Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I realize it's not the end of the world, but it does feel like it when my 2nd score actually came out to be lower than my original score across the board. It's so depressing to know that all the extra work I did was for naught, and that by trying to improve myself, I screwed myself over instead. At least not all schools require me to send both of my scores, but there are a few on my List that do require all scores.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Soap Box Time

Coming out of college and working at a non-profit, I got used to working with open-minded socially progressive adults. I was spoiled by never having to feel like I needed to justify my opinions and beliefs; people simply responded, "Why?...Oh okay. That's cool."

My conversation with my new coworker today greatly irritated me because I let him goad me into a conversation that was both stupid and pointless to get into. I don't remember what the original topic was anymore, but at some point he said something along the lines of 'children are so awesome' and after noticing my bland expression, asked, "You don't like children?" 

Me: "No. Not really."
Dude: "So you don't want kids?"
Me: "Meh, not really. 
Dude: "Whaaaaaaaat?! I've never met anyone who didn't want to have children!"
Me: "There are lots of women, my age and older, who don't want children."
Dude: "Really? Is it a phase?"
Me: "Wtf? No! Puberty is a phase."
Dude: "So I have a question for you, 'What is the most important role of a woman?'"
Me (deadpan): "Who cares? I don't."
Dude (quoting): "'A mother.' That's what Miss XYZ from NoOneCares Pageant said."
Me: "Uh. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Am I supposed to listen to a chick in a tiara for wisdom? She probably spends more money on make-up and dresses than a poor person in Africa earns in a lifetime. Oh my goodness." 

I walked away, otherwise I might have said something obscene. If I had been a bit wittier, I would have shot back with a snark like, "More important than cooking dinner barefoot in the kitchen for my husband?" 


I don't look down on motherhood. Mothers are important. Seeing mothers interact with their kiddies gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that I just have no interest in duplicating for myself. And I have worked with kids, so I don't avoid them like the plague. Little kids can be cute and fun to talk to, but I enjoy giving them back to their parents. Typically, I experience a bigger reaction seeing puppies and other baby animals. I almost cried watching an episode of "Too Cute" on Animal Planet because there were puppies. PUPPIES. 

What bothers me the most is when people equate being a woman to being a mother first and foremost. I don't want the respect of a person who thinks that way. My value is not measured in terms of how much mileage I get out of my lady parts, and if they develop metaphorical cobwebs from lack of use, then so be it. I'm not superior or inferior to a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom. Moreover, people shouldn't be compared in that way. 

I also hate it when people like my coworker treat this conscious decision as a "phase" that I will someday "outgrow," like how "being a rebellious teenager" is a phase, or a "mid-life crisis" is a phase. IF I change, and that's a biiiig IF, it's not because I suddenly matured and saw the light, it's because my values and goals in life changed. I'm not broken, I'm not "just still a young girl." I don't see the purpose in belittling a free-thinking, reasonably well-educated, adult woman's principles, even if she is young. 

I think Coworker Dude's opinions stemmed from cultural and religious differences in his upbringing. I can accept differences, and I can accept people asking me about my reasoning behind my beliefs and opinions, but his tone of questioning ticked me off and I let it get under my skin. I miss my old coworkers. They seemed more capable of...discourse. All four (or was it five?) of them quit in a two-month span. I'll stick to talking to my patients at the senior home. They're less judge-y and super hilarious. 

Friday, May 25, 2012


This past Monday was my first time spending my birthday and the weekend prior to it completely alone and in peace. My parents took a weekend trip with my sister to take a look at a college campus, which she may or may not be transferring into come Fall. I got a lot done - worked on my personal statement, went to work, read books about writing a personal statement, and did a lot of relaxing. 

I tried traditional Thai massage for the first time to see what the hullabaloo was about. From my understanding, it involves a little bit of deep tissue, stretches similar to yoga, and pushing pressure points to release tension and improve energy flow. I chose a thirty minute session because I was a bit apprehensive about the stretching - my shoulder's fine now but certain motions still make me nervous. Overall, I really liked it. A lot of reviewers of Thai massage businesses warned that it does get painful, so either I have a super high pain tolerance, or these people were pansies. Although the pressure on occasional spots felt uncomfortable, it never bordered on pain. My masseuse relieved a LOT of the tension I had built up in my back. I should probably stop using my messenger bag, because I think it only makes my back feel worse. 

