Don't Rain On My Parade

The best day of the year has come and gone once again. The Foxfield Races are a true UVA tradition, and my last one as a student was bittersweet. No worries, though, I've already requested my spring vacation time next year to be the two weeks around Foxfields weekend.

While most of the shenanigans were the same as you might expect at any Foxfields, a few things made these races stand out amongst all of the others.

First of all, the med school plot was parked next to an old-school trolley placed there to increase awareness for recycling. Obviously we had to pose for pictures on and near it. I am only sad to report that I wasn't there later in the afternoon when Neil actually successfully boarded the craft.

Also, they sold Foxfields merchandise for the first time that I know of. Jim, Nosheen, Richie, and I all decided that it was our civic responsibility to purchase their straw hats. As you can tell, we look pretty good in them.

Sadly, Nosheen and I are no longer considered "recent grads" for Trustees purposes, and for the first time since graduation, we weren't given chalet tickets with access to unlimited food, non-Aristocrat booze, and perhaps most importantly, short bathroom lines. Luckily they weren't guarding the area as closely as usual, though, so we were still able to sneak in and take a classic Samsheen photo.

Ah, yes, Foxfields. You might deter some people with your rainy weather forecasts, but nothing short of a hurricane could keep me away from you, and maybe not even that. What I really want is to bask in your glory for all the days of my life.

Now, before I end this post, I have to clarify one thing. I've caught (and heard other people catch) flak for referring to this beloved event as "Foxfields." There are some people who insist that it's "Foxfield without an s." Well, here is my argument.

Olympic Games : Olympics :: Foxfield Races : Foxfields

BOOM! You can't argue with word analogies. Case closed.

A Changed Man

I left Charlottesville a Virginian.

I return to Charlottesville a New Yorker.

That's right, folks: I found an apartment. The singer/actor from Apartment #6 called and asked me to room with him. I paid him the deposit and signed the sublet agreement, and I now officially have (half of) an apartment in New York City. How crazy is that!?

And, because I know you're just dying to know what the place looks like, here are the two pictures I have of the place. First, the living room (notice the piano!):

Next, my bedroom (I know, it's small, but honestly not that bad by NYC standards):

I actually have the room starting immediately, but I won't be living there until June 10. Come by anytime afterwards to visit me, please!

Also, special thanks to Christin for hosting me during my week-long apartment-hunting adventure. Here's to all the good times we'll soon be having together again!

Apartment Hunting, Day Three

Today was a dedicated broker day. After meeting the least professional broker in the world yesterday, I expected today to be better. And in some ways, it was.

Broker #2: Showed me some AMAZING apartments in the 140s. I was really tempted to take some of them... including one two-bedroom that only cost $1400/month. How is this possible!? HOW?? The broker was interesting: he and everyone else in his company are actors who do realty on the side. His boss is the creator and producer of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The weird thing was that he rode his scooter everywhere, and at one point made me hold his coffee while he scooted over a particularly bumpy part of the sidewalk. Err... yeah.

Broker #3: Showed me some EXPENSIVE apartments in the 160s and 170s. They were nice, but they cost an arm and a leg. He would have been the most professional of all of the brokers I worked with, except that he didn't have any apartments ready for me to see. He had to keep making calls to landlords and superintendents to ask if they had anything available and if they would be willing to let us in. I'm pretty sure he was supposed to pick out apartments to show me based on the form I filled out before we met... but that clearly didn't happen.

Moral of the story: All brokers are weird. Really, really weird.

Apartment Hunting, Day Two

This morning was dedicated to turning in paperwork and getting drug tested for work. Blah.

This afternoon was dedicated to more apartment hunting! It was an interesting experience.

Broker #1: I showed up at our designated meeting spot at 1:00. He wasn't there. I waited until 1:10. He still wasn't there. I called him, and he says that he thought we were meeting on Saturday. That's not possible, I tell him, because I'm leaving the city on Friday. Luckily he gets his act together and meets me to show me some apartments in the lower 200s. The whole time, he's cursing up a storm and making jokes about drugs and prostitutes. Then he tells me that I remind him of a classmate of his who was also Chinese. Super weird.

Apartment #6: Is this the jackpot? One bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor with an elevator. Five blocks to work. Across the street from Fort Washington Park and a dog run. Roommate would be a 27-year-old guy who is a singer/actor and also works at the Trader Joe's Wine Shop. He loves dogs and even offered to take Titan on walks whenever he's home. He also owns a piano. Seriously? Seriously??

