Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Glass is Cold: On Life, Movement, and Limbo

(top, left to right) Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple with Joy of Joy the Baker; Dianne Jacob; Khao man gai from Nong's in Portland, OR; (middle, left to right) Coava Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR; pomegranate seeds at Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana, Mexico; lengua (tongue) and tripe tacos from Tacos El Guero in Tijuana, Mexico; (bottom, left to right) Minassian-Young Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; Jenks Lake, near Angelus Oaks, CA, site of Camp Blogaway; Fentons Creamery, Vacaville, CA branch

Imagine me with my face pressed against a frosted glass window, trying my damnedest to see what's on the other side. That's what life has felt like in the past couple of months. 6 trips in 9 weeks, with all of them fun and enlightening. Exhausting, too, especially for an introvert who loves people, loves to travel, but really needs time to dial down and recharge.

My last post was written on a lazy Sunday afternoon and it feels like I haven't had a chance to sit down since. The following week, I drove up to visit Todd and Diane at a lovely event featuring Joy the Baker, Cristina Ferrare, and lots of Kitchen Aid products, I had a fantastic time hanging out with everyone. While I was there, a rejection letter popped up on my email. Damn smartphones.

The weighty thought hit me... maybe I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting into medical school.

I put on a smile, quietly stuffed the rising panic away, and finished the day. Maybe it was an emotional hoop I had to jump through, because two days later, I had an interview invitation from my first-choice school.

That weekend, I attended a workshop with Dianne Jacob, who is the loveliest lady and one hell of a teacher. I walked away inspired, but distracted. The writer in me needed (and still needs) to stand back for the wannabe-doctor. I spent the next couple of weeks preparing for the interview. I ended up spending as much time, and nearly as much money, on a suit as I did for a wedding dress. Travel plans were made, interview techniques practiced, and off I went with a new suit and all of my dreams hanging on one day.

One day. How I managed to keep my cool and smile that entire trip is still baffling to me, but I did. I had a layover in Dallas, where I had lunch. My server, for reasons unbeknownst, was exceptionally kind and chatty. Maybe he sensed I needed a friend and he knew I could definitely use the brownie/pecan/caramel/vanilla ice cream confection he set in front of me. Gratis. It was already prepped, but someone changed their mind, he said.

I'm usually a dry cynic, but I do believe that people are meant to cross our paths for a reason. Perhaps guardian angels, if you will, come bearing kind words and a big slice of brownie pie.

I won't talk much about the interview for now, except to say that it felt good. I had a great student host, loved the school, loved the people, loved the city I hope will be home for the next four years. I may not have had schools breaking down my door, but I have a chance at the place that counts most and I can't ask for more.

Portland, Oregon photos, clockwise from top left: Chard at Portland Farmers' Market; Biscuit, sausage gravy, and fried egg from Pine State Biscuits; Portland Japanese Garden; Chemex coffee drip from Coava Coffee Roasters;

Life happened, as it does lately, in a blitz. Dan and I celebrated 12 years of togetherness in Portland, where we ate, walked in the rain, ate, and drank a lot of coffee. I forget often that he is one of the few people I can spend day-in-day-out with and not need a break. Nong's Khao Man Gai brought a taste of home, with its Hainanese-style chicken and rice that's my family's signature dish.

I followed Portland with another eating adventure, heading south to Tijuana on San Diego Food Bloggers' Roundtable #11: Tijuana Walkabout. Hosted by Kristen and Antonio of Life & Food and co-hosted/chauffeured by Derrick of Turista Libre, we made our way from one fabulous meal after another. Despite living in San Diego for over a decade, I spend little time in Tijuana. It's something I must rectify before life (hopefully) takes me away from here.

From the streets of Tijuana to the hills of the Central Coast, we had a mini-family reunion with the amazing women of my mother-in-law's side of the family. Dan insisted on being the token male at a girls-only reunion. This year, he was joined by our new nephew, who is totes adorbs, as they say. Bear, of course, represented non-human males and we gave the old hips a workout by clearing birds on the beach.

