Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Volume 10: March 07

New York Happenings: Volume X
The Springing of Spring…or something….

Hello to my lovely friends and family!
I must tell you, spring in New York City is a beautiful thing!! The fresh air (don’t mind the pollution), the budding trees (forget those mounds of garbage sitting underneath them), the Hudson River at sunset (look at the water but don’t touch or you may need a tetanus shot.) I actually am seriously enjoying the spring here! And things are looking up for me in a lot of ways! Last Friday, I was offered the position I was hoping for here at the VA! In an email I sent to some of you earlier this week, I explained my new position:

“The new job is a research assistant position with a different doctor. I will still continue to work with a psychologist I really like, Carlos Jackson, on a study (Stay-Switch), and I will work with him and the other Health Services Research & Development people (Drs Claire Henderson and Deb Kaymen) 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time I will work for an MD named Bruce Levine. He is a psychiatrist who specializes in clozapine (an antipsychotic medication that is really in class of its own), suicide and suicide prevention and focus groups. I will be doing some administrative and clerical stuff for him, as well as keeping up our department's website (….. I am already starting to feel some relief that I won't have to be involved in this horrible study much longer! “

Ok, so maybe my cut and paste job here is a little lazy. But that is how I am feeling today. In fact, the federal government has inspired my work ethic so much that I am sitting here emailing all of you in the middle of the work day. Go me. I will be moving up to my new office on Monday, April 9th. However, I unfortunately have to mind my current study until I am replaced and then train that person once they are hired. Soooooo things aren’t perfect yet, but soon they will be improved and I will be a much more relaxed person.

I also found out this week that I was accepted to Lehman College, a City University of New York school that is about a mile or so away from the VA. So I will begin taking some evening, and possibly weekend, classes there hopefully this summer, but definitely this fall. My prereqs will consist of (for sure) chemistry, anatomy and physiology (x 2), microbiology, life-span psychology, nutrition and (possibly) organic chemistry and anthropology. Thrilling I know. I am really looking forward anatomy and physiology actually. I think I will be quite good at it. I hope to have completed my prereqs by next May, and will begin applying to a couple nursing schools this winter, though if I don’t get in right away, I will continue to take prereqs so I can apply to other programs.

Now I must report 2 observations/incidences that have happened since we last chatted:
1) Another old lady budged in front of me in line. This time it was at the bank. One minute, I’m staring at the back of the head of a young, 20-something girl, and the next minute some old lady with grey hair and pink pants has edged her way in front of me. I wasn’t even at the back of the line! What is that?? I didn’t say anything however. I find it’s better to hold your tongue, especially in the Bronx.
2) New Yorkers seem to think that the world is the garbage can. I reported last month that people often just throw things on the ground instead of making it over to a garbage can. This month, I actually saw a guy eating candies that were individually wrapped on the subway, and each time the subway stopped and the door opened, he would throw his little wrapper straight out of the door onto the platform. You’re kidding me right?
In other news, Scott has been auditioning for summer theater programs and we are hopeful that he will land something this summer. However, if he doesn’t, I won’t be TOO disappointed if he has to stay in the city this summer (*wink*), despite his night owl tendencies. Oh yes, and I actually had a small solo part (the alto solo) in Regina Coeli (Mozart) at my choir concert this month. This was a big step considering last month my director asked “Who’s Lauren?” …and wasn’t kidding. I was not amused. Also, Erin and Steve are planning a move back to Minnesota in April! We are very happy for them. I think this will be great step that offers some more opportunity for them both. I never understood how they could live so close to cows anyways. Silly Wisconsin.

Anyways, after another novel from me, I am sure you are all ready to get back to your own lives, which you should keep me updated on! If you’re getting this email, you are missed! Also for you Minnesotans out there, I will be home from the evening of Wednesday, April 18th to Sunday, April 22nd. Book your times now as supplies are limited. Much love to you all. The semi-New-Yorker,


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Volume 9: February 07

Dearest friends,
(Be prepared...this email is a bit long-winded (which my friend Craig told me my updates tend to be. Psh, WHATEVER...))

First of all, a cockroach update. After an obnoxious week of cleaning out ALL of our cabinets and cleaning all of our dishes, setting up bait traps and killing 20-30 baby cockroaches a day, we finally thought we had gotten rid of them. We were seeing 1-2 a day. However, I went to take a shower 2 consecutive mornings and found 1 HUGE cockroach (quarter size, huge to me) and 1 HUGE water bug in the shower as I was about to step in. ICK! To make matters worse, in the past couple days we have seen a return of the dreaded roaches though not quite as bad as the first time. We continue to kill as many as we can! (Apparently we can never be buddhist monks because we wish the death of all these bugs!)

Moving on...So now I understand why adults complain about wanting to be kids again. Being an adult is HARD! And being an adult in NYC, even harder! I find myself missing the comforts of Minneapolis (cars, parking spaces, few homeless people asking you for money, nice people, AFFORDABLE HOUSING). However, as I am committed to my boyfriend of 3 1/2 years (as of tomorrow), and I know his work will need to be here (silly actors), I am determined to stick it out until I have mastered NYC. This may take some more time, but it will happen.

