:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

dinsdag 28 juni 2005

Things I've accomplished in the past week:

1. Swam 12.5 miles around Key West.
2. Prompted the Boston Light Swim race coordinators to (a) post the 2005 entry form, and (b) consider volunteer-basis kayakers as viable escort alternatives.
3. Contacted UF's financial advisors and set my mind at ease regarding my fall scholarships.
4. Worked a pitiful 18 hours.
5. Eaten whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted. (Try two McDonald's fish filets and a brownie!)

Things which must still be accomplished:

1. The hammering-out of a definitive Eurail itinerary.
2. The purchase of a plane ticket and a Eurail pass.
3. The retaking of the GRE.
4. My further healing and peeling (of my sore shoulders and sunburned face, respectively)
5. The earning of as many hours at work as humanly possible in the next 5.5 weeks (which, as near as I can figure, is around 180, a.k.a. maximum ~$1300 after taxes. Sigh.)

How you can help:

Tell me what's worth seeing and what's worth skipping in France, Italy, and Greece. Here's what I have on my list:

France: Paris bike tour, Versailles bike tour, Louvre museum, Arc d'Triomphe, Eiffel tower, D-Day beaches/museums, Dordogne Valley, Lascaux caves, Bordeaux, Mont-St-Michel.

Italy: Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Trevi fountain, Colosseum, Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Mt. Vesuvius.

Greece: Athens, the Parthenon, the Acropolis, Mt. Olympus (in Thessaloniki), Delphi, Olympia, the island of Santorini.

Recommendations to add or chop, anyone? Any tips would be more than welcome.


(01) I have weird thumbs - the nails are wider than they are tall.
(02) My perfume is Celine Dion's Notes.
(03) I can't ever resist buying a backpack, purse, or electronic gadget.
(04) I'm a Cheez-Its addict - but only the flavored ones.
(05) I love Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, and Keira Knightly.
(06) My current heart's desire is a racing bike.
(07) I like frozen yogurt better than ice cream.
(08) I once met Shania Twain.
(09) I'm a miser - I save as much money as I can.
(10) I hate apples, purple grapes, beer, and squash.

(1) Think like me, so that we have that 'words-are-unnecessary' kind of connection.
(2) Be romantic (but not too over the top) and spontaneous.
(3) Be athletic, adventurous, and willing to try new things.
(4) Be an atheist and a Democrat.
(5) Be good at languages.
(6) Tell me the truth, always.
(7) Have a nice family.
(8) Have a special talent, something you're great at but that I can't do.
(9) Enjoy traveling.

(1) Cell phone
(2) Keys
(3) Wallet
(4) iPod
(5) Sunglasses
(6) Day planner
(7) Lip balm
(8) Eye drops

(1) George W. Bush.
(2) People who don't write well.
(3) Bad weather on the day of a swim.
(4) Religious zealots.
(5) Houseflies.
(6) 2 AM shifts at work.
(7) Constantly shaving.

(1) The Netherlands - been
(2) Paris - been
(3) Auschwitz - been
(4) Grand Canyon - intend
(5) Italy - intend
(6) England - intend

(1) Swim the English Channel.
(2) Go on safari in Africa.
(3) Write a book.
(4) Take a cross-country bike trip.
(5) Get married and have twins.

(1) Drowning, smothering, or dying/suffering in any way in which I can't breathe.
(2) Bees, wasps, and anything else that stings.
(3) Not achieving goals I set for myself, and then giving up on them completely.
(4) Somehow screwing up my life and ending up a truck driver or gas station attendant, with no real life beyond the daily grind.

(1) Take vitamins.
(2) Mentally write something.
(3) Sleep.

(1) Fall asleep.
(2) Touch my sunburned face.

(1) Nobody - just the inside of my eyelids - it's a quarter to one.

maandag 27 juni 2005

More about KW:

Pros: no chafing, no body sunburn, no goggle fogging, filling, or pressure problems, pretty sea life, stayed well hydrated, FINISHED! (Also: just got an e-mail from Nika, and I quote, "You're my role model. I can't even imagine running that far, let alone swimming it!" LOL.)

Cons: shoulder issues, shallow hot water, seasickness, bad facial sunburn (goggle and cap marks - I look like a clown!), slow time (due to six miles of breaststroke).

Overall impression: a good, worthwhile experience for me, even if the actual swim wasn't 100% fun the whole time.

