Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Being Back

I'm having trouble.

362 days ago we set out on this epic journey. One year later, everything looks exactly the same...the plants, the freeway, the sunshine, and it makes me wonder if I just imagined the whole thing.

Even though we spent the last six weeks in Mexico, I'm still experiencing what I can only guess is culture shock. I think the culture I'm exiting is called "Traveler."

I'm wandering around aimlessly wearing my passport belt and Ron says it's awkward to pull my credit card out from underneath my pants at Starbucks. I have a cell phone and the blasted thing sings, tweets, vibrates and blinks completely on its own schedule. My clothes don't fit. Not like my elastic waist, friction-free travel wardrobe anyway.

We were in a sports store yesterday and I ran straight to the clearance rack to find a replacement dri fit shirt. I was halfway through my task when I remembered that I don't only wear garments that fold down to nothing and can be washed in the sink. I burst into tears.

Things that were so clever just a few weeks ago are socially awkward now. Like, carrying a spoon everywhere I go. Here, that seems more homeless than genius.

It took time to get used to washing my underwear in the sink each night, but now I mistrust my cotton ones and feel lonely for my evening ritual.

My parents want to know why I constantly spit in the shower and ask for a cup of clean water to brush my teeth.

I don't understand why I can't wear my sports watch with my dress to church. It's been my constant companion, and I trust it to be quiet a heck of a lot more than this damn cell phone.

What about my hair? It's long and traveler shaggy. The last time I had hair this long was early college. As a professional I had short, chin length hair. Now, I'm going to be a professional student...so do I cut it halfway between the two? Cutting my hair seems like I'm chopping off memories of bleaching sun and unbelievable humidity and Ron learning to French Braid. But, keeping it this long here is sloppy and feels like I'm trying to relive the past. For now, I'm getting increasingly sick of it being so long, but letting myself put off the decision until I'm really ready to exit the trip.

I need to let go. What's so funny is that I had a whole process adjusting to liking all this. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that I was stressed about how 1.7 ounces of shampoo would last three weeks (my hair was much shorter then, by the way). Now, when Ron runs out of deodorant, using baby powder as a "close enough" alternative feels like the most natural thing in the world.

Some of my newfound "normal" I don't want to let go. I learned incredible simplicity...I can live without so much! I don't want to learn that I need a purse, a cell phone, a wallet, a computer, a key, more than one pair of shoes and toilet paper. But, it turns out I live in the US and wearing tennis shoes to a fancy restaurant is weird.

It feels a little like there's this triangle. At one corner is the normal of my old, Portland working life. At another is the normal of my travel life. At the third is the new normal of my future Boston student life. All three are me. And, no matter which one I get closer to I feel farther from another. I want to make a pyramid and sit upon the top where all three lines come together. Instead, I feel like I'm playing this endless game of red rover with all three teams asking to "send Trina right over."

I found a little black dress I'd stored at my in-laws' house and putting it on it felt good to look like a woman. I wore a bracelet but couldn't quite bridge the gap to makeup. I'd gotten used to my gender-neutral-jungle-bob look. But, there are some advantages to ditching the stretchy pants.

Slowly but surely, I'm adjusting.

Happy Birthday to Us

The strangest part of this post is that I wrote the exact same one last year about a week before LEAVING for our trip.

Wow, time feels like a vortex right now.

How did it all turn out?

At the end of five interviews my top choice was Boston University. Einstein was a close second for the values and culture, but didn’t quite have the professionalism nailed the way BU did. Stony Brook was next both for location and innovation (not interviewer skills). New York Med was on the bottom of the list and I actively didn’t like it. Loma Linda was seeming impractical since the closest law school Ron was interested in was UCLA, 70 miles away.

I had to assume that the schools I hadn’t heard from were out as I wouldn’t be able to afford flying home from Asia for an interview.

Stony Brook sent an overnight express package announcing my acceptance just four weeks after interviewing. New York Med and I both seemed grateful to part ways. Loma Linda accepted me several weeks later.

