Good Night, Sleep Tight

When my parents moved to the new house, they packed all of my stuff into boxes and brought it with them.  Those boxes have sat untouched in the closet of my new bedroom... until tonight.

It shames me to say this, but my parents literally made me clean my room today.  Ugh, it felt just as terrible as it did when I was 17 years old.  But trying to organize all of the stuff that I hadn't even laid eyes upon since I left for college forced me to take the scenic route down memory lane.

Going through each individual box, I decorated the bedroom walls with things that High School Sam would have loved.  I taped up movie posters for Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, and Bourne Identity, but I also threw out some posters I'm kind of embarrassed to own: 25th Hour, The Recruit, Moulin Rouge, and The Birthday Girl (apparently I really liked Nicole Kidman as a teenager).

In addition to the movie posters, I hung up all of my paper-bags-turned-book-covers, or at least the ones that my friends had helped me decorate when we got bored during class.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.  In the midst of all of my high school projects and posters, I also uncovered a letter that Catmo and Kathryn wrote me from Italy, a wanted notice that Thomas mailed me for my birthday, a country music mix CD (my first!) that Katie burned me, pictures that Tina drew for my class officer campaign posters, hemp bracelets that Stevie made me, the Senior Book that Christin and I put together, and much, much more.

Perhaps most surprisingly, I found this Michelle Branch poster that I don't even recall owning, but judging by the handwriting, I'd have to say that Mica put together for me.  Well, thanks to whoever made it, because it now adorns a corner of my wall:

Man, 17-year-old Sam was living a pretty good life.  I wanna hang out with that guy.

Fix Me Up

The majority of my break has been occupied with helping my parents do odd jobs around the house.  For example, today we went back to the old house, which is now on the rental market, and repainted some the rooms that had scuff marks on the walls.

Earlier this week, I helped my parents decorate the house they now live in.  They hadn't hung anything up on the walls yet, making the whole place feel very... institutional.  So, I forced them to dig out all of the old paintings and family portraits from the attic.

Our extremely Chinese-looking dining room. 

Our extremely Chinese-looking kitchen/breakfast room.

Et voilĂ !  Now the house finally looks and feels like there are people living in it.

Occupy Louisa

I've seriously been all over the map this winter break.  I just can't stop occupying!!!1!1!!one!

Today's trip was just a few minutes down the road to the city? town? village? municipality! of Louisa to visit Hy.  He had accidentally left his suit jacket at his hotel in New York City last week and I had picked it up for him.  In addition to returning the coat to its rightful owner, I also got to see Tim, another one of our fellow Watson dorm-mates, who is visiting for two days from Wisconsin.  Man, just typing that word makes me feel cold.

The three of us grabbed lunch at Obrigado Restaurant, which according to Hy is the "only decent restaurant in town."  Unfortunately, I seemed to have chosen their only indecent menu option, the Catfish Po' Boy.  The homemade chips that came with it were salty and delicious, but the catfish was extremely dry and flavorless.  At least it came from Lake Anna, so there may be a chance that I develop superpowers from eating the irradiated bottom feeder.

And before we lose the Christmas spirit entirely, here's a picture of Titan, who scraped his snout on something while romping outside this week:

His new nickname?  Titan the Red-Nosed Ridgeback.

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas

I'm turning into an old fart.  I tire of the pop Christmas songs by artists like Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber that dominate the airwaves.  Nay, give me the good old stuff: Handel's Messiah, the original German verses of Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht, or a choral arrangement of Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming.

But there is one song that brings me Christmas cheer above all others: Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride.  It's the upbeat tempo; it's the use of the slapstick and other fun percussion instruments; it's the moment when the orchestra breaks out into that funky, festive rhythm.  If I were Jesus, I would totally make this my official birthday song.

Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Occupy Richmond

If you're allowed to have Friendsgiving, then why shouldn't you also be allowed to have Friendsmas?

I feel slightly guilty for saying it, but while I love getting to come home to my parents during winter break, my favorite thing is actually getting to see all of my high school friends.

I started my Friendsmas by meeting up with Catmo and Christin at Secco Wine Bar in Carytown.  I had just come from dinner, so I didn't sample any of their food, but I can attest that their wine is delicious and their ambience is relaxing.

