Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
So, hey, a little interesting piece of information. You may have seen the very buff lady trainer that teaches my Insanity class here (or scroll down to "Our new Life in Philadelphia").
As it turns out, she was Ms. America. Uh huh. Now I don't feel so badly that she can do more pushups than I.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
I am on summer vacation!
One of my favorite parts is not keeping my cell phone on vibrate. There are no lectures to interrupt or labs to disturb. My phone can happily sing, beep and chirp.
I haven't dried my hair in weeks. I can wear the same thing three days in a row and no one cares!
It is good to relax.
My only appointments are at the gym where I'm learning to loose my inhibitions dancing salsa, mambo and cha cha. I am kind of a troll of a dancer, especially compared to the tall, lanky, graceful Tahitian-dancer instructor. But, I just close my eyes, pretend I'm thirteen making a music video with my cousins and go for it! My instructors generally smile at me, with that kind of pity/entertained look that says, "you're hopeless, but good effort." The goal is simply to sweat and enjoy myself, both of which are happening in large measure.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
All in all it was a charming little place.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
We are here because Ron's got an internship at a legal firm called Berger Montague. He is working on antitrust litigation. If you'd like to know what that is, please ask Ron. I do not really know. He seems to like it because it involves lots of arguing and having opinions and depositions.
I am a stay at home Trina. Basically I have 11 weeks off this summer before I am a full time med student/resident for the following six years straight. So, while many of my classmates are off doing research, etc. it seemed like a good idea to me to not. I'm working on editing our book that we wrote while traveling around the world, trying out new classes at the gym, baking these new blueberry bars my mom invented and stuff like that. These intense med students need to learn to relax! I am enjoying remembering that I am a person and not just a memorization machine.
Speaking of the gym,
it is called 12th St and it is pretty cool. It was a great deal and they have tons of amazing equipment and really strong trainers, etc. I picked it for the deal. An anonymous source recently confided to us that this gym is the center of the gay pickup scene in Philadelphia, which explains all the guys with hairdryers and the men's only spa. But, as far as I'm concerned that just makes it an easier place to learn salsa dancing. We are both having a blast with our classes. Ron's first was one called Insanity taught by Midge.
She's a really nice lady who provides an excellent workout. Yesterday I went to a Tae Bo class taught by this lady whose sweats said "Tae Bo Extreme" and shirt said "Boot Camp." I accidentally went to the advanced one. Oops. I didn't know I could get sweat to pour off my pony tail like that.
Today I tried out Zumba for the first time. There were elderly people in there, so I felt like I was in less danger of passing out or throwing up than last night. It's like a "learn to be a latin lover dancer" class. We wiggle our hips and shake our top and make seductive faces. The old guys are my favorite. No one really keeps up with the steps, but I theoretically salsaed, mamboed, sambaed and generally felt like I was on Dancing with the Stars. Tonight, Ron's trying one called Muscle Attack, but since that is more of a description of my body right now, I'm going for the Easy-Does-It-Gentle-Vinyasa-Yoga. I'll let you know how it goes.
This is generally a way cooler city than I thought. I had in my head that Philadelphia was kind of a rough, industrial place. Ok, I admit, a large portion of my knowledge about what Philadelphia was was from the beginning of Fresh Prince of Bel Air ("in west Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days") - don't pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about!
Philadelphia is exceptionally walkable, with friendly little maps posted every couple blocks. FYI, we live in the purple section, approximately three squares down from the little star.
Friday, April 23, 2010
After I arrived here, it didn't take long to find out that the really amazing students tend to go for law review. I've heard "everyone tries out for it; at least everyone who thinks they have a shot" and "it's the ticket."
There's that darn ticket again. Who knew I'd meet so many tickets that led to more tickets? I used to think the ticket was a good SAT score and getting through calculus my junior year (oh, and student leadership and sports). Those were 13 years ago! Since then, the ticket has included (but has not been limited to) college, excellence in college, good graduate standardized test scores, good professional credentials, good networking, law school, an amazing law school, Harvard Law School, top grades at Harvard Law School, and now law review. Or legal aid bureau if you aren't quite Law Review material or you are woefully bent toward the practicalities of actually doing something for resource-less people.
Now, I'm sure law review has its place. It is, after all, a proxy for "hey you, I'm smarter than smart." (better translated as, "I'm smarter than you"). And, frankly, that opens doors. So does wiling countless hours away with brilliant peers who will go on to do great things and be the connections you need in a connection-driven world.
And, if you are a future academic, it will look odd if you didn't do law review.
But that's my point. This whole prepackaged path you should take thing is starting to really grate on me. Really? Another one? THIS one, finally, will be the one that makes it so I don't have to find any more of these super-panaceas for my professional launching? I'm skeptical.
The law review competition lasts about a week, and, I'm told, includes scouring a couple thousand (!) pages of legal documents so that you might write some sort of document that impresses the readers. And correcting another document.
Of course, if you are smart enough to get in, you get to spend 20 hours a week for the next two years working for them. The first year, though, involves mostly technical work (what we call sub-citing here). That means that you spend your time looking at the citations in scholarly articles to make sure they are correct. Formatted correctly (there's the 300 page bluebook for that--just for formatting citations!) AND cited correctly (is that really what that document said or implied on that page or in that chapter or as a whole?).
Sound fun? Nope. But each year, hundreds of geniuses line up like lemmings to try to do it.
I've done some subciting for a journal (two days of it was enough to make me want to swallow turpentine). I'll maybe do a little more, just to make sure I have the skills I need. But I'd rather, I don't know, enjoy and engage my classes than do it 20 hours a week. Take the extra time and have a life, or even if not, choose academic pursuits that aren't hellish.
True, maybe I could get on law review and publish an anonymous note that I might later get credit for. That's publishing (sort of). Or maybe I could try doing novel research and actually get myself published in a law review, rather than being the publisher's slave! Perhaps I'll get better grades if I don't spend all that time running over my soul. Might I make friends without getting on law review? Maybe? Might I start chasing down people who are already successful professionals, rather than just betting that some of these smarty-pants will end up in a position to help me? Perhaps.
There are people who genuinely belong on law review, and I'm thrilled that they are going to compete. They should and I'm proud of them for working hard and making it. But I'm stunned by how many people have fallen into the herd and have abdicated their greatest talent--independent thinking.
Not me, not this time anyway. I didn't give up a lucrative professional career, leave my extended family and quit traveling around the world so that I could go to law school and ruin it as quickly as possible by over-committing to something with mostly replaceable benefits and purgatorial demands. I'm not going to do it just because it is someone's twisted idea of more and better, especially when it is, in so many ways, less and worse (if you are me, anyway).
Nope. I plan to sing along with Sinatra when I finish law school: "I did it my way."
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I'll have a group of 18 (or two groups of 18) students, who I'm responsible to further the weekly lessons with. Apparently I'll be posing novel problems (not the ones he addresses in lecture) and working the discussion to teach whatever it is I'm supposed to be teaching.
I'll also coaching the students on paper writing, and grading their two papers to boot, as well as preparing them for their final. It should be pretty exciting.
Check out the link to the online course; it's got a promo video that explains the course.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
All this has had me thinking. Yes, I've been thinking about whether a contract was unconscionable, when the police power goes too far in land regulation and should be called "a taking", the role of international law in shaping behavior and of course of litigation strategies.
But I've had lots of bigger questions on my mind. The really big ones, life, death, faith, security, will be left for another time.
But behind those has been a nascent realization that I'm going to try to put in words.
I've spent my whole life launching. From the beginning, it's been "reach for the stars" and "you can do anything". And, sitting at this place and time, it feels quite true. Just graduating from HLS, I can access and be a part of the highest echelons of US money/power culture: politics, corporations, government, investment banks, consulting and law firms. I can do more, get bigger, better, keep on expanding until...what exactly?
I guess I'm starting to fixate on this "what, exactly?" I kind of asked this question when I chose against my burgeoning corporate career and came here, because I had to stop a lot of momentum, economic and otherwise, to choose to travel and go back to school. But it still all bore the mark of more, better, launching into a new stratosphere of challenge and adventure.
Maybe this is just my impending thirtieth birthday talking, but I'm sort of done with this whole launching-expansive thing. It's not that my eyes aren't set high. Sure, it would be fun to run a Fortune 200 company, or sue one, or work for justice department, or be the guy who appoints the head of the justice department (that means be president). Yes, I'd like to remake the academic/legal/political/technological world. I want to chase interesting adventures and find ways to use those adventures to make a real difference in people's lives.
But I wonder if Solomon is a few steps ahead of me. It seems that this is all a bit of a meaningless chasing after the wind. More isn't necessarily better. In fact, it seems they often have an inverse relationship (gasp, there went my chances at the Presidency).
I guess I'm struggling to ask, how much is enough? Or, better yet, what is a better measure than quantity/prestige/power/exclusivity/impact? I'm sure that the answer lies in the words of the One who said, "blessed are the poor in spirit", but I just haven't quite figured out how to integrate all that.
I've noticed something. That almost always, those who are chasing these windmills are working themselves literally to death. Maybe that's worth it, if you have something or some end you are working for that is worth giving your life (and relationships too). I can't imagine any worldly cause worth sacrificing my relationships for (although that may just be a measure of my selfishness too, hard to say). Certainly it wouldn't be worth it for a "cause" that merely represents my own desire to have engaging or satisfying work. In the end, those sacrifices would be the opposite of satisfaction.
The truth is, I don't find these people all that impressive. They are a bit smarter and savvier than average, but not disproportionately so. They work hard yes, and were in the right place at the right time, usually by accident. But they aren't larger than life. In fact, a lot of them seem kind of small.
Anyway, I don't have any answers. I don't know what my life will ultimately look like. I don't know what dragons I will slay, or whether I will be a stay-at-home dad dragon slayer. What I do know is that I'm done graduating and getting sent off...I'm almost thirty years old now. Yes, I want adventure. I want intellectual challenge, to continue to see the world, to be pushed. But I also want to be rooted, to make choices that are judged on a value scale more worthy of the Kingdom I'm inheriting.
Maybe I'm just growing up?
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
My gorgeous cousin Jossie.
My aunt Linda, Mom, Dad, Ron and directing the scene...Romy.
Last but certainly not least...I got to spend a wonderful afternoon with my grandparents on New Years Eve. It was great to see each other again!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Lucky me, they sell it in "pound plus" sizes, so one bar lasts quite a while. Unlucky me, we ran out the other day. This upset me.
We do not live with easy access to Trader Joes, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I figured out if I took two buses and walked about ten minutes I could get there.
Relieved to see a full supply of them, I loaded ten bars in my basket and got in line. The woman behind me in line said, "Wow! That's a lot of chocolate! What are you going to do with all that?"
"Eat it." I said, totally straight-faced.
"Oh!" she said, nervously laughing. "Well, enjoy!"
"I will." What's wrong with these people. This is awesome chocolate. Why would I need to "do" something with it?
I get to the checkout. The clerk says, "Oh my! 10 lbs of chocolate! Are you having a big party or something? Fondue?"
"No. I just like it. We ran out."
"I'd say so!" Same nervous laughter. Weird, what's wrong with everyone here.
I walk in the door with ten lbs of chocolate in my arms. Ron looks at me, a little surprised, but with a huge smile on his face and says, "maybe we shouldn't have sent you there this time of the month."
Monday, February 15, 2010
When I'm in the exam room I am not a person, a woman, a wife, a daughter...I am a doctor. When I greeted a teenage boy patient...I have never been looked at so utilitarianly in my life. It was as though I was the most uninteresting thing in the world. I wasn't a girl, I was a doctor.
I think it says something about how we rationalize the gross invasion of privacy. I go to the doctor, he is a man, I am a woman...about the same age. In any other circumstances him instructing me to remove my clothes, then touch, look, ask probing questions...this would be totally inappropriate. But, when it's a doctor, it's ok. Even when you're little and they teach you about stranger danger and everything...they say no one should touch your bathing suit areas, except your doctor. It's really intimate. So it's like everyone involved compensates by detaching. I, the doctor, see you as this machine that needs fixing. You, the patient, see me as the mechanic who can help you figure out this problem. So, I think it's a little weird.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I want to hold it! I want to love it. I want him to know it's going to be ok. God is so incredible.
This nerve between my fingers is how he could smell. This right here is how he saw the world for 83 years. This one gave him the ability to wiggle his tongue.
This was him. All of him. In my hands. I want to love it and hold it.
