Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Politics, Connections, and the Ugly Side of Life

This has nothing to do with my post, but I liked it.


One of my exes, whom I dated for just eight days before we mutually figured out it simply wouldn't work - too great an age difference (over 5 years - maybe not such a big deal a few years down the road, but a lot now) and too much shared family history (our families go way back; my parents are his Godparents, and his parents are my twin brother's Godparents) made the relationship practically incestuous.  In some ways he's like a brother, which was all the more reason to give up any notion of romance, but it's good in other ways. We quickly got past any awkwardness resulting from our brief liaison. Having dated for a week give or take a day did nothing to diminish our closeness. He has my back.

This young man, whose name I will not divulge for a host of reasons, is a looker beyond belief.  I don't wish to perpetuate stereotypes, but he looks like a male model to the extent that many people around here operate under the [incorrect]  assumption that he's gay. It's almost like he's  to good to be true. He is, by the way, a first-year resident at the hospital associated with my medical school.

Anyway, this ex was eating at a table by himself in the staff cafeteria when Enemy #2 (the beautiful but not especially intelligent one) saw him alone at his table and asked if she could join him. While there may b)e no place in writing stating that we must not enter or eat there  (or maybe there is and I just haven't read it yet)  we 1st- and 2nd-year med students eat in the staff cafeteria. We have our own concession and eating area.  It's considered  presumptuous of us to hang out in the staff cafeteria. It's similar to when I was a high school assistant  in a kindergarten class. We high school assistants did not go into the staff lounge during break times. I was never explicitly told to stay the hell out of the place, nor was anyone else of whom I know, but it would have  seemed somewhat audacious for anyone to have done so.

Where Enemy #2 (the operative segment of her moniker is #2) is concerned, however, audacity is metaphorically her middle name even if it does not appear on her birth certificate. I wouldn't put it past her to walk into the hospital's neurosurgeons' lounge, plop herself into a recliner, and tacitly dare one of the actual neurosurgeons to suggest that she belonged elsewhere. I could be placing ideas into her head that aren't really there.  I've seen limited evidence beyond her attendance in classes and hence her apparent admission to medical school that much of anything other than O2 is inside her head.  Anyway, I get the idea that she has achieved (if one would call it that) or acquired virtually everything she has as a result of her good looks and possibly also as a result of her parents' money, although here we're surrounded by people whose parents' financial portfolios compete with those of the Zuckerburgs, the Koch brothers, and others. My own parents are quite comfortable financially, but are no where near the top layer of of the financial stratum here. They're pretty much in the middle of the pack in that regard. My dad is esteemed, but not because of his wealth.

Anyway, Enemy #2 invited herself to my ex's table and proceeded to attempt to make small talk with him. He said he answered her questions with monosyllabic words and made no attemopt at furthering the conversation. She still didn't quite get, at least as perceived by him, that he had no desire to converse or to be seen with her. At one point, she allegedly made the comment, "Oh, you're just one of those shy types."

At that point he gave up his monosyllables. His words, according to him, were something to the effect of, "No, I'm not shy in the least. I'm not saying much to you beacuse I don't  have anything to say to you. The word is that you're a rude and nasty person who picks on people who are younger and smaller than you are.  My friends,  female or otherwise, do not behave in such a manner. And this really has nothing to do with the price of tea in China or anything else, but what in the hell are you doing in the staff cafeteria? You're not considered "staff" yet.  Just because you're as old as some of us who are on staff doesn't make it kosher for you to be here, eating, scoping out future hookups, or whatever it is that you do."  With that, he picked up his half-eaten tray and moved to another section of the cafeteria. He has no idea how or if  Enemy #2 responded.

This happened today at lunch. I probably wouldn't have heard about it so quickly except that the ex and I are preparing to board a flight for the central coast of California in order to be present for the birth of my pseudoaunt's baby. Almost everyone else living within the area code will be there, so we'd feel left out if our names were omitted from the guest list. The ex has accrued the time off. I haven't yet missed a class, and my professors feel that I am overstudying, so they're giving me academic credit for witnessing the c-section delivery. It's scheduled for Friday morning but could happen earlier depending upon what Mother Nature has in mind.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mean Women

The Richards sisters aren't in my cohort. For one thing, i don't think they're quite smart enough to be here. Still, they're the epitome of what my two detractors will grow into if they don't change directions very soon.


