Why It’s Great To Have a Doctor for a Dad

My dad is retiring this week from his long career as an ER doctor, and so i’d like to take a moment to reflect on what it was like growing up with a doctor for a dad. I still think it sounds pretty awesome, and in reality it was even better than that.

dad5

I’ve always been pretty healthy and not prone to terrible accidents, so the obvious benefit of having someone at home who could take care of me physically was something i only had to take advantage of for minor incidents. Whether i had an earache or a stomach bug, though, dad always had something for it in our vast medicine cabinet at home. Chances were that the mysterious remedy in its brown or orange bottle was older than i was, but my dad reassured me that its effectiveness was not hindered by its age. For example, there was one time when i was waking up in the mornings with gunky eyelids that i couldn’t open, and so dad flipped them inside-out for me and applied something that magically had the problem cleared up within a day or two. Dad also had some nifty doctor gadgets at home, like the big gray magnifying goggle things he would put on when he pulled splinters out of my fingers for me, and heavy-duty tweezers that also proved effective for extracting my tiny earring when it started sinking into my freshly-pierced earlobe when i was eight years old. He was handy with ordinary household items, too, and once had to vacuum little wads of kleenex out of my nose with a turkey baster after i lodged them up out of reach in a vain attempt to assuage my own head cold.

Sometimes i probably caused my dad undue alarm by informing him of some ill i was experiencing long before i felt it was serious enough to actually go to a hospital for; like the time i emailed and called to leave a voicemail for Dad from Rome while i was studying abroad to inform him that i was experiencing some sort of horrible throbbing stomach pain. Later that evening i received a call from my grandmother, whom my dad had contacted and asked to make the international call to check on me (and this was probably the second time in my life that she has ever called me, by the way, so i was quite surprised to hear her voice on the other end of the line). I told her that the problem had finally gone away; probably just gas or something. She sternly told me, “well, don’t do that again. Your dad was worried sick about you,” and promptly got off the line.

My doctor dad taught me some important medical things while i was growing up, like the time i dropped a little toy ballerina into the toilet and he had me fish it out, explaining that “urine—which is what doctors call pee—is sterile, which means it won’t make you sick to touch it.” Or the morning of his wedding to Mary when i was hung over from a night on the town in Portland with my brother Dustin and nauseous as hell, when he informed me that there’s a drug that quickly and effectively relieves nausea for patients of chemotherapy and, biting his lip, got me a one-dose prescription for it from the hospital pharmacy. He was right; it worked.

Having a dad who’s a doctor has always been a source of pride for me. I remember in fourth or fifth grade my class was studying the nervous system and Dad came in with his doctor’s models of a brain and an eyeball and taught us about the brain for a day. I thought it was so fun that all my friends had to listen to my dad because he was the expert. It became especially cool when the TV show ER rose to popularity in the mid-nineties, and everyone thought they knew exactly what i was talking about when i told them “my dad is an ER doctor” (and, actually, so did i).

I think Dad wasn’t really allowed to talk about work at the dinner table, so i didn’t hear a lot of gruesome stories from him. Every once in a while when he took me and Dustin out, though, we’d hear some work stories about people coming into the ER who had been struck by lightning or had somehow had their toes severed. I remember hearing one story in particular about a man whose finger had been bitten almost clean off by a woman at a bar when the man had drunkenly grabbed the woman’s face, and i was amazed to think that such a thing was even physically possible.

When it came time for me to choose a career path for myself and head into college, i had no desire to follow in my father’s footsteps, enamored as i was at the time with the arts. I have a much greater appreciation now for the sciences, and my admiration for my dad has only grown with time; understanding as i do now how hard he worked to get where he is now, and the kind of dedication, perseverance and intelligence it takes to get there. Still, i don’t have a strong enough stomach to ever do what he has done, and i’m a little ashamed to say that last time i had my eyelid flipped i very nearly passed out.

I may never have a doctorate like my dad does, and i’ll never quite know what it was like to walk in his shoes, but it’s still an honor for me to be directly descended from that kind of human being. My father has saved lives. That’s something that not a lot of people can say. Dad, i hope you enjoy a long and very happy retirement, because you most definitely deserve it. I’m extremely proud of you, always have been, and always will be.

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Why I Want A Big Wedding

I talked to my dad last night to update him on my progress with the wedding planning (hi Dad!). I wanted to let him know that i have purchased a dress and that plans are coming along nicely. He was enthusiastic and supportive, as always, but there was one thing he had to ask: why would an offbeat sort of girl like me want such a big, traditional wedding anyway?

For the most part i’m a pretty normal American girl; i graduated from public high school and a four-year university, i work my nine-to-five every weekday, i drive an SUV and i eat a largely unrestricted diet. I like shopping for clothes and watching reality TV. I’m an enthusiastic sci-fi fan so one might label me a geek, but any label like that rings more of conformity than anomaly. George Lucas would cheerfully tell you that i’m not the only one who has ever grown to love Star Wars.