Unfortunately, he also has several other people interested in the place and told me he would get me his decision by Friday at the latest. What is this, match all over again? Am I supposed to write him a thank you e-mail and tell him that he's my #1 choice? Ugh, worst.

Apartment Hunting, Day One

Today was my CraigsList day. No brokers, all Sammas. Here's how it went:

Apartment #1: Advertised by the landlord as a large one-bedroom. In reality, a tiny bedroom in a four-bedroom apartment. The landlord has already found the other three tenants: three Columbia students. Um, no thanks.

Apartment #2: A beautiful, spacious, and surprisingly reasonably priced first-floor studio across the street from Riverside Park. Easy access to everything either Titan or I could ever want. Basically my ideal apartment. But it doesn't allow dogs that weigh more than 30 pounds. Guess that won't work, then.

Apartment #3: Not much information provided in the ad. Or, at least, not the right kind of information. One-bedroom located on the fifth story of a walkup. It wouldn't be bad... except that the first three floors of the walkup reeked of urine. On top of that, it was locked and nobody was there for the "open house." I called it quits and left.

Apartment #4: Another large yet inexpensive apartment that I'm eager to see. I call the advertised number when I arrive at the door, but nobody answers. I call again. Still no response. This building actually looks presentable, and I'm interested enough to call the management company and find out what's going on. Nobody can get in touch with the assistant that's supposed to be showing the place. They're mad, I'm mad, and we'll try again tomorrow.

Apartment #5: One bedroom available in a beautifully furnished three-bedroom apartment. On the fourth floor, but with elevator access. Again, across the street from Riverside Park, and this one even comes with another big dog that would love to have Titan as a live-in buddy. Inexpensive and in a quiet neighborhood, to boot. Plus, the guy whose room I would be taking over might sell me his furniture. I'm almost sold on this one... except for the fact that one of the roommates has a seven-year-old son. Hm, it would be awkward having friends come visit me and crash on the couch with a kid in the apartment. Still... the best one I've seen today.

Tomorrow I tour some more apartments on my own and I'm also meeting with a broker to look at studios and one-bedrooms. Wish me luck!

Bonus: Someone stopped me on the street and asked me for directions today. And I knew how to get there. This. Is. Awesome.

Found It

Most strangely specific yet non-specific apartment listing I've come across yet (click to enlarge):

Here Comes the Bride

Yesterday, we celebrated the marriage of Grace and Robert at the St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Fairfax. I was fortunate enough to be invited and went with Gauri as my guest. We enjoyed a lovely and worshipful ceremony filled with many chanted prayers and readings in Coptic that I couldn't understand. Luckily, the program was very detailed and explained exactly what was going on at all times. Smart move, Grace.

Also, in the middle of all the solemn rituals, the priest gave a brief and very candid sermon in the middle of it about the importance of God in a marriage. Then he poked a lot of fun at Grace. Totally unexpected and hilarious.

The ceremony was at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, which were beautiful even in the rainy weather. This is where I had the biggest shock of my life. Grace, whom I've never seen so much as tap her toes in my entire life, totally broke it down on the dance floor. Who knew she could move her hips like that?? Oh man, I wish we had known about this earlier in med school. It was quite the sight to behold.

If only I had my camera cord with me so that I could share Grace's secret moves with the world. Alas, everyone will have to wait until after I return from New York City to be uploaded.

Oh yeah, by the way, I'm in New York City.

La Promenade

Last night was my very last VMed Prom. What a shame! I don't know how something lifted from our high school days continues to be so much fun year after year until we're well into our twenties, but I'm glad for it.

My date this year was Sunny. We had dinner at my house: leftover catering from Take-It-Away that I had stolen from a meeting earlier in the afternoon. I know, some people tell me I'm too classy.

The party was at Balkan Bistro this year, a venue that was just sketchy enough to keep us entertained for hours. Seriously, lulz were to be found everywhere, even in the hallways in front of the bathrooms. See here while Ed demonstrates his Heelys by gliding down the hallway past the line of people waiting to empty their bladders.

About halfway through the night, I switched from my black tie to a light-up bow tie that I had borrowed from Richie. It just screams, "I'm a stylish gentleman who's here to party," don't you think?

If there exists a fun police, then I really need to start watching my back, because I have definitely exceeded my quota for this week.

We Are Young

No, actually, we are forgetful. At tonight's concert, I sang a graduating duet with Sunny of Fun.'s We Are Young. It was so exciting! I've been in the Arrhythmics for four years and I'd never sung a solo before.

