Category Archives: Writing and Publishing

Montana Morning

driving into town today from our cattle range subdivision
along the ten-mile stretch I could drive in my sleep,
packed snow and ice rumbling beneath meaty tires,
sun slipping through a menagerie of receding clouds,
Bridger Mountains secreting out from beneath the remnant skirts
of yesterday’s snow storm,
light reflecting crystalline blue on the blanketed ground,
I tell myself yet again:
how lucky we are to have chosen this place to call home.

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A Cordial Invitation: Join Me Over at Science & Sensibility

In case you’ve wondered where I have wandered off to recently, let me cordially invite you to Lamaze International’s Science & Sensibility  research blog site–which I am now managing.  I am thrilled, humbled and excited to be steering my writing and childbirth education work toward an actively (and internationally) accessed social media site where I gain the honored opportunity to interact with brilliant writers, researchers, maternity care clinicians and professionals and normal birth advocates.  Please drop on by, sign up for an RSS feed from Science & Sensibility and, most importantly, join the conversation!  (And invite your friends and colleagues to do the same!)

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Filed under Childbirth Issues, natural childbirth, pregnancy, prenatal health, Writing and Publishing

Childbirth at 37,000 feet

Have you heard this story?  Amazing and yet, not really:

http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/765481/b1dbf52eaa/1460505519/417d080e40/

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Dinosaurs, Crude Oil and Seashell Beach

Every Wednesday, our daughter has an early release day from school.  Since moving to California, I have instituted “Wednesday Adventure Day” to take advantage of this free half day, mid-way through the week.  Our adventures don’t take us as far as I described in yesterday’s post, but we do get out and about and find something new to explore.

Yesterday, we made our way to a little beach area in Foster City, which borders the San Francisco Bay.  The cool thing about this beach?  It’s made entirely of crushed sea shells.

The kids initially came along, moaning and groaning about wanting to stay home, about me not telling them where we were going, about being too cold in the 70 degree weather with a little wind kicking up off the Bay (come on–they’re still Montana kids…too cold?  They’ve been outside in -20 degree weather before!  Give me a break!).  But once we got down onto the beach, their usual New Adventure Glee kicked in.

Seven-year-old Ellie has acquired the addictive habit of searching for sea glass.  Yesterday, we found a monster piece of pale blue, ocean-tumbled glass for her collection.  We discovered that when a handful of shattered shells are scooped up and then blow slowly out of one’s hand by the wind, the tinkling sound is like sea shell wind chimes found at an ocean side community gift shop.

Walking along, searching for shells, glass and whatever else might catch our collective eye, five-year-old Landon spotted a partially dried jelly fish the size of a salad plate.

Amidst the broken shells were also huge masses of dark gray, semi-dried mud…the sludge brought in by the bay and deposited along the shore lines and at the bottom of the fingerling lagoons that weave their way throughout Foster City and nearby Redwood Shores.  Ellie slipped on the mud, revealing a black under-layer.

“Maybe it’s oil from the Gulf of Mexico,” I falsely surmised.

Up to that point, the kids had been calling the mud “dinosaur goop.”  We launched into a discussion about the fact that crude oil is exactly that–thousands of years old decomposed materials of living things, including dinosaurs.  (Actually, the crude was made from plankton that lived during the Jurrassic period…but that was more info than I could work into the discussion).

As things usually do with young children the conversation migrated.

“If oil is made from natural stuff, than why is it such a big deal for it to be leaking into the ocean?” astute Ellie asked.
“You know, I was just thinking the same thing earlier today,” I answered her.

The best explanation I could come up with, after hearing a story on NPR about a similar oil spill in the gulf that occurred in 1971, was this:

“Even though the oil is a natural substance, it doesn’t belong outside the rock underneath the ocean floor.  It would be like taking an entire lake or ocean-worth of water and dumping it on a desert.  Even though the water would be a natural substance, it would cause problems for the desert ecosystem, because the plants and animals that live there wouldn’t be used to having that much water there.”

Maybe a bad comparison, but a comparison all the same.

