Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bucket List.

1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

2. Watch a show on Broadway

3. Perform in Carnegie Hall

4. Publish a novel

5. Skydive

6. Graduate from high school

7. Hike a mountain range

8. Go to the Grand Canyon

9. Go to Australia

10. Break a world record

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Reality.

This is week four in the Emergency Room.

Because the registration routine is being experimented with, the Triage bays started filling up again. However, this week, it was a lot smoother--I think mostly because of how Ms. Patricia handled the situation. Ms. Patricia is probably my favorite nurse to work with in the Emergency Room. She's kind to all the patients, maintaining that difficult balance between directness and manners. Not to mention, she's funny--today, she mimicked Santa, as she watched us, her "elves" scramble around the room to assist incoming patients. Her accent is also the best.

Anyway, working today was really interesting.

Walking into Emergency, I met a friend who was assisting her grandfather into a wheelchair. I've known Nancy since middle school, and so it was almost a happy reunion until we remembered the purpose of her visit. It was an interesting experience--where I had to sever personal relations to act professionally.

I also worked with some seriously ill people today. In one case, there was a young man who continued to vomit blood to the point where I brought him a wheelchair. He was rushed to see a doctor, rather than sit the registration process.

Not only that, I worked with a woman who could not stop sobbing--she was in too much pain. But she was forced to wait in the bays for over an hour because of the back up in the Triage.

I suppose health clearance from the Mecklenburg County jails are also a little more common than I realized--today, another inmate was brought in. Handcuffed. Escorted by an officer with two firearms.

But by far the most memorable experience today occurred near the end of my shift. A young woman came in with her mother, clearly very pregnant. I barely recognized her face, but I realized it was another friend from my middle school. She looked exhausted, stressed, anxious, changed. We were friends, but she and I both went to different high schools, and gradually drifted apart.

I don't think she recognized me at all.

When I asked what her emergency was, she answered by saying that she began contractions this morning.

When I asked her how many months she had been pregnant, she answered, "8 months. 32 weeks."

Then it really hit me. If she had been carrying her baby for 8 months, she would have been 15 (we had birthdays that weren't too far apart). Ironically, Dr. Phil (the TV channel that was on in the waiting room) had been talking about teenage pregnancies and reality shows about their situations (ie. Sixteen and Pregnant). This was much more "in your face" than a reality show--it was a reality. She wasn't even sixteen.

I knew that she was pregnant from rumors I had heard earlier, but this face to face encounter really shocked me to my core. And I sincerely hoped to God that the other rumor I heard was not true: that the father of the child was no longer part of the picture. Her delivery date coincided with the first day of school; what if she had to drop out? What might become of her child?

I barely recognized her. She didn't recognize me. How drastically, unrecognizably life can change within 2 years.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chatting on the Phone to Girlfriends

My third week in the Emergency Room. The people moved a little slower than usual; the staff on shift were new to the job. It was uncomfortable seeing how slowly the Emergency Room moved, when people started actually filling the waiting room--normally the pace moves quickly enough to where there are only a few people waiting to be registered or treated.

This week, I noticed an unusual amount of Spanish speakers. Normally, there are one or two Spanish speakers who come to the Emergency Room who have difficulty speaking English, but this week, there were at least 10 appointments during my shift where a Spanish speaker needed assistance to communicate with the staff.

The unusual number of Spanish speakers really opened my eyes to how useful some of the things we were learning in school were--I could understand and communicate with the people, rather than bark "Que?" or "Mucho grande?" like Miss Ronda (God bless her heart) who was sitting at the desk today.

Miss Ronda was an interesting head nurse. Incredibly blunt, forceful, but like a courteous matron, she whirled around the Triage and the Emergency Room encouraging the newer faculty. She never used euphemisms to try and calm people down, but rather told them the truth, immediately and objectively.

This brings me to the other faculty. I've worked with many different nurses before; some nurses are more relaxed about helping the patients, while others are much more careful and busy. But this week, I noticed something that actually upset me about a certain group of nurses. In the Emergency Room Triage, where patients were to be seated for treatment after they had been registered, the nurses usually try and clear the area as quickly as possible. The nurses in question would sit at the desk, and use the phone at the desk to chat with their girlfriends. I would catch snatches of their conversations: "Belk is having a huuuuuuuuuge sale today, girl!" "Mm, mm, mm... I've gained sooo much weight hehehe, I don't even know if my man recognizes me!" among other chatter. Other than just chatting on the phone, some of the nurses even congregated around the desk, sitting in the seats the patients were supposed to sit in.

The Emergency Room Triage started to get backed up. When I was done registering people, that means that there was no room to bring them in to be treated. Each of the bays (waiting areas for the patients) were filled, and the nurses in the Triage were not replacing the papers, tissues, etc like they should be. To reassure the patients, I said, "The Triage is getting a little backed up, but the nurses will be with you shortly. I'll put you in one of the bays while you're waiting."

