Dear 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013



Soundtrack: Farewell, December (Matt Nathanson)
Dear 2013,

Well, I must say that despite the fact that at times you were crawling, overall, you went by in a flash. I feel like it was only a little while ago that Ken and I were at Victoria and Vinny's house, eating delicious food, drinking champagne, and being generally festive while waiting for the ball to drop. But here we are again, another New Year's Eve, another year in the books.

A lot has happened this year, as it often does over the course of 12 months, I guess. I celebrated one year at CHOP in July and 1 year of marriage in October. I went back to school to take classes to reapply to med school, and I actually reapplied to med school, instead of just thinking about it. I studied for and retook my MCAT, and surprising no one but myself, improved my score. I even managed to secure an interview at my top choice med school, but that interview isn't happening until 2014, so I'll leave it there for now. I got to walk my dad down the aisle as he married his love of 11 years, which was nice, since he walked me down the aisle in 2012. I went to a few concerts, went to a wedding, visited with some people I don't get to see very often, got to hold my friend Jenni's new baby, studied my face off, moved into a new condo with Ken, went on our honeymoon, and took a LOT of pictures of the cats. Oh, and I started blogging for real. All in all, not bad!

There were a lot of emotional ups and downs, but thanks to therapy, good friends, chocolate, sleep, and (legally prescribed) pharmaceuticals, I managed to survive and exit 2013 relatively unscathed. There were things I would have liked to not happen, and a few things that could have made 2013 way less crappy, but there's not much that I can do about that. I would have liked to get more sleep and spent less time worrying. I would have liked to be more financially secure and have more in my savings. I would have liked to lose weight. But... I had a fabulous time on our honeymoon, I laughed a lot, we moved into a great new place, and I got to see almost everyone I love and adore (and the ones I didn't, I managed to keep in pretty good touch with, in spite of them being strewn across the country).

As always, I learned about myself and others along the way. Sometimes, people do really stupid things and they'll make what you consider to be poor life choices, and there's nothing you can do to stop them. You can love them anyway. Sometimes, people will react poorly to your honest expression of concern, and they'll stop talking to you and you'll wonder why they didn't at least tell you that they weren't going to speak to you ever again... but you can't stop them from doing that either. You can love them anyway. Sometimes, people will make you really angry, and sometimes, those people are your parents, and that's okay. You can  love them anyway. Sometimes, you'll make yourself really angry or sad or whatever, and that's also okay, but you have to love yourself anyway.

I'm still working on that last one.

As far as 2014... here are some requests, universe.

1. Stop shitting on my friends and family. Give us a break, for a bit, huh? No more people getting sick, getting their hearts broken, struggling with depression, having financial troubles, being lonely, being sad, being unfulfilled... okay, that's a lot of requests. But seriously, give my friends and family some love, shall we?

2. Med school acceptance. Give it. Preferably to Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, but I'll take PCOM or Rowan SOM. Or any of the other 9 places to which I applied, but that require me to move far away from my current locale. I'd prefer that less, but I know I can't be too picky here.

3. Stability. Help me find it. With that, I suspect far more contentment will follow. I think I've earned that much.

And so with that, Simply A is signing off for 2013. Thank you all for visiting, commenting, and following along on this journey. See you in 2014!

Love,
A



Questions to Ask Yourself Before We Turn the Page

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Lady Okie Blog

Before my final letter to 2013, I thought I'd answer some more questions about 2013! If you'd like to add your thoughts, head on over to The Lady Okie, link-up, and visit some other bloggers! So without further adieu, here are 14 deep and meaningful (I hope?) questions about 2013 and 2014. I picked 14 because we're heading in 2014, but the original post had 25 questions... so feel free to check those out, too!

1. What am I most proud of this year?
Well, I'm definitely proud of my improved MCAT score, mainly because I worked my butt off for it! I'm also proud of myself for actually reapplying to med school, even though it felt (and continues to feel) totally insane.

2. How can I become a better _____________?

Wife - I am definitely going to try to be more "present" when I spend time with Ken. First of all, that means carving out time to spend specifically with Ken. I'm really bad at that. Then, it means not being on my laptop or my phone while we're spending time together. I'm just really bad at NOT multi-tasking. I know that time is a commodity, though, and it's only going to get more precious if I go back to med school. I definitely need to work on this to help keep our relationship healthy and happy.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?
Definitely feeling stuck in my current body shape, and even though I know the things that I need to do to fix that, I can't seem to get it together. I'm also feeling stuck in this job, but for now, that has to just be what it is until I get my life together re: med school. And as usual, I'm stuck in my own head re: depression and anxiety. Working on that.

