For my 27th birthday I got a plane crash in the woods. I got a growler of Icicle Beer left on my doorstep from a group of boys whose arms I use as a pincushion for my shaky IV sticks, and a foil balloon from a quiet boy who was raised inside of a cult in Texas. I got an Alaskan paramedic smiling as he handed me a plate of chocolate, lit up with candles, a room full of huge ex-marines and special agents and arctic mountain guides dressed in long underwear singing to me and raising bottles of Icicle's double porter. And I got a huge, fat-flaked snow storm that lasted for days. 
Not a bad start.
Hell, it's everything I ever wanted.
The gratitude I feel at being here, at being twenty seven years old and having done everything I've done and now being in this place, learning these skills, is utterly overwhelming. I wake up in the middle of the night aware that my brain, in my unconscious state, is quietly and meticulously reviewing everything I learned the previous day. It's three in the morning and I wake up whispering the Glasgow Coma scale and oxygen flow rates. I can run much longer and much faster than I do at home, which isn't saying too much, but it is saying something. Every new person I've met, every moment spent on the ridge in the snow at night monitoring someones broken body for signs of shock, every tracing of the blood's path through the heart and lungs, every word that leaves my instructors mouth becomes fuel for me, a combination of motivation and inspiration and fear and adrenaline. I feel like I've been gunning the engine for weeks, but I can't actually go anywhere until I've passed all the exams. It's building up, an ever increasing pressure inside my vessels. My respiratory rate is increasing. My pulse rate is hummingbird high.

I feel like I'm coming apart at the seems, as if my body is no longer a sufficient vessel for everything I'm coming to understand. I would not be surprised if, one day this week, I stood up at my desk and split cleanly apart, floated away. If I can keep my hands in time with my head, ensure that they are able to work the ropes and the needles and tubes as fast and easily as my brain can see it all written out in front of me, if I can run as fast as my heart rate, and if somehow I can someone manage to voice the things inside that need to be said, pure and exact and nothing more, if my physical actions are as focused and direct as my mind is quick, then I have a chance at staying whole.
Late Twenties? How.....? 


This new life allows no time for writing. Or anything. I'm not sure, so far, if it's possible. At this point I'm wondering if I'll be able to complete this course- pass all my tests, survive the clinicals, keep up with all the reading. It's funny to feel this way knowing some people keep this up for years, those people in med school. I could never do med school, nor did I ever have any inclination to try. 
At this point, I feel something I almost never feel: scared. Not just uneasy, not just intimidated, but scared. What if I can't keep up? What if I can't pass the exams and I've wasted all the money for the course? What if I do pass, but I can't deal with all the gore and bones and blood and sputum and vomit and infections and trauma? What if I can't stay up all night, for multiple nights? What if I can, but I hate it? Today our instructor was inserting a nasal cannula into the nostril of a (very brave) man from our class and she said, casually, "If there's no lube, just rub it in the patient's own vomit, that will do just fine." Everyone bent their heads down to write this note, and I did too, and I kept my face straight, but in my head I was thinking "Oh. That's. Gross." And then the realization, "something like that will be the least of my worries.
At least there is very little room to sit around and think about these things. Breakfast is at 7, we start taking vitals directly after, class starts at 8 and goes until 5. We're responsible for all the cooking, cleaning, fire making, everything but the cooking. Class is filled with tests, scenarios, and hands-on skills. During the class hours, at least, I'm fascinated. Scared and overwhelmed by all of it, but fascinated. Totally absorbed.  
After class we start reading. We read and read and read and read. Dinner is at 6:30, and then we read and read and read some more. I brought all my climbing gear and running gear and hiking gear and yoga clothes. That stuff will sit in my room completely unused and laugh at me as I sit and read.  So far we've been assigned seven chapters of the text book per night. That's about seven hours of reading, if you do it right. I don't do it right, and it's still impossible.
For the first two days, I was thrown a little. We all were, it was obvious. I missed my dog, and my people, and my freedom and routine. I felt actually a little homesick at times. It's tough because even though there are 21 one of us living side by side here, it still gets a little lonely because we can barely talk to one another in the evenings, because we have to be studying. It's too bad because between the lot of us- military men, mountain guides, the complete mysteries who keep quiet, firefighters, an FBI agent- I can just sense the stories and crazy experiences percolating just below the surface. 
There's a hot tub, but we haven't touched it. There are miles of fields and woods and hiking trails that we haven't even glanced at. We're a few miles away from a mountain town filled with rocks and rivers and breweries that we can't even think about. There's not even enough time to have nice hand writing, or hang up my jackets in the closet, or run to my room to grab something. There is not enough time to take notes in the evening, or highlight- I just circle things in thin sharpie and move on. There isn't enough time to write this, obviously, but I don't want to lose my head.
It's fun though! As long as I can pass, this will be fun. But this struggle is new for me. Being a student was never hard for me. Essentially, I'm getting my ass kicked from here to Idaho.