i'll miss you... house



One of the first weeks we lived here, Y was already in the midst of nonstop studying and I had no job and no friends. I was having an ongoing pity party for myself -- here I was, alone in our new house, the only one home on my entire street except for the 16 neighborhood cats. I was acutely aware of the fact that I was not contributing to society while my husband was off with his 120 new friends learning how to do Super Important Things.

One day I was doing the dishes on a creepy, rainy day. It was eerily quiet in my house (we didn't have Ike yet) and, like I said, I was mid-pity party. I was scrubbing a dish, gazing mindlessly out the window, when -- out of nowhere - a cat flew through the air and landed, stomach first, on our window directly in front of me.

If you recall, I have a dire and tragic condition called Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Syndrome. I'm also not a fan of cats. I screamed, fell to the dated tile kitchen floor, and burst into tears. How had I ended up in a place with ugly tile and flying cats, my two worst nightmares?

But then I got a job,  found a guard dog and gained the cats' respect, and eventually, made some friends. And suddenly, my house was my favorite place in the world. The perfect place for a game night, a royal wedding tea party (side note: can you believe it's been a year?), or watching the first three seasons of 30 Rock in bed while eating Mickey Mouse shaped pasta. (best. day. ever.)




I'll miss you... archive:


Step 1 of the medical boards (from a med school wife's perspective)



This is my blog, and I reserve the right to be lazy.


For the next three days, I'm going to link you to some of my posts from 2010. Step 1, the first part of the medical boards, is coming up and I know a lot of med students are starting to study. Wives of med students are starting to freak out about the excessive amounts of studying.

Y took Step 1 two years ago (before a lot of you found me), and I'll let you in on a little secret: it wasn't that bad. For me, at least. I'm pretty sure Y started going crazy. Here's the proof, in 3 parts:

an illustration of fourth year

Fourth year is known for being the most laid back year of medical school. Allow me to illustrate:


Q: What does the first, second, or third year medical student do when he realizes that the hair product he bought for his beard has an ugly label?


A: Trick question. The first, second, or third year medical student has no time for personal hygiene! The fact that he has no time to maintain his beard is ironic (in an Alanis Morisette kind of way, not in a literary kind of way), because he also has no time to prevent it from growing.


on the flip side..


Q. What does the fourth year medical student do when he realizes that the hair product he bought for his beard has an ugly label?


A: Easy! He uses his vast amounts of free time to design and print his own label!





Q: The first, second, or third year medical student's father mentions that he's had to use the "world's smallest violin" cliche often at work. What does the student do in response?


A: What? He was supposed to be listening to someone tell a story? The only people the first, second, or third year medical student pays any attention to are his cadaver and Goljan.


 and the fourth year?


Q: The fourth year medical student's father mentions that he's had to use the "world's smallest violin" cliche often at work. What does the student do in response?


A: Easy! The student uses his aforementioned free time to create an exhibit for his father's desk!



Anything else you'd like to know about the mysterious and crafty fourth year medical student?

having a medical professional at home is supremely helpful


Since Y has been in medical school, he's gotten several midnight emergency medical questions from family members. Symptoms have ranged from vomiting and diarrhea to Lyme Disease. Every time, he's woken up and given patient, thoughtful answers, backed up with facts from whatever exclusive medical app he has access to.

Since Y has been in medical school, I've asked him several questions about my own health. Symptoms have ranged from random dizzy spells to shortness of breath. Every time, he's looked at me with a scowl and said, "I don't know. Ask a doctor!" 

Have you ever heard the phrase "the shoemaker's wife has no shoes"? I get it. I really do. 

In the past few years, there are two instances I can think of when Y has been helpful in response to a medical issue or question I've had (not including the time I got brain freeze):



1. Y looked up from his textbook. "I know why you get scared so easily!" he announced, startling me. 

"What are you talking about?" I asked, even though just that week he had accidentally scared me to the point that I almost killed him. We were running together, and near the end of our route he had slowed to a cool-down walk as I sped up for a sprint to the finish. A few seconds after I passed him, he snuck up next to me, startling me and causing me to reflexively hit him as hard as I could in the chest. I feel like I was one heartbeat off from inflicting commotio cordis.  

"You have Jumping Frenchmen of Maine syndrome!"