Clockwise from top left: beach in Cayucos, CA; wine being poured at Calcareous Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA; assortment of tapas at Caesar's, Tijuana, Mexico; carne asada for tortas at Tortas Wash Mobile, Tijuana, Mexico

In the midst of traveling, there was the stream of emails otherwise known as the San Diego Food Bloggers Bake Sale. I'm known for my lengthy emails and I tried (dammit, I really tried) to keep them shorter this year. Alas, no. Although I'll combine them into a hopefully-more-concise PDF for next year.

That whoosh of air? The collective sighs of relief from our 40+ ah-may-zing bakers. While I missed last year's bakers who weren't able to make it, I was so pleased to meet a whole new group of San Diego's incredible food bloggers. Like last year, they brought an insane amount of beautiful goodies and we broke $3000, putting us in company with groups from Miami, DC, and New York. $2500 of that came from the day of the sale, which tells you about the caliber of the goods sold. I'm grateful and absolutely flabbergasted by the sheer amount of talent these people have.

Clockwise from top left: assorted treats from San Diego Food Blogger Bake Sale; Joanna of Cairns Manor, Becky of Fruit Maven, and Barbara of Barbara Cooks; s'mores kit from Meandering Eats; satisfied customers at this year's successful sale

Thank you to each and every one of you for being incredible. As always, many thanks to Dan, who comes out of his shell at the sale and turns into a snake-oil salesman.

Post-sale saw me roadtripping with the latest in my collection of ridiculously tall girlfriends, Stacy of Center Stage Wellness. We headed to Camp Blogaway, where I made new friends, ate/drank, and learned about blogging. All in the stunning setting of the San Bernardino Mountains, just south of Big Bear. Between there, Tijuana, and the Central Coast, it's like the universe wants to cruelly tease me about leaving my beloved home state.

See? You can have mountains, beaches, and even another country!

Sorry, California. It's been real and I know we'll have many more good times ahead, but another place calls.

And it did. With the disappointing news that I will have to wait a little longer. Competition's intense and rolling admissions can be unkind to those of us who come later in the process.

I drowned my sorrows in ice cream and booze with my best friend in Sacramento. We went up there to help my in-laws, who are facing their own limbo with selling their home, move to the city. Dan is having a hard time saying goodbye to his childhood home and we both realize it's just one more part of California we're going to miss. There could be another year here, which will probably be the only time I'll say that a year here is the worst thing that can happen to me.

That's where I've been since February 26, the date of my last post. I'm still waiting and everything to do with that wait takes precedence over everything else. Blogging, I hate to say, hasn't been a priority. I'll be back, slowly but surely, although I can't guarantee that I won't take another break. Until I know for sure, I'll have my nose pressed against that glass, hoping that a future of books, anatomy labs, sleepless nights, and long shifts in hospitals will be on the other side.

I can't wait.

18 bites:

Barbara said...

Beautiful story... And I'm so happy to get to know you in the midst of it!

Marie said...

Awww, thanks, Barbara! I'm so glad to get to know you, too!

Shannon Forrey said...

So glad to get to know a little more about you through this post. You certainly down-played your role in the Food Bligger Bake Sale. Any success was largely due to your skilfull coordination. I truly wish you the best of luck and hope you realize your deepest and wildest dreams!

Marie said...

Thanks, Shannon! I really appreciate the kind words and I hope to see you around soon... another bake sale, perhaps? ;)

Marie said...

 Thanks, Lori! Trust me, I'll miss you guys a lot, too. That's the great thing about the interwebs, though... you'll be a lot closer even though we'll be 1500 miles apart!

Marie said...

Thanks, Ann! I hope that the process is a lot shorter for you and that I might be there to show you around this coming academic year! It's a fantastic school and one of the few I found that are truly committed to service in medicine. I'm passionate about community service and I see it being a big part of being a doctor. Fingers crossed!

