Monday, April 30, 2012

Makes me wanna holler.

"Oh, make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
This ain't livin', 
This ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no. . "

~ Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues"


No, I wasn't there when it happened. On April 29, 1992, I was finishing up my finals and preparing to graduate from college. Those images that kept playing on television with my familiar hometown neighborhoods all ablaze didn't even seem real. 

But they were.

I grew up right off of Crenshaw Boulevard. When I came home after graduation I couldn't believe my eyes. All of the corner stores and businesses that we used to ride our beach cruisers and dirt bikes to as kids were nothing but ashes and rubble. The spots where we faithfully bought our now'n'laters and jolly ranchers were gone. And now? The city was quiet and eerie. It was crazy.

And sad.

That day people were mad. They had all watched that video of Rodney King being clubbed in the street like rabid dog on the loose. Then they heard that verdict and lost it. All impulse control flew out of the window or rather flew through the window in the form of molotov cocktails and high speed bricks.

And no, I wasn't there, but still. This was happening in my hometown and I remember it well. I was all the way in Alabama, but as a student at a historically black college I saw my fellow students reacting. Those collegiate outbursts didn't involve violence or fire, but they were filled with enough frustration and rage to holler.

And see, I wasn't there in Los Angeles when all of this went down. So I can't fully comment on what the exact tipping point was. But when I came to my own neighborhood and saw how desolate it was all I can say is this: I damn sure didn't feel vindicated. Not one bit.

I just felt sad.

It's been twenty years since that happened and sometimes I'm not sure how much has changed. I turn on the television, hear the big story in the news and see angry people aligning mostly by race and a few by principle and way too many so indifferent that they don't align at all.  And sure our president's name is Barack and he's married to a sister from the Southside of Chi-town named Michelle, but still. On a far too regular basis we are still asking that same question:

"Can't we all just get along?"

Although technically Rodney King's actual quote in the aftermath of the L.A. Riots of 1992  was:

"People, I just want to say this, can we all get along?"

Dang. I sure hope so.

Here we are some twenty years after the riots that burnt down inner city L.A. county neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. And one score and one day later here's what I know for sure: History loves to try to make a point. And if you don't get it the first time, it hits the repeat button until you do.


*first two images from the L.A. Times.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . a perfect song to capture how it felt to walk through my burnt down neighborhood.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Top Ten: The Good Parts.

This past week was quite a week. Most of it I liked. A few parts. . .not so much.

Oh well.

I've chosen to focus on the parts that I liked. What better way than a top ten? Wanna hear it? Here it go!


#10  Ant-fest

Of course you know how much I enjoyed that day! Hands down one of the main highlights of my week. 

We talked a lot that evening. I realized that even though I was her advisor and she was my student. . . that the last five years had allowed us to forge a friendship. And of course a friendship with your student is not like a friendship with a faculty member but still. There is a place for befriending your learners as long as you recognize the unique boundaries. And we both did so it was good.

Also? I know for sure that these student-advisor relationships are symbiotic. I grew just as much as she in those five years. She had something to do with that, too.

#9  Hug it out.


Something disappointing happened to me on Friday. Nothing earth shattering or end-of-the-world-ish but still kind of disappointing. Anyways, since it didn't involve my husband and his health or my kids and their health or my basic needs or my own health, I had decided to be a big girl and move on. 

So that afternoon, I had to pick Isaiah up early for a doctor's appointment so that was good since caring for my family always takes my mind off of anything that is a bummer but not so high on the Richter scale.  

But. This was Friday. And Friday at Isaiah's aftercare is movie day and ice cream day. Picking your kid up at 3:30 on a Friday is like giving someone only an hour to go to Disney--unforgivable. So as soon as he saw me, his face twisted up and he erupted into tears. 

I was too mentally tired to scold him or even launch into whatever a psychologist or super nanny would describe as the proper response. So I said this:

"Hey bud. I'm sorry you're disappointed to be leaving early. I totally understand. Something disappointed Mommy today, too."

And just like that he stopped crying. 

"Come on, let's get your backpack and go."  No promises to make it up to him. No negotiations for the following week. Nope. None of that.