I also cut my hair. I suspect part of the reason why I wanted to claw my eyes out from itchy-ness wasn't just allergies, but because my bangs were poking my eyeballs all day. 

Picture from
The best part of the day: buying six shrimp dumplings (har gow)

I could eat these every day. It's shrimp meat packed into a ball and rolled into a translucent wrapper made of wheat and tapioca starch. I think the tapioca starch makes it more transparent. I'm super super picky about the wrapper - if it's too thick it's super starchy and if there's too much wheat then the wrapper isn't as soft. 

Today, I also bought raw, unprocessed honey from a company called beekind. It's pricey, but so delicious I can eat it straight of the teeny jar. omnomnom. I bought a small bottle of Oregon Blackberry, which did have a hint of blackberry flavor.  I also bought a smaller bottle of San Francisco Wildflower honey, which was much sweeter, but had a nice cinnamon and citrus taste in it.  

This must be how Winnie the Pooh feels when he sees honey. I suddenly have the urge to dip my hands into the jar to scoop out honey to eat...but my hand doesn't fit into the jar =/ 

Personal Statement

My work-process so far seems to consist of:

Day 1
  1. Staring and thinking ~ 1 hour
  2. Writing one paragraph ~30 minutes
  3. Deleting
  4. Writing the same paragraph with different words
  5. Deleting
  6. Writing a completely new paragraph
  7. Deleting
  8. Rage quit + sleep. 
Day 2 + 3 
  1. Claw eyes out from allergy-induced dry, itchy eyes exacerbated by road construction outside
  2. Repeat steps from Day 1
Day 4

Day 6 
  1. Buying Barron's Essays That Will Get You into Medical School.  The Kindle edition was $10.
I found this book to be a more informative and thorough guide, even if reading other people's essays kind of deflated my self-esteem further. I was able to finish reading it in two days (over the weekend). I only did a few of the creative writing exercises though, and went straight towards the outline. The outline helps - I can see a progression of where my thoughts are going and can use it to keep myself from going too off topic. It also helped me to establish a direction, and clearly states the themes I ought to hit to make a solid essay. This is probably my third draft ever, although the first one was written in undergrad and was terrible. This draft, when completed, will probably exceed the 5,300 character limit, which is a relief because then I can focus on cutting things out rather than scrambling to put things in.

Now, I'm trying to decide whether to mention my research internship at all in my essay. Honestly, I didn't get as much out of the experience as I should/could have at the time, and I'm kicking myself for it now. I really liked the work, because I got to do surgery, but I had a lot of trouble with the concepts. At this point, I can understand the gist from re-reading the publications for projects I participated in, but cannot explain things from memory (and yes, I have practiced). My PI was part of the Anesthesiology department and a lot of his research focused on electrophysiology and pain response. I understood the veryveryvery basics, but there were times when I would do the work, read the paper, and have no clue how the work I did translated into a result on paper. It seemed really, really specialized. I don't know why, but the biochem/cell biology papers I read for my upper division cell bio classes were easier to follow. Maybe the writing style of those authors was just more straight forward? Or the research itself was more straightforward?

At any rate, I'm not passionate about research, but I that there's a possibility that I might find a topic of study that I could be interested in. I'm debating whether I want to be forthright and put that into my PS. I've been honest about all the other themes in my essay so far, so I have no problem with the honest part, and it was still a positive learning experience. I should probably take the weekend to mull about it and work on the work/activity section of my application instead. I'm just scared that they'll zero in on it during my (hopeful) interview and then I'll poop myself. In my suit. Can you salvage Italian wool from horrible poop stains? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


A few days ago I visited the school where I used to tutor.  Even though many days at school felt like being stranded on a deserted island with a bunch of kids, Lord of the Flies-style, (most of) the kids were relatively good.  Everyone behaves when the catapult they worked so hard to build is launching marshmallows at them to eat.

A few days ago, though, I saw a kid flunking out of his 8th grade (~13 years old) shove his mother into a bookshelf.  After the teacher caught him playing games during class and confiscated it, she threatened and then tried to break the iPod that she bought for him.  That was the saddest thing I've seen in a long while.  As much as I argued with my parents at that age, I could never use violence on them.

