Category Archives: Uncategorized


Our pregnancy test was negative and it’s all over now. I’m not ready to talk about it, definitely not ready to be any kind of positive about it. I need some time and space to grieve the future I had envisioned because it is most certainly gone, and that’s a hard thing to let go. It’ll take some time. I’ll be back when I’m done.
Thanks so much for hanging in there with me. 

Second Verse, Same as the First…

[I sit down at the kitchen table to do some work.]

Seth: Do you care if we watch a Homeland?

Me: I don’t care… but you better check with the pup.

Seth: She loves Homeland. She’s snuggled up with me, giving me a belly rub.

Me: She’s giving you a belly rub?

Seth: There’s a lot you don’t know about us.

My house is a weird place.
My house is a weird place.

IVF isn’t really going well this time. Worse than last time, actually. And last time wasn’t stellar. (For more information, please see the start, the middle, the middle again, and the end of IVF.)

I was really bummed on Saturday. I cried a little on the way home. I was sad and tired and mad at mother nature for the surprise April snow and I couldn’t keep all that in. So I cried a little. I even let myself wallow for a while after I got home.

And then my wallowing turned into a nap. It was a magic nap. I was legit tired.
And then my wallowing turned into a nap. It was a magic nap. I was legit tired.

But somehow, miraculously, I’m ok today. Despite the cold and massive Eustachian tube clog that’s causing me some pretty intense ear pain. Even with a big grant deadline looming. And even though IVF is still not going well and there are very real thoughts of the pointlessness of the injections and the potential waste of money swirling around and around in my mind, I am ok. Because I’ve done everything I could possibly do — to treat the cold, to finish the grant, to have a baby.

Since we miscarried in September, I’ve supplemented with vitamin D (mine was pretty low) and melatonin. I’ve upped my soy intake and been eating really very healthy (healthy plus chocolate, because… chocolate). I lost 30 lbs and ran a marathon (even though chocolate). I’ve read the literature and prepared my body and worked on my mind and myself and religiously taken my pills, injected my drugs, gone to all my appointments, and still… it’s not really working.

There is nothing else I can do.

There is still a chance of success, albeit a low one. In fact, we may not even get to go through with the procedure at all, pending further test results. And somehow I’m ok.

Because my family is in the other room, watching Homeland and giving each other belly rubs. Maybe it’ll grow a bit and maybe it won’t. We’ll be ok either way.

What my brother-in-law calls a "dog circle" is pretty much my favorite thing.
What my brother-in-law calls a “dog circle” is pretty much my favorite thing.


So I guess the second verse really isn’t exactly the same as the first except that the first verse was IVF and so is the second. I just have that line stuck in my head because Seth insisted on playing I’m Henry the 8th I Am this weekend. So weird. Love him.

Merry Christmas 2015

On this third (!!) Under the Tapestry holiday season, I’m wishing you and yours a very merry, happy, joyful, blessed Chrismahannukwanzadan, a Festivus for the rest of us, or a couple days of bliss in your own special way. Here is a card just for you:

Card Front

Card Back

Personally, we celebrate Christmas, although this year I prefer to think of it as Saturnalia — I will give thanks to Saturn, the deity who provided spontaneous bounty to humans once upon a very long time ago, and ask him to consider doing the same for my body in 2016. (I also asked Scottish Santa, just in case.)

Scottish Santa

Regardless of what you are celebrating or not at the end of this year, I really do hope for me, for you, for all of ours the peace and renewal that this season can bring.

And just because it’s Christmas (and at Christmas you tell the truth), I also say to you (and mean it, not just because it’s a line from a movie):

To me, you are perfect.

You are. And probably so am I. And wasted heart or not, love actually is all around, isn’t it? And a moment to reflect on that is good enough reason to celebrate this season, don’t you think?

And so… love to you, to yours, to this big, bad, yet somehow impossibly beautiful world.

Love and a bite of chocolate, just in case there are dementors around <3

As pointless as an inside out raccoon.

Once upon a time, some medieval a-hole invented the oubliette: a dungeon modeled after the mythical bottomless pit. The only entrance, a trap door in the ceiling, was so far overhead that the person banished to the depths went mad with hopelessness, knowing they were left in the dark to be forgotten. (Or something like that.)

