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Introducing Dr. R!

R’s graduation is now well in the past (May 9, 2011!), but I didn’t want to let it go completely without posting a few pictures here.  Adding that M.D. after his name was such a huge accomplishment and we are all so proud of him!

The day began with a (very) early drive to Emory for the university ceremony.  R was required to attend and I went along for the ride.  There were tons of people and I couldn’t even see where R and his fellow med students sat, but it was a nice ceremony.  Janet Napolitano gave the commencement address.  My Uncle P sent a lovely graduation gift from Hawaii – his and hers leis.  It made a special day even more memorable.

Following the mass ceremony, I met up with all of the family for the medical school ceremony.  It was wonderful to have R’s grandmothers, parents and brother there, as well as my parents and my brother.  We were all thrilled to see R get hooded in the traditional medical green.  It’s real – he’s now Dr. R!  Following the ceremony, the med school held a reception which we would have enjoyed even more if it had not been blistering hot outside.

Back at home, we munched on snacks, cooled down and chatted.  R also opened a few graduation gifts.  He was particularly excited about his new iPad from his parents, complete with Dr. R engraved on the back.

Determined to keep the celebration going, we all went to Ecco for dinner.  Ecco is one of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta, and we were excited to share it with our out-of-town family.  We enjoyed great food (there is nothing like Ecco’s fried goat cheese), great drinks, and lots of laughter.  Congratulations, Dr. R!  I’m so glad I now have my own personal resident physician!!!  (Never mind the whole pediatrician part…)

R’s Graduation Banquet was May 5th at the Georgia Aquarium.  On that evening, we gathered with all of R’s classmates and many faculty members to celebrate their upcoming graduation.


It was a lovely event – a final chance to dress up, say goodbyes, view yearbooks and reflect upon the previous four years.  Senior superlatives were awarded (everything from “Best Sleeper” to the “Slice and Dice” award).  A bizarre video based on Jersey Shore was shown (Jersey Wards, anyone?).  A slide show highlighted all of the social events, classroom memories, and friendships formed.  Many, many inside jokes were thrown around.

The Aquarium was a fantastic setting.  Our ballroom had two large tanks – one with beluga whales and one with a menagerie of swimming things (whale sharks, manta rays, great hammerhead sharks, sawfish and on and on).  It was such a treat to mingle, glasses in hand, while watching these giant and astonishing creatures swimming around us.

I love sea animals.  Growing up, I could spout blue whale trivia with the best.  (Heh.)  When I was little, I wanted to be an undersea illustrator.  (Don’t ask, because I really don’t know.)

Sadly, that dream didn’t work out for me (the Wyland School of Art isn’t open yet), but I thoroughly enjoyed our evening surrounded by all things swimming.  In case anyone is doing some early birthday shopping for me, a beluga whale is high on my list.  You can’t tell from this picture, but these guys are incredibly beautiful!  (No, they’re no blue whale, but c’mon.  Where would I keep a blue whale?)

What a way to wrap up M4!

Hello?  Is anyone still there?

Ahem.  Apparently, I’m not so good at blogging consistently (read: at all) while employed as a Biglaw Cog.  A year and a half into this position and I’m still figuring it all out.  But inconsistent blogging or not, we’ve had some very exciting events around here lately and I’m determined to make the time to record them here!

March 17th was the day R and I have been anticipating for nearly four years – Match Day!

For those of you who haven’t had the ‘pleasure’ of putting a spouse through medical school, let me explain.  Beginning in the fall of their fourth year, med students fly all around the country, begging residency programs to accept them.  Then all of the students and all of the residencies make lists of their favorites.  (Think of it as being the world’s most expensive and anxiety-driven Greek Rush.  Only here, if you don’t get accepted, your college career isn’t shot, your life career is shot.  And if you do get accepted, you don’t get to attend theme parties, you get to work ridiculous hours for highway robbery pay.)  Finally, the students wait around for several agonizing months while some computer processes all of the lists and spits out the Ideal Match for each student and residency program.