Monday, May 14, 2012

MCATs - Study Groups

In undergrad, I didn't like studying in groups.  I didn't like studying with other people during the mandatory library hours that I had to do with one of my community service clubs, and I didn't like studying with classmates/friends for the same class.  Regarding the former, only four of us were really serious about studying, but the rest of the group was seriously distracting.  Regarding the latter, I never found particularly helpful even though we were good about going over concepts or pathways.  Probably because none of us at the time really knew how to run a study group.  Overall, I developed a pretty negative opinion of study groups.  There was a small group of people I could study with, another group of people who I would join for "studying" only to digress into "hanging out," and people who I would help or request help from.

During MCAT classes, the instructor really encouraged us to study in groups.  I think I gave an honest effort but after two or three attempts to actually participate in a study group, I (and everyone else) gave up.  The biggest issue was scheduling - everyone worked different hours on different days.  Some worked nights, some worked weekends, people went home for the weekend/holiday.  After some time, I also went away feeling, "well, that was pointless."  It's a little discouraging to bring up a possible subject for review, and then get shut down by a "Oh, you can just memorize that."  I could have been more proactive and asked people to explain it to me anyway, but.....meh.

Following our instructor's suggestions, we also tried to assign one another problems from Kaplan's quiz bank (Q-Bank).  Everyone would work on a different set of questions at home, and come back to explain the problem-solving process to the group the following session.  In theory, it's great because you learn best by being able to teach material to someone else or learning why you were wrong.  I also think it's good because different people explain things in a different way, and certain ways are easier for a person to pick up and remember than others.  Like how certain professors will integrate sexual innuendos and jokes into lecture in a way that's memorable and can easily be associated with the lecture material.  Students always remember a good joke.  In reality, though, it only works if everyone puts in the time to answer each problem.  By the third study group, it had devolved into an hour or two where we would look at the quiz questions on a computer screen, solve it on our own, and discuss only if someone did not understand the answer.  I think by then, we all felt that we would get more done studying alone.

There was also a girl who, although she was diligent about attending all of the our study sessions, would always say in an off-hand manner, "Man, you guys are way more serious about this than I am.  I'm not planning to take the test soon so I'm not as pressured to do all the homework."  Great.  Thanks for reminding us that there are bags under our eyes from sleep deprivation due to trying to work AND keep up in class.  Not cool.

Later on, I learned that study groups can be great IF you're with the right people who have the right mindset and energy.  One of my high school friends (also pre-med) came back for spring break from her two-year Master's program and we got together to study/hang out and during the two hours we were in the cafe, I got SO MUCH reviewing done.  She is also retaking her MCAT sometime this year, and had me teach her about subjects that I was already having trouble grasping/memorizing.  It was the week leading up to my first MCAT, and it helped.  To be honest, until that day, I had no idea why bimolecular and unimolecular reactions required different reaction conditions.  By the end of our study session I was frolicking down the foggy street.  I also felt brain-dead.  We covered a lot of material from physics, chemistry, organic chem, and bio.

At least now, I'm aware that it IS possible to have a good study group,

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I love video games.  For the last week, post-MCAT, I've been indulging myself with a video game called Saint's Row and embracing my inner thug.  Although I am a rational adult who is capable of distinguishing between reality and games, every time I see a nice car, I really want to hijack it and drive off to my non-existent crib.  I won't though, because that's bad.  


This year, I turn 25.  I can rent cars at the cheaper rate!  Woohoo!!!  I think these days, it's pretty common for pre-meds to be in their mid-to-late 20s, or even older.  When I was an undergrad volunteering at the student-run clinic, only one or two of the med students I met just started medical school after earning their Bachelor's degree.  There's nothing wrong with being older, but being pre-med, or a med student or resident, or pre-anything as a slightly-older adult is tough.  It's years of deferring life, or insane debt, insane hours, a lot of studying, a really low paycheck, and a lot of sacrifice.  That isn't to say that this life/career choice is not fulfilling or devoid of fun, but it's not easy.

I see friends younger than me update their Facebook statuses about med school or pharm school or for other graduate programs and it really, really sucks.  On a bad day, I'll think "If they can get into a school, I can totally get in.  I was their boss in XYZ program, if they can do it, I can frickin' do it."  That is not a particularly productive or good way of thinking though.  I have to be very vigilant with myself to avoid defining myself in terms of what other people didn't do compared to me, but in terms of what I've done and how those choices and experiences have helped me grow.

