September 8, 2009

JJ’s Issue 4: A Year in the Life…

By Joseph Dolence

“525,600 minutes…five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear, 525,600 minutes…how do you measure, measure a year?” is the start of a famous song called “Seasons of Love” from the musical RENT. Well since you last read my thoughts and musings on this diversity blog—its been slightly longer than that—its actually been closer to 382 days or 550,080 minutes since my August 14, 2008 blog entry (rounding to the nearest day)…anyway, I figured I’d write down my thoughts on how 2008 ended and about 2009 so far as the year moves steadily toward the fall season which officially begins in less than three weeks time on September 21. When you last read my thoughts, I was breaking down what I thought the Olympics meant to China. I read that entry this morning and smiled. Not because I thought it was the greatest thing in the world, but because what I said a little more than a year ago is as true today as it was then. It might be even truer given how China owns a pretty substantial amount of US debt. In the past year, many things have occurred that have made me smile and a few things that have made me shed a tear. So I will bring all you out there in the blog hemisphere along with me for a walk through my thoughts… *

*Remember when Mr. Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the Olympics? It was the last time I jumped off my recliner with such jubilation—both when Phelps out touched Cavic in the 100 butterfly or when Jason Lezak snuck in his fingertips to help the USA win the 400 freestyle relay by 0.08 of a second. I know I had a magical feeling that night.

**Remember when we all thought the stock market was falling through the ground, the first huge check was sent to all those Wall Street guys, Bear Stearns died, AIG was being about as irresponsible with money as possible (not that the other companies were responsible), and yes, McCain and Palin had made it interesting in the polls…only to have McCain say the fundamentals of the economy were strong, the stock market nosedived and Mr. Barack Obama started the final ascent toward the Oval Office…

**On a personal note: I remember vividly September 25, 2008 when I was at the soon to be vacated Metrodome for the best game I have ever seen. A 7-6 Twins victory that swept the Chi Sox, taking us into first place, and it was pandemonium inside that place. Visions of 1987 and 1991 were in my mind. I had never seen brooms brought to a baseball game before…I will never forget what will probably be my lasting memory of the stadium with a white roof and blue seats…

**Remember Election night 2008? No matter where you fell on the political spectrum, you had to admire the story of Barack Obama. You also had to admire the people who were inspired to believe that this country can do better, some for the first time. I generally am pretty skeptical about politicians (still am) but for one night, it was incredible.                         

Two quotes will sum up the night for me:

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” President-Elect Barack Obama

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” Caroline Kennedy in a NYT Op-Ed piece before the election.

I will never forget the look on the faces of the young people that night when they truly believed anything was possible—that the nation we all love and study in at Mayo, is a union that can always be perfected. Now Obama seems to be dealing with some tough times, but I hope that this fall we can come together to make the health care system better for everyone, not just those who have been incredibly blessed with great health care—like us at Mayo.

I call and challenge everyone at Mayo to get involved and speak up—Mayo is a great example of how medicine should be practiced…lets spread that message… **Remember what you did New Year’s Eve and your welcome to 2009 and goodbye to 2008?

**Remember the depths of winter? Well if you don’t, you will be soon reminded again…

**Remember when the stimulus package was signed and all the hullaballoo that created?

**Remember grad school interview weekend? I always enjoy these but this year it was different—this first year class is awesome! Just ask Amanda, Patrick, Danielle, Rachel, June, Fan Chi, Naomi, Mallory, or any of them. Again—awesome!!!!

**On another personal note: Since I last wrote to you, I have basically finished all of my classes (1 credit left to go) and I have passed my written qualifying exam. October 6th brings my oral exam. Wish me good luck. I also have traveled to present research at AAI meeting in Seattle—which was pretty awesome…I even got to fly out there first class for free…

**Remember when summer started? Seems like yesterday right? During the depths of winter, I encourage everyone to think of those days—playing volleyball or taking a walk along the river or smelling the fresh grass at Mayo Field watching our 2009 Northwoods League Champion Rochester Honkers or the fun BBQs you were a part of this summer? With that last thought, I will wrap this up with some final thoughts—over the course of the last year, I have traveled around the state a lot seeing some beautiful things—a week in Brainerd in July with my best friend Jacob and his family playing golf, fishing, and jet skiing, countless trips to my favorite city in the world, Duluth, back home to the Iron Range, playing disc golf with Justin, hanging out with Eric and Kat and having some great fires, and shooting a handgun for the first time in a long time…I even went to an authentic midnight mass on Christmas Eve/morning in Hibbing, MN, the birthplace of Bob Dylan…

What will the next year bring? In a lot of ways I sort of know, but in a fascinating way, other things are a mystery…that’s the beauty of life right? But one thing I do encourage each and every one of you to do before Labor Day is this: Get up to St. Paul and go to the Minnesota State Fair…it is a great time to relax, walk around, learn something about the state you are getting a fabulous education in, and see the diversity of MN. You can say that there isn’t any of that here if you want to be ignorant. But a walk through, for example, the Fine Arts building at the fair will vindicate my comment that we are more diverse than you think. And the food is wonderful as always…the picture I place below here shows you the spectacle that is the “Great MN Get Together” with a quote that sums it all up—I saw this last year! “I’ve always loved the fair. As a kid, I loved it for the rides and attractions. As a teenager, I loved it as a place to take dates and hang out with friends. But as an adult, I love it as a showcase of the skills and talents possessed by my friends and neighbors, and as a lingering slice of Americana. When I walk onto the fairgrounds, I feel like I’m walking back in time.

dolence st fair

I hope you enjoyed my walk back in time. Until next time, your friend and colleague, JJ

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