Tipping Point

You’ve probably heard that pigs are intelligent animals. They are.  They are clean, easy to train and can be taught to do tricks. Pigs are considered to be as intelligent as a 3 year old child. In intensive pig farming situations, lack of enrichment in their environment will cause them stress. When this lack of enrichment (or boredom) combines with less than satisfactory management conditions (feeding, environment…) pigs start to show vices. They bully each other and bite at each other’s tails and ears. Multiple pigs may gang up on another pig and traumatise it. When pigs become uncomfortable, they get (for lack of better word) grumpy. When this grumpiness leads to the manifestation of vices, pigs are considered just past their tipping point.

I never expected to relate so much to an animal that makes an occasional appearance on my breakfast plate. But, learning about pigs reaching their tipping point struck a chord with me. Its easy to ignore how much stress I put on myself as a vet student: pressure to excel in my work, to be a good friend, a patient pet owner, to be financially responsible – these all sound like normal every day human being pressures. But, throw in variable factors, such as impending exams, a difficult social situation, a bank account balance that only decreases and that oh-so-dangerous pre-menstrual mixture of hormones and you have the perfect ingredients for a tipping point.

I won’t bite off anyone’s tail, but I can’t honestly say my tipping point is any less gruesome in its own way. Allow me to take you on a journey through the past few days so that you too can watch me bubble over like a kettle. The journey is awkward and infused with hilarity. But, actually reaching my tipping point is where the fun stopped.

Saturday: The Day I Kick A Friend Out Of My Kitchen For Making Too Many Potatoes

Saturday night was a “Friendsgiving” party for all of us homesick Americans and a few Canadians who came along for the turkey and pie. I don’t know if its the comfort food, or the closeness of so many differing personalities, but I always leave huge family style gatherings missing home a little less. Really, the only thing that was absent from our holiday celebration was the pitcher of margaritas I tend to fixate on during the massive political debate between my siblings and grandparents. 

My contribution was a Pecan Pie. It’s a quick and easy pie to make and allowed me to show off my fancy-flaky pie crust making skills. As I was hosting a little group study at my flat before the party, I offered my kitchen up to my friends to put together their contributions to the family-style dinner.

One of my friends was going to make potatoes. And here we find the critical point of failure: Expectation Misalignment.

My way of making potatoes is vastly different than his way. Still, I don’t tell people how to cook in their kitchen (even if it’s *technically* my kitchen), so I let him do his thing and stayed out in the living room….until I heard glass shatter. See, his delicious potatoes are very labour and resource intensive. Having all the burners on the stove going at full blast caused a glass picture in my kitchen to shatter. Coming into my kitchen felt like entering the set of The Walking Dead. I tried to plaster a Martha Stewart style smile on my face and, in the name of hospitality, offer to clean up all the glass and make some more room with my limited counter space for him to continue.

However, my smile was more like a grimace and the words that came out of my mouth were less hospitable and more like, “I just need to be the only one in here- I just need to get everything under control – I just need a minute. Just a minute.” Except those words sound nice (albeit awkward). I was awkward, but I wasn’t nice. Not even a little nice. I think I must have looked ready to projectile vomit pea soup whilst my head spun around 360 degrees a la The Exorcist.

I prepared my kitchen the best I could for “Operation boil 10 kg of potatoes whilst simultaneously frying up 3 kg of bacon and sausages” and sheepishly exited. I finished my mimosa. I made my pie. I apologized. But it wasn’t easy for me. It’s hard to admit you are wrong – especially when you’re the one being a snot about how to make potatoes.

Monday: The Day I Yell At A Stranger For The First Time in My Life 

I had received an e-mail from the financial aid office that had me a little bit on edge. Ok, a lot on edge. I was talking to a friend in the meadows, essentially throwing a bit of a pity party for myself. I also may have not been entirely over how silly I had acted about the potato situation.

Huckleberry was running around the meadows, sniffing used condoms and hunting down stale chips (french fries) left out for the birds. I really live in a classy part of town.  I looked over my shoulder and saw a woman approaching with a dog on the leash. If we were in closer proximity, I would have offered to leash my dog, but he was off sniffing and never really bothers with other dogs, so I didn’t give it a second thought.

Well, for the first time in 6 years, Huckleberry charged up to that woman and her dog, stopped about 5 feet away and let out his best beagle bay: ARRRROOOOOOOOOOO! I rushed over and apologized, “I”m so sorry! He’s never done that before!” As I was fumbling with his harness to leash him, she replied, “Yeah, that’s what they all say.” Taken aback by her tone, I aplogized again, “No really, he hasn’t ever run up and barked like that – I’m so sorry if he startled you.” She rolled her eyes at me and mumbled something.

Walking back to my friend with Huck at a close heel, I say, “What a b*tch.” (Because if someone upsets you, you should call them names until you feel better. Obviously.)

The woman hears me, stops and says, “Excuse me?”

And (ironically, for the first time in my life, because I never do this either) I have a ready comeback.

I say loudly, clearly (and thankfully without stuttering or losing my ability to say the letter R), “I was just saying how NICE it must be to have a perfect dog that has never embarrassed you in public. THANKS for so graciously accepting my apology.”

As you can imagine, when I said, “THANKS for so graciously accepting my apology,” it was clear I didn’t sincerely mean “Thank you.”

Tuesday: The Day I See The Stranger And Her Dog In The Meadows Again

I hid behind a post.

I’m actually terrible at confrontations.

Wednesday: Tipping Point – The Day I Cry Because People Were Nice To Me 

I volunteer at a local vet clinic on Wednesdays. Not just any veterinary surgery, but possibly the one staffed with the nicest and most compassionate team of professionals on the planet. I love going there for so many reasons, partly because I feel like I can help (if only keeping the kennels clean or washing instruments) but mostly because I like being around the staff. They help me remember why I am in vet school and inspire me to push through some of the less glamorous hoops vet students have to jump through.

Today, I arrived and was put to work right away taking a blood glucose reading from a diabetic dog. After getting the reading, I was to flush her catheter. Straightforward. Within my skill set. I can do this.