The worst thing, though, is something probably a lot of people can identify with whether they're pre-health or working towards another career goal.  I absolutely, positively hate it when friends tell me about their latest expense.  The $250 shoe, to add to the other 16 pairs of $250 shoes, or that that $29,500 used Mini Cooper to "you know, use as a burner car while I'm in grad school until I can afford a better, new car."  Ugh.  Eating out in San Francisco can be ridiculously expensive too.  I have friends who also like to pick restaurants that cost $60 per person, not including the wine.  I'll go for birthdays and other special occasions, but it's come to the point that I've declined so many times before that they don't even ask me now.  In contrast, I can get a cheap bowl of Vietnamese noodles, a beverage, and cover tip for $10-12.  Or 20 of my favorite steamed shrimp dumplings for $5.

Even if I was working full-time, I cannot imagine spending so much money on excess things.  My $240 video game console made me cry for a long time after I paid the credit card bill;  I can't even imagine that much money two, three, or four times a month on things I do not need.  I'm also more of a bargain-hunter type.  $5 for my favorite dumplings and a belly full of happiness?!  Win!  If I DID have more disposable income though, I would use it to travel.  I think that is more meaningful and educational.  And also more memorable.  

The good thing about waiting until I'm slightly older to apply for med school is that I'm a little more level-headed now.  The financials used to really, really scare me.  I used to worry about how to pay for the application process, how to pay rent , what to do about loans once I'm done, etcetc.  I see a lot of people panicking like that too on the Student Doctor Network forums.  It helped that I worked with dentists and doctors who chose to work with low-income populations.  Knowing that, despite their debts, (which are still high, though probably not as high as they are now) they are still able to live and enjoy life is helpful.  And also, it doesn't make sense to worry about those things now.

Someday, though, I really want a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes.  I'm not sure what I would wear it to...If anything, I would be too scared to wear it outside, so it might just end up on an altar to be admired and worshiped, but dammit I want 'em!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


That is the sound of drowning.

But I'm alive!  My memory is demolished.  Renal system?  Huh????

I actually took the MCAT twice.  Because I'm crazy.  I did fairly well the first time, but I also came out feeling destroyed.  My timing for Physical Sciences was bad, mainly through my own failure to regulate my own pacing, and yet I did much, much better than I thought.  I was happy with my Biological Sciences, but disappointed in the Verbal Reasoning considering that my practice scores up until then were within the range I wanted.  So I took it again, with the resolve to improve my pacing in Physical Sciences and improve my Verbal score.  I came out feeling even worse than the first time.  I didn't even like my essays.  Ugh.  I'll be over here in my corner of shame, feigning indifference.

In terms of study material (for the curious), I tearfully parted with a hard-earned $1,699 for the Kaplan MCAT course during a "special sale."  I think normally they are $1,999.  The Kaplan center near my university campus also regularly donated a full MCAT-prep course to local pre-med student organizations, which students can bid on starting at $1,000.  As an undergrad though, I didn't have $1,000 to throw around like that.  I also invested in the Examkrackers study guide, because everyone told me it was awesome, and received the Audio Osmosis lectures from a friend.  In the weeks preceding my second attempt, a friend gave me access to her Princeton Review MCAT account in exchange for my Kaplan account.

I completed all of the Kaplan online material, which includes Kaplan's online tests, all the old MCAT tests provided by the American Association of Medical Colleges, the QBank questions, and their little review quizzes.  The course is about 4 months during the winter, because we took a one-month break for the Holiday season.  I think between October and January, I spent a good chunk of time re-learning all the material from undergrad and the remaining time focusing on pacing.

I think Examkrackers is great for people who just want a concise summary of key facts in the week or two leading up to the test, or for people who are trying to ease back into science after years of being in the Real World.  I can't attest to the quality of the Princeton Review instructors, but the set-up for their online system is. The.  Absolutely.  Worst.  Thing.  Ever.  Anytime you finish a quiz and want to take another quiz, you have to reload the home page and then click through 3-4 drop-down menu's again to select another quiz.  Also, there have been times when I completed a full practice test, only to find it didn't save ANY of my results.  The quality of the practice material is not as insane compared to Kaplan, but still challenging.  Overall I am definitely glad I went with Kaplan.

I'm easing back into blogging now, and also trying to gear up to re-write my personal statement for the application this June.  I feel like I didn't leave myself enough time, and yet I was oh-so-determined to retake the test.  As a reward to myself, I splurged on an Xbox.  Unfortunately, having that around the house means I haven't been drawing like I said I would.

And now, a picture of an emu from Sunday's wine-tasting excursion: