I can’t believe how much I’ve changed since I started writing this site. When I began jotting down my thoughts in 1999, I hadn’t been to high school, undergrad, or dental school. I didn’t have student loan debt. No car. No home. No bills. I paid no insurance. No paycheck. My biggest concerns were how fast the summer seemed to pass by and how much homework I found myself working on the other part of the year. My writing showed few reflections on what drove me to try so hard in school, or where I wanted to go in life. And anyway, the style of writing online at the time was simply to recount what you’d done that day, a literal journal of events, and I always talk about trying that again here but never quite seem to gather the courage to simply go back to that: “Here’s what happened today.” I always seem to be pursuing giant revelations, trite truisms articulated thoughtfully, advice to myself, or all three in an exhausting, overwrought, unholy blend. No matter how many times I edit those hackneyed paragraphs, it gets published as tangled prose, heavy writing. Let’s try the old way this week, ok?
Today, I realized I only work as a dentist 3.5 days a week (I have an interesting schedule, and I hadn’t really thought about the average that much), and at this point in my career, trying to pay back dental school loans and save for the future, it is probably better to try to find another full day of work. It is not available at my current employer, so I’ll have to find a third location to work at to round out my weeks. That does not excite me. Yet, I love doing dentistry because it combines repetition and variety, suiting my perfectionism. If I were busy doing procedures each day (a full schedule in my chair), our financial constraints would be eased, but I do not have a full schedule many days. In dentistry, you get paid for what you do, which you can think about in two ways: (1) uh oh, if I don’t work, I make $0. I get no true time off, just parts of the year where I choose to make no money. (2) I don’t have to put up with any pointless meetings or work crap at all! When I’m working, I’m earning, and when I’m not, I’m done.
At two years out, I am still building relationships with patients that will, I hope, result in my eventually being a busy dentist. It is tougher in the Twin Cities to stay busy, since you are always competing with the office down the road. I try not to think about that and simply focus my energy on being genuine and caring. Caring is easy for me, but regarding “genuine”: sometimes I think I’m trying to be someone else… more charismatic than I naturally am, like the successful owner dentists I observe. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is not the way to go for charisma. I try to have real conversations, but I am still practicing, and too often I find myself falling back to stock phrases that could be used in any conversation. Anyhow, so far I have gotten good feedback, so I must be doing something right, despite my constant self-critiquing. Oh, and I hope to be able to place dental implants in 5-10 years; they’ve always fascinated me; I pore over the technology and the surgical technique constantly, and I want to be able to offer them.
This week, our baby is the size of a pineapple. Mykala is sleeping fairly well, and we took a wonderful walk in the perfect spring weather this afternoon. There are paths in three directions from our house, which is great. Here at this new house, I don’t love the longer drives I make to work, but I relish the frog songs at night, and the true peace and quiet when the neighborhood kids and dogs have gone to bed. Baby’s mattress arrived recently, one we shopped for to make sure it was free of the mindlessly-regulated fire retardants which are not good for anyone, adult and baby alike. My parents got most of it for us as a shower gift, and that is such a huge help. We’ve both excited and scared for baby time, all simultaneously. We’re going to be spending a lot of time quelling feelings of doubt (or, well, maybe that will just be me) about each decision we make as parents. It’ll be a lot of going on instinct and trying to practice good sleep hygiene. Most things worth doing incorporate going on instinct and good sleep hygiene, though (and there I go, trying to be profound).
Today is my 29th birthday. About 6 months ago, I thought it was going to be my thirtieth, but Mykala corrected me. 29 is easier than 30, because the psychology is totally different… I still have the first number in front of my age that I had when I couldn’t drink, when I was in college, when some of the carefree times existed.
Here I go back into big ideas, but I can’t resist: I think I want to write about individual days because it slows down this time that is flying by. I want to grab each day, wring it out, savoring every bit.
Mykala and I recently learned to play gin rummy, a lovely card game for two. My grandpa gave us his patio table, and we took a table cloth and Mykala’s new radio (a beautiful Tivoli Model One) out on the patio to eat dinner and play cards. I live a blessed life, don’t I?
On Saturday, we leave for a short Memorial Day Weekend roadtrip to Chicago. We’ll listen to This American Life and a book called “How Children Succeed” as we drive, and we’ll play gin rummy on the hotel beds in the evenings. I think I picked a good time to resume these daily notes.