Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things I Wish For/Schools

I wish the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) still came in a book form, even though this does save paper (and saves having to throw it out later).

I wish the MSAR had a fancier user interface. I'd like to be able to click on a link to read more about a school, but still have access to the search functions to start a new search without having to click the "Back" button or "Back to search results" link. At least the MSAR lets me view school information on a separate tab....but tabs tend to pile up after a while. It's inelegant, I say! Inelegant!

I also wish it would list each school's requirement for letters of recommendations (like, X number of letters from a science professor, X number from non-science, additional letters, etc...Because even though it's pretty standard, some of them vary by a teensie bit. It's much easier for a staff of, say, 10 people to look it up on a school's website for everyone, than it is for tens of thousands of people to look up the same information for their own use. Just sayin, it would save a lot of collective hours.

I also wish the American Medical College Application Service was set up to be more like a spreadsheet, or a Microsoft Access database. I'd like to just hit "Tab" key to move through different entries and add all my Work/Activities information on one distinct webpage, instead of clicking "Add another Work/Activity" 10-15 times to add all my info. It's not that I'm lazy (even though I am lazy), I just like things to be practical. I like to do things with the fewest number of steps so I can focus on more important things. 

I wish for a lot of things, though. 

I'm finalizing my list of schools. I'm debating whether to apply for a Canadian school...I know next to nothing about them, but maybe if there's time, I'll look into them. I think I have a good number of "back-up" and "in-my-range" schools, based on my gpa and test scores. My list is too long for my comfort. It's both expensive, and I may not have enough time to give every secondary application the time it deserves. There are a few that I am rather "meh" about, but feel like I should apply because my scores fall within their ranges. 

I have some time to mull over the 1-2 schools that I may/may not keep, since I'm still waiting for a few people to proofread my essays, but I'm hoping to submit soon. Argh. It's tempting to think that, once I submit it, I can go "woohoo it's done!!" But in reality, I've only just started. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Today, a seagull pooped on my hand and my $1 Alcatraz tour guide.
Actually, I think there might have been a second poo-on-Mingle attempt. I'm not sure, I just know I heard multiple "splat-splat-splat" sounds to either side of me as I was crossing the street this morning. Anyway, when I was unfolding my tour guide to look at the map, I felt something warm splat on my fingers and saw that it was seagull poo. Lucky for me, the unlucky tourist couple walking up next to me got most of the splatter. Apparently this is the middle of their mating season, so there are a lot of seagulls, nests, and baby seagulls. The chicks are actually pretty cute. They're fluffy and gray with dark gray spots for camouflage. 

A friend was able to obtain free tickets for the ferry (normally, they are $28 for adults, which isn't even that bad). Today was a good day to go, because it was sunny. I missed a picture moment as the ferry boat was approaching the island. It's rather imposing.

Pulling into the docs

The Storehouse/Warehouse, with the chimney from the power plant right behind it. 

The show "Alcatraz" makes the cells look a lot nicer and bigger....
I can't imagine pooping and sleeping in the same room. Although if I was in prison, I'm sure it would be the least of my concerns. 

The Post Exchange (general store) for soldiers when Alcatraz was still a fort. It was then converted into an officer's club during when Alcatraz became a prison. 

Solitary confinement rooms. The extra bad boys go here. 

The sign says: U.S. Penitentiary. 
The red paint says "Indians Welcome," painted when Native Americans decided to Occupy Alcatraz as part of their movement to reclaim land for themselves from the gov't. 

Bye bye Alcatraz. 

Afterwards, I met up with another friend and we walked along the beach...I think our total distance was about 2 miles, give or take some. I'm sufficiently pooped.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sketch: Mingle Moments

Dazed Mingle

That's probably what I looked like during finals week. Reddish hair and everything. Although I didn't dress half as decent. I remember biking to my final wearing my purple fleece bunny-print pajama pants to finals.