Isaiah quietly followed me and picked up his backpack. Every few seconds his whole body quivered. I was okay with the aftershocks of his big disappointed cry. Yep, I was.

"Mom?" Isaiah asked as we walked to the car, "Why does there even have to be disappointment in the world? I wish there was no disappointment ever." 

I opened his door and replied, "Hmm. Let me think about that." So he jumped in and so did I and I started the ignition. I thought some more about that statement, even if it came from an almost seven year old. "Isaiah? It's probably good to have some disappointments. It makes you appreciate the good times."

"But it also really makes you need a hug." 

"Hugs are okay."

"Mom? I think we both just need a hug." And with that came another aftershock and then he started getting back on the edge of crying again. 

And you know what I did? I put my car in park right there in the driveway heading out of aftercare, got out of my car, opened up his door and wrapped my arms around my son. And we just hugged it out until we felt better. We sure did.

You know what? If we hadn't both been disappointed, we would never have had that conversation. Or that moment together. 

So yes, I guess we kind of need disappointments.

#8  French Connection

 Our anniversary is coming up next week. Grandma Shugsie was gracious enough to take the boys to a festival on Friday evening AND allow them a sleepover with her. Yessirrrr. We decided to make this night our anniversary celebration dinner.

We went to this swanky contemporary French restaurant called Bistro Niko. It was a perfect evening with perfect weather so we sat on the patio overlooking Buckhead. We talked bout our eight years of marriage and how fortunate we are to have found one another. I thanked him for allowing me to be me and for making me feel like I am his ideal every single day. And he simply said, "You are my ideal every single day." 


And this is why I refer to that man as the BHE because, seriously? He is the best husband ever. That is, for me he is. 

Which reminds me: Please read this sweet post by Ms. Moon where she beautifully shares about her BHE, Mr. Moon. Be still my beating heart. For real.

Yes, ladies. If me and Sister Moon got us a BHE, know that one is out there looking all over for you as we speak. For real.

#7  Lunch Bunch

This past week was the American Program Directors in Internal Medicine's national meeting. It just happened to be in Atlanta this year which meant that my favorite profesora from Pittsburgh was in town! Unfortunately, it's a pretty jam-packed meeting and she has family here so I had resigned myself to thinking that the stars wouldn't line up for me to see her. But we talked and texted so that was cool.

Then on Wednesday the stars aligned. And boy did they align. Shanta (the profesora) had a window open for lunch and right at the same time, my other favorite infectious disease medicine nerd girlfriend Wendy did, too! And! Wendy just so happened to be dropping someone off at the host hotel so she picked up the profesora from Pittsburgh and just like that three busy as hell clinician-educators-slash-program-directoras were sitting on the patio at La Fonda Latina on Ponce yucking it up. 

Here is what I realized during that lunch:  When Shanta still lived in Atlanta, we were friendly and deeply respected one another but we weren't nearly as close as we became after she left. But somehow we evolved to this very close friendship that has become an important one in my life. Wendy and Shanta have been good friends for some time. I have been extremely fortunate to get to know Wendy better -- initially through our shared admiration for Shanta. Though that part still exists, we have become friends in our own right. 

So yeah. I sat on a patio eating inexpensive Cuban food in the middle of the day in the middle of the week with two people that occupy a space in the middle of my heart. That part of my week? I really, really liked.

#6  Fox Trot

Due to lots of changes in programming and scheduling, I hadn't been doing my weekly segment on our local Fox affiliate. We mutually agreed to have me come in on an as needed basis for salient topics. At first that translated to twice per month or so. Things got so busy for me that I hadn't even noticed that it had been a couple of months since I'd been on. Right when I did, serendipitously they called me for a segment. 

It was really nice to see everyone. The security guard at the gate was so sweet when I pulled up! He was like, "Dr. Manning! Dr. Manning!" And that was it--he just said my name twice with a whole lot of glee in the way he was saying it. That part was my favorite part of going, actually. 

I got tongue-tied a couple of times but the segment was fun, too.