On March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day!), all the med students in the entire country gather at their schools and countdown.  At the stroke of 12 pm Eastern, everyone gets their residency match.  Some people are elated – “first choice!” – and some people are not – “I’m moving where for the next five years?!?”

So obviously, after R’s cross-country interview travels and the looming threat of my having to take another bar exam, we were really ready for Match Day to arrive.

Our day started with brunch at a friend’s place, where all of the med students tried to look nonchalant, all of the spouses and significant others whispered about the possibility of having to move, and green jello shots and beers were passed around like candy.

We swung by our apartment to pick up the family members and headed to campus, where the students lined up in their white coats for a group photo.

Listen – if you want to know what true frustration is, watch a lone photographer trying to convince a bunch of sloppy drunk med students to look sober enough for one picture.

It took a very. long. time.

After the photos, we headed to the main medical school building.  At Emory, they lay out tables full of envelopes and line the students up several feet from the tables.  At 12, all of the students rush at the table and grab the envelope with their name on it.  I have no photos of this process, because the mass chaos made it impossible to get within 30 feet of the tables.

So we sat, huddled and nervous, waiting for R to make his way back to our little group.

Finally, he reached us with his envelope.  Hand’s shaking, he ripped it open, fumbled with the paper inside, and yelled:

“EMORY!”

That’s right, Atlanta.  We’re sticking around for another three years!

We were thrilled, as Emory pediatrics was far and away R’s first choice.  Great program, great people, great mentors, no moving, no more bar exams, close to both of our families.  March 17th and the scary Rush computer treated us well.

After the adrenaline subsided and we munched on the appetizers put out by the school, we took a group shot and headed for lunch at Capozzi’s to celebrate properly.  Emory pediatrics – whew!

nonfictionsmall

I’ve completed my first challenge!  Actually, I suppose I half completed it, as I haven’t written all of my reviews yet (still trying to re-learn how to balance work with life with blogging – that month off really spoiled me!).  But the books are all read, so I’m going to consider it complete for now.

I didn’t have much trouble reading all of the books for the Non-Fiction Five 2009 challenge, especially since I had already personally committed to reading one non-fiction book a month this year.  Some of the books I loved more than others (which you’ll see when I post all of the reviews), but I enjoyed all of them.  There was a pretty wide variety – three memoirs (two on food, one on politics), a self-help, and a book about the science of sex (how do you classify that?).  Here’s my list:

  1. My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
  2. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
  3. Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadah Moaveni
  4. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
  5. Your Time-Starved Marriage by Les and Leslie Parrott

My favorite of the five was definitely A Homemade Life – but then, how could I not love something written by Molly Wizenberg?  My least favorite was Your Time-Starved Marriage, but I still felt the read was worthwhile.  Thanks to Trish at Trish’s Reading Nook for hosting this great challenge.

Stay tuned for my full reviews on the rest of these books!

R’s one-week-long ‘summer vacation’ happened to coincide with my last free week before returning to work, so we decided to take the opportunity to head down to Florida.  We had a wonderful time!  To avoid a completely unruly post, I’m just going to hit the highlights here.  But beware – even a highlights-only account of a week at Walt Disney World is bound to be lengthy!  :)

**  Listening to the first two Harry Potter audiobooks during our drive down and back.  They were just as good (and funny) as I’d heard!  More on this in posts to come.

**  Staying Saturday night with my sister and brother-in-law.  They recently moved to Florida for their new teaching jobs and it was fantastic to spend time with them and eat their yummy homemade pizza!

D & T cooking for us!Pizza!

**  R and my brother-in-law having a boy’s night with football and rocket launches while I checked out the beautiful artwork around my sister’s apartment.  (She paints and he sculpts – both very well.  Between them, they have covered every wall and flat surface with incredible art.  If you want to see more of his work, check out his website: Thomas Manley.)

Boys at playPottery

**  Getting ice cream with my aunt, uncle, and three cousins who also live down in Florida.

**  Staying at the festive Port Orleans-French Quarter resort at Disney.  The hotel was beautiful, the beignets weren’t bad, and we found some friendly critters on the property.

