Tuesday, December 27, 2011


An inexpensive thank you gift sent to my Developmental Biology aka Embryology professor for taking the time to write a letter of recommendation.  Thank you card was included, though not pictured.  I had no idea whether a gift is appropriate or not...I didn't want it to be construed as a "payment" but chocolates seem harmless enough, and if he doesn't want it, I'm sure his grad students would appreciate free candy.  The candy was only $10, and the box of chalk was like $0.75 (all USD).  I bought the chalk because he always used colored chalk to differentiate tissue types on his diagrams in lecture.  

A patient gave me chocolates :) 

She and her husband are such nice people.  

Picture courtesy of "Angel S." on Yelp
Friends and I went to Kokkari Estiatorio, a greek restaurant.  I had the braised lamb shank with orzo and myzithra cheese.  It was huge.  Expensive, but huge.  I wanted to grab the shank by the bone and bite into it, but that would have been a super un-classy thing to do in a classy establishment.  It's also my first time seeing bottles of wine sell in the 4-digit price range.  If I had a grand of cash to blow on anything, I would spend it on something that wouldn't be out of my system in less than a day.  Miraculously, my bill was under $50 including my portion of the appetizer and tax+gratuity.  The food was really good though.  I'm sure their wine is also really good, but I didn't have any, which explains how I was able to spend less than $50.  

My attempt to be witty and creative for the white elephant gift exchange failed miserably in a way I could never have imagined.  Actually, the gift wrap was well-received....the rest not so much.  I tore up a Victoria's Secret catalog to wrap the box and adorned it with a Ferragamo-style bow.  The box contained two bottles of sparkling wine and a lacy thong that would be received with humor from the girls if a girl picked it, and mild embarrassment from a boy if one of them picked it.  I didn't anticipate that "Allen," who I had no idea was coming, would steal it from his ex-gf, pop the sparkling wine cork, spill wine all over the panty, use it as a napkin after eating my cheese puffs, and then make a fool of himself after finishing the entire bottle.

Facepalm.  Some people never grow out of their teenage years.

Next year I won't try so hard....or at all.

My spoils from white elephant:  A HUGE tub of cheese puffs (which I took to work), butter toffee & caramel popcorn, a kiddie air-hockey set, a pair of chopsticks (from my friend's white elephant at work, of course), and coasters.  

As for studying....I'll get to it eventually...hopefully....today........maybe..................eek.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red Egg Party

A white bread bun made to look like a Chinese peach
Last weekend, my cousins hosted a Red Egg and Ginger party to celebrate the birth of their daughter, Chloe.  The Red Egg party is a traditional Chinese party that is similar to baby showers, except hosted about one month after the child's birth.  It was held at a local Chinese/Japanese food buffet restaurant.  There was another Red Egg party hosted adjacent to us as well as a one-year birthday party in another part of the restaurant.

Hard-boiled eggs dyed red and eaten for good luck

I really dislike coming to these big family-style restaurants because I've noticed that kids these days are REALLY BAD.  I know that some parents loathe bringing babies/toddlers to restaurants and airplane trips because it's hard to enjoy a meal AND look after a young child.  The kid will inevitably cry and it takes a while to soothe him/her.  I don't have an issue with that.  I have an issue with parents who let their kids run around like the restaurant is a playground, clogging up the aisles between tables and the exit route and seeing parents hand-feed a 7-10 year old because the kid's too busy playing on the iPad.  Ugh.

Anyway, I think I went through three plates of sushi and seafood, not counting dessert, such that I came home and rolled around in my PJs with food on my face like so:
"Ugggggh so fullllllll...my tummy hurts"
Last night, I had Christmas Eve dinner with a family friend.  It was kind of funny seeing my dad's childhood friend get drunk on wine.  Twenty years or so later, my dad's friend still makes fun of the fact that his daughter and I each ate ten of these egg tarts (pictured right).  They were bite-sized, so even the five-year-old me could shove a whole tart in my mouth.  I ate so many of these as a kid that I actually don't like them anymore....

Later, I'll be heading over to my relatives' house for Christmas dinner.  
Juggling gatherings with family/friends and studying is really hard.  Luckily, I have the Examkrackers Audio Osmosis MCAT-prep lectures to listen to at the car, and if I'm REALLY lucky, I can find a hiding spot to read for an hour or two.  Unfortunately, I don't think I can fit into the laundry room cabinets anymore (and surprisingly, I never tried to eat anything IN those cabinets.......)

Merry Christmas!   

Well That's New

The other day, a patient told me that I should learn Spanish.
In typical Mingle fashion, I wanted to retort, "Well maybe YOU should learn Chinese instead!"  But since I am an otherwise professional person, I just laughed it off and said I would try.  Also, that particular patient is a really nice guy, and he didn't say it in a mean way, so I let it go.

Picking up a language is really hard.  It's one thing to ask, "Excuse me, where is the bathroom?"  It's an ENTIRELY difficult situation when someone asks you to translate, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does it hurt, and does the pain radiate down your spine?"  When I took Latin in high school, I could read pretty well but I couldn't write very well...MAYBE, if my life depended on it, I could have written better sentences but no one ever put me in that situation, so yeah.....Also, when I took Chinese as a kid, I could recite, write and read but had NO idea wtf was coming out of my mouth/pen.  Reading comprehension was clearly not a priority in Chinese class.

My current job as a translator can be challenging on its own without having to consider putting in the extra time/effort to learn Spanish.  Most of my patients are from Hong Kong and speak Cantonese, but a few speak in Mandarin (the dominant dialect in northern China) and a few speak another dialect called Taishanese (from a rural region of southern China).  I speak/understand Cantonese well enough to get by, but can only vaguely understand Mandarin and Taishanese...coupled with the fact that elderly people like to ramble off on tangents, things get confusing.

IT'S FREAKIN' HARD TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS STUFF.  Also, MCAT English is difficult enough.  There is no room in this brain for Spanish, sir, no room!  On a bad day, I forget to switch gears and translate back to English and repeat sentences to the physical therapist in Chinese.

Anyway, I sympathize with those health professionals who get chastised for not knowing enough Spanish to speak to patients...It ain't easy, even if everyone says "you should learn it because you're going to need it."  And for those people who always say, "Well I lived abroad for a year and I can speak XYZ really confidently," well, does that hold true when the conversation shifts to complex medical/scientific terminology?

Another thing I've noticed is that patients like to ask my nationality, but rapid-fire a list like a Lightning-Round 20 Questions game before I have the chance to answer.  They also have the tendency to guess everything BUT Chinese.  I never expected that from people who live IN San Francisco because it's such a diverse city, but diversity doesn't mean everyone's taught to be politically correct.

Patients: "Are you Filipino?  Japanese?  Korean? Vietnamese?  Malaysian?  Thai?  Cambodian?  Laotian?  Inuit?  Tibetan?  Mongolian?  Hawaiian?"
Me (after an imaginary facepalm):  "No, I'm Chinese."
Patients: "OH! I have Chinese friends.  I also have a Japanese friend, a Filipino friend, an Indian friend...."
Me (in my head):  "Uh....We're not collectibles........"

I actually don't find it annoying...just extremely amusing in my typical dry-sense-of-humor fashion.  Usually these are the nicer patients who try to strike up a conversation with their limited grasp of English.  I appreciate the effort.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Today really sucked.  Seemed like every attempt to lead a well-organized, smooth day and work-day was thwarted at every opportunity by weird schedule changes.  I like schedules - not necessarily daily routines, but I like to be the person who makes and follows schedules so I can get things done.  I get really irritable when my schedule goes crazy and I don't get anything crossed off my "to-do list."  I also dealt with a few difficult individuals.

