Monday, August 31, 2015

Look at me; There's got to be something more than what they see

one of my best friends

I attended rehearsals for Grease on Friday night and tonight (yeaterday technically). We open Tuesday. This particular director doesn't like to hold rehearsals the night before opening nioght. It's a combination of a superstition on his part and a belief that the cast will perform better on opening night if they're rested. 

I won't necessarily be rested, as I have medical school with which to deal, but I probably won't be as bone-tired as I would have been if we rehearsed tomorrow night, as studying will always come first for me even if an important dean is telling me not to sweat it and that I'll get as many chances at scoring acceptably on tests as I'll need. I'd still be studying into the wee hours after rehearsal until I felt confident in terms of my mastery of the material. I may study a bit late, but at least the studying won't have to come after a rehearsal.

Rehearsals have gone well. The cast knows their lines, their dances, their songs,  and their blocking. I suspect the only thing holding them back was the character portraying Sandy, and I'm not hlding them back. There have been a few changes in choregography, which is throwing the Danny Zucco character for a bit of a loop, but I'm confident he'll get it, and even he thinks it's for the best. The previous Sandy was a bigger girl than I. The choreographer addded a few more lifts because I'm a lightweight. "Danny" will get it and it will work out well.

I'm very fortunate that this is a flat role in terms of acting. i could recite the lines for something reasonably heavy, but I wouldn't do so with any depth. This is Grease, not Man of La Mancha. I can do this.

It's funny that everyone sees the Sandy character as a blonde, primarily because Olivia Newton-John played the role in the movie. I assume that's one of the reasons the dean thought of me when his wife was looking for someone to step in as Sandy. Marie Osmond was originally slated for the role but turned it down because the message in the end wasn't really in line with her Mormon values. With or without her Mormon values, though,  I can't really see Marie Osmond as a perfect fit in the role quite to the degree that Olivia Newton John was, I tend to wonder; would Marie Osmond have totally changed everyone's image of Sandy (or would the movie have been a flop)? I think the contrast of a darker Danny and a fairer Sandy works well, anyway.

By the way, I readily admit that my fittingness for the role in terms of my hair coloring is totally courtesy of Lady Clairol. Without chemical assistance, I'd be a dishwaer blonde at the very lightest. Some people who color their hair are reticent about admitting it. I'm not in the least. Besides, my brother knows. If i tried to keep it some sort of a secret, he would have something to hold over me. It's in my best interext to be open and above board about the natural shade of my hair.

When I was a baby I was a towhead. As a young child, my hair bleached out totally every summer but darkened each winter. The baby picture of me is taken in December just after I rurned two. It's December. I'm wearing warm-weather clothing because we're in San Diego.

Close friends of our family just gave birth to identical twin girls. Both babies were closer to six pounds than five and seem to be very healthy, for which we're all very grateful. For identical twin babies (they shared a sac and a placenta, so there's no question about their monozygosity versus disygosity) they don't seem to look all that much alike. It will be intereting to see how their looks change and how much they end up looking alike. I suspect their looks will grow more similar after they age.

I'm including, if I can find it, a video of the reprise of the Sandra Dee song. i'm fortunate in that i can sing the entire role in my chest voice. I sound mature in my chest cvoice. When I have to resort to my head voice, I sound like a little girl -- very dolce, but very young. It wouldn't work well for this role, so I'm really glad Sandy's singing parts are relatively low. in the ovie versio, part of the vocal is skipped, but you get the idea.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

As Though i didn't have enough to do just being in medical school . . .

I'm not exactly Olivia Newton-John, but them, she wasn't the world's greatest ctress, either.

Class today went as expected, and I assume that the same will be true tomorrow, but I was thrown a  curve ball after class. I receive a note summoning me to the office of some dean with whom I was not particularly familiar. When one receives such a summons, even if one kknows one hasn't done anything inappropropriate,  all sorts fo things go through one's mind. Then, after the initial fear that someone was still mad at me for killing the fake patient and not crying about it last spring, I began to fear that I was going to be asked to tutor the offspring or relative of someone important who perhaps did not catch on to the content of med school all that quickly. Neither scenario was exactly enthralling to me.

I was hit witha major surprise-- though not necessarily the good kind-- once i got there. It seems that this dean's wife is a major benefactor and someontimes participant in a local commnity theatre program. As has happened to me before, a role fell into my lap because someone else couldn't fulfill te terms of it. In this particular case I believe the problem was creative differences between the actor and the director.  For some reason word has gotten out that I can memorize lines in a fraction of the time it takes the average person and that I can sing  and dance on stage acceptably well. My acting skills are minimal, but some lead roles are rather flat roles in terms of the acting skills required. In this particular case (I've been asked to portray Sandy Dombroski in Grease) the acting skills demanded for the role are almost nonexistant. If a person can sing and dance her way through the oart, she's home free.