"You definitely just made that up," I said.

But in fact, he did not. Jumping Frenchmen of Maine syndrome is (assuming Y didn't change the Wikipedia page to play a huge joke on me) a neurological disorder.  The person who first described this disorder noted patients "reacting abnormally to sudden stimuli" including jumping, yelling, and hitting (all of which I've done). It was first observed in northern Maine, hence its awesome name. 

I think I'm going to start writing this on any form that asks for my medical conditions. The gym I join when we move isn't going to know what to do with me.



2.  Yesterday, while watching a Rogaine commercial, I turned to Y. "Do you think," I ruminated, "That if I smeared Rogaine on my face, I could grow a beard?"

Y's expression turned serious. "The major compound in Rogaine is blablabla," he said thoughtfully. "so that means bla bla bla bla. I think. Let me get my phone." He returned a moment later with his trusty medical app. "bla bla bla bla. So, no."

I'm still wondering why I often feel dizzy and get out of breath. But at least I know I can fall face first into a vat of Rogaine and be okay. 

just another post about match day

I get a lot of questions about how many job offers Y has gotten, which one he'll take, etc, etc. 


No, no. 


Apparently word hasn't gotten out that matching into a medical residency is less like applying for a job, and more like pledging a sorority or fraternity. Let's examine this theory:



Step one, in both cases, is the official Deactivation of the Facebook Page. No one can know about that time they wore a bow tie and posed with a Shake Weight. 



Then, whether it's Rush or Interview Season, they travel from place to place in a  short time span, dressed in their finest. In Greek life, the places are houses, situated several yards away from each other in a row. In medical life, the places are hospitals, situated around the country. In both situations sensible shoes are advisable.


The applicants/potential new members attend several events -- pink lemonade parties, grand rounds -- where they make conversation and imagine themselves fitting in with the house/hospital. 


Then, they must make one of the most important decisions of their lives. Thoughtfully, they craft a list of their top 10 (or 3, or 5, or 15) places they visited to be turned in by a designated time. Potential new members of sororities and fraternities get a few days to think about this; medical students get several weeks. 


Meanwhile, the residency programs and active sorority/fraternity members are making their own top whatever lists based on criteria like board scores and bubble writing. (I'm sure sororities look at more than handwriting, but can we discuss how sorority girls have perfect handwriting and I am doomed to be forever inferior?)


When the medical students and the residency programs turn in their rank lists, a far away computer performs some kind of algorithm developed by an economist at Harvard. I'm not sure how it works on Bid Day - perhaps the computer has a part-time gig during its off season?



Match Day is approximately one month after the students and residency programs submit their rank order lists. Every graduating medical student in the country finds out where they matched at noon eastern on March 16th. (Some fourth year medical students find out their matches in private, this post explains how Y's school does it. )


I've never been to a bid day, but I imagine it's similar...but pinker. 


See the similarities? Apparently it's confusing for everyone involved - the social committee at Y's school is throwing a post-match party and accidentally used a leftover theme from a sorority party: Devils and Angels. How embarrassing.


----


After the medical students find out where they matched, med school still isn't over. It doesn't officially end until graduation day on May 26th. If you're wondering how medical students spend their final days before actually being employed, stay tuned. It involves a lot of sleeping. And in our house, a lot of Downton Abbey.




bid day photo via

doctor of tomorrow

Since I'm sharing holiday gifts in February, I might as well show you this one, too. 



That ripped out magazine page in the center of the refrigerator was part of my gift from Y (the "this isn't really a gift, but I decided to give it to you anyway because I thought it was neat" part). He randomly came across it while flipping through a 1968 Life magazine at an antique store. 



Here's what the text says:

Evening at home.
Like many another courageous girl, she's married her young doctor in the making. And now she shares with him those long, gruelling years of medical study and internship. 

In a very real sense, they're her years of preparation, too. For ahead stretches a lifetime of marriage to a man with whom... day or night, week-ends or holidays...the needs of patients will always come first.

You'll find dedication, as well, among the men and women who carry on A.H. Robins pharmaceutical research. It keeps them persisting through months and years of discouragement. For it may take a thousand trials and experiments to achieve a single success... a single better medicine to help your doctors of today and your doctors of tomorrow. 



Isn't that funny? Here are my thoughts...


