Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Airing out the Dick

Last time I checked, I didn’t have a penis, a pair of testicles, or the innate need to constantly scratch and adjust said penis or testicles. So, as long as that’s clear, we can all rest assured that I am very much NOT a man.

Please excuse the seemingly unnecessary and rather brash declaration of my sex.
It’s not usually something I have to announce outright as I tend to do things that make it fairly obvious that I am quite rightly in possession of a pair of X chromosomes. Things like: swoon, wear corsets, shield my delicate skin from the sun with a parasol, stay indoors during times of menstruation (so as not to offend the menfolk), and demurely play with the ringlet that always falls into my right eye. So I suppose I should cut Mr. Representative from The Particular Professional Risk Management Company who sent me a letter recently some slack. Since he hasn’t actually ever seen me. You know, he probably just tapped into some database of MD’s and assumed that I couldn’t possibly be a girl. A girl doctor! Heavens no! Must be some sort of typo…I’ll just go ahead and fix that. This must be what Mr. Representative from the aforementioned Particular Professional Risk Management Company was thinking when he addressed the envelope and the letter within to me.

This explains how I was the recipient of a letter addressed to a Dr. Richard [MyLastName].
Mr. Representative is trying to sell me professional liability insurance coverage specifically for health care professionals complete with “top notch legal counsel and toll-free risk management consultation.” Hmm. Sounds pretty good. But I fear I won’t be eligible once he finds out I’m: [whispered] a girl.

Here’s the best part.
Wanna know what Mr. Representative’s first name is? Richard.

I’m thinking Mr. Dick Representative will shortly be in receipt of a letter from a Dr. Richard [MyLastName] in which I’ve peed on the stationary.*

While standing up, of course.

* Don’t be silly. If Scarlett O’Hara wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t do it.

Monday, January 29, 2007


You know those moments when you feel old? Those moments when you walk down the street, you see a barely post-pubescent girl who clearly hasn’t learned her limits with mascara or eye shadow (or lip liner) quite yet…you look at her purple tights under her unflatteringly short denim mini-skirt, her white tank top/black bra ensemble…and the pink camouflage suit jacket with which she’s topped it all off. And you think to yourself, “Ohhhhh, that’s what’s in these days???” Either that or “Does this child have a mother?? And if so, should I call her?” Moments like those kinda make you feel like the days between you, a girdle, and some daily fiber supplements are numbered.

Well, I had one of those moments recently. Only not with a 15 year old who was so Desperately Seeking Susan (at least not today), but with the use of the English language.

I was sitting in my office at work the other day. And, in with the overwhelming smell of hospital-grade disinfectant, wafted the sound of one of the interns saying (in a tone that is soooooo stereotypically Californian), “Ohhhhh Emmmmm Geeeeee!!!!”

Did she really just…?? Yes. Yes she did. She really did just say the letters “O”, “M”, and “G” instead of just saying “Oh My God.” She didn’t text message it. Didn’t IM it. She spoke it. Out loud.

I stopped just short of booking myself a nice room in a geriatric living community that has a daily domino hour in the rec room when I realized that I must not be completely out of touch. I mean, afterall, I DID know what she meant by OMG. Do I get partial youth credits for that?

Sure. Why not. And while I still have a few days left in me before I trip on my slippers and break my hip, I figure if I can’t beat em, join em. Right? What the fuck have I got to lose? Or rather, WTF?

No. Wait. Let me do this properly. Double-u teeeeeee efffffffff?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Huh?? OUCH!! Awwwww!! Woohoo!!

All in one day too! It’s an exciting life I lead, I know.

This is what I thought when I woke up yesterday morning at 0430 in my bed, with the sweaty imprint of my ABSITE study book on my face, lights still on, and no Brit in bed next to me. If he wasn’t in bed at this hour, there was only one other place he could be. And, indeed, there he was: Slumped over on the couch, fast asleep, bathed in the glow of the TV, jacket still on after having come back from a late night of birthday celebrating, with an empty wine glass in his hands. Empty, not because he’d drank all the wine, but because he’d spilled all the wine. All over the couch. I swear, at times like these, he’s lucky he’s got cute dimples. Back to bed we went. Until a couple hours later when I had to be up for my test…

Little did I know that I’d manage a first degree burn to the right thigh before an 8am exam. But hey, I get a lot done in the mornings. Why not. So there I was at 7:40 in the am, parked on a hill outside the test center. The consequence of trying to close one’s car door while on a hill while carrying five things (one of which was an orange and the other of which was my thermos full of hot tea) with just two hands goes a little something like this: Juggle items in hands while trying to close car door with bum. Drop orange. Orange begins to roll down hill. Chase orange. Bend over to grab it before it rolls under another car. Spill boiling hot tea all over right thigh. Howl “OUUUUUUUUUCH!!!” at the top of lungs while dancing around. Drop orange all over again. [Cue Benny Hill Show theme song.] (Really, he couldn’t have played it any better.) Well done me.

This is what I thought when I settled into my seat for the exam and read the good luck card The Brit had strategically placed on my car’s dashboard for me to find. It warmed my heart (and, incidentally, the burn on my right thigh). It also made me laugh…because he’d clearly written the first ¾ of it while sober, and the last ¼ of it after coming back from celebrating. (The sloppier handwriting and the fact that he misspelled his own name in the signing of it kind of gave it away.) It was truly lovely, though, and just the vote of confidence I needed before taking a 5-hour multiple choice standardized exam. Well done dear Brit.

This is what I thought as, just a few hours after finishing the exam, The Brit and I were driving up the coastal highway for a weekend of relaxing at a friend’s beach home. Suffice it to say: Much good food was eaten. Much needed sleep was slept. Many sweet nothings were whispered. Much walking was done along the beach. And all wine was consumed rather than spilled on the couch. And thank goodness for that since I hardly think the owner of the beach home, and the lovely white leather couch within it, would find The Brit’s dimples quite as charming as I do.

