Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “North Dakota”

Mud

Mud is a season. In North Dakota, it follows Deep Freeze, which lasts about half the year. Spring is for sissies. In North Dakota, they have Mud.

When I arrived in North Dakota this time, I was excited because the weather was going to be unseasonably warm. I wouldn’t feel the sensation that the skin was cracking off my face when I went outside. I could walk, not skid, down the stairs off the plane onto the tarmac. I wouldn’t risk frostbite and death while looking for my rental car.

I strolled off the plane and went to pick up my rental car. They didn’t have a reservation. My liason at the locums company had forgotten to make it. I am so well known at the Hertz booth there that they call me “Alabama”. They simply pulled up my old info from my million previous rentals, and billed the car to the usual company billing number, no questions asked. They handed me my keys and I went happily out to pick up my car, secure in the knowledge that I would not turn into a pillar of ice while looking for it.

I dragged my luggage up the sidewalk towards the rental lot, which is unmarked, unpaved and unlit. Ahead of me, I could see what looked like a large puddle so I detoured into the road to get to the parking lot.

The puddle was not a puddle. Sometimes a cigar is NOT just a cigar. The “puddle” was a massive swamp, over a foot deep of pure mud. The whole parking area, which is glare ice all winter, had thawed in the warm snap and the permafrost was now perma-mud.

Everywhere, mud covered cars were sunk into the muck. There were two other rental patrons whose tires were spinning in the slime, finding no purchase, because there was nothing but more mud below.

It was pitch dark out there, what with the no street lights and all, but the gleam off the mud was unmistakeable. And I made the most intelligent decision of the night – I left my luggage on the pavement and made no attempt to drag it into that field. If I had, archeologists might be excavating it centuries from now, commenting on the sociological implications of lace thongs and jewelry making tools.

I contemplated opening the big suitcase and getting out my snow boots to wade into that mud, but that seemed like just too much trouble. I stepped as lightly as possible onto the mud, and with a SQUELCH my shoe pulled off my foot. Wily me, I was ready for that and promptly put my foot back in it. I began questioning the boot decision. I squelched my way to the car and climbed in, leaving huge fecal looking mud smears on the rug.

Without pausing for my usual seat adjustment/mirror adjustment/car charger/glasses routine, I started the car. I wanted to get onto the pavement and collect my luggage before it was run over or stolen. Or sucked into the La Brea tar pits.

At least I knew not to gun it. I have done a bit of driving in my life, and I knew gunning it would slew mud everywhere and dig me a deep slimy trench from which I would never emerge. I started the car and put it tentatively into drive. I gave it a little gas. Nothing happened. A little more gas. Nothing happened. A little more gas: a familiar skewing slipping sensation told me that I was about to dig myself into a hole if I wasn’t careful.

I tried putting it in reverse. Same sequence of events. Only in reverse. The car wouldn’t budge. I cursed the rental company for not including cat litter in the car supplies.

I saw a big fella walking up to my car. I reckoned he saw I was stuck. He told me he would push the rear of the car while I slowly gave it some gas. He pushed. I accelerated. The car slid forward a few feet, hit a slight upward incline, and started digging into the mud. He indicated he would push from the front, and I would try it in reverse. Same outcome.

We surveyed the lot and identified an area where the mud appeared to be at least a bit more solid. We would aim for that area and I would try to turn the car around there and take a run up the little hill to the pavement. Nope.

We were both swearing politely when a second fella showed up. I love chivalry! I have never believed for a moment that it was dead. With both guys pushing and shouting “JUST DON’T BACK OFF THE GAS!!! DON’T BACK OFF THE GAS! WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BACK OFF THE GAS!”, I managed to slush the car onto the pavement! Triumph over the elements! I even remembered to collect my luggage, even in my manic excitement at having defeated the mud. As I pulled off, the one fella hollered, “HEY! Welcome to North Dakota!”

