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Baked Mashed Potatoes and Work vs. Life

Posted Dec 23 2011 12:03pm

I wonder if I could run a statistical analysis on how many of my blog posts have begin with the words "Zach is working night shift this week..." It's only Zach's first year of residency, and already I feel as though I write about his absense more than his presence. Part of being a medical Intern, however, is having to work alllll of the worst possible shifts when no one else wants to work - such as night shift on the two weeks encompassing Christmas and New Years.

So, much as when I worked night shifts and Zach worked day shifts and we were apart then, or when he had to travel around the country for most of his fourth year of medical school, having fascinating experiences in the Cleveland Clinic ICU while I got lonely and took in yet another stray cat, I am once again spending time with myself as just myself, which has its own merits as well. Last night I nibbled microwave popcorn (the Newman's Own, organic, 94% fat free kind, of course), listened to holiday music, and wrote holiday cards in bright, glittery colors.

Along with hot chocolate, of course - hot chocolate is mandatory when listening to holiday music...

All in all, an utterly pleasant way to spend an evening. Managing to mail holiday cards before Christmas (even if only 1 or 2 days before) and while Chanukkah is at least still in progress always makes me feel like the domestic goddess I long to embody, when in reality I'm much closer to a frazzled, overworked career ladder-climber who logs ten to twelve hours a day at work and then arrives home and pretends its practical to begin baking bundt cakes and yeast bread from scratch.

Zach actually sat down with me last night (in our 10 minutes of overlap between our respective departures to and arrivals from work) and told me, genuinely, honestly, that he felt I was allowing my work to take over my life too much. While there has been massive emotional turmoil at my job recently, I am passionate about the work I do, the support I give to my patients and my employees, and the positive change I'm trying to enact in a very new, very tumultuous department within a very large (and therefore inherently inefficient) organization. I arrive at work having been brainstorming ideas since I first work up and dashed off to the gym at 5am, and drive home still muttering to myself about the inevitable crises that arose during the day and how to reconfigure the next morning. Zach and I are both glued to our jobs, and while we're both content with the fact that many of our conversations revolve around work - as we are in the same field, after all, so we have the luxury of being able to share graphic tales of Emergency Room encounters while at the dinner table - but I've never intended my job, which ultimately pays the bills and doesn't share my home with me at night, to be the priority in my life. I walked down that road years ago, chasing academic success above all else, and found the journey to be largely lonely and unfulfilling. Yet both Zach and I are highly intellectual, hyper-energetic individuals who seek the mental stimulation of a challenging job - I just need to make very certain I don't allow my career to run away with my life while I'm not looking.

I hope over the holidays I will find the right way to let my husband know that he is always the most important part of my life...

and since most noble goals are accomplished one day at a time, tonight I am going to come home from work early, and fix Zach chili and twice baked mashed potatoes...


Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes
Olive oil
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup grated low-fat cheddar cheese
Handful finely minced chives

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the potatoes with a fork or knife in a few places, rub the outsides with olive oil, and bake for approx 1 hour - until the potatoes are cooked through.
~ Allow the potatoes to cool to touch, then cut into chunks and mash together with the milk and Greek yogurt.
~ Fold in 3/4 cup cheddar cheese and the chives, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
~ Lower the oven temp to 350 degrees F.
~ Spread the potato mixture in a casserole dish, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.
~ Cover and bake until heated through, then uncover and bake 5 min more, until the cheese on top is nice and melted. Serve warm!

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