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The light dims, the bears sleep, there's Christmas music on the radio again...

Here in Chicago, the bright sunny days of summer have gone away -- as they should -- and another season of darkness, cold, wind, and (any day now!) snow has arrived. Also as it should. It's been this way every year for, I don't know, longer than any of us have been around.

And yet I dread it. There's something about your alarm clock going off in the dark, about dressing in the morning under the same lamplight that you read your book by last night before reluctantly giving up the day and going to bed, about heading to the hospital through the cold dark, about glimpsing the gray dawn on your hurried way past a rare hospital window, about not being able to leave the hospital before the daylight is gone. The joys of winter -- fluffy snow, brightly lit coffee shops, curling up with a hot cocoa and a good book -- are tough to arrange on an intern's schedule. Not that the joys of summer weren't also elusive on this schedule, but somehow it wasn't as consequential. Q4 call in July isn't as depressing as q4 in January.

To pass the time these next few months with quick wit and style rather than with dull grunts and vacant stares, I've decided that I need a new project. Since I'm not driving the bus when it comes to my residency schedule, I need to be when it comes to the time that's all mine.

So what should I do? Learn to read Latin? Write a persuasive defense of agrarianism against the common charge that it's illiberal and regressive?

Any thoughts?


Do you mean a project that you would do at your house?

My husband and I realized that we were getting a little tired of our normal hiking routine several years ago and bought a local hiking book: 101 Best Bay Area Hikes. Then we proceeded to work through them, keeping a diary of sorts.

It was great fun.

Not sure if that works in the cold Chicago winters, but maybe you could get the Lonely Planet Chicago guide and work through it?

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