Sunday, May 27, 2012

the good life, let's go on a living spree

Some days are horrible and some days are wonderful and some days are neither, and I guess the thing is just to remember that it will always be thus. My friend AP, who is now two years behind me in training, text messaged me excitedly today to tell me she received honors for the first half of her first rotation. She was so happy, and I was quite happy for her. But I also wanted to tell her not to get too high. I remember having the exact same experience, I remember the elation, and then I remember the feeling of complete failure when I didn't honor something else three months later. Looking back on it now, I see it was all arbitrary and anyway not something one should use to measure one's self worth. I wanted to tell her not to get too high, or at least to know that, should she get less-than-stellar marks next time around, she should simply shrug off the negativity.

It's easier to have a horrible day as you get older, I find. I was out cultivating a drinking habit after call one evening with my fellow intern, a sweet, well-intentioned, good-hearted young intern. She was telling me that she had come to dread going into work every day. She was worrying and admonishing herself for things that weren't her fault. She was worried she was less than everyone around her. She was not competing with anyone, but she was seriously concerned that she didn't measure up. And the reason is that she is so well-intentioned, so good-hearted, and so young, that she takes every mention of criticism, every snappy remark to mean that she is a bad doctor. When in fact, she is a great physician, and probably will be one of the better ones among us. It's sad what the system does to us.

I feel sometimes like I have a forcefield though. Sometimes I get criticized and I take it quite seriously and use it as motivation. Other times, it is quite clear that someone had a bad day and I'm the lowest rung on the ladder, so here comes that dung that rolls down hill. And on those days, I get annoyed and probably my resting heart rate and blood pressure are higher than they should be. But I go home and bake cookies or cupcakes, or I knit a round, and I remind myself that tomorrow will be a better day. Or if not tomorrow, then soon. Nothing is eternal.

Unfortunately, not even the good days. Like this one, in which I woke up after a pleasant night of drinking, and the weather was so perfectly temperate that I walked to AP's house, then the two of us walked to a lovely brunch and then walked back. Then I ran a few errands. And then I baked a caramel cake.

Believe it or not, I don't have many opportunities to bake cakes these days. Most of the times, I am stress baking, and as such, I have to make things that are portable and easily consumed. So I've baked a metric ton of miniature cupcakes, a bajillion cookies. But rarely a cake. Tonight I'm going to a barbecue though, and it's a friend's birthday. I suspect she may already have an actual cake (she's a relatively new friend so not altogether aware of my cake-mania and insistence that I bake any and all birthday cakes for friends), so I wanted to make something easily consumed, a snack cake of kinds. Caramel cake indeed. I've made this before. It is the kind of simple cake that people pick at, one small square after another, until, tada, nothing but a few crumbs and a lace of caramel on a plate. It's sweet, but not cloyingly so, rich but not like a brick that sits in your stomach. It's maybe not entirely summery, but it keeps easy, so I know if I bring it, my friend and her boyfriend can have at it for the rest of the week.

I know days like this won't last either. It's just a temporary lull, a respite of happiness and fun and drunken shenanigans. There's always some stressful situation afoot, that much is guaranteed in residency (and maybe life in general). But as long as I remind myself that such days as these exist and will return, everything feels quite tolerable.

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