Well, getting the blood from her ear wasn’t easy. Whist there are many ways to poke a needle into a dog’s ear to get a drop of blood, none of them seem particularly painless. The poor dog yelped and I felt like a monster and dropped the glucose strip and then that happened again because after the first time my confidence was as shaky as my hands.

Then, I asked for help because there were only so many times I was willing to poke the dog before identifying the need for professional assistance. After getting the reading, I grabbed the needle and bag of saline from the dog’s kennel and flushed the catheter. As I was putting them back, I took a closer look at the bag. In bright green bold sharpie, I saw the words, “Drugs Added” written on the bag of saline. My heart rate escalated and I could hear the blood rushing in my ears. I ran into the prep room and grabbed a nurse and told her what I had done.

I couldn’t believe I had made such a mistake. My hands were shaking, even as she assured me it was fine, the saline contained very dilute glucose. It was the drip the dog had been on the previous day.  She assured me that my mistake wasn’t going to do anything to hurt the dog or mess anything up. She just told me to reflush with the correct saline and that it would be fine. She was kind. She was understanding. She appreciated me immediately owning my mistake and seeking help. She said I had done the right thing. She even made a joke about how the poor pup probably enjoyed a wee bit of extra glucose.

I reflushed the catheter with the appropriate saline solution and decided I would clean a few kennels and wash some dishes. I felt like I needed to take a break from medical chores for a bit. I demoted myself. I felt like I needed to be punished. I couldn’t let go of the fact that I had made an enormous mistake: I injected something into an animal without verifying what it was. At the time, it didn’t matter to me that it was a harmless solution. It didn’t even matter to me that the dog was safe. I still felt absolutely terrible. I couldn’t let go of the feeling that I could kill an animal doing that. The tears started and I couldn’t get them to stop. I had reached my tipping point.

The whole team I work with were kind and encouraging. They offered up their own stories of mistakes they made that could have been disastrous and the lessons they learned. They shared their imperfections and vulnerabilities. They reminded me that we are all human. No one said a harsh word to me. No one felt the need to remind me of the repercussions such a mistake might have in the future. I think we all realized that this was the first and only time I would make this mistake because I would never forget the feeling I had holding that bag of glucose and saline.

I hid in the bathroom and cried. I cried until my eye makeup was no longer salvageable.

I washed my face with cold water and made about 3 good starts out of the bathroom, but each time I broke down again as soon as someone saw my tell tale red blotchy face and asked me if I was ok. I tried slathering lavender hand cream on my face to tone down the redness. It didn’t help. When the nurse realized that I was at my tipping point, she told me to take the night off and relax. She thanked me for all the work I do at the clinic. She told me they trust me and that’s why they let me do things and owning up to my error was just another reason for them to keep trusting me. She told me I was appreciated.

Tipping points can be fickle, funny things. You lose your cool over something small. Too many potatoes. A snotty dog owner. The beagle being a beagle instead of a perfectly trained little robot dog. You boil over. You cry. YOU CRY A LOT. You phone a friend. You phone all your friends. You drink a glass of wine….and then maybe just half of another. You eat a piece of baking chocolate (because that’s all you have). You go for a long walk. And then, you go to bed and know when you wake up, you have a fresh start. Your emotional kettle is empty again. And the stresses can come and go and you can roll with them. They won’t tip you. Well, not so soon. You’ll tip again. Maybe over a stubbed toe or missing a bus. Or maybe you tip because you are professionally and personally embarrassed by a poor judgment call. I think tipping points must be how we cope. We have to get all that stress out before it actually leaves us shattered.

But isn’t that the key? To tip and tip and tip over again, but not let anything sink us?

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An Udder Mystery

I have an exam tomorrow morning worth 18% of my final grade in the Farm Animal course. Clearly, this is the time for me to sit down and update the blog I’ve neglected since JULY.

But, I need a study break. Our exam tomorrow is over all cow medicine. All of it. Like everything that can go wrong with cows and how to fix it…or even take things that are not broken and just make them better. Fortunately (unfortunately?), a lot of farm animal medicine can be summed up to “give it penicillin or shoot it.”

OK, seriously, it’s not that dismal, but it is quite different from learning about diagnostic MRIs for Morkie-poos, chemo therapy for Chihuahuas and CAT scans for cats… Farm medicine is a whole new wondrous world (and still holds a good deal of mystery for yours truly!)

So, after spending the day flirting with my flash cards and staring down the sizeable pile of notes on my coffee table, I decided to give my brain a real break. My head felt so full, I wanted to wrap a big bandage around it to keep all that information from leaking out of my ears! In hindsight, I should have done just that….and made a cup of herbal tea….and crawled into bed….at 6:30 pm.

Anyway, I was feeling a bit guilty for being a terrible dog owner and skimping on Huck’s walks today. Also, I might have looked at my animals dead in the eye this evening and said, “If you both don’t leave me alone, I’m going to the library to study and NEVER COMING BACK.”

Or, I might have said exactly that with some pointedly inserted profanity. So, to ease my guilt, I decided Huck and I would take a leisurely sniff-everything-off-lead stroll around the meadows, allowing me to clear my mind and digest my Thai takeout.

Not even halfway across the meadows, my phone lit up and I looked at it for the first time in hours. It was a message from this guy I’m (dating? I guess that’s what its called – we’re going out on dates…but that’s all for now.) So yeah, this guy I’m dating. period. no question mark.

He asked if we were still going to get together tomorrow. At first, I cringed. I have plans to see him Friday and after he sent me a photo of the 6 month old Clydesdale foal he just bought, I made plans to see his horses, errrhhhmmm to see him at the stable on Sunday afternoon. Getting together tomorrow night means three dates in one week!

That seems like a lot of dating. But, I decided three dates in one week is ok since all the dates are things I want to do. Is this how dating works? I don’t even know.

Anyway, I digress. The Dude and I made plans to get a drink tomorrow evening. I told him to pick the place and time, my brain was too full to plan anything. He asked if he could help and I told him just to let me know where to go and not to ask me any questions about cows. And then, I added a few of the little cow ermojis because I think that’s what people do when they’re dating.

