January 18, 2006

I last wrote a little after New Years. My mother left the night before to stay with my Grandfather while he recovered from pancreatic surgery. A few days later he died in Florida. Sad stuff. The last time I heard from him was, funny enough, in response to my email demand from all of you. Typically, he writes to correct me. Here’s a snippet:

“I guess some people are natural writers, and revel in expressing themselves, and others would prefer two hours in the dentists chair, with or without novocaine. You know where I fit. Before I start, there are two things (errors in your recent writings) that call for attention. First, there’s the thing about Blarney. Irish lore has it that any lad foolish enough to hang upside down from the turret of Blarney Castle, fifty feet or so above the lovely countryside, and stretch down to a certain stone to plant a kiss, would receive the gift of eloquence, The gift of blarney. So many eloquent Irish landed on our shores that people began to say of any such speaker “He’s full of Blarney” There are those who equate that saying with “He’s full of —-“. A terrible corruption of a lovely legend. As a tourist, I kissed the Blarney Stone, with a local lad holding my ankles. I think I’d rather be mute than kiss it again. Next, there’s your comment on the “farsy” language. When you denigrated the language, you were perehaps thinking of the version that adds a T to the spelling, as in artsy fartsy. Your lady’s language is Farsi, the tongue of ancient Persia.”

I wrote him back, gently reminding him that “perehaps” was misspelled and that “farsy/farci” was a word play with “farce” (which I now realize I STILL misspelled). I didn’t mention his excessive comma use and sentence fragments because, you know.

We bought tickets to fly down to Florida that weekend. Out of the airport, into a rental car, and out at the restaurant where the other half of the family, the Monaghans, was waiting. I’ve had time to reflect on this and I now know that yes: Irish families drink constantly pre and post funerals. I sat down, ordered a Yeungleung, and took a look at the table.

A brief intro to the players:

Terry: think “Cathy” the comic strip
Tim: youngest. Works for gov’t think tank. That’s all I can know.
Tom: bond-trader, rock of Gibraltar, 6’2″
Cathy: wife to Tom and mother to Matt and Ryan.
Matt: long-drive golfer working in the Wall Street of Connecticut. 6’3″
Ryan: man/child hockey player, 6’4″

The funeral was held Monday morning. Those who’ve visited know that Florida is the only place where your “Church best” includes golf shoes. The church was filled with all of Grandaddy’s friends, none of whom I recognized. Time to time I would ask Ryan who someone was, but his shoulders are so broad that I couldn’t hear him whisper back; had to read lips. The reception that followed was well attended. I met a number of men that played golf with my grandfather, many of whom told me that he was their best friend. However, once they found out I wasn’t the grandson that drove a ball 400 yards to the green on hole 8, they lost interest. “No, you’re looking for Matt Monaghan. He’s over there. I’m the stained-glass grandson.” “Really?” “Yeah.” “Oh. Well good luck.” I had that conversation three times.

That night the cousins went bowling. Now, I know I can’t bowl to save my life, so I decided to take charge of last place by spinning the ball with each throw, completing my parody of the professional. I kept the gutter balls down to thirteen. I was in control. In the other lane Ryan, Matt and Calvin were getting bored with their strike after strike. I was able to talk them into bowling a game with spin, thinking I would manage to climb the ranks. I forgot that Ryan is the most frustrating natural athlete ever born. I forgot that Ryan would throw strikes with marbles, the bastard. Ryan became bored with my challenge and started throwing strikes with his left. Spinning. Bastard.

I decided bowling wasn’t my thing and wondered if I might excel at wing-eating. The six of us polished off a few plates of hot wings between frames. I now think that the finger-holes in bowling balls might be the grossest places on earth judging from our behavior alone. In case you wondered.

That night Calvin and I went to bed without ordering room service once during our stay, which was Cal’s raison d’etre. Sorry Cal. I was on a plane for GND by 7:00am and touched down at 6:00 with a brief layover in Barbados. There is a place slower than GND, and it is Barbados.

Back in GND, things are as they were. I had already missed the first two days of class so decided to call the rest of the week a wash. I instead used those days to settle in and prepare for Orientation. It went off without a hitch which had everything to do with my not being in charge. I let the new Chair learn from all of my mistakes while I busied myself with a slide show of GND scenery, students, parties, Prague, and so on. It got a few laughs.

The Anatomical Research Society is the second thing pulling for my attention. Our VP recently resigned citing irreconcilable anxiety. That makes me the new VP. In case you forgot, this ARS was set up for those students that wanted to complete research while in medschool, get some more time in the anatomy lab with scalpels, and polish the old curriculum vitae. It’s a magnet for overachievers. It was our responsibility this term to announce the club and hold interviews for the 15 positions open to the second termers. Amazingly, 40 people showed up. We conducted the meeting like a fraternity rush with existing members milling about and answering questions while the prospectives networked and made their cases. After an hour we kicked them out and began arguing over who would get the limited spaces. We all agreed that it was a good thing we were founding members because none of us would have been competitive. We had lawyers, chemical engineers, students with four publications under the belt from undergrad, etc.

