Playing Catch-up: May, Packing!

I don’t know if the title up there really deserves an exclamation point, but in keeping with the pattern…

After graduation, it was time to start the moving process. My parents stayed for an extra day to help us get started, and our pile of boxes began to grow. At this point, we didn’t even have an apartment lined up in Seattle. (Ugh. Remembering that stress is not fun, even though I’m typing this while sitting in our Seattle apartment.) So we had no idea what all would fit, what we’d be willing to haul, what we had to sell…

Well, we did know a couple things we had to sell. Our cars! We sold both my Escape and Michael’s Camry, trading up for Grandma and Grandpa Adamek’s 2008 Prius. A perfect car for the city, and (for once in my life) one that’s actually reliable. We sold two cars and bought one, all independently, all within three days. We also sold a ton of mismatched furniture and lots of superfluous stuff in a two-day moving sale with our housemates, the Hedges.

Somewhere in there, we found an apartment. A tiny, 630-square-foot “one bedroom” (the walls to the bedroom don’t reach the ceiling, so it’s really a studio with glorified partitions) in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Finally.

We got the house cleaned and fully empty about a week early, and moved everything from Shaker to Concord, where all our belongings lived in Mom and Dad Hermelin’s garage for a week and a half (thanks, parents everywhere, for doing this kind of thing).

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One last snap of our empty entrance and living room. So many memories in this space.

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The last picture I took of our beautiful house in Shaker. We moved before the hibiscus out front bloomed.

We managed to get in a few non-moving things during that stretch…

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Dinner at Pier W with family, and a beautiful view of our beloved Cleveland.

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An evening trip to a couple of wineries in far-east Ohio with Mom and Dad H.

I don’t know what else to write about that week-and-a-half or so between graduation and our last couple of weddings for the season (coming up in the next post). We were excited and ready to turn the page; we’d been waiting and preparing for this change for a long time. But when I moved to Cleveland back in the fall of 2012, I couldn’t have imagined how much it would come to feel like home. And every one of those last days in May came with an underlying current of sadness. I like change and welcome it, but closing the door on this chapter of our lives was harder than I ever thought possible.

Thankfully, we had some good things to look forward to– two medical school weddings, and a camping trip with the Hedges in between. Stay tuned!

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The Longest Shortest Month

February has always been my least-favorite month. It’s the shortest of the year, but it always feels like the longest. There’s no hope yet for spring. Sunshine seems like a distant memory. It’s all very dramatic.

This year, we’ve been kind of spoiled. This year, it’s the last day of February, yet it seems like I just got home from Minnesota (that was the 2nd). This year, we’ve had babies to look forward to! This year, the shadow of Match Day looms ever closer, making time warp. This year, February has been all right. Just okay… But okay nonetheless. A few things we’ve liked about this February:

  • An extra-snuggly puppy dog.
  • Several hang-out sessions with good, good friends– making the most of our time with them here in Cleveland.
  • Meal-planning for the first time in my life, and feeling pretty accomplished about it. (Don’t laugh. I’ve recently come to the realization that I don’t like cooking. But having a schedule helps.)
  • Panda Express opening up, complete with a drive-through, right on my route home from work (for those days when meal-planning fails me).
  • Handing in my official resignation– a few months early, but it’s easier for my coworkers to plan now.
  • Celebrating a super chill Valentine’s Day.
  • Unseasonably warm weather, plus sunshine (!) the last two weekends.
  • Getting a new nephew on the 20th. (I have to wait until May to meet him! Gah!)
  • Celebrating our fantastic niece’s 2nd birthday on the 22nd.
  • Welcoming my dear friend Amanda’s first baby, a girl, born on the 23rd. (I can’t wait to meet you in April, little nugget!)
  • Academy Awards yesterday! I love the Oscars. We saw all but one of the best picture nominations this year, attempting to continue our tradition. I was happy with all the winners.
  • Awaiting our other nephew, due in a week. We thought a Leap Day baby would be fun, but it looks like that probably won’t happen.

So despite being a leap year, with February EXTRA LONG, it hasn’t been so bad. We’re just riding it out, one day at a time, waiting on March 18th. (Match Day. I don’t want to talk about it. Eek!) And this post is sans-pictures again… This time because I dropped my phone in the toilet. 😦

One Week in Minnesota

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to travel home to Minnesota to spend some time with my mom as she adjusted to her cochlear implant. It was activated that Wednesday– you can read more about that experience here, in my own words. In addition to being present for that big event, it was really nice just to spend some time with family– time that wasn’t centered around a holiday or a vacation; just normal life.