The good thing about today was that, by the time I got out of work, I had a lot of pent up energy to burn at the gym.  The bad thing is that I think I overdid it: I will probably be spending most of the day sitting stiffly in chairs and waddling a lot when I walk.  I love that every treadmill and bike at my gym has its own television...I just wish they get the Food Network.  Nothing beats running while watching people make delicious things on the television.

I ended the day on a positive note, thankfully.  My printed holiday cards arrived in the mail (two weeks later) and I can fiiiinally start mailing them out to people.  Hooraaaay!  I'm very happy with the quality.  The colors don't show well in the picture but they are very vibrant, just how I wanted it to be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In a Nutshell

I'm not reaaaallly sure where the last couple weeks went....I think I burnt myself out during the first month and a half of class, so I had to sit back and gather my sanity.  I definitely have figured out that I struggle with content more, as opposed to test-taking strategies...so starting now I will need to knuckle down and torture myself diligently review flashcards.  I've also been using Examkrackers books to review content I am unsure about and found that it saves me time and frustration.  Kaplan books have the tendency to give analogies that I think are stupid, or the books provide a really long-winded and over-detailed explanation for concepts that really DON'T need that much detail.  

My physical therapy is progressing pretty well, albeit conservatively per doctor's orders.  The final two ranges of motion that I will need to work on are the external rotation at the elbow and abduction.  Strength training is progressing smoothly, and the exercises they have given me will also be helpful once I begin doing my own strength training after rehabilitation is complete.  Most of my strength building exercises seem to focus around using the muscles behind my scapula (rhomboid major muscle?) correctly and NOT using the trapezius muscle to compensate, which seems to place unwanted tension on the shoulders.  Consequently, my upper back between the shoulder blades are pretty sore today =/  

Last night was supposed to be my last night of fun-time before I re-engage hermit-mode to study.  My night ended with a bang.....several bangs, in fact: 

I dunno if there's a stigma against doctors (and pre-meds) wielding firearms as a hobby but I don't see anything wrong with it, as long as shooting is done legally in a safe space and as long as all participants abide by the rules for safety.  I would trust a doctor to handle a loaded gun safely as opposed to some random person, although I would still prefer to stand behind the doctor....just in case.  After using a few of the rental guns the shooting range had, I can definitely understand why some dudes get super excited over guns: it was pretty exhilarating on a very primal level.  I can also appreciate how much damage a gun can do, and how much skill/practice it requires to shoot well when the target isn't just a piece of paper with a giant orange dot in the middle.  Holding a gun is also no joke - pistols look small sitting in a glass case but some are surprisingly heavy.  

The beginner's course I took (required for all newbies) included a nomenclature and safety class.  The class had a bunch of girls, and collectively we learned that any idiot can load and shoot a gun (that same day at work, I learned that not everyone knows what a PDF is *facepalm*).  We started off range-time with a Ruger MKIII which was pretty easy to handle, upgraded to what was probably an older model of the M4 rifle and ended the night with one of the smaller Sig Sauer 9mm pistols that could fit in my tiny Asian-girl hands.  I had the most fun and the best shots with the 9mm.  The only downside was that since it was a rental gun, it gets a lot of use so the casing would eject straight at my face instead of off to the side.  

Overall it was a fun night.  I wish I could get this much excitement out of reviewing physics X_X 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

10 Things I Hate About You

10.  Texting me just because I'm currently with a patient and cannot respond immediately to a Yahoo Messenger and e-mail inquiry.

9.  Texting me to have me pass on a message to my coworker.  You know, he has a phone too.  And an e-mail.  You can also (ohmygosh revelation) call him!  

8.  Sending an e-mail to my personal e-mail, which I already politely asked you not to do, because I did not respond instantly to #10 or #9.  

7.  Texting me to call the office manager and have her update the patient tally right away.  Are you going to die if I waited until the next morning before you even come into the office to update the totals?  Some days you don't even show up to the office.   

6.  No, I'm not going to knock on everyday to recruit patients.  I understand this is a business, but I am not a salesperson and the senior residence coordinator will NOT find that acceptable.   

5.  The fact that there is no computer or desk for me to do clerical work at the main office on Tuesdays/Thursdays.  

4.  That you cram four therapists into 3 desks in a 5' x 8' (roughly 1.5m x2.5m) office that is smaller than a cubicle.  I am 5' and I'm pretty sure it would already be a tight squeeze if I lay down across the 5' side of the office.  My college apartment's walk-in closet was bigger and had better ventilation.  

3.  Failing to show up for interviews or showing up 45+ minutes late to interview a job candidate.  It's rude and unprofessional.  Don't agree to a meeting if you're not even planning to come in or come in on time.  The job market is tough, people lead busy lives, and job candidates have no choice but to take that kind of treatment, but it is still NOT okay. 

2.  Yelling at my coworker for not fulfilling a task that you never even told her she was supposed to do.  

1.  Telling me that you're going to have surgery for a torn labrum just like me, but oh, your shoulder is in no way as messed up as mine and how you'll be able to lift weights in no time.  Thanks for rubbing it in.  I won't wish you a safe and speedy recovery then, because it doesn't seem like you need it.  I mean, you were ONLY playing recreational basketball (Sorry, basketball players!  I do respect people who play it for fun because I suck at it).  It's not like you were in a totally bad-ass sport like wrestling on a co-ed team in co-ed competitions, intentionally starving yourself to qualify for the lower weight-class, and then getting totally beat-up in intense 2-6 minute matches where you can risk getting infected with cauliflower-ear and ringworm.  I won't even tell you about all the nosebleeds I got because some chick elbowed me in the face.

So I don't sound like a brat, here are things I am thankful for:

1.  Even though wrestling screwed up my shoulder, I learned a lot of things.  I gained self-confidence and I learned to expend the frustration and anger I feel into a constructive activity like sports/exercise.  While this person pisses me off like no other, I don't need to make unnecessary and rude comments like, "Your arm is more messed up than mine" for a self-esteem boost.  I'll work out to the point that I know I can kick his butt any day of the week but have the self-control not to feel like I need to prove it.

2.  The fact that I rarely have to SEE this person, and only for a few minutes.

3.  My other co-workers are hilarious people and really fun to work with...I think we're all a little nuts because that's the only way to cope.

4.  Knowing that my co-workers are all in the same boat with me, so I know I'm not just being a whiny brat.  We all share the same sentiments.

5.  I love my patients at the senior home.  Sometimes it gets really busy but my patients are really nice and fun to work with and talk to.  I can chat with them and joke with them, and sometimes they'll invite my coworker and I to eat with them, which is really nice of them.

6.  A paycheck.  To help pay bills/save up for the medical school application process....and go shopping.

7.  This is only temporary, and I do have a goal that I am working towards.

8.  I can vent my frustration in the form of comics, and it won't be rude because it will be art and satirical and funny =P

9.  The physical therapists I work with do a good job and I like them.  The patients always tell me to convey their thanks and compliments in English because their conditions have improved so much.