Well, turns out there's a reason for that.

The song was going so well... up until the last four measures. I thought we were going to repeat the chorus one more time, but we didn't. Of course we didn't, because we're not supposed to, and of all people, I should have known that, because I WROTE THE FREAKING ARRANGEMENT. So, at that very last moment, when the song is getting ready to end, I don't come in. I literally didn't sing. And then I realized my mistake, started singing, and threw the entire group off.

Ugh, and that is why I conduct and don't sing solos.

Port and Cigars

Man, this week flew by fast. Last night was the annual Raven Banquet, and eleven of us from the medical school were in attendance. It was a beautiful evening, made even more beautiful by the fact that it's one of the few times a year when I get to pretend like I'm in the 1%.

As with any banquet, I went into full-on nom attack mode. Dr. Johns realized this and gave me the majority of her entrée, which she could not finish. Jen also gave me her leftovers. I dined a happy boy.

Of course, we cannot believe that any event has truly occurred unless there is a picture of Samsheen to prove it. After dinner (and the five hundred speeches) finally ended, we went outside to smoke some cigars. Nosheen and I hoarded all of them. Okay, just eight.

I actually only smoked half of a cigar last night, but apparently that was enough to make my throat sore and voice hoarse all day today. I'm treating it with a series of hot teas, pure honey, and salt water gargles. Let's hope the treatments kick in before the Arrhythmics concert tonight!

Turkish Coffee

I met Anna, who moved back to Charlottesville while I was in Guatemala, for lunch today at Basil. I was pretty pooped from our sunrise hike, so I thought I'd order a cup of coffee. They don't have American coffee at Basil, so the waiter recommended that I try their Turkish coffee. He warned me of the silt but promised, "It won't hurt you."

Indeed, the silt didn't hurt me. However, he neglected to tell me that IT TASTES TERRIBLE. Seriously, Turkish coffee (or at least the kind they have at Basil) is disgusting. I think Anna put it best when she tried and and declared, "I feel like I'm drinking an ashtray."

Worst of all, when the waiter came back around, he asked me what I thought of the drink. I winced and said, "Um, it's very... distinct. I've never tasted anything like it before."

He should have picked up my drift and stopped there, but instead he pressured me even more: "And you like it, right?" I didn't have the guts to tell him no, so I lied and said that it tasted good. I'm ashamed of myself.

Well, needless to say, I will not be ordering Turkish coffee again anytime in the foreseeable future.

Breaking Dawn

One of the items on Nosheen's bucket list was to watch the sunset from the top of Humpback Rocks. I say "was" because she can now cross that item off of her list. We left at 4:30 this morning to get to the top of the mountain in time to see the sun crest over the Appalachian Mountains.

Usually the hike takes 30-40 minutes, but I budgeted extra time because I thought the ascent would be much slower in the dark. I was wrong: our lack of vision for some reason forced us to go faster, and we made it to the top in 20 minutes flat. It was the quickest, darkest ascent of Humpback Rocks I've ever done.

We actually arrived at the top of the mountain a good hour before sunrise, but it was nice because we got to do some stargazing before the sky started changing colors. And when it did, oh what a sight!

Just as the sun was about to come up, another group of hikers joined us at the summit. In that group was a set of identical twins, the likes of which I'd never met before. I've never seen anyone so chipper and energetic, let alone at 6:30 in the morning. They didn't even stop chatting while taking group pictures for us. If I'm hypomanic, then these girls were experiencing full-blown mania.

On the way back from our Humpback Rocks hike, we stopped at Bodo's for breakfast, officially making this the most Charlottesvillian morning of all time.

Game Show Network

It's been a busy weekend, between lacrosse games, Tom Tom Founders Festivals, cookouts, baseball games, civil war games, polar bear fights, and real baseball games. You can't say that we're not making the most out of our last few weeks as medical students. Although, at this rate, I might die of exhaustion before ever graduating.

Yet one event stands out above all others this weekend. Greg, Neil, Nosheen, Paul, and I participated in Cash Cab, as put on by the University Programs Council. We were picked up by a Wahooptie in front of the UVA Chapel and driven around while being bombarded with trivia questions. At the end of the ride, we had managed to only miss two questions (once you miss three, you're kicked out of the the cab). We obviously opted to go double-or-nothing, and we walked out with $30 in gift certificates to Mellow Mushroom.

And this, my friends, is just one more reason why UVA is the greatest place in the world.