#5  Some Bliss-ful BFF time!

Lately my best friend and I have been like two busy mommy-doctor ships passing on the interstate. With so many responsibilities, it's been hard to get our calendars and even our chat-on-the-phone windows to match up. But finally on Saturday we did.

We went to the spa together which is slightly funny since we both always declare that we are not "spa-ey" people. But Lisa had heard that this awesome spa in the heart of downtown Atlanta had a swanky infinity pool slash relaxation area that overlooked the city. So we arrived early, sipped some bubbly, and pointed out how surprisingly refreshing water tastes with cucumber slices in it. (Who knew?)

Then we sat by the pool and talked and talked and talked. We got fully caught up and it was awesome. (We also got some fancy-shmancy triple oxygen facials and that part was awesome, too.)

#4  Super Self Image

Overheard in my house this week:

Isaiah:  "Mom? Would you be willing to get us a Robin costume?"

Zachary: "You mean like from Batman and Robin?"

Isaiah:  "Yes, Zachary. Mom, would you? We want a Robin costume for Zachary to wear when we--"

Zachary:  "Dude. I don't want to be Robin. Never."

Isaiah:  "No no, Zachy . . .Robin is Batman's sidekick. He's cool."

Zachary:  "No, I don't never want to be the sidekick. I only want to be Batman or the main superhero."

Isaiah: "But Robin is cool, Zachy!"

Zachary: "Then you be Robin. Nobody's gonna be the boss of me when I'm a superhero."

#3 Me time

I took a nice long walk this morning. It had been a long day on Saturday so we didn't make it to church. That walk I took by myself was spiritual and reflective. I recapped my week--the highs, the lows and the pieces in between. I felt the breeze on my face and sun on my shoulders. All of it was good.

The music on my iPod was uplifting and especially, so was the beautiful scenery. I felt good so I started to run. Slowly, of course, but still it was a run. So I ran and thought and prayed and gave thanks. 

All of it was good. Very good.

This song makes me think of me on my walk because I was thinking a lot about Harry and love.

#2  High off of someone's happy

My dear friend and fellow Grady doctor, Lisa B., won a big teaching award this year. This national award was given by the prestigious American College of Physicians and is the largest organization of physicians in the world. Two weeks ago the ACP held their national meeting in New Orleans and Lisa received her award at the convocation ceremony. We were all so proud of her and wanted her to know how elated we were about this remarkable accomplishment.

And since y'all know that I have declared war on anything that makes us feel self doubt (especially during times of accolades) I was all for it when a colleague asked me to help with some gesture to acknowledge Lisa's award. 

So in addition to someone getting a cake and us getting a few more things, I walked around the clinic and grabbed a little bit of footage on my iPhone which (with the magic of iMovie) became this short little music video:

The best part was when we surprised her with it! Watching her watch that video was SO awesome. Lisa's expertise is teaching the physical examination to medical students. All of the people who participated in the video were her former students or residents. We also had some awesome Grady staff members to serve as our "patients." (No actual patients were harmed in the filming of this video.)

#1 The write thing to do.

This week I did a lot of writing. Some of it was on this blog. Some of it wasn't. But I got to write. . . . .and that's so important to me.

So yeah. That was good.

There was a time that my husband would see me with my laptop open for the umpteenth time and start to grumble. He fussed at me a few times and finally I had to explain to him that I have to write. I just have to. 

For the most part, I've given up most television shows. Because writing takes time. And I need to write more than I need to watch television. So I tried to explain all of this to Harry who decided to drop it but who I've secretly believed sees my laptop as some type of. . . hmmm. . . at this very moment I am feeling annoyed that there is no masculine version of the word "mistress." 


Yeah. That.

Anyways. Earlier this week, someone asked me how often I write. And Harry was there and he said, "She writes something every single day. She has to." And it wasn't even with a drop of bitterness that he said it either. It conveyed a deep understanding or at least acceptance of something about his wife that could not be more different than him. 

