Thank you for all of the love and support on my last post. The outpouring of love from around the world has been incredible and has made our city stronger. Please continue to find ways to speak out in love wherever, however, whenever you can. We will keeping moving forward and change WILL come, no matter how hard we have to work for it. ❤
Below are more photos I have taken in Charlottesville over the last week.
For every visual reminder of what happened, there are tenfold conversations happening. As I took some of these photos on the mall today (Friday), nearly every conversation I heard was about love, reconciliation, politics, how to move forward, reflection on what happened, where to go next, etc. There were countless religious organizations on the mall handing out water, postcards, and sharing their messages as well. Needless to say, this is still very much on the forefront of everyone’s minds.
What happened this weekend in Charlottesville is incomprehensible, but it is real. I am still in shock from everything that happened, but this blog post is one way I am trying to process and share what our city experienced over the last 72 hours.
When we first found out we were moving here, some of my friends had never even heard of it. Now the whole world knows about this town and for horrible reasons. We have lived here for 2.5 months, and in that short time, I can tell you I see acts of love and racial reconciliation every day. However, there is a deep divide throughout the country right now and a particularly deep-seated history here. As we work to confront this issue as a city, Charlottesville has become the battleground from which to wage this war.
The acts of love I’ve witnessed aren’t nearly as newsworthy or blatant as acts of hate and white supremacy. The wrong side clearly had a presence here over the weekend, but there is a persisting presence of reconciliation. There is SO MUCH work to be done and our country has SO FAR to go, but please stand on the frontlines with us as we figure out what that looks like moving forward. This can NOT happen again. This can NOT be our future.
It has been a sobering and devastating time. We live .5 mile from downtown and the site where a car plowed through pedestrians, and even less than that from where they later found the car. Helicopters hovered over our apartment from morning until night all weekend. To say this hit close to home is an understatement. Nathan worked Saturday and was on standby through Sunday evening. The whole hospital followed an emergency protocol to deal with the large number of casualties.
This morning (Monday), for the first time since Friday, I left the apartment on my own. I took my usual walking route and captured the below images around town. Needless to say, my normal route will never be the same. It goes through the main areas of conflict, as you’ll see below. These are unedited images and all from today, August 14. It is my hope that these photos capture the aftermath but also the love that fights just as hard in this town every day.
The sun still rises in Cville, and there is work to be done.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out – calls, texts, emails, etc. – to me and Nathan over the past few days. Please continue to keep the whole city in your thoughts and prayers. ❤
I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve re-read in my life. Up until this year, there was only one: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ll be honest…I never saw the point of re-reading a book (please don’t judge me!). With a never-ending and constantly growing TBR list, it seemed like a waste to go back to what I’d already been through once. This year, though, that changed. Let me explain why.
MY THOUGHTS ON RE-READING BOOKS
My resolution to rent more books from the library than I buy this year has had benefits beyond the obvious one I imagined when I made that goal (financial savings). It has encouraged me to…
diversify – not every book I want to read at the moment I finish a book will be available, so I’ve discovered some other great books that weren’t at the top of my list or even on it simply because they were available when I needed a new book.
slow down – in years past, my reading resolution has always been “read more books than last year.” More seemed better, but it added some pressure and took away some pleasure. This year’s resolution re-oriented my thoughts toward reading and it has been so refreshing to slow down and savor books.
and also, as of late, re-read old favorites – this ties into the above two points. Not every book I want to read is available when I want to read it, AND I’m not as concerned about plowing through new books all the time. After a lull in library books, I discovered the Harry Potter series was free through Amazon Prime, and the rest is history. I rediscovered my love of the series and found a whole new appreciation for re-reading old favorites.
I’ve re-read a few of the Harry Potter books in between library books now, and it’s been one of the best things I’ve done for myself this year. The sense of comfort and magic from when I first experienced that series has only been amplified by the nostalgia I now experience when I read them too. Having picked up our entire lives and moved to a brand new city this summer, being able to read something that feels like “home” for my imagination was so enriching for me. Not to mention, you notice so many more things in a book your second (or third, or fourth…) time through, especially when you read it during a totally different phase of life.
