Tuesday, January 27, 2009

waiting waiting is no fun

waiting waiting is no fun
it makes me want to hurt someone!
why dont you just email or call
it seems like you don't care at all!

i submitted my app months ago
but still i have nothing to show
for the suffering and the pain
that slowly erodes my puny brain !

Monday, January 26, 2009

there's always time for a splash of irony

Finally, my latte the other day was worth the four bucks I paid for it. I noticed this quotation on my Starbucks cup and was pleasantly surprised:

"The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, inplay, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade aroundas rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as thebarrier to your life." - Ann Morris

I a master commitment escape artist. Over a decade, I have perfected the skill: in high school, doing five billion extracurriculars instead of trying to be really good at just one; in college, doing pre-med and liberal arts to "keep my options open;" and as an adult, selecting a job whose most appealing benefit was a two-year smorgasboard of mini-jobs, rotating locations, and postponed commitment. I won't go into my love life on this blog, but the story's much the same: deep down, I do know what I want, but I ...just...can't...quite...commit. (Sidebar: Here's a pic of me and the object of my commitophobia, who ironically was also the recipient of yesterday's dental-school rant...doesn't he look like a good future dentist?!)

Truth be told, I was lazy. In college, I just waited for the epiphany I believed would smack me awake and incite complete conviction. Pretty narcissistic actually- I don't know if I thought Moses was going to come down from his mountain with a burning tablet of dictums or what.

Even more than sheer sloth, I think it's the the cross-dressing fear that Morris writes of that has been silently stalking me for years, whispering insidious little doubts in my ear. I don't like commitment because I fear closing off options-- and let's face it, isn't the unexplored always so much more romantic than reality? If I'm really honest, I'm even more afraid that if I truly commit to something with everything I've got and fail, it'll tear me to shreds. It's so much easier living life with an air of detachment, knowing that real life will begin someday, but this just can't be it.

But it is. It's now. And I've finally realized that closing off options is indeed a sacrifice. By choosing grad school, I am forgoing (or at least seriously postponing) my supposedly accelerated path in healthcare admin, a career that has some serious perks: the occasional triumph of feeling like you're really helping someone, the fascinating social/psych experiment that is management, and if we're really going to be honest, a much fatter paycheck. But sacrifice isn't necessarily a bad thing. In this case, the old adage rings true: Nothing in life worth having is free (Except for maybe Free Cone day at Ben & Jerry's, that's pretty sweet, actually)

And since age 7, when I "published" a massive tome on my gerbil's mental
health, I've wanted to be two things: a writer or a psychiatrist. I've chosen not to become a physician, but I still have the chance to combine my love of the written word, and all things social sciences/healthcare by pursuing grad school, and eventually academia. When I recently started experiencing finals envy and fantasizing about the musty smell of NU's library, I realized that I'm finally ready to take the plunge. It may give me the shakes, kind of like these folks after a pleasant January dip in Lake Michigan, but they're the excited kind of shakes, and after all this time, it's truly exhilerating.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

he's just not that into you- the grad school version

Sitting by the phone- or in this age of mobile connectivity, walking with the phone- and waiting.


Staring at the computer screem, hoping that pressing "Refresh" once more will somehow evoke a magic wand and-Poof!-all your wishes will be granted.

Scurrying out to the post after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, waiting to unwrap, like Charlie and his Chocolate, your very own Golden Ticket.

Yet far worse than the three agonizing days of waiting for that cute-eyed boy from the bar last Saturday to call like he promised is the admissions process for dental (and presumably medical) school. Seven months later, one of my nearest and dearest is spending all of his free time (and much of mine) staring willfully at his phone and inbox, hoping to telepathically elicit a voice uttering the magic words: You're in.

These schools are teases. Like a debonair gentleman with a mischevious grin, the school invites you in for an interview in the autumn. The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and you stride onto campus with a glean in your eye and sa spring in your step. The interview was much like a first date: palms sweaty, you spoke quickly and tried to fill the awkward silences with jovial pleasantries. Your interviewer, posessing all the rules to The Game and boasting the upper hand, looks slightly bored and blase. In interviews as in love, the one who cares less has the upper hand. Unfair, but true.

