Currently: August 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hi there. It's Tuesday, and I have 3 days (including today) to get my proverbial excrement together to take our first Clinical Medicine exam on Friday. I should really be more concerned about it, but it's hard to feel motivated to study when I feel like the entirety of the block is a rehash of my MPH. The photo above is of my current and usual view when I am in the library. I sit in one of two places. Out here where there are lots of windows, or in the back at a table surrounded by the stacks, where it's quiet as a tomb. It's quiet up here, too, but there are more people. As you can see, I'm blogging instead of studying, but... oh well.

Since it's been awhile since I did a "currently" post, I thought it was about time!

THINKING about how I need to be studying more. A lot more. Also about the PHLBloggers event I went to last week and how I want to change things up around this space...
FEELING alternately pretty good, punctuated by abject anxiety. It's been a weird month here.
READING Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It started it approximately 937 years ago and I love it, but I only read it before I go to bed or if I bring my Kindle to read while in waiting rooms. I also just borrowed All the Light We Cannot See from the library, and they'll steal it off of my Kindle in a week and change so I need to get on that.
WATCHING Hannibal. Oh my God, Hannibal. Also, Ken and I have been watching Louie on Netflix. We haven't watched The Walking Dead (we're still on Season 4) because it was just SO bleak. We want to start something else soon, but I'm not sure what. 
TRYING to catch up on studying, organize my house, and remain calm.
BAKING as much as humanly possible. I have the ingredients for a Key Lime pie in my fridge, and I haven't made the world's best peanut butter cookies in awhile. Have to remedy that! I bake when I'm stressed and don't want to study. I call it procrastibaking.
EATING carrots. So many carrots. It's kind of problem. Please tell me if I turn orange. 
DRINKING iced tea. Hot tea. All the tea.
CALLING Comcast 900 times. My least favorite thing in the world.
LOVING Ken, my friend Kristian who is living with us for the time being because she is super handy and is going to teach me how to use tools, and also anything chocolate.
ENJOYING sleeping in, having a house cleaner once a month, and making Starbucks flavored coffee at home.
HOPING for good news soon.
LISTENING to Circle + Bloom meditations, and the Undisclosed podcast. SO good.
THANKFUL for my husband cooking for me when I am too tired or stressed to cook, for friends I can call at any hour of the day, and for my upperclassmen friends who keep me sane.
What are you currently up to?

A Letter to First Year Med Students

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This time last year, I was starting my first year of med school (again), and even though I had been through the hell of first year, at least partially, I was terrified. One thing that made me feeling amazingly better was a card and care package that LF sent me before I started. In the spirit of that card, here is a letter for first year med students everywhere.

Dear First Year Med Student,

Well, you made it. The hours of studying, the countless times you rewrote your personal statement, the expense of applying, and the stress of interviews all paid off and now you're here! Congratulations! I'm proud of you.

Some of you are fresh out of undergrad. To you, I say, "You think you know, but you have no idea." I don't care if you were first in your class at Harvard, you're all big fish in a big pond here. At times, you might feel like a guppy in an ocean full of whales; I promise, you belong here.

Some of you have worked in "the real world" for awhile, and now you're re-entering the life of a student. To you I say, "This is completely different from where you were before. It might seem harder, it might seem easier, but it's definitely different."

Some of you, maybe, are like me, and are starting first year again for the second time. You're probably really nervous and maybe feeling kind of down on yourself. That's okay. You will be the person that other first years come to with questions, especially if you're starting first year at the same program. Don't rest on your laurels, though. This is still quite the endeavor. (But you're such a badass for coming back. Never forget that.)

To all of you, this is a huge opportunity, right here in front of you. You're going to have to focus hard and put all of your energy into this new job and you will succeed. There is no doubt that you can do this; you wouldn't be here if you couldn't. You have to take care of yourself first, though, in order to make it through. And so, some advice.

Study hard, then fuck it and go to bed. Sleep at least 6 hours the night before each exam. That extra sleep will help you more than the extra hours of studying. And you don't want to be the person who falls asleep in the middle of an exam. Your professors will not wake you.

Get some Febreeze. There was a point last year where I got into my car after lab and realized my car smelled like Trudy, our cadaver. Don't let this happen to you. It was very upsetting.

