If you're confused as to the "Special Skills" reference click here. But I promised y'all another terrible interview story, and I always deliver on my promises.
Now, in this story, I was going to warn you that I'm gonna use a lot of potentially NSFW words, but then I remembered that the level of socially acceptable discourse in this country has changed recently.... Scenario #2: I'm at the pre-interview dinner at a residency program in the deep-deep-deep South just before the presidential election. We're at a steakhouse. There are only two residents there, both of whom are male and from the deep-deep-deep South. The interviewees include me, another woman, and a man.
Now, this is one of the weirdest dinners I've been to- the senior resident has ordered multiple meals to-go and asked us, the candidates, to lie the next day and say that there were more residents there in order to explain the high bill.
These residents seem strange and like they don…
In senior year of high school I took a (world?) history class with a professor named Dr. Schmidt. I don't remember what the class was called, or, really, a ton about the content in general. Dr. Schmidt was sweet, but a little drone-y and I had a difficult time maintaining alertness, but I tried.
To Dr. Schmidt's credit, ten years later, I still remember him talking about Mao and his famous (infamous?) five-year plans for China.
Now, senior year of high school is a point in life where everybody and their brother thinks they have a right, no, a need, to ask you what your life plan is. And saying that you didn't know is simply unacceptable.
As a high-schooler this enraged me.
I was 18 years old, barely old enough to vote, not even old enough to drink, and everybody from Great Aunt Linda to my favorite cashier at Publix wanted to ask me what my plan was.
And every time someone asked me to describe in detail this epic plan that they just knew I had for myself all I could thi…
A thousand billion trillion years ago my sister and I worked together for a power-hungry monomaniacal middle management dictator.
Working with my sister was great, but the whole working in the sort of environment where mistakes aren't... tolerated, was, well, stressful, to say the least. We did all sorts of things to make work less painful and it was mostly okay as long as no one asked questions or bungled anything.
While at work, when there was down time, we would read Yahoo news. (Yes, that's how long ago this was). One day, my sister started cracking up. She was laughing so much she felt the need to read this article out loud to me. It was titled something like "7 Secret Signs of Stress." It did not sound funny. I did not understand why she was laughing.
It turned out that it was funny in that horrible terrible sort of not-actually-funny way because none of the things on the list were "secret" signs of stress. And the one that we loved the most, …
There were a lot of things I expected to do in this job. I figured I'd be tired all the time (true). I figured I'd take care of patients with illnesses I'd never seen before (true). I figured I'd do a ton of "patient care" (true).
But what I didn't expect- and, really, I guess there's no way I could have known this- was what exactly that "patient care" was going to entail.
Mostly, it seems like it's asking the right questions and listening. So so so much listening. And that part, I'm pretty good at. There's a lot of nodding and empathizing and validating.
But the new thing here- the part I didn't quite expect so much- is how much taking I do, how much advice I give out. And I'm not talking just medical advice.
Patients ask me all sorts of things and seem to think I've got a good handle on them. It's almost comical, being from a generation known for #adulting, that people ask me for advice. I try really ha…
This is the time of year when fourth year medical students all over the country start going on residency interviews. I just did this last year, and lots of people I know are going through this process now.
Interviews are one of those rare things that even the collective "they" can agree on. And you know what they say? They say that interviews generally acknowledged to be terrible. Horrible. Painful. The worst.
You have to talk about yourself and answer stupid questions and be altogether charming for longer than most of us can stomach.
And that's on a good day.
For those of you going on an interview in the near future and worried about how it's going to go, let me ease your mind- it's gonna be okay. Because for all the interviews you go on, you only need one job. So that means you only have to have that #nailedit sensation on one.
Some of your interviews will be mildly weird/distressing/confusing and potentially comical, however, for whatever reason, I …
Nameless and I used to have this ongoing debate? fight? philosophical discussion? about happiness.
For me, happiness is a moment. It's awesome. It's magical.
