I waited too long between the last update and this one - it's been one month and 4,000 miles. Too much has happened to weave together one clean narrative, so here's a disconnected series of vignettes instead.
The Village of Gallipolis
I visited a friend from high school in Gallipolis, Ohio. He's doing med school rotations there. In far Southeast Ohio, Gallipolis is right on the West Virginia border and a quick drive to Kentucky. Fun fact: it is the birthplace of Bob Evans (a real human person) and the original Bob Evans farm is nearby. Town square has a lovely view of the Ohio river.
My friend had just come off an emergency medicine rotation when I arrived. The region is, tragically, a hotspot for opioid addiction and he shared some stories from the front lines. Some things I did not know (but maybe are common knowledge?):
- Because Naloxone/Narcan blocks opioid receptors, stopping an overdose also brings rapid onset of withdrawal symptoms. So when a patient comes to, they'll often be irate at the nurse who just saved their life and storm out of the clinic.
- When an addict's veins are too messed up to get an IV into, doctors will drill into their shoulder bone. This is called intraosseous infusion.
I'm glad I work with computers.
Left to the Bears in Asheville
I met a guy at my hostel in Asheville who was going to hitchhike out to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a 4 day hike. I wanted to get out to the park for a day myself, so I offered to drive him and save him the hitchhiking. I hiked the first leg with him and turned back. The Smokys are gorgeous.
As a standard safety measure, I took a picture of his intended route so that if I didn't hear from him by the time he was supposed to be back in civilization, I could forward his route along to his family and they could contact the authorities. But four days later, I was busy enjoying live bluegrass in Nashville and our pact completely slipped my mind. Not until I reached St. Louis, 3 days after my hostel friend should have texted me, did I remember. I texted him in a panic and spent 15 minutes imagining how he might have died: maybe eaten by a bear, maybe trapped by a rock 127 Hours style. Fortunately, he had just forgotten to text me after he had gotten into town. Moral of the story: don't trust me as your outdoors companion.
The Engler Cluster of Kansas City
Over the last few years, a big clump of my family has moved to Kansas City, but I hadn't been to Missouri before this trip. My aunt and uncle, both of their daughters and their daughters' families live in KCMO, so that meant I had 8 relatives to catch up with! Two of these relatives are my cousin's adorable young daughters. Predictably, my family showed me a great time and stuffed me with the best barbecue I had ever eaten. (Below is my uncle and his granddaughter.)
On my last night in town, I got to help my aunt and uncle babysit. I wasn't a huge help, but I did know the scary parts of Zootopia to fast-forward through.
Soothing Tunes in Salt Lake City
I hope to have a job lined up by November, so my job hunt is heating up. While I won't be sending out applications in earnest for another week (still prepping), I have started early at a few places. My first technical phone screen went badly. It had been a long time since I had coded under the gun like that and my nerves got the better of me. A week later, I had another technical phone screen scheduled and I was feeling nervous the whole day.
When I was packing for the trip, I debated whether I should bring my banjo. If I didn't get much opportunity to practice, then it would just take up space in the car. I'm so glad I brought it anyways. When I get anxious, playing music is one of the few things that can reliably calm me down. So I spent the hour before my second interview tooling around on the banjo. It was the first day of fall, so it felt appropriate to play my crappy banjo cover of Francis Forever by Mitski a few times.
And Autumn comes when you're not yet done
With the summer passing by
I did much better on that interview.
Many places I visited, like Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Denver, did not have a story that leapt to mind. And Pittsburgh had so many good stories that I couldn't pick just one.