Decision about Boston: I definitely want to do it. It'll be simpler in many ways - cool, deep water, good current assist, and only 2/3 the distance of Key West - and it sounds truly enjoyable. The problem is the finances. The swim fee is $100, but I can deal with that because it seems to be a pretty 'high-class' race; it's apparently the oldest open-water swim in America, so it gets a lot of attention. That fee includes a pre-swim dinner, a press release, the standard T-shirt, etc. etc. etc. However, it does NOT include an escort. Christine volunteered to do KW for free (I just took her to dinner as a thank-you), which is why that worked out so well. But I don't want to pay $250 for a boat escort in Boston. Christine says she has a sister in New York who might kayak for me, but the question now is, will the swim even allow kayakers instead of boaters? I'm working on it.

Money, money, money!

I know we're constantly told that money does not grow on trees... but it would be so much simpler if it did! I'm starting to go nuts here.

I have to pay for:

a semester abroad (~E3100, or ~$3750, which should be almost, but not quite, covered by UF)
a plane ticket (~$950 round trip)
a Eurail pass (~$250) plus hostels, food, etc. (~$350)
the fee for the Boston Light ($100) plus the boat escort fee (~$250)
a trip to England in October (~$100 plane ticket, $200 miscellaneous)

... plus I was sort of hoping to save at least a LITTLE money this summer! Geez. I'm scouring the internet for low plane fares, but the lowest I can find is $469 one-way from Jax to Boston to Amsterdam. (Oddly enough, it actually works out better if I include Boston - a straight-up Jax-NL trip is almost a thousand dollars, as is Orlando.) There's also a $660 Boston-Amsterdam round trip (plus ~$200 for the Jax-Boston leg), which I might do, but I need to wait until my next payday. (By which point it all will have changed again... sigh.) And I'm not asking my parents for help; they ended up paying a lot of stuff for me last time when the exchange rate skyrocketed right after I got over there, and I promised this wouldn't be a repeat performance. Money's tight around here right now anyway, in anticipation of football season. I wish the UCU packet would hurry up and get here; it's supposed to have an invoice in it, so I can figure out some hard numbers, along with some other goodies.

Eurail, I rail, we all rail against Eurail!

The original plan was to do France, Italy, and Greece, but I'm starting to look at other options, too, like chopping off Greece and going only to France and Italy, and then not staying as long. I wish I could spend more nights on trains - saves money - but that just doesn't really work out. The only line long enough for that is Paris-Rome (plus the ferries between Greece and Italy and, if I push it, the Athens-Thessaloniki train) - so that means I'll be paying $30 or so every night for a hostel, and that'll add up quickly. I guess I need to re-evaluate all this. Bah.

Something new for a change.

Grad school. The online applications will be up in mid-August, so I need to get cracking, seeing as I'll already be gone by then. I wanted to take the GRE again (oh, great, another $115 gone) just to make sure I've done my best - I was around the 89th percentile, but I don't think Harvard and Yale will like that - I think they want at least a 95. Then I have to do a personal statement plus get 3 people to write letters. Seven schools: Harvard, Yale, U Pitt, Georgetown, Brown, UNC Chapel Hill, and UF... am I forgetting anyone?

Anyway, this was just a glimpse into all the twisting, turning thoughts that have been racing through my head all day.

Now to take a break.

zondag 26 juni 2005

Mile 1

"Is that the boats, making these waves? It's rougher than I thought."
"Partly - that and the tourists running around on their jet-skis out there. The rest is natural."
"Oh, great."

Mile 2

"Hey, cool, I see starfish down here! And little striped fish. Oh, and brain coral!"

Mile 3

"Hey, there's Fort Zachary-Taylor. Wow - you made it here faster than we drove last night!"
"Yeah, well, but we circled the island a few times..."

Mile 4

"That's Mallory Square, where everyone goes to watch the sunset."
"Oh, yeah, I see it!"
"Careful through these waves - they're pretty intense, with that crane working over there, and they just keep bouncing off the seawall back at you."
"Oh, it's okay - I'm starting to find a rhythm now. Hey, check out that ship - it looks like something from Pirates of the Caribbean!"

Mile 5

"Two hours and fifteen minutes - you're on pace to finish at about six hours flat, like you wanted."
"Sweeeeet. YIKES! A giant ray just swam under me! ...Cool!"