Of course his response was to ask me something about cows:

How many nipples do cows have?

I roll my eyes and start typing my reply: “Four”

(*I didn’t correct him and say they were called teats not nipples because I am trying to be less emasculating in my text messages and he doesn’t go to vet school and for all intensive purposes, they are nipples).

Then, I continued, with growing anxiety, “Which, now that I think of it, doesn’t make any sense for them to have four because cows are designed to have one calf -sometimes two, but they are still considered monotocous!

At this point, I’m pretty sure my pupils dilated and my heart rate sped up:

WHY DO COWS HAVE FOUR NIPPLES – errr teats. Whatever. 

I messaged the one person I could trust to answer me honestly and without judgment, Jersey. She writes back, “Yes – And sheep only have two!

Key full blown panic! It’s nothing for sheep to have twin or triplet (sometimes quadruplet) lambs! AND THEY ONLY HAVE TWO TEATS! WHY DO COWS HAVE FOUR!!!

Jersey also kindly reminded me to not say nipples in front of farmers.

(She’s right. It’s just not done. I really will have to inform The Dude one day.)

Then, Jersey continued, “Seriously – where did the extra two come from? I don’t think hippos or whales have four.”

Good. It was getting to her, too. I wasn’t the only bamboozled vet student this evening in Edinburgh.

We discussed the possibility of cows fostering each other’s young and even being genetically selected for more teats to get more milk back in the early days of domestication.

I ran the theories by my friend who is a real life vet.

She thinks I’m a nutter.

When I got home from the walk, I tried to find out more about hippopotamus and whale teats on the internet, on the off chance I could gain some more insight into cow mammary development.

Fail.  I couldn’t find any pictures of hippopotamus teats and they are pretty hard to discern from a side-on photo:

I did find a really sweet article about baby beluga whales suckling. I think it was written for children. I loved it. Baby beluga. So freaking cute.

Still, I felt no closer to solving the mystery about why cows have four teats. I’ve been studying cows almost exclusively for over a month now and I couldn’t answer one simple question.

It would have been sad if I still had the capacity to feel.

I’ve certainly hit a wall. It’s time for that cup of tea and a good night’s sleep. It’s my hope, in the morning, I’ll awaken to a comment on this post answering this udderly mysterious conundrum.

Posted in Academia, Animals, Dating or Something Like it, Edinburgh, Vet School | 1 Comment

Lost In Translation?

Occasionally, I make rather odd requests to my friends, today was no exception:

“Ok, I just need you to say, ‘Hi my name is Paul‘ and then ‘Hi, my name is Robbie‘ in your Scottish accent really quick.”


“I’m wondering if there is any chance I could have heard the name Paul when someone said Robbie instead.”

“Ok. Hi my name is Paul. Hi my name is Robbie”

“Yeah, no way do they sound alike.”

“No they dinnae”

One of these days, I’ll get back to sharing stories about getting my butt kicked by newborn bovines or how great I am at nursing baby lambs and doing stuff around farms. But, somehow, all of my entries lately have been nostalgic of my days working as a dating columnist. I think that’s because although my age, career, time zone and opinions regarding the best time to drink a hot cup of English Breakfast tea (all the times!) have changed, some things, specifically my dismal hand-eye coordination, gigantic shoe size, and uncanny ability to almost-but-not-quite-actually-date people have all remained exactly the same.

Actually, it’s probably best I focus on writing about my “dating life” instead of vet school because, now that my clinical extra mural studies have started, my stories are less about funny farm antics and more about sponge bathing diarrhoea off a dog’s rear end. It’s glamorous, I know.

So back to the Paul/Robbie name debate. Something unexpected and kinda funny happened today: I realized I may have made out with the wrong handyman. Since the cake and kissing incident with J, I have seen him numerous times, during which he has had ample opportunity to compliment my superior culinary skills and kissing technique, but has done neither. He’s so dead to me.

However, J isn’t doing all the work in the flat next door alone, there’s been a team of guys working there, remodelling the whole place. One of these guys is Paul Joiner. (*Note – a “joiner” is like a “carpenter.” You’re welcome, North America.) Paul Joiner is tall and blonde and probably thinks I need help or guidance or a mentor or a boyfriend well-versed in local knowledge. I can’t entirely disagree with him as he has caught me leaving my door open before when I was taking the dog out for a walk in the morning. A true gentleman, Paul Joiner guarded my ajar door until I returned to ensure that no super-keen thief was going to rob my third floor walk up 7:50 am. He then informed me that I had left my door open, but in the polite British way of doing so, apologized and used passive voice as to not assign blame: “I’m sorry, I just noticed your door was somehow left slightly open.” As I am adapting to the UK lifestyle, I responded in turn, with an apology, “Oh, sorry about that, I’ll be more careful next time, thanks.” (*Note: I do apologize now, for EVERYTHING.) Sorry I’m not sorry about always saying I’m sorry.

Well, Paul Joiner and I have seen each other a few times, I always say hello and usually apologize for something, like having to walk around the ladder he stuck in the middle of my hallway (don’t ask me why I apologize for that, maybe a Canadian could explain this better?)  Well, today,  I asked to borrow a hammer so I could fix some cheap Ikea picture frames in my flat. Paul Joiner said the hammer was already loaded into the van downstairs, but he was happy to run down and get it for me. Six flights of stairs later, he returned with the hammer. I did my hammering and gave it back.

Paul Joiner then told me that they were done in the flat across the hall. I invited myself in and gave my approval for how much better it looked. Then, I told him to have a nice day and went back to my flat.

A few minutes later, Paul Joiner knocked on my door. He told me again they were all done. I validated his good work again, smiled and said bye.

Then, I get another knock on the door. Paul Joiner was there holding a sponge. He apologized and asked me if I had a bin and could throw the sponge away for him as he had just finished using it to wipe everything down in the flat because they were all done working. I said sure and took the sponge, possibly apologizing for my bin being in the kitchen instead of readily anticipating his need to dispose of said sponge. It’s getting harder to keep track of all the “sorry’s” I’ve started to drop.

