DURHAM&DUKE: An update from a faux southern belle

Current tunes: You Broke Up With Me, Walker Hayes

fullsizerender-20So the other day some one at work asked me if I was American…wait, what? I just kind of laughed and I don’t really think they meant to be offensive. In fact, I know that. When I said I was from California, he responded, “Well, I mean, what are you?”
Hmmmm, translation → “We haven’t seen the likes of you ‘round these parts…

img_0889Happy Valentine’s Day readers! The only thing Valentinesy about this post will be my heart shaped sunnies that make me look my shoe size instead of my age. Oh and mentioning that my father lovingly told me yesterday that this is the last year he will stand in as my valentine… ha love you too, pops. I have officially been in North Carolina for one month and have finally got the gist of how things run in my new temporary work place, Duke University Hospital, in the Trauma/Surgical Intensive Care Unit. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous to be employed in such a reputable facility and Duke required me to take/pass more competency exams than any other hospital before officially granting me the position…what if I didn’t measure up?

But I also just celebrated my four year nursiversary (It’s a real word in the Miriam Webster Dictionary, I swear, check out last year’s nursiversary post here), and it turns out, somewhere along the way, I actually kind of like know stuff now…”kind of like know stuff now?” Okay that sounded incredibly lame and basic ha. I guess what I mean to say, is while there is always something new to learn, I finally feel like I have acquired valuable nursing knowledge and can approach each new assignment with a little more confidence than the last.  And I’m happy to report that yes, Duke is a pretty stellar place to work with resources galore. I mean this unit is the same number of beds as my old staff job but is close to twice the size!


As far as my new digs, I’m chilling in my own basement apartment in a home that I rent from this really generous and kind older couple. And for the first time ever I have zero roommates! Going from four roomies (three of which were male) to my own space has been fan-freaking-tastic. No more questionable short hairs all over the bathroom floor, no more hiding wine from the sneaky closet drinker, and no more feeling like a maid in my own home. Not to say I disliked them, but I can see why girls only tend to live with dudes they are in love with…And for the first time since I left Fresno, I’ve returned to that suburban life. I haven’t used public transport or ridden in an Uber in over a month and I can buy whatever I want from the grocery store without worrying if it will be too heavy to carry home! Hellllllo watermelon!

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Boston and all my friends there. Making my own community here in Durham is taking a little longer than it did in the bigger, more populated cities I have lived in while travel nursing. Luckily, I plugged into a church pretty early on and that’s been an incredible blessing since most of the people I hang out with are from the small group I joined. But overall I still spend most of my time solo, exploring the Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill areas, coffee shop journaling, and reflecting on and praying over the path ahead of me.

Cocoa Cinnamon: My favorite java house hangout in Durham.

Cocoa Cinnamon: My favorite java house hangout in Durham.

My manager already asked me if I was open to extending another three months in addition to the three I currently am contracted for. Honestly I don’t know where I’ll be this weekend let alone two months from now. And my current apartment isn’t even available for the whole time I’m contracted here…which reminds me I should start looking so I’m not homeless in a couple weeks. Oh the life of a travel nurse.

While I have only been in Durham for four weeks, here are a few things I’ve discovered about the Research Triangle Park area:

  • The Southern stereotype of being generous and friendly is definitely real. Maybe coming from Boston potentiates it for me even more but I appreciate living in a place where chivalry is not dead.
  • But, the stereotype of life moving slower here is real, too. I always prided myself in not being a person that succumbs to road rage. But these cute, southern grandmas driving below the speed limit are really starting to overcook my grits.
  • The color blue you wear really does matter. Research Triangle Park represents three major universities and they all are in close proximity to each other- North Carolina State, Duke University, and UNC Chapel Hill. The Duke-UNC Chapel Hill basketball rivalry has been argued to be one of the greatest college sports rivalries of all time. The tickets to a rivals game between the two can be over $1000 and I was told the student section tickets are given away by lottery. I was able to find affordable tickets to a Tuesday Night UNC game against a lesser known team and the place was still pretty packed. Where do I fit in all this? I might regret saying this but while I should be a Blue Devil since I am employed at Duke, I’ve been making more friends with Tar Heels and am leaning on sporting that Carolina blue.
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  • Pimento cheese is kind of a BD. I know what you’re thinking and it’s okay…I had to Wiki it too. Also known as the caviar of the south, pimento cheese is like a relish/spread made with processed cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos. And surprisingly it isn’t that bad.
  • Predicting the weather pattern here is more difficult than beating Adele at the Grammy’s. The first weekend I moved here there was a huge snow storm right after my plane landed and because it snows so infrequently, NC kind of goes into a frenzy and Durham basically shut down. I was literally stuck in my apartment unable to purchase any food and my rental car just sat snowed in on the driveway. Fortunately my gracious landlords fed me for two days until I finally hydroplaned my way to Trader Joe’s. Five days later it was 65 degrees with sunny skies. Bipolar, I tell you. Completely bipolar.
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  • Southern style fast food joints are all the rage. Bojangles, Chick-fil-A, Biscuitville, Waffle House, Cracker BarrelI, and Zaxby’s Fried Chicken are all within a quarter mile of each other on the road that leads to my neighborhood. How can all these fried chicken places stay in business in such close proximity of each other? I think one of these days I’ll have a biscuit showdown and make a day of stretching my waist line and discover who really makes the best frozen biscuits.

Overall, I know California will forever be my first and true love and will eventually wander back west. BUT I must admit that I cannot get over how amazing it is to drive a mere hour or two on the East Coast and end up over state lines. Out here I can explore multiple states without having to take an actual job there and this past weekend I was blessed to spend time with an old friend from my undergrad days at Fresno State.

Flashback to undergrad days: Pres and VP of our honors college program

 Jack is going to medical school in West Virginia and of our college circle of friends, we are the only two currently living this far east. In my opinion, West Virginia doesn’t seem to have a lot of exciting things to offer and I literally didn’t even have cellular service for a good 40 minutes during my drive up. For a Millennial, if there’s no Snapchat Geofilter available for a location, then it’s basically considered no man’s land, right? Ha kidding! However, I think both of us really needed it. We did this killer eight mile hike to McAfee Knob, drank too much wine while we relived Bulldog memories, and swapped medical life woes/stories. For me it was just so good to see a familiar face and for him, well med school has had his whole life on lock and this is the first weekend in months that he took a whole day from studying. Which to that I say, ughhh eww. Just thinking about being in nursing school again kind of makes me want to vomit.

If I don’t extend I only have eight more weeks here in NC so I guess I should start making a plan. I’ll keep y’all posted. Until then, go give your momma a Valentine’s call, love on your neighbor, and eat your body weight in chocolate.

Cheers and keep on wishin’!

Miriam

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4 thoughts on “DURHAM&DUKE: An update from a faux southern belle

  1. So glad you met up with Jack Jack. Sounds like you might extend your time there because you’re having a great time👏🏿Eat lots of fried chicken and biscuits wit gravy. I love ❤️ you. From mom

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  2. I love reading your posts! Your personality really shows through your writing 🙂 I’ll be on the East Coast at Johns Hopkins for my next travel contract next month!

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    • Thanks, Maddie! Yes I try to make my blog as if I’m talking to my friends or family since I get to see them so infrequently (and because I think for the most part they are the only ones that read it haha) But how exciting! Looking forward to reading how JH is for you!

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