Clearly, the aforementioned medieval a-hole was familiar with the concept of depression. And weaponized it. Genius. Mad genius.

Today, I greet you from the depths of the oubliette, depression having settled in like an old friend I never really wanted to meet in the first place. But here he is and the associated fog will likely cover the faint glint of light from the mouth of the pit for a while. It’s my job (with the help of medication) to work really, really hard to remember that it’s not actually hopeless and I do actually matter. But first, how did I get here?


Are you familiar with Jenny Lawson? Alias: The Bloggess? Author of Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and, more recently, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things? I kind of adore her — her irreverence and frankness about mental illness is a thing of beauty and I think she’s done a lot, lot, lot of good for a lot, lot, lot of people who might otherwise feel very alone. Her point: we’re all broken, some of us more than others, and for those of us in whom that means mental illness, it is a legitimate disease worthy of medical treatment. And that is all. That and a silver ribbon to be worn with pride — I am surviving. No shame.

Anyway, I’m reading Furiously Happy right now and the star of the show is Rory the furiously happy raccoon (see book cover):


Rory is a taxidermied raccoon. Taxidermied to a state of permanent, furious, happiness.

I kind of dig Rory and all his maniacal excitement. And I fully understood what it meant to be a taxidermied raccoon — once upon a time he was alive, he died, his skin was removed, he was stuffed, posed, preserved, the end.

But then last weekend, this horror show took place in my backyard (not a fan of gruesomeness? scroll by real quick):

inside out raccoon

Not actually my backyard, of course, but the backyard that butts up to the edge of mine. So close enough. That’s a raccoon. Hanging from an apple tree. Having its skin removed.

An inside out raccoon.


I was disturbed on Saturday, but when it happened again on Monday morning (happened again on Monday morning because #Wisconsin), less so. I mean, that’s how you make a taxidermied raccoon, right? Even a furiously happy one was once upon a time dangling from something having its skin removed.

The premise behind the idea of being Furiously Happy, a la Jenny Lawson, is that when you suffer from severe bouts of depression, it steals the joy right out of your life. So in those moments when you can be happy — you should be furiously so. Embracing life and adventure and goodness and joy to the fullest in those moments when it is in your power to be in that place, when the fog isn’t hanging over you, when all the exclamation points haven’t mysteriously vanished from your life. Or, as is apropos here, when you’re not busy being turned inside out, be like Rory.

I liked that analogy for depression — an inside out raccoon with the potential to be happy again, given a little help from a skilled taxidermist with a good sense of humor.

But then again, once the inside out raccoon suit was off the bare raccoon body, my neighbor took the pelt (is it a pelt? is that what we call the removed skin/fur???) inside the house and left the (now naked) raccoon body hanging from that tree. It swayed there for a long time and I couldn’t look away. What do you do with a dead, naked raccoon, I thought? I mean, people don’t eat raccoon, do they? That naked raccoon isn’t going to get furiously happy — just his little suit. So… what’s his point?

My neighbor came back outside with a bucket, untied the raccoon, dropped him inside, and carried him away to who knows where. To nowhere, probably.

And I realized that I felt past the point of the little raccoon suit with the potential to be happy again. I felt a lot more like the dead, naked, slightly swaying, completely pointless raccoon left hanging on the branch. It was just grief at first. I was so sad, and with good reason, but I had moved past that point. Somewhere in my grief and brokenness, I had convinced myself that that’s all there was. That I was pointless.

I had let myself slip back into the oubliette.


The thoughts that came and went (and still sometimes come and go) are scary. I wished to not be loved — because then it would be easier to disappear, no heartache left behind. I wished for tragedy of the variety that was unquestionably not my fault yet would somehow lead me to oblivion. For an end because why was I bothering anyway. I did not matter and that the people who for some reason thought that I did would be better off without me… when they realized that there were prettier wives that were good at keeping their families healthy, children with the ability to produce grandchildren, sisters that don’t harbor ugly jealousy, writers with more talent and less baggage, friends with the ability to smile, nieces without drama, etc. I want to be all those things to all those people. I have been none of them. I had no point.

