Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The memories are swirling in my head. Left-overs from Portugal, from Shreveport, even from good ol' Billy Jewell. I need one of them to tell me what to do. To tell me it'll be okay. I've been waiting all week to crash from exhaustion. I guess this is the night.

Was your journey far too long? All the voices that are spinning round me, trying to tell me what to say...
Can I fly right behind you? You can take me away...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

After midnight...

It's late. The little closet-sized room I'm in is stuffed full of science. Centrifuges, microscopes, incubators, pipettes, test tubes, and sterile hoods. All the science and the small surface area takes the temperature in the room to a comfortable 37 degrees Celsius. The radio croons in the background singing of lost loves, wide-open country and Ford pick-up trucks. I'm approaching the fifth hour in this closet and have slowly shed nearly every layer to keep the heat from pulling harder on my already heavy eyes. Security came through hours ago. There's no one here but me, the cells, and the radio, but I welcome the peace and quiet. There are twenty minutes left on the centrifuge and tabletop is looking more and more appealing.

It's been a long time since I've been here this late. I'm looking forward to not having to do it much longer.

Here's to May 16th...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jewell reflection

I learned in a rather unconventional way that the future is always changing, in the largest of ways, by the smallest of things. While reflecting on my time here at Jewell I was struck by the truth in this statement. I have stories about growing up, dealing with life’s hardships and being completely knocked down by life, but these events aren’t the ones that taught me invaluable insight into life or pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of. While Jewell taught me how to search for the answers I was seeking, I discovered that the times that immensely changed my life weren’t at Jewell. They were opportunities that I received and was brave enough to take because I had walked on this hill, but they were as far from this place as you could get. They were big adventures, but the little lessons I found in them left lasting impressions.

After spending two rather stagnant years at Jewell, learning the basics of science, and college, and how to thoroughly procrastinate, I was ready for something different. The summer after my sophomore year found me in Shreveport Louisiana. I spent an entire summer sweating from places I’d never sweat from before. My friend Krysten and I filled our days caring for kids from the poorest most neglected neighborhood in Shreveport. We spent our days playing basketball and kickball, climbing trees, and making chocolate chip pancakes for 32 hungry bellies. I learned a lot of little things that summer. I experienced community, became a master of connect four, and learned that scrapes heal better when covered with twenty bandaids. I learned that the church wasn’t meant to be buildings with huge crosses out front, but that it can be a house on 68th street next to a drive-thru daiquiri store. A house that lets kids be kids, and give them the attention they so desperately crave. I learned that even when you think your heart is full and you think there is no more love to give, God could send one more forgotten child to the doorstep who is content to just sit in your lap, and in the process, melt your heart. I learned that family isn’t something that is defined by chromosomes, genes, or skin color, but by the blood of Christ. And I learned from the tight grip of the smallest little girl, with the largest smile, that love is a messed up imperfect thing that despite its imperfections has to be freely given to all. These little things added up to change the entire way I looked at life and my future. I knew I wouldn’t be content sitting at a desk for the rest of my life. I needed to be out with people getting my hands dirty.

Returning to Jewell with this new vision however rocked my world. I came back to a lifestyle I wasn’t familiar with. I went from spending time with children who didn’t have fathers to one’s who were thoughtlessly spending every penny of their daddy’s money. I went from being the out of place Yankee without a slow southern drawl, to blending in seamlessly. Despite the challenges I spent the next year at Jewell thinking I had my life figured out. I worked on my Spanish vocabulary, grew enormous amounts of bacteria, on purpose, and was pummeled with benzene rings, functional groups and steric hindrance, before taking my next adventure.

I left after the end of my junior year for a summer internship in Lisbon Portugal. It was a job where I studied membrane receptors and cellular death in response to amyloid beta, the protein responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. But really I spent the summer dissecting rats, drinking coffee, and falling in love with the Portuguese sun and sand. I was taller than the entire nation, loved their pastries and beer, and earned the title of elegant redneck American. During that summer I fell in love with my newfound freedom, and the Portuguese language. I was proposed to over a turkey leg, and attended many an elegant affair in a cotton sundress and sandals. The future changed again that summer. My five-minute walk through the hospital everyday convinced me that after dreaming of Medical School for 15 years, that I didn’t want to go. Five minutes of watching patients receive a number and a bandaid before being sent back out the door without a second thought to their deeper need dissuaded me from my long-term goal. At first I was impressed with the efficiency. Then I saw that the patients were reduced to their ailment. I had no desire to practice medicine in that manner, and I didn’t want to be part of a culture that did.

