Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sorry, ladies! Too late.


(This is how geeks announce they're going to get hitched. And yes, we're geeks.)

It's true. Apologies to anyone who should have had a phone call or an email of their very own, and instead is seeing this here, but the word must get out. After roughly three years together, including that year where I lived out east and she stayed here, and it was kind of "meh" in some ways, Teslagrl and I have reached that sweet spot where even when it's kind of "meh," it's pretty damn good. Ergo, when it's awesome, it's the sort of thing that makes your friends tired of hearing about how wonderful things are. Or would, if you were the sort to go on and on about that sort of thing. Anyway. [Awkward, nervous Nordic mumble mumble trail-off...]

Basically, what it came down to was a few key poetic ideas, presented here in no particular order. First is that while out East, my 20something classmates were sometimes a little fascinated with the idea that I had been married and everything, in my earlier life. Maybe because I had been married for a while already at their age, maybe because I'd be divorced at an age that's not so far in their futures. Maybe because I bitched and complained about the long-distance part of my long-distance relationship (though, it should be duly noted, I bitched much, much less about the relationship part).

Once, while a pack of us were on the way to the Price Chopper for, I dunno, snacks and beer (I know! You can get beer in the supermarket there! It's heaven), I was asked if I'd "ever get married again." I think this was a more general question, and was not an inquiry about me and T-grl. I answered, spontaneously and truthfully, sure I would. But I admitted my ideas about the whole thing had changed, what with the soul-crushing upheval, the bitterness and recrimination, and the tedious and unfortunate little matter of the bill. Ahem.

I said that I would get married again if the thought of not being legally bound to my certain someone struck me as the thing that was ridiculous, unnecessary, and entirely avoidable. And, eventually, here we are.

The second thing was thinking about how it had been 37 months together, and we'll be 37 this year, and as much as I don't want to grow up, I think being with her is a lovely compromise, because I won't ever really have to. It's been three years plus, and it still feels like we're just hanging out, just seeing where things go. This is the most bullshit-free, easygoing, just plain fun relationship ever, for me. I have grown accustomed to the cognitive dissonance, but it hasn't gone away: it is literally true that it doesn't feel like we've been together this long. So that's cool.

There were a ton of little things that a superstitious person would take for signs. In a booze-soaked chat with Jon some time ago, I expressed admiration for what he and Diablo have; he said that Teslagrl and I have it too. And he's right! More recently, I met Amber for beers, and when she asked me about Teslagrl, the first words out of my mouth were that "she's awesome." Amber thought that was very cool, and pointed it out. On reflection, I agreed. I went over to hang with M. Giant and almost immediately, M. Small asked where T-grl was. It seems that to him, we're a matched set... and he's easily in the top 5 smartest pants-poopers I've ever known. I'd be a fool not to consider the wisdom of what he implies.

And finally, there's the idea that because I have, shall we say, made ample use of the student loan resources available to me, I am essentially borrowing money from my future self. The medicine-practicing, comfortable-living one. And this isn't a new concept for me; I knew the first time around that the 1997 me would be borrowing from the 2007 me. Now that I am that dude, speaking as 2007 Feb, I find it kind of amusing that somebody would come to me for cash. (But then, hey, 1997 Feb deserves a giant break, because his life was pretty messed up.) Long story short, if there is anything really great that 2007 Feb can do for future-Feb, it would be this. Now he can be the medicine-practicing, comfortable-living, hot-wife-having one.

Note to self: You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The view is nicer in middle of the bell curve, anyway

Okay. I've done my first practice test, and it turns out I'm not a biochemistry moron. I got 72%, which sounds like a C until I tell you the class mean is 75%, and the mean is also, somehow, a nice, solid B. (I got an A in statistics, so I know enough to just go ahead and trust that.)

It's like I was saying earlier: this doesn't seem to be the kind of thing where you can possibly survive any length of time if you have to play to win, and give 110%, all the time. This heavy-duty stuff is something you need to respect and work with, not try to conquer. If you think of med-type studies as a game that has to be done with utmost focus and excellence at all times, any simple human failing seems like disaster. And that's no way to live, much less a way to mold the healthcare team of tomorrow. It's a big part of why premeds and med students are sometimes such miserable people, and often so stressed-out and weird.

Here's what I wanted to say in interviews, but never got a chance to: you always hear these driven, ambitious, talented people say, "I'm excited for the chance to compete. I love to compete. I feel I'm very competitive as an applicant for this [school/ job/ reality TV show/ elected office], and I can't wait to prove it." And I call bullshit on that. I think in actuality, what most of these people enjoy so much isn't competing, but winning. They're winners. Always have been. And who doesn't love to win? Winning is great.

The problem is, if someone always wins, the first time they lose will be the first time they've ever lost. The first time it happens to someone like that, they don't know what just took place. The second time, they fall apart. A bad test score, a lousy evaluation, a personality conflict with someone in charge. Your classic Type A student will do just about anything to maintain stability; that's why they study 10 hours a day, worry about insignificant details, kiss ass with near-sociopathic skill, and never go out to the bars. Keeping their etch-a-sketch unshaken is a full-time obsession.

