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Despite the title of this blog, I rarely talk about the specifics of being a doctor’s wife anymore. But I thought this might be interesting not only for doctors’ spouses but for the spouses of others who have not-a-regular-9-to-5-career, too. 

One of the most common questions I get is whether being a doctor’s wife is lonely. Sure. Being the spouse of a physician can be lonely at times. It really can. No different from being the spouse of a fire fighter or an accountant during tax season or many other professions. It’s less lonely, I imagine, than being the spouse of someone who’s gone for many days at a time – like a pilot or a member of the armed forces or a long-haul trucker or a consultant or many other professions.

It has its ups and downs, like being married to anybody with any job. And it has times where you will be alone, and/or in charge of the bulk of the housework/child-rearing, just like being married to anybody with a not-strictly-9-to-5 job.

Now that my husband is a practicing physician, the loneliest times are call weeks. So I thought I would tell you, today, what it’s like when my husband is on call. I’d be fascinated to know what YOU do when your spouse is gone.

 

We’re going into a call week this Saturday, which means that I may not see much of my husband for the next seven days. He goes into the hospital early. Depending on the patient load, he may come home really late. Or he may come home and then have to go back to the hospital, or come home and then have to spend several hours in his office, on the phone with the hospital staff or returning patient calls. There’s no guarantee he’ll see our daughter on any given day. There’s no guarantee he’ll be free to help with washing the dishes or the child, that he’ll be home to eat meals, that he’ll be free to talk through our separate days, that he’ll be next to me as I fall asleep.

To deal with call weeks, I do several things:

  1. I prep Carla by talking enthusiastically about our special Girls’ Week. I use lots of exclamation points. Sometimes we’ll go out for a special lunch date together. We’ll paint our toenails. We’ll eat snacky dinners. We’ll watch movies. We’ll be a little loosey goosey with the “no screens on school days” rules. If Carla feels sad about not seeing her father, we’ll make him a special art project. We may not bathe as frequently as normal.
  1. I go easy on myself with meal planning. Instead of focusing on healthy food, which I try to do most days, I make easy and comforting food the priority (note: “healthy” and “easy and comforting” are not necessarily mutually exclusive). For me, that’s things like tacos and chicken paprikas and pizza and grilled shrimp from the prepared foods counter at the grocery store. Bonus points for things that are easy to prepare and leave abundant leftovers. I may buy a special treat for myself, and possibly for Carla. I don’t limit myself to one piece of leftover Easter candy. I make sure I have a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge.
  1. I try to schedule fun things for myself during the week. Usually, my writing time is sacred. I try to treat my day like a real work day – albeit shorter than the typical 9-to-5. So I reserve coffees and lunch dates for call weeks. This week, I have a coffee, a lunch date, and a play date for me and Carla. At night, after Carla’s in bed, I curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and/or some ice cream/rapidly dwindling Easter candy and watch Candy TV: Real Housewives, sitcoms my husband isn’t interested in, reruns of Seinfeld or Gilmore Girls or Friends or Family Feud.
  1. I try to maintain a (barf) Positive Attitude. I say cheerleadery things to myself and to Carla: We are so proud of Daddy. He is making people feel better. He works so hard, to take care of other people and to take care of us. We’ll be back to normal in just X days! We can do it! And anyway, missing Daddy helps us to appreciate him more when he’s here! I try to think cheering thoughts: I get to watch only what I want to watch this week! I can go to bed whenever I want! I am so glad I’m not a doctor! Hey, I didn’t say they were cheering to anyone but ME.

One of the things that’s most difficult for me during call weeks is to not unload on my husband when he’s around. Call is extremely stressful for him. He’s seeing super sick patients. He may have 11 patients to see or he may have 25. He may have really difficult procedures. He may be extra tired from being paged or getting called into the hospital overnight.

It’s not unstressful for me: suddenly, I’m solely responsible for house and child and self. Which can be easy breezy or exhausting on any given day. But I try really really hard to remember that I shouldn’t just throw the toddler and the dishes at my husband when he manages to show up at a reasonable hour.  And I shouldn’t complain too loudly or vigorously about how stressful my day was.

