Saturday, June 27, 2015


After nine consecutive years of medical training (16 years total of post-secondary training), I finally finished last Thursday.  When asked what I do for a living, I no longer have to hem and haw, awkwardly describing myself as an "almost doctor" or "doctor-in-training" or "resident doctor" or "fellow" (what the heck is a fellow?).  I am simply a doctor.  Full stop.

I am a strange mix of exhausted, burnt out, humbled, ecstatic, terrified, and proud.  I've slept poorly ever since finishing, because I am constantly thinking about this new state of being and what it means to me.  I'm not quite sure.  I don't even fully know what comes next, although there is a preliminary contract sitting unsigned on my desk.

At the very least, I know that I have seven weeks off.  I plan to sleep and eat and laugh and daydream and cram in as many of the things that I have said no to over the past nine years as I possibly can.  I feel so, so lucky to have this space and time for the first time in far too many years. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Screwing Up

There's a resident who is a few years younger than me with whom I've always enjoyed working and whom I would like to get to know outside of work.  Her boyfriend is a huge fan of board games, as am I, so long ago she promised to invite me to her house the next time they hosted a games night.  A few weeks ago the invitation finally came, and I was looking forward to meeting her boyfriend and bringing some tasty snacks.

This morning, I was driving home from dropping the girlfriend off at work, when I saw a sign advertising monthly games nights.  My first thought was "Oooh!  I love games nights!".  My second thought, accompanied by the horrible feeling that I might spontaneously vomit all over the inside of my car, was "OMFG.  Games night was last night."

Yes, after waiting for months, I had managed to completely forget about games night.  It was in my calendar; I had reminded the girlfriend about it earlier in the week; I had even thought about what to bring on Friday night.  But when the day actually arrived, I'd gotten lost in dreading the multiple presentations that I have scheduled for this week and dreaming about my last day of work*, and all thoughts of games night completely slipped my mind.

This, sadly, isn't the first time I've done something like this.  As a teenager, I twice (TWICE) forgot to go to my regularly scheduled after-school babysitting job.  In my working life, I've more than once forgotten to go important meetings, usually involving the boss and a collection of bigwigs.  A year ago, I forgot to attend morning case conference, where I was scheduled to present one of the patients.


It's not that I'm an idiot.  It's not that I don't put these things into my calendar or check my calendar regularly.  It's that I get caught up with something else and completely lose track of where I'm supposed to be.  And I hate it.  After writing a very long apology to the resident, I've spent my day today feeling like a total shit who can't do anything right.

Guess it's time to start setting reminders on my iPhone.

*Thursday.  Exactly 95 hours at the time of writing this (check the counter below the Blog Archive for the most recent update.)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Things I Learned on My Vacation (Most of Which I Already Knew)

Today is my last full day in New Brunswick, and I've snuck away to the sitting room for a few minutes of silence.  In other parts of the house, my almost-90-year-old grandmother is playing classic show tunes on the piano, my aunt is spinning tales while chopping a seemingly endless pile of vegetables, and my Mom is laughing at my aunt while frying 5 pounds of scallops* for Coquilles Saint-Jacques.  While I know that these are the sounds of life and love and family, I do find myself pining for the relative quiet of the one-bedroom apartment that I share with my love (and two asshole felines).

As it's almost the end of my trip, rather than recount the details of my travel that are interesting to no one but myself, I thought I'd share a few observations that I've made in my time away from home.

1)  I hate being away from my girlfriend:  She stayed back at home because of work (and being hesitant to meet all of my family simultaneously at a wedding), and I have missed her every single day.  I miss rolling over to stare at her in the morning, waiting for her to wake up so that I can cuddle with her and tell her my dreams.  I miss coming home to her at night and hearing about her day.  I miss spending way too much time cooking supper with her and then being too lazy to clean up the kitchen afterwards.  I'm clearly smitten.

2)  I am unquestionably an introvert:  My Maritime family is large...and loud.  There is always someone around, and they are usually moving at top speed within a cloud of noise and chaos.  As much as I love them, my introverted self has found it a bit overwhelming, and I've had to hide away from people on a regular basis.  My Mom and I spent three nights alone at my grandmother's cottage, and I could feel myself recharging in the stillness and quiet.

