Tuesday, October 25, 2005

GUT reactions

My sphincter was threatening to fail as I rode the bus tonight. The driver made the bus actually hover between taking a right and a left, drawing out my agony at finding out if I was going to have to repeat the episode described in the latest blog below (LOST ... IN ... IOWA ....), or if I would find myself dropped off in comfort a mere 50 feet from my car. It's even colder outside now, by the way.

We just came from the apartment complex I described in that blog ... passing twice (on the way there, and on the way back) the un-mapped park (I think actually called the "Mormon Handcart Park"). I felt queasy with anticipation and revulsion, reliving my experience, the utter frustration mixed with with mild agony and fear. And of course the urge to pee.

To the left, I would have plunged once again into the abyss of unknown destination, of walking in the cold dark. Of hauling my bag, white coat, and change of clothes as I marched forever forward on tired feet, wasting precious time and energy and delaying even more my next chance for a brief respite.

To the right laid salvation, that great concrete oasis with the promise of a rapidly-warming car, comfortable seats, shelter, and rapid transport to my ultimate place of rest (for this month, at least). My personal conduit to transient serenity, sanity, a full night's rest, and overindulgence in comfort foods. (Damn Hershey's "Nuggets"!)

The pit in my stomach continued to rise slowly, as he inched the bus toward the intersection, waiting on ridiculously slow motorists to cross his path. He floated toward the left, cut back to the right, edged left, and leaned to the right. All in a mere matter of inches as the bus rolls.

To the right, or the left? Did he hang a Ralph, or a Louie?

The Lady, or the Tiger?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

LOST ... IN ... IOWA ....

So ... a little background:

I'm doing an elective rotation at the "other" U of I (University of Iowa) ... normally I'm a medical student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The places are somewhat similar, once you get past the yellow-black (Hawkeye) instead of orange-blue (Illini) color scheme. They have a decent bus service, which they need because parking is a bear.

On my first day here, I had to drive in to the hospital (instead of walking 30 minutes in the rain), and to park nearby had to pay $12 for their parking garage. I'm here for 4 weeks, and I'd rather not pay rent for my car almost equivalent to my own rent for the month. The options are sparse, with all sorts of restrictions by the University on which lots they can offer to people that live within the city, as opposed to people that commute in to work from nearby cities. They actually refused me a spot completely, since I was not interested in something for the whole semester, and am living "too close" to the hospital. How a 30-minute walk translates to "too close" MUST involve some sort of logic about the local bus service, which of course doesn't start running until after 6 am.

Upon turning to the hospital for a solution, they happily offered-up a spot in one of these commuter lots I mentioned above. Of course, it is so far from the hospital that they offer bus service to-and-fro. Fortunately, it even runs during the times I need it (as opposed to the local bus service in the city) - to get me to the hospital before 5:30 am and to get me back to my car as late as midnight (at times!).



Here's the set-up:

Friday was my first time taking advantage of this commuter lot (which they so creatively call "Hawkeye Commuter / Storage Lot" - storage because that is where students who drive up for the semester are forced to leave their vehicles). I find my way there and park next to a little hut that resembles a bus stop. All around, for as far as I can see in the dark before the dawn, is a huge-ass parking lot and this little hut that resembles a bus stop. As I'm checking it out, a bus actually drives up to this little hut. Ah, all is well.

I get to the hospital in about 5 minutes, and actually made it to the floor in time to see patients before rounds. A *bit* of a miracle there. So far so good. The day actually proceeded ok, as I went from case to case in the OR instead of drudging through yet another day of clinic. It actually looks as though I may be out of there before 5 pm! Ah, but alas - as a "sub-intern" hoping to attend this school, my role is as much to make an impression on the staff and give them an opportunity to get to know me as it is to learn and get exposure to the field. I do one last sweep through the OR and find a case about to start. Shucks. It was with one of my favorite docs, and it was to be a short case, so I didn't mind too much.

The case drags on, of course, about 2-3x longer than it should have been. I'm still out of there just after 8, so I am a happy camper. I leisurely head down to the floor and gather my belongings from the resident's workroom, and stroll out to where the bus should pick me up.


OK, now the story...

I get down to the bus stop and it is COMPLETELY DESERTED. Oookaaaay... I guess these buses run like every 10 minutes. No big deal. Let's look at the posted schedule, eh?

Oops. They DO run every 15 minutes, during "normal" times. Which I have, of course, missed. After 6:30 pm, it seems to revert to every half-hour. (All this I am figuring out after-the-fact, by the way, since the posted schedule reads a bit like tax instructions.) So when is the bus due? 8:21. What time is it now? 8:23. Sweeeeeet.

