Dearest Kelly . . .

So I’m officially done with my first rotation of this residency . . . 3 months at Spring Grove Hospital Center – one of the two larger state psych hospitals.  I’m actually pretty sad to say goodbye.  I’m so connected to that place – especially the patients in one of the stepdown units I was working at.  I honestly feel like a part of me is missing when I don’t know what’s going on in their lives.  It really does hurt to leave

And then of course, there were some really awesome psychiatrists and physicians there that I thoroughly enjoyed working with.  Dr. Bright is one of the most dedicated, compassionate psychiatrists I’ve ever come across – she devotes her life to the adolescents in her unit.  Drs. Soler and Shandelya (the psychiatrist and physician at the stepdown unit) are both friggin’ nuts – especially when arguing with each other in their characteristically blunt, sarcastic manners – but I learned so much from them.  Ms. Garcia (the head nurse of the unit) was quite a gem herself – I remember her from when I rotated at the hospital in my pharm school days – and she’s still as sweet as she always was. 

Then there’s the pharmacy staff – they call me “MR. GIGGLES”   Gee, I wonder wherever they got such a peculiar name for me  

I could go on and on . . . but the one I’ll miss the most is Kelly Gable.  I first met her a few months ago when I was working full-time downtown, and she started working in my office part-time.  Little did I realize that she would be my first preceptor in my residency.  I figured we’d get along pretty well, b/c we always had such a good time together at the Clozapine Office downtown.

But I had no idea that I would have such an amazing experience working with her at Spring Grove.  This woman is the quintessential teacher.  She’s so nice, so fun, so looney – yet at the same time, she demonstrates such compassion and care for her patients.  If I ever earn the respect from my peers as being a “good clinician”, I think that most of the credit will have to go to her, because she has modeled that for me.  And have I mentioned that she knows her shit??

Gosh, I really could write volumes about her.  But suffice it to say that I’m simply impressed by her.  And more than just being knowledgeable, and an excellent teacher, and a devoted caretaker, but she was also a good friend.  I mean, seriously – I felt so comfortable around her.  I felt the freedom to be completely me in her presence, and I think that really enhanced the experience for me.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t really make people’s lives better if you can’t enter the hospital milieu as real, whole person.  And Kelly gave me the space to bring my entire being into that place.  I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of it all . . .

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In other news, though I’ve been stressed out of my mind lately, I’ve had some really awesome experiences as of late.

Last Tuesday nite, I joined the Emergent Baltimore Cohort for the first time.  I’ve been meaning to connect with some emerging Christian types for awhile, but just haven’t had time.  But Tony Jones – the national coordinater of Emergent – was able to join the group that nite, so I went along.  It was AWESOME!  Tony’s such a cool guy.  Even better, I was able to meet the coordinator of the Bmore group (Tim Hartman), and he and I hit it off pretty well.  We’re hopefully gonna get together soon and start thinking about progressing towards starting an emergent kinda church plant in the Bmore area.

Saturday, me and my pop got ourselves some basic gun training, so now I’m officially able to buy/own a gun in the state of MD.  Woohoo!!   I know my Canandian buddy John and Aussie buddy Phil are pretty much cringing right now, b/c I’m totally playing into their stereotypes of gun-crazy Americans, but whatever

In sadder news, it seems as if I’m just losing all the folks near and dear to me   I feel so detached from all of my friends at my last church, and I’m too busy to drive out and see all my friends from Cedar Ridge.  A few weeks ago, I lost Christy to Texas.  Jane went and found herself a man, so I never see her anymore.  Jonathan has moved off to France, and I miss him soooooo much.  And now Canadian John is gallivanting around southeast Asia and Australia for the next 9 months.  Eesh.  I’m feeling so lonely . . . owie, it hurts  

Anyway, better actually go and get some work done.  Hope you all are having great weeks! 

Peace and love,

D.J.

Perfectionism . . .

I’m not sure why this has become such a recurring theme lately . . . but I can’t seem to escape it.  I am a hopeless perfectionist, it seems.  I thought I was getting a handle on this very early on in my residency, when I decided that I didn’t need to put pressure on myself to know everything about pharmacy. 

That worked for about 3 weeks.

Type A Darren has begun to rear his ugly head.  And ya know, if all that meant was that I pushed myself really hard, that would be OK by me.  But what it really means is that I push myself way too hard and I place pressure on myself to be perfect.  And that makes taking criticism quite excruciating.

I suppose that’s why I took my professors’ critiques of my project so hard last week (though I still contend that the one lady who came down really hard is quite the asswipe!).

And it’s why I freaked out so much this morning while giving the welcome at church.  I mean, Cedar Ridge of all places has been a bastion of hope and safety – all of a sudden turned into a room full of angry, bitter criticizers.

I’m being dramatic, of course.  Most everyone loved the way I delivered – but one person gave me some constructive criticism that I found very hard to take.  Not because the criticism was mean in the slightest way – but because any form of criticism in my eyes is seen as a jaw-blowing accusation of my failure as a human being. 

I’ve always been the sensitive type, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why I place so much self-value in being perfect.  I understand in my head how very silly that is.  I am not perfect.  Never have been, never will be.  But somewhere along the road, I picked up a passenger who began to tell me that if I am not perfect, then I am worthless . . . and worse, I began to believe him.  That message is deeply ingrained in my soul. 

