I'm making a pizza right now, because apparently that's something I can do now. Mad props to my current roommate, my past two roommates, and the Smitten Kitchen for getting me beyond the scrambled eggs, steak, and ramen stage of my life. So last effort with the pizza stone was this:
Not bad, eh?
What's awesome about both having a roommate and being an adult and no longer having all your stuff in a flaming pile is you start to accumulate kitchen stuff. So today, making a pizza consists of throwing the ingredients together that I already have (including honey and white wine) rather than running out and spending more on ingredients than it would have cost to order a pizza.
This is also an awesome effect with the liquor cabinet. As you gradually accumulate different kinds, you can start making impressive swanky cocktails and improvising new ones. But it takes time to build without noticing, and once you get there, you feel awesome about it.
Or maybe I do. I don't live places long.
Reminding me, since I mentioned the fire (when don't I), September brought about the last chapter in you or I ever having to hear about it again, and let me be the first to say "At fucking last" because good lord.
So here's that story. Right after I returned from the conference (more on that in a bit), I'm back at work for like... three days, when I get a phone call that evening, a missed call from 3 PM that afternoon. It was the victim's advocate saying the sentencing hearing that would be at 1:30 PM the next day (less than 24 hours notice), and oh, they wouldn't be seeking restitution because the "defense wouldn't go for it."
A long time ago on this blog, I described completely losing my shit and it was in Grenada at Air Jamaica on day 10 or something of aggressively denying me my bags when my loans simultaneously hadn't processed so I had no belongings and no money, so I finally just starting banging my fist on the ticket counter like Nikita frikking Khrushchev until they got tired enough of my yelling that I followed them back into security. (Cautionary note: Do not do this at American airports for any reason. You'll get tazed.) So that's me flipping out. It's pretty uncommon. That may have been the last time it happened. Now I've been overemotional and cried and self destructed and been bitchy, that's normal course. But unleashing rage? I hate confrontation.
So yeah, I flipped out. Since it was after hours at the solicitor's office, I left a pretty choice voicemail, got home rage-addled and sent the advocate an email, cc'd to the solicitor (our DA), etc that was about two pages of my rights, and having to deal with this constantly, and make their case for them and I was tired of it. That I have student loans and if I call their offices and say the "defense won't go for it", they won't just wipe my records clean and asked them why a convicted felon gets more rights than anyone with a car payment. That sort of thing. My big thing was that I haven't gotten anyone associated with the state or with this perp or his family appearing to give half a crap about any of this, and it's galling.
The solicitor responded with wanting to meet with me a half hour before, which kind of ignored my "short notice" point, but whatever. I spent that morning with one of my seniors aggressively researching victims rights laws and trial stuff in South Carolina, which renewed my hatred of law which is both confusing and tedious. I never understand "Doctor or lawyer?" versus "Doctor or biological scientist" since they're really different professions.
So I head to the hearing again with an armful of manilla folders full of printed stuff and a bad attitude, and so they spend a half hour talking me down. Say they can't force the kid to work in prison, but they can make restitution a condition of his parole. So essentially, once he's out, if he's not actively seeking (legal) work to help pay back his debts, it's a parole violation and he gets thrown back in jail. And I'm like "Uh yeah, that's all I asked for."
So we wait for another hearing... the LAST hearing. At first there's some like "Oh, they may postpone it again" which pissed me off again. But then I overhear the family's attorney saying that they have the "nice judge". I'm like "Not the nice judge!! Give them the judge me that gave me the speeding ticket 2 weeks after the fire. The mean judge."
We get in, same stuff... I have the opportunity to speak first, and choke/chicken, so the only other victim to show up goes first, thank goodness. The girl that helped me research the law stuff kept saying "No crying, no cursing, no gesticulating", so I kept reciting in my head as the closest thing I get to a prayer.
I'm introduced as "Ms. Sancho" so we're off to a super start, though the victim's advocate corrected and stood up and said "This is DOCTOR Sancho" and I'm like "That's right." I usually don't play the D card, but this is the occasion.
So my voice shakes a little, but then I speak a bit, and I'm already charged up by the night's crap. I talk about my stethoscope, my car, my pictures, the dog, the dead cat. I talk about medical textbooks. I say I've heard neither a "sorry" or a "guilty" but have to come back again and again to hear the mother wail about what a good boy he is, but that he's not. That he's demonstrated no regret or remorse whatsoever through any of his actions, without a care for people's rights or property.
The whole time the judge is looking at me and nodding sympathetically, which helped. It felt empowering. She asked me if I thought our lives would have been in danger if we'd been home and I tell her absolutely yes. That boy-roomie might have gotten out by being on the first floor but that the two girls were on the rooms off the porch and the porch caught first. That I came back to Houston with nothing but my bags.