So this week? I wrote. And to make it even better, someone read what I wrote. In fact, I met two people this week simply because of this blog. One was a smiling first year medical student named Anita who made my day with her kind words. And the other was on the soccer field--a mutual friend of my long distance sister friend, Kris R. She walked right up and asked, "Are you the Grady doctor? I'm Erin and we're both friends with Kris!"  We laughed and hugged and chatted about our friend and how much we both miss her. I told her how glad I am that Kris still blogs from Uganda because it feels like I talk to her every day. 

Which, in a way, is true.

So I write because I must. But this bonus of connecting with people through writing? It's a bonus that I didn't see coming. So those of you who come and read and connect with me--thank you. For real.

Oh, and as for the BHE needing to worry about my laptop being my man-stress? Two words:

Not. Possible.

I think he knows that now. I guess that's because he's my ideal.

Happy Sunday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .this one is for the BHE. This is real music.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What you see.

"Always remember my friend
the world will change again
and you may have to come back
to everywhere you've been. . ."

~ from Joe Sample's "When Your Life Was Low"


"Excuse me, doctor. I hate to bother you."

That's what this woman said to me one evening as I made my way out of the hospital. My stride was brisk; it signaled that I was on my way somewhere and that I wasn't exactly looking to be stopped. But on this day, I can't say that I was exactly in a hurry. Harry was picking up the children and taking them for haircuts that day so there wasn't any hard hit-time I needed to make.

But still. It had been a long and mentally tough day. I was ready to go. For real.

I abruptly stopped in the hallway and gave her my attention. "Ma'am?"

Even though I stopped, I know that my body language was still communicating otherwise. Rocking side to side on my feet, hand on the strap of my tote bag, cell phone in my hand just waiting to be used. Sure, she had the floor for a moment--but only a moment.

"I hate to bother you, but I was just wondering if you might be able to give me some money to get something to eat. I don't never ask people things like this but when I saw you I thought I would just see what you said."

Now. Let me be honest. This? This is not an unusual thing to encounter at a place like Grady Hospital. Just ask anyone who has worked at Bellevue in NYC or Jackson Memorial in Miami or Parkland in Dallas or Cook County in Chicago or Charity in New Orleans. This is bound to happen to you at least once in a public hospital. Maybe even more than once. As for Grady, we're the safety net hospital serving metropolitan Atlanta and all of its surrounding counties. Our patient population ranges from elders on fixed incomes who marched shoulder to shoulder with Dr. King to the newly uninsured to undocumented immigrants to our large population of homeless or unstably housed folks who are doing what Stevie Wonder called "living just enough for the city." So that means that getting asked for spare change or a few spare bills while inside of the hospital is common enough to leave your feathers unruffled.

Some days, I just reach into my pocket and give whatever I have. I don't allow myself to think about what the person is going to do with the money or whether or not they are telling the truth. Almost always I find myself wondering whether or not I did the right thing. Asking myself things like, "Did I just by someone a hit of crack cocaine?" Then I shake my head and tell myself that I did my part and the rest is up to someone far bigger and greater than me.

Then there are the days that I feel more critical and nitpicky. It's almost always after a rough week on the wards with lots of wretched social issues crippling my ability to care for my patients. Those are the days where I drive home fuming about how much I hate crack cocaine or any other kind of highly addictive illicit drug. My mind declares a war of sorts that manifests as mini-battles taken up with any and everything suspicious for drug involvement.

This was one of those days.

"You're hungry?"

This was a simple enough question. Nitpicky, yes, but still a simple question. No, I wasn't trying to be passive-aggressive either. This was just a piece of information that I needed before deciding what I'd do next.

"Yes, ma'am," she replied.

I looked at her carefully and then nodded my head. "Alright. Let's go upstairs to the cafeteria. I'll buy you something to eat right now. Let's go." I waved my hand and prepared to walk toward the cafe.

"Uuuhh, see I'm at Gradys 'cause my daughter she in the hospital here. I want to go to visit her before the visiting hours is up, you know doc? So, you see what I'm sayin', I 'preciate you being willing to go get me something but what I was hoping you could do is just give me the money so I could get it a little bit later."

