:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Tuesday, January 25, 2005  

One night stands, and flying in my monoplane

I just returned from my 2nd trip in a month, to Los Angeles, a city that previously was known to me by Disneyland, 5 and 6 lane highways with tons of traffic, and gaudy touristy sites (nostalgic memories from vacations with my parents years ago). I now find myself fascinated with the culture, politics, and people of Los Angeles, where 145 languages are spoken. [The picture to the left was taken from the airplane, and is a view of somewhere in California just east of Los Angeles]

So, I was in LA doing what is called a "2nd look" at a family medicine residency program that I really liked during an interview last month (my first trip there in the month). Many medical students applying for residency programs do these "2nd looks" as they deliberate on what order to rank the programs that they applied to. The whole process of interviewing is so bizarre -- in a day's time, both you and a program are trying to impress each other (hence the 2nd look -- more impressing and more perspectives on a program and a city). Back in December, Dr. Quinn of Push Fluids compared interviewing with a series of one-night stands:

first, there are the decisions based on the surface: ugly or attractive, too small, too big, bad food choice, the presence of a snaggle tooth.

as the experience continues things get more interesting. both parties try to make themselves seem much more attractive than they really are. in addition, both parties stretch the truth just a little bit to make their weaknesses seem less horrific.

the finale of both experiences includes the awkward "i'll call you"/"we should get together again sometime"/"you're the best ever" interaction. in both situations it is possible that both parties are being truthful, but it is ultimately more likely that someone is fibbing.

then there is the follow up dilemma - i.e. how many days do you wait? is emailing ok or is that cheap? how do you find something nice and personal to say to someone after your tenth experience when everyone seems the same?

while a series of interviews can make a girl feel almost as dirty as one night stands (especially when the interviews are back to back and do not allow enough time for a trip to the dry cleaner), they are actually supposed to be informative. from these short experiences, i am supposed to glean enough truths to decide where i want to spend the next 3 years. i mean, if i was that hasty about things in the rest of my life, i would be married and divorced many times over by this point. but since i have no choice, i will continue to travel the country, clean my suit as often as possible, try to find the most truth with each interaction, and try not to feel like a slut as i tell one program after another how much i love them and they really are the best ever.

This seemed all too familiar back in December as I was first interviewing. But I feel more comfortable now in my relationship-building with a few programs that I'm very impressed with.

My trip to LA was more fun than I had expected and included being blown away by a revolutionary family medicine residency program, seeing good friends, protesting at the Federal building in LA during Bush's coronation in DC (more posts on that), and exploring parts of LA I hadn't previously visited. But I didn't know how historic it was until I checked out the daily NY Times headlines email and happened to glance at the bottom of the email where the "On this Day" section is highlighted. 68 years ago, on the day I traveled cross-country to Los Angeles (January 19th), Howard Hughes set a transcontinental air record by flying his monoplane in the opposite direction from my flight (from Los Angeles to Newark, NJ) in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds! That's a fascinating time for a monoplane (years later, our commercial airliners average around 6 hours for a nonstop flight of the same distance). And without pressurized cabins and automatically adjusted oxygen air levels, he had quite an adventure:

He was wearing a new type oxygen mask for high altitude flying. With nothing to see except the top of the cloud stratum he began experimenting with it. He finally adjusted it so that it fed too much air and not enough oxygen and he began to feel faint. Over the Sierras he had fears for a moment that his attempt might not be a success, but at last re-adjusted the mask so that the gas revived him.

As I figure out which residency programs I'd like to have more than a one-night stand with, and as I continue obsessing over whether or not they feel likewise about me, I'm starting to feel faint...need...more...oxygen...

posted by Anjali Taneja | 1/25/2005 08:18:00 AM | |


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