Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am not a big fan of clothing.

I am not a big fan of clothing. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of nakedness either, its just that I’m not a huge fan. I’m a fan alright. I’d take being clothed over necked nine times out of ten (the tenth being when I am sleeping and then I think sheets count as clothes by proxy). But I just normally don’t get excited about a specific article of clothing.

However, for my birthday, my sister got me a sweatshirt. And this wasn’t your standard sweatshirt. This was a swanky, fleece lined number that felt like I was slipping inside the freshly sheared coat of a lamb.

There was one problem: sometime in the last ten years all the trendy stores switched to emo sizing. What I mean is that no longer is a large the baggy, oversized large of the nineties, a large is now a emo-sized large that doesn’t quite reach my wrists and fits snugly around my stomach.

This was a remediable situation, however, and I remedied it. I entered the trendy store that features the commercials with happy people singing in scarves and attempted to perform a simple exchange. And the exchange attempt fiasco is the reason that I hate malls.

By a fortuitous coincidence, I parked the mall at the entrance closest to the store I wanted to enter. This occurred completely by chance because my general tactic upon turning into the mall parking lot complex/circle-of-death is to find the first aisle I can to turn down and park as quickly as possible so as to avoid the general craziness of mall-bound/departing drivers. And so it just so happened that this entrance was adjacent to the store at which I was to return said sherpa sweatshirt.

Yet, I should have known that modern shopping would not be so simple. The cashier informed me that while I could surely exchange the sweatshirt for a larger size to accommodate by non-Jimmy Eat World style preferences, I could also return it and use the credit for a sweater during the current buy-one-get-one sale. In a moment of weakness I almost acquiesced, but I held fast after looking at the fleece lined hood of the sweatshirt.

The cashier proceeded to radio another clerk upon which I embarked on the experience I hope to be the closest experience to having a personal shopper as I ever have. The clerk guided me to the rack of sweatshirts, and despite the fact that I found a size up (albeit a slightly difference color) she proceeded to gather three or so shirts and hold them up for me.

This one might work. She was not fazed. Actually I think this one right here is the right size. She acted like she did not hear me as she flew through the rack of sweatshirts. Here, I’ll just try this one on and see if it’ll work. I think I’ll like it. In perhaps her most impressive instance of unwavering fortitude, she saw my point and countered with: Well I think that is all we have on this rack let me go check and see if there are more out front.

By the time she returned I had decided (five minutes ago) that the sweatshirt was a go. She however, would not go down so easily and asked me to go look at yourself in the mirror out front. I thought it was okay and attempted to brush her off when she implored me to go check in the front mirror. Worried that I looked a fool in the sweatshirt, I finally obliged and found my appearance superbly normal.

At this point I was done playing games and told her I was going to exchange it for this one and promptly moved the game forward by inquiring: Now do you need to scan this one out, or can I just leave the old one with you and take it. For I had worked at Kohl’s for years and the even exchange was possible without the use of modern technology. She smiled as if a four-year-old had just proposed something impossibly stupid in a genuine manner.

Finally she walked me down to the computer where I again, felt like an over pampered personal shopper as she took me to the front of the line to complete my transaction. Oh, she said, they must have gotten this on sale. My sister is a savvy shopper, I would not have been surprised. However, I did not see how this piece of information had any bearing on our current course of action. There is a difference of seventeen dollars. Again, I didn’t really care but it became apparent to me that the clerk expected me to care. I tell you what, I will just correct the difference.

I wasn’t sure if we were narrating the obvious right now, or if this was supposed to be perceived as a transcendent act of grace, but I finally acknowledged the “situation” and thanked her for doing that. She said it was not problem, which again made me wonder if we were narrating the obvious. I was tempted to say: Well thanks again for letting me exchange one item nearly identical to another with all of the tags and requisite documentation as required by said transaction. What a modern wonder of charity you are running here. I will tell all my friends about this great deal and maybe they will also find the dumb luck that I stumbled upon. But I refrained.

More importantly, I walked out of the store with the appropriately sized sweatshirt. And it was awesome. I wore the sweatshirt for the rest of the night. When I had to get slightly more gussied up for the holiday activities I would be partaking in, I layered the sweatshirt on again as a sort of coat. And it was awesome.

Like I said, I’m not a big fan of clothing, but I became a big fan of this sweatshirt. It was weighty enough that it reminded me of the comforting lead vest the dentist provides be with pre x-ray. The hood is spacious enough that with the neck just slightly unzipped, I can softly cover my head and feel like I’m swimming in a sort of peripheral pillow. The fleece lining, as described above, was so soft that I frequently gave into the continuous urge to rub my cheek against it sheep shorn softness.

And I don’t like clothing. But I liked this shirt. So much so that it was worth the above experience and actually, made it all strangely endearing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thoughts on Eating a Grapefruit

I can’t eat a grapefruit when I am hungry. Properly consuming such a fine piece of agricultural produce requires a concentration and patience that I do not have when I am hungry. Furthermore, in the hyperirritable state I find myself when hungry, I find the spray of wasted delicious pink juices extremely annoying. Usually I give in to the baser self and attempt to forego the requisite preparation for consummation and try to scoop the tiny triangles of fruit meatiness out with a traditional spoon. And I fail miserably.

And even more miserably, even if I successfully navigate myself through the entire grapefruit I end even hungrier than I began. Because we all know that the fruit and vegetable kingdom is not accepted as real food where the hungry man’s stomach is concerned (With of course the notable exception of the meat of the fruit world the banana and a few others).

Despite the given shortcomings of the grapefruit in said situation it remains one of my favorite ingestion experiences. First, there is the purely asthetic experience of the grapefruit. Externally its yellow-orange skin is graced with an artists kiss of rogue on one end like the suns rays especially shone on one small arc. And the perfect sphere is disrupted on the micro-level with the tiny dimples of texture. On the macro-level, the sphere is ever so slightly incomplete as one point features a slight infolding reminding the viewer that the grapefruit did in fact come from the earth. Most striking, however, is the natural size, not cartoonish like the watermelon or the slightly-to-big-for-one-hand cantelouope. The grapefruit pushes the limits of something held in one hand, providing a surprising size for potentially the world’s largest single serving fruit.

And the inside of the grapefruit only enhances its glowing exterior. The white spokes contrasting the pink meat separate each distinct triangular prism into bite size morsels o flavor. And, frustratingly at times, the bond between the pink and white is so strong as to force even the most impatient diner to wait as the knife slices the pink flesh away from its captor. The flavor is literally palpable before the first bite, because of the unavoidable spray of the acidic contents.

My preferred method is to divide the fruit into two acts. That is, after separating the two halves, I will prepare one with a steak knife, and then consume it before moving on to the second half. And so a moment’s worth of work sets the table for a even more fleeting moment’s consumption.

And afterwards, not completely unlike the famous giving tree, the grapefruit provides a post-meal cordial. Amazingly, after methodically slicing out the seeming entire pulpy goodness from the fruit, a perfect glass-worth of country-style-full-pulp juice remains.