Afterwards, we caught a showing of Drive at the Byrd Theatre.  It was... not at all what I expected.  I expected it to be more Fast and Furious-like and less Kill Bill-like.  But who am I to complain?  There are few action flicks I don't enjoy, and this one was an interesting blend of violence and artistry, both of which are things I love.

Friendsmas continued at Mica's house tonight, where I celebrated Christmas Eve with her extended family.  I was happy enough that she invited me to hang out with them, and even happier when her dad and her uncle both gave me presents.  From her uncle, I received a gift bag containing Tabasco sauce, a key chain flashlight, chocolates, and Anti Monkey Butt Powder.  From her dad, I received a large tool of unknown purpose but is likely a toenail clipper.

Christmas is fun!

Occupy Waynesboro

Christmas is the time... for nostalgia.  Last week, when Russell took me to his friend's house to sing around the piano, I couldn't help but think of all the fun I had singing with Caroline in college.  Like me, she grew up surrounded by church music, and like me, she knows every word to every song in the Baptist hymnal.  So that night when I realized she'd be back in Virginia for the holidays, I sent her the following message: "I'm totally driving to Waynesboro to visit you and you can't stop me."

True to my word, when I got back to DC yesterday, I took a little detour on my way home to Richmond and stopped by Caroline's parents' house.  I hung out with Caroline and Erik, caught them up on what has been going on in my life, and heard all about what it's like to be new homeowners in Texas.  I ended up spending the night there, and when I woke up this morning, Caroline's mom prepared a breakfast of ham, eggs, and grits for us.  What a great way to start off my Christmas weekend!  We joked about turning this into a new tradition, but we'll see if they're still laughing next year when I show up on their front porch hungry and asking for food.

As fun as it has been to traipse around the mid-Atlantic for the past week, I'm glad to say that I am finally home with my parents and Titan.  I'm officially ready for Christmas, so bring it on!


At 1:25 today, I made the conscious decision to stop trying to connect with other people on the streets of New York City.  Too often I'd been burned: no "hello," no polite nod of the head, not even a half-second smile.  In fact, the only person who'd made eye contact with me all morning was a drunk, homeless man wearing a Santa hat.  I would go straight to Penn Station, glancing around only to look for a place to grab lunch on my way.

At 1:30 today, I felt a slap across my chest while I was walking up Broadway Avenue.  I spun around to see who had hit me, but before I had time to register the face, I heard Jim's customary greeting, "Whuddup, Sammas?"

At 1:31 today, I decided that New York City is not as big as it seems.  In addition to randomly getting to have lunch with Jim in Midtown, I had also run into Kristine, a first year UVA medical student, yesterday while crossing Times Square.

And so, I continue to collect evidence to support my theory that New York is just a small town pretending to be the most populous city in the United States of America.

Thanks to Cal the Cripple for hosting me this visit.  Until next time, NYC!

Capital One Presents: Watson YOUR Wallet?

My Watson Dorm reunion continues.

Hy and Beth may have left NYC, but I still have other friends from my first year dorm to hang out with.  In fact, this post is dedicated to my suitemate and one of my best friends from college, Douggie.  Actually, his voicemail would have me believe that he now goes by the name Douglas. Yeah right, there's no way I could ever call him that with a straight face.

Douggie took an extra long lunch today and told me to meet him at the Yale Club of New York.  He took me to the Clubhouse, where we both decided to go with the sushi buffet, against our better senses.  I can't lie: it was a swanky affair.  I tried hard not to embarrass myself, and I even resisted asking the waiter to take our picture because we were surrounded by so many adults in professional attire.  Then again, I shouldn't have worried so much: one of the guests sitting behind me somehow managed to knock over his entire table, spilling all of the food, drinks, and decorations onto the floor.  Awkward!

After lunch, Douggie showed me around the rest of the Yale Club, including the magnificent library, the spacious gym, and the beautiful roof dining room on the 22nd floor with the terrace that's used for an outdoor bar when the weather is warm.  There were no judging eyes out on the cold terrace today, so I snapped a picture of Douggie being all businessman-like on his cell phone.

Hanging out with Douggie made me really miss first year of college.  Then I remembered how he used to always yell at me, beat me up, hide my glasses, push me into holly bushes, give me noogies, and generally try to make my life as miserable as possible, and I missed it a little less.  But only a little.

