Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Last Summer (Maybe)

But before that, a picture of our baseball ball park with a rainbow. I haven't been to a game in a while.  This picture was from the days when each ticket was $1 off every time one of the pitchers, Tim Lincecum, struck 
out a hitter. 

Yesterday was my med-school-bound friend's birthday + going away party. It was also held in conjunction with her little brother's birthday party. It's not in this photo, but there were four cakes. One birthday cake for each person, a medical school cake, and a random cake-sized fruit tart just for funsies (!!). The medical school cake was a Napoleon cake and the round dome pictured is a Princess cake.

I don't know what it is with her mom, but she cannot or does not judge how much food to order for the number of people coming. Three cakes is really, really not necessary and four is just too much. It's not just the fact that some of it probably gets tossed, but also because my friend will make us play a horrible, horrible  game that involves making the loser eat food.  (I say "horrible" in a very tongue-in-cheek way because, you know, true hunger and starvation is genuinely terrible)  She always picks the food item that our group collectively did not like.  This year, it was the princess cake. The cake is way too sweet for me, even without the marzipan coat. We played a card game this year. Each person had to guess whether his/her card was higher or lower than everyone else's card, without knowing what his/her own card was.  The player has the opportunity to keep the original card or swap from the deck and hope for a higher one. The two people with the lowest cards have to eat cake.  I can proudly say that with two people colluding against me, I was the last man standing, winning by the narrow margin of cake icing and marzipan. She is a sadist. 

Ugh, my stomach hurts just thinking about cake. I don't want to eat cake for a long, long time. 

This might be the last summer where 90% of us were together in one group, because this sadist friend was kind of the common denominator for the girl-group and guy/nerd-group.  I'm not particularly sad about seeing people go. I think more along the lines of, "Hey, that's cool. You get to do something really cool and maybe fun."  Mostly, I hate that feeling of being left behind, doing not-fun and not-cool things.  It's a lame feeling, but I'm not the only one who thinks that way.  

As my friend puts it, "Who will we have wine-jug parties with now?!?! The two of us can't finish a whole jug of wine!!" 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summers Past

Funny how we change over time, and how people drift apart. 
When my friends and I came back home from college to bum around, we used to get together a lot. 
The result one July 4th weekend was a lot of sangria that no one finished. I think we only made a dent in the middle bucket. This was the product of letting someone who does not know how to make sangria help make sangria.

Now we're all scattered. Some are away for grad school, while the rest of us work. My happy hour buddy is moving to Los Angeles for greener pastures and another friend is going to medical school in three days. 

I'm going to need another happy hour buddy. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Love Me Some Oysters

ETA: oops, didn't realize the font settings were smaller than usual. Fixed!

Big "thank you!!" to Solitary Diner for including my blog on her list of "Lovely Blogs" =)  

My list is pretty short, as most of them are pretty well-established already or are of the "web comic" persuasion. 

Ah yes, plans  has a kewl blog about life, medical school and living with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (which is well-documented compared to my own blog entries about my torn glenoid labrum, because I was lazy). Also, she's funny :D She was also an Art History major, which I also think is cool because, why not? 

Never Seconds has a huge reader base, but I like it. It's run by a young girl from Scotland and her super supportive dad. She posts about her school lunches and allows kids/parents/teachers from around the world to chime in and show pictures/reviews of the kids' school lunches. They also raise money for an organization called Mary's Meals to feed children in Malawi, Africa. 

Today, I waited a really, really long time (close to two hours) for seats at the Swan Oyster Depot. The time went by pretty fast, since I was talking with a friend, nicknamed Dogs/Dogga, the whole time, but yikes. I haven't waited that long for anything since going to Disneyland. We each ordered a half dozen oysters, pictured below, a shrimp cocktail and a bowl of clam chowder. I loved the clam chowder. The clam chowder didn't look appetizing, but it had a lot of clams in it and tasted really good. I don't think I like shrimp cocktails at all...and for some reason it was really filling. I could have had more clam chowder!! darnnnnnn. 

For the oysters, I liked most of them. I don't know anything about oysters, and couldn't really hear what our server was telling us, but Dogs and I gave them nicknames based on flavor. There was "tide pool flavored" aka light and refreshing, "tropical sea flavored" aka also light and refreshing, "ocean flavored," and "deep blue sea" (the two biggest ones) which was okay. Our least favorite was "Fish-counter flavored," because it was like the smell of a fish market but in your mouth. I don't think that one was as fresh as it should have been. I've actually never had raw oysters before, so I didn't know what to expect. The ones I liked were light and smooth, and tasted good with lemon juice. 