Some more small talk ensued after Paul Joiner caught a glimpse of my cat, but I ultimately wished him luck and shut the door.

One more knock on the door. I opened it again and this time Paul Joiner handed me a piece of paper with a number on it and asked if he could leave his number with me in case I needed any joinery work. I said sure. Paul Joiner then asked for my number, which I happily gave him.

We then said goodbye for possibly the 8th time that day. I may have apologized for something else again, at this point, I can’t remember.

In the end, I decided I was flattered by the attention from Paul Joiner and should encourage it a little bit to see if he really was just looking for more business. I sent him a message:


I was puzzled. I checked the number  – I hadn’t copied it down wrong. None of the numbers were even printed in that “is this a 5 or a 2” serial killer/brain surgeon penmanship.

I wondered if maybe Robbie was another guy working on the flat and if Paul had given me his work number, but written one of the numbers incorrectly as sometimes coworkers all have very similar phone numbers.

Out of curiosity, I googled the number. It was tied to a landscaping company in a town I had never heard of before outside of London.

I put the number into Facebook and found Robbie who lives in that town just outside of London.

Curiouser and curiouser. I then started to look for joiners in Edinburgh named Paul so I could see if their contact number was similar.

I didn’t understand. Did he give me the wrong number on purpose? Was it some sort of a prank? Was his name Robbie? Did he, in fact, work for a landscaping company in England even though he said he was from Edinburgh and he didn’t look a thing like the Robbie I found on Facebook? What was going on? If he was going to give me a fake number, why did he approach me to give me the number and ask for my number? Things were not adding up. I couldn’t make any sense of them and it was driving me crazy.

Then, I GOT A GRIP.  Paul asked for my number, too. If he wanted, he could get ahold of me a lot easier than I could get ahold of him.

The end.

Or is it?

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNN *Suspenseful music plays as I exit stage left.*

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The Art of Seduction. Or Something Like That.

I’m not usually one to kiss and tell, but there are times when the telling is so epic, I have to cross that line. This is most definitely one of those times. Single friends, take notes.

Handy J has been working at the flat across the hall from me for the past week. He is installing a central heating system, that is when he isn’t busy chatting me up in the hallway (and you wonder why the repairman is always late!)

J is tall, dark, handsome and has an enormous toolbox. Literally. That’s not a euphemism or anything.

Upon meeting J, I told him not to hesitate to let me know if he needed anything. He held me to that and hasn’t been shy. J seems to always need something: water for the kettle, a phone charger, a kind and sympathetic ear…

The other day, he quite literally knocked on my door 3 times within an hour. Each time he was asking for more water for the kettle. Handing him his 3rd litre of water that morning I said, “Wow, you sure do drink a lot of tea.” He laughed and explained that he was using the water to clean things in the flat. Still skeptical, I told him to let me know if he needed anything else as I was going to be home revising for my exam. J said, “Oh, well maybe I’ll come by for lunch.”

I was caught off guard and said, “Oh. Lunch? Well, since it’s revision week, I don’t really have lunch. I have half a sweet potato and some brussels sprouts and was going to just eat that.” J laughed and told me not to worry.

And I did eat exactly that:


Still, I felt a bit bad I couldn’t invite J in for lunch. I don’t know the first thing about installing boilers and stuff, but it seems like the type of work that would leave you very hungry. So, I decided to bake him a cake. A vegan lemon cake as I was completely out of eggs and butter also (ref. eating brussels sprouts and sweet potato for lunch) and I really couldn’t be bothered to go to the shop and buy lunch or eggs and butter.

The next time J knocked for a kettle refill, I answered the door and said, “Hi-I-baked-you-a-cake.” He didn’t respond right away, so I said it again, a little louder, “I BAKED YOU A CAKE.”

J just looked at me. Probably processing these strange words said in my strange accent. The silence felt uncomfortable, so I kept talking:

“Well, since I said to let me know if you needed anything and then you said you needed lunch, but I didn’t really have lunch…”

“Oh I was just kidding about that…”


The third time I told him I’d baked a cake must have come off as a bit aggressive because J gave me an appeasing smile and said, “Thanks. I’ve only got about half an hour left of work.”

I threw my hands up and said, “Well, just knock on my door when you are getting ready to go and I’ll cut you a slice of cake to take away with you.”

J smiled and nodded. About half an hour later, he knocks again and says, “That’s me done.”

I nod and say, “Ok great. Let me go get you some cake.”

As I turn to leave, J takes a step into my flat and says, “Or, you could invite us in for a cup of tea?”

I say, “ok,” and turn and walk away, leaving the door open. J must have understood that as an invitation to come in, because that’s exactly what he did. He followed me into the kitchen and I say, “Welp, there’s the cake.”

I flip on the kettle and ask, “How do you take your tea?” He asks for milk and sugar.

Damn. I’d put all the sugar in the cake. I tell him, “I put all the sugar in the cake. I have honey. I’ll put honey in your tea.”

I hand him the mug, realizing I’d forgotten to take out the tea bag. With the swiftness of a ninja, I grab a spoon from the counter and reach into his mug to remove the tea bag, spilling tea all over his arm, “Sorry about that, Americans really are not that good with tea, ya know?”

J takes his tea to the table and I sit across from him. He smiles, “This is like a proper dinner date.”

“Yup. Sure is.”

I’m wishing the cake tasted better (I’d run out of sugar making the cake, and decided it would just be a lower calorie vegan lemon cake – it was quite tart). I’m wishing I had enough icing sugar to make frosting instead of a glaze. I’m wondering what the heck I am doing feeding this guy I don’t even know a slice of cake. I’m wishing I had a gin and tonic…

I ask J a little bit more about what he does, and when he starts talking about plumbing, I remember that I pulled the plug out of the bathroom sink while trying to flush a few large chunks of dried henna down the drain and haven’t been able to get it to go back in correctly. I ask him if he wouldn’t mind taking a look at it. And guess what, HE FIXES IT – WITH HIS TOOLS!

I thank him for fixing my sink and we return to THE CAKE.

J asks me if I have a flatmate. I say no.

He continues, “And no boyfriend, husband back in the US?”