PS: this was the actual gift - a vintage earring holder ordered from Etsy.



interview trail: Boston part 2





A few random thoughts about Boston:


1. I was apparently on the flight from Memphis to Boston with the Small Bladder Convention. People were constantly going back and forth to the bathroom, and each time the door opened, the air recirculated and I got a huge whiff of weed. Naturally, since the smell was correlated to the bathroom door opening, I assumed someone was smoking weed in the bathroom. But then, as I pressed my forehead against the window to get a better view of Manhattan as we zoomed over it, the smell got stronger. I looked down and saw curly tendrils spilling into my personal space. This girl's weave REEKED of pot. She did manage to sleep the entire flight -- maybe I should rethink my pre-flight rituals?


2. Y got some good news about his clinical skills board exam while we were in Boston! I like to think I helped with that...


3. If we were basing our choice of city on desserts, I think the lobster tail from Modern Pastry would push Boston into first place.


4. But all of the Dunkin Donuts would be a disaster. Currently our motto is, "See a DD, inhale at least 2 donuts" because we never know when we'll see one again. If we move to Boston, that has got to stop. 


5. While Y was at his interviews, I avoided shopping by going to museums.At the JFK library, I was reunited with my inner American History geek. I also learned the following: JFK played a lot of shirtless rugby before he was president, JFK looked good in wayfarers, Jackie had a lot of pretty dresses.


6.  Can we discuss this portrait of Paul Revere at the Boston Museum of Fine Art? More specifically, can we discuss how Paul Revere looks EXACTLY like Jack Black? I stopped dead in my tracks when I walked into the gallery with this picture. I was sure I was on [the worst and most boring episode of] punk'd and Jack Black was going to step out of the shadows laughing at me.  (By the way, the internet already knows about the Jack Black/Paul Revere resemblance -- and, naturally, is accusing Black of time travel.)


(Also, this is officially my second post about Paul Revere. I love American history and all, but I never thought my blog would cover Revere in such depth.)



(read the rest of my notes from the interview trail)






Interview Trail: Boston Part 1





You probably don't need me to tell you this, but medical students -- at least the ones I know -- have know-it-all tendencies. 


On a completely unrelated note, do you want to know the worst person you could probably travel with? A KNOW IT ALL. 


Within 5 minutes of arriving at the airport, Y decided that his last few weeks of travel canceled out the fact that I had ever set foot on an airplane. He criticized:

  •  the speed at which I removed my ID from my purse ("You need to have that out beforehand!")
  • the shoes I chose to wear on the plane ("Boots?! You've got to be f*king kidding me. You do know you have to take those off, right?")
  • my shoe removal technique ("You're not fast enough!")
  • the placement of my jacket on the security conveyor belt("You need a second bin for your coat. Everyone knows that.")
  • my failure to push the bin forward ("You can't just set it down! It has to be pushed. You're holding up the line!")
  • the pocket I chose to store my quart size bag of liquids ("You need to keep them closer to the front so they're easier to remove!")**
And once we were on the plane:

  • "That smell you're smelling is the beverage cart. It smells bad on 100% of flights."
  • "Dammit! I've already read this issue of Skymall. Twice."
  • "What?! Both of our flights are on Canadair Regional Jets? I myself prefer the Embraer or any of the Boeing jets."
  • "PSH! This turbulence is nothing."
And then... the seasoned air traveler discovered something he hadn't noticed before. 


"Hey!"


"That speaker looks like a thyroid!!"



**In Y's defense, I may be exaggerating a teeny tiny bit. But I truly believe he would have said all of these things had I not given him a look of death after he tried to tell me which pocket to put my toiletries in. 

one year ago today...

One year ago today Y was on his OB-GYN rotation and I learned a very important lesson that I made sure to document. 





You see, the only experience I have with delivering babies is the magical, life-changing, Hollywood delivery room scene. Apparently real life is slightly different and involves enemas and ducking out of the way of flying bodily fluids and trying to convince patients not to name their child after an STD.

Interview trail: a brief break at home

After his fifth trip -- at five days it was the longest so far -- the boy is finally home, in his own shower, his own bed. The next flight is in just two days, and a good night's sleep in his own bed is a must. He falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, his stomach full from homemade chicken pot pie (and cramped from laughing at the girl's botched haircut). 