I think my statement made the kid's mom cry, and I can't lie; I'm kinda proud of that. Needless to say, she didn't stand up to give the "my boy's a good boy" talk for the thousandth time. The father stood up and said "First off, I'm sorry" to me. Which he derailed after that about fighting for his son, and accidents and bad kids and being the fall guy, but I was like "first time anyone has apologized to me since all this started." After this statement, the solicitor merely says that the reason the boy is "taking the fall" is because he was bragging about it all at school. How he did it. So much for "accident".
At that point the judge starts talking and she is not happy. The VA leans over to me and says "The judge lives downtown". Downtown Charleston, for what it's worth, is exquisitely flammable. All the houses are made of heartwood pine and crammed together. And a few years ago, there was a massive factory fire that killed a bunch of people. So the "oops, didn't mean it" factor found *no* love. She kept on about how lucky the defendant was that people weren't killed because he'd be tried as an adult and no one would even think about seeing him before he turned 40, and that the only reason people weren't killed was luck. So max sentencing. With restitution assigned on release. No recommended camps for troubled boys or the like.
So that's it. We won. No more last minute hearings. No more delays. No more "re-victimization" as the solicitor was putting it as I kept saying I just wanted to get on with my life. This kid got what he deserved and I even got a half assed apology out of someone related to it.
I've never felt so relieved. I went back to work on a song, hypercharged with the conclusion of it all and went out to have oyster shooters (my first!) with some celebrants. I cannot say how good it is, after NINE MONTHS to have this all behind me.
I'm even starting to work on a future apartment, maybe fellowship, by having handy roommate teach me how to redo furniture from craigslist and garage sales and such. So that in the future, I can really build a home. I also now have renters insurance along with my (now cheaper) car insurance.
This is getting long. And I haven't started on San Diego. But no more fire drama right? Hooray!!!
All right, the conference was awesome. Naturally, we engaged in scholarly studies for the entire five days so didn't really do much outside of mingle.
Well, I mean you have to have some fun, right? The conference itself was good. I went to some awesome hematopathology lectures, schmoozed a bit with future fellowship programs, and though people weren't really much stopping for my poster, I felt like it looked really good and like we did a good job, so that was great.
The hotel was gorgeous. The Grand Hyatt is the one that dominates a great deal of the classic San Diego skyline, and the rooms were jawdropping. I split one with two other colleagues.
The day I got there, one of my other colleagues and my attending were already there, so we registered, grabbed lunch, and headed to a brewery on Coronado Island via ferry. The brewery was just aiight but great view, great time. Met up with the girls as they arrived and went barhopping through the gaslamp district. The next day, there was a big resident mingling thing, but a friend from my school was in town, so we headed out to the beach and drank in a bunch of the Pacific. That night our attending took a huge crowd of us (including med school friend) out to a fancy pants restaurant where I stuffed myself full of good wine and scallops because life is good. We hit a rooftop soon after.
Sunday was quite scholarly. I had my poster in the mid morning-afternoon session so I hit a pretty solid peripheral blood smear conference in the morning. There was a good bone marrow lecture on in the afternoon post-poster. I was craving good Mexican food because I haven't had any in at least five years, so yelp helped me find a decent dive with amazing burritos so we hit it for lunch on Monday between conferences. Tuesday, we hit a morning conference and a couple of us headed for the zoo, because come on, it's San Diego. Apparently not only can you drink around the zoo, but they have microbrews because California is awesome. Californian microbrews usually aren't awesome, but these weren't local. Sorry Cali; your wine's still good. At some point we ended up back on Coronado Island having strangely authentic NYC pizza despite looking like "Sbarros by the sea" but apparently they import their water. Hooray snobbiness!
What else? I'm back on surgical pathology. This may be where some of you recall my having a nervous breakdown last year and contemplating quitting everything because I felt unbelievably stupid.
I feel much more confident this time around, which is fortunate, because we've had a whole new software implemented to control everything and it is working *terribly*. It's eliminating all of our paperwork, so now slides are going to the wrong people, slides are coming out super late, we're having to stalk specimens, and getting reports dropped. So the last week has been hideous, busy, and stressful, but now that it's do to external sources than my own crushing insecurity, I feel okay with myself and my lot. I'm getting interested in my specimens now that I understand more about them and feel like I might be a good pathologist. Which is a great feeling. We'll see if that dissolves into existential angst in the next couple of weeks. Heh.
Well, welcome back readers. Hope you're having an amazing October. :)