Obviously no one could force me to take this role, but I wish not to incur the ill will of anyone important in the department. The dean in question told me if I would get through the run of the sshow (just two weeks) he'd owe me big time. He also said he would guarantee it would not hurt me academically, as in if I need to take a test multiple times to reeive an acceptable score, he'll see to it that I get the opportunity. I'm too Type A to need to take a test multiple times, but it's nice and it takes the pressure off with the opportunity being there.

I  did not attend tonght's rehearsal because I needed to tie up loose ends in terms of my studies, but I'll attend rehearsals on Friday night and Sunday. We open Tuesday. There are eleven performances I believe, and then I'll be finished. It's Grease, not Les Miserables, so neither the lines  nor the singing nor the choreogrsphy should be exactly neurosurgery.  Ine nice thing about this is that once i finish, i wil feel extremely good just to be dealing with medical school. I suppose such is similar to saying one should pound his or head against the wall multiple times every day because it feels so good when one stops banging one's head, but that's neither here nor there.

The costume crew iss supposedly having to do a rush job to take the costumes up for me. The actress I replaced was taller and larger. 

I've been told that the guy playing Danny looks about ten years older than I do, C'est la vie. I'm still not crazy about this whole idea, but it's nice to have someone in the department indebted to me.

Somewhere Between Gidget, Muscle Beach, and Some of Those Elvis Movies, Minus Elvis, of Course

Not us, but you can get the idea.

We had great fun on our excursion today. There were eighteen of us in total, which was more than I epected to be there. As a young adult, I so appreciate the idea that we are adults and do not need chaperones or anyone else supervising us. Very few of us are immature enough to do anything truly stupid, and those who are that immature are vastly outnumbered.

Our outing was sort of like a 2015 version of Beach Blanket Bingo or whatever that movie was called. We played football, played in th surf, made pyramids on the sand, and had tons of fun, which will have to last us for awhile because we probabl won't have a hell of a lot of fun again for months.

I slathered on the sunscreen and didn't get burned at all. In my normal day-to-day activities I don't mess with sunscreen because I don't believe the verdict is in on it yet, and I believe a certain amount of sun exposure is healthful. If one's skin is getting burned, the sun exposure is probably beyond healthful, but my skin doesn't burn from normal exposureat non-tropical latitudes. It's only when I'm out in the sun all day or at the beach or on the water than I worry about it.

When I was a child, I tanned very easily. Many [though not all] children have natural protection from sunburn that Mother Nature gives them in the form of the ability to tan easily. I was dark enough in the spring, summer, and early fall that with my tightly curly hair I had the appearance of a bi-racial child for a few years. I  suspect I could still tan if I went about it gradually until I'd built up a basic tan, and then totally went for it.  Tanning for adults doesn't necessarily translate into skin that ages well, however, and that's also where the skin cancer risk comes in my opinion -- not from the sun exposure encountered by a child whose skin tolerates it well. In any event, i spent the day in the sun and am no worse for the wear.

I'm ready for school tomorrow. Our class time is lighter than it was in the past. We study on Wednesdays, as an important test will come late in the year, and anyone who is not a total foll will begin studying immediately rrather than waiting until spring. We also have no class on Friday afternoons. The free Friday fternoons are exttre appealing to me. I can study late thursday night because of the shortened workload on friday, then either sleep it off on Friday afternoon and oplan to study on the weekend, or even travel home on the weekend and get an early start. I plan to visit hoe more this year than last year becaase next year the opportunities to leave the area of the shcool will be limited.

I have my clothes all in order. I have my surgical scrubs of various colors, my  professional clothes, my totally slutty clothing, my clothing that isn't totally slutty but is edgy enough to attract the attention of the males around, and my comfortable clothing. Some girls wear pajamas to lectures, but I cannot bring mysef to wear pajams in public. I consider it unbefitting of a future physician, and I suspect the professors and others upon whom we will call to make recommendations for us in the futute feel the same way. i have tons of comfy pajamas for studying, but I wear them in the condo rather than  in lecture halls.

Earlier in my med school career, i swore I would never wear pink scrubs. Then I came across a Grey's Anatomy site that offered scrubs in a variety of colors that actually come in my size. They can only be worn for lectures, labs, and leisure, as hospital-issue scrubs will need to be worn once we're one duty. For day-to-day wear, I find them most comfy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

One Reason I'm Not a Crack Ho

I'd like to think this would not have been me regardless, but one never knows for certain.

Most of us are familiar with the proverb "It takes a village to raise a child." What it means is different to different people. while many people agree with the maxim at face value, many people took  umbrage at hillary clinton's use of part of the phrase in her book It Takes a Village, primarily, i assume, because it was hillary who used the ohrse. She could have entitled her book Jesus Is the Light of the World, and the evangelical and fundamental Christians of our nation would have found a way to disagree with and take offense to it. I am, however, digressing.