The girl falls asleep soon after, but is woken in the middle of the night by the boy's tossing and turning. She opens an eye wearily as the boy rolls over, groans, and whispers in her ear. 

"Are we in a hotel?"

Interview trail: Tour de PA part 2



This is the tragic tale of an exhausted medical student,  on the tail end of 5 consecutive interview trips away from home. This time, he's in the faraway land of Pennsylvania. 


----


The men stood up, pushing their chairs back as they shook hands, thanking each other briefly for their time. More thorough thank yous could wait; there was a plane to catch and a stack of blank thank you cards at home.


As soon as he was out of sight, he checked his watch. He had exactly two hours before his flight departed to deposit him across the state, where he would attend interviews at 2 more schools. There was no time to change out of his suit. Luckily, his flight time was less than an hour. He could handle being crammed onto an airplane in a suit for 45 minutes, especially when the entire plane would be looking at him thinking, "Wow, that guy must be important." He stood up a little taller.


After dashing next door to his hotel to grab his bag, he was in a shuttle on his way to the airport. 1 hour and 30 minutes left, he thought, am I going to make it on time? A notorious worrier, he always assumed he would miss his flights and had been known to arrive at the airport two hours before a domestic flight. He paused for a moment to think, Gosh, is my propensity to arrive at airports way too early annoying to my wife and other loved ones? He shook the thought out of his mind. Preposterous. 



Just as his worrying was reaching its peak, he realized his shuttle was at a standstill. Traffic.  He put his head against the window in defeat, taking in the dreary city around him just as it started to rain. To calm his nerves, he sent a message to his beautiful and hilarious wife. Stuck in traffic. Weather sucks. 


She wrote back, So your flight's delayed?


He hadn't even thought of that. He checked his flight status; his flight was delayed an hour. With this new information, at this rate he would make it to the airport 2 hours before his 45 minute flight. His ideal scenario. He sat back to enjoy the stop and go shuttle ride.


And then, at the airport, sat back at his gate to enjoy the 1 2 3 hour delay.


Finally, he was on the airplane -- his dinner plans ruined; his suit too wrinkled for anyone to believe he was of any importance. 45 minutes, he thought, exhausted, in 45 minutes I'll be there and on my way to my bed. 


Meanwhile, at home his wife watched TV and refreshed his flight status when she remembered. When a red bar appeared, she gasped. Because what else does one do when they're checking to see if a plane made it safely and out of nowhere, a giant red bar that practically screams EMERGENCY! DANGER! pops up? Did no one think of this when they were designing the site? COME ON.





Sorry.


Anyway...


After circling Philadelphia in terrifying turbulence for over an hour, the plane finally landed, and the flight watched as the smelly, exhausted man in the wrinkled suit made his way off the plane. "Is he homeless?" they probably whispered to each other, "Do you think he stole that suit?"


He had only one thing on his mind: a bed. By the time they landed, it was almost midnight. He blocked the next 30 minutes out of his mind: the disgusting airport, the shuttle that never came. The next thing he remembered was standing in the lobby of his beautiful hotel as someone handed him keys, then standing in front of the door to his room, fumbling with the key and contemplating falling asleep on the carpet outside of the door if not for the sweet, sweet bed that awaited him inside.


He opened the door to his hotel room.







There was no bed. 





Interview trail: tour de PA part 1





You single people don't know how good you have it. While Y was on this trip -- Tuesday through Saturday--, I realized I could forgo taking a shower for  four days straight and no one would notice. Another perk: leaving the house an absolute mess and cleaning up only just before someone came over. Why didn't you guys tell me about this stuff before I decided to go and get married?


The other great thing about Y leaving for a week is what I like to call Operation Summer Vacation. If you were like me in middle school and high school, you were nerdy, chubby, and, well, in great need of a makeover. 



Every year as the final bell rang on the last day of school, you smiled to yourself and thought, This is it. This is the summer I will become hot. I'll work out everyday. I'll get a tan. I will read Seventeen magazine very carefully to build up a show-stopping wardrobe. When I come back, no one will recognize me. 

If you were like me in middle school and high school, this never worked. You came back to school with a farmer's sunburn and some scary new moles, as chubby as ever and  - if your parents really hated you - with braces.

