Tuesday, June 29, 2004

neuro consult, returning a page

I'm on call for neurology tonight. I think the funniest thing about neurology call (aside from the scary call room--I discovered today that the strategy employed is to actually to just layer on on more and more new strata of clean bedding over the rumpled bedding underneath, creating kind of a princess-and-the-pea effect) is the fact that I'm holding the neurology consult pager. You know, in case some kid wanders into the ER with a giant honking brain tumor or in status and requires my "expert" advice. And yet, I know almost nothing about Pediatric Neurology. How am I at all equipped to do this job? Oh well, I wasn't equipped to start my residency a year ago either, but here I am.

Between my personal pager, the consult pager, the neurology floor resident pager, and an in-house digital phone, the combined weight of electronic devices on my scrubs is just about pulling my pants off. Gotta cinch that drawstring tight, friends.

Currently reading: My patient's Dilantin levels.

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Monday, June 28, 2004

tripping to the light pimptastic

My first day of work after promotion to PGY-2 status was spent as the most junior member of the Pediatric Neurology team. The group consisted of me, a rising third-year neuro resident, a rising fourth-year neuro resident, two Peds Neuro fellows, and a Peds Neuro attending. Of the six of us, guess who knew the least about Pediatric Neurology? I guess you had better hope it was me, or else we'd be in big trouble.

I haven't done any neurology since medical school, so coming back to it was kind of like revisiting a foreign country in which you spent a brief layover en route to your real destination. Kinda like that movie "Before Sunrise," except without less romance and more stroke victims. I'd forgotten how academic neurologists were, and how much their attendings love to pimp. All our rounds today were conducted in a series of questions posed to different members of the group based on the degree of difficulty and level of graduate medical education. So I guess that means I got the softballs, but even so, I was only batting at about 500. I guess that would be pretty good if we were actually talking about softball, but unfortunately, we're not.

I'm on call again tomorrow. I'm a little scared, but not because of the patients. The kids, I can handle. The call room, however, is a nightmare. It looks like three frat boys and one mid-sized medical supply closet exploded in there. Also, there's a funny smell. I'm not really sure I want to touch the sheets. Not to generalize, but even without seeing any of the residents, I think that you can tell from their call room that most of the Neurologists are guys.

Currently reading: "The New Yorker." The second I finish the old one, the new one comes in the mail.

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Saturday, June 26, 2004

another year over, a new one just begun

It ended without much fanfare. I was on the wards in the morning, in the clinic in the afternoon. I picked up chart after chart, saw a whole mess of patients, and when the waiting room emptied out, that was it. My intern year was over. After all the toil and brouha, I would have thought my ascension to PGY-2 would be met with more pomp and circumstance. Or at least some sort of a coronation ceremony.

How strange, this world of medicine. Walk out of the building one day an intern, walk back in the next day as a "senior." In some ways, this quantum nature of promotion is no different from any other area of academics (high school, or college for example), but the difference is that in college, people don't really expect that much more from you just because you went from freshman to sophomore. I guess in he end, it's all the same old shit, but the notion of being promoted from foot soldier to captain is a little freaky. I hope I don't end up leading my troops over a cliff.

The end of intern year festivities last night started off at Thalia, where we met up with Francis, Amresh, Amit et al. to celebrate Francis's birthday. Francis came all the way back into the big bad city from the wilds of New Haven, so we were glad to see him. Amit and Amresh were surprisingly not at all as bitter as I would have expected them to be after a trying internship, which only solidifies the notion in my mind that they like the pain.

Francis and Kim. You can't see Kim because she got so tanned that when she shows up at night school, they mark her absent.

Amit and Amresh. Or, as I've decided to rename them, Bert and Ernie.

Afterwards, we met up with a bunch of my co-interns (I'm sorry, co-residents) at Bar Nine. Joe and I got there before everyone else, so we each got a drink and decided to wait on some chairs in the back. Rather, he decided.

Shouldn't we wait in the front, so that we can see them when they come in?

No, because everyone that comes will come all the way to the back like we did, to look for other people. So we should stay here, and take up these empty seats.

But what if they don't come all the way to the back?

They will.

But what if --

They will. Now let's sit down so that we can save all these emtpy seats for people.

Well, OK, I guess.

We were waiting in the back for something like 45 minutes past the scheduled meet-up time before we finally decided to call it. Obviously, I thought, they had decided at the last minute to go to another bar, and I didn't get the message because I didn't check my e-mail earlier this afternoon. We got our stuff together and got ready to walk out the door. But on our way out, we passed by a large group. Our large group. They'd been sitting at the bar for more than half an hour.

Are those Pediatricians?

Yes. Near the front of the bar. The front.

See, just like I said they would be!

You said they'd move to the back! I said, "Let's sit near the front, so that we can see them if they walk in," but you said, "Let's sit in the back, because they're all going to move to the back looking for people when they come anyway." But why would they bother walking all the way to the back if we were sitting in the front and they saw us when they walked in? That makes no sense! It's the Meeting-Up-With-Friends Fallacy!

Uh, let me go get our drinks.

You mean from where we left them. In the back.

(Scurrying away)

Anyway, it was fun. Joe was a big hit because he wore the "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" T-shirt that he got it at Urban Outfitters. I was looking for the same one in women's sizes (not inconceivable, since Urban has many men and women counterpart t-shirts), but for some reason, the "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" T-shirt only comes in men's sizes. Is it just me, or is that sexist?

Currently watching: "Curb Your Enthusiasm". How can Larry David live in L.A. instead of New York? With that kind of cynicism, we would embrace him as our patron saint.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

the hypocritical oath

After I got signout on all my patients last night and checked in to make sure that they were all relatively stable, I offered to make a Wendy's run for the on-call team. I wanted me some Frostee goodness, and I thought it uncouth to just run out and not ask anyone else if they wanted anything as well. Once the idea was planted, everyone fell into the spirit of Wendy's quite readily, and I had quite a long laundry list of food to order as I ran across the street from the hospital to get us all some grub.

The second I walked into the establishment, I realized how I must have looked. Here I was, a doctor from the hospital, in scrubs and a long white coat, with a nametag that read PEDIATRICS for chrissake, going to Wendy's and ordering 5 Bacon Junior Cheeseburgers, 7 orders of fries, 3 Frostees, etcetera. I felt very conspicious and hypocritical. And after all those talks I give to my clinic patients about eating right and cutting down on fast food. The workers at the counter loaded all of the assembled orders into a giant shopping bag and I staggered out of the Wendy's, bow-legged under the weight of all those saturated fats.

Do as I say, kids, don't do as I do.

Currently watching: "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Larry David normalizes my neuroses.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

on call again

I've been on call a lot lately. Just saying.

