Thursday, December 29, 2011

Interview trail: tour de PA part 1

You single people don't know how good you have it. While Y was on this trip -- Tuesday through Saturday--, I realized I could forgo taking a shower for  four days straight and no one would notice. Another perk: leaving the house an absolute mess and cleaning up only just before someone came over. Why didn't you guys tell me about this stuff before I decided to go and get married?

The other great thing about Y leaving for a week is what I like to call Operation Summer Vacation. If you were like me in middle school and high school, you were nerdy, chubby, and, well, in great need of a makeover. 

Every year as the final bell rang on the last day of school, you smiled to yourself and thought, This is it. This is the summer I will become hot. I'll work out everyday. I'll get a tan. I will read Seventeen magazine very carefully to build up a show-stopping wardrobe. When I come back, no one will recognize me. 

If you were like me in middle school and high school, this never worked. You came back to school with a farmer's sunburn and some scary new moles, as chubby as ever and  - if your parents really hated you - with braces.

Regardless, when Y left on Tuesday Operation Summer Vacation  was in full swing. I got my eyebrows waxed (not like he's ever noticed that), worked out every day, and made an appointment to get a hairstyle that  I knew Y  would not only actually notice, but really love -- bangs.

I sat in the chair at the salon, an hour before Y returned, freshly showered for the first time in four days. My stylist spun me around to see my new bangs. "All done!" she beamed, "What do you think?" 

I only had a nanosecond to look at myself before jumping up. "They're fine!" I blurted out, ripping off my cape, throwing money at her, and running to my car.  The thing was, all I saw was that they were closer to my hairline than my eyebrows. And that was all I needed to see -- they were too short and anything she tried to do to fix them would just make them shorter. She needed to stop touching them immediately.  

It's just hair, I told myself. Surely it will look better in the car mirror, right? They couldn't possibly be as short as they looked in the salon... right? And even if they are, maybe I can pull off short bangs. I was feeling pretty good about myself by the time I got to my car and opened the mirror. 

The good news: it turns out only one side was too short. 

Operation Summer Vacation had failed again. When Y walked in the door the first thing he said was "your hair looks weird" followed by stifled laughter and a week of jokes at my expense. 

Just like middle school. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

lonely Jews on Christmas /giveaway winner

Y's family was once interviewed by the paper to answer the timeless question: what do Jews do on Christmas? Since the paper thought an entire city might want the answer to that mystery, I thought I'd shed some light on the topic for my readers.

Spoiler alert: have you ever been hanging out on a Sunday, bored out of your mind, whining about about how there's nothing to do except go to the movies? That's Christmas. 

Except this year, it was dark and rainy outside and I was glad not to have an excuse to put down my book and get out of my sparkly pajamas.  This and catching up on How I Met Your Mother took up approximately 90% of the day. The other 10% was spent inserting Ike's name to the tune of the How I Met Your Mother theme song. 

At sundown we lit our menorah because we were jealous of all the people celebrating. And because it was the 6th night of Chanukah. 

"Classic" Jewish Christmas dinner: Chinese food. (I'm now realizing that putting the dog in the collage may have been a poor choice.)  We purposely ate this because everyone expects Jews to eat Chinese on Christmas and we think it's funny to indulge fantasy stereotypes. I can't speak for everyone, but I think the tradition has reached the point of only being observed to be ironic -- clearly we could have made something non-Chinese, but what would be the fun in that? In the spirit of being completely lazy, we put towels on the bed and ate there while watching Limitless. Ike was obviously invited.

(PS: [non-authentic] Chinese food recipe (it's Y's favorite dinner) + a blog post from the Smithsonian about Jews/Chinese food)

And for dessert? My favorite cold weather treat: peppermint white hot chocolate. 

To recap: reading, soy sauce, Bradley Cooper, warm indulgent drinks. Just your average Sunday. 


Congrats to MB for winning a few of my favorite things! I'll be sure to share what they were as soon as I know MB received the package - I wish I could send all of you presents :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

a surprise giveaway!

I've mentioned before how much I love giving gifts (however late they may be), and now I want to give one of my readers a little gift. I know I sometimes go weeks without posts or take an insanely long time to respond to your comments, but it makes me so happy that you've stuck around to read and that perhaps something I said made you smile or nod your head in agreement. 

One thing I've had to explain a lot in my lifetime is that during Chanukah -- if my family is feeling generous and ambitious and I happen to be under the age of 10-- I receive one present per night for eight. whole. nights. According to the kids I knew growing up, this almost made up for not having a Christmas tree. In that spirit, I've put together a surprise package of eight of my favorite things - a little Chanukah experience for one of you. 