I yelled back, “No shit! And I was just happy it wasn’t 17 below!” I was extremely relieved, not just by my escape from an untimely mud embalming but because the bigger fella didn’t fall over dead while pushing the car. He had a great big beer belly and was puffing and panting after pushing that car. I just kept thinking, Lord, please don’t let him have a heart attack. I do NOT want to administer CPR on my knees in this mud!

As I drove up the road, I could hear the rattling and spattering of the mud off the chassis and wheels of the car. I kept fighting a belief that if I slowed down, I would be forever mired in a corn field.

I began to wonder if I was just a big ole weenie, whining about some mud in a parking lot, until I got to work the next morning and heard the nurses ranting about The Mud. There was no talk about budding leaves, or flowers, just MUD. One has a stress fracture and has had to wear a Hefty bag over her boot to just cross her yard. She can’t get a cast because it will get muddy and wet.

In North Dakota, the chirping of birdies has been eclipsed by the thawing of the permafrost and the release of primeval mud on a scale worthy of triggering mass extinction. Spring, thy name is MUD.

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Super Travel Girl

The next 2 days will be insane. Today I will be flying home to Alabama from North Dakota via Denver, Charlotte, and Huntsville. But will I see my family?  Heck no!  My hubby and my daughter are in Philadelphia for work/ fun and won’t be back until Monday. I, on the other hand, am arriving at home at 11 PM tonight and will have to wildly pack for my next trip, which starts tomorrow, and for which I depart at 2:45 PM. I have to pack for TWO destinations – I am going to Milwaukee first for my fabulous jewelry conference, which I attend every year. I will be there for a week. Then I am leaving DIRECTLY for North Dakota to work, without pausing to go back home first. So I have to pack work clothes, and I have to pack funky clothes and jewelry supplies for my show. How will I fit all this in the suitcases I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting!  I am strongly considering checking 2 bags, which will be unwieldy and expensive, but the locums company I work for does reimburse travel expenses. Then I’ll have a carry-on and a backpack too. Yikes!  And I have to do it all in 11 hours!  Fortunately I did think to launder all the clothes from this trip at the hotel. So I can pack all the work clothes straight out of the suitcase. And I don’t even want to think what will happen if I miss even one connection. I will be totally screwed!  My first flight out of here is already delayed an hour, but I think I will make the connection. So, phew!  I’m just a little stressed right now. Craziness!  Wish me luck!

Super Travel Girl

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Things A Southerner Has Learned About Northern Winters

1.  It is very difficult to push the key’s unlock button for the car with thick gloves on.

2.  Ice is very slippery.  It strikes fear even into seasoned Northern winterers.  They describe a universal knuckle whitening clutch on the steering wheel when driving on fresh ice.

3.  Ice somehow can gradually disappear, even when temperatures remain below freezing.  I don’t know if it sublimates, if they put out chemicals that change the melting temperature of ice, or if the heat of the tires on blacktop eventually melt it.  Where does it go?

4.  As I may have mentioned before, soft drinks left in the trunk of the car explode, and make diet Coke-sicles that hang off the lid of the trunk.

5.  Weathermen are frequently wrong.

6.  A blizzard is almost more about the wind than about the snow.

7.  Scraping ice off your windshield is like scraping glass off of more glass.

8.  Your car windows freeze closed and you can’t open them.

9.  There are many different kinds of snow.

10. The wind will blow the hoods and hats right off your head.

11. The dry weather makes the blankets on your bed crackle with blue sparks.

12. They say the dry weather causes an increase in paper cuts.  I believe it.  I have the paper cuts to prove it.

13. You have to go through a careful checklist before leaving any building.  You have to have things that you need to access organized in your outerwear so you don’t have to fumble around looking for things with clumsy gloves in sub-zero temperatures.

14. If you dress correctly, you really don’t feel that cold.  Especially after scraping ice.

Hell Is Small Town North Dakota

So let me just rant a bit here.  I am here in this little town in North Dakota, and let me just say I have never been a small town gal.  (Not crazy about the word “gal” by the way, but it seems to be the going terminology here.)  Now I know, I’m only going to be here for a few weeks, but finding things to do has been remarkably hard.  It’s too bad I don’t drink anymore, because this place definitely makes a stiff drink look better and better.