Wet As a Dog

Part of me feels guilty for dragging Titan along with me to New York City next year. To make up for it, I'm trying to give him as much nature time as possible. Today we set out to hike White Oak Canyon, one of my favorite waterfall hikes in the Shenandoah National Park. It was really more of a party for the dogs than anything else.

The humans had a good time, too. Even with all the stops we took to let the dogs have swimming breaks, we made it to the Upper White Oak Falls in just under two hours. We were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Shenandoah Valley at the top.

It's hard to imagine that Titan and I won't be able to enjoy the many hikes around Charlottesville for much longer. Of course, this means that we need to increase our photo documentation at an exponential rate so that we can treasure these memories forever.

Ah, springtime in Virginia. What could possibly be better than this?

Job Offer

And just when I thought my career in music was over, I've been offered a gig playing piano for the Orange County High School production of Nunsense. I guess I have nothing better to do with my time since I'm on vacation until graduation, so it only makes sense that I help out a high school production that happens to be short of a pianist. Or am I just crazy and unable to say "no" to things?

This comes on the heels of being hired, then replaced, the rehired, then subsequently laid off again as an accompanist for a UVA student production of Gaetano Donizetti's opera L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love). The director was kind enough to give me a severance pay for my troubles, though.

Oh yeah, and I also finished arranging a version of Fun.'s We Are Young for the Arrhythmics to perform at our concert next weekend. Is it awesome? Yes, if I do say so myself.

Er, let's just hope I actually remember something about medicine come intern year...

Old Rag

I suppose it's become nearly an annual tradition for us to hike Old Rag. We set out today to conquer our favorite hike in Virginia this morning, but it took us a little longer than usual to get there because we got a little... lost. Oops!

Coop and I both needed to get back pretty early, so we set our hiking pace to "grueling" and our rations to "meager." We did, however, take a few sidetracks to explore the many offerings of the mountain.

We made it to the top in a little over two hours. It was Paul's first time hiking Old Rag, so hopefully he enjoyed it even at the rocket speed with which we took it.

Aaand I'm sore already. Kitteh has regretz.

How Hot Is Fire?

It's Easter weekend and I have nothing school-related to do, so logically another under-24-hour road trip is in order. Yesterday afternoon we went up to Lee's house in Lexington to enjoy the beautiful April weather. Josh and I arrived a little later than the others, and it turns out they had bought what seemed like over 50 pounds of food for six people. We didn't let it deter us, though, and we cooked a lot (I mean a lot) of bread, asparagus, corn, and kebabs.

At some point along the line, I lost all sense of self control and ate six meat skewers. I can't even say how many veggie skewers I had last night. Is this how my spiral into obesity begins?

After dinner we built a bonfire outside, which became hot enough to melt glass. Curious as to how hot our fire had actually become, we Googled the phrase, "How hot is fire?" My favorite Yahoo! Answer: "idk touch it and tell me lol." Simply genius.

Welcome to the Future

On June 29, 2007, Apple introduced the world to the original iPhone. And, nearly five years later, I have finally jumped on the bandwagon. In a matter of days, my very own iPhone 4 will be arriving in the mail. Shopping online: it's so easy and so dangerous!

It will be quite an upgrade for me, someone who has been using Samsung dumbphones for his entire life. But this change is definitely for the better. I mean, can you imagine me trying to navigate the streets of New York using this thing?

I could not be more excited to be finally joining up with the rest of my friends who are already living in the 21st Century.

The Beginning of the End

I've been waiting for this day for so long, and it's finally here: the day I finish med school!

I guess I technically finished two weeks ago when I received all of the credits I needed to graduate. I tacked Wilderness Medicine as an extra one on the end because it seemed fun, and what else would I be doing in my free time than try to be outdoors as much as possible anyway?

The "final" for the course involved a camping trip at Sherando Lake. We arrived yesterday to find a rescue scenario set up for us. We had to locate two "missing" hikers, stabilize them, and build a shelter for them to stay in overnight while we went for help.

We ended up staying pretty late afterwards playing Mafia and doing other campgrounds shenanigans, which may have been a bad idea, since we had to wake up this morning and compete in an adventure race that involved biking, kayaking, and orienteering to 18 different points. At each point we had to answer a question or tackle a clinical scenario before moving on to the next destination. Unfortunately, my team got really caught up on one of the coordinates and finished an hour and a half behind the other two teams. My pride is hurt, but not enough to cause any permanent damage.

I had originally wanted to stay the second night as well, but with the cold weather and the suboptimal sleeping conditions, everyone decided it would be better to just pack up early and come home tonight. And so it ends: I'm home and I'm officially done with medical school! Now to just relax for the next six weeks until graduation.

Oh wait, did I say "relax"? I meant arrange music for the Arrhythmics, revise the Mulholland Society constitution, complete my residency paperwork, and find a place to live in New York City. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

River Trail

Yesterday's classes were on water safety and water rescue techniques. In the afternoon, we tried our best to avoid having to use the rescue techniques we had just learned while we went for a kayaking trip out in Palmyra.

The last time I had been out on the water was when we did the Gauley Marathon, and I have to say that this was much less harrowing but much more pleasant. It turns out 72 degree weather is more comfortable than 38 degree weather. Who woulda thunk it?

Apparently my landlord is refinancing my house, so he had an inspector come in yesterday to examine the property and take pictures. As a result, we had to get the dogs out of there. I was going to leave Titan at Lee's house, but his landlord was also coming over yesterday, so I ended up bringing him along for the day. He swam fine for about the first half hour, but then he started getting tired, so we had to bring him into the canoe with us.

Unfortunately, once in the canoe, he wanted to be back in the water and spent over half of the time whining, whimpering, and trying to jump back in. Man, I have a stupid dog.

Into the Woods

Ah, the weekend ended too quickly. I feel like I need another weekend to recover from this past weekend. But this is fourth year, and I must avoid all temptations to squander my youth.

Today's outdoor adventure took place on Dr. Holstege's property out near Wintergreen. We learned about making fires, purifying water, and building shelters. We even divided up into three teams and had a little competition to see who could build the safest shelters. I'd like to say that my team won, since we probably had the most structurally sound and insulated structure. On the other hand, we did build it on top of a few poison ivy plants that were poking out through the leaves, which would have been less than ideal to sleep in.

After the official "learning" part of the exercise was over, we got some time to play with a crossbow. Unfortunately, we lost our last arrow right before my turn to go, so I was the only person in the class who didn't get to fire the crossbow. Fourth year problems!

I did, however, get to try Kyle's compound bow. Yet this attempt at practicing weaponry was also foiled: my arms were too short, even with Kyle's help, to draw the string all the way back. I am so ashamed!

Well, at least the deer of the forest can rest assured knowing that I, Sammas, will not be coming after them with a bow and arrow anytime soon. And I'm sure that concern has been at the forefront of their minds for months.


Once upon a time, I learned of the existence of such a thing as the Brew Ridge Trail. From that point on, Josh, Neil, and I have been determined to do all of the beer tastings along the entirety of the trail. Yesterday, we accomplished that noble goal.

First stop: Devils Backbone Brewing Company. The atmosphere is great, the view is unbeatable, the food is out of this world, but unfortunately, their beer is terrible. Well, not terrible. I enjoyed their hefeweizen and their stout, but it was by far my least favorite brewery of the day.

Second stop: Wild Wolf Brewing Company. The highlight of my day, because I fell in love with almost all of the beers they had there. They were all very palatable, but my favorite was the Wee Heavy Ale. Also memorable was one of their seasonals, the Strawberry Schwarzcake. Bonus: the sun came out halfway through our tasting, heralding a beautiful spring afternoon in Virginia. Appropriately, we got an group photo with all 24 of us in front of the shops nearby.

Third stop: Starr Hill Brewery. We went a little out of order because Starr Hill does its last pour at 4:00, so we had to skip ahead. Totally worth it, though, because as always, the tastings there were free. It also happens to carry my favorite of all the beers we tasted, the Dark Starr Stout. I can't help it; I'm on a stout kick right now, and theirs happens to be the winningest stout in the country.

Fourth stop: Blue Mountain Brewery. We backtracked to this beautiful location, made slightly less beautiful by the fact that we were seated inside. I'm also a little less than pleased with their customer service right now, because when I called to push back our reservation, the lady on the phone gave me some attitude. Ah well, their beers were still good, and their menu has seen some positive changes since they opened their expansion.

Fifth stop: South Street Brewery. We made it all the way back home to Charlottesville, dropped off our cars, and headed over to South Street. Aside from the free tastings at Starr Hill, they had the best deal of the day, because their flights were 4oz instead of 2oz each. Indeed, it was a fantastic day, but it was a Survivor-style beer tasting, because we lost a lot of people along the way (no, they didn't die, they just went home). And here, my friends, are the eight that tasted all 44 different beers that the Brew Ridge Trail has to offer.

Personally, I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to March. I also can't think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary of Sunny's birth. This, my friends, is the life.