Ok, I can wait around 28 minutes. I debated walking home (28 minutes in the other direction), but that would require somehow getting to that lot to get my car anyway at a later date. I decide to wait it out, especially to make sure my car is still there and not ticketed for somehow parking in the wrong place. I do a little text messaging, I look at the route maps and schedules another 15-20 times. I consider going back into the hospital to take a leak, but figure I might get lucky with a bus coming off-schedule / early. Besides, I really don't have to go badly, since I've probably lost about 5 pounds in water weight during the last week and haven't put much in to make up for it. (My liquid intake averages about 2-3 cans of pop a day, and maybe a swig of water in the AM.)

A few random buses come and go, getting my hopes up, but all going in the wrong direction. I consider hopping the bus downtown, which gets me to within a 10-minute walk of the room I'm renting, but yet again I'm left with the prospect of still getting back to the car. I wait more. It's a bit brisk outside, being Iowa in late October... but not so cold that I would put my burdensome white coat on over my scrub top.

The bus finally comes. Oh look, right on time! Figures. Within seconds the driver is heading off to the commuter lot.

As we approach the lot, I notice he turns down a different road (Mormon Trek Boulevard, how's that for a landmark in Iowa?!?) than the way I entered the lot that morning, but I'm not alarmed since we had left the lot from a different direction that morning as well, and I knew that Mormon Trek was an alternate. There are about 7 of us on the bus at this point.

He drives through a series of convoluted turns toward (I think?) the lot, barely missing going up on the curb several times on the LEFT hand side (you, know, where you expect oncoming traffic to be coming from, if you don't live in Malaysia or Britain). Nothing looks familiar as he comes to a stop, and all but 2 other people disembark. I look out into the dark at the mini apartment buildings we're near, and then ask him if he makes another stop in this area. He says yes. I breathe a sigh of relief and sit back down.

He proceeds to drive about 100 feet, and stops again. "Is this the last stop?" I ask him. "Yes, now I go back to the hospital," he states very matter-of-factly. Hmmmmm....

I disembark, and see I'm now on the other side of a square that is surrounded on all sides by mini apartment buildings. This is not a huge empty parking lot, bordered by other not-so-empty parking lots. This is an apartment complex. Ooookaaayyyy... I figure I'll check out the name of the road we're on, glance at my map, and then just hoof it to the lot. Can't be too far, right?

The road sign, it says "561-587" or something like that. That's funny, it doesn't sound like the name of a road. Ok, I'll just head down some sort of main road and eventually figure out where I am. Which way did the bus go? Oh, wait - that's right - I didn't see it 'cause I was too busy trying to look like I wasn't lost until I had a chance to look at my map in relative privacy, in the middle of an apartment complex in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of October. I put on my coat.

Roads seem to go off in all directions, at least from what I can see in the darkness. No problem - I'll just look for that collection of tall street lights that marks off a parking lot. Uh, yeah - easier said than done among all these damn trees. Crap! Lets look at the map again ... yup, I know I'm in one of two places... there are two groups of apartment complexes indicated on the map. They are, of course, in opposite directions from the lot I need to get to. Not that it matters, since I have no FRIGGIN' clue where I am or what I'm heading toward anyway. I flip a mental coin and start walking, all the while imagining that coin circling the drain. **EXPLICATIVES DELETED**

Ah, a main "road." I walk toward it. Ooh, look - a sign! "Mormon Trail Park" - wait, that's not on the map at all! How does that help me?!? I pass a sign facing the other way, and my suspicion is confirmed - I've just come from "Hawkeye Court Apartments." That IS on the map. It's about as far from the commuter lot as I can get, but at least I have regained a glimmer of hope that I'll find my way outta this mess.

I start the timer on my watch (for S's & G's - "shits and giggles"), as has been my habit lately, to see just how pissed I should get about my walk. It's pretty deserted throughout. As I progress I see collections of tall streetlights, only to see them spread out along the road. These are not in a parking lot. Despite being pitch black out there, I'm seeing far more of Iowa than I ever hoped for. I've got some low-grade urgency to pee building up, but thankfully I'm too seething mad to pay any attention to it. I keep tramping along, realizing at some point that at least I have stopped muttering and swearing under my breath. That's a good thing, as I trudged past some foreign students playing soccer (I assume) on an unlit field that was part of the sports complex I ended up passing. For the most part I was alone - which didn't bother me much, given that there was decent enough lighting, and I was in Iowa - I would have been more worried if I was in a real urban area and if I was a woman. But I guess that's a whole 'nother blog. :-P

Eventually, on the horizon, is the TRULY unmistakable conglomeration of lights of a parking lot. Along with a car every now and then. Goody, now I can switch my focus to wondering which end of the parking lot I'd find myself on, and how many little huts I'd come upon to search for my car next to. And here's me, not even technologically-advanced enough (or just too cheap?) to have a remote keychain, to get my lights to flash and horn to honk to beckon me.