If most of us recall our childhoods and adolescences, we can come up with at least a few adults who were crucial to helping us to maintain relatively sane lives and to stay away from drugs, crime, wanton sex, and the other bad things out there just waiting to pounce upon and ensnare youth. This typically happens when a young person is at an age when he or she doesn't especially want to hear what his or her parents have to say. If another adult says the very thing our parents were trying to tell us, often we're willing to listen. This was true in my case.

I was fortunate enough to have had several of such adults in my life. I'd like to think that even without their guidance, I probably would not have become a crack whore, but one cannot know such things for certain. 

While there are many adults, including my parents,  to whom I should give credit for my relative functionality and sanity, because I'm leaving his home tonight to  go back to school, I shall devote this post to my pseudouncle Scott. I will try to give credit to the others in upcoming weeks or months.

Pseudouncle Scott married Jillian, whom we consider part of the family, particularly because there's a large segment of my dad's family to whom we do not consider ourselves related; we had room for a few extra relatives, and Jillian's family became those extra relatives. Jillian's father and my father met soon after my father relocated to Florida, and my dad soon began to spend more time at his friend Jerry's house than he spent at his own.

Jerry and my dad continued to be like brothers, and the bond was solidified when each of them married and their wives got along extremely well. When Jerry's wife, Aunt Ilianna, gave birth to a very premature baby, my mother flew east to Florida to help run the household so that Ilianna would be free to come and go to the hospital as needed.  My mother typed most of her doctoral dissertation with Jillian sitting on her lap.

When Matthew and I were born, Uncle Jerry flew west to deliver us. Later, Aunt Ilianna flew out because I was an especially difficult baby and my mom was experincing trouble in maintaining her sanity while being in solitary confinement for much of each day with twins, one of whom screamed  for roughly twenty-three of the twenty four hours of each day.

Jillian was seven years older than I, but she was light years ahead of me in maturty to the extent that it was though we were not even of the same generation. Hence, when she married, our relationship was more like that of an aunt and niece than one of peers of any sort. Her new husband inherited the "uncle" role.

I first met Scott a day before the rehearsal for his wedding to Jillian. Our initial meeting was precarious to say the least. Scott likes to tease people -- particularly pre-adolescent girls -- and while I ordinarily handle teasing reasonably well, I wasn't at all certain I liked his particular brand of it.

It all started out when the intended six-year-old flower girl came down with chicken pox. The search was on for a new flower girl. Scott pointed out that the dress, while much shorter on me than it would have been on the six-year-old (it was supposed to be floor-length on her), would be more than large enough for me. He nominated me to be the new flower girl. In retrospect, I'm sure he was joking, but at the time I didn't think his joke was funny in the least. The very last thing any thirteen-year-old wants to do in any wedding is to be the flower girl. That ruse continued until Aunt Ilianna took the dress up on the sides to make it fit a skinnier relative than the original flower girl.

My next conflict was over my playing the violin at Scott's and Jillian's wedding. Scott was unsure that anyone who looked like me (I was thirteen but could easily have passed for nine) was capable of playing the violin well enough to be a part of his wedding in that capacity. He was an undergrad music major in addition to his pre-med studies, so he was a bit picky in terms of  the music that was to be performed at his wedding. He thought I should audition for him. I had no intention of doing that; he could take me or leave me as one of his wedding musicians, but I was unwilling to demonstrate my skills for him beforehand.

We compromised -- against my will -- by my playing along with my mom as she sang the song that Scott himself was to sing at the wedding. I argued with my mother that doing such was pointless, as the notes I would play while accompanying her would be very different than those I would play when Scott sang because of the disparity between the tone of their voices, rendering my 
"audition" pointless. My mom told me to play along anyway just so he could get an idea of what I might be playing. The song was "Fileds of Gold," but Scott was going to copy my mother's arrangement, which was very different from that of Sting, the original artist who performed the song. 

I gave in and played along with my motther. Scott must have been suitably impressed. He took over at the piano and played while he sang, and I filled in phrases with an obligato, which was, as I said it would be, considerably different than what it was when my mother had played and sung the song. Afterwards, Scott conceded with "Touche'. I had no idea anyone so little could play so well."

We had no further contact until that summer, when my summer camp plans fell through for a time that my parents would be traveling out of the country. My parents needed a place to park me, and the pseudorelatives needed money, which my parents would pay them to care for me. It seemed like a win/win situation for everyone but me. The initial meeting, when Scott picked me up at the airport, was most awkward, and he said basically nothing to me all the way from the airport in Salt Lake City to their home -- a shabby apartment in a complex filled mostly with married BYU students in Utah County.

We got past the uncomfortable reintroduction and made a tentative peace. The situation gradually improved, though there was continued conflict throughut the summer over Scott's concern abut how little I ate. I've never been a big eater even since infancy, but the problem was compounded by Jillian's habit of cooking Cuban entrees for dinner. Jillian believed that a kid should eat what was on the table or nothing at all; I wasn't about to tuch, much less eat her Cuban concoctions.

