Nov 9, 2012


For those of you who've read this blog for a while, you may have noticed a sort of hyperbole and psychotic flowery quality to my language.  I'm also a bit of a philosophical hedonist, if you haven't picked up on that.

This is by no means limited to the written word and is actually quite a bit worse in person since I can't backspace over terrible things and it's how I both entertain myself and cope with stressful situations.  Also why it's great to be in a profession populated by people who can handle me.

I'm telling you this to tell you about a birthday present.  Several months ago, I was wine tasting with my roommate and her boyfriend in one of those cute types of shops with wine and wine accessories and lots of sort of expensive things that allow you to say "I enjoy drinking".  And I do.  My roommate is a type that tailors things to herself and her interests quite well and brings it all together in a way that is fashionable, individual, and fun.  This is less how I roll.  So when we got on the topic of wine glasses, I said something along the lines of "I'd love to have a wine glass that really says *me* all over it, but they don't make them with naked werewolves on them", then promptly forgot the comment.

Flash forward:

Speechless.  I mean.  It's a wine glass of shirtless Alcides.  No one else on earth has a wine glass of shirtless Alcides.  She and her boyfriend conspired to create something so perfect for me that if I left it in a cafe in Bali, weeks later I would get an email saying "We found your glass."  If archeologists dig this glass up in a thousand years, they will be able to perfectly derive everything about my personality from this single artifact.  They'll probably even be able to guess that I was a pathologist.

This brings me to a few conclusions.  One, the idea that all my glib comments can be brought to life is both wonderous and terrifying, because while it does mean I will indeed die as I am buried alive under a mountain of double chocolate porter, Butter Lane cupcakes and shirtless dudes, it *also* means that a seven foot palmetto bug will, at some point, pin me against a wall and take my purse.

Other conclusions... I have heard a lot of roommate bitching from the masses since living alone is something only the 1% can continue to do, but I have been blessed by the great roommate god on high because I have lucked out every single frigging time.

Grenada:  First roommate, from the islands, shows me around, makes kingfish curry, is generally cool despite me living in a phobia clad sleep deprived geek cloud.
Prague:  Find roommate from lower term off facebook within about 24 hours.  Wind up with roommate who makes coffee every morning and saves it for me and who speaks (and is) Russian so can translate.  Also introduces me to Hoegaarden, because she wasn't being great enough.
New York:  I live with the cooking, cleaning, decorating oracle of party finding awesomeness and spend two years in a cloud of burlesque and happy hours.  Started learning about fashion.
Fire house: two roommates.  One can cook everything from scratch and is eager to teach the same.  The other is a die hard Star Wars aficionado with an awesome dog who finds chicken and waffle diners and likes to have bonfires in the back yard and play Mario Kart.
Current house: Makes me wine glasses with naked werewolves on them.

I'm holding out that my fellowship roommate will carry me on his/her shoulders at all times while making horsey noises, but that could be asking a bit much.

Nov 6, 2012

The holiday tweener

I'm not a huge Thanksgiving person.  I think it's because I like neither turkey or pilgrims a whole lot.  I generally only whine about Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving because that's about the level of Jingle Bells I can take without shooting mall Santas.

So roomie and I found ourself in the odd predicament of having our apartment fully decked out for Halloween, but then she and I are taking turns leaving through November, and her boyfriend (re: manual labor) was visiting last weekend, so for practicality's sake, we took down the vampires and tombstones and bloodstained "help" messages on the mirrors and replaced them with a fake Christmas tree, glowing lit up presents, and santas.

I'm oddly okay with it.  As long as there's no music.  It's an odd nostalgia.  I know I said I wouldn't talk about the fire anymore (mentirosa!!), but this was post fire.  I've mentioned before that due to the loving embrace of my colleagues and friends, it took at least a week for the whole business to even sink in, and this is part of why.  I got back home, I believe on the 29th, and new roomie picked me up from the airport and I moved straight in with her.  When I got to her house, not only did I have unexpected furniture, unexpected linens, and unexpected scrubs, but my new abode was completely decked out for Christmas, and these are all the same decorations that greeted me when I first arrived.