So the grapefruit provides an eating experience, in my mind unparalleled by any of the tubers, fruits, and vegetables of the natural world. I just only have to remind myself that a grapefruit must be consumed in context. And that context is essentially reduced to whilst not edging on ravenous.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I live in Detroit.

I live in Detroit. Which is something that fewer and fewer people can say daily. And I have to admit it has been one of the strangest experiences of my life. A little more than two years when I was starting medical school and the real estate market had yet definitively plummeted I purchased a condo in downtown Detroit (with a little help of the financial backing of my parents; lets be honest, a lot of help). So, I don't claim to have any sort of perspective besides an upbringing of suburbia and a brief stint of living in an urban core.

I would be lying if I said there were never times when I wished I lived in a “normal city.” That is, occasionally I think it would be nice if I didn’t see cars on blocks missing all their tires not infrequently in front of my residence. Or that I could seriously deal with not having to pass by entire complexes of abandoned residences that remind me of some sort of post-war eastern European nation. But most of all, I wish I could take a jog outside after midnight and not think twice about my personal safety. After all, I am a fairly large male, and being intimidated by my surroundings is not something I am used to nor go out of my way to experience.

Yet, I am still being surprised by the joys that living in such a place brings. For the first two months of my taking up residence in Detroit I would sip my morning coffee and stare at the bright, dancing, letters of the FOX Theatre sign outside my window for a good half hour. And still when I look up and see it outside it brings me a sort of joy of which I still don’t understand the origins. And when there is a big event going on, I love being able to stumble onto the community patio outside my back door and witness the goings-on from above (before heading down and engaging in said events).

I catch myself forgetting that I live in Detroit, and imagining I am in Chicago at least once a week. I’ll catch a glimpse of Broadway street near Grand Circus Park where new restaurants line the streets and the post-theatre crowd strolls about. If I look at a certain angle at the row of townhouses adjacent to my building I can imagine that they are hip families living in the Lincoln Park district of Chicago or something akin. And in the dark of night, I can’t really tell which skyscrapers are completely vacant and which are merely shut down for the night. And I love those moments.

But I also love the fact that those moments wane and I remain in Detroit. Because Detroit’s juxtaposition of seeming old-world like glory, new age revitalization (its there, I promise), and general state of decay creates an incredibly beautiful blend of life. Bastions of resilience hold-on to entrenched customer bases amidst square blocks of abandoned houses.

In Detroit, its impossible to forget about the plight of those less fortunate. But if you look in the wrong direction its also entirely possible to miss the hope of renaissance that abound. And I guess that’s why I have found peace here despite the general appearance of chaos that surrounds my new home. Parts of the ubiquitous decay are reminders that today’s glory is fleeting, while the occasional landmark of persisting ancient (by Midwest American standards) glory is evidence that even in the most unlikely of circumstances occasionally great beauty endures.

Friday, August 28, 2009

When did I become an old man?

I've noticed the trend that I actually have to plan ahead in order to hang out with friends for a while now, which seems absurd enough. However, today, as I'm waiting for the appointed meeting time to celebrate the end of a clerkship, I found myself watching This Old House or New Yankee Workshop or the ever popular Ask This Old House. The sad (or awesome) part is that I find myself having this show on the background pretty much 60% of the time my television is on. Today, just before I decided to write this, I caught myself wondering: "I wonder if they do all day marathons of this show . . . that would be aweseome." I immediately felt like a sell-out to the seven year old version of myself who despised nothing more than to find I couldn't convince my dad to change the channel from a bunch of old dudes in flannel discussing the intricacies of selectinve proper plumbing fixtures.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Running Diary: The Boards

Yesterday I finished my United States Medical Liscensure Examination Step One Examination. Which, as uninteresting as it sounds, was actually a mildly enjoyable day. If only because I allow my test day taking quirks full reign on big days. Anyways, here's what transpired starting the on the eve of the exam.

12 noon: My former roommate and classmate and I travelled to Detroit's best pizzeria in the Eastern Market area of Detroit. Despite the state of general disrepair the city usually finds itself, there are still pockets of thriving city life. Needless to say, the pizza was delicious and this was the first step in my relaxation strategy.

4 pm: Step two was a jaunt to the driving range on Belle Isle. Again, this driving range is another reminder that there are sweet things going on in Detroit. Belle Isle is an island in the Detroit River, which seperates Detroit from Windsor, Ontario. It's a massive park, and quite enjoyable to drive through and the driving range is actually one of the nicer ranges I've teed off on. Which can make my lack of game all the more embarrasing. Although, I am now consistently able to make solid contact with the golf ball, whcih is immensely satisfying.

8 pm: The initial supplies run. I have a fondness for having ample sustenance in my employ during test days. So, I went to the local Rite-Aid and commandeered the following essential items: One and a half liters of Citrus Green tea (for the anti-oxidants), two 32-ounce gatorades (including a bottle of the new Gatorade Focus for obvious reasons . . . and because Tiger Woods is on it), two bags of trail mix (the ultimate sustenance source), and a Snickers Dark (beacuse if I'm paying 88 cents for a Snickers bar, it needs to be special in some way.

8:30: I begin preparations by packing my breakfast/lunch/dinner for the day (the exam is eight-hours long, and in case I forgot to mention, I like a solid quantity of food). Bonnie Blair (the olympic speed-skater) said she ate PB & J for lunch daily for most of her life. I think that is a fine idea and pack myslef a couple of those. However, because I cannot predict my sandwhich desires in 16-hours, I throw in a ham and cheese because its both nearly as classic and delicious as the peanut butter standby.

9:00: The office. If there is a better show on telivision I defy you to name it. And that's even counting my new favorite The Big Bang Theory. The episode was the one where Michael, Oscar, and Andy go to Winnepeg for business. Classic. Adding Andy to the cast might have been one of the great all time additions to the cast (because I know so much about television show cast chanes).

10:00: I prepare for bed by unwinding with American Lion, a pulitzer prize winning book on Andrew Jackson. And if you think this is a poor choice, read the first part of the previous sentence again.

11:00-5:50 am: Note, I can never remember having as vivid dreams as I did that night. And they were all somehow medically related, the sense that I Am Legend, was medically related.

Test day

5:50 am : Setting my alarm ten minutes early seems even sillier than when I did it last night.

6:00 am: Shower and shave. Nothing makes you feel ready for a day than these two events. I even got back on the after-shave train recently and it is fantastic. Feel my cheeks, seriously, they don't make cotton balls that soft. I don't care what that says about my manhood, at least they smell like alcohol (the rubbing kind, not the other, come-on, its test day).

6:45 am: How the heck did it get to be 6:45 already? I was supposed to leave at 6:30 and I still don't have my egg sandwhich, thermos of coffee, or cup-o-oatmeal ready yet?

6:57 am: Aforementioned items are ready and I am officially running late. I have to be there by 7:30 and am supposed to be there by 7:00. It's half an hour away.

7:13 am: Seriously, it's raining? How the heck did I let myself be put in danger of being late? They make it pretty clear on the form if you show up late they don't have to seat you for the test. And besides the academic ramifications, the test cost 500 bucks.