This whole oil spill thing has gotten me very frustrated.  At what point will human beings learn that we can’t continue to use and abuse the earth without there being a high potential for irreparable results?  And from a mother’s point of view, how much damage can we inflict on this planet until we are leaving behind nothing but a caustic environment for children and grandchildren to live in?

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Book Reading: CAKEWALK, by Kate Moses

During a recent family visit, I was asked by my father-in-law what I like about living here in the San Francisco Bay area.  While my list remains complicated (I am still in the flux of feeling excited over the trillions of things to do here, and missing the small town comforts of Bozeman) one item that remains atop my “likes” list is the literary scene.  There is so much vibe here…an endless supply of writerly opportunities.

Last night, I attended a book reading at Palo Alto’s Books Inc. book store by Kate Moses.  The reading was from her new tome, Cakewalk: A Memoir.

Moses made herself lyrically famous and prize-worthy with the publication of her previous novel, Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath along with her editorial work at Salon.com and upon compiling a couple anthologies of essays written about and for women and mothers.

From the jacket description of Cakewalk:

“…Filled with the abundance and joy that were so lacking in Kate’s youth, Cakewalk is a wise, loving tribute to life in all its sweetness as well as its bitterness and, ultimately, a recipe for forgiveness.”

Sprinkled throughout the book are family heirloom recipes, perfected by Moses herself, as they pertain to the adjacent familial anecdotes.

“…There is the mysteriously erotic German Chocolate Cake implicated in a birds-and-bees speech when Kate was seven, the gingerbread people her mother baked for Christmas the year Kate officially realized she was fat, the chocolate chip cookies Kate used to curry favor during a hilariously gruesome adolescence, and the brownies she baked for her idol, the legendary M.F.K. Fisher, who pronounced them “delicious.””

Moses delivered a humorous, lovely reading last night and–perhaps best of all–she brought with her the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies and brownies–the brownie recipe that was just printed in the New York Times–which are truly melt-in-your-mouth TO DIE FOR.

At the end of her reading and during a brief Q&A session, I asked Ms. Moses what her advice is to burgeoning writers like myself who struggle to break into the presently unwelcoming publishing industry.

“Keep writing,” was her summation.  “Things will get better soon.”

Having shared a brief story of her first experience with publication–a short story in a local SF rag when she was twenty-four–she said she wasn’t ready to be published, that she didn’t know her own voice yet and wasn’t ready to put it out there into the world.  But by forty, she was more than ready and her persistence at the keyboard paid off.

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Filed under Living, Mommy and Motherhood, Writing and Publishing

Confessions from a Medical World Drop-Out

When you make a major life choice, and do so with the hopes of not looking back, chances are, you’ll look back–a lot.

Once upon a time, I was young and enthusiastic, and thought I could change the world.

Wait–doesn’t everyone feel that way, at some point?

For me, that enthusiasm turned toward the world of medicine:  as an inherently compassionate, intelligent person, I thought I could bring some sweet, albeit well-informed, spirit into an industry that has, in many cases, lost its bedside manner altogether.

I was twenty-four years old when I enrolled in PA school, and didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Fast forward six years, and I found myself reeling from the ambush of experiences I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to handle.

In my short tenure working in the world of medicine, I experienced what I realize now were some very traumatic scenarios–scenes that a majority of human beings just couldn’t handle being witness to without some sort of long-lasting repercussions.

While working in the surgical world and less than a year after finishing PA school (mind you, I was now just twenty-six-years-old) I found myself in the operating room, harvesting veins out of people’s legs for cardiovascular surgeons to use in bypass surgeries.  Harvesting veins is tricky business with fragile specimens.  If you offer up a harvested vein with any nicks or holes in it, the implanted vein could leak, and the person could potentially bleed to death–in a matter of minutes.  That’s hefty responsibility for a new grad.

While working in orthopedics, I functioned under a womanizing, industry demigod who required me to satisfy the requests of his narcotic-seeking patients…despite my better judgment and the risk to my own license.  I handled the paper work for worker’s compensation patients–for those who didn’t want to go back to work and did everything they could to avoid it, and those that did want to go back to work, but were too injured to be able.  I witnessed accidents in the operating room that rendered people permanently injured–and a lack of honesty during those post-op visits about what actually transpired while the patient was asleep.