Today, starting my 9th month in NYC, I have some suggestions for all those New Yorkers out there. God knows if I actually commented on these things to New Yorkers I'd either get a blank stares, a mouthful of obcenities or a smack in the face. But you guys are more understanding, so here goes:
#1) Headphones (ear buds, etc) were made so that I DON"T have to listen to your stupid music on the train. Please keep in mind that people who are unaware of this fact are the ones that listen to the obnoxious rap, whiney R&B, and upbeat latino music. While everyone is allowed to have their own musical tastes, I do not want to listen to yours!! Also, its great if you invested in one of those phones that plays music. However, again, I do not want to hear it. (These people don't even bother wearing headphones. They just play their loud music from their cell phone for everyone else in the train to hear.) Annoying.Note: I received a wonderful suggestion in one of my public health classes at the U of Mn last year. If you want to make a killing in the stock market, start investing in the companies that make hearing aids, cause God knows that my generation and the ones to follow have done so much damage to their auditory receptors with ear buds and headphones that the hearing aide business will be booming in about 15-20 years. Keep it in mind!

#2) Learn how to correctly dispose of your garbage. Anyone who has visited New York knows that the city is a little bit dirty. Anyone who visits the Bronx can tell you it's a lot bit dirty. I have observed many many people tossing their wrappers, soda bottles, etc, on the ground, into the gutter in the street, etc, when there is a trash can no more than 20 feet away. I even saw one woman walking in Manhattan with a plastic container full of salad. Apparently she decided she was finished because she proceeded to just put the plastic container down in the middle of the sidewalk, midstride, and keep walking as if she hadn't just performed the laziest act I've ever seen. Ridiculous. Don't complain about how dirty the city is if you're contributing to its filth.

#3) Learn some customer service skills. I'm sorry if you don't like your job. I hope some day you get one that you like. But in the meantime, you're not going to move up in the world if you talk to me in a bored, sometimes monotone voice, don't say thank you, and barely pay attention to me while ringing up my purchases. This is especially true at drug stores such as Duane Reade and grocery stores, like the Gristedes near us. I miss the nice people at Lunds and Byerlys who ask you how you're doing and make small talk! Everytime I walk into a Star Bucks in NY, where the customer service is actually very good 90% of the time, I get a wave of relief. I think someone needs to either teach some classes to the masses out here, or some managers need to start getting rid of the workers with bad attitudes. HMPH!

February proved a difficult month for me, if you can't tell by my cynical tone in this update. I seem to be under a lot of stress. I'm still adjusting to this new city (which I would guess is one of the most difficult in the world); the year I decide to leave my home of 22 years, one of my loved-ones becomes ill and I can't be there to help out in any way; I live in a studio apartment with my boyfriend and while it's super nice to live with him, its horribly difficult to only have 1 room and a bathroom, especially with our different schedules. While I have to go to bed by around 11 each night, Scott stays up until 2 or 3 doing homework, checking his email, watching TV, etc. He has become much more considerate of this in recent months. However, I can't always ask him to go in the bathroom if he needs a light to read! I feel horrible!

The most stressful thing in my life right now however is my work situation. While in ways I enjoy this position much more than I enjoyed my position at Mount Sinai, I have come to despise the people I work for (e.g. my boss, an MD and the senior research coordinator who happens to be his cousin). I could go on and on about them, but I will just sum it up by saying that they are horribly passive aggressive, seemingly gang up on you when you do (or don't) do anything wrong, are unable to take blame for anything that is their fault and often blame me for things I had no control over, and are not understanding when I make mistakes (which I am bound to do as I am human and I am the first person to run this particular study at this location). They are off-site, and I have had to figure out all the logistics of this study on my own, with very little support from them because they just plain can't help me from where they are. I have gotten crap from the director of my program here because no one showed me how to do things and I was left to my own devices. Needless to say, I am fed up. I refuse to work for people who don't appreciate and/or acknowledge my hard work (I have enrolled more people in this study than anyone else has before), and seem to comment only on the things I screw up. SO, I am looking to take the Research Assistant/ Staff Assistant position of a friend of mine who left the VA. It would be wthin the same department but I'd be working for a different person, wouldn't be working on this VERY difficult study, and would make a little bit more money with the opportunity to make much more money in about a year. Problem is that I work for the federal government and things work VERY SLOWLY here. I've talked to the Dr who is in charge of this position and he says my taking it over is a definite possibility. But I am playing the waiting game right now until he speaks the the administrator in my department about what the job is going to be like as they are switching it up a bit. And here I sit, with my anxious tendencies, my nerves gnawing at my stomach every day that I work for those jerky people. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers in this area. I am very hopeful that a change will take place, hopefully sooner rather than later.

In other news, one of my best friends from the time I was 3 got engaged over New Years to her lovely boyfriend (now fiance) on a carriage ride in central park. So sweet! :) Jodie Flaherty and Brian Murray will be getting married in the June of 2008 and I can't wait for another Flaherty wedding to take place. Congrats you two! Also, my sister and her lovely husband sold their house in Monroe, Wisconsin (as of yesterday) after months of difficulty getting someone to buy it in their remote town. (This was quite surprising to me as their house is ADORABLE! Just far away from a lot of things). My dad started chemo this past Monday (2/26) and thankfully seems to be doing well so far. Please also keep him in your thoughts and prayers that the next 6 months will go as smoothly as this first session of chemo has. Finally, as this novel length update is coming to a close, I would love some words of encouragement from those of you who have been in my position (e.g. my Aunt Janie who moved to Chicago when she was younger and says I remind her of herself from those days). I know things will be ok. I have a wonderfully understanding boyfriend who even is letting my rearrange our apartment in a way that will be most homey to me so I can feel more settled. I am super excited. (I love planning.) So, I think March will be better. Looking to make a few changes, and can't wait for Spring in NYC.

Love to all,


p.s. I encourage all of you to go online and look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder...this is the epitomy of my boss.