Monday, May 30, 2022


     It's been too long. MaryGrace had a birthday in May. So did Erica and Jessica but they couldn't make it on Saturday night, but Christy and Kimmie and MG and Pati did so it was a blast. I don't think I've been open yet about MG - that's what we girls do we protect each other when the shit goes down. 

    She has been a pilot at Falcon Jet her whole life. Love seeing pics of her flying at sunset but that is an extremely misogynistic company she fought it her whole career. A bunch of French guys who are young and full of brass - she mentored some of them despite their inadequacies. She saved one from a DUI a few years ago (why the hell is anyone in this day and age not capitalizing on UBER). She stood up with alarmingly cold office temps. She tolerated a co-worker telling her at a Wild River Country office event that she needs to cover up her boobs (she doesn't, they are amazing, screw him but why would anyone bring that up at a company sponsored event? In front of her co-workers. Such BS).

    MG doesn't tolerate bullshit and she is smart as hell - She just turned 41 this year and she has a 19 year old Dom who is at ASU and a middle school aged kid Annika with her amazing husband Sharif and an engineering degree? So she's kind of a rock star. She's not a typical girly girl but she can do home projects and engineer the hell out of anything. She doesn't suffer fools. So when she went AWOL on a subordinate last fall it was just bark? Anyone who knows her know she has no bite. She's an excellent co-worker and Mom. All the guys who respected the hell out of her fell on deaf ears. Many have since left the company.

    That fing wimpy white male went to HR and without interviewing her or her trusted colleagues corporate fired her out of the blue. Unceremoniously and unapologetically. It was a big gossipy ordeal. We took her out to throw hatchets to support her, and encouraged her to fight it with a lawyer. Sometimes it's easier to just back down, bc the system is clearly against you. She chose that path. The easier one. (Like Annie, like so many women I know who get fucked by the system). Jacked her knee up skiing on Spring Break. Finally got the brace off and started a new job last month. Some sort of smart as hell QC at an engineering company. 

    I'm making the same money, she told me. It's ok. But being a pilot that gets denoted to a desk job? That's got to be tough, I empathized. I don't miss all the toxic male bullshit, she said, but I do miss that thrill. Thanks for hosting this. Hell I didn't do anything. Christy had all the decorations and everyone else brought food it was easy. We need to do this more often. I miss pre-pandemic us. 

    Short week coming up. I feel like I've been off for two weeks it is super relaxing need to do this again next Spring. Cecelia face timed me yesterday she is getting into her summer groove and Jack is doing well so my world is happy. We find out this week if we get the CARTI contract pins and needles there. I was going to advertise for a job in PMG on FB but Melody has two excellent candidates - we are interviewing one at the end of June. Fingers crossed. Happy Memorial Day, much love, E.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Crazy busy

     But I'm off until after Memorial Day so that's good. Just got my ducks in a row Kimmie and her daughter Liv and I are leaving for Halsey at around 1:00 tomorrow. I paid for tix and a room at the Embassy Suites in exchange for her driving my Jeep and Kim's a good driver. She is Christy's other BFF and she is a gem I'm looking forward to getting to know her and her daughter better.

    Sedona was a bit of a wash - I was sick the whole time and we canceled all of our dinner plans. Stayed on LR time so we were up every day at 6am and in bed by seven or eight sleeping 11-12 hours a night. What a great place for R&R - we were Creekside and I had two long overdue sessions with Lisa while S hiked. I managed a little shopping and an easy Jeep tour but not much else. The Grand Canyon day on Monday was a bust for me. I was hugging the tour van window to stave off dizziness and nausea. 

    When there is an abyss, it sometimes frightens me. I feel l can't get too close or I will fling myself, and everyone else, off of the edge. And the Grand Canyon is quite the abyss. Thank goodness that razed detail shop on Cantrell is finally building a retaining wall every time I drove by it on the way home I felt like my car would uncontrollably head off into the woods. Making me panicky. I remember going to the rooftop at the Crescent years ago imagining myself the young unwed mother (it used to be a home for those) who jumped to her death. I thought it was just me, but I read this is a common fear (Halsey spoke of it in a Rolling Stones interview). 