What an incredible honor. An intimacy beyond all intimacy.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I have to say though, I am learning so much. It is fascinating to watch it all come together. We have spent the past many months absorbing incredible amounts of information. To see why it matters and how it fits is wonderful.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Monday, February 08, 2010
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
I didn’t expect to feel much the day we met our cadaver. I took Anatomy in college, studied on a cadaver. I remembered that each day my heart would catch in my throat when I first glimpsed a skinless body from the door. But, one deep breath later, I saw Flexor Digiti Minimi, not someone’s finger.
I walk in the room. We unzip the bag. It’s a man. His legs, stomach and arms don't trouble me. Fingernails. Earlobes. Forehead wrinkles. It isn't passing. He still looked like he, not that. We gently wrap his hands, feet and head to preserve the delicate structures. I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t covering up the most “human-looking” parts of him to make it easier for us to begin cutting into him.
This man lays before me, a wonderland of learning. The pinnacle of biology, chemistry, physics, all wrapped up into what was…a life. I’m going to get to do something no lay person gets to. I get to look inside. I get to see how it works. Touch it, feel it, look at the actual inside of a human body. It’s amazing.
The first cut is the hardest. Piercing the skin seems violating. His outer shell now has this penetrable opening. Task at hand is removing the skin of the back. We’re trying to “find a plane” and not cut anything too important. Not a lot of time to feel how weird and gross it is that we are taking the skin off a person. Not until I close my eyes to go to sleep. The dreams aren’t upsetting, and that’s upsetting. It’s so matter-of-fact to visualize skin systematically removed.
By the second lab, removing skin isn’t a big deal. It’s a hassle, and we are flying through it.
Third lab, we are dissecting his Axilla and Cubital Fossa. I don't have any idea where that is. The armpit. Why can't they just say armpit? To get to his armpit and visualize his Brachial Plexus, we have to put a rope around his wrist and tie it to the post at the head of the table. I'm holding his hand as I'm awkwardly trying to tie up his wrist. It feels good and strange all at once. I drop my tweezers and as I bend over to pick them up, his hand slips into my scrub pocket. I jump, and laugh and the whole thing is just so weird. How am I supposed to feel about a dead man's hand in your pocket?
The experience of lab feels increasingly normal. Ron has to remind me to take off my scrubs before I come in the kitchen because I don't notice the smell anymore. I don't know his name. We've taken to calling him "our guy." Officially he's Pod 1, Table 1, but by the time we've reflected his biceps brachii, it seems like he's ours.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
I think the human body is amazing. It is utterly complicated, yet filled with elegant patterns. It’s inspiring. I think it’s because it’s so immediate. The concepts are so instantly relevant. Where does my Sartorius attach? Where does the cleaned blood from my liver meet up with the inferior vena cava? What happens to the triglycerides I ate at lunch? Unlike a lot of my classmates who are so eager for the “clinical correlations” (aka what can go wrong with this part of the body), I’m eager to understand how it goes right. It really does seem like a miracle that eating top ramen doesn’t completely throw off my sodium/potassium balance, that drinking toxins (alcohol) doesn’t poison me and don’t even get me started on how in the world a baby comes to be and be born. Points for creativity there, but whoa. Not exactly run of the mill.
It’s intoxicating. The wonder of it all. I like to glory in the wonder. I imagine next year, which is devoted to pathophysiology (what goes wrong) might leave me a depressed, hypochondriac mess, but for now, I’m soaring.
The only interruptions to my ecstatic happiness are the occasional exam and the beginnings of clinical instruction. As they say over and over, “During your career, most of what you learn in medical school will become obsolete, but anatomy never changes.” So, the material stands alone. It is the obturator internus. Lining the inside of the obturator foramen, pierced by the obturator nerve. That’s just what it is.
But, what about teaching us to interact with patients? The same approach is taken and I find it a little offensive. There is a way. A professional, best practice, code of conduct way to interact with patients. But, patients aren’t body parts. They’re people. “Yes, of course. That’s why we’re teaching you Human Behavior in Medicine. We’ll cover the typical personality types, methods for handling them and ‘anomalies’ you might encounter.” Really? I’m already impressed and upset that you can teach me the entire anatomy of the human body in sixteen weeks. But, now you’re going to logically and coherently explain to me human behavior!?
I don’t buy it. I understand that there’s a level of professional distance that must be developed and maintained to function as a physician. But, my humanity must be tempered so I can do my profession?