So I've been going through an existential reckoning lately, in which I'm in the process of critically examing what I'm doing with my life and why I'm doing it. There comes a point where you wonder whether or not that path you chose is the right path, or just the past of least resistance. There's still no doubt in my mind that I want to do Pediatrics. I want to be a doctor, I want to treat kids. I'm just not all that sure that I want to be a Pediatrician. There's a difference, you know.

There are moments in Peds where your job really hits you as something special. As much as I don't wallow in the sappiness intrinsic in Peds, there are some moments that you really expect to see in some tearjerker "ER" episode in which cute children are mercilessly exploited to manipulate our emotions. Like yesterday, for instance. There's a terminally ill child on our team who has been in the hospital for several weeks, and who, as a result of her hospitalization, missed her kindergarden graduation. She was very upset about this. She wanted to wear her pink cap and gown. She wanted to get her diploma. So to make things up to her, we had a mock graduation ceremony in Child Life. We got her all dressed up in her graduation finery, presented her with a diploma, hummed "Pomp and Circumstance," and served strawberry shortcake in compliance with her low-fat diet. All the doctors and nurses involved in her care were there, and many of us brought her presents. So there she was in the middle of the Child Life suite, resplendent in pink nylon, one hand holding onto her chest tube, the other spooning fat-free Cool Whip onto my slice of strawberry shortcake, and you'd have to be made of stone not to at least get a little misty in the eyes, even if you couldn't quite let it show.

And then there are other moments in Pediatrics where you're just confronted with the most terrible things you've ever seen in your life. Ever. Like the patient with epidermolysis bullosa that I just sent home today. (Click on the link to learn about the disease, see pictures here, here, or here. I guess I should warn you that they're graphic, but whatever, you're big kids.) It's an interesting and rare diagnosis, and I have to admit that I was curious to see what was going on under all those bandages, since the kid was wrapped up like a mummy from head to toe on admission. So I watched one of his daily dressing changes. And it was without a doubt one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in my life.

Not even any one thing, but all of it together--the kid's hoarse screeches of pain that drew people in from the hallway, the weeping ulcerated lesions covering every surface of his skin, the smell of pus and infected flesh and soaked bandages hanging thick in the air, all that gory stuff that is the stuff of residency war stories, but ten times worse somehow when it happens in a kid. I stayed for a few minutes and then I just had to leave. It wasn't even the goo so much as the pain. It was like watching torture. It was like that scene in "The Elephant Man" when Treeves sees Merrick for the first time and his eyes fill with tears of horror and pity. This kid gets the dressings over his entire body changed every day. This torture is his life. And those are the kinds of moments that make me understand why people don't choose to go into Pediatrics. Not because they don't like kids, but precisely because they do.

Currently reading: A back issue of "People" magazine found lying around the callroom.

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Monday, June 21, 2004

i have years like a marathon has miles

Last night at around 7pm, I got paged by my senior resident, Kevin. He wanted to run the list with me, and told me to meet him on the conference room on the 6th floor. I hurriedly finished up what I was doing, grabbed my patients' signout sheets, and ran up there. I should have known.

The on-call team surprised me with a cake! Even though I knew it was my birthday and figured that we'd do something fun, I was really legitmately surprised that they had actually run out of the hospital and ordered me a birthday cake, with real frosting flowers and my name written in icing. I thought we'd be constructing a ghetto cake out of Lorna Doones and apple sauce off patient trays. We had no forks or plates (though frighteningly, there was a fairly large knife just sitting on the table in the nurses lounge), so we hacked off big slabs of cake, put them in emesis basins, and ate them with tongue depressors. It still tasted good. Then we sat around, talked about people at work, and flipped through an old issue of "Us Weekly" puzzling over the mystery of why Lindsey Lohan is famous, until one by one, all of us got paged to return to our patients. It was a fun party. I love my co-residents.

Currently reading: "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". This book is kind of depressing.

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Saturday, June 19, 2004

best call ever

Even though it had a less than auspicious start, in that I had to tap one of our babies on floor with worsening hydrocephalus on MRI and headed for neurosurg early next week, the rest of last night's call was fantastic, probably the best ward call I've ever had. Five hours of sleep, interrupted only intermittantly by non-emergent pages. Absolutely amazing. I went home post-call and was actually able to enjoy the rest of my day. I did still have to take a 2 hour nap in the afternoon, though. Call room sleep does not replace the sleep that you would've had at home. It only mitigates the fatigue of having been in the hospital for way longer than is healthy.

Speak of sleep, I have to go get some more. I'm on call again tomorrow. Monday is my birthday, so the other residents and I have already decided to meet in the team room sometime around midnight for a little party. Graham crackers and fruit punch containers purloined from the pantry. Fun!

Currently reading: "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". I just got it at Barnes and Noble today. It sounds like it might be interesting, but the title is terrible. It reminds of of that script that Zooey reads in the bathtub, entitled "The Heart is an Autumn Wanderer." My heart is an autumn garage too.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004


My brain is fried. A long, rough day at work, capped off by a difficult conversation at the end of the day that basically drained what little remaining energy I had in my body. All this setting me up for my "Power Weekend" coming up tomorrow. Friday on call, home Saturday morning to sleep, then Sunday on call again. Like I said before, it's worth it just to have the two full weekends off a month in exchange, but man, when your Power Weekend rolls around, you just wish you had never even heard of the MCATs, let alone performed marginally on them.

I'm too tired to write anything. I just want to go to sleep so that I can wake up in 6 hours and then stay awake for the next 30. I don't want to read anything. I don't want to watch TV or listen to music or have a conversation or snuggle or pet the dog. (Her tail is getting a little better, by the way. Don't know what happened to it, but as long as it's starting to perk back up, who cares.) I don't want to play Scrabble or call my friends or go to Blockbusters to update my membership information. I just want to sit here. Sit here and stare at this blank wall.

Ah, calming.

Currently reading: Uh, I just said I don't want to read anything.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

but first, a word from our sponsor

Joe in the basement of [Queens community hospital], where he's spending his last month of internship. Sometimes I wonder if the reason that there are so many McDonald's in hospitals is because of the insidiously symbiotic relation that the two instututions have. Hospital sends McDonald's customers, McDonald's sends hospital fat diabetics needing CABGes. It's win-win!

Another hectic day on the wards. There's nothing much exciting to tell you so I'll just tell you nothing at all. Seeing patients, admitting patients, discharging patients, planning to discharge patients, getting yelled at by administrators for not discharging patients fast enough. You know, the usual stuff. I was a little groggy this morning, because (aside from the fact that I woke up at 4:15am) the dog kept me up an hour past my designated bedtime. She kept pacing the room, whining, lying down, getting up. Finally I just kicked her out into the living room to sleep on the couch. I don't know what was wrong with her, but I assumed that maybe she was too hot or something.