7:24 am: I make it to the testing center on time. Even after using the restroom. I didn't have time to eat my egg sandwhich in the car, however, which gives me something to look forward to.

7:29 am: There are 20 spots to srart the exam at 7:30 and since each person takes it individually on their own computer, the staff has to set people up one by one. This takes a few minutes for each person. I am number twenty of twenty.

7:45 am: because I don't want to risk it, I used the restroom again.

8:00 am: I get my book out of the little cubby/locker they give you to put your stuff in while I wait.

8:14 am: It's almost my turn, and I have to pee again. Seriously, I don't know how coffee does what it does to your system, but its impressive. So I went to the restroom for the third time since arriving at the test center.

8:23 am: I begin the test. I can't tell you how many times the following sentiments occured in my mind in response to test questions: (1) seriously? I thought there would be no way this would be on the test. (2) seriously? I knew this would be on the test, how don't I know it. And just (3) Seriously?

9:07 am: I finish up the first of seven sections. Now, this exam is structured so that you have eight total hours to complete the test with seven-hour long sections and one fifteen minute tutorial. I had previously decided on a strategy for the exam to avoid burn-out because every time I practiced doing blocks of questions my scores followed a clear downward trend due to fatigue. That strategy was to take a break after every exam and because I changed more answers from correct to incorrect than vice versa, I would only cursorarily look over my exam before moving on.

9:08 am: I use the restroom again before travelling back to my car to partake in the delicious egg and cheese sang-which I had waiting for me. Delicious. I was also able to wash it down with some mildly warmed coffee left in my travel mug. It was surprisingly relaxing to set in my car in an office parking lot during the biggest test of my life and enjoy this delightful farm fresh breakfast (that had been sitting in my car for over an hour now). Look out Jimmy Dean.

9:15 am: I frequent the washroom once more just for kicks

9:17 am: Round 2. If you are keeping track on your scorecard I'd give the first one to the exam, but I think I scored enough jabs on the second to even it up at 1-1 after two rounds of play. Seriously though, my mentality was to kind of treat the day as a light-hearted game, and I believe I succeeded.

10:03 am: Break two. Seriously, the breaks were getting fun. This time, I didn't want to risk getting hungry so I threw down most of my Fancy Mojo Mix trail mix. And I did feel fancy. And full of mojo. I also threw down an fuiji apple because they are delicious. I ran into another medical student taking the exam (most of the 20 people there in the morning were taking this exam) in the hallway at the end of my break. The interesting dynamic during the breaks is there is always this knowledge in the back of your head that the computer is timing your breaks and it is slowly dwindling. So, after I exchanged cordial greetings and "how's the test going?" I was attempting to end the conversation and get my test going. Unfortunately, this student was not in the same mindset and began playing the "I know person x who goes to your school, do you know them?" game. As much as I usually enjoy this game (and her performance was exceptional, she went 2-2) now was not the time nor the place, so I excused myself and went back into the den of pain (read: testing center). Also, to note, I continued the trend of using the restroom twice per break (for a total of 7 times on the day).

10:47 am: Round 3 ends. I'm going to give this round to the challenger. I'm starting to get into a groove. I only have one more block to go before I allow myself a lunch break so I eat a lighter break snack of a bannanna paired with piping coffee from my thermos. I remained sitting in my car at this point because it is still gloomy out and if ever I felt like I was on a stake out, now was the time. I sat watching people enter and leave the building while pouring myself cup upon cup of coffee. Delicious. Bathroom tally at 9 now.

11:30 am: In the midst of round 4 I am starting to feel tired. I fight the internal urge to just click an answer and move on and try and actually think through each question. Good thing I have a lunch break coming. I'll probably have to give this round to the exam. We're all tied up at two now.

11:47 am: Sweet, sweet lunch break. I'm giving myself fifty minutes of freedom here. I set up camp at a picnic table under a large tree. I'm officially feeling fried as well so I decide not to read as I anticipated during the break. I pull a game time decision and trade out my expected PB&J for the ham and cheese. I had a hunch last night and it paid off. I also throw down most of my Tiger Woods focus gatorade and some of the iced green tea. Delicious. I also made a few phone calls just because I wanted to get my mind of the test.

1:07 pm: Okay, taking this test is seriously getting old. Is there any way to avoid the post lunch lull? I mean seriously, how can you not be tired after eating? And short of integrating the siesta into our culture what can a person do? Especially when I am taking a test that is timed? This run of question marks is really making my upward intonation fatigued? Round 5 goes to the exam 3-2, uh-oh, things are looking bad. I may want to reconsider a career in the promising field of semi-shady drug endorsements.

12:31 pm: I have banked a significant amount of break time now, so I decide to take a walk around the office complex. Granted, its about as full of character as a cardboard box, but the walk is still pleasant. And I stumbled upon a park of sorts with tennis courts that turned out to be some sort of private club. The park was next to a school so I kind of wandered around the schoolyard until I got some strange looks from some other people and realized I probably looked like a creeper. Time to get back after the test.

1:47 pm: Whew, another tough round, but I felt like I battle back strong. 3-3 after six rounds with one round to go. As if we didn't see this coming. I still have a good twenty minutes of break time and here is when the strategy gets interesting. I can conceivably go over my break time and suffer the consequence that it will be taken out from my last block. And generally I finish the blocks with 15-20 minutes to spare. I make the decision to take all my break time and not worry about getting a few minutes shaved off the exam. I saved a pear and had a bit of gatorade left so I finished those off and sauntered around some more.

2:17 pm: As I walk back into the testing room the proctor plays Final Countdown in the background. Okay, at least they should have. I show up to my computer with a giant warning message saying "Warning! You have exceeded your alotted break time and any additional break time is being taken out of your final section." Okay, seriously, that freaked me out a little bit. I had a general tension run through me. Then to compound things, A windows error message popped up. Son-of-a. I envisioned my entire test disapearing into cyper space and having to do this all over again.

2:19 pm: The error message is corrected and am back in the saddle. The test decides to further extend its competetive advantage by placing a giant "!" mark next to my timer on the bottom of the screen to let me know that because I took a longer break, my time was reduced. I still feel kind of panicked and consider doign a rapid run through just to get answers down. I close my eyes and take five deep breaths. And then another five. Allright, I'm back.

2:49: Almost done, I peruse the answers one final time and then click submit. I am done. I feel good about it. And I'm giving myself the "W" in the final round. 4-3, I think I beat the boards in a close match.

2:52: Seriously, I cannot imagine thinking long about any of these survey questions because I feel just cashed.

3:22: I finally finish all the required junk and stop by to see my old friend the restroom one more time before leaving. Ah, a good day. I look at my phone and discover that my former roommate and classmate mentioned above has sent me a text. He is already at Buffallo Wild Wings awaiting my arrival.

4:26: After an eternal drive in traffic I show up at B-dubs (has their ever been a more universally accepted nickname for an institution) and meet two of my other friends who have finished their exam.