“Not exactly,” I respond. Realizing how that must have sounded, I laugh and then (for some unknown reason) say it again, “Yea, not exactly.”

What J can not possibly understand here is that “not exactly” has just somehow become Erin-code for, “I haven’t even dated anyone in 4 years…” and that’s why it’s so funny.

I ask him if he has a girlfriend. He says, “Not exactly.”

Hmmm. I’m thinking “not exactly” possibly means something a little different for J – either that or he is “mirroring” in an attempt to get closer to me and build trust. All primates do it.

J finishes his cake, and tells me it was “braw,” but his parking is expiring and he has another job to get to. He takes the plates into the kitchen.

I walk J to the door. He thanks me for the cake and I thank him for fixing my sink. He gives me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and turns to the door. Then, with one hand on the doorknob, J turns back to me, looks in my eyes, and in one painfully halting and spasmodic motion, leans in and starts kissing me.

I’m taken off guard, but I kiss back. Then, I start thinking about how I am kissing Handy J from the flat across the hall in the middle of the day because I baked him a cake and I am overcome with the desire to laugh my head off. Fortunately, I learned when I was 17 that guys HATE it when they are kissing you and you start laughing (they REALLY, REALLY hate it), so I was able to repress the giggles and just smile and keep kissing back. However, with all the effort I had to put into not laughing and with the awkwardness of it all, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what to do with my hands while making out with a dude. So, I held them out to my sides, kinda like a penguin holds it’s flippers when it’s balancing on an ice float.

J pulls away from the kiss and says, “So, I guess I should go?”

Still wearing my incredibly literal hat from revision week,  I respond, “Yeah, you should, your parking is expiring, remember?”

J walks out the door and spills his toolbox. I tell him to have a great afternoon and close the door.

Then, I go sit down on my futon with my flash cards and laugh my head off for the whole afternoon. I daydreamed about future me, aged 58 walking around my beautiful Southern California outdoor swimming pool on a Thursday morning. I see my 20-something year old pool boy cleaning out the filter, lower my Ray-bands and winking, say, “Hey cutie, want a Piña Colada?”

Dear future me, if Handy J is the start of a trend, I think we’re going to be ok…

I didn’t get much revision done that day, but I did find a vintage cake advertisement on pintrest that really captured the moment:


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Just A Quickie

I am giving myself 15 minutes to write this quick catch up post before the lavender scent on my sheets sends me on the midnight express to Snoozeville.

Zzzzzzz….8 minutes. I’m giving myself 8 minutes. Even now, my eyes are drooping and heavy, but if not now, when? When will I even start to share the Adventures in Veterinary Medicine I have had the past few *eek* months I haven’t written.

I owe you stories. Intense stories of blood and gore, like how I castrated a cat and walked out of the operating room looking as if I had field dressed a grizzly bear with my bare hands….and teeth.

I owe you grand stories of the beautiful Scottish countryside and how I am trying my damnedest to grow into a country vet but it’s going to take a lot more than James Herriot novels to get me there.

I owe you  a gem of a story about meeting an aggressive Rottweiler head on to save Huckleberry. And I owe you a story about the best April Fool’s Day joke I’ve ever played.

But today’s stories are the quick ones. Short stores, stories that can’t be too complicated or exciting because they involve love and romance and me generally adjusting to grown up life.

For starters, my love life catch up: I was on Tinder for a week before I ran out of eligible men within 50 km of Edinburgh. I was half expecting to get a message from the executives at Tinder explaining that I was most likely single because I am too damn picky and should “swipe right” more.

*Hi Mom, Tinder is a dating game on the phone where you swipe people’s profile pictures left if you are not interested in them and right if you are. If two people match (both swipe right) then you can talk to each other. 

But let’s face it, Tinder could have criticised me for being more than too picky. I also struggled to get a “sexy” profile picture. After spending a lot of time in the late 18th/early 19th century (in my brain) I decided to feature a picture inspired by the very fashions that enticed Mr. Darcy. I wanted one that would show off and enhance my bosom, but gave up when I realised the beagle was coping a feel in it. I don’t even know where that awkwardly placed paw came from.

2015-03-21 16.16.22So, I ended up using a photo of me and a donkey. It just begged for men to complement my ASSets.

2015-03-25 21.40.15

I went out on a few dates and then Tinder got tired. And I deleted it.

Resigning myself to the fact that I would be doing all my own home improvements by myself for the rest of my life, I accepted my landlord’s challenge to replace the silicone seal (caulk) in my shower (I am also still really bad at saying no to such things).

At first I didn’t understand why he couldn’t be bothered to do it, reading up online, it didn’t seem difficult…ha.

I started off with every good intention to remove all the old nasty sealant….

2015-04-14 11.33.19…but got bored quickly, so quickly. The job was both difficult and unrewarding.

So, I pulled out a bit of sealant and then applied the new stuff in a thick heavy layer all around the shower. It looks horrendous. (And don’t tell me, it probably won’t be watertight, right?)

But it came at a much higher cost than the £7 tube of sealant I got at the store: I got silicone in my hair and up my nose. I effectively glued my hands together and sealed the drain in my bathroom sink. I sealed myself to a butter knife and I tracked footprints of white sealant across the dark blue carpet. I think I must have eaten some of the stuff, but am still unable to assess whether there is any lasting damage to my taste buds.

Seriously, my landlord will never ask me to do anything handy again. Ever.

And now, it’s reached the point of being past my bedtime once more. But I owe you grand tales of adventure and they are coming. When I have the energy to do them justice. Tonight is the night for hum drum adult life and falling asleep at a sensible hour. It is not the night for adventure…

Goodnight my friends.



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Oh Such Trials and Tribulations

Being a vet student isn’t easy.

Pretty much my home life revolves around this corner of my flat, except, of course, when I decide to play it “fast and loose” and bring my studies to the sofa or….even the bedroom! Ooo la la!

2015-02-12 18.46.37School is going well, but let’s just say there is a reason you haven’t heard much from me lately….there is a lot to learn, but I won’t bore you with a recap of our lectures this year (especially since I’m likely to stand corrected by one of my colleagues who probably has a better head for remembering all these nitty gritty details anyway).