I’d love to say that it’s as easy as kicking that passenger the fuck outta my car, but unfortunately, that stranger left long ago, though his chilling words remain . . .

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In life-update-sort-of-news, things are going OK.  I’ve been rather lonely as of late, and that’s been taking a toll on the soul as well.  But I’ve been somewhat placated by conversations with good friends (Paul and J.D. anyone?), dinners with awesome ladies (Jane, you’re a gem ), and Warren Barfield/Shane&Shane concerts with new buddies (Chris, you stole my Barfield CD, you punk!).  So I suppose I can’t complain too much.

In other news, I’m seriously starting to consider my future life.  Anyone that knows me well, knows I’ve been contemplating SoCal for quite some time . . . as much as I’d love the scenery, I don’t really have much of a community there.  But it’s still a possibility.

I’m also strongly considering a move to Jersey, where my buddy J.D. is – I know there are some psych pharm positions near New Brunswick, and it puts me just an hour away from Paulie!   Pray for me as I try to make these decisions . . .

Lata, peeps!

The worst day EVER . . .

. . . of the residency anyway.  It was horrible.  I don’t think I was expecting it.  I had to give an initial presentation today of my proposed research project.  Granted, I’m always nervous when it comes to presentations.  I feel like my stomach rests uncomfortably in my throat, my legs twitch and shake uncontrollably, and sometimes – if I’m really nervous – my voice cracks.  Fortunately, I’ve grown really accustomed to presentations since college – so I haven’t been that bad off for quite some time. 

But I was slightly nervous presenting today- mostly because the faculty at my school seem to be really, really good at asking you the questions they know you dont have the answer to, just to make you look dumb, and make themselves look like they’re the shit.  (OK, I’ll admit that I’m being overly critical and harsh with that assessment, but you get the point.)

Anyway, I finished my presentation, and the first couple of questions were OK.  But then it just started unraveling from there, and it got worse and worse, until half the room was telling me that I should consider changing my objectives and hypotheses, and I was just like “WHAT THE FUCK!”  I mean, I just felt like I was being torn apart in there.  Telling someone they should change their hypothesis is essentially saying that their whole idea is worth shit!  There was one faculty member in particular (who was clearly clueless and wasn’t hearing a single word I was saying . . . AT ALL) who really tore into me, and it felt like such a personal attack.

I don’t think I realized how much it affected me until a few hours later when I was leaving work, and at that point, I just kinda broke down and cried. 

There was this chilling, haunting voice speaking to me through the memory of that one faculty member – telling me that I was simply not good enough.  It’s the same voice I’ve heard for years, out of the mouths of several people.

*Exhale*

Thank God for Lance   I didn’t talk about any of this with him today.  We hit some much bigger things.  But it helped me put things in perspective.

And then I FINALLY found someone to give my promotion copy of “The Secret Message of Jesus” to.  She’s this manager at the Quizno’s near my counselor.  And we’ve had a pretty cool time talking to each other whenever I stop by after my Monday evening sessions.  But the last time, she really bore her heart to me, and told me some tragic stories about her kids, and her grandkids, and all the other kids she’s taken into her home for the last few years. 

This woman is the embodiement of Brian’s book.  She devotes her life to building the Kingdom – though I’m not sure she woud say it in that exact way.  But that’s exactly why I wanted her to have the book, so that she could see how much she’s part of a larger story – and not in this alone. 

So I wrote a little note to her and gave her the book tonight, and when she read the note, she teared up, ran around the counter, and planted the biggest hug on me.  Apparently, it was just the encouragement she needed, because she had such a shitty day, and a big fight with her daughter

But it just goes to show that when you keep your mind focused on being loving, and kind, and encouraging – when you’re focused on making God’s dream for the world a reality – you end up changing bad situations into good ones. 

And THAT is what it’s all about really.  Who the heck cares about some silly research project?  It wasn’t even my idea anyway!  I am more than the project.  I am more than my ability to present the project.  I am more than my ability to perform for the world.  I am MUCH more than those trivial things.  I have so much worth in the Kingdom, so that’s where I’m putting my treasure . . .

“Take me for what I am . . . who I was meant to be.  And if you give a damn, take me baby!  Or leave me!”

Thank you to the fine lesbians of “Rent”

Update . . .

Staying true to my past, I’m really just TOO BUSY!  I barely have time to breathe!

My birthday pretty much sucked.  The one highlight was dinner with Jane!   But other than that, I worked like a DOG that day (at least my pharmacist in-service was good), then had to get Santiago serviced, and then had a pretty lousy, lonely evening after leaving Jane.

However, the weekend spent with my buddy J.D. in Jersey MORE than redeemed my sucky birthday!  We had soooo much fun!  Damn, I really love that guy – he teaches me so much.  We had some very special heart-to-heart moments. 

Plus, we got to spend Sunday evening w/ PAUL!  We were eatin’ awesome sushi, drinkin’ good alcohol, and smokin’ some pretty harsh, but tasty hookah!  Good times

OK, that’s about all the time I can spare for an update.  Lots of heart kinda things are cooking up, and I’m sure I’ll be writing a ‘tected post about that soon enough, so be on the lookout . . . but I gotta get back to planning my research project.  Lata, homies!