Now, I don’t want to be a hater, but things here are just bizarre.  I’ve learned that with the fracking, this place has turned into a real boom town.  This leads to serious weirdness when working in the Women’s Clinic.  Every patient I see, just about, is new in town!  They’re from Florida, or Utah, or Idaho, or New York, or you name it.  They always say, “I just arrived here from X last week, and my doctor there said I needed an ultrasound after I moved.”  Of course, those records are not available.  And then I write them a prescription, and they’re all like, “Oh, where’s a pharmacy, I just got here.”  And then I have to tell them that I just got here Sunday, and I don’t have a fracking clue where they should go.  All I know is, the WalMart here is not allowed to have a pharmacy, because in these parts, pharmacies have to be owned by the pharmacist who runs them.

And speaking of WalMart, this is Sunday morning, and I got up this morning thinking I would hit the WalMart before all the church people got out and crowded the place up.  It’s a Super WalMart, so it didn’t even occur to me that it wasn’t a 24 hour WalMart.  Who in the hell has ever heard of a WalMart that doesn’t open until noon on Sundays?  Seriously, WTF?  I drove over there, thank goodness it’s close, and there were other confused people standing by the doors at the WalMart all looking dazed, because, seriously, who ever heard of a WalMart not opening until noon?  One guy didn’t even know what time zone we are in.  Of course, he and his buddies were in a big jacked up pickup, and were obviously oil workers who, yes, had just moved here out of town.  And they were as bewildered as I was.  So of course, when it opens, the parking lot will be packed with church people circling and snatching up all the good spaces, and the lines will be packed, and it will just be yuck.  I’m not even sure if I want to deal with going back there.

And there is no snow.  Of course, I brought all my camera equipment, taking up a large amount of space in my suitcase, thinking I was going to get some beautiful snow pictures of this quaint little town, and there is no snow, and everything is just brown and muddy and ugly.  I don’t even see any snow predicted for the entire time I will be here.  WTH?  This is February people, and, not to bitch, but there is supposed to be freakin’ snow here right now.

There is a tiny little mall here, and of course it is basically a ghost mall.  They have two department stores:  JC Penney (barf) and some Hertzbergers place or somesuch that I have never heard of.  And of course, it isn’t open on Sundays AT ALL.  And all the tourist attractions (what there are, seriously, I have no idea why tourists would come here) don’t open until April.  They have a dinosaur museum I would like to see, but of course, not open until April.  And there’s a little shopping-type tourist town about 30 miles up the road, but, not open until April.

The movie theater, of course, only shows “blowed ’em up real good” movies that all the oil workers want to watch.  If Jason Statham isn’t in them, seriously, they’re not showing.  I can totally see why there are so many liquor stores here.  I know I sound really intolerant; I like to travel, and I knew this was a small town when I came, but this place is seriously morbid.  And it’s not like there’s an influx of college professors here, it’s oil field workers, and as far as the eye can see, there are young, rough looking men rolling their noisy-tired monster trucks around town.  And they are bringing an influx of drugs here, and all the pregnant patients that are moving here are seriously unhealthy and obese and drug addicted.

So I am watching the clock and waiting to head for WalMart, because that will be my exciting activity for the day, which makes me physically ill, because I won’t even go to WalMart in the town where my family lives, because it is just too crowded and depressing.  And here, it is potentially the highlight of my day.

There is my rant, and I apologize for the rantiness and negativity of it, but, seriously, a girl’s gotta vent.  And it looks like my next job will be in South Dakota.  Fortunately, it will be in Rapid City, which is much larger and has the potential to contain something entertaining.  We’ll see.  I’ll be there covering for a solo practice, and I may be so busy I won’t have time to go anywhere.  At any rate, it’s getting close to noon, and if I want to get a parking space at WalMart that’s closer than the moon, I’d better go.  Wish me luck.

How Many Earrings Are Too Many?

