Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tasty Sunday

As many of you already know, I am a ginormous fan of the Faust story. For those of you who haven't heard all this before, it's sort of a big deal, in my personal universe. Faust is basically, for me, the mythic underpinning that explains pretty much everything we need to know about living in the modern world. In a major cultural-studies, lit-loser, nerdotron way, I am to Faust in all its incarnations as a minivan full of screaming tween girls are to... uh, I guess that Gerard guy from My Chemical Romance. I hear he's dreamy and broody an' whatnot. The only full-length play I've written, so far, is a Faust play. I even like the Brendan Fraser/ Liz Hurley version of Bedazzled.

In the Goethe version of Faust, the one that defines Romance with a capital R in the Western world, there's this part about the terms of the deal; Mephistopholes agrees to keep supplying Faust with all-you-can-eat worldly awesomeness. The only catch is, if ever there should be a moment that's so perfect, so delicious, so satisfying that Faust wants it to last forever, then boom. Time's up. We're all done dancing.

And what's sweet about it is, that moment doesn't come when they're messing with the spacetime continuum so Faust can bang Helen of Troy; it doesn't come with the sense of accomplishment and pride Faust tends to get when he uses medicine to stop a plague, or when he uses engineering to save a city from being subsumed by the ocean. It happens, finally, when he sees an old couple who have been together forever, working on their cruddy little farm, and being happy together. And Goethe is even nice enough to let Faust off the hook, based on, I guess, having his heart in the right place most of the time. Eventually, in other words, Faust in a sense sort of gets it. You don't need some devil making crap happen for you; you need to be present in the moment. And all the glittery crap the world has to offer you won't make you happy. Can't, in fact.

Pretty radical stuff, in some ways, for the 1800s. And with only minor tweaks, it works very nicely with Buddhism or Existentialism. In a nutshell, you start me talking about Faust, it will be difficult to shut me up.


Goethe was maybe not entirely right about certain things. I think it's great to fall in love with the world, from time to time. Carpe yourself some diem. We shouldn't have to think of that as dangerous. Contentment does not have to mean complacency. And when it comes to my own life, I want the world and me to be more than friends, if you follow.

I only bring this up because this afternoon I was walking downtown, in search of a late lunch. I found the burrito place was closed Sundays (which still strikes me as mildly funny in a way I can't quite put my finger on), and so walked a bit up Nicollet Mall. I had a brief conversation with a woman representing the Scientology center there (she: "Let me ask you, do you have any problems?" me: "After Tom Cruise, you guys have more problems than I have...") and then decided to pop in to the Local for a pint and a plate.

I'm not saying the Waldorf Salad with grilled steak is so good you'd sell your soul. But it's close. Especially with a Finnegan's, with the Vikings just winning a game, and with a cool book about Rosalind Franklin to occupy a dude.

The laugh-out-loud awesomeness of the moment would be a little later, as I headed out. I was just in time for the first-annual Minneapolis version of the Running of the Santas. 'Twas a sight to behold, it really was. It's pretty much impossible to be weighed down by the cares of the day or the gremlins of the soul, when a couple hundred Santas are jogging past.

I am seriously going to miss Minneapolis, next year. Then again, I have a feeling stuff like this is going to continue to happen to me...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This post has many titles...

1) Progress.

2) "They signed you, Bill! Now you're a law!"

3) I'm in.

4) Febrifuge and The Big Flat Envelope

You may choose whichever one you like best. The upshot is, this is apparently no longer a blog about getting into PA school. As of yesterday's mail, it's a blog about getting ready to go to PA school. In Chicago. Six months from now.

I'll bullet some of the more salient points in a minute, but before I get too deep, I'd like to tell the story of going out there to the interview (which was less than two weeks ago; it's not like I've been holding back, people). And right now, I have some Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf to take care of. It's urgent. Unavoidable. Can't get out of it. Sorry.

Then later, I have a Bond movie to go see with M. Giant, in observation of a tradition that goes back at least as far as Goldeneye... although I could swear there was some Timothy Dalton back there someplace. Hey, I'm a busy cat. The point is, reliable sources tell me that having fun now is vital to my surviving Year One, which is worse than 4-year-med-school year one by some hard-to-pin-down factor.

Oh, and just so there's not a lot of confusion on this point, let me lay down what the heck a Physician Assistant is, and does. Or wait, let me have the AAPA do it for me.

Some sub-bullets:

a) Hey, Chicago. Cool.

Yes! Plus, although I won't mention the school by name, I think it's sweet that there's a four-year school in the same university. That's because most of the time, that's better for the facilities, the faculty, and the reputation of the program in the local medical community. Way too many of the PA programs I researched were founded in 2000 or later, and belong to schools that had heretofore been largely about non-medical pursuits (nursing is very close, but not the same). I also think it's cool that there are PT students, Pathologist Assistant students, and yes, even the podiatry students around. It's an interesting university, in that of the several hundred people attending, nearly all are grad students. So it'll sort of be a Bizarro Bennington for me.

Note: it's not the University of Chicago. Which is too bad, because in one of the Indiana Jones movies, I'm pretty sure he taught archaeology at U of C. House went to Hopkins and then Michigan; they haven't revealed where the Scrubs people went to school, but it seems Californiform; and I honestly don't care where the one PA I've ever seen on TV went. That's about when ER started sucking.

b) So, why this school specifically?

I already pointed out the diversity of programs, which means not everyone I meet will be doing what I'm doing; I consider this to have been one of my not-so-secret weapons last year in Post-Bac. The facilities are crazy good; wi-fi building, digital projectors, and the best anatomy lab I've ever seen, for serious. There's a flat screen monitor and one of those goo-resistant keyboards like at oil change joints mounted on a bracket above each and every dead body. There's a decent fitness center, and a pimpin' fake office with fake exam rooms, used for fake exams of fake patients. See how my theatre training is going to be useful? Mm-hmm.

Airfare to Chicago is pretty cheap; it's like taking an even more inconvenient bus, really. And I like that the degree my school offers is the Master of PA Practice, which is far cooler than the standard Master of PA Studies. I mean really; I don't want a graduate degree in studying something, I want a graduate degree in doing it. (For the record, the only other school I know of that offers a cooler-sounding PA degree is Yale, which awards the Master of Medical Science. Swanky!)

Okay, enough for now. I'm gonna wear a white coat (sometimes). I'm gonna make (fairly) decent cash. I'm gonna heeeeeeeal the sick. I'm gonna play golf.

In fact, I'm gonna play golf right now. The digital character that sorta looks like me will be trying to make the cut at Pebble Beach this afternoon. Wish him luck.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

something to ponder

You know the commercial for, where all the people are grooving and happy while ELO's "Do Ya" cranks on the soundtrack? Here's a potentially deep question for you:

Are these people happy because thanks to Monster, they're at work at their perfect job? As in, check out this huge pile of pink foam peanuts in the back of my moving truck! I'm totally going to jump in it! or I love, love, love this orange cardboard tube, and it makes me strut like a dancin' fool! Woooo!

Or, are they happy because thanks to Monster, they just found the perfect job, and they're about to leave the crappy job they work at now? As in, I am totally going to ride my bike around the gallery! Take that, you dicks! or I am so totally done with this stupid road construction, I am going to give the garbage man that hug he's been craving!

Watch carefully next time it's on. Let me know what you think. I have a theory about it.