The best part about call weeks is that they END. For us, call takes place roughly every seven weeks. This differs from practice to practice, and we’re very lucky. So even though they are lonely weeks, they aren’t very frequent. And they don’t last terribly long.

I’m sure life can be lonely for MANY spouses out there, for all kinds of professions. And, in fact, I would be really interested in what it’s like for you, when your spouse isn’t there. How often is s/he gone? What’s the schedule like then, and how does it deviate from normal? How do you deal with the loneliness, and with the stress of being In Charge By Yourself?

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Today my husband kissed me goodbye like any other day.

But it’s not just any other day…

You see, today he began the next step in his training.

He headed off to the hospital to begin his fellowship!

You know what that means, right?

My husband is DONE with residency!

I feel like this development should be accompanied by balloons and confetti and maybe a parade with some acrobats and a float with a beauty queen on it, and, of course, a marching band. I mean, it’s the end of a three-year stretch that has been a huge learning experience – not just for him at work, but for our marriage, and for me, personally.

Plus, it’s the beginning of this entirely new stage in my husband’s career and our lives. We’re another step closer to Real Life, after all! (Strange to think that the nine years since college have been just LEADING UP TO Real Life…)

But, instead, it doesn’t really FEEL like a big deal.

I think that’s because we’re not going anywhere. You know, physically.

So far in our lives, all big milestones like this have spurred a Big Move. There’s nothing like stowing all your belongings away in Home Depot boxes to make you feel like change is happening.

This time, however, we’re staying put. We’ve got this house. We’ve got at least three more years here. My husband isn’t even changing hospitals for fellowship.

That’s the other reason it doesn’t feel like a big deal, I think. In the past, the milestone and the Big Move resulted in a big change in his routine. From a retail job and a few classes while I was in grad school… to classes and short, simple hospital rotations during medical school… to 80 hours a week in the hospital during residency.

Until now, I always had to adjust to seeing my husband more or less. To taking my work to the library to study with him… Or to steeling myself for not seeing him for 30 hours at a time.

Fellowship, as I understand it, won’t be all that different from residency. My husband will still work a lot. He’ll still have rotations that will vary his routine every few weeks. He’ll still be on call (although he’ll have HOME call instead of HOSPITAL call, meaning that he’ll be home to answer issues over the phone and will only have to go to the hospital in an emergency). But even then, call won’t be as frequent as it has been these past three years.

Of course, he will go back to being the low man on the totem pole for at least a year. That’s tough, I think, after finally getting to the point in residency where you know the ropes and feel comfortable and knowledgeable. To get dumped back into the dark panic of not really knowing what to do, learning new equipment, working with a whole new team… that’s not fun or easy.

But I think he’s excited. Looking forward to specializing in a field that interests him so much. Looking forward to mastering the procedures that will be such a big part of his career. Looking forward to this last (hopefully) step on the path to Being Done.

Oh Internet, I am so proud of my husband. He’s worked so hard.

I am so happy that he’s about to begin this new step in his training. I hope fellowship gives him a chance to fall in love his with field, to truly feel like he’s building up an expertise in an area that interests him.

And I’m looking forward to watching him grow more knowledgeable and more confident as he settles into this new role.

As far as how this new stage will affect me (which is, of course, the subject of this blog: me me me), I’m withholding judgment.

My husband, of course, swears that fellowship is going to be much better than residency was.

I am not holding my breath.

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Today is the first day it hasn’t rained pretty much ALL April. (Although as I type these words, the clouds seem to be gathering, so the sun may not LAST.)

And yet it has jumped straight from 40-degree-thunderstorm to 78-degree-mugginess which is not FAIR. I would much prefer a scattering of 60-degree days that inch up the temperature scale, sort of gathering momentum, before leaping into summer weather.

Not that the weather CARES that it is being unfair, mind you. The weather NEVER CARES.