Friday, January 26, 2007

In the name of Academia

Werner Herzog (a German film maker who is particularly nutty in a deliciously entertaining sort of way), recently said “Academia is completely devoid of all human pathos…and should thus be avoided at all costs.” This made me chuckle heartily at the time because I could certainly think of more than a handful of academians in my med school experience and my surgical training to whom this so completely applies. (Still can.) They make learning unfun. But for every tight-assed bore out there, there are multiple more charismatic and personable academians. And I like to think that, in the medical world, we have the Charismatics in Academia to thank for cures to cancer, successful vaccinations, and among many other things, we hope, the training of good surgeons.

At least this is what I tell myself in the late hours of the night and the wee dark hours of the morning, when I am up reading and studying, twitching from a noxious combination of nearly lethal doses of caffeine and surgical trivia. This has been my plight for the last several weeks, all in preparation for the annual American board of surgery in-training exam. Every general surgery resident in the country (even those on their research hiatus like myself) has to take this exam. And it’s always the last Saturday of January. Which, just in case you’re too appropriately sleepy at this small hour of the morning to realize, is tomorrow.

So, permit me this pause in obnoxiousness just for today. Wish me luck. Think good surgical thoughts for me tomorrow morning between the hours of 8am and 1pm PST. And we shall return to the usual, and only slightly less caffeinated, shenanigans post-exam.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You should still respect your elders

My dearest, beloved Brit -

It is your birthday. And as we cross this annual threshold where you catch up to me in age (and I therefore forfeit the ability to tell you to respect your elders for the next six months), I feel a little celebratory expression of love is in order here. I know. I profess my adoration for you all the time. But this year, I wanted to do something special. Like parasail over the city of San Francisco, naked except for hot pink legwarmers, with a long banner attached to my sail that reads “THE BRIT HAS THE CUTEST 29 YEAR OLD DIMPLES IN THE WHOLE WORLD.” But I looked into it, and that turned out to be a bit pricey…and let’s face it, the city of SF has seen enough ass in its time. (And besides, hot pink legwarmers are so last season.) I’ve decided, instead, to profess my love for you by broadcasting it to the world via this blog. And by ‘the world’, I mean ‘my five readers’ (three of which are my Mamacusa, my Abuelito, and one friend from high school). But it’s the thought that counts, right?

It’s been, what? 2.25 years now since we met up for dinner that one night? You remember? The one where we had a lovely meal, we enjoyed some intellectual conversation, then you drank a few too many Chimays, I drove you back to your house, and we made out for a while, until you passed out (as evidenced to me by your snoring into my cleavage)? Yeah. That was a great first date. You recovered nicely, though, when you made me that spectacular dinner of Butter lettuce, Persimmon, Feta, & Hazelnut Salad, followed by the Moroccan-Spiced Cornish Game Hens with Roasted Beet Mashed Potatoes and Yogurt-Mint Sauce, and, of course, the ever-so-unforgettable Winter-Spiced Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Rum-Ginger Ice Cream. Oh, that Chocolate lava cake…with its warm, mushy, uncooked, chocolatey-licious center. Mmmmm. That’s when I decided to keep you. And I’m glad I did, because over time, I’ve realized that, not only can you cook consistently well, but you very likely have a mild case of undiagnosed narcolepsy…as I’ve witnessed you fall asleep while drinking wine, eating popcorn, and taking a wee. (Though, thankfully, not all at the same time.) So, in other words, since you clearly can’t help it, consider the narcoleptic first date episode long forgiven. (Feel free to make another chocolate molten lava cake though, I’ll forgive you all over again.)

After 2.25 years of dating, I can’t say we’re without our problems. Problems which have mostly to do with your inexplicable love of movie soundtracks, your dislike of coffee and tea (you’re an embarrassment to your Queen), and the fact that you live in a world where you seem to think that everything, short of driving down to LA to pick up some milk, will only take 20 minutes (that, with your sense of time, would probably take an estimated 30 minutes). There is also the issue of your forgetfulness. You’ve forgotten wallets in taxis. Laptops at the airport security check point (which you realized after about an hour of being in the air). Either you’re putting on a charade right now so that I’ll never think you responsible enough to care for our future children (in which case, wisely played!), or we really need to figure out how to create a system by which, when you step outside of three feet of your possessions, your nose will start blinking. (And if we succeed at this, I think we could patent it and retire with our earnings!) The next issue, that of your Gift of Gab, I am still kinda on the fence about. On the one hand, the fact that you can, as CruJones once put it “make conversation with a stuffed moosehead,” comes in handy. For instance, I can leave your side at a work party where you know no one and trust that you’ll entertain yourself (and likely others) sufficiently. On the other hand, for the love of GOD!! Do you ever come up for air?? (On the upside, you’ve only got a little ways to go before you can beat the world record holder for longest soliloquy.) Lastly, and perhaps most seriously, there is the matter of your level-headedness. You really are entirely too reasonable. This, I find, is particularly troubling. And if you weren’t so friggin’ reasonable, this would be the root of what would be most of our arguments. But since we don’t argue, we’ll never know. Allow me to offer a hypothetical example:

Me: OH MY GOD!!! Coño!! Did you see how that asshole just cut us off! I mean, who does he think he is? Some super rich famous person who is above the laws of traffic??

You: Well, maybe his pregnant wife is in the back seat and her water just broke and they need to get to the hospital urgently.

Me: Oh for fuck’s sake! MAYBE! But if so, he’s endangering the lives of many, including that of his unborn child, by driving like a maniac! What about that, huh? Huh?

You: You’re right. He probably could stand to be a little more careful.

See? That’s exactly the kind of thing you’d say to NOT get a rise out of me. And it’s just entirely too reasonable. I really wish you’d stop that. It’s annoying. I’m far more accustomed to the Cuban way of doing things. Like the time some guy cut my dad off on a single lane highway. My dad sped up just to cut him off while flipping him off with his left hand outside the driver’s side window. Then that guy cut my dad off again and flipped him off in a similar manner. Then my dad sped up again, cut him off, while flipping him off. With both middle fingers. While on a curve. That’s the kind of passionate angst I’m lookin’ for here. Is that too much to ask for? :)

Problems aside, I do think we make a good team. I find the fact that you are always warm, though a strong argument for the theory that you are not of this world but instead from the planet of Astrometria, quite convenient for me. Since my fingers, toes and nose are always freezing. (My Dad says our family comes from a long line of dogs and I think he might be onto something there.) The fact that you delight in culinary experimentation is a plus as well. Though my ass has gotten bigger since we started dating, so cancel out the benefit of your cooking. Though, speaking of my ass, you do like that, and you find the dance I have to do to squeeze it into every single godforsaken pair of pants I own absolutely adorable. So, bonus points for that. You tolerate my gas on the principle that I was raised in a family where farting wasn’t an embarrassment, it was a contest. Though, since you’re no stranger to dropping a silent-but-deadly bomb yourself, that cancels itself out as well. You scratch my back for me, even when I’m too lazy to walk the two steps needed to get the back scratcher that you bought me. More bonus points for you. (And thanks, by the way.)

