Monday, January 01, 2007

double-oh seven

How can it be 2007 already? Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that we were all frenzied with Y2K hysteria, stockpiling toilet paper and canned sundries in our impenetrable lead bunkers, awaiting the End of Days because all the world's computers was going to think that it was now January 1st, 1900, BEFORE COMPUTERS WERE EVEN INVENTED? That's some "Back to the Future" shit right there.

(Hey you, get your damn hands off her.)

So the holidays are over. You will find me here, pale and glassy-eyed, until roughly Memorial Day, when the sun will finally come out and thaw my blanched, frozen soul.

Sigh.


* * *


So every time we get together as a big family unit, invariably on holidays or for other special occasions, my grandmother (who I must note loves Joe to pieces, though they lack the ability to communicate meaningfully because she speaks only Chinese and he is A White Man) at some point in the festivities will turn to Joe and ask:

"DID YOU GET FATTER?"


She isn't saying it to be mean, and it's actually not as rude as it sounds. You just have to understand--the Asians, they are obsessed with weight. Who got fatter, where the fat has been deposited, who got skinnier, who is too skinny, who is not eating enough, what have you. But then it presents something of a quandary for me, because I am the unofficial translator as well as diplomat of Sino-American relations, and as I have been providing running commentary up until this point of my grandmother's cheerful yammering, WHAT DO I SAY NOW?


MICHELLE
(To Joe)
She says you look healthy.

GRANDMOTHER
(In Chinese, pointing to Joe)
DID HE GET FATTER?

JOE
Thank you! You look wonderful too!

GRANDMOTHER
(Chinese)
HE DID! HE DID GET FATTER!
(Pantomimes chubby cheeks with her hands)

JOE
Is she saying I'm fat?

MICHELLE
No! No! She's saying you look robust and alive with pleasure!

GRANDMOTHER
(To my parents, in Chinese)
HE DID GET FATTER, DIDN'T HE?

MICHELLE
You're not fat.

JOE
I'll be in the car.



* * *


So of course Joe and I had to work this last week, but thankfully the OR schedule has been somewhat light, with the exception of the orthopedic rooms, because those orthopods just don't know when to stop. Yes, they love doing surgery, and I respect that, but at some point, don't you think that stopping the smell the roses or having outside pursuits is a sign of a fully realized life? Or am I just a lazy turd?

Apparently the latter, according to the neurosurgeons. I was in a neuro case just the other day when the following conversation transpired between the surgical team and myself. They were discussing interdepartmental rivalries between our institution and [Upper East Side Affiliate Hospital]. You know, the surgeons down there talking smack about the surgeons up here and vice versa. The attending surgeons then posed this question.


NEUROSURG ATTENDING
How about Anesthesia? Did the anesthesiologists down there have some sort of big rivalry with the group up here?

SCRUB NURSE
[Who has worked at both hospitals]
No, the anesthesiologists were pretty laid-back.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
Anesthesia doesn't have rivalries because anesthesiologists have no ego.

MICHELLE
I'm trying to figure out if you said that as a compliment or an insult.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
(Bitterly)
All Anesthesia wants to do is go home! You know they leave at 4pm some days? 4pm!

MICHELLE
Um, it's 7pm now, and I'm right here.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
(Starting to froth)
I get into work at 4am and leave at 10pm! They get six extra hours in their day! Six hours! That's a whole life!

MICHELLE
That's exactly right. That is a whole life. My whole life outside of the hospital.

NEUROSURG ATTENDING
If all you want to do is go home, why be a doctor at all?

MICHELLE
I don't think that wanting regular hours means that you shouldn't be a doctor. I think that having regular hours enables me to be a doctor and something else too.

MICHELLE'S INNER MONOLOGUE
Like a human being.

NEUROSURG ATTENDING
Ignore us, we're just jealous.

NEUROSURG RESIDENT
(Mumbling angrily to self)


It's this strange attitude in medicine, this macho thing, that in order to be the best, most committed, most self-sacrificing, most punk rock doctor, you have to basically sell your soul to the hospital. LOOK AT ME IN AWE AND WONDER, FOR I HAVE NO OTHER LIFE. I just don't really get that attitude. I mean, I'm glad there are people like that out there, I suppose. I mean, when it comes down to it, most of us will do what we need to do to take care of a patient in trouble, regardless of what time of day it is. But on the other hand, doesn't it make you a better doctor to, I don't know, take a break once in a while? Or think of it another way--do you want to be operated on at 8pm, the fourth elective CABG of the day, after your surgeon has been awake for the past 30 hours?

("No" and "Hells, no" are both acceptable answers.)


* * *


And now for some very belated Christmas photos:



Cal, walking with my grandmother (not fat) and Joe (also not fat).









OK, so, the loot. This year I wanted to get Cal some more imaginary play-type toys, and even though I was too creeped out by the dolls, I thought that action figures were OK. (Because they are smaller, it will be harder for them to kill you while you sleep.) So I got him this set of Asian Family figures, so that we could enact little playlets of them learning kung-fu or studying for their SATs. So far, Cal has only been marginally interested.



A bigger hit: this Elmo doll that Joe's parents got for us. It's "Getting Dressed Elmo" or some such things--poke at him and he will instruct you to zip up his jacket or tie his shoe, chortling alarmingly when you obey. I will be removing the batteries from within his red plush bowels soon.



I got Joe some new shirts and ties to wear for the upcoming interview season. I then offered to organize his ties by color, so as to maximize efficiency. Lo:



MICHELLE
Look, look at how I organized your ties!

JOE
Wow. Organized.

MICHELLE
This might be my greatest achievement to date.

JOE
Well, that really puts it in perspective.



I would just like to point out that this is how Joe wrapped his Christmas presents. In plain white tissue paper. With plastic twist-ties. YES. The photos, they do not lie.



A present from Cal's nanny. She is incredible, not only for the great care she takes of Cal, but also for getting him a toy that DOES NOT INVOLVE BATTERIES.

Anyway, here's to hoping that you had a nice holiday season and time off with the ones that you love. Happy New Year! Now get back to work!




Currently reading: "Heat." That's it, we're going to Babbo.

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