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?
I need to be kinder to myself, in general. One of my goals is to show myself the same kindness and love that I show to those I love.
5. Am I passionate about my career?
Mmmm, no. No, not really. I like research, and I love working at a children's hospital... but I am definitely more passionate about my potential career than the one I'm currently in. We'll see what happens with med school, but this will need to be addressed if the med school thing doesn't happen.

6. What lessons have I learned?
I feel like this is the same whenever anyone asks me this, but, "You can be afraid and you can do it anyway," is one of my favorite lessons. I also continue to learn it, over and over again. Also, here's your obvious lesson of the day, folks. Marriage is hard work. Good work, but hard work.

7. What did I my finances look like?
Well, they were better than years prior, but still not great. I am making an active effort to put away a legit amount of savings in 2014, which just didn't happen in 2013... at all. As a unit, Ken and I are
fine, but I'd like to get my personal finances in better order.

8. How did I spend my free time?
Sleeping, reading, watching TV, blogging. I feel okay about that.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?
C for effort, F for execution, my friends. I am the worst at taking care of myself. I have a lot of good intentions, but you know what they say about those and the road to hell, etc. I will say that I started getting treatment for my RA-that-we-didn't-know-was-RA-until-this-year, but other than that, I kind of failed at taking care of myself. 

10. What projects have I completed?
We moved into a new condo (always a project) and then painted 2 of the rooms... which was alternately fun and maddening. We also hung up lots of photographs/posters/etc and rearranged the living room a bit, which definitely improved things. I also baked a lot and learned how to use my DSLR a bit more. 

11. When have I felt the most alive?
Oddly, I felt pretty alive while studying. That sounds really weird, right? I think it was the combination of using my brain in a real way and knowing that I was progressing towards my goal of being a doctor that made it feel so "right".

12. How can I improve my relationships?
Like I said for being a better wife, I want to work on being more present in all of my relationships. I want to make sure that I tell people when I'm thinking about them and that I love them, whether that's by picking up the phone or sending a little note. I want to keep in better touch with people, friends and family alike. I also need to learn to say "no" and not overextend myself, because if I say no up front, then I won't have to cancel plans last minute because I'm not feeling well or whatever. I know that some last-minute cancellations are inevitable, but I want to avoid them as much as possible. Know thyself, and all.

13. What old habits would I like to release?
As always, I want to work on being less anxious about life, the universe, and everything. I'd also like to not let the laundry get so piled up. And I would like to stop beating myself up mentally about... everything.

14. What new habits would I like to cultivate?
I say it every year, but this is the year I'm going to start going to the gym on a regular basis! I'd also like to get back into playing the viola regularly, so I'm going back to The Philharmonic of Southern NJ next week. (Let's hope that my RA doesn't screw this up, shall we?) Also, I want to bring my lunch to work more often, and get to bed by ten before midnight. (Let's be serious.)

Do you have any self-reflection rituals that you do, either at the end of the year or throughout? What are some of your goals, thoughts, hopes, and dreams for 2014?

Happy last-Monday-of-2013, my friends!

- A

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Lady Okie Blog

And once again, Christmas has come and gone, which means we can start getting back to normal life, I suppose. I took yesterday and today off because I knew that after two days of traveling and being surrounded by 378 people at all times, I would definitely need some time to myself. Christmas itself was fine. On Christmas Eve, Levi came over and we baked and wrapped and hung out until way too late. I was once again reminded that I suck at wrapping presents, and that I need to only buy legit, nice, wrapping paper because otherwise, I am even worse of a disaster than usual. Speaking of disaster, I went to Target on Christmas Eve to pick up a few things, and while Target was not a hot mess, I spent 25 minutes wandering the parking lot looking for my friggin' car because apparently, I lost my mind between parking it and checking out of Target. Then, because I was a moron, I missed going to Wegman's before they closed, so I couldn't get potatoes, which is why I ended up at CVS on Christmas Eve. Pro-tip: Don't go to CVS on Christmas Eve. 
Side note: CVS does not have potatoes, obviously, but they do have milk and cheese, and when you can't make mashed potatoes to go with your meatloaf, you can make mac and cheese and sometimes, you have to go to CVS to get milk and cheese to do so. Except that then you'll get home, and you'll realize that you had cheese in the fridge already... 

Side side note: The cheese I got wasn't even cheese because it's Kraft Singles, and as Alia taught me, American cheese isn't actually cheese and isn't legally able to be called cheese, and must be called "processed cheese product" or something equally disturbing. 

ANYWAY, now that we've done random tangent, I can get back to Christmas. (Side side side note: This tangent has been approved by Alia.)

