January, You Are Over

Oh my gosh, time does go by faster as an adult than as a kid.  While this thought is neither profound nor original, it is still pretty amazing to actually experience.  Fortunately, there’s an element of “the days are long but the years are short” so I do feel that I’ve gotten a lot done and experienced new things.

A few January highlights…
* SMS and I spent 3/4 of the month together.  While we both can’t wait to be together for reals, we had so much fun together.  We went to Singapore, explored Japan, took Japanese lessons, played a new “sport” (Park Golf), ate good food and just had the best time together.  Hooray!

* I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  The writing was incredibly lush and the way she put the emotion of grief into words was amazingly gifted.  I even learned a few words…my favorite?  Elide.  But that’s only because I can’t remember any others off the top of my head.  I also really, really want to see the painting now.  But in terms of an overall reading experience, I was moved but mostly in an unpleasant way.  The story is really sad and there’s just so much wasted human life because of an endless loop of misperceptions, undealt-with emotions and fear.  There are a lot of really vivid descriptions of what it’s like to be on drugs, which makes total sense once I realized that the author went to Bennington College.  (Cheap shot alert!)  So, overall, I would recommend it but only if you have a strong resolve to not be affected and filled with malaise while reading.  Hmmm, maybe reading on a bright Summer day would be helpful?  Her writing is so amazing though that I think I’ll read The Secret History at some point.

* Currently, I’m reading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, one of my favorite authors.  It’s good b/c it’s a collection of essays so I don’t get horribly sucked in and neglect sleep, studies and work.

* Hmmmm, no new bands really.  I would like to listen to more Band of Horses and I started listening to some new playlists on Songza to try and be cool.  I looked over the Coachella 2014 line-up and I am pretty out of it.

* I started watching Breaking Bad with SMS but then we went on hiatus b/c it was depressing.  Between that and The Goldfinch I wasn’t doing too well for a couple of days, ha ha.  He’s currently on a watching spree though.

* I got serious about studying for boards.  That’s good because that sort of needed to happen.

*In other work-related news, I signed up for the San Francisco match, which is the application processing center used for neurotology applications.  There is, in fact, no neurotology program in San Francisco.  It’s just the name of the match (which is used for lots of other residency and fellowship programs too).

* Future vacation with SMS?  Start budgeting for said vacation now since I also want to include the Shanghai, Terracota Warriors and Great Wall of China excursion.  Oh my tastes…so expensive.


Ha, ha.  I cannot grow a mustache.  Thank god.  But even if I could (and again, thank goodness no), I would not participate in the ridiculousness of Movember (Mustache+November).  For many, many, many people, mustaches are not a good look.  Definitely all ladies and lots of men.  Especially men in the Navy that have to follow uniform grooming standards so they have these truncated little mustaches. Blech.

But what, do you ask, has happened in November for me?  Thank you for asking!  Part of my honeymoon extended into November (yay!) and now I’m back, hard at work.  Work, speaking of, has been pretty great.  I had 5 cases on Thursday, was done at 1430 and had really good outcomes for all the patients.  It was a highly satisfying day.  I wish there were more of them but, eh, I’ll take what I can get!

This week is, of course, THANKSGIVING!  I love the food and I am going to THREE Thanksgiving dinners- yeah!  Go me!  On Thursday, I will go to Rose and Doug’s for linner than Adam and Jen for dupper (supper + dinner).  At Adam and Jen’s, I will eat Kosher turkey so maybe being more pure leads to fewer calories?  Here’s hoping!

On Friday, I have my nerd alert Thanksgiving potluck that Jenn is throwing and all of our favorite surgeons and sig o’s (except SMS *sad face*) will be there.  The texts were flying last week and I suspect that dinner may actually be the best!

I have also organized the apartment a little more.  All of my textbooks are now at work and I disposed of a bag and a half of sentimental memories (read: crap).  It was borderline cathartic to get rid of stuff and the guest room is much cleaner, although still a total bomb.  I’m on track to be done before SMS arrives, which will be nice.  I really want to welcome him to a nice home, not a flat with a decidedly transient air.

Finally, I have read TWO books this weekend!  I’m going on a little fiction binge before reading ENT again in preparation for the oral boards.  I read The Magicians by Lev Grossman and The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling.

The Magicians was described to me as a “Harry Potter in College,” which is sort of true.  The Harry Potter-ish parts were cool as I’m a sucker for imaginative stories about magic.  The College part was not- it reminded me a lot of The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides, which features three insufferable, inwardly myopic early 20-somethings that feel parroting post-Modernist philosophers to be the height of intellectual sophistication.  BTW, this may have been me circa 2000 but med school beat so much of my liberal arts sophistication out of me.  MEMORIZE THE KREBS CYCLE!  NOW!  BETTER YET, YESTERDAY!!!