That whole convoluted answer immediately made me feel tired. I rubbed the side of my neck and craned it sideways. My eyes narrowed as I listened to her and my pulse quickened. "But I thought you said you were hungry? Listen, it's only five-something. You have a bunch of time before visiting hours is up."

I stopped there and immediately felt bad for assuming the worst. I tried to clean it up. "I'm sorry to hear about your daughter."

You know--the one that's in the hospital. 

I pressed my fingers into my neck again.

"Oh, my daughter? Uh, yes ma'am. She okay. She just had a baby tha'as all. But, you know, I'm really just trying to get up there, you know what I'm sayin', before it get too late. So I was gon' go to the McDonalds or something after I saw her. So I mean, if you willing, you could just give me the money and I could take care of it. You ain't got to go all up to the cafeteria and all that."

She was talking fast and shifting from side to side nervously. The urgency in her voice didn't sound like that of a person who was simply hungry and that's it. She also looked to be somewhere in her mid-forties so it was certainly plausible that she could have a daughter somewhere in the hospital.

So I'll just go ahead and say what I was thinking. I was staring at this woman who stopped me in the lobby for some money and trying to discern whether this was an unfortunate plot by a person who was anxiously seeking a hit of something. And it feels terrible to admit that but it's true.

"I hear you," I finally said, "but listen, I'll walk you up to the cafeteria and buy you something to eat right now if you are hungry. I won't give you money, though."

She started laughing out loud and smiling when I said that. It was odd considering nothing I had said seemed to warrant such a thing. She continued with her jittery movements and side-stepping. "But doc, ain't you got a lot to do? You look like you on a mission, see what I'm sayin', so even if it's just something like one or two dollars, you know, I could jus--"

"Ms.. . . tell me your name?"

"My name Kathy."

"Okay, Ms. Kathy. So listen. You're right, I do have to go. But I have some time to go to the cafeteria. I'll get you a hot meal and you can save it or eat it right then and there. Okay?"

So I sort of marched off in the direction of the stairwell near the cafeteria. And now that I am replaying that interaction, I am slightly ashamed of the way that I did. It was almost begrudgingly.

But it had been one of those weeks.

Ms. Kathy followed me up those two flights of stairs. We entered the turn stall leading inside the cafeteria and instead of hitting the hot line, she went toward the sandwiches. She picked up two tuna sandwiches and a bag of potato chips. She also grabbed two Coca Colas.

"You don't want anything hot?"

"No'm. This good. This what I want."

I didn't say much more after that. I paid for her items and handed them all to her.

"I sure 'preciate you," she said while shoveling the sandwiches, chips and sodas into a plastic bag near the check out.

"No problem. Nice meeting you, Ms. Kathy. And congratulations."

She looked at me with a puzzled expression.

"On your daughter. And the baby."

"Oh, yeah . . yeah. Thank you, hear?"

And just like that she scurried down the hallway with that same pressured urgency.

I stood in the doorway of the cafeteria for a few moments thinking. Thinking about what Ms. Kathy had selected to eat, thinking about her behavior and thinking about all of the patients I'd seen that week with some kind of drug addiction. All that thinking in these situations is mostly futile, but nonetheless I still stood there thinking. And just like that,  I felt like I'd been duped.

Damn. What if she wants to just sell the food? Or trade it for a rock? Damn.

Like always, I did my best to remember those bible stories that tell of God approaching people in different forms asking for help. This was the only thing that would make me feel like I hadn't been hoodwinked and bamboozled.

Instead of taking the stairs back down I strolled over to the main elevators. And there she was--Ms. Kathy. Standing and waiting along with several others. She held up the bag and smiled big and wide in my direction. I gave her a nod and leaned against a wall several feet away from her. This was my way of telling her that she didn't need to thank me any more. Then again, I probably just didn't want to think about it anymore.

Even though I was on the other side of the hallway I kept watching her. Offering people that same overzealous laugh and watching their awkward responses. Tapping her feet and bopping around like some sort of windup doll. I sighed silently and this time clasped both of my hands behind my neck. A picture of Nancy Reagan on those anti-drug campaigns from my school days popped into my head: Just say no.