It's laughing so hard you cry. It's watching your baby pull up to stand the first time. It's surprise ice cream.
It's pretty much amazing, but it's fleeting. It's not sustainable. And that's sort of what makes it feel so good, that you know it's not going to last. You savor it. You enjoy it more because it's not something you were expecting or that you could recreate.
Nameless's argument was that happiness is awesome and should always be the goal and that I must be inherently a little bit sad because I wasn't always striving for happiness.
But I don't think that's true.
I like happiness as much as the next person, but the thing I'm looking for is contentment. Contentment is that place of peace and calm and good inside you that lasts.
"Your book has a birthday. You don't know what it is yet"
I realized the other day that I've been blogging here for 5 years. Can you believe that? My blog has a birthday- August 30th 2012.
It doesn't seem like it's been that long, but I guess I really have done some living in the past five years.
When I started out, I mostly just wanted an easy way to share my stories with my family back home, but as time has gone on this has become a labor of love- something that I need to do.
When weird shit happens I'm always thinking how can I tell this story, or who might need to hear this today, or I can't possibly be the only one who feels this way.
So, if you would, in honor of IGD's (belated) 5th birthday: leave a comment. Tell me how you got here. Tell me something that made you laugh. Tell me something that made you say "oh my God, me too." 🎂 🎂 🎂
There's supposed to be this calm after a storm passes. That's what they tell you anyway.
But I've never really experienced that. That's bullshit.
There is no calm after the storm. There is only stress and debris and things to be done.
I ended up being assigned to the A Team and as such was at the hospital for the entire storm. We were literally locked in from Saturday night until everything was deemed "all-clear" on Monday afternoon. During this time, while things weren't all business-as-usual in the hospital, they weren't too crazy. There was electricity and air conditioning and food and even wifi. There was this can-do spirit of camaraderie, like no matter what, we were all in this together.
When the all-clear was called, we didn't really know what to expect outside. Was it going to be terrible? Was there going to be massive flooding? Lots of damage? Dangerous conditions?
It turned out, for the most part, that none of those things w…
There hasn't been a day I've come home from work and not thought Well... Crap at some point.
It's one of those things I know about myself- that I'm an over-thinker. I'm the sort of person who purposely owns appliances that automatically turn off. If not, I'd always be worried I was one cup of tea from accidentally burning my house down.
So it makes perfect sense that I'm not so good at leaving work at work.
In the middle of dinner I'll think: Well..... Crap, did I actually order those labs? As I lay in bed trying to fall asleep it's: Well.... Crap, I hope I told the night person XYZ.
The days are long, but the list of things to do is longer and something always ends up on the "Well... Crap" list.
The "Well... Crap" list makes me feel dumb and incompetent. On bad days it runs through my head on repeat.
The other day we had a lecture from this really well-known physician. This gist of his lecture was "this is how not to…
26 hours later and I'm still standing. I'm okay. Maybe a little fuzzy around the edges, but definitely okay.
My first call shift is done.
I was so nervous about being on call.
I was nervous people were going to ask me questions I didn't know the answers to. They did. I was nervous I was going to get lost in the hospital in the middle of the night. I did. I was nervous I was going to be incredibly dumb in front of strangers. I was.
But you know what?
It was also sort of exhilarating and illuminating and maybe even the teensiest bit awesome in a holy-crap-I'm-actually-doing-this sort of way.
And because I was so nervous going into this, I was fully prepared for everyone I dealt with to be able to see right through me and give me plenty of sass. But everyone was so nice. Like, suspiciously nice- I think maybe all that time in Brooklyn broke me a little bit and now I don't trust it when people are nice to me.
There are a couple of books that I reread on the regular. They feed my soul. They answer questions I didn't even know I'd asked.
