Saturday, January 31, 2009

Certainly it must be 5 o'clock somewhere

It feels like it's been a month since I posted last. That is to say, it's been a long week. I was in New York at the beginning of the week for a second look at one program and an interview--my LAST interview--at another.

The second look went very well. I had a lovely chat with the chair and program director. The chair of the department asked if it might be okay if he just asked me to be his chief resident now. I said, "Oh, come on probably say that to all the girls."

The program director, whose mouth fell open when the chair asked, said, "No. No, he really doesn't." So, that was nice.

This program is not my first choice. But, it did move up several spots on my list after that visit. My mom called me later that day and asked me about it. I said, "It's not the best program I've interviewed with, but I would be well-loved here. And that's not nothing."

The interview the next day did not go so well. I should rephrase that... The interview was fine. They seemed to like me. I think that if I really wanted a spot there, I could probably have one. But, I wasn't impressed. They spent all day reminding me where I was interviewing.


It was there answer to everything from Do you see much trauma? to Where's the bathroom?

Honestly, I think that they missed their true calling... We should hand them a bunch of red markers and let them write YOU ARE HERE on subway maps and mall directories.

This is IVY LEAGUE PROGRAM was quickly followed by We're the best. They started to sound like those people who think that the dinner portion of a date is an opportunity to talk about how good they are in bed. I have learned that this actually code for Prepare to be disappointed. And, extrapolating from said dating experiences, I suspect that I would leave the residency exhausted and annoyed.

Since returning from New York, I have been back at work, rounding on nephrology patients in the ICU. I have spent most of my time trying to keep from screaming LISTEN TO ME, DAMN IT at the residents.

Yesterday, it was, "T, what happened to that patient?"

"She died."


"This morning at about 10."

"Why didn't anyone tell me?"

"I did tell you."


"This morning at about 10:05."

"You told me?"

"Yes. Remember when I showed up five minutes late to rounds and said that I was doing chest compressions in room 75 but she didn't make it?"

"You told me that?"

"Twice. I was going to say it a third time but decided that when we got to the room and you saw the empty bed, it would sink in."

" she died?"

The whole week has been exactly like that.

I just got a call on my cell phone from one of them...

"Where's my note?"

"What note?"

"The note on Mr. Smith."

"The last time I saw it, the fellow was carrying it in his left jacket pocket."

"He doesn't have it."

"Did you check his pocket?"


"Check his pocket. If it's not there, check his other pocket. Then, I'd look in his socks. If it's not in either of those, you should consider the fact that he's European and may carry a man bag or murse. If such an accessory exists, I would rummage through it. Beyond that, I'm not sure what to tell you, but I wish you the best of luck."

Because I sure as hell wasn't going to drive back to the hospital to strip search the fellow to find a piece of paper that the resident should have left in the chart. Where charting belongs.

Like I said...a long week.

Tomorrow, I fly to Atlanta to take the part of the boards where they videotape you examining 8 fake patients. They want to make sure that you can (a) speak and understand English, and (b) keep all of your psychotic/douche-bag tendencies on the inside. Where they belong.

Wish me luck.

Friday, January 23, 2009

To do

Blog. It's number 3 on my list. Numbers 1 and 2--Blue Moon and shower--completed, I have no choice but to soldier on. This is me. Soldiering...

I'm tragically behind in my travel stories. Some of them now seem a little bit, well, for lack of a better word...outdated. Maybe pictures will help.

But first, a word about my trip to Boston. I went. I interviewed. I had dinner with Christine! She was a wonderful hostess (and a great blogess). Unfortunately for her, I was a little fried by the time I got to her. Interviewing has a way of sucking all of the life right of you. Or rather, me. The fact that we had fun is a credit to Christine's awesomeness, which more than compensated for the fact that I had spent all of mine a few hours earlier.

After my trip to Boston, I was home for three days. I have absolutely no idea what I did during that 72 hours. Hell, I may have been kidnapped by aliens. I just don't remember. (Although, from all I've read, the alien kidnapping is typically followed, almost immediately, by some sort of alien anal probing; and I think I would have remembered that.)

Oh wait, it's sort of coming back to me... I drove around in the snow for a few hours on Saturday night. My car door froze shut. The driver's side handle broke off. I spent a few days crawling around from the back seat to open the door from the inside. During one such maneuver, I stepped on a lint roller that had fallen out of my bag onto the floor of the back seat. I rolled off said roller and planted my face in the back of the driver's seat headrest. (Thank God for the padded headrest.) I dropped my car off at a mechanic's with a note that said, Please fix the door handle before I knock out my front teeth. Thank you.

