You can only apologize for being yourself once

I did my last serious interview. Now my rank list has been thrown into chaos, and I'm still trying to sort it all out. This last place was more cosmopolitan, and the people were super friendly. It felt really good. One thing though is that it's pretty far away from my med school friends. You'd think that'd be a minus, but for me, it's in the plus column.

It's not that my med school friends are bad or mean or evil. They're good people, fantastic people in fact. But here's the thing. When I came to medical school, I tried to be everything I thought I should be. I was cheerful, gregarious, and social, and the shame of it was that it wasn't me. It was some other guy entirely who made all those friends. He's the guy going to parties and such. Not me.

And of late, I've tried to be more like myself. I've tried to leave that guy in the past. I've been more true to myself than I have in years. But I can't help but feel a little phony. I can't stop thinking that when your friend only knows you for who you project yourself to be, who is that person really friends with?

So I've shown people a slice of the real me. That happy fellow was fine, but the guy who runs along the edge of depression, who has so many hobbies and interests to distract himself from thinking about the emptiness of his own life, he's a little scary. He's not as much fun.

I feel more like myself now. It's like I've been in a long sleep, and I'm just waking up and taking in a few deep breaths. And it's a little rough, has caused some issues, and stirred up some ripples. I've tried to smooth things out a little, but I find it hard to be apologetic when I'm being who I am.

I was talking with West Coast, and I said something like the problems in my life revolved around being lonely, and if I wasn't so lonely, my life would be falling into line. He didn't placate me. He just said no.

"That's a lie, and you know it. You could be fucking the hottest 24 year old girl in town, and you'd still be miserable. Because that's not your problem. It's a problem, but it's not yours. Maybe you hate your father for being emotionally distant. Maybe you resent your family. I don't know. You don't know either. It's something that you don't figure out until after years of therapy. But don't lie to yourself and think that the problems in your life will be solved by a girl."

And I loved him for saying it, because he was right, and he was unafraid to know me in that deep sense, in that way you know where your hand is, even if your eyes are closed. Proprioception, it's called, knowing where your hand is.

I'm not eager to leave my friends here. They're good people, and some of them are people that I'd like to know for the rest of my life. But it's an uncomfortable position I'm in. Because with most of my friends still, after 4 years, they just don't know who I am.

Cheesehead, she asked me, "Are you okay?" noticing that I looked pretty awful. I turned to her and gave her a choice: "Do you want the real answer, or the flippant one?" And that's the deal. So often, so many have chosen flippant.

The definition of lonely

I'll admit it right here, right now. I am lonely. I am lonely in a way that I can only describe as painfully so. I'm not lonely for company. I've got plenty of friends around. I'm lonely in that lonely way, when you see other people who've found one another, when you see a couple holding hands in the parking lot, when you hear the lilting laughter of a woman giggling at some remark, when you hold the door open for a girl wrapped in the coat of her boyfriend.

Loneliness is a terrible thing. It eats at you constantly. It reminds you that even unhappiness is better sometimes. It's like a sweater that itches, but you can't take it off. Loneliness is what drives a person to go through old letters from crushes and exes, neatly kept in file folders, letters still kept in their original envelopes. Loneliness is what makes you appreciate that a beautiful woman is more than skin deep. Loneliness is what reminds you that life is horrible and cruel because it gives you so much but never enough. Loneliness is what makes you realize that you are so very unhappy with who you are, not because there is anything wrong with you, but because the rest of the world has no appreciation for who you are. Loneliness is what tells you that the most beautiful object in creation is meaningless if you can't share it with someone else.

I am lonely. And with that, a healthy dose of despondent. I don't say depressed because I'm not depressed. I know depression. I could ramble on about depression for quite some time. Depression is not the same thing. Despondent is simply the lack of hope. It's the active realization that there is no hope for the future or the present. Despondency is what tells you that you should be depressed and you should consider putting a bullet in your brain. That's not depression. Depression is thinking that a bullet in your brain would be an improvement.

I think that people have no comprehension of me. I am some sort of enigma or puzzle that is entirely not worth unraveling. I am a Rubix cube that sits in the toy chest unsolved, and undeserving of such effort. I am a pair of white shoes the day after Labor Day. I am khakis at a semi-formal event. I am soft serve ice cream in the middle of winter. I have spent so much time in trying to sell a product that has no market. I'm trying to be a jelly donut, but I'm really a bowl of oatmeal.

And that's why I hate myself really. It's not that there's anything to hate. It's that what is there is so unwanted, that I too do not want it. It's that pecan roll whose only fault in life was being a pecan roll. And it sits, growing stale, in a case full of frosted cinnamon rolls, watching them snatched up with great pleasure. But that poor pecan roll just sits in the case and dries out. And how can it NOT hate itself? Why shouldn't it hate itself, for being something that is so unwanted?

Time to break out the ramen noodles

I'm not sure how it is that I've managed to spend so much money so quickly, but I wish that I was still getting parental money. I had no idea just how much I relied on that cash, and how painful it's been trying to operate without it. I still haven't gotten a loan check yet, which makes my situation just a little more... dire. I have bills to pay. I guess that other people got their loan check already, but I really need mine. This is especially troublesome since more than half of my loan check will go directly to my credit card company. They've got me behind the 8 ball, for sure.

And into this picture enters Spring Break. Somehow, in my... idiocy I thought that going somewhere on Spring Break would be pretty neat. And I can work it out. That's not as much of a problem as I'd like to think it is. It's just hard to look at my checking account, think about how I won't be able to write some checks that I need to, and tell myself that I can afford a Spring Break trip.