Tomorrow, it's back to focusing on my secondary applications. I have three to work on. I've started on one, been brainstorming for the second one, and the third one will be accessible on Monday. I've slowly been doing research on each school. I'm not sure what would be the best way to organize info. So far, I've been typing up an outline for each school on a Word/Google document that lists the mission statement, principles, and unique aspects of the program that stood out to me. I also list any special requirements for the secondary, or just things that I should take note of just in case, like the maximum number of letters of evaluation. It seems like a huge waste of time, but I think if I didn't make this a systemic process, I'll get my apps mixed up. I also think it helps to have a clear view of each school's values and differences in curriculum and electives. That way, I can write a response and tie it to an anecdote that is both relevant to me and what this particular school stands for. 

That's what I learned in B.S. 101. Just kidding. :P

Friday, July 20, 2012


My brain is pretty fried today, not really sure why. I came home, had a late lunch, and felt pooped. 

I treated myself to gelato today on the way home. They make their own flavors, for vegans and non-vegans, and the Dutch Almond Coffee is the BEST. There are whole coffee beans in it, although it didn't help keep me awake and alert at all. 

I finished one secondary application today...Nothing impressive at all. It was one of the ones that only asks you for basic things like "have you ever been on academic probation and if so, why?" and "were you ever convicted of a misdemeanor and/or felony and if so, why?" It did give me the chance to mention activities that I omitted from my primary AMCAS app because (after a lot of internal debate) I decided I didn't have much to say about those activities.

But because I made myself do a teensy bit of work today, I decided to vegetate for the rest of the night.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Soapbox: Putting the Foot Down

I had to very adamantly tell my boss that I am already taking on a lot more job responsibilities and hours than we initially agreed upon at the start of my employment. I'm surprised he backed down so quickly. 

I'm all for taking initiative, taking on extra jobs, taking one for the team, etcetc. I've gone down on my hands   and knees (sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally) to clean poop, barf, pee, blood and chunks of tissue from the ground/walls as a camp counselor and hospital assistant (aka O.R. janitor). Although all of those things suck to clean, I'm not above doing it. I went in knowing that kids and adults will occasionally make unintentional messes and that these messes need cleaning. Which is me saying: I'm not a diva. 

But as an "office assistant" I wasn't planning to lug supplies to and from the office via public transportation, or go door to door in a 200+ unit senior home to promote the office, or take work home because the laptops he bought us can't seem to connect to the building wi-fi. 

For all of those, there is an easy fix:
a) Drop off toiletries/office supplies when the boss makes a supply run. The location I work out of is right between Costco (where most of these supplies come from) and the main office. But he won't. 
b) Hire another marketer, since the other two quit (because he was mean). 
c) Get those broadband internet USB thingies. It's like paying for a data plan for a phone, except it's on a laptop so we can do things like access the laggy electronic medical record system. But he won't. 

Some days, I feel like a pack animal. My schedule is all over the place and I have to plan when I stop at the HQ in advance to grab supplies, which means I also have to schedule my gym around it, because I can't carry supplies, my work files AND my gym bag (and it's not safe or convenient to leave it in one place). Well, I physically can, but it would suck. Once I have supplies, I have to decide whether to drop it off at both Office A and B in one day, or to one office at a time. If I opt to do a slow-delivery, I would have to show up earlier to Office A to grab supplies and travel to Office B before the first patient. And hopefully, I remembered to clock in at Office A, otherwise I just put in 15-30 minutes of manual labor for nothing and I have to ask the boss to change my time sheet, which elicits a lot of grumbling for some reason. And hopefully, I didn't forget anything. Otherwise I have to do it again. I'm fortunate in that this city has a pretty reliable public transportation system. My monthly bus pass also allows me to ride the bus as many times as I want in a day. But there is still a lot of walking involved: walking to the bus stop, walking to transfer to another bus, then walking to one of the offices. 

Now that I think about it, this would explain why I've been getting hungry more frequently.