The Harry Potter books helped me change my stance on re-reading old books, and that’s a big reason why Misty of Chincoteague was back on my reading list this summer.
BOOK REVIEW: MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE
Misty of Chincoteague is the first book I can remember renting from my elementary school library that wasn’t a simple picture book. I was OBSESSED with horses as a kid (ask my parents, who had the genius idea to sign me up for horseback riding lessons for a year to show me how much work they actually were…also, one year for Halloween I dressed as a horse – not a cowgirl, a horse). This book has always stood out to me as one of the gateways to my love for reading. Misty was magical, and when I picked up that book, I could almost pretend I owned a horse too. The thought of wild horses living on an island seemed like heaven to my 8-year-old mind.
This book tells the story of Misty and her mom, Phantom, two of the many wild horses on Assateague Island who are rounded up in the annual pony penning to be swum over to neighboring island, Chincoteague. Paul and Maureen are two kids who live with their grandparents and work to raise money to buy the horses and then get up early every day for a year to tame them. The plot follows Paul and Maureen as they set their hearts on Phantom and Misty, gentle them, race them, and…well, I won’t give away the ending 🙂 It is a wholesome, simple, but enchanting story with a few pictures thrown in for good measure.
Reading this for the second time was a ton of fun for me, in large part because…WE’RE GOING TO CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND SOON! (Were all caps necessary? You betcha.) Chincoteague Island, which seemed like a fairy tale to me as a kid, is a real place. And it’s in Virginia, and we’re in Virginia now, and Nathan’s vacation week is coming up. Need I say more? We booked our trip there for later this month after I explained to Nathan my fascination with it from when I was a kid. We’ll stay in a hotel near the one Marguerite Henry stayed at while writing the book, and we’ll get to see the wild horses who still live on Assateague. From what I’ve been told by locals, it is a really nice getaway for a trip regardless of whether or not you’re a Misty of Chincoteague fan – less touristy than VA Beach or OBX, which are also close by and we were originally considering for our trip. You can count on some blog posts about it once we’re back! Now I just need to convince Nathan to read Misty of Chincoteague before we go 🙂
Rating: 3/5 stars Stats: 177 pages Recommended for: Children who can focus for more than a picture book but still enjoy simple stories, and adults who are still children at heart. Up next: Whatever comes up at the library next, or perhaps the third Harry Potter while I wait…
Welcome to the first post in my new series, Married to an MD! After seeing how popular the Married to a Med Student posts were, I decided it would be fun to keep it going now that Nathan is in residency. Personally, these posts are a great way to keep track of each phase of this process. It goes by so fast and all starts to blur together, so I’ll be periodically checking in as we experience more and more of residency life in hopes that these posts are enjoyable and helpful for you, too!
(And if you don’t care, come back soon for more food/books/life posts 🙂 )
Current Status/Background Info
Nathan started his INTERN YEAR mid-June after completing a couple weeks of orientation. He is an adult neurology resident and matched categorical (which means all 4 years of the neuro residency in the same place vs. other programs where the first year would be somewhere else) at UVA. The first year of an adult neuro residency is internal medicine, so he is part of a group of ~35 interns. Most of those interns are going on to complete internal medicine residencies, but a few (like Nathan) will split off after the first year to pursue specialties like neurology, dermatology, and radiology. (Specialties such as pediatrics, surgery of any kind, family med, etc. have their own programs separate from interns.) So year one: internal medicine. Years 2-4: neurology. A fellowship to further specialize in neuro would be an additional year after that.
Each rotation for Nathan’s intern year is 3 weeks followed by 1 week of neuro clinic. The work weeks are 6 days a week and the hours vary depending on what he’s doing. Clinic weeks are more routine, typically 7AM-5PM shifts with weekends off (unless you’re on contingency, which means you could get called in to the hospital at any time. But there are only a handful of those days that fall during clinic weeks).
