Thursday, April 26, 2012

Soul Survivor.

small group alpha

 "Do it for the story." 

~ Antoinette Nguyen, Candidate for MD and MPH 2012

So what happens around commencement time when your whoooole small group has graduated and you remain as the sole -- or rather soul -  survivor for the following year?

Everyone has gone off to do their internships but you stayed behind to do a Masters of Public Health which makes your graduation celebration as a member of the small group rather anticlimactic. Because no matter how you spin it, it's just you. Yep. Just you.

Sure, you'll get text messages and well wishes from them all because they're your family. And you'll always be family. You know that. Of course you do.

But still. They all graduated in 2011. And here you are all the way in 2012 all by your lonesome--yeah, yeah with an additional degree that yeah, yeah, you really wanted and that will really be important to your career in the longrun--but still. The fact remains: As far as your small group med student peers go, it's just you, yourself, and you. . . . .yep. . . .

. . .as the soul survivor of your small group. So now what?

Who's gonna celebrate you now that the whole group has scattered all around the country? Well? Who's gonna?

(consider this a hint)

Me, that's who!

This afternoon marked Antoinette's final day of class for medical school. When she walked out of the School of Medicine, her goofy advisor was waiting for her like a chauffeur at the airport (except with a green homemade sign on construction paper.)

Off we went for The Epic Final Small Group Session for the Soul Survivor of Small Group Alpha!

Okay. . . . how much fun did we have? SO much fun. I was determined to let Ant know that her graduation was just as special . . . . we had SUCH a blast!

First up? Mani-pedis! Wooo hoo!

Let me tell you. . . .best thing EVER: Going to a nail salon where everyone is speaking Vietnamese. . . .with your comrade who is FLUENT in the language--yet DOESN'T really look Vietnamese? Shut the front door!

So check it. We plotted for Antoinette to tell me EV-ER-Y single thing they were saying. If and only if it was funny or insulting! Ha!

The first funny thing--every time I go to this nail salon, they try very hard to get me to get a manicure. And every single time, I say no.

Confession: I like to read a magazine or a book while I get a pedicure so I don't like my hands to be occupied.


I know.

So since this was Ant's special day, we walk in and I ask Hanna (one of the awesome ladies at Angel Nails) for us both to have a SPA mani-pedi. And, of course, Hanna was like, "You want manicure?" And I nodded like this was not an unheard of thing for me to get a manicure with my pedicure.

Well! Y'all! According to Ant, they had plenty to say about me FINALLY getting a manicure. Ha ha ha!

Bwwwahh ha haaaa!!

Surprisingly, there wasn't that much dirt getting flung around outside of me being too cheap for a manicure. Although there was a wee bit that shall remain unrepeated. Ant said that she was convinced that if she just kept listening there would be something good so we quieted down and waited.

That's when it happened.

Ant was getting her manicure and Hanna grabbed a tiny hangnail that hurt a bit. Ant winced and blew our cover when she accidentally said something to Hanna.



I wish you could have seen their reaction!! All the nail technicians  froze up in that piece like, "WHAAAAATTT???" Then they started whispering like Ant couldn't hear them or understand what they were saying:

"She speaks Vietnamese! She speaks Vietnamese! That girl right there speaks Vietnamese!"

(The only reason I know that is because they were saying that in Vietnamese and Ant told me.) Anywho. Our jig was up. UP, I tell you! Antoinette started talking to everyone in Vietnamese and they were all laughing and jovial. I asked them if they could tell she was Vietnamese when they saw her and they all said no! One woman said she looked Filipino and another thought she looked Cambodian.

Best. Time. Ever. You tell me how jealous are you of me for being privy to some full on Vietnamese interpretation in the nail salon? It was like a real live Seinfeld episode, for real. Oh and have I told you about how paranoid I am about my scary-rough heels and tarsal pads? I was just SURE they'd be ripping on them the WHOLE time, but who knew? Me being super-cheap (not really--just wanting my hands free!) about manicures was a far hotter topic.

Mmmm hmmm.

Hanna and the crew at Angel Nails were gracious and wonderful as always. They took good care of us and congratulated Antoinette in English and Vietnamese on her upcoming medical school graduation. (Admittedly one person did look slightly annoyed that we had been there nearly an hour before the big bilingual reveal. But that's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother time.)

The good news is that we walked out of there each with ten perfect nails and ten perfect toes. So, so fun!

While we were in the nail shop, Antoinette was saying that she wanted a pair of nude/taupe shoes for an upcoming wedding. That clearly led us to the one and only:

Loehmann's!! Woot wooot!

