Friday, May 28, 2010

Moments of witticism

There I was, wandering around on the third floor of one of the buildings on campus, checking off items on my to-do list for the day. One more task to go and then it was off to the apartment for lunch and a strong cup of coffee to propel me through the afternoon.

 As I rounded the corner to enter a computer lab, a group of five people stopped me. Two moms, one dad, two teenagers. They looked lost. I remember the feeling...was almost a year to the day that I felt the same way. They must be here for orientation.

Sure, enough. The dad told me they were looking for a registration table. I told them that it was down on the first floor in front of Big Ol' Room.

Blank stares.

Oh, yeah. I didn't know where that was, despite the map, either.

I told them to go downstairs and take a...hmm, a left? Wait, no, take a right...then a left. Uh. Hmm. I... (felt embarrassed)

I led them to the top of the stairs, and as I did so, one of the moms asked, "Well, in which general direction is it from here?" Oh, that's easy. I pointed right. Everyone seemed satisfied. I told them I'd show them the way anyway.

As we made our way down the stairs, the dad asked, "Are you sure it's to the right?" Since I could see the room in the distance, I replied in the affirmative. Whilst descending the last couple of steps, one of the teenagers asked what my major was.

In a flash of brilliance, I said, "Civil engineering."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Laboratory fun...and games...lots of games, being played on me

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

This week I found myself in the organic laboratory for the first time. I went into it quite excited at the opportunity...the lab and I have always had a strong attraction to one another. On top of my love for running chemical experiments, we get to wear white coats. I can't be dishonest and say I didn't scope myself out in the mirror a bit before leaving home, checking to see exactly how physicianesque I look at this stage in the game. It was a pretty good match, especially after swapping my contacts for glasses. A little extra glee on top never hurt anything.

Things did not stay onboard the lovely little makeshift raft of unadulterated happiness as I'd sensed they would.

Apparently, I missed the local forecast that called for turbulent weather. My poor raft stood not a solitary chance.

The lab was a complete disaster.

My glassware was filthy thanks to whomever came before me, so I had to spend a bunch of time cleaning that. My GTA and I later determined that there were two possibilities for my failure to produce the desired product: 1) Remnants of a past experiment still in the glassware and 2) Contamination of reagents by everyone else in the class who'd gotten them before me.

Probably a bit of both. Disappointing turn-out, for sure...but there's always next week, and then 8 more after that. On the bright side, I have something to laugh about as I transfer the memory to text. Perhaps these are the kinds of things I'll be fondly looking back upon at my graduation from medical school. Might even tell the grandkids.

In other news, I've taken out an MCAT prep book from the library and have set aside an hour or so each evening to reading through the review material. My goal is to finish a section each week and then spend inordinate amounts of time with practice questions and exams. Still have a year to go until I sit for the blasted thing, but I'm of the mind to never, ever let it be said that I drag my heels... err, sometimes...about certain particulars...

Coffee ice cream sounds like an absolute dream at the moment, if you'll excuse the abrupt transition. If I can finish about 50 problems relating to benzene and aromaticity, get a good start on my lab report, and ram my way through a chapter in my pharmacology book, I'll treat myself to a wee bit of this stuff...

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vår stjärna

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

I suddenly found myself in the uncomfortable grasp of illness about midway through last week. Luckily, I had the opportunity to do all that one is supposed to do in such a state...plenty of rest, plenty of fluids, lots of Vitamin C, and a fair bit of green tea + honey for the pleasure. It's been years since I've become ill so often (last this year was in late February/early March). The only variable that I can control is exercise. I've really been slacking on it since midway through the fall semester...fell into a routine of not doing it, and well, you know how it goes.

Feeling almost 100% today. Took a drive this evening as darkness fell as I desperately needed to see something besides the same four walls of my room in the apartment. Besides, I'd almost run through all of the Eddie Izzard videos and was cramping up from laughter.

So, out and about I was, listening to "Are You Experienced?" and singing along (when no other cars were around) in my congested-nasal-passages voice. Several times, my eyes looked to the heavens, but only once did something catch my eye.

A lone star, twinkling at some great distance, suspended in infinite nothingness. I wondered, as I've often done throughout my life, how many other folks were taking notice of the same.

What I really wondered, though, was if somewhere out there, a young woman was gazing upon the same star and, likewise, wondering where her perfect match might be.

I'm here waiting, as patiently as possible, for our inevitable rendezvous. I'm ready. I've been ready.

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Appropriate eye-rolling

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

That professor I have from the East End is one of the most awesome I've ever had. He doesn't take guff off anyone. Some fool down the row from me today spent the first half hour of class texting, and when an announcement about a change to the exam schedule was made, she was hardly paying attention to hear it. She raised her hand moments later and asked for the missed information. What she received was an eyeroll and a "Yeah, moving on..."