Mile 6

"Hey, where did you come from?"
"I was behind you the whole time."
"Really? I thought we were last!"
"Oh, no, there're tons of people back there. How're you doing?"
"All right. Pretty nauseous, though - have been since mile two."
"That sucks. Want some electrolytes?"
"Sure - thanks."

Mile 7

"Christine? Could I have two Aleve? My shoulder's starting to hurt."

Mile 8

"Those buildings are just not getting any closer! Argh! I wish I could swim freestyle - breaststroke feels so slow - but it just hurts too bad."

Mile 9

"Hey, that's awesome!"
"Is that part of an old boat?"
"No, I think it's an old dock or something - and there are TONS of fish around it! I see black-and-yellow angelfish, plus those striped ones. Neat!"

Mile 10

"How're you doing?"
"Not too good. I am officially at my low point."
"I think you'll get a lift when we round the corner and you can see the finish."
"Hope so. ...Grr - I could sit on the bottom here if I were allowed to touch it - it's that shallow! How am I supposed to drink if I can't go vertical?"

Mile 11

"I know I'm doing breaststroke, but still, I feel like I'm only moving half as far with each stroke as I was in Cow Key Channel."
"Yeah, the tide's doing something funky now, I think - plus you're swimming into the wind."
(mentally) This sucks. I want this to be over, NOW. And I wish those tourists would quit it with the jet-skis already! I'm already nauseous and now I'm getting seasick! (*much gagging and loss of lunch ensue*)

Mile 12 & 12.5

Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
"I can't see the finish."
"Yeah, the seawall curves kinda inward - once we get past it, you'll be able to see."
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
"Hey Jess - I see the finish!"
"Really? No fair - I still can't!"
"Yeah, you're too low - it's just a big triangular orange buoy in the water."
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
"Could I swim next to you, instead of behind you?"
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
"Hey, there's a conch shell down here!... Oh, darn, it's got something living in it. I was gonna take it."
"Would've been a good souvenir for you."
"Yeah - too bad."
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
"Oh, wait - I think I can finally see the finish."
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
"Oh, yeah, here are those poles that he said start at the last half-mile. One down, nine to go."
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe.
Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Touch buoy.
"Seven hours, twenty-seven minutes. Good job, kayaker, good job, swimmer!"


"You swam six miles, breaststroke?!"
"Well, I wasn't gonna quit!"

Trophies: a wrecked left shoulder, a sunburned face, and a glass finisher's medal. Plus, more reinforcement of my second-grade teacher's tactful words, "She's - a very determined child..."

donderdag 23 juni 2005

I unexpectedly got a new cell phone today. I didn't really need or want one, but Mom and Catie's phones were suffering various ailments and since we're on a family plan, their switching meant I had to switch, too. So now I have a Samsung P777 - very slick. Nice graphics, gorgeous camera clarity, fun extras, and cool 'hidden' number pad (the top slides back to reveal it).

HOWEVER. Although I can store up to 100 MB worth of mp3s on it and play them back... I cannot set an mp3 as my ringtone. Why? Does anyone know how to crack this? I have an irrational desire to have Men At Work's "Land Down Under" as my ringtone, yet I don't want to pay $2.50. Since the gadget supports mp3s, there must be a stealthy way to do it, but I don't have time to find it right now, BECAUSE... I'm off to Key West!

A 12.5 mile swim, in what looks to be rather nasty weather. Wish me luck, everyone! I'll be back on Sunday night.

dinsdag 21 juni 2005

Total hours worked this (2-wk) pay period: ~90

Total babysitting money earned in the past two days: $60

Hours of sleep I got last night: ~4.5

Miles swum at tonight's practice: 3

Plates of (carbohydrate-rich) pasta eaten at dinner: 3

Hours I (optimistically) plan to sleep tonight: 12

Hours till I leave for Key West: ~36

vrijdag 17 juni 2005

Hot topics of the day: plane tickets and Eurail. So what else is new? Hence the categories:

Eurail is the bane of my existence.