And as for life's plan unfolding... I agree. It always works out!

Lori at RecipeGirl said...

Sheesh, you've been busy!  I wish you all the luck in the world on getting into med school where you'd like to be.  We'll sure miss you in San Diego when it happens! XO

Ann P. said...

Waiting is certainly tough. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, dear! We're both in this same process together, although you are about a year ahead of me! Keep on hangin' in there, Marie. Life's plan will unfold in it's own perfect time, as I've painstakingly come to learn! But that's how it goes with our most important decisions, doesn't it? :) haha! I have the best hopes for you, and I know you are going to make an awesome doctor one day, because you want it this badly :)

Marie said...

I sure hope we'll stay in touch! I'll still tweet about local eats, but in my hopefully-new-hometown-for-a-while. It's a Midwestern city, so it's going to be really, really different from So Cal. I'm super-excited, just because I've never lived anywhere else!

And thanks re: bake sale! You'll have to participate next year! It's not intimidating at all... everyone's great at baking/packaging and the socializing's incredibly fun.

Marie said...

Hehehehe, it's the best way to pass time! You would have LOVED the offerings from Portland... keep it in mind for a future trip!

Marie said...

Dang, Darlene, are you trying to make me cry? ;) I appreciate your comment more than I can express in a reply. I think the challenge in blogging is to be authentic without oversharing and to be guarded without being banal. Always hard to tread the fine line, which is probably why I have a hard time blogging regularly.

Julie {Bananas for Bourbon} said...

Wow, I'm excited and exhausted just reading about it. Congrats on the raging success of the bake sale! I'm still bummed I wasn't able to participate, but looking at those goodies, I may have been too intimidated anyway! ;)

I always toyed with leaving California. I'd find a much easier time finding and keeping a job in my industry on the east coast. But my husband and I talk about it often and we always agree we are CA born and raised and we'd like to keep it that way.

I'd definitely miss your tweets and posts about local San Diego spots! But I hope life ends up taking you where you want to go. :) GL!

Mary said...

You've been so busy! Your adventuring looks fantastic - and hang in there! Waiting is super lame, but hopefully you'll have great news on the other side of all the waiting.Pass the time with some excellent food in the process.

Darlene Horn said...

I applaud and admire this honest post, Marie. While other blogs may shuffle over the banalities of life, this post in particular was heartfelt and made me admire you even more. I don't care if I have to wait weeks for a post -- it's always worth the wait.

Marie said...

At least in terms of the not giving up, I won't let you down, Sally! Waitlists are definitely not the end of the world, but I've never been good at waiting, especially now when so much is at stake. Thank you for the support... your kind words are exactly what I need right now! :)

Marie said...

Thanks, Tracy! The s'mores kits are a favorite of mine... making marshmallows is so easy and homemade ones taste much better! As for the other part, being busy helps a lot, so I'm grateful to be occupied. Let's hope the limbo ends soon!

Sally said...

Oh, Marie, so sorry this is turning out to be challenging. Perhaps it is just a prelude to what awaits you in med school... Hang in there!! Fight the fight. Getting into ANY school is really competive. College Boy was wait listed at some of the best schools in the country! He landed on his feet with some persistence. But I know, the waiting is difficult. All I can say is DO NOT GIVE UP. My cousin actually went to Dublin for a couple of years to study medicine--he just wouldn't take no for an answer, and guess what they call him now? Doctor!:) You have the best personality on earth for the job, not to mention the smarts and the know-how. Don't take no for an answer! XXOO

Tracy said...

Marie, I'm so sorry to hear that you have to wait...but I hope that they will call very soon with good news. It sounds like you have kept yourself busy in the meantime though, and sometimes that's the best thing you can do to keep your mind off the wait! Also, I LOVE your little s'mores kits from the bake sale...so freaking cute!! :-)

18 bites