Starting Off with CCU
Nathan’s schedule started off with a bang. His first rotation was CCU (coronary care unit or cardiac ICU). We had been warned that CCU is the worst of the worst in terms of hours, and they weren’t kidding.
Nathan was at the hospital by 6AM every day and usually left around 11PM for 6 days a week. By Tuesday of the first week (after starting on a Sunday) he had already worked 42 hours*. So…this was intense! Not to mention the work he was doing was incredibly stressful. We’re talking life/death situations the entire time he was at the hospital. It was overwhelming for both of us, but because residency was still so new, I feel like we didn’t know what “normal” was. We were able to roll with it as well as can be expected.
*Word to the wise – DO NOT calculate the hourly wage of an intern unless you want to get depressed.
There were a few days where I didn’t see or speak to Nathan (aside from a few texts he snuck in between patients). He left before I woke up and got home after I went to bed. When we noticed this happening, we made some adjustments. I’d wake up when he got home no matter what time it was and we’d sit on the couch/catch up/unwind together before going back to bed. It’s totally worth losing a little sleep if it means staying connected and supporting each other after a long day when the schedule gets crazy.
He’ll have CCU again later this year (and for a longer period of time), so here are some key takeaways to consider if you’re in a similar situation.
TAKEAWAY 1: Focus on sleep and quality food to fuel this rotation. Nathan needed to pack breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinners with him on these days, so meal planning was key (and made it feel like I could at least do SOMETHING to help his day go more smoothly). Even if we were eating dinner apart*, at least we were eating the same thing 🙂 #longdistancedinnerdate
TAKEAWAY 2: Sometimes seeing each other will mean losing a little sleep. In the future on CCU, I plan to get up when he does in the morning (around 5AM) so I can see him before work even if I just end up going back to bed afterward. Try to find whatever windows you can to be together, because they are few and far between but just as (if not more) important than ever!
*”Eating dinner” is relative for an intern on CCU. Nathan would regularly be scarfing down whatever he could get his hands on while rushing to the next patient. There was one day he wasn’t even able to go to the bathroom until 9:30PM…after being there at 6AM. Needless to say, there are no “lunch breaks” when you’re an intern.
After CCU came a blissful clinic week, and then Nate started hematology-oncology nights. His shift was 8PM-8AM and he had Tuesday nights off. This was WAY better than we expected, but perhaps our standards were low from CCU…
Nathan was able to adjust to night shifts pretty seamlessly. The weekend before he started, he stayed up most of Saturday and Sunday night and slept during the days to get ready. Throughout the rotation, there were several days he got off before 8AM and was able to see me at home before I left for work. A couple times he even walked me to work, which was fun! He would then sleep until 5PM or so and then get up and have breakfast while I had dinner. We’d spend some time together before he left for his shift around 7:30PM.
Side note – Can I just say how much nicer the commutes are here? Of course, it helps that we live close to downtown and Nathan’s hours usually aren’t during rush hour. But even during clinic weeks, he regularly gets home within 10 minutes of leaving and doesn’t have to leave super early to get to work on time. As for me (with my walking commute), I have literally filled up my gas tank ONCE since we moved here 2 months ago. #gogreen #smalltown
With a one-bedroom apartment, it can get tricky to be super quiet during the day while he sleeps (on the days that I’m not at work), but Nate has always been a deep sleeper so that’s definitely helping! Not kidding, he slept through a fire alarm in the building across from us one day. Obviously, it’s way easier because we don’t have pets or a kid. I can’t even imagine what that would be like! We also had to get creative with washing our sheets since the bed was usually occupied by one of us most of the time. Minor issues 🙂
We learned some lessons from med school to stay connected during crazy schedules. One of our go-to moves is trading little notebooks with each other and filling them with notes back and forth. So he’ll take mine with him and write a note during one of his breaks, I’ll write one for him, and then we swap to read them whenever we’re apart the next day. (This is reminding me a lot of 3rd grade now that I think about it…) It’s worked well for us and I even finished filling up his notebook during this rotation. Lots of memories in there over the last few years. Time to get a new one!