That particular obstacle was finally overcome by their allowing me to eat cereal or to make peanut butter sandwiches along with salad or to eat rice from the meal and to take bits of the meat that was used in the Cuban concoction before Cuban spices had been applied to it and to cook it myself. 

Scott and I bonded somewhat over music. He gave me piano lessons since my mom wasn't there to give them to me, and I taught him the basics of playing violin. 

I spent parts of the next three summers with them while my parents traveled and my brother was at baseball camp. I didn't make life all that easy for them and caused them to earn their money by developing croup one summer and having my appendix rupture on me another summer. 

When, in the fall after my third summer with them I suffered my infamous restroom assault, Scott offered in all seriousness to fly to California and kick the @$$ of the main perpetrator, who was a legal adult. I wanted to take him up on the offer (he's big), but my parents turned it down, saying that we would handle the mater legally. My parents were right in not using violence to setle the matter, but still, I appreciated the idea that someone was willing to commit violence on my behalf.

On the rare occasions when classes became difficult and my dad wasn't around to clarify tough concepts, Scott was always available. Even now in med school, I call him if something is unclear. He explains things a bit more clearly than my dad does. He helped me to prepared for medical school interviews, which he went through much more recently than my dad did.

Scott and Jillian have made me the Godmother to both of their children, for which I am deeply honored. 

I would like to think that ultimately I would not have led a life of crime or ended up on skid row even if Scott had not been in my life, but his presence made the possibility even less likely.

Scott and I relate to one another primarily through trading barbs and insults, but I wuld like to express now just how sincerely I appreciate and love him. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Missing Davy Jones Again

Rest in peace. 

I'm feeling yucky today, so I'm holed up in my room. I've been watching YouTube videos just to pass the time because I've read everything I'm going to read in terms of academic content  this summer. One must know when to say when.

I watched a Davy Jones video and became very sad. I miss him all over again.

I don't like to say this, but he was almost too pretty to be a boy. When he aged, he became less beautiful and more handsome, but the looks were still there. And his voice was so sweet . . .

Matthew and His Hair-Brained Diagnosis: I Am a Stupid Version of Sheldon

My brother believes I'm a less intelligent version of Sheldon. Matthew is  actually wrong on two counts. I'm considerably less than a standard deviation from Sheldon's reported IQ (although Sheldon also says his intelligence cannot be accurately gauged by standard assessments), in addition to the fact that I lack the obvious quirks shown by this fictional character.

My brother thinks he might possibly choose child psychiatry as a specialty. I personally think it's a poor fit, but he'll need to discover that for himself unless he reads my blog and enlightens himself the easy way.

Anyway, Matthew has been reading up on various topics related to child and adolescent psychiatry and has decided that I am on the autism spectrum. He believes I am closest to what was formerly diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome except that, for various reasons, it's not classified as such in the currently-in-use DSM. It's simply classified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

The reasons for this change in terminology are , or at least I've been told, that A) an "Asperger Syndrome" diagnosis ultimately qualified children for fewer services than does the more inclusive "Autism Spectrum Disorder" and B) parents of children anywhere on the autism spectrum tended to seek out the daignosis of "Asperger" for their affected children despite the possibility of fewer services being provided because it was slightly less stigmatizing than "autism" by itself and a higher-prestige diagnosis (akin almost to being voted the most cool kid at band camp). 

Regardless of the disappearance of the term from the current DSM, professionals know an Aspie when they see one from a distance of a mile or more whether or not they were giving out the diagnosis too liberally to appease parents. (It's really tough for a professional to inform a parent that his or her child has a disability, and when parents have asked for a milder form of the diagnosis in writing, many practitioners have acceded to the parents' wishes, ultimately rendering the diagnosis on paper difficult to take at face value.) Also regardless is that  my brother is in no position to be making such diagnoses on me or anyone else, and he got it wrong where I'm concerned. I'm maybe a little OCD, as is roughly half the population in the U.S. according to a recent estimate, but I'm not on the autism spectrum.

Furthermore, Matthew is the boy who, as a child of four years, was afraid that if anyone flushed a toilet when he was sitting on it or standing too near, he would be sucked into the municipal sewer system. He also obsessed on water towers (he called them "thity water thupplierth" with his lisp), as well as on home and business alarm system companies, school boundary lines, whether residential areas were incorporated or unincorporayed, and on college and professional sports uniforms, in addition to various other obsessions I won't even bother to list.  Should he really be the sole arbiter of my level of neurotypicality? I think not.

It's a great show even if my brother is totally in left field in terms of my supposed resemblance to the character of Sheldon. I do enjoy watching Sheldon's solutions to the equations on the white board unfold from episode to episode. I actually more fully identify with the character of Leslie Winkle, who had only limited appearances on the program. She's much more of a cutthroat bitch than Sheldon is; I embrace the whole "cutthroat bitch" identity, though I don't know if it will follow me to my second year of med    school.                                                                             

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Kitty's New Name: Ashley Madison (True Confession: My Cat was a Slut)

This is not my actual cat, but it's a pretty good likeness of her after she got caught in my brother's shower.

