I’m required to take a humanities class this year. There’s always a seminar series offered here at the med school, but it’s a bit of a joke, depending on who you talk to. So I thought, “Hey! Since it’s free and required and all, why not take a class at the undergrad campus and actually learn something?”
This morning, I was looking through the course offerings online when I stumbled across a seminar in multicultural fiction. Now, I majored in comparative literature in college, got really interested in the way literature contributes to national identity (especially in a postcolonial setting), and never really got to take a class on it. So I then thought, “Hey! This class sounds pretty interesting!”
So there I was, drinking my coffee and getting increasingly worked up about how fantastic it would be to take this seminar. The reading list seemed perfect, the workload seemed perfect, the professor ratings seemed perfect, even the timing, once a week on Thursday afternoons, seemed perfect.
(You know the “until…” is coming.)
I pulled up my Google Calendar to make sure there actually were no conflicts.
And whaddya know? Starting in late October, we have physical diagnosis scheduled for Thursday afternoons.
It’s probably an indication of how disappointed I am that I actually spent another hour or so trying to figure out how I could take both this course and physical diagnosis. (That’s the “bargaining” stage, for you Kublerians out there.) Eventually, I realized that learning the physical exam and the diagnostic skills that go with it are probably kind of important to my future career (ya think?), certainly more so than an Ivory Tower literature seminar.
It was hard, though. I did go through a period of about a month amidst med school interviews, where I was flipping out about cool my thesis research was and how awesome it would be to withdraw all my applications to keep doing literature FOREVER and EVER. The night before one interview, I stayed with a high school friend and kept commenting that “If I left now, I could be home by 3 AM.” (My friend very wisely told me to shut up and go to bed.)
Almost being able to take a literature class again brought all those feelings back. I think they were made worse this time by the fact that I went to the Park yesterday with my notebook and found myself confronting the worst case of writers’ block in over a year; I just stared at the grass for five hours. After just a week of classes, mostly introductory, I was too tired to do something that’s been a defining feature of my identity since elementary school. Not that I want to drop out — I think medicine is too damn cool, especially the bugs-and-drugs part of it — but it would be so, so nice to be in a lit sem again. I did get a hold of the reading list, but reading “in parallel” would be a poor substitute for two hours of discussion a week. Plus I know it would just fall to the wayside as I got busier with “real” school.
But ok. This is what growing up is supposed to be about. You can’t have everything, make lemonade, blah blah. Lesson learned, but not quite internalized. Not just yet.