Nothing deep . . .

I wish I had something deep, or moving, or stirring to share.  Unfortunately, I don’t.  I’m too damn tired!  The residency takes a good portion of my free time.  I’ve felt rather productive lately – getting all this stuff done.  But I wonder at which point I’m going to start feeling the social withdrawal?  And will it send me careening towards emptiness and loneliness as it usually does?  I’m in a different place now, so it’s really hard to tell.

I do have a lot on my mind, but it’s all pretty fresh, and therefore not fit for sharing.  But it has a lot to do with rejection and acceptance – the ways that our souls are wounded, and the ways we seek to heal ourselves.  And of course it’s not nearly as sterile as I’m making it out to be . . . it’s quite personal.  I think I’m going to be doing some really painful digging into the past once again.  Is this shit ever finished?

Anywho, I haven’t been left completely destitute.  I’ve been making the rounds as much as possible – I’ve had some great talks w/ good buddies (Burke and Paul), some heart-to-hearts with personal, local favorites (Christy), and good times w/ new friends (Chris).

Last week I got to go to a Jim Wallis talk on faith and politics.  Amazing.  It was a nice precursor to Brian McLaren’s sermon at CR on Sunday.  Double amazing.  The more I hear them speak, the more I get a more complete picture of this Kingdom, and it’s sooo exciting!  It gives me hope for the hopeless situations I come across daily.

In other news,  I’m SUPER excited my buddy Jonathan will be coming down tomorrow!  I haven’t seen this guy in forever – should be good times!

Soooo . . . I better be getting home.  It’s been a really long day.



Trained . . .

Yup, I’m pretty much all trained now.  I’ve spent the last week doing mandatory “patient assessment skills” for the residency.  Essentially that means that I now know how to do about 75% of a physical exam (there are certain exams that pharmacists simply need not ever do . . . I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure out which those are )

I had a hard time with this week – getting into several discussions about the usefulness of such training.  I simply don’t see the need for a pharmacist to know how to do fundoscopic (eye) exams.  I mean, it’s absolutely the COOLEST thing in the world to see the back of someone’s eye, and note the sexiness of their optic disc and all, but seriously, I’m SO not gonna use this stuff!  However, I have to admit that there are certain residents among us who likely will need these skills, so I didn’t complain too much.

I’m writing now during my break for immunization training.  I just got through sticking my first patient.  I must say that thrusting metal into someone’s flesh is really quite violent.  No wonder so many people are afraid of needles!  The cool thing though is that this will be the closest I ever get to sword fighting, so I’m enjoying this.   The rest of the day will be learning all the in’s and out’s of common vaccine-preventable disease states.  In a few hours, I’ll be certified to administer flu vaccines.  Pretty damn cool! 

Not much to talk about on the spiritual end of things.  Been thinking a lot about my book though, since Brian McLaren sponsored a night at Cedar Ridge about the writing process.  Very inspiring!  Then we had a discussion about his latest book “The Secret Message of Jesus”.  Even MORE inspiring!

Anyway, that’s about all for now . . . Peace!

D.J. Free!

God’s presence . . .

Matthew’s currently doing a series on the Holy Spirit.  It’s a subject I’m not really afraid of, having grown up in a fairly charismatic church . . . but it’s one that I tend to be wary of at times simply because there’s so much I don’t understand about the mysterious “presence” of God – and there are so many whacko’s out there who claim to have it all figured out.

I guess that’s why I love Matthew so much, because he unashamedly doesn’t have many answers.  But he’s got some amazing questions and insights to get you thinking.

I’m still very much in the midst of wrestling with this idea of the reality of the Kingdom as it pertains to the world that I see every day with my patients.  So Matthew’s messages have been rather poignant – especially today’s sermon.  He talked a lot about living in this tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of God’s dream.  He talked about the importance of us calling the future into the present.  It was rather comforting to realize that I’m not alone in this feeling of simultaneous enthusiastic hopefulness against the backdrop of fearful pessimism about God’s “healing” of a world that seems so dreadful.

I mean, have you really looked around lately?  This worls is so very full of heartache.  I’m not just talking the Middle East.  I mean, that shit is tragic.  TRAGIC!  But if you can go a day in any major city and not be brought to tears by the very people around you – then you’re probably walking blind. 

Sometimes I think I know too much about those around me – because their pain and tears are ever-present before me, and I simply want to stop the world and writhe in anguish.  Yet at the same time, the hurt in my own life and the lives of those around me is also at the very core of my hope for a better system.  So very strange.

Anyway, I’ve had a great weekend.  Friday nite I got some much-needed alone time, and the opportunity to go to bed early so I could be up for work at Sheppard Pratt.  Coming home, I was sobered by thoughts of my past – wounds I’d suffered at the hands of those who rejected me.  This sort of pain used to completely immobilize me, but now I think I’ve come to a place of acceptance.  It still hurts like hell, but I survive . . .

Last nite, I had great times (once again) w/ Chris.  Went for some Asian food at Raku in Bethesda, then for some Starbucks.  Good times

OK, time to get outta here . . . hope you all have great weeks!

Where is this God of yours?

I feel like everytime I’m at the hospital, that I’m in a different world altogether.  It’s hard to explain really.  But it’s almost like there’s this normal place where I exist, and then there’s hell-on-earth inside the space of the tiny domiciles my patients are housed in. 

I walk into these buildings, and immediately, I’m brought low by the weight of the very air surrounding me.  I just feel . . . depressed.  There they are, a room full of people crammed into a lounge.  Lethargic.  Lifeless.  Hopeless.

