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Monday, August 26, 2013

Nola Eat Street

I escaped down to New Orleans this past weekend and Jeff and I had a great time visiting some of our favorite local haunts.  Saturday night we checked out a super hipster event going on Uptown called Eat Street.  A new bar/music venue called Publiq House hosted some food trucks outside and music inside so we met up with some friends there to enjoy a fun night!



The weekend went by way too fast and I was so sad to leave Jeff again to drive back up to Jackson.  But one good thing about my postdoc?  I have bank holidays off this year- so that means a glorious three days in Nola this weekend!  Can't. Wait.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend Update

Another Monday, another week.  Jeff came up to Jackson for the weekend (remember he's currently rotating in Nola right now) and I was sad to see him leave yesterday evening to head back.  Originally, I was planning on going down there to get my Nola fix, but one of the attending's at his fellowship hosted a welcome get together on Sunday for the new fellows here in Jackson, so he came up here instead.  So a Jackson weekend it was.  Yippee!

We had a pretty good weekend though, so it almost distracted me from missing home.  Saturday night we had a fun dinner with some friends and then checked out a place downtown for drinks and live blues/jazz music.








Photo
Super grainy picture compliments of 2 glasses of wine
Then on Sunday, after spending all day nursing a 3 drink hangover (getting old sucks), we went to the aforementioned fellowship welcome get together.  The attending's house was ah-mazing and backed up to a dreamy pond (complete with canoes).  It was seriously something you would see on Pinterest.  The living room was full of exposed brick and wooden beams.  I would have taken pictures if I could have gotten away with no one seeing me be a creeper.  Aside from getting dream house inspiration, I got to meet the other docs, trainers, and staff that Jeff works with on a daily basis, so that was cool.

Fast forward to today- I'm FINALLY starting some bench work in the lab after 2 weeks of reading papers and shadowing other people.  Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing.  I'm just glad to not be so bored out of my mind.  Here's to hoping this week flies by!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Pity Party Stops Here

I've been struggling with a few things lately, some I want to share on this blog and some I don't.  Mainly, feeling like I'm not where I'm supposed to be right now.  This city and this job just don't feel quite right. I wasn't ready to leave New Orleans and Jackson doesn't feel like home yet.  I say "yet" as if I expect to eventually settle in and find my groove here, but I'm worried that won't happen.  People keep saying, "it's only a year" like that is supposed to offer some relief, but truth be told that sounds like a pretty long time to be stuck somewhere you don't want to be.

It's a jarring experience for anyone to move to a new place and start a new job, (especially when it wasn't exactly your idea to begin with, thanks medical training!).  It always takes some adjusting, but I think it's been extra weird for me because I used to live here in college.  Everywhere we go holds some memory from a different life when we were younger, unmarried, and spent most of our free time drinking.  It's not that the memories are bad, quite the opposite actually, but for some reason it's unsettling to me.

It was a little over 5 years ago when we left Jackson to move to New Orleans, but it may as well have been a lifetime ago.  I moved here at 18, fresh out of high school and excited to be away from home.  By the time I graduated college at 22, my relationship with Jeff had become serious and I'd made the decision to go to grad school in New Orleans to stay with him.  I was beyond ready for my Jackson chapter to close and for a new one to begin.  While I loved my college and had plenty of good friends, I was ready to get out of Jackson by my sophomore year.  I just never felt like it was the right fit for me and I was itching to get away from what I felt was a pretty judgmental climate.  I needed to be around the type of people who wear jeans and a t-shirt to football games and not heels and pearls, know what I mean?  If you like to dress up in your Sunday best to watch a bunch of sweaty guys throw a ball around and get pummeled, then by all means, more power to ya!  It just wasn't what I was used to growing up in Southern Louisiana and was indicative of the many differences between the two cultures.


St. Louis Cathedral at night in New Orleans
Where we were married
source

I found some really awesome friends in New Orleans.  Everyone was so different from one another, yet coexisted in this perfect melting pot.  People seemed to realize that this is what made the city so great.  They live life to enjoy it down there, I mean really enjoy it.  If you aren't having a hell of a time in life, then what's the point?  It's probably the one thing they take seriously.

Not only did I meet and become friends with some really genuine people, but I fell in love with the city itself.  And even after 5 years there, I felt like we were still discovering something new every time we ventured out.  There was always a new corner to explore that you had never known existed.  Unlike when we left Jackson back in 2008, I wasn't ready for my New Orleans chapter to be over.  We like to think of our lives as progressing linearly.  So, I think what gets me down is that it feels a bit like a step backwards to be in Jackson again, even though our careers and our lives together are moving forward.

