Plato believed that we lived in a world of
images, three-dimensional shadows of the true one. What we see with our eyes is nothing more than a cheap imitation of its true state.
example, the chair we see before our eyes is nothing more than a shabby image of the true chair that exists. We carry on everyday with
flawed perceptions of the true ideal form.
Life After College:
Year 3 - In Transit
[Wednesday, August 31, 2005]
I saw a first kiss today on my long walk home from the library. It wasn’t so much a long walk distance-wise, but a long walk psychologically-wise. It was the end of a long day with exams looming threateningly on the horizon. I was thinking neurotically (and semi-morosely) about all this, when I noticed a couple standing across the street outside an apartment building. Considering that it’s Wednesday night and they weren’t dressed up, I guessed they weren’t on a date. I was willing to bet they were students based on her Jansport backpack and his messenger bag. And as I walked slowly by, they moved slowly closer until their lips touched under the light of the streetlamp. His hands were still in his pockets and hers were still behind her back. And just like that, a tenuous relationship was formed with that tenuous touch of the lips as I walked silently by, unseen on the dark side of the street. I felt oddly voyeuristic, and gleefully so, because that moment reached out and enveloped me as I glided by and left me with an ear-to-ear grin I passed. The same sort of grin you have when a boy has just kissed you and you’re filled with surprise and disbelief and incredulity and joy that he likes you. Of the sort when you don’t really understand how this came about, but you’re not sure you care either. Of the sort you have when you’ve had a first kiss, except I hadn’t had one. I just saw one, and seeing it, with all its magic and promise redeemed my night.
Because seeing a first kiss is much better than experiencing one yourself. Let’s face it, first kisses are rarely the stuff of romantic movies. They’re tentative and awkward and very sweet for that very reason. Kisses, like wine, get better with age (and practice). But first kisses are like first steps, a bit wobbly and unsure and brave all at the same time. And your thoughts, far from romantic, are usually racing a mile a minute, thinking “Gosh, this is wet” or “Whose idea was it anyway to make the touching of tongues an intimate gesture? Who was the caveman who came up with this ridiculous thing?” or “I wonder when he’ll be done.” Then there’s the awkward post-kiss moment when you’re overcome by a sudden attack of shyness which you try to cover up with another bumbling kiss or an equally bumbling flow of tripping words or the occasional misplaced joke that makes your ears burn in shame for hours afterwards as you replay it in your mind. Because of course, of the entire momentous event, you'll choose to focus on the last 10 seconds when you made a fool of yourself, even though in that particular moment, you probably could’ve done anything and he wouldn't have cared. And you speak in continuous run-on sentences but you don’t care because you wanted to get all your scattered thoughts out at once even if they’re irrelevant and have nothing to do with what just happened. This couple was much more graceful than I could’ve ever been. He simply hugged her tightly as I wandered away with my mind filled with a glow, walking on air as if -I- had just been kissed.
It’s the third week of med school, and I’m already living vicariously through other people.
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, August 30, 2005]
Are you in or are you out?
One of my closest friends at school so far is DanceMonkeyDance (formerly known as ItalianHam). Well, as close as you can possibly be considering that we've only been in school for 3 weeks. As it turns out, he's gay. Not because he casually mentioned his boyfriend, not because he talked about going to gay bars, but because I flat out asked him. Dangerous move, I know, because if you're wrong - there is no worst thing to say to a hetero guy than "Are you gay?" But, I had suspected for a while, and when he invited me over for dinner, and then proceeded to cook spaghetti squash for me, put on some mood music, and light candles, I realized that I had to find out. Otherwise I was on a potential date and didn't know it. So I asked. And after a few seconds of eternal silence, he said, "I'm so glad you asked." He is. And he was worried about telling me because he really liked me, and I'm one of the few people he likes so far at school, and he can never tell how people will react to news of homosexuality. I was simultaneously offended (how could he think I'd be so narrow minded?) and flattered (I'm one of his favorite people!) and resigned (how does this happen all the time?).
In New York, I had the honor of being the first person my friend Leb came out to. After the initial shock (he'd been quite the man whore as a hetero man), and confusion (I'd never really understood why he'd hung out with me when he seemed to hate the whole world), all I could think of to utter was, "....CONGRATULATIONS!!!!" After all, he'd found himself. Most people never accomplish that, regardless of whether they're hetero or homo. And so I was introduced to the world of gay New York. He took me with him to bars since he was new to the scene, and everyone needs a fag hag. Since I'd never been a fag hag before, I went along for the ride, because I always like trying new things. Since then, I've realized that if I was a Native American, my name would be Loved-By-Gay-Men. Either the proportion of gay men in the population has increased by leaps and bounds, or there's something about me that says "Gay-nip". Even DanceMonkeyDance has noted that I seem to be inadvertently collecting gay men in our class. He was jealous. But it's not my fault. They just love me. Obviously, little Asian girls must be the accessory to have this fall.
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, August 23, 2005]
How does one fail a pass/fail class?
They say that med school is pass/fail to decrease the deadly competitive edge that's unsheathed when you put 250 type A premed personalities in one class. It's supposed to take the stress off already high-strung individuals.
I just failed my first medical school quiz. 60%. That's not passing. 25 questions. The worst part is - it was completely unexpected. Certain types of 60%'s are acceptable. Like, if I went in, thought the quiz was so hard, and received a 60%. That's okay. There's room for improvement. However, in this case, I went in, thought the quiz was reasonable, felt confident about all my answers, and wasn't stumped by any of the questions. That's the worst. Either I learned everything wrong. Or somehow, I was tricked! The answers come out tomorrow. And I'm feeling anxious. The first real exam is next week, and the quiz is only worth 1% of our grade. But still - it's psyched me out.
I pretend like it's nothing but I can tell I'm stressed. I started to find the candy cane reindeer in my pencil holder suddenly appealing. Before I knew it, I had unwrapped one. Somehow, the thought of eating candy canes from last Christmas doesn't bother me anymore. Even despite the fact that they're all soft and gooey on the outside edges.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, August 22, 2005]
So, as it turns out, one of the cadavers in lab today had a penis pump. Since we're dissecting the inguinal region today (pelvis area, but not really down to the reproductive system yet), the group who was assigned to that body ran into it. With a mistaken push of something, their cadaver suddenly had a raging hard-on, and no one knew what to do about it. A crowd gathered. The usual female touch would have had no effect I'm sure. Or so you would think. One girl was determined she knew how to fix it. "You have to break it," she said certainly, claiming that she had once worked in a urology lab. And so she began trying to break it. I cannot think of a faster way to ensure a virginal 4 years of med school.
One of the professors eventually came over while she was struggling with the stiff member (ironically, his stiff arms kept getting in the way). He reached in, and quietly snipped something. The penis went flaccid at once, and then proceeded to spray the gathered crowd with dead penis juice. One boy got it full-on on the side of his face and turned slightly green. I had my head in the chest cavity of my own cadaver, Delores, but looked up when I heard screaming. Everyone scattered and ran, and I have never been so thankful for not being over there. If any of that had gotten on me, I would've run straight for the window and jumped out. No question about it.
Posted by ink |
Last night at the free outdoor hoagie dinner run by the school.
ItalianHam (male): Hey look. There's your honey Intense Writer. He's so hot. Ink: Maybe we should see which one of us can date him first. ItalianHam: I wouldn't mind that. Except for the fact that he's all over that other 2nd year. He keeps touching her. Ink: Where? ItalianHam: There. Ink: Oh. You mean the utterly beautiful leggy Hispanic girl who has a fabulous tan, great wavy hair, and doesn't have 96 mosquitoe bites on her legs? ItalianHam: Yeah. Her.
Sometimes I wonder how genuine my crushes are. Or whether they're something I tend to dabble in to keep my mind occupied during free moments.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, August 20, 2005]
That describes me in more than one way today. I've been going through the lectures at a painfully slow pace today, and considering that our first quiz is on Monday, it's surprising that I'm not panicking. The quiz, granted, is only worth 1% of our grade, but its significance extends further than just its contribution to the overall grade. It's a Psychological Quiz. Meaning that if you do well, you feel better. If you don't, you psyche yourself out. Especially since the big exam is next week. I spent the afternoon studying in my room on my bed. Predictably, I fell asleep somewhere between memorizing the nerves that innervate the anterior abdominal wall (thoracoabdominal nerves T7-T11, subcostal nerve T12, iliohypogastric and ilioinguinal - both L1) and the arteries (superior/inferior epigastric, lumbar, subcostal, deep circumflex iliac, lower posterior intercostal). I woke up in a puddle of my own drool half an hour later. That's me - always graceful.
The problem with studying anywhere outside my apartment is that I'm required to carry the weight equivalent of a house on my back. Between the binder of lecture notes, the Netter's Anatomy Atlas, the Gray's Anatomy for Students (the textbook), and my laptop (so I can look at the lecture slides in color and full-screen), I estimate I'm carrying close to 35 pounds. I'm seriously considering throwing everything into my hiking backpack, but the social ramifications of being seen around campus with a hipbelt and a sternum clip are a little daunting.
Woke up today with: Radiohead's High and Dry playing inside my brain. I wonder how songs get stuck in my head during the night to be there in the morning.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, August 17, 2005]
So, as the first week of med school wraps up and the second week of med school is half-thru, i've compiled a list of thoughts:
1) people who talk inordinately loudly in coffeeshops about muscle insertion points and innervation. a few points: a) do you really need to announce the fact that you're in med school? that's as obnoxious as an ibanker loudly groaning about how many hours he's worked in the past week while secretly liking it. b) i go to coffee shops to avoid the library and thus other med students. it's understood that any peers i may run into at the coffee shop are also there for the same purpose. thus, speaking loudly about the topics at hand undermines the whole point of being here. SHUT UP.
2) my neighborhood now has the official stamp of "yuppie". A new starbucks opened up on our block. Brand spanking new, and not yet crowded. a perfect place for me and my vanila soy latte's.
3) said coffeeshop is down the street from Intense Writer's apartment. Intense Writer is a 2nd year I met last week. He lent me his textbooks for this block. Intense Writer taught me a few things. Firstly, that phone voice is extremely important to me. I am willing to date men who are shorter than me, younger than me, bald, big noses, you name it. But a nice speaking voice, nice eyebrows, and good teeth are absolutely necessary. Yes, I look for men the way others look for horses. During our first phone exchange to organize a meeting time for me to pick up the books, I noticed that he squawks on the phone. I'm not sure why I didn't notice it before when we spoke on the street. Probably because I was dazzled by his height, broad shoulders, and brilliant blue eyes. I was less dazzled the second time though, when he dropped the books off at my apartment and proceeded to talk to me till 1 am in the morning. Very loudly. I can get loud when I'm excited, but this man needs a volume control. I felt bad for my roommate, who I was sure was trying to sleep. But I didn't know how to tell him to tone it down without being rude. That and, I'm not a big nighttime person. I'm in bed by midnight at the latest, and it was a weeknight. I tried vainly to hint that I was ready to sleep by lying on my bed, in my pajamas, under the covers, while he spoke. All to no avail. No amount of brilliant blue eyes can make up for such an oversight. I've also decided that his own writerly tendencies are not as huge of an attraction as I had initially thought. I haven't met all that many writers, so I don't have a good idea of what the "stereotypical" writer is, but I'm getting the idea that I'm not it. Not only does this guy produce writing at a prolific rate, but he produces intense writing. The sort that makes anatomy professors cry when read at the memorial ceremony for cadavers. I can't remember the last time I wrote a piece that made people cry. I prefer to make people laugh.
I used to think passion was a good thing. In fact, I fretted often over the fact that I seemed to lack passion in my life. I didn't feel particularly strongly about much. Besides an intense addiction to chocolate, shoes, and fashion. But I wouldn't call those passions per se, just dependencies. After meeting Intense Writer though, I'm beginning to think that being passionate about life must be very tiring. I wonder how it feels to be so angry all the time. The funny thing is - the same things peeve us (like our touchy-feely "Medical Practices of the 21st Century" class). The main difference is that he's angry. I'm mildly annoyed. He hates the Catholic church with a passion and rails against it. I just thumb my nose at it once in a while and still attend Mass. Admittedly, I go to church more regularly during the school year. Largely because I feel like I need more divine intervention when it comes to academics.
Even though I don't agree with a large amount of what the Pope says, I sitll believe that religion and the Catholic church has a place in people's lives, and it serves a purpose. Much like the ipod (which I consider to be an engineering no-no), it's seriously flawed, but at the same time - it's the best thing available right now. So I live with it. Besides, why is it so trendy to hate Catholics? Just because Bush is an idiot doesn't make all Americans idiots.
So. To sum up the past two weeks of classes and the one week of Orientation in a nutshell - I've met more good looking people than I would've thought. And lots more girls in extraordinarily teeny skirts (premeds didn't look like this when I was in undergrad...). But I've gone from one end of the pendulum to the other. In corporate America, everyone was lackadaisical. No one had any interests or passions. Here, everyone has too much passion. Either the world is a freak and I'm the only normal one. Or I'm just too damn hard to please.
I suspect it may be the latter.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, August 08, 2005]
Wednesday marks my first dissection. Today and tomorrow will be mostly lecture on the back and spine. I have about 50 Power Point slides to go through, and 20 pages of text. Not fun. Especially since I have to look up every other word in the index to understand what's going on. Our school has a video of an "ideal" dissection that you can view online prior to actually doing it yourself. The different parts of the body that you're supposed to identify even light up for you. Except I didn't quite make it that far. Watching them slice the back freaked me out. It made me distinctly uncomfortable, especially when I could see the man's tan lines. A close up of the proper way to separate the muscle from the skin by slicing through the fat also showed a close up of the hair on his back. It's dark and curly. I've slept with guys who have hairy backs before. I don't know what it was about the body hair that I would otherwise find kind of gross. It somehow made him more human to me. And it bothered me.
We get to meet our corpse tomorrow, but I think I might have problems on Wednesday for the dissection. I'm a little worried. And I'm pretty sure that this will be a virginal year for me. I can't think of anything less sexy than dissection. Especially if I'll be thinking about slicing through the guy's back as I slide my fingernails down it instead.
Posted by ink |
[Sunday, August 07, 2005]
My school made us write our own Hippocratic Oaths. Sort of like writing our own wedding vows. They give them back to us at periodic times during our medical student career. I think they're timed to coincide with known "low points", to buoy us up with the goals we wrote about when we were still starry-eyed first years, un-jaded (yet).
I modified a version of an existing oath, and added my own tidbits. It's surprisingly hard to write when you get down to it.
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgement, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required while respecting my boundaries and the patient’s boundaries, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. I will be aware and respectful of the patient’s culture, and refrain from applying my own values to their situation.
I will remember that there is art to medicine, as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty as well as the frailty of others. Above all, I must not play God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart or a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. For the sick is not just the patient, but also all those who love him/her.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure. And I will educate my patients on the prevention and causes of disease, so that in an ideal situation, I will eventually be out of a job, for all my patients will be healthy and disease-free.
I will remember that I am a member of society, with special obligations to all human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. I will remember that I cannot take good care of someone else’s family, if I cannot take good care of my own. I will remember my roots and not forget all those who love me and supported me in my goals of medicine, and continually support and love them in return even when my goal has been achieved. For I could not have walked this difficult path alone, nor should I walk future paths of success alone. I will not allow my work-life to affect my personal life and family. For they have done too much for me to deserve such a thing.
