Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I’ve found the only non-plastic-wrapped couch cushion & am sitting in a sea of boxes.

THE PACKERS CAME YESTERDAY…and the movers come to finish the job today.

The sky is threatening rain—which is totally ironic but no surprise as all, as we danced in the thunderstorms (more like monsoon’s actually) last year when we packed up the PODS after waving goodbye to Jon for a year.

A whole year. Was it really that long? It felt long. And short. And medium. All at the same time.

And today? This summer feels the same way. I want to know who stole July—because surely it can’t be the end of the month yet. I’m not ready; not ready to move or start over (again) or umm…care for people. I don’t feel ready, like, at all.

I didn’t feel ready for the single-man-packing-show to arrive on our doorstep yesterday & stay for 10 hours, boxing up our memories of this state, this place, this life into cardboard containers labeled “this end up” & “handle with care”. Yes, PLEASE!, handle with care I wanted to scream…THIS IS OUR LIFE!

But we are both making every effort to remember that we’ve got a new life waiting for us. It is scary & exciting & horrifying & thrilling & long-time-coming & stressful & well, new.

So here’s to newness. And moving. And “handle with care”. Here’s to bike rides & river rafting & actually skiing in the winter; to crisp autumn mornings & cool summer nights. Here’s to long hours working & short days together & date nights & mountain hikes & hopeful trips to the lake. Here’s to close-by family & oh-so-amazing-friends & new church’s & Jesus meeting us there. Here’s to scraping paint & stripping wallpaper & Jlyn learning how to paint once-and-for-all; to gardening & harvesting & canning & preserving in the “Grandma House’s” garden. Here’s to unpacking memories & to ripping the tape off fresh ones like a bandaid.

And most of all, here’s to growing up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

stories of summer: the summer of "we"

I once thought braces were sexy. Not in the tousled hair, pouty lips kind of way, just…awesome, I guess. I was in the seventh grade. And aside from my then-unappreciated perfect vision, aligned teeth, & face-of-zits, I totally wanted braces. And glasses, too, but that is another story.

Everybody had them, those glowing metal railroad tracks that made their mouths beautiful. And I kind of thought it was magic—the foodstuffs once tucked between the rims & saliva that hung from the rubberbands was turned into a gleaming white smile when they finally got them taken off. And I was just left with straight teeth, sans crystal chicklets where my chompers were.

I’m sure there were other things before the braces: dolls & earrings & new snap bracelets from Claire’s in 1992 & sticky hands from the pizza parlor $0.25-prize machine. But the absurdity of me actually wanting them at age 13 is something laughable now as the first real, tangible thing that I’d considered saving my own pennies for. Dentists visits were never painful, only sourly disappointing when I heard the “welp, see you next time” & got a doggie bag of new flossers & a neon toothbrush without mention of referral to an orthodontist. I don’t remember laying awake at night or pining for the savory snacks stuck in those sweet colorful rims…but I do remember that them, the braces, the railroad tracks, the bleached chicklet teeth that came after, those were a big freaking deal.

And now, another 13 years later, I’m thanking my lucky stars that I have straight teeth (& no cavities thankyouverymuch). Which makes me wonder what I’ll look back on in another 13 years and laugh at the absurdity of my jealous tendencies toward something so…ridiculous.

I’m kind of like, growing up. Last week when I stepped on the scale, I realized (to my dismay) that the age of muscle-for-fat-exchange has come upon me. Those extra pounds don’t shed as easily. My ganglion cyst in my wrist joint has arthritic properties that make me feel like I’m 65 years old with arthritis-something-fierce. In case you were wondering, I still gets zits. And life? WOWZA. Nobody told us it would be this…this… challenging.

In many ways, with each passing birthday I feel like I return to that 13 year old straight-teeth-zitty-faced girl who looks at all the others with their shiny rims & newly-chicklet-ized teeth and wishes, if only it was me or mine or part of my life.

As a result, we are trying to be more intentional about our lives. I feel like I’ve gotten so caught up in wanting, in paying attention to things outside myself, that I’ve lost touch with who I really am. Kind of like stuffing yourself so full of corndogs & elephant ears at the state fair in August that you lose touch of what hunger feels like until October.

I was so proud of Jon when he agreed to get rid of cable. The TV sits silent in the evenings now & our dinner conversation is filled with well, conversation. I’ve committed to no more clothes-buying, which is difficult for me—although admittedly laughable that a twenty-something loves clothes this much. We’ve stopped buying pop & treats & sweets at the grocery store because we want them to be special again. Our dates, instead of dinners out, now consist of coffee & dessert outings—something our pant size & perfectly-full stomachs have thanked us for. And, though the process is long, we are both working on reducing our wants, paring down our yearnings, & focusing on what God wants us to have through what He’s given us right now.