The more I watched Ms. Kathy, the more I wished I had. Said no, that is.

It was one of those days, see. One of those weeks even, so this was where I was. Frustrated with drugs and poverty and strongholds and all of it. I was two beats away from going right up to Ms. Kathy and flat out asking her about all of this. Like whether or not she really was hungry and if she had actually made as much of a fool out of me as I was feeling she had.

Fortunately the elevator opened up before I could.

Everyone filed into the elevator and one nice man pushed the ground floor button. I stuck my hands down into my white coat pockets and faced forward. Just as the doors began to shut, I noticed fidgety Ms. Kathy still standing outside. I pulled my hand from my pocket and thrust it between the door before they could close. An alarm went off and the doors instantly parted again.

"Ms. Kathy?" I called out to her, "You coming on the elevator?"

With her right hand she pointed upward which lifted the bag again since the straps were around her wrist. Then she said, "Y'all going down. The mother-baby unit on the fourth floor, remember?"

Oh right. That.

She leaned in so I could see her face as the doors were closing. Still appreciative and smiling. And perhaps, still nothing more than hungry, low on funds, and nothing more. My face grew warm as I replayed her voice in my head:

"The mother-baby unit on the fourth floor, remember?"

My bad, Ms. Kathy.  It sure is.
Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . .this. . .

. . .and also this. . .

We're not young.

Thanks for sending this version to me, Mo! Now this is something I can learn all the words to . . .while dozing off on my couch on a Saturday night. Good times, baby.

Happy Sabado!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Soul Survivor.

small group alpha

 "Do it for the story." 

~ Antoinette Nguyen, Candidate for MD and MPH 2012

So what happens around commencement time when your whoooole small group has graduated and you remain as the sole -- or rather soul -  survivor for the following year?

Everyone has gone off to do their internships but you stayed behind to do a Masters of Public Health which makes your graduation celebration as a member of the small group rather anticlimactic. Because no matter how you spin it, it's just you. Yep. Just you.

Sure, you'll get text messages and well wishes from them all because they're your family. And you'll always be family. You know that. Of course you do.

But still. They all graduated in 2011. And here you are all the way in 2012 all by your lonesome--yeah, yeah with an additional degree that yeah, yeah, you really wanted and that will really be important to your career in the longrun--but still. The fact remains: As far as your small group med student peers go, it's just you, yourself, and you. . . . .yep. . . .

. . .as the soul survivor of your small group. So now what?

Who's gonna celebrate you now that the whole group has scattered all around the country? Well? Who's gonna?

(consider this a hint)

Me, that's who!

This afternoon marked Antoinette's final day of class for medical school. When she walked out of the School of Medicine, her goofy advisor was waiting for her like a chauffeur at the airport (except with a green homemade sign on construction paper.)

Off we went for The Epic Final Small Group Session for the Soul Survivor of Small Group Alpha!

Okay. . . . how much fun did we have? SO much fun. I was determined to let Ant know that her graduation was just as special . . . . we had SUCH a blast!

First up? Mani-pedis! Wooo hoo!

Let me tell you. . . .best thing EVER: Going to a nail salon where everyone is speaking Vietnamese. . . .with your comrade who is FLUENT in the language--yet DOESN'T really look Vietnamese? Shut the front door!

So check it. We plotted for Antoinette to tell me EV-ER-Y single thing they were saying. If and only if it was funny or insulting! Ha!

The first funny thing--every time I go to this nail salon, they try very hard to get me to get a manicure. And every single time, I say no.

Confession: I like to read a magazine or a book while I get a pedicure so I don't like my hands to be occupied.


I know.

So since this was Ant's special day, we walk in and I ask Hanna (one of the awesome ladies at Angel Nails) for us both to have a SPA mani-pedi. And, of course, Hanna was like, "You want manicure?" And I nodded like this was not an unheard of thing for me to get a manicure with my pedicure.

Well! Y'all! According to Ant, they had plenty to say about me FINALLY getting a manicure. Ha ha ha!

Bwwwahh ha haaaa!!