No, this blog post is brought to you by a different type of vet student tribulation, the kind of tribulation that really makes you question if you are in the right place, doing the right thing. The type of tribulation that makes you pause and reconsider your future career plans.

*Tribulation – you keep using that word and I don’t think it means what you think it means…

Dear internet, I’m about to get completely, soul-baring, emotionally gross and unfiltered. I’m going to be honest with you.

I recently called into question my life choices. I recently began to wonder if I am made of the stuff of prolapsed vaginas and abscessed teeth and bloody projectile diarrhoea. I recently had a moment where I doubted. I wondered if I should have pursued that Masters degree in Public Relations after all. I wondered if I was Jimmy Choos and a corner office rather than wellies and mud and blood and amniotic fluids.

All of these doubts and questions rushed into my mind with a vengeance the day the engineer British Gas sent out to repair my boiler looked me in the eyes and said,

“It appears you have a dead mouse behind your fridge.”

My jaw dropped to the floor. Of course, I quickly picked my jaw up off the floor knowing that my kitchen floor was contaminated with decaying rotting dead mouse miasmas.

The engineer flashed his light behind the fridge and sure enough, there it was:2015-02-09 18.13.11Can you see it? Here, I’ll zoom in and make it a bit easier for you:

2015-02-09 18.13.11I thanked the engineer and apologised for having a decaying rodent in my place of food preparation! So humiliating! As if he would call the appropriate authorities and have me shut down for baking all those cookies in a dead-rodent infested venue! Le ugh.

I had just scrubbed out the cat litter box and washed the sheets on the sofa. I hadn’t noticed the smell of death permeating my kitchen per se, but I had blamed Huck for worse than normal flatulence and bleached every inch of my bathroom to make sure that there wasn’t any stinky mould growing in it, so maybe I had smelled it and not realised it?

The engineer gave me a non-judgy nod, packed up his things and said he would be back in 3 days with some replacement hoses for the boiler.

Great. I had 3 days to get rid of the decaying vermin. That gave me a deadline. If the mouse was still there in 3 days the engineer would know that I am truly, incurably gross.

I immediately told my friends about my situation, secretly hoping someone would just come over and take care of it for me. No one really jumped at the opportunity.

The rest of the day passed with me fully denying I had a problem. I ordered take out Indian food and poured myself a glass of wine.

Day 1 brought more anxiety and some judgement from the friends who now knew I was avoiding cleaning up a dead rodent. You seriously haven’t cleaned that up yet?

Day 2, my last day before the engineer returned. I debated slipping him a tenner and asking him just to go a little above and beyond the call of duty in the name of chivalry.

No. I had to do it. I had to put on my big girl panties, rubber gloves, some Chanel perfume, a silk French scarf and clean up this mess. I called my old uni roommate for emotional support and to be a witness if my worst fears came true and the dead mouse reanimated into a zombie mouse that bit me and made me into a brain-eating-zombie too.

2015-02-09 18.16.44


Coming up with a game plan wasn’t easy. I had a plastic bag, paper towels and latex gloves at the ready. I considered trying to scoop the mouse out with a wooden spoon, but I didn’t want to have to throw my wooden spoon away. I pulled out a set of disposable chopsticks and considered grabbing him like a little sushi roll, but Rachel wisely reminded me that upon even the most gentle touch with a chop stick, the dead mouse might just dissolve into a puddle of decay. Then, looking again at the chopsticks, she asked me if I’d considered skewering it.

I paused.

No. Absolutely not.

By the time we had discussed all of the options for rodent clean up and removal, the problem had grown 10 fold in size and Rach nearly gagged at the site of the “rat” behind my fridge.

I made several attempts to touch it; losing my nerve each time. Rachel cheered for me and egged me on….errr encouraged me.

Finally, I took a deep breath and told myself it was now or never. I took some paper towel and covered the mouse. Then, with my gloved hand inside the plastic bag, I reached over, scooped around the tiny fury body and pulled. I didn’t get him. He was lodged very securely in place. But, he didn’t dissolve into mouse mush at my touch! The mouse was actually a bit stiff and cold. I reached again, this time tugging harder, with the zen confidence of a yogi, and in one swift motion had him in the garbage can!

He didn’t turn to mouse mush! He wasn’t that decayed! I figured, especially with my boiler not firing on all cylinders this winter, it just wasn’t warm enough in my flat for the mouse to decompose. He was probably frozen-mummifying like the 9,300 year old bison mummy they found in Siberia.

I was euphoric spraying disinfectant all over my kitchen. Honestly, I probably got a little high off the stuff since I flooded that whole corner with it.

Truly, when I write my memoirs, this will be a turning point in my career. It wasn’t the fact that the mouse was dead – just that it had been dead – that grossed me out. Still, if I couldn’t handle 15 grams of dead  mouse in my kitchen, how could I expect myself to do some of the duties vets are called upon to do (words like dairy cow with a retained placenta suddenly leap into my head…)

School is going great. Sorry I’m so bad at sharing these scenes from my hum drum life. I’ll do better. I have big plans on the horizon. I’m going to pursue greatness and grossness. And I’ll bring you with me. I promise.






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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Cat-mas…

There are +4 cats in my life this Christmas and 0 Men.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to analyze the cats to men ratio and draw conclusions here. Even just reading that sentence again is enough to make me break out into a cold sweat….baby, it’s cold outside

Oh please, oh please, oh please don’t let this be the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

I spent this week cat sitting for friends and splitting my time between two flats (couldn’t take 4 cats in my micro-flat!) Huckleberry was in heaven having so many cat butts to sniff and cat poops to sneak out of the litterbox. He’s actually eaten so much cat poo that he gained a pound or two. Oh, bring him a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer!

And, while the cats are all lovely, I don’t see myself being a multiple cat owner just now. Mostly because I’m not ready to take that giant leap towards official “cat lady status.” Plus, cats play cat games that involve stampeding around the flat like a herd of elephants at 2am. Mama needs her silent night beauty sleep.