Today, I notice that there's something wrong with her tail. Usually, when she's in a non-scared mood (other moods include happy, en garde, frisky, barky, and hungry) her tail stands straight up. But today, her tail is bent downwards, like a candy cane. It looks like there's a point in her tail that bends, and the tail distal to the kink has decreased muscle tone. She can still move her tail like usual, and it doesn't seem to be hurting her, but it just looks strange and pathalogic. Differential:

1.) Someone stepped on her tail.
2.) Some dog bit her tail at the park.
3.) She had a stroke affecting the part of the motor cortex controlling the tail.

Joe and I don't remember any incidents remotely like the first two happening, but we're going to ask our dogwalker if she knows what happened. As for the third, maybe I should start her on aspirin and see if the Dog Spa offers PT/OT.

Currently reading: "Found," a gift from Coleen for my birthday. This book contains the ideas for a thousand short stories. Thanks, Carl!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

encyclopedia brown and the case of the missing wallet

I had a nice little nap, even though the air-conditioning in my apartment seems not to be living up to its full potential. (According to minutes from the shareholders meetings of our co-op that I never attend, there have been some problem with a piece of equipment called "the chiller," which, if I were to guess, is the machine that makes the coldness.) Now I'm just sort of lazing around the apartment, listening to but not watching TV. Remember when VH1 was supposed to be an actual music channel? Like they would play videos and such? Now they just have an endless parade of shows that are all, "The Top 100 [fill in the blank] of All Time" with their panel of fading sitcom stars weighing in on Janet Jackson's Superbowl boobage and other totally overexposed (heh) showbiz-type jokes. This just in: Britney Spears got married in Vegas, and then divorced the schlub a few days later! This will never stop being funny!

I do like "I Love the '80s," though. A more accurate title for the show, however, would be "I Love Michael Ian Black." You know, I saw him at my supermarket many, many years ago, back when he was on that sketch comedy show "The State." He's much taller than he looks. I think in an alternate universe, one in which I am not married to a blonde wrestler-cum-ophthalmologist from Ohio, I might be dating a skinny New York intellectual with acerbic wit and no job.

So remember how I lost my wallet? Well, Joe told me that some disheveled looking old guy (direct quote: "He looked like one of my dialysis patients") showed up to our building the other day and left me a note that said that he had found my "identification" and that I should call him at home. They ran into each other on the street, and Joe introduced himself as my husband and asked if he (disheveled guy) could just leave my wallet with either him (Joe) or our doorman, but then disheveled guy started acting really weird and twitchy, and then ran away. I am skeeved at this because:

1.) Hello, the guy know where I live! He has my address from my Learner's Permit and obviously showed up to the door of my building. But what kind of skeeve would come all the way in from an outer borough (the phone number he left was a 718 area code) and not just drop off the wallet? It's not like there are goverment secrets in there. There's probably not even any money in there anymore. Or, better yet, why not just mail it to me? Why would he make me call him at home?

2.) Maybe he is a crazy person. Maybe he is a perv. Maybe he wants to do me harm. Hell, I'm leaving for work before he sun comes up. Should I be worried?

3.) But maybe I'm just being too cynical. I mean, I never even conceived that I might get my wallet back. Of course, now that I've replaced virtually everything that was in that wallet (cards and such), I don't really need the wallet back. But should I be thinking, "What a nice man, I'm going to give him a call right now!" instead of, "Psycho killer, must buy some mace."

Anyway, I trust Joe's judgement and he seemed to think that this guy wasn't quite right in the head, so I'm not going to call. If he wants to mail me my wallet back, that's fine, I'll send him a little thank-you note, but otherwise, I don't think I'm going to call a questionable character over the matter of a stack of cancelled credit cards and my PALS certification.

Currently reading: I'm between books at the moment. I have to go through my stack to figure out which book is next in the queue.

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a long way from my next vacation

Post-call now from my first day back on the wards. The pedometer read at the end of the day is 17,287 steps, or just about 8 miles. (I have a small stride.) I'm kind of disappointed--I thought it would be more. I guess that is a lot of running back and forth, though, when you consider that the entire distance traversed was almost entirely inside one building. 8 miles is about 160 city blocks.

Joe laughs at me, by the way, because I completely lack the ability to have any sense of distance without the context of Manhattan geography. (4 blocks = 1 avenue = 1/5th of a mile, roughly, though this depends on the neighborhood.) But it's the only unit of distance--aside from, you know, inches and feet--that has any real-life applicability for me. When people talk about massive things and say, "it was as wide as three football fields!" I have no clue how big the thing actually is. I think I've only been in a football field once, when I was visiting U. Penn on a college scouting trip. (As an aside, I found it very strange that U. Penn's mascot was "The Quaker," because aren't mascots supposed to be tough and aggressive? "The Fighting Quakers! They'll kick your ass in quilt-making!" Oh well, what do I know, I think my college mascot was a color.)

Anyway, I decided I actually don't mind being on call my first day back, because at least now, I know my team pretty well. Still, the turnover on the wards is so high that it'll just be a whole new crop of kids to learn about when I get back tomorrow. I'm like Sisyphus over here. There are stories to tell, of course, but they'll have to wait until after I get some sleep. I'm beat.

Currently reading: The New Yorker fiction double issue. Mmmm, fictional.

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Sunday, June 13, 2004

last day off

Two weeks off seemed like a long time when my vacation started, anyway. So tomorrow morning I'm back on the wards, and on call the same night. You know, to make me forget that I ever had vacation at all. But I can't complain. Despite the fact that I didn't end up going away anywhere, I had a fantastic vacation. I saw many many friends, went out almost every night, enjoyed the summer weather. It was like having a mini-summer vacation. It reminded me of how summer vacations felt when I was a kid, actually. The city and heat and noise and bus exhaust, the people all pushing together into a huge chaotic melange. That feeling of stepping onto the asphalt when crossing the street and feeling it give way just a little, because it's so sunny and hot that the tar is melting. It's funny, the strange associations that will trigger memories of childhood.

Perhaps related: do you know what I could really go for right now? Some Spaghetti-Os.

Yesterday Joe and I went out to get some breakfast, and then stopped by this poster-and-frame shop in our neighborhood that's going out of business. He's slashing his prices to the bone (or so he would like us to think, anyway), so we picked up a couple of prints for our house, figuring it was a good opportunity to cover up some of our bare walls. I do think we ended up getting a pretty good deal, considering how big these prints are, and the fact that they're already framed.

