What to Watch...or not

Friday, February 27, 2009

I hate when I feel I have to justify myself. Because that feeling means that deep down, I know that I'm wrong.

This isn't that. This isn't a justification. This is more of an explanation.

Lately, I feel that I have been confronted by the age-old debate. Okay, it's not age-old. It's only been around since the 50s. TV or not. This conversation has been going on with my parents, my sister, some friends, some blogs, and Facebook.

Many parents feel that their homes should be television-less. Many more are going that direction.

We are not one of those families.

I feel about TV free the way I feel about vegetarianism. It's not a bad thing. It can be a really good thing. But it is not for everyone. Nor are you a less healthy person, a worse parent, or a complete drain on society if you choose to continue to watch the tube.

I did the vegetarian thing. I did the TV free thing. Both those phases of my life didn't last. And just like there are a couple meat things that I love so much that I can never go back to being a complete vegetarian (think grilled lime-cilantro chicken kabobs), there are a couple things on TV that I love too much to ever give it up (Lost, Survivor, Psych.)

Of course, moderation in all things. We don't watch an exorbitant amount of TV. Our kids pretty much only watch Saturday morning Disney cartoons (mostly so we can sleep in, just a little.) Occasionally, we watch a movie together as a family. Maybe a couple times a month. I love renting movies and watching them with a huge bowl of popcorn and a tissue. This also happens maybe a couple times a month. And there are a couple weekly shows that I just love. And refuse to give up. Refuse!

And off course sports. Sports, sports, sports. Because watching them on TV is just so much cheaper and more convenient than tickets. Not to mention local.

So yes, we are television watchers and movie lovers.

(I know that someone is saying, but what about books? Well, I always have a novel on my dresser. So does Hubster. I read to my boys every night. Both my boys love books. So we aren't exactly lacking there. But just imagine that your job is reading. Lots and lots of reading. Textbooks. Medical journals. Review articles. The LAST thing you want to do is come home after 12 hours and read some more.)

But besides the pure enjoyment factor, TV is a little more practical. What do TV less people do during elections? The Olympics? National disasters? I know that there is the computer. But computers are solitary zones, while television, by its nature is a group activity. What chances do you get to address reactions to news, talk about difficult situations that haven't come up in your childrens' lives yet.

Like it or not, we live in this world. Just a little bit of exposure is healthy. Essential.

Consider it a cultural vaccination.

Revolutionary Road

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'll be completely honest. I had never heard of this book until I saw a short "Making of the Movie" on HBO during a business trip about 2 months ago.

But ever since I heard about the movie and the basic premise, I have been wanting to read the book. (I'm a big believer of reading the book before watching the movie.)

Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler. It is the story of life in the 50s, after the war. It is the story of suburban living.

But then again, it's not.

I hate when people say, "It's just as relevant now as it was then." But this is a time when it is true.

Frank and April Wheeler are a young, intelligent couple who believe that anything is possible. That greatness and importance are just around the next bend in the road. However, they allow this belief the permeate everything in their lives.

Frank doesn't see himself as another businessman. April doesn't see herself as a suburban housewife. Neither of themselves see themselves as parents. And yet, that is the life they are living.

But still, they cling to their imaginary importance and greatness and refuse to "condescend" to the current situation. They refuse to feel any connection to their work, their surroundings, or the people around them.

But this also makes it impossible for them to connect with anything else. Their children. Each other.

This book was extremely painful to read. To recognize in myself the daily discontent of current situations. To admit to the feeling that greatness is within my reach. But it also allowed myself to identify the mistakes that Frank and April were making that I was not. The profound joy of my life. The hope that instills everyday. The connection that I have with my family. All things that were missing from the Wheelers existence.

Ultimately, it is a story of profound dissapointment, betrayal, and self-induced isolation. Heart-wrenchingly real and painful; no punches pulled.

I guess it's time I grew up

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rank lists are due tomorrow.

For the rest of the world, this is the list of all the places you interviewed at and would like to go to for your residency training. Ranked 1 through whatever. I have 10 on my list.

