Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Wednesday, December 27

each and every one

Though I had given up on the idea entirely, I received the three paintings from the library yesterday.

They will be hung in my office today.

I’d display some pictures, but my camera’s been on the fritz since a trip to the Virgin Islands. (I think salt water from a bathing suit or snorkel must have contaminated it.)

Wednesday, December 20

The Birds

On Saturday night I ran into someone I had hung out with over the summer.

‘You haven’t called.’

‘My phone’ I said, ‘hasn’t been ringing either. How’ve you been?’

‘Pretty good. I’ve been seeing someone. He’s been talking a lot about commitment,’—commitment was slurred slightly—‘you know, but I don’t feel that strongly about that subject.’ Subject was also slurred. The eyes were a bit unfocused.

‘I’ve never seen you quite like this,’ I said. ‘How much have you had to drink?’

‘Not that much,’ the hand gestured into the air, suggesting my thought was a piffle—admitting a trifle to drink, nothing more.

‘Yeah,’ I said, laughing. ‘Okay.’

‘’See, when he gets talking about commitment,’ there is a slow exhale. ‘I get to thinking about us: you and me.’

‘I haven’t even seen you in two or three months,’ I said. ‘You like this guy? You think there’s potential there?’

‘Yeah, but...’ the voice trails off as the hand slides onto my leg.

Here is a story:

When I was 19, I was walking to the library and I saw a pigeon on the ground. It was walking in loose circles and half dragging one side and twitching. I figured it was rabid (impossible, I now know) so I avoided it. When I walked back to my dad’s restaurant for lunch three hours later, I saw the pigeon again. It was still doing its chorea. Over lunch, my dad told me the city was poisoning the pigeons because they were shitting on people’s cars when they shopped downtown. He said the poison was safe for humans, but the death it caused the pigeons was slow. I cursed the cruelty of capitalism before grabbing a Coke® and heading back to the library.

When I came back to the pigeon, I stopped and watched it for a minute, sipping my Coke®. It flopped one way, then the other. My dad had explained it would be a slow death, but I had hoped it would have been over by now. I set my Coke® down, and picked the pigeon up.

I cupped the bird in my right hand and held it against my body. With my left thumb, I stroked its back, trying to calm it, then I curved my left hand beneath its neck, closing my hand so that its head was held in place as gently as I could. I rotated up with my left hand and down with my right hand, they way you would dry a wet t-shirt.

I opened my eyes. The bird did not react. It did not die, as I hoped. I did not know how slack pigeon’s necks are. I had hoped a quick turn would end the bird’s suffering. I kept its head in position and rearranged my grip so I could give it a second wring. I took a deep breath, winced, and repeated the maneuver.

Still nothing. The bird didn’t even seem dismayed at what was going on. It was not trying to escape. If anything it seemed more comfortable than it had been flopping around on the ground. I repeated the maneuver a third time. My mouth was probably a bit agape by now. I wanted this to be over. If I had it to do over again I’d have been at the library already reading about rattlesnakes or the Supreme Court and the bird would be out here flopping on the ground towards its slow convulsive death.

I wrung its neck six times. The bird now seemed flustered but was still alive. So, with its neck now turned 2100 degrees (360*6), I pulled on the birds head, the way you would open a squeeze top ketchup bottle. I felt the snap and the bird went limp.

I set its body in the bushes, picked up my Coke®, finished my walk to the library and washed my hands.

I take the hand off my leg.

‘When he gets like that though, I just wonder about you and me. I wonder about us.’

‘There is no us,’ I say, getting up. I stop before I walk away, but just long enough to say, ‘as far as I’m concerned, there’s only me.’

Tuesday, December 12

Homonyms and ambiguous phrasing for fun and prophet

I have spent a lot of today working on my personal statement for a fellowship application. At one point I had written ‘physicians whom I immolate’ rather than ‘emulate.’

I also wrote a sentence that talked about how much I enjoyed ‘being intellectually challenged.’

Monday, December 11

I’d prefer to come a-wassailing

I was in another physician’s office on Friday and I noticed something.

‘Why,’ I asked, ‘do you have a candle shaped like an elf who’s dressed as a doctor?’

‘‘A patient gave it to me,’ she said, laughing a bit.

‘The nice thing about getting candles as gifts,’ I told her,’ is that you can throw them away and say you used them. That’s like Awful Gift Getting 101.’

‘The lesson I’m learning today,’ she said after pausing, ‘is not to get you anything, because you’ll just throw it away.’

Wednesday, December 6

Till then I carry on with what I know

I just noticed that the Blogger comment system asks you to ‘choose an identity’ when you post a comment.

That's kind of an amazing offer, isn't it? I’ll take earnest caregiver! Intellectual scallywag? No, that’s wrong. How about a Dark Elf Illusionist? Stop. Five get overexcited.

I’ll take a cross between Ted from the movie Barcelona and the Brendon Frasier character from The Young American, only living in this country. Which I guess doesn’t really make much sense, because a crucial aspect of both characters’ identity is their wanderlust.

Nick Carraway? Forget I mentioned him.

I’m overreaching here. Just streamline what they are asking: Physician. Brother. Son. –but that’s more tombstone than identity.

Damn, I’ll never get to post a comment on this blog.

But how about truculent polymath? Now that's a tombstone I could live with.

Friday, December 1

Six Twenty-Nine

I’ve just finished a bath while sipping a Beefeater martini with garlic-stuffed olives. Forgive any typos.

Tonight, the Marquee and I will be going out to celebrate his last night in this town. In a town like this, every friend is precious, even ones that stand you up for thanksgiving. My only consolation is that he’s only moving to Richmond: a town not any better than this one.

I’m also celebrating because tomorrow will be the first day I’ve had off since the 29th of October. We’re going to do the town up wrong. If you have my phone number, don’t call before 2 pm tomorrow.

Six months and twenty-nine days left in this town…

Medical Records

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Season One