Last night I attended a preceptorship dinner that was hosted by the university I used to work for (a preceptorship is a fancy name for a training program for doctors, nurses, etc – yes, I had to look it up so I’m saving you the trouble of it). My mother is connected to one of the research programs there and not only were we simply invited, but we got to sit at the table with the head of the program (a pediatric gastroenterologist), his wife, another couple who came late, and a fairly new pediatrician who was pretty intimidating looking. I went along mostly to listen to the presentation about the research they did and meet some people. Some day I would like to return to the university and I figure it couldn’t hurt to get to know people who might have an opening in their lab.
[As an aside, I made a smart move by getting my hair cut yesterday afternoon and a new style. I actually looked and felt pretty good, which I think helped too. It’s been a long time since I had a shorter cut, and it was getting quite scraggly again. Dressing up in nice clothes with a flattering hairstyle did wonders for my self-esteem].
I felt comfortable around the gastroenterologist as he was very friendly and down-to-earth. His wife too was very friendly and nice. They sat next to my mother who sat one one side of me and the pediatrician sat on the other side of me. I didn’t feel as comfortable around him. He just had that initial big presence, like he was someone of great importance and I was just a nobody. I thought to myself, what on earth will I have to contribute to the conversation, given the fact I’ve been out of the human genetics field for five years and am “just” a stay at home mom?
That fear was short-lived. I turned to him, and forged right ahead and asked him what he did specifically at the university (knowing of course people generally are put as ease when they are asked to explain what they do). It turned out a lot better than I expected, after an initial period of awkwardness. The conversation over dinner was actually quite pleasant. We talked about plans for the holidays, child development as the daughter of the gastroenterologist had a three year old and a one year old, and the pediatrician had a two and a half year old. The pediatrician said that was such a fun age (and it is!). We talked about the television shows the kids enjoyed (even pediatricians let their young children watch programs like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the Backyardigans). No one made me feel guilty or like a second class citizen when I said I quit the university to stay at home with my kids.
We talked about the commute to the university – the gastroenterologist commutes almost as long as I did when I worked there. The pediatrician lives on campus and commutes 3 minutes (which is nice when the son is sick and needs mom or dad). The gastroenterologist mentioned how as pediatricians they were always on the side of the children (I’m not sure if that’s always the case, but it was sure good to hear him speak so positively of children).
We talked about how the awareness for the particular disease they were researching was becoming better understood and widely accepted through the efforts they made to educate other doctors and nurses and dieticians. It was interesting to note that it was said that certain doctors want to learn new things and others are resistant to learning new things. The gastroenterologist said you can’t possibly know everything and that’s why you strive to learn new things all the time. I mentioned how I had to educate myself on my daughter’s selective mutism and how much I’d learned, but had been able to help her with by providing her with experiences I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do, much less have time for. One of the women at the table was formerly a speech therapist, so she seemed particularly interested in that conversation.
At one point the conversation turned toward how most people live in apartments in some European countries. (my mother and I were the only ones born in the U.S.) and the gastroenterologist’s wife was so pleased to finally live in a house. I related how I went to Poland when I was 10 and saw how bad the conditions were in the 80s, it took forever to get an apartment in the city and they told me about the changes that had taken place since that time when they visited there and how things have improved considerably since the fall of the Berlin wall.
Then the conversation turned to food – how it’s difficult to get fresh fish in America and there’s very limited types of cheese here. The pediatrician told us he sampled over 40 varieties of one type of cheese when he lived in France and the gastroenterologist mentioned someone wrote a book 700 pages long about a particular type of cheese. I mentioned that was one thing Europeans know how to do very well – and that was cooking and eating to ENJOY food not just to fill a function.
At the end of dinner we sat and listened to a short presentation about the research being done, and I sat there understanding what they were talking about. It was kind of really cool.
I was very happy at the end of the evening. The food was absolutely marvelous, the dinner conversation was very enjoyable, and there was commonalities and not one major faux pas on my part, even if I did initially pick up the wrong spoon to eat my soup with (but quickly exchanged for the right spoon when I looked around and saw what others used).
This evening was a far cry from some of the other social interactions I had with people about a year ago, where I could barely string a few sentences together in a social setting. I felt really good about myself and feel like I have regained some of my social dexterity that I felt was permanently lost (you know the old adage – “use it or lose it”).
On another news front:
I have a JOB INTERVIEW on Monday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More to come later.