But back to the topic of spinsterhood…

It’s looking like a viable option for me right now. I mean, the last three dates I’ve gone on have fallen flatter than an unwanted fruitcake:

Mystery Date 1. Criticized my dog (scoff!), criticized my lack of knowledge about Shakespeare (double scoff!), and generally did his best to make me feel like an idiot. Which really isn’t tough to do, he could have just handed me our Pathology SPOT exam if he wanted to make me feel like a giggling moron. I don’t know why he had to use music to insult my intelligence. I mean, I like music. I listen to music. But, apparently, I don’t know music. Fa la la la la la la.

Mystery Date 2. Didn’t speak English very well. Never really called. Eh, no hard feelings there, Feliz Navidad number 2!

Mystery Date 3. Had a lovely flirty fun time with someone who could only be described as “Erin bait” – 35 yo cute police officer who saves puppies and volunteers in the Coast Guard. Obviously, I was interested! Played it about as cool as I play things and was rather coy in response to his drunken affectionate overtures. Still, was hoping for a call and a follow up date from this one. Until, a few days later when I found out he’d spread some gossip around my local pub, painting the situation in a different light, one that didn’t flatter me at all. Feelings about him turned Ice Queen Cold. And the worst part about it? He’d never actually contacted me, so he didn’t know that I hated him with the fire of 1,000 suns and was not speaking to him!

That is, until our paths crossed last week.

I made it pretty clear I wasn’t interested in talking to 3 by not talking to him (I’m a keep things simple kinda girl). I also shot him a death-ray glare that actually seemed to frighten him. He’s just lucky I’d had a week to simmer and cool down or I might have talked to him and I can’t imagine that being very pretty.

Still, hostility isn’t a cloak I don often or for long. It’s uncomfortable.

I saw 3 on my street again this afternoon. I walked past without saying a word. Then, overcome by Christmas Spirit and feeling goodwill toward men, I turned around, walked back to him and wished him a Happy Christmas. He took the opportunity to (sorta) apologize (can’t remember if the words “I’m sorry” actually came out of his mouth?) and give me a thinly veiled cover story in which he was actually the victim of slander. He’s charming alright, but somehow, call me crazy, I don’t believe a word he says. Still, it’s Christmastime! I let him talk, gave him an All-American smile and said, “Yeah, whatever, I really just didn’t want to be a dick on Christmas. So take care and Happy Christmas.” Then, I a-wassailed away among the leaves so green, joyful and triumphant.

Right back to the cats. Who never act like 19 year old frat boys.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?

And let’s face it, cats or no cats, there’s really only one reason why I’m single: I just haven’t met anyone as interesting as I am. And you shouldn’t date down, not when it comes to a person’s level of intrigue. I’m sure any day now I’ll bump into a tall, dark handsome world-traveling, PhD-holding, kitten-saving, mountain man-lumberjack-environmentalist who can write poetry, drive tractors and wash dishes. 2015 is coming, adventure looms on the horizon and love lies lurking behind almost every corner….



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Merde to All the Exams!

‘Tis the season:

I’ve been wearing the same sweats for going on 10 days now.

My nails are bitten down to the quick and there is an enormous spot on my chin that I can’t stop picking at.

I’ve cried twice this week; once because Huckleberry was taking too long to find a suitable place to drop a deuce on his evening walk, and once when I couldn’t pronounce the word Nitroimidazoles at the end of a 6-hour group study session and decided I “just don’t know anything.”

Diagnosis: Acute case of Examitis

My baby sister Mugs is also suffering examitis over in Oregon. Today, she confessed to eating her oatmeal with a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon because she hasn’t done dishes in over a week. Then, she sent me a picture that would make our mother proud:


Ha! Joke’s on you, Mugface! Mom reads my blog!

As any big sister would do, I replied with a picture of my clean kitchen to shame her.

2014-12-09 16.15.56

Of course, while my dishes may be washed and drying, I also informed her that I had likely failed a test in which I simply had to correctly put on gloves and I’d eaten a packet of instant miso soup for breakfast this morning with a reheated cup of coffee I’d brewed the day before yesterday. So, I’m pretty much failing everything but dishes and counter tops.

We both agreed that finals week can be rough. No matter what, you always seem to come up a bit short: short on time, short on groceries, short on patience, short on cash…

Speaking of short on cash, I’ve gotten some criticism from the peanut gallery for being cheap with the central heating:

2014-12-09 13.28.57

That look kinda says it all, doesn’t it? I told him that, until he went and found a job, he should be happy with his hot water bottle and that lots of beagles live outside in the elements without blankets and hot water bottles!

The cat is always a bit more discrete with his fears of death by hypothermia:

2014-12-03 21.51.23

Overall, they are good study partners. When the cat isn’t sitting on my notes purring and the dog isn’t asking to go for a walk just as I’m hitting my stride with pharmacology, anyway.

Well, I should get back to my revision. Our exam tomorrow is pretty much over every single disease process that can happen in every single system within the body. This means there’s always something new and exciting to learn when I look at my notes! Like, male rats, mice and horses don’t have nipples, or how the pathological implications of bacteria in the pregnant uterus should most definitely not be considered appropriate reading material while eating. Retained placenta and Ramen don’t mix.

To all my fellow students, ma Poulette used to never let me wish her luck before exams, as (she told me) in France, you just wish people merde!

So Merde to all of you this week! Merde to exams! Merde to students and “real grown ups” alike! And if you are in vet school, I’m going to wish you a very special Merde for our exam tomorrow, I wish you Cyanthostomosis (page 116 of our notes). You’re welcome.

(PS if you don’t have a strong stomach, I wouldn’t suggest you googling that….)


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Whoa There, Cupid!

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the blog! Promise to try harder!

Currently, I’m in a state of slight crisis (is this surprising to anyone?). Basically, here’s the storm of struggles in my life:

1. Spelling.
I am trying to switch over to British spelling instead of American spelling (when in Rome, you know). Sorry readers, you’re going to be getting the worst of both worlds as I transition.

2. Academic pursuits above and beyond spelling.
School is fantastic and interesting and has me projecting hypochondria on my own animals. The other week, I rushed Huck to the vet because he was vomiting and running around the flat licking the baseboards. Obviously, I assumed he’d ingested some toxin that crossed the Blood Brain Barrier and affected his Central Nervous System. The next day, Huck came home having made a full recovery from his very expensive “tummy ache.”

3. I’m a Workin’ Girl!
Luckily, I was able to pay the vet bills without breaking too much of a sweat because I now have a delightful after school job!  It entails smiling and talking to people for hours on end about non-vet school related things. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and surprisingly refreshing to engage in casual discussions that don’t revolve around diarrhoea, vomit or cancer.

4. Identity Issues.
I’ve been toying with veganism. Don’t talk to me about protein. Nothing crazy has happened yet.

5. My Love Life.
Obviously, since I’m so busy with school, work, learning to spell, not killing my animals, and in ethical crisis about my choices regarding eating chicken embryos for breakfast, I decided it’s the perfect time in my life to start dating again! Weeeeee…..

I was walking Huck home through the meadows one night when destiny (more commonly known as “Meadows Matt”) approached and stopped for a chat. He is tall, handsome, employed, and a dog lover. His “half Polish half French” accent is charming and he is really funny! We had a great chat about our favourite childhood cartoons (yes, from the 80’s, he’s age-appropriate!) as his Jack Russell was humping Huck’s face and parted after exchanging numbers. It was a perfect, organic, effortless meeting, the stuff of late 90’s RomComs.

The next week, Meadows Matt asked me to join him for a walk with our dogs. My ideal first date! I ran over to meet him right after class, excited to see what he looked like in the daytime. We hit it off right away: we were both wearing Converse All-Stars, mine were purple and his were black. The dogs were running around having a great time and the conversation flowed easily. Matt was funny and charming and just the right amount of flirty.

About 20 minutes into our walk, he brought up how difficult it is to meet people in a new city (we’ve both been in Edinburgh just over a year). I nodded and agreed, “We’re not a bunch of kids in the school yard anymore, making friends is hard.”Actually, it wasn’t particularly easy back then, either, if I remember right…

But, it was Matt’s next sentence that told me he was not talking about making friends, he was talking about finding love:

“Yeah, I meet up with all these dudes on Grindr, and all they want is sex.”

If you don’t know what Grindr is, here’s the link to a description of it on wikipedia.

At that point, I was glad the sun was setting, masking all the blood rushing to my face. I was on my first real date in a very long time and it was with a gay man. I recovered quickly, however, happy I hadn’t bothered to shave my legs or run back home to get my favourite lip gloss.

In the end, even without a kiss goodnight, it was one of the best dates I’ve ever been on. Matt and I really have a lot in common – we actually have very similar taste in men – and it’s kicked off a wonderful friendship. One of these days, we’ll be good enough friends for me to tell him I didn’t actually know he was gay when I first met him…not yet though…not yet.

And I did have so much fun on the date, I decided to put up an OK Cupid profile. I’m not taking it terribly seriously like I did when dating was my job. Honestly, this is the picture attached to my profile:

I feel like it invites admirers to compliment my ass.

I have a date this week with a  man who is holding pigeons in his picture. I don’t know too much about him, but he falls into the “men looking for women” category, so I figure at least I have that going for me this time.

Posted in Animals, Dating or Something Like it, Edinburgh, Good Places to Meet Guys, Not Falling In Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ultra Sound? More Like Ultra Fun!

I received a crash course in ultrasonography today.

It pretty much went like this:

“Here, take the probe. See that nobby-bit? Well, that aligns with the ‘M’ marker on the screen. So, you just move towards or away from the nobby-bit to move closer or further from the M mark. Give it a go. And try to find the bladder.”

I eventually found the dog’s bladder and centered on the questionable mass inside of it. Of course, to me, the whole picture just looked like the sonographs dominating my Facebook Newsfeed: shades of grey, black and white with a grainy amorphous blob in the middle. To my untrained eye, ultrasounds announcing the upcoming birth of a baby look almost identical to the inside of a dog’s bladder, especially if that bladder contains something like a polyp.

Just kidding, friends. Babies are way cuter than polyps.

I’m coming to the end of my second week of clinical EMS. I’ve really enjoyed being back in a clinic and Huckleberry has really enjoyed how interesting I smell when I get home. The days are long though, and I’m falling behind on life in general, so it will be nice to have a week off before school starts later this month. I have dishes to scrub, a growing pile of laundry to wash, and I desperately need to go grocery shopping. I had to get takeout tonight because I ate the entire contents of my refrigerator last night:

A plate of raw cabbage, hummus, olives, an avocado and two slices of cheddar cheese.

I have a mango, museli and some whisky left, but I’m saving those for an emergency. Or, perhaps, breakfast tomorrow.

Seriously. How did I ever work full time and take care of myself? I’m starting to feel like I need a mom to feed me and clean up after me and pack my lunch in the morning. It’s like I’ve completely forgotten how to be a grownup.

Still, it’s been a great experience seeing practice at the clinic. Aside from playing around with the ultrasound equipment, I’ve sat in on quite a few spays, neuters, a biopsy and a foreign body removal surgery. I’ve listened to mummers, arrhythmias and the bowels of rabbits.  I’ve learned how to provide nebulized antibiotics to a parakeet, give a chameleon an injection of vitamin B12, examine a snake, and euthanize a hamster.

But, so far, there is one patient who stands out as the highlight of my experience working in this clinic:

A little brown and white Guinea Pig. He was brought into the clinic with his brother Guinea Pig after they had gotten into a fight. The brown and white pig had a nasty bite wound on his stomach and his brother had a torn ear. While the torn ear wasn’t serious, the pig with the abdominal wound needed stitches.

Watching the vet suture this little Guinea Pig, I was so touched that the owners were taking such good care of him. It was nice to see this little guy hold so much intrinsic value, especially considering you can usually buy two Guinea Pigs for about 15 quid.

Handing him back after he’d recovered from the anesthesia, I looked at them cradling their little Guinea Pig and knew I was a witness to love. True love.

Thank you, Scotland. You beautiful country of pet lovers. Thank you for that.



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