The best part is that we’re on the same page, finally. In it together.

And so a couple of weeks ago when he came home from work and told me he had a surprise for me, I knew I’d like it.

07.03.10 DQ surprise date night 1

The red car pulled into the parking lot with the red sign. We both got dipped cones, his chocolate & mine butterscotch. And we walked around the parking lot holding hands & eating our ice cream cones before they melted in the North Carolina heat.

07.03.10 DQ surprise date night 2

Nothing fancy.

$3.78 later, I still had straight teeth. "You know, I really like this," I said to him.

"Good," he said, "we'll have dates like this again."

And with that, we both crunched on our cones, carefree of stored food specks during akward seventh-grade-dates.

It was perfect.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I had trouble at my graduation. Showing excitement is not my area of expertise in the first place, and stacked on top of my God-given personality traits (Lord help me, sometimes) were the sometimes complicated-overly-excited-family that had come to shower me with well-wishes and well, love. But the truth of it is that yeah, big deal, medical school is over. Residency is starting. But all the “aren’t you so excited to move on”’s, truth-be-told, got a little annoying after awhile. Because yes I’m excited to move on; on into the HOLY CRAP I forgot everything, into the “don’t kill anyone at work today,” onward to the 80-hour-work-weeks & the life-is-not-my-own. And in a way, I felt, I’d be moving backwards. All assumptions I was making, you see, but still backwards. Back to the ‘do I study or shave my legs for the first time in two-weeks’ attitude that ohmygosh my to-do list will never end.

And so, I had trouble at my graduation. And the ohmygosh’s have just gotten worse. But despite the occasional (or not-so-occasional) freak-out’s, I’ve had time to do something I haven’t had the privledge of in, well….ever. I’ve had time to think.

The pace is slow here, for the time-being at least. When I roll over in bed at 7:30 & realize that it’s been two hours since Jon got up & left for work, I usually don’t see any reason in greeting the day with gusto. And so I lay there. Letting my back sink into the memory foam & letting the fan blow around my bed-head a bit longer. And its there that I think. And sometimes, on days I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I think about those eighty-hour-work-weeks and choosing to shave my legs and kissing homemade pedicures goodbye for the next three years. Most of the time I get carried away with the ohmygosh thoughts; women have babies & raise children & start cooking blogs during residency for gosh sakes. But then I remind myself that I’m not them, that I had trouble at my graduation, & that I always have to prepare myself for the worst as some weird coping mechanism I probably picked up at 32 months-old when I started Montessori.

feb. weekends: unmade bed

I lay there for longer than I’d care to admit usually. Dreading my workout (thankyouverymuch p90x), wanting to workout, wanting a PopTart, hating PopTart’s, eventually turning eight again like it is 1992 & daydreaming about growing up. Wrapping my thoughts around things like eating chocolate for every meal (that ohmygosh has to do with my pant size) and little people that will hopefully someday inhabit our house (Mom, I said someday, not tomorrow) and work.

Yes, I said work. But they aren’t the “Jlyn saves the day!” daydreams. More like “JLYN YOUR PATIENT IS CODING, DO SOMETHING TO SAVE HIM!” daydreams. Or should I call them “daymares”—nightmares except in daylight? And in the midst of these thoughts, somewhere between the trouble-at-graduation and the daymares, I decide unofficially who I want be. Like, the toenails-always-painted girl who doesn’t use the name “doctor” because it feels too official & who keeps a clean desk, despite the crazy wordload, & eats oatmeal everyday for breakfast because, you know colon health. Or like the go-with-the-flow’er who downs coffee like its water & who has bundles of energy & rides her bike everyday to work & grows a garden just for fun girl. Or like something else entirely.

OPP office 2

But this thinking time, it’s good for me. Some things are matter-of-facts, no compromises, nothing-gets-in-my-way for-sure’s; things like oh being nice, showing Jesus, giving grace. You know, the normal stuff. But then there’s those other things—the things that come out when you leave the patients room or they call their best friend Sally & tell her about their ‘rather young to be a doctor’ Doctor. And it’s those other things that I’ve decided my back-in-memory-foam-fan-blowing-hair thinking time is about the other things.

And since I’ve mostly devoured the literary candy of Kelly Corrigan since I picked up her book last weekend, this morning during my thinking time I thought of her.

