Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Twas the night before

I was awake until 3 o'clock in the morning on Christmas Eve. The rest of my parents' house went to bed around 1. I had intended to do the same, to tuck myself in on the couch and catch a few hours of sleep before the dog woke up and resumed shoving her tennis ball in my face. I curled up on the couch, but I couldn't bring myself to unplug the Christmas tree lights.

My parents got a little tree this year, a two and half foot plastic thing they could sit on the cedar chest. Right now, Logyn puts everything she finds into her mouth. My mom decided that she didn't want to spend the holiday season heimliching Christmas ornaments out of her throat, so she and my dad went out after Thanksgiving and found a tree that could be kept out of reach.

The little thing looked sort of pathetic in the daylight, like something stolen from a nursing home resident's bedside table. But, in the middle of the night, with all the other lights turned off and my glasses lost somewhere underneath the couch, it was lovely. As I sat there, curled up underneath a throw blanket, I listened to Frank Sinatra sing Christmas songs, and I thought of my Grandma Betty. Frank sang in her kitchen from an old clock radio on top of her cupboard. There, he sang year round, over the soft fall of the little plastic numbers rotating in her clock and the sandy rub of her hands working flour into her rolling pin.

I remember what it was like for me to spend Christmas Eve at her house. It was my favorite part of the whole season, better than Christmas morning even. But this year, as I stared at that lovely little tree and listened to her music, I wondered what it was like for her. I wondered if she sat by her tree after everyone else had gone to bed and listened to Frank Sinatra sing Silver Bells. And, as anything seems possible in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, I let myself believe that maybe she was sitting on the other end of the couch listening with me now.

The album ended with Silent Night. I unplugged the lights and closed my teary eyes. For the first time since she died, I felt like I had just spent Christmas Eve with my Grandma Betty.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Note to self

I've tried to write for the past few days, but I've had a hard time finding anything resembling motivation. Yesterday, I was briefly convinced that I was depressed. Find yourself a therapist, start some medication depressed. Then, I remembered that I was on day number three of a migraine. I had had the headache for so long, I had sort of forgotten it was there. Brilliant physician that I am, I decided to try sleeping. Serious sleeping. Having spent several days at my parents' - up until 2 am talking to my mom or sister and then back up at 8 am when people started to wander into the living room to wonder out loud how long I might be on the couch - I think I was a bit sleep-deprived.

Sleep-deprived is probably what led to my migraine in the first place. And, without going into too much detail, can I just say that I have found the worst place in the world (when we turn this blog into a stage show, I'm going to have Keith Olbermann read this part) to have a headache. That would be my grandparents' living room on the day after Christmas. I had been there about 20 minutes when I looked down and saw my niece Lucy lying on the floor. Except, I saw two of her. And then, when they - I mean she - started to cry, it sounded like someone was killing a cat behind my right eyeball.

Twenty minutes later came the real head pain. The timing was perfect because dinner was ready. I told my grandma I was going to sit this one out "because I had a little headache." Migraines run in the family. When someone says they can't eat because they have a headache, everyone knows what they really mean... "My brain is liquifying. I may have to excuse myself to puke it up soon. The only thing worse than vomiting up my frontal lobe would be vomiting up my frontal lobe with green bean casserole, so I'm going to skip this meal." We've all been there.

All of us except my grandmother. She has never had a migraine. She has, however, had herself some really good ham. So, she spent the next two hours following me all over the house asking if maybe I just wanted some ham.

If I thought my head might feel a little better if I just had some ham.
If ham might sound good if she made it in a sandwich with cheese.
If I might just want to try a couple bites of ham.

Yes, Grandma, I'm too nauseated to drink Sprite, but I think that some pork would really hit the spot right now. Especially if we could top it with cheese.

Finally, my brother said, "You know, guys, usually the last thing you want to do when you have a migraine is talk about your migraine, especially when you're just trying to pretend like you don't have a headache. So, maybe we could all just quit asking her about it. And maybe we could quit offering her food."

I could have kissed him. (Except, we're really not that kind of family.)

I say all of this as something of a reminder to myself. First, even in hindsight, the decision not to make out with my brother in my granparents' living room was a good one. Good call there, T. Second, next time I'm considering seeking psychiatric treatment, I should first rule out a frontal lobe digesting headache as the possible source of my less than chipper mood. And I should go to sleep.

Or eat some ham.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008

#17 Consider moving to China

This happens every year.
Winter Break rolls in and with it comes my to do list.
The list of shit that I have been putting off for weeks, saying, "I'll get to that over break."
And now here I am.
Over break.
Or rather, under break, as I am being buried alive by this list of shit I've decided I need to get done.

When I was in high school, I had a physics teacher who used to say, "There are a billion people in China who don't give a damn what you get on this test." I think that what he meant by that was that we should all just chill the fuck out because, in the grand scheme of things, our grade wasn't that important. Or maybe he meant that the Chinese were a bunch of uncaring bastards.

Either way, there are a billion people in China who don't give a damn what I get done on this to do list.


10 pm update:
Went to the mall without killing anyone.
Crossed 5 things off of my list.
Had some beer.
Completed an extremely difficult Sudoku. (Triple points because I was inebriated.)
Performed my classic Dean Martin singing Silver Bells impersonation. As you might imagine, it was magical.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Torn

A phenomenal residency in a place I don't really want to live.
A good residency in a city I love.

My inner child rocking in the corner in the fetal position.

Off to get ready for my next interview.

(Note to self: Save up some money as, when this is all over, you will clearly need therapy and probably medication. Powerful medication. The anti-psychotics they normally reserve for wildebeests and elephants.)

A short story

The midget porn reference in the last post comes from my days as a nurse's aide on labor and delivery.

Once, we took care of a pregnant little person who had a 6.5 foot tall boyfriend. They were an interesting looking pair, and, as interesting pregnant pairs tend to do, they sparked a little "imagine how that must have looked" conversation.

A resident who was roughly the same size as the woman's partner said, "Man, I'm jealous of that guy. In fact, sometimes I wish my wife was 3 feet shorter..." And on it went.

When he graduated, the nurses bought him all the midget porn they could find. At the resident going away party, everybody got really drunk and, at about 1 am, started watching the videos. When the resident's wife walked in the room, she rolled her eyes and said to him, "See what you've created? This is why I'm always telling you to think before you speak. We are not taking this shit home, you know."

And then he was all, "But it was a GIFT."

And she was all, "GIVE IT BACK."

When it was all said and done, the funniest stories actually came from the nurse who went from porn shop to porn shop looking for the videos. She said, "I kept saying, 'It's a gag gift.' One clerk finally told me, 'Lady, that's what everyone buying this kind of shit says.'"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

And I didn't kill any of them. Not even one.

Today, I saw seven patients in less time than it used to take me to see two. And, unlike last year at this time, when I got done with the patients, I actually knew what the hell was wrong with them. (For the most part.) When I walked out of the seventh patient's room, I caught myself humming Eye of the Tiger. I resisted the urge to do this, though. That would have looked ridiculous in the middle of the 5th floor hallway. (Trust me. I played the scene in my head. It looked ridiculous.)

I'm celebrating my victory by watching unbelievably terrible television. I'm classing it up a bit by drinking tea while I watch. You should try it. Next time you find yourself glued to American Idol, or midget porn, or a Real Housewives of Atlanta marathon, pour yourself a cup of Earl Grey. The Brits have been drowning their sorrows and shame this way for years.

Years, I tell you. Link

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I should be packing

This post has been sitting around for weeks with little snippets, things I intended to write about when I had some time. It has said...

Don't get abducted at Kroger
Interviewing at the gas station

Pennsylvania serpentine

Sleeper hold
Robber baron chic


And right now is really not the time to finish this post. I should be steaming the wrinkles out of my suit and packing for my next interview. I have to be at work early tomorrow, and I leave from work to go to the airport. Tomorrow night, I'm back in New York for about 24 hours.

I shouldn't be blogging.
Or drinking this red wine.
But, fuck it.

Here goes...

Don't get abducted at Kroger

My mother forwarded me an email last week. Do you get these? Forwards from your mother? (If we were speaking in person right now, I'm sure someone would say, "No, no I don't. My mother died years ago, and ahh, what I wouldn't give for one last forward from her." And then, I would feel like a tremendous ass. If you are that someone, I apologize for the ass I'm about to make of myself.) My mother doesn't send forwards often, but what she loses in frequency she more than makes up for in asinine content.

This one was a list of tips for the fairer sex as they head out to brave the dangerous world. These are some of my favorites...

Men are most likely to attack in the early morning, between 5 am and 8:30 am.

The number one place women are attacked/abducted from is grocery store parking lots.


These men said that they would not pick on women who had umbrellas.


If someone is following behind you, turn, look him in the face and make small talk by saying, "I can't believe it's so cold out here. We're in for a bad winter."


Well, that settles it. I'm no longer going out to buy milk at 7 am on clear days in June. Mostly, because I'll have nothing to say when I turn around to make small talk with my kidnapper. And I'll look like an idiot carrying that umbrella.

If a predator has a gun, RUN. The predator will only hit you 4% of the time. So, RUN, preferably in a zig zag pattern.

Running in a zig zag pattern, you have a 4% chance of being shot and a 32% chance of falling down and giving yourself a concussion. Unless you're me, in which case, it's about a 57% chance of self-induced head injury.

Interviewing at the gas station

The reason I haven't been spending more time here is because I've been interviewing. A lot. I was in Chicago on November 20th and 21st and then in the south Nov 24th through the 26th.

Four years ago, on my way to a medical school interview, I stopped at a gas station. As I put my VISA into the card reader on the pump, I waited with baited breath.

Processing...
Processing...

Never before had I worried that my card would be declined. It was a debit card, and I always had more than enough money in the account. But, as I stood there, I held my breath while I waited for the little screen to say Approved. During that interview season, it felt as though I might be rejected by everything from med school programs to gas station pumps.

I had lost my fucking mind.

I wish I could say that four years and a shit-load of scary personal life trauma later, I have gained some perspective on things like this. And, I suppose that maybe I have. (A little.) I mean, I don't get excited every time I successfully pay at the pump now. But, I'm still mostly a fucknut when it comes to this stuff.

I'm trying not to be.
I'm having limited success.

Today, I spoke to the woman who is in charge of the residency match process at school. She said, "You know, this is an incredibly stressful time, even for people like you who seem to have a good program in the bag." And then, she offered me a carrot stick. I don't like carrots, but it made me feel better nonetheless.

Pennsylvania serpentine

The day before Thanksgiving, I had to schlep my ass through Pennsylvania to get from interviews to my family's house. As I drove through Breezewood, Elvis Costello sang, This is hell. This is hell. I am sorry to tell you...

And there you have it.

Speaking of running in a zig zag, I think the Pennsylvania turnpike was designed by someone who was being chased by an armed madman. It's like that scene from The In-Laws... SERPENTINE, SERPENTINE! I swear, if you could drive through that state in a straight line, the trip would only take ten minutes.

The bright spot: My dad called halfway through my drive and said, "You know what James Carville said about Pennsylvania? It's Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in the middle." And that's exactly how I would describe the place if I was giving a tour.

Sleeper hold

My grandma uninvited her brother and his wife to Thanksgiving this year. She said it was because she didn't have the room, what with the babies. But, in truth, the babies don't take up much space. (They're sort of like really small versions of regular people.) She just didn't want her brother and sister-in-law there. She compromised and said that they could come for dessert, but she wasn't having them for dinner.

Because there were fewer people at dinner, my grandma decided that we would all fit at the dining room table. All 18 of us. In fact, 16 chairs do fit around her dining room table. There is not a millimeter of space in between the chairs, but they fit. As my brother said, "Thank goodness we're not a fat family." And thank goodness we're nimble, because my mother literally had to hoist her leg over the back of her chair, step onto her seat and slide herself onto her butt. As much as she bitches about her post-menopausal body, I have to tell you, as I watched her Cirque du Soleil herself into her chair, I was thinking, "Damn, she's looking pretty fucking great for her age."

Once I got done checking out my mom's ass, I performed similar acrobatics to get myself up to the table. We started eating, and two bites in, my brother said, "Grandma, we need shorter forks. I just stabbed Grandpa with the end of mine."

"Oh, honey, he'll be okay."

Easy for her to say. She wasn't sandwiched in with the rest of us. She and my sister, Kelsy, were in the two seats that wouldn't fit around the table--the bleachers. They sat behind us, eating off of their laps, mocking us in our struggle to move food to our mouths without blinding our neighbors.

We all kind of got into a groove, coordinating bites with those next to us so as to avoid injury, and things were going pretty well. We'd had a few glasses of wine at this point and frankly, we got a little cocky. We decided to up the ante. We decided to pass the rolls.

My uncle was passing the basket to me when he somehow managed to put his young son in a modified sleeper hold. I looked over to see my poor cousin, his head wedged in his father's armpit, his little voice squeaking, "Uh, Dad...I can't really breathe here."

It was our first Thanksgiving related near death experience. I can't imagine how terrifying it might have been if I hadn't been mostly drunk when it happened. My poor cousin, though. He may never give thanks again.

Robber baron chic

The uninvited uncle and his wife did, in fact, show up for dessert. It's a bit hard to explain what it is about this man that makes him so difficult to be around.

He has a lot of money.
None of which came to him through his own ingenuity.
Yet he feels rather entitled.
And likes to give advice to the less fortunate.
And tell them stories.
Which are boring.

He used to come in a tie every year, but he's loosened up a bit there. The day after Thanksgiving, my dad and I were having coffee and this conversation...

I said, "Did you notice, Uncle Peter showed up in casual this year. His shirt wasn't even tucked in."

"Yeah, you know what we call that don't you?
"

"What?"


"Robber baron chic."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two shorts

Windy. Very windy.

Tomorrow, I'm interviewing with someone who asks questions like, If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

When I heard that, I thought, I'm the color of you've got to be kidding me. I should probably try to come up with an alternate answer before tomorrow, though, eh?

Otherwise, so far, Chicago is sort of like New York without much imagination. If you love it here, tell me why. I'm sure I'm just in need of a good tour guide.

Maria's question

I think I'm interviewing for my dream job in anesthesia. I just finished a month of pediatric ICU. The first time I did peds--my general pediatric rotation last year--can best be described as Ugh. Ugh with a side of Suck. After that, I didn't have very high expectations for PICU. I thought, well, maybe I'm just one of those people who hates all kids except her nieces. Turns out, though, I sort of like kids. I just like them best when they're intubated.

I'm kidding.
(Sort of.)

The point is, the month went well. I learned a lot. And, it reinforced what I already thought to be true. I like really sick patients. I enjoy the ICU. I don't mind answering the family members' 5746 questions (even when 5745 of them are really just variations of the same two or three questions). But, I don't want to do that full time.

I want to be in the OR, too. In the OR, I don't write orders for nurses, I do the work myself. I start with talking patients, give them a lethal dose of medication, keep them alive anyway, and then wake them up to tell them they did great. Ahh...such fun. Sure, things don't always go quite that smoothly. But, when it all works out in the end, the not-so-smoothly can be even more fun.

Between the OR and the ICU, what more could a girl want in her job?

Oh, and as long as you're still here, what color did that seem like to you?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I could bedazzle you an eye patch

Written on my way home the other night...

Three days of interviews. Everything went very well. (I think. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. They’re nice to everyone but they certainly don’t love us all equally. So, who knows. Every year, people get fooled into believing that a program that didn’t really want them really wanted them.) But, frankly, at this point, I’m too exhausted from interviewing to talk much about interviewing.

I'm sitting in LaGuardia, waiting to catch my flight home. I just caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window—business casual, dress coat, make up, handbag. I thought, when did I become such a grown up? It sort of snuck up on me, I suppose.

When you’re having phone conversations like this with your best friend at night, you hardly expect to wake to a grown up in the morning…

“I was walking through Times Square tonight when I saw an older woman and her husband headed to the theater. He was in a suit. She was wearing a black dress, black pumps. She had lovely hair. Oh, and an eye patch. A black eye patch. Like a pirate.”

“Awesome.”

“Yeah. And then, I couldn’t help but wonder, do they make flesh colored eye patches? Because, if not, I think they should. I’ve only ever seen them in black, but I think that flesh colored might be less distracting. Less…piratey.”

“Maybe she liked the black one.”

“Well, I did consider that. It was kind of a silky eye patch, and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she chose it to match her outfit.”

“Maybe it was her fancy patch.”

“Exactly, like her dress patch. I considered the fact that maybe she has them in black, brown, and navy.”

“Then, she’d have a patch to go with everything.”

“Exactly. But still, I think that given the option, flesh colored would be better.”

“I don’t think so. I think that flesh colored would just sort of look like they sewed your eye shut.”

“No, it wouldn’t. They sewed my grandma’s eye shut once and it didn’t look like a flesh colored eye patch.”

“They sewed her eye shut?”

“Yeah, it was sewn shut for six weeks after she had a basal cell removed from her eyelid. We called her Cyclops. But, that’s not really the point. The point is…”

“I know, it didn’t look like a flesh colored eye patch.”

“Exactly. You know, I should look for a souvenir eye patch for you while I’m here. One with the statue of liberty bedazzled on it in sequins or something.”

“Do they make those?”

“I don’t know, but if there’s one city in the world where you could find them, I’m sure it’s this one.”

“I could bedazzle you an eye patch. I’m crafty.”

“That’s true. Maybe we could sell them!”

“Yeah, and if that took off, we could branch out.”

“To bedazzled peg legs.”

“We could soup up all the prostheses.”

“And we’d call it Pimp my Prosthesis.”

“We would put hydraulics in them.”

“And subwoofers in the butt.”

“And neons in the…you know.”

“That would be fabulous.”


“You know, this may be the most ridiculous conversation we’ve ever had.”

“Definitely in the top five.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wish me luck

My residency interview season begins in a half hour. Today is sort of a soft opening. I'm back in New York, back in the apartment where I stayed last time I was here. I'm interviewing with a program that has already told me they want me to train with them. And, as soon as I get there, I get to change out of this suit and into scrubs.

I'm interviewing in pajamas with people who already want to give me the job.

And still, I'm nervous.

:::Update:::
The day went very well. I would say more, but I'm spent. If I can muster the energy, I'm going to head out and treat myself to a cocktail.

Tomorrow, another interview.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

His name is Hippo

It was one of the last warm days we'll have this year. We were rounding on the patients in the PICU, standing over the bed of a little girl with asthma. After he got done listening to her breathe, the attending physician put down his stethescope and picked up the stuffed animal that was standing sentry on her lap. It was a yellow hippopotamus with hippo embroidered on its side.

"Who's this?" he asked.

"That's my hippo," she said.

"What's his name?"

"Hippo," she said. Duh.

"Have you seen the hippos at our zoo?"

"No," she said.

"Have you ever been to our zoo?" he asked.

"Nope," she said.

Turning to her mother, he said, "You need to take her to the zoo."

Her mother laughed a little.

"I mean it!" he said. Pointing his finger at the woman, he barked, "When she gets out of here, you take her to the zoo!" The woman was a bit taken aback. She didn't expect to be yelled at 7am for failing to show her daughter the town's wild animals in captivity. The lecture about the importance of refilling her kid's inhaler prescription, that one she might have been expecting. But this, this was new.

Then, turning to me, he asked, "Have you been to our zoo."

I briefly considered lying, but thought better of it. He would have seen the shifty look in my eyes and asked follow up questions, quizzing me on my last visit. I would have been exposed in no time. I could just picture him screaming about how the only thing that's worse than medical students who don't go to the zoo is medical students who pretend like they go to the zoo.

"No," I said, "I haven't."

"You've NEVER been to our zoo?"

Bracing myself, I repeated, "No, I've never been to the zoo."

"Well, GO TO THE ZOO." he bellowed. "We have a great zoo. When you go, go see the hippoquarium. It's one of the only places in the world where you can see hippos under water."

"Okay. I'll do that."

"No," he said. "TODAY. It's going to be seventy-five degrees! You'll go today." He touched the hippo to the little girl's nose and made a kiss noise. She smiled. Then, he resumed yelling at me. "You'll leave at noon and GO SEE THE HIPPOS."

"Um...okay," I said.



They call this one Hippo...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

She would have loved this

At 5:50 this morning, I checked my email on my way out the door.
This was waiting for me...

I confess...I get a bit crazy every fours years at election time. Blame it on Grandma Betty. I can remember walking with her to go vote. She couldn't wait for your Grandpa to come home - to her, the important things couldn't wait. Such as it was with that generation - raised during the Depression and matured by a World War.

So go vote today - vote for the persons/issues of your choice - vote and enjoy every minute of it - vote and think of your Grandma...if she were here, she would have loved this campaign. I can just hear her say - "he seems like such a nice young man" "I don't where he finds the energy at 72" "wow, she's fiesty" "you know, I've always liked Joe Biden"

Love,
Dad

With tears in my eyes, I grabbed my keys and went to vote. And, as I stood in that line, I thought of her.

Go

Remember this...


That is what it looks like when people recognize what an incredible right this is.

Go.
Stand in line.
No matter how long it takes.
If you're in line before the polling place closes, they will let you vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This post brought to you by Sauvignon Blanc

Pediatric ICU is going just fine, thank you.

Is it sad?
Is it depressing?


Um...no, not really. I like taking care of really sick people, so I enjoy this much more than I enjoyed outpatient pediatrics. And, unlike the neonatal ICU, where I thought we were torturing a bunch of babies only to leave them to struggle through a life of disabilities, here I think we are actually giving kids a fighting chance. So, although I am certainly not a pediatrician at heart, I look forward to going to work each day in the PICU. Plus, I'm entirely too busy to worry about stupid things like finding a belt to wear with my suit.

By the way, today, I bought a belt to wear with my suit and a pair of four inch heels. I'm wearing the heels around the house. With my pajamas.

Let's all just take a moment here to picture that and chuckle.

Okay, enough with the chuckle. I'm wearing the shoes in an attempt to tell my feet, "Suck it, bitches. Like it or not, we're wearing these on the interviews. Best to get used to the devastatingly sexy instruments of torture now before you have to wear them sober."

In other news, I went to the mall today and left just before I thought I might have to kill someone. I hate the mall. I hate that you can't walk through the place without people at those little stands in the middle trying to get you to sniff this, touch that, lick this, listen to that. Today, some woman with a curling iron stepped in my path and asked if she could do my hair. The longest hairs on my head are all of 1.5 inches. Basically, she offered to sit a scalding piece of metal on my scalp.

Then, I passed a woman who was having her infant's ears pierced. The baby was crying so hard she could barely catch her breath.

Let me just say...
In this, the age of community acquired MRSA, it's probably best not to subject your infant to a needless surgical procedure performed by some 16 year old who may well have just given that horny teenage guy from the Verizon store a hand job in the employee bathroom. Also, poking holes in a baby's ears so you can hang fake rhinestones from the sides of her head makes you look like an asshole. And a bad mother. And this really is all about appearances, isn't it?

(Now you understand why it's best for all of us if I just shop online.)


Moving on... to a belated Happy Halloween and a NO on Prop 8 from Wanda and Ellen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

She calls it "The one where I was a bitch"

After weeks of receiving email for a different Graci, my friend sent the different Graci this message...

If I remember correctly, I emailed you several weeks ago about the fact that I have been receiving emails that are actually intended for you. While I continue to receive emails from several other people trying to reach you, I have also started receiving email from you which I believe you are trying to cc to yourself. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of the fact that while we do have the same name, we do, indeed, have different email addresses.

Do you hear that tone? That little bit of bitchy flare? And this, from my bff, a woman known for her perpetual kindness?

Yeah, well...don't fuck with her email.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mushroom risotto

I'm posting a recipe.

I know what you're thinking...Since when does she cook?

Well, in my pre-blog years--the wedded years--I cooked several times a week. Not because I loved cooking, but because if I didn't have something resembling dinner ready when he got home from work, there was sure to be a fight. I never really hated cooking either. I just hated that I was cooking to avoid some big fucking argument about why I wasn't cooking. So, when I became a single woman again, I quit cooking. Every meal I didn't cook was actually cause for a small celebration. Each night at 5:30, I thought, I'm not going to cook tonight, and no one gets to yell at me for that...yay divorce!

It turns out, it takes me awhile to heal. Here I am, almost two years later, and I'm just now returning to the kitchen. I'm going to tell this to the next person who asks me why I'm not dating anyone. Dating? Hell, I just started sauteing again.

Alright, enough with the blathering...on with the cooking. I've made this recipe twice now. It's turned out well both times.

It's an extremely simple mushroom risotto with my notes in italics. It goes like this...

5 to 6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots Except, I use vidalia onions because I like them.
1 teaspoon minced garlic Or, maybe a tablespoon.
12 ounces assorted mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced, stems removed I use shiitake and portobello mushrooms.
2 cups arborio rice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme Maria needs to start a mail-order service from her garden so that those of us who don't grow any can buy her extra. The thyme I bought at my local supermarket tonight was beyond pathetic.
1 cup dry white wine Or, whatever white wine you like to drink.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves I skip this.
1 to 2 teaspoons truffle oil, optional
No, not optional. Absolutely necessary. Spend the money on this flavored olive oil. It's worth it.


In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to very low to keep hot.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots (or onions) and garlic, and cook, stirring until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until wilted and their liquid is evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains are opaque, about 1 minute. Stir in the thyme. Open the wine. Throw away the cork--you won't be needing it. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until nearly all evaporated. Add 3/4 cup of the stock, the salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the stock is nearly all evaporated. Continue adding more stock 1/2 cup at a time as the previous addition is nearly absorbed, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy.

This is going to take awhile. But, it's the best part of the whole process if you do it right. First, see that overhead light you turned on when you walked in the kitchen? Turn that off. You have a little light over your stove or sink, yes? That's all you need. We're not doing brain surgery here. Next, as long as we're standing here, stirring, we might as well listen to a little jazz. A little Diana Krall or Andrea Mann perhaps.

See that bottle of wine next to your pan? You threw away the cork, so now you have to find a way to empty the bottle. A little in the risotto, a little for the chef. Swing your hips back and forth as Ms. Mann or Ms. Krall sings, sip some wine, stir the risotto...I trust you'll figure it out.

Stir in cream, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and the parsley (if you're into parsley) and mix well.

Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste. If desired, stir in truffle oil to taste. It's desired. Trust me.


And now, we eat the risotto and drink whatever wine might be left.

Ahhh...here's to cooking for the fun of it.
Cheers, friends.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A leisurely walk through Crazyville

The apartment is quiet.

I'm sitting on the couch in my pajamas (scrubs and a soft tee shirt) and a hoodie. My hair looks like Fraggle Rock got caught in a wind storm. I just finished my coffee and Dive's post about dowdy old cult ladies pimping out their daughters to try to lure him to church. It was an inspiring story about the deep personal commitment some people make to evangelism. Personally, I felt convicted to do more to try to trick people into coming to Jesus. I have the day off. Perhaps I'll spend a portion of it trying to come up with ways to do just that.

Perhaps not.

Speaking of days off, I've had a few too many of those lately. I've been in Rheumatology clinic for the past two weeks, and the schedule there is, uh...light. Like three half days a week with the occasional clinic day canceled light. It sounded like heaven when I signed up for it, but, it turns out, this isn't the best time for me to have so much time on my hands. I find myself worrying entirely too much about interviews, scheduling flights, that one letter of recommendation that still isn't completed (this, in particular, is driving me bat shit crazy), finding a belt to match my suit.

Yes, that's right. Last night, I actually had a moment of panic over a belt. Like, what if I never find a belt that looks right? What if I have to go to all of these interviews without a belt? And what if I get nervous and can't eat much the night before and the next day my pants don't fit right and then right there, in the middle of one of those lame-ass hospital tours, my pants fall down around my ankles and then I'm standing there in front of some program director without any pants on and all anyone can think is, damn, that girl has some pasty white chicken legs? SHIT. If I can't find a belt, I'm never going to get into a residency. Not with these legs.

See, way too much free time.

Monday, I start a month of pediatric ICU. I suck at peds, so I'll have a lot of reading to do. Not a lot of free time. And, while I don't necessarily look forward to being swamped with work, I do very much look forward to the return of my sanity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Once again, she's confused about the job description

Question for Sarah Palin from a 3rd grader: "What does the Vice President do?"
Sarah Palin: "They're in charge of the United States Senate, so, if they want to, they can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes."

Uh...no, no, they can't. Or, I should say, no he or she can't, as Vice President is actually singular.

The United States Constitution (I found a copy Bush hadn't quite burned yet. Singed, but not totally fried.) Article I, Section 3: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

Since you read anything anyone puts in front of you (that is what you said, right?), I implore the people who put things in front of you to replace that Cheerios box with a copy of the United States Constitution.

Read it. And then, explain to me how exactly you're going to "make a lot of good policy changes" without a vote in the Senate.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Basically, we drove around and went to some gas stations

So, this didn't exactly go as planned.

Graci decided she was going to come with me. She was looking for a new way to procrastinate, and driving to Michigan to watch someone else buy a suit was one of the few techniques she hadn't tried recently. We started the trip by stopping for gas. I hadn't eaten, so she ran into the gas station to get me a bottled water and some Combos while I filled my tank. Then, we were on the road. Eating Combos. Talking about whatever the hell it is we talk about.

About 25 miles into the trip, Graci said something about not feeling so good. When I say that I don't feel so good, it usually means I'm getting a cold (which I typically call pneumonia, because the amount of whining I do when I have a virus is pathetic and annoying if it's just a cold, but completely understandable if it's a potentially-fatal lung infection we're talking about). When Graci says she's not feeling good, though, it usually means she's about to pass out. (She has a condition. We call it her condition.)

Is there any medical condition that comes on in a vehicle that doesn't prompt the afflicted to roll down her window? I can't think of one. Anyway, in keeping with the long tradition of "getting some air" when one suddenly feels like shit in the car, Graci rolled down the window. I pointed at the bottle of water, which, up until this point, I had been drinking, and offered her the rest. She laughed at me. "What's so funny?" I asked. She picked up the bottle and shook it in my general direction. There was about half an ounce left. "Oh," I said, "so much for the water. Sorry." I told her I'd find a gas station and buy her some more. She said that wouldn't be necessary. Then, she laid her seat flat and put her feet up.

I know you're not really supposed to laugh at people who may soon be unconscious, but the sight of her green Chuck Taylors propped up on the dashboard was sort of funny. And I wasn't laughing at her. I was laughing with her. Really. She was laughing, too. We started discussing the logistics of the impending loss of consciousness, things like whether or not I should bother to pull over if she did pass out. We decided that if she was only going to be out about 30 seconds or so, I could probably just keep driving. But, if she was out for more than a minute, I should probably at least slow down to check her pulse or something.

I got off on an exit while Graci yelled at me about how she didn't really need any water. I don't listen to a fucking thing she says, because she's my friend. So, as per usual, I told her to shut it because I was ignoring her anyway.

I ran into gas station #2 of the trip and bought a big ass water. I handed it to Graci and said, "Drink it. Now." As I got back on the highway, Graci commenced to bitching about how difficult it was to drink while lying flat. I told her to keep drinking. In fact, I told her that if she passed out, I was going to dump the remaining water on her face. "You'd really do that, wouldn't you?" It's called tough love. She kept drinking.

Suddenly, I realized that I had been a little distracted with the fluid resuscitation and, in the process, may have gotten lost. It certainly didn't help that my navigator couldn't see the road signs from where she was lying. I drove a few more miles and then decided to turn around. I felt fairly certain that we had missed our turnoff.

For awhile there, Graci was looking a little better--face not so pale, lips not so blue. But then, she started fidgeting in her seat, looking a little squirrely. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing. I just, uh...really, really have to pee. It's all that fucking water you made me drink."

"Well, if you could maintain consciousness without all that fluid, I wouldn't have made you drink it." It's important to make sure everyone knows whose fault this is. Then, we spent the next 20 miles laughing about how Graci might urinate on my passenger seat.

Long story short (oh wait, too late), we made it home sans unconsciousness and incontinence. As soon as we walked in the aparment, Graci bolted to the bathroom. When she came out, she sat down on the couch in a heap and declared that she would now be taking a nap. The whole ordeal had exhausted her.

"That was fun," she said, "We should drive around Michigan more often while I try not to pass out or pee on myself."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A short list...

of things I should be doing, in the order in which they should probably be done:

1. Get off of the couch. (Meet the Press is over. There's nothing else worth watching.)
2. Shower.
3. Get dressed.
4. Fold the laundry that remains in the basket after you've removed what you need to accomplish #3.
5. Schlep your ass over here. (And I say schlep because this really isn't very close to my house. At all.)
6. Buy that suit.

I've been sitting on my ass for almost two days now, doing my part to debunk the myth that medical students work all the time. In fact, I'm practically on vacation. I'm doing Rheumatology clinic right now. This translates to three half days a week in which I go in to work, ask the patients about their symptoms, and then watch the attending either treat or totally ignore them as his mood dictates.

The other day, I introduced a patient to the attending by saying, "This is Mary Whatchamacallit, and she hurts all over. Her arthritis is as bad as it's ever been." I then suggested a med, which, I'll admit, I pretty much pulled out of my ass, as I don't really know much about Rheumatology. He poo-pooed my suggestion and then said, "Well Mary, I'm glad you're doing so well. I'll see you again in about six weeks."

And that was it. We were done.

As he shook her hand and stood up to leave the room, I sat across from her thinking, I had to iron dress pants to be a part of this crock of shit? Unbelievable.

Mary, if you're reading this, it's time for you to find a new doctor.

And it's time for this wannabe doctor to go buy that suit. This lounge wear probably won't work for those residency interviews next month. (Although, I do wear it quite well.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All the news that's fit to print

Turns out that Joe the Plumber is not a licensed plumber. His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes a bit in back taxes.

(It's the funniest thing I've read all day.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Like tweets, but longer

I'm drinking mint tea and sucking on Ricola. I was just saying the other day that it's been quite awhile since I've been sick. The universe listened.

The cat just took a flying leap across the room and landed on my forehead. And this is why I like her best when she's sleeping.

FOX news is saying that McCain didn't get the game-changer he needed with this debate. So sad. (Air quotes around sad.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Trying times indeed


Further evidence of the housing crisis plaguing this great nation. A year ago, he might have tried to sell; but this year, he had to walk away. He simply owed more than the exoskeleton was worth.

The bank that owns the shell isn't doing much better.

I'm dusting off the Fireside Chats, trying not to panic.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The fall of my foul mood

Having been a bit, as Graci would say, downtrodden oh and also melancholy since I got back this week, I decided that I would head out to the park with my camera. I was determined to find some beauty. DAMN IT. (And really, that's the best way to search for beauty--angry and driven.)

What follows is fall's attempt to beat the bitchy out of me...






And, as it turns out, that autumn light thing has a way of sucking the snark right out of me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This message

As I write this, I'm watching a commercial that says Barack Obama works with terrorists... I'm John McCain, and I approve this message.


McCain's attacks fuel dangerous hatred
By Frank Schaeffer

John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, "Kill him!" At one of your rallies, someone called out, "Terrorist!" Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee - an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.

Shame!

John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate...

John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.

Rudeness

I've heard quite a bit about New Yorkers since I got back earlier this week. People who hear that I've been there say a lot of, "Ugh, those New Yorkers are so rude." All of this from Midwesterners who have never lived in the city, of course. But, it seems, if there's one thing these people know for sure, it's that everyone living everywhere else is a jackass.

I actually found New Yorkers to be quite lovely. When you live in New York, when you take the subway to and from work at rush hour, when you shop in a neighborhood grocery store, when you spend lazy weekends in the park; you realize just how great New Yorkers can be.

The tourists who bitch about a rude New York fail to recognize that the city is not an amusement park. It's inhabitants are not Disney employees paid to make sure you have a pleasant stay. The New Yorkers live there. When they're out in the city, they're actually trying to get somewhere. If you're standing in the middle of a street corner at 6:30 on a Friday evening holding your camera and a map, spinning in those wiiide tourist circles, trying to figure out which way is east, you shouldn't be surprised if some woman trying to get home to her kids after a long day at the office tells you to MOVE.

If you followed that woman into the subway, you would see that, without saying a word, she'll take the cumbersome bag from the old woman in front of her and lift it to the top of the escalator. She'll do this for two reasons: first, she is a decent human being who cares for the elderly, and second, the old lady was taking so long that none of us was going to make it from the 51st to 53rd street station if somebody didn't move things along. I respect her for both.

The point is, I'm not convinced that it's a city full of jackasses. In fact, I found a lot of people--very different people--living in a relatively small space, very few of them killing each other. Like I said, lovely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lucy


On my way back from New York, I spent a few days with the family.
I finally got to take some pictures of my brother's greatest accomplishment.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Turning a page

"We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days," said Greg Strimple, one of McCain's top advisers. "We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama's aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans."

As a famous Republican once said, "There you go again..."

You've got no plan for the worst economy since the 1930's, so you are resorting to smears.

Careful there, Senator McCain. Seventy-two years is a long time to be on the planet. I'm sure there are 4 or, maybe, (Keating) 5 things we could bring up about you, too.

Or, we could discuss economic plans...
If you make less than a quarter million a year, you won't see your taxes raise one penny.

Is that what you meant by aggressively liberal? If so, I'd like a quarter pound aggressively liberal with a side of risky, risky fries.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Until we meet again


I have a fondness for this place akin to what I imagine some women feel for Justin Timberlake or Melissa Etheridge.

New York, I will be back.
In the meantime, I will miss you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Surprise

Went downstairs to do laundry.

Came back up to find, "Hey, I'm your new roommate! Did they tell you I was coming?"

"Um, no. No, they did not. If they had told me, I wouldn't have left my bra on the couch. Yeah, that bra. The one your boyfriend's sitting on."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Animated shorts

This post doesn't actually contain any animation. Unless, of course, you draw it yourself as you read.

Little Park

I thought that maybe I shouldn't post this because it happened over a week ago. It's not current. But then I remembered, this isn't the fucking newspaper. Who cares?

I was walking through Greenwich Village (or Soho, or something around there) when I ran into this tiny park on a corner. In fact, it was so small, I'm not even sure you could call it a park. It was more like a park-like space. I probably couldn't find it again if you paid me because, first, I didn't make note of the cross streets, and, second, I was a little drunk. I had the day off after a night of OB anesthesia call so I went to check out this bar.

I believe in drinking before 5pm when you have the day off. Just because you can.

Christine, I went to Ulysses. You're right - great Guinness. The Ear Inn - also great Guinness. Check it out next time you're in town.

Anyway, I was strolling about in the middle of my day off, a little tipsy, when I stumbled (not literally, not that tipsy) onto this...







I'm not sure what else to say about that, except that Blogger sucks all the color out of already inadequate pictures. Which is to say, it was one thousand times better in person.

We're About 9

The next day, I went to Union Square in the morning (remember the veggie pictures?) and then Madison Square Park in the afternoon. Turns out, there are free concerts in Madison Square Park on Saturday afternoons. I saw this group play a few songs...



And, I've been singing Miscreant Men for over a week.

I don't wanna kiss you.
I don't wanna hug you.

I don't wanna hold your hand.

I don't wanna take you back to my apartment.

I don't wanna lay you down in my bed.

I don't wanna tell you stories,

about what we'll do in the morning.

I don't wanna cuddle you tight,

all night...


Friday

As I was leaving work, walking through the endoscopy recovery room, a patient arrested. One minute, talking. The next, not. I was the first to respond, and, looking back on it, my response was okay...not perfect, but okay. Did I panic? Did I ever. But, I kept most of that on the inside and did what needed to be done. In spite of our efforts, the patient died. I left with arms sore from chest compressions and feelings mixed. I don't want bad things to happen, but I want to be there when they do.

Such is the job and my stage of training I suppose.

The Met and the MoMA

This weekend, it rained. So, I went to the museums.

Ahh...the museums. I know nothing - nothing - about art. But, I like it anyway. Well, most of it. European decorative art (furniture and the like)...I couldn't care less about that shit. But the rest of it, I like.

The MoMA has a fabulous Van Gogh exhibit right now. 'Fabulous' is such a lame word to describe Van Gogh, but it's all I've got. (It was only an English minor.) Starry Night looked just like that limited edition Starry Night poster that hung in your dorm room. Except, well, much starrier.

Today

It was a good day. Three routine cases, but three good intubations, first with the Macintosh, and then with the Miller. The Macintosh is the blade you see people use when they intubate on TV. It's wider and generally easier to use. The Miller is the blade most anesthesiologists actually prefer. It takes a bit more skill to manipulate, but you can also intubate much more difficult airways with it.

What's that I hear? Oh, that's you snoring. Yeah, sorry about that. Moving on...

To bed. I'm moving on to bed. It's that time.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Door handle


I'll say more tomorrow.
(Not about this, though. This is just a door handle.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

When you find yourself with a Philistine

If you're standing in front of this, and your boyfriend pulls your arm and says, "Come on...you've been here long enough," dump him.

If you accidentally married him, file for divorce.

If, in a moment of weakness, you had a kid with the guy, sue for full custody. Explain to the judge what happened today at the Met...she'll give you the child.

And quit shopping on eharmony.

The local paper's op-ed

Gail Collins wrote:

A simple trip to Mississippi turned into a saga featuring many, many rapidly changing story lines:

* Cancel the debate!

* Maybe cancel the debate!

* No debate unless Congress passes a financial rescue bill!

* No debate unless Congress has a plan to pass a financial rescue bill.

* Oh, what the heck...

One thing we now know for sure. Electing John McCain would be God’s gift to the profession of journalism. A story a minute.

Imagine what would happen if a new beetle infested the Iowa corn crop during the first year of a McCain administration. On Monday, we spray. On Tuesday, we firebomb. On Wednesday, the president marches barefoot through the prairie in a show of support for Iowa farmers. On Thursday, the White House reveals that Wiley Flum, a postal worker from Willimantic, Conn., has been named the new beetle eradication czar. McCain says that Flum had shown “the instincts of a maverick reformer” in personally buying a box of roach motels and scattering them around the post office locker room. “I can’t wait to introduce Wiley to those beetles in Iowa,” the president adds.

On Friday, McCain announces he’s canceling the weekend until Congress makes the beetles go away.

Barack Obama would just round up a whole roomful of experts and come up with a plan. Yawn.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate

You want the job?
Well then, come to the fucking interview.

DEBATE.

I'll be watching from a bar in Soho.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My mother, the tour guide

"Oh, T! You know where you should go eat?"

"Where?"

"There's this little Mexican place on 9th."

"Okay. Where on 9th?"

"Oh...uh...well, it's sort of near..."

"Nevermind, I'll Google it. What's it called?"

"I don't remember. Oh, but...you know that alley where David Letterman throws the football?"

"What?"

"You know, sometimes David Letterman goes outside during the show and throws a football."

"Um, okay."

"It's parallel to that alley. I'm not sure which direction it is from the alley, but parallel. Oh, and the place has the best margaritas."

"Let me get this straight: I'm supposed to look for a little Mexican restaurant, somewhere on 9th, parallel to an alley where I may or may not find David Letterman throwing a football."

"Yeah."

"Speaking of margaritas, are you drinking right now?"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday afternoon in Union Square

On Saturdays in Union Square, there is a farmer's market.





This guy, the guy with the Great Danes, is the most patient man in New York City. All these people around him are New Yorkers, not tourists. He said, this happens every time I go out. He must have been asked 100 times, you don't live in Manhattan with those dogs, do you? He does, by the way. And then, did you have to train them to be this docile? No, they've never really expressed an interest in eating humans.


Dog weights, left to right: 135 lbs, 6.3 lbs, 195 lbs. The little dog's owner asked how much his dogs weighed. He asked her the same and then scratched the little guy's chin and said, oh, you are such a big boy. The little guy believed every word of it.



This dude was selling Rick's Picks. (Although, I'm pretty sure he's not Rick.) I bought a jar of hot pickled green beans, the Mean Beans, and had them last night with an India Pale Ale. I fell asleep at 10, but woke up again after 11 with impressive heartburn. That last post, the political one, was almost titled, Brought to you by pickled green beans and beer.










Not everyone was shopping. In fact, the park was full of people just chillaxin' (that word comes to you courtesy of my younger sister) in the sun.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

For the undecided

In case you thought, I wonder where Terroni stands on the issues?

The War


Obama: There should be a timetable for the removal of U.S. troops.

More specifically, Senator Obama calls for: (1) a reduction in the number of U.S. troops; (2) a time frame for a phased withdrawal; (3) the Iraqi government to make progress on forming a political solution; (4) improved reconstruction efforts to restore basic services in Iraq; and (5) engaging the international community, particularly key neighboring states and Arab nations, to become more involved in Iraq.

Do you know what I like about this plan? It sounds like a plan. When this kind of thing is going on, I think it's good to have a plan.

McCain: U.S. forces need to stay in Iraq for as long as it takes for Iraqi forces to take over.

When might that be? Any ideas? Without a timetable for our withdrawal, what motivates them to take over?

McCain enjoys a lot of credibility on this issue because he is a war hero, but it's important to remember, not everyone who has seen war feels the same way as he does. My uncle was on the ground in the jungle of Vietnam while McCain was in prison. He feels very differently... We need to get our kids out of this damn war, he says. Loudly.


Health care

Obama: "The time has come for universal, affordable health care in America." He also voted to expand the S-CHIP program, a program is designed to subsidize health coverage for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

This is a social justice issue. And, for me, this is a moral obligation, a spiritual issue... Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Health care is part of that.

McCain: Opposes universal health care. Voted against expanding the S-CHIP program.


Education

Obama:
Increase Head Start funding, reward successful teachers, pay teachers more, modify certification and teacher preparation process to avoid unnecessary and expensive coursework to become a teacher. Fund and reform No Child Left Behind. Increase federal aid for college.

Okay. This is a start. We're talking about educating kids from preschool through college.

McCain: Believes state and local agencies, not the federal government, should be responsible for developing and enforcing academic standards. Supports charter schools and federally-financed school vouchers for students in failing schools; believes "choice and competition" are the future of education.

This will be the end of public education. Choice and competition--capitalism--will now be responsible for educating children? What about those areas where it's not profitable to educate kids--neighborhoods where the kids are poor? What happens to those kids in failing schools when there's not a great little charter school with a spot open for them?


Abortion

This is a heated issue. It takes more than a few lines on policy to explain my position here. First, let me say, I'm pro-life. If that's not clear by now, re-read what I just wrote here. That's called voting pro-life. Second, I agree with Bill Clinton, who said that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

Do I believe that fetuses are people? Yes.
Do I believe that abortion is killing a person? Yes.
Don't I think it's wrong to kill people? Yes.

Well then, what the hell?

I also believe that, in rare circumstances, there are fates worse than death, both for those who are aborted and for those who have abortions. I have seen a 12 year old girl give birth. I have seen couples terminate a pregnancy when the baby has a terribly painful condition that isn't compatible with life. I worked in labor and delivery for four years and saw that this is an incredibly complex issue.

I think that we need to quit voting on this issue and start talking about this issue. And by we, I don't mean all of us. People who think that taking the morning-after pill is the same as killing a toddler, and people who think that late-term abortion up until the moment of delivery is all hunky-dory...these people are all fucking nuts. You can't talk to these people.

But the rest of us, those of us who can admit that this is a complex and difficult issue, we should talk. We should talk about how to make abortion rare, about how to create the kind of world where having a baby is almost always a pregnant woman's best choice. We should talk about sex education, and birth control, and peace, and health care, and day care, and Head Start, and WIC.

Obama may support abortion more than I do. McCain supports it less than I do. But, Obama supports those things that make this a better place to have a baby. He supports those who are, as my dad would say, pro-life with some skin in the game.

In...and then back out again

Wow. It's been awhile, eh? (That whole occasionally talking like a Canadian thing that started when I was in Detroit, that hasn't quite worn off yet.) You would think that I would have plenty of things to blog about, seeing as I'm doing trauma anesthesia. In New York City.

It's not that there aren't things to blog about. It's just that I've spent most of my spare time enjoying the city. My apartment is lovely. The wood floors are gorgeous but not like, I think I'm going to stay home and look at my floors gorgeous. (Not that gorgeous.) So, I've been out.

Right now, though, I'm in, waiting for my camera battery and cell phone to charge; so I've got time for a little update.

Last weekend, Graci came to visit. Last night, she said, "Hey! You should talk about how great it was to see me!" It was great to see her. Really great. When she left, I realized I've been a little lonely traveling the past few months.

I was going to write about all the fun we had, but there's really not much to say except...

We have fun together for no reason at all.
And that is why we are best friends.

Graci is at Harvard this month doing pathology. She took a bus from Boston which dropped her off in Chinatown at 10 o'clock Friday night. If you've never been to the city before, Chinatown at night is probably not the best place to start your tour. Especially if you have working nares. We didn't linger there.

Instead, we walked a few blocks to Little Italy and had a late dinner. Graci said that Little Italy looked like parts of Boston. I told her, well, we're going to hop on the subway after dinner and see if we can't find something that doesn't look like Boston.

We got on the subway. (Again, it looked a lot like Boston's.) A few stops later, we got off and walked up the steps to 41st Street and 7th Ave. As we climbed out of the subway, I said, look up. And right there, part of her brain exploded. It's a hell of a way to meet the city, emerging from underneath Times Square. If you're ever giving a tour here, this is how you should do it. Start in a neighborhood that smells, move on to a little spaghetti joint, drag your visitors underground to see if you can meet a local rat (we did, his name was Gus), and then explode their brains with the world's most expensive advertising. The Midwesterners, they love that.

On Saturday, we spent much of the morning in Central Park. We took a few pictures...






Phone's charged...I'm off. But, I'm staying in tonight, so I'll say more then.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not once

No one asked me the date today. It was the first time since I started clinical work that not a single attending, while signing and dating his or her note, asked me the date.

Everyone here knew the date today.
No one talked about it.

Was looking for a subway stop when I ran into this. Completely by accident.


Fortune favors the shamefully clueless.

Blending in

I was standing in the subway on Saturday morning, mouthing the lyrics to the song playing in my ipod. Two couples, clearly tourists, were sitting nearby. One of the women turned to her husband and, in a stage whisper, said, "Look at that person talking to herself. She's probably a schizophrenic. They have a lot of those here you know."

I thought, damn, I've only been here a day and already people think I'm a New Yorker. It's like I was born to travel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And for this, I have Mr. Sedaris to thank

When I left North Carolina on Friday, I drove to my parents' house. They agreed to keep my car for a month and take me to their local airport Saturday morning for my flight to New York. Before I made the drive north, I purchased David Sedaris' new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, on CD. The only thing funnier than reading David's writing is listening to him read his writing. I figured this might distract me from the sweaty, smelly reality of driving for 10 hours in the 90 degree heat in a black car with no air conditioning.

It worked. I was distracted. Granted, I still smelled like a European tour group at Disney World in August. But, the smell wasn't quite so nauseating as it might have been if I hadn't been entertained.

When I stopped for gas at a 7-Eleven in the hills of West Virginia, I was listening to David's story, Town and Country. My windows were rolled down and the CD was turned up. I found an empty parking spot next to a big ole diesel truck. The driver, a big ole hillbilly guy, was still inside. His windows, too, were rolled down. When I pulled in next to him, I was listening to a part of the story in which David quotes a particularly foul-mouthed cabbie he met in New York. As I parked my car, the words, "How is it that you do not need pussy? Does not your dick stand up?" blared from my speakers in David's effeminate voice.

The hillbilly whipped his head around and glared at me. Realizing how it sounded, I quickly turned down the volume on my CD player. This made it worse, as now I didn't even have the speakers to blame. Now, it really looked like I had just said this--like I pulled in next to the guy to scream accusations about his penis.

You know, it's hard to win The Most Classless award in a gas station parking lot in the hills of West Virginia. Stiff competition. But, I think that I more than made up for those points I lost by having all my teeth when my car started yelling DICK and PUSSY at the locals.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Zzzz...

I'm in New York.
All is well.
I'll tell you stories.
Most of them true.

But first, I must sleep.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wish me luck

My mother, who just finished her second glass of red wine, is now proofreading my residency application personal statement.

Which is to say, my future rests in the hands of a drunk woman.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tonight at 10 Eastern...

A black person is going to accept an official major-party presidential nomination.

If you don't understand why that's a big deal, come over here and let me beat the shit out of you with this history book.

In the meantime, if you haven't already seen Sen. Clinton's move to nominate Sen. Obama by acclamation, go watch it. She is a true stateswoman.

And again, if you don't get understand why I teared up when a stadium full of people chanted a woman's name as she nominated someone for president, you should duck and run. This book's heavy.

This round's on me

I got my Step 2 boards score back.
It went quite well.

Drink up, friends.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 7th

(The day before)

It started with a baby. I got into town at about 11:30 that morning, and my sisters and I went to the hospital. We took my brother a bottle of scotch. He has been a little anxious about being a new father. (And, by a little anxious, I mean, he's been a neurotic nut-bar about the whole thing.) It seemed like the perfect gift.

We went to the nursery to see the baby, but didn't get to hold her. She was getting a bath and then had to have a full hour of re-warming so that she wouldn't get hypothermia and brain damage. That’s what they say anytime you dare to question one of the labor and delivery policies or procedures…yada yada yada, brain damage. It's really a miracle that any of those kids who get their first bath in a sink, or a tub, or a river even survive. But, I digress.

We spent a little time with my brother and sister-in-law and then headed back to my parents'. It wasn't long before my grandma called to ask when I was coming over. I originally told them I’d be there early afternoon, but I was sort of dragging my feet. I couldn't seem to write what I wanted to write for my grandpa. Every time I tried, I felt like I might vomit. I finally decided I would just take a blank card and a pen with me. I thought maybe I could just bang it out in the car when I got there. As soon as I pulled up, though, my grandpa was standing at the front door, waiting for me. Shit. Now, I couldn't really sit in the parked car for 15 minutes and write.

I left my pen and the card on the passenger seat and headed in for dinner. I could smell the bacon cooking from the street. My grandma made a full pound for the three of us. Only two of us are really eating. Long story short, I ended up eating ¾ of a pound of bacon. Again, I felt like I might vomit, and that this might be the theme of the weekend--on the edge of vomit.

After dinner, my grandpa and I went out to the porch swing. The white swing has been on their side porch since I was a baby. Every night for the past 26 summers, my grandparents have been on that swing. On this particular night, my grandpa and I sat on the swing while my grandma sat across from us in a white wooden rocker. They told me about how they bought the swing at the Acme-Click for $19, and then, about how a man had another one just like it that he didn’t want, so they took it as a back up. The second swing hangs in their basement. When the tornado sirens go off during the summer, they go down there and swing until the weather passes. (And yes, that's both as incredibly sweet and as utterly ridiculous as it sounds.)

The three of us talked on the porch for over an hour, mostly about the neighbors. Occasionally, my grandpa would say something that would remind me that he doesn’t think he’ll be on this swing next summer, like when he talked about he asked the man across the street to put the window air conditioner in for my grandma next year. He has made plans, reorganized things in the house a bit, cleaned the garage. As we talked, I kept thinking, just find a little lull in the conversation and tell him what you want to say. Just tell him.

The first problem was in finding the lull. There aren’t a lot of those when you’re talking to my grandma. Finally, I decided I would just wait until she took a breath and interrupt. There aren’t a lot of those either. I think perhaps she has mastered circular breathing, or she has somehow slowed her metabolic rate to the point that she doesn’t require normal human quantities of oxygen. I couldn’t get a word in.

I was beginning to think I was just going to have to mail him a note, when finally, I saw my opening. Grandma got up for a moment, still talking, to peak around the house to spy on the neighbors. “Watch this,” my grandpa said. “There she goes, all subtle like.” He chuckled and rolled his eyes a little. I stifled a laugh.

When she turned to come back, still talking, I said, "Grandpa, I have a story for you. Grandma, you can stay and listen, but you’re not allowed to talk during this.” She looked a little surprised, but she put her hand over her mouth and said she’d try her best. He laughed and said, “Hey, I like this story already.”

And now, I must say, I have debated about whether or not to post the rest of this here. First, because it’s a bit personal. Second, and more importantly, because it’s a God story. I don’t usually tell those here. Mostly, because I think I suck at them. But, when I started this blog, I never imagined that actual live people would read it. I envisioned it as a virtual cork board, a place where I would stick little bits of life I may want to look at again later. It is in that spirit that I continue, despite my better judgment.

It went like this…

Well, Grandpa, this story is sort of about you. Hopefully, it won’t embarrass you. (My grandpa has a really hard time hearing anything good about himself. I was a little worried.) A few months ago, Mom called me to tell me that you were sick. And, well, I wasn’t really surprised. I mean, I was surprised by the call. I wasn’t expecting to have that conversation with her that night. But, I knew that you were sick. When Mom and I got off the phone, I was just sitting on my bed, and then…

Well, wait. Maybe I should back up a bit.

Okay. When I was with Ex, I didn’t really have a relationship with God. I mean, I talked to him, but it was always the same... I’m sorry for whatever I did to get into this mess, please help me out of it.
I’m sorry.
Help.
I’m sorry.
Help.

And then, after I left Ex, it was all, please just don’t let him hurt me.

So, you can imagine, after all that--seven years of the same two or three conversations--you wouldn’t have much of a relationship with anyone. And, I really didn’t have one with him.

I came out of that, and I was just kind of in this place where I didn’t really know who I was to God. I mean, there aren’t a lot of verses in the Bible for the divorced woman. There’s a lot there for women who are wives and mothers. But, I was left wondering, what happens when you screw all that up? I really felt like I might be a huge disappointment.

So, that’s what I told God. I said, "Look, I don’t know who you are, and I don’t really know who I am. And, I don’t know what to do about that."

In the end, I just kind of left it at that.

Then, one night, Mom called to tell me that you were sick. When I got off of the phone with her, I was sitting on my bed, thinking about you. But, as I sat there, I felt like I heard God. I wasn’t thinking about him. And, at that point, I was done looking for anything from him. But, there I was, and there he was.

And I heard him say, “T, when you think about your grandpa, when you think about how he loves you, that is me. That is how I love you. His love for you, that comes from me. Next time you wonder about who I am, think about him. I love you like that.”


And with that, I ended my story. With tears in his eyes, my grandpa said softly, "What an honor. What an honor."