Two females in my cohort have it in for me. One is 24 and is tall and gorgeous, but is not the sharpest meedle in the shipment of syringes. The other is -- how shall I politely state it? -- also 24 and a bit smarter than her friend, but  mildly on the esthetically challenged side. She's the one who likes to pass along to me things that boys have supposededly said about my thinness, flat-chestedness, braces, and overall immature looks. I have no idea if any of the guys have actually said any such things, and if so, why they would have said them to her of all people. She's not exactly on the greatest of terms with the male population of our cohort. Her love life is, if anything, less exciting than mine, which seems hardly possibly but apparently is.  At least the undergrads hit on me.

My advisor is aware of both bullies. He told me to ignore them for now but that if they don't back off they can be invited to leave, or at least to repeat the quarter so that I don't have to deal with them any longer, and he is going to ask their advisor to pass the message along to them. I don't honestly believe that either thing will happen. :People pick on other people in med school and elsewhere all the time, and one almost never hears of anyone being bounced from a program because of it. 

I'm staying as far away from them as I can. Neither is in either my study group or in my brother's. I sometimes study with my brother's group as well as my own. My brother told the one who enjoys passing along negative information to me to f*** herself. He's fairly popular despite his age, so I doubt she appreciated hearing that from him. 

I can deal with the situation, mostly just by avoiding them, but also by formally requesting not to be with them in any groups of any kind. I don't trust them at all. In the end, they'll get what they deserve, as karma is a bitch. I don't know exactly what they have against me in particular, as there are two others people with grades identical to mine, and we have no official rankings for two years anyway. They must be very sad people to be such witches.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Little Diversion

an instrument I played yesterday, which was nice but not my favorite


I admit to having enjoyed myself most thoroughly on my forced R & R yesterday.  There's something about playing the best pianos ever made that can do wonders to lift one's spirits if one is a musician. I observe proper etiquette in music showrooms, so I don't barge my way up to a Bosendorfer and start playing away on it without someone in authority giving me carte blanche to do so. One of my "babysitters" is less reticient in that regard, though he plays well enough that no one told him to stop. 

When I asked about playing a particularly expensive model, the floor salesperson actually did ask to inspect my hands, which was a bit insulting, but a minor inconvenience for the privilege of playing a fine instrument. Once I began the opening strains of Beethoven's Sonata in E-flat, however, the showroom floor was essentially mine for the using. The floor supervisor actually  (diplomatically) kicked an adolescent male with a propensity for pounding Chopin works requiring little skill who was there with his mother for the purpose of actually buying a piano off of the main stage piano and moved me over to it. I played through a couple of songs on it, but it wasn't my favorite piano in the room, so I eventually moved on to another instrument. While they're fine intruments, I'm finding that I'm not a Bosendorfer girl. Give me a high-quality Steinway, or even a top-of-the-line Kawai any day and I'm perfectly happy.

In that particular store, the floor supervisor took down my contact information. (He didn't take the info from my "babysitter," which seemed to have put his nose out of joint just a bit.) The man said that sometimes they like to have local musicians showcase their instruments for trade shows or other occasions. I told him I have limited spare time because of medical school, but he said they have enough opportunities that one of them might work out for me, and that they use medical school students all the time for such purposes. It seems that many of us have undergrad degrees in music as well as in pre-med fields. He said it pays, though not all that much. I don't need the money all that much, anyway. as long as it covers my costs for traveling there plus whatever lunch costs (lunch is sometimes provided, he said) i'm happy.

The other stores were fun as well. The employees were slightly less snobbish about inspecting my hands, but  the original snobs were nice enough after the fact that I didn't really hold their initial pretentiousness against them.