My top two choices didn’t communicate until January. While sick on the desert island in Thailand I got an email indicating I’d been placed on the waiting list for Einstein. Essentially this means I’m a student they would pick, but they just don’t have enough space. It’s really uncertain how much movement to expect on a waitlist, so it felt more like a rejection. Boston University communicated that I had not been selected for early acceptance, but I’d been placed in the “continue considering” pile.

Kind of discouraging to feel like the top two schools you identified with both consider you a good occupant for the back burner.

By now, Ron had received acceptance from Harvard, NYU, Georgetown and Boston University. His Harvard acceptance made the BU delay all the more painful. In the meantime, NYU and Stony Brook were within commutable distance, would allow us to live a little more affordably (on Long Island, not in NYC) and pay substantially less tuition (Stony Brook is a public school). It was a solution, but definitely second choice for both of us.

Ron slowly accumulated a few waitlists and rejections, I received formal rejections from most of the schools that hadn’t offered interviews and the pressure mounted for a BU acceptance. We worked hard to see this as a joint project. It was us getting into Harvard Law and it would be us getting accepted or rejected by BU Med.

Returning to the US following hospitalization in India for E. coli, I was weak and drained. BU had said between the middle and end of March I should expect to hear a “final answer.”

On March 31st I received an email congratulating me on my acceptance to Boston University School of Medicine. I was elated.

Out of nearly 11,000 applications they picked me for one of their 180 slots!

Why BUSM is my top choice med school

In some ways, medical school is just medical school. Every school is required to cover the same set of material, in the same amount of time. Every school follows the same format – two years of coursework, two years of “rotations” on the wards. There are all the stats accumulated by schools, student to faculty ratio, number of students around each cadaver, the bios of the doctors on staff and the gleaming facilities. But, what I’ve come to think most matters about a med school is the culture.

At my first interview one of the doctors said, “Pick a place where you feel like you belong. You’ll get a good education just about anywhere. Find a school whose personality fits you.”

After five interviews, it seemed to me that each place definitely has a distinct feel. You can describe some of the details that make them different, but it’s more than the sum of the parts.

So, maybe my most compelling reason for picking BUSM is as explainable as the exquisite turkey sandwich that led me to pick George Fox, but that’s ok.

Here's some facts...

It was the first medical school in the nation to formally educate female physicians and the first to award an MD degree to an African American man and woman.

It's the largest Level I trauma center in New England

It's the home of the world-renown Framingham Heart Study from which knowledge of cardiovascular disease risk factors were discovered

And here's some gut reasons...

Culture of collaboration – you don’t sense a stratification between 3rd years and 1st years, or between faculty and students. People are eager to know each other and work together

Shared sense of mission – Boston houses a lot of elite schools; ironically BUSM is one of them. But you wouldn’t know it to walk on campus. As the safety net hospital for all of New England, Boston Medical Center serves immigrants, refugees and those not able to pay. Physicians who chose to make their career here are not going to make the most money or garner the most recognition. It’s not a peacocking place.

Smart people who are people – Scientists here aren't all socially retarded.

Professional and innovative - the whole hospital system has fully electronic medical records, the curriculum was fully reworked in the past two years to meet the most recent recommendations.

I liked it/People are nice - It's a great place to be. I walk on campus and people look you in the eye, smile and say hello. I feel like I would fit.

The Good

Thirty interviewees are sitting around the table all wearing nametags indicating they went to Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard and Georgetown for undergrad. I proudly adorn my George Fox University nametag to my suit and strike up a conversation. The faces around the table are all a little nervous, but several respond and ask me if I'm a senior. I explain that I’m a little older, currently traveling, etc. The room is transformed into a bunch of friends at a bar, “No way! Tell me all about it. What countries have you been to? Where did you like best?” The ice was broken and we all enjoyed the casual conversation warm up for the coming day.

The introductory presentation starts right on time in an auditorium and the speaker has prepared a PowerPoint presentation. He has a clear grasp of the material and has mastered not walking in front of the screen and avoiding microphone feedback. He highlights the differentiators of BU,

“We see medicine and the health sciences existing in a larger social context…many of our students have majored outside the biological sciences…unusually strong bond among students and between faculty and students…commitment to a mission of service to society…the only one of the 3 medical schools in Boston to have a Department of Family Medicine…place a high value on primary care…collaborative, not a competitive place…fully electronic medical record system throughout the hospital…safety net hospital…provide care regardless of ability to pay…”

Wow. This sounds like an amazing place. I’d assumed because I recognized the name that it was one of those giant research-oriented monoliths that I’d have to really work to like. I really like the polished, professionalism paired with a sense of mission and compassion.