What pushes you over the edge into the range of having so many points that you have unlimited rollover points (all of which carry over at the end of each month) is this: You’re the brand of good looking that comes from having outgrown an adolescence of chubbiness. This is the unaware-of-your-good-looks brand. (Which is the best kind.) You don't just tolerate what I do for a living, you love what I do, and ask me about it all the time out of genuine interest and curiousity. And, perhaps most importantly, you always understand when my job makes me late for plans we've made. You are thoughtful and generous, not just to the people within your circle of family and friends, but to strangers as well. You volunteer your time at food banks and homeless shelters, travel to places like Thailand to do tsunami relief work and Louisiana to help rebuild houses leveled by Hurricane Katrina. You believe, as I wholeheartedly do, in the power of one individual to make a strong impact, change the world in some way, make a difference. And you want to be that person. (Which I fully support. Just as long as it doesn’t interfere with our sex life.) Soooo, basically you’re like Mother Teresa. Only alive and much younger. And hotter. And with a penis.

And for some reason, you love me with the enthusiasm and loyalty of a proud, rabid soccer mom. Minus the rabies, the obnoxious blow horn, and the fluorescent signage that reads, “My daughter will kick your ASS!” Oh, and more like a boyfriend than a mom. But you know what I mean. You seem to think I’m great, which makes loving you waaaaaaaay more fun than loving Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block those long, difficult years ago. He never answered my many love letters, which makes the love we shared, Joey and I, the unrequited kind. Whereas with you…you always answer my love letters. And that makes me a very lucky girl. Ahhh, sweet, sweet requited love. Suck on THAT Joey!

So, happy 29th birthday, my dear Brit. I love you and look forward to celebrating many, many more birthdays with you. (If you don’t tire of scratching my back for me first. Or of having my cold hands shoved down your pants.) (Or of my obnoxiousness.)

Con amor, muchos besos, y un pincho en el culito,
La Cubana Gringa

PS – No, we cannot have the Grand Suite from Star Wars played at our wedding. Maybe at the reception. And only on the condition that I get “I'll be loving you (forever)”
and “Hanging Tough.”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We share in this relationship

With his mouth still full from his last bite and an incriminatory grain of Mexican rice hanging from his lip by a pedicle of cheesy refried bean paste, The Queen’s Own, feeling the warmth of my glare, looks at me and says, “Was this your leftover burrito in the fridge?”

“Yes. Thanks for asking,” thinking he’d pick up on the sarcasm.

Blissfully unaware, he continues to chew. Chomp. Chew. Chew. Chew. Notices there’s something on his lip. Picks it off, looks at it, recognizes it as edible, then adds it to the contents of his mouth. Chew. Chew.

“Oh, and, no thanks. I didn’t want anymore of my burrito anyway.”

Chew. Chew. “Huh? Oh. Good.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Because traditional stuffed animals were starting to get boring

If I weren’t as crass and unrefined as I am, these little velvety numbers would likely offend my delicate sensibilities.

Thank goodness my sensibilities are far from delicate.

But really, even I have to ask the prudish question: What WILL they think of next? Adorable, plush, lifelike excrement toys?

Oh wait.
They’ve already done that too.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Step ASIDE Cindy Crawford!!!

Alright. So let’s just forget for a moment that I’m like four feet shorter than her and have a thigh circumference that is conceivably equivalent to that of her waist. Oh, and the fact that I haven’t made millions in a career based entirely on my stunning good looks. Oh, and also the fact that I don’t have an ex-husband whose been shamed publicly for having been allegedly caught with a gerbil in his rectum. Forget all that. There is one thing Cindy and I now share in common: A curiously sultry mole that hovers closely over the left vermillion border of our lips. Yessssss. You didn’t know I had one? Well, yes. Yes I do. And though I could still stand to lose a little holiday weight, I think I’m going to go ahead and have some head shots taken of me and then send them out to a few agencies. You know, just in case there’s a demand for a short, pear-shaped Cuban-American model with a zit near her left upper lip that, when topped off with a little dark brown eyeliner, passes for a pretty decent mole. I’m feelin’ lucky.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A few too many combovers for my taste, but overall, a hootinanny of a good time

There is one solid conclusion I was able to make after last night’s symphonic performance of “Music from the Big Screen.” And that is this: the only others who seem to share The Brit’s bizarre passion for movie scores are those who are but one cardiac pacemaker misfire away from death. As we took our seats in the auditorium, I looked around, noting octogenarian after octogenarian (after octogenarian), and realized we were, by far, the youngest in attendance. Which was fine. It was quite good fun to hang out with the old geezers, actually. We all enjoyed a selection of Max Steiner’s music from Gone with the Wind followed by Maurice Jarre’s Overture and Suite from Lawrence of Arabia. Then, at intermission, we all got up to adjust our hearing aids, change our leaky Depends, and enjoy a digestive. Following the break, we were dazzled by Elmer Bernstein’s Suite from The Magnificent Seven, Bernard Herrmann’s Suite from Vertigo, and Howard Shore’s Suite from The Lord of the Rings. During that last suite, The Brit, having behaved for nearly the entire performance and now entirely incapable of containing himself, went ahead and conducted the symphony from his seat. After the music stopped and all the hullabaloo and hootinanny settled down (old people terms for excitement), we decided to make an appearance at the after-party.* You know, kinda like a post-Oscars party, just without all the celebrities. And instead of doing shots off Scarlett Johansen’s chest or Paris Hilton’s twiggy thighs, we just played several rounds of hard-core Bingo. But not before soaking our dentures, changing out of our 18-hour girdles, and taking our evening round of medications with some nice prune juice.