But the weather – not to mention a lot of busy-ness at work that I have probably whined about enough – and yet will likely whine about AGAIN, just to warn you – is making me quite crabby.

Usually when I sent a venting-type email to my mother, I feel much better about things. There is a lot to be said for getting things off one’s chest. So today I am going to do a Spring Cleaning of My Current Grievances. You are welcome to join in, if you are so inclined.

(Do not confusing this with ACTUAL Spring Cleaning. Which I DESPERATELY need to do, and yet will likely avoid until September or so. I HAVE done quite a bit of Spring Laundry, though. And approximately zero Spring Folding of the Laundry. )

Grievance 1:  First on my list is the guy at our grocery store deli. He is just horrific. He has no sense of urgency whatsoever, and I swear it takes about 15 minutes for him to slice one pound of meat for you. Probably it is more like five minutes, but it FEELS like 15, because he is so languid about every. single. movement.

But that’s not the worst part. No, the worst part is that he doesn’t LISTEN. I have had multiple experiences with him (he seems to be the ONLY person who works in that deli!), so I know now to speak very loudly and clearly when giving him my order. But it doesn’t do much good. I have to repeat myself several times throughout the process, because he will inevitably turn to me once he’s painstakingly removed the turkey from the case… and slipped the plastic wrapper off… and walked it over to the slicing machine… all as though he is moving through glue… Only then he will ask, “Was it a half a pound?”

“No, a pound,” I will call.

“Two pounds?”

“NO. ONE pound!”

He also has seemingly no concept of slicing varieties. My husband likes his turkey shaved. And – on the rare occasion that I get deli meat, which is usually salami – I like my deli meat very thin sliced.

So I tell him this when I tell him what I want and how much. “One pound of low-salt turkey. Shaved, please.”

When he asks (again) about how much I want, I usually also tack on how I want it sliced as well. In hopes that it will get through to him. “NO. ONE pound! Shaved please!” Because I KNOW that if he’s forgotten the amount, he’s likely forgotten the shaved part as well.

But it doesn’t matter. We always end up with thick slabs of meat.

Once I asked him to re-slice it. “I asked for thinly sliced,” I told him, as politely as possible. (Although I’m SURE my face was bright red with frustration.) So he did. But you know what he did with one pound’s worth of thick slabs of salami? He THREW IT AWAY.

So I feel horrible about THAT. I mean, I don’t want to be responsible for perfectly good food going to waste, you know? So since then, when he’s inevitably cut it wrong, I bite my tongue and complain loudly about it to my husband. For DAYS.

And then, also inevitably, he will weigh the turkey and there will be one-and-a-third pound instead of the one pound I’ve asked – repeatedly – for. But by then I am so exasperated, I just take it and pay for a third more meat than I asked for or can eat before it goes bad. I mean, it’s just going to go in the trash ANYWAY, if I tell him it’s too much, right?

Okay, I lied. The worst thing about him is not that he doesn’t listen. The worst thing is that he doesn’t CARE.

It is very clear by his demeanor, his tone of voice, and his actions that he is completely indifferent to his job and the people he’s serving.

And that INFURIATES me. Because if you are getting paid to do something, at the VERY LEAST have the decency to feel bad… or even just a little GUILTY… when you royally screw it up.  Or at least APOLOGIZE instead of rolling your eyes or staring at me incredulously, like this is the first rather than tenth time I’ve told you something.

Yes, I know. Everyone has a bad day now and then. But this guy is like this EVERY TIME.

I remind myself every time I go to the deli that I MUST remember to get this guy’s name so I can make a formal complaint. And yet every time, I am so thoroughly MADDENED by dealing with him, that I either forget to look or, if I have looked at his name tag, his name is driven completely out of my brain by the RAGE.

I ALSO know that if I’m not going to complain about the guy, that I don’t really have anyone to blame for my irritation but myself.

And usually – I’d say 98 percent of the time – my husband and I shop at a different grocery store so we don’t have to deal with this dude. A grocery store that is 15 minutes away rather than 5 minutes away. But sometimes, when we’re in a hurry or when the closer store just makes more time and economical sense, we go there anyway.  And I get irate all over again.