My packet indicates that my interviewer is a female primary care doctor and includes a short biography. A quick comparison with my fellow interviewees indicates that the school matched us with interviewers who share our interests and/or background. Wow, that’s an impressive amount of attention to pay to the thousand interviewees that pass through each year.

I walk in and Dr. Phillips invites me to sit down and call her Susan. She says,

“I’ve got a whole file of information on you, it’s only fair that you know a few things about me. I attended medical school at Harvard, completed my residency here and haven’t left. I liked the sense of mission, diversity of patients and kind of people who want to work at a place like this. It’s a collegial place that produces both high quality research and exceptional primary care practitioners. I’m a mom and work three days a week right now. I see patients, supervise medical students and work with the Admission Committee. I love this place and from what I know about you, I expect you’ll find it a great fit.”

She’d read my complete file and asked insightful questions. She seems to genuinely enjoy me, is anxious to discuss why bright students are discouraged from primary care and how being an intelligent professional need not be at odds with being a devoted parent. For the first time, the list of questions I’d prepared for the interview is noticed, appreciated and answered.

I came away appreciating her authenticity, respecting her intellect and truly thrilled with this place that had risen to the top of my list.

At the end of the day I noticed that every single person I interacted with was professional, friendly and competent. From the interviewer bio to the PowerPoint proficiency, the system ran like a well-oiled machine. I heard the same core values reiterated from students, faculty and Admission staffers. This is a place that seems to live up to it’s motto of providing “exceptional care without exception.” They are determined to teach collaboration and have even eliminated grades for the first two years in the name of relieving competition. Teaching patient care is a priority and you spend one day a week for the first two years with a supervising physician honing your communication and examination skills. Diversity of student body and patient population is prized as a component of a rich education.

Of course, the school I’d fallen in love with was the most challenging to gain acceptance.

Only 1 in 10 of us were selected to interview, and then only 1 in 3 interviewees would be offered a spot.

The Bad

With two interviews under my belt, I felt confident that I was ready for most anything as I sat on the Long Island Railroad journeying to Stony Brook School of Medicine.

We spent the night in the darling town of Port Jefferson on the Long Island Sound. It’s a coastal town with a building code that all buildings have to have a certain level of cuteness. They all match and I’ll admit I’m kind of a sucker for that kind of thing.

Since my interview isn’t until 10am, we have plenty of time to walk through town and find some breakfast before catching a cab to the medical center. Good, freaking thing. I open the door and it is pouring. Seriously, it looks like a movie set with sheets of water blown around by gale-force winds. And, I dried my hair already. Wrapped in three coats we waddle around the corner and find breakfast at a deli owned by what I imagine to be the classic Long Islander. He’s very friendly, a little loud, and seriously thinks Starbucks should rot in hell.

I find it a little ironic that the cab driver who is rattling off a litany of injuries sustained in a car accident is driving us through the storm not wearing her seatbelt. But, I am grateful to arrive at the Admission office in one, wet piece on time.

This interviewee crowd is more diverse and friendly than the last one. I immediately notice the two Hasidic Jews wearing yarmulkes, the Asian valley girl and the large boy with red, curly hair. Once again, I break the ice, but this time the crowd is really receptive. Each person is so surprised and relieved to hear that everyone else is nervous too. Those of us who have had a few interviews assure the first-timers that it’s not that bad. So far, so good.

We receive folders with the names of our interviewers. I have a second year student and Dr. Y.

The student ushers me into a small conference room and immediately explains that he likes happy, confident people. I smile and tell him, “I’m so glad to be here. I don’t see this so much as an interview as a conversation to learn more about this school.” He beams and says he thinks I’m a great fit for Stony Brook. He spends the next thirty minutes talking while I respond to each question with a grin and, “that’s a great question.” He seems quite pleased to have spent the last half hour hearing his own voice. Whatever works.

