Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm not dead!

Well, I said my posts might drop off a bit...but I never expected them to drop off this much. I'm so sorry that I disappeared for so long.

I haven't said much about my personal life in this blog. It just didn't seem relevant to the topics at hand. Still that personal life influences my ability to post essays, so I thought the topic might deserve a bit of attention. If this doesn't interest you, don't fret. I'll try to get a regular post out later this week; you can stop reading now.

My wife is a pediatric resident. She was working as a pediatrician in Japan when I met her (I was an English teacher--actually, I was her English teacher, but that's a story for another time). Four years ago we moved back to the US (well back for me). Since then, Mika has worked towards earning her US medical license. As part of the process, she must finish a US residency--even though she already completed one residency program in Japan.

We've been doing this for about a year, and I thought life had developed its own rhythm. Even at the best of times, a resident works 80 hours a week or so. So I am primarily responsible for taking care of the various home issues: cooking, dishes, and (most importantly) primary care of our 5-year-old daughter, Haruko. While I never asked Mika to help out, she often volunteered to do the occasional load of dishes or laundry or read the bedtime story to Haruko. But that all changed.

For the last month, Mika has worked in the ER rotation. Basically, she's either at work or asleep. I almost never get to see her; I've been totally on my own--it was an eye-opening view into what single parents must go through.

Add to that my own schedule. Two months ago I traded my flexible grad-student schedule for the more-structured 40-hour-a-week grind. At first, everything worked fine. I actually had a lot more time for my writing--since I didn't need to worry about exams or projects or studying. Then ER struck, and I couldn't do anything except hold on with my fingernails and count down the days.

OK, enough whining. There's a happy ending to this tale. While studying for her USMLE exams, Mika worked as a research post-doc. There, she found that she loved research, working with biological specimens, microscopes, staining and many other things I really don't understand (it's OK, she doesn't understand my work either). Recently, she decided that she would like to switch from pediatrics to pathology--which would let her follow the interests she developed as a post-doc. Last week, she was accepted into the pathology program (the exact transfer date is still up in the air--but it should be soon). This is good news. The pathology residency program has a much-less demanding schedule. Pathologist residents work a more-regular 40-hour week. When they're on call, they just take the pager home with them; then answer maybe one or two phone calls during the night. Now, she has to spend every fourth night at the hospital and does not get to sleep at all.

So, that part of life should soon get easier.

My summer internship also came to an end. I'm now taking a summer workshop in computational astrobiology (basically applying computer science to the study of where and how life might form in the universe--pretty much the dream science fiction job). So, I'm easing back into the student lifestyle. This should give me more time to spend on my other pursuits (like playing with my daughter and writing).

I hate to promise more frequent posts--that's just asking for trouble. But, the near future (at lest) looks brighter.

Oh, and I shaved my head. No reason.



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