That’s what happened to inspire this particular grievance. I went to the grocery store last night to buy food for the weekend, and I thought to myself, “While I’m here, I should get some turkey for my husband!” (He eats turkey sandwiches every day for lunch.)  But then I caught a glimpse of the deli guy as I approached the deli… And I got so pre-emptively upset that I just scrapped the whole getting-turkey idea. We have peanut butter and jelly at home. My husband can eat THAT.

Grievance 2 (do not worry, this is a MUCH shorter grievance): I very much dislike when people give me unsolicited work advice when they really don’t understand my work. (And I’m not talking about YOU Internet. If I ask your advice on things, it’s because I WANT that advice.)

Grievance 3: When I am stressed out and busy and working late into the night, my body responds by making the limited sleep I AM getting very fitful and interrupted.

You’d think that I could stay up until 3:00 am one morning, wake up at 7:00 am the next morning… Work until midnight the next night… And then get a good solid eight hours of sleep until my alarm buzzes at 8:00 to put me back on track for normal non-sleep zombie life.

But you would be wrong. Because my mind is so overloaded by Stuff to Do that it prevents me from actually FALLING asleep until 1:30 or so… And then I wake up after a work nightmare at 3:30… And then again at 5:00 because my husband rolls over… And then again at 6:00 when my husband’s alarm goes off… And then I can’t actually fall back asleep until 7:00, only to wake up again at 7:30 and give up and go to work.

This has been going on – with slight variations – ALL WEEK. The fatigue and the accompanying brain fartiness just keep compounding until I am next to worthless. I have such a hefty sleep debt that, even though I FINALLY slept well last night – from midnight until 11:00 am – I am STILL TIRED. Blargh.

Okay, I’m sure that I could dream up MORE grievances, but I will resist. And I will force myself to come up with three things that are positive in an attempt to counteract the irritation and over-tiredness.

Positive 1: My mother sent me a BEAUTIFUL vase of spring flowers, totally by surprise, and sent with them a little box of chocolate truffles for my husband. (He thinks flowers are stupid and also LOVES chocolate.)

Positive 2: My husband is DONE with fellowship interviews!!!!!! I am so excited about this and also just… tired. It was so exhausting for ME, I can only imagine how arduous it was for my husband, who actually had to do the interviews.

Also, he only had to work until 1:00 today, and when he is finished with writing his sign-out, we will get to spend the rest of the day and ALL DAY tomorrow together!

(By the way, in case you are curious at ALL about the fellowship application process, I plan to write a nice long post all about it.  But not until after my husband has [hopefully] matched in June to a fellowship program.)

Positive 3: Even though it was gross outside, I did do a brisk mile or so of walking today. And I was charmed to see that some enthusiastic daffodils have said “to hell with the rain!” and decided to bloom anyway.

Happy weekend, Internet! May it be full of positives and free of grievances.

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One thing I bet you don’t think about when (if) you think about a doctor’s training is the enormous number of thank you notes s/he will have to write.

Not to put too exact a number on it, but s/he will have to write a LOT of thank you notes.

A lot a lot.

A thank you for every letter of recommendation – and you need recommendation letters for med school itself, residency, and fellowship. Possibly you’ll also need recommendation letters for when you apply to an actual clinical position as well, I don’t know for sure as we have not yet reached that point.

A thank you for every interview – again, for med school, residency, fellowship, and beyond.

And, well, I suppose that’s it. But considering how many residency and fellowship programs you apply to, it could be a lot.

Also, as I found out after my husband’s interview last week, you might not interview with just ONE person. Oh no! He had EIGHT INTERVIEWS with nine different people.

(One of his Chief Residents said that he’s never heard of a person having more than 14 interviews at one program. FOURTEEN. Holy cats!)

So let’s do some math here… (Which I typically avoid at all costs but TODAY I’M FEELING FRISKY.)

Say my husband applied to 60 fellowship programs (which is more or less accurate).

Say he then gets interviews at 30% of those programs.

