Mistaken Identity

27 01 2010

I live I.T.P.* Which means the urban-sprawl of Atlanta doesn’t really affect me on a day-to-day basis. My morning commute typically takes about 20 minutes. Interestingly enough, the afternoon commute lasts closer to 40 minutes. What this tells me is that the vast majority of Atlantans don’t go into work until after 9 a.m., but still leave by 4 p.m. Slackers.

There are infinite routes I could take to get home from the hospital. Today I was on Spring St. In Atlanta. This is an obvious point, but one that remains quite relevant when you consider what I saw next… I came around a bend in the road and saw Mount St Helens!!! Instant gasp! I’m just slightly embarrassed about how long it took me to realize that it was just the Georgia Dome.

Mount St Helens (as seen from Portland!)

Georgia Dome

That wasn’t the exact view of The Dome I had from the car today… but I hope you get a sense of how I might have been momentarily confused!

Anyway, it made me smile. And then I laughed out loud at myself for the next 10 minutes!

*I.T.P. = Inside The Perimeter (aka I-285)

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End of the Hiatus

23 01 2010

Not that there was ever a conscious beginning to said hiatus. Regardless… I’M BACK! Back from where, one may query? Back FROM the internalization of the (sometimes) rambling thoughts and commentary on the goings-on of my days, and back TO the e-spilling of those self-same ramblings.

I honestly can’t come up with a reason for the months of silence… perhaps I talked more (telephone calls, text messages, Facebook posts) or had more personal interaction (West Coast Road Trip, multiple NC escapes) and so I didn’t focus so much (or at all) on the transcription of the events of the past six-plus months.

Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of the last half of 2009… according to Kristen, of course!

August…

Thus began the first full-month of my “new” job. Not new in the sense that I changed locations or careers, but new in that the fifteen months of working and planning and presenting my (brilliant) ideas to The Powers That Be at work finally paid off. I am now the Lead Orthopedic Therapist at Piedmont Hospital. This role enables me to work full-time on the Orthopedic units of the hospital, which is truly where I am at my best, therapeutically. (if, for no other reason, because of the short lengths-of-stay for even the most challenging patients!) Instant gratification abounds! *It is important to note that this has NOT been the case for several patients in the past two weeks who have essentially taken up residency on the unit.

Not only does this job keep me on the Ortho unit, but it also enables me to make the (long, drawn out, sometimes painful) transition into a “leadership” role – at least as far as the orthopedic realm is concerned. I’m working on a multi-disciplinary team that is creating a Total Joint Replacement Bible (my own working title) that will outline the course of events from “You’ve decided to have your hip/knee replaced” to “Yes, you ARE getting out of bed with the Physical Therapist today” to “No, you can’t stay in the hospital one more night because your wife doesn’t want to make the 27-minute drive after 4:30 p.m.” (in so many words) In addition to the patient-information guide, Piedmont Hospital is looking to become an Orthopedic Center of Excellence, a quest I have sought to be a part of since the day I started working here, and one that I am currently contributing to on the planning committee.

September…

This month brought about a long-anticipated vacation! I flew to Portland and took off the next morning for Ashland to visit my friend Paula who was about to start Nursing school at OHSU’s Southern Oregon campus. The timing of my drive put me smack-dab in the middle of Game Day traffic – for both Oregon and Oregon State had home games. Oregon hosted 6th-ranked Cal, and made very short work of them, I must say! Despite my distaste for traffic – especially on 2-lane I-5 – it was great fun to be in the midst of the pre-game merriment. And Paula was such a good sport, ducking (!) into a dive-y pub in downtown Ashland to let me watch the 4th quarter… little did either one of us know, it was the hub for the Ashland chapter of U of O alumni! Go Ducks!

Ashland was lovely, and the company couldn’t be beat! We went wine-tasting and to the SOU bookstore (of course!) and wandered around little Talent, Oregon. Then it was off on the next leg of my journey: to Eureka!

Now, I’ve made the trip through the Redwood National Forest once before, en route to Arcata for Jill’s graduation several years ago. But I must have been asleep for that portion of the car ride, because I was FLOORED at the majesty of these botanical Giants! Could hardly get enough of them. Wow.

Seeing Jill was awesome and getting to spend time in her own town and life was fabulous! I even had the privilege to attend Hot Chick Night! Theme: Goddesses.

We took a day-trip to Petrolia, on the Lost Coast of California where Jill spent three years working for AmeriCorps and the Mattole Salmon Group. It was a stunning drive of cliffs and hairpin turns, gravelly roads and then a sprawling ocean-side highway. It’s totally where you find “Happy Cows are from California!”

We ate lunch on the banks of the (sadly dry) Mattole River after the wind cancelled our attempt to picnic at Strawberry Rock. The wind would NOT deter a photo-op, though!

From Eureka, I headed north along the Oregon Coast Highway. A longer route, but also one of much richer views. I was going back to my old stomping ground in Eugene, Oregon, to meet up with my dear friends Jeff and Laura.

We had a lovely time catching up that evening, and the next morning after tea with Laura and a send-off from Jeff, I went about re-exploring the U of O campus. I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sun was shining and the breeze was light… reaffirming my stance that there is no nicer place on earth than Eugene when the sun shines in September!

