Thursday, February 23, 2012

House Hunters International

I was watching House Hunters International recently, and noticed they aired an episode about Yerevan, Armenia. Having lived in Armenia, I was quite excited to see this. I recognized a lot of the landmarks and was stupidly excited while watching it, texting my HHI viewing buddy all about how "I KNOW WHERE THAT IS!!!"...lame. Anyway, the house the couple ended up buying overlooked the Cascade. I climbed up and down the Cascade several times as the view from it is incredible. Bizarrely enough, during my first week in Armenia I ate dinner at an apartment in that very building! Small world, eh? 

I wrote a cool blog about my trip.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Road Rage Rants...

1. If you drive in the left lane 10mph below the speed limit and there isn't a traffic jam, I reserve the right to tase your ass. Period. Paragraph.

2. Mechanical/technical support vehicles with blinky lights do not mean "slow down 20mph." They mean "Hey, parked vehicle over here. Don't hit me and go on with your daily life." 

3. On a similar vein, with respect to Atlanta...there are no deadman's or hairpin curves anywhere in this city's interstate system. You do not need to slow down 20mph to go around a curve (accel/decel ramps excluded). That sports sedan will not fly off the road. 

4. And also...a police officer who has his lights on, but is pulled over on the side of the interstate and is not even in his not going to leave the vehicle he has already pulled over to come chase you down. And, just FYI, slowing down by 10-20mph is not going to prevent him from dying if he decides to jump out in front of your car on a whim. Continue driving at your current speed you schmuck. 

5. I have no problem with people using their cellphone while driving. I do however, have a problem with people giving the cellphone a higher priority than the road. If you need the other person to repeat themselves then by all means ask. If they have a problem with that, tell them to get bent.

6. You are just as likely to die from drifting out of your lane whether or not that concrete barrier is there during construction. You do not need to slow down to 40mph. The lane has not gotten any narrower.  

7. There is a reason we have these amazing things called "Acceleration lanes!" In Atlanta they are quite long, and they serve a purpose. Note to some: gravity alone will not fulfill that purpose!! Use that long thin pedal on the right.

...and this was just today's leisurely stroll on I-85 and the Perimeter.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


 This is what lives in my nightstand. This is just my to-read list from the last few months. Among others, in there are some fiction (the top book is The Natural, by Malamud), biographies of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, fictionalized accounts of the fall of the Berlin Wall, accounts of the breakup of the Soviet Union, and heaven knows what else.  I have another, much larger stack stashed in a box somewhere--the exact location is a mystery that I'm sure will only be solved when I move--so it remains to be seen how much of a hole I've dug myself in terms of books I've purchased that I'll never read about more stories of tragedy and human folly. I'm really bad about that. There are currently two (or is it three?) books in my car. I will probably read one of them. I have done this most of my life. I LOVE books. I love buying them and having a great collection. My book collection is broad and varied. Some vain part of me would love to have a library in whatever home I end up in with dark leather sofas and dark green walls in between the stained shelves. How very English manor house right?

Having said that, I figured I'd post a thing or two about some of the books I've been reading. Why? Why not? I'll start with The Iranians by Sandra Mackey. I picked it up in a bookstore sometime in December right about the time Iran really started to appear in the news, and unfortunately the news stories weren't positive, regardless of which side one can take. I realized that I knew very little about this very visible, very old, very tempestuous country, it's history, or it's culture. I knew the basics, as taught from the History Channel and Wikpedia. Shah rules Iran. US loves the Shah. Ayatollah Khomeini comes in and overthrows the Shah. Iran = world pariah. That's the what, but having read the book (and other accounts) there is a plethora of details missing. There's a heaping pile of WHY and nuanced history that I was unaware of until I read up on the subject. I learned that Iran has a long tradition of nationalism and paranoia based on their history, which given their geography makes sense. Geographically Iran lies at the crossroads of two spheres of influence, and armies from both were constantly rolling over it from one side or the other. For one relatively short period they were a great civilization, but invading Arabs relegated them to another position.

According to this book (and a few others I've read about the subject) the Revolution was more about ousting Muhammed Reza Shah than it was about establishing an Islamic Republic. Rather, there was a significant power struggle between many factions. The book describes a country with a fantastic heritage. It describes a country that takes that heritage and has ridden it quite far. It also describes a country with a particular proclivity for dramatics and grandiosity that sees itself as still being grand, in spite of it's unstable and unspectacular history for the last several centuries. Historically, Iran has been a patriarchal society, and has a very long history of turning authority over to a series of "charismatic" chuckleheads who can't distinguish toes from tits, but they fit the formula written in the stars to be Shah. Mixed in two thousand years of history was a handful of good leaders that can be counted on one hand. These leaders for centuries acted against the interests of the Iranian people, and seemed to have some divine right from the people to do so. There was, and IMHO still is, a massive disconnect between the people running the show in Iran and the people on the street. Pre 1979 it was a group of secular, Western-educated elites. Post 1979 it was a group of mullahs and Ayatollahs, equally lost in the clouds. Both ruled Iran with the fist and the gun, and the mullahs took it one step further by preying on the lack of education, faith, and ignorance of the poorest of the poor in Iran. Khomeini once expressed frustration at protests about the price of food, because the revolution was about another world. They were given a choice: Monarchy? Or Islamic Republic? Only they can tell you if they're happy with the results. To me they just traded one form of tyranny for another. 

A lot of banging on has been and is done about Iran, and it never fails that somebody says "when Iran gets it together..." I hear this and after reading this book, I think to myself, I shan't hold my breath.

Which brings me to my next selection, Honeymoon in Tehran, by Azedah Moaveni. I chose this book because it was written by an American-born Iranian who chose to live, work, and love in Iran, despite everything she'd heard from her parents and the media. She and her husband eventually decided that modern-day Iran was not the place they felt their child should be raised in, but I still wanted to read the book from a perspective of somebody who made the choice to go there, and not leave and never come back. Actually, she twice moved there, so that made me appreciate her story even more. I really enjoy first person narratives and this one was no exception. She describes Iran as brimming with contradictions between its government and its people.  Living there, she says, requires one to constantly jump through hoops just to get simple things done, like watch television or browse the internet.  She gives equal attention to Iran's good and bad points, and describes many people on the street as openly hostile to the regime. I read it in about three days, and highly recommend it not just for people interested in Iran and Persian culture.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm not even a doctor yet...

...and I've already got people whom I haven't even met describing to me--UNPROMPTED--in exquisite detail their bowel movements. Do I just have a kind face that needs to be wiped off? Or is it just that irresistible Southern charm, y'all?

Monday, February 13, 2012


I was talking to a friend of mine in podiatry school, and I learn that his school instructs them about certain aspects of actually writing a prescription. I thought that was pretty cool because to date I have yet to be instructed on anything to do with scrips or doses. Hopefully that will change soon!

Clinical Schedule!

So I finally received my schedule for my Core Clinical Rotations at Chicago Hope Hospital. Fancy Schmancy sounding, eh?? It goes somethin' like this:

Core                                            Start                  Finish
Family Medicine Core

Pediatrics Core

Medicine Core

Surgery Core


Psychiatry Core

The rest I'll figure out later!          

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I wish I was able to write about something a bit more substantial more often right now, but the fact of the matter is that I'm in the scholastic equivalent of a layover right now. I'm waiting for my next flight to depart, haha. So, onward with another mundane-activity-luckyone-is-doing-for-now post.

Yesterday I rode up to Athens to play tennis with Amigo. We're both in medical school so I know the rigors of his schedule, so finding a time to play can be hard to arrange. Today was just epic though because the wind was outrageous. It was gusting so hard at times the ball would literally move five or more feet to the left or right before it bounced, turning routine forehands into awkward backhands and vice versa--but it made throwing up moonballs and lobs a real thrill. It all depended on the side of the court, because the wind was blowing corner to corner, not just side to side, as illustrated in my fabulous work of art to the right. The groundies were manageable, but it was absolute torture and frustration trying to serve. On one side the wind blew the ball away from you, which if you timed right actually worked in your favor, as a good service toss is supposed to be out and in front. On the other side the wind literally blew the ball right over your head. Not only does that make it next to impossible to actually get the ball over the net, but it kills your arm in the process. I was less-than-pleased. I heard Mary Carillo in my head saying "Oh that's a pity," every time I double faulted (which was many).

Now that I've said all that, Amigo and I played an eight-game pro set that went 9-7 to me. That's a pretty lengthy pro set, although we've played each other so many times we usually get into long, busy matches. Nine times out of ten I know where that short forehand is going, and vice versa. I got down 1-4, and then the gritty-mean-competitive luckyone came out. (I heard Mary Carillo say, "He's dug in now.") When I get like that I go within myself and have a laser-like focus. I don't say anything, and I think it freaks out my friends when I get like that because I don't say anything, smack my thigh with my fist, and totally set my jaw. All that is fine during a real match, but during a friendly on the UGA Intramural courts...I can see how it's ridiculous. Amigo and I played a lot in high school, and we played one sanctioned tournament match my senior year of high school, and he said I won because I was always more competitive and intense on court, haha. About that match, I only remember a ridiculous running forehand that I never made before and will never again, an overhead that I bounced over the back fence, and wanting to barf the whole time because I was playing my friend.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Continuing thought...

I've ranted about this before, but I was shopping today and the frustration came up again when I got to pants. Two stores I had never been in before (lesson learned) had zero pants that would fit me. They fit my waist just fine, but not my legs...Whoever designs clothing also must not take into consideration that men actually have leg muscles. I am by no means a large, or even very muscular person. I did, however, play competitive tennis in high school and college. As such, I have these odd things called calf and quad muscles, and they take up more space than pants designed for pencil-thin legs can accommodate. Can we please not assume that emo kids are the dominant body style in this country! Side does somebody with legs that thin actually stand up?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Back to the dentist...

I had to go back to the dentist. In short, in my mid 20's I have a primary tooth that doesn't have a permanent one underneath it, so I never lost it. It's not a big deal, but primary teeth aren't expected to still be around this long, so they keep an eye on the wear and tear to prolong having to extract it. During my last visit they noticed a groove and/or pit on the tooth, and told me to come back and they would fill that in. So I go back, and the waiting room goes something like this:
Hygienist: luckyone? (Looks straight past me) I start to stand up...
Hygienist: (Incredulously) You have a baby tooth?!?
...Put in my place...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Listening to "Leave a Light On" by Belinda Carlisle because I am in a foul mood, and need something sappy to lift my spirits. I guess it's a good thing I'm not in full-blown kvetch mode. I didn't get much sleep last night because I thought it would be a good idea to try to sleep on the couch at the lake. Bad idea. I slept ok, but not as much as I would've liked. Then after getting up we set to cleaning all the carpets in the house. Two floors of carpet...oh goody. We have two carpet machines, but one of them chose not to work properly, which in the interests of time meant I had to go rent one for the day. Even better. So now, after a day of carpet cleaning I'm testy and want to bite just about everybody's head off. On the plus side the house smells so fresh and airy. We had the windows open on both sides of the house and the breeze coming off the lake went right through the house.

I'm ready to go. I want to go. I want my complete and total schedule so I can stop wondering what it is and freaking myself out because I don't have it. Some might say "mind over matter, fool" but yeah, sometimes that's easier said than done. Part of me still expects the clinical department to say "BAZINGA! Just kidding you're not going to Chicago, despite all our emails to the contrary." I probably just need to chill out, and stop being myself.

...totally loving Belinda Carlisle right now. I've repeated it three times while I write this.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sweet Chicago

I told a friend of mine that I was moving to Chicago, and the first thing she mentioned was that it would be impossible to find good sweet tea in Chicago. She's most likely right. For those not in the know Southerners drink their iced tea with sugar. I laugh when my mom asks for "Unsweet tea" when we go up North, because there is no sweet tea. Then I got to thinking (run and hide now). I don't really drink sweet tea that often. I didn't like it as a child, which doesn't surprise me. As a general rule anything that has a lot of sugar in it has always made me either sick or hyper, and usually both. As such I learned to avoid sweets from a pretty early age. As I got older I learned to like it sparingly, mostly with a healthy dose of lemon. My college roommate always had a pitcher in the fridge, and he made sweet tea with enough sugar that the stirring spoon would stand up by itself. Anyway, still thinking, I've thought if when I get to Chicago and go out to eat whether or not I should order iced tea and put four or five packets of sugar/sweetener in it simply to see the reaction I get. Isn't that a dumb thing to think about?

Useful tidbit

I learned today that cockroaches secrete linoleic acid upon their death. This deters other cockroaches from approaching the vicnity. So, in short, could we just cover the house in linoleic acid to deter roaches???


Yesterday I spoke with a good friend of mine about how the process of organizing her clinical rotations was proceeding. In a nutshell, because I have what's called a track rotation everything for the Clinical Core is lined up for me. I will be doing the six cores all in the same hospital: Surgery, Family Medicine, OB/GYN, Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics. That eliminates the hassle of trying to find, coordinate, and choose rotations. I'm still very happy about the results of my rotations, even if it is just for logistical reasons. Everything I've read, though, indicates good things about my assignment. So, anyway, enough redundancy, back to my story...

Said friend is only scheduled for half of her Core rotations. More stress and anxiety that would place upon me!!! I keep going back to this, but those she's currently scheduled for are in New York City...but after that, they could really place her anywhere they wanted to. Blegh. Part of me would love being a medical vagabond, but another part of me is a bit tired of schlepping all over creation for non-vacation purposes. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No way, Jose.

As I sit here in my bed, with Will & Grace on TV (a show until four weeks ago I hadn't watched more than a combined fifteen minutes), I found myself browsing not only over my own old writings, but another blog that I stumbled across when I was looking up information about going to medical school. Just reading about the tests, the stress, the heat, the sweat, the tests, the stress, the tests, the stress, the tests, the stress...oh...wait...I already said that. Moving on. Just reading about it was giving me a cramp. 

I started to think about everything that I (and others) did and the thought of doing it all over again makes me to want to buy a one way ticket to Bhutan and just forget it all. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. Would I do it again? I don't know that I could unless I had developed an all-encompasing amnesia. I don't think I could do it again with the knowledge that I had done it before. The constant pressure of yet another exam, coupled with the sole purpose of your being directly linked to doing nothing but sitting in a corner studying for, and then passing said exam can be absolutely toxic. I know I've got more to come, but I'm entering a different stage of my medical education. I will be communicating and working with real people on a daily basis. I know I will have lectures, and I know I will have tests, but my days are certain to be more dynamic, and feel more purposeful. I can't wait.

Now back to apartment hunting...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sweet Home...Chicago

Last week I learned that I have been assigned to do my Core Clinical Rotations (not sure if that's the official title but it sounds swanky enough for me) at a hospital in Chicago, henceforth to be known as Chicago Hope Hospital (CHH). I will be there for at least a year. Hopefully I can also do my electives at the same hospital (and if not in the same city) and eliminate the need for excess moving. What I'm going to do once my electives are up I'm still not sure...but I'll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day. Whoa...knock it off Scarlett!

I was incredibly relieved to get my choice assignment because this means no moving for at least a year, possibly more! It will be nice to be in one place for at least a year. I was so worried I was going to have to bounce around the entire time I'm doing rotations. Many of my fellow students are in New York City, and they are doing their six core rotations in three or four hospitals, and are either having to hop around New York City every six or eight weeks (can you say stressful!) or are having the commute from hell that also changes frequently. None of that sounds appealing to me, and it was seriously giving me palpitations. Another friend of mine (who in his third year of medical school cranked out his third kid...ok well, his wife did, nonetheless the mere thought of that is intimidating) spent four months in Miami at two (or was it three?) hospitals, and has now moved to Atlanta...and he's assuredly going to have to move again...with KIDS!  Hopefully I can set up my electives and just stay in Chicago, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Now comes the task of filtering through thousands of apartment rentals to find one that fits my budget and location needs!! More to come I'm sure...