Say that he goes through an average of five interviews at each of those 20 programs.

That’s an upper-limit of 100 thank you notes!

Consider, though, the guidelines my husband’s Chief Resident gave him:

  1. You don’t need to write a thank you note to everyone, if you had more than X interviews at one program. Instead, you would write a note to the program director, the fellowship director, and anyone you felt a special connection with during your interviews.
  2. If you had fewer than X (which is still undefined – I need to ask my husband) interviews at a program, you would want to write a thank you note to everyone.
  3. You need to make sure that every. single. thank you note is different because, apparently, everyone will compare notes. (I mean, this is sort of common sense, right?)

So maybe 100 thank you notes is a stretch, but certainly 40 or even 50 is NOT.

Let me be clear: I am all for writing thank you notes. My parents drummed it into me my entire childhood. And while I sometimes FAIL and do not write a thank you note, this failure results in guilt that NEVER subsides. Ever.

(Brief Detour: We registered for our wedding china at Macy’s, which has the nice feature of showing who bought you what on their website. So we knew that a setting of our china had been purchased, but – through a quirk of the otherwise very helpful system – the name of the gift-giver was unavailable. And then WE NEVER GOT THE CHINA. So I fear that there was some horrible misunderstanding/shipping mistake/crooked wedding-china enthusiast slash UPS driver that resulted in the gift-giver believing that we got the china but could never be bothered to write a thank you note. Our wedding took place over two years ago and I still think about this! Someone we love is sitting there, sadly, feeling slighted that we never thanked him/her for the generous china setting!)

So, yes, I am an Avid Thank You Note Proponent. My husband is, too. (Although he is more of a Theoretical Avid Thank You Note Proponent rather than an Actual Thank You Note Writer. In some cases.)

But my husband wants to send these fellowship programs EMAIL THANK YOU NOTES.

Listen, I LOVE email. It is one of my favorite things ever. Approximately 90% of the time I would prefer to communicate via email than via any other communication medium.

But EMAIL THANK YOU NOTES make me cringe!

Yes, I know, doctors… busy… blah blah blah. And I realize that this is the twenty-first century and the rules of etiquette need to bend to fit our newfangled technology like email. Also, I realize that – outside of a wedding or a baby or possibly graduation – writing 50 thank you notes is kind of ridiculous.

Furthermore, the Chief Resident says it’s “preferable” to send thank yous via email so that the fellowship program people can simply print them out and put them in my husband’s file.

To that I say, But isn’t it equally easy to open a creamy envelope, pull out a sheet of soft, sturdy stationary, and put the entire card into my husband’s file?

And wouldn’t it give the fellowship people a nicer perspective of my husband, a busy doctor who made the time to hand-write a heartfelt thank you to each of his interviewers?

I mean, everyone loves receiving mail, right? Fellowship program directors must fall under the umbrella of “everyone”!

It just seems WRONG to send a non-traditional (i.e. email) thank you note for something so important!

Am I alone in feeling this way?

Anyway, for the fellowship thank you notes at least, my opinion is moot.

My husband sent out his first round of email thank you notes yesterday. One of the recipients already emailed him back.

Sigh.

Convenience and “my Chief Resident told me to do it this way” FTW. (Said in a terribly defeated manner.)

(They win more arguments than you’d expect.)

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My husband and I have spent approximately 24 hours in one another’s company since last Friday.

It’s been a long, lonely week. And the heavy ceiling of grey clouds that has settled permanently above my apartment is not doing anything to lift my mood.

But! I am trying to be positive because today is my husband’s first interview for fellowship.

Quick recap: My husband spent four years in medical school, is in Year 2 of a three-year residency, and will (hopefully) match at a three-year fellowship program that he’ll begin in 2012.

If getting into medical school is tough, matching at a fellowship is ridiculous. His medical school class was made up of about 100 students. Most of the programs offering fellowships in his specialty have just one or two spots. (And 200 or so applicants for those positions.)

