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ten

Some things you don’t forget.

“Did you have classes on September 11?”

“Yup.”

“When were you supposed to be in at school?”

“I wanted to be there at 12:00.”

“What day was September 11?”

“Tuesday.”

“Did they cancel classes?”

“Eventually.”

 

Some things you can’t remember.

I can’t remember if I tried to call any of my friends to see if they were okay.

I can’t remember if I tried to call anyone, for that matter.

I can’t remember who called me or tried to call me.

I can’t remember whether anyone who tried to call would have been able to reach me, anyway.

I can’t remember when I finally turned off the TV.

I can’t remember when they let us back below 14th Street.

I can’t remember when I finally let myself go below Houston Street.

 

Some things you wish were not even a dream.

i can’t remember why she asked

“What are you going to do when a patient dies?” Vicky, the M4 I was pseudo-shadowing, asked me. Wasting no time in lobbing the hard questions at the not-quite-a-first-year, I see. And one who hasn’t yet fully wrapped his head around the fact that he’s no longer an engineer, but a doctor-to-be…

It’s not that I’m naive about the sadder aspects of my new profession, nor that I’m a stranger to death. I just think it’s one of those things that you can’t fully anticipate nor fully prepare for. And her question certainly wasn’t something I was expecting at a health fair for school kids.

I stood in silent contemplation for a few moments; but I dare say I wouldn’t actually be able to answer her until I’m actually faced with it.

with only thirty days to go

I never made much of an express effort to get to know Wisconsin. I didn’t want to waste time dating it if I didn’t think I was in it for the long haul, didn’t want to get attached. I’m only passing through, I thought to myself. Then, at some point in these last almost-eight years, these surroundings became so familiar, these people I have met have become such fixtures in my life, as to tinge this long-anticipated departure with a hint of sadness.

I’m moving back home, but in a way, I’m also leaving home.

project 365: epilogue

(365/365)

On my last day of being a twentysomething, I thought perhaps I should try to make the 365th photograph somehow meaningful. I drove through the neighborhoods in which I spent my childhood, thinking the familiar might spur my imagination, trying to picture in my mind that last image…eventually coming to the conclusion that I was trying too hard. This wasn’t what I had set out to do one year ago. A photograph I took on that day of an El station seemed to connect nicely with the first photograph I took for the project; but after some thought I figured that I already had enough images of public transportation. In the end, this is what I chose to represent this day, ordinary on one level but with some serendipitous significance, hints of a tangential nature to an as-yet unwritten future. That this project concluded in the same city where it began is no accident; it is the city of my birth, the city I think will always be home.

In between, it was not altogether uninteresting; though there were times where the decidedly uninspired photographs reflected the ordinary, mundane days underlying them, quite a bit happened on both ends of the emotional spectrum. 29 was not without its moments of sorrow and grief, losing an old friend to cancer and having another friend go through a tragedy of his own, but in the realm of things I can control, I can say that 29 was the year I finally, successfully, made my ultimate career move. I think that this year, straddling two chapters of my life as it were, catalyzed a fair amount of introspection that no doubt informed many of the photographs that made it into the project.

On a personal level, I like to think I’ve managed to improve my skills a little along the way and also inject some narrative into the imagery. Having a decent camera on the iPhone helped immensely in keeping up with the demand of generating a photograph each day; using something with considerably fewer controls than what I’m used to certainly forced a different dimension of creativity.

When I began, I said that if I could say I lived and experienced each moment of every day, then I will have been successful. I dare say this to be true. To those who followed this project to its end and offered your comments and support, you have my thanks.

raison d’être

“Why did you decide to be a doctor?” she asked. “And don’t tell me you wanted to help people.”

I was exhausted. I sat on the edge of Mandi’s bed. “It’s true,” I said. “I want to help people.”

“Ha!” She poked a mound of vanilla pudding with a fork. “That’s what they all say.”

–“A Fire, Deliberately Set,” Peggy Sarjeant

(Continued)

what kind of fortnight has it been

(with apologies to Aaron Sorkin)

Even as I charged ahead towards a new future in my trips to Boston and DC, in my visits with old high school and college friends I was reminded of an altogether different past—a past in which I envisioned something completely different than the path I now find myself following, a future characterized by Fourier transforms and Smith charts. Delighted as regions of my brain probably last exercised in college sprang back into action talking shop with Amanda and John the electrical engineers and Angela the computer engineer, I nonetheless felt wistful at leaving all of that behind. At the same time, in Donna the teacher, and in other classmates and friends who went onto separate careers, I found some reassurance.

Technology never stopped exciting me. Math and physics still excite me. But are they enough to make me want to wake up in the morning?

Only if I can directly help someone by doing it.

I’ll just have to find some way to be an EE-doc, I guess.

3Q29 report

(274/365)

It’s probably a good sign that I haven’t felt much need to post anything lately. Were it not for the end of the third quarter of year 29, I might have let November go without a post and kept October company.

Probably all that needs to be noted (and it’s old news for anyone keeping up with my Facebook status updates) is that my long national nightmare of disposable income now definitely has an end date (see the Countdown to Freedom in the blog sidebar). The anxiety of “will I get in somewhere” has since been replaced by “will I have a choice of where to go,” which is at least less stress-inducing but still admittedly tied to feelings of self-worth, however irrational it may be—yes, the applicant pool is beyond saturated with qualified candidates, but I wouldn’t be human if I said my ego doesn’t bruise at least somewhat from rejection.

I suppose all that’s left for this last quarter before I turn 30 is to have fun and enjoy it, but I’m hard pressed to remember a winter that wasn’t colored with some sort of melancholia…

musical influences

I had no idea what I was agreeing to, but when Swanson invited me to go with him to a screening of Stop Making Sense sometime my sophomore year I think it was, I said sure, why not. Thus do I credit him with introducing me to The Talking Heads. I can’t be certain, but he probably also had a hand in my ownership of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. He most definitely introduced me to Steve Goodman, however.

Later on through his intervention would he also introduce me to Larry Swenson and Lee Murdock.

nine

Dammit, don’t wonder why we called.

We love, and then we were afraid we lost.

Scott Swanson, 11 September 2002.

(Continued)

2Q29 report

(182/365)

The midpoint of year 29 kind of snuck up on me. I suppose that’s because these last three months have been a whirlwind of activity: with med school secondary apps (19) and Red Cross shifts (100+ hours) on top of the usual work responsibilities, it’s been busy, but in a good way. (Well. I can say that now, but in the thick of essay-writing, I think I had different emotions.) It has given this latest quarter a different quality than the one before it, feeling more purposeful and less like merely treading water. There are glimmers of hope for the future, maybe from proofreading my secondaries numerous times; they are tempered by doses of realism, but in the end, optimism wins out, buoyed by the sense that I’ve found what I want to do.

Maybe it’s fitting that this past weekend I hit the ground running to start this third quarter, logging some not-uneventful hours at Irish Fest, but the tone for this quarter will be set by the folks on the various admissions committees and whether they like what they read…