(Although, in typical D fashion, I'm late and you won't get to open one every night. But, you CAN celebrate Accelerated Chanukah, which my dad made up for those busy holiday seasons when we went out of town during Chanukah. Basically it consists of opening up eight presents in one night. It doesn't suck.) 

All you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment on this post. I'll pick a winner Tuesday night (the last night of Chanukah)!

For a bonus entry, leave a comment on this post telling Y how hilarious he is. But don't tell him I told you to do it. Wink, wink. 

PS. I'm pretty sure I deserve some kind of prize for managing to spell Chanukah the exact same way five whole times throughout this post.

(not that my modest existence on the internet should make you feel like I would be compensated for doing this, but I thought you should know that I'm not being compensated. Just a mild case of holiday spirit.)

(Also, fair warning, the gifts are kind of girly, so don't get too excited if you happen to be male.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

notes from the interview trail: Midwest Stop #4 (part b)

A few things I've learned:

  • When a guy's nearest and dearest friends and family take the time to send a wedding gift on his behalf, he is helpless to write a thank you note. "But... but what do I say?" he asks. "Say thank you for the thing they got you," you say helpfully. The notes pile up on his desk and eventually some are even forgotten about.  However, when there's a job on the line? Thank you note writing becomes an art and the most important thing he can possibly do. "They wrote me a thank you note for my thank you note!" he says, "Should I write them a thank you note for their thank you note for my thank you note?"

  • It might seem exciting to travel around the country, run through airports, eat free meals, and explore new cities' public transportation options. You might even be jealous. But don't be fooled. I was, until I heard the phrase "soul-crushing loneliness" from a Microtel in Michigan. 

  • When you're home alone and you wake up in the morning to find your couch smeared with blood, save yourself a heart attack and don't automatically assume someone broke in, tried to kill something, freaked out at the sight of blood, and left. It might sound ridiculous, but I was home alone and saw blood -- wouldn't your first thought be murderer?? Luckily,it turns out my queasy murderer was just my dog, who decided to bury a pack of gum in the couch with his nose. He did so with such intensity that he rubbed his nose raw and streaked our tan couch with smears of blood that would have left Dexter Morgan scratching his head. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

interview trail: midwest stop #3

While Y was on interview #3, some kind of rodent took up residence in our walls. Of course it decided the best time for its stay would be when I was home alone, extra sensitive to every little noise. Every time I thought I was falling asleep, I would hear a taptaptap behind my head and before I knew it, Ike would be standing on my chest barking.  Not cool, unidentified rodent. 

But the incident reminded me of a story: when Y and I lived in a crappy old apartment at LSU, something lived in our ceiling. We heard it running around occasionally, mainly when it got cold. Our apartment was an upgrade for Y; he had lived in a ramshackle quadplex where a dead mouse was a weekly occurrence. 

Our apartment was a downgrade for me: my friend and I lived in a fairly new townhouse with a new washer and dryer and a bowling alley. Okay, it was a long narrow closet, but we called it the bowling alley. My point is, there were no rodents.

Anyway, one morning at the new apartment, Y and woke up and heard scratching coming from the ceiling. "Ugh, it's that mouse again," I groaned, rolling over and falling back asleep. When I eventually got out of bed, I stepped on something grainy with my bare feet. I squinted at the neat little pile on the ground. Paint chips? I thought to myself. How did those get... 

I happened to look up. And scream, because this is basically what I saw on my ceiling:

I don't mind squirrels, honestly. Just when they're sticking their head through my ceiling. 

And that's what kept me up until 1 am while Y was at interview #3. Fear of a squirrel.


Y's  pre-interview dinners were sometimes during my environmental health class. So two weeks in a row, while I suffered through three hour lectures on lead poisoning and occupational health, Y texted me pictures of the amazing gratis meals he was eating. 

Do you have any idea how good blurry pub food sounds when you're learning about reproductive issues in factory workers in Korea? Really good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

interview trail: midwest stop #2

Y is a different sort of traveler than I am. I'm the kind of airplane passenger who puts my headphones on or buries my nose in a book immediately after sitting down. I don't care where you're from, 16A, I don't care where you're going, and I don't want to tell you what I'm reading. Unless you have a baby. If you have a baby, I want to hold it and then give it back to you as soon as it starts crying so no one thinks I am that person with a crying baby on a plane.

Y, on the other hand, comes home with a person's first and last name, where they went to elementary school, and the latest argument they had with their wife. During layovers, he dines in airport bars with plane-friends. On this trip, someone from Y's flight was staying at his hotel and they went out to lunch. I DON'T GET IT.


When Y told me he got this interview, I gave him the so-called stinkface, a term coined by Katie. I had never even considered visiting this particular state or city, much less living there. But then the following things happened:

  • the city's standard Wikipedia page made it sound amazing.
  • every single person I mentioned it to told me I would love it. 
  • part of our criteria for ranking is Ike's reaction when we say the name of the state.* When I asked Ike if he wanted to live there he did this:

My point is, don't completely write off a place just because you wouldn't go there for a girls' weekend. 


A theme of Y's interview travels: call people you haven't spoken to in 3 and a half years and ask to stay with them when you visit their respective cities. You get a free night and get to catch up with an old friend. And they get an unexpected houseguest who smells vaguely like a hospital. Win win.

*kidding. Isn't it sad that I had to clarify that? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Notes from the interview trail: Midwest stop 1

I don't want to hurt Y's feelings, but being alone for a few days was kind of nice. I watched two seasons of The Wonder Years, and as Kevin and Winnie fell in and out of love I realized something: I can make ravioli.

Every week at the grocery store I pass by the refrigerated pre-made ravioli and tortellini and suppress my drooling. Y has made it clear that he hates any kind of filled pasta, and his disgust of it managed to convince me that I didn't like it either. But as soon as he left town, I knew I had to have some. 

As I boiled the water, I thought to myself that Y being out of town really wasn't that bad if I got to eat my sodium-laden portobello ravioli whenever I wanted. As I was eating, savoring every bite, I got a text message. From Y.

Just had the most amazing portobello ravioli at dinner.


When Y got back, I had plenty of questions for him. Did you bring me anything? How was your flight? Wait, you didn't bring me anything? Not even a [insert name of chocolate peanut butter delicacy unique to state Y was in]*? What kinds of questions did they ask you?

Apparently that last question was a stupid one. A residency interview isn't your typical job interview -- for the most part there are no questions. Here's how it goes: the department takes the applicants out to dinner (and apparently reverses everything the applicant thought he knew about his favorite foods) and the next morning, they sit in on the conference typically held each morning. Then, they have individual interviews -- which are more like "getting to know you" sessions, with maybe one important question - What about internal medicine appeals to you? 

That sounds nothing like the practice interviews the career services department offered the School of Mass Communication. Becoming a doctor sounds so easy! Let's all do it!

*Fine, he was in Ohio. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

residency interviews

For the past few months, fourth year medical students have been flying around the country interviewing for residency spots. This time is affectionately known by Y and his friends as interview season, which sounds to me as if they're out in the wild hunting interviews. Which I guess they are.

Since the season is over for now (and Y has figuratively killed about 10 interviews), over the next few days I'll be sharing some of the notes from the interview trail from my perspective. Locations will be vague, as I don't want to screw anything up.

Anything specific that anyone wants to know about interviewing (out of curiosity or for future reference)?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

weekly gratuitous ike: kong

Every morning when I leave for work, I do the basic things one does when leaving the house: turning off all the lights, closing all the doors, grabbing my keys, and singing Sisqo to my dog. 

"Ike," I say, "Bring me your kong-ka-kong-kong kong." Which begins a 5 minute long routine in which I dance around the house stuffing treats into the kong. I'm pretty sure this is a perfectly legitimate reason to be late for work every morning. 

(By the way, if you don't have a dog and you're jealous of my excuse to bust out The Thong Song, this also works with tongs. As in, "Hey Y, please hand me the tong-ta-tong-tong tongs.")

The real point of this post (not that Sisqo isn't a great topic of conversation) is that I'm curious how your dog eventually removes his treats from his Kong. Call me a nerd, but I think it's fascinating to watch dogs solve problems. 

If you're not familiar with the Kong, it's a heavy duty dog toy with a space in the middle that you can wedge a treat into. It's supposed to keep your dog busy. 

Ike used to drop his Kong on the floor until the treat was dislodged and slipped out. But he's figured out recently, genius that he is, that he can bite down as hard as he can on the Kong until the treat breaks and crumbles out. 

They don't call him Scholarly Ike for nothing.

What about your dogs? What's their strategy? 

Friday, December 9, 2011

keeping gift giving interesting

I love giving gifts. I love sitting down and thinking about what the recipient loves and coming up with a special twist on it that they would never expect or would never buy for themselves. I love wrapping it up in a pretty package and watching the person's face as they open their gift, or getting a phone call that says I've made their day. The thought of asking someone what they want and giving it to them verbatim has never crossed my mind. 