I parked and walked around on 13th, popped into the bookstore (of course!) and got a bagel sandwich that I sat and ate on the Autzen footbridge, just soaking in the sights and sounds of the river and the passers-by.

Go Ducks!

From Eugene, I back-roaded it up to Corvallis to spend some time with Mark before continuing north to Kaiser where I stopped in to see my friend Tiffany (whom I had recently met up with in Charlotte, NC, of all places!) That was my final pre-Portland stop on the West Coast Road Trip. Once back in town, I was lucky enough to reconnect with some of my special lifelong friends. So much “life” has happened since we were all together the last time (a new career, a wedding, a sweet baby boy, a new state of residence) but by some stroke of fate, we were all in the same room again. And (it may sound cliché, but there’s no other way to put it) it felt like we had been apart for no longer than a weekend. So much laughter and fun times recalled – which only served to incite NEW laughter in this fun time. I am so glad that we were able to share that evening together.

October…

There was definitely a transition-period for me coming back to my real life after such an amazing vacation. But then I got an invite from my writing instructor (from my freelance writing class last summer) for a Writers’ Workshop. So I was back in the swing-of-things, Atlanta-wise.

Jocelyn was in town for her birthday, and there was quite the celebration that ensued. So much celebrating on her part, in fact, that I am completely absolved from all back-lash of the now infamous Ruining of Jocelyn’s Birthday in Paris, circa 2006. Let’s just say that while she had Friday off from work, I (the uber-patient and ever-conscientious designated driver for the evening’s events) did NOT. So the 2:45 a.m. return to my house was all-too-quickly followed by my 6:30 a.m. wake-up call. Best. Friend. Ever.

November…

This month brought another self-improvement opportunity: guitar lessons! Well, I took a beginning guitar class with 9 other people, so I suppose “lessons” is a bit of a stretch. I’m not very good, but I think I want to give it another try. Probably in a remedial beginning guitar class.

My friend Laura was inducted into Western Carolina’s Athletic Hall of Fame this year! She’s pretty much all-everything as far as Lady Catamount basketball goes. I was the rope-holder on Lily-patrol so that her family could bask in the glory and honor of the occasion. Lily and I wandered around the facilities, watching the Pride of the Smokies (WCU’s marching band) practice, the football team’s indoor warmups, and a basketball shoot-around, and still made it back for Dad’s introduction and Laura’s acceptance speeches. Way to go, Aunt K!

I’m really starting to believe that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – behind my Birthday/New Years, naturally! I had to work T-giving day and the day after, as did several of my friends. After work, we went over to Sunni and Brian’s for “Friends Thanksgiving II.” The first edition being 2 years ago, on the day after then closed on their new house. This year was a far cry from that “first” Thanksgiving when we sat on plastic chairs around a “beer pong” table in an otherwise completely empty house! Their home is absolutely lovely, and this was the first time Sunni got to set out her wedding china! I couldn’t be more grateful for the “family” I’ve found here in Atlanta.

December…

The last month of the year opened with a first for me… Jury Duty! I imagine there aren’t too many people who would put an elated exclamation point at the end of that sentence, but I am definitely one of them! It was a very interesting day. Definitely didn’t do much to make “lawyer” look like a trustworthy and noble career path. I just don’t like the idea of your whole purpose being to trick and undermine people and to make them look foolish or wrong. It left a very sour taste in my mouth and I just don’t like it.

My holiday season progressed rapidly after seeing one of my dear friends take the stage in The Santaland Diaries! Stuart was a brilliant Crumpet, and I’m already looking very much forward to seeing him in his next role, the lead in the musical “Parade” next month.

It sort of feels like I spent most of December in North Carolina! I drove up surreptitiously for my friend Allison’s surprise 30th Birthday dinner party, and made my way to Charlotte on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas with Jocelyn and Hans and the Marshall family. I even had my very own stocking!

It was the first time that I hadn’t woken up at Mom and Dad’s house on Christmas morning. The whole weekend felt just a little bit… off. Sort of like Christmas wasn’t even happening. I mean, there were 6 stockings up on the mantle, just like at home… there were wonderful, thoughtful gifts, just like we do… delicious food and a beautiful tree… everything that said “family Christmas”… except for MY family. Now, don’t get me wrong – I had a great time and a marvelous Christmas. I couldn’t have asked for a better substitute. But I did so miss Zarosinski-Grbavac Christmas this year.

And with that, I put to rest 2009. This new month/year/decade has reinspired me to do the things I enjoy (writing, traveling), restart things I don’t yet enjoy (working out, limiting coffee intake), and learning new things that I hope to enjoy (sewing, guitar).

2010 has been good to me so far! Mom, Dad, Jill and Mark all came to Atlanta for my 20-10th Birthday Party! Everyone stayed at my house (which, if you haven’t seen it, is quite quaint and cozy!) and we had just such a wonderful time together! We took a field trip to Stone Mountain and the siblings went to an Avett Brothers concert, courtesy of Jill. Scott’s Christmas box arrived on New Years Eve! We got to Skype with Scott on my birthday, and (thanks to the wonders of modern technology) took a fairly impressive Family Photo.

2010 looks to be a great year. After all (thanks, Jocelyn!), it’s The Year of Kristen!