Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm an optometrist again...

On Friday afternoon the clinic manager, Anny, came by my desk to tell me they'd scheduled me patients on Monday to be seen. Not that I am opposed to seeing patients (it's actually quite fun not to have to run through each case with a student) but if I am seeing patients for routine contact lens follow up, dilation, visual fields, then it means that a student is not getting the patient exposure. I don't need another patient in addition to the 20,000+ that I've already seen. Their graduation requirements state that they must see at least 100 to be qualified. Yes ONE HUNDRED. And they also must pass oral examinations, which they are taking today and tomorrow. After those two hurdles, they are free to practice as optometrists. I, however, am still not qualified here unless I take a massively expensive board exam (approx $6,000 NZ) which 70-90% fail.

I tried to reason with staff why it was so silly that I am seeing these patients and taking away from the students, but they didn't seem to see it through my eyes. I suppose, also, I am a little miffed to be the only person in my position who is in the clinic actually doing this. But oh well.

Regardless of my thoughts, I'm enjoying seeing patients, as it's been just one day shy of eight months since I've seen one on my own and have not conducted a visual field test on a patient since I was a student (like 8 years ago!) So today is a glorious day.

I did get to enjoy the sunshine on my back this morning as I walked myself into the clinic. And I must say it is fun having about 20 exam rooms to choose from. Even though I am only scheduled five patients, I decided to go ahead and run my clinic out of TWO exam rooms... you know why not? :)

Friday, August 29, 2008


Last night after work I went for chocolate mud cake, carrot cake and coffees with two of my part four students to celebrate Friday. They're all busy freaking out for orals, which are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of next week. Then I went home and had dinner, and an early night in preparation for my long run Saturday.

This morning, I woke up early but made myself go back to sleep. When I was finally up for good (10:30ish), I stayed under the covers, languishing in the warmth and peace of morning and the bird chirp symphony outside my window. My usual goal is to start running by noon, hopefully avoiding any dastardly weather.

I left at 11:45 on my preplanned route, downtown, to the waterfront and back home again. I was in my own little ipod world when this guy ran by, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Good on you!" like I was a two year old who needed encouragement. Either I looked like I'd never run a day in my life and was about to die on the pavement (highly likely) or he was just wanting to make himself known. Either way, it was scared me out of my little world.

A few minutes later, I was about to take the pedestrian bridge home to my place, but discovered that it had been boarded off by the city after recent heavy rains and unstable ground, so I was forced to take a route-lengthening detour. I tried to beg the construction workers to let me through. (No success there.) So I continued on, arriving home about twenty minutes later without any new knee pain. The goal is the Auckland Marathon on November 2nd. I'm actually on track this year.

I've really been enjoying my students (especially since I've started teaching part threes clinical examination with demonstration patients) that I'd almost considered staying a little longer. But we had a staff meeting on Thursday and I was reminded why I cannot stay in this position longer than one year. There'll probably be about four of us leaving at the end of this term. I'm not convinced that it will considerably improve even with a new head of department.

In other news, I've finally moved into stage four of the cultural assimilation process. Yes, I like New Zealand and I think I finally have a decent understanding of the country. Musically, I am also expanding. I often catch the weekly hip hop countdown in my lovely red ghetto wagon (it's the only station that comes in) and I actually like it. Egads!

Monday, August 25, 2008


It's hard to understand people's lives when you look from the outside. I may appear to be lost or misguided. But I can tell you, though this job and New Zealand were not what I expected them to be, I laugh more here than I have in years. I’ve renewed old friendships and started new ones. My life was stagnant in Portland and I was just going through the motions. Here I am flowering and alive. I am still deeply contemplative, but that's been going on my whole life. I feel like I have an internal energy and drive to be alive... and part of that is exploring the earth and exploring relationships. I think those are some of the reasons I am not ready to return to the United States, yet I cannot really see staying in Auckland.

In the cave with Carrie and Molly.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lessons learned via New Zealand:

Once you've left home, it’s hard to return.
Having no plan can be a plan.
One of the greatest freedoms is to reduce your possessions.
TV is not that integral.
It is possible to get sick of reading books.
Negative people breed negativity.
Music can be restorative in all ways.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Recent horoscope

"Your career continues to look like an Olympic event without rules or referees."

Umm. Is that good or bad? I could interchange life with career and it would follow logically as well.

I think it could be positive... maybe I can continue to follow no rules and yet be successful? Or not? Or maybe I'm just all over the place, working hard and it doesn't matter, it won't get me anywhere anyway because I there's no linear way to get where I'm wanting to go? Or that I have no clue where I'm going anyway?

Saturday, August 16, 2008


What will you give
When death knocks at your door?

The fullness of my life-
The sweet wine of autumn days and summer nights,
My little hoard gleaned through the years,
And hours rich with living.

That will be my gift
When death knocks at my door.

Living richly at Triangle Y Camp:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Random thoughts

I’ve just spent the morning recovering from a night out. You’d think that two and a half glasses of wine would not be enough to warrant several hours on the couch drinking water and eating oatmeal… but I must have a defective alcohol metabolism gene. That is all I can figure.

It’s sunny here and I'm geared up for a run. I got home a couple days ago to two new pairs of running shoes from the states. (Carrie mailed them.) They were $249.99 each here and $56 each (including shipping) in the US. Global economics are a mystery to me.

I’m so non-consumer here, it’s frightening! Last weekend I went out “shopping” to buy myself a treat of some sort. I came home empty handed. There was nothing that inspired me enough to haul it back to my place. I’ve gotten pretty good at shopping at the second hand stores here also which are much more like a treasure hunt… see what the world will present you with (if anything) and it follows my sense of not creating more crap in this world to dispose of.