In addition to this, everyone in the club is trying to get their own publications finished before the blessed third term ends. That means that this week we spent 10 hours of prime study time in the lab trying to prepare perfect dissections. My second project involves minuscule arteries underneath the tongue which break apart like wet tissue paper. Not the Quilted Northern tissue paper but the 1-ply Goodwill toilet paper. Each half-tongue takes about three hours of prep to take a single picture. Then it’s off to the next one. You stink of formaldehyde, are elbow deep in someone’s face, and your back aches because the tables don’t come up to standing height. I can’t wait to be a surgeon.

When I’m not worrying about classes or Anatomy I get to spend time with Sherin. She has her own apartment this term and we try to have lunch together every day. She has her cupboards organized in a way that could only make sense to a girl. Baked goods, cookies, crackers and cake mixes in one cabinet; bread, rice cakes, hummus and goldfish in another. “It makes sense, topher. If I’m sad and want something sweet, I make these things. If I’m bored and want to snack in bed, I eat these.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Mood groups.

Sherin also has a “Like” jar. I told her that she could never meet my father if she keeps using “like” as a comma. One EC dollar for every infraction. She asked me what we get to do with the money. “Fly to the moon, Sherin. The moon.” She then told me that she hates me. She says this with such regularity that it no longer sounds like English, but instead a sneeze: hAT CHewww. I “God-blessed” her the other day.

Well guys, that all for now. Seeing as my life is about to hit the fan, I’m going to sign off for about a month.

Wish me luck, topher.

1) Terry, Mom told me to write that.
2) “Raison d’etre” is french for “reason to be, purpose in life”
3) Yes, I will let you know how much money is in the Like jar each time I write. We’re at 30EC after two days.


The path of least resistnace to the New Year

January 2, 2006

Happy New Year everyone. It’s been a while since I last wrote and I blame Sherin. Everyone knows that a surefire way to come up with a story is to do something stupid and document the consequence. For example: class elections rap, bartending at sandblast, going euro in prague with tight pants, Carnivale, Moped, Moped (I feel like it needs to be in here twice), library guerilla wars, Dodgeball and Thanksgiving. Everyone also knows that sensible girlfriends worth keeping tend to stop us from achieving our true potential for idiocy. So I don’t write as much. Now Sherin is complaining that I don’t write enough. This is so much fun.

Since Thanksgiving, life at school meant life in the library. Around this time I started to get very sick with constant sinus problems. I figured it was just the stress of studying and little sunlight. One day late in, I saw a friend of mine spraying his desk with Lysol and wiping it down. He told me this:

“Before Immuno, a few of us came in early to cram and we saw the cleaning ladies. From the same bucket of water they cleaned the bathroom floor, toilet and urinal. They then dropped rags into the bucket and wiped down every desk in the library. No wonder everyone has been getting so sick.”

Thank you Grenadian cleaning lady; it was great taking my exams sick.

As I got healthy I was able to spend more time learning from Sherin. For instance, when Sherin remarks that it is cool out tonight that means I’m cold because Sherin is now wearing my jacket. When Sherin realizes that she hasn’t been given a fork I realize that I have no fork. Sherin does not want dessert, she wants my dessert. These lessons culminated when the roomates took the girlfriends out to dinner. Sherin was sitting with her back exposed when it began to rain. At this point I prempted and demanded that we trade spaces. The table began to give me a ribbing for being so chivalrous. I’d like to set the record straight: I was just avoiding the situation where I look like an ass for letting her get wet BEFORE I have to trade places. So much of dating is finding the path of least resistance.


The next day was spent walking the capital in search of crap to buy. I came out the big winner with a baby-blue GRENADA baseball cap. Which I wore proudly. On an impulse move, we packed up, bought groceries and headed for LaSagesse. We took the roof off of Sherin’s Jeep and let the wind blow through our hair. I felt left out.

LaSagesse is a breath-taking beach that we had to ourselves. All the boys suffer from ADD, so when the football and paddle tennis got old it was time to leave. I had so much fun driving up and down the hills and turns to get there that Sherin insisted on driving back. I almost made it the whole way without saying something about her driving. Not the path of least resistance.

With Sherin away in New York I am trying to keep busy back home. Popop (grandfather) has taken me to a few basketball games. Home Team played a team named Chicago State(?) whose two top scorers are under 5’6″, none of which makes any sense. Uncle Laurence is letting me see patients with him. Every day he asks me some simple question in front of a patient that I completely fumble. Oh, if the students I tutor could see me now. And by the way, you have carpel tunnel syndrome. It’s the ADHD of neurology.

I find myself looking up to my brother, Calvin, these days. He’s been dating his girlfriend for over a year now while I’m not half that. He was brave enough to bring her to Christmas dinner at Gagi and Popop’s. The ride over was a coaching session to stay close to Calvin, relatives in clusters are trouble, and watch out for Aunt Katy. Are you reading this, Sherin? Watch out for Aunt Katy.

In other holiday news: I’m sure everyone will believe me when I say that a good portion of Christmas’ Eve dinner was spent looking up the etymology of “kilter” as in “off kilter”. Nobody knows where it comes from, incidentely. We ended up discussing the true height of Hugh Jackman, Sting, and The Governator: 6’3″, 6′ and 5’10” (but he wears lifts).

Well, I think that about does it. I head back to GND in a few days which leaves me precious little time to do something stupid. I know you’re all pulling for me.

Happy New Year everyone, topher.

Addendum: I’m kidding, Aunt Katy.