Thursday, December 16, 2010

.....and breathe!

Things seem to be looking up.  Mom's surgery went fine.  I had a major rendering snafu on Tuesday night, but I recovered and became super-productive on Wednesday.  I got the banner done a little late, but the print center confirmed that they can get it done in time.  I had a little panic last when I noticed a mistake....but I got a corrected banner to the printer in time.

Today I have a few minor assignments to wrap up.  I want to get a haircut and a massage today so I can get back to looking and feeling human.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crunch Time = Stress

I'm taking a brief break to whine - my apologies in advance.

My project for theory class turned out fine, and I'm actually pretty happy with it. However, I feel like I have to much to accomplish before the end of the semester.  My final for History of Decorative Arts is on Tuesday.  I'm not really that worried about it, but it is one more thing on my "to do" list.  Speaking of "to do" lists....Astrid, an app on my phone, is no longer syncing properly with Producteev, my online task manager.  It is very stress inducing if you aren't confident that your to-do list is correct.

I am a bit worried about the project for Specialization Studio.  While I have solved most of the technical problem, I feel like I am weeks behind in the actual design.  Yes, I know that all the technical issues are part of "actual design," but I don't really feel like an interior designer if everything is technically great but aesthetically flawed.  The progress seems to occur in spurts.  I'll work for a while getting absolutely nothing productive done, then all of a sudden a ton of progress occurs in 15 minutes.

Work is not particularly busy, but it is simply uninspiring right now.

The other big stressor is that there are some health issues in the family.  It is always difficult to balance family role with doctor knowledge.  That is particularly true being a physiatrist:  we only see the bad outcomes.

Right now, I am doing all that I can to balance work, school, home, and family, but I am so over my head I can't really assess how well I am doing.  Looking at the list, I can see that I don't even have time or capacity to include friends on the list.


Monday, December 6, 2010

What a difference a GREAT massage makes!

Last week I suffered through a thoroughly craptastic massage experience.  While I was not thrilled about paying for another massage quite so soon, I clearly need it.  My muscles were no longer quite so rock-hard and burning, but the brain was still frazzled.  Fortunately, Chicago has many options for massage.....which is great because I'm certainly NOT going back to Kiva.

I decided to return back to Sir Spa.  It had been years since I had been there, but two different people had brought it up in the last week.  Even though I called this morning, they were able to fit me in at the time I wanted.  Unlike Kiva, the place still looks brand new.  They are putting forth the effort and money to keep it maintained.  I wish I had gotten there about fifteen minutes earlier to get a proper steam in prior to the massage....oh well!  My therapist, Bill, was outstanding.  He was not chatty, and when he did talk he used a very soothing tone of voice.  He was very accommodating regarding positioning.  I had suggested minimizing the amount of time face-down, even if it meant less work on the back.  He recommended that I rotate a few times during the massage so that we could give everything its proper due while keeping me comfortable.  I took his suggestion and it worked brilliantly.

I left with loose muscles but barely able to string a sentence together.  I can't remember the last time I felt so relaxed....both mind and spirit.

Thank you Sir Spa for confirming that massage can be such a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Massage FAIL

Things have been less than optimal lately.  Work is blah.  I am struggling to keep up with all the responsibilities associated with work and school.  I am dealing with some family health issues. 

All this has had me a bit on edge.  I have found that I am getting way too upset over the littlest things.  Then, I get upset at myself for getting upset.  Clearly, that is not productive.  My muscles have been so tight, and today they started burning.

At Rob's insistence, I went for a massage today.  I was so looking forward to it.  I went to a nice spa, Kiva, that I had enjoyed in the past.  Fortunately, it was easy to make an appointment.  I showed up ready to be relaxed.  My muscles needed it.  Even more so, my psyche needed it.

Alas, all did not go as anticipated.  My therapist was loud and pushy.  I tried hard to just tune that out.  The massage started face down and seemed to last forever.  After a while, the face cradle was giving me a headache and my sinuses were getting congested.  I started to squirm a bit on the table, but the therapist didn't notice.  I finally said that I needed to turn over, and she told me she needed a few more minutes to finish the back before I could turn over.

At the checkout, when asked how everything was, I related my experience.  The receptionist gave me a $20 coupon "if you decide to return."