    On the way back from Sedona we were worried about getting to Flagstaff from Denver bc last Friday it dropped from 90 to 30 and lots of snow was expected. Denver was spared, but we saw snow from the plane right outside of the metropolis. We congratulated ourselves when our plane, which was an hour late, made it in time to board the one to Little Rock and when we watched our bags get loaded from the window we were ecstatic. 

    Didn't check the weather in LR, though, and when we reached it we made a sharp turn. We were diverted to Tulsa bc of the thunderstorms. They held us hostage for 2.5 hours in the vacant apocalyptic airport with only two vending machines for sustenance promising that we would be able to fly back as soon as the weather passed. When they put snacks out at 11 pm and I saw the pilots heading out I got worried.

    At 11:30 we were promised that we would have a flight out at 9am the next day. Yes (food and wine), I said, and asked the solo gate attendant if we could get our bags so we could go to the hotel we just booked, a Hilton Garden Inn, near the airport. She told us to hold on 15 minutes. Well that was 400 dollars down the drain bc she said bc of the PGA tour they couldn't find a block of rooms so they rented two charter buses to take us to Little Rock starting at midnight. Four hours on the road. I'm never flying United again. We paid enough money to go to freaking Paris and I end up on a charter bus at midnight. Wish I had Christy's money I'd fly private for the rest of my life.

    I was having stomach cramps and had totally lost my Pollyanna mentality - told S across the aisle of the uncomfortable crowded bus that he had better get some sleep bc I wasn't going to be able to. After a quick stop at a Love's in small town AR (who knew that Love's were so busy at that time) I had confided to S that I almost puked twice so he alerted me to the trash can by the driver. A half an hour later I asked him to get it for me and hurled cough drop juice for a few minutes all the while thinking I was in a new terrible state of Hell. 

    Luckily I was feeling better on Sunday - we went to Rennie's silks recital at 2:30 (she was charming) and then had a blended family send off for C - she is spending the summer in San Sebastian Spain on her scholarship dime and then visiting her friend Caroline in Denmark. So much braver than I was at her age. She's a little homesick but she made it there safe - texted us a 4:30 am. Her host family is lovely. I was on pins and needles Monday until she got to New York to meet her sponsor and the other kids that will get immersive Spanish lessons. 

    Med exec committee lasted until almost 7 last night and I had to present two cases at ENT tumor board at 7am. Stern and Sims were in rare form cracking us all up and I made everyone laugh joking about margins on a rhinectomy that Sims chased to no avail. I would have had to take an eye to get around that tumor, he quipped back. My pics, which I was too tired to edit last night so they had that weird planet orb I apologized for, were a big hit. The IT guy even said I should never edit again they were so crisp and amazing. Theo, the radiologist, was a sweetheart to run my jump's show and when I showed the p16 stain I thought Stern was going to have a coronary he was so excited.

    Met a new minority estem student today - Anabellen. She's from Jonesboro. She had some holes in her reasoning based on lack of experience but was clearly on top of her shit - she had things all worked out as a senior in college that I didn't realize until I was a senior in med school. Striving for a work life balance - and I assured her that pathology was the ticket for that. Already realizes that academics can be ego boosting but is a sinkhole for being overworked and underpaid. Quinshell is clearly sending me girls at the top of their game. If they weren't - I'd have to make excuses to end this. Excited to meet Lawren soon.

    The strangest thing happened today. I left work, remembering where I parked my car after tumor board, and got into my Jeep. It wouldn't start - kept asking me to use the key fob, which I dutifully searched for at the bottom of my purse. Still nothing, but I heard another car beeping and starting a couple of spaces down.