Regardless, when Y left on Tuesday Operation Summer Vacation  was in full swing. I got my eyebrows waxed (not like he's ever noticed that), worked out every day, and made an appointment to get a hairstyle that  I knew Y  would not only actually notice, but really love -- bangs.

I sat in the chair at the salon, an hour before Y returned, freshly showered for the first time in four days. My stylist spun me around to see my new bangs. "All done!" she beamed, "What do you think?" 

I only had a nanosecond to look at myself before jumping up. "They're fine!" I blurted out, ripping off my cape, throwing money at her, and running to my car.  The thing was, all I saw was that they were closer to my hairline than my eyebrows. And that was all I needed to see -- they were too short and anything she tried to do to fix them would just make them shorter. She needed to stop touching them immediately.  


It's just hair, I told myself. Surely it will look better in the car mirror, right? They couldn't possibly be as short as they looked in the salon... right? And even if they are, maybe I can pull off short bangs. I was feeling pretty good about myself by the time I got to my car and opened the mirror. 



The good news: it turns out only one side was too short. 


Operation Summer Vacation had failed again. When Y walked in the door the first thing he said was "your hair looks weird" followed by stifled laughter and a week of jokes at my expense. 

Just like middle school. 

interview trail: midwest stop #3

While Y was on interview #3, some kind of rodent took up residence in our walls. Of course it decided the best time for its stay would be when I was home alone, extra sensitive to every little noise. Every time I thought I was falling asleep, I would hear a taptaptap behind my head and before I knew it, Ike would be standing on my chest barking.  Not cool, unidentified rodent. 


But the incident reminded me of a story: when Y and I lived in a crappy old apartment at LSU, something lived in our ceiling. We heard it running around occasionally, mainly when it got cold. Our apartment was an upgrade for Y; he had lived in a ramshackle quadplex where a dead mouse was a weekly occurrence. 





Our apartment was a downgrade for me: my friend and I lived in a fairly new townhouse with a new washer and dryer and a bowling alley. Okay, it was a long narrow closet, but we called it the bowling alley. My point is, there were no rodents.


Anyway, one morning at the new apartment, Y and woke up and heard scratching coming from the ceiling. "Ugh, it's that mouse again," I groaned, rolling over and falling back asleep. When I eventually got out of bed, I stepped on something grainy with my bare feet. I squinted at the neat little pile on the ground. Paint chips? I thought to myself. How did those get... 





I happened to look up. And scream, because this is basically what I saw on my ceiling:








I don't mind squirrels, honestly. Just when they're sticking their head through my ceiling. 

And that's what kept me up until 1 am while Y was at interview #3. Fear of a squirrel.

---

Y's  pre-interview dinners were sometimes during my environmental health class. So two weeks in a row, while I suffered through three hour lectures on lead poisoning and occupational health, Y texted me pictures of the amazing gratis meals he was eating. 





Do you have any idea how good blurry pub food sounds when you're learning about reproductive issues in factory workers in Korea? Really good.

interview trail: midwest stop #2






Y is a different sort of traveler than I am. I'm the kind of airplane passenger who puts my headphones on or buries my nose in a book immediately after sitting down. I don't care where you're from, 16A, I don't care where you're going, and I don't want to tell you what I'm reading. Unless you have a baby. If you have a baby, I want to hold it and then give it back to you as soon as it starts crying so no one thinks I am that person with a crying baby on a plane.


Y, on the other hand, comes home with a person's first and last name, where they went to elementary school, and the latest argument they had with their wife. During layovers, he dines in airport bars with plane-friends. On this trip, someone from Y's flight was staying at his hotel and they went out to lunch. I DON'T GET IT.



-----


When Y told me he got this interview, I gave him the so-called stinkface, a term coined by Katie. I had never even considered visiting this particular state or city, much less living there. But then the following things happened:

  • the city's standard Wikipedia page made it sound amazing.
  • every single person I mentioned it to told me I would love it. 
  • part of our criteria for ranking is Ike's reaction when we say the name of the state.* When I asked Ike if he wanted to live there he did this:



My point is, don't completely write off a place just because you wouldn't go there for a girls' weekend. 

----

A theme of Y's interview travels: call people you haven't spoken to in 3 and a half years and ask to stay with them when you visit their respective cities. You get a free night and get to catch up with an old friend. And they get an unexpected houseguest who smells vaguely like a hospital. Win win.



