Monday, March 7, 2016

Intern Happenings (and four months in review)

In the past four months, I reupholstered some Craiglisted chairs (previously tiger-print), made some curtains, wrecked a car, bought another car, and survived (almost) to the end of the "dark time." This post starts silly, but concludes with big thoughts on how things are changing through my intern year.

When I visited the house where these tiger-print chairs were, it worked in her scheme. Some people can pull things off that I could never make work. So I reupholstered them with an on-sale green curtain fabric from JoAnn. When I bought the chairs, I knew I was taking on a Project. I thought to myself, "it's okay, I'll bang it out in a weekend and be done with it." This was a big mistake. Now that my time is more precious than it has ever been (I pulled another 90-hour week last week), I think I might have other people do my little projects so that I can focus on bigger things.  I learned that upholstery is like surgery: it's easy to do "well-enough" but much harder to do beautifully. This picture doesn't quite hide the fact that my corners look like badly made bedsheet corners. The original owner had done the tiger-print upholstery herself and it looked perfect.


Don't let this quick succession of pictures fool you. It took at least four months from start to finish. I kept dragging my feet at the last part, which was to screw the reupholstered seats back onto the chair frames. It was so hard and I developed an almost subconscious block to doing it. I'd do everything else on my to do list, and then (oops!) I wouldn't have time to fix the chairs. The item "Screws" hung out on my iphone Tasks list for ages.

Aaaaaaand I wrecked another car. I was changing from nights to days and forgot to set an alarm. I woke up to a text from my second year asking where I was. It was a nightmare come true. In two minutes I was out the door and in the car and rushing to work. I rushed a little too much! The accident wasn't wholly my fault, but if I hadn't been stressed, I bet I could've avoided it. I ran into a tree (swerved to miss the other car, who went off). The tree won.

The story of me buying the other car is funny, because it highlights how my crazy busy schedule only permits the extreme way of doing ordinary adult things like car-buying. My dad (630 miles away) discovered that you can buy cars from rental car companies. This is nice because the car company has a vested interest in the car working and being easy to maintain, so you know you're not getting a total lemon. It's also nice because you can drive the car for a brief period before you buy it.

So they tried to find me a car from a rental car company. We failed several times because the cars they found kept being driven to unplanned locations (like Vegas) by the people who were currently renting them. It was like requesting a hold on a library book, but then you find out that the book was returned to a library in another state.

We finally had a car that showed up where it was supposed to (in the same city as I was!). The only time I could pick it up was between work (6pm leave-time) and flying out for Christmas (10pm flight). So after work I took an Uber to the rental lot, signed my life away in the typical ritual of car-buying, drove off with a new car, then left the car in my apartment lot while I took a taxi to the airport for Christmas. It was a bizarre experience.

The answer to everything.
I have now driven 42 hours in that car and am pleased with it. It's a lot of car for a person trying to live poverty (it's got a back-up camera and a fancy screen that tells you stuff), but I just hope I don't wreck it by the time I get to tell you about the next few months.

A quickie update on some things in my last blast: neither of the illustrators were interested in my children's books, but that's okay. Again, I'm constantly learning to triage my projects. One of the patent proposals didn't work, but the other is in provisional status.

I'm also flying a lot this year: a friend's wedding, home for Christmas, to Chicago to film a video for NFP-only applicants to residency, to a conference in Toronto, and to another friend's shower (and again for her wedding). Attempting to plan a bridal shower (sorry, Mom) while also planning a video and submitting a poster to two things was a lot.

In addition, I got the "dark schedule," the intern schedule with four consecutive months of L&D, then nights, then MFM, then L&D. It's aptly named, as these four hard months coincide with January and February, the peak months for burnout. I'm now on vacation and feeling a little more human. I know the second year and the third year who got this schedule, and they changed. Fatigue changes you; you get snarkier, and sometimes speak badly about patients. You complain more. You talk about other people behind their backs. You search for any comfort--in food, in entertainment....

I don't want to change, but I see myself doing it. Is my wrecked car a symbol of something destroyed in me? Is my lovely dining room a symbol of something superficially nice in me? More on this to come. For now, I'll stick with frivolous updates on chairs and cars. Yay upholstery!

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