This one is a vintage "King Kong" movie poster, Fay Wray era. We thought it especially apropos because you can see the Empire State Building out our window.

And this one is a vintage Pan Am advertisement. I don't know if you can make it out, but the scene is that of a plane approaching Lower Manhattan. This is all before the World Trade Center was built, so ironically, there's nothing jarringly anachronistic about the view.

The last print we got is a vintage Euro booze ad that we're getting framed, so we haven't picked it up yet. Yesterday we put up all our new prints, looked at it from all angles, and felt proud and adult somehow. It's not so long ago that we were sticking up bare posters on the walls with Fun-Tak, remember.

Later in the day, we met up with my sisters to have BBQ at Duke's, and then headed over to Union Square to watch "Harry Potter." I'd forgotten how big that theater was, and how their chairs are like La-Z-Boys with fold-up armrests to permit you to make one giant couch with your viewing company. (Or maybe in this day and age, to permit you so spread out your considerable girth more comfortably.) I enjoyed the movie, thought it was probably the best of the three, and even though they didn't waste a lot of time with the exposition and left out some important plotlines, I guess they trusted that most of the people in the audience had probably read the book already.

Today, I'm going to the supermarket to do some shopping so that I can make dinner for my call-night tomorrow. This afternoon, we're heading to Central Park for the big Joe's Medicine Department Softball Game. I'll cheer dutifully when Joe's up at bat, and then bring a book for the rest of the time. Then, after we get home, I'm going to go to bed. Projected wake-up time tomorrow morning: 4:00am. I'm back!

Currently reading: "Aching for Beauty," a sociological analysis of foot-binding in China. Because sometimes I like to pretend I'm a Women's Studies major.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004

not to be all serious or anything, but...

Just in case you haven't been following, this is a conversation that has been taking place in the comments section. I decided to share it here because I actually think it brings up an interesting topic for discussion, and I thank Gogoli for starting it off:

you are a peds doc yet you never mention having any kids, nor how great it is to work with them, nor saving their lives. it kinda gives me the notion that docs are just becoming ducks for the money and prestige only...which is true for the majority of the time.

-- Gogoli

* * *

That is one way to look at it, I suppose. Another way to look at it is that as a doctor, there are patient confidentiality issues that I have to be very aware of, and for that reason, I actually try to tell very few stories about specific patients. The last thing a parent wants is for me to be blabbing about their kid's medical care on the internet. In addition, my whole life thankfully does not revolve around my job and career, which is why that's not all that I talk about.

Finally, medicine (particuarly Pediatrics) is probably the last field you'd want to go into if you were "in it for the money." Trust me on this one.

-- Michelle
* * *

do you enjoy what you do?
-- Gogoli

* * *

(In answer, I wrote this response, but it was too long to put in the comments section, so here it is out on the main page)

Much of the time I do like what I do, but sometimes I don't. And that's just the unvarnished truth of it. I don't know any doctor or resident or nurse who loves what they do 100% of the time, or are thinking unflaggingly and selflessly about their patients 100% of the time. To paraphrase a great and learned doctor (Doctor J, aka Julius Irving), being a professional is doing what you love to do every day, even on the days that you don't feel like doing it.

True, medicine is a vocation, it's a calling, but let's be honest, it's also a day-to-day job. Let's not elevate the practice of medicine to mythical proportions, here. Ideally, we would all find our ideal careers at the interface of what we love to do and what we do best. I think I've managed to get pretty close, but that doesn't mean that I go skipping in to work every morning with a giant smile on my face or some charged sense of purpose. It's still real life, after all.

We can't expect superhuman things from our doctors, and as doctors, we can't expect the extraordinary from ourselves all the time. We get tired, hungry, irritable, stressed. We miss our families and friends, miss the quiet time for ourselves, and can resent the hospital for the long hours we have to work that take us away from the other things that we love. How could we not?

Yes, medicine is a noble profession. Yes, it's about something that's bigger than oneself. Yes, the bond between patient and doctor is a sacred trust, and all that lofty stuff they tell you in med school. But it's still your life. It's not dirty or unethical for doctors to want to be well-compensated for their work, or to think about their own interests or those of their loved ones. That's just how it is. As long as we go in every day, do our jobs, care for and about our patients to the best of our abilities without allowing outside concerns to affect our work, then we're doing a pretty good job.

-- Michelle
* * *

I hope no one thinks I'm slamming anyone here by putting up that exchange, because it's not meant that way, and again, I thank Gogoli for bringing up the topic. It's an interesting one, this question of "How to be a doctor, but a real life person as well." I've thought about it a lot, but the nuances escaped me until I started thinking in earnest two years ago about what kind of medicine I wanted to practice, and the life I wanted to have while doing it. There's a lot to think about, and I think most of us still wrestle with that question every day.

However, speaking of outside lives, I just met up with Sara And Company last night out at Yabby's in Williamsburg. She's in town from L.A. for Pavani's wedding, and it was good to see her, because, you know, she lives far away and such. There was a sizeable outdoor seating area at the bar, and given that the young artsy intelligentsia have taken root in Williamsburg over the past 5 or so years, we were sitting in a maelstrom of cigarette smoke. Since the indoor smoking ban in New York a year and a half ago, I haven't come home from a night out with my hair and clothes smelling like smoke, but I was reeking last night. If I were a comic book character, I would have had all those wavy lines emanating from my being, trailing behind me wherever I walked.

I have to start keeping in better touch with my friends. It's just ridiculous how bad I've been at this. I'm going to e-mail Sara when she gets back to L.A., and we will start a mighty electronic exchange the likes of which this world has never seen.

Currently reading: McSweeny's Quarterly, 13th ed. I love it, but it's a little hard to read because it's heavy and hard to hold up for prolonged periods of time.

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Friday, June 11, 2004


Went to see "Super Size Me" today. So amusing and horrifying all at once. I started to get nauseated halfway through the thing at just the thought of eating that much McDonald's. Actually, the nausea started closer to the beginning, after the guy ate the Super Size Double Bacon Cheeseburger Meal (or whatever the hell that was) and puked out his window in the parking lot.

But herein lies the irony of working in medicine. We constantly tell our patients constantly not to eat so much fast food, to shape up their eating habits, get more exercise, etcetera. But we're total hypocrites, because look at our eating habits! Fast food if we're lucky, vending machine flotsam otherwise. We can't really leave the hospital to get food, and even if we could, the neighborhood is just populated with pizza, Wendy's, the occasional falafel cart. Rarely do we have time to cook food at home to bring in. (Unless there's someone else at home to do the cooking for us--so that's a "no" in my household.) Do you know what I had for breakfast almost every single day when I was on my surgery rotation as a medical student? A bag of Wheat Thins and a Sunkist orange soda from the vending machine. We'd get into work at, what, 4:15am? The cafeteria didn't even open until 7:00am, and by that time, who even knew if we'd have the time to go down there? I figured Wheat Thins was like cereal, and Sunkist was like orange juice. So that counts as breakfast food, right?