My poor cat, whom my brother and I took in when she was lingering around our condo complex last year, has had so many name changes that she's either becoming schizophrenic or developing dissociative personality disorder. I gave her a couple decent names at first -- Monica Lewinski and Camilla Parker-Bowles, to name a couple -- until my brother started calling her by the name of whatever girl he most recently dated, which changed about every two-and-a-half days or so.

You can, however, put your mind at ease. My brother and I are no longer guilty of cat cruelty of the psychological kind. We've chosen a name for our cat, to which we have both pledged to stick.  From this point forward, our cat shall be known as Ashley Madison.

It's a nice name.

Seriously, am I the only person on this continent with an IQ over 70 and a working computer who didn't know that the Ashley Madison affair site existed? Do I study so much and am I up to my neck in diapers to the degree that pop culture is passing me by? Is Ashley Madison already the answer to  a Trivial Pursuit  (Edition God- Knows-What?) question?

My brother says people who have to pay to have affairs are lame.  While I think my brother would probably do well to cut back a bit in that department and that he should internalize the idea that he doesn't have to sleep with every female in every year of our medical program in addition to every female faculty member under thirty-five (I'm exaggerating slightly) in order to be granted a medical degree (then again, maybe that's how he passes his classes), I also think he's onto something in terms of online affair sites.

I have issues on principle with the idea of marital infidelity, but even if I didn't, I'd think it was only ever justifiable if it were something that inadvertantly happened and not something one deliberately sought to do, but then, what do I know? Maybe half the married adult population is signed up with Ashley Madison or similar sites.

Where my cat is concerned, the name probably fits. I didn't mention this before because I didn't want everyone to think I'm a terrible person, but my cat was knocked up with what the vet said was her first litter when we got her. She had a hysterectomy before the kittens were full term. Yup; that's right. My cat was a slut who had an abortion. I did discuss the issue with a priest. He said that terminating the pregnancy would only be a sin if the cat had made her First Holy Communion. She obviously had not. She's never even been baptized unless one counts the time she was in my brother's shower and he didn't know it, and he turned on the water before getting in.

Tying Up Loose Ends

This is not exactly the view from my front door, but it's not too far off. 

The babies are great. Camille is just over six pounds, and Andrew is has graduated to almost running. I've been  spending at least four hours with them each day. My aunt says I need to cut back so it won't be a total shock to Andrew when I'm gone. I skyped with Andrew before and will continue to do so, and I'll come home about once every three weeks. Aunt and babies also plan to come north to visit with us a couple of times once Camille is old enough to travel.

Matthew and I are heading north on Tuesday night. Class doesn't start until Thursday for us. Our friends are getting together on Wednesday. 

Matthew still needs to turn in his scholarly concentration proposal, which he really should have done already. I'm doing mine in clnical research. He's up in the air, but he has to make up his mind fast. He can turn it in online.

This is our lightest year of coursework excepting our scholarly concentrations and exam prep, though my scholarly concentration won't be quite so tough, as I've already completed six units undergrad that can be applied toward it. It's very rare for undergrad units to be accepted in the scholarly concentration; I got very lucky.  At the time I wondered why I was taking such ridiculously difficult courses that were technically graduate level while still an undergraduate, but it seems to have paid off in the end.

Before Thanksgiving, a group of us who grew up together are going to visit with Claire's family. Her 22nd birthday would have been on the 21st of November. We'll time our visit, which will be parts of  three days, to span her birthday. No one's sure what we plan to do, but we'd like to make it the upbeat celebration of her life that we were unable to pull off at her funeral. We're not even sure yet that it will be at her home, as Claire really loved the beach as well. 

My mom is asking Claire's parents if they're up to planning something or if they want her to come up with a couple of suggestions, which they can accept or reject. My mom doesn't teach during fall quarter except for a few private students and a few recital obligations. She taught summer quarter to make up for it. She has time to plan the event.

I'll miss the babies, but it's time for summer to end (in terms of workload; I know the calendar doesn't have it officially ending for another month) and it's time for me to go back north.  I'm ready.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Last Complete Week of Vacation

One day next week  --  I'm not yet sure which day -- I will return north to our condo and to Quarter 3 of the pre-clerkshi[ program of medical school.  I will go with much less trepidation then I went last year. I didn't even admit in my blog that  I was there last year until I'd been there a solid month and knew I wasn't going to flunk out in the first quarter.  I'm still afraid of what lies ahead, but the fear does not paralyze me any longer. It's merely a matter of accepting that someone  will dies in spite of everything I do, and chances are that somone will die sonner or later because of what I did or did not do.