Occupy Wall Street

If you guessed New York City, then gee golly willikers, you were right!

I'm currently in the Big Apple, and to celebrate my arrival, we had a bit of an impromptu Watson Dorm reunion.  Christin and I met up with Beth, who was visiting from New Orleans, and Hy, who was visiting from Capetown, at El Centro, a Mexican restaurant in Hell's Kitchen.  I ordered the burrito de pescado, which contained Mediterranean sea bass, and it was a very good choice.  Christin offered me some of her leftovers and then called me out for my oxymoronic reply, "No thanks, I'm good, but actually I'll finish off your rice."

Remember when we laughed, we cried, and we ate burritos?  Oh wait, that was like, a few hours ago.

Occupy D.C.

I just spent three days in our nation's capital, and I feel at least three times as patriotic as I did before I arrived.

The path to Washington was a long and difficult one.  The streets of the city were designed in the Baroque style, based on old European cities like Amsterdam, Paris, and Milan.  They might as well have been designed simply to confuse and fluster me.  It took me half an hour of driving up and down Massachusetts Avenue before I finally figured out where I was and how to get where I wanted to be.

Aside from that, though, my visit was awesome.  On Saturday morning, Russell and I met up with Leslie for brunch in Georgetown, followed by some Christmas shopping in the fancy boutique shops in the area.  We also stopped by the local Barnes & Noble, where we learned that there is now a literary genre known as Paranormal Romance, and there are enough titles to cover three (yes, three) bookshelves.

Eventually Leslie had to go to her call for a concert that her choir was putting on that afternoon, so Russell and I walked over to the Mall to check out the National Museum of American History.  My favorite exhibitions were America on the Move, which as its name implies, is about transportation, and The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag That Inspired the National Anthem, where the original flag that Francis Scott Key gazed upon is on display.

That night, we went to a party with some of Russell's choir friends, where we spent half the time singing around the piano and half of the time singing along to karaoke videos on YouTube.  Truth be told, it made me very nostalgic for my own choir friends from undergrad.

And now DC is but a dream to me, as I have already moved on.  Thanks to Russell for hosting me while I was in town.  And where am I now, you ask?  Betcha can't guess...

Multiple Destination Trip

I have returned from touring the great state of Ohio.  I can't believe how much I've driven over the past three days: Charlottesville to Cincinnati to Cleveland to Charlottesville.  While on the road, I finished the audio version of John Grisham's 2010 legal thriller, The Confession.  It's a pretty grim tale, but the plotline is easy to digest and the morals of the tale are basically laid out for you, making it a nice read (or listen), especially when you're driving through the flat Midwestern countryside.

My favorite part of the trip there was when I stopped in Beckley to grab some lunch.  When I hit the road again, I accidentally passed the ramp for the highway and had to turn around.  The next street where I was able to do that happened to be the entrance to the famed VA Medical Center that we have all heard so much about as third year med students.  Unable to believe that I had finally gotten to see the hospital with my own eyes, I quickly snapped a picture through my windshield before getting back on the highway.

My favorite part of the trip back was the naps I took along the way.  I was supposed to be back by 8pm, but I was over half an hour late because twice I got so drowsy while driving that I had to stop for a 15-minute nap.  The first one took place in the parking lot of a Days Inn, while the second one took place at a truck stop.  It wasn't even a real rest area, just a strip next to the highway with three Porta-Potties.  I pulled in between two eighteen-wheelers and quickly passed out, grateful to be awoken by my alarm a few minutes later with no serial killer staring through my driver seat window.

Thanks to Lisa for hanging out with me while I was in Cincinnati and to Hassan for hosting me while I was in Cleveland.  It's gonna be good to sleep in my own bed tonight, though!

Seat's Taken

I left my house this morning at 7am Bryant Hall in order to collect tickets for my friends and me at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  I was happy that Paul showed up to wait with me, and even happier when he left and came back with breakfast from Bodo's Bagels.  Thanks, Peepers!

Anyway, I'll be in Section 102, Row 17 of the Georgia Dome on New Year's Eve, so if you plan on being there, come visit me!

In other news, tonight I am breaking my vow to not stay in any hotels during my interview trail.  But it's okay!  My room at the Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza is covered by the residency program.  I don't frequently stay in hotels, and of the few I've been to, this one is certainly the fanciest.  My only complaint is that they charge $9.95 for internet use, which is why I'm currently at the Starbucks down the street.

