Although I still sleep at ten o' clock and wake up at four—a messed up circadian routine I had long since acquired that has worked to my advantage in med school—I don't know what to do with my excessive free time. It's a great problem to have, something I wouldn't trade for monitoring ward patients or studying clinical cases—at least, not yet.
I have plans of going home for a few weeks, embarking on a solo trip where my feet take me, resuming my tennis lessons (or even swimming or jogging), catching up on my reading, and meeting old friends I haven't seen in a while. I don't know which of these items will materialize, but one thing I do know is that, like any sane human being, I need a breather and a pretty long one at that.
I'll write extensively about my clerkship experience when it feels right to do so. I need time to process everything that's happened. At this point I'm just glad it's over.
* * *
READ Going Home, a poem by Wislawa Szymborska (Poems New and Collected, Harcourt 2008). (HT: 3QuarksDaily)
He came home. Said nothing.
It was clear, though, that something had gone wrong.
He lay down fully dressed.
He pulled the blanket over his head.
Tucked up his knees.
He’s nearly forty, but not at the moment.
He exists as he did inside his mother’s womb,
clad in seven walls of skin, in sheltered darkness.
Tomorrow he’ll give a lecture
on homeostasis in megagalactic cosmonautics.
For now, though, he has curled up and gone to sleep.
Maybe that's what I should do, now that it's 4 am: I'm curling up and going back to sleep.
* * *
SPENT THE MORNING at Midtown Diner, reading Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, arguably John Le Carré's best work. The book had collected dust in the corner of my study.
With all the time in the world these days, I can go through my backlogs. Under my table there are unread books that Lee-Ann Caro, Mike Tan, and a few other friends have lent me. My problem is that I start on new books all at the same time and quit when I'm halfway through.
Ate Angel, the waitress, was surprised that I ordered coffee instead of the usual hot/cold tea. "I got nothing else to do, and I don't want to fall asleep while reading," I told her. I consumed 1.5 cups of brewed coffee. Now my heart feels like it's going to burst. Is this what hyperthyroidism feels like?
* * *
AFTER LUNCH I headed to La Solidaridád owned by novelist F. Sionil José. Unfortunately he wasn't around. I would've bought a book and have him sign it. Never mind if the books there are more expensive than their counterparts at National. Think of The Shop Around the Corner versus Fox Books in the movie, You've Got Mail.
I rummaged through the magazine stand. I spotted a rather crumpled old copy of the New Yorker, immediately turned to the Fiction section, and skimmed through a short story by Alice Munro. I asked the person manning the store—the caretaker?—if there were even older copies of the magazine. They've all been sold out.
I loved the feel of the place: classical instrumental music playing in the background, the smell and feel of old paper, and the sheer presence of being inside a store owned by one of this country's literary giants. And nobody was around. It was eerily quiet. If it had not been for the coffee, I would've dozed off.