Christmas morning, we went to my mom's and ate bagels and opened presents and generally had a nice time. Ken and I left around 1 to drive to Queens, which I thought would be horrible, but I fell asleep, so if it was, it didn't particularly affect me. We got to Ken's uncle's house and I was immediately greeted by 284 loud Italians. They're all extremely welcoming and nice, but man... they are loud. And that house was tiny. Overall, it was a fun time, the food was good, and the people were nice... but I was definitely glad to escape after dessert. We headed to Ken's aunt's house to spend the night, and it was gloriously clean and quiet. Ken, Lynn, and I opened presents from each other (and Ken's mom) and hung out for a bit... and then went to bed. The morning of the 26th, I slept in until 11 because I could, and then we went to Ken's grandmother's for the afternoon/early evening. Usually, I am stuck there until the never-ending poker game is complete, but this year, I got to leave after dinner because Ken is staying in NY until Saturday and I am not. I really enjoy seeing Ken's cousins and their spouses, but again, I was glad to escape to the quiet of my car.

After spending 3 hours driving home (damn you, Belt Parkway!) I met up with Alia, Brian, and Brian's girlfriend Mandy at Friendly's, but not before going to the wrong Friendly's. Who knew that there were two Friendly's within ten minutes of each other? Sadly, the Friendly's we went to was out of a bunch of ice cream (including vanilla and peanut butter cup!?!?!) so we had to make do. First world problem if there ever was one, haha. The rest of the night, Alia and I hung out on the sofa and she helped me start a shawl that I bought yarn and a pattern for approximately 800 years ago. So far, it looks like this:




 Someday, when it grows up, it will hopefully look like this:


GingerSNAP by Erika Flory
Obviously, mine will not be that color, but you get the idea. Anyway, it's hard to imagine that I'll ever figure it all out, but thanks to Alia, I now can do a long tail cast on, have demystified chart reading, and understand how one uses a stitch marker. She also downloaded a free app to my phone for row and pattern repeat counting called County, and it's my new favorite thing. Knitting and technology? Hurrah!

So, that's happening. I also am still reading Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and I just downloaded Crossed by Allie Condie... although I am having a hard time remembering what happened in Matched so I'm going to have to do a little Googling/Wikipedia-ing before I start Crossed. And yeah, Wikipedia-ing is totally a word now. 

So, as part of wrapping up the end of the year, I've done this survey in the past on blogs of yesteryear. Let's see what I did in 2013 and what 2014 might hold...

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Um... I got an A in my immunology class? I got diagnosed with RA? Those aren't very exciting. Oh! I went to California on our honeymoon and we went to Napa and San Francisco and Monterey and drove the Pacific Coast Highway and it was lovely. I also went to the San Diego Zoo and saw a panda (along with many other animals, of course).

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't think I even made New Year's Resolutions last year... but I usually say I'm going to go to the gym and lose weight... neither of which happen on any kind of consistent basis. So, yes, I'm going to make that same resolution again. Oh, and I'm resolving to actively put money into a savings account every week. I think I'm going to go with the 52 Week Money Challenge. I'll let you know how it goes!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My friend Jen and her husband Kieh welcomed a little girl on September 3rd. Her name is Fiora Sage and I am obsessed with her. Someday, I'll finish the never-ending baby blanket that I started for her in July. Whoops.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no. Although my Grandma is on a ventilator in FL and we're not sure how that's going to go... but hopefully she'll make it. Yikes.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just the US. Because I'm boring.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Money/financial security. More organization. Less anxiety. An acceptance to medical school!

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Our entire honeymoon was pretty amazing... so August 17th-24th. It was so great to get away on a real vacation and spend time with Ken, and seeing the coastline in Big Sur was unreal.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Retaking my MCAT and improving my score by 4 points, reapplying to medical school, and taking 3 courses while working full time without walking into traffic.


9. What was your biggest failure?

I guess it's not really a failure but I didn't save as much money as I wanted to and I didn't lose the weight that I wanted to lose. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Always, haha. I was officially diagnosed with RA in March, so I've been dealing with getting the right treatment for that. Also, horrible, disabling migraines struck over the summer, but hopefully they'll be remedied in January by the trigger point injections that I'll be starting. And of course, the usual bumps, bruises, burns, smacking into things, etc that comes with being a gigantic spaz occurred.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new Galaxy S4! Best Black Friday deal ever. Runners up: New clothes that don't suck, Miss Jessie's "Quick Curls", yarn.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Lots of people. Levi, Ken, Julie, Victoria, Emily, Sarah, Kristin (my office mate), Kristin (my non-office mate), the Immunology ladies (Lakshmi, Gabriella, Devika, and Medha), and my therapist, Danna... just to name a few.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

So many people. There was a friend I lost after being honest, but never really heard it from her that that was why she stopped talking to me... but that was just more depressing than appalling. People on a daily basis appall me with their poor life decisions, but hey... what can I do about that? Exactly nothing. Oh well.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, bills, commuting, food. And therapy, probably.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My MCAT score! And also getting an interview at my first choice med school. January 24th, it's happening!!