Yet, you were clever- you were. You verbally tangoed with the best of them, and you could see that your interviewer was finally wowed. Sparks flew, and as you departed with a cheerful smile and a wave, you just knew he would call.

2 days later, nothing. It's the standard 48 rule, though, so you brush it off as formality. Don't hate the player, hate the game, right?

2 weeks later- nothing.

2 months. Big. Fat. Nothing.

Your hopes all but dashed, you scan the AADSASwebsite like so many Facebook pages, scouring for any sign that he's moved on without you.

Nothing. Nothing but a meaningless update: "Under review," which is quite cruel, actually, because it delays a jarring but necessary realization for moving on with your life:

He's (and they're) Just Not That Into You.

The difference, of course, is that the prospective dental student can't simply shovel in loads of Ben & Jerry's or work it out in a sangria-fueled dance with a bunch of supportive girlfriends. It's their life, and their vocation on the line. In my humble opinion, seven months of putting life on hold is nothing less than ridiculous. Are these people sadists? Heartless? Simply slow-moving? After seven months, if you're just not that into me- just say it already!

But the truth is, there's still a significant chance that these anxiety-ridden wanna-be dentists could still get an acceptance. Hope is not yet lost, at least not until April 1st. But really, to all my friends out there still awaiting letters from law, grad, dent, and med schools-- let's all put down the cells and close Gmail for just a moment. Try to remember who we were before we got into this grad school cycle that's taken over our lives and turned us into a twentysomething equivalent of boy-crazed seventh graders. Time to say to those omnipotent, faceless admissions councils across the country that we're just not that into you!

(Ok that's not even remotely close to being true...but still, a girl's gotta try, right? Bring on the mint chocolate chip!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

a beautiful mess

When you travel as much as I do, you begin to experience profound moments in unexpected places.

Tonight, as I was preparing to board my latest flight to Chicago on Southwest Airlines, a sweet, confused teen asked me out how to line up for Southwest’s cattle-call style boarding process. I looked at his boarding pass and showed him where to stand, assuring him that Southwest’s process can be really messy and confusing.

His quiet and poignant response: “Isn’t life?”


Today I received my first letter of acceptance from an MPH program, and one of my top choices.

While overjoyed, it was only after great hesitation that I called my mother. After a cursory “congratulations,” she posed the inevitable merriment-ending question “Are they going to pay you to go there?” And then, like an automatic machine gun, told me in succession that the economy sucks (duh), and that none of her fellow MPH grads got jobs. Perched on an airport Starbucks’ chair, tears streamed down my face and I rapidly devised a pathetic exit route.

Until boarding, I sat in a stunned stupor. Rationally, I know that my parents are simply…being parents. Having spent years working phlebotomy night shifts to make ends meet, driving a car with a hole rotted through the floor, and viewing frozen pizzas as a delicacy, their interest in what’s best for me understandably takes the form of financial security. It’s a deeply personal version of a very historic battle: security (them) vs. freedom (me). Conservative (them) vs. liberal (me). And while I’ve always nurtured this literary notion of the fiery-eyed child running off against her parents wishes to fulfill her dreams, for all my wishful rebelliousness it still upsets me deeply when I don’t have parental support.

I understand their fears- I do. So much so that I am desperately repressing and rejecting constant news sources that tell me that this might be the worst time in history to risk my job, take out a loan, and wing it all in the sake of passion. Yet I know what makes me tick, and although this job has provided me with a great learning experience, it’s not it. After an excruciating period of self-examination over the past 1.5 years, I know this is what I want, and am ready to assume a few (edit: many) years of indebtedness to get it. I am willing to pay to pursue my passion.

And let’s face it: I’m not getting any younger. There’s not too much time left whence I will be free to capitalize upon my youthful idealism and go flitting off into the sunset like a capricious butterfly.

But since life isn’t all idealism and fluttery pastel insects, I do have a belated New Year’s resolution. Goal 2008: Get in. Goal 2009: Get money. (Legally of course: loans, grants, maybe an organ or two posted on the black market.....kidding!)

Someone at work recently told me, “It all just depends on whether or not you have the courage to be happy.”

So here’s to making my life messier than a Southwest boarding process, but all the more rewarding…