Highlighters. Find the ones you like and buy them in bulk. Some people prefer the clicky ones; who has time to mess with caps? I like the ones with a see-through tip because I like to see where I'm highlighting. The more colors, the better.

The same goes for pens. I am obsessed with color-coding, and my favorite pens are either the Sharpie brand ones, or Staedtler Triplus Fineliner brand. They come in a ton of colors, and I use them all the time from organizing my planner to drawing diagrams for physiology.

If you are in a relationship, be warned that this is going to test it like nothing else. If you're dating a non-med student, they're probably not going to understand what the hell you're going through. If you're dating another med student, you either will never see them or you'll see them all the damn time and want to punch them in the face. Or maybe you're one of those unicorns that can toe the line between those two. My sincere recommendation is that you don't date someone in your own class, but there are people who meet in med school, fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. Just... don't expect that to happen. That being said, if you want to maintain your relationship, whether you're dating, engaged, married, cohabitating on a permanent basis, (insert life partnership phrase here), you're going to need date night. If you can manage it once a week, that's great. No sweatpants, put on a little make-up or do your hair or shave or whatever. Even if you don't go out (because let's face it, being a med student means you're broke a lot of the time), that's okay. Just spend some time together, not talking about school, remembering what it's like to be a human being.

Take naps. But not small comas. Get enough sleep at night. Trust me.

Therapy. I know a lot of people will disagree with me and fight me tooth and nail on going to therapy, but trust me, you will be glad you have a neutral, third party to tell you that you aren't a failure, that you aren't going to die, and that yes, people do actually graduate from medical school. I am an equal-opportunity therapy pusher, so if I know you in real life and tell you to go to therapy, it's not because I think you're insane or broken, it's because I care about you and don't want you to walk into traffic over an exam. Also, I think therapy is great for everyone.

Don't listen to anyone. Okay, maybe listen to a few people. Find your people. The ones who don't make you want to push them down a flight of stairs, the ones who build you up instead of stress you out, the ones who make you laugh when you're ready to cry, and the ones who will cry with you and tell you that, yes, this is insane and no fun and the worst, but that it will be okay. Somehow. Most people are just noise, though. You'll hear all kinds things about how much people studied or didn't study; take it all with a grain of salt. If someone says they honored something, don't believe them unless they're willing to pull out their grade and show you. Really, if you can avoid talking about grades in general, you'll all be better for it. It just stresses people out, and spoiler alert, as long as you pass, it doesn't really matter what your grades are, because residency programs care way more about board scores, rotation scores, and recommendations.

Figure out how you study. What you did in undergrad might work for you still, but it's okay if it doesn't. It might take you a bit to figure out your new groove, but it will happen. When you figure it out, don't switch it up unless it stops working for you. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, etc. If you like text books, buy text books. Find a second year who you trust and ask how they studied.

Stay off of forums on Student Doctor Network; it's like GOMI for med students. It's full of crazy people, occasionally amusing, and before you know it, you've spent 4 hours reading nonsense and you should have been studying. Also, remember: Assholes are like opinions. Everyone has one.

You are going to hear a ton of advice, including this piece right here! Listen to it all, choose what works for you, and throw the rest out.

But seriously, medical school is fucking hard. You'll hear this over and over, but it's not the material that's difficult (for the most part), it's the sheer volume. Hopefully, you're at a school that cares about its students' well-being, where there is at least some attempt at making life not supremely hellacious for students. If you are not at a place like that, I am sorry. But you will get through it. And remember, this is your dream. This is what you've worked for for so long. It's right here in front of you. Go out there and grab it.

See in you 2019, doctors. Glad to have you aboard.

PS: I wrote a helpful guide to the care and keeping of your med student, so feel free to check it out and give it to all of your friends and loved ones. They'll thank you. 

Our Toilets are Broken and My House is Full of Bees

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hello, and welcome to Thursday! I am currently contemplating what I did in a former life that is causing derivatives, the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation, and Fick's Law to continually plague my existence.

Now, about that subject line. Contrary to what you may believe, this is not a poor translation, or a,"My hovercraft is full of eels" situation. This was  my reality on Tuesday afternoon.

