Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Dubious Achievements

Esquire magazine (to which my house has a subscription) does a story every January on "dubious achievements of the year." In that spirit, I thought I'd take the opportunity to catalogue my own achievements, dubious and otherwise.

1. I got a girlfriend, and had sex for the first time in...well, let's just say a long time.

2. I drove from Kansas City to St. Louis, alone, without getting lost (amazing considering my shitty sense of direction. I can get lost in a large department store, no joke).

3. I survived a total of two months in the hospital.

4. I sustained a sourdough starter for over a month (the spongy mess that gives sourdough bread its great flavor).

5. I also survived the MCAT, and got a kick-ass score.

6. I had a window (a heavy one...this house was built in 1911) slam shut on my hand, and was stuck for several minutes before someone came and helped me get it out.

7. I went out and had my first drink in a bar--with Amina and Pete, at the Chapter House. It was an Ithaca Brewing Company Apricot Wheat. Delicious.

8. I managed to develop crushes on two of my professors simultaneously. I got A's in both their classes (actually, an A+ in one of them), probably because I was so damn attentive and conscientious ("Could I drop by your office hours again today?").

9. I briefly quit smoking.

10. I went on a tour of the Cayuga Lake wine trail, and came back from all the tastings thoroughly sloshed.

11. I became a columnist for a 'spiritual seekers' website.

12. I read an 800 page book--for the record, it was "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke. A fantastic read that I highly recommend.

13. I learned to do knitting stiches other than the stocking stitch. A step up (in the world of knitting, anyhow).

Monday, January 15, 2007

So...it's been a while. In the meantime, I've had two medical school interviews...one at Washington University (in St. Louis) and one at the University of Kansas, in Kansas City. Both went well, and I'm eager (of course) to hear about the results. I'm still--and still more eagerly--awaiting a reply from Harvard and Yale. Damn you, Ivy League! Oh, wait...

This week has been hectic...the KU interview day was on Tuesday, with a breakfast at 930, an orientation at 10, interviews at 1030, and lunch following closely behind. A tour tied up the day, at which point I headed home to pack for my drive to St. Louis on Wednesday. Well. I got up bright and early, intending to pack my stuff into the car and head off, with time to stop in Columbia and have lunch/coffee with one of my friends (who runs a counseling practice there). And when, on a slightly OCD whim, I went to check my wallet and make sure everything was in order...my license was missing. So after half an hour's frantic search, I Mapquested and drove to the DMV in a neighboring suburb (which is famous, by the way, for confusing and tortuous roads, and which I do not know well). When I got there, the machine was malfunctioning, and I had to wait around while that was remedied. I paid my 10 dollars, filled out a form, and set out again. When I got to the end of Main Street, however, there was an impediment: a train. A long one. I muttered several words--none of them suitable for publication--over and over as I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and smoked (patience is not a virtue I possess...not in large quantities, anyway). And after I'd been sitting there 5 minutes, the train stopped. Just....stopped. Sensing that I'd have to move quickly if I was to see my friend in Columbia (she had appointments scheduled at noon, and thus I would have to arrive by 11 if I were to see her) I followed a truck on an alternate route that got us past the railroads. Hot damn and hallelujah--I was on the open highway in less than 5 minutes after that, and made it to WashU with ample time to spare.
WashU was fabulous...everyone I met there, from the hosting medical students to the deans to the other applicants, was fantastically friendly. The school bends over backwards to accomodate its students, there is abundant (at least compared to most other schools) financial aid available, there's access to the finest minds and most pioneering research in the world...Barnes-Jewish Hospital is one of the top 10 hospitals in the country, and Wash U is frequently ranked the number 1 medical school. There's an atmosphere of collaboration rather than competition, and the first year is simply pass/fail. What's not to love? Oh, yes...its relative proximity to my family.
I spent most of Friday with my extended family, then got to the airport about two hours before my flight. My mother was supposed to drop me off, but both she and my father (who drove down Thursday to spend time with the family) decided to head back to Kansas City early when word came through that a devastating ice storm was marching across the state and would likely make travel impossible if they didn't leave soon. My uncle took me instead--a nice guy who I should really get to know better. When I went through security at the airport, I decided to take a chance and try to get my lighter through the checkpoint; it worked. I'm so tired of having to buy new lighters every time I fly...it's damned inconvenient. And when I arrived inside the airport, I saw signs that said--rather than "No smoking"--"Smoking in designated areas only." St. Louis Airport has SMOKING LOUNGES!!! And a motley bunch there was assembled in there (she said, sounding like Captain Ahab). A young woman who'd just turned 21 and had already had a few at the airport bar; a soldier who'd just completed basic training and was catching up on all the cigarettes he wasn't allowed to smoke while he was there; a man sadly lacking in the dental hygiene department, smoking a pipe, who razzed me a little about having gotten my lighter through security ("They get mine every time," he lamented, "it's gotten so I don't even have nice flip lighters anymore.") The self-absorbed saga will continue, children, in the next installment of: My so-called Life (is that copyrighted?)