We looked at violins as well. Predictably, the salesment were more persnickety about allowing me to play their violins. Violins are less durable than pianos. My "babysitter" suggested to the floor supervisor that he allow me to try out an inexpensive model. I took the cheap instrument after the floor salesman had somewhat tuned it and immediately broke into the Preludio to Bach's Partita for Violin. Thirty seconds later the salesman grabbed the cheap violin from my hands and went off in seach of a more suitable instrument. He even let me tune the next one myself.I have a really nice violin of my own, so playing the showroom model wasn't quite like playing all those exquisite pianos that I played, but it was a nice diversion just the same.

i ended up talking my handlers out of the movie because I have a headache. (They took my adviser's money and went to the movie themselves, but I won't tell if they won't.) I still don't have any textbooks in my possession, but it was nice to sleep the headache off instead of attempting to study through it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Enforced Frivolity




My academic advisor has confiscated my textbooks and readng materials for the weekend. I'm not sure he had any technical right to have done so, and if I really wanted to make a point, I could just study using my brother's books and materials, but I'm going along with it. Sometimes you can win a battle but lose a war, and that is the sort of thing I'm trying to avoid.

I called my mom to complain to her about the situation. She said that someone in a position to know obviously thinks I've studied enough for now, and the odds that there's some sort of conspiracy against me to allow others to catch or pass me are somewhere between slim and none. 

This weekend I was supposed to be traveling south to witness the birth of my Godchild, but that has been postponed, so unless the mother-to-be goes into labor early, I won't be going there until next Thursday afternoon. I've been told not to take any textbooks on the trip. I'll fudge a bit and take a couple, but I will not spend an inordinate amount of time studying.

Tomorrow two third-year students are taking me to the city to a couple of high level piano showrooms. I'll play Steinways and Bosendorfers, among other makes of piano. I have neither the means, the need, nor the intention of purchasing a new piano tomorrow, but the salespeople don't know that. I'll just play the pricy instruments for fun. Initially they'll be hesitant to allow me to touch their precious pianos, and they will inspect my hands for cleanliness before I'm allowed to touch said instruments, but once I play through sixteen bars of any given work, they'll relax and allow me my pick of the instruments in the showrooms. 

I may even try out a few violins if we make it to an upper-end violin store while we're in the city. Violin salessmen are even more finicky about allowing instruments to be played, as someone who didn't know what she was doing really could damage a violin. Furthermore, they won't allow me to tune the violins myself, and the salespeople seldom tune them precisely enough for  my sensitive ear, but c'est la vie. I'll have to make the best of their tuning jobs. Perhaps they'll at least get out electronic tuners, which are better than the insufficiently honed ears of the salespeople.

On Sunday someone else is taking me to see a movie. I have no idea what the movie will be. I don't really care. I have a tough time sitting through movies, but if I eat a lot of popcorn I'll be OK. Curiously enough, I can sit through live shows, and musicals in particular, just fine, but I don't enjoy watching movies in theaters. I'd much rather just wait until somthing comes out on DVD so that I can get up and walk outide if the movie scares, bores, or annoys me. Once I saw Cape Fear in a setting where I couldn't walk out, and I still have bad dreams about it. 

This entire setup makes me feel a bit like an unpopular child whose mother has to pay other children to play with her, but there's not a hell of a lot I can do about it. My academic advisor wields tremendous power over my future at the school. I'll just enjoy playing the outrageously expensive pianos and pretend that they actually belong to me. 

Perhaps I should suggest to my advisor that what really relieves my stress is test-driving incredibly expensive cars. With the way people drive in San Francisco, however, chances are that someone would crash into me, and insurance companies are capricious about assigning fault. Sometimes they've been known to determine a driver to be 25% to blame merely for being in the place where the collision occurred. It can be fought in court, but who has time for that? Still, it would be a hoot to test-drive a Ferrari.

They can take my textbooks and reading material away from me, but no one can keep me from dreaming about the content, which I will most certainly do whether I want to or not.  Have you ever had a really involved dream about white blood cells? You haven't actually lived until you've dreamed that your body is being overtaken by white blood cells. I suppose it comes with the territory of being the daughter of an oncologist and hematologist. It's embedded in my DNA.



Friday, October 24, 2014

TEN PLUS THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VENTURING OFF TO MEDICAL SCHOOL OR TO IN 'N OUT BURGER



Note: I'm writing this from the perspective of a medical school student, as that's what I am right now, but much of what I write pertains to those who are studying for or working at any career, however humble or highly esteemed. Many of you are further  in your educations or careers than I am. Please chime in with your own additions in the comments section. I'm interested in what you have to add.