One of the nurses, who had stopped chattering on the phone, overheard me say that to one of the many patients in the Emergency Room. She pulled me aside, her expression stony and indignant, and said, "Next time, you just tell the patients that we'll be with them shortly."

That was the upsetting part. If the nurses aren't quickly moving the patients to get treated because they are too busy socializing, they shouldn't be indignant about the truth.

The nurses chatter in the Emergency Room while a man is wheezing, having trouble breathing, and his family is panicking...


My second week in the Emergency Room. The people moved in and out of the Triage area quickly, but one person remained in my mind for a longer period of time.

There was an inmate chained to a wheelchair. His midsection was wrapped in chains attached to the wheelchair, while his hands remained in handcuffs, and his ankles attached to the pedals. His orange uniform was emblazoned with the words "Charlotte Mecklenburg County Jail" in all capital letters. A burly, stoic looking security guard escorted him in, and wheeled him around.

The surprising thing is, this man was much more courteous and softspoken compared to many of the others who were registered to the Emergency Room. You could barely hear him speak when he answered your questions, and his general appearance seemed more comparable to a kindly middle-aged man, than a fearful criminal who deserved to be chained to a wheelchair.

He had greying/silvering/white-ish hair, and ice blue eyes, and was not unlike common representations of Santa Claus, but not round at all. His bony wrists and frail looking, thin physique was a reminder that jail was not a comfortable or welcoming place.

He was wheeled away for emergency care, and I wouldn't see him again, even while I was making rounds, but I couldn't help but think:

Why was this man, so kindly and well, normal looking, chained multiple times to his wheelchair?

But it just occurred to me, that those chains may not have been holding him back in the present, but binding him to what he did in the past.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Bullet Wound

I volunteer in the Emergency Room.

I hope that it doesn't get too busy--not because I don't like doing work, or don't want to do anything, but because if the Emergency Room gets busy, it means that people are getting hurt more often.

Despite my wishes, the flow of the ER picked up around 10 AM yesterday when I was volunteering.

The man who was brought in probably didn't know that he would pop up in my mind for the rest of the day. He was a skinny African-American man, late 60s to early 70s. He was bleeding severely from a bullet wound to the thigh. Right or left leg, I can't remember, but there was a seemingly impossible amount of blood.

That image itself is burned into my mind, but the echoing words of his distraught family haunted me for the rest of the day, and probably will for a while.

"He was on his way to work... If someone wanted to steal something from him, they could've just pushed him over! He's old and frail... Why did they have to shoot him?"

It's a good question. It also makes me want to do something. I've been thinking for 24 hours and 44 minutes approximately... And I have nothing.

What can I do to solve violence?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I wish...

That I had woken up early yesterday to:

1) Move the car
2) Ice my family's toothbrushes
3) Remove the cream from Oreos and replace it with toothpaste.
4) Put plastic wrap on the toilet
5) Put folded up ketchup packets underneath the toilet
6) Superglue a penny to the ground (okay, bad idea... Hardwood floors+superglue?)
7) Duct tape the sink hose into a position where it sprays anyone who turns it on
8) Set everyone's alarm to 4:00 AM, and then pretend like they slept to the afternoon
9) Do something productive (<---Hahahaha.)
10) Actually celebrate April Fool's.

I never do, though. I think it's because I know better than to pull pranks when no one in my family is a morning person... Including myself. Which explains why I didn't wake up early.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bubbles and Middle School Girls.

Sooooooo, I spent my entire morning at a local university, playing with bubbles, surrounded by middle school girls. It was really entertaining!

But really.

Ever since last year, I've been volunteering at a local festival called the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival. And honestly, it's really fun. Because I get to build shapes using Zometools, which are like K'nex or Legos for math professors, and dip them in bubble solution (with a touch of glycerin to keep the bubbles alive longer) and teach kids about minimal surfaces and Lagrange's equation without them knowing. And plus, UNC Charlotte has really tasty food.

Working with these middle school girls to build dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons, and other shapes kind of makes me want to do more events similar to the Julia Robinson Festival. I met some of my little brother's friends, and my old teachers who brought their students to the Festival, and it makes me feel happy that I'm contributing to the community that helped raise me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Debating in Teyuhxas (aka Texas) and 3rd Quarter Drabble

My Public Forum debate partner and I qualified to the National Forensic League's tournament in Texas! I'm very excited--mostly because you have to finish top 2 in your event to qualify (which we technically didn't, because we were the alternates...) but close enough! It's still great! Especially since it means more experience for both me and my partner next year. And also because it was only our second tournament together.

On another note, this same PF (Pofo, Puff, Public Forum) partner and I are the alternates to representing North Carolina in the Catholic Forensic League national tournament, which I'm pretty excited about. I think we'll choose to go to the NFL tournament, though, because it's generally larger and a little more competitive from what I've heard. Either way, I'm really proud of how we did for these two tournaments, and really happy about how well we work together.