If anything, this past year has been a lesson in learning when to put my foot down. Honestly, it feels good, but I wonder if I'm just being diva-ish and high maintenance because NO ONE ever complains openly. I don't want to just commiserate over drinks during happy hour, especially when things are especially miserable for everyone. The problem with that, though, is then I risk coming across as a diva to everyone else who keeps their mouth shut. 

It seems like a lose-lose. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Soooooooo Lazy Today

But despite being lazy, I guess I kind of had a productive day. 

If you can call spending most of the day on the bus "being productive."

For most average San Franciscans I think 30-40 minutes on the bus to get to work is reasonable. 15-20 minutes on a bus is considered lucky. Some people live even closer to work...probably, people who run a restaurant/cafe and live near it, or people who live in the Financial District and whose hours follow the stock market, or people who were just incredibly lucky. 

But I showed up to work, worked for just over an hour, and then my coworker/the physical therapist sent me a text message to tell me he wouldn't be able to make it at all for the third time in a row. So I spent more time on the bus today than actually working.

I should be more understanding, I suppose. In all fairness, his son was recently discharged from a pretty lengthy stay at the hospital, but soon after, he and his ex-wife started the custody battle over the kid. I don't know how custody battles work, nor do I ever want to know. I have more sympathy towards the kid than the parents. It's annoying to have to constantly reschedule patients last minute, and worse to do it three times in a row. I'm tired of getting suspicious looks because they think I'm calling them last minute on purpose. How many last-minute emergencies are allowed before someone is justified in being irritated? Or before someone can say, "Get your stuff together, and then come back and we'll talk." 

Also, I don't know why our boss doesn't send someone to cover the schedule for days like that, because I know one of them doesn't see many patients. 

I need to stop trying to ask "why" questions for things that are inherently irrational. I'll have better luck discovering the meaning of life. 

At least with this day (mostly) off, I got to go to my doctor's office for a TB skin-prick test. It recently dawned on me that my boss never had me get one when I started working, and now I'm paranoid. 

I also took my car to get a smog check. One less thing to worry about. 

I also played Minecraft for a bit. It's a video game that's kinda like legos, in that you can build whatever you want, and you go around mining for materials/beating monsters. Collecting materials is ridiculously repetitive, and yet strangely soothing. Maybe because hollowing out my mine feels more productive than my application-writing. But I'm not very imaginative when it comes to building things, so sometimes I look online for ideas, and then my self esteem shrivels to the size of a raisin when I see what people do:

How the hell do you find time to make that?! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Phase 1, done!

Finished my primary application! Whew. Only a month and a half behind my original plan, not too bad all things considered. I proofread my app several times over the last few days, and don't plan to take another look until I have to, otherwise I'll catch another typo and get myself all cray-zee.

My next step: secondary applications. I'm not looking forward to doing these =( I'm hoping to be able to take a general experience, or one general response, and be able to "spin it" different ways (without lying or exaggerating) to answer several similar types of questions. Like writing one cover letter a bajillion different ways for different jobs. To be honest, I innocently thought I would get a few days to twiddle my thumbs, but it looks like I've already starting receiving e-mails from certain schools to set up an online account for apps. Well, it's bad for me to procrastinate anyway. If I let myself get lazy then it's hard to de-lazy myself.

One of my friends is heading off to med school this year. Another friend hasn't updated any of us on his status, which can't be good. Since getting into med school is a big deal, I would assume most people would scream it from the top of the world aka the Facebook Status Bar. I won't ask, at any rate. If he didn't get in, then it would be like rubbing salt in the wound. Like digging a finger into someone's bruise and asking if it hurts. 

Getting asked about apps gets annoying, sometimes. Especially when they ask me why I'm taking so long. Or worse, tell me to stop partying as much. I don't know where people get the impression that I'm some party animal. Unless "party" means sitting in my room alone in my pajamas watching youtube videos before bed. I only want to talk about apps on my blog or to close friends, and even then, talking about apps turns all my precious free time into app-time. 

Anyway, as a treat to myself for finishing phase 1, I'll be watching Magic Mike on Friday night with my friend, T. Because, uh, she's making me watch it with her, yeah. I didn't jump for joy that someone would watch it with me, or anything. Another friend is also on this oyster kick for some reason, so on Saturday we're going to Swan Oyster Depot for oysters. My wallet is going to be very, very empty this month. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Things I (and My Friends) Wish I Knew or Did Earlier

  1. That for the University of California system, picking any major is better than applying undeclared (that was from my friend).
  2. That changing majors is ridiculously easy, which is not what everyone told us. I think my friends and I  fretted about it unnecessarily, only to discover it's really not a big deal in the first or second year.
  3. The differences between SN1 and SN2 reactions in organic chem.
  4. Studied abroad or 
  5. Did PeaceCorps and go overseas to help peoplez, and because the other two out of three years after I graduated really feels like a waste of time, so I could have done something really awesome. 
  6. (From my friend) Don't play baseball, football or tennis with Mingle because you'll get hurt in the worst possible places. Sorry Russ, it was an accident, I swear!  
  7. To have demanded to see a sports medicine specialist earlier.
  8. That I appreciated my research internship more.
  9. That I practiced my ukulele more, because now I don't have time =[
  10. Don't talk to any of the campus pre-health advisers at my school. They make you hate yourself. 
  11. The pre-health peer advisers also tell you the dumbest things. One told a classmate that 'You should keep your course load (even though she was getting Cs), because schools would rather see that you're still able to cope with the workload despite bad grades.' Erm....I kiiinnnnda see the logic, but I'll believe it only if it comes out of the mouth of an Admissions Committee member. 
  12. Don't seek out any of the peer advisers for classes/major counseling, because they don't give you any useful information. 
  13. Find a major that doesn't have a 1-month wait list to meet a faculty adviser. 
  14. That I went for the double major instead of the minor. I could have done it. 
  15. That I made extra effort to take more classes with one of the Asian American Studies professors because he was freaking awesome, and awesome is hard to come by.
Hmm what else?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Holy Beer Batter Garlic Fries, Batman!

Beer batter fries are crispy, delicious golden morsels of goodness. I just wish it came with more garlic, so I could part the crowds of the Jazz Festival with a breathy "Hhhhhhhhhhhhhello there." Beer batter mushrooms are also good, which I've had on a separate occasion. All I need now is for someone to make beer batter sweet potato fries. Somebody make it so!!!

I also ate deep fried kool aid, which is basically a donut made with mixing Kool Aid "juice" powder into donut batter. Kool aid itself is icky because it's pure sugar with artificial fruit-flavoring and the blue and purple ones stain your teeth. But the donuts were good.

For the record, I don't regularly eat things that are fried.

The jazz fest was fun but I only walked through the streets to listen briefly to different bands play. Most of the bands were playing slow blues, while my friend and I were more in the mood for upbeat music. There was a lot of food at the festival, which I didn't eat.

I'm still working on my personal statement. I'm getting sick of it. If this was paper, I'd crumple it up and eat it in a fit of rage. There are a few people looking over my statement (thank you!) but it's still tough. I've also gone to the Student Doctor Network forums and asked one of the volunteer proof-readers to take a look. I may take that reader's advice with a grain of salt. I gave the recommendations a fair shot, but given the way I write, I think it just introduced a lot of redundancy. I like what I have now and feel that it best preserves the flow of my P.S given my writing style. That may change tomorrow.

At a certain point, very soon, I'm just going to abandon it in favor of submitting my app.

The other day, a friend asked me how I summoned the discipline to work constantly at my app/MCATs. I told her that her point of view is probably distorted, because we spend everyday comparing ourselves to other people. I think working part-time helps, as opposed to being a full-time student in her case, because I have extra hours in the day to live life. And by that, it means I go to the gym, take the bus home, and shower. I don't have to study for classes, or do homework, or write a thesis or anything like that. And occasionally make time on a weekend for jazz festivals. More importantly, I'm not where I want to be in life. For me, that's the biggest motivator of all.

I didn't say all those things to her though. Being the sucky friend I am, I just told her to "suck it up and do it" :P

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Soapbox: I hate texting.

Up until recently, I was a big supporter of technology. I love computers, smart phones, video games, instant messaging, blogs, iPad and other tablets...If there is a screen and buttons that I can touch, I love it.

Not anymore.

Ok, well, I still love my xbox.

I don't want my cell phone anymore. I'm tired of being texted constantly, at all hours of the day. It was partly my fault for answering, but I really need to put my foot down on this. My schedule was one that we had agreed upon prior to being offered the position, and was a stipulation I was very clear about keeping. I can understand if this job was one that included an "on-call" type of schedule, or if I was working in something drastic like suicide prevention, but it's not. 

