Less Than Zer0

“They think that I’ve got no respect, but, everything means less than zero.”–Elvis Costello

Clarity. January 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 12:06 am

“He asked you if you were a bear?? I don’t…mean to be
rude, but that reminds me of
Joey. You know,
how he’s always talking about how there are no bears in Jamaica?”
And simple as that, Corinne pointed out what I’d been missing the
entire month of November. Boy Wonder had
NOT been dissing me in a
manner unseen since my näive undergrad days. He was just
oblivious. Because he’s a med
. And med students, by definition, are
space cadets.
Example: another med guy I know was waxing romantic the other night
about how he wanted to “find his Elliot” (from
Scrubs). To support this argument, he
told the story of how the she punched her JD
in the face when he broke up with her. What ever does it
for you, I guess.
I’m around so few non-meds these
days, I forget we used to make special allowances for them
when I was in Houston. As in, I’m sure only the most stable of the
lot made it into my H-town circle of friends, and yet, we still
took it for granted that med student =
awkward. Now that I get to see the full range of med students
every day, I am acquainted with maladroitness of mythical
proportions. You don’t believe me? Of the coolest guys I know, one
named his dog after a type of cell found in your brain
(“Oligodendrocyte“), and another
buys flowers for his
Literally, these are two of the
most well-adjusted
friends I have. You don’t want to hear stories about
the charity
. This zoo distorts your perception.
What has medical school done to
I used to drink
cocktails with
millionaires and party with
trust-fund socialites–now I’m
intimidated by the socially challenged.


Coffeeshop Demographics September 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 9:49 am

***In El Paso, I would see college kids, business people, and occasionally overhear nascent filmmakers discussing their newest projects.  (Because Hollywood is so expensive, and southern New Mexico is so sunny, there’s actually an indie film community out there.)

***In Lubbock, I hung out at J&B’s amongst the Tech intellectual community, sorority club meetings, and church groups while drinking cappucino.

***Now, in New Orleans, I drink cafe au lait amongst novelists–I’m always overhearing writers discuss how to manage this plot point or that theme, etc.  I regularly see & chat with med students & residents–people say hello and know me by name after I’ve only been here a week. What is it about New Orleans that makes me feel so much like I belong?

Houston, can you compete with this?


Neutral Milk Daydreaming July 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 11:46 am

And one day we will die
…And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see…

–Jeff Mangum


Feeling Strangely Fine June 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 8:18 pm

Life has been really good lately. Not quite in the, “Wow, everything is going my way,” line, but not at all awful either.  I’ve had some good days, and some bad ones. Today wasn’t particularly spectacular.  The computers were still down and the novelty had worn off. Clinic was really slow, and slow doesn’t really mean less work so much as it means less interesting work.  The past few weeks I’ve had a lot of head & neckaches. But overall, I feel like I’m in control of my own destiny–as though I can be as successful, or as happy as I want, as long as I stay focused on the goal.

I’ve been able to sleep, work,  study, and even relax a little bit, making time for social stuff and for the inevitable solo goofing off. I’ve had time to let some big questions to surface.

What exactly do I want out of life? Do I want to be professionally successful, or do I want to be really happy personally? If I prioritize these two, will achieving one mean sacrificing the other? Which would make me a better person? Does it matter?

I know I want to travel. I want to make a difference somehow. And it’d be nice if I got to share my life with a man and a dog at some point. But do I really have that much control over whether any of this actually happens? Or should I just quit worrying and trust everything to be all right?


Sign of the cross wards off the evil eye…. June 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 6:20 pm

Example of a pyogenic granuloma.

It’s all my fault. First all the clinic computers go down to a virus shortly after I arrive. By lunch we know all 4 campus of Texas Tech Health Sciences Center have been hit.

Then, my resident gets stuck on the wrong side of the border and has to cancel his afternoon appointments (What was he doing over there on a Friday morning to begin with?).

Two patients later, I have seen exactly one cat scratch fever & one CHF/Amphetamine abuse/chronic alcoholism/pyogenic granuloma–which translate neatly into 2 hospital admissions to my patient log.  Arranging direct admissions with pen & paper is a bit of a drag.

The clerkship director sent me home before I could do anymore damage…pray for the cat.


What? Life outside the hospital? April 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 12:47 pm

I used to be so jealous of classmates who were far enough ahead in studies & budget to take little minibreaks on the weekend. I spent my first two years of med school in a constant struggle to stay in the black, catch up with my work, and catch up on sleep. Now that I’m just comfortable enough to allow little excursions every so often, I realize that 1) you never catch up, 2) staying on budget is overrated. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is take a few days off.

I’m sitting in a Reno airport after a lovely mountain holiday with my brother & company in & around Lake Tahoe. Climbing, hiking, sight-seeing, and as much raw fish as I could eat. How is it so easy to get wrapped up in work and career when there’s so much life waiting out on the other side?

I want to learn from these little side trips and use the lessons to make good specialty choices in medicine, but sometimes it feels like the choice is between the time vs. the money to enjoy the best things in life–like you can’t have both. But I know I don’t want to spend my entire life in the hospital or the clinic. There’s so much more out there waiting to be experienced.


Words to Live By. November 22, 2008

Those who know me personally can undoubtedly confirm that I have trouble keeping my mouth shut. At least I’m aware of it.  As a consequence, I tend to collect advice on how to stay quiet.  Two of my favorites:

It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say, and then don’t say it.–Sam Levenson

Think before you speak. Read before you think. This will give you something to think about that you didn’t make up yourself-a wise move at any age, but most especially at seventeen when you are in greatest danger of coming to annoying conclusions.–Fran Lebowitz

For wisdom less witty, but certainly just as practical, four questions generally attributed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

  1. Is it TRUE?
  2. Is it NECESSARY?
  3. Is it KIND?
  4. Is it HELPFUL?

I find these to be excellent checkpoints in conversation, whether the “should I or shouldn’t I?” question applies to a juicy bit of gossip or a difficult business/academic matter. I’d probably fare better if I used them more often.

For Amanda (roll over for captions):