*kidding. Isn't it sad that I had to clarify that? 

Notes from the interview trail: Midwest stop 1







I don't want to hurt Y's feelings, but being alone for a few days was kind of nice. I watched two seasons of The Wonder Years, and as Kevin and Winnie fell in and out of love I realized something: I can make ravioli.


Every week at the grocery store I pass by the refrigerated pre-made ravioli and tortellini and suppress my drooling. Y has made it clear that he hates any kind of filled pasta, and his disgust of it managed to convince me that I didn't like it either. But as soon as he left town, I knew I had to have some. 

As I boiled the water, I thought to myself that Y being out of town really wasn't that bad if I got to eat my sodium-laden portobello ravioli whenever I wanted. As I was eating, savoring every bite, I got a text message. From Y.

Just had the most amazing portobello ravioli at dinner.

---

When Y got back, I had plenty of questions for him. Did you bring me anything? How was your flight? Wait, you didn't bring me anything? Not even a [insert name of chocolate peanut butter delicacy unique to state Y was in]*? What kinds of questions did they ask you?

Apparently that last question was a stupid one. A residency interview isn't your typical job interview -- for the most part there are no questions. Here's how it goes: the department takes the applicants out to dinner (and apparently reverses everything the applicant thought he knew about his favorite foods) and the next morning, they sit in on the conference typically held each morning. Then, they have individual interviews -- which are more like "getting to know you" sessions, with maybe one important question - What about internal medicine appeals to you? 


That sounds nothing like the practice interviews the career services department offered the School of Mass Communication. Becoming a doctor sounds so easy! Let's all do it!
---


*Fine, he was in Ohio. 

residency interviews








For the past few months, fourth year medical students have been flying around the country interviewing for residency spots. This time is affectionately known by Y and his friends as interview season, which sounds to me as if they're out in the wild hunting interviews. Which I guess they are.


Since the season is over for now (and Y has figuratively killed about 10 interviews), over the next few days I'll be sharing some of the notes from the interview trail from my perspective. Locations will be vague, as I don't want to screw anything up.

Anything specific that anyone wants to know about interviewing (out of curiosity or for future reference)?

just call me mrs. hemingway




The Paris Wife is told from the point of view of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. The book is a work of fiction, but it uses biographies and Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast to accurately follow the lovers as they meet, fall in love, and live in Paris. Eventually their marriage falls apart (because someone whose name rhymes with Shmernest Shmemingway is a man-whore). The book is a dreamy inside look at the lives of Hemingway and other movers and shakers of the literary world during that time -- if you’ve seen and loved Midnight in Paris, you’ll love this book.


Hadley’s world could not be more different than mine. Y and I don’t often run off on impromptu trips to ski or watch the running of the bulls, and while Y’s in med school I’m surrounded by minds of the left-brained variety, while Hadley finds herself surrounded by larger than life creative minds.


But I felt like I got her a lot of the time.






Hadley and Ernest attended get togethers at Gertrude Stein’s home with other artists and their wives. Hadley and the other wives, nothing linking them except their significant others, were sent off to another room while the artists discussed their craft.

“I felt a twinge of regret that I wasn’t a writer or painter, someone special enough to be invited to talk with Gertrude, to sit near her in front of the fire.”

I had this exact same feeling Y’s first year of med school. Y and his new friends would organically migrate to their own separate cluster at get togethers, speaking their secret med school language.

“I wasn’t at all convinced I was special, as Ernest was. He lived inside the creative sphere and I lived outside, and I didn’t know if anything would ever change that.”

The other wives and I would talk about... them. We had nothing in common, so we talked in circles about our husbands, their classes, how busy they were. It was boring, and at times I wished I was in med school so I could belong to something and have original, important things to talk about.

“Alice seemed to feel easier in her role as an artist’s wife, throwing herself wholly behind Gertrude’s ambition... but maybe she’d just been doing it longer and could hide her jealousy better. “

I’ve since gotten over it. Or maybe, like Gertrude Stein's partner Alice, I've gotten better at hiding it.

But isn't that the funny thing about books, that it took reading about the Hemingways’ life in Paris to explain to me how I felt?



What about you guys? Anyone else felt this way?