22 May 2006

Steps Two, Three, & Four: Roommates, Summer Reading, & Resignations

It occurs to me, as I begin this post, that the idea of numbering these "steps" toward medical school is acutely ludicrous. Not only are there a plethora of steps, tasks, chores--whatever you want to call them--the idea that they happen in isolation, like climbing stairs one at a time, is a false assumption. As with most life processes, everything about this change is happening all at once. Does it go without saying, then, that I'm overwhelmed?

This weekend, in addition to fighting the effects of my own physician's last-ditch effort to control my endocrine disorder (I say last-ditch because I refuse to undergo these types of physiological experiments while in school...I tried it once before...it wasn't pretty...I won't do it again...), I find myself drowning in checklists as I attempt some of the most difficult chores: finding a roommate, beginning my summer reading, and resigning from my job.

The roommate task is first on the agenda purely out of need: I need to have a roommate if I want to afford food while I'm in medical school. Simple enough, right? Oh, but no.... Placing the "ad" on the class website and in the class roommate circular was easy enough, as describing the space and its parameters proves relatively straightforward. What is not straightforward: the conflagration of emotions I feel when considering what qualities I seek in a roommate.

To date, I've been blessed. After a rough initial 10 weeks at my post-bacc program (d@mn frat boys!), I got to move into a house with one of my dearest friends. We got along splendidly (a surprise, to me, because I always carry this sense that I'm impossible to live with) and it was one of the first times where I truly enjoyed sharing my space with another person. I feel spoiled by the experience, actually, since now I will, no doubt, judge every roommate encounter against the perfection of that one.... When my roommate decided not to return for spring term, I recall panicking. I rented a room in another home, but had no choice over who the other roommates would be. Fortunately, I ended up in a house with two of the wackiest women I've ever met. We shared a huge space, so we all had ample privacy, and we all had such unique schedules (we were all in different programs) and personalities that we never felt burdened by one another. The third time I had a "roommate," the context was completely different. In this instance, I lived with my (former) boyfriend. We got along well, although I did tip-toe a lot because the place we were living was, in spite of his arguments to the contrary, *his* house, not mine. Except for my caution, I was struck at how comfortable I felt living with him and sharing space. Again, for some odd reason, I always feel like I'd make a terrible roommate....

So...in considering all of this, it occurred to me that I'm now in the position of having to choose a potential roommate. We'll be in the same academic program, so the notion of having separate schedules with which to buffer our privacy is a non-option. Then there are my expectations: how do I condition myself to consider compatibility with more importance than potential friendship? And how will I feel about sharing my first home, in which I know I will take so much pride of ownership? How does one, in any circumstance, go about choosing a stranger with whom to live? What will I do when Biddle, my cat, invariably breaks in on this poor soul while s/he is in the bathroom? I'm plagued by these questions....

And when I'm not pondering these particular questions, I'm gnawing on the first few precious pages of summer reading. I don't have all the books in yet (I was able to buy some at discount from a current student, but he hasn't had a chance to ship them yet), so I had to start with pathology. As if I know anything about pathology! It is so strange to open up a medical textbook and start reading. Why? I guess because for me, for such a long time, it's felt like unattainable knowledge--stuff to which, by intellect or status, I simply was not privy. So I find, as I begin reading, that I feel like a voyeur. Here I go again.... ;-)

To add to all the drama, I had to announce my resignation at work this week. It happened unexpectedly--I'd hoped to wait at least until I'd closed on the condo--but they requested our summer availability, so I realized that the "right" thing to do would be to go ahead and let them know that I won't be around after the first week of July or so. As it turned out, there are about 5 of us that are quitting at the same time. The bosses, consequently, are scurrying around, trying to hire more people. In the meantime, sales have (finally?) slowed to the extent that we have time, during our shifts, to be bored. Boredom is not a good state for me, especially when I'm taking medication that affects my hormones. Several times this week, I caught myself ruminating on my imminent departure, wondering how I was going to say goodbye to these people (I HATE goodbyes) and trying not to feel guilty for absconding my responsibilities there. This last point is particularly ironic--a trained monkey could probably do this job better than I can...it doesn't exactly take a whole lot of skill to work a cash register (patience, perhaps, but not skill)....so the fact that I feel guilty...well, it's amusing....

At any rate...this has been my experience over the past few days: an odd whirlwind of hormones, emotions, and tasks. Since Biddle has now planted herself between the keyboard and my computer screen, I guess it's time for me to end my midnight musings for now....

19 May 2006

A bird's eye view of the new home...

So here we have a bird's eye view of the new home, albeit still occupied by the current owner. I can't wait to spruce it up with some fresh paint & (of course!) elfa! :-)

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18 May 2006

Step One: Finding a Home.

Once the reality of actually signing up to join the class of 2010 in medical school finally set in, I realized that there were going to be several steps I'd have to take in order to make it to the first day of classes. Some of the steps--like ordering books, filling out copious paperwork, & being blood-let to prove immunity to disease--have been both tedious and humorous. None, however, have proven quite as intricate and intense as finding my first home....

It's been about three years since I last lived outside of my parents' home and six since I lived in a space that was fully my own. Because of a combination of illness and logistics, most of my belongings have been packed away in boxes or crammed into my childhood bedroom during this time. Needless to say, the living situation has been far from ideal! So when I finally chose where I wanted to attend medical school, I became quite excited by the notion that I'd actually get to live on my own again. Because of budget constraints, I didn't expect to have much choice about where I'd live. But then my father, who has spent 30+ years as a commercial real estate appraiser, decided that it would be a complete waste for me to spend four years renting an apartment when buying a home would likely allow me to recoop the investment of funds once I'm finished with school. Thanks to his generous (and I do mean *generous*) support, I am now in the final stages of buying my first home. (<--it's yet another situation in which I find myself pinching myself, the whole proposition seems that surreal!)

And yet, I did all the research, travelled around for days in the hot Florida sun looking at more units than I care to remember, placed bids on condos and lost them when the sellers refused to acknowledge that we're finally back in a buyer's market, and so on. I honestly had no idea how complicated the whole process is--even getting floorplans on some of these units (most of which have been built just in the last 5 years!) proved difficult.

That said, I finally was able to negotiate a viable contract on a unit less than two miles from school. It's a condo (so, yes, I have to share walls...and I know some of you regard wall-sharing units with disdain...but when I learned that this meant the condo association is responsible from repairs to everything that is outside the sheetrock out--i.e. roof, windows, siding, plumbing, exterior a/c, etc.--it became clear to me that this sense of security at having "maintenance-free" living is a small price to pay for having to share a soundproof wall....) located in a small subdivision of a rather large new PUD. It's very quiet--most of the people living in the community are either professionals (e.g. physicians, firefighters, police, etc.) or retirees--and the unit I'm buying overlooks a nature preserve.

Oddly enough, most of the units I considered first were only about 900 sq ft. I honestly didn't think I could afford anything bigger, even though at that small size, I knew it would be difficult to have a roommate. Luckily, though, I happened to find a 1461 sq ft unit in the same complex--and I'm going to be able to buy it for less than first two units I'd bid on, which were 500 sq ft smaller (go figure!). It's still going to be a financial strain (then again, what *isn't* a financial strain when living on a med school budget geared for 10 months but that has to cover 12?!?!?) to carry all the costs (mortgage isn't so bad, but the downside to living in a condo association is that because they cover things like lawn care, maintenance, cable, water/sewer, & hurricane shutters, is that the monthly fees add up pretty fast), but in the long run, I have no doubt that I'll at least recoop--if not gain a profit--from the purchase when I re-sell in four years.

So...I'm actually buying my first home. It's stunning, truly. But enough of my babble, you must see the pictures! (Keep in mind, however, that these pictures are populated by the current owner's stuff, which is totally not my taste...) Check out the next entry for a full view. :-)

6222 Rosefinch Ct -- In Progress
Jun 18, 2006 - 5 Photos

A new chapter.

The poet Adrienne Rich once wrote "We will not live/to settle for less We have dreamed of this/all of our lives." The quotation sums up my journey unto this point--indeed, it has been the driving force on many a night when I have had thoughts of quitting this whole crazy process of following my dreams to become a physician.

It took about 19 rejections from medical schools before I finally got a "yes" in answer to my application for admission. Needless to say, the road to get to this point has been bumpy at best. But now I'm here, pinching myself, trying to grok that this is really happening--that I am, at long last, going to begin medical school in just a few short months.

I am not naive--I know that this process will only become more difficult over time--but I begin having learned an important lesson. As Helen Keller put it, "although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." It is in this spirit that I begin this new chapter in my life...one that I hope to record here as it unfolds.

a little disclaimer...

i'm a medical student. just a student. so please, don't take anything i say too seriously. remember that i was an english literature major as an undergrad, so there is much fiction to be found in these pages. do you think i'm telling a story about you or your illness? more likely, you're tapping into my sense of "everyman"--that is, your story resonates with what i write here because it's not so uncommon after all. need help? please, please go see your physician. <--i'm not her. yet. ;-)