I realized the other day that I've spent every day since we moved here focusing on all the things that are wrong with my life right now.  I've been incredibly bored at work (I've been sitting around for a freaking week  and a half doing not shit).  I miss my old boss who was extremely nice, accessible, and understood the need to have a life outside of research.  I knew coming into this position that I would not be the same as grad school.  Some things better, some things worse.  I'm just not sure yet if the better things will outweigh the worse things.  Oh, and have I mentioned that I miss New Orleans and Jackson is devoid of all culture?  There's that too.  To top it off, Jeff just started an away rotation in New Orleans- yes, you read that right.  (Go ahead and rub it in, babe.)  Not only has he gone and left me in this hell hole (ok I may be exaggerating, slightly), but he's in the one place I want to be.

So, I decided I need to get my mind off these things that are bringing me down and instead focus on things that are good right now.  Positive energy and all that jazz.  No more pity parties about things I can't change in my life.  So, here we go.

Things that make me HAPPY right now:

  • Ben & Jerry's new Greek froyo!  I'm especially liking the Blueberry Vanilla Graham flavor.  Nommmmm
  • other people who work in my new lab are super nice
  • having a drive through coffee place on my way to work (also dangerous)
  • Our internet/cable bill here is less than half what it was in Nola (the things you get excited about as an adult)
  • Jeff's 2nd New Orleans rotation will be in February aka Mardi Gras season aka this is possibly the luckiest thing to have ever happened to us (now we'll have a free place to stay during Mardi Gras!!!  I'm already planning my vacation time accordingly.)


I realize these are small, silly things, but they are little victories on the path towards not being completely miserable this year.




Monday, August 12, 2013

OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO: ROME

We arrived in Rome after a particularly stressful EasyJet flight from Paris (beware of the hidden fees for just about everything!) in the evening and checked into our hotel near the Piazza de Fiori.  What a contrast from Paris!  Paris was ornate, gilded, and metropolitan.  Rome was lost in time with narrow cobblestone streets and warm hues splashed across every building.  We also had some incredible (and not so incredible) food in Rome.  Our two favorite restaurants were in the Trastevere neighborhood across the Tiber river.  There's delicious pasta to be had if you do your research and don't fall prey to one of the many tourist traps that line every square (we learned this lesson the hard way).
 
The first morning, we explored the market that sets up each day just a few steps from our hotel.  I thought that if I lived here I would visit a market like this each week and stock up on all the various vegetables, oils, and pastas that are offered.
 
 
 
 
If I had to sum up what I remember most about Rome, I would say fountains and obelisks.  Man, those Romans loved their fountains and they sure as heck loved pillaging Egypt.  Oh, and the churches!  So many Catholic churches.  You couldn't throw a rock without hitting a church in Rome.
 


 
 
Being from South Louisiana, pretty much everyone is Catholic.  It wasn't until I moved away for college and experienced life in the Baptist Bible Belt of Mississippi that I lived somewhere where Catholicism wasn't the majority religion.  But Rome, man is it Catholic.  So what to do with all these Egyptian relics scattered around Rome once the city made the transition from paganism to Christianity?   Just add a cross on top!  Voila.


Egyptian pillar w/ cross in front of the Pantheon
 
I mentioned the Pantheon in Paris, but this is the original Pantheon in Rome. 


Ceiling of the Pantheon
 
 

Walking the streets of Rome
 
 
One of the many churches we visited throughout our trip:
 


 
 
And of course we had to visit the granddaddy of all Roman fountains, the Trevi Fountain!  Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you will one day return to Rome.  I figured, what the heck, it doesn't hurt anything to give it a shot!  These spectacular fountains were built all across Rome to provide free water to the citizens back in the day.  The aqueducts ended here, and constantly provided fresh, drinkable water.


Throwing a coin into the fountain
 
We continued walking until we reached the Spanish steps, a popular meeting place surrounded by high-end shops:
 


 
 

View from the top of the Spanish steps
 
And made our way through dozens more churches.  This one was home to 3 Caravaggio paintings!  I couldn't believe these masterpieces were still hanging in this church today with no real security presence.
 



Caravaggio paintings
 
 
After a couple of days of exploring, we made our way to the whole purpose of our trip according to Jeff:  the Coliseum. 
 


 
 

 
 
Much of it has been renovated and filled in to give you a better idea of what it once looked like.
 

 
Jeff barely containing his excitement
 
 
We also got to explore Palatine Hill, which is the site of the ancient town center of Rome:
 






Palatine Hill
 
 
And finally, on our last day we went to the Vatican.  We paid a pretty penny to get an excellent tour for this and it was so worth it.  We were able to see the Vatican museum as well, which houses spectacular Christian art as well as many non-Christian pieces.  We then saw the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica which were both once in a lifetime experiences.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures at the Sistine Chapel- something about the Japanese owning the copyright for all photography and reproductions of images.  Very strange.
 
 



View of the Basilica in the background


At the top of the Bramante staircase at the Vatican
 
 

In the Vatican art museum
 
 

In front of St. Peter's Basilica


The next morning we headed back to the States.  We were gone for 10 days, the longest vacation either of us has ever been on.  It was the first time we haven't wished we could add on another 2 days (like on our 5-6 day honeymoon to Mexico).  We came home feeling a little more ready to close the chapter on residency and grad school and move on to the next chapter in our lives.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO: PARIS



Paris...what can I say except that I would still be there if I a) didn't have any responsibilities and b) had a trust fund.  But alas, neither are true.  So, I'm in Jackson, MS.  Pretty much the antithesis of Paris.  
le sigh...

Moving was the usual nightmare, which we managed to do 2 days after we returned from Europe.  Jeff's fellowship started last Monday and my post-doc started this week.  I've been getting our new apartment settled and have been completely busy having a pity party for one.

But back to Paris.  It was a dream.  Everything is beautiful there.  It's like they built the city with the intention of it looking like a jewel box.  I just couldn't get enough of it and I wanted days to simply sit at a cafe and eat pastries, but that wasn't exactly Jeff's idea of a vacation.  He's more of a "let's do absolutely everything we possibly can in the shortest period of time" type of person on vacation.  But don't think it was all sightseeing and no eating.  We ate our weight in gourmet food and traditional French fare each day, but hey we walked a million miles so it probably all evened out.   So, without further ado, here are some of our highlights.

We hopped off the plane and headed to our hotel in the bohemian Latin Quarter.  It was the perfect neighborhood for first time visitors as it sits in the middle of everything.  Only a few short blocks from our hotel was the Pantheon, which we visited on our first morning in Paris:


The Pantheon

Underneath the Pantheon, various famous Parisians are buried, including the famous female chemist, Marie Curie:

Geeking out at Marie Curie's tomb

Every block we passed on the way to various destinations held something unique to discover:

Eiffel Tower in background

Cool gargoyles extending from a church

An art deco metro sign in the 6th district


One of the many "lock bridges" we stumbled upon

Saint Chapelle and Notre Dame are close by each other on the Ile de le Cite (an island in the middle of the Seine) and both are beautiful in their own right-  Notre Dame for its immense size and gothic architecture and Saint Chapelle for its stained glass windows that fill every wall.


Notre Dame back view

Saint Chapelle

Saint Chapelle

Notre Dame Cathedral




No trip to Paris would be complete without scaling the Eiffel Tower!  So we arrived bright and early one day before it opened to get an early spot in line.  Boy was it worth it.


View from the top






Another view










Can I just say this thing is huuuuuge (insert that's what she said joke here).  You just don't get the immenseness of the Eiffel Tower until you're standing right up underneath of it.




But just as important to me as seeing the Eiffel Tower was a trip to the famous macaroon shop Laduree.  I dragged Jeff across town for a trip to this location near the Champs Elysees and it was heaven:













We ate our treats that were almost too pretty to eat on the lawn in front of the Louvre with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the background.  I mean, seriously?  It doesn't get much better than that.




Speaking of the Louvre, we almost didn't go because of the sheer vastness of the museum and rumors that the overwhelming crowds would make it unbearable.  But we just didn't feel like a trip to Paris would be complete without at least attempting to see some of its famous masterpieces.  I'm so glad we went.  Coming from a self-diagnosed claustrophobic, I would definitely say GO if you're ever debating whether it's worth the trip.  It was incredible.  I spent more time looking up at the ceilings than looking forward at the artwork.  You have to remember that the Louvre was originally a palace, and all the over-the-top gilded wonderfulness remains.  Not to say that the artwork wasn't incredible too, because it was.  We saw the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, etc etc.  It just blew my mind to think that people actually lived here though.














We also went to the Musee d'Orsay which I highly recommend, we just weren't allowed to take pictures there.  We saw so many more things, (including the catacombs which, despite the 2 hour wait, was one of our favorite attractions), but it would just be too many pictures to post on this little ole blog here.

We spent our last morning relaxing in the Luxembourg Gardens before our flight to Rome.  We had lunch at a cute outdoor cafe in the park and then gorged ourselves on an entire box of desserts we had picked up at a bakery along the way.  Then we napped in the shade for awhile next to a bunch of locals.  It was bliss.





And then we were off to Rome...