By some stroke of luck, the first (and still only, to my knowledge) little hut WAS the one I parked near. That part of the lot contained only a smattering of cars, and I recognized my car's butt long before I could read the license plate. As I started to make a bee-line for it, another car pulls up one slot away from mine, and a young woman gets out and opens her hood. Keep in mind, I'm still on the periphery of the parking lot. My thoughts were, in approximate order:
  1. that's sorta weird, at this time of night, in this location
  2. wonder what the trouble is
  3. should i offer to help?
  4. well, this is sorta awkward, appearing like i'm headed straight for her
  5. oh, geez - i hope she doesn't think i'm a rapist or something!!

    By the time I was within shouting distance of my car, another person had appeared from the car. A guy.

  6. that's good, at least she's not alone
  7. he looks like a pretty big guy
  8. oh geez - i hope he doesn't think i'm a rapist or something!!

Long before I reach my car, I start digging for my keys - which is pretty damn awkward when one hand is otherwise occupied (with the ripping plastic bag of spare clothes, including shoes, in case I got drafted into clinic instead of the OR during the day), and the keys are buried in a breast pocket under a notepad, reference book, coins, tuning fork, pen, etc. Eventually I gave up on the keys, but did everything else in my power to give the impression I was heading toward my car, and not them. Once I got there it still took me suspiciously long to dig my keys out, but I think actually getting the door open and driving the car away made it convincing that THAT was the target of my walk.

It was just over 10 minutes from the time I was thinking straight enough to bother timing the walk until I got to the car. Of course, that consisted of angry strides in cold weather, lubricated by an urge to pee. In other words, I was probably walking a smidge faster than usual.


To sum up and conclude...

Yeah, ok, not a big deal. Just a dumb visitor in a podunk town, who wasn't familiar enough with the bus route and too proud to ask the bus driver about the lot position. It was uneventful overall, with the only real "misfortune" being my lost time. Not like I even had anything else planned for the evening. But when you're stuck doing something you never wanted to do in the first place, and it's taking longer than you EVER wanted, you really appreciate the value of your time more. Just one more reason for me to be so verbose in this blog entry - to give you, the READER, a taste of what I went through. You can thank me as you post a comment. :-P

On the plus side, I did discover a nearby strip of shopping including the all-important McDonald's and the good-to-know KFC, previously unknown to me in this vicinity, as I explored a bit on my way home. Nice to know there are more options for quick eats for us health-conscious types.

I'm due at the hospital tomorrow (Sunday) morning, and upon looking at the info sheet just now it looks like the bus doesn't even run on the weekends. Glad I bothered looking! At least it shouldn't be for too long ... I may as well pay for the garage. Then I'll go check out that lot in DAYLIGHT for the first time. Yeah, yeah - that's the ticket.

Spent way too long writing this, but it was semi-therapeutic. What this blog lacks in number of posts I'll likely end up making up for in length. Will that correspond to quality instead of quantity? NOT LIKELY. . . .

Sunday, October 2, 2005

I don't envy....

the life of a medical resident. wow. i'm here at washington university in st. louis, missouri, about to start my 4th and last week of a sub-internship in otolaryngology (ENT - ear, nose, and throat) and head & neck surgery. i am applying to enter residency in ENT in 2006. a nice additional 5 years to my already extended education.

residents are SO busy! sleep and eating become optional. at least i'll be able to drop some pounds then, maybe.

wish me luck!

soon i jump over to iowa city for another crack at this sub-internship thing (to make sure i like the field, and to see what things are like in that program). then back to lovely shampoo-banana to spend precious moments with my fianceE before she heads off to her homeland once again. i love bureaucratic nonsense with immigration etc.

love and kisses,
e

Monday, August 22, 2005

Never too young for Alzheimer's

less than six months ago i opened up this blog... and i won't bore you with the difficulties i had in gaining access to it again just now. needless to say, i apologize to user "bonzo" for flooding his/her mailbox with password reminder requests. apparently "username" and the name for logging in are different despite being termed the same on this site.

i need a vacation. coming soon, assuming i can pass my exam on wednesday. if wednesday ever comes - as far as i'm concerned, yesterday, today, and tomorrow are sunday. gonna be a shock to my system as tuesday rings in with my alarm clock in 9 hours. potentially my last day with "hardass preceptor" ... been a good wake-up, i guess - but still not fun, nonetheless.

ok, boys and girls. maybe i'll actually use this site "fairly" regularly in the coming months as i venture away from my little oasis here in central illinois. time to get out and smell manure from other farms. "GENIOUS!"