    Holy shit, I was in the wrong new Jeep someone had left the doors open. I was so mortified I rushed into my own. When I was halfway home near Mississippi and Cantrell I realized I didn't have my phone. Good god I left it on the seat in the other random Jeep in the Dr. lot. I rushed down Mississippi at 65 MPH and luckily got to the Dr. lot to find their Jeep still there unlocked and my phone in the driver's seat. What a scary adrenaline rush. Hoping to sleep in tomorrow - the show doesn't start until 7 and I need to make it past the opening acts. Happy Friday to me! Much love, Elizabeth


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Baby Shower

     I noticed last week one of the lab techs in micro was very pregnant. It's hard to tell - they all wear lab coats. And I've mentioned the Philippines - we have converted to practically 80% during the pandemic. It's been hard to get to know them all with masks on - I hear names like Rebecca and Grace and Della and Ana but I really don't know who is who. I know the old crew - Bradley and Frankie and Olivia and Marla and Tommie but I'm bad with names, especially without faces. After huddle yesterday I asked Amy if there was going to be a shower.

    For Ashley? No that's her second. But we will have a shower for Ana. It's tomorrow at 11:00 in conference room 1. Oh! I said, I'm not sure who that one is and I didn't know she was pregnant but I'd like to come. I excitedly ran to the gift shop and bought a cute light up picture for the nursery and a book. I read the book at the end of the day and it moved me to tears. I had no idea the zoos pair orphan baby cheetahs with Rhodesian Ridgebacks and the story of Raina and I can't remember the cheetahs name but it started with an R and it meant spirit in some African language and they were quite famous in their day (maybe still so? Not sure when it all took place).

    I showed up at 11:00 and no one was there - there was one lone lab tech setting up. Grace, she said, and I told her I'm sorry I don't know your name and we got to know each other. I offered to help and as I was opening plates and utensils we bonded a bit. I asked her where she was from and she laughed - I'm from the Philippines we all are - I said I knew that but in my head I didn't want to assume? Seemed a bit out of touch. She said this was her first baby shower and I told her it was my first since Savanna - a lab tech who left a couple of years ago. I'm almost 50, I said. Baby showers are in the rear view mirror and I'm hoping it's a few years before my kids have one. I love this.

    She asked about what people do at baby showers. Oh, it's not that hard. We eat and open presents and ooohh and ahhh. Girl talk. Sometimes there are games. Probably new ones I have no idea about today, but back in my day the popular one was guess how many toilet paper squares it will take to surround the mom to be's stomach and if you are the closest you win a prize. I wanted none of that I begged out. I don't even like people touching me when I am not preggo, much less than when I feel like a parade float.

    Amy came back and it was clear I was super early so I begged out to handle some cases (they had shifted the start time to 11:30) and promised I would be back soon. When I was back there was quite a spread. All homemade by the techs from the Philippines. Spring rolls with pork - they melted in my mouth. A chicken dish with brown sauce and abundant sticky rice. Korean buns with garlic and cream cheese - the presentation was amazing. A homemade Tres Leche Cake ( my fave along with strawberry) pre-cut with strawberry and kiwi garnish (Gluten be damned I had a slice). Shrimp lo mein. I announced after 25 minutes of silence while everyone was eating - well, y'all may have never been to a baby shower before (It's not a thing in the Philippines, I gathered) but your debut puts American ones to shame. 

    Ana was so sweet opening presents and Ashley got some too I promised I would shop for her soon. Both having girls. We all shared pregnancy stories and nursing stories and despite the fact we were sad that Bradley and Shenario (I've never seen the spelling so I may have murdered it but he's a fun gregarious new tech from Jamaica with an amazing accent) didn't come I said at the end it was fortuitous because we would have turned them both pink with our candid girl talk. 

    C and Jack are here under the same roof and I am sooo happy. Unpacking tonight was a party blast. I'm a little worried I can't spend the week with her organizing her two month trip to San Sebastian (would not have planned this trip if I was aware) but I can be available for advice and her dad and stepmom are here to guide that transition. And I'll be back Sunday 22 for Rennie's silks recital before C has to leave on the 23. Happy Friday Eve, much love, Elizabeth

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Minority STEM

     I'm not sure how much I have talked about this yet, but certainly not in depth. Jan, one of my transcriptionists, got a call a few weeks ago from the MSTEM coordinator Quinshell from UALR - she was looking for someone to mentor her UALR students and show them my world. I jumped at the chance. I love to do that, and I don't get enough takers. Bring it on.