As you already know, 80% of my wardrobe comes from Target. The other 20% comes from either Loehmann's or consignment shops. No. Not. Kidding.

Turns out that it was LADIE'S NIGHT from 6 - 9 PM at Loehmann's! Uhh maaah gaahh. Shut the front and the back door!

Nude/taupe heels?  Check!

Super cute beige shift for me . . . .with two holes in it which translated to an additional 15% off . . . .on top of the 30% I already was getting off because of LADIE'S NIGHT and a clearance rack?


(Mom, don't act surprised when I show up with my dress at your house this weekend!)

Next up? Dinner at Murphy's! But of course!

Antoinette had never been to Murphy's for dinner--only brunch. What? What! Blasphemy, I say! Clearly I had to rectify this horrid situation and introduce her to my good friend The Murphy's Burger. Hello?

And would you BELIEVE that Antoinette hadn't had the ridiculously delicious and decadent Toll House pie? As any caring mentor would, I had to right that wrong, too.

And just maybe make sure that it wasn't poisonous.

She hated it.

And for the record, it wasn't poisonous. 

Ah hem.

Antoinette gave me a thoughtful gift--a bottle of white--just in time for my anniversary with the BHE next week! Yaaay!

It was an EPIC final small group adventure built for two.

If you are thinking that this seems unusually personal. . . .you're right. Nothing about our small group curriculum or the longitudinal teaching and mentoring relationships we develop with our students at Emory is "usual."  These sorts of things happen around here because in addition to learning together and building clinical knowledge, we build relationships. 

Yes we do.

So these photos? They're just evidence of what we do here. And yes. It is as special as it seems, as personal as it seems, and as wonderful as it seems.

One of Antointette's favorite sayings is "Do it for the story." That is exactly what we did. Yes. This was the perfect punctuation on five unforgettable years as her mentor and advisor.

And let me tell you. . . . . the pleasure was all mine.

Congratulations, sweet girl. It's not good bye, just see you later. You got that?

Happy Thursday.

And now playing on my mental iPod. . . . my soundtrack for Small Group Alpha. 


  1. You are amazing. I love the rich way you live your life. Do you even know that you make the world a better place each and every day with all you give the way you do? Thank you for sharing this very special occasion with us. Joanne

  2. Thursday was my last day of medical school. Friday I submit my MPH thesis. Saturday I head out to Haiti for 2 weeks to run my own research project. Can I just highlight that my heart is bursting with fullness and appreciation and gratefulness and wonderment? It's been five years since I made Atlanta my home - even though I had thought I'd never again live south of the Mason-Dixon - and somewhere, somehow, this city managed to steal my heart. I have a feeling it had a lot to do with Grady and Emory and all the wonderful and strange and beautiful folks who fill it up.


  3. The two of you are truly lucky to have each OTHER. What a lovely day ! Oh...and approximately 89 percent of my wardrobe comes from Loehmann's as well... It is a total sickness on my part.

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

  4. For real??? You are so awesome for this!!

  5. Congratulations, Ant! Here's wishing you the BEST!

  6. You are seriously the best mentor ever. If you're ever looking to move to Canada, I will find you a job at my school.

  7. Oh. Just, precious. PRECIOUS!
    Congratulations to that darling girl/woman/DOCTOR!

  8. What a special relationship you have with your students! As a student myself, just down the block, in fact, I appreciate the time that professors and mentors invest in me. You are a true gem, Dr. Manning!

  9. You took another Chick to our spot?! Well, she must be really special. :)

    Congratulations, Ant, on your TWO degreets (woot woot!!) and I know you're gonna rock the rest of your career!!

    BTDubs, if you get tired of the medical thing, there's totally a market for nail shop translation. IJS.

  10. Well, seeing as Ant has basically become like family, I feel extra super proud! Congrats, Ant!!! I'm so glad you two were able to share a special day together.


    PS- Miz, I'm gonna need to try a Murphy burger when I'm in town next month... but no Tollhouse pie for me, thanks! :)

  11. I can't even imagine how much you pay forward every single day. You rock!

  12. You are just the best mentor/teacher/friend. EVER. Reading this made me want to go back to school. In Atlanta. To become a doctor. None of which is, was or will be on my agenda. But there is, was and will forever be it seems a deep longing for a mentor. I guess I'll just have to soak it up vicariously. Ant is one lucky young woman. Wishing her all the best. You, too, of course. x0 N2

  13. I love your blog! This is Briana (Elaine's daughter. SMLAC) I hope to be a fly young caring doc like you!! My blog is (I wish I was in small group alpha!!)


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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