I did not know that Florida had two time zones. I am currently sitting on Juliet's bed in a cute little apartment in the Florida State Hospital campus in Chattahoochee where she will be staying for the next six weeks. She is here for her first clinical rotation; the concentration is psychiatry. After this she has seven other rotations in seven different fields and hospitals over the next year and a half. If this past year of school was intensive and stressful, the next one for her will be extensive and adventurous.
Chattahoochee is a five-hour drive from our home in St. Petersburg and the clocks here run an hour behind. It is a quaint little town with a rich local history. The long drive into the town through the scenic rolling hills and narrow lanes reminded me of Wyoming where we eloped to last year for our wedding and honeymoon. Who knew that a year later I would be dropping her off in a remote town for a month and a half with such a heavy heart. I'm incidentally leaving for the same mountains and canyons of Wyoming in a few days for my ultramarathon. I really wish she could have come with me but this clinical rotation is a huge opportunity for her career and I wouldn't want anything less than that for her.
Yesterday was the "White Coat ceremony" at her university where the teachers officially gave students in her class their medical white coats as a rite of passage, thus bestowing upon them the responsibility and trust that is expected of a medical care professional. It was a short and sweet procession and Juliet was awarded a scholarship for being the top student in her class. I cannot put into words the amount of effort and dedication that she put into her studies over the past year and was immensely proud to see her hard work being rewarded in front of hundreds of students and their family and friends. Most students in graduate and post-graduate programs, including yours truly, just do enough to get decent grades so they can move on to the next course. Not Juliet. She gave every lecture, class, lab, quiz, test, and exam her utmost best. While her eighteen-hour study days drove both her and me crazy, I realized that very soon she will make a genuinely caring and brilliant Physician Assistant. I am very proud of her and so happy that she is in my life.
Our friend Sandra and her daughter Madison were also at the ceremony and took lots of photos. We celebrated the night with some yummy Hibachi and crashed early. We packed both our cars this morning with all the things Juliet will need for the next six weeks and drove up to Chattahoochee. Once I get back home, I will try to put some of the pictures from her ceremony online. Right now I'm stuck in a small town without any wired Internet access and am using a laptop tethered to a cellphone to write this 'blog entry. And Juliet just prepared some dinner for me so my tummy says good bye Internet!
World's not getting worseSun, 23rd Aug '09, 11:00 pm::
I came across this question posted online: "Every time I go out in public now, everything I see disgusts me. The fat, lazy, ignorant people... It makes me sound like an elitist, but I just can't help it nowadays. Anyone else feel like this sometimes?" This reminded me of the movie Taxi Driver where the mentally-disturbed lead character played by a young De Niro comments that "All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."
The way I see things, there is good, there is bad, and then there is the ability to see good in bad and bad in good. Not everything is as one-dimensional as we often make it out to be. The fat could be the next virtuoso, the lazy could be the next Nobel Laureate, and the ignorant could be the next lifesaving hero. When judging and stereotyping people becomes second nature, we must take a step back and try to remember what it felt like to be a child with a clean slate. Every new person was an experience, every new place was a vacation, and every new sight was an answer.
Pessimism and cynicism are not the sole tools available to our mind for making realistic expectations of the future. Optimism, surprise, and awe should be as much a part of our prediction engine as any other emotion. Limiting your mind to only use negative streams of thought in making expectations of the future is like thinking the stock market will constantly go down forever, regardless of what else is happening in the world. Thinking that people will always be fat, lazy, consumption-driven and are getting more so means you leave no room for any other positive expectations from them. Moreover, judging weight, laziness, ignorance, and consumerism to be solely negative traits takes away any good that might come out as a result of these traits. World isn't definitely black or white and neither are traits absolutely good or bad. Elitism itself has good and bad aspects. It encourages improvement and purity in pursuits while it limits explorations into fields previously deemed impure or lacking, though they might not be so.
I often run into people who tell me the world is going down the wrong path or times are changing for the worse. They haven't been around long enough to know it has always been like this and in fact, technology and knowledge are slowly improving things around the world. We are nowhere close to world peace but we have come a long way from the Dark Ages. Reading the news everyday does make one feel like the world is ending and things will never improve, but rest assured that in the grand scheme of things, all of this is arbitrary yet improving. All you can do is keep an open mind so that even when you tend to judge a book by its cover, you can appreciate a surprising twist every now and then.
I've been busy at work lately, setting up some powerful new servers. I'll be leaving for my 100 mile race in about ten days. My name's already on the list of competitors. I've tapered off my training and am just counting days till I go. I'm very excited and just as anxious.
Annoyances add up over time. A month ago, our garbage disposal broke. Last night a supporting post under our bed broke (insert weight-gain joke here). Over the past few months, our bathroom sink started draining slower and slower. Sometime last week the screen from one of the windows in our Florida room became detached. Over time, the lack of space in our kitchen started to bug us more and more.
Having a busy life, these things tend to get swept under the rug because who has time to fix it. However, they continue to be annoyances and the stress adds up. Finally, on wonderfully productive days like today, I wake up and make a list of everything wrong in the house that bugs me. Then I buy whatever is necessary to fix every single problem. And then I fix it, at least for the time being. I feel so accomplished now that we packed up and put away our dining table; the kitchen finally has good walking space. We've only used the dining table thrice in the past year so it's not really a big sacrifice. I also made a small pen for Jack the Chihuahua so he can stay in the kitchen all day and not run around the house chasing cats.
Our house was in chaos till this morning and finally everything is coming together. Juliet vacuumed and cleaned up the house and I fixed the garbage disposal, Florida room screen, bathroom sink, and the bed. Now, we can relax for the day, have a good meal, and watch some TV.