5:43: The fourth member of our crew taking the exam today arrives and the day is complete. The general sense of relief is intense. We make wisecracks about the test and trade stories about ridiculous questions and our likely ridiculous mistakes. There is a strange feeling like we've just tackled something huge and conquered it. We did it all individually, but in some sense it feels like we all just accomplished together. Unless of course, I didn't pass.

Well, anyways, so that is what I did this Friday. And although it may not have seemed like it once I got it down on paper (or the white screen at least) it was a rather entertaining day for me. Now, onto year III.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fool me once, shame on . . . Wait, is that a cookie?

I paid $1.50 for a single cookie about an hour and a half ago. I'm not proud of it. I'm still in a bit of shock and it wasn't a good cookie. And as I was buying it I knew it wasn't a good cookie. Call me a sucker.

One of my other more recent kicks is studying in coffee shops. After 20 some months of gettin 'er done in the redsidence, I finally got stir crazy. The problem is that at home, I am not surrounded by a bounty of food, but at least some sort of sustenance, in the coffee shop I place myself in a sort of meal purgatory. That is, I always make sure I eat right before I leave and I always end up eating the second I get home, but coffee house time is sort of like a miniature fast for me.

But today, a chink in my armor was exposed as I reached the four hour mark in the artsy oasis. I'd like to consider my subconscious forcing me to pay for my rented study space for the day, but I sauntered up to the cashier, picked out an oatmeal cookie and plunked down four something for the combination of afforementioned treat and an iced tea. 

Now, it may not seem like a large amount of money, but it broke a historical precedent for me. Since I was in high school and realized I had just boughten and consumed (ravenously, I may add) a six dollar beverage at Starbucks, I had resolved not to support institutions that would fleece me. And yet, I did.

I think I learned another important lesson today. I'm not in undergrad anymore. At my undergraduate institution, if I found myself in a caloric vaccuum I merely sauntered over to the to-go food line and either (a) looked for a friend who would kindly donate a meal to a good cause or (b) ponied up anywhere between a quarter and four quarters (or a dollar as some like to call it) for anywhere between 1 and 4 delicious, sustaining, and cheap granola bars (which were really more like bars of vegetable oil with specs of cereal, so you can imagine their satiating power).

Alas, Mr. Bigby and your co-hourt Mr. Starbuck you have won this round. And for that, I say kudos (which, would not be a bad idea to stock in your storefronts, as long as they went from anywhere from the 24 to 26 cent per bar range).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kicks (not the sneakers . . . or the delicious and alternately spelled breakfast cereal)

   I have a penchant for going on kicks where I do something consistently for a few days (see the last week of multiple postings). Lately, my latest streak is listening to Amy Winehouse. And, its not like I just discovered her music or something. I mean, I always knew she didn't want to go to rehab and a pair of special high heels or something, but now I can't get enough of any of her music. It's gotten to the point that after I run out of skips on other pandora stations, I make a new one up just so I can skip to her songs. This of course is after my other most recent music kicks of Bob Seger, Johnny Cash, and the fantastic nineties band Live (side note: I can't believe its getting to the point where I can actually classify a band as nineties and it doesn't seem like they are still in their prime).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dotting the "i"s with circles

In one of the many reply to all e-mail forums that I am lucky enough to take part in (school, friends, building I live in . . . etc) a few people periodically distinguish themselves from the rest. That is, they complete the e-mail equivalent of loopy handwriting, and dotting the letter "i" with a big rotund sphere which is another way of saying "you couldn't take me seriously if you tried." Admittedly, via e-mail, this impression is even tougher to exude. However, I have discovered that certain individuals with a heightened sense of self-awareness are able to meticulously chisel there public image through the use of normally sterile electronic lettering.
    Through some intense research and a few controlled studies I have discovered there secret: The use of multiple punction marks at inopportune times ?!. And the calculated missuse of the oft-neglected capital letter. These are e-mistakes that are completely acceptable in the context of a person to person e-mail, or in the language cess pool I like to call text messaging, however, when you are addressing a group of people via e-mail, more than twenty or so in number, and a majority of which really don't know you, the only impression we have is your e-mail.
and So !? Today, as I was reading one of these laboriously crafted e-mails, I stumbed upon the antecedent form of their work. That is, I got the same impression reading these e-mails as I did when I used to see the bubbly handwriting of a third grade girl (which I don't remember happening all that often, but lets be honest, pre-pubescent I was probably a stud). 

Monday, May 25, 2009

An Anology

I feel about the mute button what other people may feel about drugs: that is, while using it, things that seemed normal before now seem absolutely ridiculous.

Case in point: I would have never noticed that while muted, about 50% of the time, Wheel of Fortune is just people standing at a podium clapping awkwardly. And when I say 50%, I mean it seriously. Like the contestants clap at everything. They clap while the wheel spins, they clap when a letter is anounced, heck, I'm pretty sure they clap while they interview the other contestants.

I guess that's why I'll never be on wheel of fortune, I don't clap near consistently enough. It's something to work on (note: I am currently applauding while concluding this post).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ode to PB

   I found myself at the grocers again last night and as usual I had my standard line-up of goods: a 5-lb jar of peanut butter, some tuna fish, a few gallons of milk and three loaves of bread. The woman behind me in line yelled out "is that peanut butter?" when I hulked the massive jar onto the conveyor belt. I smiled and nodded as I imagined a week or two of sustenance in paste form.
    I love peanut butter. And that's not to say that I enjoy a PB & J every now and again. In fact, I try and refrain from adding jelly to the mix. For that matter, its not to often that I combine bread with my mound of molten peanut nectar: I'm kind of a food purist, I don't like my carbs mixing with my protein/fat.
    And its not just that I eat a lot of peanut butter, or eat it frequently (both of which are undeniably true). The fact is that the jar of peanut butter in my closet says "Hey . . . look at me . . . you don't have to worry about running out of food, I can sustain you for days with my legume-delicious-nutritiousness.
    I learned part of my peanut butter affinity from my mother, who was a stickler about serving sizes, and used to scoop exactly one tablespoon of peanut butter into her mouth for a quick meal if we were heading out the door. I do the same thing. Except, well I don't let myself be limited by the social constraint system known as the "serving size" nor the "2,000 calorie diet" (seriously, have you ever tried to eat less than 2,000 calories in a day? I'm pretty sure there are days when I come close to passing that benchmark before the 9-5 workday starts. Oh, and the other reason I don't eat spoonfuls of peanut butter is because spoons are a relative scarcity in my household these days. I've found you can wrap up a delicious nesting of the salted goo by spinning a fork in the vat a few times.
    There are days (like today as a matter of fact) that I consume nearly nothing but peanut butter. Okay, well, lets make that essentially nothing relative to the amount of peanut butter I consumed (I admit, I did have a pork chop sandwich at some point during the day, but all that protein hardly sticks to me).
   The reason I find peanut butter so irresistible is the same reason I drink a lot of water: it's readily available (at least at my home), relatively cheap, requires zero preparation, and has an awesome caloric density for when I know I need something but can't decide what (obviously that last tenant applies only to the peanut butter).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Anything you can do . . .