While moonlighting in the ER–working a few extra hours in hopes of paying off my student loans a bit faster–I saw women miscarrying the fetuses that would’ve been the babies they so desperately wanted.  I performed chest compressions on a seventeen-year-old kid who’d been shot by his best friend with the hand gun the two boys had snuck out of the friend’s dad’s gun safe (or bedside table drawer?)  I performed chest compressions on that kid–his lifeless chest heaving under my efforts with me winded so easily, five months pregnant with our first child at the time.  The bullet exit wound on his upper abdomen (bullets have a strange way of ricocheting around, once they’ve entered the body) was only finger breadths away from my compressing hands–so innocuous looking.  So Hollywood make-up like.

I was thirty-years-old.

I surgically assisted in not one, but three of the most graphic, horrendous surgeries known to (wo)man: hemipelvectomies:  a procedure in which a person’s entire leg, and half of their pelvis are surgically removed…a hopefully life-saving procedure (with a low percentage for success) for an aggressive form of metastatic cancer.  While in the OR, the joke usually went around–whomever was the least senior person in the room (by years of tenure, not by professional rank) had to be the one to carry the leg away from the table.  Guess who was usually the least senior one in the room?  Can you imagine the weight of an adult man or woman’s leg and half pelvis?

I was less than thirty-years-old during those surgeries.

At what point does a person become emotionally mature enough to handle these types of things and avoid being permanently scarred?  Would I have had a better shot at succeeding in the career I thought I wanted, had it not been for these early on experiences?  Do other twenty-something-year-olds who pursue a career in medicine experience the same types of things and not become permanently  scarred by them?  If so, what does that say about those people?

Every time I find myself talking with someone in the medical industry–a former colleague, a friend, an acquaintance, a health care provider for our family–I can put on my old hat again.  I can talk the talk, share in the lingo, operate intelligibly.  I go away from the conversation missing that part of my life a little–being apart of a club, a fraternity, a society in which not just anyone can belong.

And then I remember how I felt for all those years when I struggled to decide:  do I belong in the world of medicine?  Do I, really? Or is there another place for me…a place in which I can have an effect in the well-being of people who consume our medical industry, but from a drastically different vantage point?

I am now in the process of researching grad school options for myself–again. I have thoughts to communicate, things to do and changes to create.  I feel it in my bones.  But those thoughts, things and changes will enter the world through a different avenue this time.  For me, I am sure, a more successful avenue.

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Filed under Balancing career and motherhood, General Health, Uncategorized, Writing and Publishing

Hello, My Long Lost Friend

What better way to start a Sunday morning, than with a warm cup of coffee, peach pie left over from last night’s dinner party, and a return to a long-lost companion…this blog.

What has kept me at bay all these months, you ask?  Life, I suppose.

As you may recall, my family and I underwent a HUGE transition a few months ago–we moved from small town Montana to the San Francisco Bay area on January first of this year.  The ensuring four + months have been full of new school transitions for our three kids (now ages 3, 5 and 7), establishing new friendships, finding a new church to attend, frantically exploring the millions of things to do around here, hosting visitors, working at the co-op preschool our boys attend, getting our youngest started with a new speech therapist, researching grad school options for myself, getting a new puppy and, oh yes, finishing my latest manuscript.

In short, life in the Hull household is the same as always.

Now that spring has finally sprung around here (it was apparently a much rainier spring than normal in these parts) we are enjoying the warmth of the sun, the multi-color floral blooms in our rental house back yard, our frequent visits to the beach, and family life in a new setting.

And now, some photos for you to enjoy:
( I promise, I’ll be back soon…)

See the Pacific Ocean for the First Time

Nursing Mermaid in Ghiradelli Square

Flamingos at San Francisco Zoo

Sand sculpture Buddha

Ano Nuevo State Park

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Filed under breastfeeding, family, friendship, From One Mother to Another, Kids, Living, Religion, travelling with kids, Writing and Publishing