I don’t want to lie to you. I’m still there to some extent. It’s a bad neighborhood of the mind, as my aunt would say, and I wander there frequently these days. But I do have some good days too. Thanks to the people that love me, goodness knows why, and the mental health care I have sought — needed to seek. But maybe most of all this time because someone else heard what I said and shared their own story with me and I thought for a second, hey, we just connected. And maybe connection is enough of a point. Enough of a reason. Something that matters.

And connection does keep happening, when I really stop and think about it. It has for a while and it has very frequently recently. In ways that I didn’t really expect. Not just those who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or a child, but those who have been to broken places for other reasons too. People who look so shiny and bright on the outside that there’s just no possible way for that to not be the whole story, except of course there’s more. And they said to me, “hey… me too, because this thing…” And dang. That’s powerful stuff.

On the surface, it seems a little bit like misery-loves-company, but it’s not. It’s a lot more like hey-let-me-lend-you-my-strength. Let’s-walk-together-for-a-sec. I’m-going-to-hug-you-gently-with-my-words. I’m-going-to-show-you-something-tragic-yet-beautiful-and-remind-you-that-it-is-possible-to-be-furiously-happy-again.

For those moments, for those people, and for the people that love me… that I love back… I’m going to hang on. I’m going to remember that even an inside out raccoon isn’t really pointless. That the bottom of the oubliette is temporary and that somewhere above me, no matter how far away it seems, there is light.

It’s a go.

I’ve always been a really good test taker — it’s just a skill I have.

Today, I blew my test out of the water.

Needed to pass: a 50% increase in my HCG levels.

My score? 84% increase!! Woot woot!

On Wednesday, my serum levels were 122 mIU/ml… today 225 mIU/ml. Yes. Yes yes yes.

Definitely, definitely pregnant.

Oh, thank goodness!


My niece Emma’s thoughts on the topic: “Yeth!!!!” (With double fist pump.)

Me too, baby girl!!!


PS: YOU GUYS! Why is everyone SO DANG NICE?! I’m so weepy it’s not even funny… except kind of it is. Thanks so much for the gobs and gobs of love and buckets of support. I can’t thank you enough, really, truly, honestly.

The Church of Marie

Guys! I … AM … A … MESS…

Sometimes that happens to me. And it’s not pretty.

It started with that grant… and then Seth went away on a business trip and Curls didn’t want to walk for me… and then the binge eating… and more binge eating… and a busy weekend (during which I pretended to be calm, cool, and collected in front of my sister-in-law, but I was very not– think she noticed?)… and lack of exercise… and an inability to stop complaining at work… and… and… and…

I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow. Thank goodness!

But before that could happen… THIS:

my knees

Dang it! I haven’t fallen in years. YEARS! The last time I fell (and fell and fell and fell again) was when I was in grad school and I just couldn’t seem to stay on my feet. Not to get way too cray cray on you, but a psychic told me I was basically doing it to myself on account of all the lack of control I was feeling over my life.

And right now? I feel out of control. Out of control!!

So tonight… I went for a run. A nice long run. Could have been better, definitely, but it was good. Good weather, good pace, good recovery and minimal damage from my fall. Then I had delicious tacos and even more delicious dessert and sat down with Joan to reflect and work some more on this post I have been working on for SO long… and it was perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect for the thing I really want to talk to you about.

Day 27:

“For this is our God and we are the people of God’s pasture and the sheep of God’s hand.” –Psalm 95:7

And Joan’s thoughts:

“It is sometimes very difficult to know where God is for us: in the demands of authority for obedience to the sins they call virtue – for the nonordination of women, for instance – in the name of “unity.” Or is God in the questions of the heart that deserve to be pursued – that demand to be answered – in the light of the rest of the gospel. And so the question haunts me: Would Jesus stay in the church today? In any of them? And, it if not, who would follow him out of it? Would I? Yes, there’s the question. I have lived a lifetime of ecclesiastical sins: no ‘mixed marriages,’ they taught, and then changed their minds; no burial for fetuses; no moral absolutes about wife beating; no protection of Jews; no resistance to segregation. And I went along with all of them.” — Joan Chittister

Oh my gosh. That’s exactly where I want to go. Exactly what I want to talk about! Joan is basically introducing us to The Church of Marie.