He has several interviews lined up, which is great. There have been a couple of rejections amid the interview invitations, and one instance of being wait-listed. But there are a few dozen (I am not kidding) programs he has yet to hear from.

Today is the first interview, and I am anxious.

For one thing, I want my husband to do well. I know he’s a very strong candidate. But presumably he’s up against a dozen or so of the strongest candidates in the nation. That’s stiff competition.

For another thing, this is a situation I have ZERO control over. I’ve referred to it before as the Physician Uncertainty Principle. It’s not a new thing (see: applying to med school and residency). So you’d think I would be able to simply accept that fact, sit back, and let the cards fall where they may. But oh no. I am anxious.

Anxious because I want my husband to get into a top program – a program that will make hospitals and private practices froth at the bit to hire him after fellowship. Anxious because whatever program he matches at will be our home for at least three years… And I have preferences. Anxious because it’s possible that he won’t match at all. (I wrote and erased that sentence three times. It seems like a bad omen to leave it on the page. But it’s the truth. A possibility we have to acknowledge.) While not matching would not be the end of the world, it would be a hitch in the road. It would mean rethinking our goals for the next few years. It might mean going through this anxiety-producing and expensive interview process again.

And that’s another thing I’m anxious about. The whole process kind of sucks. My husband has to travel all over the country (not cheap) for these interviews. I would obviously like to go with him – especially to cities/states I’ve never visited before – and will try if it’s feasible. But that’s an additional cost. Plus, in order for my husband to be able to attend all these interviews, he has to get his colleagues to cover for him at work. And that means that he’ll be returning the favor. A lot. So that means even less time we get to spend together. Blargh.

The other other thing I’m anxious about is my husband’s top competition: Our good friend.

He’s my husband’s colleague, and he and his wife have become our good friends over the past year and a half. He’s an EXCELLENT doctor. Very smart. Very talented. I’m sure he is as kind and considerate to his patients as he is to his friends.

Of course, these are all qualities my husband has. But they are competing against each other for these limited numbers of spots in a lot of the same fellowship programs.

It’s very hard to look at a program that has one opening… A top program, where they both have interviews… And not want my husband to succeed more than I want our friend to succeed.

YUCK.

(Fortunately, my husband doesn’t have this problem. He has a very genuine “may the best man win” kind of attitude, and I know he would be sincerely happy if our friend “beat” him for a spot.)

(This is just one example of how my husband is a better, kinder person than I am.)

ANYWAY. This whole process is giving me a headache.

Well. Looks like I did a very poor job of being positive. So let’s end on some good things:

–          My husband comes home tonight, so hopefully we’ll get a few hours together before he’s on call tomorrow.

–          I painted my toenails pink, which makes me feel spring-y and beach ready.

–          I have a new stack of good books to read.

–          I found a package of chocolate chip cookie mix in the pantry and miraculously had eggs in my fridge, so now I have cookie dough to keep me sane (if plump).

–          My mom sent me this picture a few days ago and every time I look at it, I smile:

Blue skies, mountains, a goofy dog atop the drifts. That’s winter done right.

Happy Friday, Internet!

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It’s been a long, cold week filled with much snow. So let’s get straight to the bullets!

* Every time I hear a Rhianna song – any Rhianna song at all – I get the Shy Ronnie chorus stuck in my head.

* Tomorrow I get to attend a fancy holiday party! I am going to wear a fancy dress and some high heels and maybe even some makeup. I have yet to decide whether I will wear stockings. The dress is short, and it will be cold outside, so it seems that stocking are A Good Idea… And yet, I will be wearing peep-toe shoes (which are NOT up for negotiation), and I think it might be some sort of fashion faux pas to wear stockings with peep-toes. Am I wrong? Has the “no stockings with peep-toe shoes” rule gone the way of “no white pants after Labor Day”? (Although I still refrain from wearing white pants after Labor Day, or before Labor Day, to be absolutely honest with you. White pants + generous thighs = giant inescapable microscope on the part of me I least want people to look at.)