* And by “after-party” I mean a very nice restaurant in the Mission District where The Brit and I enjoyed a lovely dinner for two. And for the record, the music really was spectacular.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Brit has died and gone to heaven

So, one of the things that I love about The Brit (and by “love” I mean “can’t comprehend anymore than I can comprehend why it is that I have more ass than I know what to do with and yet not nearly big enough boobs”) is that he adores, ADORES, movie scores and soundtracks. And by “adores” I mean…

He can tell you exactly what part of which Lord of the Rings movie corresponds to the part in the score when the flutes swell and the cymbals crash. (In case you’re wondering, it’s the part when Viggo Mortensen, that delicious hunk of man-meat, makes out with Liv Tyler. That slut.)

He can identify the composer for just about any movie before the opening credits are half-through. And when he does, he proceeds to tell you every other movie that composer did the music for. Which is useful information. You know, in case Jeopardy calls.

He considers it fun to watch movie trailers and guess which movie score they borrowed the music from to make the trailer. And when he figures it out, he shouts it out as if the correct answer was the only thing between him and a million dollars in prize money.

He considered moving down to LA to pursue a career in movie sound but just couldn’t bring himself to get the size double D breast implants and gossamer blond hair extensions that one needs to fit in down there. That’s my boy. True to himself.

He’d probably willingly give up beer for the rest of his days if it meant that the score of Star Wars could be the soundrack of his life. This is saying a lot, for his love of beer runs as deep as the force is strong within Luke Skywalker.

Anyway, the reason why I’m even mentioning this is because we’ve got tickets to go to The Brit’s real live Wet Dream tonight. In other words, we’ve got tickets to go to a symphony that is performing “Music from the Big Screen.” Don’t look at me! I didn’t buy them for him! Vinja did! THANKS Vinja! (And by “thanks” I mean, “What in God’s name were you THINKING??”*) So anyway, you’ll understand why I’m considering catheterizing The Brit’s urinary bladder and attaching a collection bag to his leg, since he would otherwise run the very sizable risk of wetting himself from the excitement of it all if I don’t. And besides, this way he can drink all the beer he wants at intermission and won’t have to get up for a potty break!

* Dramatized for humorous purposes. Really, thanks. Very sweet of you to get him a gift that he really will enjoy. And then talk about excitedly. Nonstop. For the next several months. Thanks.

Note: While I truthfully do not share The Brit's love of movie scores, I do enjoy seeing him enjoy them. It's like watching a kid on Christmas morning. Every time we go to the movies. Which makes movies that much more fun. And by "fun" I mean "dorky." Just kidding. Fun. Really.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Because I do so enjoy performing rectal exams...

I hesitate, when I’ve just met someone, to tell him or her that I’m a physician. Even when I am asked flat out what I do for a living. Because the response I tend to get usually involves a look of surprise (which, in principle, could be taken as either a compliment or an insult*) and a verbal response somewhere in the ballpark of, “Wow, uhhh…you must be, like, really smart then, huh?”**

No. Actually. Dumb as a box of hair. I’ve just risen to the top by honing my blow job skills and then demonstrating them on all the right people.

I usually almost immediately regret saying this out loud. Not because it doesn’t amuse me. It does. (Every time.) (Have I mentioned that my middle name is Crass?) But only because if I had to say it in the first place…the conversation was in dire straights from the get-go. I mean, honestly, what kind of response does a question like that deserve anyway?

But sometimes, I encounter a person, as I did recently, who is genuinely and wholeheartedly interested in knowing about my job. And by genuinely and wholeheartedly interested I mean unequivocally obsessed with ER, Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, Nip Tuck, and all the clever, and exceptionally good looking forensic pathologists (of which, in real life, there are NONE) on all those CSI shows. And they want details. Details like: What kinds of surgeries do I do? Doesn’t all the blood make me sick? How do I handle all the death? Do all the doctors really make hot monkey love in the dustbin closet or in an empty ICU bed like they do on Grey’s Anatomy? How did I decide to go into surgery anyway?

I always enjoy giving the answer to the last question first. I tell them about the real life story of me, in med school, in the impressionable days of my fourth year. I was doing a surgical pathology rotation*** and the attending I was working alongside was processing an abdominoperineal resection specimen. He removed the fresh slab of tissue from the bucket, still warm from having just been resected from it’s owner, and examined the hard, circumferential mass of rectal cancer within it. While he did the standard pathological assessment, he and I nonchalantly chatted away, much in the same way one does with their hairdresser while getting their hair cut. We touched on topics like why I had chosen to apply for a general surgery residency and why he, years ago, chose a profession in pathology. Now, forget for a moment that my attending was clearly NOT cutting my hair, but instead processing a specimen that was inclusive of a patient’s rectum, their rectal cancer, and their anus complete with a small cuff of skin and one stray, stubborn hemorrhoid. Let’s just focus on the fact that it was at this moment he expressed that his reasons for going into the non-clinical field of pathology (as opposed to the clinical field of surgery) were primarily because he never wanted to have to do another rectal exam**** again ever in his life. I paused for a moment as I watched him stretch the specimen out in front of him, holding it in the way one would a telescope, the hairy anus end within inches of his eyes. Then I said, “Riiiiiiiiight. So how did that work out for ya?”

It was that moment that confirmed why I’d much rather work with patients, real live people, than just their tissue. Mostly so that, years later, some obnoxious medical student couldn’t just waltz into my office and totally debunk my reasons for who I’d become.

If I still have an audience by the end of this story, which this particular time I did, then I give them a real treat. I tell them that, yes… [Cue 70’s porno music here.] In the small, dark, cramped, sweaty corners of the hospital…it’s all doctor on doctor, doctor on nurse, nurse on nurse, medical student on doctor, nurse on medical student. TWENTY. FOUR. SEVEN. It’s a proper brothel for all intensive purposes. Which means that it really is like Grey’s Anatomy. Cuz Lord knows all those emesis basins and colostomies just make us all SO insuppressibly hot.

* For example. A Complimentary look of surprise, if it had a mouth, would say: “My goodness, you look so young to be a doctor!” whereas the Insulting look of surprise would say: “You? You’re a doctor? Yeah…and I’m the fairy godmother.” I’ve been on the receiving end of both.
** I know. Can you believe anyone would really say that? Not to be sexist in any way, but seriously, only men have ever said this to me. Women tend to say something more along the lines of “You GO girl!”
*** In Surgical Pathology, the pathologist examines the gross (visible to the naked eye) and the microscopic appearance of all the specimens that come out of the OR: the lump of breast cancer that came out of a patient, the ruptured appendix that came out of another, etc.
****Meaning a Digital Rectal Exam performed on a live person to check for things like prostate or rectal cancer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lemony freshness is overrated

I normally love lemons.

Citrus flavors in my food...yum.
Lemonade...me gusta.
Lemons in general...I can eat them like oranges.

But I've decided, after much, much bathing, that I just can't get into the lemon-scented soap I got for Christmas. I can't dissociate the fragrance from the artificially scented cleaning and polishing products that are out on the market. (The very cleaning products that I had to give up my Saturday cartoons for all of the livelong weekends of my childhood so that we could have sparkling clean toilets and shiny end tables.) (Who makes cleaning day Saturday anyway?) (I'm not bitter.) Like a Pavlovian dog, I step into the shower, get flooded with the overwhelming lemony freshness of that bar of soap and have to stop myself from polishing my tiles. (I simply don't have time for that every morning. Sorry, Mamacusa, I know that would make you proud.) Worse yet, outside of the shower, I feel that I run the very serious risk of being unwillingly slammed face-down onto an antique table and rubbed from side to side until the cherry wood finish is sufficiently buffed and I can see my bruised, battered reflection in it. Mistaken for Lemon Pledge by a well-meaning housewife.

It could happen.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Doesn't the month of April make YOU horny?

No? It doesn’t? Yes it does. Admit it.

I have reason to believe that April makes everyone, but especially Catholics, horny.

Now, in practice, I tend to be more of an evidence-based kinda gal when forming opinions or making decisions. Everyone knows that anecdotal evidence is biased and inaccurate. Por ejemplo…

Evidence based: I generally don’t drink carbonated beverages because studies have shown that the caffeine and phosphorus in these drinks have a deleterious effect on calcium absorption, contributing to, among other things, osteoporosis.

Anecdotally based: I don’t like to drink soda because I think it makes my ass fatter than it already is. (Which it does.) (But that’s not the point here.)

The point is that the former is fact-based. The latter just depends on which mirror I’m looking at. (And for the record, in those moments of weakness when I want to justify just one soda, I simply slip down to my bedroom where our full length mirror tells me sweet, sweet lies.)

All digressions aside, I have evidence to believe, based on a Case Study, n=7, performed at my reputable and highly academic institution (AKA, my house), that April, along with it’s bountiful showers, brings with it the overwhelming urge to do the nasty. Without protection (hence the Catholics being implicated here). Which then results in impregnation. And thus, the birth of a child, the fruit of one’s loins, say…in January. And thus, the fact that EVERY-FRIGGIN’-BODY’S BIRTHDAY IS IN JANUARY. Ok. Not everybody’s. Just Abuelito’s. Abuelita’s. The Love Muscle’s. Captain Organico’s. The Brit’s. Daddio’s. And Homeslice’s. (I’d like to point out that some of the above are NOT the offspring of latinos (rumored to be particularly amorous…I believe it is said in certain circles that we “hump like bunnies”) and that this n of 7 is made up of people from all over the world. Making it a rigorous, and I feel, more accurate Case Study.)

So there you have it. Proof. That April is some sort of provocative aphrodisiac in and of itself. I, for one, will be using birth control. But just beware. Without protection, you’re forever damning the rest of us to bankruptcy during the month of January. (And after Christmas, when we’re already broke as it is.)

Horny (Catholic) bastards.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The minuses of being not-so-drunk and kinda smart

At a bar last night...

“So whatcha got in that murse of yours?” Murse = my pet name for the type of man-purse my friend was clutching.

“Uh…nuthin’, you know, just like, the kidney I’m going to need transplanted after tonight,” he slurred back at me over the two drinks he had in his hands.

“Um, actually, you’re probably more likely to need a liver transplant after tonight.”

“DAMMIT! I HATE hanging out with people who actually know what they’re talking about! Chicks like you SO ruin my game!”

Friday, January 12, 2007

Recipe for hotness

Do you have one of these? No? Well, if you’re hopelessly single and clamoring for a better first impression gimmick…I think I just found the solution for you.

The Grabber 2000.

Strange. Curious. Provocative. I know. I never knew these existed until I went to go see my Dochechka. Being blessed with a Russian brand of foresight, just prior to her recent back surgery, she preemptively purchased a Grabber 2000 so as to minimize having to bend when reaching for things in the post-op recovery period. I was intrigued when I witnessed her use her shiny new go-go-gadget arm for the first time. With cat-like speed and agility she used it to skillfully turn the ground level space heater up to high. (Though, admittedly, intrigue did turn to annoyance when I witnessed her use it to dig out the tub of chocolate macaroons I’d strategically hidden from her in the bottom cupboard.Dammit, I thought I'd have those all to myself. A nose like a beagle that one has!) But above all, I realized the Grabber’s potential utility for say, a first or second date: a gentle caress of the face…perhaps the loving relocation of a stray hair out of your date’s eyes…or better yet, a subtle ass-grab. Endless possibilities for those who are fumbling through the early days of physical awkwardness. I mean really, what better way to communicate that you want to feel someone up than to do it first with a part-aluminum/part-plastic member? Brilliant. Home base never looked so good, huh?

I mentioned this to Dochechka and told her that her Grabber 2000 would complement her Push Cart on Wheels (circa 1970) quite nicely. (She really does have one of those.) With these two items, not only will she be able to compete with all the fierce, old ladies in Chinatown, she’ll soon be beatin’ all the men away with a stick! Well, a Grabber, actually.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

If I were 13...

I’d have been mortified, embarrassed to the point of digging a hole and burying myself right inside that crowded coffee shop, when Mamacusa and Abuelito began stuffing fistfuls of our unused napkins into Mamacusa’s oversized purse. We’d sat down and enjoyed a lovely round of hot cocoa and coffee to get out of the fog one day over the Christmas holidays, and just as we were about to leave, I witnessed The Napkin Snatch.

“What are you DOING?”