Yesterday while Catie and my parents were at FSU for her orientation, I spent the promised six or seven hours in front of the Eurail timetable. I worked it out according to the two distinct travel possibilities: Boston or no Boston. If I don't do the Boston swim, I would leave town on the 15th, the last day of my pay period at work. If I do, I would swim on the 6th and leave the country on the 7th, thus giving me a full extra week. In the worst-case, I had to cut out the caves at Lascaux, the Dordogne region, the vineyards at Bordeaux, and even Florence and Pisa - none of it fit. I even had to plan for a flight back instead of taking the trains, because otherwise I would have had to chop out a lot more stuff. However, I am starting to realize that paying extra to fit Boston into my itinerary and paying extra to fly back to NL at the end of Eurail will amount to approximately the same amount of money, whereas one scenario would make me infinitely happier than the other. Therefore, the final decision really just rests on how Key West goes in a week. If it goes well, I'll do Boston; if it doesn't, I may not. But anyway, here are the timetables for 'worst' and 'best' scenarios, all checked out with the airlines and the train timetables.

Worst-Case Scenario:

8/15 fly overnight to the Netherlands
8/16 drop my huge bag at University College and spend the night with a friend
8/17 early train to Paris, 2 bike tours (one day, one night... completely different)
8/18 bike trip to Versailles, train to Bayeaux
8/19 D-day beaches/museums, train back to Paris, night train to Rome
8/20 Vatican City, Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi fountain
8/21 train to Naples, day trip to Pompeii
8/22 day trip to Capri
8/23 catacombs, Mt. Vesuvius, train to Bari, night ferry to Patras (Greece)
8/24 train to Athens, Acropolis, Pantheon, night train to Thessaloniki
8/25 hike Mt. Olympus, night train back to Athens
8/26 35-euro flight to gorgeous Santorini (island)
8/27 35-euro flight back from Santorini, day trip to Delphi
8/28 day trip to Olympia, late-night 115-euro flight to London
8/29 6 AM flight from London to Amsterdam
8/30 free day to unpack and get organized
8/31 Ditto
9/1 classes start!

Best-Case Scenario

8/5 fly to Boston, have the pre-swim dinner
8/6 swim, and hopefully meet Robin
8/7 fly to the Netherlands, spend the night with a friend
8/8 drop my huge bag at University College, take the train to Paris, do the city bike tour (night version)
8/9 bike trip to Versailles, train to Bayeaux in the evening
8/10 D-Day beaches/museums, evening train back to Paris
8/11 early train to St. Malo, day trip to Mont-Saint-Michel
8/12 early train back to Paris, train to Bordeaux, local transportation to Sarlat
8/13 day trip to the caves at Lascaux
8/14 day trip to the Dordogne Valley, back to Bordeaux in the evening
8/15 bike tour of Bordeaux/vineyards, overnight train to Nice
8/16 trains from Nice to Genova and Genova to Pisa, see the Leaning Tower
8/17 train from Pisa to Florence
8/18 day in Florence, train to Rome
8/19 Rome (Vatican City, Colosseum, etc.)
8/20 Rome, afternoon train to Naples, see the famous catacombs
8/21 day trip to Pompeii
8/22 day trip to Capri (Blue Grotto, hiking)
8/23 visit Mt. Vesuvius, afternoon train to Bari, overnight ferry to Patras (Greece)
8/24 train to Athens, see Acropolis and Parthenon, overnight train to Thessaloniki
8/25 day trip to hike Mt. Olympus, overnight train back to Athens
8/26 35-euro morning flight to gorgeous Santorini
8/27 35-euro morning flight back to Athens, day trip to Delphi
8/28 travel to Olympia (maybe via Tripoli), then to Patras; overnight ferry to Bari
8/29 train to Rome, overnight train to Paris
8/30 city bike tour (daytime version), train back to NL
8/31 free day
9/1 classes start!

Leavin' on a jet plane... or maybe not...

Help! I finally found a Boston-Amsterdam round trip for $761, but now I can’t find a Jacksonville-Boston flight that isn’t $250. Argh!

And if we’re talking one-way, Virgin Atlantic has a $312 fare to London and British Midland has an $85 one to Amsterdam, but once you factor in the Jacksonville-Boston fare, you get around $550 for just one-way... and that’s what I’d normally pay for a round-trip. Grrr.

Also, why is everything so much cheaper on Sunday morning than on Saturday night? I’d rather not pay for a second night in a hotel, but with a difference of $100 – which is what it is – I think I will. Bah.