Some of the things i’m most passionate about, however, are fairly unpopular and do set me somewhat apart. Indie music, atheism and the desire to remove myself from the gene pool are the big ones that come to mind, although i’d be willing to bet that those things tend to go hand-in-hand in people (i.e. there are probably proportionally a lot more atheists who don’t want babies than Christians who feel the same way). Music aside, this point of view does tend to color the whole world in a slightly different hue for me. I’m a skeptic. I question things. I take the world at face value, and for the most part i’m totally enchanted by it anyway.

So if i see things from such a different point of view, why is this whole materialistic wedding thing still so important to me? What do the gown and the flowers and the cake all have to do with my commitment to my husband-to-be?

First of all, i love my family. I have family all over the country, and a wedding is a great way to get all of them together for an evening. We don’t really do family reunions, so weddings and funerals are the way it happens. This gathering is also a way of officially welcoming Nathan into the family, because to me that’s what marriage essentially is: becoming family. Besides, i want a celebration, and what could possibly make a single day better than gathering all the people i love together to share in the joy? I’m going to need some of my dearest friends to be there, too, and Nathan will of course have his closest friends and relatives there as well. Say, about 100 people.

This necessitates food, because Nathan and i love to feed people and family gatherings are almost never without a meal of some sort. I don’t want to do the cheaper cocktail hour thing; we’re doing dinner. And drinks. And we’re gong to need a dessert, so why not a cake? While we’re at it, let’s make everything look beautiful and taste delicious so that everyone will really enjoy themselves. Food. Flowers. Music. Linens. Candles. That’s probably 75% of the cost of the whole wedding, right there.

More importantly, i’m going to be taking a vow which i want all of those people i love to witnesses. Getting married is practical in its own way, but it’s also symbolic. I’m pledging my love and loyalty to Nathan, and i’m taking it very seriously. I want people to see my sincerity – not because their observation will make me more sincere, but because each of them is a part of my life and i want them to see firsthand this terribly important moment.

And this, of course, necessitates that i wear a really fabulous dress when all of those eyes are falling on me. And my hands can’t just be empty, so i’ll need some beautiful flowers to carry. And petals to walk on, so that i’m not just shuffling across the grass. And [Science!] knows i need professional help with my hair, because i’m absolutely impaired when it comes to hairdos.

I’m a designer. I value aesthetic beauty, and i’m willing to pay other designers to create a visually – and delectably – fantastic day for us. I’m not saying i’m spending top-dollar for everything (otherwise i’d be getting married in some sort of castle, right?) and i highly doubt that “traditional” will be the word people use to describe this wedding after it happens. But to me a wedding should involve plenty of people, food, drink, flowers, candles, music, and one very flattering, stunningly beautiful white dress.

Theories

If i believed all the things that the people i love have been trying to convince me of lately, i would believe that: the government has been secretly spraying us with mysterious toxic chemicals by way of commercial airliners; the president is on the side of terrorists and is slowly turning our country into a communist regime; there is a mystical power in the universe that is real the same way physical objects are real except that it can only be experienced by people of faith; and that because i don’t have that faith my immortal soul is bound for eternal hellfire and dragging my fiance’s soul with it.

How do you people sleep at night?

Home for the Holidays

I wouldn’t have phrased it that way, considering that Dustin only lived in Iowa until he was seven, but he himself said it on Myspace. Nathan and i picked him up at the airport on Saturday, and we had a mini-Christmas with him and Tim and Jamie that evening. It’s been ridiculously cold here, as a nice big “Welcome!” The high yesterday was negative one, and the wind-chill factor made it feel something like thirty below. It didn’t keep us indoors all day, though! Last night mom, Nathan, Dustin and i went out for dinner and a few drinks.

Dustin Drinking Santa's Butt
Dustin drinking Santa’s Butt

Santa's Butt

Dustin was so impressed by the beer and scotch selection at the Royal Mile that he asked that we take him back before he leaves on Friday. There’s still a lot of partying left to do this week!

Gee, Thanks

It’s been a rough few days, but i haven’t blogged in a while, so here are some photos from Thanksgiving.

The Dinner Table

We had dinner at Grandpa’s, as usual. But this year we decided to actually eat at the table and put the food on the buffet, so i tackled the job of cleaning off the buffet with Jamie’s help. It was no easy task, but i’d say it was pretty rewarding. First Grandpa’s jungle of plants had to be moved to the bedroom, and then all the junk had to be removed from the buffet and dusted and put back after the windows and the buffet itself had been cleaned. Whew! The meal was delicious (thanks Mom!), and we got to enjoy it comfortably.

Centerpiece
I found this guy while cleaning, and he became the centerpiece.

Joey
Aunt Mary Kaye brought her little dog Joey

Family Gathering
Mom, Mary Kaye, Lindsey, John, Chuck, Tim & Jamie

Not pictured is Grandpa, and of course myself. It was a somewhat morose dinner, as the family isn’t feeling particularly thankful this year. We still have each other though, as Mom pointed out, and that’s certainly something to be grateful for. I’m grateful for my job and my wonderful boyfriend, and for the friends i’ve made and re-made this year.