For the longest time (like, a year, because I am an awesome adult), our quarterly water bill has been telling us that there was a leak detected. I kept saying that I was going to call and find out what that meant, but I didn't. Well, I finally did last week and was able to easily schedule an appointment for someone from the township to come to our house and check it out. So on Tuesday, we found out that all of our toilets are in overflow status, which means that the water level in the tank was too high, so there was a lot of water running basically all the time. The options were to adjust some of the valves, and if that didn't work, replace all the toilets (of which there are 3). Super.

Then, I got a phone call later from Ken about how there was another wasp in the house. For the last few weeks, we had been finding random wasps in dining room/living room, and our cats had found and killed a couple, but we had no idea where they were coming from or why they were coming inside. Also, important to note, Ken is absolutely terrified of bees of all kinds, and hates them with the violent passion of a thousand suns. I wasn't home, or else I would have been forced to wrangle the wasp. Instead, Ken called me to tell me that a wasp had emerged from the return vent of our air conditioning system, and that we probably had wasps in our attic. Yay. I hung up and called the exterminator.

20 minutes later, he called to report another wasp, this time in my Peace Lily plant, and so he had to spray the Peace Lily and I told him that if he did that, he had to wipe the leaves, water it, and tell it that he was sorry, which he agreed to way more easily than I thought he would. (The man seriously hates bees.)

So, that was my Tuesday. Last night, we adjusted all three of our toilets, and I learned that toilet mechanics are both baffling and fascinating, and all that I can adjust a toilet. #adulting

In other news, classes have started again and I am faced with the unfortunate prospect of having mandatory class at 8 am on Wednesdays, as well as the need to construct a schedule to study for boards (yes, it starts this early). I am not looking forward to it. And what do we pay for the pleasure of taking this 8 hour exam on the entirety of our first two years of medical education? $800 for COMLEX, $600 for the USMLE (if I decide to take it), and a few hundred for extraneous prep materials. YAY.

Unrelated to all of that, I ate oatmeal for the first time today and didn't hate it. If anyone has any favorite oatmeal flavors for me to try, pass them along. (No nuts please, unless you'd like me to have a crazy allergic reaction. Or avocado, but I can't imagine avocado being a part of oatmeal so...)

tl;dr - Pharmacology is awful, toilets are baffling and fascinating, bees are terrible especially when they're in your house, second year of med school is going to be rough, oatmeal is okay.

I think that's all of the stuff and things I need to share with you today. If you want to play along, grab the button and link up at Stuff, Thinsgs, etc!

A Perfect Philly Saturday

Monday, August 3, 2015

I'm really fortunate to be part of the PHL Bloggers group, which was started by Chrystina. I've met some really awesome people, and they still include me in things, even though med school sucked my soul out and made me miss all of the cool events that were planned. I'm hoping to be at a few more events this year, but we'll see what second year has to say about that. (Probably something along the lines of, "Muahahahahaha, you're adorable, puny human. Now get back in the library.")

Anyway, today's post is all about a city I love, Philadelphia! I'm a self-professed suburbanite; if I can't go out at 9 pm on a Tuesday in my pajamas to grab a gallon of milk and come home to a reserved parking space directly in front of my house (at no extra charge), I'm not happy. However, Philly has been a serious part of my life since 2005 when I transferred to Drexel University. I lived in two different apartments while in undergrad, and while I'm still pretty directionally challenged, I know how to get around pretty well. (Let's be real, it helps that it's a grid system.. mostly.) I have zero fear about driving in Philadelphia, and I am a killer parallel parker. While I don't live in Philly now, I do have some pretty strong opinions about what you should do if you land in my city and have a Saturday to spare.

Let's start at the beginning of your Saturday.


Oh, so many options here! True confession: I'm not super into breakfast. Or brunch. I know, I should get off the internet right now, someone is probably on their way to revoke my blogging license. That being said, I do love a good cup of coffee, breakfast pastries, and mimosas, so at least there's that. My favorite place to grab a morning bite though, is definitely Sabrina's Cafe, specifically the location by the art museum. There are other locations in the Italian Market and University City, and there are two in the suburbs, but the Callowhill one has a special place in my heart because it's where I used to go with my MPH classmates after exams once in awhile. They have fun menu specials, great coffee, and mismatched mugs, which is just fun. Also, they have amazing challah French toast. It gets crowded and they don't take reservations, but it's totally worth it. Bonus? It's BYOB!


