Friday, September 19, 2003


We trained the dog to "shake hands" a while ago by making her give us her paw and rewarding with treats. Somehow, she's now gotten it into her head that she's going to extend her paw and whine piteously anytime she wants anything, be it food, a toy, or for us to come and play with her. It's pretty cute, but also freaky, like she's panhandling or something.

And now for something completely different...

I used to smoke in college, did you know that? I mean, I wouldn't call myself A Smoker in the sense that I smoked terribly habitually, or that I was addicted to cigarettes, I just went through a phase where I just decided to pick up smoking. Everyone goes through their vice phase, don't they? (Some who grew up in the '80s even went through a Miami Vice phase.) It was all pretty silly in that college-smoking way, like ooh, I'm so badass, but I admit I kind of enjoyed the period while it lasted. When I graduated and started medical school, I pretty much gave it up. It wasn't hard. Just as easily as I decided to start, I decided to stop. It made me feel a little hypocritical, I guess, being a medical student and all. I also felt, I suppose, that it was time to grow up.

But there are some things that I miss about smoking. Not exactly the feeling of smoking, the tastes or the smells, which frankly are kind of gross to me now. But I miss the rituals of smoking. I liked the time it forced me to take. My senior year, I would pad out of the dorm, mostly with Coleen, and we'd sit outside on the steps or on the grass, light up a cigarette each, and take a smoke break. Just five minutes, whatever else we were doing at the time. During finals, in the middle of the winter, after med school or job interviews, through senior week. We would sit and take a five minute break from whatever and talk. It was nice to have a reason to do that. It was nice to have that excuse. I never smoked alone. There was no point.

It's hard to find time like that now, intimate moments with people that force you just to sit and be still and take time out to catch up. Just five minutes here or there. Life now is so busy. There's always something else to do. There are no more excuses. Coffee breaks entail sipping from a paper cup while walking to your next destination. People in the hospital don't really ever sit down.

It's strange when one of the things you miss about college really has nothing to do with college itself.