The treadmill is awesome.  I love my gym.  There aren't a lot of free-weights, but that's not a big deal since I'm not supposed to carry more than ten pounds with my left arm.  When the weather warms up, I'm going to run outside along the pier and pretend like the tourists are part of a giant obstacle course =D

Monday, November 28, 2011

Aaaand it's Monday


I had two days off work due to Thanksgiving weekend.  I wish I could have a four-day weekend every weekend.  University students have it easy.  If they're smart (and/or lucky), they can arrange their class schedules such that they can have Monday AND Fridays off every week.  I was able to do that all of senior year....which was GREAT looking back.  The downside was that I had 9 hours of class non-stop every Tuesday and Thursday BUT even then, that is less time than I currently spend at work every week.

Earlier this month, I came across an online deal for customized Christmas cards through a vendor called Mixbook.  For $20 (plus $6.98 shipping), I get 40 5"x7" cards+envelopes that are supposedly "silk-finished."  I guess "silk-finished" means that the printing is shiny?

I like the overall result and I am hoping that the prints turn out okay, otherwise I will be sad =(.  Before I set up the print on Mixbook's website, I re-sized my picture to fit almost-perfectly on a 5x7 card but for whatever reason, this was the best I could make their interface do.  During the process, I learned to increase the dpi (aka dots per inch), which controls how well an image can be converted from a digital image (seen above) to print.  If I was smarter, I would have asked a friend who does art & printing as a side job/hobby...well, now I know.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bustin' the Booty

I signed up for the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge on Sunday:

Participants can earn points for eating right or being active (running/walking/swimming/etcetc) and win prizes.  I only glanced over the points system briefly, but there are Advanced/Intermediate/Beginner levels, regular challenges for participants to earn extra points, and points for getting your daily value of fruits and veggies, among other things.  It's a kewl way to motivate myself to work out and track my progress.

Since I'm still in the initial phases of physical therapy (more on that later), I have to take it easy on the weights.  I realized that just the act of pumping my arms while running was very tiring after several minutes because it involved more movement than my left shoulder is accustomed to post-surgery...so no crazy arm-flailing sprints for a while :)

I ran 2 miles at a 2.0 incline on a treadmill and worked on my core for 20 minutes.  While I was proud of myself for being able to run that much after over a month of sitting on my butt, a 2.0 incline is not very impressive considering San Francisco has hills insane enough to hold an annual event like this:

(The video is from an event called Bring Your Own Big Wheel which is held on one of the city's more steep and twisty inclines.  It's basically a bunch of adults riding down a twisty hill on their kids'/nephews & neices'/best friend's kids' toy bicycle.  It's free and draws a huge crowd every year on Easter Sunday.  )

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Instead of studying last night, I fixed my computer and re-installed software for better outlining (facepalm of shame).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nicknames - The Digression

My real name is Ming.  A name like that leaves me open to a lot of puns.  At first, they were "normal" cute nicknames like "Ming-o" or "Mang-o".  Then my friends and I discovered the awesomeness of puns and I became "Mingle."  At gatherings, my friends would say "Go mingle, Mingle- haaahaha!"

Then, when Napoleon Dynamite came out in theaters, we learned the term/slang, "dingleberry."  For the hardy types, you can look up the exact term on Urban Dictionary, but I'll just say that it means a "tenacious piece of poo." Someone cleverly noticed that "dingle" rhymes with "mingle" and I became "Mingleberry."  Thank you, friends, for holding me in such high esteem.  I am pretty tenacious though, so I guess it's kind of an apt nickname...except for the part about being a piece of poo.  

The mangled part refers to how I feel after a stressful day, which is summed up in this picture:

And that was how I came up with my blog name and e-mail (berrymingle@gmail)

Saturday, November 12, 2011



At this rate, I'm going to turn into a big manatee-like blob and I'll have to roll myself for transportation, which is great for going downhill but makes for some slow-goings uphill.

I like going to these food truck events, even though they suck money out of my wallet faster than my old college roommate can inhale her food during eating contests.  Some of the trucks are really cute, like the NomNom Truck:

This time I tried food from the Chairman Bao Truck:
Pic from the Mobi Munch Chairman Truck site
I love the pun.  The truck takes traditional Chinese cha siu bao and makes it into a taco.  The unfortunate result is that it defeats the purpose of cleanly shoving the entire bun into your mouth, but it was still delicious.   At first I thought the truck's popularity was all hype, I thought, "Maan, I can get an authentic cha siu bao for $0.60 at a Chinatown store."  But after trying it I actually liked it.  I also tried stir-fried garlic noodles from a truck cleverly named "An the Go" because I love garlic and garlic-flavored burps.  Mmmmm.  But despite spending all that money, I had to go back to my ONE TRUE LOVE, mac and cheese spring rolls.

Today I went back to studying.  Except for the past angst-flavored week, I have been pretty good about studying 6/7 days per week.  I've officially designated Friday nights as my no-work day so I can relax and catch up with friends.

Friday, November 11, 2011

D= (sad face)

Me: "Oh when are you going to China?"
Senior Home Resident (not a patient):  "Next week to visit my family"
Me: "Oh that sounds really good.  The winter there in the south is warmer than winters here."
SHR (Non-patient): "Yeah...It will probably be my last chance to see them"
Me: "Oh...." [Awkward silence]


Angst...and Food

I'm told I get pretty cranky and angst-y during the full moon phase.  Apparently I'm not as awesome as a non-Twilight werewolf so I typically avoid people during this time.

Despite that, I still went to a book signing hosted by Cat vs. Human author/blogger/artist Yasmine Surovec.
I also like cake
and then meandered over Gott's Roadside Burger for another ginormous burger and sweet potato fries

I stole this from the Yelp page again, because honestly, I'd rather shove a fresh burger in my face than take a picture of it  =D
MCAT class was cancelled tonight due to the instructor's illness.  I believe his other class had their potluck on Wednesday night soooooooo hopefully he didn't get food poisoning from someone's delicious goodies =O I should have studied more tonight, but at least I was really good about reading on the bus ride to/from work today.  The tough thing about MCAT classes is that I struggle to keep up with the workload and it feels like the information just goes into my eyes and out the ears.  I wonder if it's possible to hire a slave driver, like in that one Ben Hurr scene when the slaves are rowing the ship.  It looked really effective in the movie.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stupid Things That I Did

Another topic that came up during study group yesterday was the topic of "stupid crap that you do that seemed like a good idea at the time, but really wasn't."

For example:

Somewhere along the line I picked up this insane routine where I would study/write papers until 4:30 AM and sleep until class at 10 AM.  Sometimes it was for a legitimate reason, like if a 10-page midterm paper was due 1-2 days after several science midterms, and no way in hell was I going to sacrifice precious time writing a stupid paper.  MOST of the time it was out of pure stupidity.  I would sleep at 4:30, wake up at 7, walk around the corner for a triple shot latte, walk back to my room and sleep until 9:30 to study.  Then, I would take a nap from 4 PM-7 PM.  Sleeping a full 8 hours and then studying the rest of the day didn't occur to me.  I don't know how I survived...Actually, that whole quarter/year was a blur.  I have no idea what the hell I was studying for at the time.  I didn't do this everyday - only during midterms and finals.  The problem with that was that professors didn't understand the concept of the MIDterm, so we actually had thirdterms in addition to finals, which means that I followed this routine for a week every three weeks.

Another time, I was forty minutes late for a two-hour midterm because I overslept.  Luckily, this was an Environmental Horticulture class, another student was a full 60 minutes late AND I did well on the midterm, so other than being embarrassed it all worked out.