One of those books is Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
In this book, Adichie lays out suggestions to a dear friend who has asked how to raise her daughter a feminist. The suggestions are wide ranging, but the one that resonates with me is the eighth. Teach her to reject likability. Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people. Remember I told you how upsetting it was to me that our friend Chioma would often tell me that "people" would not "like" something I wanted to say or do? I always felt, from her, the unspoken pressure to change myself to fit some mold that would please an amorphous entity called "people." It was upsetting because we want those closest to u…
The other day one of my favorite tiny humans had a poop incident.
As I was cleaning him up I managed to get most of the poop into the toilet. Somehow though, between me and my tiny poopy friend, we managed to get poop on quite a few other bathroom surfaces too.
The rug? Got poop on that.
The outside of the trash can? Got poop on that.
The sink? Got poop on that too.
And while I recognize the tiny humans are pretty messy at baseline and that I myself am no stranger to mess, this was a pretty impressive mess even for us.
So, tiny poopy friend and I paused and took a moment to contemplate the impressively disgusting mess we had made, with the thought of maybe if we stopped moving we could stop spreading the poop.
As we stood there and contemplated the grossness my tiny poopy friend cracked a joke. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I know it was funny. So we stood there and giggled. And we kept giggling while we cleaned up.
*Since I technically graduated from medical school in September of 2016, going to a commencement ceremony in June of 2017 felt super weird to me, so I decided not to go. Oh, and, if I had gone, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have let me give a speech.... But y'all don't mind do you? Nah, I didn't think so.
To my esteemed colleagues, friends, and family: Welcome.
We've worked incredibly hard to get here. But, it is only right that we should have worked hard to get here for now we find ourselves continuing in the tradition of the long and noble line of physicians who have gone before us.
Together, we have done a lot of living. We have seen things. We have watched each other grow and learn and struggle and do better. We have cried tears of joy and tears of sadness together. We have provided each other with comfort when comfort seemed impossible. We went from a group of strangers with a common goal to becoming each others family.
For the duration of my Mono-Month I basically became a hermit. I didn't have the energy in my stretchy-pants-no-moving-state to even formulate replies to texts.
Bestie and Babydoll checked in on me one day and I looked at the text and then promptly forgot to reply for so long they started using the SHOUTY CAPSto demand replies to ensure I wasn't dead. I'm pretty sure they even threatened to call my Mama if I didn't respond.
During that month, I didn't even really realize that I was ignoring everybody- all nonessential Caitlin-functions had been temporarily suspended.
Looking back now though, it's clear to me that I didn't even have the energy to deal with "the feels." Talking to other humans would have required me to use higher thought processes and those weren't really functioning at that moment.
Relationships- whether they be with your Mama, your bestie, your partner, or even your mailman- and the feels that go along with them are hard …
This is the first springtime I've spent fully in Florida in several years. And while I love the warmth, I don't so much love the pollen. It's only the end of April and nature has been in full bloom for months. Everything has a green sheen to it all the time. As soon as one type of tree quits blooming another type is right there full of buds and blossoms to take its place.
The pollen takes a toll on me. I'm allergic to pretty much anything that blooms, so springtime here is a relentless march of allergies. I take all the antihistamines and try to keep my windows shut as much as possible, but sometimes the pollen still wins.
A couple of weeks ago I was forced to admit defeat to the pollen. I was pretty sure it was the oak trees that finally did me in.
I felt like crap and didn't move off the couch for a solid 24 hours. I was feverish and weak and had no appetite.
But by day two of this "pollen hangover," my medical deductive skills had kicked in…
My Granny was one of those traditional sorts of grand southern ladies, a real steel magnolia. She didn't drink, she didn't cuss, she tried to feed everyone she'd ever met, and she never had an unkind word to say about anybody. She was funny and hardworking, and friendly as all get out.
Never once in her life did she ever meet a stranger. By the time I was a kid she pretty much insisted everyone call her "Granny Bass," whether or not that made sense age-wise or social status-wise.
She loved to bake, and was locally famous for her seven layer chocolate cake. Yes, I really did mean seven layers. That cake took a full day to make and ice, but anytime we made that cake, it was a good time. That cake was a beast, but she made it at every opportunity.
