Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Wednesday, January 31

Uncynical Wednesdays: I’ll Be Your Mirror

I’m at the grocery store checkout lane and telling the bagboy ‘put it all in one bag, if you can.’ I don’t say that I’m not ninety years old and can carry more than one item at a time.

So he puts my five items (a quart of milk, a bag of arugula, a pint of cottage cheese, 3 tomatoes, and some Kielbasa) in one plastic bag, then puts that bag within a second plastic bag. He takes the double-bagged groceries and puts it within a third bag. He then takes the triple bag and puts it within a fourth bag.

He hands it to me and it’s so ridiculous I nearly ask him if he’s retarded, except that he actually is retarded—his wide-set eyes are looking at me and his misshapen mouth is in a half smile—so I imagine how badly that would go over. I suspect that his quadruple bagging is making fun of me, but I cannot prove this.

I leave the store carrying the well secured items.


At work the next day, the administrative assistants are teasing one another and one of them says something halfway mean and giggles, saying, ‘I’m going to hell for saying that.’

Somehow they begin talking about hell and one of them says, ‘some people believe that in hell you can’t do whatever you enjoyed on earth.’

I get up and walk around my desk to shut my office door. On the way back to my chair, I think that some people’s hell is a place filled with intelligent, attractive hard workers who are stylish and well mannered.

Hell is other people, indeed.

Monday, January 29

Robert Anton Wilson

So the week turned into two and we made a date to go to the opening of the new Nick Cave show. He hadn’t told me if he’d decided to move things forward or continue to withdraw.

We go out for steak before heading to the museum. After we see the exhibit, we’re mingling and drinking and wander around the gift shop.

He finds finger puppet versions of Schrödinger's cat. We are amused by them and start talking about Schrödinger with the gift shop clerk. I’m trying to explain pluripotency and—more specifically—quantum superposition of states. She doesn’t look terribly happy when I try to explain that, until the experimental box is opened, Schrödinger's cat is both alive and dead. I try to explain the solution used by many science fiction writers—that the universe splits into infinite realities and it’s simply random chance if we find ourselves in the universe where the cat lives or the universe where the cat dies.

‘What’s troubling about this,’ I tell her, ‘is that until the box is opened, we exist in both of them at once.’

We talk to her for a bit longer. I think he feels bad for her, because as I wander away he pulls out his wallet to buy something. Outside, he hands me one of the Schrödinger cat puppets and holds up an identical copy he has purchased for himself.

When he brings me home, we still haven’t talked about any decision he’s made. He says goodnight and kisses my cheek. I want to kiss him—to do more than kiss, but realize I don’t want to open the box just yet, so I just say goodnight and let him go.

Friday, January 19

Calicos and Cacti

My Friend NYCBabylon posted her theory that misogyny could be detected by a dislike for house cats, or rather, that real men love pussies. ‘Cats are complicated creatures and it takes patience, confidence and good communication skills to connect and love a cat,’ she argues. From there she reasons, men ‘who love cats are more patient, emotionally healthy and kinder men than the men who hate cats.’


When I was in college I had a similar theory about houseplants. When I met someone who had an inordinate amount of houseplants, I figured that they must be a very nurturing person, able to form attachments with living things even outside the kingdom Animalia. (I mean ‘inordinate’ in the non-literal sense, obviously, but I mean ‘nurture’ in the literal sense.)

Hemingway loved cats. I even had one of his six-toed feline progeny named, predictably, Hemingway. And Hemingway has somehow become an archetype for what a real man is supposed to be like. But I think Hemingway loved cats for exactly different reasons than Ms. Babylon postulates. He loved cats because they had minimal expectations of him. They would look beautiful around the house and grounds, not require maintenance, and approach him and leave him with an easy coolness and without conflict. He liked cats because they held the appearance of a relationship without the demands of one. He has written much about how this realationship goal was his problem with women.

What I found about my houseplant-raisers was that they—largely—raised houseplants not because their connection to living things poured out from the kingdom Animalia, but because it barely reached into the kingdom Animalia.

Wednesday, January 10

Uncynical Wednesdays

I finally sent out my fellowship applications. Medical fellowships have a rather complicated application process; I’m applying for July 2008 now. The whole thing is computerized. I send my application to a central location and specify which programs I want to receive it. The application is a nine piece conglomeration which includes my C.V. (Curriculum Vitae, an academic version on a resume), med school transcript, board scores, dean’s letter from the medical school I attended, letter from the program director of my residency program, three letters of recommendation (which have to be impressive and from impressive faculty), a picture of my face (front on, face taking up at least 1/3 the image, no smaller than 2 x 2 but no larger than 3 x 4.5), the dreaded personal statement, and a basic application form.

I actually have been interviewing applicants to our program this week. Let me tell you, about half of the personal statements contain the phrase: ‘I enjoy being intellectually challenged.’

I figured I’d start hearing back mid-January, but I got my first request for an interview yesterday. It’s nice that the first program that I’ve heard from is an interview and not a rejection. I’ll keep you all posted as things move along, but I don’t get my final answer until June 27th. I’ve applied to 26 programs: the top fifteen programs, my hometown program, and 10 very good programs. I applied only to programs that are in cities that I am willing to live. I applied to programs in the Boston area, New York City, D.C., Baltimore, Durham (NC), Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.


Confidential to ML: Why am I unable to say ‘I love you’ until someone’s trying to break up with me? I’m attempting to answer the age old question: ‘is it possible to talk yourself out of being dumped?’ The temporary answer, apparently, is ‘give me a week to think about it.’

I’ll find out next week if I’m singing Carol King’s ‘It’s Too Late, Baby’ or ABBA’s ‘Take a Chance On Me.’

Tuesday, January 9

Test Your Christdar

I’ve mentioned before the difficulty I have distinguishing men who are gay from men who are Christian. They both hold your handshake a bit too long and they both make eye contact a bit too much.

(I learned both of those tricks from an article in a 1983 article in Cosmopolitan titled ‘How to tell if your husband is gay.’ God, VH1, I loved the eighties, too! They were quite specific about how to identify the handshake: ‘even a millisecond too long’ signaled he wanted to suck cock. Other helpful clues included: noticing what you were wearing; interested in his own appearance; and anal warts. I made the last one up, I don’t remember the others.)

Anyway, I still can’t tell the difference between Christian and gay men. Christians want your soul, gays want your body. They’re both just a little too friendly. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. I culled these 20 pictures by using a keyword search on Hot or Not. I used the keyword ‘Gay’ and took the first 11 pictures that I came up with. I did the same with ‘Christian.’ I expunged one from each. (The two I expunged both scored far into the Not side of the equation and I thought it was in everyone’s best interest to not replicate their images.)

Test your Christdar skills, then run your curser over the pictures to find out if I used the word "Christian" or not. And no lusting over the Christians or preaching to the gays. I expect everyone to behave themselves.


Monday, January 8

The Year So Far

It seems like just yesterday it was January first! I thought this would be a good time to stop and reflect on the things I’ve learned and seen so far this year.

Best Television

The Office, Season two, disc 2

I saw this on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was great. I saw disc one in December and, I don’t know, it was pretty good too. Anyway, I liked them both, but I watched disc 2 this year, so the other one isn't really eligible, I guess. I liked the deleted scenes from disc 1 more though, if that means anything.

My friend Anna makes fun of me because I rent my television spread out over the course of years. (I’m almost done with Oz, which I started in 2004, and Carnivale, which I started in 2005. I’m starting the fourth season of Six Feet Under later this month. I’ve decided not to start The Shield or Lost until I finish up the series I’ve already started)

Best Book

Lunar Park, Bret Easton Ellis

I started this Christmas weekend and finished it New Year’s Day. I had no idea he was even married.

Best Album

At Home with Owen, Owen

For Christmas I received two CD’s from this guy I’ve been seeing for a couple months: At Home with Owen and Ennio Morricone Film Music Volume 1. He said the Owen album made him think of me. I don’t get that, but it’s a great album.

Best Pop Song

‘Over My Head,’ The Fray from How to Save a Life

Great hook, repeated over and over. I suspect this song will be annoying the shit out of us in less than a month. But for now I really like it, despite how mundane the rest of the song is. I’d like to hear it covered by Ted Leo.

Best Video Game (MMORPG)

City of Heroes

I’ve been playing this game since early September and it hasn’t gotten old yet. For the few of you out of the loop, you play MMORPG real time with thousands of other players. It’s like going to the playground for pick-up basketball, players randomly forming and playing as a team, some leaving for dinner and chores and new players joining in. In this one, you play a superhero fighting the AI villainy in Paragon City. It has a great comic-book feel and an easy learning curve style of play. I’m on the Liberty Server, playing a radioactive, gravity-controlling hero named Grav Tron. Join me there.