So, without further ado…


Jesus was a pretty good dude.

While there’s lots and lots and lots of arguing about exactly what kind of a “dude” he was or was not in other ways, I think we can all agree that the stuff he did, the stuff he said, the way he acted and loved… those things were good.

Good, good things.

As such, those things are pretty good things to emulate.

I’d think they were good things to emulate no matter who did them.

Jesus is just kind of famous for it. For loving everyone no matter what and living a life completely devoted to kindness and inclusion and faith and hope and love and charity and humility and… well, I said it before, good stuff.

A lot of religious people get that. A lot of non-religious people get that too. They do that. Live that way… or at the very least, make every effort to live that way.

Unfortunately, some people don’t. Those are the people that make the news. Even more unfortunately, those are the people that often take the reigns of institutionalized religious organizations near and far, here and there, in my backyard and in yours.

Not a Jesus problem. A regular dude problem.

Jesus loves us regular dudes, all of us, male or female, rich or poor, right or wrong, tall or short, big or little, polka-dotted or striped. Even the sneeches, stars on their belly or no. Jesus was a lover. Not a fighter.

The people who follow his example most closely tend to be revered only after tragedy. MLK. Abraham Lincoln. Gandhi. Need I continue? And some people even hate them still. Sad, sad, sad… what’s to hate about a life devoted to love?

And despite their revered status at present, life is/was often hard, hard, hard for people who emulate Jesus like that.

Love is awesome, but there’s a LOT of resistance to it.

I don’t know why. I don’t think anyone really does.

But I know one place where that resistance does not exist and love is the only message. The thread that ties it all together and the theme of every life’s purpose.

That place is only theoretical. It doesn’t exist. But someday I’ll talk it into existence.

That place is the Church of Marie.

I think Marie wrestles with the same exact question Joan describes above– would Jesus stay in the church today? And if not, should she follow him out?

At present, and with utmost devotion and obedience and acceptance and purity of heart and mind and soul, my friend Marie is Catholic. She loves her church and her faith and her parish and the people she serves. She is devoted to an absolute fault.

But her church isn’t always good to her. Because she’s a woman. A strong woman. An influential and well-liked woman. A woman who at times appears to be more well-liked than the hierarchy, the patriarchy, the men who demand to be revered. A woman whose single-minded focus on God and Jesus and love and compassion and all those other good things is somehow threatening to those more concerned with power and position and the like.

It’s horrifying to watch someone so beautiful and good and faith-filled be constantly, as my dad would say, crapped on by her church. To watch it day after day whittle away at her self-confidence. But then again… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And faith is forged in fire. Maybe that’s what it takes to be willing to follow Jesus out of the church. Or to follow Jesus in a way that brings the church back to him.

You know, like the Church of Marie.

Marie actually hates the phrase “Church of Marie” because she thinks it makes her sound deified. But it’s exactly what I want in a church. Not deification of Marie (although she’s for real good and stylish, too… sooo… we could do worse), but rather a true embodiment of what (as of this morning) became my favorite phrase:

“God is greater than religion. Faith is greater than dogma.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Marie’s faith is like that– greater than religion or dogma. Forged in fire. And I think because of that, because it came about organically, a la Lila in the Gilead series (we just read that for my Under the Covers virtual book club and as I write this I realize why I liked Lila as much as I did– she’s like Marie!) it’s really beautiful.

Beautiful to most, I should say. There are those who don’t come by their faith quite so naturally, so organically, those who feel, shall we say, “Holier Than Thou” who are immediately recognizable by their initial befriending followed by disdain for Marie. And I see it happen over and over and over again. A lot of people like to talk the talk. Not as many people like to walk the walk. Marie is all about the walk (literally and metaphorically).

Preaching? No. Discussion? Absolutely.

But most importantly of all: DOING.

Marie does. She does her faith even more than she believes her faith… that’s how strongly it is part of her.

And that is why I want so badly to join the Church of Marie. And you would too. If it existed.

