It took me aback, both because of the frankness of the question and because it was so unexpected. At the time, I had a full schedule of laundry, cleaning, errands, and bills, so I probably mumbled something about that. The next time that someone asked me, it was more of a whisper.
I'd be lying to say that I wasn't offended.
It seemed like the world was casting judgment on me. I imagine that people who are newly unemployed feel the same way. All of a sudden, I felt like I was supposed to have a plan of action or monster to-do list. Except, I didn't. My day to day plan was to wake up when my body told me to, to eat better, exercise, and try to spend more time with The Lawyer and other friends.
The decision to take time off was also rather swift and sudden. I guess I didn't have time to make a plan.
Over time, I've realized that people (especially medical people) ask this question not out of rudeness, but rather, out of curiosity. I guess it makes sense. What happens when you get handed three or more entire months off, and you suddenly have the most open schedule in the world?
Here are a few things that I've done.
1. Join a new class at the gym
I was already working out regularly, but I had also gained about eight pounds during my Boards studying and hadn't really been "pushing" myself. I joined a class with the cutesy title, "Body Flow," because it sounded zen and relaxing. What it really is, though, is this fast-moving combo of tai chi, yoga, and pilates that leaves me aching for days. Seriously. I can't go to this class every week, because of the recovery time. It doesn't matter, though. There are other classes and I may feel like I'm failing at life, but make no mistake, internet. I'm gonna look like a skinny bitch doing it.
2. Get a library card and start reading for pleasure
I already had a library card for Fairfax County, but did you know that the city of Alexandria has its own library system, complete with high-ceiling, austere brick buildings and stacks so high that I literally get lost when looking for books? It does. I will admit that I've also tried to crack open my First Aid and try to review or something. It was so painful, though. I'm letting my brain take a break.
3. Watch movies and TV to my heart's desire
We're talking entire seasons of shows here. The Lawyer got me started on Downton Abbey and Parenthood, but the Real Housewives of New Jersey finales were all me. Yup.
4. Buy food and cook like a real person
Have you noticed how medical school has a tendency to turn you into the most unhealthy person ever? I'm amazed at how my diet has changed in only a month, but along the lines of losing weight, I've been trying to feed The Lawyer and I healthier things. This means homemade, organic meals and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. He's loving it so far, and so am I.
5. See the people I care about
I feel like the most important thing I've lost during medical school is my relationships. In fact, sometimes the only person I'd see outside of school, for weeks, was The Lawyer. And does sitting in the same condo with him, while he reads or works, and I study with earplugs in even count as "seeing" someone? I don't really think so. So, almost every happy hour, birthday party, and outing we've been invited to lately? We are so. there.
6. Go to concerts
As you recall, when The Lawyer was trying to win my fancy last year, he tried to entice me with his concert schedule. He's a music-loving hipster, you guys. But, up until last month, I hadn't attended a single one with him. Well, that changed.
I get this, you guys. I mean, really. I understand now how people can spend hours pinning things. Where do you think all of those healthy, organic recipes are coming from? Healthy eating takes a lot of time and planning and I don't even pretend that it's any way otherwise.
Well, I already mentioned the 15 hours a night scary tired sleep, but even when I'm not exhausted, we're talking a solid 8 hours every. single. night. You can be jealous, because it's awesome.
9. Volunteer for things
Bake sales? Babysitting? I'm all over that.
10. Have lunch with The Lawyer in the middle of the day
The only time I've ever known couples to do this is on TV. There are these attractive, Carrie Bradshaw-type women who have flexible hours or something and show up in the city during the freaking middle of the day like it's no big deal. My biggest escape mid-day has been to the post office and back, but only because I can walk fast and it's about 5 minutes from the hospital. Now, we're talking actual dress up, intentional, sit down and eat meals at LUNCHTIME. I seriously had no idea that people lived this way.
11. Take baths
Again, I never knew anyone who actually had time to sit around and soak in a tub. I mean, let's tell the truth. I'd usually be mentally reviewing the complement pathway for my 10 minute shower during MSII. In my new apartment, I have this awesome soaking tub that is really deep. I can now say that I have relaxed in a bathtub, reading a book by candlelight, and I'm pretty sure there's no going back!
12. Go to psychotherapy
This is part of the Fix Myself project. I like my therapist, and she seems to like me as a person, while not thinking I'm weird or psychotic. So, for that, I am grateful.
13. Host the parentals in D.C.
I wrote about how my mother came to visit me when I was
14. Go to church
With being exhausted on the weekends or just not having weekend days off, I feel like I lost my connection to my church. I'm working on it.
15. Look for jobs
A half-hearted attempt to feel like I'm doing something useful, but I'm not sure if I'm ready. (See: 15 hours of sleep per night.) Like I said, it's more of an online-browsing-while-I-watch-TV sort of thing.
16. Manicure myself
I'm talking painted nails and waxed eyebrows here. I even done bought myself a new nail polish color and everything. Pretty AND hair-free! Boom!
17. Clean up my living space
It makes you wonder what kind of filth I used to live in before I was cleaning my apartment more regularly. I prefer not to answer that question.
18. Get massages
The Lawyer got me a membership at Massage Envy, but my visits used to be few and far between, because of time constraints. But I'm not going to lie, I went to the masseuse a LOT during the first two weeks of being off and got all of the knots in my neck and shoulders out. And, it was lovely. (I also had a ton of unused sessions from when I had no time to go.)
19. Make cupcakes & other baked goods
Let's just say that the staff at The Lawyer's office are eating well these days. I bake things, pack them up elementary school style in a big tupperware container, and send The Lawyer to work with them.
20. Take a vacation
Actually, this was supposed to be the very first thing that I did. I had this idealistic vision of sitting alone on a beach, reading a book. I'd take long walks and think about life, I told myself. But then, I started feeling panicked that there would be this pressure to have some sort of epiphany about my life choices. Except, what if that didn't happen? What if I came back from a week in Mexico, tanned and well-rested, and everyone was all, "Well?" and I had nothing to say? I decided that I'd feel less pressured if I stayed right here and just went to my therapist to talk about things. Now that The Lawyer is finally done with his big case, we are planning a short trip together. That way, if I have a big breakthrough, it'll be great. If I don't, I won't be moping around--bored and alone in some other country.
So, there you have it! Inquiring minds wanted to know. That's a small sample of the activities that keep me busy all day!