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, January 31, 2007]
Whenever it looks like a boy is interested, I always want to hug my knees in glee. It makes me want to cackle and mutter to myself evilly. Eggscellent..... Mr. Burns-style. I think because I can't help but feel like I've magically tricked them. Historically, I haven't had a problem attracting boys, so that tells me I'm cute enough to lure them in, but I don't have staying power. I've had strings of first dates that never turn into second dates, and I'm notorious for having flirtations that never become anything. I can't seem to pull the trigger on things. It's a bit depressing since staying power is essentially personality. I'm not very good at showing people my personality. In fact, if anything, I'm prone to getting nervous and saying bizarre things. Not holding my breath. Again - waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I attended a non-med school social event a few weeks ago. My friend Navyhead just moved back to Philadelphia and was having a house-warming party. During this party, I realized that the world outside of med school operates by a whole different set of social rules that I'm no longer familiar with. Things that I thought were funny were met by "Oh gross!" I'm obviously completely unfazed by things now. It just goes to show how normal this entire circus called med school has become to me. I'm not fit for society.
This was reinforced a few days ago when we visited a hospital and saw a few patients. I told my friend Curly about it when I got back. My patient had end stage liver failure! And not just that, but he had encephalopathy and ascites, and he'd just had the TIPS shunt surgery a few days ago. AND.... he's on oral lactulose! I was all excited because this was straight out of our textbook. It's one thing to read it, and another to see it actually happening in life. Like seeing a prophecy come true. Curly's response was "Aw man, it's so sad. This guy's gonna die." That halted me. I suddenly realized that at no point did it cross my mind that this was a sad situation. All I could think about was how cool it was that he had all these things that my textbook had told me would happen. What is medical school doing to me that I've lost sight of the human state of things? When Kenmore's friend got cancer, instead of sympathizing, I wanted to ask, "What kind of cancer? How did he get it?"
Med school has a strange way of objectifying the human body. Maybe it's good, because it makes us better doctors if we're emotionally uninvolved. We can be unbiased and better perform our duties. But at the same time - most of us went into medicine because we want to help the human state. Not simply fix the body. I suppose like most things - the more you learn about it, the less magical it seems. When the mystery is taken away from how you get sick, and how your body functions, it becomes nothing more than a set of nuts and bolts that work together remarkably well for a little while - and then like all machines, starts to deteriorate with age. Knowledge of the human body, oddly enough, has brought me further away from humans instead of bringing me closer to them. Things no longer horrify me, or make me sad. I simply want to fix it.
Yesterday, I was crossing the street when I saw our Pathology professor carrying all these buckets while trying to weave between people on the sidewalk. He looked like he was about to tip over so I rushed over to help him carry something. He grinned at me and pops open one of the bucket lids, revealing human heads inside from Anatomy lab. Med school is normally a life I live inside of me, secretly, while looking all the more normal on the outside - just like everyone else. The juxtaposition of medical school with the hustle and bustle of the streets of Philadelphia was oddly surreal as I helped him haul the bucket of heads through the crowd and to the other building. These people have no idea, I thought. And that, of course, is the crux of it. People really do have no idea. They don't know what goes on in hospitals, what goes on inside doctor's heads, what's going to happen to them when they come for care. They don't realize that when they come in - we do our best to fix them. Because we're problem solvers and because we're curious. And if you're an interesting case, we'll take pictures of you and present you at our next meeting. They don't realize that we spend most of our time scared witless of making a mistake. And that for us - the human reality of it all really only comes crashing down on us after it's all over. When the mistake has been made and we're forced to face the reality of grieving family members. That's why doctors work so hard. Not because we actually care for each of the people coming through the hospitals, but because we want to remain in our little cocoons, being engineers of the human body. We work hard so we don't make mistakes - so we don't have to face the reality of what we really work with - the threads of people's lives. Because that knowledge is too great a burden for us to be aware of. Too heavy for us to bear and still function as physicians. We'd be frozen in fear otherwise.
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, January 30, 2007]
Arrrrgh! Not another one!