The muscles were relaxed, but the mental relaxation I desperately needed did not occur.  I do not see returning to Kiva.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Restaurant + TV = FAIL

What is it with this unfortunate trend of restaurants having televisions?

Last night, Rob and I went out for a date night.  There is a relatively new steakhouse in town (Flemings), and we had received a gift card.  We got all dressed up and headed downtown.  Our expectations weren't too high, as it is part of a chain.  However, it seemed to have a lot of elements in place for success.  The restaurant sources high quality ingredients.  It also had one hundred wines by the glass, a concept that I just adore.  At first glance, the interiors seemed lovely.

We entered at street level, where the bar is located.  Two televisions were on either side of the bar.  We were then escorted upstairs to the dining rooms.  They have dining rooms.  The one towards the back was somewhat crowded and acoustically challenged.  The one in the front, where we were sat, has massive windows looking out on the street and intimate booths.  There is another bar off to the side.  This would be perfect, except there were another two televisions in the dining room.  Ironically, the only place in the dining room you could not see the televisions is at the bar.  After placing our order, I had the misfortune of looking up and seeing blood and guts strewn across the TV directly in my line of sight....they had "CSI" playing on one of the channels.  I hailed the waitress over to ask her to turn the TV off.  That was apparently forbidden, but she agreed that "CSI" was inappropriate and changed the channel.

The evening certainly wasn't ruined.  I was there more for the company than the restaurant.  The food was good, but nothing amazing.  I was impressed by the wine list and our waitress was delightful.  However, aside from a pub or a sports bar, I can see no reason whatsoever for a restaurant to have televisions in the dining area.  If I wanted to watch TV while eating dinner, I could stay at home.  This is particularly true for a restaurant with a fairly high price point.  Also, any restaurant that prioritizes having the TV on over the comfort of the guests is missing the point of their existence.

I won't be returning to Flemings.  Chicago has steakhouses with better ambiance, better steak, and better overall experience.  If I want steak in front of the TV, quite frankly I can cook a better ribeye any day of the week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Ramp DOWN

I adore Thanksgiving.  However, there is always an element of a let-down, especially when I am the one doing the majority of the cooking.  No matter how perfectly everything turns out, the duration and intensity of the consumption never quite seems to give proper merit.  The balance, of course, comes from the days of enjoyment of the leftovers.  Is it worth it?  You bet!  To doubters, I would refer to the words of the great Julia Child:

"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet."

In toto, I am pleased with the success of the meal.  Yesterday was quite the frenzy.  The "perfect turkey" mode on the range was much more effective than anticipated.  I think it may be due to the convection feature.  I noticed that the turkey was cooking way faster than fact it was going to be done in almost half the time.  Fortunately, I noticed this before it became a disaster.  I still was sure that in the end the turkey was going to have the consistency of shoe turned out juicy and absolutely delicious.  My gravy was perfect.  The collard greens were even better than expected.  The black-eyed peas I had cooked earlier in the week heated up beautifully.  I wasn't too pleased with my green beans and my biscuits....guess everything can't be perfect.  My guests brought some lovely dishes too.

The whole meal seemed to last but an eyeblink in comparison.  We washed everything down with good champagne and wine.  I was so stuffed!!  We sat around and moaned for a while before attempting to eat some pie.  I don't know why we bother putting so much effort into desserts.  They never are truly appreciated on Thanksgiving.

...and yes...they mess for my sweet honey Rob was truly epic.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Ramp UP

Here I am once again preparing for Thanksgiving.  Fortunately, this year promises much less stress and confusion.  First off, we are not less headache to deal with on top of the meal and personalities.  The thought of actually celebrating in our home is, well, homey!  Second, this year we are hosting one other couple for the day.  It sounds so relaxing to have such a small intimate group.

Of course, hosting in never 100% relaxing.  My guests are bring several of the dishes, which is a huge relief.  However, I was determined that we would have all the dishes represented that each of us need to make it a REAL Thanksgiving.  There will be four of us at the table with food to feed forty.  A new twist for this year is that one of my guests keeps kosher.  I have kept kosher before so I certainly have the knowledge and skill sets to pull this off.  It required an extra trip to the kosher grocery store to buy the turkey.  The biggest complication is how to adapt some of my recipes to be non-dairy.  Well, that and trying to figure out how to cook black-eyed peas and collard greens without using bacon or ham hocks.  Somethings are just going to have be what they way to do the pie without condensed milk.