So whether it is a tiny girl slipping her little fingers into mine, or a five-minute walk through a hospital, small things in my past have changed my future. And I’d like to say that despite the fact that Jewell wasn’t the place of these changes, I know that it has given me the skills and tools to seek after the things that make my heart happy. I’m content not knowing my future goals or the endpoint of my destination. I just know that I’m perfectly happy not being tied down. I know that a certain messed up irregular love is what will keep me standing, and that people are deeper than the cuts that they show on the surface. Adventure must be taken head-on and thanks to Jewell and these lessons, I’m brave enough to take the risk, and willing to chase after the small things that will change my future.

Monday, February 15, 2010


My creative writing professor asked if I loved him. I wrote about him because of the humor, but I can see where she would get that question after reading the last piece i wrote for class...

The fado singer in the background crooned in desperation every now and again with Portuguese songs about the motherland and lost love played from the old record player. The wooden chest I sat on and the art magazines with too many naked women with odd body language that covered the chest didn’t cause me the discomfort that they usually do. The last of the Lisbon sunshine filtered into the room giving leaving a slight orange glow. Hugo was shinning like a god, and the smoke from his last cigarette worshipped him. In a sort of dream-like motion his hand flipped the lighter open and with a perfected technique from years of practice he lit a new cigarette and brought it to his hungry mouth. Inside his lungs were screaming for the nicotine fix, but in the room there was only another song in Portuguese with the occasional popping and scratching that comes with the records. The cigarette was held perfectly between his beautiful full lips. So much so that I needed to reach out and touch it to make sure the scene was real, but I kept myself firmly on the wooden chest and let my mind play games with me. With the first inhale of his newly lighted cigarette his face relaxed and a smile of sated contentedness took its place. The room grew hazy with the smoke he exhaled. It crossed over the freckles that splattered across his dark skin, then traveled past his brilliant piercing blue-green eyes, flowed over his perfectly messed-up hair before drifting over to the wooden chest that held me. The smoke and his gaze caressed every part of my being. They both moved down my long tanned legs, past my bright yellow dress, up my broad shoulders to where my nose waiting anxiously for the smell of smoke to ruin the perfect setting. But as I recognized the smoke smell it was different than ever before. It was warm and inviting. It was dark and sensuous. It held mysterious that were just longing to be uncovered. The smoke was nothing like the cigarette smoke from the United States that made me feel dirty and in need of a shower. This was one that smelled of adventure and newness. One that would cling to my clothes and hair, making me feel deeper and more profound. A smoke that though never inhaled directly, I came to need. An addiction that left me at the whim of another. One who needed the nicotine fix, and I just needed him.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


It's closer to midnight than the morning sunrise when my alarm clock goes off. It's nauseating just to open my eyes. Everything moves in slow motion like a fog has moved into my brain clouding my thoughts and motions. It's a fight just to figure out how to untie my sweatpants. The impending adventure is what keeps me moving. The fact that in eight hours I will be closer to where I belong. Near a large body of water with an high temperature of 90 degrees. Blows my mind. At this point in the dead of winter in the frozen tundra, I can't even imagine what 90 degrees feels like. Do you even need clothes in 90 degrees?

As the drive to the airport rolled by with only minimal obligatory skunk smells, and the check in process at the airport is completed I'm closer to the sunrise than midnight, but it is still pitch dark outside. The antiseptic hospital like smell of the airport clears the fog and leaves me to my thoughts. I have brought with me things from past adventures that make me a little nostalgic. I have packed my black sandals that have been nearly worn through by the portugal pavement and sand of Cascais. I packed the same shirt that I got off of a plane in Malaga wearing 10 months ago. My heart and body know what is coming. I'm like a child on christmas, one who can't contain the anticipation and excitement, even if it is five in the morning.

Oh adventure, how I have missed you.