Monday morning, at 4 in the AM, I headed to the airport to fly to Atlanta to fly to San Jose to ride to Palo Alto.

I started the trip by writing in my journal a bit...

This served two purposes. First, it gave me something to do when I wasn't in the mood to read my book. Second, it pissed off the guy next to me who really just wanted me to turn off the reading light so that he could sleep. When he decided he was going to hog the arm rest between us and spread his feet into the space where mine belonged, I turned on the light and began to write about the jackass sitting next to me. The passive aggression paid off. He retracted his appendages back into his own seat, and the two of us had a lovely flight...

In Palo Alto, they call this winter...

Because they do not know any better. Those poor fools. Poor warm, tan fools. But, you know what they say. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Take off your socks...

And eat outside...

It is important to try to blend in. One doesn't want to appear ethnocentric.

On my interview day, one of the residents was complaining because he had to cancel his facial reconstruction case because the patient had poison oak on his cheek. I laughed. He said, "What's so funny?"

I said, "You can get poison oak January?"

"Well, yeah," he said.

"Ahh," I sighed, "this truly is a magical place."

The trip home was, as previously mentioned, way too fucking long. But, Lyle was right. The lights of LA County do look like diamonds in the sky...

I'm not sure what Mr. Lovett has to say about the ice on Lake Michigan, but it is also lovely from a couple thousand feet up...

And, finally, home again...

The clouds looked better from the top than they did from the bottom.

Clouds, a metaphor for, well...everything.

Sunday afternoon, I leave for my last interview. I suppose I don't have to say that I will be relieved to be done. But then, in a few weeks, I'll be bummed that I don't have an excuse to hop on a plane, skip out on a couple days of rounds, and meet some new people. The grass is always greener I suppose.

Grass, a metaphor for, well...everything else.

(Blue Moon not only hydrates but also makes things seem metaphorical that may otherwise, well...not.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Home again

I went to Northern California for an interview on Monday. Flew back last night. With a couple of lay overs and a delayed plane, it was an all night extravaganza. When people say, Oh, I just love to travel, nights like that one are not what they're referring to.

I have spent August days roofing houses and gone home feeling less disgusting than I did after spending the night in that airplane. Something about greeting the morning (and its fermented breath) with 150 people separated by nothing but a bunch of tiny, grungy used pillows, all their toothbrushes buried in the overhead compartments...

Just thinking about it makes me want to take a hot shower in Listerine.

The trip was not all bitching and moaning, though. Monday afternoon found me sitting on a bench. Outside. Eating an ice cream cone. In JANUARY. I thought of you, Maria. In fact, I briefly considered calling you to tell you all about it. But, I seem to remember you kindly requesting that I no longer do that when I'm stinkin' drunk...and I was stinkin' drunk on that ice cream.

More on all of that later. Right now, I'm heading to my bed (ahh, that just sounds nice) to rest up for a long day of nephrology tomorrow. I anticipate a lot of time spent drawing the nephron on the backs of paper towels, trying to figure out where my patients' electrolytes went. And that will be almost as much fun as sitting on a bench. Outside. Eating an ice cream cone. In JANUARY.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blowing. And also drifting.

Drove through the snow for two hours.
Didn't die, but also didn't make it to that dinner.
(Damn you, Winter.)

Graci gave me a chocolate chip cookie left over from her own dinner.
She even warmed it in the microwave.
Amazing how much better that will make a girl feel.
(Thank you, Graci.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

26 years ago today...

Graci showed up.
And the party was suddenly so much better.

Happy birthday, friend.

Love, T

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In an airport

So titled because that is, in fact, where I'm writing this. A tiny little airport and the most vigilant security force I have ever met. The enemies of freedom will do little to advance their cause flying through here. The TSA agents were ready to take my carry-on bag to an undisclosed location and blow it up when an observant supervisor suggested that what they were so concerned about on x-ray may in fact just be the HANDLE OF THE BAG. That crisis narrowly averted, we moved on to other potential weapons of mass destruction, namely my shoes.

Now, I'm monopolizing the only outlet in the whole airport and playing music without using my ear buds. If you don't want to listen to Melissa Ferrick, you and your crappy taste can sit over there. (If you say it with a smile, it's almost like being courteous.)

Okay, back to where I left off...


I interviewed at a phenomenal program in New York. Phenomenal. (Wait, I said that already, didn't I?) Dead sexy. My interviewer said, "You know, I never say this, but if you want to come here, I'm sure we have a spot for you." I think I've heard something like that before. I was standing next to a used Chevy and the guy said, "I never do this, but for you, I'm going to give up my commission."

Sure you are, dude.

I'm cynical with good reason. Programs are known for lying to applicants to ensure that when it comes time to match their rank list with our own, they get everyone they wanted (and have several talented back-ups just in case). While I appreciate his apparent enthusiasm about me, I'm keeping it in perspective, matting it in a frame carved with the words, This may be total bullshit.

Friday night, after much debate about whether or not it was worth it to trek out in the cold weather again, I finally decided to head to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree. It looked shorter in person. The star on top was almost too big. Like a friendly, stout old man wearing an over-sized hat. In fact, it looked like the guy sitting across from me...except that he isn't actually strung up with lights.

Three minutes after I got there, they turned the lights off and began taking down the tree. I actually felt like my timing was perfect. Frankly, it was too cold to stand around and stare at the lights, and I got to see the tree say goodbye. (Damn, that sounds lame. Screw it. I'm leaving it.)

Time to board my flight. More later.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I got to where I was going by the time I was supposed to be there. I don't remember how. I do remember running over my own toes several times with my luggage. Wearing a suit and high heels, hauling a bag, changing trains a few times, walking a couple blocks...and I arrived in one piece. I'm not sure how great that piece looked, but it was there.

It was a preliminary medicine interview. (The first year of anesthesia is a medicine year, and these require separate interviews.) The interview itself was crap. The interviewer liked me and said as much many times. But, I didn't like the program at all. The residents seemed miserable. When I asked if they spent much time together socially, one of them said, "Well, you know how it is. The Hispanics hang out with each other, the Indians hang out with each other, and's pretty much split up by ethnic groups." It reminded me of this special I saw once on cable about prison gangs.


Ahh, a day off.

The only thing on my to do list for Wednesday was to get a haircut and to try and figure out where the hell I was going on Thursday. The haircut was my first priority, as I was starting to sort of look like an embattled Illinois governor. Except, somehow crazier. I found a woman on the Upper West Side that only charges $50. That may sound ridiculous, but for Manhattan, it is close to charity. The woman may well write me off on her taxes.

I got an amazing cut when I was in New York this summer. Ever since then, things have sort of gone downhill. Lately, when the wind blew the wrong way, a long, wild piece of hair would whip off my head and point in the direction of approaching cold fronts. I looked like a middle aged man who can't keep his comb-over under control. It was worth 50 bucks to get my head to quit acting like it worked for the weather channel.

I spent the rest of the cold, rainy afternoon reading art and photography books in a Barnes and Noble. I know what you're thinking, of all the bookstores in New York, why on earth would you frequent a Barnes and Noble? Well, two reasons really: First, it was very close to a subway stop, and I just didn't have it in me to walk one step further in the freezing rain. Second, the Barnes and Noble in New York has whole floors of books that my local chain bookstore does not. Here, you're much more likely to find a calendar featuring the life and times of the Amish than you are a great photography book. So, in spite of the fact that I was frequenting the Walmart of bookstores, I had a lovely afternoon.


The interview on Tuesday went well. Those, too, are starting to run together. The residents in the program seemed very happy, and, in spite of the fact that they work in Baltimore, very few of them had been shot. What more can you ask for really?

I never thought I would say this, but I may actually be able to see myself spending a few years in Baltimore.

Tuesday night, I made the trip to NYC--a trip I had, apparently, planned while my head was up my ass. (It's really no surprise as I spend most of my time in that position.) A woman in her right mind would have taken the train from Baltimore to New York. Instead, I flew into LaGuardia. Then, I took a city bus into Harlem where I got off at the wrong stop. Then, I took the subway to Penn Station. Then, I took a train to New Jersey. Then, I waited 30 minutes in the freezing rain at 11 pm in a deserted train station for a cabbie that charged me 10 bucks to go 2 miles.

This doctor thing better work out, because I would make one shitty travel agent.

Monday (last Monday, to be exact)

Wow. I actually can't remember a single thing about Monday. It feels like that was a month ago. Hold on a minute while I go look at my notes. Notes? Yes, knowing that this would happen and that you would never forgive me if I left out a single detail of my fascinating life, I took a few notes during the trip...

Okay, I'm back. It looks like on Monday I flew into Baltimore, and after waiting entirely too long for a shuttle (those Super Shuttle employees are very friendly, but organizing rides is not exactly their gift), I checked into the Hyatt and got ready for dinner.

The room was lovely. That is, it was lovely until I spotted the world's longest toenail clipping stuck in the carpet. I spent the rest of the night carefully walking around the thing. I made a wide circle lest it should grow toes of its own and decide to attack. I did, however, appreciate the futility of walking around the toenail as I was still traipsing all over the floor that someone gross enough to litter with his toenail clippings had just walked on hours earlier. I tried not to think about him when I briefly lost my balance while shaving my legs and accidentally rested my bare, wet ass on the shower wall--a wall where, just hours earlier, he may have rested his... well, you get the point.

Having showered and dressed, I decided that I might make myself a cup of coffee before heading out for dinner. I opened the mini fridge in the room and briefly rummaged through it. I stayed in a hotel once that kept some complementary half and half in the fridge. I was hoping for similar luck here. While I did not find cream for my coffee, I did find a large sign that said, Everything in here is precariously perched on a sensor. The moment you remove an item, your account will be charged. Lovely, I thought, I just bought seven tiny liquors and a granola bar for $87. In the end, the sensors weren't quite as on the ball as advertised, and my account was never charged. (In hindsight, maybe I should have stolen some tiny liquors.)

The rest of the visit to Baltimore was rather unremarkable. We ate on the Inner Harbor and dinner was, was an applicant dinner. They are all starting to run together. I'm not usually a dessert person, but, at a resident's insistence, I ordered a piece of apple pie to go. I was glad I did. After I got the silverware, it made a lovely midnight snack. Speaking of which, how much do you tip a guy who brings you a fork? I was on the 12th floor and thought, if they keep the forks in the basement, that may have really been a trek. I settled on 2 dollars. It was American currency, worth virtually nothing in this economy, but still, he seemed to appreciate the gesture.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

I'm drinking bold coffee brewed strong. And I think I'm going to need another seven cups to get me off and running. My flight leaves at 2 pm. I'm headed to New England for a dinner tonight and an interview tomorrow. Tomorrow night, I'll fly from there to New York for interviews on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I'm supposed to get into LaGuardia at about 8 pm tomorrow. Then, I get on a bus to the Upper West Side to take the subway to Penn Station to catch a train to New Jersey to take a cab to the futon where I'm staying the first two nights. I'm hoping to do all of that in about two hours. (I think that's called optimism.)

Wednesday, I have the day off. No interviews! I'm going to get a haircut, eat street food, and try not to freeze to death.

The last two nights, I'm staying in Manhattan at a hotel that boasts "urban adventure and daredevil design." Translation: Our designer decided to forgo lights in the lobby or the hallways so that as you take on the urban adventure that is groping your way to your room, you may inadvertently fondle someone posh and fabulous. Or, you may grab yourself a big, old hunk of sociopath. You daredevil you.

I've stayed there before. I tell Priceline I want a 3.5 star hotel for $100 a night and they put me here. Twice now. Last time, when the kid behind the lobby desk asked for my credit card at check-in, I said, "Well, I can't actually see anything in my bag right now, but this thing feels like it has raised numbers on it. It's either my credit card or Helen Keller's driver's license. Swipe it and let me know how it goes."

He said, "Wait, your name's Helen? I thought you said..."

But, my room was clean and quiet. There's also a little pub a few doors down that serves some great French onion soup... so, no real complaints.

In an effort to pack light, I'll be leaving my laptop at home. This means I'll be doing old-fashioned things in my spare time like writing in a notebook and reading a novel. If I get really bored, maybe I'll churn some butter.

Sunday morning, your daredevil reporter will return with stories of urban adventure. Some of them mostly true.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hey Shorty, it's your birthday

My mom called this morning. She and my dad were shopping for Logyn's birthday gifts. Which is to say, my mom called so that I could listen to the two of them shop.

"What about these stacking blocks?" asked my dad.

"She doesn't even like stacking blocks. And besides, you just want to throw them at my head."

Talking to me for the first time since I got on the phone, my mom said, "The other night, your father and I were throwing Logyn's shape sorter blocks at each other. I mean, we were really pelting each other with them. It was great. And the whole time, Logyn was belly laughing."

My dad, in the background, "She was bent over laughing."

"Yes," my mom said, "she was bent in half laughing. Then, your sister came in, saw what was going on, and said, oh great, now she's going to think she can throw these at people. And, you know, she'll probably hit a stranger. I'll have to say, Oh, sorry about that. It's just that she sees her grandparents do this all the time. Then, they'll think she's being raised in one of those houses."

Congratulations, Logyn Jane. You've survived your first year in one of those houses.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hit the ground running

Played fetch with the cat.
Briefly considered cleaning the bathroom.
Watched 4 Cosby Show reruns on TV Land.
Competed with Graci for who could suck the worst at online Sudoku.
Ate some sauerkraut. (It's supposed to be good luck. Not that I need it. Clearly, this year is shaping up to be my most magnificent ever.)

His nose is crooked

But he's funny, so it's ok.

Andy Borowitz in 2009