So far, things are going smoothly.  I cooked up the black-eyed peas on Sunday.  Last night I backed a praline-pumpkin pie (thanks for the recipe Aunt Jean!).  I got up early this morning to go into hyper mode.  The turkey is in the sink to make sure it is completely thawed.  I need to get the placed straightened up then start prepping for each dish.  The turkey goes into the oven at 1pm.  I will testing the Electrolux "perfect turkey" mode.  At that point, it will be 3 hours of non-stop cooking and coordination of dishes until dinner at 5pm.

Fortunately, the bargain in our home is that I cook and Rob cleans.  Good luck dear....this mess will be epic.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Opera Let-Down

I saw Macbeth at the Lyric Opera tonight.  I really feel like I should have liked it more than I did.  The music is beautiful.  The story is classic.  The voices were beautiful (except for what should have been the "money note" by Najda Michael.....that was a travesty).  Even the Gehry-esque production was pretty cool.....though they started pulling out some silly gimmicks in the last act.  Everything was in place for total enjoyment, but I only liked it....definitely did not love it.

I hate when that happens.  When an opera doesn't enrapture me, it makes for a very long evening.  I try hard not to squirm in my seat, and I'd be checking my watch if I could see it.  Knowing how much I have to pay for ticket makes the disappointment even more acute.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I'm out in eastern Washington state visiting Rob's family. Today we are out wine tasting. The wineries out here are lovely. I'm surprised how much I enjoy the merlots. It seems that every time I go on wine tours I get tipsy much faster than everyone else. I am such a lightweight. Unfortunately, I am a sleepy drunk, so I need to stop before I drink too much.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

...and DONE!

The marathon of the last week is through. Not the actual Chicago Marathon...that would have left me with a sense of satisfaction. All three classes had major deliverables this week...complicated by being on call over the weekend. I did a fine job on everything, but nothing spectacular. Everything was completed with no time to spare. I am simply drained. I have blocked out time before the rest of assignments this semester. I hope that will be sufficient. I can't keep wearing myself out like this.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Regrouping for the Next Push

I survived....barely.  Preparing the paper and presentation for my Theory class and the paper for the Decorative Arts class was grueling.  I went into the weekend as prepared as I could be.  I had done the research in advance.  I had prepared outlines and bibliographies.  In the past, these papers would have written themselves.  I simply did not account for how much working the weekend would take out of me.  In theory, I had enough time to do everything.  I just didn't have enough focus to stay on task.  I ended up with four hours of sleep on both Sunday and Monday nights.  I was crazy tired on Tuesday.  Somehow I managed to stay awake for the classes.  By the time I had to make my presentation on Tuesday evening, I was practically delirious.  I was told that I did a good job.  I wish I remembered it!

I got a good night sleep last night and caught up on odds and ends this evening.  Now it is time to get some more sleep so I can pull a miracle out of my hat a prepare a paper and presentation for tomorrow evening for the Studio class.  Thank goodness I am still taking off Thursdays.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weekend Work

I feel that I should be working for the weekend, not working on the weekend. I'm only on call every fourth or fifth weekend, which is not that bad. Honestly, my weekend responsibilities are nowhere near as bad as they used to be. All that being said,. I just hate having to work on the weekend. It makes me crabby. I am tired the whole next week. I also get so far behind in all the chores I usually do on the weekend. I know somebody had to do it, but i wish that somebody weren't me.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Need One More Day This Weekend

I think I just comprehended how much is due next week. I'm doomed. Any chance that an extra day will be added to the weekend? I could probably handle it all if I weren't on call.

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Competing Priorities: Yesterday's Winner Was Social Media

It is amazing that when I have so many things that I HAVE to do, I seem to spend the most time on the optional. I am not super busy at work, but I do have a lot due for school in the next week.  However, recently I have been very focused on developing a social media presence.  I have thrown myself into Twitter (@argilbert66) and have developed some great contacts from around the world.  I have also been focused on getting my blogs into shape and developing some new ones.  I have developed a strategy of how to use them, and I am pleased with the preliminary results.  That being said, I have spent WAY too much time on these activities and not near enough time on my upcoming deadlines.  I was up until 2am this morning getting the blogs structured.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blogging Reboot

While I have been dabbling with blogging for a while, I don't feel that I had any particular direction.  The entries were more of a chore or simply for cataloging.  I certainly haven't had much coherence in entries.  Recently, I have been experimenting on different platforms and came to realize that perhaps I wasn't thinking of blogging correctly.  I was trying to figure out how to have one blog fit all my needs.  There was no way to make that work.

