Sunday, June 22, 2008


From Merriam Webster:
"Main Entry: dil·et·tante
Pronunciation: \ˈdi-lə-ˌtänt, -ˌtant; ˌdi-lə-ˈ\
Function: noun

1 : an admirer or lover of the arts
2 : a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : dabbler"

And that second definition fits me like a glove. In my personal life, I have many hobbies and/or things I like to do, but I am a jack-of-all-trades and am truly a master of none. I got to thinking about this the other day and I made a list of all my various hobbies/interests. I was astonished at how long it was.

  • Singing: I haven't had any instruction in singing since I started college and quit going to church. Looking back, choir was the only part of church that I truly enjoyed all the time. Now, my only singing is in the car or while playing Rock Band. I'd love to take voice lessons and maybe find a choral group to join, because I miss singing with a passion.
  • Playing trumpet: I haven't played my trumpet since second year of med school. At this point, I couldn't join a group, it's been so long since I played. Sad.
  • Playing Rock Band (drums and vocals): I do love me some Rock Band. Unfortunately, I don't play often enough to actually be any good at the drums, despite my occasional daydreams of becoming a drum goddess and touring with Metallica.
  • Dancing: I took ballet, tap, and jazz lessons for most of my childhood (nine years, in fact). I had to quit when I started band, because of time and money constraints. I miss it. I've picked up a little salsa here and there, but it's a rather useless skill if I'm out dancing with my hubby, because he doesn't really know how. (Well, he can do the merengue, if he counts...) I don't really know how to teach him, and whenever we dance I end up leading (and counting for him). I'd really like to take salsa or ballroom lessons with him, or even take tap lessons again. Now, though, I have my own time and money constraints.
  • Working out: I was working out like a fiend toward the end of fourth year, and lost 10 lbs, which made me extremely happy. Even better, I found myself able to jog a bit on the treadmill WITHOUT a heartrate of 200+, blue lips, or painful gasping breaths. My total cholesterol was down in the 170's last time I checked it. I was seeing results. And then I graduated, and had to turn in my student ID that got me in the gym. Now, I'm debating whether to pay for a membership for a gym near the hospital (cheaper), or a gym near my house (more expensive), and so for the past month my butt has grown roots into the couch. I've kept the 10 lbs off for now by mowing the yard and Krav, but I'm deathly afraid it's going to come back.
  • Krav Maga: I had started taking Krav lessons with my husband after I came back from China. It's a form of martial arts started by the Israelis. I'm not great at it, but I'm a rank n00b. However, it costs $90/month and we get too busy to go NOW. I'm cancelling my membership after June, because there's no way I'm going to be LESS busy while taking q4 call and working ("no more than") 80 hours per week.
  • Biking: My husband and I just bought nice road/hybrid bicycles. I'd love to be a good rider, and I also like to use it to make small grocery runs when I don't want to take the car. Now if I could just find the time to ride, and if only it weren't 100 degrees & 90% humidity outside...
  • Crochet: I learned how to do this when I was eight and bored at daycare. I can still make the occasional baby blanket (oh geez, I have several to make!), but it hurts my wrist unless I wear a brace. This is one skill I am actually pretty good at, without any further instruction needed.
  • Painting: This is not something I am good at, but I decided I wanted to paint some "wall art" for our new house. It's... interesting. I'm sure someone will make a comment about their three-year-old's fingerpainting when they view it. However, I've barely done one, and I have several to go.
  • Making jewelry: Something I randomly picked up third year for no apparent reason. And really haven't done since.
  • Gardening: I haven't planted anything new at our house, because the front was already landscaped and everything else was sod. However, I plan to have an herb and vegetable garden in the future. If my thumb isn't so black anymore, that is.
  • Cooking: When I want to cook, have time to cook, and have bought the ingredients, I'm not a bad cook. I make a mean lasagna, for example. I'm always buying new spices or ingredients to try out, that then languish in my pantry. We eat out a lot. But just when I think "I'm not so bad a cook", I read TBTAM, and her recipes make me cringe with fear, because they are so complicated. I want to be able to throw together a lovely, tasty meal in 10 minutes using only what I have on hand, no more than 5 ingredients, and have it be low-fat, low-cal, and amazing. Oh, and I want the dishes to do themselves. Is that too much to ask?
  • Reading: Another skill I don't need more practice at. I am an extremely fast reader, probably a) genetically and b) because I read all the time. My med school colleagues (at least those in my half of the alphabet) used to get really hacked at me because I'd finish exams so fast. I didn't usually tell them I'd gone through it twice before I left. I finished Genghis Khan and am now reading The Devil in the White City, as well as having read (entirely) several new blogs.
  • Blogging: Heh. I want to be a super-blogger, one with thousands of readers. But when I read the super-blogs, I get really discouraged. I don't write often enough (or well enough, let's be honest) to be one of the big boys. I'm not sure how so many busy physicians and residents find the time to write so much, but I'm just not that good. I'm happy that I've kept writing here, because I've saved memories in these pages for myself. I also love writing (I was once told I was good at that, too--you'd never think it to read the drivel I post here). I may just have to become a super-blog-reader, and leave it at that.
So why am I worried about this now? I'm trying to figure out why I'm spread in so many different directions, and what I can do about it. I think I just want to do too much stuff. I feel the rush of getting ready to start residency (oops, orientation starts tomorrow), and feel like I have to do everything NOW. Of course, that usually ends with me on my bum on the couch reading medblogs, which is marginally better than curled up in a closet in fetal position sucking my thumb. I also feel intense pressure to be a whole person, a good person, outside of medicine. Medicine is my calling, and I'm passionate about it, but I don't want to be that person all the time. It's only part of who I am, and I'm a little ashamed that the rest of me is so splintered and unfocused. I'd like to be really good at something other than medicine. I'm not sure which of my little hobbies (if any) will provide what I need, so I guess I'm afraid to commit fully to any of them.

I use the "I have no time" excuse a lot, especially when I'm working hard. Well, guess what? I'm NEVER going to be totally "unbusy", now that this month is gone. And look what I did with a month off--not a damn thing. It's time to buckle down and pick something to do and spend some time doing it, even if it's only a little bit. Money is going to be less of an issue now that we're going to be a two-income household, so long as I don't go totally nuts (or make my new hobby shopping--I do too much of that as it is).

But what'll I do? I'm not sure yet which of my little hobbies is worth my precious time outside of the hospital on a q4 call month. I guess we'll find out soon enough.


Bardiac said...

A new bike!!!! And you didn't show us a picture?

(Instead of being a diletante, you could claim to be a Renaissance person!)

Allison said...

"I want to be able to throw together a lovely, tasty meal in 10 minutes using only what I have on hand, no more than 5 ingredients, and have it be low-fat, low-cal, and amazing."

If you happen to find any recipes anywhere in the world that fit this description, always always email them to be right away.

Tonight we had grilled cheese and canned baked beans. I have to live off of "whatever is in the pantry" until July starts. But I don't want July to start because the CPA exam is in July. It's quite the predicament.

Enrico said...

Why can't your talent be well-rounded in doing lots of different things? That's sorely lacking in more and more people these days. I'd rather say I had some experience/proficiency in half your list than say I was just a Krav Maga assassin (Ok, maybe not, that sounds kinda bad ass...)

Pick one for starters--something accessible, perhaps even portable--and focus on that a little more if it makes you happy, but don't ever lose your life's variety.

Beach Bum said...

I can identify. As a former professional musician, it's hard leaving something you're good at or enjoy behind. Part of what helps me is how I define myself. I define myself as a creative person, and let whatever I'm doing at the moment be my creative outlet. Instead of beating myself up about the instruments languishing under my sister's stairs, I explore those creative outlets that I have time and energy for now. Some day I may go back to my former enthusiasms, I may not, but I will always express myself creatively.

Tiny Shrink said...

B- I didn't know a picture of the bike was requested. I'll work on that.

A- hence the sarcastic part of that. What meal is ever completely delicious, easy to make, uses whatever's in the pantry, and will help you lose weight and make friends? I think tonight we're eating hot dogs (all beef) at the baseball game.

E- I do like variety, it's true; I just feel kind of like I'm missing something by not doing any of these things in depth. Thanks for the comment.

BB- I'm not a very creative person, unfortunately, but I can be technically gifted. In other words, I get my enjoyment out of the practice and performance, but I'm not really able to creatively compose music or fiction. Since you are creatively inclined, I think it's even more important to keep up *some* kind of creativity in med school--don't let the grind and the endless textbooks drill it out of you.

Bardiac said...

Oh, yes, bike pictures are great! You can't just tease us with a description, you know :)

Rach said...

I'm a month late - chalk it up to no computer over here...

Instead of going to the gym, run up and down the stairs... I do it when I'm working on the rigs here (usually with Lifepak monitor, drug kit, O2 in hand)... good for the shoulders... and the HR.

Will catch up on the rest soon... Sounds like you're darn busy.