However, one other thing that I learned from the movie is that in contrast to the average American, who walks 1.4 miles per week, most New Yorkers walk 4-5 miles a day. Inspired, I went and got a pedometer. I thought if the average New Yorker walked 5 miles daily, imagine how much milage your average intern must get during a day of work, running back and forth, floor to floor, building to building. I'm back in the hospital Monday and on call that same night. So I'll strap on that pedometer and we'll find out.

Currently reading: "The Dogs of Babel". Only 20 pages left. There are some books you don't want to finish, even though you want to know the ending, because then the story will be over.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

no one appreciates my brilliance

So the dog in "The Dogs of Babel" is a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Which reminds me of a conversation that happened this weekend.

(Scene: The kitchen of my sister's dorm, the morning of her college graduation)

(Leafing through school paper)
Wow, two people from your school were Rhodes Scholars? That's pretty good, for a small school.

Yeah. They're smart.

(Getting that lecturing look on his face)
So, an interesting thing about Cecil Rhodes...do you know Cecil Rhodes?


No, he's dead.

(Under breath)

I mean, do you know about his family.

Uh, that the scholarship is named after them?

But did you know that the country of Rhodesia was named after this family? That they were so wealthy that they named an entire country RHODES-ia? Crazy!

Big deal. I'm so powerful they named Austria after me.


Oh, come on, that was funny.

Currently reading: "The Dogs of Babel". All I needed was a solid commute on the train to really get into this book. Now I'm halfway through it and enjoying it a lot, and not just for the dog-element of the story. Also just started McSweeny's Quarterly, 13th ed. It's all about comics, with an intro by Chris Ware. Quality!

Linktastic! Dating is Hell. Funny stuff. Makes me realize that I haven't been single since I was 21 years old. Maybe I'm missing out on all the fun.

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girl culture

In my fantasy world, all my friends would have online journals. So many of them are scattered all over the country now, and our work schedules are so busy that it's hard to keep in touch. (I'm trying to get better at this, though. A couple of days ago, after The Gipper died, I finally remembered to return Bob's e-mail. That boy loves him some Reagan.) But if everyone had an online journal, I could visit with them all the time. I could take some time each night and pop in on them and see how they're doing, hear the stories, see the pictures, and it would be like simulated hanging out every day. E-friends! (Except that sounds totally pathetic, so let's just stick with the "simulated hanging out" line.)

When I started "The Underwear Drawer" my second year of med school, the main goal was to allow my friends to keep up with what I was doing. And that has worked to some degree, but I feel like I'm missing out if no one else is keeping a journal too. Right now, I think Coleen is the only one of my friends on the boat, and maybe that's because she works with computers all the time so she's not afraid that they're going to go all Skynet and start taking over the world. Even with all the e-mail and the MP3s and internet, I think people are still a little nervous about computers. But hello, it's easy! Because if it wasn't, I obviously wouldn't be able to do it.

* * *

So I went to yet another farewell fete last night, this time for my friend Tammy, who is finishing up her prelim year in Pediatrics and moving on to greener (and by that, I mean "more lucrative") pastures in Anesthesia. Here we were last night in front of the restaurant.

Holy crap, it's Girls Gone Somewhat Wild! And I qualify by saying "somewhat" because with the exception of my vacationing ass, everyone else at the dinner had to get up insanely early for work the next morning, so there was a 2 margarita cap on the festivities. Fun times, though. I think being with this group of co-residents in Pediatrics has been good for me. It's teaching me how to be more girly.

Jamal says that I have "woman issues." By that, he doesn't mean gynecologic problems (we're close, but not that close) or reproductive angst, but just that I sometimes have a hard time relating to other women. And I have to say that he's pretty right on, despite all the practice that I should have had.

Have you seen "Mean Girls"? I saw it yesterday--a midday summer movie by myself, one of my few truly decadent indulgences--and found it surprisingly funny and true. Tina Fey is my new movie star girlfriend. But anyway, in "Mean Girls", you know how the main character is homeschooled chick who was raised in Africa and has no clue about Girl World etiquette and politics? That's how I feel sometimes in large groups of women. Sometimes the things that women talk about when they're with each other are just so foreign to me that I just don't know what to say. Sometimes in these Girl Group situations, I feel like I'm just trying as hard as I can to follow along with the conversation, or that I end up thinking so hard about what would be appropriate (or inappropriate) to say in response that everything that comes out of my mouth feels stilted and labored. Or, even more applicable in my case, I end up censoring my own jokes, because after several rounds of, "That's so mean!" or "Oh, we really shouldn't be joking about that, it's not funny" you start to get a little tired.

I need to qualify that I'm not (or at least I hope I'm not) the type of girl who only hangs out with men purely for the attention that it garners, or to prove some point that I can "run with the guys". It's not a flirtatious thing, I don't want to be the guy's club little mascot or cheerleader. I don't get all pouty and sullen if my guy friends don't pay attention to me me me all the time. In addition, I don't need to be a guy, all with the sports and the beer and the farting and such. I just find that with certain people, I tend to have better conversations, feel more at ease, more myself--and many of these people happen to be men or non-girly-girls. That's fair, right?

I just don't quite feel at home with Girl Culture, like there's something I must have missed in high school or college that taught you how to go shopping in big groups or dish on boyfriends or, I don't know, relate to Chick Lit. I never watched the four-broads-gabbing scenes in "Sex and the City" and thought, "Wow, that's just like me and my friends!" because...it just isn't. (Also, I don't have HBO.) And really, I'm pretty girly myself. I like pretty dresses and I wear makeup and I just spent a lot of money getting my hair done, for chrissake. Maybe I just don't know how to deal with it on a large scale.

The reason that this year in Pediatrics is good for me is that I've met a lot of very cool, smart, interesting women with whom I've gotten along surprisingly well. And just as a function of work or work-related playtime, we will often hang out together in large groups. And this has been educational, like immersion therapy. Though I still don't quite know what to do or say when people start talking to me about, say, bikini waxing (if anyone has any good strategies on curbing mental imagery when people start talking about ripping our hair from their delicates, please let me know, I would love to learn) I think I'm getting better. I'm starting to feel a little more at home in Girl-landia.