In freshman year, I joined a sorority because I was full of optimism and wanted to do something different.  I also thought, "Hey these girls seem unique and ethnically diverse, which means that they're open-minded and kewl and not the stereotypical sorority."  NON!  After a while I felt like I was in middle school all over again, helplessly flailing and being sucked into a pit filled with hormones and angst...like quicksand.  If it was possible, I would smack my freshman self with a stinky wet slab of rotting tuna and tell past-me to get a job or something.  From a positive standpoint, I did make a few lasting friendships out of the whole experience, but aside from a few select individuals, the others were poisonous.

I started to notice an "us or them" mentality that wasn't healthy.  Meetings lasted hours because they couldn't decide on a color for some stupid banner.  ("I want navy blue" "Nooo I want royal blue"  "GAH.  TAKE THIS PRISM.  YOU CAN MAKE ALL THE COLORS OF THE FRICKIN' RAINBOW!!!")  My friend and I got a lot of crap for not having the energy for "study group" in the library when we had literally just finished a five hour lab and had not been home since sun up.  No, W, the "OChem for non-science majors" that your friend took is not even frickin' 20% as hard as "OChem for science majors" and no, I'm not sleeping on my book.  It's called osmosis and if I plug one ear with my earphones, the knowledge will stay in my brain.

I was relieved when I left.  I picked up another internship on weekends, and also found a job at the campus gym.  Working the 9PM - 1AM shift in a gym that smelled like B.O. for $7.25 an hour felt like paradise.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Study Group

Edit: Whoaaaaa typo galore. Had to fix it =3  Actually I think I was just overly excited to talk about the Staedtler pens.

A few of my classmates and I had our firrrrrrrst study group today.

I feel slightly better about the study process now, after finding out that no one else in class can keep up with all the homework (no one that works, at least).  I also think that I study at a really slow pace.  After I work on practice problems, I can't just read the explanations for the ones I answered incorrectly.  I have to neatly rewrite the problems and answers with my Staedtler triplus fineliner pens (When I get into medical school, I'm going to splurge on the 20-pack. Whoooooooooooo).  And I can't just scribble down the answers.  They have to look nice and neat like this:

This is probably the equivalent of using size 6 font.
So far, the people that attended the study group are pretty cool....Coincidentally we're also the ones that talk  the most.  During our study break we talked about our respective schools.  One girl is from Virginia and she was telling us that she thought it was cool that longboarding is popular in California...This quickly degenerated into stories about freshmen trying to learn how to longboard/skateboard/bike around campus at the beginning of each school year.

Next week we'll be preparing a set of questions to answer, so that when we come together as a group we can go over key concepts.

In other news, a bunch of new people were hired at the office.  I'm not sure what's going to happen in the long run, but I effectively have no computer OR desk to sit and do work at, which defeats the purpose of going in to do paperwork every Tuesday/Thursday.  I've been joking to my coworkers that I'm going to start sitting in an imaginary chair and typing on an imaginary keyboard to emphasize the ridiculousness of the whole situation.  I think one of the new employees is only in the office for half a day, so I'm debating whether or not to ask if I can switch to an afternoon shift to reduce the amount of time spent twiddling my thumbs.  I feel kind of silly and useless, but I can't do work because everyone else is using their computers and I can't study because the boss breathes down our necks.  I'm not the only person without a desk either: My coworker also doesn't have a desk, so when she comes in to try and print/work on stuff for marketing, she can't without asking someone to stop their work so she can borrow the computer for a few minutes.  That's just silly.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


This weekend I actually did a lot of studying...as opposed to previous weekends where I throw a temper tantrum on the floor of my room before actually making myself study.  I finished all of my Physics homework and all but one of the biology review homework and quizzes.  I actually thought I had caught up to all my work.  I was soooo proud of myself...Until I realized I completely skipped OChem review.
Sitting in my corner of shame and defeat
And so, the epic battle with studying continues.

Actually, I've been good about studying after work and during gaps in my schedule.  Unfortunately, that means I camp out in Starbucks a lot.  Now, I have to find some way to work in a regular gym routine =/  I miss living near a college campus where things are only 5-10 minutes away via bike.  Now, I have to plan my life around public transportation or parking.  It seems ridiculous to have to set aside 30-60 minutes of public-transit for 3-4 miles' worth of travel or worse, 30 minutes just to LOOK for a parking spot.

I had my third session of physical therapy this week.  Now I can raise my arm above my head (kinda).  Woohoo!!  It's crazy seeing the differences between my P.T. appointments and my work place.  Patients get half an hour at the senior home (where I usually am), but at the main site they might not get a full half hour of treatment on a busy day.  In comparison, my appointments have lasted about an hour and a half.  Then again, some of the other patients I see at my P.T. place only stop by for about half an hour, so the "time" factor might rely a lot on the individual's current phase of treatment as well as the severity of their conditions.  In other words, my shoulder was uber-effed up.

I lovelovelove my P.T!  Having a P.T. who is also great eye candy is very good motivation to go to my appointments on time.  Usually, I'm torn between wiping the drool off my face and wincing when he tests my range of motion.  My ROM has increased about 5-10 degrees each session.  It's tough because not only did the surgeon tighten up my shoulder, but there is a lot of muscle guarding and conditioning that I need to unlearn.  A lot of the exercises and stretches he does are easy for other people to do, but they are motions that I haven't done myself in years because my shoulder was so unstable.  Despite that, I actually have fun during P.T.  He laughs at my weird facial expressions during stretching and I laugh at the fact that his dogs (Useless 1 and Useless 2) already chewed up part of his new lawn.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scary and Annoying Things

Today I visited the middle school where I used to work and saw a girl whose bumblebee costume was way, way too short and inappropriate for a 13 year old girl to wear.  The program leaders at the after school program definitely noticed it - the "skirt" didn't cover her butt and pantyhose are NOT effective for hiding undies.  I was very, very scared for her sake, and also disgusted thinking of people who would enjoy seeing something like that.  I have no idea why the school didn't make her cover up.  These days, I guess micro-skirts are okay for slutty girls and cheerleaders?

Aside from seeing a potential pedophile-magnet costume, today was pretty uneventful.  I went to work, and watched Paranormal Activity 3.  I will sleep early tonight, because now I'm scared to be alone in the living room in a dark house with a ceiling that randomly creaks at night.

Things at work have been up and down depending on my mood and what I get saddled with that day.  I can't tell if I'm just being very negative, or if I have a right to be resentful.  On one hand, I really like interacting with the patients at the secondary location.  The patients invite me to visit their rooms upstairs or to eat with them at Chinatown, which I think is super cute.

On the other hand, I dislike being at the main office.  I think the supervisor manages things very poorly and puts way too much emphasis on profit margins.  I don't think 30 minute appointments are particularly helpful for anyone, especially if the patient spends a third of that time on the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit.   My own physical therapy appointments run over an hour, although some people come and go in less time depending on the severity and phase of their treatment.  I also don't think triple-booking is a very good idea...On a super busy day, when EVERYONE shows up, it means the patients get more time on the TENS and even less time with a PT.  I understand the concept of double-booking in anticipation of a no-show appointment, but triple-booking can lead to a super exhausted and burnt out physical therapist who will leave the moment a better job offer (or less stressful job) comes up.

