Medicine Monday: Graduation!

I’ve officially been Dr. Melanie C. Watt, MD, for just over a week now. It’s great, really – having the title without the responsibility. Like everything else we do here in Louisiana, and in med school, graduation was a far larger to-do than just a graduation ceremony. To celebrate the week, some of our moms went in on a digital billboard auction and our faces were flashed over the streets of Shreveport for all the world to see. I’m not sure how many people noticed it, but we sure got a kick out of it being there!

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The party started on Wednesday, with cap and gown pickup, lunch, and the infamous White Coat Burning. It’s exactly what it sounds like – we burned our short student coats since we don’t need them anymore! I actually didn’t burn mine, but I wish I had. I don’t have any other use for it at this point.

On Friday, we had graduation practice early in the morning. For the first time, it was only medical students and PhD recipients at this graduation ceremony; physical therapy had their own. Since I was number 123 out of 128 graduates, there wasn’t too much need to pay attention. You just do what the 122 people in front of you do! Joking aside, it was a surreal hour – only my classmates and the deans who have guided us through all of this. The last time it would ever be just us in the room. We took a class photo at the end, and pretty much all headed off to brunch.

Friday afternoon was the awards ceremony, to keep the actual graduation ceremony from being even longer. Those of us receiving awards knew in advance and could tell our families, and I was honored to get my honor cords to wear for being a member of GHHS. My aunts and grandparents made it into town just in the nick of time and were able to be a part.

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Credit to the school photographer

Don’t worry – the party didn’t stop there! After a wardrobe change (because when you can wear five dresses in three days, why wouldn’t you?) and a much-needed nap, my parents and I gathered my grandparents for an adults-only reception at the East Ridge Country Club. The school put it on, and the classes of ’73 and ’78 had their class reunions there the same night. Those classes graduated about thirty students, with only two or three girls in each. Medicine has come a long way!

We had drinks and hor d’oeuvres and visited and took lots of photos. Thankfully, the party didn’t last too late, since the next day promised to be even longer.

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Graduation for the Class of 2018 was at 10 am at the Centenary Gold Dome here in Shreveport. We made a quick stop at the parking lot next to the billboard for that first photo and then headed to the ceremony. I had to be there forty-five minutes before the start in order to get our hoods draped properly and get in line and take selfies; all important things, you know.

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The whole ceremony is a bit of a blur, looking back on it. I remember it being warm in all the regalia, and waving to my family in the crowd when I entered in the processional. The place was full – everyone’s friends and family turned out in full force. Dr. DeSha, beloved anatomy professor who has taught here for forty-plus years, was the guest speaker. A couple more awards were given (which should have been given at the awards ceremony, in all of our opinion), and then they got started conferring degrees. PhD’s went first, then MDs. For the first time, they hooded us right before stepping on stage. More ceremonial, I suppose. I remember being hooded, then pausing until my name was called. Imagine – “Doctor Melanie Claire Watt” (in a lovely British accent).  I was a bit in awe of it and almost forgot to move until my name was done being called. At the end, all back in our seats, I recall having this moment of hugging each other and congratulating the people around us. No one ever told us to turn our tassels, so we simply decided to do it on our own.

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A photographer captured these photos right as we were waiting to walk across the stage. I scrolled through all those of my classmates photos and noticed something in common. We all have this peaceful, hopeful look on our faces. This great hurdle has been completed and we are ready for what’s to come.

You may notice the black ribbons pinned to our robes. They’re in honor of a classmate we lost late last fall. I don’t yet have the words to put to that loss, but I believe we honored him in the best way we knew how.

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The beloved Dr. DeSha came and shook every single one of our hands as we exited. That man is like no other. 

There is no great transition from that, but the ceremony ended, we took a few photos (we were all hot, hungry and cranky) and I returned my regalia (all rented, blessedly). Mom had organized a small party back at our house to celebrate both my sister and me. Olivia graduated cum laude from LSUS two weeks prior but opted not to walk in the ceremony, so this was our chance to celebrate her too. In miraculous timing, her degree was delivered to the front door just before we arrived!

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After the party was a small cocktail hour for one of my classmates, then some blessed downtime before my family’s fancy dinner out. My aunts and grandparents were only in town for a short time, so dinner with just the family was a must-do.

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And at the end of the four full days of celebration, I slept so good! It was a sweet, exciting time and a perfect final graduation.

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I made a table!

The title of this isn’t entirely true – I only made part of a table. I’m pretty proud of the results though, so I wanted to share the process here today.