Port Orleans-French QuarterMusical gators

**  The Magic Kingdom!  Our favorite ride (largely because Space Mountain was closed) was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, although Pirates of the Caribbean with the new(er) addition of Cpt. Jack Sparrow was also worth two rides.  We got halfway up one of the big hills in Splash Mountain when they abruptly shut it down and evacuated us out of the ride.  We never made it back through, but we did get to view the inner workings of the Mountain.  Seeing plugs coming out of the backside of the Brer animals takes a bit of the magic out of things…  We also thought the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor was hilarious and we’re still not sure how they do it.  R made me stop spinning our tea cup in the Mad Tea Party because he was starting to get sick, something I will never, ever allow him to live down!

Magic Kingdom!AdventurelandUrsula - My favorite Disney villainCinderella's Castle

**  Epcot!  Soarin’ lived up to the hype – we both thought it was one of the best rides of all the parks.  If the wait hadn’t been the longest we saw in all of the parks, we definitely would have ridden it two or three times.  I loved the mini-aquarium at The Seas with Nimo and Friends and fell head over heels for the two manatees.  We had a great time walking around the World Showcase.  I was thrilled to find an entire Christmas tree full of German pickles – how many extra presents does that get me, Santa?  We caught one of the British Invasion performances and were pleased when they opened with I Want To Hold Your Hand, our wedding recessional song.  It started raining halfway through our World Showcase stroll, so we unfortunately saw some of the countries at only a fast walk.  (Even with rain coats and ponchos, we still managed to get pretty wet!)

Mine?  Mine?  Mine?I found ALL the pickles!I miss London!The Fab FourDrenched!

**  Animal Kingdom!  This ended up being our favorite park and we spent a full day and a half wandering around.  All of the animals were wonderful; we loved the Kilimanjaro Safari and really enjoyed all of the walking paths.  We got tons of great animal pictures because they were surprisingly active.  Expedition Everest was thrilling, although my hands were definitely trembling afterward!

Tree of LifeMeerkatGorillaTigerCrested crane with babyGiraffeLionExpedition Everest

**  Spending a day learning that water parks are really more for kids than adults (Blizzard Beach), that I am a far better minature golfer than R (two holes in one!), and that virtual reality masks really hurt (DisneyQuest).  We loved CyberSpace Mountain at DisneyQuest, going out of our way to create the scariest rollercoaster we could ride in the simulator.

**  Eating tons.  Some of the meals were lackluster, but others really stood out.  A dear friend and Disney connoisseur recommended some great places to us.  As promised, Earl of Sandwich served some truly excellent sandwiches.  R ordered some fabulous Moroccan wine and mint tea (and watched some belly dancing) at Restaurant Marrakesh.  R taught me how to eat crab and lobster at Fulton’s Crab House – it was so fun!  Narcoossee’s helped us celebrate our anniversary (we celebrate around the 1/2 year mark, since Christmas and New Years get in the way of the actual date) with festive dessert plates.  At Boma, in the gorgeous Animal Kingdom Lodge, I added ‘fufu’ to my collection of best named foods I’ve ever eaten (a mashed potato dish, it joins ‘toot’, a mulberry drink).

Getting messy at Fulton's Crab HouseSweet dessert celebrating 1.5 wonderful years

**  Laughing at the hilarious things kids do and say.  When Crush at Turtle Talk asked the audience for the name of the bikini top hanging around his neck, a kid up front yelled, “It’s an over-the-shoulder boulder holder!”

**  Discovering that fall comes very early at the Magic Kingdom.

Fall in August

Despite coming home almost as tired as we were when we left, it was a wonderful week.  Just what we needed before jumping back into real life this past week!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Author: Stieg Larsson

Published: 2008

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 of 5

Much has been written about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, especially now that it is available in paperback and the follow-up book, The Girl Who Played with Fire has been released.  I’ll keep my synopsis short and sweet:  This book follows Mikael Blomkvist, a magazine editor, and Lisbeth Salander, a rough-around-the-edges private investigator, as they dig into a decades-old missing woman mystery and a corporate fraud scheme.