This list then goes into a big computer and magically, the rest of your life is planned for you. (I will write more about the "Match" as the date approaches: March 19.)

Putting in my rank list means that I'm committing to going to residency. That I am concretely decided on being a doctor.

So I guess I should start acting the part.

I don't feel like a doctor.

There are days, especially days like today where I get to nap and read and blog, when I can't helping wondering if it isn't all a big mistake.

I remember thinking medical school was a bad idea when I was applying. Then, it wasn't because I realized I was committing myself to days of studying, 30+ hour shifts, and a male-dominated system. At the time, it was because I was so shy I didn't think I would make it though an interview.

I thought it was a bad idea during first year, when I realized I no longer had any say over my schedule. I had a child and babysitters and a husband to coordinate schedules with. But classes would randomly throw in afternoon or evening labs, group discussions, or workshops.

I thought it was a bad idea during third year, when I realized that even two children didn't prepare me for the exhaustion of taking call every third or fourth night. Because after you have been awake part of the night with a sick baby, no one expects you to look wonderful or create stimulating conversation the next day. On the wards, after being awake for 30 hours, I was expected to give completely coherent patient presentations and come up with amazing ideas regarding diagnosis and treatment on the spot.

As I looked into the future as a pediatric residency, I again thought that this whole thing had been the biggest mistake of my life. Here I was, exhausted, disillusioned, nearly $100,000 in debt, and the rest of my life was looking even more miserable that what I had already been through.

I thought about quitting. Everyday I wanted to. I would beg Hubster to let me quit. I begged my parents to let me quit.

And then I found anesthesiology.

Things have been better since then. I've been happier. And I've stopped asking to quit.

Even so, looking at residency with more excitement and optimism that I thought possible, I still wonder if it was a good idea.

It has nothing to do with the debt burden or the fatigue.

I feel that I gave up so much more. I realized along the way that I had lost much of my idealism, my youth, and my optimism.

And that is what makes me question it the most.

This blog was started with some hope of rediscovering that part of me I lost during the first part of my training. I still believe the optimistic, forgiving, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, hopeful girl is in there somewhere.

A Little Bit of Green

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today I was walking outside with my boys. The temperature was still cold, but the sun was out, and we couldn't resist the bright sunshine.

All bundled up, crunching through some remaining snow piles, I saw the slightest mist of green on a tree at the end of our street.

It gave me hope that spring really is coming. That the cold with eventually dissolve into the blissful perfect days of spring and summer. That the drabness of winter will succumb to a brilliance of green.

A glimpse of last year's spring

And that I will get out of the mental slump that I inevitably fall into each winter.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I have always felt younger than my age.

And not in the "I have as much energy as a 10 year old and the skin of a 6 year old" type of younger.

But in a "everyone in this room seems so much older, wiser, and more put together than me" kind of way.

I get in a group of people and I feel like the kid who normally sits at the children's table in the other room who has, just this once, been allowed to sit with the grown-ups.

I don't feel like a "grown-up."


When I'm at the hospital, I feel that the interns, the residents, the attendings, and even other medical students were more experienced that I was. Not just at medicine, but at life. That their instincts and insight were better.

When I'm out socially, I feel that my friends have more interesting experiences and more maturity that I do.

Feeling like this irritates me. After all, I'm in my late 20s, not in my teens. I have two kids (who I think are turning out quite well.) I have a wonderful, incredibly successful marriage. I'm a freaking doctor!

Why do I feel younger, less experienced, less qualified than everyone else in the room?

Maybe I skipped part of my childhood. Jumping from playing house to running house too soon. I worked hard through out high school, college, and medical school. Maybe too much work and not enough play didn't give me a chance to notice myself growing up.

Childhood passed so quickly, maybe I never go the chance to feel myself move through it into adulthood.

Maybe not.

Maybe it's just all poor coping skills.

I think, next dinner party, I'll just go ahead and ask for a seat at the kids table. It's not too late.