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Answer : you can never have too many! Especially when you make them all in a hotel on a lazy weekend in North Dakota.

Happy Birthday, Baby

Today is my husband’s birthday.  It is also National Marguerita day, which is probably not a coincidence.  Gosh, we’re getting old.  He is 48 today, which is really close to 50, which is really old.  Right?  And I’ll be 45 soon, which is also really old.  For me, anyway.

We are about half a country away from each other.  Here I sit in a hotel room in North Dakota, surrounded by jewelry makings and sugar free candy.  In honor of my husband I am watching Underworld, which I would probably not be watching otherwise.  This movie serves my purpose, though, which is that it not demand enough attention to keep me from making jewelry, or writing blog posts.  He is with my daughter in San Francisco.  They arrived there today – he has a conference to attend and he has brought our daughter with him, since I am in North Dakota.  He is speaking, so she will sit in the back of the room and read until he is done.  Then they plan to visit the town, go to the zoo, ride a streetcar, you know.  My daughter wanted to visit the “pretty jail on the island”.  I told her maybe not.  I’m hoping they will Skype soon.  Today I have yet to speak with either one of them.

Seems like my husband and I always have a computer or two between us.  Computers are his livelihood, specifically, data base administration.  He can work from home a lot, but he also travels.  We met online, through an online dating service.  He was several years out of his divorce, which occurred because he wanted children and she did not.  I was 34 and single.  We exchanged witty emails, and eventually phone conversations.  At that time he was at home because his father was dying of colon cancer and was living at home with him.  We talked on the phone until the day his dad passed away; my husband couldn’t leave the house long enough to go out on a date until then.  His devotion suggested to me that he would make an excellent husband and father.  Any man who, alone, gives up his job for 8 months to stay home until his STEPdad passes away, has got some serious caregiving dedication.

We had a couple good (and funny) dates, and then we were dating.  A year later, we got engaged.  He chose me the most beautiful, the most perfect ring ever.  I was unhappy with my present job and we moved to Alabama to be closer to my parents in case we had kids.  We had a daughter, a wonderful daughter.  My husband proved to be every bit the excellent husband and father I thought he would be.  He found out we were pregnant online too.  We were chatting between my office and his office, and I couldn’t get him on the phone after I took the test, so I typed it in the chat line:  Oh, by the way, we’re pregnant.”  My phone rang about 30 seconds after that.  “That is NOT the kind of news we pass along on chat,” he said.  “Oh well,” I said, “We met online, after all.  I thought it was only appropriate.”

We’ll be married ten years in October.  Wow, where did the time go?  I just left my job of ten years, just in time, as the town’s Obstetrics and Gynecology service was imploding in the ugliest way possible.  Two hospitals and two services were dumped together.  Then the firings started.  Nurses and doctors are being fired from the service every day now.  I had a job if I stayed, but the circumstances were repugnant to me.  Thus, I have decided to go adventuring, working as a travel doctor.  It has always been a dream of mine.  I love to travel.

But here I sit, tonight, in a nice hotel in a small town in North Dakota, and I feel just a bit lonely.  I texted my husband a happy birthday greeting, but that is not the same.  I haven’t spoken to him yet today.  And I miss my little daughter.  We will Skype tonight, and I will see their faces, and hear their voices, and I will feel better.

So, happy birthday honey.  It’s been a crazy ride, these last ten years.  We’ve moved, and gotten married, and had a baby, and here we are getting all old together.  I sure do love and miss you!  And I sure will have a lot of new jewelry to show you, since I’ve been sitting here making it every night since I’ve been here.  Hope your Speaker’s Dinner and your ballroom dance are great tonight!  Can’t wait to see you again!

Things To Do Alone In A North Dakota Hotel Room

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Not THAT, ya pervs.