After a leisurely brunch, I'd head out to do some pampering! First up, a manicure and pedicure at Nail Bar in Rittenhouse, which is a hidden gem above a row of shops on 18th Street. It's a small salon; 7 pedicure chairs and 6 spots at the bar for manicures, but it is immaculate and relaxing. Their prices are pretty reasonable, especially for being in the city, and you get a complimentary mimosa, or a glass of wine or champagne with your service!

After I made sure my nails were dry (I am the queen of destroying my manicures exactly 26 seconds after leaving the salon), I'd stay in Rittenhouse and walk over to Heads & Tails, Philly's first blowout and waxing salon. I know the women that own the salon, and they are fantastic human beings. Their salon is fun and relaxed, with a great staff. They have a lot of options for treatments and blowouts, and their Brazilian wax can't be beat. They also do keratin treatments and make-up applications. I'd be stopping in for a blow out and an eyebrow wax, and then I'd be on to the next part of my day.

Music and Arts

There is so much culture to immerse yourself in here, it's hard to pick a favorite place! I would definitely try and make a stop at The Kimmel Center to see the Philadelphia Orchestra, and maybe duck into The Curtis Institute to hear a few student recitals (they're free to attend!) I'd love to see PhilaDanco or BalletX, or catch a musical at The Walnut Street Theater. 

Wild Animals

Nope, I'm not talking about the enormous squirrels that pop out of trashcans when you least expect it, although that's always an exciting event. I'm talking about The Philadelphia Zoo! The zoo has been improving and upgrading their exhibits and enclosures over the past few years, so the settings are even more natural. You can kind of forget that you're in Philadelphia for a little, and there are so many cool animals to learn about. The primate house is amazing, and we all know how I feel about cats, so you can guess that one of my favorite places to visit is their Big Cat Crossing. Of course, I will always stop to see the penguins, and will go visit the Small Mammal House (The joke being, of course, that I am a small mammal.)

Throwback to me in college, in front of the small mammal house. Original caption: "Look, I'm a small mammal! In front of the Small Mammal House!" 

Lunch and Exploring

There are approximately 937,382,475 places to eat in Philadelphia. That is probably a slight exaggeration, but there's definitely a lot to choose from. My favorite place to grab a bite, hands down, is Reading Terminal Market. It has a rich history (like most things in Philadelphia), and opened its doors in 1892! Part indoor farmers market, part food court, all delicious, fresh, and fun to wander, Reading Terminal has something for everyone. Seriously, check out this map:

I can't even suggest a just one place here, since it really depends on what you're looking for. I will say that you should probably stop at Bassetts Ice Cream, though. And the Famous 4th Street Cookie Company, where they bake fresh cookies ALL day. It smells like heaven!

Sip & Read

My next stop would be the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse Square. I love that it's two stories, it's quiet, and they have plenty of seating in the cafe upstairs. I'd grab a stack of magazines or the latest book on my to-reads list, order a latte, and settle in for an hour or two. Whenever I have some time to kill between appointments in that area, that's where you'll find me. It's a little oasis of books and coffee, overlooking the park. Afterwards, I'd probably spend some time walking through Rittenhouse, petting as many dogs as I could. (There's someone who walks an enormous Newfoundland that I want to snuggle!)

Dinner, Drinks, & Dessert

This list is really food-centric, haha. Again, there are a ton of food options in the city, and where you end up will depend on what you want to eat. Some of my favorite places are Jones, Mad Mex, Alma de Cuba, and Zavino. After grabbing dinner, I'd head to Tria for a glass of wine, and then top off the night with either gelato from Capogiro, a cookie (or three) from Insomnia Cookies, or a slice of pie at Magpie

With a full belly and tired feet, I'd hop back in my car (suburbanite, remember?) and head back over the bridge to my personal parking spot.

This is just my ideal day, so many sure to check out what the other PHL Bloggers would do on their perfect Philadelphia Saturdays!