There are actually a whole lot more than ten things you need to know before taking such a monumental step, but I don't have all night to write, nor do you have all night to read. Beyond that, I certainly don't know everything it is that either you or I need to know to in order succeed in medical school or even in working at In 'N Out Burger, so we'll condense this list to ten or so bullet points and call it good. The omitted items most likely will not either get you killed or thrown out of medical school or In 'N Out Burger. If I'm wrong and one of these things  does happen to you, I offer my sincerest apologies in advance, but that's the extent of what I offer. Don't even think about suing  me or having your survivors do so in the event that something I've neglected to mention results in your untimely death. I can offer my sincerest sympathy, but if you pursue any litigation, about the best you would ever do would be to get my cat in a settlement, and you'd have to fight my brother in court even to get the cat.

#1 No matter where you choose to live while in medical school or working at In 'N Out Burger, be sure that the place has a dishwasher. Even if you're forced to live in your car, get a dishwasher. Manufacturers still supposedly make those portable things that hook up to faucets and drain wherever you choose to drain them. They're not  as good as the real thing, but they're better than the continual fighting over the washing of dishes that wil be inevitable without a dishwasher. You don't want to waste your precious time either washing dishes by hand or arguing with your roommate (if you're unlucky enough to have one) about whose turn it is to do dishes. My twin brother and I would surely be divorced (or whatever it's called when a brother and sister formally dissolve their familial relationship) were it not for our dishwasher. We have a really powerful industrial washer that doesn't even require us to rinse the dishes before placing them in the washer, and they come out perfectly clean. Our dishwasher has an automatic garbage disposal built into it. My brother didn't believe it, so he stuck a frozen pizza [completely frozen; he didn't even bother to thaw the frozen pizza] on the top rack of the dishwasher, and put dishes on the bottom rack. Surely enough, the frozen pizza was completely obliterated and the dishes on the bottom rack were spotless.

#2 If you're really smart, try to act a little less intelligent than you are (or think you are) in class and elsewhere, at least around your peers. It's OK to allow your professors and advisors know that you're not a moron. Don't, however, do your best Arnold Horshak imitation by wildly waving your hand in the air a fraction of a second after a question has been asked without allowing anyone else a chance to respond. Save your brilliance for tests, where it really matters. Furthermore, keep in mind that some professors love the sound of their own voices far more than they appreciate class participation in lecture/discussions. Do take copious notes in these professors' classes, and parrot back what they have said verbatim when it's time for tests. Such professors do not always give credit for paraphrasing, even if it's a perfect paraphrase of what they have said. Memorize key points. They're easy to discern, as the professor repeats them, often writes them, and praises anyone in class who parrots them.  You will be rewarded with stellar grades when others who know the material at least as well as you do are left with mediocre grades and wondering what they could possibly have done wrong. You probably won't have many professors of this ilk, but you're practically guaranteed one or two. I've already had one.

If you're not particularly cerebral, try to memorize a few apropos words or phrases that will allow you to appear more intelligent than you actually are. If you're only marginally qualified for admission to medical school -- perhaps you're what's known as a legacy admission, or maybe you did well in undergrad course work but just barely scraped by on your MCAT -- it is essential that you get into a good study group. No one in a good study group wants you [except for comic relief purposes if you happen to be really funny or for culinary purposes if you happen to be able to cook] included in the group if they must waste essential time explaining the very basics to you. Once you're in, however, you're in. If you can fake intelligence or at least a lack of total stupidity, even for a short time, you''ll probably be OK. Still, memorize a few profound phrases just as added insurance while you're honing your cooking skills or comedic flair. Watch House, M.D. for lines if you can't think of any on your own.

#3 Try to postpone serious dating for at least the first quarter, and especially don't date anyone in your study group in the first quarter. Chances are it won't last, and it may not end amicably.  One or the other of you may need to find a new study group. Unless you're the smarter of the two or can cook or are genuinely funny, you'll probably be the one who needs to move on. It's not as easy to get into a new study groups as it sounds. Keep your zipper zipped. Subscribe to Playboy or Penthouse if you must. Date someone from another cohort, perhaps, or better still, from another program. I've heard that pharmacology students make very good dating partners [who have easy access to prophylactics], and if it doesn't work out, you will not be voted out of your study group.