I'm rusty again. I sketched by hand and then scanned it into my computer. I had to look up a tutorial to remember how to trace it digitally, and then it took a few tries before I remembered how to set up the file to paint without painting over the outline. Coloring isn't so bad now, but that's because I don't invest a lot of time in shading.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday Hump Day!

Two more days until the weekend!

The other day, I realized that the rooms at the main office is really, really dirty. Like, I would probably eat a chip if I dropped it on the floor at home, but when I dropped my jacket on the floor at work, I didn't wear it for the rest of the day.

I'm ridiculously tired. Most Wednesdays, I end up escorting patients in groups of 2-3 to the main office to see the doctor. The office pays for the cab ride, but all the same it feels mentally draining, especially when 30 minutes pass by and the cab still hasn't shown up. Today went smoothly, wonder of wonders, but my coworker took our work laptop, so I had nothing to do before my next shift at 2:30 except spend the next two hours in the gym.

I ran 4 miles/6.4 km at varying speeds, and then walked until the episode of Law & Order (McCoy!!!) ended. I love watching Law & Order, but I think I'm a sucker for detective/CSI shows in general. And then I played with weights and worked on the machines for another hour, and then I decided that it was time to eat lunch, so I showered and left. I got this weird abdominal cramp when I was twisting my torso to grab my iPod, and another one in my toe when I was getting on the bus.

I bumped into one of the residents who attend my exercise class, and since she has difficulty walking, I offered to pick up stuff for her at the nearby farmer's market. I stopped at another honey-farm booth and picked up three flavored honey sticks: raspberry, lemon and orange. People in the city rave about it, but I think I like regular honey best. The farmer's market is awesome though. It was my first time going to that particular market, and I felt like I was a kid walking through the toy store. There was kettle corn, a pizza truck with a portable oven set-up on the street that makes fresh pizza, a lot of organic/non-organic produce,a fish stall, flower-stands, and live music. I always complain that produce is expensive, but my friends living on the east coast tell me that produce is less fresh and more expensive, and 90% of the produce I saw today was picked in the last 1-3 days and driven into the city.

I'm trying to re-write one of the "Most Meaningful Activity" essay in my Work/Activities section, but I'm falling asleep in my chair. Sometimes, I think I try too hard not to sound stoopids, to the point that it keeps me from saying what I really want to say. It's easy to get caught up in a cycle of type-delete-stare.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Randomness: Shoes, City Night Life and Orientations

New shoes always make me happy. Especially when they were on sale. ESPECIALLY if it was 30% off the sale price. Win!!!

Even though the back of both my ankles are missing a patch of skin and it burns like no other in the shower, I still looooove themmmmm. Shoes! Why do you hurt me so?!?! New shoe, new callus =/ I think every pair of flats and heels that I buy end up giving me a blister or rubbing off some skin, somewhere. I still wear my sneakers too, many of which date back from high school. The nice thing about San Francisco is that *most* of the time, nobody cares what you wear...Although I probably wouldn't walk into a J. Crew store wearing my Nike sneakers and a sweatshirt. I think a guy can pull that off and not be judged, but a girl would definitely get some side-eye. That kind of sucks, because a lot of "weekend lay-zee wear" for women looks awfully contrived and most definitely not effortless.

Which leads me to the topic of weekend get-togethers with friends. A friend of mine, Katie, recently moved into San Francisco and through her, I started to learn more about the San Francisco night-life, like:

K: "Did you know that most people prefer to date along their bus route?"
Me: "BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!"
K: "I'm serious! You have to plan your dates around the bus schedules! If you plan to go home, you have to cut your date short so you can catch the bus, and transferring buses is a pain, so most people go to bars along their bus route to work. 

It just seemed funny, but it does make sense. A lot of adults in their mid-20s to early-30s move into the city for various reasons, and I guess it's pretty much the only way to meet someone in a big city. I hate it though. I hate having to dress up and put on make up, and then going to a place where people stink, or step on your toes, or spill booze on you, or almost barf on you, and then you go home and you stink, you're sweaty, and your feet hurt.