Currently reading: "The Dogs of Babel". Also, just finished "Persepolis"--if you enjoyed "Maus," you should add "Persepolis" to your reading list. And the sequel is coming out in August, so I'm told.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

trophy wife

We just got back from the end-of-year party for Joe's medicine residency program at [Upper East Side Hospital]. It was fun. Open bar, good food, nice people, many of whom I'd met before. Given that I was a spouse at the event and not one of the actual residents, I think I played my part well. I put on a tight black dress, cleaned myself up but good, and basically made nice, polite conversation with everyone. And, when asked, "And what do you do?" I could still say that I was a doctor and keep up with all the conversations about patients, IV access gained and lost, and the perils of woefully underplanned discharges. Basically, I played trophy wife. And you know what, that's fine. Just as long as Joe plays trophy husband once in a while.

However, after another night of boozery (two glasses of white wine and a Grey Goose Gimlet--Kal's recommendation, which I enjoyed very much) I'm a little bit drunky. Man, it hasn't been since the summer before med school started that I've kept up this schedule of going out every single night. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to start filching bags of saline and IV tubing from the hospital so I can bolus myself overnight.

Currently reading: "Persepolis". Still. I am also still reading "The Dogs of Babel" in parallel, but I needed something a little lighter to read alongside it.

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Monday, June 07, 2004

going straight

I did it! I did the Japanese Hair Straightening thing! At first I was against it, because I wanted to be above it all and pretend not care about vanity, or the fact that my hair was unmanageable and that I could never wear it down, EVER. But then I just kind of figured, fuck it. I was going to get my hair straightened and not overrationalize like I do every other decision in my life. And lo, my hair, it is straight! And I love it!

The front. If there was audio, you'd hear Joe saying, "What are you taking pictures of over there?" followed by silence because I was too embarassed to admit that I was taking pictures of mine own hair.

The back. Sorry I don't have any "before" pictures to contrast with the "after" pictures, but there are almost no pictures of me in existence with my hair down, unless covered by some sort of a hat. Which is exactly why I wanted to get my hair straightened in the first place.

(OK, stop reading now if you really don't care about my hair or the hair straightening process. Seriously, it will be boring for you. I'm just writing this next part as a public service for the ladies.)

So the process, in short, is as follows. It reads quickly, but imagine it all taking place over the span of four hours or so. I went to a salon down in Chinatown, and I think they thought I didn't know Chinese or something, because the lady barely spoke to me at all. I don't even know what her name was. Also, she didn't explain any of the process to me, so I can only infer what each step was for.

HOW THEY STRAIGHTEN THAT MOP, a step-by-step review

1.) Make an appointment at the salon. Make sure they know you're coming, because the process takes a long-ass time and you want them to be prepared.

2.) Show up at your appointment, but (important!) make sure you eat something and go to the bathroom first. Also, bring something to read, or a movie to watch on your laptop. My choice today was "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" because it's so long. I wish I had chosen another movie, though, becuase the whole point of watching a movie is so that you don't get bored.

3.) The lady washes your hair. Just a normal wash, with shampoo and all. So far so good.

4.) The lady towel dries your hair, splits it into little sections, and brushes some kind of goo on there. I think this is a conditioning goo, because I spied the writing on the bottle. This takes quite a long time, because it's applied in such small aliquots. Then, after your whole head is coated, she starts painting your head AGAIN, only with a different solution. This stuff smells bad, kind of like a perm, so I assume that it's some kind of protein denaturing compound to beat your formerly frizzy hair into limp submission.

5.) Sit there with Saran Wrap on your head while baking under a heater. Watch Frodo get wrapped up by a giant spider.

6.) The lady pushes you unceremoniously to the sink and washes out both layers of goo, then blows it dry. Your hair is not going to look very good at this point. In fact, it may look just as frizzy, if not more, than usual. DO NOT PANIC (like I did).

7.) The lady whips out the hot iron. She sprays your hair with some kind of smell-good spritz and starts hot-ironing each little section of hair until it's all flat and smooth. This will take a very long time, because she works in very small sections, but gradually, you will be relieved to see that your hair is starting to look nice. Your panic will start to fade, and you'll think you're almost done. Not so fast.

8.) The lady gets out another bowl of goo and starts brushing down your nice, dry, flat hair with it. What? More goo? Why? (Subsequent home research will reveal that this is some kind of neutralizing solution to counteract the perm-smelling protein-denaturing goo they slathered on before). She will comb your hair out with a wide-toothed comb and make you sit very still for some undisclosed amount of time, during which she may be watching Chinese soap operas in the back.

9.) Watch Frodo and Sam almost kiss, because they are clearly in love.

10.) The lady finally comes back, and washes the goo out of your hair. Even wet, you can tell that your hair is miraculously straight. Then, she blow-dries it (without the aid of a brush) and your hair is still straight. Then she tells you that, for the next two days, you are not to put your hair up, not to push your hair behind your ears, and not to wash your hair, or else all her work will be ruined. You may feel a little bit paranoid now, like any movment or pressure on your hair is going to create some permanent imprint, but you are so sick of sitting in that chair for four hours that you will do anything that she tells you.

11.) Don't forget to tip the lady! She worked hard.

Yes, it was a little expensive (though significantly cheaper in Chinatown than upper Manhattan) but I am totally psyched with the results of my Japanese Hair Straightening. Hooray for the Japanese and their protein denaturing compounds!

Now I promise not to talk about my hair for a whole entry ever again.

Currently reading: "Persepolis". A comic book written by an Iranian woman about the Islamic revolution of 1979. So interesting that she decided to write her memoirs in comic form. I approve, of course.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

another one bites the dust

So I wasn't kidding about the 3:15am wake-up time today. We all piled in the rented minivan half asleep and made it out to Williamstown by 7:00am. The only problem was that the graduation ceremony didn't begin until 10:00am. So we actually didn't have to wake up that early at all. Dammit, where was all this misinformation coming from?

Joe and my youngest sister in front of some ivy-crusted building. Nothing says "college" like ivy growing on stuff. Since we got there so ridiculously early, we went into the "town" (the word is used very loosely here) and got some coffee. We had coffee for a very long time. And while we were doing that, we spied on all the college kids and gossiped about them. I decided that one of the reasons I'm glad I went to a women's college is just so I didn't have to see these Ray-Ban-wearing frat boys at my graduation. Sunglasses? Um, it's cloudy.

I told my sister that if she hadn't finished packing by the time we got up there, she was dead. She did a pretty OK job, I guess, considering that most of her dormmates didn't even start packing until after the ceremony. So I let her live. This time. But honestly, how do you not even start to pack? Especially since they were all supposed to be out of the building by 5:00pm that same day. This is not exercising intern-level efficiency, people!

Me and the sisters. (My middle sister, the graduate, is 22, and my youngest sister is 16.) I was trying to go for the "Super Happy Asian Tourist" look in this photo, but succeeding only in looking crazed. Did I also mention that it was freezing? Not only was it drizzling throughout the day, the temperature high was only in the 50s. The skirt was a bad idea.

My parents look dazed. I don't think they're used to that much driving. We live in Manhattan, after all.

The ceremony itself was sort of nice, but so long. There's my sister's head as she's heading up towards the stage to get her diploma. Luckily, our last name begins with an 'A' so we didn't have to wait too long. And after her name was called, I snuck back to her dorm with Joe and my other sister, because 500 graduates is a whole lot of names to sit through--about 490 more than I'm willing to sit through, in fact.

I'm cold! I want to go inside!

Me too. Let's get out of here.

But I don't want to be rude. What if people are mad that we're not staying to see their kid?

I don't know their kid.

(increasingly whiny)
Let's go! Let's go!

Well...maybe we can say that we're going to the bathroom.

All of us?

Yes. We're a close family.

OK, let's go.

So we snuck back indoors, I changed into warmer clothes, and Joe and my sister played computer games. When we finally got back to the ceremony, they were just getting to the 'W' names, so our timing was perfect.

And there's the diploma. Check out the purple ponchos in the background, free party favors from the school. I didn't wear one because I didn't want to look like Grimace.

My youngest sister chowing on a hummus sammidge. There was an insane feeding frenzy going on inside the reception tent. We had to kick the crutches out from under a few senior citizens to reach the food.

Joe and I like free Coke.

My sister and her "friend," Robert. He wants to be a meteorologist. I wanted to ask him, "like Helen Hunt in that movie 'Twister?'" but then I didn't. He was kind of nervous, I think.

A family photo. Spot the white guy. Also, note how I'm wearing five thousand layers of clothing just to stay alive, because it was so incredibly cold out.

My sister needed some time to say goodbye to her college friends, so after packing up the car we had nothing else to do but sit outside in the rain and wait around for her. See how my youngest sister is looking all adorable with her little MTA umbrella, but don't be fooled, she was whining.

I said, "Take a picture of me looking surly, so we can remember how we've been ready to go for the past three hours, but for some reason are still sitting in the driveway of the dorm."

And now we're home. I drink to forget. (This is actually a shot from our party this weekend. Also, the bottle is really empty.)

Currently reading: Ronald Reagan's New York Times obituary.

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

more goodbyes

We just had a farewell coffee date with Brendan and Narges. They're moving out to Arizona on Monday, where Brendan's going to be starting his Neurosurg residency in a few weeks. Arizona, for chrissake. Everyone is moving away. I don't think I'm handling things very well. I feel all depressed. I mean, it's not like I really have that many good friends that I can afford to have them picked off like this, one by one.

So anyway, I'm sad. And what's worse is that I have to wake up at 3:15am tomorrow morning so that we can drive out to my sister's college graduation at the crack of dawn. I haven't gotten up that early since my days on Surgery during third year of med school. Ah, the bad old days.

Currently reading: Nothing, because I'm SAD.

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500 bottles

We woke up this morning to the sound of a bottle of Red Stripe shattering, after leaving most of the empties out on the balcony last night because we were too tired to deal with the whole cleanup process. I think that everything is pretty much back to baseline now, though. We have many large bags of beer and wine bottles that I'll carry down to the recycling bin later today in a clinking cacophany of post-party detritus. I hope I don't bump into anyone in the elevator.

I'm not usually the type who enjoys large parties, but I had a great time last night. I always get anxious when we have parties, probably stemming from residual childhood fears that no one likes me, so no one we invite will actually show up. Luckily, at least people like Joe. He's just this very friendly guy. He even invited our neighbors to the party, which is a concept completely foreign to the Manhattanite in me. Invite neighbors to our house? This ain't no Melrose Place, boy!

I also get anxious when so many people from different parts of my life are thrown together. What will they talk about? Will they hate each other? Be bored? Between the high school friends and the college friends and the med school friends and the resident friends (also throw Joe's friends into the mix--only our med school friends overlap) there were a lot of people who had never met before. So there's a lot of scanning the party, making sure that everyone has someone to talk to and that no one feels left out or ignored. Luckily, people most people have some modicum of social skill and were mingling quite nicely, but still I get worried about these kinds of events, like it's my fault if someone's not having fun.

I worry too much. I could definitely worry myself out of enjoying our own party. Luckily that didn't happen. We had a lot of fun, and this morning we cleaned it all up and made Egg McMuffins for breakfast. Because after a night like last night, you have to eat Egg McMuffins.

Currently watching: "Monster," aka "The Movie Where Charlize Theron Uglifies Herself". Well, that was depressing. I don't think that the movie itself was that great, and Christina Ricci was a big disappoinment, but Charlize Theron's performance was inarguably amazing. Not overrated at all. But now I have that Journey song stuck in my head.

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Friday, June 04, 2004

coop o'clock

Now that I'm on vacation and sleep in every single day, I realize that the dog has fantastical time-telling powers. How do I know this? Because every single morning this week, rain or shine, regardless of what time we went to bed, regardless of the last time she ate or was walked, she whines to wake me up at 8:45am on the dot. ON THE DOT. This morning was a test, since I didn't get home until past 1am last night, and Last Call (her pre-bedtime bladder emptying excursion) was similarly late at night. Surely she would sleep in this morning, right? Nope. 8:45am, "Whee whee whee whee." Imagine this coupled with this most pathetic look on her face, like, "I would like to start my day, please, if only my fucking lush of an owner would drag herself out of bed and take me out." Pushy bitch.

Today my task is going to be readying our apartment for this party we're having tonight. To assist myself in the preparations, I have a little checklist of stuff I need to do, intern-friendly with little boxes that can be shaded in halfway (bisected at the diagonal) for partially completed tasks, and completely blackened for tasks that are totally done. I don't know what I find so pleasing about shading in the checkboxes. Getting through the tasks on my list, sure, that's satisfying, but I think there's something more than that, something in the act of the shading itself. Maybe it's all the standardized testing that I've had to go through. It's like I'm making my own bubble sheets.

Currently reading: "The Dogs of Babel". But I still haven't gotten very far, since I'm not commuting two hours a day on vacation. Pain in the ass as it may be, a long commute can be a huge boon for getting through your reading list.

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Thursday, June 03, 2004

so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

I find it both true and unfortunate that the most important things are the hardest to say. I just don't think I'm very good at saying goodbye to people. What I would like to be an elegant and pity farewell, where I say meaningful things and the other person understands exactly what I mean, ends up being this awkward dance of, "I wisht ya didn't haves to go," "Yeah, but I gots ta." Goodbyes are hard for me. Maybe I just shouldn't do it anymore.