Even though we had learned a lot from med school, Nate continues to surprise me by finding new ways to make me feel loved…Those flowers were waiting for me after his night “off” when he went to Kroger (open 24/7) and got flowers around 3AM while I slept. He struck again during his last week with these beautiful tulips – my fave!He’s a keeper 🙂 I also snuck some new beer from Beer Run into the fridge for him one day to surprise him. Apparently beer:Nate as flowers:Rach.
TAKEAWAY #3: Make the time you have together count and be intentional with it. That 5-7:30PM window was our golden window most days. We put away our phones and planned accordingly, whether it was just vegging out to Netflix together, cooking dinner, going for a walk, or talking. Make sure you’re on the same page about expectations for this time.
TAKEAWAY #4: Find ways to make the other person feel loved even when you can’t be together. Whether it’s love notes (or a simple and sweet post-it stuck to the bathroom mirror #beentheredonethat), flowers, a prepped meal for the other person in the fridge, etc…you know your person the best and can have fun finding ways to make them feel special.
Here is some advice for this initial phase of residency that is not specific to the rotation and more for the non-resident (aka ME!):
Connect with others in the same situation. There is a great network here (HSN) for resident partners, and I’ve met some new friends through their groups already. It helps a ton to meet people who understand what you’re going through, are most likely also new to the area, and are there to check in/hang out during the crazy times. (Major props to UVA’s residency program for establishing HSN in the first place!)
Don’t hold back just because you’re by yourself. Luckily, I’ve never been someone who is uncomfortable doing things alone or being by myself (I get this from my Oma!), and I’m so grateful because it means I have been able to do a lot in Cville even with Nate working so much. I’ve found a church, a small group, a yoga studio, dinner group, book club, and workout group. It’s hard showing up to something alone the first time, but once you’re there, you make new friends so you have buddies when you go back the next time. And everyone here is VERY familiar with the residency program, so they totally understand where you’re coming from if/when you’re by yourself a lot of the time. They have all been so nice and welcoming! Again, props to UVA’s program because I’ve heard other stories where this is definitely NOT the case for other places/programs.
Focus on the bright side. It’s easy to think of all the negatives, but it’s key to focus on the positives. Nate’s schedule in med school wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, so when it gets bad now, I just try to remind him that 1) at least he’s getting paid and 2) he is making a big impact! Every day he is finally getting to do what he wants to do: be a doctor. Sometimes that still hasn’t sunk in all the way. Most importantly, I’m always grateful we have each other to lean on. Life would be tough sometimes regardless. At least this way I get to go through it with my best friend!
Did you make it this far? Props to you! I promise the posts in this series won’t all be this long, but apparently I had a lot to say to get it started 🙂 Thanks for hanging in there and I hope you’ll stick around!
What are some of your tips for being intentional about quality time together? We are all busy people with lots of demands so I’m sure many people can relate to this struggle!
The first weekend of August was a lot of fun! Mostly because Nathan actually had a weekend. He gets one weekend off a month and this was it, so we made sure to take advantage of it. Not to mention we also had perfect weather: 75 and sunny with hardly any humidity. Doesn’t get better than that toward the end of summer.
We started things off on a sweet note with a dessert date to Splendora’s Gelato Cafe on the downtown mall after dinner on Friday. It was a beautiful night out and there was a lot of great people watching – a juggler, accordion player, and artist were among the highlights of the mall this time. It does make me sad that it’s getting dark earlier already though!
I haven’t had really good gelato in a long time, so this hit the spot! We each chose two flavors, and I got granduia (chocolate and hazelnut, so basically nutella) and salted caramel. So delicious, especially when they melted and started to mix together. The little spoons that came with our gelato were cute too. Am I the only one who’s always tempted to keep those?
I was glad we got to try Splendora’s after hearing so much about it. It definitely lived up to the hype, although Nathan decided he’s more of an ice cream guy than gelato fan. I can work with that! After we walked back home, we finished House of Cards season 4 (OMG) and called it a night.
On Saturday morning, we headed out to a highly anticipated hike: Humpback Rock! This was on our bucket list from the very beginning and we were glad a window to go finally opened up. We hadn’t been hiking together in far too long, and we were both craving a good mountain getaway.
It was a gorgeous ~30 minute drive from Charlottesville to the trailhead, which is directly off the Blue Ride Parkway. Up in the mountains it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler with a strong breeze too, but once we got moving we warmed up.
The hike to the lookout is ~1 mile with 800 ft. elevation. It is STEEP but we had been warned so we were prepared. The near-360 degree view at the top made it worth every step!
It was pretty windy at the top so this is as far as we ventured out!
After soaking in the breathtaking view, we took a different route back down the mountain that is supposedly part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s about ~3 miles down but a lot less steep, so we got to enjoy a more casual pace and good conversation. Overall, it took us a little over 2 hours to do the trail this way. Can’t think of a morning better spent than in the mountains together, and I’m so grateful we live close enough to be able to enjoy our free days like this.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, grocery shopping, and meal planning for the week before a casual dinner date at Chili’s using up some old gift cards we had.
We debated saving season 5 of House of Cards until season 6 comes out but we couldn’t resist, so after a couple episodes (#cantstopwontstop) we headed to bed. Deja vu! We slept hard Saturday night. Something about that mountain air…
Sunday morning we went to church together and then met up with a couple friends for brunch at Bluegrass Grill. We’d been trying to make plans with them for awhile, but the guys’ off-days never lined up until this weekend. We’d also been wanting to try Bluegrass Grill for awhile, so it worked out perfectly!
We soaked up some of the gorgeous sunshine outside for ~45 minutes until our table was ready. It was totally worth the wait! Everything on the menu looked amazing, but after some recommendations from the waitress, I decided to order The Hungry Norman and Nate ordered The Southern Belle. Yes, you read that right…please imagine my husband ordering “the southern belle” while I ordered “the hungry norman”. I hope you find it as entertaining as I did 🙂
*Shoutout to good friends who don’t judge when you take pics of your food!*
This was hands down the best breakfast sandwich I have ever eaten! The photo doesn’t do it justice, but buried under those eggs is my perfect sweet/savory combo of blackberry jam, goat cheese, and sausage. Whenever I make egg & cheese sandwiches at home, I always add grape jelly, so this was like that except on another level! It was kind of like a breakfast spin on my favorite burger at Twenty Tap (back in Indy) which uses tomato jam and goat cheese with an English muffin. Needless to say, I cleared my plate and was sooo happy with my choice. 10/10.
My friend got The Dirty Frenchman, which was french toast with brie, honey, & lavender on wheat-raisin bread. She shared a bite and it was to die for! Smelled amazing and tasted just as good. I want them to make a candle that smells like her french toast and I told the waitress that so…*copyright pending*. Nathan also loved The Southern Belle and I enjoyed trying it, too! It involved pimento cheese, fresh tomatoes, and jalapeño hollandaise…I forget the rest (it was a special).
Overall, the Bluegrass Grill is my new favorite breakfast place and I want to try everything on their menu. I like how they had classic, comfort-food staples like grits, biscuits ‘n gravy, bacon, etc. but then also put creative, classy spins on traditional dishes (like blackberry jam and goat cheese, or lavender on the french toast). The names (i.e. Hungry Norman) made it feel less stuffy than some of the ingredients would suggest (in other words, I could actually pronounce them). Plus, the portion sizes are perfect. Sometimes places give you these small little servings for fancy dishes and charge you more. That is NOT the case here and it makes it a perfect brunch spot for us! Word of warning – if you come visit us, we will probably end up back here at least once during your trip. I will also ask to try whatever you order. Thank you/you’re welcome.
The rest of Sunday was spent cleaning the apartment, doing some food prep for the week (two more new recipes on the meal plan whoop whoop), and relaxing. It was our favorite kind of weekend: a good hike, good food, and good time with friends. August is off to a great start!