What would you do in your city with a free Saturday? 

So Here's the Thing

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hi there. Posting has obviously been quite sparse around these parts. Some of that is because it's summer, and in two days, what is effectively my last summer off ever in the history of my life will be over. That means I'll be glued to my school laptop again, only instead of screwing around on the internet, I'll be learning pharmacology, pathology, and all of clinical medicine. (Okay, let's be real, I'm still going to do a fair bit of screwing around on the internet.) So yeah, it makes sense that I wouldn't want to be attached to my laptop all day, every day when I don't have to be, and it's times like these that I'm glad that I don't depend on my blog for any sort of income, as it means that I can leave you alone here for 2 weeks and not starve.

So here's the thing. It's a lot of things.

A lot of my reticence is coming from a place of... fear? Discomfort? A feeling of being unsure and unmoored? I am not really sure. I haven't felt inspired, or funny, or helpful, so I didn't say anything. I was afraid that whatever I did have to say would sound stupid, or useless, or whiny. I felt a weight of needing to write "pin-able content" that was also entertaining and "on brand" (whatever the hell my brand even is is beyond me at this point). My perfectionism was creeping in and stepping all over my writing abilities. And for awhile, I let it.

Two of my favorite bloggers, Janelle and Nicole, both had good things to say about this kind of stuff.

From Janelle, at Saaybe Says:

"Imperfection is interesting. More importantly imperfection is honest. It breaks down walls. When I admit my imperfections I implicitly make it safe for you to admit yours. When people are honest with each other that builds community. And that is why I write on this blog; to create an authentic community. To create real fellowship. I don’t want something shallow. I want the real thing."

And from Nicole, at Just the Elevator Pitch:

"The point of this post is just to remind you to cut yourself some slack. With blogging, with your career, with your bathroom, with life. Don’t stop working hard but if you are working hard, that’s all you can expect from yourself."

Smart women saying smart things is one of my favorite things about the internet. Right up there with cats pictures and videos of baby goats and Amazon Prime.

So partly it was summer, and partly it was perfectionist tendencies, and partly it was too much weird internet pressure, and partly it was because I thought nothing I have to say was helpful or entertaining. 

That last bit? Probably true. I've had a lot going on this summer, mentally and emotionally, almost all exclusively dealing with the fact that I am still not pregnant. I struggle with how much to share of our journey (I hate that term... it's so corny when I use it, I think) to having a baby. A lot of my classmates read this and some of my family reads it. Moreso than that, I worry that you, lovely readers, don't want to hear about it. The medical procedures, the science, the heartbreak, the weird and unspoken knowledge that this is all about my reproductive parts. (Here, internet! Let's talk about my uterus! HURRAH! Yeah, that's weird.) 

But then I remember how people responded to my post about my miscarriage and the grief that followed. I remember how many people reached out to me and said that they felt less alone, or who thanked me for sharing it. And hey, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan just announced that they're expecting a baby girl and talked about how Priscilla suffered 3 miscarriages prior to this. I know for myself, I spend a stupid amount of time scouring the internet for stories that look like mine, looking for that glimmer of hope that someday, I'll also be writing a post about how now that we have a baby, all of the trials were worth it. I know that I am not alone, even when I feel like I am, and I want to believe that maybe someone else out there is looking for my story because it matches theirs. 

Because of all that, I've decided to post intermittent fertility updates, along with what I hope will be semi-educational posts about fertility, trying to conceive, and the medical side of baby-making. The internet is already full of glamorized sex; I'm going to drop some science on you all. (Yikes, did I just say, "Drop some science?" Send help.)

I tell people all the time that trying to get pregnant is a friggin' science project, and I'm only half-kidding. Even if you're doing it the "old-fashioned way" there's a lot more to it than you'd think. It makes you wonder how anyone gets accidentally pregnant at all! I promise this blog isn't going to turn into The Vagina Monologues of The Chronicles of Trying to Make a Baby or anything weird. There's still going to be plenty of other stuff here. But this is my life right now. This is reality.

So, here's to telling perfectionist tendencies to shove it and to giving myself a break. To being real and raw and messy. To being okay with "the thing" being a lot of things. To being okay with fear and trepidation. To science.