I’ve been trying to shuffle through all the emotions I’m feeling in these moments, but it’s hard, because I don’t have any sense of what kind of filter to put these thoughts into to help me extract any sort of meaning.

There’s a strange sense of love. Two years ago, these would have just been patients, but now I see faces, and people, and hurt, and loneliness, and heartache.  It breaks my heart.  Sometimes when I’m driving around town, or working out at the gym, or checking email, I just think about them, and I just start crying.

But why?  What is it about them that moves me so much?

I think it’s that I don’t know what kind of hope to have for them.  I look at the resources available to them, and I realize – these people are being underserved.  But who am I?  Just a lowly psych pharmacist.  I couldn’t POSSIBLY save them all!

How many of these people are going to be in this hospital forever?  Probably 80%.  And 80% of the people who actually leave, will just be back in a couple of months anyway.  It’s agonizing, really.  Frustrating as hell

I’ve invested so much of my life this last year trying to actualize the Kingdom – trying to make this dream of God a reality here and now.  But then I think . . . what does that mean for these people?  Where is God when it comes to the mentally ill?  What kind of “abundant life” can they hope for?

I don’t know what to do with these kinds of questions.  Working at this hospital seriously turns my theological world upside down. 

I feel a very strong need to be at church . . . I’ve got to talk this out with people, because sometimes this stuff really does haunt me.  I’m lucky to go to a church where a grand majority of its people devote their lives to hopeless causes   Cedar Ridge is like social justice central

Anywho, that’s what’s been on my mind lately.  The residency’s been a fantastic experience thus far.  I’m learning TONS already.  And I’ve barely even begun to work!  Crazy.


Building . . .

So sorry, folks. I know I haven’t been the most active Xangan these last few weeks, and unfortunately, I don’t think that’s changing anytime soon.

But it’s for totally good reasons!  My residency officially started on Wednesday.  It’s been really cool so far (b/c it’s just been orientation).  I had been feeling a steady tide of uneasiness in my psyche the last few weeks, so much so that I couldn’t sleep Tuesday nite, and woke up Wednesday morning feeling practically ill.  I panicked, and started thinking that all of this was a HUGE mistake!

Let me tell you that 2 years of therapy is finally starting to pay off.  I think my EQ (emotional quotient) has risen in this last year, because I feel like I’m much more in-tune with what I’m feeling inside, and have the tools to face those things.

I decided that instead of pushing down that panicked ache inside, I would just face it, and see what ugliness surfaced.  After some prayer and attention given to my pain, it started to hit me that what I was really feeling was a lot of anxiety about performing for everyone, and I was deathly afraid that everyone would see me as a huge pharmaceutical fraud!

You see, much of our clinical training, we receive in our 3rd year of pharm school.  Those of you who know me well, know that my life took quite a crash that year, and I’m still amazed that I even got through it, and did so well academically!  But ever since then, I’ve had this fear that I never really learned anything during that time, and now in this last year doing specialized psych work, I feel like I’ve lost what few skills I did pick up in 3rd year! 

But then, it started to dawn on me that I really don’t care if I’m not up to par – b/c that’s what this year is about: learning.  And I have no one to perform for.  My pride is no longer a factor here – b/c if I’m lacking in certain areas, then I’m lacking.  I just don’t give a damn to be “the best” anymore. 

What really motivates me (and excites me) about this residency is that I coould actually be an agent in actualizing the dream that God has for this planet.  I’m in this unique position to use all that is me (all my gifts, and talents, and intelligence, and training, etc.) to build the Kingdom, and that puts a smile on my face every time I think about this residency.  And it calms that tide of fear into a lulling stream of hope every time I have one of those phantom anxiety attacks.

However, the reality is that I’ll be ultra busy these next few months, what with projects, and clinics, and rounds, and manuscripts, and trying to maintain some personal time – so do forgive me if I drop off the face of the planet for a bit.  I promise I won’t stop loving you, and I’ll read as much as I can (even if I can’t respond), and I’ll be back in about 12 months

Peace and Love!


Good times . . .

So I just got back from a majorly intense session with Lance.  We really hit on some good stuff.  I love that guy.  I love that I can be me around him – even though it’s still hard for me.  Basically, I’m grieving a lot right now – some major stuff.  But I’m actually letting myself go through it.

Other than than, I’ve had some big stuff happen lately.  Friday was my last day at my first real job.  I had been so busy, that the reality didn’t hit me until I started removing all my stuff from my office, and taking it to the residents’ cubicles down the hall.  I’m gonna miss that job and my co-workers.

I spent a good deal of time last week doing some writing.  I’m on chapter 2 of my book.  I don’t think it’ll really be done until after the residency is over.  The cool part about it though, is that Brian was at CR this weekend, and announced he’d be leading a writer’s workshop later this month.  What great timing!

Damn, that reminds me . . . I really miss Brian .  His message on Sunday was amazing.  He just has this way of painting the most beautiful pictures for you – this time it was about the Kingdom of God.  He had me in tears by the end of the message.  He’s just got such an awesome way of hitting you in your head and your heart at the same time.

In other good news, some awesomely good times were had w/ my buddy Chris on Saturday.  We’ve been trying to meet up for so long, but he’s been ultra busy w/ his play.  So we finally got some time together.  We had an early dinner at Crepe Du Jour, then headed down to Fells Point Corner Theater and saw some AWESOME one-act plays!  Then it was down to the harbor for some nice, deep convo.  Chris, bro, thanks for a great time!  Look forward to getting to know you better!

Alright folks, I’m outtie.  I’m home now enjoying the Holidays w/ the fam.  Hope y’all have a great 4th!!