Now to get home so I can get some sleep before tomorrow's interview.  HA!  Who am I kidding?  We all know I'm going to go read a few hundred more pages of A Clash of Kings before I go to bed.

I'm Still Alive

Yes, I know, I haven't blogged all weekend.  But it's only because I've found myself alternating between periods of feasting and periods of severe food coma.

It all started with dinner at Petit Pois Restaurant on Thursday, my first fancy dinner out in God knows how long.  Kathryn and I split two appetizers: the Mixed Greens Salad with Beets, Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese and the Burgundy Snails in a Herb Garlic Broth served with Grilled Bread.  I had the cassoulet for my entree (I'd never even heard that word before), and of course we had to split some ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.  The best thing of all is that Kathryn works there, so my very large food baby came with a very sharp discount.

Friday meant it was time to celebrate a semester of hard work with an Arrhythmics holiday potluck.  Once again, I succeeded in eating so much food that I was uncomfortable whether I chose to sit or stand.  Also, I should have known that when I invited over a group a singers, our meal would seamlessly segue into a lively sing-along.  At some point the song selections went down the Disney direction, inspiring me to hoist Titan as high as I could during The Circle of Life.

And then there was the meal to end all meals.  It hadn't started out that way: six of us came up with the idea to have a mussels and Belgian beer night.  We prepared enough bread, salad, pasta, and mussels for all of our friends, but just as we were sitting down to eat, we realized that none of us had called our friends to actually invite them to dinner.  At that point, everyone we called had either already made dinner plans or were actually in the process of eating said dinner plans.  So what choice did we have but to eat all of the food we had prepared for a group twice our size?  We did what we had to do, and this is what six pounds of consumed mussels looks like.

Sigh, every meal I eat is far too rich in salt and butter.  First world problems!

Occupy Library

Yesterday, Sunny stopped by my parents' house to pick up a few things for me on her way back to C-ville.  While she was there, my mom asked her to pass along a message:

"Tell Sam that he needs to go interview at Harvard.  And I hope he likes it so he will go there."

Thank you, Mom, for doing your part in knocking down Asian stereotypes, and for reminding me of the following post at Tiger Mom Says:

It's only funny because it's true.

Time for a Change

After a prolonged absence from giving interview tours, I've been back at it this week.  Today, I gave one with Sunny, and to our delight we learned that the Garden Room where we take the interviewees for lunch had a special holiday menu.

The Garden Room lunches are already over-the-top: a hot buffet that is at least ten times better than any other lunch you might get on a medical school interview day.  But what we had today was extravagant, even by UVA standards.

We arrived to find a three-course menu on our tables.  I fought the urge to dive into cruise ship mentality and order two of each course, and I ended up going with a lobster bisque as my appetizer, sirloin steak for my entree, and a rich-beyond-imagination espresso yule log for dessert.

Sure, our lunch may have taken much longer than usual, and we may have had to cram an hour-long tour into 30 minutes, but you know what?  I loved it.  And I bet those interviewees did too.

College Kids

It's 1:30am.  I hear a knock on my door and open it to find two very drunk college guys singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."  I watch the strangers in stunned silence while Titan barks up a storm.  They eventually finish their serenade, at which point I learn that they are staying with a friend who lives on my street and have been going door-to-door singing Christmas carols in the wee hours of the night.  When I ask them how it has been going for them, they reply, "Well, we haven't been shot yet."

College kids: I hate you, but only because I can no longer be you.

Stay Safe

Today was a day: two firsts and a last.

This morning was the first time I visited the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  We were given a tour of the gallery, where they keep different cars that have been crash-tested.  The tour ended with a live crash test, which unfortunately I can't post pictures or videos of online because it contains currently non-analyzed data.  But I can tell you that they were testing the guards on the backs of tractor trailers by running a car at 30mph into one of them.  Here's what some of the cars that had undergone previous tests against tractor trailers now look like:

This afternoon was the first time I worked with second year medical students as an H&P observer.  It was fun watching them do a complete physical exam and then giving them feedback on how to improve.  I'm really glad I just took the Advanced Physical Diagnosis elective with Dr. Corbett, because otherwise I would not have felt nearly as comfortable as I did showing the students how to properly palpate the landmarks in the neck or percuss Castell's point.