"LATERS!"
'bonz

Thursday, February 10, 2005

can you hear me NOW? - latest update April 2010

CD in the player now:

The Cars (Anthology)

We recently down-graded from our broken-down three-disc shelf system to a single-disc compact stereo, which also has the capability to play mp3s from an iPod. Not *my* iPod, mind you, as it is such an older model that the software is not compatible. I can squeeze out a single song at a time from the iPod through the stereo, but who wants to unmount and remount after each song....

So I have returned to my roots, and am once again slowly working through the "classics" in my collection. Sitting ready to go near the stereo are double CDs of The Doors and The Cars. Most recently listened to the latter, which has a nice mingled sound of pop and late classic rock, a feel-good kinda sound.

Last listened to on the iPod:

The Animaniacs

My wife is a big fan of the mid-90's cartoon show that featured a lot of songs and silly cartoon bits. When we hooked up, one of my fringe benefits was raiding her music collection, and these worked their way onto the iPod for a recent car trip. Although they are obviously geared toward a younger audience, some of the tunes are rather catchy - and some are nice throwbacks to real classics (like "The Pirates of Penzance"). For a nerd like me those parodies can be a lot of fun.

Most recent ear worm:

"Inside Out" by Eve 6

Don't know why this caught me again - but I've always enjoyed it despite it being overplayed back in the late 90's. Lately I keep hearing it on the radio, and again find it hitting a cord. It's sorta from that alternative genre of songs with interesting phrases strung together, that may or may not really make much sense overall. But still very catchy.

Favorite new find / recently heard:

The Rambling Blues Band

Since relocating to Springfield, my wife fell-in with a blogging / tweeting crowd, and got to personally meet some people that turned out to be in a popular local band, Music for Big Kids. My wife has become a pseudo-groupie, and one of their gigs was shared by The Rambling Blues Band. I don't know if they play any original music, but I was quite wowed by their range and skill in doing cover songs. From Led Zeppelin to Tom Petty to Tracy Chapman, I nearly thought I was hearing the original. And from my limited exposure to them, they seem to play long sets and are a real crowd pleaser.

Recently rediscovered:

"Sweeney Todd"

Had seen the play once upon a time back in college, and remembered enjoying it (although didn't remember much of it in detail). When the Johnny Depp movie was coming out, the wife and I managed to catch two or three different productions of it (one with Ben Kingsley, another with Ray Winstone) along with the "original" broadway soundtrack with Angela Landsbury. I enjoyed the remake by Tim Burton, and started listening to that soundtrack quite a bit too much. Finally left it for a while, but the song "A Little Priest" is too good of a gem to leave forgotten for long. The version from the original broadway album is a bit longer and has a slightly different flavor to it (pun intended), but the voices of Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp are more pleasing overall.



This is my own pathetic version of a dynamic music blog. Check back periodically for updates!

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

About me - updated December 2009

I am a thirty-something surgery resident. Married for a couple of years now, waiting on having kids until my wife and I are a bit more settled in our new town. Without the responsibilities of parenthood, I often still feel like I'm 12 years old - until my breaking-down body reminds me otherwise.

Currently living in Springfield, IL, with family in northern Illinois. I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for college and medical school, and did a couple years of surgery residency in Chicago. Now I'm continuing my training here at SIU.

Live with my wife and cat - who spend their time ignoring each other fairly effectively. The kitty is featured prominently in the header above. My wife is more camera shy.

I started this blog mostly on a whim, but since then it has transformed into a personal soapbox for ranting about crazy news stories, politics, and irritating behavior. Then it got promptly forgotten when work kicked up again. I do hope to keep up with it a little better for those items, as well as for reviewing books and movies I have found interesting. Books and movie review content will be hosted in other forums (goodreads and Rotten Tomatoes), but I will periodically post updates on this blog to notify of new items.

So - that's all I'll ramble about for now. As you can tell, I am often unfortunately verbose... but I mean well. Happy reading, and please drop me a line to let me know you stopped by, and/or give me feedback or topic suggestions. I thrill at the prospect of debate - so let me know when you disagree as well!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Convert (noun)

testing this out ... been dragged in by my better half.



more later. maybe.

e

blog history & pending

upcoming:

  • update sidebar & links

previous:

  • 2009-december: updated some content and re-initiated the blog
  • 2009-june: tweaked colors and link appearances
  • 2009-may: formatted search boxes and reference / mail icons
  • 2009-may: transfered original blog to "bonzophrenia" domain, including manual transfer of comments; original dates preserved in italics
  • 2008-nov: resumed blogging more regularly
  • 2005-feb: started "Bonzo-phrenia" at "bonzo-er" domain

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Unless otherwise noted, all written content is (c) Bonzo 2005-2009. Images unless credited otherwise are from google image search or other shared image archives. Header image designed by *ennyllynne*, with an image credit for the fan-shaped book (border removed here) due to nkzs. "try evil" hat worn in profile image designed by David Simmer II, available for sale at Artificial Duck Co.

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