I hate to think that I will inadvertently cause the death of a patient, but the odds, I've been told, are overwhelmingly in favor of it. A future physician or surgeon has to hope that the person whose life his or her actions ends didn't have too much time left on the planet. Also, one has to hope the malpractice insurance that comes with medical school or internship/residency is as good as one was told it was,

Even House of House, M.D. fame lost a patient once in a while, and that was in TVland where everything has a happy ending unless it's a really depressing program. i like the idea of being a doctor. I'm just not sure hw much I'll like the responsibility that comes with it. My instincts tell me that someone from my generation has to step  up and control the scalpel or prescription pad or whatever, and on paper, at least, I'm more qualified than most. I still have a fear, though, rational or otherwise, of what's going to happen when the buck actually stops with me.

This summer has been nice and low-pressure. I've been totally responsible for two different babies at various times, but help was never much more than five minutes away if I had needed it, and I was fortunate enough not to need it. Caring for the babies has given me confidence in providing health care  for  babies and even children to a degree, but I'm scared to death of the time when a 55-year-old heart attack patient is wheeled through the E.R. doors and right at me. This year I'll see some of that, though I won't be responsible for making any decisions.

I've been told that third-year medical school is the second hardest year of a doctor's life, second only to internship or the first ear of a residency. People say to enjoy this year because it's the calm before the storm. I would enjoy this year if i were not so terrified of next year. On the other hand, who really knows if next year will ever come? At mass today the priest's homily dealt with time, and the inly time we're guaranteed is this moment. It makes no sense to waste it worrying about future difficult moments.  Still, I worry anyway.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Andrew's a lot cuter than this little guy, but it's a nice view of teeth.
This guy actually looks a bit like Andrew.

After about a month of trying to push the damned things through, and after three especially difficult nights, my little Godson has his first two teeth!  He looks incredibly cute with them. i would love to post pictures of the actual Andrew with his brand new teeth, but we don't post pictures of Andrew on the Internet, so I will, in his honor, post pictures of other babies witth their teeth.

Last night I paced the floor with the little guy from around 11:00 p.m. until somewhere between 2:30 and 3:00, when he finally conked out. He woke me up anout half an hour ago with a great big smile -- the first real smile he's had for days since's he's been feeling lousy -- and his two brand-new lower incisors.

Pushing those two teeth out has been almost like childbirth for this little guy. I could feel the teeth with my fingers when I massaged Andrew's gums, but they  just wouldn't push all the way through. His mom was worried his younger sister was going to get teeth before he had any at the rate he was going, but he showed her and  poked two of them out at once.  

Maybe teeth normally come through two at a time. I really don't know. Come to think of it, a baby would probably look strange with  asymmetrical teeth. I'm just so glad the little guy finally got through this. It's been difficult to get him to eat or sleep or do much of anything. 

We're celebrating by having homemade waffles with strawberries. Andrew's Uncle Joel, who is a dentist, sent Andrew's very first toothbrush already so it would be here when Andrew's teeth finally showed up.

I'm going to eat strawberries, go for a brief run, shower, and take a nice, long nap. I've earned it.

This kid looks like he probably has all 32 teeth in place by now; I just included him because he's so gorgeous.

more teeth

Monday, August 10, 2015

What Would YOU do? (Swimming in the Wekiva river in central Florida)

I'm not a native Floridian, much less someone who has ever spent significant time in central Florida. Still, I have opinions -- and express them quite openly -- about all sorts of things about which I know little. Why should this topic be any different?

Some people like to experience nature in its purest forms. Some of us are content to watch the Discovery Channel, or perhaps see what may very well be alligator-infested waters from the safety of a boat. Others of us must actually immerse our bodies in the rivers and lakes from which alligator sightings have been reported. Some of us even leave the utterly relative safety of a group with which we were formerly traveling and venture off into more secluded (and reputedly more gator-infested) areas of the bodies of water. 

In a very recent case, the last scenario led to a woman losing her forearm and suffering abdominal bites at the mouth of an alligator inhabiting the waters of the Wekiva River in central Florida. The woman is currently hospitalized. Her condition has not been released. The alligator has been caught and euthanized.

I'm not going to start an argument here about the value of an alligator's life versus the rights of humans to enjoy nature in its relatively remote settings. Perhaps alligators are like some other animals of prey that, once they taste human flesh, will seek it  with a level of aggression that renders the particular alligator's continued existence a danger. I really don't know enough about alligators, the Wekiva River, or that region of our nation enough to make an intelligent argument one way or another about the situation. (I know; what's stood in my way in the past?)

All I can say is that, when many accidents befall others, I look at their situations and say to myself, "There but for the grace of God go I." I look at this particular situation and say, "There's no way in hell that could have happened to me." One look at a picture of that river, without even knowing its location of central Florida, causes me to fear to enter the river even in the sturdiest of watercraft, as boats have been known to capsize, and people have been known to fall or be thrown overboard, or, for that water, even walking atop its surface while holding hands with our Lord and Savior.