1.  Listen to Duran Duran on your computer.  Watch the swirly designs in time to the music.  Ponder the lyrics.

2.  Make earrings.  Dozens and dozens of pairs of earrings.  And an owl necklace.  With matching earrings.

3.  Gaze out at the snow and think how neat it is that you are somewhere that it is snowing.

4.  Dance around to the song “Milkshake”.  Damn right, it’s better than yours.

5.  Cuddle the stuffed duck your daughter sent with you.

6.  Smell your clean laundry.  Marvel at how clean the fleece and the Cuddl Duds and scrubs are.

7.  Check WordPress to see if anyone liked your post.  Check it again.

8.  Charge your phone.  Try to figure out how to turn off the alarm that goes off every time you get a Tweet.

9.  Drink soft drinks out of the little refrigerator.  Marvel that they didn’t explode in the car.

10. Wish fervently that a new episode of Big Bang Theory was coming on TV.

11. Recheck Facebook to find out how many of your friends, doctors and nurses, have been fired in your hometown today.  Be deeply thankful that you got out of there when you did.

12. Make more earrings.

13. Talk to your Mom on the cell phone.  Tell her about the exploding soft drinks.  Discuss how many inches of snow they are getting in the Midwest right now.

14. Plan how you will take snow pictures with your daughter’s stuffed duck in them.  Plan to photograph the duck on the giant dinosaur outside the dinosaur museum.

15. Watch the static electricity make blue sparks under the sheets on the bed.

16. Make WalMart shopping list.  Nail clippers.  New hairbrush since you destroyed the old one this morning drying your hair.

17. Listen to the heat cut on and off, on and off…

18. Check Etsy to see if any jewelry sold.  Check Pinterest to make sure you didn’t miss any awesome shoes.

19. Fill out job paperwork.  Wonder how the hell you will print it out without a printer.

20. Miss your husband and little daughter like crazy.  Wish you could have Skyped longer.

Fear And Loathing In North Dakota

I’m slowly getting settled into North Dakota.  I’ve been here almost a week.  They tell me this has been a very mild winter so far – I believe them and I’m grateful.  It was snowing this morning when I got up, but not very hard and it was not predicted.  There was just a little snow on the roads.  It was a hard pellety kind of snow, almost like little styrofoam balls coming down.

I ate breakfast in the hotel this morning.  They have a “free” breakfast every morning.  It’s pretty nasty, especially because I’m still on Atkins and all I can eat are the eggs and meat.  The scrambled eggs the other morning were like dried up little yellow goat turds – pretty gross.  The only other alternative is to eat Atkins bars for breakfast, which I really shouldn’t do because I eat them for lunch.  I’ve arrived at the conclusion that every single dish they make in the hospital cafeteria is loaded with raw onions just before it is served.  Everything I have eaten in there has left a nasty taste of raw onions in my mouth.  I can deal with cooked onions, but raw ones?  The food there is pretty bad.  The vegetables are overcooked and so mushy that they fall right off your fork.  The meat and fish are dry and generally covered with some kind of coating I shouldn’t be eating.  So it’s Atkins bars for lunch.

And I must feed my diet Coke addiction.  I get a big one when I get there first thing in the morning and another one at lunch.  At least they don’t put onions in that.  I consume untold quantities of diet Coke.  Except for the 12 pack I exploded in the trunk of my rental car.  That’s there to stay.  And it’s pretty cheap – 30 something ounces for $1.02.  People understand the Diet Coke Imperative when I explain that I can’t drink coffee.

Clinic is pretty dang light.  I’m not sure why they need to bring in all these travel doctors, seriously.  A big load for clinic here is 5 patients in the morning and 5 in the afternoon.  Hell, back home I saw that many in about 2 hours.  Today I had only one patient after lunch.  The other two docs only had one or two also.  So I went home at two o’clock and decided it was laundry day.  I wore my last pair of Cuddl Duds today and must have fresh ones.  They get kind of sweaty under those scrubs.  Plus, I didn’t have time to wash them before I left home when I got them out of my ski box.  They were kind of musty.  So off I went to the laundry room on the third floor and now I have all soft fresh scrubs and socks and undies and Cuddl Duds.  Nothing I love more than warm fresh laundry!