I spent some quality time with my nephew, sister, and brother-in-law. I went to work with my mom to be her dubious moral support. We did lots of shopping (no clothing tax in Minnesota!), and just hanging out. I unearthed all my old t-shirts and finally made the back and front to what will eventually be a completed quilt. This was my first big sewing project, and I didn’t use a pattern, or even cut my shirts down to be the same size, but it still turned out nearly perfect (with minimal filler fabric). My poor mom tried to tell me I was crazy, but with characteristic impatience I jumped in and I’m sure it was just luck that it happened to work out with the right dimensions. (Thanks for your help, Mama, and sorry for depriving you of your “I-told-you-so.” 🙂 I promise I WILL take your advice next time; I probably won’t get lucky twice.) I went running on my very favorite route. It’s my favorite because it was where I first got into running, and first taught myself to push past my limits. I hooked my mom on Fringe, one of my all-time favorites (every season is available on Netflix!) and got to be home for the event I miss most about living there: Sunday night snacks and Downton Abbey.

Being at home for the few days following the activation of my mom’s implant wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought there would be so much more adjustment– so much more emotional exhaustion. There was a little bit, of course, but not as much as I thought there would be. I got to witness a few exciting moments– my mom hearing the tea kettle whistle for the first time, among a few other new noises; practicing listening to the radio and tricking her into enjoying some hip-hop (she couldn’t actually tell what it was, but I knew she’d hear it better than other types of music because of its structure. At least it was some good ol’ Minneapolis Atmosphere). I suspect most of the “ease” was due to my mom just being a champ. It probably wasn’t as easy as she made it seem. But the gradual nature of the adjustment (increasing stimulation of the electrodes tiny bit by tiny bit, over a period of several months) probably does help. Towards the end of my time there, I was worried I wasn’t being much help. But Michael assured me I was, just by being there, and my mom confirmed that on my last day. So I’m very grateful to have had the ability and time off to go.

I’ve had this post written for a while and wanted to add pictures, but I kept avoiding looking through my photos from my week at home because I’d see the last pictures I took of our family dogs, Bandit and Kirby. During my time with them, I saw firsthand how old they had become, and how hard a time they had functioning. Bandit had several accidents, would often fall and not be able to get his back legs under him. He had gradually lost his eyesight and most of his hearing, and was handling it poorly; he displayed so many signs of anxiety. Kirby had to be carried outside and lifted back in; he was carried from bed in the morning to the couch for the day, then back at night. It was time. A little over a week after I got home, Mom and Dad took them both to be put to sleep. They closed their eyes at the exact same time.

I’m thankful to have my own pup to snuggle with. It’s made it easier to mourn my old men. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for my mom and dad, who probably feel their absence much more acutely. I still can’t bring myself to go through my pictures quite yet, but I want to move forward on the blog. So I’m posting this sans-photos for the moment. And I’ll sign off by saying: give some extra love to your fur-babies today.

Steps

It’s been difficult, lately, to think of anything but our schedule over the next five months. Michael is currently in Nashville on his penultimate residency interview trip– he’s going to Durham, NC at the end of the week and then he’s done! We predicted the exact number of interviews he would do: 15, over a period of three months. It’s been a pretty crazy season, but very, very soon, we will be making real decisions about our rank list, which needs to be finalized by late February.

Our travel isn’t quite over yet– I am leaving in a little over a week to spend some time in Minnesota with my parents, and to be there when my mom’s cochlear implant is turned on. I’m grateful that after that trip, we’ll have a relatively quiet February and early March– and maybe we’ll be able to slow down enough to process some of the coming changes.

Today I am missing the baby shower of Amanda, one of my dearest friends, because she lives in Lawrence– and alas, I have to work. Distance has taught me that time close to loved ones is precious. I don’t want to take this time here and now for granted– I won’t always get to share these milestones (like addressing my friend’s wedding invitations yesterday, or getting to see my future sister-in-law try on her dress tomorrow) with the people I love. And so we come back to the idea of presence: Being here, now. Looking for my purpose here, now. Praying that I am right where I need to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, here and now. And waiting for that next step.

Hang in there, folks.

A Comedy of Errors

Yesterday I got an early Christmas gift in the mail from Cait. Cait is a supreme gift-giver. If you’re familiar with love languages: hers is definitely gifts. So even though I didn’t ask for it, she knew I would love this album, and I do (Waitress is a great movie that is now being turned into a musical; it promises to be awesome– Sara Bareilles wrote the music, and the movie will translate superbly onto the stage). ANYWAY. I was listening to it on my way to work this morning, and since I got there a few minutes early, I sat in my car to listen awhile longer because it’s just that good. After my stolen minutes are over, I go into work, yada yada, 5:30 rolls around, and I’m heading back to my car. I put my hand in my coat pocket.

  • My keys are not there.
  • My keys are in the ignition, where I left them, obviously, so that I could listen to music while parked.

I like to think I’ve gotten better at controlling my emotions when stuff like this happens. It’s fine, I think. My remote keyless entry thing is at home, I can just call Michael and ask him to bring it to me. He’s nice, so he immediately agrees. We hang up. A few minutes later he calls back.

  • His car has a flat tire.

Well, one of us needs to call AAA at this point. But a quick solution is to borrow our neighbors’ car so we can at least get me home. Michael spends five minutes trying to get in touch with our neighbor, finally calling me back and telling me to go ahead and call AAA; he can’t get ahold of them. M then interrupts my call to say he managed to get their keys and his on his way. He arrives 20 minutes later, only to discover:

  • The battery in the remote unlocker is dead.

So. I call AAA. The guy comes and pops my door open. I shower him with praises, then hop in to finally drive home. I turn the key.

  • My car battery is dead. Of course, because the key has to be turned enough for the battery to power the CD player.

I frantically wave down the AAA guy. He is nice and jumps my car. And Sara Bareilles (it’s all your fault, Sara! … Not really. It’s mine) accompanies me home, where both Michael and I made it– miraculously– with no further incident. But with more severely tried emotional thresholds, for sure. We’ll be calling AAA again tomorrow to tow Michael’s car to the tire place.

Moral of the story:

  • Beware good music.

And also:

  • AAA is worth it.

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I’ll leave you with that, and also with the promise of several hearty posts coming in the next few days. Hurrah! And happy advent season!

The Interview Process and Match Day

Hi friends and family! This isn’t an update post, it’s an informative one (i.e. warning: this could be boring), as I’ve had enough questions about this to warrant a blanket explanation. If you know a lot about the medical training process, you can skip most of this, but I’m going to pretend you know nothing so I cover all my bases. 😉

As most of you know, Michael is going through the interview process for his next step: residency. Residency is both job and school. Michael will be a “real” doctor when he starts residency, yes, and he will be paid for his work– but the process to get into a residency training program is more like applying to medical school than like applying for a job.

Before I write more, let me confirm that Michael is applying for INTERNAL MEDICINE residency training programs. Internal medicine is the broadest of specialties, and he can train further to another specialty under this broad umbrella (such as gastroenterology or oncology, etc.) after his three-year residency, in what’s called a fellowship. We’ll talk about that in about three years. 🙂

There are hundreds of internal medicine residency options across the country. Michael applied to 30. To apply, medical students use a program online, and they submit their application (including CV and Step 1 score), personal statement, letters of recommendation, and Dean’s Letter (this is not a letter of recommendation, per se– it’s a summary of the student’s work and feedback from supervisors throughout medical school, along with information about the curriculum, etc.). Programs evaluate applications from mid-September through the end of October, and most begin offering interviews during that time. Interviews can be offered and taken through the end of January-ish, though. When Michael is offered an interview, that program becomes a real option for residency. If he takes the interview, he can rank the program (more on ranking later). If he turns down an interview or is not offered one, the program is no longer an option.

The interviews are much like a medical school interview or a job interview, but (for Michael, at least) they are slanted a little more heavily toward selling the program. The programs know that great students like Michael have a lot of options, and so they are focusing on making their program look really great so that Michael will want to come there. They also ask him questions and get to know him, but they know from his scores and letters of recommendation that he’s an excellent candidate. The interview is really for them, and for Michael, to see if he would fit in well– and for him to ask more detailed questions about the program that he can’t get answered without actually going there. Also, these are all places we would be living for a minimum of three years. So he’s seeing if the city feels like a good fit, too.