And to all of you, who keep coming back here to read my words. Nice to see you all. You're doing a great job and your hair looks really nice. 

Option 3: Be Weird

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Last week on Thursday, I had the amazing experience of listening to Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman, at the Free Library of Philadelphia. If you haven't read it, and you're a fan of feminism, swearing, sex, and talking about things generally regarded as taboo, I need you to go get it right now. I'll wait.


Okay. Now that we've remedied that situation, I am going to try and describe my unreal Thursday. I met up with my friend Jenn (and ran into someone with whom I went to high school), and we waited anxiously for Caitlin (pronounced Cat-lynn, in case you were wondering) to take the stage. And then she did and interviewed herself about her new novel, How to Build a Girl, as well as many other things about her life. She wanted to talk about a lot of things in the book, but one of the biggest things was how to construct yourself, and she mentioned that our default mode as women tends to be "self-loathing". For me... that is completely true. And it sounds stupid, but I never realized that I could just decide to be the kind of self that I would love. But who would I love?

"I find it really distressing that there's only two options for women, that you can either be ugly, or beautiful. I think we've forgotten there's option three, which is be weird. Being weird is an incredibly important and valid choice for a girl to make." - Caitlin Moran

It was really important for me to hear this, because let's face it, I've always been pretty weird. As a child, I read a ton, had very few friends, was the least athletically inclined person you could find, and if bullying had existed as a social problem that people cared about then, I would have definitely been bullied.

In middle school, I had more friends, but I was still a HUGE nerd. If I felt like putting a photo of 13 year old me on the internet was a good idea, I would totally do it, but I don't, so you'll have to live without it. Let me try and paint a picture for you. I was short, had frizzy hair, huge glasses, braces, and boobs that were bigger than everyone else's (which I hated at the time). I didn't have clothes that were "in," I didn't really wear make-up, and I didn't have my ears pierced. I wasn't on any sports teams, I took a ton of honors classes, and I played with the orchestra and sang in the chorus. In 8th grade, I had my first boyfriend, but he was also one of the biggest nerds, so that didn't help my social status. My low self-esteem combined with the luck of the draw genetics, and the depression and anxiety I live with today began to manifest itself then. It was a bad time.

tl;dr - I was not cute or popular and everyone, including me, knew it.

In high school, things were better. I lost the braces, got smaller glasses/occasionally wore contacts, discovered flat irons, and found more people who were owning their nerdiness. It was good, but still not great. I still had a lot of issues with depression, and spent 10 days in an outpatient program when I was 16. I'm not saying that none of this would have happened if I had known that it was okay to just BE WEIRD, but maybe it wouldn't have been as bad.

Now, I'm 29, twenty days away from starting my second year of med school (WHAT???), and I'm married to a man who, by his own admission, is a big weirdo, who happens to love my weirdness. I still don't think I'm cute or popular. I still have frizzy hair (although I did just get a keratin treatment, so that is less of a problem), big glasses are in, I officially can put on eyeliner, and my clothes are mostly not ridiculous (although I still own a sweater that I got in 5th grade, and yes it still fits, but no, I don't wear it out of the house anymore unless I am shoveling snow because Victoria made me promise I wouldn't). My ears are pierced, but I never wear earrings, I still can barely tell a tennis racket from a soccer cleat, and I play a bunch of musical instruments, which apparently is cool once you're a grown-up.

I still sit firmly in Camp Self-Loathing, (which, by the way, is a terrible camp and I advise you to never send your kids there) on many days. You would think, after reading that paragraph above, that I'd pretty much love myself. I don't. There, I said it. Plenty of other people love me, and sometimes, I think I'm okay, but no, I don't love myself. Caitlin talked about how we all have an ideal self, and you can see who that self is if you look at a teenager's walls. My walls had a giant cat poster, some framed photos of roses, and a calendar, none of which have anything to do with my ideal self... even if being a cat would be amazing. Now, my walls are mostly naked, except for a wedding portrait, which is great, but also doesn't really describe my ideal self.