My poor friend Marie, unfortunately, is probably about 46 years away from actually started this church I dream of. I imagine it will be a death-bed kind of thing. She’ll wake up from a gentle sleep one day in very old age and say, with sadness, that she wishes she’d done it sooner because her talents were not as appreciated as they should have been, could have been, in the church to which she dedicated her life.

The Church of Marie is a church of respect and dignity for all. A church where no one person is above any other and where Christ is central. Not Christ as in robot-style-WWJD, but rather real living breathing examples of what Jesus would do. Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, loving our neighbor, no matter who are neighbor may be, and appreciating the gifts and skills of others.


The best part about the Church of Marie is that it accepts you no matter what. No matter how much you complain about your job or how much food you shovel in your face. No matter how clumsy or graceful you are on your run or whether you run at all. I’m super lucky because the Church of Marie holds court in the office across the hall from mine 5 days a week and by text any other time I want. But I really wish other people could be as lucky as me… to join a church like the Church of Marie where it’s just love and goodness and kindness and stuff.

I think Marie would follow Jesus out of a church. And I would follow her.

God is in the good whether the good is in the church or not.

Church of Marie -- AHHHHH!
Church of Marie — AHHHHH!


Gonorrhea, Cookies, Time

You know that series of books “If You Give a [Animal] a [Food Item]”???

Of course you do! Mice and cookies… moose and muffins… cats and cupcakes… pigs and pancakes… there’s a bunch. Apparently, Laura Numeroff has been busy since I was little! Good for her!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie was the original, it was pretty new when I was pretty little and given that both my mom and Grandma are and were (respectively) elementary school teachers, I’m sure you’re not surprised that I heard it once or twice. And then I read it once or twice more to myself. Perhaps I even forced it on my littles.

Long story short, I knew it pretty well and I thought about it often. Especially after giving a mouse a cookie…

Metaphorically of course. Because a lot of people are like that mouse. You give them a cookie… they need a glass of milk… a napkin… a hair cut… a dust pan… and on and on and on and on… it never ends!

Eventually, that mouse is so exhausted from bleeding you dry that they end up hungry again… in a need of a snack… maybe a cookie.

You know the story.


In contrast, do you know what happens when you give a mouse gonorrhea?

(And you can trust me on this one because I have given a lot of mice gonorrhea.)



They don’t ask for milk or a napkin or a hair cut or whatevs.

They just keep on keepin’ on until you decide otherwise.

Kind of nice.


Sidebar: It’s not actually nothing that happens. Just nothing that you can see. Please see Exhibit A.

Exhibit A: straight out of my dissertation. Brag! I kind of dig this figure :)
Exhibit A: straight out of my dissertation. Brag! I kind of dig this figure 🙂


AND THEN I LOST THE REST! You guys, it was awful… it was the evening of February 3rd and I had been writing and writing and writing and all my creative juices were just a-flowing and another 900 words later, it was all gone. Not sure how exactly it happened. No doubt some sort of user error. Regardless, it was all gone and I was all kinds of discouraged. So this intro sat and sat and sat as I stewed and stewed and stewed. Until today. Today I’m ready to go again. So… let’s extend that metaphor!

Because extending metaphors is one of the very best things that I do.

The moral of the mouse and the cookie business is that sometimes you give a little and get taken for all the rest. That doesn’t happen when you give a mouse gonorrhea. It just doesn’t.

I’ve been feeling a lot like that lately. Like I’ve been giving too many mice too many cookies and the expectations afterward are getting out — of — control. I’m overwhelmed. I’m tired. I’m beat. I’m frustrated and exhausted and afraid that I just can’t do it…

Agh! Drama! Especially considering that I am a writer and I legitimately do NOT deal with emergencies!

And — AH HA! I think that’s exactly the perspective I need to keep.

It’s really NOT that big of a deal. None of it is. And if something drops? That’s ok.

Gonorrhea… cookies… whatevs… it’s how you handle the mouse after the fact that’s key.


Weird thing?

Before it was all tragically lost (tragically!)… this was 700 words longer of rant rant rant about people who want too much and how it’s best to stop handing out cookies and better to give gonorrhea and bleedidy bloddidy blue.

You didn’t want to read that. I didn’t really want to believe that. Talk about silver linings?! This is a much better ending.


And so was this:

And with that...
Figure 23… the conclusion of my whole thesis. Six full years worth of hard work in one glorious figure. Silverest lining of all!


True, February 3rd to February 16th isn’t quite the same as August 2005 to April 2011. But either way, waiting it out and thinking it through was totally worth it… when it was literal gonorrhea… when it was metaphorical cookies.

And I feel like I’m back!

Back for Lent. With plans! See you again soon!


PS: I was just watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Jake started a sentence with, and I quote, “For reals…” Guys! I’m pretty sure I started that. It’s catching on! This is like the DANG phenomenon all over again.



The gut, the brain, the heart: one pack of note cards to rule them all.

Hey, guys! Long time no see!! And so much has happened since the last time we talked…

I soaked up a few glorious moments of Miami sun. I turned 31 and ate Mexican food. I got the grays dyed right out of my hair. I found out that my friend Jess is basically an international celebrity and am still riding a total pride high over it. And the biggest deal of all? Boston got snowed on!!!

Perhaps you’d already heard?

There are a lot of ideas swirling around in my noggin… some have even made it onto the screen in short bursts. I want to tell you about why 31 was almost not but actually is just fine. I want to confess to you about the guilt I harbor over my reaction to Paul Tangen in the sixth grade. I want to tell you about the new church I am desperate to join– the Church of Marie (although Marie seems to think it makes her sound too “deified” so I’m working on another name). I want to tell you why I think gonorrhea is better than cookies.

So many ideas!

But for now, because I’m having a tough time getting this thing up and running again, I’m going to piggyback on my friend Aimee’s suggestion (not this Aimee, or this Aimie, or even my other friend Amy), but Aimee… Aimee from gonorrhea-land. One of my most favorite curly girls on this great green earth. She likes note cards, you see, and so do I. And when she saw my latest, greatest note card insanity in a Facebook post, she wanted to know more about it. So I’m going to tell you more about it.

Then maybe, on account of being inspired by this particular Aimee (oh how I love all A-MEs! never met a bad one!) we can seamlessly transition into the gonorrhea vs. cookie debate. It’s fun to inspire people to talk about STDs and cool to encourage people to talk about bake goods. Both? Ah-dang.

So… this:

note cards

Note cards. Love them. Multi-colored note cards? Too bad I’m already married…

Seriously though, this was a genius idea born of self-preservation and I’m not even going to be humble about it at all. Buckle up.

Sister Doctor is about to get officially doctorified: M-period-D-period.

Only two more steps on the way to surgical oncologist-dom.

Two more steps… nine-ish more years.

Approximately seven in the next locale. Seven years in a general surgery residency. And Sister Doctor is in high demand. Stellar test scores, glowing recommendations, research experience, honors up the wazoo, you know. All these programs are falling all over each other begging her to come here, no here, no here!!

It’s a good problem to have, of course. But also makes for a tough decision. Seven years. Surgery residency. Nothing to sneeze at.

Especially if the wind of your sneeze is likely to mess up your beautiful note care display. Got to be careful, you know! This kind of thing takes a lot of work.

Let’s be real honest for a second though.

Sister Doctor was driving me cra-zy! She was obsesssssssssing. Out loud. To me. To my husband. To my dog. To my house.

It was, shall we say, unproductive. And a bit annoying.

Real annoying.

So I brainstormed. I bought some note cards. Sister Doctor and I brainstormed again, together this time. And then I sent her quietly on her way to fill out the note cards.

Hear that?

Quiet, productive obsessing.

That’s my kind of obsessing.


I don’t want to make light of this decision, because it’s a big one for Sister Doctor and Mr. Doctor and little puppy Doctor too. But I think that after nearly 20 interviews all over this great big country (truly east coast to west coast and back again and again and again), Sister Doctor had something of a gut feeling about what felt right.

But to trust the gut?!

On something this big?!

Heck to the no.

A decision this big calls for options, priorities, pros, cons, and the like. So that’s what we did.

First, I asked Sister Doctor to describe the things that mattered to her. We made a list.

Then we reviewed the list of 13 items and ranked them in order of importance. Each institution was assigned a color and we wrote out each of the thirteen questions on a note card in the appropriate color. Sister Doctor spent the next week (quietly) writing out the answers and this week, we laid it all out… to see what would happen.

The 13 criteria down the left, the five institutions across the top with a strand of yarn down the middle to divide the pros (left) from the cons (right). Straddlers are neutral of course. And we laid out the cards– let the chips fall where they may.

Except what if you hate where the chips fall?

Just as telling! If you’re not sure about your gut feeling before the cards– I guarantee you will be after. There’s no mistaking the disappointment you’ll feel if the choice that pops out on top isn’t the one you really want.


So… did it work? Too early to tell. The cards are still on the table. We’re still a hemming and hawing. But Sister Doctor will get there, she’ll make a decision. And she’ll, at the very least, know that she’s thought it out very, very carefully.

Of course, there’s no perfect decision. Never is. Nothing’s perfect. So it’s still hard. But the note cards have made it a little easier for Sister Doctor to think about.

A little quieter for the rest of us in the house.

Win-win. We’re all looking forward to match day!


Doesn’t matter how you do it, getting to doctor-dom is a headache. Note cards help.

… or construction paper…

Back in our day, it was construction paper and colored markers all the way to quals... doctor-dom, a headache no matter what.
Back in our day, it was construction paper and colored markers all the way to quals… doctor-dom, a headache no matter what.


For seriously though, you know what you know. It’s there, it’s in your head, your heart, your gut. But getting the three to connect? That can be somewhat tricksy. That’s where the note cards really come into play. They can reinforce what you feel, they can make it become what you know, and ultimately, what you believe. It never hurts to just see it all laid out there in front of you.

I’ve been doing it for years. Decades even. The note card industry basically survives because of people like me. I’m ok with that.



Fun Fact: The big and famous surgeon who wrote Sister Doctor’s most glowing and influential recommendation letter recently SLAMMED a paper I’ve been working on for over a year with a local endocrinologist. I’m super happy for Sister Doctor, but if I ever get a goiter, I’m leaving it in just to spite Mr. Oh-So-Famous Surgeon Man. That’ll show him!

Merry Christmas 2014

And here we are, it’s Christmas Eve! Perhaps one of the best things about getting married (besides the whole commitment to spending the rest of my life with the person I love and all that…) is that I get to celebrate Christmas even more.

And always with this guy!
And always with this guy!

We did the Vonck thing last weekend with my parents and siblings and nieces and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and puppies on that side of the family.

You can kind of tell that we're related... and that we enjoy our time together, eh?
You can kind of tell that we’re related… and that we enjoy our time together, eh?

Tonight, we start the party Stankowski-style, which as I have mentioned before is big, big, big.

No matter the “side” or the location or the event, as the Muppets say (in the best version of A Christmas Carol ever produced EVER): wherever you find LOVE it feels like Christmas!


And it’s so true! Love, love, love… every where! In every way!

And to quote another immortal soul, one Mr. Frank Sinatra:

I wish you shelter form the storm
A cozy fire to keep you warm
But most of all, when snowflakes fall
I wish you love

That is truly my Christmas wish for you. For everyone. For myself even. Lots of love.

And especially for my sister’s dear friend Jackie, who I unfortunately did not get to meet when I was in Midland for a few days– I really hope she knows how much she is loved! To be loved by my sweet and fisky sister, that’s a big deal 🙂

Claire knows it's a big deal to be loved by my Shabsky Balu-- look at that happy little face!!
Claire knows it’s a big deal to be loved by my Shabsky Balu– look at that happy little face!!

I love all the rest of you too and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for hanging out with me for another year here at Under the Tapestry.

My goal for 2014 was to convince you that I am truly unhinged, but full of love. (The best kind of unhinged, really.) If I haven’t done that yet, let me just send you a quick Christmas card…

Created using Minted
Created using minted. I’m so so so pleased with minted. Highly recommend!

Transition to crazy dog lady — complete!

Oh how I love that pup!!


Wishing you and all of your furry (or scaled or feathered or whatever) friends a very merry holiday season full of love, love, love!

C is for my long lost boyfriend, Joshua Chamberlain.

Quick: if you could bring back any Civil War hero as your boyfriend, who would it be?!

(You’ve got to answer quickly if you want to answer honestly!)


My Civil War boyfriend would be Joshua Chamberlain. Obviously.


I know what you’re thinking. But you’re wrong. I love him for way more than just his sweet ‘stache. That’s only part of it.

Joshua Chamberlain commanded the Union’s Twentieth Maine Regiment and defended his position at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. But rewind a little bit and you’ll find that this brilliant, brave, and selfless military man started off as a humble professor from the state of Maine who volunteered for the Union Army and then worked his way up to command his regiment, despite being offered command from the get-go– you see, it was more important to him that he learn the ropes and do things properly than it was to feed his ego and be in command. Swoon, right?

Grad school was full of ups and downs (and valleys and trenches…), but for certain, one of the best parts of the whole 6 years was the weekend I had the opportunity to go to Gettysburg and stay a weekend at a local bed and breakfast with Seth and my parents. It was… heaven.

At the Keystone Inn in Gettsyburg, PA-- the location was perfect and the breakfast oh so good!
At the Keystone Inn in Gettsyburg, PA– the location was perfect and the breakfast oh so good!

Ok… it was heaven for me. I may have overdone it on the history cray cray by forcing mi familia  to listen to the entire guided CD as we drove our way through the historic battle grounds. I also made them stop at ev-er-y-thing. I couldn’t help it!

They humored me for most of the day, and really let me take my time when we finally made it to Little Round Top… and to the monument to the Twentieth Maine.

monument to 20th maine

The names of all of the brave men who defended that hill “at all hazard” were listed on the other side.

Including Joshua Chamberlain ;)
Including Joshua Chamberlain 😉

It was unreal to be there. To see the hill the men charged down with bayonets fixed after running out of ammunition. (They freaking ran out of ammunition and charged at the other guys with knives on a stick!) To imagine the chaos, the bravery, the courage, the fear, the utter insanity of that day.

Then, no joke, just to really hammer the point home, I felt a sharp pain in my foot and when I looked down there was a FREAKING BEE stuck in my toe by its stinger and I literally had to pull it out of my foot.

Ok, that was actually on Big Round Top overlooking Devil’s Den, but my mind was still on Chamberlain and Little Round Top all the while.

After my Chamberlain experience, my parents and Seth humored me once more through Devil’s Den, the orchard, and the wheat field before they’d really just had enough. We kind of skipped through to the fish hook at the end of the line and then headed back to the Keystone. I got to see Little Round Top– that was enough for me.

Joshua Chamberlain survived the war and went on to achieve great things, including serving as the governor of Maine for several years. And he had a wife named Fanny, but that was all whatevs.

(Kidding, I’m sure she was absolutely lovely.)

While I was reading the Shaara Civil War trilogy that I’ve told you all so much about, I pretty much talked about it non-stop (yes, even more than I’m talking about it here). It was actually my friend Tammy, who knows a lot about everything (literally everything, PhD-educated neuroscientist who has devoted her current life to the care of soldiers returning from war with traumatic brain injury, oh and she also installed the putting green at the White House and developed the science curriculum for her son’s middle school… everything) who actually pointed out that Joshua Chamberlain was totally my Civil War boyfriend. I had to acknowledge the truth in it. A crush on a historical figure? Weird. But I can get on board with that.

Despite all of that, my real live, present day boyfriend… the one who humored me not just through Gettysburg tour, but through all of grad school and beyond… was the real deal and still is to this day.

-- love --
— love —

That’s us together in Gettysburg– do you see him humoring me? So ridiculously much? He doesn’t necessarily get my passions (as usual, read: obsessions) and I don’t necessarily get his (but I’m cool with a 70″ xbox-devoted TV in my basement), but we certainly appreciate those things about each other. What’s life without some passion, after all?

In my life, I’ve had lots of celebrity crushes… no doubt, so have you. And I’m sure we can all agree on Colin Firth, amIright? But Joshua Chamberlain. He’s my weird one. And now you know.

So I bring it back to the original question:

Who’s your Civil War boyfriend???