Knit vs. Crochet

The ongoing drama(?) of a girl torn between two obsessions with too little time.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Beach Life

Life is good. I'm assigned to a preceptor out on a coastal island for my Family Med rotation and I'm living the good life. The condo they have for us is on the 8th hole of a golf course and a 3-minute walk to the beach. Our practice is open 4 days a week, with about 1.5 hours daily for lunch. Patients come in for routine physicals, respiratory infections, UTIs. I have a reasonable diagnosis without lab tests for almost everyone. People are happy, chatty, going about their lives. At the beach, no less.
It's such a stark contrast to the rest of the year, with its 80-hour weeks, night calls, cancer, stroke, surgery. It's what you thought doctoring might be when you were little--if you had the good fortune to only see the doctor for well-child visits. Patients ask about your family, you ask about theirs. It's sort of lovely. Of course, there's the wrestling with insurance companies who don't want to pay you, patients who don't have the resources (or ability) to take care of their health, and, most importantly, the responsibility for all those lives. Not only that you might miss something acute, but that you're the gatekeeper for everything from high cholesterol (leading to a stroke or heart attack later in life) to diabetes (leading to blindness, amputations) to smoking cessation. It's easy for me, the medical student, to miss out on that part of the picture in the lovely day to day of being here at the beach.
On a more personal note, I'm still every so often sad about Mack, and also sorry that I'm not at home to tend my garden enjoying the harvests that I planted oh. so. long ago and forcing the poor boy to water my extensive plant collection scattered over the ground, deck, and windowsill.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


What do I even write?
I thought I'd have your furry little chin to scratch for years, yet. That time would mellow out your feisty (read: bite-y) personality, that by the time I had my first kid you'd be a grumpy graying old-timer with some extra pudge, jealous of the attention I'd pay the baby.
I tried to keep you inside for two whole years, keep you an indoor cat, SAFE AT HOME, but you kept running outside and running away from me (remember when you ran off for four days at the new house and I was out there four times a day yelling "Mackaroni! Mack-Mack!" at the top of my lungs until the folks next door must have thought their new neighbors-to-be were crazy? I was so happy when you came back that I took you to the vet for just about every vaccination known to feline-kind. You loved that.) And finally I gave up and you were an outdoor/indoor cat with a dorky reflective collar, and I could tell you were in your predatory glory, skulking through the underbrush and eating every insect under the sun (and the occasional amphibian, too, if I'm not mistaken).
But I knew you were still my little kitten at heart, because every time I was working in my garden you'd run to me from out of the 'wilderness' and be right there tromping on my lettuces and following me over the stream and through the woods--literally. (And people say cats aren't loyal to their owners.)
I'm sorry that I brought back another cat from the shelter, I know you two never ended up getting along. I'm sorry I didn't ever adequately resolve the itch on your head once and for all, and had to continually scratch it every time you came up to me. I'm sorry I didn't feed you the sugary-salty nine lives chunks-and-gravy cat food (which you loved) in the mistaken belief that by feeding you Iams you'd be healthier in the long run.
How was I to know there'd be no long run?
No more glancing up from my laptop (even now I'm still doing it) to see your black shape prowling through the backyard.
No shadow to accompany me in my yardwork.
No one to use my laptop as a pillow and fill the vents with black fur.
...I could go on forever.
I'm going to miss you so much, Mack.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Uphill both ways

In today's NYTimes most e-mailed, there's an article entitled More Advice Graduates Don't want to hear, wherein the columnist responds to recent grads' criticism of his column's budgeting advice last year with more budgeting advice. I found myself realizing, as I read the column, that I am a stodgy, cynical old matron trapped in a 2o-something's body. I found myself sympathizing with the columnist's viewpoint, if not with his kind (albeit somewhat patronizing) tone. Near the beginning of the essay, he writes "What I suggested was impractical, many said. How would you like to try to live on $40,000 a year in Washington or San Francisco, several asked."
This is where I first got all riled up about kids these days and how spoiled they are. If you don't enjoy hearing your depression-era relatives talk about how tough they had it growing up and how today's young-uns ain't got no grit, you should probably get back to shopping online, since that's pretty much going to be the gist of this entry.
When I graduated from undergrad four short years ago, I wanted to spend some time in NYC. That's where the action (and the boy) were, thus that was where I was going to be. Thankfully, I got essentially the job I wanted--working as a research assistant in clinical/translational research. Unfortunately, it also paid a typical research assistant salary-- $28,000 a year, gross. When I told my friends going into consulting, or I-banking, or basically, any other field, what I'd be making, typical responses were "I don't believe you--they can't pay you that." and "No--you can't live on that!"
Well, as you may have guessed, they were wrong. Not only was I able to live for two years in the city on that salary, but I lived WELL. I ate out at fabulous restaurants, went out drinking/dancing about every weekend, and went to about as many museums, shows, and concerts as I could take. Sure, I lived in Brooklyn, did my share of cooking, and saw the inside of a taxi all of twice, but I was in no way cold, starving, or deprived. I even paid back about $5k worth of student loans.
So my words would be--I WISH I'd had $40k to live on. That would have been 120 more meals at Bouley--or a liver-failure's worth of half-price cosmos.
Kids these days--whiny little snots.
*shakes wizened fist at the lot of 'em*

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pretty new deck!

My plants in the garden may be withering away, but damn, the deck DOES look nice with a wash and stain...
Yesterday I was in the local Lowe's getting some Black Hen (my mom swears by it, and it's the only place I've been able to find the damn stuff.) when I noticed they had a huge selection of bulbs for 50% off. Being unable to resist anything on sale, however a) useless b) out of season c) difficult to work with, I bought the following:
-dutch iris, blue
-anemone de caen - sylphide
-brodiaea "Queen Fabiola"
-gladiolus "Video"
All but the tuberose were in a blue-hued variety pack. The pictures on the front of the package were just too pretty to resist. So instead of studying for my neurology exam (this coming friday) I spent the last few hours mixing potting soil, compost, sand, and black hen and potting bulbs. Of course it's been pouring all day long so I spent quite some time enjoying being soaked.
I don't know how this flower thing snuck up on me. I've always liked flowers, but usually in cut form, wrapped up with cello and presented to me on some special occasion. The thought of growing them myself would never have crossed my mind a few short months ago...