When I was a kid, I had a mustard seed necklace. It was a tiny glass heart that had an even tinier actual little ole mustard seed in there. I loved that necklace and wore it all the time.
I don't remember who first told me the meaning behind it- you only need the "faith of a mustard seed" to move mountains. It seemed so reassuring to me. I totally had the faith of a mustard seed, so I could totally move mountains.
The actual quote is from the Book of Matthew (17:20). Jesus has just cast out a demon and his disciples are questioning why it was so easy for him to do so, when they couldn't. Jesus tells them they had such a hard time, because they aren't faithful enough. He says "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
A couple o f months ago, when I came back home, I planted a garden. And in that garden I planted mustar…
"And I'll ask you what you think because your thoughts and words are powerful" -"Loose Lips," Kimya Dawson,
" ...if you ever hear someone Say you are huge look at the moon, look at the stars, look at the sun Look at the ocean and the desert and the mountains and the sky Say I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye" -"I like Giants," Kimya Dawson
These songs are from the same album, but usually I don't get a whole album stuck in my head all at once.
Lately though, that first quote keeps popping into my head. It feels relevant to me right now on a big public all encompassing sort of scale. Like maybe we all need to be reminded of it today and every day for the foreseeable future.
Repeat after me.
Your thoughts and words are powerful. Your thoughts and words are powerful. Your thoughts and words are powerful.
Keep saying it to yoursel…
If you’re hungry and you’re in town, you’re welcome at my
Mama’s house for dinner. In my family, we
feed each other to take care of each other.
Mealtimes are sacred in my Mama’s house. You show up on time. You try everything that’s offered. You never turn down dessert. You had better make conversation. And you’re delusional if you think you’re
going to look at your phone.
This isn’t to imply though, that meal-times are stuffy,
staid affairs. In fact they’re quite the opposite. My family is the loud-talking, shout-y sort
of close. So when all sit down to eat
together, there is always some sort of excitement.
When I was studying for Step 1, Mama would call me at lunch
time to insist I head on down to her house for some food. She felt like it was important to break me
out of my study cave at least once a day.
Back then, she was watching both of my nephews during the
day, so lunch was always a big, loud affair.
Lunch would include, me, my Mama, my Dad, my nephew Clayton, wh…
Gainesville is a weird place. This is known. The weirdness of Gainesville is a decent part of it's charm. But sometimes, the weirdness, is just, well, weird....
In weird Gainesville news: I recently learned two different friends of mine will be attending weddings this year of couples who met at Balls.
Now, you're probably not familiar with Balls.
Balls is a dingy fratty (as in, solely frequented by bros) bar in midtown, right across from campus. I was dragged there once during college, by my bro-iest friend, Liz. In true Gainesville fashion, that was a weird night, but not one I ever felt the need to repeat.
The best part of the place was that there were no actual balls in Balls. No pool balls. No bowling balls. No balls of any kind, except the frat variety. This always seemed comical to me. Why is it called Balls? Why are there no balls? Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?
To me, it seems crazy, like nearly incomprehensible, that TWO DIFFERENT HAPPY CO…
When I was a kid, you never said you were bored. Bad things would happen if you declared boredom. Saying you were bored was a mistake you only made once. When I did it I was probably 10 or 11, it was the middle of the summer and I was whining. I turned to my Mama and drawled out "I'm booooooooooorrrrrrrreeeeeed."
And then all hell broke loose. You'd have thought I said something terrible.
But for Mama, "bored" is terrible. It demonstrates laziness, both physically and mentally. That's her bottom line for human existence, if you can't at the very least entertain yourself, maybe you don't need to be here sharing oxygen with the rest of us.
To prove her seriousness and to "give me something to do" she made me clean all the outside windows. With newspaper and vinegar, dragging the ladder behind myself so I could reach them all. Any time somebody I know whines about being bored I still remember the smell of newspaper and vinegar…