Surprisingly, there wasn't that much dirt getting flung around outside of me being too cheap for a manicure. Although there was a wee bit that shall remain unrepeated. Ant said that she was convinced that if she just kept listening there would be something good so we quieted down and waited.

That's when it happened.

Ant was getting her manicure and Hanna grabbed a tiny hangnail that hurt a bit. Ant winced and blew our cover when she accidentally said something to Hanna.



I wish you could have seen their reaction!! All the nail technicians  froze up in that piece like, "WHAAAAATTT???" Then they started whispering like Ant couldn't hear them or understand what they were saying:

"She speaks Vietnamese! She speaks Vietnamese! That girl right there speaks Vietnamese!"

(The only reason I know that is because they were saying that in Vietnamese and Ant told me.) Anywho. Our jig was up. UP, I tell you! Antoinette started talking to everyone in Vietnamese and they were all laughing and jovial. I asked them if they could tell she was Vietnamese when they saw her and they all said no! One woman said she looked Filipino and another thought she looked Cambodian.

Best. Time. Ever. You tell me how jealous are you of me for being privy to some full on Vietnamese interpretation in the nail salon? It was like a real live Seinfeld episode, for real. Oh and have I told you about how paranoid I am about my scary-rough heels and tarsal pads? I was just SURE they'd be ripping on them the WHOLE time, but who knew? Me being super-cheap (not really--just wanting my hands free!) about manicures was a far hotter topic.

Mmmm hmmm.

Hanna and the crew at Angel Nails were gracious and wonderful as always. They took good care of us and congratulated Antoinette in English and Vietnamese on her upcoming medical school graduation. (Admittedly one person did look slightly annoyed that we had been there nearly an hour before the big bilingual reveal. But that's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother time.)

The good news is that we walked out of there each with ten perfect nails and ten perfect toes. So, so fun!

While we were in the nail shop, Antoinette was saying that she wanted a pair of nude/taupe shoes for an upcoming wedding. That clearly led us to the one and only:

Loehmann's!! Woot wooot!

As you already know, 80% of my wardrobe comes from Target. The other 20% comes from either Loehmann's or consignment shops. No. Not. Kidding.

Turns out that it was LADIE'S NIGHT from 6 - 9 PM at Loehmann's! Uhh maaah gaahh. Shut the front and the back door!

Nude/taupe heels?  Check!

Super cute beige shift for me . . . .with two holes in it which translated to an additional 15% off . . . .on top of the 30% I already was getting off because of LADIE'S NIGHT and a clearance rack?


(Mom, don't act surprised when I show up with my dress at your house this weekend!)

Next up? Dinner at Murphy's! But of course!

Antoinette had never been to Murphy's for dinner--only brunch. What? What! Blasphemy, I say! Clearly I had to rectify this horrid situation and introduce her to my good friend The Murphy's Burger. Hello?

And would you BELIEVE that Antoinette hadn't had the ridiculously delicious and decadent Toll House pie? As any caring mentor would, I had to right that wrong, too.

And just maybe make sure that it wasn't poisonous.

She hated it.

And for the record, it wasn't poisonous. 

Ah hem.

Antoinette gave me a thoughtful gift--a bottle of white--just in time for my anniversary with the BHE next week! Yaaay!

It was an EPIC final small group adventure built for two.

If you are thinking that this seems unusually personal. . . .you're right. Nothing about our small group curriculum or the longitudinal teaching and mentoring relationships we develop with our students at Emory is "usual."  These sorts of things happen around here because in addition to learning together and building clinical knowledge, we build relationships. 

Yes we do.

So these photos? They're just evidence of what we do here. And yes. It is as special as it seems, as personal as it seems, and as wonderful as it seems.

One of Antointette's favorite sayings is "Do it for the story." That is exactly what we did. Yes. This was the perfect punctuation on five unforgettable years as her mentor and advisor.

And let me tell you. . . . . the pleasure was all mine.

Congratulations, sweet girl. It's not good bye, just see you later. You got that?

Happy Thursday.

And now playing on my mental iPod. . . . my soundtrack for Small Group Alpha.