This evening was the last time I would get to attend a home UVA basketball game as a student.  SHOTS ticketing request system, I will miss you!  Just kidding, you were always the most user-unfriendly website of all time.  At least we got to sing the Good Old Song in celebration at the end: we beat GMU 68-48.  GO HOOS!

Winter Is Coming

Yes.  Yes.  I just finished reading A Game of Thrones, the first of seven planned books from the series A Song of Ice and Fire.  It was 807 pages of sheer awesomeness.  Sure, it took me a while to learn all of the characters' names (at first I had to keep Googling them to figure out who I was reading about).  But it was amazing, especially the last few chapters, which were filled with page-turning action.  I LOVE IT!

And you know what's even better?  Now I can start on A Clash of Kings, and since the second season of the HBO series hasn't been filmed, I'll get to read it without knowing what happens at the end.  In fact, I'M STARTING IT RIGHT NOW AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME!!

Ahh, Vacation

I'm on vacation again!  And I actually don't have any interviews this week!  Which means my schedule looks something like this:

Hmm, not as much free time as I had initially anticipated.  So much for "vacation."  That'll just have to wait until winter break... when I'm headed to the Chick-fil-A Bowl!  I CAN'T WAIT!!

All's Well That Ends Well

So I'll start at the end of my trip to Chicago: I got out of the airplane, walked through the gate, and found my Res Staff water bottle waiting for me on top of the counter.  Amazing.

But that was just the cherry on top of the cake, because my weekend in Chicago had been pretty awesome in and of itself.  After my interview ended, I met up with Neil and Liz at Tilted Kilt for a few drinks.  While we were there, we saw someone order what had to be five pounds worth of nachos... so of course we got the same thing.

Later that night, Liz and I went to ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo with some of her friends.  Sadly, most of the animals were already fast asleep by the time we got there.  Still, we got to enjoy some pretty outrageous decorations that put me right in the holiday spirit.  I especially liked the exhibit that played 15 seconds of various holiday songs while the lights flickered on beat.  So cool!

As you can tell, it was pretty cold that night.  I've been spoiled rotten by the mid-60s weather we've been having in Charlottesville.

Thanks to Josh and Rohan, who let me borrow their shoes for the interview (I accidentally left my own at my parents' house after Thanksgiving).  Thanks also to Carly and Garrett for hosting me.

Funny story: Carly was asleep when I arrived on Thursday night, I left for my interview on Friday morning before she woke up, she was asleep again when Garrett and I got back late Friday night, and then I had to catch the train to the airport before she awoke on Saturday morning.  So, even though she hosted me for two nights, I didn't see her a single time.  Lulz!

Whoa, We're Halfway There

I just landed in Dulles, and I come to you with two observations:

1. I am a complete idiot.  As soon as I boarded the plane, I realized that I had left my brand new stainless steel water bottle in the waiting area.  I asked the stewardess to call the gate to let them know, so hopefully it'll be waiting for me in the Charlottesville airport office when I get back.

2. The flight from Charlottesville to DC is short.  Really short.  I have extreme airplane-induced somnolence, and I haven't stayed awake on a single flight this interview season.  But, freshly distressed from the loss of my new water bottle, I stayed awake for this entire flight.  And so, on my fourth trip between Charlottesville and Dulles in this past month, I finally realized that we are in the air for the entirety of 18 minutes.

My life is a joke.

Flight of Ideas

I'm sitting in the lobby of the Charlottesville airport, and just the anticipation of boarding my flight is giving me flight of ideas.

Today I served as an abdominal model for the Emergency Department physicians to practice their ultrasound skills.  My favorite moment?  Being told by the attendings that I had an impressive rectus abdominis muscle.  P90X, you do me good.

My friend from high school, Stew, is a captain in the US Coast Guard.  He just returned from serving a tour in Bahrain.  He was also on yesterday's episode of The Price Is Right.  Spoiler alert: he wins the Showcase Showdown!

For some reason, I haven't gotten excited about Christmas music yet this year.  Maybe going to the Lighting of the Lawn would have put me in the holiday spirit.  Sadly, I will be missing it for the first time in eight years.

Okay, time to get on my plane.  Next stop: Chicago!