Sunday, March 29, 2009


I am fascinated by California. It's a compelling mix of great cities and wonderful natural environments; it's also been on the cutting edge of new movements in American society and culture for a long time. I was coming of age as the pre-Reagan era tax revolt started rolling east from CA, and the state's been in the forefront of movements on both ends of the ideological spectrum before and since. Many of my epic road trips and formative life events have happened here over the years. And, of course, the state is full of true American icons and moments in history: Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Gold Rush, the Summer of Love. The state is a symbol of westward expansion, and of individual desire to start a new life.

But what, you might ask, has seized Ben-Bob with such a paroxysm of Californian sentiment? Well, today I opened an envelope containing my new California driver license and was truly caught off guard by how thoughtful this little wallet-sized card made me -- I'm now officially a California resident! Of course, I've actually been living here for almost a year. But this has been during residency, a period of time during which the work hours can be brutally long, and if I do get a day off in a week I'm likely to have to spend it attending five hours of didactics and then taking a standardized test. Although I'm usually an inveterate explorer of my surroundings, I have to admit that I've spent very little time getting to know California. Or the Bay Area. Or the neighborhood five minutes from my apartment. So in some ways I haven't really felt like I've been living in California or anyplace else, except the hospital.

But it's a hopeful moment. There's so much here to explore, and I know that I'll get to it someday. Residency training will probably continue to be pretty rough for a while, but in the summer of 2010 it should start to settle down and allow me some time to explore. Equally important, eventually I'll have some mental space again outside of the training to consider non-medical issues. So this card -- for today anyway -- became a symbol of what I'm doing and where I've gotten so far and where I'm hoping to go. Not a bad return on the investment of a couple of hours at the DMV.



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