That's the way to do it!

Of course, she was giggling about it after class. Of course.

(New Living With Pigs!)

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stormy weather

I don't reckon I'll ever grow tired of this song. Throughout the years, I've turned to it in times of crisis and in times of joy...each time was as relevant as the other. Fantastic.

Having a prolonged spell of PMAD after grades came in. Furthermore, I became more aware of my non-existent love life over the break between terms. It was a big ol' self-pity marathon. blah.

However, things are looking up. I've made strong grades in the rest of the classes that make up one's science GPA, and I still have three of the core classes to complete. I'll probably come away with a 3.7, maaaaybe 3.8, and I can't be too wrecked about that. Also, Party Boy I is moving out in less than a month. Party Boy II and I are getting on quite well lately and I suppose I'll be sad to see him go at the end of the summer. Deep down, he's a good kid. Finally in the good news department, one of my professors is from the East End and thank the lord above, he teaches my 8 a.m. class. Dry humour at that hour is also especially welcome...further made more entertaining when examining those students around me who haven't a clue what he just said.

The scale is tipping ever-so slightly in my direction at present, and I'll take it. Gladly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuned in

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

I find myself this morning, as I have found myself on many mornings, pining for a time gone by; a time that preceded my entrance in this world by a strong sixty years.

Radio is something I hold with high esteem. When I was but a wee six year-old, my family did not have cable television...for any sort of visual entertainment, one would rely on the local broadcast stations or VHS tapes out on loan from the library. While I partook in many of the aged delicacies both sources provided (The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, etc.), radio stepped in to fill the vacancies left by my limited selection.

Never shall I forget that little portable radio I toted around with me, what one fine summer morning exposed to me a type of music that I loved then but swiftly forgot about, but was to return to focus in my late teens. Yes, at age six, when Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald came on, a sense of contentment, joy, but longing, overcame me. My, my.

Many a time I sat with the radio before me, listening to fantastic swinging numbers, whilst counting and organising my baseball card collection. As crazy as it may seem, I felt a real connection to those days gone by, especially since other areas of my life produced the same.

When we got our first video game system, the NES, on Christmas of 1989, the radio was neglected, never to rise to prominence in my life again, except in memory.

I was in my early teens when my paternal grandmother had somehow introduced me to those tape recordings of old radio shows one can purchase at The Cracker Barrel, for example. The adoration was swift in onset. There was something in the voices of radio announcers and personalities back then that one just cannot find anywhere else these days. The quality of production of many of those old shows, what with the fancy sound effects (all hand-made!), let you close your eyes and see it all in your mind's eye...your creativity filling in any blanks, or adding quirky details. I imagined what it must've been like to sit around the big radio set with family after dinner oh so many years ago, and take in such programmes.

As it was 21 years ago, I find that radio presently makes up the bulk of my entertainment needs. I listen to a station my university puts on which broadcasts a variety of music, from reggae to opera, but mostly jazz. Mostly, however, I listen to NPR. It's good to not be yelled and screamed at, bought and sold, and swayed in one direction or another by newscasters. Furthermore, I take great delight in shows like Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and especially A Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor and his crew presents to me weekly a slice of those days I've somehow, and quite inexplicably, have longed for most of my life.

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The dream is over?

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

Grades are in this eve. Disappointment abounds. An A, a B, three Cs. This, after a crummy fall term, makes me feel like applying to medical school would just be a waste of time and money.

I don't quite know how it all happened. I'm feeling a good bit depressed and lost. Where do I go from here?

Plenty of expletives and self-loathing to go around,

J.O. Morris

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gutter ball, a strike-out, and over par

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

It's beginning to become the case that each time I find myself clocked in at Big City Hospital the whole day is filled with oddities.

Today, I spent a great deal of time assisting one of the nurses on my floor. Leading into this encounter, I was told that she's not the friendliest of folks and has a tendency to adhere strictly to the rules. The latter didn't seem particularly alarming...I'd imagine that's generally a good quality to have in a patient-care setting.

She was, first of all, in possession of the loveliest pair of eyes I've seen in quite some time. Crystal clear blue, enhanced by some black eyeliner, very lightly applied. Oh my. My facial muscles were beyond my control at this moment and along came a wide grin. She reciprocated and it was off to a good start.

I began to notice that she was approximately my age. Good sense of humour. Well-spoken. Highly intelligent and especially considerate and compassionate with each patient we handled. Oh my.