    She originally said she had only one or two but quickly scheduled five into my parameters. She was very respectful - she rescheduled some when I told her one a week was enough. I had my first shadow a couple of weeks ago - Khariana - and she blew me away. She had a frustrating start at college - went to Fville and was gaslighted. Her story, not mine to tell, but it really reinforced my belief in patriarchal institutions. Her Dad smartly was angered and relented to give them any more money so she ended up at UALR.

    A formidable institution. They trained me in medicine after I changed career course and they trained my partner Melody and her sister Rhonda. Khariana was like a spitfire - she soaked up everything I showed her and had smart questions I could never fathom. She found a mentor at UALR and wants to be an epidemiologist. Way above an MD intelligence grade. I tailored my tour to emphasize cancer genetics and Covid based on her interests and after lunch I had Pat, an MT, tour her around the Covid room. The parallels she was drawing from the conversation made my head spin. 

    Today I had my second shadow Mikaya. I'm a tall girl, but this oldest sibling of four dwarfed me. We high fived at Boulevard waiting for her sandwich when we realized we were both oldest siblings of four. She's from Marion, and her parents are both factory managers, so I said you are a trailblazer then. Told her about my partner Michelle. Mikaya wants to be a forensic pathologist, so I crafted a different tour. Spent a lot of time telling her about my rotation in residency and how things have changed. Offered her a window, or a passage if necessary, to further her education with my contacts.

    She wanted to be a veterinarian until she watched a Netflix show about autopsy findings in obese patients. It drew her. I told her I always liked forensics, but my rotation had so many kid deaths I feared I couldn't draw boundaries. And government work is hard, and not rewarded. But I told her about Judy Melenik (God I have to write that article someday) and how she felt so unprotected at her California hub at the beginning of Covid (the guards who brought the bodies were no maskers). When her partner contracted Covid and didn't make it it was the final straw.

    She moved to New Zealand, and is very happy. They are super protective of VISAs to their country - my architect husband tried unsuccessfully to do an internship there. But they will let doctors in. Judy is now doing less than half the work for equal pay and is collaborating with her husband writing forensic novels. And New Zealand countryside - how can you beat that. I haven't read her new stuff, but I'd like to. I'll read her, Mikaya said, as she meticulously took notes. She is on a premed route at UALR about to finish her junior year. Stellar GPA. She aspires to leave the country. Who wouldn't in this crazy climate.

    Mikaya was so warm and funny and asked lots of questions. When I let her touch a human brain in the gross room I thought she might faint she was so excited. After she left, Tina said I heard you talking after you got her lunch. My favorite Boulevard sandwich - smoked turkey not on baguette (way too messy) but toasted on multigrain. I'm still stuck on fruit and peanut butter but she said it was one of the best sandwiches she ever had. She was so excited, Tina said. That's why I do this. Their excitement fuels me. I do it a little selfishly. When she sat in my office she looked around and sighed. I can't wait to get here. This is what I've dreamed of all my life.

    She managed to get a contact through emails last summer at the Crime Lab but circumstances prevented her from seeing an autopsy. I told her to try again and if she hit a dead end I would be happy to help with my contacts. Can't wait to meet the next girl. In the meantime, Cecelia is coming home tomorrow to have dinner with me before we leave for Sedona on Saturday and she leaves for Spain the following week. 

    I'm so excited about Sedona. Through the concierge at Amara I booked last week a Grand Canyon tour and a stargazing tour and a Jeep tour and a vortex tour - I am super excited to learn about the latter Lisa's stepmom wrote a book about the vortexes in the 60's if I remember correctly. Lots of good dinners too. Makes the backbreaking pace at work lately more doable to have something to look forward to. Happy almost Thursday, much love, Elizabeth

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Shining Girls

     What a whirlwind of a week. Hattiesburg was fun and busy. I used to approach these inspections like a schoolgirl - studying my packet of questions the night before and meticulously accounting for every item on the checklist. Making sure I was up to date on my every two year mandatory six hour inspection training course - of which I am currently sorely delinquent (what are they going to do? Said Mary when I worried and I laughed. Yeah. They need us more than we need them. Screw the online training which is just a BS hoop anyway I'm a pro by now).

