q: so, you're out in chicago now. what part of the city are you in?
a: right now i live in lakeview, which is on the north side. but in a couple weeks i'll be moving to an apartment in humboldt park.
q: oh. i don't know where that is. should i probably come to chicago and check it out?
a: yeah, you probably should.
q: ok, cool. i think i will! so...how are things over there? keeping busy?
a: things are pretty great. i'm kind of busy, but not in a working all the time kind of way. my job is pretty flexible (a friend here says i don't have a day job. but she also says i'm going bald, so what does she know?), so i've been filling my time with a few of chicago's exciting areas--the museums, the restaurants, the places where homeless people pee, and so on.
q: oh. i see. what IS your job, anyway?
a: i work as a medical interpreter, which means i go to appointments and speak in english and spanish between a doc and a patient. it's pretty cool.
q: really? because it sounds boring.
a: oh, no way! i really like it. like last week i interpreted for a birth, which was awesome. and i get to see lots of different kinds of medicine and imagine myself doing them and decide if i'd like it, which is kind of like shopping for clothing, if you were going to only wear one suit for the rest of your life.
q: i have a sinking feeling you're about to tell another gross story involving bloody or detached body parts. let's change the subject before i start to wish i hadn't eaten such a heavy lunch. so what hospital do you work at? the one from ER? have you seen george clooney there? PLEASE give him my phone number! he's soooooo cute!!!
a: i'm actually not employed by a hospital or health clinic. in fact, i'm technically not employed by anyone--i'm an independent contractor. i work with an agency that finds interpreters for places that need them, so i work all over and around the city. this is in some ways a pain, but it's also been fun and a great way to see lots of the city. if i see george clooney i'll send him your love, but to be honest i'd always imagined the person behind the "q" was a man. weird.
q: well, i mean, it's not like i LOVE him. i just said he was cute. and that's all. so, uh...what else do you do when you're not at work?
a: well, i've found an incredible and interesting group of friends here who i have really enjoyed getting to know and hanging out with. and they know so much about chicago--i'm finding out all the great places to go, the cheap or free ways to see the city, and where to go for good falafel.
q: so you've been in one place for a month and a half--got any big plans to leave the country?
a: as a matter of fact, i do! in march i'm going with my lincoln church to mexico for a medical missions trip. i'll be interpreting over there and hopefully perfecting the triage system i tried out last time i did this trip, two years ago. i'm very excited to go back and to learn and see what i can while i'm there.
q: haha, i was kidding when i asked. you travel too much. you suck. but hey, weren't you planning on coming back to lincoln to get your stuff?
a: hey, what did i tell you about that kind of language?!? yes, i am coming back to get my stuff. i ended up waiting a little longer than i thought i would, which has meant that i wear the same pair of pants to every job i have, and one of two sweaters. it's easier to live out of a suitcase when you're on the move and nobody sees you twice, but i think some people in various medical clinics in chicago are beginning to think folks from nebraska can only afford one set of "dress-up" clothes. we're a simple folk. anyway, i'll be back in lincoln for the second half of next week. give me a call and we'll see if we can't hang out a little. it'd be fun!
q: i guess i might. it sounds like things are going really well for you. are you surprised?
a: to be honest, i kind of am. when i was in ecuador i told an american doc about my plans to become an interpreter out here, and he told me i wouldn't be able to do it because i'm not a native speaker. at the time part of me thought this was likely more a reflection of his own inability to speak spanish effectively (gosh, he was pretty bad) than an indication of the feasibility of my plan, but it was also really discouraging to me--he said it like he knew what he was talking about, and that he was very definite about it. so this whole experience has been a really great lesson to me to just go after whatever it is i want, no matter what anyone says. i mean, no matter the odds or--
q: you're starting sound a little too much like one of those inspirational posters, man. that's really lame. i think i need to go.
a: oh, ok. well, maybe i'll see you in a couple weeks? when i'm back in town?
q: eh, whatever.
a: ok! i'll wait for your call!!!