I will be keeping four blogs in some fashion or another moving forward:

In Many Worlds - will be my personal blog.  I want to explore how I maintain balance as I maintain my responsibilities at work, in school, and in life.  I will be including some reflective pieces as well as more current musings.

Daydreaming About Space - will serve as a log for my school work.  I want to catch my process and my drafts, as well as thoughts about my education.

reVisioned - will be used to report what is capturing my interest.  I foresee posting links and media, sometimes with short commentary.  This blog will feed into Twitter, and some of the posts will make their way into my other blogs.

Designing Wellness - is going to be my more 'professional' blog.  I have set up my own domain to self-host this blog.  I want to explore and share my insights on healthcare design, the intersections of hospitality and healthcare, and evidence-based design.  I am particularly impact on the affect of design on clinical outcomes, experience of stakeholders, and healthcare systems.

I am sure there will be evolution of all these blogs as time goes on.  Honestly, I hope I haven't taken on more than I can handle.  Regardless, the experience will be rewarding.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Acknowledging Limits

Yesterday my body gave up. I felt run down and my head wanted to explode. I felt a little better this morning but I thought my voice was going to give out. Also I was afraid I would have to be up late to finish all my homework. I decided to call in sick. Initially I felt really guilty...I probably could have bullied my way through the next few days. However it is time I acknowledge my limits and take care of myself. I don't have to prove that I can do it all.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


As a lover of words, I love how a word can come into play in a situation with a variety of nuances.  The word of the weekend is "fellowship."

A lot of time the last few days has been focused on revising my application to the AAHID graduate research felowship. I did not get accepted for 2010, but I am reporting for 2011. This has gotten a lot of my mental energy...i would love to win this, and with my reworking of the proposal I think I have a pretty good chance.

I so enjoyed good fellowship this wedkend. Rob's sister Debbie and brother in law Matt were in town to visit. I really enjoyed spending time them.

I must admit that I am a bit worn out from juggling all this fellowship. I am looking forward to some downtime.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Low Brow Evening

going for dinner at an Irish pub then off to the roller derby!  Never been to roller derby before...I'm so excited!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Glorious Day

Yesterday was such a beautiful day! Since starting school a year and a half ago I have been taking off work on Thursdays. Initially this was to accommodate afternoon classes. Now even though I don't have classes on Thursday,I have kept the day open for homework and to recover from juggling school and work. I love being home with the dogs!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Tried to keep up with friends...going out and drinking this weekend. Getting too old for this. Recovery time too long.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Ah.....the 3 day weekend.....what a great institution! I will be so nice to chill at home and to do things with friends. I don't even mind that I have some homework I need to do for school; most of the assignments are actually kind of fun. My big chore will be to block out any thoughts or worries about work. For these three days, the hospital must cease to exist!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Unnecessary Complexities

It always seems that when I am handling things reasonably well, I add something in (often completely frivolous) to make my juggling act that much more difficult.

Work and school are busy, but they are actually quite manageable right now. At least in theory. For some reason I have felt the need to a new computer game to my life. I do love games....especially the fantasy/role-playing sorts. It is so easy for it to become an obsession and time-suck. It is not killing me yet in terms of time management, but I am sure that will come.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In Many Worlds

I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. I loved being transported to different worlds and learning about strange and unique cultures. I particularly enjoyed reading stories about alien planets and alternate dimensions. I wished I would have the chance to bounce between these different realities.

Jumping ahead a few decades, I have certainly had a healthy dose of reality. I think everyone lives in multiple, home, extended family, friends, etc. The distinctness of these many worlds has been very pronounced for me over the last year and a half as I have tried to balance my home life and relationship, my medical practice, and the master's program in interior design. I try to juggle everything with aplomb, but I think I often don't do justice to everything that I have committed.