My mother-in-law first mentioned this book to me months ago.  I added the title to my list and then promptly forgot about it.  Soon though, I started seeing the book everywhere – in blog posts, on bestseller lists, in articles anticipating Fire‘s release.  I bumped it to the top of my list and waited in a (long) line to get a copy from my library.

I now understand the buzz.  This book was pure page-turning entertainment – I felt physical pain whenever I had to set it down to do annoying things like eat, shower, and go to work.  Fortunately, it was also a fast read, so I was able to speed through it and return to normal life fairly quickly.

Set in Sweden, Dragon Tattoo introduced me to an area of the world I’ve never visited before in books.  One of my dearest friends grew up in Sweden and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the country (particularly the interesting food) while comparing it to the things she has shared about her childhood.  This book was certainly not a travelogue, but the occasional descriptions of the countryside and the small towns in which it was set made me want to make Sweden my next vacation destination.

In fact, this book was an absolute thriller, with some mystery thrown in for good measure.  I didn’t know much about the book when I started reading (having scrupulously avoided reviews to avoid spoilers), but the translated Swedish title should have tipped me off:  Men Who Hate Women.  Normally, I don’t do well with books containing lots of violence or brutality, especially against women.  To be honest, there were parts that were difficult for me to read (or even skim) due to the graphic descriptions.  But I was so gripped by the plot that I was able to push through those sections and still enjoy the book.

If you haven’t read this one yet, I would definitely recommend it with one caveat:  Please start it early in a weekend.  I’d hate for you to have to use a sick day at work so you can stay home to finish it!  Myself, I’m looking forward to reading Fire.  While I’m waiting in my second library line to get it (139 people long!), I’ll keep myself occupied by deciding where to put the Dragon Tattoo tattoo that I won from Books on the Nightstand!

~~~~~

Don’t take my word for it.  Check out what others are saying about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

1 More Chapter – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

All About {n} – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Book Lady’s Blog – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Books on the Nightstand – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — what are you waiting for?

Literary License -The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (a review)

The Literate Housewife Review – #186 ~ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Old Musty Books – Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

S. Krishna’s Books – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author: Sherman Alexie

Published: 2007

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4 of 5

After some prompting from a teacher, Arnold Spirit, Jr. decides to leave his reservation’s high school and enroll in the neighboring community’s all-white high school.  All he really wanted was a better education, but what he gets is a sense of living in two worlds while belonging to none.  His fellow Native Americans, including his best and only friend, view his transfer as a rejection and betrayal.  His new white classmates are racist and largely ignore him.  Through it all, Junior illustrates his account of the school year with hilarious cartoons and a candid narrative.

When I read Rebecca’s review of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian on her blog, The Book Lady’s Blog, I immediately added it to my ever-growing list.  It sounded edgy, interesting, and unlike anything I’ve read recently.  I wasn’t disappointed!

Despite the misleadingly long title, Sherman Alexie’s writing is tight, concise, and perfectly balanced in youthfulness and emotion.  As a narrator, Junior was funny and endearing.  I laughed aloud multiple times, particularly at his wry, self-deprecating asides.  This book really did read like the journal of an intelligent teenager who is just trying to figure out where he fits in the world.

It feels almost strange to write about how funny I found this book given how sad it was.  Several members of Junior’s family are serious alcoholics and their resulting poverty is heartrending.  There are times when Junior is forced to walk and hitchhike the twenty-some miles to and from school because his family doesn’t have money for gas.  During the darkest part of the book, several terrible tragedies hit Junior’s family.  Racism – by both the whites and the Native Americans – controls many of the characters and Junior bears the brunt of much hate.

There is no sugarcoating in this book.  It is painfully honest and has even managed to land itself on some banned books lists (check out Rebecca’s post for the excerpt that is primarily responsible for this honor).  But the good-natured attitude and wry commentary that accompanies all the bluntness makes it an insightful and worthwhile read.

~~~~~

Don’t take my word for it.  Check out what others are saying about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian:

The Book Lady’s Blog – Book Chat: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Fizzy Thoughts – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Jessecreation’s Weblog – STD Conferences and YA Lit

New York Times – Off the Rez

Underage Reading – Book vs. Book: Battle of the kids battling racist humiliation and not quite winning

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