The Casual Vacancy was quite good.  JK Rowling is a very talented story-teller.  The main plot line sort of flashed to a brilliant, although sad, conclusion at the very end.  It was a bit of a bait-and-switch since there was a seemingly more obvious storyline, but a key event at the end had one storyline jump out, apart from the rest.  But the weird thing is, there is still so much that needs to play out although the book has ended.  It wasn’t a cliff-hanger, but so many lives and family dynamics were described that would still continue to play out even after the conclusion of the one plot line.  It’s amazing how the families were brought to life.  While I don’t need to know exactly what happens, it’s fun that characters were so well-developed that I can think about what would happen after the small glimpse that the book allows.  So, while this book is not in the Parthenon of my favorite books, it’s well done and I would recommend it.

What your doctor is thinking…

One of the funniest things about medicine is the dark humour and inner monologues that can occur within a doctor’s head. Ok, maybe that’s too generalized to let me personalize- I definitely have had moments where there are two conversations, the one I’m having and the one I wish I was having. Fortunately, I have friends and colleagues that do this too which results in some hilarious conversations usually along the lines of-

Me: So I told her, “Blaugh de blah”
Doctor friend: [gaspy laugh]: You did NOT!
Me: Of course not, I told her “Bleeky boo” but I wanted to tell her “blaugh de blah.”

I think part of the problem for me is that I was raised in a family that valued a little flexibility with recounting events in order to never get in the way of a good story. Of course, I clarify to make sure everything is ultimately accurate but the initial shock value in really telling someone what you were really thinking can be oh-so-satisfying to the story-teller. Ok, ok…me.

Yesterday, I had a really weird experience of telling a patient she had to go home. As in, “You are and will go home.” I’ve never had to be that direct with someone before but I’ve also never dealt with someone who was trying to (really, really obviously) game the system. Granted, she initially did require inpatient care but when she improved and was ready for discharge, a plethora of symptoms came up that she stated she would not leave until they were “worked up.” Which to her, meant very expensive, needless radiology imaging. So, instead (and more appropriately), I had internal medicine examine her and then discharged her when all was verified to be well.

This weekend was definitely my comeuppance for my “Tra-la-la, I’m such a white cloud attitude!” After 4 spookily quiet weekends, my pager exploded this weekend. Whah. It is funny though because when I said how much call sucked in front of one of my attendings I thought to myself, “Tierney! You should be telling him that you think the only bad thing about having call two weekends a month is that you miss the good cases from the other two weekends.” Then I thought, “Bullshit, call DOES suck. That’s why they make residents take it. And there’s hardly ever any good cases, only painful consults.”

But, to not be too woe-is-me, I did have a break Saturday morning and part of Sunday morning. And I didn’t get paged between 2-6 each night so I guess that was nice (no, it sucked! It was only 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep! <–future Mom me is looking at that sentence and laughing).

What did I do with that time? I read Bossypants by Tina Fey which was pretty good and I went to brunch with my friends at Starlite which was also good although I made a poor menu choice. What about “eggless frittata made with veggies and smooth garbanzo flour” sounds bad? How about that it’s borderline tasteless? Oh well, at least I was healthy!

Amazing Read!

I just finished “Stones Into Schools.” It was amazing. I read it in 24 hours and was so inspired. The fact that one man can start a movement that ends up larger than himself and empower so many people who have the most at stake in their own home country is amazing.

I resisted reading “Three Cups of Tea” for the longest time. Oprah + book clubs + a really bad experience with “Eat, Pray, Love” (hate that book) left me wary of memoir/movement/be a better person type of writing. I ended up really liking it and being inspired, although I often wondered how his wife did it. Not in a disparaging way because I completely understand what it’s like to date someone who’s so often so far away. But rather, due to residency and the Navy, I have no concept of what it’s like to have a job where you can be a single parent and make it work, which she seems to have done admirably well. [Aside: there are definitely single parents who make it work in medicine and in the military and I am in complete awe.]

This book, though, was unbelievable. Life can be such a coin toss and so poised on the brink of incredible joy and unmitigated disaster. But the perseverance, perspective and strength of the Afghan and Pakistani people took my breath away. I devoured the book. In this recommendation, I don’t want to give a synopsis or parse the message. Read the book.


I re-read the most beautiful testament to love last night: On Alice by Calvin Trillin. It’s a thin book that almost overflows with all the stories not told but what does shine through is his absolute, complete and beautiful love that he had for his wife Alice.

I love the shared experience of love. Whether it’s the love I’m lucky enough to have in my own life or in some way share in another’s life, I think it’s a pretty awesome, amazing and lucky thing!

Usually love is a pretty positive thing. Assuming it’s the real thing unlike, say, listening to Alanis Morisette and willing the phone to ring which may or may not have happened in my life circa 1996.

But positivity! Yes, that! It’s a nice mindset and one I’d like to be in when I write in this blog. I feel like the first blog posts are always a little meta, but I hope to celebrate beautiful things, even if that joy encompasses everything from the deepest emotion to the superficiality of enjoying a truly brain-drain magazine like People. Although if you must know, I’m more of an US woman myself. Stars…they’re just like US!