I hate that I even have to worry about things like my own paycheck, as in,

"Hey C, before boss left on vacation, did he tell you what to do when the pay period ends?"
"He didn't say anything."
"Oh....so uh, who do we send our hours to?"
"Maybe ask [nicer second in command dude]?"
"Oh...ok....... =/"

Additionally, I don't feel comfortable carrying patient charts around when the PA-C comes to the secondary site to see patients.  This has to be a HIPAA violation.  I probably shouldn't have said anything about it, LOL.  We have an EMR system which is pretty good in terms of layout and user-friendliness, but only a few people use it for charting and notes.  When I first started, the PA-C refused to use the computer to read notes (uh, Shakespeare called and wants his doc back).  She also refused to put her progress notes INTO the chart.  Every time she hands a chart to me, I think, "Really?  Is your life SO hard that you can't even use these low-tech fastener tabs to secure a piece of paper?"*

At the end of the day, I try to remind myself why I do what I do: for the patients, and for the experience.  I like the patients, and I think they appreciate being able to talk with someone who can stick around.  It's still pretty tough though.

*Edit:  I'm starting to learn that I'm really passive aggressive.   I'm not sure whether it's a bad thing or not.  So far, most people seem entertained by it.  I like being entertaining.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Made It!

These last two weeks really sucked.  Last week, I wrote a draft of my personal statement because one of my letter of rec. writers requested it, then discovered during our meeting this week that my professor didn't even know I e-mailed the draft to her.  While I worked on that, I managed to keep up in class, but lost a lot of sleep.  On the bright side, I can now say I've written a draft of my personal statement and will feel guilt-free about procrastinating some more.  Woohoo!

This Tuesday week I drove up to the University of Cows to meet with two of my former professors to hammer out the details of my letter of rec.  I expected a serious interview with serious questions about my motivations, student history, current work-life, etcetc, but they only asked about deadlines and for documents I could easily have e-mailed.  I know they probably wanted to get a sense of who I am as a person, buuuuuut it felt like a big waste of gas and parking money =/

While I was there, I remembered one of the reasons why I disliked campus - people can't drive OR park.

Seriously?  I could park this while wearing the UltraSling II WITHOUT the parking guidelines AND in a giant SUV 

The trip was worthwhile only because I got to meet up with my former P.I. from lab.  He's a hilarious guy.  Now that I'm out in the real world, I can really appreciate how hard it is to find a good boss to work for.  I was really lucky as an undergrad.

Today I met up with one of my liberal arts professors in Oakland to ask her to update my letter of rec as well.  I had a REALLY good time talking to her, which I wasn't expecting because she usually seemed very busy and distracted on campus.  Our meeting ran much later than I initially anticipated - which is good, because I feel like she can write a strong letter on my behalf.

Unfortunately, traffic coming back into the city was seriously bad.  Like, 'dude, rush hour traffic is supposed to go the other way, why are all ya'll on THIS side of the road?!' bad.

I was half an hour late to MCAT class.  =/  Under normal circumstances, I could have made it back into town with 20-30 minutes to spare before class.  The Kaplan instructor probably thinks I'm a total slacker now, what with showing up late and occasionally falling behind on homework.  But that's okay!  It means I will look uber awesome when I finally get back on my game.
Next week, I won't have so much crap to deal with, so my schedule should finally settle down.  I'll get a chance to make a stable study routine (READ: camping out at any and all Starbucks locations).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Playing Catch Up

I've been having trouble keeping up with the MCAT course.  Actually, I'm probably juggling too many different things at once and not setting limits as to how much time I spend on each activity.  Hopefully things will calm down after this week, once I meet my professors and get the ball rolling on my letters of rec.

Yesterday's weather was great, so I went out and took a walk.  I made it all the way up this big fat hill and had originally planned to go buy a tapioca drink, but after I realized how far I would have to walk:

I thought, "Yeah....Nevermind."  So I walked to Starbucks instead.

All in all, a good break.

I didn't make good progress doing Verbal Reasoning "homework" though.  I think they purposely picked the most boring and verbose passages possible and crammed it into a mock VR quiz...It was so terrible that I gave up doing VR exercise in favor of reading for OChem tomorrow.  How sad is that?
What failure looks like.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Did My Week Go?

Somehow I thought having class Monday/Tuesday instead of Tuesday/Thursday due to the Kaplan instructor's scheduling conflict would leave me with a whole week to do stuff/live a life/AND get ahead in homework.

I didn't get very far.

On Tuesday I finalized all my plans to meet with my former professors to discuss the possibility of writing me letters of recommendation.  I don't know why, but it was stressing me out waiting for them to e-mail me back.  I just really wanted to fit everything into one day without having to a) take a day off work and b) drive three hours and c) pay $10 in bridge toll fees just to meet with ONE professor.  I would do it, but it would suck, especially the toll fees.  I'll be meeting with my biochem and embryology professor on Tuesday followed by lunch with my former research PI; on Thursday I will meet with my old Asian American Studies professor a little closer to home while her daughter is in choir class (lol).  I'm looking forward to lunch with my old boss.  Cool bosses are hard to come by and he's freakin' hilarious in a way that only someone with a really dry sense of humor can appreciate.

I guess it worked out okay.  At least I have a car, but I will be cutting it close on Thursday.

Since I was meeting with my professors on Tuesday, I rushed to write a draft of my personal statement.
It came out okay.  I have been thinking about what to say, so in this case it was a matter of putting that down coherently on paper.  Now, when anyone asks, I can honestly say I worked on my personal statement.  Woohoo!  

One of the Board members from my old job finished her letter of recommendation.  She almost had the staff mail it to me AFTER I had explained in writing that it needs to be sent to Interfolio.

Thank goodness someone asked me to make sure.  I would be scared if it actually came into my hands, since I signed that confidentiality waiver and all and totally paranoid that the admissions committees will go all CSI on the envelope and ban me forever (And yes, I know that's overly dramatic).      

And now, for the Nom of the Week:

Super Duper Burger!  Off the restaurant's Yelp page

Friday, October 14, 2011


I think the biller at work had a panic attack because I accidentally left out one out of a total of ten columns on the worksheet.  The billing categories/codes aren't even that complex, and although I sent a clarifying e-mail about it, she must have complained to the office manager because I got a "talking-to" the next day.  The talking-to doesn't annoy me as much as the fact that the biller couldn't tell me herself.  Anyway, I did screw up the billing spreadsheet so that was on me, but the person who checked my work didn't catch it either and the columns are labeled very clearly.  ANNNND who the heck does billing on Microsoft Word anyway?!  Why don't we use spreadsheets?!  I'm trying to resist the fact to point out things around the office that could be done more efficiently and effectively.  Sometimes, people don't take very kindly to it unless it comes from the Big Boss.  Suffice to say, I've learned to pick and choose my battles and MCAT studying is higher up on my "List of Things to Spend Energy Caring About," right after eating Mac and Cheese Spring Rolls.

Anywhodiddlydoo, my coworker today was looking for alternate jobs online.  I like working with him so I feel bad for the guy because he's currently the sole physical therapist and ridiculously overbooked.  His schedule is borderline impossible for one person to follow without increasing his risk of burning out and seriously compromising the quality of care a patient could receive.  I get the vibe that the owner is trying to make as much money as humanly possible.  I'm not sure whether the owner is struggling to break even between or  shooting for profit.  I understand the business principles behind it - my former boss at the surgery center had similar concerns about patient volume and income.  The difference is at the surgery center, I don't think we were sacrificing quality of care to achieve our goals whereas here, I am not so sure.

It's partly why my two coworkers and I, who share a tiny tiny walk-in-closet-sized office, like working at the senior home more.  The treatment schedule is SO much more relaxed, to the point that I have to politely shoo overly talkative grandmas out of the office so I can help the next patient.  The staff is also really nice.  One of the senior residents invited me upstairs to visit her and her husband in their unit.  SO cute.  I'm glad I'm at the senior home Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays.