This year for Y's birthday, I got lazy. Or overwhelmed. It was a week before his birthday and I was struggling; I knew he was into watches and ties but I was sure I would misjudge his taste and get something completely wrong. I did the only appropriate thing: I procrastinated.

Then he said, "I think I should start wearing cologne."

And I pounced. "I'll buy it for you for your birthday!"

I couldn't believe I said that. It was so anti-my preferred method of gift giving. 

But the truth is, when you're hopefully going to give someone approximately 180 big gifts in their lifetime, things are bound to get boring.  (That's birthday, holiday, and anniversary presents for 60 years.) I couldn't let it happen. At least not on gift  7/180 of our marriage.

A few days before Y's birthday, we went on a little "date" to Ulta and Sephora (they're in the same shopping center -- drama!), where we gathered a big stack of tester strips and trudged through the cologne aisle, from Armani to YSL, testing each scent and giving it a yea or nay. 

After we weeded out the bottom half, we narrowed it down to our top three -- and I got to make the final decision. A final decision that I would purchase the next day and which was not to be revealed until his birthday. 

Then I tried to buy some nail polish and spent 15 minutes trying to decide what color to buy before giving up in exasperation, convinced I was going to pick the wrong shade. 

That purple would be great for a football game, but would you ever wear it to work? ...  White? Really? That's going to look like you got bored with Wite-Out.... Gold sparkles? What are you, 12? They are really cute though...

I'm pathetic. Is anyone else so picky about nail polish?

Anyway. The moral of the story is that on his birthday, Y still got to unwrap a surprise.

And I didn't feel quite as bad about my mundane gift.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Indiana is for lovers

Facebook, I'm offended.

I'm offended that you think I would honeymoon in Indiana.

The Winklevoss twins would never have made such assumptions. 

Friday, December 2, 2011


My blog was pretty silent over the Thanksgiving holiday, and there are two reasons for this.

exhibit a: the ritual 4 day long face stuffage

exhibit b:  the ritual cramming to finish a book for book club, in this case,  Pride and Prejudice.

Which brings me to the 2 things I'm thankful for: Thanksgiving food (which is my go-to answer for the "last meal" question) and the fact that modern society affords us more hobby options than walking in circles around a room.

Jaws have been known to drop when I reveal the number of people present at our Thanksgiving meal: 65. Everyone brings something amazing (my family happens to be really proficient at Jello molds. I never even think about Jello every other day of the year, but on Thanksgiving it's usually my favorite part). The meal is served buffet style, and people eat at tables set up throughout the house. Afterward, there's a big family softball game.

The holiday serves as a family reunion for my dad's side. His grandfather, who came through Ellis Island from Hungary, had 5 children, 10 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, 28 great-great-grandchildren, and so far I think 5 great-great-great-grandchildren. 4 generations are usually represented at the holiday. This year, there was a family tree set up, and people were constantly stopping by to figure out how exactly they were related to one another. 

It's still confusing to me. People were suggesting name tags for next year, but I'm envisioning an interactive app, where I can scan the person and find out how they're related to me. Because chances are, I will have just finished eating 4 times my body weight and won't want to think. 

My family's Thanksgiving is fascinating to people like Y, who has a whopping 4 relatives in the U.S., and not too many more abroad. 

It is also fascinating to people like Ike, who cannot comprehend why humans had to complicate the art of throwing and retrieving a ball. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

fashion, or lack thereof

On occasion I work with a colleague named L. The first time I met L he told me my outfit was very "Anne Hathaway".  I knew we'd get along.

L lightens the mood around our office when he's in town, rearranging office furniture and picture frames,  reminding everyone of important facts like Madonna's daughter's name (Lourdes, duh), making me mix cds featuring "Rock DJ" and "Suddenly I See".

He recently made an appearance at my office door, saw me, and nodded approvingly. "CUTE!" he declared. I held my breath. I was wearing an outfit I had been itching to recreate after seeing it on Matchbook's Tumblr, and was anxious to find out if it would receive the coveted "Anne Hathaway" designation.

L took in the ensemble, a look of approval still on his face. "Is that a skirt or an apron?" he asked.

I squinted my eyes at him from across my office. We were surrounded by computers and filing cabinets, not an oven or sink in sight. "An apron?"

He shrugged. "It kind of looks like an apron. It's not one?"

"You thought I got out of bed and decided to wear an apron to work today?"


"You complimented my outfit even though you thought it might be an apron?"

He was confused by my confusion. I let it go.

Moral of the story: if worse comes to worst and you need to wear an apron to work, I will look at you funny and ask you about your apron in such a way that it needs to be italicized.