It’s all snowy right now in Iowa, but that’s not what’s got me feeling down. I’m trying to dislodge my foot from between my jaws and i’m pretty bad at that. With the dual-bad-excuse of alcohol and the internet, i’ve said a lot of stupid things lately, and i’m sorry. I went to the dermatologist yesterday and he says i have hyperlinear palms.

too many lines on my hands
and too many words in my mouth.

Vacay

Mom and i went on a little vacation last week, which i shall proceed to tell the story of in photos.

The first stop has no photos though, so um, just kidding. We went to Cedar Rapids to spend a night with Tim, Angie and Jamie (my brother & his fam) and stopped to see Nina & Karl’s new place in Coralville along the way. It’s nice, i’m jealous. Tim and Jamie showed us all the flood damage in their neighborhood, which was amazing to see. Almost every house has a big orange X on it, meaning nobody can enter. There’s just stuff all along the curbs in the residential area, and there was even a house that had been carried halfway into the street by the flood waters. WAY worse than the damage in Des Moines.

From there we headed toward Uncle Dave’s house and stopped at a lake on the way out of CR.

Ladies at the Lake
I look goofy in this pic. We were afraid the water was contaminated, so we didn’t get in.

We’ve stayed with Dave three times in the last month now, which is probably more than in the past eight years or so. It was good to visit again. From Dave’s place in Long Grove, IA we headed North to the Maquoketa Caves. We only went as far as the mouth of the big one, however, because the lights had been turned off and we had no lamp. Also, it looked extremely muddy and scary.

Maquoketa CavesThe mouth of Dancehall Cave

We decided to proceed to Crystal Lake Cave, just south of Dubuque, which is well-lit and clean and illuminated by a young tour guide so disenchanted with his job that he jokes frequently about how lame it is to come all the way to Dubuque, Iowa just to see that particular cave. The “Crystal Lake” was pretty silly; it looked more like a puddle that a few people had chucked coins into like an out-of-service mall fountain. I didn’t bother to try to photograph it.

Crystal Lake Cave 1
I don’t remember what the different formations were called. Soda straws, maybe?

Crystal Lake Cave 4
Bacon strips..?

Then we went to the Mississippi River historical museum in Dubuque. I liked the animals. I’m still much like a little kid when it comes to museums.

Friendly Gators
Not doing it, just friendly.

Frog

We stayed in a cute little town called Mineral Point, Wisconsin that night at a bed & breakfast that made me wish i had a boyfriend. It was up above a brewery/restaurant which had really nice beer and food. The next morning we went to the Land’s End warehouse clearance event a few miles north. It was huge and crowded and insane, and i didn’t buy anything.

Land's End Feeding Frenzy

We drove all the way down to Kalona, Iowa that evening and stopped at President Herbert Hoover’s birthplace along the way. Turns out he was only in Iowa until he was eleven, at which point he moved to Oregon. Kinda like my life, but backwards. We had dinner in Iowa City and then headed down to Kalona, and caught an amazing sunset while driving. I couldn’t even begin to capture it, because out there in the country i could see the horizon all the way around us, 360 degrees, and it was all just beautiful.

Iowa Sunset 2

We walked around Kalona a little the next day but decided against taking a tour of the Amish community there. I probably should have taken it, since i have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to live like that. No internet? Come on. What would i do with my Saturday nights?

Going back through Iowa City the next day, we stopped to see the legendary Black Angel at one of the old cemeteries. Supposedly people tell stories of how a man commissioned the statue for his deceased wife and it turned black in a day because of her infidelity. The truth is that a woman commissioned it for her husband’s grave, refused to pay for it because she thought it was ugly, and was sued by the artist and made to pay $5,000 which back in those days was a lot of money. Her name is on the grave and the birth date is 1830something, but there’s no death date. Like maybe she refused to be buried under that thing.

The Black Angel 2
It’s not nearly as beautiful as the one i photographed in Rome. Few things are, i suppose.

After that we went shopping and headed home. It was nice to go on a little adventure for a while, but i always feel pretty relieved to be home again after a vacation. We’re settling back in now and will probably be heading to the Iowa State Fair before returning to the grind on Monday. Also rooting for Shawn Johnson tomorrow in the women’s gymnastics competition–representing iowa! Go team USA!

Vacation

I’m on vacation right now, so i probably won’t write a substantial post for another week.

At the moment i’m at my big brother Tim’s house in Cedar Rapids. This was our first stop, and we still haven’t decided where we’re going next.

The apartment is pretty much all put together now, i just need a few more pieces of furniture. I’ve got internet and cable all hooked up and a new air conditioner, and it’s starting to feel like a nice little home.

I can’t wait to have a party, and i think my birthday will be the perfect opportunity…

(it’s on August 13th!)