One of the more annoying tendencies I've noticed in myself is the defensiveness whenever someone makes a disparaging comment towards me. For example, whenever someone asks me, when does your summer break start? I explain, that it starts in late May, but its not really a break because I have to study for a board exam in July the whole time. Inevitably, my response is ignored by the nostalgic mental break in my partner in dialogue. Followed by, "man, I wish I was in school." and the inevitable, "yeah, enjoy it while it lasts, because the real world doesn't give breaks."
Generally I am pretty good at ignoring the urge to backhand the other person, but I always embarrassingly try to one up them with something like "yeah, but I'm not going to miss seven hours of lecture a day," or "yeah, but you know I'm going to have to put in those crazy 100 hour resident shifts" or something otherwise ridiculous. Because honestly, I am in still a student, and all of my stress is pretty much self induced as of right now. And I have no idea whether or not my experiences are more difficult than anyone else's and the truth is that it is completely irrelevant (or should be).
And even if my experience in school is way harder or easier than someone else gives me credit for, trying to prove it during a five minute conversation simply won't work. And what would be so bad if either a) my life was easier than the other person's or b) that other person held a misconceived belief about my, as Darryl from the office put it to Michael, "Nerf" life. All I know is I'm not going to start throwing watermelon's onto trampolines about it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grilled Cheese

I don't think there is a better sandwhich than extra sharp cheddar on Aunt Millie's Hearth Crunchy Oat with Honey Wheat bread. And I finally fingured out how to make it without burning the bread (yeah, I've been doing this for years, and I'm finally able to do it without running around the apartment opening windows and turning on fans to avoid setting off teh smoke detectors). 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hard Day's Night

I spent a day out in what those of us who reside in the bookish purgatory like to call "the real world." I spent my morning at a health fair and an afternoon at another site in Detroit doing "hands-on"-ish activities. I studied for a bit before I left but since then haven't so much as looked at a lecture. And it feels glorious. I feel as if I have done --well nothing but -- something. I came home tired. I can't remember the last time I was tired from actually doing something.
Admittedly I was probably more of a hindrance than a help at the health clinic. I pricked two fingers and then squeezed for like ten minutes just to get enough blood for the test. Then I proceeded to put the sphygnognomometer (aka sphygnometer or blood pressure cuff) on backwards (not my fault, I'm used to doing it by hand, not these autonomic jobs). Side note on medical school: the funny thing is with my knowledge base right now, if I were in some sort of life threatening crisis, I would take someone with six weeks of hands-on training over someone like me with 2 years (after a 4 year degree) of book knowledge. But back to the story at hand, I had fun and actually got to interact with people in the morning.
In the afternoon I did a sort of activity that may loosely be able to be described as manual labor. And sometimes, there is a satisfaction in seeing a visual representation of work accomplished that cannot be reached by reading a test score on blackboard (unless, maybe, I actually did well on a test or something, but still).
All this to say, I can't wait for July when I actually start waking up and going to work (kinda, at least going somewhere). I'm kind of dreading August, however, when I start waking up and wishing I didn't have to go anywhere and curse myself for not enjoying April more.
Now I suppose I'll have to go take in a few lectures before the Office comes on tonight. Whew, Hard day's night.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


On a related note I accidentally bought tuna in vegetable oil instead of water. It couldn't seem more like I was eating catfood if I ate it with a saucer of milk next to me. Which, I guess after eating the rice krispies was kind of what I did have next to me. I will now go try and catch a laser pointer.

Chatting up Cashiers

I usually make an effort to make conversation with the cashiers when I go through the checker line at the grocery store. Or rather, I usually attempt to go along with the efforts that they make to converse and encourage more conversations. Invariably the conversation touches on the subject that both of us are at the present time extremely tired, a momentary discussion on the length of time till the cashier’s shift ends or lunch break occurs, and finally, some sort of comment on how I must really like peanut butter or tuna fish. The conversation’s purpose is really to fill the void of silence when you are going to be interacting with another human being in close proximity for several minutes, but occasionally, I am imparted with extraordinary tips for living.

            A few weeks ago, when the weather was still cold enough to wear a scarf, I was informed by the cashier that she too had a Burberry (or however you spell it) scarf. I was about to inform her that this scarf was in fact a knock-off which was re-gifted to after my dad received it. I never expected to wear it, but scarves are actually extraordinarily warm. The friendly cashier informed me that her little cousin had borrowed the scarf for months and she detailed her exhaustive pursuit of the scarf for months. Which, of course she had to get back, if only because it went with the rest of her entire ensemble. Which is to say she had a purse, a hat, and perhaps some other accessories that I am not remembering that went with the scarf.

            She then proceeded to discuss how she told her cousin she’d buy her a cheap knock-off. I almost interjected in here again to say, yeah, that’s what I’d do because I have one, but in what would prove to be a wise move, I remained silent (except, of course to comment that I indeed enjoy a good 5 lb jar of peanut butter, and no, the Salmonella scare wouldn’t discourage me).

As she was scanning the last few items, the cashier informed me that in no circumstance should I be traveling out and about with only one Burberry item on. If I was going to where the scarf, I had to where the whole ensemble. Honestly, I’m not sure if this was a circuitous route to expose my faux pas of wearing Adidas snap pants with an old suede jacket, or whatever ensemble I had traipsed out into the social realm of the grocery store in. Or, if she was trying to expose the farce that I was living pretending I was wearing a two-hundred dollar scarf. Or, perhaps she just legitimately believed in the intrinsic goodness of coordinated outfits. Whatever the case, I left better informed about how I should be doing things in the wardrobe world, but with even less motivation to act on said knowledge base.

The peanut butter, however, was worth every penny.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Learning Swahili

In retrospect, the request probably seemed as bizarre as the person making it, but at the time, requesting that I be allowed to do my own laundry seemed like a good way to my host mother. She did not speak a world of English, and her husband Jose (pronounced yo-say, differently than the Spanish homograph) spoke only limited phrases. However, when he asked if I wanted my laundry done, and in a very subversive eschewing of patriarchal tradition, I requested that I merely be supplied with the necessary items for the task. I am guessing that I was viewed more like a control-freak than a helpful hand, but the fact that I was a Westerner taking up his lodging deep in the neighborhoods of this former colonial outpost outside the capital of Tanzania.

            After proceeding through the language difficulties and navigating around gender presuppositions Jose supplied me with two requisite buckets and a bar of soap. My next difficulty was that although I’d been living away from home for two years, my ability to do laundry was still quite limited. That is, in the context of a washing machine, I knew how to press a couple buttons and ensure that my white boxers didn’t turn pink when washed with my red t-shirt, but beyond that I was clueless. The man filled one bucket up with water for rinsing, poured soap and then water into another, and even demonstrated on one of my shirts the process of dunking and then scraping one area of the shirt against another to brush the dirt off.

            Immediately my mind was reminded of a sermon I had heard before leaving the states about how Christians were supposed to be like the new high efficiency washing machines. Not that they were supposed to be uber-efficient (I believe that is somewhat antithetical to the Christian life in some sense), but rather that Christians were supposed to be like those washers in which the tumbling of an article of clothing knocked the dirt off the other. So, along the same vein as iron sharpens iron, one article cleans another. This was of course, juxtaposed against the former washing machines in which a massive plunger spun and externally jarred all the dirt out of the clothing. Finally the washing machines had gone full circle and gotten back to how things used to be done. And were still done where I was.

