Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Merry Little Christmas and Assorted Bullshit

what one of my pink scrub sets looks like

close to how the other set looks

I've never roasted chestnuts on an open fire or anywhere else. I don't know if I'd consider the resulting roasted chestnuts even edible. 

My family's Christmas was almost Rockwellian. I don't often pause to consider just how very fortunate I am that all of the relatives with whom we either celebrate holidays or associate on anything resembling a regular basis are normal, functional human beings. Whether we celebrate with the extended pseudo-relatives and my dad's brothers and their families near our home or travel to the San Joaquin Valley to celebrate with my Godparents, who are also my aunt and uncle, everyone is friendly. A fair amount of alcohol was probably consumed on Friday, but no one ever goes into drunken rages or practically gives themselves cases of acute alcohol poisoning at our holiday gatherings. We don't have major arguments that cause anyone to feel the need to leave. We're almost boring.

I've apparently become the most difficult member of the extended family for whom to buy Christmas presents. After my recent cello purchase, I now have the reputation of a person who buys anything she needs or really wants for herself. The reputation isn't all that far from actuality. 

During the entire time I was in high school, I worked at a steady part-time job at union scale wages as a piano accompanist; I even purchased salary protection insurance, so I continued to draw three-quarters of my contractual wages during the times I was injured or hospitalized.  At the time I spent only a small fraction of what I earned. I played for numerous masses, funerals, and weddings, banking the proceeds for those as well. I had enough scholarship money that I didn't need to self-finance my education, and my parents would have paid for my undergraduate degree, anyway. I earned just enough from occasional musical gigs in college that while I wasn't baking much, I at least didn't need to tap into my savings for spending money. Furthermore, I was gifted with two relatively sizable grants because of finishing third in in my undergraduate class. One of the grants I will use to supplement scholarship money to fund my medical school tuition, but the other will remain untouched and will continue to earn interest.

The end result is that I have an unusually large savings account for someone whose parents are presumably upper-middle class. (I know relatively little about my parents' finances, but I would assume that they would be considered as falling into the upper end of the middle class.) My original plan was not to touch any of my accrued earnings until my residency at the very earliest, and ideally not until beginning to work in an actual medical practice.

I've decided to amend the plan ever so slightly. I dipped into my savings to buy my cello just because I wanted it right then. I didn't want to drop hints so that my Godparents might possibly buy it for me for Christmas. A cello is a major enough undertaking that if one is going to obtain one, one wants the cello of his or her choosing and not something that someone who doesn't know a great deal about cellos might come across and elect to buy. 

I decided when I bought the cello that I was going to allow myself to spend a total of twenty-thousand of the dollars I have saved in any way that I want. I don't spend a great deal of money on clothing, but if I need or want a few outfits, the money for them will come from the twenty-thousand dollars. If I decide to travel on my own (my parents still pay my brother's and my expenses on family vacations), the money for my travels will come from the twenty-thousand. Money for auto maintenance as well as maintenance of my musical instruments will also come from the twenty-thousand. I could technically afford a larger discretionary allowance, but I don't really need it. 

Some people would say that even twenty-thousand dollars is extravagant and self-indulgent, but many of my classmates who have taken out educational loans will spend more on their discretionary expenses than what I have allotted for myself. My spending isn't too far from what my brother spends. He hasn't made any single purchase as large as my purchase of a cello, but he spends more on clothing and entertainment than I do. 

I'm not sure exactly where my brother's money comes from, but I'm not going to worry about it. His earning opportunities were not nearly what mine were in high school. My parents may be floating him a large loan that he will eventually pay back, or they may be giving him money. I could make myself miserable by concerning myself about the fairness of my brother getting money that I'm not getting from my parents,  but I choose instead to adopt the attitude that I'm very lucky not to need much help from them. I assume that if I were in need of financial assistance, I would get it from them. As it stands, I live rent-free in a condo that is owned by my parents. I'm happy to have that be essentially
the sum of their financial support.

In terms of presents this year, I was given a very nice stethoscope,  two sets of Dominant strings for my violin, one set for my cello [they're far from cheap], a double-strand of pearls, a few chain restaurant gift cards, and four sets of scrubs. Two of the sets of scrubs are pink; I had said that I would not wear pink scrubs, but since someone else bought them for me, I probably will wear them. We will wear hospital-issue scrubs when on official duty, but we wear our own for leisure wear, lectures,  labs, meetings, or for times when we go to the hospital to check on things but are not serving official shifts. There's ample time to wear our own scrubs, and every med school student I know has several sets. All of the sets I received somewhat fit me [they're not supposed to be form-fitting], and I commend those who gave them to me for going to the trouble of finding scrubs in small sizes.

I did midnight mass and mass today as well, but Christmas this year wasn't much of a religious experience for me. It's tough to for me to feel tremendously spiritual when I've scarcely had time to survive for the past four months. I assume that God is probably satisfied that I'm not breaking at least one of the ten commandments every time I leave my room (or, for that matter, enter it). We should all appreciate all of our loved ones while we still have them in our lives. Not one on us knows for certain how long any of us or our loved ones will be here.


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  2. Sounds like a good Christmas haul. Mr. Bill bought me a very flashy necklace. I may have to post a photo later, after I write a book review.

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  4. We had a low key Christmas. I had surgery last Tuesday so I haven't really been up to doing much more than reading and napping. Enjoy the New Year celebrations!! It will be good to get back to school.

    1. I just read this. I'll email to find out how you're doing.

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