Of Bookstores and Past Lives

I miss the smell of a bookstore.

I haven’t been inside a bookstore since before school started in July of 2013.

This is really more devastating than it sounds, it really is.

Last night, after a wonderful dinner with my in-laws, lots of playtime for the little one, and then getting little one into bed, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Friday was our Block 5 exam, which means this is a truly “golden” weekend. So I opened a book, a book I’ve been trying to finish reading since last summer and my ‘maternity leave’. There was also a basketball game on tv… I haven’t sat down to watch a basketball game in so long. And I started thinking about bookstores and basketball and traveling, of my past life before school started.

When we used to live in Indy, I spent a lot of time in bookstores. We had a Barnes & Noble a few minutes away from where we lived, and we also had a Half Price Books. When I had my first job and was miserable, buying (and then reading/basically consuming) books was my retail therapy. Stacks and stacks of books are my remnants from that first job.

I adore stories. I always have, and always will. While I just knew that I was meant to be a doctor, I also knew that my desire for reading novels would draw the short straw once that dream commenced. There are so many days where I’d like to just curl up in my recliner with a stack of books and my favorite hot chocolate and leave medicine alone for a day. This isn’t to say that I’m ungrateful for my opportunities, just that sometimes I miss the things that make me “me”, and reading has always been a part of that.

It also didn’t help that the book I was reading was all about hiking, adventure, and work-life balance.

It’s also true that I knew ahead of time that my traveling days would be markedly reduced once school started, and then with the baby even more so. But I didn’t expect to feel so cabin-feverish so frequently. It also doesn’t help that we live in the midwest, and Louisville is particularly flat and dull. David and I have such a love for the outdoors and hiking and there is just nothing to even look at here. I’m afraid the west has turned us into mountain-snobs; if there isn’t even a treeline, it’s not really a mountain. So when I read about someone climbing the four-thousand-footer’s on the east coast when we’re used to the 10-12 thousand-footers in the west… I’m like, huh? What fun is that?

I’ve thought about doing a wilderness medicine elective during fourth year. I think that would be so cool, and get me out into the west again (bonus being that I’d be “required” for school, right?). Fourth year just sounds like fun. And it’s actually kind of scary how close it already is; we’re on the downhill slide of second year, Step 1 becomes closer every day, then we start clerkships, and then it’s fourth year and we interview for jobs and then we’re DONE. Four years of medical school in a flash. I’d be lying if I said that traveling during 4th year wasn’t one of the things I am most excited about. Having a variety of possibilities is exciting–we could literally go anywhere for residency. While we’d be leaving behind family and friends here, I think we’d both like some adventure for a few years, especially while Ladybug is young enough that she’s not in school yet. When I do have free time from school, the things that we like to do–like hike in Yellowstone or Glacier–are a good two days of driving away, just to get there.

Work-life balance in medicine can be tricky. It can be tricky in any profession, but it seems like medicine enjoys being so consuming. I love studying medicine. I love finally being able to pursue this dream of mine. But sometimes, I still want to do things that remind me of me. I miss those days where I ran the lab, taught other labs, learned new research techniques and felt like a valuable team member. Hopefully someday I will feel like a valuable team member again; I still feel like I will never know enough to be as good of a doc as some of my mentors. I would love to sit down and reread the entire Song of Ice and Fire series again–but that won’t happen for a long time. We try to read to Ladybug every day (she is currently being read The Hobbit), but I know she’d get more stories if I had more free time. Where we live, we don’t get a lot of time outdoors, especially when we’re at home–I want Ladybug to have a big backyard and lots of fun outside. Not being able to do that stuff now is disappointing, and not helped by my impatience for the days ahead. I’m supposed to be “enjoying the ride”, right?

This morning is gloomy and full of rain–it’s not helping my mood or my desire for something more. It’s strange that I’m wanting to read a book, when during the week I get so tired of reading books and notes. It’s hard not to daydream about warm weather and being outside. We haven’t even had any real snow this year, so I’ve had no excuse to pull on my hiking boots. There’s a piece of me missing, I feel.

I know this morning my thoughts are jumbled and this is probably the worst flow-of-consciousness posts I’ve ever penned. There is just something that I need that is missing from my current big picture, and I’m hoping that someday, maybe with the opportunity of moving for residency, that all of my hobbies, interests, and passions can all be indulged….

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