“They’re just going to throw them away anyway! We might as well take them! They’re PERFECTLY GOOD napkins!” Mamacusa said this, eyes on the napkins the entire time. Clearly she was concentrating, probably making sure to place the napkins in their designated, specially built-in napkin compartment within her mammoth purse.

Surely if we’d have just left them there in a neat little stack, the next customer might have used them.
I thought this at the time. But Mamacusa was so swift (clearly she’d done this before) that the deal was already done. I chuckled as we left the coffee shop. What would have killed me in my adolescence merely amuses me now. I must be getting old. Before I know it, I’ll be wearing a sun visor, high-waisted, elastic-banded jeans pulled to just under my armpits, black socks and white sandals. With Velcro. So I don’t have to bother with those tricky little sandal buckles. And when the teenagers laugh at me, I’ll just hiss at them and throw one of my carefully saved Starbucks napkins at them. Surely, this is just days away.

By the time the holidays were over and my family went back home, they’d harvested napkins from just about every place we’d stopped off, eaten at, or even contemplated ordering something from.
Little, thin, folded, papery souvenirs of our jaunts around the city of San Francisco. Hey. They’re PERFECTLY GOOD napkins!

So, you'll understand when I say that I wasn’t the least bit surprised when, in my daily phone conversation with Mamacusa yesterday, Mamacusa told me what she and Abuelito were about to go do now.
I could hear the hum of Mamacusa’s car in the background. They were headed to Costco. Not because they particularly needed to buy bulk quantities of toilet paper or olive oil. (Or napkins.) Instead, they were making the trip just so that they could fill up on all the free samples of food Costco always gives away. This at Abuelito’s suggestion…you know, so Mamacusa wouldn’t have to bother with cooking dinner that night.

I love my family.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

to Cuba with love... (part 3)

It’s one of those SF winter mornings. Thick, ominous, low-lying fog…threatening to blanket our day, deny us our light.

Except today…

Here comes the sun.

I watch from our balcony as the sun, using its rays as arms, casts off the city’s blanket.

And I smile.
I feel warm in the middle of January. Warm knowing that we* succeeded in making someone who is sad momentarily happy.

The gift made it to Cuba on Jan 6th.** El Día de Los Reyes. How fitting.

* My family, myself, Dochechka, The Brit, and my dear, dear, traveling friends who took the challenge of having to hunt down my family with little more than the phone number of a neighbor. An INCORRECT phone number, they discovered.

** In order to know what the hell I’m rambling on about, you have to have already read this, this and this.

Pics of this morning's sunrise coming soon.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I will beat you every time

Disclaimer #1: This post is not for the squeamish. If your delicate sensibilities preclude your tolerance of frank references to saliva, mucous, vomit, bile, excrement, urine, blood, semen, pus, or any other bodily fluid for that matter, you may want to skip along to a more light-hearted post like this one or this one. I know, I know. You may THINK you want to challenge yourself just this once. But seriously. What follows is considered by many to be truly gross. As the t-shirt that my brother gifted me with a few years back reads: trust me, i’m a doctor.

Disclaimer #2: Do not mistake any of the satire below for a backhanded insult to my profession or any of my patients. I love what I do. But every job has its mundane or less-than-glamorous tasks. Every job. For a secretary, it might be filing. For a stay-at-home mom it might be laundry. For an accountant, it might be accounting. For me, well, the scenario below definitely constitutes one of the less-than-glamorous things I have to do in my profession. For the purposes of patient anonymity, details are changed slightly. Enjoy. (Though if you do, you’re sick.) (Or, alternatively, you're meant for a career in colorectal surgery.)

In a recent visit to Mamichki’s house to see my Dochechka who is recovering from a recent lumbar spine operation, I bumped into a good friend of hers. One who, through the years, I’ve become
friends with. (For the purposes of this post, we’ll call him Mr. KnowItAll.) (Which, for the record, he normally isn’t. Well, not seriously at least.) Mr. KnowItAll had just brought over a sushi lunch. My timing couldn’t have been any more impeccable. Free lunch! Woo hoo! As we sat down to a smorgasbord of raw fish, Mr. KnowItAll skillfully managed to redirect the topic of discussion from Doch’s recovery to the topic of the worst smell ever. Seemed a bit random at the time, but it’ll all tie together in a sec. Apparently he thought himself the authority on the worst smell on earth. Now…he knows what I do. And he knows where I work. Surely he knew that I’d have a story or two about foul smells. As I looked at him skeptically, he assured me he could top any story I might dig out of my surgical archives. I was all ears.

Mr. KnowItAll had volunteered in the ER at a county hospital about ten years ago.
(Formerly an aspiring medical student, apparently this was the incident that changed his mind about his career choice.) He got called into an exam room. One with four other volunteers, a resident, a
nd an attending physician already in it. Along with the 500 lb female patient who’s nudity was feebly concealed behind the less than adequate paper napkin they provided patients to change into for the physical exam. There were no stirrups on the exam table and this patient needed a gynecologic exam. Two volunteers on the right. Two on the left. They lifted and spread her mammoth, weighty legs. Mr. KnowItAll was assigned the task of holding up a flashlight, so as to illuminate the field for the resident performing the exam. Apparently, the patient, as evidenced by the aromatics that flooded the room upon the uncrossing of her legs, had not bathed in quite some time. Upon hearing this, Mamichki set down her piece of salmon nigiri. I ended up eating it for her since poor Mamichki proceeded to lose her appetite. (What can I say, it takes a lot to gross me out. Exhibit A: See below.) So that was it. An unsavory vulva. Foul, sure, but…

I chortled. I didn’t know I could chortle, but turns out I can. And haughtily. “That’s weak.”

Mr. KnowItAll looked at me with fish eggs stuck to his lips and eyes that shouted: Bring It On.

“Are you sure?” I always ask this of my willing victims. He nodded. And continued to shovel fish into his mouth.