On another note, 3rd quarter is wrapping up now. Sleep is a luxury. My mathematics teacher is pregnant, and her due date is next week (I'm also the "godmother" of her unborn child). I have to learn all of Psychology for the upcoming AP Exam (!). I have to thoroughly read and analyze Dante's Inferno by next Wednesday (which I'm not complaining about-- I actually really enjoy the book, no matter how ironic that may be... The only thing I'm not so pleased about is that we have to set a time limit for digesting the book).

Only 10 weeks until summer break!

Pretty optimistic for someone who starts every week wishing it was the weekend.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I visited the North Carolina School of Science and Math today, and took some aptitude tests in a process of application. It's basically a boarding school for juniors and seniors who have a strong interest in math and science. A self described "breeding ground for geeks". I thought I wouldn't like it. But after today, I am really debating between what I should do for next year... Should I stay at the school I am now, or should I take that risk and go to NCSSM?

I need to take a lot of things into consideration when thinking about my future. Wow, I sound crazily melodramatic, but I'm being completely serious: my future depends on what I do during high school! Because high school determines where I go to college, college determines what I do for a living, my living, quite appropriately, helps determine my life. My friend who goes to NCSSM has just gotten early acceptance into Yale, and won the Morehead scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill. But another from at the school I am attending now is a finalist in both the Benjamin N. Duke scholarship, Robinson scholarship (a dual scholarship to both UNC Chapel Hill and Duke), and to the full ride scholarship to Vanderbilt. Yes, I'm bragging on my friends. But they completely deserve it! It really inspires me to work hard, but at the same time, I can't help but be worried about what I should do...

But, note to self:
Things I don't like about NCSSM...
1) The mascot is a unicorn.
2) The cafeteria is built supposedly on top of a cemetery. Cooooooool.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Senior Exits.

I saw someone carrying a canvas larger than himself in the hallways.

Just screams of artsy senior exit presentations... Which leads me to think about how March really is the beginning of the end. To quote a friend, "I'm done with senior exits.. Which means I'm cruising through the rest of the year." For many of the seniors, I bet that their year is pretty much over. Many have been accepted into colleges, and are just vying for any scholarships left over. Some are taking gap years (my friend's older brother is hiking the ENTIRE Appalachian Mountains trail, and then going to somewhere-exotic-but-I-can't-remember to do-something-really-cool-like-build-a-library-or-something-similar).

I'm almost kind of sad, really. They'll be gone to college, and I'll still have two years of high school. When they're gone, all they can do is look back, and time still moves on...

I was always really raring to get independent, and be "grown up" (cliche, I know), but now that I think about it, once high school is gone... It's over and done with. And often times, high school can dictate the rest of your life--your continued education (for sure... Which is why all of the seniors were stressing out!), your interests.

On another note, I got my permit. Yay.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


So, as I'm studying for my Spanish midterm exam, I can't help but notice how much I rely on little mnemonic devices (which I learned about in Psychology, yay!) to learn and remember. And I also cannot help but notice how much these little tricks really get me off task.

Take, for example... Boots.

In conjugating Spanish verbs in certain tenses, there is a pattern among the yo, tu, el/ella/Ud, and ellos/ellas/Uds forms. Apparently it looks like a boot? But not really. I think it looks more like Louisiana, which I don't think looks like a boot at all... But whether I think it looks like a boot or not doesn't really matter, because Senora Ortiz says so. And whatever Senora Ortiz says, goes!

I personally think it looks more like a 'L'.

There are also sandal verbs, for el/ella/Ud, and ellos/ellas/Uds. Why are all these tenses named after shoes?! Anyway... I forgot what I was going to even say.

I guess mnemonic devices are useful on tests, but they can be kind of distracting if you think about them in depth.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I hope this doesn't go away...

I just have this burning desire to try my best at everything right now. It is kind of draining, but for some reason, this determination is just blasting through the boundaries that sleep usually sets up for me. I suppose it could be a sort of warped adrenaline rush as my midterm exams approach, in addition to the fact that it is a new year... But I hope it doesn't go away.

Lately, school's been difficult, and it's been even more difficult to motivate myself to keep on trying, to keep on working, to wake up when it's dark, do the things I enjoy doing outside of school, to come home to do homework, go to sleep for however many hours I can get, and wake up and do it all over again.

Though I somewhat enjoy this feeling of potential success (the best way I can describe it), I bet I'll feel some sort of relief after school's over and done again for the summer.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

And I am resolute.

I've decided that 2011 will be a great year for me.

Not just a great year, but a better year. I've made my resolutions, and I plan to stick to them... I probably said that last year too. But the fact that we have a new year, and a relatively clean, new slate (taking into account that I am 6 minutes away from 1/2/11 typing this post) gives me hope to try and make myself a better person.

But I guess that a New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other... (Pun completely and totally intended.)

But in the words of Edith Lovejoy Pierce: "We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."

I'm looking forward to a new year.