Monday, December 17, 2007

Small is the new big

It slapped me like a wet fish that for all the blogging we've done, people don't really know the day to day things about us that make us... us. You can ask someone if they've been to Moscow (haven't) or whether they've seen Cats at the Winter Garden Theater, but that's not knowing someone. Knowing someone is knowing that they hate smelly towels or that they add baking soda to their toothpaste or that they wear dirty clothes again after spending two weeks on the floor. Maybe that's just knowing a college student.

So there are some things you need to know. Like the fact that our place is hemmed in by railroad tracks, so that there is always a slim but distinct chance that day or night you could be trapped inside or outside our little world for up to 45 minutes at a time. This poses some fun logistical challenges and some amazing car rides where you attempt to beat the train to the next crossing, jumping the tracks in a flurry of sparks and the trunk pops open like in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

That our shower consistently sets off the fire alarm if you leave the bathroom door open longer than 40 seconds.

That we use ski poles for curtain rods (I think I deserve to receive an honorary editorship to Readymade Magazine for that) or sliding door tracks for picture shelves. That one... not so cool. More cheap than cool.

You might not know that we save all our important conversations for Tuesday afternoons to be more efficient in our use of time.

That last one is ridiculous. We don't do that.

Sometimes we can see Mt. Hood from the window of our office if you crane your head up and to the left and it's not cloudy. December has not been kind.

Our favorite breakfasts are granola and yogurt or cereal and soy milk. Usually frosted mini wheats unless the soy flax is on sale. That sounds so earthy. I might as well tell you that we put wheat germ on both at this point.

That's enough for now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some Things in No Particular Order

This happened. We stumbled upon this sight while on our way downtown to check out the Portland Christmas tree. It's as weird as it looks.

Don't look too closely.

So you deserve an explanation. Imagine we just bumped into each other, and you ask something innocent like "What have you been up to?" This requires an in-depth response, so if you've got time, get comfy. We've moved on from the thousands of Santas in the picture, if you're still hung up on that.

Let me start from the beginning, or at least go back with me a few months for some good buildup. Emily is in her 4th year of med school, which means she applied for residency programs all over the US (this happened in September). This also means programs have responded with offers to interview (this happened over the last few months). This also means that we've been interviewing all over the place (not as bad as it sounds since we've been thinking about it for a while).

We did a nice little run down to San Francisco for a month, stayed with our friends Alisa and Philip and house-sat for some new friends Stuart and Nicole. Emily interviewed at Oakland Children's Hospital and UCSF where she also did a month long rotation at "The General," which I always thought was a song by Dispatch but it's also the county hospital for the city of San Francisco. That went really well and opened our eyes to some new possibilities for programs - they have some really forward thinking residency options that deal with underserved populations and global health issues. That's gear!

San Francisco also has the best coffee on the planet (so far). Blue Bottle. Drink it.

So where does that leave us? I'll keep it simple. Interviews completed at Oakland, UCSF, Seattle, Portland. One more in DC coming up in January. Then we make a list in order of how excited we are about these places in February, then we submit it to the powers-that-be of the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application System) and they decide our fate the third week of March. Then we might do an away rotation somewhere far far away to clear our heads. That means traveling. Think exotic, like Taj Mahal or Vegas.

Questions? If you don't have questions, you weren't paying close attention because I'm not sure I understand the whole process. We're learning to become accustomed to the unknown, and I think it's an important lesson. We might leave Portland, we might stay, It makes things really hard to plan for - but we can't stop living! So we keep on living. It's all about being present in the moment without worrying too much about the future. It sounds like a great idea but I'm having a hard time with the practical application of the concept. My brain just wants to pin down a detail or two so it can move on, and those details are just squirmy right now.

I've been tempted to print up a laminated placard with the previous information on it, because we're out of town enough that people are always asking us for updates, or better yet to re-explain the schedule and how it all works.

One of the coolest parts of all this is about me. I got a cool job where I can work remotely from anywhere and get stuff done. Isn't that awesome? I've got to pump myself up a little because sometimes it gets a little lonely in a random coffee shop somewhere while Em is saving the lives of little children in dramatic fashion all day long.

The drunk santa rampage was part of our attempt to be normal and live in the present. Maybe more like an unlikely detour that was unexpected and not altogether unpleasant. Either way, it makes for great conversation. Tell a friend or loved one. We really did just bump into "them," we didn't plan it or dress up or anything. The most Christmasesque thing we did that day was make candy cane cookies with some friends.

We've got a lot of fun ideas stirring from all the soul searching that inevitably happens while traveling and feeling unsettled. We're both in the middle of The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs (so into it that we have TWO copies from the library, one for each of us. I think that borders on odd.) It has this hope in it that is infectious. What if? What if extreme poverty could be eradicated in our lifetimes? That is the postulate of the book and after 21 pages, I'm excited. I want to tell the whole world to read the first 21 pages of this book, it's so good. I'm nervous to vouch for the rest because I haven't read it and Jeffrey Sachs has some weird stuff written about him in wikipedia, my new best friend. Wikipedia, not Jeff.

"Oh so Emily and Ryan go away for a month and work in San Francisco and read the foreward to a neo-hippie book and now they want to save the world and stuff." You could say that. It's a world worth saving, and people have accomplished amazing things armed with hope and the slightest bit of information. We'd have help, of course. The celebrities always are willing to lend a hand.