But clearly, I don't get out a lot, because my idea of going out at night is meeting up with nearby friends for an after-dinner, post-studying beer at a neighborhood bar in sweats and a t-shirt, and then walking home to crawl into bed. However, I do like jazz lounges and don't mind dressing up a little to go to one because most people go to enjoy the ambiance and music. 

In AmeriCorps, the Volunteer in Service To America (VISTA) program held a pre-service orientation in Portland, Oregon. I felt like it was a huge waste of time. We spent the first day (8 hours) talking about "Poverty." Supposedly, it would lessen the culture-shock of working with The Poors (note: sarcasm). My memory of that orientation is unsurprisingly vague, but I DO remember some dude who kept repeating his story about "being from a very well-off family" and how, when he was volunteering for XYZ organization, he met a woman and "could feel the pain and suffering she was feeling" and something about "seeing it in her eyes that she was grateful" and by the way, my family is really well-off." I wanted to rip my ear drums out. I also couldn't believe that other girls in my group were going all googly-eyed. Seriously?

I think instead, the three 8-hour-day workshops could have given us concrete skills like how to write an effective grant proposal with a mock-grant application. Or discuss different options for fundraisers, drawn from the non-profits that many of us were being sent to, or how to deal with staff who were not treating us with respect and as a useful/free resource (there was a lot of that in the forums). The orientation ended up being more like a mini-vacation for me, because I got to explore Portland a little bit, AND AND AND I got my own hotel room (Naked time!!!! Just kidding) Powell's Bookstore was also a very cool bookstore, with lots of new and used books at a good price. I hung out with the other AmeriCorps people once, but I felt like a lot of them were kind of....ditzy, or, openly planned to stay in their home town for the rest of their life.

By contrast, the AmeriCorps HealthCorps group was more down-to-earth, adventurous and more fun...I kind of wish I joined that volunteer program instead. They held a lot of group overnight retreats to beautiful state parks, whereas I was kind of on my own, doing my own thing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend Recap!

It ended too soon!!! Arrrrgh.

First up, hot sandwiches. Unfortunately, there is no picture online for the hot links + sauerkraut sandwich I got, because I ate it and all the reviewers from www.yelp.com decided to post 5 million pictures of chicken pesto sandwiches. They have this neat frequent flyer card though, so for every 10 sandwiches you buy, you get the 11th sandwich free. I'm going to re-allocate all my fun money towards sandwiches now. "What's that, friends? You want to go hang out? Sorry, I have to try another sandwich from Lou's Cafe today."

My friend (her nickname is 'dogga' or 'dogs') and I headed out to the Marin Headlands park, which is on the peninsula just north of San Francisco and extends for several miles along the coast. It was my second time out on the trail, but we only hiked up to the two-mile point (picture #1) before the wind and fog become too much. This time, the weather was perfect. The picture is deceivingly calm where we stood, as it gets pretty windy at sea level.

I'm on top of the world!!

We decided to head down into Tennessee Valley towards Tennessee Cove. It was a pretty steep one-mile trail down, and another mile on flat ground towards the beach. It's a pretty overgrown trail, with lots of thorny things and bite-y things that made me itch along the way. The slope is pretty slippery. In hindsight, I should have brought my ankle brace because I almost rolled my ankle, which is how I sprained it the first time. I wish I had billy goat hooves instead of feet so I can frolic nimbly down. While playing a pan flute. Baaaaaa! 

The other side of the trail

Tennessee Cove was super windy. We only sat long enough to eat an orange before we decided to brave the hike back. I took this picture off Pro Trails because my picture sucked. The waves were pretty big, so every time I tried to take a picture my lens would be coated in seawater mist. The cove is pretty in person though. 