There’s a lot going on in the background with what my next job will be.  I thought I had a pretty guaranteed repeat job here in N.D. but the way they’re hemming and hawing at the locums place, I really don’t know.  They’re still unable to let me know if I have any days in April.  And April is soon.  I need work.  Now they’re offering me a job in South Dakota starting in March, and I don’t know what to do.  I only have 5 work days here in March, the fourth through the ninth.  I can do two weeks at the end of March in S.D., but then I don’t know what to do about April, since I still don’t know about days here.  They’re already wanting me to fill out paperwork for S.D.  I have a bunch of papers to fill out and mail, but they’ve all been emailed to me and I don’t have a printer hooked up to my laptop, obviously.  So I’ll have to figure out a way to download and print all that stuff from clinic.  I feel very confused and disoriented.  And I can’t always get in touch with my rep at the locums place when I want to, and I can’t always get in touch with my husband, and I always forget to ask one or the other one of them something that I need to tell the other one.  Is it too much to ask for just a nice recurring gig?  The new South Dakota deal is supposed to be that, but so was this one.  They’ve got too many locums here.

I’ve been making jewelry in the hotel room with all my free time from clinic.  Here clinic starts no earlier than 9:15 and the last patient is at 3:30.  If that.  Hell, at home, we started at 8:30 sharp every morning, sometimes 8:15 and ran till noon, and then afternoon was from 1:15 to 5:00.  I don’t even have any patients here tomorrow until 10:00.  So, wow, I can really sleep in, which I love.  And I don’t have any call, which is good because I don’t have to stress over it, or be up all night, but which is bad because I would get paid a lot more if I had it.

I’m waiting to get some real snow so I can get out and get some pictures in it.  I’m beginning to wonder if I should have taken up all that room in my suitcase with my camera equipment, because this little town is not all that picturesque.  I think it will look better if covered with snow, but then there is the whole matter of driving in the snow in my tiny little Chevy, which is so not equipped for heavy snow and ice driving.  I’d like to go out in the country a ways to get some pictures, but I’m scared I’d get lost in the cold or slide into a ditch.  So for now, since there really isn’t any snow, I think I will stay in my nice warm hotel room and make some more jewelry.  I’ve already made eleven pairs of earrings.   I wore some of them today.

I’m just really confused with sorting out all the job possibilities and opportunities, and I feel like I need to be able to communicate more and better with my husband, so I don’t sign up for something that will mess us up or piss him off.  For example, I called him about two hours ago to see if the attorney gave me a tax ID number for my new P.C., and he hasn’t called me back yet.  And since I am now a P.C., and not just me, I need to have all the checks deposited into my new business account.  But to do that, they need my tax ID number, and hubby still has yet to call me back.

So here it is, 430 in the afternoon, I’m off work for the day, have written a blog post and done all the laundry.  Now I’m off to make some jewelry.  That I understand.  That doesn’t confuse me.  In fact, I downright enjoy it.  Then I need to recheck Facebook to keep up with all my nurse and doctor friends back in Alabama, because they are getting fired daily just as I predicted, which is why I left that crazy town anyway.  They fired a great nurse last night, and I hear they let one of the doctors go today.  So I’ve got lots of communicating to do.  And then I don’t have to be at work until 10:00 tomorrow morning.  I’m so glad they pay me by the day and not the hour!

Traveling Guck

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When I left for my 3 week engagement in North Dakota, my daughter gave me Guck to travel with me so I wouldn’t forget her (like I could ever do that). Guck has slept in bed with me every night. Guck goes to clinic with me every day and sits on the counter and helps me with my charts. The nurses think Guck is very cute and love that my daughter gave him to me to travel with. They’re not sure how she could give him up since he is obviously so well loved. Guck has been featured widely in our Skype conversations and in clinic photos I have texted for my daughter. I have special plans for Guck. When I have time to explore around here and when there is snow for beautiful photos, I plan to feature Guck in all the pictures just like the traveling gnome in Amelie. Then my daughter will have a special souvenir of my travels with Guck!

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