Peace Corps Intermission
I have been hesitant to write blog entries during my “Peace Corps Intermission” in the United States. Partially because I think that the US is less interesting than Namibia, and partially because most of what I was doing was related to med school admissions. One of my questions during an MD/PhD committee interview was “will you write about this medical program in your blog?” and the answer is probably no. I write about Namibia because one of the goals of Peace Corps that I really agree with is to promote cultural understanding between two countries. I am less interested in writing about things that happen in the United States.
That being said, there were some things that happened during my stay that make me smile and I think are stories worth telling.
1. I became a foot model: One of the mountain guides we met while learning to ice climb took a picture of my feet in boots and crampons. Since she is writing an article about the history of crampons she asked for my permission to print a picture of my feet in the Mammoth newspaper. The funny thing about this story is that when I announced that my feet would be published both Greg and my dad independently quipped ”In a medical journal?” which I think is some unkind reference to the fact that I have lost probably 10 or so toenails in my life to date.
2. I learned how to walk in high-heels: A day after my flight from Namibia arrived in San Francisco I needed to shop for interview clothing since I had Southern California interviews the following week. I bought a pair of high heels to avoid hemming some pants. At my first interview in Irvine I nosedived in front of a student-interviewer. Later in Seattle I took a fall down a staircase. What is perplexing to me is how I can walk in crampons with a dozen metal spikes on my feet but not in shoes with a raised heel. Tangentially, I had to replace my heels after the first round of interviews because the many long campus tours had taken their toll. ”Have you been going to garden parties?” asked the appalled cobbler. ”Because people throw these garden parties on turf and gravel and dirt and they don’t think at all about their guests’ shoes!”
3. I owned a smart phone: After showing up at the first set of interviews with my very hip Nokia flip phone and being mocked by the much cooler members of the general MD/PhD applicant pool I transferred my phone number to my mom’s old droid. No longer would I get lost in New Haven a half mile from my hotel or forget all my flight information. I did have a problem getting used to the touch screen and pocket dialed Greg a dozen times. I still think it’s weird that everyone in America has a smart phone.
4. I circumnavigated a mountain: Greg and I tried Basin Mountain in the Eastern Sierras again after noticing the mild winter weather in California. Unfortunately there was a wind advisory the day we climbed and we stopped perhaps 50 vertical feet from the summit from fear of becoming human kites. We bailed out on the northwestern side of the mountain. After our escape route ended in cliffs and ice falls we chose a different route and spent the rest of the day and long into the evening crampon hopping from snow encrusted boulder to snow encrusted bolder. The only casualties of the day were Greg’s big toenail and my credibility with the Inyo Mountain Ranger station. (”Call your mother!” implored the ranger on my answering machine after repeated inquires from my family.)
5. I woke up at 3 am to see a football game: This is ironic, because if I want to watch/listen to live football in Namibia I also wake up at 3am. But Greg drove us from Lee Vining in the eastern sierra to Glendale Arizona in one day to watch Stanford play in the Fiesta Bowl, because nothing follows an ice climbing trip like college football.
Now I am back in Namibia for the final stretch. Here’s hoping that this school year is as strange as the last one.