Friday, May 29, 2009

Recovering from prelims

The dog has been instrumental in my burn-out recovery plan. He is very willing to go outside with me whenever I wish, and will play or snuggle at almost any time of day.

I realized that there hadn’t been enough cute pictures of the dog featured in the blog lately… This post is an attempt to remedy that.

Everyone told me that it would be difficult to get back into the swing of things after prelims. I half-heartedly believed them, ever convinced that I would only need a weekend break before I could get started on my summer plans. In spite of my vast experience with being burned out at the end of the semester, and should have extrapolated that knowledge to guess how I would feel after finishing a busy semester and then taking a stressful two week exam.

In spite of wholly underestimating the required recovery time after my prelims, I think I’m ready to get back to work now. I’ve had a few weeks of “working” while actually reading a lot of the New York Times, knitting, watching movies, walking the dog, and listening to podcasts I’d neglected for most of the month of May. I felt excited about getting some work done yesterday for the first time in a while, and I’m pretty pleased. I think this summer will be a productive one, and I’m also looking forward to getting some intense knitting and reading time. Yay!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Moving on, when everyone else is moving out…

Graduation is such an exciting time. After match day, when everyone finds out what that magical algorithm has in store for them for the next stage of their lives, most of the fourth years have a fairly easy coast to graduation. They need the rest to prepare for the internship that starts relatively shortly thereafter! Watching my class walk across the stage was really inspiring, realizing that they are actually doctors now, and will be residents in a few short weeks. It was also inspiring in another way - I’m ready to move on too! Unlike the other bloggers who’ve been here for four years, I won’t be graduating this year. As an MD/PhD student, it’s likely that I have another 4 years left before anyone will be calling me doctor. I’m certainly not the only one - there are lots of other MSTPs, and the other folks who took 1-2 years off for an MPH, MBA, MPP, an international internship, or a variety of other reasons (research and babies being the two that come immediately to mind) were all sitting in the seats with me, cheering on our classmates as they walked up the stairs, “got hooded” (I swear that’s what people say) with their green velvet-lined hoods, had their names called (“Dr. So-and So”), and accepted a diploma. “But isn’t it depressing?” you ask, as you realize how much time I have left, noting perhaps as I have, that I will be an M3 with this year’s incoming class.

In truth, it’s not depressing. Match day was a little rough, as it became increasingly clear that there was no way to head out to some exciting new place until I finished what I’d started, but since then I’ve been reflecting on why I’m still here. I was certain that I wanted to do this, as were most of the other folks who’ve gotten other degrees, spent substantial time doing research, or had babies. Though that certainty is invariably tested with statements along the lines of “if only I hadn’t [insert whatever here] I would be a doctor today,” overall I haven’t done much questioning. Graduation fell right in the middle of prelims, and a little circumspection was just what I needed. I realized that I really love what I’m doing, but that I want to be as efficient as possible so that I can keep going with the plan, and with my life. Notice I didn’t say “get going” or “get started,” but rather “keep going.” I think most of us who’ve taken time off would tell you that we’re not putting off getting started, we’re just running a longer race.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring things…

Every doctoral program has a different kind of preliminary exam. There are lock-you-in-a-room-while-you-answer-essay-question exams, theory prompts, oral presentations, proposal drafts, and combinations of all of the above. My department gives us two weeks to write two large papers - one theory/conceptual paper and one proposal. Although this isn’t a ton of fun, I have to give them credit and acknowledge that I have spent the last few months really digging in and getting ready, and now that it’s almost over, I feel pretty good. (I felt especially good after entering the majority of my references into the formatting software - so tedious…) I’ll feel better on Friday when I hand it in, and then, hopefully, I’ll forget about it until it’s time to get it back.

While I’ve been working on my prelim, I’ve been doing lots of other things. I’ve discovered that I can’t write for 14 hours a day, and even sleeping 10 hours a night (which I’m not really doing anyway) that leaves a decent amount of time for other pursuits. My most recent is planting little herb seedlings in my various pots and planters. Jake got me a Chia herb garden for Christmas, and I planted the little seeds in February or March. They’ve been thriving in their tiny clay pots, but I realized that you can’t really expect 15 basil plants to peacefully coexist in a 2.5” container. So I pulled out some empty pots from the closet and I am now the happy container gardener of 14 basil seedlings, 4 baby parsley plants, some rather tragic looking cilantro, and the most delicate looking little mass of marjoram seedlings (still in the clay pot). I think I probably need some more containers to really do it justice, and I’m simply thrilled. Even if I lose a few (which I inevitably will), I’ve got high hopes for pesto and tabouli later this year. And they are so cute, with their tiny little leaves.

Back to work…