I dug into my mental cabinet of Grosser Than Gross stories.
I got to the P file. And pulled out one of the Peri-Rectal Abscess cases. 51 year old, diabetic, corpulent, follicularly gifted man comes in to the ER complaining of fever, chills, and excruciating anal pain for the last few days. The ER doc calls a surgical consult. This is where I come in. I examine him. Look at his bloodwork. Look at the CT scan that the ER had obtained of his pelvis. And I determine that this guy needs to go to the OR. He had a peri-rectal abscess. (See Figure 1
, the little blob on the right is a much smaller version of what this patient had.) (For those of you who don’t know what abscesses are, they are a localized collection of pus usually with surrounding swelling and inflammation. As for why people get them, that’s a whole chapter in and of itself. This is not that kind of blog.) (It’s a worse-than-that kind of blog, actually.)

Now. Abscesses are gross. They’re gross anywhere. On the arm, face, shoulder. Gross. But near the ass, they’re even grosser. They can track from the skin, up into the tissue planes right alongside the rectum for inches and inches, becoming huge pockets of purulence, sometimes fistulizing with the rectum. AKA connecting with the rectum. Which means…yes, shit meets pus. Now that’s the kind of mingling you don’t want going on at your party. And that’s what this guy had. In his bum. We take him to the OR for an incision and drainage, the treatment for an abscess. I don a face mask, shoe protectors, an impermeable gown, two pairs of sterile gloves. The anesthesiologist places the patient under general anesthesia. Prep. Drape. Scalpel. In one swift movement, I incise the abscess. And proceed to get showered. Bathed, if you will.

With projectile.

Or purulent shit. (Depending on how you want to look at it.) Either way, a torrent of frothy, feculent ass frappuccino. (This explains why I don’t drink frappuccinos.) (This also explains why I wear impermeable gowns.) And the smell! Oh the smell! Imagine rotting flesh being eaten by a vulture whose stomach contents are then pumped out, fried in a skillet with a pat of butter, eaten and then shit out the other end. Then multiply what that must smell like by 14.3. (Just a rough estimate of the caliber of stench we’re talkin’ about here.) In an attempt to be helpful, the circulating OR nurse put some peppermint oil on my face mask near my nose. But that only conjured the virtual olfactory equivalent of peppermint flavored ass gum. Which, call me crazy, I don’t think would market well.

Upon finishing my account, I looked up at Mr. KnowItAll.
I think he actually gagged at one point. He’d certainly stopped eating long ago. Then, silently, he threw both his hands up in sweet, sweet surrender.

And that’s how I got lots and lots of free sushi all to myself.

Don’t challenge me to a grosser than gross game.
Just don’t.

(I warned you.)

Monday, January 8, 2007

It's funny cuz it's true

It was the new years resolution of many of my single girlfriends this year to “take control of their dating life” and join an on-line dating service. Now, I agree, this screams of frantic XX’s, grasping with white knuckles at the last bastion of hope against nature’s apathetically applied expiration date on ovaries. But we’re talking about sane, intelligent, attractive, accomplished women here. Only a few of whom are “frantic.” And none of whom, that I know of, are particularly stressed about reproducing soon. So what gives? Why the tide shift to electronic loooove resumes and touched up digital picture first impressions? Who knows. (I have my theories.) (Later.)

All I know is that I’m going to enjoy the vicarious ride while I can.
And besides, who am I to rain on the parade of e-lovin’? I have Match.com to thank for The Brit being in my life. Well, indirectly. Ok. Here’s our story, in a nutshell: My Friend logs onto Match.com. Likes Boy’s profile. My Friend and Boy meet and begin dating. My Friend and Boy throw a party. I come to the party to see My Friend. The Brit comes to the party to see his friend, Boy. The Brit and I meet and exchange witty banter at said party. And voila. The rest is history. Oh, as are My Friend and Boy. They no longer date. But still, Match.com worked for us. And neither one of us had to log on. Yay on-line dating! Woo hoo!

Anyway, back to the living vicariously through my friends bit…one of them asked me to proofread her profile before she posted it.
Why yes, I said. Yes I will! With goodie goodie gum drops glee, we logged on together. Just for fun, we first perused some of the other profiles. You know, just to get a feel for the kind of stuff people write about themselves. (Or rather, the kind of “crap” people write about themselves.) And perhaps for a laugh or two. Glee quickly turned to eye-gouging boredom after reading profile after profile of a “fun-loving easy-going guy seeking like-minded woman…” Jeez. Does that lifeless dribble actually get game? Whatever. I decided then and there that my friend’s profile would need to be funny. Even a touch obnoxious. ANYTHING to be different from the drab, garden variety profiles already up there. So we turned our attentions to making a few minor adjustments.

Here were my suggestions for her
Likes/Dislikes section:
My likes include: sunset walks on the beach, Polynesian dining, rainbows
My dislikes include: mean people, tuberculosis

On the grounds that some might not get it was a joke. (Sadly.)

Ok. How about my suggestions for the Ideal First Date section:
One in which my date immediately proves to me his manliness…by perhaps slaying a dragon or getting to the seventh level of Super Mario Brothers. (It’s an either/or scenario, his choice.)

Vetoed again.

Needless to say, after the above vetoes, she
really didn’t like my suggestion for what she should put for the What you’ve learned from your past relationships section:
That I screw like a porn star.*

But she did humor me on some of my suggestions.
Let the dating fun begin!

*She has actually been told that. By two different guys. Not to worry, dear Brit. I’m taking notes.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

I am now a musical genius...

My inability to breathe has been replaced with the talent (?) of being able to whistle through my left nostril with each inhale. My very own nasal kazoo! I should take this act to the circus!

(I now pledge to cease pissing and moaning...)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

You know you're sick when...

…you're deaf out of your left ear because your eustachian tube is clogged with snot…snot that was probably pushed into the aforementioned tube when you were landing back in SF after being away for the holidays. Pain. Every. Time. You. Move. Your. Head.

…you have a tooth ache because (and you know this from a past experience of going to see a dentist about a tooth ache right after a cold) your left maxillary sinus, which just happens to sit riiiiiiiiiight next to some of the nerve roots of your upper left molars is also, yup, filled with snot.

…you have left eye ball pain. Probably because every other friggin’ sinus on that side is filled. With snot.

…you remain congested despite taking enough decongestant medication to kill a full grown cow (used to just be a small cow). You are now an obligate mouth breather. Which is attractive.

…your full time job has been replaced with blowing your nose. And now you have the rawness around your nostrils as battle wounds to prove it. That’s attractive too.