But medicine -- and it's not like I'm all that qualified to talk about this, except inasmuch as I've spent two and a half years clomping around in my Danskos on the factory floor -- is only partly about keeping the remaining events in your day as predictable as possible. It's largely about keeping yourself consistent, quick-thinking, and useful, while the entire rest of your world gets as unpredictable as it feels like being today.

It's like cards. If all you ever play is some five-card version of the game where nothing can start except with Jacks or Better, you'll be folding and folding again all night, like a cheap lawn chair. And I would think that much of the really relevant learning takes place in the process of playing as many hands as you can. Not so many that you run out of chips, but enough that you get past the bare theories and the expected results, and get into learning from your own observations, including your own mistakes. As someone said, good judgement develops with experience -- and experience usually develops from bad judgement.

The kind of training a lot of students put themselves through is simply wrong for development of this skill. Unfortunately, it's the kind of training that gets great results... for now. It gets them in, and it gets them through, to a point. In other words, the stuff I will be great at doesn't come until the end, and people who are great at the beginning stuff drive me nuts.

I don't mean to imply that a half-assed, vodka-soaked approach is in any way superior to, or even as good as, some discipline and hard work. I only stress the distinction because every now and then, I get concerned. This is the time of year when the system is cranked up to uber-competitive mode. Many of my classmates from last year did fine; many are still up in the air. Match Day is coming up, so today's fourth-years are freaking out about getting to become next year's interns. And out there, somewhere, 50-some people are about to become my classmates.

I hope they're cool, and they'll help me with the stuff I'm not naturally adept with. I promise to help them with their videogame skills.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Procrastination nation

I think I've cracked my problem with doing homework. It's work.

Also, like, Biochemistry is hard, dude. OMG LOL.!!!1!

But more than that, it's that I was too-concerned about doing well. As the prof said in the intro lecture, this class is composed entirely of people who have a reason to take Biochem. That is to say, the kids who make up the bottom two-thirds of every normal class are simply not here. 70% is a B here, and nobody who would get less than a C stays around. In other words, it's med school.

And I had been all worked up about how this means the end of my quiet life, and now I have to get all Type A and perfectionist. Weirdly, my slackerish tendencies derive from my desire to be perfect at everything, all the time, instead of a lack of caring. I struggle with something, I find it takes longer than I think it should, and I get all surly. And I don't like being like that. So, the internal logic goes, if I can't grasp the subtleties of alpha helices and binding regions quickly enough, then I'm screwed. I don't want to snap at people, so I may as well just put away the work that's making me feel bad and go play Lego Star Wars for another hour.

Except here's the thing: I need a C or better to pass the class, and proceed to grad school. I need a C or better in each of my classes, while in school. And as I'm fond of saying, I'm a PA student. I'm done competing with the other kids. If I'm learning, and if I'm putting together the pieces of my medical education in a way that helps me and my patients, then I'm doing fine. It's not about being the first in my class, or in the top 10%; it's about becoming the best damn clinician I can be. So I will do the rest of a chapter today, and I'll take the first of the practice tests. And if I get 70%, I'm going to relax and keep going the way I have been.

All I have to do now is enforce that policy with myself. We'll see.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Witty Banter of the Day

Disgruntled Patient: "Man, how long is it gonna be? I'm ready to go home."

Febrifuge: "Actually, sir, we're admitting you to the hospital. You know that, right?"

DP: "Yeah, but it's taking so long. "

F: "I know, and I apologize, but we need to make sure they're ready for you upstairs. This is the part of the process that we aren't in charge of."

DP: "Man, it doesn't take this long to get into the funeral home, you know?"

F: "That's true, sir... but of course, there are fewer steps in that process."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Of course I am not the first to wonder...

...but what the hell do John Mayer and Jessica Simpson talk about when they go out?

(My guess? They talk about how awesome John Mayer is.)

I am thankful that my gf is a brainiac. Her hotness, well, that's just a nice bonus. (...Which I totally deserve.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Missing in Action (as well as Inaction)

Biochemistry class has begun to eat my life. And then break down and absorb the constituent pieces of my life, eventually reducing them to a few key classes of chemicals, which are then put through various complicated processes and converted into... knowledge about biochemistry, I guess.

Guitar Hero II has occupied enough of my time and attention that I've seen the little dots of the game screen coming at me when I close my eyes. On the other hand, Teslagrl has bought the first game and her own controller, so soon there will be tales of wild parties involving tiny plastic guitars and copious alcohol. Which will be broken down into a few key classes of chemicals, and put through various complicated processes. Most happily, I've started playing my real guitar more often. Together with my insanely fun effects pedal, it frickin' rules.

I bought some cool new shoes, for incredibly cheap. As much as I am a total dude, I have my moments of being a clothes-horse too. Hopefully, I'm as interesting, astute, and agreeably cranky a clothes horse as Dack from dack.com.

I've been out to see a lil' bit of the rock show scene, and I've chilled with my peeps. A bunch of interesting stuff has happened at work, but as always I can't really get into it, because the stuff that interests me most is frequently the stuff it would get me fired to talk about.

I got to meet Amber for beers. That was awesome. Hopefully there will be more such meetings of the minds; it seems like we could totally get some kind of blog Justice Society thing going. or at least a cheesy, Superfriends version. Long as I'm not Aquaman, that is.