            What happened next was perhaps the most beneficial part of the experience. Perhaps because my strange white skin attracted them, or the site of a male doing laundry in a queer clearly inexperienced manner, or more likely because I was not surrounded by a group of my fellow travelers for the first time outside in this city, a group of young children gathered around to watch me learn how to wash my clothes. Even the son of the house I was staying at ventured within five feet of me, which to this point he had been to even approach or make eye contact. Later he would even engage me when he found I could speak a very limited Swahili. Still, even later he would tell his father that he wanted to learn how to speak “mzungu” or “white person,” which his father had a chuckle over.

            I attempted to engage the youngsters in conversation and may have even startled them when I greeted them with a variation of hello that was correctly conjugated for the number of people I was addressing. And with that, one young boy proceeded to spew a sentence of rapid Swahili which I had not a prayer of understanding. Instead, I threw out a couple of my rehearsed phrases such as “I apologize,” “I don’t understand,” and “I know only a little Swahili.” He looked severly disappointed.

            I tried to encourage the young man, and displayed my knowledge of another phrase “this is” which coupled with the universal climbing of intonation implied that I was asking a question. And with this, the children’s eyes lit up as a group of them barked out the Swahili word to tree in response to my finger pointing. Instantly, I had been transformed from strange man doing strange things strangely to strange man doing strange things strangely, but wanting to know what the children knew.

            And for the next hour we played the vocabulary game and became more and more comfortable so that we even joked. I demonstrated that I knew the phrase “I know (blank) but I don’t know (blank)” and the children responded by expanding the vocabulary game from my finger pointing to their imagination. So that, one child when ask “do you know (blank)” and I would respond either with the affirmative to a delighted response or to with the negative to an even more delighted communal pointing to the object or entity in question. Of course, I had no idea whether they meant cloud, sky, or up but the intricacies of language in order to tease out the difference escaped me.

            I like to think of that moment kind of as the symbol of the trip. I was doing something that I thought would be a convenience to someone else. More than likely, them having to prepare the buckets for me and teach me how to wash was likely more of a hassle than actually doing the laundry. But I learned from it. And likewise, when I put myself in a strange position, I was able to learn more from an equally unlikely group of teachers. And, just as a blind person has a slightly enhanced sense of hearing, I believe that because I couldn’t understand the language I was slightly more enabled to appreciate the wonder of taking a moment to learn from a group of curious strangers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Break Chronicle Part IV

Note: Just for the record, I am aware this is excessively long, but I told myself I would write this up and while I doubt a soul will read this all the way through, its a good exercise for me to practice writing. That said the other sections are linked here:

I,  II, and III

          Part IV - New Beginnings

Again, however, just past the Texaco, we were transported into a world of natural beauty. After being inundated with man made drudgery it took my mind several minutes to truly believe that the river running by the side of the road may have actually not been constructed by human hands and was truly a wonder of natural beauty. Inside the park, it seemed ludicrous to think that just a mile back down the road the atrocities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, existed. We were still on a road and plenty of cars were around, but things were different. The park rangers, for example, were driving around in Honda Priuses (which somehow, due to the magic of modern marketing, seemed like they had simply spawned from the earth naturally in order to jauntily bounce upon the national park roadways).

            A bit of the over-crowding that Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (I have to use the whole name because kind of like the opposite of Cher or Madonna, only the full name can partially convey the grand scale of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee), came in handy when we hid our car amongst the several others illegally parked on the side of the park road and figured that there would be enough traffic so we wouldn’t get towed in the four days we would be gone. We changed out of our civilian clothes and into our backpacking guerilla ware. And with that, we hoisted our packs, which would be permanently glued to our backs for the greater part of the daylight hours of the next several days.

            The worst part of the few trails I’ve been exposed to, is the walk until you get to the trail. This walk featured a washed out road past an “Authorized Vehicles Only” sign and a row of abandoned houses with broken windows next to the road (note: if I wanted to see that, I wouldn’t have left Detroit). We passed a couple with packs on their backs as well and I expected a cordial exchange. The woman kind of looked puzzled at us, but was pleasant, and her companion looked like he had never seen such hate-able creatures. “We just aren’t used to seeing people start so late.” I looked at the sky, and the sun seemed pretty high yet; I guessed it was maybe six-thirty. The man didn’t try and explain his icy demeanor he just started. And so with no reservations, we proceeded on our path.

            Soon the wide dirt road was replaced with a narrower, but obviously well trod gravel pathway. We continued marching up this at a decent grade until the pathway got narrower and narrower and we finally felt like we were on some sort of hiking trail. The initial vegetation we saw was decidedly unremarkable. The trees were mostly still bare from the winter and the moss and fallen leaves were things I saw everyday outside my parents home in Michigan. Soon, however, once I became accustomed to the standard vegetation, it served a rather soothing purpose. The bare trees and leaves became the norm and pleasant.

            We began to pass a few creeks along the way and the sound of natural water always seems unnatural to me. I suppose it’s a sad realization that the first reaction I have to the sound of water rushing over rock is to look around me for the ornately constructed synthetic waterfall thing that middle aged women like to have in their homes. Instead of it being nature imitating our imitation of nature, its simply nature being. And I get to partake in that experience; I just need a moment to realize that I am directly experiencing it, not observing through some other medium of perception.

When I was a kid, I bought a cassette tape of an album called Twilight Jazz because they had one of those giant display boards in the store where you could press a button and hear part of the song. I don’t know why an eight-year-old would want to buy that cassette, but I must have wanted to bad enough that my parents let me get it as some sort of present. I imagine that I found the sounds of nature irresistible and wanted to experience them in some form. I am not sure whether to regret that I experienced them in a glossy package along with dubbed in trumpet playing, or be glad that I got to experience them as a youngster and that somehow I appreciated the synthesis of natural beauty as well as created beauty in the jazz. For the sake of glass-half-full-ness I’ll take the later.

Diversions aside, we trudged along the trail until after a quick three-miles we found our campsite. Well, specifically we found two tents and some dying fires and figured we must be at the campsite, which of course, we were. Amazingly, less than two hours after departing from our car, we were dumbstruck to see not one group, but two groups of people invading our isolated nature experience. When desiring and expecting solitude (or a small duo as we were), discovering you will have to share your experience with others is frustrating. Especially when the others (note: I’ve only seen like two episodes of lost) seem like a group of 14 year-old girls.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Break Chronicle Part III

To View Part I Click here

Part III – Gatlinburg (I)

            After Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Gatlinburg looked like a podunk town in the mountains. Which, apparently it was until fifty years ago. This time, the road was only four-lanes and some buildings actually seemed to blend into the landscape. Still, Ripley’s offered multiple attractions, and I actually saw two working chair-lift operations. One took you to the top of the mountains, assumedly for a view without all that bothersome walking and sense of accomplishment, the other took you somewhere where you could enjoy hillbilly golf (note: not the unbelievably enjoyable game made from PVC pipes and golf-balls tied together, but putt-putt apparently at crazy angles).