The one positive factor: the euro is dropping. It’s down to $1.20 now. Thank you, France, and thank you, Netherlands, for vetoing the European Constitution! Keep dropping, keep dropping...

maandag 13 juni 2005

Once again, I'm trying to shift my sleep schedule so I can do my Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday 4 AM shifts. However, my aunt and uncle from Orlando were in town today, so we ended up going to La Nopalera and eating lunch/dinner around 3:30 PM; therefore I woke up hungry at midnight and couldn't go back to sleep. So here I am, two waffles and some frozen yogurt later, doing such useful things as planning my Eurail itinerary, eating the last of the Cheez-Its, and reading more of my sister's Jodi Picoult book. We've decided that between the two of us we need all 13 of her books (with the exception of My Sister's Keeper, which we both have, since neither of us could bear to part with it). We're up to 5 so far, I believe, and I'm going to make it six and maybe seven once I get paid again, although those will go straight into my carry-on bag, not to be opened until I'm on the plane in August.

It's looking like I may not be able to go to Boston, which stinks. I was planning to route myself through Boston on my way to the Netherlands and do the Boston Light marathon swim (eight miles in Boston Harbor), but I don't know if it's going to work out. Flight prices are just so ridiculous right now; I've never seen them this bad. I'm still crossing my fingers that Virgin Atlantic will run a Boston-London special, but no dice yet.

As for Eurail, I think I'm going to just do a 3-country pass: France, Italy, and Greece. Crazy as it sounds coming from the 'Spanish Queen' of Stanton, I just can't seem to find anything in Spain that really interests me, and Ireland (my other choice) doesn't have all that much, either; just the Giant's Causeway and the Blarney Stone. But I've been to Ireland before, so I don't think I'll be missing out on much if I skip it this time. There's so much to do in the other countries that I really can't justify going so far out of my way; Greece is already going to be a royal pain, due to having to take an overnight ferry from Italy.

Anyway, here are my high points so far:

France: Paris, obviously - I want to see the Louvre and all the touristy things I didn't get to see last time, plus take a day trip to Versailles and maybe do that cool bike tour to Monet's garden again. Then I want to see the D-Day beaches at Normandy, take a day trip to Mont-St.-Michel, see the winelands at Bordeaux and the Lascaux caves by the Dordogne.

Italy: Rome, of course - the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and Vatican City with the Sistine Chapel - and Florence and Pisa ("It's the leaning tower of cheese-a!"). But my favorite spot in this country seems like it's going to be Naples, because I can go from there to Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, Capri, Vulcano, and maybe Stromboli - an active volcano - if I have enough time.

Greece: Athens, duh (the Acropolis and the Parthenon, plus day trips to Delphi, Marathon, and the Temple of Poseidon), along with Thessaloniki, the city closest to Mt. Olympus, which I plan to hike at least part of. And then the islands of Mykonos, Delos, and Santorini, purely for some eye candy and photo ops.

Anyway, that's my trip in a nutshell - I'm planning to jump from the Netherlands to Paris, spend maybe a day or two there, take an overnight train to Rome, spend a day or two there, then go to Bari (coastal Italian city) and take the ferry to Greece and then sort of slowly work my way back, with five or six days in each country. I'd rather do the long boring traveling in the beginning when I'm still fresh, and since this isn't really a route I can make a circle with, I'm just going to start at the far end and work my way north. If I don't get to go to Boston, I'd like to work till August 15th (the last day of the pay period) and leave on the 16th, but two weeks doesn't seem like enough time to see all that stuff, if you factor in travel time. On the other hand, sleeping on trains and ferries would save me hostel money as well as daytime hours. I guess I need to spend some time poring over the 121-page train timetable. Yay. Can't wait.

Oh yeah - the Amelia Island swim. Thanks to tropical storm Arlene, the water was unbelievably rough - the Coast Guard boats couldn't make it out, and only one kayaker managed it. As a result, they canceled the 5k swim and made everyone do the one-miler. Most of us never made it out past the breakers - we just sort of pushed along the bottom the whole way, diving over and under the waves, dropping down to swim a few strokes whenever we got a break in between, then getting up again. Not exactly efficient, but the current was so strong that I still finished in 19 minutes (compared to 32 in St. Augustine). Ah, well, I got my shirt and my free breakfast (and a certificate for being third in my age group), so it's all good.