"...Coming down the hall in a silk Banana Republic scarf that I thought made me look professional, I could hear the booming voices of my aunts & uncles & cousins & I was glowing with tribal pride. I was a Corrigan. When I turned the corner, Greenie said my name so loudly that the whole room started laughing & clapping & tearing up while Greenie & I hugged & rocked back & forth & laughed into each other & my dad called out my name again & again:

"'Love-E! Love-E!'

"Until I became a mother, it was the most irreplaceable I'd ever felt. I had "made the night". But then I watched him greet Rocky Shepard & Chris Burch & Betty Moran &

I realized that making people feel irreplaceable was his gift."

--Kelly Corrigan, The Middle Place, p. 145 (emphasis mine)

Now, I don’t own a silk Banana Republic scarf. And I am certainly not a Corrigan. But my morning times, those daymares and those ohmygosh’s have all come together in the perfect pinnacle of thoughts. I’ve decided, once and for all, who I want to be when I grow up.

And I feel like the trouble at graduation is now justified. Because it wasn’t about graduation at all, really. It was about celebration. Celebration of a milestone, an accomplishment. And mine happened to include a velvet unitard & mushroom hat. But not everyone’s does.

For some, like my pretend future patient in room #502 with a bowel obstruction, it will still be about celebration, accomplishment, passing a milestone. And the future momma in Room 8 on the obstetrics floor will need celebrating for her work in bringing new life into the world. And the kid with the respiratory infection and the grandma with the broken hip and the brief-case-carrying business guy with newly diagnosed prostate cancer; they’ll all have their own accomplishments, pass their own milestones, run their own races & win their own medals (metaphorically speaking for some broken hips, of course).

randoms 051

And I’ve decided. And I want to be there, present & in the mood for dancin’. I want to be that crazy Patch Adams-like-doctor who throws the chart into the air & dances with Mr.-Room #502 about his successful bowel movement, who hugs that momma with all I have in me because a new life breathing this Earth’s air & the physiological miracle of it all is too overwhelming. I want to be the ‘professional one’ who rips off those stupid yellow contact precaution gowns when the respiratory infected kid no longer needs isolation & who dances when the grandma with the broken hip takes her first step with her new Cadillac walker .

randoms 029

Because gosh dang it, somewhere along the line I got two new letters after my name. And with those letters come a lot of ohmygosh responsibility. But at some point this whole gig needs to stop being about medicine & start being about people. And celebrations. And yelling “Love-E! Love-E!” at the top of my lungs, just like George Corrigan.

And on top of all that, I’ve decided something else: I want that gift, too. I want to make people feel irreplaceable.

Simple as that.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


jon deployed 1

Last year, he was gone; across the sea & around the world. And this year, he came home. Just over a month ago, he walked off that airplane & back onto American soil. Which means many things, like Jason’s Deli & Downy fabric softener & the occasional Snickers bar & kisses from his wife. But really, it means one thing in particular: freedom.

He hasn’t talked a lot about life over there. Sure, the meals & the sightings & the sirens & the packages have come out in conversation. And I haven’t asked many questions. I know the stories will come out someday. He’ll see a watermelon & remember this one time, because, did you know?, apparently there is a lot of watermelon over there. But in the meantime, as we are adjusting to life together once again & basking in the bliss that comes after such a long separation, we haven’t forgotten. The friends. The fathers. The mothers & sons & daughters & children that are still over there. Still fighting. Still waiting for their this one time story to be told. Because for them that will mean American soil & freedom, too.

And this July 4th, as we tip our hats to Uncle Sam in the community parade; as we set up the slip-n-slide for the energetic little ones & feast on red velvet cake & freshly grilled hamburgers, as we eat our own watermelons, I’d like to remember them.

The ones that are still over there. The soldiers. The friends & fathers; mothers & sons & daughters & children that have left a spot empty at the picnic table, an extra shirt at the family reunion, and a rolled up sleeping bag at the yearly summer campout. The ones still risking, still sleepless, & still homesick.

jon deployed 4

And in the two souls that exist in this tiny little apartment, amidst the celebrating & ‘thank you’s’ & “WELCOME HOME!” signs, we haven’t ignored the presence of the chance that he wasn’t going to come home at all. I carried around a power of attorney, a contact list, & his burial wishes in my purse for an entire year, tucked lovingly right behind my monthly gift receipts.

And so I’d like to remember them, too. The ones who won’t ever come home. The ones who died yesterday, last month, last year, last century. The ones who fought brothers & crossed state lines; who sailed oceans & scaled beaches. Those ones. The friends. The fathers. The sons & daughters.