I will lead a light befitting of a physician, continually educate myself so I can better serve my patients, and be an example of proper health, hygiene, lifestyle, and moral bearing for my family, my patients, and society.
I will practice medicine and aim to heal not just the body, but also the soul. I will keep in mind that our fates are all in the hands of God, mine as well as the patient’s. And that God may place trust in me to help a patient, just as I place trust in him to guide me in the right direction.
I will keep in mind that I am but a humble human being with limited knowledge, and that it is only with God’s help that I can heal. May I always be worthy of God’s guidance and blessing as I try to help my fellow man.
I will not become merely a mechanic of the machine called the human body, and will tend to the spirit as well. I will follow the footsteps of all healers who came before me, shamans, priests, and medicine men, and continue the tradition of healing. Not merely curing.
I will care for my patients with patience and respect and realize that we are a team aiming to heal together. I will have a thick skin and recognize what I cannot change, and what I can.
I will step back and take a look at myself regularly to gauge whether I have kept my oath and whether I like myself.
I will keep a sense of humor, a sense of perspective, and a sense of my place in the world.
This I do solemnly swear, by that which I hold most sacred.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, August 05, 2005]
White Coat Ceremony.
spritz spritz! spritz spritz! goes the wrinkle-free spray. "What are you doing Ink?" "Ironing."
I did my best this morning to get the wrinkles out of my white coat for the White Coat Ceremony. It's a short white coat, denoting my status as a student, as opposed to a long white coat, which the doctors wear. I've been told that I'll be cramming all sorts of things in the pockets. Stethoscopes, charts, PDA's, mini-reference books, reflex hammer, flashlight, etc. For today though, all that was in the front pocket of my white coat as I stepped out my front door, was a little vial of lip gloss. MAC's Oh Baby, to be exact. My favorite. White Coat Ceremony was just like graduation. Long, hot, full of speeches, full of families, and lots of free food. My initial concern about not being busty enough to hold up my strapless dress turned out to be irrelevant as my dress stuck to my body quite securely thanks to sweat. I baptized my new white coat similarly with copious amounts of body moisture. I looked quite doctor-ish, though I didn't feel very doctor-ish. I felt like a grease-pit.
The good news is, my bookshelves are up. Even though I've been settled in for almost 2 weeks now, I never feel like my room is my room until my books are unpacked. Next time, I'm not doing wall-mounted shelves ever again. Ikea's LACK shelving is the biggest pain in the ass ever. Bookcases from now on.
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, August 02, 2005]
It's the second day of classes. Odd. It feels longer than that. But I suppose when each day consists of sitting in a lecture hall for 8 hours while different people speak to you, it starts to feel pretty damn long. Even more telling of the deceivingly long two days are the relationships that have already been formed. It's the second day, and somehow, I'm already on cell-phone basis with 3 people. Yes, count 'em. Three. "Cell-phone basis" does not constitute a sole exchange of numbers (I've exchanged numbers with more than 10 people). Its defined as consistent calling. On any given night, or for any given school event, I can count on receiving at least three calls on my cell phone to see if I'm going, whether we want to meet up, etc. And these three people don't really know each other. Can you believe I'm on three different Cool Lists? That, or I'm three different people's Person To Cling Onto For The First Week.
The guy I met at the Miami airport on July 20 also turned up in the past two days. Turns out, not only is he a second year at Ink's Med School, but he's also president of the American Medical Assocation at said med school. I ran into him at the BBQ dinner yesterday, and once again today at the gym. I embarassed myself at the end of our conversation by trying to exit the gym through a locked door. As I smiled goodbye and vainly pushed against the double doors, he had to say, "Uh, that's not the exit." I looked up to see the doors clearly marked "Activities Office. Closed." I tried to laugh it off, and walked out the proper exit while wondering what the hell Ink's Medical School was doing admitting someone like me into the medical profession. That's something that a high school freshman does in front of her crush because she's nervous. What's even worse is that I don't have a crush on him, but I'm sure now he thinks I do.