Speaking of swimming, I have to swim tomorrow no matter how tired I am. I had my normal workout on Thursday, nothing Friday because of the race the next morning, did the race (then came home and ran the 5k that I didn't get to swim :)), did nothing today because of our houseguests (yet still ate like a truck driver - eggs and hash browns for breakfast and enchiladas for lunch!), and will not be in the mood to do anything 'tomorrow' (today...) because I have to 'wake up' in, um, 12 minutes to get ready for work. Regardless of that, I still have to do at least 3500 yards, because Key West is in less than two weeks! I'll start tapering in a week, but this week needs to be hard, like normal. I'm gaining weight being home; my clothes don't fit quite like they did a month ago. I sure hope that team in the Netherlands is good and that I fit in okay there (me not being in high school and all...), because I don't want to lose all my progress. I'll be coming home in the middle of swim season and Club Alligator will be right in the thick of things.

That all being said, I am sooo excited about Key West!

Today - work 4 AM, swim 3500 at the Y (distance... like 5 x 500 or something, and then a little IM work)
Tuesday - work 4 AM, swim with Masters 7 PM
Wednesday - work 4 AM, day off from swimming
Thursday - off from work, swim with Masters 7 PM
Friday - work 2 PM, swim 3500 (distance) at the Y
Saturday - swim with Masters 8 AM, work 2 PM
Sunday - swim at the beach, off from work
Monday - work 4 AM, swim 3000 easy distance
Tuesday - work 4 AM, swim 3000 easy distance
Wednesday - off from work; do last-minute shopping and packing, maybe one last easy swim
Thursday - drive to Miami, spend the night with Erin
Friday - drive to the Keys, stay at the Sheraton with Christine (my kayaker)
Saturday - swim!!!
Sunday - drive home
Monday - back to work, 4 AM

Oh, and about work? I met a guy at the airport yesterday who works for American Airport Shuttle, or something like that, and he started trying to recruit me. He offered me a higher salary and better hours, too. I'm still planning to stick it out at Runways, at least for the summer, but this may give me some bargaining power if things get too bad up there.

2:58 - time to get up.

donderdag 9 juni 2005

Well, so yesterday was interesting - I spent 11 hours in the ER.

No, don't rejoice just yet - I'm not dying, not even sick, though it sure felt like I was. See, on Sunday night I started having this weird dull pain in my left side, under the rib cage, and also up in my left shoulder a little. I dismissed it as 'just one of those things' and went to sleep - I have a pretty high pain tolerance to begin with, and with sports I'm used to various unexplained aches and pains - they crop up for a day or so, then go away again. This, however, was worse the next day, to the point where I text-messaged Mom during my work shift to ask her what she thought it could be. It didn't feel muscular; it felt 'internal', and for some reason, the only detail I remembered from my Ann M. Martin biography was that she'd had a bad fall from a treehouse after which doctors said "If her left shoulder starts to hurt, it means her spleen is damaged and we may have to remove it." (For those who care: it did and they did.) Mom didn't look anything up, just asked if I needed a doctor's appointment, to which I said no.

When I got home, I looked up the spleen, and discovered that it was located exactly where I was having the pain - on the left side, under the rib cage, close to the stomach - and one of the details said, along with pain in the spleen area, that "the pain may spread to the left shoulder, particularly if parts of the spleen are not receiving sufficient blood supply and start to die." Well, THAT was comforting. Mom and I decided that if it wasn't better the next day, Tuesday, that we'd make an appointment.

On Tuesday at 4 AM it was still the same - hurting every time I took a deep breath - so I left Mom a note to make me an appointment while I was at work. But while I was driving back from Gainesville, the shoulder pain, which had come and gone until then, came back with a vengeance. I forgot all about the pain in my side, because this was much sharper and more intense. I couldn't bend or move in certain directions without intense pain; even walking hurt it. And yet moving the arm didn't make much of a difference either way - more proof that it wasn't injury-related, but something else.

I text-messaged Mom again and said I was worse and that I definitely needed that appointment, but the best she could get was for Wednesday morning. With the spleen-area pain, that would have been okay, but I didn't want to suffer through 24 more hours of that shoulder; it was the most pain I've felt in a very long time. When I told her that, she suggested we go to the ER, and I agreed that that was a good idea.

Of course, ten minutes after that conversation, the shoulder pain stopped as abruptly as it had started. I didn't want to spend money unnecessarily, but I didn't want that pain back, either, and that sentence from the Web site about areas of the spleen dying kept running through my mind. So we went. And, as with any ER, we sat. And waited. And sat. And waited. For a total of five hours. I felt alternately bored and ridiculous, having to write 'enlarged spleen?' down under Complaints and sitting in an ER with no severe symptoms, now that the shoulder had stopped.

Anyway, to make a hours-long story short(er), we finally got back into an exam room, and of course the first thing they wanted to do was draw blood. Preparing myself for the possibility of a splenectomy, I hadn't eaten or drunk much of anything all day, and upon the blood drawing, I had what they call a 'vaso-vagal reaction' - meaning I essentially went into a kind of shock. Everything started to go black, I felt numb and dizzy, my blood pressure fell to 64/35 (yes, really) and, scariest of all, my throat started to close up. I was hearing everyone's voices as if they were talking through a tunnel. That was the point when the nurse attached a liter of saline to the needle they'd just inserted and used my parents as makeshift IV stands, "Hold that up and squeeze it; we need to get it into her as fast as we can, to get her pressure back up." Which did the trick, eventually, although I felt pretty grim for the next hour or so - my throat opened back up most of the way, but instead of feeling swollen, it just felt sore, and whenever I took a normal breath, it felt like I'd been running at top speed in the freezing cold - I couldn't do it without coughing. And when I coughed, it made me want to puke. I didn't, but I would have if I hadn't focused on just taking very shallow breaths for a while. Talk about feeling worse AFTER you go to the doctor.

Anyway, so they did an EKG, an ultrasound, a chest X-ray, and some more blood work (which went fine the second time around; they laid me flat and gave me some oxygen), and it eventually came out that because I had a driving job which involved so much sitting still in one place, there was a possibility that I might have a blood clot, which could be causing the pain. That was the point when we all stopped seeing the visit as an unnecessary hassle and started realizing that maybe I really did need to be there. Turned out I didn't - everything came back clear - but we were still glad we'd ruled out that possibility. Nobody down there ever really came up with a satisfactory explanation for why I had had such intense pain, but the general best guess is that I just somehow messed up some internal muscle which then affected a major nerve that runs up into the shoulder. I have no idea what I could have done, but I'm feeling much better today, so I don't really care what it was, as long as it doesn't come back.

Anyway, so all's well that ends well - my only battle scar is the big purple bruise on my left arm from the IV. Guess it could have been worse.

Back to normal tomorrow - my scheduled day off from work, and then swimming in the evening. Then payday (yay!) and carbo-loading on Friday, and then the 5k Amelia Island race on Saturday. Two weeks after that, it'll be Key West. Woohoo!

maandag 6 juni 2005

Well, my old archnemesis has returned... summer airfare. Last week I got a letter from UF, congratulating me again on my acceptance into the fall abroad program and reminding me that they still need a flight itinerary from me. Translation: let the games begin. I've been poring over every site out there - the best of which has so far been Student Universe - and can't find anything cheaper than a $965 Jacksonville-Amsterdam round trip. In the off season, it's around $500. With as hard as I'm working to earn money and with the exchange rate the way it is, I refuse to pay a thousand dollars for airfare alone. There are a couple of creative ways to do this; I could buy two one-way trips (the December trip back is a reasonable $377, but the outbound one is much more), I could go via Boston should I decide to do that Boston Light swim (there's a one-way Boston-Amsterdam fare for $405, but that leaves me with the problem of getting to Boston), or I could go via London and try for a dirt-cheap EasyJet fare to make the last hop. The problem is, you have to fly early in the day (like, 6:45 AM) to snag one of those, and all the jumps 'across the pond' seem to get in around 7 AM. Bah. Anyway, I'm still looking, but am getting increasingly frustrated. Come on, Virgin Atlantic, you've never failed me before... run a London special! I'll find some way to get to Orlando, if it comes to that. Why else do I work for a transportation company?

Anyway, my other sources of amusement yesterday (I say 'yesterday' because I have to leave for work at 3:30, so I've already had my 'night's sleep' - I just woke up too soon) were (a) open-water swim practice, (b) my new Jodi Picoult book, and (c) searching for various 'Hillary 2008' bumper stickers (like this one and this one). I've been reading that she's apparently in "a statistical tie" with Giuliani and McCain - and it's only 2005. Let's hope that's true, and let's hope her numbers go up rather than down.

At any rate, it's 2:45 AM and I'm awake and starving, so I think I'll go ahead and get something to eat and put on my oh-so-stylish uniform. 4 AM shifts on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday... gotta love it. Oh, well, at least it's a regular schedule with 38 hours a week, so who am I to complain?

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