Happy Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Just wanted to wish everyone a sweet, sugar-and-heart filled day.

The Time Traveler's Wife

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I've been wanting to read this book forever. Ever since I saw some lady in clinic years ago reading it and she was absolutely gushing about how fabulous it was.

And like most books, I read it just in time to find out they are making a movie of it.

(And not to sound, um, prudish, but because I know some of my readers, I feel that a word of warning is in place before you rush out and read the book as well. If they are truly making a movie, it would have to be rated R. For language. And for explicit, um, details. So there, don't say I didn't warn you. But now that my duty is done, let's move on...)

The premise of the book is amazing. It is technically a science fiction novel, what with the time traveling and all. But it reads like an amazingly poignant love story.

"Henry met Clare for the first time when she is 22 and he is 30. Clare met Henry when she was six and he was 40."

If that doesn't spark your curiosity, I'm not sure how to get to you.

Henry is one of the first people born with Chrono-Displacement Syndrome, a genetic disease that periodically, unpredictably, resets his genetic clock, making him travel through time.

The story is intriguing, touching, painful, and beautiful. It touches on human behaviour. If someone already knows the outcome of their actions, the result of their life, are they still free to make decisions? What is cause and effect in our life? And how sure are we?

The book wasn't as poetic and lyrical as I felt it could be. There are some parts where the author approaches brilliance in portraying daily life. But other times, I felt the writing was bogged down with details of books, music, and such that did not add to the story.

But the flaws of writing do not distract from the bittersweet story of love, dedication, and fate.

A Little Support

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yesterday, I went and did something I should have done a very, very long time ago (a little after August of 2006 actually).

I went and got a bra fitting.

Yes, I have been wearing the same bra size that I was sized for when I got married. Nearly 8 years ago. Yes, I have had two children since them. And breastfed both of them.

Things have changes just a little bit.

(Embarrassing to admit. Very. But this place is all about confessions.)

However, things aren't all bad. Yes, my rib cage is bigger. Those of you with kids can relate. You may (or may not) lose the weight, but you just can't put the ribs and hips back together again. But I gained inches in other areas. I went from a B to a C. Honestly, who can complain about that?

(Well, I had been complaining before, because I had been a C wearing a B. And that led to very, very bad things. Think: muffins.)

But now, I am completely in love with my new Body by Victoria Secret bra.

It's amazing how much better I feel.

And look.

Seriously, girls, if you haven't had a professional bra fitting, get one!

The girl who did the bra fitting was very nice. I was having trouble fitting the bra properly, and was having some "spill over" in the wrong areas. When I asked her about it, I asked, "Is this problem here just because I'm fat?" She didn't even smile. She said "No, it's because this strap is too thin. Let's get you a different one."

And she was right. Now there is nothing funny under my shirt.

Which is always a good thing.

Found in the Museum

Monday, February 9, 2009

"What in me is dark, illuminate.
What is low, raise and support."

-Engraved in the wall of University of Utah Museum of Natural History's geology hall


Thursday, February 5, 2009

This post necessitates another confession.

I love memes. I will pretty much do any one that gets sent to me by e-mail. Or any survey. I have been a part of the "25 random things about me" activity on Facebook. I'm not sure why. I think it mostly because I get hopeful that other people will do them as well, and then I get to read their responses. Which I like, more that doing the meme.

I have wasted a lot of time doing them by e-mail and on Facebook. So far, they haven't touched my blogs.

Until now.

See, I've been in kind of a writing rut. I've just been reading Jane Austen and watching cooking shows and building block towers with my boys and not much else. I've scribbled down some notes in the small notebook that is always in my purse, but nothing inspiring. So I'm hopeful that writing anything, even a meme, will help jump start some creativity.

I first came across this one on my truly favorite blog. The ABC game. The blog author assigns people who leave comments a letter of the alphabet. And then you make a list of 10 things you love that start with that letter.

My letter was E.

Here is my list.