So I'm degrinched... but one too many Jingle Bells, and I'll snap.

Speaking of holiday stuff, I carved this pumpkin, and while likely inebriated, sent a picture of it to Poe's Tavern with the message "You make good burgers so I made you a pumpkin", not realizing they have an annual Poe themed pumpkin carving contest which I would have been able to enter had I waited until Thursday.  Ah well.

Halloween was on a Wednesday mid surgical pathology this year, so I did my festivities on Saturday, which included a joint work party/Skinful festival.  I was initially worried my costume was going to be inappropriate for the first, but arrived to the new chief's house to find the entire dining room done up as Dexter's kill room complete with a plastic wrapped blow up doll and her husband, convincingly dressed in the apron and holding a butcher knife, so I worried less about being family friendly.

I was initially going to go as one of four birds, others represented were a flamingo, a peacock, and a bjork-swan, and I had the brilliant plan of being a parrot with a pirate strapped to my shoulder, but upon further evaluation, since I can't sew, this plan was looking at costing me over 200 dollars, but this get up:

was 40.  I am so very cheap.

I got my fall cooking on.  I discovered how to make pumpkin cheesecake, which is the best trick ever, and then followed it up with some pork and squash and a pumpkin risotto.

October was also breast cancer awareness month, otherwise known as "the worst month to be on surgical pathology".  It also was "surgical chiefs go out of town leaving their underlings to attempt horrendous resections that involve five thousand frozens for no specific reason.  But I'm still getting a better hang of it from last year.  I'm starting to get comfortable with my own language on reports rather than desperately grasping for others over the course of hours "how do I phrase 'benign skin and granulation tissue with hemorrhage, acute inflammation, and edema'??"  I'm getting the hang of our very own Halloween trick, the introduction of a new and likely evil computer system, and the rest of it.  I finally found the answer to the question "what if a biopsy shows cancer, and you take the specimen, and you can't find any cancer, but you also can't find the clip or biopsy changes?"  The answer is "first, take all the wax filled cassettes you've put samples into and x-ray all of them at a less-than-thrilled cancer center.  Then, when you can't find it, take the formalin soaked remainder of the specimen, in small color coded pieces back to the even less thrilled cancer center, take countless x-rays of that until you find a clip the size of the head of a pin, and then resample that.

Oh, making friends.  And apparently when we're on surgical pathology, our specimens and us have such a combined aroma that we can be detected through the funk we leave on *other* people's clothing.  I've personally gotten so used to formalin that I don't really perceive the smell unless it's up against my face making my eyes water (it burns!!!) and a vague sense of hunger since it has that disturbing side effect, so no early med students, being hungry after anatomy lab does not make you a cannibal.

Still, clinical chemistry this month is providing a nice break and one that allows me to defect up to Virginia for a hiking trip for my birthday since Christmas will be at the beck and call of my pager.  I'm then going to turn around and go back for that Thanksgiving day and hopefully con some fondue out of the situation because blah, turkey.

Clinical chemistry involves relearning some chem, which is always a treat for me, but my daily activities consist of answering calls, mostly that involve mislabeling or not labeling specimens and I get the daily sob story for why I should allow blood that I don't know came from the patient to be assigned for the patient, and I get to read electrophoresis gels and calculate hemoglobin percentages to catch various hemoglobinopathies (sickle cell, thalassemia, SC disease, etc).  The gels are for a lot of things, but mostly I'm trying to find bands that could correspond with multiple myeloma or any other monoclonal blood cell proliferation that isn't supposed to be there.  It involves peering at a light board and interpreting a wavy graph and tables and then writing a series of important looking codes while signing it all illegibly with my doctor scrawl signature, so it feels very professional.

My lecture attendance is getting better; always a plus, despite having a series of 28 Days Later dread dreams where un-fun zombies chased me through the New York City subway system while killing all my friends.  I'm not exactly sure who did what to my subconscious, but it gets temperamental this way.  It's that thing where you show up at work either mad at your friends for dream-slights or panicked for your friends because you had a dream where they were standing drunk in a black evening dress and then they fell down the stairs and twisted their head all the way around like in Death Becomes Her.  Thanks brain, you sick freak.