In clearing out my grandmother’s house, my dad and I found a pile of these old wrought iron sewing machine bases. None of them had a sewing machine attached, and all but one were damaged beyond repair. The one that was in good shape, I brought home. A friend of mine had one of these, and her grandfather put a table top on it. The table looked so adorable in their living room that I knew I had to do the same.

It sat in the garage for nearly two months before I got to working on it. I started with hosing it off and drying it off, using a flathead screwdriver to get the dirt out of the nooks and crannies.

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After cleaning it, I headed to Home Depot to get the rest of the supplies. I got a rusty metal primer and black metallic spray paint for the base. For the table top, I got a 2×12 board cut into two 26in pieces, and Minwax Dark Walnut stain and clear gloss to finish the boards.

After getting over the alarm of the color of the primer, putting one good coat on went quickly.

I used a sander with coarse grit paper to rough up the edges of the boards and make them look a little more worn. I dusted it off and then used an old t-shirt to put on the stain. Pro-tip: wear plastic gloves to keep from staining your fingers!

Once I finished staining both of these, my dad helped me put them together. I did one good coat of gloss, since this will be a decorative table. If it was going to be used regularly, like a dining table, two coats would have been needed. After that was done, Dad showed me how to attach the base to the top with some sort of screw, the name of which I’ve already forgotten.

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I love the way this turned out! It’s heavier than I expected, but will look really cute with some flowers and a picture frame or something on it.

Recent Faves: Books, Podcasts and Music

I’m back, friends! There was no medicine Monday post this week because my sister unexpectedly had to have her gallbladder out on Sunday and I flat lost track of days. Today I want to share a few of my recent favorites in books, podcasts and music.  I go through phases where I’ll absorb several books a week and then hit other periods, like now, where I have to make myself finish the four books I’ve started reading but haven’t finished. All that to say – here are a few I’ve enjoyed in the last four months!

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Books:

  1. The Book Thief. This came out over a decade ago, but I just got around to reading it. A friend of mine had said more than once that it was her favorite book ever, so I picked it up when I was wandering around the library one day. It’s World War II fiction, but it’s not like anything I’ve ever read before. Told from the point of view of Death, the story follows the book thief, Liesel, as she navigates growing up in Germany during the second world war. It’s enchanting and mesmerizing and haunting, all at once.
  2. A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is from the same author that gave us Kite Runner, which I also loved. Set in Afghanistan, the story is often hard to keep reading. I remind myself to look at hurt and pain and weep with the characters, and that’s certainly what you will do here. It’s about love and loss and danger and female friendship.
  3. A Man Called Ove. This book has been in print in English for four years, but I feel like I just started hearing people talk about it this year. I read this in one sitting. It’s an endearing and delightful surprise of a book and I fell in love with all of the characters.
  4. Pretty Girls Dancing. I rarely reach for a suspense/mystery, but this was on Kindle First Reads and was free. When I get my monthly free new release from Amazon, I try to pick something I might not normally reach for, and it’s sometimes a total flop.  This was not that! It was dark and suspenseful and a page turner. I was completely captivated, and read it in one plane ride. It got mixed reviews, but I liked it.

Podcasts:

  1. Radiolab Presents: More Perfect, The Gun Show. An intriguing discussion on the emergence of the second amendment and what the NRA initially stood for (and what they didn’t.)
  2. Off Camera with Sam Jones – Mae Whitman. I loved Mae Whitman from the first episode of Parenthood, and have followed her career since. I had no idea she had been acting since she was a toddler, and enjoyed this candid, intimate conversation between her and Sam Jones.
  3. TED Talks Daily: My descent into America’s neo-nazi movement – and how I got out. I can listen to TED talks for hours, and this one grabbed my attention. After hearing of how this man both got in and then got out of the neo-nazi movement made me really think differently about the people shown in the media who are currently a part of that movement. I think we often forget that people cannot be put into the binary categories of good or bad, and we let hate and fear blind us. Give this a listen – it’s not very long but will certainly make you think.
  4. TED Talks: Can I have your brain? The quest for truth on concussions and CTE. Concussions and sports medicine are some of my favorite medical topics, but I had not heard about this man or his movement to study CTE, which we don’t know much about. It’s a disease that’s killing professional athletes well before their time, and we currently have no cure. So, he’s asking people to give their brains.