She asked what led me to my job. I explained about my status in university and where I hope to be heading. Many words of encouragement were expressed and she mentioned returning to university for a Master's degree in the fall. Oh, fantastic, la la la. An emergency arose in which I could not participate. I watched the whole team rush into action and work like fine Swiss machinery to stabilise the patient. Throughout the ordeal, as far as I could see, she maintained a face, a very attractive face, bearing concern but confidence. Few things are more attractive. Oh my.

I began to notice my increasing interest in her and wondered if I should even bother. This is something I ponder each and every time. I'm not a terribly attractive man, I don't think, but my appearance is more pleasing than it once was...particularly in my teens and early 20s. Having spent the majority of my life knowing, without question, that I was not much to look at, it's difficult to think otherwise. I'd like to have more confidence in that area, but I don't know that I can build that up without the positive input of others.

When the crisis was over, we resumed our duties and talked at length about all sorts of things. She brought up university again, expressing fear of sitting in a classroom with a bunch of 20 year-olds. Heh, I know all about how that is, and shared my experience. My heart was pounding as I spoke to her, our eyes locked on each other's... aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh. Oh my.

Then, it happened.

The thing that always seems to happen, in one way or another.

She said it like this.

"Thanks for trying to make me feel a bit better about it, but when you have a son who is only a few years away from being 20, you can't help but be a bit weirded out."

A son who is nearly 20.

She must've had that child when she was 10. No. Not likely. She must be older than I thought...which isn't of much concern to me. In fact, I prefer older women. But children, especially in their teens.

As my interest deflated, she mentioned her husband once or twice. Ah, just as well. So it goes.

When running an errand on another floor, I met a volunteer who was about as friendly as he could be. He had quite a bit of an overbite, proptosis, and an accent so thick that even I had a hard time understanding him at times, and I pride myself on having a great ear for accents. He was in his 40s and is attending school to obtain some kind of certificate...diagnostic sonography, maybe. Can't recall. While I waited for the secretary to finish gathering the materials I'd been enlisted to procure, the man and I had a lovely conversation. There was a deep sense of warmth and kindness within him, but also some inkling of loneliness. I wondered if he had many friends or any romantic relationships. I wondered how many times people may have taken a glance at him and figured him a simpleton and treated him as such. I wondered how many people stop to listen to him, stop to speak with him, stop to share with him. When I had to leave, I told him I was glad to meet him and that I hoped to run into him again. I meant it.

Big Tall Beautiful Nurse was there today. I smiled at her as she passed by...didn't even so much as glance at me. Well, whatever.

On the way home, I began digesting the day's events. I also began to get excited about packing up and heading home for a bit in between terms. In this strange transition state, I saw a Big City oddity that made me laugh and forget everything, except for trying to imagine what had transpired before I witnessed this. At a stop light, a man on a bicycle came whizzing across the zebra stripes. Ordinary enough, sure... the man was wearing nice dress shoes, slick-looking slacks... and no shirt. None. Bare-chested. He had a wild tangle of greying hair upon his head and what appeared to be a grey sweatshirt tied around his waist. Okay, so business from the waist down, crack party from the waist up. Where did his shirt go? Did he ever have one to begin with? What's the story with the slacks and dress shoes with the grey sweatshirt? Too many questions. Funny scene, but you'd probably have had to have seen it to really appreciate the humour. Hmm.

I shot my all-time best score in a round of golf earlier this week. I was still 40+ over par, but was significantly lower than any previous attempts. I lost a total of 9 balls, but I found 2...mostly lost them to water. Tough course, but boyyy, I was eating the challenge up! Absolutely loved it. I spent exactly zero seconds thinking of anything but the game. On a par 4, there was a sizable lake separating the fairway from the green. I was a bit nervous and changed clubs three times before settling for my pitching wedge. I took a deep breath, a few practice swings, and told myself that I was going to land safely on the green. I aimed not at the pin but right in the middle of the green. Swung, it was a great strike, ball was on a perfect line, great height...and plop! right in the center of the green, didn't roll more than half a foot. All that practice at the driving range is playing off. It felt good to start being able to have confidence in my club selection and knowing their distances. I still hit far more bad shots throughout the day than good, but the good shots were good.

That's all the news from the homestead presently.

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Better get some more practice in

My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,

This fine morning, over a lovely cup of coffee and note cards for my last exam, I made the decision to not only become a great doctor, but to become a reasonably good golfer, as well. My goal is to make it onto one of the mini tours. I reckon that if I keep putting in the practice as I have been, I can make it in another 15 years or so. heh.

One thing, however, that I won't do is get too wound up in the dream and forget to, first and foremost, have fun.

I have a date with some golf balls this evening and tomorrow morning. Mmhmm.

May the grace of He keep you always,

J.O. Morris