This weekend I will be catching up to the MCAT class homework and trying to review the optional study materials because I suck at physics.  Annnnd drawing comics during my study breaks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Artery-Clogging Goodness

Today I reviewed my basic Physics - vectors, scalars, math that I used to be able to do and now have to break into a sweat to figure out.  Also, I woke up at 7 to stare blankly at the AAMC website to wait for my turn to register for the MCAT.  I was able to reserve a spot in San Francisco, even though I forgot that the database doesn't officially support the awesomeness that is Google Chrome, and am scheduled to take the test in late March.  My class ends in late January, so it will be up to me to keep up my studying pace for another two months.

Since today was ridiculously hot, I went and met up with a friend to try out one of the Off the Grid food trucks.  There was a Creme Brulee truck, a truck called 3-Sum-Eats, an Indian food truck, a Filipino food truck, and a Southern BBQ truck.  The food is pretty pricey for someone that doesn't have a stable full-time job and for a place that doesn't have things like restaurant seating, but it's fun to splurge every now and then on something random.

I never made it to this sandwich because I decided to eat the appetizer, which was the ultimate artery-clogging goodness.
A pulled pork sandwich (pulled pork is under the ham)

Mac and cheese spring rolls were SO DELICIOUS.  It came with a cheese fondue dip, which I didn't even touch.  The cheese inside was surprisingly light and fluffy.  At first it seemed like a questionable thing to eat, but I thought it was worth a try.  It also came with a yummy pineapple-lemonade drink with mint and basil.

I ate this like an animal...With no shame.  I don't think anyone around us cared either.  I'm sure they ate it like animals too.  There are some things that you can forego dignity and propriety for, and this was one of them. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Out and About

On Sunday I took an MCAT studying break to attend my cousin's baby shower (it was a male-friendly event, complete with football and beer).  I got the baby a little body suit from Pumpkin Patch.  Normally I don't get into the baby clothes, but I have to admit that the itty-bittyness is cute.  ALSO, the bottom of the feet had little paw prints on it, which was also super cute.   
Pumpkin Patch USA

Tonight I got dessert with a few friends, which was a good change and a nice, easy-going time out (besides work).  We found a new place called Purple Kow, which sells milk tea and tapioca/bubble drinks.  These were FREAKIN' HUGE.  I guess the supersize-fad finally hit the Chinese dessert market.  It was fun to try the place for the novelty, and even though the milk tea wasn't that great the coconut pudding they put in it was good.  I'll probably be waking up every few hours to use the bathroom =/ 

Courtesy of Sandy T. on the establishment's Yelp Page

Today I finished the Physics and OChem portion of the Science Assessment test.  The OChem stuff is slowly coming back (or at least looks familiar) but I am soooooo totally lost on physics.  Physics is the first thing on the syllabus though, so hopefully I'll relearn the concept again.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I took the abbreviated MCAT diagnostic test today for my prep course.  Ouch.  Even my verbal score wasn't as high as I had hoped.  After being out of school for some time, my brain is pretty rusty.  I've been reading my biology prep book but I haven't touched upon the physics and general chemistry sections because I hated them in undergrad with a passion.  Also, at this point my analytic skills are terrible.

I am worried about the physics part of the test though.  I did fine in the undergrad classes, but I was also forewarned by several physics tutors during undergrad that the regular not-for-physics-students physics program at school had a crappy way of teaching physics for students that planned to take the MCAT.  Three hours of lecture each week seemed really inadequate to learn.  We spent 6-8 hours in lab each week, but many of the TAs openly admitted that they were so far into their own graduate work that the grossly oversimplified undergrad physics stuff seemed foreign.  It was very reassuring (not).  And sometimes, some people just aren't very good at teaching.

Despite that, I had a blast in one of the three physics classes I took.  Mainly because the TA brought her rescue tripod chocolate Labrador to class and everyone got to play with a happy dog that hopped around on three feet.  "What? I can play with the dog if we finish our work early? Hell yeah!"  She was a good teacher too.  Circuits is probably the only thing I remember out of a whole year of physics.

The TA for the following quarter wasn't so great.  One day a girl broke down sobbing, "Why are you so mean to us?!"  Lab was really awkward after that incident.

And that is what I remember from physics =D

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I'm free!!  Free from the contraption known as the ULTRASLING II. 

Even though I got used to wearing it, I don't think that cushion is made for a 5'1 person with short arms.

I'm starting my basic exercises tomorrow - few rotation/flexion/extension exercises to get reacquainted with basic movements.  The doc suggested that I continue wearing my sling when I leave the house for errands and to go to work (but without the cushion) just to be safe.  Even with a sling, I don't really trust people to be careful.  Also, some people at work have been patting my shoulder (Uh, hello?  That's my bad arm you're hitting.)  Even though they don't use a lot of strength, it still jars some of the muscles that are still tender from inactivity and healing, so I am going to continue using my sling until I can at the VERY least bend my arm at the elbow without shaking and sweating up a storm.

I will be starting physical therapy in about two weeks/whenever they can fit me in.  The facility I am hoping to use is somewhat near my MCAT prep course classroom, so with any luck I'll be able to schedule it so that I can hang around at a nearby cafe in between class and therapy.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Crappy Roommates

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the crazy nit-picky one...I've shared rooms and had my own room, and either way I seem to encounter a few nutty ones along the way.  The only person I never had a problem with was my other fellow pre-med roommate.  We were civil to each other and our schedules were such complete opposites of one another that we never had any sort of conflicts (or none that we mentioned to one another).

I've had
  • A dorm roommate that brought friends that would use my laptop until I password-locked it.  The roommate was cool but as for her friend - really?  Where was your mom when you were supposed to learn manners?
  • A housemate who slept with her boyfriend on the couch fold-out bed almost every night during the school year.  She finally stopped after a while.  What I didn't like most was that there was basically an extra person using our kitchen/bathroom/living room, but not contributing any rent.  
  • A landlord who seemed nice and put together at first, especially because she ran a nursery home out of her house, but turned out to be nutso.  She did yoga and let the kids watch Baby Mozart and I don't think she cuddled her infant charge much or really played with the other kids, unless you count gardening while they waddled around the cul de sac as "playing."  I also could not for the life of my geeky self figure out how to connect to her Airport wi-fi router, not even with Apple techs, and her router was in her colon irrigation office, so I only used internet via Ethernet late in the evening.  She also ate my entire, brand new tub of Dreyer's ice cream in the time it took me to pop into the office one Sunday to check e-mails and take care of other things via internet.  The last straw was when my landlord's fully grown daughter moved in with her three kids after some family drama.  If it wasn't for her nutso self, I wouldn't have minded staying there - the kids were really cute and it was fun playing with them on a day off and in the mornings, but I couldn't stand her anymore.  
  • A landlord who seemed like a really cool hippie...until her girlfriend moved in and they started planning their hippie screw-the-legalities wedding.  It seemed like my landlord was footing most of the bill for this event, and when they argued about it, I felt reaaaally awkward cooking my dinner right next to them.  She would also have near meltdowns over something really small - like when Bubbles the cat lost her collar one day.  I think Bubbles actually avoided my landlord completely - the poor thing was really skittish.  

I think I'll try my hardest to find an itty bitty studio or 1 bedroom in the future...Some place where I can bake and cook any time I wanted to, not have to listen to crayzee couple spats, and can actually enjoy being in "my place" as opposed to feeling like I'm hiding out in my bedroom or avoiding the house completely.  