I've had it. I made an appointment with the dermatologist today because I've given up on my gynecologist. The birth control I was on gave me cystic acne. I'd get one big motherfucker on my face every month. Granted - it was just one and for that, I count my blessings, but that one would last for WEEKS and then leave a red scar afterwards. This month's location-of-choice is my chin. On the same side as the scar left by last month's cystic pimple, and the site of my infected nose piercing. My left side is officially my "bad" side. You know the pimple is out of control when you catch your own reflection in a passing store window and you can still see it.
I was planning on hiding out in my room all today, until I realized there were meetings I had to attend. I wore my hair down around my face in an effort to hide as much as possible and pulled my scarf up. Along the way, I run into Jet, the first year who I've been friendly with recently, and Joker, the fourth year who's told all his friends that I'm his "favorite" - but also happens to be friends with Tad. I hold out hope for neither of the above two males, but I'd still prefer to not appear disfigured in their presence.
Jet is the type of guy I'd refer to as "conventionally hot". An easy choice for girls to flock to. And boy do the girls flock to him. Historically, I don't tend to go for those types. I date the sleepers. The surprise choices. Partly because I like to feel like I've found a secret gem. Partly because conventional hotties don't really dig me and I'm okay with that. I'm not really your conventional girl. Jet, however, has been emailing recently and calling me to come out with his friends. And his friends act strange around me - the way high school boys do when they're around someone their friend likes. Poke each other in the ribs with their elbows, guffaw, and look sheepish. I think of myself as Will Ferrell. Certain types of people love his humor, and others hate it. Likewise, certain types of guys really like me, and other guys completely don't. I have my quirks and I'm aware of that. But some people love that about me, and others don't know what to do with it. Jet doesn't strike as the type of person who'd appreciate my quirks. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. One of these days, I'll say something typically Ink - but completely bizarre, and instead of laughing, he'll stare at me and think inside his head, "Oh my God, she's a fucking weirdo." After Tad (who also didn't know what to do with my quirks), I'm not averse to taking a break from boys. Even if things don't move from "group hanging out" to "hanging out alone" with Jet, I don't think I'll be too crushed. I'm perfectly happy just chilling with him as friends.
I have to admit that I do lean towards the quirky, slightly bizarre guy myself. I like people who surprise me.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 29, 2007]
Places I'd Like To Visit.
Nova Scotia (Canada) Prince Edward Island (Canada) Greenland Iceland Wales
Easter Island Fiji Cook Islands Madagascar Galapagos Islands
Colorado New Hampshire/Vermont/Maine Utah (Zion Nat'l Park, Arches Nat'l Park, Death Valley - CA) Oregon Montana
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, January 23, 2007]
God does exist!
All my prayers for a proper winter have come true!!!! I woke up this morning and glorious glorious snow was falling down outside. I have my space heater running in my room, and my down comforter feels ever-so-nice. I can't wait to put on my fleece and long underwear and bundle up with a scarf and hat and freeze my way over to the library. And there is not a bit of sarcasm in that at all.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 22, 2007]
I got soul but I'm not a soldier. -The Killers
I went home a few hours ago to make myself dinner and some tea to bring back to the library with me. I put the kettle on, steeped my tea, ate my dinner, and then left the tea thermos on the coffee table at home. Instead of drinking peppermint licorice Aveda tea, I'm drinking Wawa water in my cubicle. Instead of reading a magazine on my bed at home, I'm in the library staring at Power Point slides of colon polyps and liver cirrhosis. If there was a stab-myself-in-the-eyes-with-a-pen emoticon, I'd insert it right about here.
I hope none of my future patients have livers, because I don't really know it. There's a panic-style atmosphere in the library, where instead of learning the material well, people are calculating odds of what will be on the test and what will not, and deciding what is most worthwhile learning in the few days we have left. Failing a test means giving up your spring break. Failing a second one leads to repeating the year.
In other news, I witnessed a pelvic exam today. And learned how to perform a digital rectal examination on a row of three plastic butts that were set out on the table. Anyone want to let me practice?