3)  I pack too much stuff when I travel:  I had planned to go more minimalist and pack only my medium-sized suitcase (from a set of three), but my Mom asked me to bring out the largest one so that she could "bring some stuff back with her".  No longer constrained by space, I found myself throwing in all kinds of things I was never going to use - a second dress (getting me into a dress for a wedding is miracle enough), a fourth pair of shoes, multiple pairs of dress pants.  It's ridiculous, especially because we've changed location five times in ten days, and I've had to carry the stupidly heavy suitcase up and down multiple flights of stairs.  In the future, I'm bringing one outfit and washing it in the sink every night.

4)  I need very little to be happy:  My vacation has included lots of exciting things, like trips to Peggy's Cove and Lunenburg, a tour of an artisinal distillery, and many fancy meals out.  My favourite moments though?  Waking up to the sounds of shorebirds outside my bedroom window.  Cuddling with my cousin's adorable one-year-old daughter.  Lying on the couch where my grandfather used to nap every day after lunch.  When traveling in the future, I need to remember that it's the simple things that I most enjoy.

And now the doorbell has rung, bringing another group of relatives into the home.  Time for me to make nice and play the extrovert for a while**. 

*The scallops were supposed to have been taken home with us and eaten over weeks to months, but there was a malfunction of the system to keep them frozen, so instead we're binge-eating scallops.  Life is hard.

**I was going to include photos, but I think my Mom will kill me if I hide away any longer.  A photo post is coming soon!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dykes at Weddings

I’m currently in the beautiful maritime province of New Brunswick for my cousin’s wedding, which took place last Saturday.  As an unmarried, queer, almost middle-aged woman, it’s inevitable that any wedding will evoke a lot of emotions and self reflection in me.  This one was different for me, however, in that I’m now more than a year into a long-term relationship, and the girlfriend and I have started to dance around the topic of having a wedding of our own.

(A photo of the Same-Sex Marriage "Cake" at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights)

What struck me, as I made the inevitable comparisons between my cousin’s relationship/nuptials and my own, was how much shit my cousin doesn’t have to deal with because she happens to be in an opposite-sex relationship.  For example:
  • When discussing her life with someone she works with or has just met, she doesn’t have to make a split-second decision about whether the person will judge her or consider her to be immoral based on her relationship.
  • When posting photos on Facebook, she doesn’t need to screen photos of her and her partner to make sure that they won’t offend her conservative friends, whom she loves in spite of their ignorance and bigotry.
  • When planning a wedding, she doesn’t have to worry about whether or not she can get married in the church in which she was raised and baptized and which she attends every week.
  • When inviting people to her wedding, she doesn’t have to worry that people will refuse to come because they disagree with her “lifestyle choice”.

By simple virtue of being born straight, my cousin is privileged to avoid the relentless background noise of worry that my girlfriend and I live with because we’re queer.  And we live in one of the best countries in the world to be LGBTQ!  As of July 20 this year, it will have been ten years since our government legalized same-sex marriage.  I can’t fathom what it would be like to live in a country in which it isn’t legal to be married, or worse, where one can still be imprisoned or killed for happening to love someone of the same gender.

Ranting aside…I have to admit that there were also a lot of positive things about my time at my cousin’s wedding.  First, she was married in the United Church, which has an established history of performing same-sex marriages and even ordaining gay and lesbian ministers.  As we entered the church, I noticed that there was a Pride triangle on the door, as well as a sign indicating that the church was a safe space for gays and lesbians.  During the service, the minister replaced the usual statement that “marriage is a union between a man and a woman”* with “marriage is a union between two people”.  These were seemingly small details that none of my relatives noticed, but as someone who has spent most of her life feeling alienated from the church, it meant a lot to me.

Second was my family.  I don’t see this branch of my family very often, as we’re separated by many kilometers that require expensive plane tickets to cross, but they were still incredibly welcoming to me.  Almost every one of them asked why my girlfriend hadn’t come (pesky job), and many of them extended an invitation for the two of us to come and visit together in the near future.  There wasn’t a single moment of awkwardness, except for the time when I was showing family photos on my camera to my grandmother (who doesn’t know about the lesbianism or the girlfriend), and we came to some photos of the girlfriend. 

“Oh!  Who’s that?” she asked.  

Apparently there are still a few awkward discussions about sexuality in my future.

*I think I have my wording wrong here, but my Google search for the correct phrase yielded a list of mainly Christian websites discussing the immorality of same-sex marriage.  Because I like to not be crazy and angry while on vacation, I decided not to follow any of the links.