The hike back up the steep trail wasn't as bad as we thought. We maintained a slow, but steady pace and didn't have to worry about slipping and falling. We were rewarded with a good view, and the final two-mile hike back to the car was all downhill, so it was easy. Our total hike was about 8 miles. It felt good! I guess I'm not as out of shape as I thought. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Work/Activities Section

Listing all my jobs/extracurriculars now, and explaining in too few words what I did and what I learned. Let's see, I learned how to fold sweaters and men's woven shirts. I learned that you can't iron non-iron shirts because it ruins the non-iron-yness, and I learned that dry cleaning is expensive after a while.

Speaking of which, I have all these professional clothes that "I'll invest in!" and I never wear them. I also was never informed that the other office slaves have to wear scrubs to work. All this time, I've been wearing jeans and a graphic t-shirts. I should invest in scrubs though. 'Cuz then I can just wear that one set ALL WEEK before I wash it. Yeah! Maybe if I get enough stains on them, people will give me more standing room on the bus ride home.

I suppose this is the homestretch of Phase 1 of the application process, the Primaries. After seven months of gentle harassment, my last letter writer finally submitted her letter of recommendation to confirm that while I sucked at organic chem, I kicked butt in her class. I am still expecting another letter but I consider it a "bonus,"  as in her particular letter isn't required by schools, so if I do not receive it at all, I won't panic. I asked all my letter writers well in advance. Maybe about nine months in advance, but I didn't actually meet with my old professors in person until late-October, after my sling was off and I could control my arm enough to drive.

My work/activities section is harder than I thought. Not all of these activities had a huge effect on me. The great thing about going to a big university is that there were a lot of volunteer opportunities at the nearby medical school. The downside is, no one gives a crap about you. It's not that I expect people to go out of their way for me or any other pre-med, and the "meaningful experiences" I get are things that I pursued with my own effort, not because someone treated me nice as a student. But there's no way around the fact that sorting hundreds and hundreds of transcription records sucks. I remember reading a few that were interesting, but I suspect that I dozed off at some point because there's a fuzzy part in my memory.

The new thing (added last year?) was the new "Most Meaningful Activity" section. We get an addition 1300-ish characters to explain why a specific activity (a maximum of 3 activities) was the most meaningful. I spent a couple of days drooling on myself in a stupor trying to write that segment on my AmeriCorps year. It's hard to sum up everything I learned in a year to 1300 characters (with spaces!!).

I don't read the Student Doctor Network forums much. Only the first 2-3 Important Info posts of each thread that talks about the application. I decided that I can be perfectly neurotic on my own without needing to swim in an ocean of other people's neuroses.

This week overall hasn't been too productive. Wednesday sucked all around, but because it sucked, I was super productive at the gym. That makes three times this week! woohoo!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No, No, No

I take back my leniency with the "Oh, well maybe I'm just spoiled by working with awesome non-profits and awesome businesses-with-strong-community-ties." This job makes me go from Normal Mingle to Crazed Mangle in so many ways.

Here's my thought process this lovely, Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Soapbox Time

That's what I'm supposed to be working on, but honestly I am more concerned about the eggplant parmesan and crème brûlée baking in the oven. This feeling of hunger and vexation! Feed me mommyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

I miss cooking on my own though. I like to try random recipes and then tearfully eat the misshapen morsels of failure. I also miss the freedom of sleeping on my clean laundry because I'm lazy and not have to be judged (and nagged) for it.
Anyway. That was yesterday. I thought it was hilarious that my mom still gave us rice to eat with the eggplant parm. We also ate it with chopsticks. Old habits die hard. It's because of habit that I'll never eat brown rice. I tried it once at a friend's house in college, and I did that childish thing where I stuck out my tongue with a half-chewed lump of brown rice and made a disgusted face. Because I'm classy like that. I love white rice.

The other day, I realized that I am third in seniority at work, at 8 months of employment.