    I know the ropes and I consider myself not only a lab advocate but also an emissary for the hospital I'm inspecting. The chief of their group was a woman about my age. She was very buttoned down - kind of reminded me of Linda Hamilton in The Terminator. I could tell she was on the defense so I tried hard to put her at ease. She shared with me that her senior partner was retiring and I learned from the CMO that her other partner was on his pancreatic cancer deathbed. She went from being 17 years junior to chief during the pandemic. Big shift. 

    I saw the Dr. Lounge, I told her, on the way to our inspection hub. It looks like Baptist did twelve years ago. We are more of a melting pot now, but back then it was mostly white men. You are still all white men. She replied with grit. I go down there every day. It's hard, but I insert myself into the conversation. They all know me. I told her that I used to follow the team leader checklist but I'm doing AP in addition to team leader today and it's honestly exhausting and I don't need to see a notebook about her qualifications and degrees because this hospital would never have hired her if she wasn't and M.D. and isn't this all a bit ludicrous.

    What can I do to advocate for you to admin. I can ding you very democratically and supportively. Let me know. Everyone ignores the lab, and we are very under appreciated and overworked, I know that from my own hospital system. She sighed. We are 11 med techs short. They give them incentive pay but it's not enough. They are working too much and they don't really want the money they want support. I know, I told her, we had a big turnover in the lab at the beginning of the pandemic. I told her and the supervisor about our lifeline from the Philippines they are going to look into it.

    The dinners were amazing we spent both nights at Crescent City and despite the weak as hell drinks the food was incredible. Fried green tomatoes, eggplant fries, shrimp and grits, etc. Mary Hemen - she is our lab compliance officer who keeps all of our many locations around the state on the level - was a little worried at one point bc the weakly alcoholic drinks were flowing frequently at our end of the table. Everyone had resorted to ordering doubles to catch a buzz (all on CAP's dime:). Kayla, she is the youngest and super cute, was headed to the bathroom and Mary made her walk a line to see if she was sober.

    Mary is not a police officer, she's a Mother hen. I saw she was worried and reassured her that we were all frustratedly sober. She was the driver in my car, I say it was the cool car, but we went back to the hotel after dinner and Marti and Hope and Kayla and another I'm blanking on went on to karaoke at a college bar called Shenanigan's - not my bag at this point but I enjoyed living vicariously at breakfast in the lobby hearing stories of them singing with the college kids.

    Oh! Amy, who is the head of micro, was in my car. On the way back she was telling stories about every Wednesday loading Covid pos specimens into a cooler (or many) and meeting a courier to take them to UAMS or ACH for sequencing. Paula asked her last week if she wanted to renew the contract it's up in May. Hell no, she said, we used to have thousands but we are down to ten or fifteen a week. And once? I was looking at a car and the traffic car arm fell on my head.

    She shared her story. Her engineer husband Ron came to pick her up and tried unsuccessfully to convince her to go to the ED. He found a gaping bloody skin split hole when they got home and rigged a system to use her hair to pull the skin together (it needs stitches, he said, she said I don't care fix it) and cinched it with a hair clip. I melted with emotion. We are sisters, I said. Traffic car arm sisters. I told her my stories. They really need to address the hazard someday someone will be killed.

    Ack there's more to say but I'll save if for another day it is Mother's Day weekend and I'm home and not traveling and no plans. Tina's husband Reggie planned a big cookout at her house without telling her and I laughed and laughed - did he at least make it a potluck? No. He said he will grill all the meat. Yeah, but that's the least of the work there are sides and drinks and clean up. He owes you a big one. Happy Saturday, much love, E

Oh the title! Watch that I read it a decade ago and read all her stuff way back then it's amazing. Time traveling serial killer. They got Elizabeth Moss! The journalist is hunky as hell. And Back to Life is really good too. Fun post-conviction assimilating into society drama comedy. After a month of pool pump angst with many companies ghosting us S took matters into his own hands and replaced the pump yesterday so we are planning a lazy weekend (sorry Tina!). E