By February, interviews are over, and ranking begins. We look through all the programs at which Michael interviewed (it will probably end up being ~15), and decide where our top choices are. I say “we”– Michael needs to really like the program for it to be an option, and I need to be willing to live in that place. We can list, in ranking order, ALL of the programs, or just a few. It’s a numbers game, and I won’t go too into the details (but you can ask if you’re really interested). At the same time, the programs are looking at all the students they interviewed, and ranking them in the same fashion. All these ranked lists are submitted online, and fed through an algorithm that matches students to the best-fitting program. Each student is matched to ONE program (it’s not like a job offer, in that way).

And then: Match Day. This year, it’s Friday, March 18th. On this day, every 4th year medical student across the country finds out where they are going for residency. Earlier that week, all students will be notified of whether they matched or not. (If they don’t match, that’s a whole other post. But we will know before Match Day that we have a place to go, just not where it is.) On Match Day, medical schools usually have a ceremony and a meal and all that nice stuff. In a way, it’s almost as big a deal as graduation day. For us personally, it’s probably a bigger deal! Michael will receive an envelope, he’ll open it, and it will tell us where we’re going. And then (I hope) we celebrate!

And that’s how the interview process for residency works. Ta-da!

As of now, Michael has been offered 19 interviews. He’s turned down a few of the programs that were safety options. We’d love your prayers during this time– it involves a lot of travel, a lot of me being home alone, and a lot of Michael having to be “on.” The more clarity we have while going through this process and making decisions, the better!

(Not) Back to School

Someday I will post pictures from our Wible family vacation to Montana. Today is not that day.

Today is for writing and updates and all that other (not as fun) bloggy stuff.

When I last saw a bunch of extended family in July, I was full-steam-ahead on my path to statistics. Last month, I was thinking about how weird it was that I’d be back in school next fall. And then I remembered that a lot of undergrad programs open their applications almost a year in advance, meaning I’d be applying… Soon. And when I imagined applying for statistics programs in a matter of weeks, my heart gave a little lurch. It wasn’t the kind of lurch that comes with the nerves that surround making big changes. It was the kind of lurch that said, maybe this is not quite right. So I took some time to reconsider, pause and pray. I thought about studying something broader. Accounting, maybe, or perhaps getting my MBA. I talked to a few close friends working in those fields. I got some great advice. And now my plan is to NOT go back to school. Not now, and not next fall. At least for now. To many, that might seem like the easy path… For me, “school” has always been my favorite job, and I was looking forward to being back in the classroom. But I didn’t have a clear vision for what I’d do with a given degree. Not one that really excited me, at least. I concluded it would be wiser to try to get whatever practical experience I can before I commit lots of time and resources into another degree I might not use.

So even though it’s going to be difficult, with almost a decade (for real!) of work in the non-profit and public service sectors, and with no educational background to recommend me otherwise, I’m going to try to break into business. Wish me luck. (And please, please send me your connections!)

On Michael’s end, he’s made some big moves, too. He’s enjoying his anesthesiology AI right now, but he’s planning on applying for internal medicine residencies, officially! We have a list of 24 programs (I will tell you if you’d really like to know, but I won’t post them here). These last few weeks have been full of corralling letters of recommendation, getting advice and wisdom from some uppers at UH and Case, and finalizing the personal statement. We are nearly ready, as we should be… The application goes out on Tuesday!

It still feels like summer here. I made a promise to myself last winter that I wouldn’t take the heat for granted, and to try not to complain about it. I’ve done a pretty good job. But when I really get the urge to start re-listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, and start making comfort food, I feel like it should be a little cooler. In about a month, my friend Cait is coming to visit from LA and we will be able to do all those things and more– and by then it better be PSL weather! She’s counting on a dose of fall colors.

I got a sweet visit, too, last weekend from my friend Amanda. It was wonderful to bring her to Town Hall and Mitchells and share some good conversation. (Thanks for letting me steal you from your fam for an evening, ‘Manda!) She even got to meet some of the medwives, who gathered for a bonfire later that night (again… Wishing for fall. We were sweltering). And on Sunday we got to see good friends Luke and Nadyli get married in Pennsylvania. We took a little overnight trip and even brought Isis, who was very happy not to be left behind, but also very nervous about being left in a hotel room while we were at the wedding (she survived). The wedding was beautiful and moving, and we got to celebrate afterwards with Alex (a groomsman) and friends Garrett and Matt who also made the trek. What a great Labor Day weekend.

And now it’s officially September. And I can’t think of a pithy way to end this post, so.

The end.