Music

  1. Johnnyswim: Ring The Bells. This song is catchy and has delightful lyrics. I already have tickets to see them in Memphis in August and I cannot wait.
  2. P!nk: Beautiful Trauma. It’s P!nk – what’s not to love?
  3. WALK THE MOON: Work This Body. Great for dancing in the car. Or the kitchen.
  4. Ed Sheeran’s DIVIDE. Yep, we’re a year in and this is still my fave. The entire album. Mom and I were driving back from Houston last October and the third time this played through she finally said, “How many times are we going to listen to this?!”

 

Hope this inspires you to find something new to listen to or read! I would love to hear what you’ve been loving lately.

Upcycling Decorations!

Sometimes, Pinterest inspiration becomes reality. I’ve had this pinned for a few months, and decided to give it a go this week.

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Instead of buying all the parts for the project, I upcycled the flowers from the baby shower I threw in March. I bought the wreath, floral wire and the “hi” from Hobby Lobby.

Wreath: $4.99, $2.99 after coupon
“Hi”: $1.99
Floral wire: $3.99
Flowers: On hand from the shower
Total: $9! That’s my kind of project.

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I used the floral wire to put the “Hi” on the lower left and enforced it with a touch of hot glue. Then I trimmed the stems down on the flowers and started to weave them into the wreath. A few of them needed hot glue to keep the flowers on the stems, but not many. After all the flowers were on, I gave it a few good shakes to make sure the flowers were going to stay in on their own.

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The whole project took about twenty minutes and I love the way it turned out! I feel like a proper Southern home needs a wreath for every season and I can’t wait to hang this on my front door for the summer.

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House Hunting!

I bought a house!

It’s been a whirlwind of a week! I looked at houses online for what felt like forever (really just over a month), and saw many houses I loved go on and then off the market. It felt like waiting and waiting, but Mom and I finally got to go to Memphis house hunting this week!

I got connected with a realtor in Memphis via referral from a friend who is a real estate agent in Texas. It’s really been the best set up, because I haven’t had to seek anyone out myself – I called the first person and have done referrals since then! My realtor, Angie, referred me to a lender and then set me up with an online “Collaboration Center,” where all houses that fit my requests were sent. I could give feedback about what I liked and didn’t like online, which helped her out quite a bit!

We had a narrow window of time in which to find a house! Mom and I planned to drive up to Memphis Sunday, house hunt Monday and Tuesday and head back home that evening. Because of how long it can take for closing, I needed to make an offer on a house this week. I’ll definitely give it to my realtor – she knew we had a narrow window and was all in to make sure we found it!

Monday, we all met for lunch and then headed out in the annoying rain. It ended up raining the entire time we looked at houses! In a five-hour span, we looked at ten houses. A couple of them we didn’t even need to go inside – I could tell from the driveway that they were a no-go.  We ended the day with a solid top three (and a fourth that I was interested in if the current contract fell through). It was such a go-go-go day that I didn’t take a single photo.

After going to bed early, we met at another listing early Tuesday morning. It was an absolutely adorable house built in the 1930s, but not the right fit for me. We looked at one other that morning, a former duplex that had been converted into one house. Neither touched my top three, so the three of us headed to a coffee shop to iron out the next steps.

I decided to put in an offer on my top choice house! I offered asking price, but for them to pay closing and leave the washer, dryer and fridge. After that was put in and I e-signed what was needed, Angie submitted my offer and mom and I headed home.

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“Smile! You’ll want to remember the day you bought your first house.” 

About an hour from home, we got the call that they had countered the offer – they would pay half of closing and accept everything else. I couldn’t believe it! I thought they would counter more. I accepted the offer and BOUGHT ME A HOUSE.

What’s crazy to me is that everything else can be done remotely, so I don’t have to go back up there until I move in.

It’s a cute little four bedroom, two bathroom house built in 1949 that’s been updated and beautifully landscaped. I plan to update some of the paint colors, but other than that it’s move-in ready. The smallest bedroom will be used as an office and sewing room, and then I’ll have two guest rooms.

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The backyard is completely fenced, so Bella is excited about that. It’s a little surreal! I can’t wait to make this little place my own, and I pray that it will always be welcoming and have open doors.

And yes, it has a treehouse. More of my friends have asked if they can come sleep in that – even though I’ll have two spare bedrooms! Can’t say I blame them because its pretty adorable. I haven’t climbed up there yet, but I will.

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I’m a homeowner! I can’t believe how fast it all happened. God definitely designed this house for me and I am so thankful.