My ideal self would be intelligent and funny, and self-assured. She would be a doctor, but also a writer. She would be a good entertainer, and be able to decorate. She'd be slender and have a great BMI. She wouldn't do things like leave the eggs in the trunk of her car overnight. Her counter tops would always be clean and she would dust every week. She would be a mom (which means that her counter tops would never be clean, but whatever). She would exercise regularly. She would not be anxious about things over which she has absolutely zero control. She would have no credit card debt, a savings account with something in it, and a retirement fund to which she contributed regularly. She would never forget to call her relatives, and she would always send birthday cards on time. She would know how to blow-dry her hair. She would not be afraid.

There are a million other things, and yes, I guess I already am some of those things, but I'm certainly not all of those things. So, while I'm trying to be all of those things, I'm going to focus on the fact that after the talk, Caitlin Moran signed all three of my books, gave me TWO hugs and a kiss, and when I told her that I wanted to write a book or a memoir someday, she told me to never stop writing and that the world should hear my opinion. And then she said she would be my cool aunt, and basically, now we're BFF's. We also took a selfie:

I don't even care that it's blurry. Our joy could not be contained.
And now, I'm going to leave you with another fabulous quote from Caitlin (we're on a first-name basis now, obviously),

"There is no difference in pretending to be an asshat and actually being an asshat. They're completely the same things, and indeed, we don't need anymore asshats. The world is full of asshats! There's a massive stockpile of asshats, we've got enough to last in the next millenium!" - Caitlin Moran

Don't pretend to be an asshat, because then you are an asshat. Instead, pretend to be what you want to be. (If you want to be an asshat, then I suggest that you rethink that goal.) 

And if weird is who you are, then by God, be weird. I'll be your friend, I promise.

PS: If you'd like to listen to all of Caitlin's talk, go here!

Brave Inventory: May + June

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hello, internet! I'm currently on vacation in Punta Cana, but right now, I am hiding from the sun because I seem to have broken out in hives. (Thanks, autoimmune disease!) We arrived on Saturday and have been having a fantastic time (minus the hives), and later this afternoon, we're going kayaking. Hopefully, I won't be thrown out of the kayak into the ocean. Ken assures me that we'll be fine; I am skeptical. Then on Friday, we're taking a sailing cruise to the caribbean side of the island to snorkel, swim in a natural pool in the middle of the ocean, and have lunch on a floating restaurant, surrounding by nurse sharks and sting rays!

So yes. Vacation is awesome, and I promise to have loads of new content once I return. (As long as I don't get tossed overboard, eaten by sharks, or burnt to a crisp out in the sun.)

 Now that it's July, I guess I should talk about what I did in May and June. I just pulled up my calendar to look at May. As far as brave activities are concerned, I didn't really accomplish any. June was a little better, so I figured I'd talk about both months simultaneously.

In May, the only "brave" thing that I did was finish my first year of med school! That's just nuts. I was really nervous that I wasn't going to pass my neuroscience course, but fortunately, I did well enough on the final to make-up for my abysmal grade on the midterm. Also, anatomy is OVER and I never have to dissect a cadaver ever again. This is moderately terrifying because the next time I cut something open, it will be an unconscious human in the OR, I'm not going to think about that right now, though. But yes... OMS-I is in the books, and on August 3rd, I'll start my second year of med school (and final year of classroom lectures!) Craziness.

June was a little better for bravery. On June 1st, I started my summer internship, which doesn't sound necessarily brave, but the subject of the program is clinical bioengineering/design, which is not my normal habitat. It's pretty neat, though, as they took 4 undergrad engineers and 4 med students and made teams out of one of each. We spent the first week in June learning about the clinical biodesign process, and then the next 3 weeks, each team was immersed in a clinical unit at one of the bigger hospitals in our area. My teammate, Alyssa, and I were in the NICU, which was really interesting. I first applied for the internship thinking that I wouldn't be able to do it since I knew I'd be on vacation this week (and the 5th week of the program, more lectures, is occurring now), but the director of the program said it was okay and I ended up being accepted! Learning all of this design stuff and learning to "think like an engineer" has been pretty cool, even though it's pretty different from what I have been doing for the past few years of my life. Also, I had to give up the summer research fellowship that I had been awarded, which made me nervous because I was worried about upsetting the PhD with whom I was supposed to work, but that also all worked out. Yay science!