During lunch I compare notes with the Asian valley girl who explains, “Oh my gosh, I just, you know, was interviewed by that like, Dr. Y, you know? He was totally like bizarre. The receptionist said he’s like kind of crazy and I have seriously no idea how I did.” Good to know.

I am called by Mr. Allegedly-Crazy and determined to roll with it. It can’t be any worse than Mr. Tuttle. He has spiky grey hair, an off-kilter grin and is dressed casually. On the way up the elevator we make conversation about Portland where he has relatives and the large bookstore called Powells. It becomes apparent that he has a dry sense of humor and I laugh at all the jokes I catch. The conversation is comfortable and he seems to enjoy my lack of intimidated-ness.

“Let’s just skip all this crap. You seem like a great person, you’ve got good grades, you’ve been successful in the business world. Why in the world do you want to live in New York?”

The truth – because there are law schools here Ron wants to attend. What I say, “I’m excited to spend my four years of medical school in a diverse city. We’ll probably settle back in the Northwest, but no reason to pass up the opportunity of a four year adventure to live somewhere new.”

“Where else are you applying and interviewing? I’m not going to judge you, I’m just curious.”

Awkward question! It’s like asking your date, “Who else are you seeing and how do they measure up to me?”

I explain, “I’ve interviewed at Einstein in the Bronx, NY Med in Valhalla, I’m here today, then Boston Univ next week and Loma Linda in California the week after.”

He says, “Let’s see. Einstein, that’s a good school. Kind of a sketchy area, I mean, who would choose to live in the Bronx? New York Med is a bunch of snobby pricks whose parents bought their way into medical school. You don’t want to go there, they’d all hate you for being smarter than them. Boston’s a great school, but really expensive. Whatever you do, don’t go to Loma Linda. They are freaks. There’s some kind of religious cult supporting the whole thing and I’m telling you they’re just complete weirdos.”

Because you’re striking me as so completely sane right now. Nevermind that I chose to apply and am flying across the country to interview because I like the school.

“What about Stony Brook? Why did you choose to be here? Why is it great?”

“Oh It’s fine. I like the area, it’s a comfortable job. The students are great. I can tweak with them.”

Really selling me.

“Tell me about traveling.”

“It’s been great. I’ve seen a huge variety of cultures, learned a lot and enjoyed spending time with my husband.”

“How many pairs of underwear do you bring on a year long trip? You have just like one backpack, right?”

“It’s so funny you ask. We found this great quick-dry underwear you can wash in the sink and it’s dry the next day. It’s amazing. Just three pairs of that have been more than enough.”

“I guess you probably don’t need a lot of sexy underwear, huh? Just lots of condoms.”

Whoa! Boundaries. Strange middle-aged man needs some company.

“Oh, I almost forgot, you’re married. You have to be sure that all your social events aren’t with other medical students and you can’t constantly talk about science and leave her out and work long hours and ignore all the things she does around the house because one day you’ll lean into kiss her and she’ll push you away saying, ‘I don’t love you anymore’ and you’ll realize you hardly know each other any more and it’s no use to get counseling and its all over.”

Ok, wow, too much information. He continues,

“Is your husband here today? I really want to meet him. I just want to give him some advice. Seriously, before you leave campus, bring him up to my office.”

Yeah, Ron’s gonna love this.

I successfully navigate the conversation away from relational and clothing topics and ask about the patient population. He makes a joke about patients thinking doctors are a little crazy. Where would they ever get that idea?

We leave with a smile, a handshake and his insisting that I bring Ron up to meet him.

I find Ron and quickly brief him. He accompanies me back up the elevator and Crazy Man is thrilled and surprised that I actually followed through. His (second, I assume) wife has stopped by his office and he introduces me , “This is Trina. She was conceived in the stacks of Powells Books.”

Ron and I laugh uncomfortably and within a few minutes Dr. Y has imparted his precious jewels of wisdom to Ron. He assures me, “I sure hope you choose to come here. The choice will be yours.”

Well, that’s encouraging. And, completely independent of anything to do with who I am or what would make me a good doctor. But, I’ll take it!

At the end of the day, I found it to be an innovative, relatively young medical school (1970’s) with a diverse student body and a very strange Dr. Y.

The Ugly

On the cab ride to our hotel the night before the NY Med interview, the driver explained, “the hospital is the primary employer here, second only to the prison.” Sure enough, this small, picturesque town is dominated by a beautiful medical facility and razor-wire-surrounded prison. He couldn’t remember if it was “where they temporarily hold rapists and murderers before they’re sentenced” or for white-collar criminals. Ok. Well, that’s good to know.

It's located in Westchester County, the ninth richest in the country. The place feels a little snobbish, but I'm keeping an open mind.

The campus is gorgeous – red brick buildings connected by sidewalks crossing green lawns. It’s October and the fall colors are at their peak. Walking in the door to the Admission office I feel way out over my skis. The room looks like an old rich person’s parlor. Dark wood, rich burgundy carpet, antiques, gilded picture frames, the whole bit. The people inside seem to fit the part much better than I. All ten interviewees are sitting around a coffee table not conversing and looking pretentious.

I decide to put myself out there, “Hi, my name’s Trina, what’s yours?” After a day at Einstein where we were all camp buddies by the end of the day I was not prepared for the perhaps more typical interviewee culture of competition. “I’m Rebecca” she says without bothering to look up.

Ok, this is going well. I try a guy, “Hi, I’m Trina. Where are you from? Did you just fly in?” He looks up from his leather padfolio just long enough to watch my expression while he says, “I didn’t need to fly. My parents have a house here in Westchester.” Granted, everyone in the room is nervous, but come on folks…we’re here to interview after all. A little warm up conversation could help us all!

My name is called and I enter the room. I see a man I can only imagine is named Mr. Tuttle sinking into the chair. He’s at least 350 pounds with golf ball sized bags under his eyes and a lot of skin under his neck that wiggles like a turkey gibbler when he turns to face me. He has glasses magnifying the black circles and it seems to be more effort than he can muster to move his large grimacing lips. I smile, look him in the eye, firmly shake his hand and say, “Hello, Dr. X, I am Trina Davis, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” (Kind of a lie). He mutters, flips through the file on his desk and says, “Why did you wait so long to apply to medical school?” Apparently life experience is not a plus here. I explain my story, and he seems barely able to hold himself awake. “What did you hate about your job so much that it drove you to medicine?” Not exactly an optimist. I describe that I actually loved my job and would be suspect of my motives if I was running from something; I was simply that much more compelled by medicine. He proceeds down the list of scripted questions.

I’m increasingly certain I could do a jig on the table and this man won’t crack a smile. I try serious, studious responses, lighthearted ones, sullen, negative ones and vulnerable, honest ones.

I didn’t know it was physically possible to conduct an entire conversation while firmly frowning. He looks ridiculous as he says “I’m your advocate to the Admission Committee” with pursed eyebrows, blank eyes and expressionless lips.

It was like trying to launch a hot air balloon filled with lead. Crashing and burning is too generous as it indicates there was some initial speed.

The rest of the afternoon touring the campus and lunching with students proves what I suspected from portly interview man – this is a well-resourced place that values homogeneity. I appreciated the connection I saw among the students, the magnificent facilities and determined this was definitely not my kind of place.

Although I was told I wouldn’t hear any decisions for at least ten weeks, I was not surprised to receive my first rejection a mere six weeks later. Apparently the school was really eager to vomit the interloper out of their gilded system.

Medical School...the Backstory

During the last year of blogging, I’ve been purposefully obtuse about the details of my medical school application and selection process. Many schools are known to check what you “really think” about things by finding your blog or Facebook page. I didn’t want to risk turning off Harvard Med by telling you how superior I find Yale Med. Or that my experience interviewing at NY Med was completely abominable and my experience at Stony Brook was hilarious. We were trying to maximize our options (acceptances) so we’d be able to find a suitable pair.

Thankfully, we are on the other side of all that and now that I can, I wanted to fill you in on the “real” story behind the process.

First, a little background. Advisors tell you that if you want to be “sure” you’ll be accepted to one school, you need to apply to at least ten schools. It’s “reasonable” to expect ten applications to generate two interviews. And approximately half of interviewees are accepted. So, I applied to twenty schools in the hopes that I’d get two acceptances and at least one would be in commuting distance of Ron’s accepts. We applied to cities to maximize our chances of matching up – I applied to 7 in NYC, 3 in Boston, 4 in Baltimore/DC, 2 in SFO, 2 in LA, 2 in Connecticut.

After submitting transcripts, MCAT scores and an essay about “why I want to be a doctor” to all twenty schools, each responds and asks you to write up to six more essays specific to their school. Questions range from “What makes you special?” to “How will you prepare to be a physician of the future?” Forty-seven essays later I waited impatiently for interview invitations. This was complicated by our trip plans and my restricting my available interview time to one month at the beginning of the cycle.

I suppose I should take a minute to explain what exactly I’m looking for in a med school. I am obviously a non-traditional student (not straight out of undergrad) who comes to medicine for both the science and the communication aspects. I am not looking to be a research protégé or a world-famous surgeon. If I had to guess right now, I expect to enjoy primary care – complete with long-term patient relationships, the ability to impact diseases through preventative education, great variety and lack of emergent situations. I’m not interested in the drama, prestige or pure academia that defines success at many of the “best” medical schools. Teaching doctors the art of patient care often has historically been secondary to learning research skills or cutting edge technology related to a very rare illness.

There is a drastic shortage of primary care practitioners in the US, precisely because it has been considered “less than” by so many medical schools over the years. I value a more holistic approach to both patient and physician wellness. I’m not talking chakras, but I think it’s ridiculous to ask your patients to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep when you’re working 30 hour shifts, eating out of vending machines and calling walks to the pathology lab exercise.

I’m not competitive. It seems to me that rather than encouraging peacocking, doctors could use an education in cooperation, collaboration and viewing the world a little less stratified.

You fill out an anonymous survey when applying to medical school indicating your reasons for becoming a physician. There were some I found downright insulting - Prestige, Power, Financial Compensation, Competitive Environment, Family Expectation. Others I really identified with - Lifelong Learning, Challenging Coursework, Bright Peers, Helping People. I thought the list of options illustrated really well the spectrum of things I am turned on and off by in the field of medicine. I’m not competitive, and think pursuing medicine for the sake of money, power, reputation or family expectation threatens the integrity of the whole endeavor. I’m perhaps not the most empathetic, compassionate person in the world, but I think access to healthcare shouldn’t be restricted by money.

Back to the story. Given these biases, my top choice going into the application process is a school just north of Manhattan in the Bronx, NY called Albert Einstein College of Medicine. It’s an affiliate of Yeshiva University and its Jewish heritage places a lot of value on many things that matter to me – training physicians to incorporate healthy habits into their lifestyle, valuing research and patient care education and serving a diversity of patient populations, including immigrants and those less able to pay. As a school, they point out the ways they’re different from the average med school and I appreciate that.

I knew there was a lot I couldn’t know about these schools when my primary source of information was a the school’s own website. Was the school actually compelling, or do they just have a great copywriter?

I was outright rejected by UCSF and Stanford, ruling out the Bay Area right away.

My first interview invitation came from Einstein and that was a huge boost to me. My next invitations came from New York Medical College, SUNY Stony Brook, Boston University and Loma Linda University.

In the interest of time, I’ll just describe the good, the bad and the ugly which occurred in reverse order.


Monday, June 22, 2009

We are Home!

It's SO weird, but we are home. Our first "trip" pictures on our computer are preceded by my birthday--and now my birthday is tomorrow.

A year has passed. Kids have grown. People have conceived and birthed, bought homes, even some have died.

We have more updates for you...but for now we just wanted to let you know we are back.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trinidiom #54

"I'm as calm as a cat."

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're Authors!

We completed the first draft of our book about our travels around the world! It is currently 198,216 words.

We've been writing ten to fourteen hours a day the last few days and we're so glad it's done! There will be much editing to do, but for now we're celebrating.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Letter to my PMS self

Dear Trina,

I know. I know it feels so awful. I know you are acting ridiculous and can’t stop. I know that there is no solution and there never will be. I know that he is your mortal enemy and the person you trust most and this is exceptionally confusing. I know that you are certain there is a massive conspiracy underlying all that you hold to be true. I know you’re pissed at him for suggesting chocolate because it is so trite and you want it more than anything. I know you’re going to enter that Red Tent in a few days and transform into a blubbering mess of cuddling neediness. I know that only Celine Dion and Shania Twain get it. I know that choking feeling of anger at the world for not understanding. I know you now understand that there’s a time to kill. I know it isn’t fair. I know you’re secretly curious about God’s goodness and thinking this Eve lady is a bitch. I know how you hate your hormones and you’re certain you need a different Pill. I know you feel vulnerable but it’s more important than ever that no one guess that. I know that you want to kick your husband in the balls and mount him and hug and cry. I know.

And, you’re right. And, it’s going to be ok. You’ve made it through the past 221 times and you will again. The truth is, it is a curse and it’s only because of your incredible strength of mind, dazzling heart, crushing inner beauty and drop dead gorgeous exterior that you’ve been given the challenge. You will triumph over the shriveling glands that caused all this. You are a stunning creature. Hear you roar.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

So you can picture it...

I'm sitting under the second palapa in from the left right now writing.

Here's a few more photos of Cabo from our time with Ron's parents. (Above, I'm with Rick, below Ron with his mom Ann, farther below, Amanda, Scott, Rick, Ann and I).

Trinidiom #53

While walking in the heat.

"I'm cooked"

That one is really close...


You thought we talked a lot...

We've written over 100,000 words between us. That's approximately 275 book pages and we've written our way into Malaysia. So, it looks like we'll have plenty of room to cut!

Writing for me has involved a lot of re-living. When I'm telling you about seeing my first castle I'm elated all day and can't stop smiling. When I'm writing about a fight with Ron, I pick a new (or old) fight with Ron and I'm pissed all day. When I'm writing about some of the human tragedy we've seen, I'm depressed and hurting all day. I'm not looking forward to the 105 fever writing and I can't wait to get to the Mexican beach writing.

The setting is perfect, I'm sitting here writing under a palapa looking out at the Pacific Ocean trying to decide if it will be nachos or quesadillas for lunch. But, the writing is definitely work. Yesterday was my birthday (thanks for everyone's wishes!) so we took it off, but the day before we wrote solidly from 9am to 7pm, stopping just briefly for lunch. We're on track to finish with a few days to spare and just enjoy Cabo before flying home.

This is also the longest we've stayed in any single place for a year. There were two weeks in Norway, two weeks on the desert island in Thailand and two weeks in Kolkata before the week in the hospital. We've been sleeping in the same bed for 3.5 weeks and I feel like a native Mexican. The geckos on the walls are one of the few reminders that it isn't my ancestral home.

The strangest thing is happening. We have to clean! We haven't cleaned anything in a year. You don't dirty a hostel bed enough in three nights to need to wash your sheets. It's shocking to see a dirty toilet and not be packing my bags.

So, things are good. Speaking of toilets, if you've been wondering about my digestive tract, it's faring pretty well. I'm still on my daily diet of Pepto and tolerating just about everything but alcohol just fine. I did have one small bout of the ubiquitous traveler's disease, but all the doctors in my life acted exceptionally quickly, got me on Cipro and knocked it out in 12 hours. Everyone's happy with my progress and I'm not nearly so tired any more. I've even run 3 miles on the soft sand beach without a nap!

That's me for now. Oh, and we did sign the lease for the townhouse in Cambridge. We move to Boston August 4th!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Trinidioms #52

"Stop dragging your heels!"

I looked this one up, which obviously seemed to be a combination of dragging you feet and digging in your heels. Apparently Trina's version is actually used.

I want to know how you can be standing in any form and dragging your heels. Seems like you'd fall flat on your face.

Maybe it just means something more extreme than dragging your feet. Like someone is carrying you backward and your heels are dragging behind perhaps?