I hope the woman recovers as well as one can recover after losing half an arm, and goes on to lead a fulfilling life. I hope something good, whatever that might be, comes of the alligator's death. And while desiring not to sound overly judgmental in saying this, especially since I really don't know what I'm talking about in terms of what is customary and acceptable in the part of the Wekiva River where all of this went down,  yet knowing that I probably do come across as every bit as judgmental as I'm trying not to be, I hope we as humans can learn to stay where we belong so that alligators do not need to lose their lives for doing what it is they do naturally. 

Don't Talk About Me Behind My Back! ****

****Seriously, talk about me behind my back as much as you want. I'm flattered by the attention.

Knotty brought up a situation in her blog that reminded me of a particular girl with whom I shared middle school and three years of high school.  This situation involved friends, or, in this case, "fake" friends, and the very-senstive-to-some-issue of talking about one behind one's back. 

My situation didn't involve social media, as we weren't quite so involved in it back in the day (I never was, for that matter), but it would soon enough  pervade most of our lives. I think this would have been somewhere around the point where Facebook took over MySpace in prevalence, but most of our parents back then weren't thrilled about their children  being too wrapped up in such media before we were even out of middle school. They felt, and rightly so, that we shoud have more important things to do with our time. While my parents may have gone a bit overboard with this concept, I suspect the strategies of today's parents would be improved by a similar philosophy. High school is plenty early to be introduced to the world of Facebook and to its grungier counterparts.

Anyway, the  former schoolmate of mine, to whom I shall refer as Kathryn (not her real name), had a particular pet peeve of  anyone talking about her behind her back.  It seemed that at least twice a week she would take on someone in our circle of classmates for a violation of this imaginary or self-authored rule.  

Kathryn's seemingly favorite phrase was ,"You're talking about me behind my back!" In my day, or at least in my neighborhood,  (probably in your day and neighborhood as well), nice girls did not have physical altercations, so despite the fact that the girl about whom everyone apparently had nothing better to do but talk about behind her back was substantially taller and stouter than I, it was almost a given that none of us had any reason to fear physical retribution for any of this.  After about the fifth time in a single month or so  that Kathryn had approached me, usually followed by a gaggle of girls no closer in association to her than to me but bored and hoping for entertainment in the form of hostile feline repartee, to utter this line. 

I told her that despite what she may or may not have heard, I couldn't recall having said anything behind her back that I wouldn't have said to her face. I told her that I couldn't remember any specific conversation in which her name had come up in recent days other than one involving cell phones. I admitted to her that I had said, "Kathryn's cell phone is purple."  If that offended her, I told her, I was sorry, as I certainly had not said it with the intent of offending her, nor had I said it in an unkind way. I merely stated matter-of-fact-ly, "Kathryn's cell phone is purple." I looked at the cell phone in her hand. "Unless that's someone else's cell phone you're holding, or unless something is really wrong with my color perception, it would appear that your cell phone IS purple. I was merely stating a fact in this case. It wasn't even an opinion. It was a concrete, objective fact."

Kathryn paused. "But why were you even talking about what color my cell phone is?"

"I don't remember, Kathryn," I answered impatiently. "We have a relatively small number of people who travel from class to class together. Every now and then, your name may pop up. I don't know about everyone else, but if a situation that relates to you happens to come up, I don't necessarily think to scan the crowd before uttering your name."

"In the future, I'd appreciate it if you would," she answered.

"No, Kathryn, I won't," I said.  "If what I am communicating is neither slanderous nor libelous, I have every legal right to say it in accordance with  the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution." (As eighth graders, we were all heavily involved in the study of the constitution. Kathryn and I had particular buy-in concerning the mandated constitution study, as both of us, at that point in our lives, planned to become attorneys.) "Taking it one step further," i continued, "according to the rules of this school, if what I'm saying is, in addition to being true, neither unkind nor intended in any way to stir up trouble, i can say it. " I paused to allow her to comment, but she said nothing so I continued. "Knowing how you feel, if I happen to be involved in a conversation, knowing how you feel about being discussed when you aren't present, I'll try to make note of the fact that you're not there, and I won't bring your name up regardless of how benign the reference might have been."

"I'd appreciate that," Kathryn responded.

"But I don't control the mouths of everyone else in the group, Kathryn," I told her. "And just because I was physically present when you name came up in a conversation does not mean I was talking about you behind your back.  You'll have to take that one up with the person who mentioned you."

Kathryn looked less pleased with this pledge, but she nonetheless nodded.

A teacher who had playground supervision duty, who had been silently observing the verbal exchange, chose to interject her own thoughts at this point. "Kathryn, people are going to talk about you when you aren't present, or, as you're so fond of putting it, 'talk about me behind my back,' for your entire life if you're worth talking about, and there's not much you can do about it."

"I'm not sure I agree with you about that, " Kathryn challenged the teacher's statement.

The teacher thought for a moment, then continued. "Scooter Libby [former chief-of-staff to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney] is being tried for lying to a grand jury, among other things. Do you think that the prosecution is talking about him behind his back? Do you think the grand jury talked about him behind his back? Do you think the jury on this trial will talk about his behind his back when they're deliberating, or are they going to say, 'It wouldn't be very nice to talk about Scooter behind his back, so we'll invite him into the jury room while we're deliberating?' What do you think, Kathryn?"