1. Edward Cullen: Let me just get this one out of the way. It almost seems too easy. Edward is by far my biggest literary crush. I've had others, but nothing like this (I know, that is what all the girls say.) He's got looks, money, chivalry, and immortality. He could also kill you. But, really, that's trivial. (So, now I sigh loudly, and move on.)

2. E-mail: I haven't written a real letter to someone in the longest time (well, asides from thank you letters from my residency interviews, but that doesn't really count.) E-mail is cheaper (it's free!), I don't have to worry about my handwriting, and spell check (one that isn't my husband looking over my shoulder saying, "I don't think that's how you spell that.") is included. I do still send birthday and Christmas cards the old-fashioned way. But not letters. And everyday, it is exciting to open one of my three e-mail accounts and see who has "written" to me today.

3. Entertainment:
Meaning movies. And TV. I love movies. Before we had kids, my husband and I went out to the movies all the time. And then, when the people around us started giving us dirty looks because of crying babies, we rented. We don't rent as much as we used to, but I still love movies. Especially those with happy endings.

4. Education:
Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about education. After all, I have spent 21 years of my life so far getting one. I feel that everyone deserves the best and should have the support system in place to help them succeed. And no, I don't think that everyone needs to go to college. Just practically everyone. I think about how much I knew after high school and think about people entering the rest of their life with that frame of mind and it scares me. Education isn't just about books and experiments, it's about teaching someone how to think for themselves, analyze new ideas that come their way, and sort out truth from the clutter we are bombarded with. I especially feel that in these times, nothing gives you job security, life security, like a good education. Okay, I'll get down off my soap box.

5. English Authors: Austen, Bronte, Dickens. I love classical English literature. The characters are intriguing, the plots emotional. And the social commentary running through them all speaks to me. These are the books that I keep coming back to. (I love Russian and American authors too, but maybe just a little less.)

6. Exploring: I love to travel. And after making a comment like that, people always ask, "So where have you been." To which I have to say, "NO where!" That's not exactly true. I've been to Vancouver Island, all over the West Coast, to nearly every national park west of the Rockies, to Washington DC, Florida, the Bahamas. But I haven't even touched the list of places I really want to go. Virgin Islands, Venice, The Great Wall of China, Kenya. It's mostly been a financing issue. But my parents installed in me when I was very young a love of always needing to find out what is just around that bend in the road.

7. Espresso Machine: When I first started medical school, my husband because sure that I was personally financing Starbuck's growth. After all, nearly $4/cup, daily (if not more) can really add up quick. So, during my second year, he bought me an espresso machine. Which I use to make my girly vanilla cappuccinos or caramel lattes. I can have my daily influx of caffeine with nearly none of the financial guilt. I'm sure the machine paid for itself within three months.

8. Elvis:
I confess, I do. Although I am more of a fan of early Elvis, when he was in black, with his well-groomed hair, and not so much a fan of late Elvis, with a paunch, and tight white leather and rhinestones, and sweaty chest hair. If I had been a teenager when young Elvis performed, I would have been screaming like every other girl. There is something about his voice that is the silkiest, richest voice ever. Everything is romantic when Elvis sings it.

9. Emily Dickinson: She is my absolute favorite poet. When I was in high school, I tried to write like she did. I would read her for comfort, for peace, for inspiration. Maybe that is what I should be doing now.

10. End of the day:
Our days are hectic. I roll out of bed and hit the ground running. Both my husband and I usually have very demanding schedules. Add two small boys with schedules and needs of their own and things can really get crazy. But after all the craziness, after teeth-brushing, and story-reading, and song-singing, and one-more-time-bedtime-kisses, the house is quiet (and even miraculously, sometimes, clean-ish). Everything that needs to be done is done. Then I can curl up with my book, or on the couch with my husband. We may talk, or watch a movie, and just enjoy being together. There is just us.

So that is my ten. It was surprisingly hard (I came up with a list of ten "E" things that I hated much easier than a list of things I liked: 1. E. Coli, 2. Ear Infections, 3. Engine Troubles, 4. Eczema, 5. Economy at the moment, 6. Ear wigs, 7. Elections, 8. Energy bars, 9. Emergency Room, 10. English measurements (can we please use the metric system!!)).

So, if you have a secret fondness for memes and want to play along, just leave a comment and I will assign you a letter. Although, you will have to check back on the comments to find your letter, since that is where I will post it. You can write on your blog, or on Facebook. Let me know where, and I will find it and read it.

Because, really, that is my favorite part.

Finding Out

Monday, February 2, 2009

Every parent has thought it.

"Why didn't anyone tell me?!!"

It can be about anything.

For me, it pretty much started a week after I found out I was pregnant with my first. I had seen my mom be horrifically sick throughout her pregnancies. But I went into my first with enough naivety and optimism that it never crossed my mind that I too could be sick enough to not want people to talk about food around me.

On a nearly minutely basis I would wail, "Oh, why didn't anyone tell me how bad it would be?"

I said the same thing about the weight gain, the stretch marks, the ankle swelling, and the inability to sleep.

My mom would only say one thing. "Well, if I told you, would you have ever wanted to have kids?"

Parenthood is pretty much the same way. The crying, the (not)sleeping, the teething, potty-training, terrible twos, sibling rivalry.

Parents who've been through it just smile sympathetically at you as you stand over your child, who is face down and bawling on the floor of the cereal isle.

And we think, "Why didn't anyone tell me?"

But thinking back, everyone did. Okay, no one took me aside, sat me down, and said "Look, this is how it is." (Maybe someone did that for you.) But there were the "Oh, just wait until's." The "Enjoy it while it lasts's." Any many other subtle hints about the difficulties ahead.

On the same note, no one ever tells you about the wonderful moments either.

The first time you feel your baby kick against the inside of your stomach. The bliss of reaching out your arms to hold your world just after he is born. The first smile, the first word, the silly games that he only plays with me. The happy twinge when they say "I love you and you are the best mom ever." The silly words and phrases. The signs of intelligence that make us sure that our child is a prodigy (admit it, we have all had that moment.)

And I think that we don't want anyone to tell us. Good or bad.

Having learned the ups and downs for ourselves makes us feel more proud of both surviving and enjoying. That we are navigating the oceans of parenthood by ourselves. We don't want to think of the difficulties as just run-of-the-mill. We don't want to think of the cute phrases and amazing landmarks as "typical" or "expected." We take pride in our work as parents.

And we want to take all the credit for the outcome.

Northanger Abbey

Sunday, February 1, 2009

This will be the last Jane Austen post for a while. I promise.

This book was the first of Jane Austen's that I've read where I haven't seen a movie or talked to anyone else who has read it beforehand.

And I have to say that I loved it.

Published post-humously, Northanger Abbey is very different that the rest of Austen's books. It is more witty and silly. Austen also refers to herself as the biographer several times throughout, which amused me almost more than anything.

The heroine (called this term throughout by Austen herself) is Catherine Morland. She is so unlike an Elizabeth, or Eleanor, or Anne. She is only 17 years old. One forum on the book said the "Catherine Morland is Jane Austen's only stupid main character."

I didn't find her stupid. She is young and naive. And while stupidity may be a fault, youth and naivety are a natural part of everyone's existence and an essential experience to becoming what Austen idealized: loving, intelligent, and slightly distrustful of those who seem "too good."

Northanger Abbey chronicles the very young Catherine as she leaves her family home in the country for the first time to travel with a family friend to the social haven of Bath. Here, she is met with balls, gowns, friendship, and above all, men. She also is introduced to the Gothic novels of the time, and becomes so enamored with the intrigue and horror found in them that she sees it all around her.

She soon learns that life is often just normal, and not full of the mystery found in her novels. She also finds that friendship can be fickle; men and women, despite all ideals and romantic notions, marry for money and rank; and that she, desperate to be the heroine of her own tale, is a normal, nearly inconsequential girl.

But still special enough to get her own happy ending.