…you normally love cheese. Worship it. But someone offers you a piece. On a lovely peppered cracker. And you actually refuse it. Because the brie resembles your mucous just a little too much.

Friday, January 5, 2007

My prescription

As a licensed physician, I hereby do declare that it is high time I take my health care into my own snot-contaminated hands. In doing so, I will prescribe myself the only thing I know for certain that will resolve this asshole of a cold that I seem to have caught. Or who caught me. Whatever. Anyway, I know self-prescribing is controversial, but I’m going to go ahead an overlook that for the time being.

Here’s my RX: 24 hours in a hot shower with unlimited rations of cheese as needed and two times daily doses of multivitamins.

Vitamins. Those are a gimme. My immune system needs all the help it can get.

A hot shower. This serves two purposes. The steam is the only thing that effectively clears the congestion. Concurrently, I’ll have easy access to copious amounts of water to keep me hydrated. This, as many already know, is important during a cold. (Though I will admit that hot water is not very thirst quenching.) (Minor detail. Will work that one out while in shower.)

Cheese. Just because I love cheese. Just because there's no rule (not that I know of) that says you can't each cheese in the shower. And because for some heavenly reason, my taste buds seem largely unaffected by the viral interrogation of my head and neck. Thank goodness for that, as smoked gouda would not give me quite the same amount of pleasure if I couldn’t taste it.

Now let me just go and see about The Brit taking his day off from work today to be at my beck and call for cheese slicing and serving…

Thursday, January 4, 2007

When doctors become patients...

We whine. I’d throw a tantrum too, but no one is around to witness it. So instead, I shall just whine. Using improper English. (I’m entitled.)

Snot everywhere. And not nearly enough tissues. Despite taking enough decongestant medication to kill a small cow, I remain simultaneously congested and drippy. I might be somewhat amused at the paradox of how one who continues to drip remains congested (even though I know the physiologic reason for it, it still seems like a sick prank Someone is pulling on me)…but I’m much too distracted by the cocoon of bedsheets, already-used tissues, and pathetic self-pity I’ve swallowed myself in.

I would normally declare that I should stay in bed today, but as I live and barely breathe, my best friend, my Dochechka, is having an operation on her herniated lumbar disk. So eventually, I must scrape myself away from this congealed cocoon of mine, put on a face mask so as not to contaminate the other patient (since this whining patient is clearly already contaminated), and pay a visit.

But before then: I shall gargle with warm saline. (Die viruses DIE!) Take my vitamins. Drink some tea. Get some work done. And, though I cannot smell myself, I could probably stand to shower before going out in public. Will do. But not before whining some more. And not before trying for the bazillionth time to unclog my left ear which has not popped since landing back in SF yesterday, rendering me half deaf. Ughhh.


(Remind me to let Dochechka whine as well. As she, who is a pediatrician, probably hates being on the patient side of the patient-doctor equation as much as I do…)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

More states than days

“We’ve visited more states than there are days in the year!”

The Brit cheerfully, albeit gingerly, brought this to my attention last night from across the room where he sat, out of striking distance, on an unfamiliar bed in Mr. Poopie’s pajamas. I turned my congested head towards him, snot clogging nearly every orifice of it, and gazed upon my well-intentioned boyfriend. He peered back at me with cautiously uplifted eyebrows, not knowing whether this eureka moment of his would cheer me up or annoy me. (I can be grumpy when snot-filled and feverish.) My mental faculties slowed by a particularly effective virus, it took me a while to do the simple calculation. Right he was.

New York
Brooklyn & Manhattan. This is where we spent our post-Christmas days. Catching up with cousins of mine and mutual friends of ours. Subway hopping. Bundling up in scarves, hats and gloves against what was cold for us but unseasonably warm for New Yorkers (or as they say in Brooklyn, Noo Yawkuhhs). Museuming. Drinking. Eating. (Chocolate.) (Pizza.) Central parking. Shopping. For jeans. (As previously mentioned, the bane of my existence…but since one of my cousins manages a jeans boutique, I allowed her to guide me through an only-slightly-less-painful jeans shopping experience.) Meeting up with my brother who Fung Wah’d it up to NYC from Boston. Ringing in the year 2007 with my cousins, brother, and The Brit. Genuinely good fun. (Except for the catching this cold part. Happy viral new year to me!)

New Jersey
West NY. This is where we went to visit my Abuelito’s sister, Tia Coño Carajo (named as such because those two words seem to fly most frequently out of her mouth). (We swear like drunken Cuban sailors in my family.) She made a killer Cuban meal complete with pernil (roasted pork), potaje (red bean stew), papas con mojo (potatoes with garlic and citrus juices), white rice, ropa vieja (shredded beef) and flan for dessert. All hopes of eating sensible portions after Thanksgiving and Christmas went right out over the railing of her 20 story balcony overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Right along with any hopes of being able to fit into the jeans I just purchased. Oh well…at least those goals had something nice to look at as they plummeted to their deaths. And we did, afterall, have a lovely visit with Tia Coño Carajo.

Manassas. (Or as I like to affectionately refer to it, Man’s Asses.) This is where we spent an unplanned night after missing our connecting flight at the Dulles Airport last night. Ironically, though The Brit and I missed our connection, our luggage (complete with our own pajamas and toiletries) somehow managed to make it. Explain that one to me! Whatever the ridiculous explanation, it explains how The Brit and I ended up crashing at Mr. Poopie’s house in Man's Asses. And also explains why The Brit, while donning pajama pants that were meant for a man nearly two feet taller, was trying to cheer me up with a bit of our own travel trivia. Thanks, my dear Brit for the earnest attempts to keep me happy despite clogged nasal passages, a scratchy throat, barking cough and itchy ears. And thanks, Mr. Poopie, for the short-noticed hospitality! Much, much appreciated!

San Francisco. Home sweet foggy home. This is where we finally arrived today. Where our luggage, thankfully, arrived the night before and awaited us, untouched, behind nothing but a single easily penetrated partition. (I would have had to beat someone unconsious if my ceramic hair straightening iron had gotten stolen in my airline-induced absence.)

And this is how we came to visit four states within three days. Hope everyone’s 2007 is off to as adventurous a start as ours. (Though without the virus part. This mucous plugging is no joke…)