Best Video Game (non-MMORPG)


This game is like 3 years old, but I never played it before. There are some serious problems with the game (the controls are terrible and a lot of the game is pre-2003 style with large segments of the game being film clips) but it is cleverly animated and has an amusing story line. You play a young boy at a summer camp designed to help paranormals hone and control their powers. Each mind you enter is remarkably different, some war-torn with traumatic memories (reminding me of Disneyworld’s Mister Toad’s Wild Ride), some pristine and orderly (a Mondrian painting and mobile come to life).

Best Movie

I’ve seen a lot of good movies this year, but the two that stand out the most are The Descent and Lady in the Water. I’m told I saw the European release of The Descent which had an alternate ending. I found the ending the only disappointing thing about the movie. Meticulously crafted with aplomb storytelling, it was immensely satisfying. (Though I did not vomit.)

But I have to go with Lady in the Water. This film was hated by everyone I know as well as nearly every review I read, but I spent a lot of this movie smirking and crying, though to be honest, I’m not sure why I was crying so much. People complained that it was too talky, that Shyamalan was telling rather than showing. But the dialogue was the red herring. It seemed written to intentionally trip up those who didn’t experience the film but who only analyze it. (I’m reminded of Maynard James Keenan telling The Onion the reason he doesn’t print lyrics in his CD’s is because reading is antithetical to hearing and feeling; reading is thinking and analyzing.) You might say it’s unfair to put traps in art to prevent people from understanding what you’re getting at, but don’t look to me for sympathy about someone attempting multiple things—sometimes conflicting things—with a narrative.

Thursday, January 4

1024 by 768

I’m at the Wild Oats grocery across the street from the Miami Ad School and the guy in line in front of me is talking. He’s alone and at first I think he’s talking to the cashier, but when I look I see he has a palm Trēo 650 attached to his belt at his left hip and one of those earpieces with a microphone on the thin cord that looks too small and intangible to function. The cord is black and has hangs tortuously along his neck.

‘You’re in Rehab? Wow,’ the guy says. ‘Yeah, yeah… No, I think that’s great.’

But his emphasis is on the word ‘no.’ He’s swiping his card and listens for a moment.

‘Four weeks?’ he asks. ‘Twenty-eight days? Wow, that’s kind of long, isn’t it?’

He’s making hand signals at the cashier, trying to tell her he wants his chicken put in a different bag.

‘No,’ he says again, ‘I think that’s great… I mean I had no idea, but whatever.’

I’m putting my stuff on the conveyer belt as he says, ‘Okay, but we’re on for the Super Bowl, right? They’ll let you out on day pass or whatever, right?’ For the first time in the conversation, I can hear concern in his voice. I’m trying not to look at his wincing eyes as he listens. Then, ‘Yeah, but man, it’s only one night. We already have the tickets.’

He’s now picking up his bags and taking the receipt from the cashier. His voice rising as he says, ‘But have you even asked them? They’d make an exception for this. I mean, it’s the fucking Super Bowl, man.’

He is getting angrier as he walks away. By the time the automatic doors open for him, he’s using strings of profanities.

Tuesday, January 2


Hulk Hogan is at the car wash two cars ahead of mine. I’m at the Citgo in South Beach on Alton. There are about 6 or 7 young girls clamoring to have their picture taken with him. I’m a little touched that the years have not diminished Mr. Hogan’s bravado. He is polite and hamming it up with them.

I’m a little surprised that they know who he is, but the next day I find out he has his own reality show on VH1.


There is a seafood restaurant in Miami called Cami’s, but the name is done with graphics and swirls. I interpreted the apostrophe as an accent ague and pronounced it Camís, like the Spanish word for shirt without the final ‘a’. My mother was telling a story about meeting a friend at ‘Kammy’s’ and I couldn’t figure out what restaurant she was talking about for nearly 2 minutes. My sister and mother make fun of me for this still, even though it happened years ago.

On Friday, we were eating lunch at Tiramisu on Lincoln Road and this woman walked by, noticed the next restaurant and said, ‘I haven’t eaten at Spris in forever.’ She pronounced the name of the restaurant to rhyme with piss. I just looked at my plate.


Epilogue: A New Year’s Miracle

At fifteen minutes to midnight, my sister and I decided to ditch the party on the 32nd floor of the Icon and try to make one on Belle Isle before midnight. We cut down Pennsylvania Ave and took 11th to West. The light at 11th and Alton stayed green for us all the way from Penn. That light never stays green.

God must enjoy champagne as much as I do.

Medical Records

Season Three

Season Two

Season One