#4 Don't date the sons or daughters of professors in your program during your first year no matter how hot the son or daughter may be and no matter how much he or she may seem to desire you. There are fish in the sea who have no connection to those who directly control your destiny. If your hormones are going bat-shit crazy, find those unconnected hot people. Refer to sentences #6 and #7 of Point #3 if necessary.

#5 In regard to any sex life you may choose to have, use protection of the safest variety. Dual or triple methods would not be considered overkill. As prospective medical school students, you  should not require a diagram or other visual demonstration for the purpose of explaining the need for prophylactics. Still, I will leave you with two buzzwords, which will, I hope, serve as adequate buzzkill in the event that you are in an amorous situation and you do not have adequate protection on hand: 1) Herpes -- the gift that keeps on giving; 2) Conception! Consider that you are about as fertile as you'll ever be; do you really wish to derail your medical school career before you've done your first proctological exam (perhaps this is a poor exemplar; if anything would cause you to intentionally tank your medical career before it has even properly begun, it might be the possibility of your first proctological exam) because you cannot afford both medical school and supporting a new life? Furthermore, every child deserves to be wanted and eagery anticipated. Anything less is unfair to the child. End of sermon.

#6 Don't wear pink scrubs on official premises. When you're on duty in a hospital, you'll be expected to wear hospital-issue surgical scrubs, which, for the most part, do not come in pink. At labs and in class, however, your attire is more or less up to you. Pink scrubs are cute, and some of us look our very best in pink, but it's bothersome for our peers and for our superiors to take us seriously while we're dressed in pink scrubs. I own two pairs of them. I wear them to bed, to study in, and to walk the dog when she is visiting, but I wouldn't dream of showing up on school or hospital premises in them. Youthful-appearing females have a colossal strike against them in the field of medicine under optimal circumstances. Wearing pink scrubs only serves to increase the magnitude of the strike. Males who wear pink scrubs to class or to labs place themselves under an entirely different stigma, so it wouldn't be recommended that male medical students wear pink scrubs, either, even if they're available in your size.

#7 Choose your roommate(s) wisely. I had very little choice in my roommate. My parents purchased a three-bedroom condo (the third bedroom is for my parents when they visit or for friends of ours on the odd chance that they have time to visit when we actually also have the time for them to visit) partly as an investment and partly for my brother and me to share while we attend medical school since it worked out that we enrolled at the same medical school. It was my choice to share the condo with my brother or to find another place of residence at my own expense. With the cost of rentals in this area, it wasn't a difficult choice for me. My brother has even less in the way of financial resources than I do, so it was an even easier choice for him than it was for me. My brother and I have had sixteen years to learn to coexist peacefully before going away to our respective undergraduate colleges, plus an additional seven or eight months in utero to work things out. By now we've learned well enough to  coexist more or less peacefully, not that there's never the occasional disagreement. My brother has no issue with leaving dishes in a sink overnight. He'll do them eventually, but not necessarily on the night he uses them. This bothers me. I can initiate Armageddon over the dishes in the sink, or I can stick them in the dishwasher myself, which is what I choose to do. In return, I ask my brother to carry out the trash whenever it's full, which he does without complaining, at least in part because if I were ever assaulted at night on my way to the trash bin, there would be utter hell to pay when my parents learned of it.

Most roommates, however, do not have that luxury. A friend may seem like a compatible roommate until the person is actually occupying one's living quarters. Some say the solution to this is not to live with friends. What's the alternative? Living with perfect strangers or with mortal enemies? That seems hardly ideal. The best solution is to try to find a person whose lifestyle doesn't sharply contrast with own's own. Party animals aren't compatible with compulsive studiers. Neat freaks don't match well with slobs. 

Commercial services will try to help roommates make successful matches. The problem lying herein is that not everyone fills out questionnaires honestly, nor sees himself or herself as others do even if he or she endeavors to complete the questionnaire honestly. My proposed solution would be initially to sign the shortest-term lease possible, as in the length of one quarter if such a lease is available, and to tough it out for that quarter even if the match is made in hell. By midway through a quarter, a medical school student or an In 'N Out Burger employee should have met enough other students or employees that he or she should be able to make arrangements for a suitable roommate. 

One thing to keep in mind is that if a person has consistent difficulties with roommates, the problem may not lie entirely in the choice of roommates. Sometimes one must look in the mirror for both the cause and the solution. Additionally, with the sheer value of the loans most students  incur to finance medical school or other professional educations, adding just a bit more to the final total in order to afford one's own apartment without a roommate may be the most practical solution for a person who needs his or her space and values his or her privacy. It's difficult to put a price on one's sanity.

#8 If one has a roommate or roommates, do not bring in or take in a pet without mutual consent. Ideally, the pet should be adopted together even if it causes custody issues in the long run. If one roommate adopts a dog or brings it from home, and the dog then chews up another roommate's shoes or laptop, a conflict will arise. The dog owner may consider that the shoe or laptop owner should have kept his shoes or his laptop in his bedroom with the door closed. The roommate may consider that as a payer of rent, he has the right to leave his shoes in the hallway outside his door or his laptop on the coffee table in the common area. If the dog is community property, such an issue is moot. 

Further issues arise when a dog creates damage for which the property owner or property management company expects to be compensated. It would seem a no-brainer that the dog owner would bear the brunt of responsibility, but one would be surprised at the number of Judge Judy or Judge Alex (may his show rest in peace; I miss him more than words can express) cases where the dog owner denies responsibility for the damage, as though the roommate and not the dog peed all over the wall or the carpet. 

Furthermore, a typical dog needs more attention than a medical school student or even an In 'N Out Burger employee can usually provide.  I would have loved to have brought our family dog to medical school with me had my parents been willing to part with her, but it would not have been fair to her because of the outrageous hours away from the condo that my brother and I put in on a regular basis. Cats, hamsters, and goldfish make much more appropriate pets for medical school students, and even cats need most of a med school student's time and attention when he or she is home.

Likewise, be considerate and do not abuse the privilege of having overnight guests. The Golden Rule applies here.

#9 Always lock the door to your living quarters whether you are inside or outside of it, and always have your key on you. The more you break into your own residence because you've forgotten your key, the easier it is for someone else to break in.  University areas -- particular grad student resident areas -- are prime targets for theft as well as for violent crimes including rape. Crime can happen even with locked doors, but most criminals will move onto an easier-to-access residence if their initial target is securely locked. I'm fortunate enough to live in a gated community where we know our neighbors and look out for each other, but we still keep our doors locked and our alarm set. Fences can be scaled, and security personnel are not always as vigilant as they should be.

#10 Don't lend out your textbooks. You may never see them again unless you take the lendee to small claims court, and by the time your case comes to court, the quarter will be over and you will have received s much poorer grades than you would have if you'd had access to your textbooks. The person who is asking to borrow your textbook could have borrowed enough $$$ to purchase his or own textbook but perhaps chose not to, most likely because he or she is a habitual freeloader. Sometimes legitimate emergencies arise. Someone's textbooks may have been stolen. In such a case, accompany the victim to a copy center that doesn't pay close attention to the photocopying of copyrighted material, or help the person to scan pages into his or her computer, but DON'T LET YOUR TEXTBOOK OUT OF YOUR POSSESSION. The same applies to software. Even if the person is honest, whatever caused his or her text materials to disappear could cause the same thing to happen to yours. 

me**BONUS ITEM** Budget for food. If your institute of higher education or In 'N Out Burger is in the same community as your parents' home, this point is entirely academic. As long as you have sufficient gas to reach your parents' house, their pantry and refrigerator are your pantry and refrigerator, and their food is your food, and you need not worry about the source of your next meal. Unless your parents are eventually to be on a fixed income (and maybe even then, as some parents, including mine, would be  willing to subsist on stale bread in order to see to it that their children eat well), this remains true as long as parents are alive and not living in nursing homes. Cruel as it may sound, many nursing homes and extended care facilities have been known to frown upon adult children showing up at odd hours to raid the institutions' refrigerators and pantries.

If, on the other hand, you attend school or work at an In 'N Out Burger further than two hours from your parents' home, this next point applies directly to you. However your money comes in  (quarterly for loans or the G.I. bill, monthly from your parents, yearly from scholarships, bi-weekly from employment, or otherwise), decide what portion of your income is to be devoted to food. Go to a decent grocery store  (not 7-11or its equivalent) and stock up on the staples you need that are non-perishable (rice, pasta, etc.).
Purchase the perishables that you are certain you will use before they expire. Look for good sales on fresh fruit and veggies, and supplement with frozen fruit or veggies, which are more expensive than the canned items, but also more nutritious and tastier as well. Exception: beans of various types. They can be used in many recipes and are much easier and quicker to use than dry beans.  Limit your purchases of convenience foods. They're more expensive than are the baisc staples that you use to prepare your own meals and are filled with substances not found in nature that are not particularly beneficial to your overall health, but having just a few of such items on hand can be a good thing. 

You'll almost certainly need to devote a portion of your income to such things as toilet paper, facial tissues, Q-tips, cleaning supplies, personal care items, and so forth. As unfair as it seems, these items, which magically appeared when you lived with Mom and Dad, now come at a price to you even though you derive relatively little personal satisfaction either from the purchase or the use of them. It's one of the many sad realities of being an adult. 

Plan carefully for fast food expenditures, and try hard not to overspend your budget unless you're one of the lucky few among us who happens to be rolling in cash. There will be times when you'll want to have pizza or some other restaurant food with a study group or simply because you feel like having it. Budget for it so that you won't be using your rent money to pay for these special meals, and then won't come up short when the rent rolls around.

Occasionally you'll come across a peer who is legitimately hungry. The person may simply have budgeted poorly, or the person may be less fortunate financially than you are. Regardless, if you are in a position to offer assistance, do so. You don't have to  take the person out for a steak dinner if you cannot afford to do so, which most of us cannot,  but scramble a few eggs for the person, prepare oatmeal for him or her, make a hamburger if you have the ingredients on hand, or give the person something. Don't let one of your peers starve. It happens.They don't usually starve to death (although such has happened), but students and young workers do go hungry to the point of losing consciousness. It doesn't cost much to share a can of beans, a package of ramen noodles,  a frozen burrito heated up,  a few eggs, or a sandwich and a glass of milk. Your help will not be forgotten, and the person may someday be in a position to help you, although that's not the reason you're helping the person. How a person treats another person who is in no position to reciprocate is a true sign of character. If we plan to become doctors, lawyers, quality IN 'N Out Burger employees, or other professionals, character is something that we should strive to develop. 



This song by Gordon Lightfoot speaks of the importance of being charitable to the degree that one can be.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Changes in Plans for Me and for Others



I was supposed to depart via charter flight for the central coast of California in order to be present for the birth of my Godchild. Alas, plans have changed, as they frequently do whre the births of babies are concerned. Jillian's blood oxygen levels have improved since she's been allowed out of bed. it had been anticipated that the increase in activity would place greater demands on her diminished oxygen supply, but the reverse has happened; increased activity has made it easier for her to breathe.

D-Day is now October 31, although there's no guarantee that the baby will wait until then. I've been told to  have my bags packed, which they already are, and to be ready to leave with five minutes' notice. If it's in the middle of the night, Jillian's brother Tim will call me and will pick me up five minutes later to drive to the airport. I'll probably travel in my pjs if the call comes after I'm in bed. Tim lives in the same complex as I do. If the call comes during the day, my suitcase will be in my car. I'm packing lightly anyway since I have clothing and toothbrushes at home. I could get by without packing anything. my brother has convinced me to leave my kitty at the condo. The guy who hates cats has fallen in love with mine.

If nothing happens between now and then, Timmy and I will leave Thursday at 3:30 p.m. I'll return on the following Wednesday. I can afford to miss four days of class, or so my advisor and professors say. I hope they're not playing a dirty trick on me so that others can catch up. We have no official class rankings for the first six quarters, but we all know what the unofficial rankings are. Two others (both Asians, one male and one female, not that anyone is keeping track of such things) are even with me. The three of us have decided that we're a coalition rather than a competition, and we try to impress the faculty by appearing to be helpful to our more struggling classmates. We actually are helpful to some degree, but not quite so helpful as we try to appear to be. It's a game, and a very cutthroat one at that, but there's still room to be benevolent. Furthermore, blood is thicker than water. I'll do anything to help Matthew.

