Sunday, January 4, 2009
My favorite fish, growing up as a child in New Jersey, was bluefish. When I went away for college in Wisconsin, it didn't occur to me that they didn't have bluefish there, and I didn't rediscover bluefish until medical school.
In medical school, my love affair with bluefish really began. I loved the same things that I loved as a kid- how it was a big, powerfully flavored fish, but in medical school there was another, more important virtue. It was cheap. Very cheap. Another benefit was that most other people weren't particularly familiar with it, so when it was a great fish to prepare for dinner to impress a date (they didn't have to know it was $1.99/lb).
Now that I am older and have more perspective, I realize that many people don't like bluefish. Because it is so oily, it does not travel well, so it is very hard to get outside of the east coast. For example, I never ate bluefish at all in the years I've lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, or Arkansas- you just couldn't find it out there.
Another thing I realize about bluefish is that it is really a perfect metaphor for my homestate of New Jersey- unlike other fish that try to pretend that they aren't a fish ("try the flounder, it's not particularly fishy"), there is no mistaking bluefish- it very much tastes like a fish. Like NJ, when bluefish is at its worst, it's oily, rancid, and particularly smelly. But when it is at it's best, there is nothing better- it's powerful, colorful, flavorful, and completely in your face with how fishy it is. I just read on Wikipedia that the bluefish is cannabilistic. That fits too.
It's going to be a real stretch for me to try and extend this discussion of bluefish into something remotely relevant for a Kinemedics blog. In all honesty, I am just excited about two beautiful fish I picked up at Wholey's fish market in the Strip District, which is to me the most Pittsburghian location in Pittsburgh. But overly extended metaphors is what I do, so here goes ....
In a few weeks, I will be attending the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) meeting. This is the first academic organization with which I became involved, and is still the meeting for which I have the closest ties.
If I have gained one thing from academic meetings, it is the value of meeting other people at other locations. I went to a very good residency program in New Jersey, but as good as the program was, the things I learned there were still just a subset of a much larger picture.
My favorite experience from the AAP was one of my earliest meeting's there. Somehow or another, I ended up sitting at the table for the AAP's Education Committee. In retrospect, I don't think I was supposed to be there, and I was the only resident sitting at a table with Residency Program Directors. I was too naive (and probably too brash) to keep quiet, so as points were discussed, I offered my opinions. I think the committee appreciated that I cared enough to want to help, and before I knew it, I was an actual member of the committee. I think this is how a lot of opportunities in life present themselves- they are accidents initially, but the world always needs people who give a crap.
It has been tremendously beneficial to my career to meet people from other organizations, and learn from them. While the fundamentals of who I am, both as a person and a clinician, are deeply rooted in my upbringing and training in New Jersey, I am glad that I have branched out and explored other parts of the world and expanded my experiences.
All that said, I am just really looking forward to that bluefish tonight.