Monday, October 3, 2011


Reading Michelle Au's post on Doctorate Nurse Practitioners and other "physician extenders" got me thinking about how I introduced the Physician's Assistant as "Doctor Impatience" instead of "This is Impatience, the Physician's Assistant."  Everyone in the office refers to her as "doctor," for simplicity's sake or because the PA requested it, I don't know.  I did the same thing to the patients, namely because I have no idea how to introduce her without launching into a tirade.  There isn't a title for them in Chinese since DNPs and PA-Cs do not exist in Asia (as far as I know).  After thinking about it, I do like the idea of transparency.  I don't think it is as simple as "Well if they wanted to be a doctor, they should have gone to medical school*,"  but I do think people should know and understand who the heck is managing their health.  But in all honesty, it would be up to Dr. Impatience to decide how she would like to be addressed.  

*This was an opinion uttered by a few commenters.  I might have agreed a few years ago, when I was younger and stupider...But now I see "physician extenders" as professionals spawned by an increasing need for health professionals in places that do not necessarily need/cannot afford an MD/DO.  

Today I got to watch the physical therapist lead an exercise class.  It was freaking cute watching little old ladies swing their arms and feet (carefully) doing exercises.  

Friday, September 30, 2011


Made it through week one.  I have a lot of mixed feelings about this job.  I really, really like working with the patients.  They are friendly, and I feel like my Cantonese interpreting has improved since I last worked as one - that, or I am able to speak with much more confidence.  The only hiccup has been that there is one Mandarin-speaking patient who I cannot communicate with well because I suck at that dialect.

I think the PA isn't that great towards the patients.  I understand it is hard to work through a translator and sometimes old people like to ramble, so it can get boring especially if you don't understand what the patient is saying.  But I think her behavior and body language was really unprofessional - tapping her pen loudly and sighing, or fidgeting like some kid.  It's not like she was in the 29th hour of a 30-hour shift.  I wanted to say, "Hey lady, you're not the one scrambling to look up unfamiliar terms in your bilingual dictionary every time someone says a new term."

I don't like working at the main clinic, but it's only two days out of the week.  The boss is an OK guy as a person, but business/management-wise he doesn't seem very reliable.  I have no idea how I'll clock in/out (or if I even have to), or whether I need to submit a tax form and which one, and although I asked, I still have not received an answer.  He also screwed up our work schedules and failed to notify us when he made changes so we had to scramble to get things ready for today.  In short, he seems so nonchalant about everything that I don't really trust him as an employer.

But I love the patients I work with and I really enjoy interacting with them so I would feel really sad if I stormed out on the patients when they seemed so happy to finally have an interpreter to talk through.  I think he would have to really screw up, like pay me for only a third of the time I worked and refuse to fix the problem, before I would really be justified in leaving.  I think a lot of the things I gripe about are also caused by my distrustful mind, so maybe I just need to grow up some more.  It's hard to find a job that a person can truly love without complaining about something at some point, and things could be worse.

I will tough it out.  At the end of the day, I enjoy being with the patients and that should matter the most.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stuck in a Rut

Despite the excitement of starting a new job I've been moody and completely unmotivated lately.  Maybe it is because I'm trying to read through a chapter on genetics, which I never liked in undergrad (I loved protein kinetics though, so awwwwesome).  Or because Day 2 of work just kinda dragged on because I had to take apart ancient raggedy and thick charts with one hand and reorganize them into newer folders.  Slooow going with only one hand.  Or because I almost slipped today and while normally I would have gone about my business, the sudden movement was painful and I'm feeling pretty sore despite being pain-free all last week.   It reminded me all that even if the sling comes off next week, I still have a lot of healing to do.

I think a lot of my grumpiness comes from feeling restless.  My mom is the nagging, overbearing type and while it's an endearing trait when I was only home on weekends and holidays, it's not so endearing when I experience it all day.  I also haven't seen any friends for almost a month so I've been pretty mopey today because of that.  I'm restless from being unable to do things that I used to do without thinking, like pouring milk for my cereal, or having trouble unplugging things.  I was always the kid that wanted to walk home alone and do stuff by myself "like all the big kids."  (My parents never let me walk home alone.  We used to live on a busy intersection with car accidents every year and one day I came home from school to a huge, bloody accident.)  It's frustrating, but I signed up for this.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a good work day.  I'll be at the senior home meeting the patients I'll be translating for 3/5 days a week.  I can familiarize myself with their chronic pain issues, make sure I know all the terms and I'll be able to do something that none of the other staff can do, which might be refreshing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lesson Learned

Today, on my first day of work/training, I learned how important it is NOT to undervalue myself and my capabilities.  I wish I took more initiative to negotiate higher pay, even if it would have been unsuccessful, because now I am kicking myself over it.  I will try to do my best, and since he eventually wants someone to work full-time, there is the possibility of asking for a raise once we discuss increasing my hours from 25/week to 32-40/week (32 being the minimum for full-time status in this state).  I may not have worked consistently at one job for several years, but my cumulative experience working in different medical facilities in different positions with different demographics, protocols and computer systems has given me a wide variety of skills and knowledge that I need to start appreciating before I can convince others to value my abilities.

This came to mind while I was training.  As I was going through the motions of putting charts together and re-learning insurance eligibility protocols for PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) and state Medicare/Medicaid, I realized that I knew most of the information already.  When the boss lectured the other part-time girl and I on the general facts of how insurance companies operate, I also felt like I knew most of the information already.  That isn't to say I have nothing to learn, just that I already have the foundation and can build on it much faster than my 18 year old college freshman coworker can.

I think it also helped that my old job had a lot more paperwork to handle and volunteers to oversee, which leads to duplicates, misplaced forms, and a crap load of work.

Other than that, the office seems pretty laid back.  I'll be working with more physical therapists and physician assistants than doctors, which is alright to me.  I may be able to learn new things about patient care from the PAs at this rate, because I've seen many private practice doctors get bogged down by paperwork and business management.

Getting dressed today went by MUCH quicker.  My arm didn't feel so fragile that it might break off any minute when I took the sling off to get changed, which I think is a good sign that I'm recovering at a good pace.  I'll be crossing my fingers that I can remove the sling entirely next Wednesday, but I know it will take time before my left arm can do simple things like carry my boxed set of Examkrackers MCAT study guides or reach back to scratch my butt reach up to grab something off a shelf.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Money (semi-rant)

I worry about money quite a bit for someone who doesn't have to pay my own rent/mortgage (yet) or raise a family.  Growing up, I was taught to work hard and save money for the things I wanted, but over time those "things" have changed.  Between juggling two part-time jobs when money was good if not great for a year and then scraping by in AmeriCorps on a stipend for another year, I learned to ration money.  I learned to set aside little bits here and there for necessities, for fun and for the ridiculously expensive medical school application process (why does it cost more to apply to schools here than it costs to pay one year of tuition for schools in other countries?!).  I grew out of wanting designer clothes and the coolest gadgets because in the end, I had more important things to save money for.  

I was so relieved when I found a job because it meant I could stop worrying as much.  I could give my parents money instead of living like a bum, I could start saving money to pay for interview flights, apartment deposits, a lifetime supply of Sourpatch Kids candy, and maybe, JUST MAYBE I can save up enough to travel abroad.  I'm overdue for a visit to my grandma in Hong Kong and from there, it's just a quick hop over to Korea or Japan.  