Since I've been in school for, oh, the past 24 years, June is always sort of a season of melancholy. Sure, summer vacations were great (when I had summers off), but finishing up another school year always meant goodbyes in one form or another. And I just don't like saying goodbye to people. And not just friends, either--I don't like saying goodbye to anyone. Thoughout my academic career, there were tons of people in my graduating classes that I never hung out with, didn't even like that much, to be honest, but it always made me sad to think that I might never see them again. It's sad to lose people, you know? Even if I didn't actually engage them, it was always comforting to know that they were there, lurking in the scenery.

However, having said all that, it's my 5-year college reunion this weekend, but I'm not going. Well, first of all, my middle sister is graduation from college on Sunday, so I have to be there. Secondly, and more importantly, the people from college that I care about that wanted to keep in touch with, I already do. I see them, I talk to them, we make plans when our paths cross. And I guess I'm not really sure what else would be the point of reunion. Visiting the campus? Standing under a tent for a cocktail reception getting schmoozy and boozy? Sleeping in the dorms? Well, sounds real fun and all, but...pass. Maybe that shows I don't have college spirit or something. I don't know. I loved college, but I don't want to re-live it or anything.

* * *

In other news, people can be so mean sometimes. I was walking down the street, and I see a little toddler, maybe 2 years old, walk up to the carriage of a baby who looks to be 7 or 8 months old. The toddler is smiling at the baby, and the baby is smiling at the toddler. Toddler's mom comes up to the scene and says something like, "Oh, looks like you found a little friend! How nice!"

Baby's mom, standing behind the carriage, snaps, "Well, I think this is completely unacceptable, and you should teach your child not to go up to other people's babies!" And with that, she flounces away, leaving the toddler and other mom speechless.

I know, toddlers have germs (I assume this was the issue, the kid wasn't slapping the baby around or anything), but come on, it's not like the kid was defecating on the baby's carriage. And wouldn't there have been a better way to deal with that? I don't understand people sometimes. It takes so much more effort to be mean than to be nice. Even just in lung power alone.

* * *

I'm having dinner with Jamal tonight. Strange as it may sound, I haven't seen him in over a year. Intern year sucks, but I should try harder to keep up with people. We have some hard-core catching up to do.

Currently reading: "The Dogs of Babel". I just started it, so I can't really tell you that much about it yet. But there's a dog in the story! I like dogs.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

the story of how i hurt my foot

I realize I didn't even tell you all the story of how I hurt my foot.

So it was Saturday night, my last night on call in the NICU (well, I guess technically it was early early Sunday morning) and things seemed pretty quiet, so I was catching a few Zs on the lower bunk in our call room. Maybe ten minutes into the nap, my phone started beeping in this piercing way, which means that some kid on the unit was coding (read: trying to die). I looked at the display for the location of the code and stepped out of bed...

(So I should mention that I was sleeping in this very contorted way, with my legs folded up under me. Think about being in the lotus position while lying down, and that's what I was doing. Why I was sleeping in this position is more of a mystery, because it doesn't seem like it would be very comfortable.)

...and fucking FELL ONTO THE FLOOR. Apparently, in that position, both of my legs had completely fallen asleep to the point that they were both numb and useless, and when I stepped out of bed, they both totally just caved in. And then I was on the floor, all confused.

I managed to right myself and wobble over to the kid's bed on my bloodless legs, and everything was OK (there were roughly 200 people at her bed already, and she had already started to come back up), but damn, that was crazy. I didn't even realize until much later, when the feeling came back, that I had twisted the hell out of my first two toes on my way down. They're all bruised and swollen, with blood extravasating into the joint spaces. The hazards of sleeping on the job, I guess.

I just wish I had a picture of myself falling out of the bed in the callroom. That would be priceless.

Currently reading: "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim". I liked that picture of David Sedaris on the book jacket. I think I have kind of a crush on him, even though he prefers males of his own gender.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

new books, new hair

David Sedaris just came out with his new book! What finer summer reading than that? We were just at Border's and I saw it prominently displayed near the entrance, all shiny and 30% off, so of course I had to get it, even though it's in hardcover, and I already read some of the pieces in The New Yorker and Esquire. I'm not going to wait a year for the paperback. I decided a little while ago that I make enough money and my needs are not extravagant enough to put off the immediate gratification of little things, like hardback novels instead of paperback, or seeing movies in the theater instead of waiting for them to come out on video. Unless I wait too long and the movie isn't showing in theaters anymore, and then Blockbusters it is. Hello, "Troy," you're headed in that direction.

Today, I ordered a new Learner's Permit from the DMV, swept the living room, took the dog to the park, and got my hair cut, among other things. The last time I got my hair cut was right before Thanksgiving, which was coincidentally during my last vacation from work. So, I can only get my hair cut when I'm on vacation now? What gives? I guess that when I only have a day or a weekend off, I never feel like doing something as utilitarian or mundane as getting my hair cut. First of all, I have to take the train downtown, and then I sit there in the waiting chairs, a towel around my neck and my hair dripping, all the while watching the clock tick-tick-ticking the seconds and minutes and hours of my free time away, until it's fucking nightfall and practically time for me to go to work again. Gah! A whole day wasted!

To be fair, the hair guy I go to does a really thorough job. They wash my hair twice and do the thinning and layers and blowdrying and ironing and it's all lovely and salon-bouncy afterwards. (Manhattan Tip: for a good, cheap haircut, head on down to Chinatown.) I just don't have patience for that kind of song and dance when I'm working. Nor do I want to go to Supercuts or a Supercuts equivalent, because they suck. I went to one place (one of these Jean Louis Pierre David Jean-George chain-type places in the city) that dried my hair with paper towels! Paper! Towels! You can't even pass that off as being environmentally consicious, that's just straight up ghetto! Plus, most of those places are even more expensive than the place that I usually go to! There's no excuse. I would just rather let my hair grow long and wooly, all Clan of the Cave Bear-style, and wait it out another six months for my next vacation so I can give my regular hair guy a chance to do it right.

My favorite part of getting my hair cut is the hot ironing after the blow-dry. Mmm, straightness. I wish my hair was this straight in real life. I see all these ads for JAPANESE HAIR STRAIGHTENING and am a little bit fascinated, but turned off by the idea that it's basically a perm (only straight, instead of curly), and that it costs upwards of $600. Anyway, my hair is up all the time anyway, so who the hell cares if it's straight or not? And, the fact that I spend almost no money on things like JAPANESE HAIR STRAIGHTENING or fancy clothes means that I can buy my books in hardcover. So there you go.

Currently reading: "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim". Of course.

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