One girl in our cohort packed up in the dead of night and left. Even her friends don't know exactly what the problem was. She had friends -- I don't know of anyone who actively disliked her --, and she wasn't failing miserably, although I believe she failed one exam. One girl who knew her better than most said she was somewhat accustomed to prom queen status, and no one around here cares much about such things. Also, the friend said she had taken the bare minimum of course requirements for premed admissions, so she may not have been totally accustomed to the academic demands of medical school, not to mention the time constraints.  If it's really not what she wants, I'm glad she figured it out before investing even more time and money in a medical education. I wish she had just been up front about it and said goodbye to everyone, but she may have been embarrassed to do so. In any event, I wish her well.  Everyone around here is acting as though she committed suicide. She didn't. She just chose to turn her life in a different direction. If she was able to get into medical school, she should have many other good options available to her.

Matthew and I are the youngest students in our cohort, but there is a second-year student in the program who is only six months older than we are.  I believe he's doing the five-year program, though, so we'll all graduate at the same time if he sricks with the extended program. Matthew has been encouraged to consider the five-year program because of his young age and because his entry qualifications weren't exactly blowing everyone else out of the water, but so far he's in the top half of the cohort (in the nonexistent rankings) so his advisor isn't bugging him about it quite so much. There's always time in future quarters to lighten his load and to take a longer path to get through the program, but there's no reason if he's passing with ease.

Anyway, my vacation has been delayed, but the important thing is that I will get the vacation. Delaying gratification isn't necessarily one of my favorite things, but I'm learning to live with ilie about.

P.S. So far, Judge Alex is wrong. No one has asked me out or even flirted with me. My behind-my-back nickname is "Jailbait" even though I'm just over a month away from 20.

Edited to correct my age. I lie about my age so frequently because I hate admiting how young I am (although my appearance does nothing to make my lies believable) that I sometimes forget my real age.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Brief Respite from the Daily Grind

This isn't what I'm likely to see in the delivery I'll witness, as the baby will be about six weeks early and is projected to weigh in at around five pounds at the time of  his birth.

This more closely resmbles what I am likely to observe.

Because I've done well on all the tests given thus far at my medical school and haven't yet missed a class session, and because the experience would be beneficial to my medical education, I have been granted permission from all my professors as well as from my dean to miss however many classes I must miss this week in order to be present for the surgical delivery of my pseudoant's child. If labor doesn't commence before Friday, the baby will be taken by c-section early Friday morning. Pseudoaunt's brother is being transported by charter flight to the city where the baby will be born. I'll tag along. 

If labor begins but progresses mildly with no distress to either the mother or the baby, the surgical team will hold off until we arrive before beginning the surgery. They don't actually care whether or not I make it on time, but pseudoaunt would like for her brother to be there when her baby is born.

My only requirement is that I write up a brief synopsis  -- more or less what the actual surgeon would dictate for the chart and for the insurance carrier. I can do that in five minutes. My only requirement as far as the medical team is concerned is that I stay out of the way and keep my mouth shut. If the baby is born in one of the surgical suites with a viewing area from above overlooking it, I'll be up there, as I do not need to take up space in the O.R. if I can observe from a distance.

Pseudoaunt's brother has time off for something like nine days, so I'll have to find alternative transportation back, but my mom said she will drive me.  I would like to take my kitty with me, but my brother says she should stay because she's not all that used to us yet, and transporting her to another home wwould confuse her. He just wants the cat there with him. His rationale is entirely bullshit. Regardless, I'll probably let him keep the kitty there with him.

   Whether the baby is born tomorrow morning or Friday morning, I'll return on Sunday. I haven't been home since August, but I'm not exactly dying to get there. I have the same W model of Westin bed in the condo that I have at home. My surroundings at the condo are quite comfortable. I'll bring textbooks with me, so I'll study regardless of where I am. I just want to see the baby. I'm not overly eager to see his birth; that's just my rationale for being allowed to leave. I just want to see the baby.

   I am to be his Godmother. I've never been a Godparent before. I'm not sure when his parents will have him baptized, but I'll have to be present for the ceremony.

   Incidentally, I scored 100% on my GI block exam. It helps that I've had almost everything possible go wrong with my own GI block at one time or another, which gave me considerable prior knowledge. My brother scored 90%, which was in the top third of the class, not that anyone is keeping track, as we have no official class rankings until 5th quarter.