As much as I think I should leave my current location when school ends, I don't want to leave. And when I think about it, I can come up with a ton of reasons to stay, but none of them are very good. You know when you want to do something, you can come up with hundreds of perfectly acceptable rational reasons to do it, but none of those reasons are the truth. Truth is, the reason I want to stay here is for such a bad reason that I myself am surprised, and ashamed. Anyway, more interviews ahead. I canceled one today, so that gives me some free time at least. Catch up on some sleep. I'm tired of interviewing.

Prom was for losers anyway, speaks the voice of bitterness

For the first time in two years, a friend has achieved a level of correspondence deserving of a personal folder in my file cabinet. Only twelve others have achieved such a distinction, but paradoxically, I am out of contact with seven of those twelve. So, maybe this is a bad thing. I read through my favorite Christmas card ever, from a girl I used to know. She's got a special place in my heart because she was the only girl ever to actively pursue me. And for that, she gets all the props in the world.

I realized that I've never been invited to a white tie affair. Now, I've been invited to plenty of black tie events, but never white tie. Well, I've never actually been to a black tie event, but I've been invited. D was confused when I mentioned this. Y'know, formal events like the prom or other dances. I repeated my statement. I've never been to a black tie event.

I'm not sure if it's weird that I didn't go to prom. It was pretty much the most unappealing idea in high school. I hated my school. I hated all the popular kids in the school. I had no date. And going stag was akin to social suicide. And then, dancing? *shudder*.

Y'know, I spent so much of my life watching from the sidelines. I've watched other people get where they want in life, and I keep wondering when I get to start. Y'know, I'm not sure how many more weddings I can really attend and still care. I wish that for once, it was my turn. But it's not, and it won't be, especially since I've adopted my little laissez-faire policy on dating.

So whatever. I've conceded defeat in this stupid town. I've come upon the sad realization that I'm not going to find what I'm looking for in this city, or state, and I really should have pursued the coasts more vigorously. At least on the coasts, I've got a fighting chance. This whole Midwest thing, it's like living in a big tub of vanilla. And that's fine, if you're vanilla. But it's nothing but trouble if you're a praline.

There is a two year expiration date

I find myself in a very awkward position these days of wishing that I was in a relationship, but entirely unwilling to deal with potential rejection. I am, to put it in the vernacular, gun shy. And so, I'm not really sure what to make of all that. I mean, I'm sure there are positive steps that I can make, but right now, I'm not exactly the picture of confidence.

S is right to point out that I have exhausted my available options. I mean, I do know single women, but I've been relegated to Friendville, so it's not like I'm going anywhere. I find this quite ridiculous, but then again, I'm the one that's single. I'm supposed to find it ridiculous.

Of course, my mom is unusually eager about my prospects. For the past few years, she has been increasingly inquisitive about my romantic life. In college, my mom took the hard line opinion that I should not date because it would interfere with my studies. Well, it wasn't like I listened to her. Now that I've become a medical student, she seems convinced that I should be dating more. Well, I should be dating, period. 'More' would imply that I've been dating.

I had a funny discussion with my mom. I was showing her pictures on my computer. And whenever there was a girl in the picture, my mom would go, "Oh... is she married?" You can imagine the follow-ups that ensued. Anyway, I knew this was coming, but we eventually hit upon one friend of mine. I'll just quote the conversation.

mom: Oh, who is she?
me: That's ______, the friend of mine I told you about.
mom: [trying to ask casually, but this is like the fifth time she's asked this question] Is she seeing anyone?
me: I'm not sure. I don't think so.
mom: Oh, then you should ask her out.
me: I don't think that'd be a good idea.
mom: She sounds nice. And she's pretty. You should ask her out.
me: [laughing] well, I already did. That's why it's not a good idea.
mom: So what did-
me: The answer was no.
mom: Well, how long ago was that? [furrowed brow, analytical gaze]
me: Umm... a while? Like 2 years?
mom: Pfft, after 2 years, it's okay to ask again. It's so long ago, it's like you never asked.
me: ... Well, if she were interested, she'd have said something.
mom: Why would you think that? After two years, ask again.

I have come to realize three very important things. (1) I have absolutely no comprehension of the female mind. (2) My mom seems to have far more confidence in me than I do. (3) From now on, I should tell my mom that all my female friends are married or are nuns.

Less important, but also interesting, the following three items. (1) My mom seems to have this uncanny knack for picking up on girls that I have been interested in. It's not like I tell her anything, but she always manages to hit the mark. (2) My mom's questions have become interesting as well. At no time did she ask me if I knew any Korean girls. She didn't ask about the religion of any of the girls I know. She didn't come out and ask me about my romantic life, but tried to be subtle about it. Odd. (3) I didn't know that "No" had an expiration date.

Why I don't have a Christmas tree

Every year, I catch a lot of flack about Christmas, because I do not make a big fuss. I no longer buy a tree or wreath or any decorations. I don't even buy presents. This time I bought 5 presents. In 2002, I bought 3. I write my Christmas cards, but otherwise, that's pretty much it. People always seem surprised why I don't do more for Christmas. Well, what does any of it have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ? You know, it's tough to put up a tree and decorate it, knowing that it has no religious or spiritual significance whatsoever.

I just can't bring myself to do commercialized Christmas anymore. It's not what Christmas is about. To me, Christmas is a wonderful time of year, and it has nothing to do with presents or hot cocoa or a douglas fir or blinking lights. I think that the Charlie Brown Christmas special sums it up:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

"'And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
-Linus Van Pelt

Word, Linus. Word.