            However, despite Gatlinburg being an improvement over Pigeon Forge, it was still jarring. Miles of bumper to bumper traffic, but at least this time, the foot traffic was also present. I’ve never been in a scene I felt so well-suited to the phrase throngs of people. I don’t even really know what it means other than that there were throngs of people on the streets. Gatlinburg was also further proof that in a lesson from the Kevin Costner baseball classic (the one in Iowa, not the other two) if you build enough gift shops, they will come, and they will be decked out in NASCAR gear.

            Eventually, Mark’s  bladder control was weakened to the point that he had to venture into the crowds, wade through them, and stop in a McDonalds. Meanwhile, I continued down the gentle stream of traffic. When Mark left McDonalds, inexplicably, traffic let up and I was caught up in a flow at the breakneck speed of 20 miles per hour. I had to stop at the world’s dirtiest Texaco at the edge of town in order to wait for him. He had to break into stride on the street and fly past sidewalk gawkers in a failed attempt to reach me. Worst of all, the momentary separation forced both of us to get “back on the grid” (meaning we had to turn on our cell phones in order to figure out where to meet up). In thanks for a truly unique bathroom experience, I went looking for sugarfree gum in the station’s convenience store only to find that apparently aspartame is illegal in Tennessee and my only option was six pieces of Bubbalicious for the low, low, price of $1.50. I was just glad Mark showed up before my car got in trouble for parking in the world’s only gas station parking lot that carried a $5.00 flat rate parking fee.

Continue to Part IV here

Spring Break Chronicle Part II

If you haven't read part I - click here to read

Part II – Pigeon Forge Tennessee

            My former roommate, Mark, and I left early Saturday morning in order to get to the trailhead in time to put a couple of miles under our belt be for we set up camp for the first night. As is always the case, our well laid plans came to ruin at the hand of some external force. The first external force: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Few experiences change me as dramatically and convincingly as the experience of sitting in grid locked traffic in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Honestly, I felt as if I was in a movie about where materialism is headed in twenty years. Only that movie was made in the 1980’s so everything looks ridiculously old and simultaneously futuristic at the same time.

            The initial roadside shops did not appear to be so bad. In fact, the world’s largest knife store evoked a kind of stir inside me to the effect that I couldn’t believe that I was going to bypass the opportunity to be surrounded by so many sharp objects at once. Alas, however, the trail awaits, and so on we must press. The Comedy Barn of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee decided that it must monopolize every Billboard in town and somehow decided “As seen on YouTube” was a clever slogan. We past the As Seen on TV store, where I can only assume you can buy assorted unnecessary goods and similarly unnecessary prices (although, my pursuit of the ever elusive Snuggie may have ended if I had submitted to my desire to pull into the boob tube shop).

            Soon, the shock and awe of gaudy stores, and ridiculous tourist trap destinations (let’s just say Ripley’s had multiple storefronts in this town, if that’s any indication of the quality of attraction we are dealing with here) wore off and the drive became not unexpectedly fatiguing. Outlet malls almost seemed mundane compared to the spectacle of the “Miracle Theatre” and “Mystery Land” which featured a giant mansion completely upside down. Still, I was tempted to pull over and play “Firehouse golf” or ride on “Earthquake: the ride.” What I was most disappointed in was that every fifth storefront was a closed down pancake house. I’m not sure if it was because the delicious breakfast flap jack market was saturated, or people were too busy playing novelty-themed putt-putt, but I was deeply saddened to see that in a market where clearly any bad idea could thrive, the griddles were going begging.

            To get the proper mental image, one must consider that this was not some two-lane trek through a block of ridiculousity. I was on a six, seven, even eight-lane road in bumper to bumper traffic, allowing ample time to consider the finer points of Wild Woody’s Go Karts. And maybe it was because I didn’t need to touch the gas pedal for an hour, but the street and traffic seemed to go on forever. It surely covered at least 5 miles. And to cap this all of, I had to resist the urge at the end of the trip to hang a left and travel down Dollywood lane to prove to myself that somehow, one can parlay prominent assets into not only a county music career, but also a theme park (which amazingly is not sponsored by the chicken wing empire which parlayed similar goods to an atrocious restaurant chain despite decidedly mediocre food).

            Finally, once we were past Dollywood and the multitude of hotels featuring colossal water slides traveling out and back into the building, we seemed to be instantly transported into another world. The lanes on my side of the road went down from five to two and the jarring landscape was changed from gaudiness to natural beauty instantaneously. There was a branch off to the right for the Gatlinburg bypass, which I didn’t see until the last second and didn’t fully understand till the next slow-down ensued.

Click here to read Part III

Spring Break Chronicle Part I

Note - Here is the first part of a narrative I am writing on my spring break. From the looks of it, its going to be pretty long and boring, but hey, I need the writing practice. 

Part I - An Unnecessary Introduction

My high school yearbook features a page showing me curled up on a classroom floor in a blanket pretending to dream. Above it, a caption explains that if I could be anyone in the world for a day, I would be Lions quarterback Mike McMahon. The amount of information contained in that morsel of knowledge is huge. It shows, first and foremost, that I was an idiot (note: not “was” as in am no longer, but simply that I unequivocally was a documented fool). Secondly, it provides an extraordinary example of the Lions perpetually awful rotation at the quarterback position. And finally, it acknowledges that for some reason recently, which even I honestly can’t remember, I was leafing through my old high school yearbook (weird).

            However, this fact came to my attention when I recently considered how much I would love to be Bill Bryson. Really, Bill Bryson doesn’t have an extraordinary job. Rather, I feel like he has established a unique craft that has allowed him to carve out the niche job that I would love: writer about whatever tickles his fancy. He is largely known as a travel writer, and rightly so. However, he also has written works on the history of the world (literally the whole thing), his childhood imaginary super powers, Shakespeare, and a few quite enjoyable titles on the English language itself.

            And finally, from my high school yearbook to Bill Bryson, I found myself on the Appalachian Trail for the second consecutive Spring Break (yeah, that’s right, I’m still in school and the words Spring Break still mean something to me). Anyways, I read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods while traveling in Spain and Morocco with my sister. I’m not sure if the experience was heightened due to the fact I was currently in travel mode, but the book quickly became one of my favorite reads. I even flirted with the option of hiking on the Appalachian Trail last summer before the medical-school-ambition-vampire convinced me that I should probably do something for my curriculum vitae (note: I still have no idea why medical students don’t call this a resume like the rest of the word, but I’m sure there is some archaic reason that tradition won’t let go of).

Click here for Part II

Monday, March 9, 2009

Argyle socks and Road Rage

***Disclaimer: I don't tend to write about religious themes too often, so just a warning that I dip a toe into that realm here***

I have a friend who sends me socks in the mail every year for my birthday. I love getting socks in the mail from this friend for many reasons. Every man needs dress socks, but I don’t know any who particularly enjoy purchasing them. Second, I get fancy socks with argyle patterns on them and that aren’t the kind with the gold thread in the toes that I would always pick out. And finally, every time I wear those socks I remember that my friend got them for me and I feel special for about the first ten seconds of that day.