Tomorrow's the last day of speeches before we take CPR class on Thursday, and then the White Coat Ceremony on Friday. Next week start the real classes. I think I'm ready. I've got my spanking brand new pens and notebooks all set!
Posted by ink |
[Monday, August 01, 2005]
The First Day of School.
Even though I claim to be an "older" student and thus eons more mature than the fresh college grads coming into med school, I experienced the same anxiety that every kid experiences on the first day of school. I guess some things don't change. That, or we've been conditioned to react a certain way to stimuli. I think The First Day of Anything is pretty scary. First Day At A New Job. First Date With A New Boy. First Day In A Support Group. After all, it's all about First Impressions isn't it. What someone perceives of you on the first day will likely color the remainder of their interactions with you. True, usually any misconceived predeterminations do eventually come out, but they still affect some interaction. Maybe they fraternize with you a little bit more because of what they perceive of you, or maybe they stay away from you a bit based on it. And what does someone know of you on the First Day? Not much really. You have the same tired conversations with people whose names you likely won't remember. And you hang out with the first people you meet so you have the semblance of a "crowd". Their impressions of you are based on so little because that's all they have to go on. Which of course, brings us to the all-important First Day Outfit.
I refuse to believe that girls are the only ones who fret about this. Boys too, must choose outfits carefully on the first day. So, I opened my closet door at 7:15 AM, fresh and smelling good from my shower in my personal bathroom, and realized I had nothing to wear. I don't really understand how it's possible to have a closet that takes up an entire wall of my room, and not be able to find one article of clothing that I like. But yet there I was, clutching a towel around me, dripping water down my neck, and contemplating which shirt was the least offensive. Eventually, I closed my eyes and picked one, letting Fate decide. Then of course, I didn't like what Fate had chosen, so I had to choose again. I ended up with long jeans (to cover the mosquitoe bites on my legs) and a standard tank top, which I made an effort to make more exciting with a funky necklace. I made an attempt to tame my hair as well. Some of the girls really got decked out as they were wearing short frilly skirts (that showed significant leg and significant cellulite) and one girl wore a suit.
I did receive my white coat today, which I'm quite excited about. I had ordered a women's size 4, but they had to get me a men's 32 because my arms were too long (how embarassing). The White Coat Ceremony isn't till Friday. But of course, I tried it on as soon as I got home. I thought I looked rather doctor-ish. We were subjected to a series of lectures today, about the importance of our roles as physicians, and how we're representing not just the school but also physicians as a whole (so we shouldn't come stumbling home drunk while wearing our white coats). We also learned about work-life balance and were told that we can't take good care of other people's families if we can't take good care of our own. Then there were the student activities. Everything is very high-school-ish. With a class of 250, I'm sure I'll get to know everyone pretty damn well. We even have a student council. Complete with a student council president who obviously got voted in because he's the best looking guy I (and the other girls) have ever seen. Every guy looks good in scrubs. Probably because you're patently aware of the fact that there's one thin piece of material between you and his skin. Once he takes that top off, it's nothing but chest. A chest that saves lives every day.
I'm a little concerned about stamina at this point. We haven't even started classes yet, but I took a nap between the end of registration and lunch (instead of being social with my class and "mingling"), and another nap after the bbq (instead of going on the tour with my class and "mingling"). I am getting into the rhythm of things though. Hopefully things will turn out for the best. I do feel like a freshman again.
big change, the choices we make
in life, gut instincts, on-the-whim
hairpin turns, the search for truth, the desire to be happy, the journey to finding out what
makes us happy.
being young and clueless, hoping
that we're not blindly leading ourselves to our own demise with every
tentative step we take, the pitfalls of dating, the trials
and travails of being a young woman in the post-feminist era.