The ones who, instead of leaving an empty stop at the picnic table, left an empty hole in the family tree.

I forget about those ones.

And you know who else I forget about?

The people. The people in that place called ‘over there.’ The ones who grow the watermelon. The ones who are part of the this one time stories, who will never have faces or identities to me or you aside from the sporadic sightings on the nightly news, but who are very much ALIVE. Those are the others I forget about.

jon deployed 2

They don’t have community parades or slip-n-slides or Independence Day barbecue’s. They don’t know what it’s like, this freedom gig.

And so, this July Fourth, instead of just celebrating OUR Independence Day, we’ll be doing something a bit unconventional: we’ll be praying for theirs. That’s why they are fighting, after all. That’s why our fathers & friends & children leave, pack their bags, wipe their tears & trudge onward. That’s why we hold prayer vigils & light candles & wear yellow ribbons & post “Support Our Troops” on the billboards & posters & bumper stickers. It’s why Aunt June’s quilting ladies get together to organize toothpaste drives & Uncle Harold’s church sends boxes of used playing cards from 1965. It’s why first grade classes write letters asking if they’ve seen Santa and if their guns are real or if they just shoot marshmallows. And it’s why we, the ones they leave behind, stand & wave goodbye with tears & smiles & miles of prayer. They, the watermelon-growing-sporadic-appearing LIVES are why.

And that’s why,

over there is why,

watermelon is why,

WE are why some of them never come home.

jon deployed 6


Saturday, July 03, 2010


July is not the time to be outside in these parts. Humidity is not my friend, although it does wonders for my skin & gives my sweat glands quite a work out. I stand my ground that I still don’t particularly like it. And so I said “yes” when he came home & asked if I wanted to take a trip to our favorite bookstore last night. To sit among the magazines or plop myself in the midst of that new-glue smell sounded perfectly delightful. Plus, it is air conditioned. And to make it even more enticing, he promised coffee would be involved.


He settled fairly quickly beside a stack of magazines with white Apple headphones & Dave Ramsey in his ears. Me? I browsed. I walked among the self-help aisles, laughing at the titles & how easy they made life seem. I thumbed through the red-sticker-marked “Last Chance” tables in wonder at how many books are written each year & the overwhelming ideas contained in them. I stopped in the Children’s section & tried to remember when children’s stories were about virtue & character instead of pink shoes & new video games, back in the day.

07.01.10 bn-date 1

And finally. Finally I settled in a wooden chair not far from his holding a graphic design book & a sale-priced memoir. As the smooth sound of “Summertime” played in the background, I breathed it in. Glue-smell and all.

07.01.10 bn-date 2

I’ve been in the midst of a mental battle lately—fighting between what my selfish heart wants & where I feel God leading me. Not to mention the tough self-realizations that come with it the war. And so I wrestle, argue, talk to myself (& Jon, he listens so gracefully) in an effort to curb the self-serving attitude. Some days, usually the days when my pants are feeling tight & I spill half my breakfast & my hair won’t cooperate & I feel guilty for the Poptarts I snuck yesterday, my self-service wins. On the other days, though, I feel different.

Yesterday was a “different” day.

07.01.10 bn-date 3

He is home. It is bliss. We’re in the same household & on the same page, finally, about finances, decisions, future, weekends, toothpaste, & toilet seats. We’re communicating. The TV is gone. The lets-dress-up-in-Sunday-best-for-ice-cream has taken over & the “just because” way of thinking has rolled in for the season.

It’s a good season, really, this summertime. Just like the song, actually—sweet & smooth, the kind you tap your foot to & think of the bygone days. We’re both settling in to our “new” life at different paces, sometimes it just depends on the day. I’m working on the serving part, I think he is too. And the truth is that in many ways, this summer feels like an escape. An air-conditioned retreat from life & all the complications that seem to run along beside it. I’m totally, completely, sold.

Amazing what dates at the bookstore will do for your soul…

Friday, July 02, 2010

Thursday, July 01, 2010

the *other* Pritchard's visit....

The whirlwind continued the day I returned from out West in the form of minature Pritchard’s & their lovely parents. Our “storage” bedroom & tiny apartment prevented us from hosting them, but we still got to enjoy time with them and other fantastic friends.

We ate.


Celebrated my birthday (woohoo!...i think).

Went to the pool (Joelle was not a fan).


Took a day trip to the beach.


And fed little babies…and ourselves (again, way too much yummy food).


Our four days together flew by and soon enough, we were on an airplane to Boston….

{sorry Justin & Beth, we do have more photos that include your beautiful faces...they just aren't posted...yet}

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin