Paranoia Paranoia Everybody’s Coming To Get Me, and Residency Interviews C and D

I’m worrying that even though I’m trying really hard to leave out identifying information about myself and the programs that I’m applying to, it’s not enough and still trackable back to me. For instance, I have notifications being sent to a real email address that I use for personal purposes. Paranoia dictates that I should have set up a separate email account specifically for this quasi-anonymous journal. Even more foolishly, the initial account for this journal used part of my name in it. I know the Internet isn’t anonymous, but I guess I had started out not minding people knowing who I am (after all, they were mostly stories about funny things my patients said/did/put up their butts or about exasperating things I saw happen in healthcare). But now that I’m interviewing and assuming that these programs are checking up on me, I’m on high alert.

In addition, taking out so many details of the interviews and the program locations was making my write-ups more vague and less helpful than they were supposed to be. I actually started writing them in order to keep the programs straight in my head, but losing the details made the write-ups useless. I’m still writing them, but privately in a password-protected Word document (paranoid!).

I think this is a good change, though, because instead, I’m just going to focus on the WTF?! and funnier moments that have happened at each interview. I mean, this is the interesting stuff, anyway, like how sometimes my fellow interviewees are total dumbshits, or how sometimes I get asked ridiculous questions, or my travel woes and triumphs. Actually, I was thinking of keeping a running tally of the money I’ve spent on the interview trail. I also wanted to write a resource list of places I check and things I do to make traveling easier. That’s a list for another day, though (yeah, with all that ample free time I’ve got…)

Residency Interview C
This program is very well known to me. And by very well known to me, I mean that it’s a residency program that is done in conjunction with my own medical school. In the med school slang, this is known as my “home program.” Well, technically, it’s not my real home program, because I did my rotation in this specialty in a different hospital with different residents, but still, it is affiliated with my medical school. This made parts of the interview harder, and parts of it easier.

To wit:
– Easier AND harder to explain why I wanted to go there — easier if the interviewer accepted my answer that I had been exposed to the program through my school, harder if that wasn’t good enough because any justifications I gave regarding the program’s characteristics had to be actually true and believable reasons.
– Easier to keep a conversation going because we knew mutual people.
– Harder to keep an interview going because it was essentially one-sided, with me asking questions because there weren’t many questions for them to ask me about my training.
– Easier because the interviewers were apt to go easy on me, since I was part of the family, in a way.

The interview day lasted 6 hours. In that time, I managed to be friendly with a couple of the other interviewees, and one of them was definitely a gay man. I swear to you, I don’t try to befriend the fabulous gays, but somehow they find me. It’s like I inadvertently smell of gayboynip, or something.

Residency Interview D
This program is a university-based program. The interview day was pretty easy and relaxed, but there were a ton of people interviewing. For the most part, they were nice people and plenty friendly when we stayed on small talk topics (the weather, travel fiascos, medical school characteristics, sports teams). But when we went to lunch, I sat across from probably one of the more irritating types I’ve come across in medical school: the patronizing know-it-all. It’s hard to describe what about it annoys me, and how slight changes in tone or diction could probably make me like them better (or at least feel less homicidal towards them).

Here is a prime example: we had Mexican food for lunch, and somebody mentioned that it seems like a lot of Mexican food is based on the same 4 ingredients wrapped slightly different ways, and cooked slightly differently. I remarked, “It’s variations on a theme!” But this Irritating Patronizer decided to school us on how that’s “fake” Mexican food. When the original commenter said, “Well, nothing wrong with that, because it’s still delicious,” the Irritating Patronizer persisted that real Mexican food is nothing like that, which may or may not be true. He never did list better examples of Mexican food, though I was doing it in my head (tamales! mole sauce! gorditas! masa!) Hilariously, somebody asked him if our lunch was “real” Mexican (people, stop encouraging him!), and he said emphatically yes, this was very real Mexican food. You guys, our lunch was: refried beans, cheese enchiladas, beef taquitos, and chicken mini-chimichangas. At this point, I stopped even trying to join in, and spent the rest of lunch quietly smirking.

Not finished, the Irritating Patronizer launched into a discussion of how Mexican is different from Tex-Mex (uh, obviously), and how he knows it because he’s from Texas. Well, okay, then. Further, he asserted that Asians didn’t like cheese because of their lactose intolerance. His proof was that he was Indian, and that all of his Asian friends didn’t like cheese. When somebody else (who was Asian) piped up that she liked cheese, he said, “Well, you might like it, but you don’t like it like it, as you would if you weren’t lactose intolerant.” I very nearly opened up my mouth to put him in his place about HOW SO VERY WRONG he was, but he was saved by the appearance of our tour guides and the end of lunch. Honestly, he told someone they didn’t actually like cheese, and certainly not in quantities! I guess all that time I spend obsessively shopping the cheese aisles at finer markets has been a sham. And yes, I am slightly lactose intolerant, but it’s only ever a problem if I have more than a glass of regular, liquid milk at a time. Cheese represents absolutely no hardship, if my love affair with soft cheeses is any indication. (And anyway, it’s a price I am willing to pay. Totally worth it. I was going to tell him that, too. That’s right, I was going to bring up osmotic diarrhea and my total acceptance of it as a price to pay for eating cheese, at lunch. Never underestimate my willingness to disclose private details in order to win a conversation.)

Where was I going with this? Oh! The best part, though, is that we definitely learned in biochemistry class as 1st year medical students that most people, including Caucasians, have some level of lactose intolerance. I believe that only select populations of humans (Middle Eastern? North African? I am not sure) retain lactose-digesting enzymes past infancy, anyway. So, in theory, most people should not “like it, like it,” though many people say they do.

Ironically, I’ve been trying to give up cheese and dairy, not at all because of any intolerance to lactose, but rather, for weight reasons. I legitimately eat enough cheese, and there are enough fat and calories in them (fat-free cheese is for wimps!), that I can feel a difference when I cut it out and try to drop weight I’ve gained from stress-eating. Further, I read in some beauty magazine (written by white people about white people!) that cutting out dairy is good for the skin. And while I’m not sure of the validity of the claim, it’s a good side effect if it happens.

However, I haven’t been particularly successful: this morning, I had coffee with milk. For lunch, I had cheese enchiladas. For dinner, I had a chicken sandwich with cheddar. I haven’t pooed all day, though. I wish I could tell Irritating Patronizer that right now, and stun him with my lactose-processing and -loving capabilities.

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