Friday, April 27, 2012

Life in Mississippi, through the eyes of a transplant from California

I could write a whole series of posts on things I’ve noticed that are different here in the Delta, but here are a few:

Oh, the humidity! It is April, and 74 degrees outside. In California, this would be a lovely day.  Less so here, where it is also 71% humidity.  Andrew’s going to have to live in the pool in the summer.

Our water is brown, even after going through the Brita.
  Apparently, there are so many cypress trees around with roots in water, they have stained the water brown.  I’ve been told it’s been tested for safety over and over and it passes every time, it’s just still brown.

People acknowledge each other in passing, and say “hi”, “good morning”, “how you doin’?”, or simply nod (it’s a specific kind of nod, too).

Employees of Walmart are occasionally friendly and helpful.

Kroger is the only grocery store.

If people are talking about a meal that involves meat, chances are it is either barbecued or fried.

There’s a bank, a money-order/check-cashing place, nail salon, and photo studio in the Walmart Supercenter.  You can tell it’s Friday because there is always a line of people at the check-cashing place.

(Maybe this is true elsewhere too, but I first saw it here.) About half the mannekins at JC Penney are “plus-size”.

I don’t think we ever really have patients who don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or some combination thereof.  I’ve also seen several patients in the two months I’ve been here who are having open heart surgery (CABG) and are in their 40’s, early 50’s.

There are far more birds around (or maybe it’s partly that I can hear them chirping and singing more with less traffic noise?).

People (my age!) have never heard of Groupon.

The traffic lights are all on a schedule, none of them are triggered.  This also means that what time I get to work varies, sometimes significantly, because of how I hit the lights.

Jackson is a little over 2 hours away from Greenville.  San Diego is usually about 2 hours from Orange County.  The difference?  Driving to Jackson consistently takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and you’re moving the whole time!  Also, there are highways, but no real freeways til you’re basically on the outskirts of Jackson.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Dictionary of the Delta

     I hope everyone understands that I write this post for the amusement of my friends, both in California who will see these as strange or different, like I did, and for my new friends here, who can feel free to laugh at the basic, common things I didn’t know or understand at first.  This is in no way meant to offend anyone, nor do I claim to be an expert (clearly) on the language or culture of the Delta.

As in: “I have some nabs in the car if I get hungry.”
     My theory is that this word is derived from “Nabisco” because nabs refers to sandwich crackers, like the Ritz-&-peanut-butter kind, or the cheese-and-cheese-crackers kind, etc.

As in: “I really have to tee-tee!”
This is the phrase used where some might say “pee”.


As in: “I had a boo-boo today.”
     My patient told me this, and I started trying to ask her what kind of accident she had had or mistake she’d make, but that’s not it.  It’s also not the children’s “owie” phrase, though I’m not sure if kids say that here too.  This is a phrase meaning bowel movement.

“Take me a bath”
As in: “I’m gonna take me a bath, and be back here at 4.”
      An easy one to figure out, this phrase means to bathe, though I’m fairly certain most people (including the person quoted) shower, rather than take a bath. Go figure.

“Route 44 Sweet Tea”
As in: “…then she found out how many calories are in a Route 44 Sweet Tea…”
      When I asked what this meant, I got two dropped jaws and silence.  Sonic, the drive-in restaurant, is very popular here, and fairly rare (though heavily advertised) where I used to live, so I didn’t know that this just means a 44-oz sweet tea from Sonic.

“Use it”
As in: “I want to use it before we go.”
I asked, “Use what?”.  This phrase just means to use the restroom.

“Ma’am?” / “Sir?”
     In addition to being used to get a person’s attention, this is used as a way of saying, “What?” or “Excuse me?” if you don’t hear someone, only it confused me in the first weeks I was here because it is often spoken as nearly a statement, not a question.

     Although I hear that this term is more common in other parts of the south, like Louisiana, some people in the Delta use it too.  This is what many people know as a snow cone (they’re quite popular here).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Repost: Mississippi, Here I Come!

     This post is a re-post, written in January 2012, from a blog I contribute to, a way to keep in touch with my former classmates. I want to make my blog more about things happening in my life as well as thoughts and ponderings, so here is a bridge.
     So I think most of you have heard by now via Facebook that I got a job! I wanted to write a post to update you, though, to give you guys the full story.

     As you know from my previous post back in September, I have been applying to jobs and was turned down by the military. I pretty much just applied everywhere, barely noticing where I was applying except to keep track of how many apps I was putting in. I found that helped me feel productive while I was getting nothing back but rejection emails.
     In November, I got a phone call from a hospital in Greenville, Mississippi. At that point, the positive responses I had had were an in-person interview with CHOC and two phone interviews with other out of state hospitals. All of them had said no. This hospital, Delta Regional Medical Center, wanted me to come out for an interview. In the first conversation, the concern was raised that I was not from the rural South, and might come out to start a job and then leave after less than a year. (They have had problems with losing new grads to bigger cities after 3-6 months.) I was hesitant to spend the money to go out there, but I had few options and couldn't be picky.

     I planned a trip for the first week of December, and basically hoped for ANYONE else to offer me a job so I wouldn't have to go on my trip. I was so not interested in moving to a small town in Mississippi if I had the choice to be... well, nearly anywhere else. It didn't happen, so I left for my trip, anxious but trying to see all the positives about Greenville.

     When I got there, I felt overwhelmingly sad. This is a community that has been hit hard by the recession, with businesses closed on nearly every block and an unemployment rate of 13.5%, significantly higher than national average. That day, I visited apartments and stumbled upon a small nature preserve. I sat there and prayed and processed and it basically hit me, "Maybe this is why I have my public health nursing certification". I still felt sad, but almost instantly passionate about making a difference in this community, and ready to pour into it everything I learned from our community health semester. That night, I talked to Andrew [my husband] and he was right on the same page with me, ready to go for this adventure if that was what God had for us, seeing it as a mission field.

     The next day, I interviewed with the director of Med-Surg, the director of ICU, and the CNO (no pressure!). They all went well and I was amazed at how God gave me such a calm where before had been so much anxiety. I flew home that night and the next day I got a phone call. Not only did they offer me a job, but both departments had given good feedback so they let me choose! I chose the ICU. They have been very understanding about the license transfer process and me getting married, so they are letting me start after the wedding, and didn't even tie me to a specific start date!

     So here we are, just over a month from my wedding, and a move across country only 2 days after that. (Literally, we're getting married on Saturday and leaving Monday! Aah!) Andrew is amazingly supportive, just wants me to get this experience even though his job prospects there are limited and grad school options nonexistent. Since we should be able to do fine on my salary alone (Thank the Lord for lower cost of living! Also, Andrew has NO school debt, incredibly.), he is going to be looking for internship or volunteer opportunities related to his field, but really just planning to volunteer wherever there are needs, full-time.

     We are getting very excited about this new adventure, and I'm thrilled to finally have a job, and in the ICU at that! I'm glad to be just three hours from Clara and Luis as well as Cory and Joe. I am applying to a federal loan repayment program because Delta Regional meets the requirements, so please pray for me to get accepted as I could have 60% of my loans paid for a 2-year commitment! Oh, and I will most definitely have a Southern accent in about 2 days since I started to pick it up while I was there for not even 36 hours!

So that's the long version of what's new in my life.