Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On my first summer doing indoor science

"Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress."
-Anton Chekhov
For the past few years, rehearsing outdoor Shakespeare has marked the official beginning of summer for me. However this summer is different. I have just successfully finished my first semester of what I will call indoor Science or "Maura Does Science" (MDs). I've been glued to my laptop for the past 8 weeks studying Biology and Algebra online at the American Public University as a pre-requisite for the Pre-Med Post Bacc I will begin at Northwestern in the fall. For someone who has spent ten years memorizing Shakespeare, you'd think my first foray into Biology might've been easier. It's definitely going to take some time before my brain wheels start to turn easily over scientific jargon and theories. I can't tell you how excited I was when I caught a line of Shakespeare in my biology textbook: "That is the rub" (see Hamlet's 'To be or not to be' speech). I'm sure that most of my classmates glazed over that phrase without a clue what it meant. I also like to think fondly of the guy or gal who wrote that section while moonlighting as a textbook author while pursuing an MFA in playwriting. 

But something was rotten in the state of the textbook. This photo below was my favorite bit of appalling racism in the textbook:
Subtext: Only straight, rich, white people live in more-developed countries. Those countries also look like Cape Cod or a Gap commercial. They are also much happier than people everywhere else.

Now that my semester is over, I can spend more time crafting with my dear knitting friends and adventuring with my handsome movie star boyfriend (who is currently shooting a big movie I can't say the name of on the internet playing alongside a woman who was in a movie about a big boat that sank because her necklace was so heavy.) I am working on a culinary post I am going to call m2f1 (make two, freeze one) about doubling recipes so I've been cooking a bit more than usual. I just made a stew of Israeli couscous and all of the vegetables in my fridge (small red and yellow peppers, celery, olives, tomatoes and onions). I served it (to myself) with a little bit of Greek yogurt and homemade iced coffee. Delish.

I suppose the biggest lesson from my first semester of MDs was that this endeavor will be very, very challenging. Even people who love science find medical school impossible and  frustrating and tear-inducing. Last week I went up to some girls wearing thick plastic glasses and sideways hats at Filter Coffee who were obviously studying for a med school final and asked them about their experience. They were really friendly and said they hated being med students, but loved people and practicing medicine. As I studied for my Biology final, I felt really comforted by the presence of these hipster doctors. It made me think there's a place for me too. The future of healthcare in this country is in our hands. In my hands. My trembling, passionate, knitter's hands.

I finished knitting the Mara Shawl out of MistiAlpaca Worsted and as I was binding off (finishing, for those of you non-knitters) I found 2 cosmetic, not structural mistakes in the knit 3 purl 2 ribbing on the border of the shawl. I asked the infallible Scot and my wise friend Kirstin whether I should rip out an hour of work to fix the tiny mistakes which no one else would ever notice. Both advised me to leave them as they were. I questioned, "But does that make me lazy because I'm not willing to take the time now to make the shawl perfect forever?" Scot said that maybe for other people it would indicate laziness, but for me it would indicate a release of control, of the need for perfection. Kirstin reminded me of a myth that Amish quilters would leave a purposeful mistake in their exquisite handiwork as a reminder of their own imperfections to keep them humble. And really, the shawl isn't going to ever be perfect. But it is perfectly human, stitch-by-stitch. I left the mistakes in. 

Maura's Mara
So be loving with yourself this summer. Look your mistakes in the face and don't be afraid or ashamed of them. They are uniquely yours. 

HOWEVER, I will say that putting an empty ice cube tray back in the freezer in the middle of summer is not a reminder of your own humility, it's just lazy. xo.