Some of the ones I get are like these:
"Mingle, can you ask Mark to do xyz"
"Do I need to send xyz?"
"When is xyz due?"
"Does Mark know where to fax xyz to?"
"What other forms do I need?"
"Mingle, can you ask Dr. Boss* if we need xyz"

Texting is ridiculously time consuming and time-wasting. I don't mind getting one question, really. But when I get a whole string of 20 questions, from two people who should also otherwise be talking directly to one another, it gets very irritating very fast. It's being interrupted from Other Important Tasks twenty times every 60-90 seconds to answer a series of questions that could be more quickly answered through an e-mail or via a 5-minute phone call. No one actually TALKS anymore!

The worst texts are the "ask him to do this and that." After about a month playing messenger I finally said something to the both of them: "If YOU need something, then you two need to communicate. Instead of writing ME a text/e-mail, why don't you write Mark/Boss the SAME text and ask him yourself. It's kind of faster. And clearly, using me as your messenger isn't working because it's been almost two weeks and we're still working on the same thing."

It feels like I'm in a sitcom, where I'm stuck as the go-between between two people that are arguing and being petty about talking to one another.

I miss those days when you could pretend to lose reception to avoid talking to someone you didn't want to talk to. "What? Wha-er, hold on, I'm going into a tunnel!!! (making fake static noises) I'm los (fake static) ing you (more fake static) hello? hello? he-" (hangs up on purpose).

I really, really sympathize with those doctors who get calls at crazy hours of the day for things that are really non-urgent.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stress...and Eating

I don't know what's going on with me these days, but I have been extremely on edge. Part of it is that unending nagging thought of "shitshitshit it's July I gotta get my app submitted shitshitshit" while the other part just felt like everything that could go wrong went wrong last week.

I'm still editing my Personal Statement. There are still rough spots to smooth over, but I think that the current flow/narrative I have now is good. Almost. I said that for all the other versions though. Surprisingly, I'm having the most trouble talking about my AmeriCorps year. Everything is still fresh, so I thought it would be easy, but it isn't. I also did a lot in a sifting through all those experiences and distill it down to one representative "ah-ha" moment is hard. But I am getting sick of working on it. The level of stress that comes from this is going to be standard throughout the year, though. With secondaries and (hopefully) interviews, it won't get any better.

That alone isn't bad, if I didn't also have to deal with work. I'm wondering if it's a character flaw in myself. But when I describe certain events to close friends, some of them have said things like "I'm surprised you're still there" and "You really need to get out" and "It's definitely not you, because my boss is like that too and I hate my boss." Also, I tend to break out when stress gets really bad, which sucks. I think it's a sign that I need more gym time. If I have energy to be irritated then I should use that energy to run and be productive. I'm hoping that once I'm back in school, doing something I've always wanted to do, things may get better.

I was pretty cranky on Friday, the result of having left my phone AND my work files (which contain patient info*) at one of the senior homes on Thursday. The first thing I did was rush back there in the morning before work, but of course by then my phone was gone aka stolen. The upside is that I don't store important info in it and it's not a smart phone. I got to work late (my fault for missing the bus) and found out my coworker was also late, and had to deal with over-anxious patients and residency staff talking at me and asking (in two languages, no less) about their appointments and pointedly ignoring my "I don't know, I have to check." I really, really wish people would calm down about these things. I've worked with large groups of children for years, and am generally used to being talked at by multiple kids at once, so I don't know why having adults do the same thing to me annoys me but it did.

Thank goodness for weekends. I've been pointedly ignoring another pre-med friend's questions about my app process (really? we don't talk for months and the first thing you ask is about my app?) and unwinding over the weekend. I met up with my friend for some okonomiyaki and after that, we had some sake cocktails and sangria. The sangria tasted like juice, but clearly it wasn't juice, because two hours went by before we realized that two hours had gone by. I think I've reached that point where I don't get carded anymore :( It's probably for the driver's license picture has me looking like I'm lining up for a mug shot. I'm glad I get Wednesday off too, for July 4th weekend. More time for my app! Yay!!

Okonomiyaki. Photo from Izumiya's page
Egg over soba noodles over a Japanese savory pancake with calamari cooked into the batter. 

*I don't think I'm supposed to be carrying patient charts around....... =[