Beyond Cat Business

While it’s true that my life for the past 2 weeks has been dominated by my concern for Gwendolyn’s unexpected health condition, other things in my life haven’t come to a complete halt because of it.

Directly prior to all of this cat business, I had been in Myrtle Beach for three days for a project I’m working on. It was three days of verifying and photographing existing conditions at the Grand Strand Hospital and leading a couple of user group meetings for the additions, renovations and new heart center we’re working on.

User group meetings are cool. It’s so insightful to get feedback from the doctors, nurses and technicians who will actually be using our designs everyday. And it's totally sappy, but it’s extremely gratifying to be a part of something that has the potential to really make a difference in people’s lives.

Having said that, I hate hospitals. Not designing them, mind you, but being IN them. I hate the way they smell. And really, anything even remotely medical related makes me weak. Needles and bandages and IV tubes and stretchers. faint

One of the things we’re doing at the Grand Strand Hospital in addition to the new adjacent heart center, is an expansion of their existing emergency department. As my co-worker and I were verifying entrance and elevator conditions in the ED, suddenly she said, “don’t turn around”. Naturally, I immediately whirled around to be confronted with a stretcher holding a man who was bleeding profusely from the head. As I turned an unhealthy shade of white and willed myself to remain conscious, we quickly moved to the outside of the building to get some exterior photos.

Besides the whole being-in-a-hospital-for-three-days, it was a good trip – educational, informative, and productive. And I have to say, if you’re going to practice healthcare architecture, do it on the beach.

Other work-related updates include the start of the ACE season. ACE is a mentoring program for high school students interested in the fields of architecture, construction and engineering. This will be my third year of participating as a mentor and team leader. This year our team consists of 18 Juniors and Seniors with 3 girls and 15 boys. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is still a very male-dominated industry even for the upcoming generation. When I graduated 7 years ago from architecture school, there were 23 of us in the masters program and 5 of us were female. In my office, there are 29 architects and 4 of us are female. So, my mission in ACE is to be a positive female mentor to hopefully help inspire future female architects – as we are few and far between.

Also at work lately, since the partners have decided to make entering our projects for awards a priority, I’ve been writing a lot of award submissions. I totally dig this. It’s great fun and gives me more writing practice. Last week, one of the projects I wrote up for a submission won a "Best of 2008" design award for a magazine. Coolness.

Outside of work, I’ve been babysitting A LOT. Like every Saturday night for the past 3 weeks. This has been for the Jewish family I know here in Nashville. I swear they know more Bar-Mitzvah-age kids having lavish Bar Mitzvahs than anyone I know (okay, so I don’t really know any other Jewish families). But seriously, every week it’s another Bar Mitzvah. Last week, the Bar Mitzvah party they went to was being held at the Adventure Science Center with their new state-of-the-art Planetarium. According to the party-goers it was a whole space theme and really cool. Yes, nothing says cool like 13 year olds hanging out at the planetarium. Anyway, it’ll be another fun-filled Saturday evening for me and the 8-year-old who never gets invited to these shin-digs.

Also outside of work, my first Spanish class is tomorrow evening. I know what you’re thinking, dear reader, “Spanish!? I thought you were taking French lessons? Weren’t you taking French lessons?” Yes, very good. You pay attention.

Here’s the thing with the French lessons. First of all, they are not nearly as easy to come by here in lil’ ole Nashville as you might think. They are expensive and/or sporadic. See, I signed up for the Summer semester French lessons through the community education program, but they were cancelled because…uh…well…I was the only one who signed up. So, then when I got the Fall curriculum catalog, they were only offering three – yes THREE – classes for the entire Fall semester. So, for $64 dollars I would get six hours of French lessons. The Spanish lessons they offer are close to my home (unlike the French classes which are only offered in BFE north Nashville), are 10 weeks of weekly classes, each class is two hours long, and the cost was only $70 dollars.

While the aesthetics of French appeal to me more than Spanish, Spanish is definitely the more economical choice and probably the more practical choice. So, I’m switching it up to Spanish.

Okay, last thing: I've also joined a book club. Well, not so much joined as helped get together a bunch of women who like to read and said, "hey, let's all read the same book and then talk about it." So, we decided that each one of us would host a book club meeting and whoever was hosting would get to pick the book. She would pick the book by emailing everyone in the group three choices. Everyone would then vote on their preference and the host would decide which book to pick based upon the majority group preference. Seems like a good idea, yes?

For the first book, our host chose, "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, and "Chasing Harry Winston" by Lauren Weisberger. The majority spoke. "Chasing Harry Winston" was the verdict.

To be fair, I was warned early on that this book club could, and in all likelihood, would contain some "fluff" reading material. And that's fine. Really it is. I read fictional "fluff" as much as the next person. But, c'mon, given the choice between those three books, how does Harry Winston sound like the most interesting (unless you've already read the other two) choice? Anyway, I bought a used copy from Amazon and have been trying to keep an open mind as I plod through it. After all, one of the good things about a book club is being exposed to books you may never have chosen to read on your own. And I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I wouldn't have chosen this book to read on my own.

"That is all".

(Yes, I've watched the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" (more than once actually), which was written by the same author as "Chasing Harry Winston". BUT, I have not READ "The Devil Wears Prada"...so...uh...so there!)


boty said...

my boss told me to read "a thousand splendid suns" she said she thought of me through out the entire book...

Yes I think it GRAND that you are a female model for today's youth! Go Cafra!

OH AND BTW PLANETARIUMS ARE COOL!!! AT ANY AGE! lol I just think of the 8 year old to be like Chunk from goonies....never invited...BASTARDS!

Terah Lynn said...

I am hoping to finish the book on my vacay! I am so glad to have the book club if for no better reason than to get to see you!

Anonymous said...

GAWD, i totally agree...it's been brutal getting thru this book and i read fluff! i voted for Eat Pray Love, by the way....and when it's my month, we will read that..no voting! ;) jen.

schroederjt said...

You should join Alison and I in our crazy reading schemes for the year. I am now embarking on the twelve classics challenge, where we were going to try and read one missed classic per month, but which I have left totally undone until almost October, at which point I will now have to read one a week to finish by the end of the year. If you know of any nice short classics, please email.

mom said...

geez, you are one busy girl. i also watched the movie :the devil wears prada" and i didn't like it, boooring !!

Anonymous said...

who's harry winston?

cathryn said...

Harry Winston is a jewely designer - especially known for enormously expensive engagement rings.

Abby C said...

I haven't read "Eat, Pray Love" but it seems to be a very popular book club selection -- I just recently joined a book club myself -- and we're doing the same thing you're doing which is taking turns deciding which book to read.

I've been referring to this book lovers journal called "Read, Remember and Recommend" by Rachelle Knight -- it's this neat book lovers journal that has tons of great book lists! This might help you too and I recommend it. (link: http://www.bibliopages.com) It has these Awards Lists (including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Los Angels Times Award for Fiction and National Book Award for Fiction), Notable lists (Oprah’s book club is one of them) and Author Pages. It even has an area for your favorite authors and for valuable reading insights. It’s really helped organize the reading for my book club. (I’ve finished half of the Awards list) Check it out – managing a book club becomes so much more enjoyable with it.

Good luck with your book club and I hope this helps.