Posted by ink |
[Friday, January 19, 2007]
The tribe has spoken.
In a fit of self-doubt, I decided that I need to find a boy who thinks I'm awesome. This is a sentiment I've stated many times before, but something that continues to evade me. It puzzles me. I have friends who think I'm awesome. How come boys I date don't seem to think that? Maybe I should start dating my friends. I was re-reading old blogs, and I realized that one of Tad's positive qualities was that he seemed to really like me and fit the criteria of "Thinks Ink is awesome." But I was always plagued by an uneasy feeling that this wasn't completely accurate. He didn't think that I, myself, the real me - was that great. The person he thought was great was this mirage that he'd created. And that came out over time the more we got to know each other. It sucked to be dating someone that I felt like was continually disappointed in me. It's disconcerting to realize that you're the reality that shatters the dream. It makes me feel oddly inadequate and somewhat resentful because I can't help being a flawed person. Everyone's flawed.
So I told myself that it's okay and pep-talked myself. Ink is awesome, yes she is. I am awesome. And because I was bored and procrastinating, I typed in iamawesome.com and look at what it told me! (click it).
The internet is full of little surprises =).
Posted by ink |
I'm pre-exam (again). We have exams every 3 weeks. That's more often than I get my period.
I went for my Well-Woman exam today. I like how they give it a special name so I don't have to feel embarassed about going to my GYN. I've been using Planned Parenthood for the past year, but after 3 different birth controls, none of which actually worked for me, I decided that maybe it was time to see an real gynecologist for my needs. Besides, my mother (an OB nurse) would be horrified to know her daughter was using social services. As it turns out, social services serve me better - as I realized when I went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription from my "real gynecologist" and found out that I'd have to pay $10 more for my birth control pack than I had to at Planned Parenthood. And even more annoyingly - I'd have to refill it every month instead of buying 6 packs at a time. This is going to get expensive.
Not only that, but today I also endured the most uncomfortable Pap smear I've ever undergone. Paps in general are uncomfortable. For those of the male persuasion - they put what looks like a metal duck's bill into your vaj, and then they open it up, thus expanding you. Then they stick two cotton q-tips into that little tunnel they've created, and scrape cells off your cervix. It feels odd to have your insides touched. It's uncomfortable and makes me squeamish. I usually lie there and pretend that this is no big deal and that I have metal objects stuck in me every day. I do the same thing during the breast exam when he's massaging my breasts and squeezing my nipples. We chat calmly about the weather. The whole thing is absurd. I know he's checking for breast cancer signs during the nipple squeezing, and part of me wants to jump up like an SNL comedy skit and say "YAY!!! NO DISCHARGE!" while doing a cheerleader routine.
The worst is when he checks my ovaries. I can feel my insides turn cold as soon as the nurse hands him the tube of lubricant. I've had this done before (every year) and usually it's no big deal. But for some reason - this time was particularly uncomfortable. When all was finished, he took his gloves off, announced, "You're perfectly normal!" and went to shake my hand. "It was great to meet you," I said, glancing down at his hands to see if he had giant fingers. But they looked surprisingly normal sized.
And with that - I'm safe for another year. Yay!!!
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 15, 2007]
It's my party and I'll mope if I want to.
I'm not sure why I'm mopey today. After all - last night I had the all-important closure talk with Tad. Since I knew there was a good chance he was still bitter and angry about being dumped, I knocked on his door instead of calling or instant messaging (both of which are easily avoidable) and I dodged his excuse of needing to clean his apartment by telling him I would borrow his dog for a little while until he finished cleaning. She is too cute and I missed her. While he stood there uncertainly, I scooped her up into my arms and told him I'd see him in 5 minutes and brought her back to my place.
We had a nice conversation sitting outside on my stoop. I tried my best to act as foolish as possible, upon the advice of Tom, who told me that boys like it when girls act giddy around them as it makes us less intimidating. I hope I didn't overdo it. Towards the end, as we were getting cold, I said what I had come to say.
