Match Day

March 20, 2015


Today is Match Day, the day fourth year medical students across the country are paired to a residency program in their speciality during a weird ceremony designed to give you a fart attack.

For most of you, this information is strange and slightly boring. But for my little family and community, it’s a big day. A day that decides what the next six years of life looks like.

If you are new here, my spousal unit Austin is in his fourth year of med school, intending to graduate in May. I have conveniently put our timeline into an easy to read list in The End Of Medical School following an equally gripping post on Marrying A Student.

Match Day is confusing. No matter how many times I explain it, our parents still ask us over and over what is going on and is he a doctor yet. If only, parents. If only.

Here’s how it works. First you go to medical school! Actually first you sit at a your desk job doing graphic design until you’re 27 and realize you are in the wrong career. Then you apply to medical school (hard), get accepted to medical school (harder), and work hard to pass each year (hardest). Then in your fourth year of school, you interview on a residency tour before submitting a list of programs ranked by preference while the programs do the same about those they’ve interviewed. Finally a computer takes this information and spits out where you’ll work and live for 3-6 years, depending on your speciality. This is your “match.”

Bored yet?

It would be nice if someone simply called after your interviews and told you if and where you’ve gotten a job. You know, like normal people. Instead the medical community has made up a bizarre ceremony called “Match Day” where nervous med students read their destiny in a dimly lit room while the local news hovers (really) and spouses cry happy or sad tears. Kind of like the hunger games, except nobody dies (except our spirits).

Last year’s match day at Penn State, a visual aid:

YouTube Preview Image


We arrive today at 10am and open the letters at noon.

Some things are certain. On Monday Austin got an email letting him know he did, indeed, match to a program, as some students “scramble” into leftover programs or don’t match at all (nervous poo). This was great news and means we know for sure we’ll be headed to one of four locations on our rank list:

Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Boston, Massachusetts.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Portland, Maine.

Staying in Hershey is our first choice. Not only is it located only 45 minutes from our dream destination, it’s close to New York, D.C., and most importantly–community. A community helping us raise our babies and grow into adult skin. For all its quirks and strange habits, small town living suits our stage of life right now and, for a long list of reasons, makes it easier to parent while also pursuing our dreams.

Of course the other three spots would be great, too. Giant, life-changing pros and cons to each place.

Austin graduates in May and then begins the six year journey to becoming an interventional radiologist this June in a location to be determined in just a few short hours. Pass the Pepto.

Four very different futures at our feet.

Hershey, Philly, Boston, or Portland, here we come.

Onward and upward.


Results will be posted on FB & Instagram following the match!

For The Feelers

March 18, 2015


For a long time I pretended not to be a feeler. The cool girl image of myself did not include a lot of crying or sensitivity. “Sometimes I tear up at weddings,” I’d say casually. “But most things don’t really bother me.”

When my first baby was born, I let go of this fake version of myself out of pure necessity. Not only could I not stop the inevitable swell of emotion over my son, I couldn’t stop feeling everything. Every news story bothered me, every random act of kindness excited me, every single, stupid diaper commercial made me weep. I thought: This is it. I’m officially crazy.

It was honestly a relief.

Women have been called crazy since the beginning of time. Ever since Eve tried the apple and Adam shrugged and said, “She’s cray,” womenfolk have been named the weaker species. The emotional species. The binge-eating-ice-cream-out-of-the-carton-because-we-can’t-handle-our-periods species. It’s so boring and unflattering. After all, WE ARE ALL THE SAME SPECIES.

It’s also a teeny, tiny, little bit true.

The New York Times ran a great op-ed piece last week on medicating women’s feelings. Julie Holland writes,

Women are moody. By evolutionary design, we are hard-wired to be sensitive to our environments, empathic to our children’s needs and intuitive of our partners’ intentions. This is basic to our survival and that of our offspring. Some research suggests that women are often better at articulating their feelings than men because as the female brain develops, more capacity is reserved for language, memory, hearing and observing emotions in others. […] It doesn’t mean we’re weak or out of control. Change comes from the discomfort and awareness that something is wrong; we know what’s right only when we feel it. If medicated means complacent, it helps no one.

As it turns out, we can blame some things on biology. I suppose it was our suspicion all along. Hormones, periods, eggs falling all over our uteruses— what a spectacular mess. I know a special version of myself surfaces monthly. I call her Nancy. Nancy’s main problem is that she believes everyone is thinking about her in the shower, and not in the good way. She also really enjoys Mexican food, but that is neither here nor there.

This part of womanhood can be hard to dissect intellectually. We want to have control over our reactions to weddings, births, not getting a text back from a friend, a little boy abused on the news, the jar of jelly falling off the counter and into a million pieces. But as experience has taught us, being alive can be a bit overwhelming.

Of course it isn’t just women who are feelers. So many of our greatest men are prone to feel deeply. I almost married a few until I realized that two feelers in one relationship can lead to the kind of drama better left to reality TV.

It is a blessing and a curse to sit in the world this way. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. Every neglected child is your child, every homeless 50-year-man is your dad. When life is horrifying for others, it is hard not to bear some of the weight too.  Empathy is good, but fear is its very close sister.

It can also make some of us a bit delusional. A bit Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction if you know what I mean.

The upside is that this is where poetry is born. Beethovens, Picassos, and Kingsolvers, too. It also helps reveal our own identities. There is so much truth behind our emotion. When we’re allowed to feel our feelings all the way, a rawness is exposed. The inside parts of our fleshy bodies. It does not make us weaker, just fuller. As a friend once put it, “Feeling deeply is just being more alive.”

What a gift, to feel.