On June 5th, I had my top 2 wisdom teeth out... while awake! Granted, I also had a dental implant placed while awake, so I wasn't super nervous about it. I did take advantage of the nitrous oxide, which made me feel floaty, but I was definitely aware of all the pushing and pulling going on in my mouth. Fortunately, only one was impacted. And now, I'm going to post this terribly unflattering photo of myself on the internet for all to see:

You should see the other guy...
Yes, this is how I showed up to my internship on Monday. First day in the NICU and I look like I got beat up on the streets of Camden on my way in. There was a lot of explaining. The good news is that after a week or so, I looked way less like an abused chipmunk and could even open my mouth a little. Oh, and I didn't get any crazy infections and was able to survive by taking copious ibuprofen during the day and just taking the Vicodin at night. And I never have to have them out again!

The rest of the month was basically spent in the NICU or hanging out at home. Not much bravery going on. We did spend a night in the hospital, which was way less exciting than I expected it to be. After rounding until midnight and talking to the attending until 12:30, we all went to our respective call-rooms and went to bed until 3 am when we got paged to a delivery. Then we slept until 5:30. But hey, overnight in the hospital in Camden!

I guess the other semi-brave thing that occurred while I was working in the NICU is that I got up my nerve to ask even the stupid questions. I also introduced myself to dozens of strangers (mostly nurses and NP's) who weren't sure why we were there and were often bothered by having two more people in their space. I stood up to our program director when she wanted to change our overnight, and when an NP yelled at me for being in the resident call-room, which I wasn't and couldn't locate if you gave me a map, I politely defended myself (and my teammate) and corrected her. Hooray for being ballsy! Politely ballsy!

On the 22nd, I spent the morning in the Philadelphia passport office, praying that someone there could help me because my passport had gotten held up in NH because of some random form. Thankfully, after standing in line for 2 hours (with no appointment, which is frowned upon), I was able to fill out MORE forms and pay a $60 expediting fee and was told that passport would be ready on Wednesday. I nearly kissed the lady who was helping me, but I probably would have been tased by the security guards, so I decided against it. And yes, my passport was ready on Wednesday and we all did a happy dance.

On the 25th, I picked Pam up in Philly and on the 26th, we set off via PATCO (our mostly useless public transportation line between southern NJ and very specific parts of Camden and Philadelphia) to go to the Tall Ships Festival! We were mostly going to see the giant duck:

But as you can see, the duck did not do so well on his journey up the Delaware River. In fact, he sustained a 60 foot gash and was subsequently deflated. It was a sad day for all of us. We did get to explore some really cool ships, though, and I didn't have a panic attack, freak out, or die when surrounded by thousands of people. I did have a brief moment of terror when Pam left to find out where we needed to get tickets for the water taxi and hadn't returned as I was getting closer to th
e front of the line. I was 2 seconds away from standing on a chair and yelling, "PAM!!!!!" as loudly as I could when she jogged up and said that we could just get the tickets on board. I told her that I thought she had fallen in the river or gotten abducted. (Ab-DUCK-ted??? Ha. Ha ha. Someone help me.) Alas, we didn't get to see the giant duck, but we did get to see a slightly less giant duck. Here's a photo collage of our day, courtesy of Pam:

Left: Pam and me with the less-giant duck and the Battleship New Jersey in the background
Top right: Deflated giant duck. Womp womp.
Middle right: Sign at the duck merchandise kiosk
Bottom right: Pam and me with our tiny, consolation ducks from the T-Mobile booth
Then on the 27th, after sleeping for 4 hours and getting up at 4 am to drive to the airport (shoutout to Levi for dropping us off!),  Ken and I got on a plane and flew to a foreign country where neither of us had ever been. Since then, I've practiced my Spanish (I remember a surprising amount from high school!) and tried new foods (I'm usually very picky.) And in an hour, I'm getting into a kayak. ON THE OCEAN! I don't even know who I am anymore.

So yes, there's my brave inventory for May and June. Hopefully I'll update in a timely manner with July's brave inventory. And now, I'm going to go slather myself in sunscreen and bugspray and get back to my vacation. I leave you with this: