I decided to use my new toy combined with whatever I could find readily available in my apartment.

I started making note cards with some of my favorite quotes last summer when I moved away from home and one of my best friends was having a seriously difficult life situation. I couldn’t be there for her in person anymore, but I could send her love, inspiration, and (hopefully) hope in the form of these little, painstakingly written and decorated cards. I ended up making hundreds of them, and inspiring myself in the process. And at Christmas time, I sent them to all my nearest and dearest in their cards as gifts, which seemed to go over very well (of course they all know I’m basically destitute and working on the thought that counts principle at this point, there is a reason they are my nearest and dearest).

So today I decided to play with combining my new (free) toy with my two primary non-residency related pursuits. When I downloaded the pictures, honestly the results were not up to my usual pictures with a sort-of-fancy-camera standards, but here is what I got that I thought was good enough to post.

Let the inspiration begin!






photo(5)  photo(8)




Take A Walk

Songs get stuck in my head all the time. Luckily (for once), it wasn’t La Cucaracha (I have no idea), instead this one was on my mental repeat all last week……



So, having no (actual, entire) days off for the rest of the month in which to pursue a True Photo Expedition, I listened to the song, and in a spare half hour I took (my camera for) a walk……




































And I was reminded, that Art is everywhere. All around us all the time. Just waiting to be appreciated. To lift us up, and fill us up. Take a walk and find it. Even it’s just a stolen half hour. Love, and live it up.