In other news, I’m considering a move to the big island when this stint is over. That would be Australia. I have friends there and loads of students moving there also. Seeing as I moved to New Zealand because I loved Australia, why not try that place out also before I leave? ☺ I still plan to see a bit of SE Asia. I might have a different plan tomorrow though...

I’m going for a run now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quote from 1890

What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night,
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime,
It is the little shadow that runs across the grass
And loses itself in the sunset.

- by Blackfoot Indian Chief Isapwo Muksika Crawfoot

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How do you know that dreams aren't reality and reality's not a dream?

It's something I've been thinking about.

My dreams have been so vivid here. I'm frequently confused of my surroundings when I awake and later may wonder whether a memory was real or a dream. My life is bleeding between the dimensions.

I welcome dreams of my family, because it's as if we're not on opposite sides of the earth. I see them so clearly, even the facial expressions and the empathy, it's uncanny. One of the books I was reading was questioning our assumption that dreams are not reality. I do wonder. Is it possible that we are actually connecting with people in our dreams? Can dreams become reality? It seems so.

I wonder again if "Row your boat" really is what it's all about.

I like big butts and I cannot lie!

Just seeing if you're paying attention!

Actually that's what's coming out of the ipod right now. Can't complain about that. Who doesn't love a song about real women? I'm couch-dancing at the moment. Just keep that vision of me in your mind as you read along.

Last night was the optometry ball, themed "Golden Globes". The tickets sold out and we were left empty-handed mostly due to our pathetic planning and poor communication. So I conned Ursula into going late with me. I said, "We can be the wedding crashers!" Only it wasn't a wedding and I'd remembered that in that movie Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn crashed weddings for free drinks and food. Then Ursula said, "Weren't they doing it to get laid?" I guess I forgot that part. (See how naive I am? It's a wonder I've gotten this far.)

So Ursula came over to my place and we jumped into the red rocket and took off for downtown. Since I wear heels about once a year, it was an escapade just driving the car and walking to the Hilton. How the heck was I going to dance in those damn shoes?

We finally found the Hilton and the correct entrance where there was even a red carpet and a doorman. Unfortunately, he was a little tough and we barely got in... (even though the organizers said it was ok for us to arrive late). After being rescued by one of my third year students, we landed upstairs where the dancing took place.

Shrek, Audrey Hepburn, Happy Gilmore and his caddy, Bjork in her swan dress, the dark night and more were scattered among the rest in fancy dress. Since I mostly see them in clinic clothes with white student lab coats, I was quite blown away by their collective beauty. We danced until the last song. The shoes came off. I think I'll work on starting a new trend: orthopedic clogs are sexy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Why we travel"

by Pico Iver on - introspective and interesting.

"It whirls you around, turns you upside down and stands everything you took for granted on its head."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"You are not in the world;
the world is in you."
-Deepak Chopra

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why some teachers last only a year?

I've decided this teaching thing is really hard. Even just supervising in clinic. It sounds easy. I can tell myself, it's like having highly trained technicians do the whole exam and then you just have to sign off on it. But no. That's not the case. I have to think through the whole exam and figure out the missing pieces and then try to help the student understand so they don't make the same mistake next time.

Sometimes they get it; sometimes they think I'm an idiot. Sometimes I think I'm an idiot! No one knows all the answers and unfortunately rarely is anything black and white. In this setting, students want black and white answers. I don't have them.

There are the students who are really keen, who can be a joy, but also require extra effort because they want to learn. There are the ones who don't want to be here in the first place, let alone do anything over and above. It's hard to care about teaching a blank face.

At the end of the day, I often leave feeling anxious, and also like my energy has been sucked out of me. After 8-9 hours of students milling about with charts and questions, needing signatures, asking advice on case presentations, I just want to go home to bed. Yes, even if it is 6:30.

To you teachers out there, I salute you. It's a tough job. Regardless of the amount of appreciation the students show, the energy drain is in a negative direction. I imagine it's a little like having children. Rewarding and very tough. Only hopefully I'd have a little more incentive to stick around.

Leadership is solving problems.
The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day
you have stopped leading them.
They have either lost confidence that you can help
or concluded you do not care.
Either case is a failure of leadership. ~Colin Powell

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut says...

"Listen: we are here on earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!"

That is all for now. Oh had another fire drill today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More from the Tao

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.


True words aren't eloquent;
eloquent words aren't true.
Wise men don't need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren't wise.

The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.

The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
By not dominating, the Master leads.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


“All of us were imprinted one of two ways:
either the world is dangerous with moments of safety,
or the world is safe with moments of danger.”
-Deepak Chopra

Fortunately, I was raised to believe the world is safe and full of good people. My experiences have mostly confirmed that. Unless I am trying to figure out my life!

Tonight, I've been researching Asia, airfares, volunteering, ashrams, train tickets, budgets, etc. November seems to be coming like freight train without brakes! I'm almost paralyzed with options. It's funny when I start to look things up, I get completely lost. I've planned loads of short term trips... but nothing like this.

My gut is saying buy a one way ticket to SE Asia and see where you go from there. Maybe return to India, maybe Western Australia. Maybe parts of Africa or South America? Or Eastern Europe? Without a particular agenda in mind, it's a little overwhelming. There's RTW airfares, but I don't know how much they will save me or if they will just complicate matters for someone who wishes to fly by the seat of her pants, wherever my Mary Poppins umbrella carries me...


I'm going to bed.