* There is something wrong with our local Macy’s. First of all, it’s a stand-alone Macy’s, which is odd to me. In my experience, a Macy’s is usually one of the anchor stores in a mall. But that’s not the main problem. The main problem is that the Macy’s employs approximately four people.

I went there twice last weekend. Once, on the way to dinner at a friend’s house. We wanted to pick up a little hostess gift. We got to the Macy’s about 40 minutes before we had to be at dinner. Our friend’s house was 10 minutes away. (This is beginning to sound like a horrible nightmare of a math problem.) We grabbed a cute package of Frango mints after poking around for five minutes and realized we still had tons of time. So I moseyed into the shoe section where I spotted a cute pair of boots I wanted to try on. I stood there for about three minutes without seeing a single shoe salesperson, so we scrapped that idea and headed immediately to the cashier. If you’re keeping track, that means we had 22 whole minutes to buy the mints and leave.

First of all, we wandered around for about 5 minutes before we found a sales counter that actually had a person at it.

(Let me remind you: This was a Saturday evening two weeks after Thanksgiving.)

Then we found a cashier who was helping one person. Apparently, someone was in line behind that person. Her pile of costume jewelry was holding her place. Which was fine with me – I know the holidays make people crazy, and I can be patient when necessary. My husband, on the other hand, sometimes has a hard time. (Which is weird, because he is INCREDIBLY patient with me. But lines or bad traffic get to him really quickly.) Turns out that these two customers each took FOREVER. My husband even scouted out the rest of the store to see if he could find us an alternate sales counter. He could not.

We got out of there 5 minutes late. As in, it took us 22 minutes to make one tiny purchase.

The next day, we went back so I could try on the boots. There were about 40,000 women in the tiny shoe area and just two people to do all the running and ringing up. It took me 15 minutes to wait in line to have the shoe salesman look at the boots I wanted to try on, and then go in the back to get them. He got so confused, poor guy, that he brought back only two of the three pairs I wanted to try on… And one of them in the size of the girl behind me in line. (I let her try them on while I tried on the other pair.)

It was a mess.

I wonder if that Macy’s just can’t afford to hire enough holiday employees? Or if a bunch of the employees were in the back eating birthday cake? Or if it’s just a really bad combination of slow and/or new employees and excess numbers of customers.

All I have to say is I have renewed appreciation for Zappos.

* I found a Giant Dead Spider and a Tiny Dead Spider in the guest bathtub. I now get creeped out every time I go into the guest bathroom, because the tub is apparently some sort of Final Resting Ground for arachnids. And that is creepy.

* The other day, my husband bought some chestnuts and roasted them in the oven. They are too mealy for my taste. But it felt very festive just to be near them while they were roasting. I suppose it would have been MORE festive if they’d involved some sort of open fire. More festive and also more fire alarm-y.

* Speaking of not-actually-festive things, our apartment complex put up a lovely “happy holidays” notice in all the hallways and stairwells. When you first spot it, you think, “How nice of the administration to get into the holiday spirit!” Until you read it. And then you find out that it is a strongly-worded note forbidding live Christmas trees. After all, live trees are the primary cause of fires in December. Then it ends with asking us to spy on our neighbors and report them if they buy a real tree.

Listen, I am all for Fire Safety. Really, I am. And I am all for requiring that renters buy fake trees. It’s for the Good of the Many, people! But isn’t there a better and less fear mongering sort of way to do it?

* When my husband started residency, he got three white coats. Long white coats, which differentiate the Real Doctors from the Medical Students.  That is one white coat per year, if you’re counting.

Here we are, not yet halfway through the second year of residency, and my husband’s second white coat just bit the dust. His pen exploded in the pocket.

In case you don’t know, Giant Blue Ink Stain + White Coat = Noticeable Problem.

Note to self: Do not use Shout Spray on a Giant Ink Stain.

Second Note to Self: Do not dunk the Now Enormously Huge Yet Slightly Diluted Ink Stain in water.

Third Note to Self: Do not try to Oxy out the Now Astronomically Monstrous Ink Stain That Is Still Spreading and Threatening to Eat Your Face and just throw it away while you’re still alive.