The trouble is, I soon forget that my socks make me feel special once I spill my first sip of coffee on the dress shirt that I bought for myself. And you might not believe it, but a year is a long time to go between getting new pairs of schmancy argyle socks. The socks get holey. And recently I have begun noticing that I am in more and more situations wear the holey socks just look downright tacky, despite all the argyle decor they boast.

Yet, I can’t bring myself to throw out the socks. Instead, I keep them in the drawer until I eventually forget they have holes in them and wear them until I go to dinner at a fancy house where my toes are again denuded. So I resolve that I will throw the birthday socks out the moment I get home. But, I don’t. Instead, I tell myself I will wash them once more, then cut them up and use them as fancy rags for when I do fancy cleaning things like dusting. Despite the obvious problem that I have never felt the spontaneous impulse to dust, I am also confronted with the reality that it is hard to tell (or remember) that socks have holes in them until you are wearing them in above classy dinner situation.

I feel like sometimes, when I ask God to forgive me for something stupid I’ve done that I don’t want to do anymore its just like what I do with my argyle socks. That is, I don’t throw the deed away. Instead, I try to wash it and convert it into some other semi-functional deed that may be of some service. So, after I lose my temper because some jerk with sunglasses got in my lane and then slowed down in front of me so I have to disrupt my oh-so-finely-calibrated cruise control, I ask for forgiveness for the incident (maybe, days later, if I remember for some reason) and go back to driving the same way.

I expect, that since I asked for forgiveness, the next time I place myself in the same situation with the same jerk drivers with sunglasses that my reaction will be different. And it isn’t. I just keep finding that I am still wearing the argyle socks with holes in them on my feet.

I’ve recently realized that there is a difference between what I see as forgiveness and what God wants in repentance. I don’t know exactly how the machine works on God’s end, but I know on mine, that God wants repentance, and when I ask for forgiveness and stop there, I never quite get to repentance.

In order to stop finding myself in embarrassing situations showing of my big toes and their finely maintained toe nails, I had to throw out the argyle socks. If I tried to wash them, I’d end up wearing holey socks again and I did not want to do that. In fact, I wanted to not wear holey socks on my feet more than I wanted to somehow save the special socks. That’s the only way that I can stop wearing holey socks.

I think repentance works in the same way. I can ask God to forgive me for getting angry on the road a million times, but if I head out onto the road as the same person I was the last time I blew my top at a driver who inconvenienced me, chances are I’ll find another annoying driver and lose my temper again. What has to happen, is that I want to not get angry with my brother so badly that I determine that I will stay in the right hand lane of the highway, expect to be behind a slow semi-truck, and enjoy the radio for a change.

Just like I throw out the holey socks the instant I realize they are holey (or the instant I get home from the fancy), I have to throw out the behavior that leads to me becoming angry with my brother. Namely, I have to stop trying to make the best time possible on the freeway, because that behavior, not the idiot drivers I encounter, is what leads to my anger. And until I want to stop being angry so badly that I don’t care if it means that I have to stay in right lane behind whoever may happen to be there, I will never truly repent.

The truth is, another set of pristine socks with even classier argyle patterns will come soon enough, and until then, I can deal with the golden toe variety I pick out for myself to get my by. And the music on the radio is strangely much more enjoyable from the view of the back end of a semi truck than the view of the back of my hand as I try to restrain a pesky finger from popping up in the middle of my hand. 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

On the bright side

I have been getting over a stupid chest cold that I've had for the past week and I realized, you know what, there are some plus sides to being sick. Here they are in no particular order:

#1) You can wear whatever you want. (I mean, I usually wear sweat pants anyways, but when sick I found it hard to augment my robe with anything)

#2) The food. Not only did I not have to make anything most of the time because I didn't feel like eating, but strange things became irresistible. Case in point: How could I forget how delicious buttered toast is. Furthermore, my diet the past few days consisted of the following meals (in no particular order): Frozen pizza, toast, yogurt, toast, Rahm Schnitzel (so I made it out to a German pub in the early stages of the ailment, waffles, grilled cheese, toast, and grilled cheese. Not only were all of those things strangely delicious and easy to make (save grilled cheese, which I still haven't figured out how to make with out burning the bread. And if anyone writes to tell me to butter the bread first, save it).

#3) No guilt about taking extended study breaks.

#4) No guilt about taking extended sleeping breaks. I slept for over 12 hours for the first time I can remember in ages. That's seriously embarrasing. I mean, there's no way it should have been that long since I last slept twelve hours (or as a I like to call it, took a halfdayer)

#5) You appreciate feeling healthy to an unbelievable extend (Also substituted here could be the fact that death is an unavoidable consequence of life). Seriously though, how awesome does just no feeling miserable seem when you are sick? However, when I'm healthy, at no time in my day do I ever say, "man, I'm so happy that I don't feel like I'm hitting myself in the head with a shovel right now."

#6) I can now feel justified for buying cough syrup just because it was on sale. Five dollars well spent.

#7) On a related note, how delicious is Dimetapp. They should make a beverage flavored after it. Oh wait, they do: Grape soda.

#8) While I completely missed the experience this time around, how incredible is it to watch Bob Barker when not feeling well. I think Dane Cook did a bit on this already, but if I want one person to comfort me when I'm ailing its that gray-haired, plastic-surgery riddled host. Okay, that came out a bit creepy.

#9) I am even more appreciative than usually that I splurged on Kleenex Cottenelle this month. (No, not that, my nose just isn't raw).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The economics of sweatpants (not really, but its a better sounding title than sweatpants and the economy)

Ok, so I suck at consistent blogging. However, here is a list of some recent world (read: the Doyle-centric universe) happenings that are completely un-noteworthy.

The Daily Doyle on sweatpants:

-The event: Since all lectures are uploaded digitally to the web, I am required to leave my home extremely infrequently.
-The implication: The only way I could wear sweatpants more often is if I put on a second pair at some point in the day. Think about it. And don't think I'm not thinking about implementing that strategy on chilly mornings.

-The event: Medical students study alot.
-The implication: Not everything done in sweatpants is enjoyable. But definitely marginally improved from doing them in other apparel (except maybe the robe, when my sweats are dirty).

The Daily Doyle on The economy:

-The event: well, you know, recent happenings
-The implication: I threw away a bottle of Miracle Whip today because it was past its date. Normally I would throw caution to the wind, but lets be honest, if something that unnatural has an expiration date, you better listen to it.
-The secret hidden meaning behind the implication: I always mixed tuna with miracle whip and since I haven't seen a tuna can for under a dollar in ages (and I'm not even talking about the schmancy albacore kind that actually causes dolphins to spontaneously proliferate), the result is my miracle whip goes a-begging.
-The domino effect: Since I haven't been eating as much tuna, I have to find alternative sources of fuels. So I pretty much stock up on Frozen Pizzas when there's a sale.