"Hey listen. I think we were really hard on each other, and I'm sorry."
He paused. Then he said, "If I said anything that hurt your feelings, I'm sorry." And with that, we parted ways. I felt good last night. I felt like we had an amicable parting and that he no longer hated me. I also felt justified in not being with him - as our conversation had the typical disjointedness that happens between two people who don't really speak the same language. We have a tendency to talk past each other as opposed to talk with each other. We're just not quite on the same wavelength.
So why am I mopey today? Maybe I'm mopey because I always complain that all the good guys are taken, and here is a perfectly good guy that's just not for me. And it somehow feels unfair and cruel. Maybe I'm mopey because I have all this studying to do and I don't feel like doing it. Maybe I'm mopey because even when things were bad with Tad, at least at the end of a hard study day, I could go home and have someone to sleep with, even if he did ignore me all night and didn't want to talk before bed. Perhaps I'm simply lonely. And thoughts of Tad haunt me as Possible-Last-Good-Guy-To-Ever-Like-Me. Or even just Last Normal Guy.
Especially since my Friendster date was decidedly not normal. I could tell it was going to be awkward as soon as I saw him. Social awkwardness is something I'm familiar with. I very rarely interact perfectly with anyone, so I'm not likely to be critical of someone who's socially awkward. However, this guy was visibly socially awkward. He held his body in weird ways. He stood at an odd posture and held his arms at strange angles. He was raised on a macrobiotic diet in his childhood, and went to an all boys' school. He also has a lot of allergies. And he kept mentioning that he's a "giver", not a receiver. Multiple times. I hoped fervently that he wasn't implying what I thought he was implying. And I wished he would stop rubbing my arm. Obviously, I was fooled by the pictures, which looked nothing like him. I wonder if he thought the same of me and my pictures.
Aiya. I don't know what to do with myself besides hope it's a phase that blows over. I am tempted to go next door and borrow Tad's dog to talk her for a walk. Just because it's a beautiful night and I'd like to be outside, and there's nothing like a little white dog to make you feel better. But I know better than to do that. So instead - I'll sit in my library cubicle and stare at my reflection in the window and wonder what I'm going to do with my 26 year old self.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 08, 2007]
The Friendster Profile.
About a month after Tad and I started dating, I got a notice in my email. "Tad's profile has been changed." Of course, I clicked on it, and immediately noticed that he'd changed his status to "In A Relationship." I was startled. I had considered us to be dating, or at best at "It's Complicated." The internet these days is truly amazing. It reminds me when my friends' birthdays are, tells me when to pay my credit cards, and notifies me when I'm officially in a relationship.
Likewise, I returned from Vermont today and went through a weekend's worth of emails, received a similar notification about Tad's profile, and noticed that he had changed his status back to "single." Granted, it's been about 3 weeks since we broke up, and my own status had never changed from "single", but still - a little part of me died knowing that he's given up. Now, why would I break up with a boy only to hope that he'll continue pursuing a reconciliation? I don't know. Girls are complicated, and I don't pretend not to be. What I do question is why I would feel a little stab of disappointment. Do I really want to get back together? If so - I better get on it and work on getting him back. I'm not the type to sit around waiting for things to happen. When I know what I want - I go for it. My problem lies in figuring out what I want.
I don't know if I want to get back together. This is something I'll likely figure out with time. But until I figure it out - it'd be nice if he continued to desire me. Why am I so shocked that he got over it so fast? Perhaps the simple "Okay" he gave in response to my denial of his offer to try it again should have been a hint. What - he's not going to cry and beg for me to come back? Nope, none of that here. I did tell him that I didn't want to try again right away. Because there's too many hurt feelings and frustration on both sides, and these things take time to resolve. I was surprised at his initial offer to try it again, and I'd initially agreed. Largely because I didn't know what to say in response, and when I don't know what to do, my default action is to go along with things until I figure it out. Buy myself some time. But two days later, I decided that it was too soon to try it again. Things were too fresh. And if we were to try it again, I wanted a fresh start, with no underlying resentments hanging around. And that wasn't going to happen without a long break. So I broke up with him, and left the door open for future reconciliation. It was a fuzzy future reconciliation though, with no time limit stated. I just needed to be single for a little while. I hated having my feelings in someone's hands, and when I feel like they're incompetent hands that won't take care of whether they're crushing my heart or cradling them, it makes me want to reclaim it.
I guess one of the risks you take when you break up with someone for an extended period is that they'll move on or find someone else. Or simply get over you. But I suppose it comes down to the fact that though I liked Tad, I must not like him enough to really hang onto him tightly. After all - I did set him loose rather easily. I never had a chance to gain momentum with this guy. He started off full-speed, right out of the stall. I was working my way to catching up with him when things took a dive around Thanksgiving. And I've never regained speed since then.
I do have a Friendster date this weekend. I figured since meeting people the normal way doesn't seem to be working out for me, perhaps I should give this internet dating thing a whirl.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, January 05, 2007]
Dream dream dream, dreeeeeeam.
I'm annoyed because Tad has been popping up in my dreams almost every night. I was perfectly okay over the holiday break when I was at home, but being back at school must remind my subconscious of him. In almost all the dreams, he's sad or playing me a song through my voicemail. I think it's dumper's guilt complex. I'm sure he's not that awful and pathetic and is probably more like angry and resentful. Though - I do know his temperament well enough to know that he's probably playing sappy songs on his side of the wall, and I'm the type to play Linkin Park post-breakup on my side of the wall. I do think about how we're sleeping on opposite sides of the same wall every night, and how it seems to be an ironic symbol of our relationship.
I saw him yesterday. He locked himself out and called me to ask if he could use the spare key he'd given me. We chatted for 10 minutes about our holiday breaks and New Year's. He kept looking down at the book he was carrying and thumbing through the pages nervously. I chattered on brightly and way too quickly about my terrible New Year's. All in all, I'd consider it a successful post-breakup first-contact. There were no insults hurled at each other, it didn't deteriorate into ex-sex, and we didn't rehash anything or fall into the emotional trap of getting back together. As he left, he told me to call him when I get back from Vermont this weekend - which I'm not sure whether to take seriously or not.
It does occur to me that my skin is doing remarkably well after 2 weeks of R&R and it's disappointing that there is no boy around to appreciate it since I'm sure it will deteriorate again soon since school has started .
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, January 03, 2007]
I'm easily pleased.
When things are in place, my life feels at peace and I feel good. My room is still pretty clean, the sun shines into my room in the morning to wake me up, and my laptop goes off at 7:45 with internet radio station YRock playing. Though my mother gave away my old nightie by mistake (heart break!), the purchase of a new one has really made a difference in my quality of life (ha. Sadly, I actually say this with semi-seriousness). The lack of variety in America's lingerie market sets me into consternation. Why is Victoria's Secret the only major player? Where are the competitors? Niche boutiques are too expensive for the average girl, and department store sleepwear/lingerie is usually sub-par. I encountered this problem both when I was updating my underwear drawer (unnecessarily as it turns out) and when I was looking for a new nightgown. It's hard to find a nightie that doesn't make you look like a grandma or a sexpot. Why is there no middle ground? I want a simple cotton chemise-like nightie for every-day. Not down to my ankles. Maybe hitting mid-thigh, comfortable, pretty. No satin, or silk, or slits. Cotton. Maybe a little lace at the edges would be nice.
I've managed to get my hands on one - and I love it to death. Waking up every morning has become fun, and I look forward to going to bed every night. It makes me feel wonderfully girly as I snuggle into my down comforter and drift off to sleep. In the mornings - I hang around on my bed, reading my lecture notes, propping myself up on my elbows until my arms get tired, kicking my legs up and intertwining my toes and chewing on the backs of my pens. It doesn't get any better than this.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 01, 2007]
The hoopla known as New Year's
New Year's is always made out to be a big deal. People are always asking, "Do you have any plans for New Year?" and you feel like you have to have some huge thing going on. And afterwards, people always ask, "How was your New Year's?" and you're not expected to say anything but "Totally awesome." Even if it was mediocre, which it likely was. I've never had anything but a mediocre New Year's, with the only variable being how much I spent achieving this mediocre New Year's. Really - a ticket to some swanky event buys you bragging rights and some fabrication options for how 'awesome' you want to make it sound.
All I wanted this year was to spend New Year's with friends in someone's living room with a bit of champagne. Something mellow and low key, with a cover charge of "Bring some potluck hor doeurves" (or however you spell it). New Year's Eve started with some drama at 3 PM when my friend Montreal came to my living room and was visibly upset. Then we rehashed problems from September in which she was upset because I no longer study with her. I've been studying alone in my room this year because it helps me to be alone. What it came down to was that she wanted a bigger piece of the pie. A large portion of the pie goes to studying, and a smaller portion goes to social events. Since studying is now done solo, everyone else is relegated to the 'social' portion. The issue is that the social portion needs to be divided between my family, and the 3 friends I have at school. And if possible - call my friends who aren't in med school. You know - friends who live in Real Life. My world has become very small these days. So, she doesn't feel valued, I never want to do things that she wants to do (I'm just not into going to bars and drinking anymore), and she feels alone. I was astonished. We hang out on Monday nights together and have a beer on my stoop, but I guess that's not enough. I always invite her when I'm doing something, but she wants us to decide on what to do together. Be a part of each other's lives.
It made me think a lot about my friends. Montreal and I are very similar in a lot of ways, but this year has made me realize that we're very different people. When I think of my other friends - I realize that though we differ in personality qualities, they're still a lot like me. We all lead our lives similarly. We're all somewhat solitary, we do our own thing with our separate lives, touch base with each other once in a while, and we're all very happy with that. We're all a part of each other's lives, but in a very non-obvious ways. We slide in and out of each other's days very naturally. So I was at a loss at what to do with Montreal.
It ended up manifesting itself in the form of me reluctantly leaving my friend's very nice semiformal New Year's apartment party with champagne (exactly how I wanted to spend New Year's) to go to a club with Montreal because she was bored at the party and wanted to be in a crowd of people. A club is the last place I wanted to be last night. But I paid $40 cover charge and considered it a donation to the "Keep Montreal Happy" fund. When the year turned over to 2007, I wasn't doing a champagne toast with people I like around me. I was employing all the evasive maneuvers I knew to avoid being molested by an underaged boy 5 inches shorter than me. Upon leaving the club, I realized that my nice wool coat was soaked in beer. Through to the inner lining. We walked in the rain for half an hour trying to catch a cab because the club was far from our neighborhood. I got home at 2:30 AM wet and cold.
At 7 AM, my cell phone went off insistently. Five missed calls from my mom. Convinced it was a medical emergency, I called her back, only to find out that my dad has dropped her off at work before coming to my apartment to drop off some things. But she realized she didn't have to work today. I went downstairs and found things in the hallway, opened the door to see my dad pulling away. I chased him down the street, barefoot in the rain, still wearing my nightie, yelling. He didn't hear me. I came back, changed into a dry nightie, and crawled into bed. Then I couldn't fall asleep.
I woke up this morning and realized the Mummer's Parade was cancelled due to rain. I love the Mummers =(.
I've had better New Year's. I'm tempted to boycott future New Year's. I have to drop off my wool coat at the dry cleaner's tomorrow (at least another $20). The only good thing is that it's rather nice sitting in my room with the grey rain falling outside. I hope 2007 isn't as bad as New Year's portends. At least I didn't break my nose this year. I should be thankful for small blessings.
I am starting the New Year's completely clean. I cleaned my apartment from head to foot yesterday, vacuumed and everything! My room is spick and span, as is my bathroom. I washed my sheets, and I even got my bikini and my legs waxed! I didn't even drink. I showered last night before getting into bed, so I woke up in 2007 completely and utterly unsullied. And the third nipple on my face is quickly receding. There are some small victories.
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.