The other white coat is serviceable, but is missing all of its buttons.

* Here’s where I admit to you that I do not know how to sew on a button. While I know this makes a small part of my mother (jokingly) think she failed me as a parent, it has really not hindered my progress as a human in the least. One time a button fell off my coat in college. I was able to get one of the guys who lived upstairs from my dorm room to sew it back on for me.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you can’t teach your kids to sew, at least teach them how to persuade an Econ major into sewing for them. That’s got to be a skill of equal value.

* Facebook felt the need to remind me that my wedding anniversary to “[Husband’s Name Here]” is coming up.

It makes me deeply sad to think that this probably HELPS people remember their anniversaries.

* That said, it’s our anniversary!!! We plan to celebrate by going out to a steak dinner. Because nothing says “I will love you for all eternity” like stuffing yourself silly with meat, amIright?

We’ve been together for so long that it kind of surprises me that we’ve only been married two years. Why, we’re still newlyweds!

The newness of “being married” has worn off, for the most part. But every once in a while, I am struck with wonderment that I am bonded to my husband for life.

It’s a pretty crazy thing, that we found each other. Crazy and wonderful.

* * *

What’s up with you today, Internet?

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This weekend, I had the chance to catch up with a college friend I haven’t spoken to in months. Let’s call her Alice.

Alice is in her final year of an anesthesiology residency. She has been out of medical school two years longer than my husband.  (Anesthesia residents do a prelim year of residency in an internal medicine program, then three years of anesthesia residency.) (And she will only have a one-year fellowship… so basically I am already jealous of her husband.)

During our conversation, Alice brought up one of the tricky little things that come with being a doctor: People forgetting her title.

Here’s the situation.

Alice was invited to the wedding of a childhood friend – a guy she’s known forEVER. She’s known her friend’s fiancée for several years as well, although they don’t get together very often. But the couple definitely knows that Alice is an anesthesia resident.

Anyway, when Alice received the formal wedding invitation in the mail, she noticed that it was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.

Now, I don’t want to give you the idea that Alice was in a rage about this or anything… I think she was a little irked, but that was all.

But I probably would have been irked, too! I mean, she went through four years of medical school and is 75% done with her residency. She’s certainly earned the M.D. after her name… So I think she’s earned the right to be called Dr. Smith.

Alice’s husband thought it was just plain rude. He actually thinks that it was the bride’s little passive aggressive way of “sticking it to” Alice. (I don’t know the back story on that – sounds juicy!) But my guess is that the bride and groom had no idea they were offending Alice. I bet the mistake was due to one of three things:

  1. They didn’t know if she goes by “Dr. Smith” yet, since she’s still in training
  2. They were unaware of the proper protocol of addressing an invitation when the woman is the one with the title
  3. They didn’t even think about titles when addressing their invitations

Since my father is a physician, I’ve always been conscious of titles. Otherwise, I’m not sure I would even think twice about it. (Is this something that YOU think of/thought of when addressing letters or invitations?)  The other thing is, I don’t know if it’s common knowledge that once you’ve graduated medical school, you are a doctor. Well, you are. Even if you can’t practice, you’re officially Dr. Soandso.

Anyway, the proper protocol is to always include a title on a formal invitation. According to Emily Post, Alice’s friends should have addressed the invitation as follows:

–          Dr. Alice Smith and Mr. John Smith

–          Dr. Alice and Mr. John Smith

Or, if Alice had kept her maiden name:

–          Dr. Alice Jones and Mr. John Smith

Or, if Alice and her husband were both physicians:

–          The Doctors Smith

–          Drs. John and Alice Smith

–          Dr. Alice Smith and Dr. John Smith

–          Dr. Alice Jones and Dr. John Smith

As I mentioned, Alice’s husband was more miffed than Alice was about the lack of title. (He’s awfully proud of his wife and her accomplishments.) So on the response card, he wrote in “Dr. Alice Smith and Mr. John Smith” in the space provided before “will be attending.”

I got a good giggle out of that. Passive aggressiveness FTW!

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