And so, (begin rant) it kind of sucks to have a conversation with a friend my age that always starts like this:
Friend: So do you think I should drop money to get [insert shoes/video game/game console/plasma tv/computer, etcetc] 
or this:
Friend: Man, the [insert expensive item] I ordered still isn't here!
Friend: Yes! UPS finally delivered!  I can't wait to install it in my living room in the house I just bought and furnished.
(end rant)

As you can probably tell, I'm a little jealous/bitter and more than a little annoyed that this person rubs things in my face like that.     

Friday, September 23, 2011

New Job

I met with the lead (and only) MD in the facility and was a pretty nice, very mellow-sounding guy, which probably helps with his older patient base.  I was quizzed a little on my Chinese by someone who was more fluent than I am, but not as extensively or rigorously as when I was applying to intern as a translator at my clinic, so it went okay.  I think after that they were ready to offer me the position and I will be going in for a few hours to train on Monday.

Today, I went to meet with one of the directors at the school to withdraw from the after school program position.  He was pretty understanding which was a relief.  I feel a bit hypocritical because a few months ago I was in a similar situation on the employer's side, but at least I didn't fill out any new hire paperwork yet.  The previous situation required a mountain of paperwork which we had to do twice for the replacement-new-hire but 3x as fast due to regional orientation schedules.  I was also partially influenced by something I did in the past: I interviewed for a job I was interested in, but I had just started a 10-week temp position working for  someone at a community center that I (thought) I knew well.  I think it showed in my interview that I wasn't 100% committed, and so I spent the next 10 weeks growing increasingly bitter because the cool boss was far, far away from being cool.

I just hope this job will be an enjoyable experience, not just something to add to my AMCAS.

On a lighter note, I spent most of my afternoon reviewing and advising a grant application for the new AmeriCorps girl.  It was frustrating mainly because I can't type half as fast with one hand.  I also had to type out explanations for many of the revisions.  She probably thinks I'm a super nit-picky person now!

Tomorrow will be a less eventful day: just MCAT studying and maybe pizza night with the mother.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Kittens

Since Solitary Diner wanted a drawing of her kitties, I went and made one tonight :o)

The mouse toy is really similar to how Simon over at Simon's Cat draws his mousey toys, but it was purely accidental.  Mouse toys all look the same!

It's not the pear-cat drawing, although it's easy enough for me to swap out the gray coat for a tabby and calico coat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Yesterday's interview went well...I think?  It was more like a discussion about the project I would be working on than a traditional Question-and-Answer interview session.  The guy interviewing me didn't even ask me for a list of references.

They are looking for a bilingual medical assistant to help expand a new program at a senior home, someone who can work with elderly Chinese patients and provide translation services for the patients so the health providers can help individuals with physical therapy, pain management and other ailments characteristic in older people.  The impression I got was that he (the guy interviewing me) was not even reviewing anyone else or had not found anyone appropriate, which is odd because we're in San Francisco, where there are LOTS of people who speak Cantonese MUCH better than I can.  Then again, maybe it was overlooked by all the anxious pre-health kids because it is not a traditional doctor's office: there is only one MD (a physiatrist) overseeing several Physician Assistants, a couple chiropractors and physical therapists.

I really want this position.  It's perfect for what I want and need: the potential to be fulfilling, paid, within the health field, and I get to practice my medical Chinese.  Aaand the pay is decent.  Better than folding sweaters for $10/hour (although I do miss the discounts from working in retail).

If I get the job, I'll be starting off part-time and gradually progressing to full time.  I don't really want to work full-time, but I'll just have to suck it up.  After reading the non-traditional pre-med profiles on http://journeysinmedicine.blogspot.com/, suddenly, working 30 or maybe even 40 hours a week while studying for MCATs sounds easy compared to people who do all that WHILE raising children.

I have another interview tomorrow with the Big Kahuna, the physiatrist, tomorrow.  I guess I'll learn more about my status tomorrow.

On another note, my right-handed typing is improving.  I think by the end of my sling-time, I'll be able to type faster than some people.  Woohoo!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interview Prep

My former co-workers sent me a get-well card.  That was nice of them.

I've been reviewing medical Cantonese in preparation for tomorrow's job interview.  I don't know how thoroughly I'll be quizzed on speaking.  I was careful to leave out any detail on my fluency level (moderate), but I doubt it will be as difficult as the practical exam I had to retake twice for my interpreter internship in college.  I can ask basic questions like "Are you married or insured?" and "who is your emergency contact?" easily, but I have to make sure that what I say isn't considered crude.

Besides, the real challenge will be putting a dress shirt on tomorrow without hurting myself =/

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Instead of studying I ended up watching Thor and playing around on my Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet.  I finally figured out how to make the lines cleaner...which is just to use separate layers in Adobe Photoshop for the outline and for colors.  The result of that was an improvement from previous doodles.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I finally forced myself to study for the MCATs.  I have classes in October, so right now I am reviewing my Examkrackers books.  I really like this book.  It has good (colored!!) illustrations and me what concepts I should understand and what is not quite important enough to memorize.

I also have Audio Osmosis, which accompanies each book chapter.  I've heard the guys that voice the lecture are funny in a nerdy way.

My shoulder has been feeling less stiff and sore today...which is partly the reason why I made myself study.  The only exception is on occasion, I will move or turn and the motion will pull on something in my shoulder, which makes me twitch.  It doesn't really hurt, but it isn't pleasant either.

Cha-Ching Cha-Ching

Lately I have been quite worried about money, a must-have when it comes to applying to medical school.  Generally speaking, applying to more schools will increases chances are of getting accepted into one or more programs.  I'm starting to think that the money I have carefully saved up for the application process won't be enough to get me through the application process for the number of schools I plan to apply to, let alone fund airplane tickets for any potential interviews.  That, coupled with the hospital co-pay and a new set of car tires, means that I need a part-time job so I can save money, pay bills, and have enough time for MCAT studying.  Also, as a boomerang baby* I usually hand the rest of my paycheck (after bills) to the parental units to help out.

I always feel pressured to find a volunteer or part-time job that is health-related for my medical school applications.  When I moved back home, a friend suggested applying to be a volunteer research assistant but I hated the fact that I had to apply to these "positions" as a data-entry monkey with a resume and references.  I honestly (and hopefully without coming across as conceited) think my time, labor and skills are worth more than that.  And they don't help me pay for my med school applications or bills.  When it comes down to my applications or interviews, I would rather have to explain that I worked at XYZ because I needed to support my own career goals than to volunteer for a position that may or may not be fulfilling to me.

I have agreed to return to the middle school after school program where I used to work before my AmeriCorps assignment.  The pay is pretty good, considering its 15 hours per week and I get to bully play with kids.  I was ambivalent about the after school job - while I liked working with the 6th graders** and my fellow staff members, the 8th graders then were punks.  But when I went back to visit this year, the kids I worked with and liked still remembered me and that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I was also offered an interview next Monday for a P/T bilingual receptionist position at a physical therapy clinic.  I'm looking forward to the interview, and would like to scope out the hours and my chances of getting the job.  I was surprised that I was even contacted, because the craigslist post was a few weeks old.  If I get it, it would solve my need to work for money and I would be working within the health field, but I think I would only be able to work at one job, otherwise I would be sacrificing time and energy for MCAT-studying.  I would feel bad to withdraw from the tutoring job after already I already made a commitment, but I'll worry about that if or when I have to.

*Someone who went away for college, then moved back home with parents because the job market sucks.
**My favorite was a kid named "El" who reminded me of a cute chipmunk, but she grew and now she's taller than me, so now she reminds me of a Meerkat.