"Well, that's not really the same thing,"  Kathryn contended.

"It's different in that you're not presently living a high-profile life, but the laws are the same. What's said needs to be true or clearly stated as a matter of opinion. And we have an added layer of protection here at school because you're all technically children, that what is said should not be unkind. Megan shouldn't say that Alexis' new shoes are ugly even if that's her honest opinion, or at least she shouldn't say it unless Alexis comes right out and asks Megan, point-blank, what she, Megan, thinks of Alexis' shoes. If you ask for someone's opionion, be careful what you're asking for."

"Your new shoes are ugly, Alexis," Megan blurted out.

"I didn't ask for your opinion," i responded to her, "and besides, they're not even new."

We both laughed.

The teacher continued, "And Kathryn, how do you ever hope to get into law school if you don't want anyone to talk about you nehind your back? I guarantee the committee deciding who gets in isn't going to drop your application into the stack of those candidates accepted without first talking about you behind your back. The only pile your application will be dropped into with no discussion is the pile of rejects."

"We'll just SEE about that," Kathryn huffed.

"See about WHAT?" the teacher countered, "I'm not saying you won't be accepted into the law school of your choice. i AM saying, however, that if you write across the top of your application in bold letters, 'DON'T TALK ABOUT ME BEHIND MY BACK!' you will drastically reduce your own chances of acceptance."

"This is SILLY!" Kathryn sputtered.

"Yes, it is silly,"  the teacher called out as Kathryn walked away. "And teachers have votes in the eighth-grade citizenship awards. I'm not speaking for the other teachers, but I for one am getting tired of watching you try to intimidate other girls on the playground with all your nonsense about being talked about behind your back. You need to grow an extra layer of skin, because it's going to get worse before it gets any better in terms of what people say about you when you're not around. And if you keep acting the way you're acting now, what is said about you, both to your face and behind your back, isn't going to be all that nice!"

"My MOTHER is going to hear about this!" Kathryn threatened the teacher.

"Good. I hope she does," the teacher called out to Kathryn.  " I'd love to sit down and have a nice long chat with your mother."

For the record, Kathryn's mother was not someone the local teachers feared.  She was a first-grade teacher in our district, and while considered just a bit odd by some of our parents, wasn't an unreasonable person and would have been appalled at her daughter's invoking of her name in the form of a threat to one of her daughter's teachers. I seriously doubt she ever heard a word about that day's conversation.

Also as a matter of record, Kathryn did not get the eighth-grade citizenship award. Claire got that. I got the eighth-grade outstanding academic student award. Megan got the Bank of America award, which was for overall performance as a student, an extra-curricular student, and member of the community. Because I'm someting of a braggart by nature, I will share that a single student was and still is at that school eligible for only one of the three major awards, and the top academic student for each gender was chosen by GPA before the other awards; the top academic student was therefore ineligible for either of the other two awards. i would not have been in serious contention for the citizenship award  (behaviors such as  bringing a proctology textbook to school for my book report didn't exactly place me in serious consideration as the outstanding female citizen of our grade),  but for the all-around award, I probably would have edged Megan. But who really  knows or cares?

Once families moved into our district, they didn't usually leave unless someone's parent got a professorship at a different university, which is what happened to Kathryn's father. Despite her not being my favorite person on the planet, I felt sorry for Kathryn, as no one likes changing schools for one's senior year of high school. I didn't stay in touch because we weren't close while we attended the same school so why would we make an effort to remain in contact while separated by a distance of a few hundred miles? Neither, though, were we mortal enemies. 

Because other people I know did stay in closer touch with her, I  do know that she has been admitted to law school for this year. I also know that she wasn't admitted to her first-choice law school. I certainly hope that she grew up a bit since that day of our argument in eighth grade.  i hope she didn't do anything as stupid as to write "DO NOT TALK ABOUT ME BEHIND ME BACK!"  in the upper margin of her application.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Trump for President? Seriously?

Image result for trump

Donald Trump has proven skill at taking LOT of money and turning it into more money.  What has he otherwise? He has nonexistent socials skills.  He has questionable moral values. He has low regard for women.

If enough people in the right distributions vote for him to be the republican candidate for the Office of the President of the United States, it bodes well for the democratic candidate for the same office. If I'm wrong in my summation of the situation and enough people in the necessary distributions (why do we still have the Electoral College, anyway?) vote for him in order to place him in the office of President of the United States, our only hope is that the person who holds the office has limited power.

But why is this discussion even taking place? The man lacks overall ability to be the leader of a scout troop. Why is the man receiving natinoal publicity in this arena?  He's depriving legitimate contenders of attention and consideration. All things considered,bring on Mitt Romney. I never thought I would say or write such a thing even under the influence of powerful psychotropic drugs.