16. What songs will always remind you of 2013?

The entirety of The Blessed Unrest and The Last of the Great Pretenders, pretty much.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?
Depends on the day.
ii. Thinner or fatter? The same.  I WISH I were thinner but I always wish that.
iii. Richer or poorer? About the same... but more credit cards are paid off!


18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Sleeping, reading, exercising.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Studying until 4 am, crying, worrying about things over which I have absolutely no control.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Well, that already happened. See above.

21. How will you be spending New Years?

Victoria and Vinny are having us over again for dinner (as they did last year) and we'll probably drink wine and eat delicious food (V is making pierogies and kielbasa and cabbage rolls!) and we'll watch the ball drop and possibly play some games. Low key and fun. 

Side note: Apparently, "pierogies" isn't a word, and my computer wants to change it to "groupies". Whatever, I'm a pierogie groupie.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Still in it!

23. How many one-night stands?
Zero.

24. What were your favorite TV programs?

American Horror Story: Coven, Two Broke Girls, The Blacklist, Criminal Minds, Project Runway, Top Chef... and random things on The Food Network.


25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I don't hate anyone, really. I tend to save my hatred for inanimate objects.

26. What was the best book you read?
I didn't read nearly as much as I wanted to this year. I really enjoyed Ender's Game and Gone Girl, though.


27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't think I really discovered anything new this year. Hm.

28. What did you want and get?

A higher MCAT score and a med school interview.

29. What did you want and not get?

A bigger raise.
30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Now you're going to make me remember what movies I saw this year? I don't even know. Catching Fire was really good. Ender's Game was decent. I think that's all that was worth remembering, haha.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 27 in 2013 and I don't think I did anything. Wow, that's boring.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More money, less anxiety.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Last year, I wrote "What's clean and moderately fashionable that fits?  I'll wear that." That's mostly still true, although I tried to dress like more of a "grown up" at work. I'm still on the quest to find the perfect pair of jeans.

34. What kept you sane?

Ken, books, coffee, friends, my brother, sleep, and above all, my therapist.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Um... I didn't?

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Same as last year... healthcare reform and marriage equality!

37. Who did you miss?

My dad. Sarah. Emily.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

The girls I met in class this semester were awesome... Gabriella, Devika, Lakshmi, Medha, and Mary definitely got me through this semester.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Sometimes, people don't make sense. You can't stop them from being ridiculous.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"My life's a movie, my whole life's a movie, if movies made you want to jump off a bridge..."

In 2014...

1. Will you be looking for a new job?

Probably not, unless you count med school as a job.

2. Will you be looking for a new relationship?

Nope.

3. New house?

Hopefully not! We like our condo and we don't want to move. The only reason we'd have to move is if I get into med school far away... so I guess we'll see?

4. What will you do differently in 2014?

I'll try to be more patient... and less anxious.

5. New Years resolution?
As per usual, lose weight, exercise more, freak out less.

6. What will you not be doing in 2014?

Haha last year, I wrote this, "Well, there are a LOT of things I won't be doing... like selling a kidney, having a baby, singing in an opera, going to Australia...?  More specifically, I will not be planning a wedding, which is AWESOME." I'm still not doing any of those things. And many other things as well.

7. Any trips planned?

One to NC for my friend's wedding (in which I am the best "man" haha) and other than that... nothing set yet.

8. Wedding plans?

Not for us!

9. Major thing(s) on your calendar?

Med school interview: January 24th!

10. What can't you wait for?

To start med school.

11. What would you like to see happen differently?

Less anxiety, more productivity, for sure.

12. What about yourself will you be changing?

I hope to... weigh less. And worry less. There's always work to be done!

13. What happened in 2013 that you didn't think would ever happen?

Um... I reapplied to med school and got an interview at my first-choice school!

14. Will you be nicer to the people you care about?

Doesn't everyone try to do that?

15. Will you dress differently this year than you did in 2013?

Not really. I tried to dress more like a grown-up, but that didn't always work out.

16. Will you start or quit drinking?

I don't drink much as it is, and since I started the methotrexate, I try to drink even less. I'll probably still have the occasional glass of wine or cider.

17. Will you better your relationship with your family?

I’ll always try to do that.

18. Will you do charity work?

I'd like to!

19. Will you go to bars?

Probably
20. Will you be nice to people you don't know?
I usually am!

21. Do you expect 2014 to be a good year for you?

I have a cautiously optimistic outlook.

22. How much did you change from this time last year till now?

I'm always learning and trying to better myself... I don't think I changed a lot but there have been some changes.

23. Do you plan on having a child?

Not this year! Maybe.... in a couple of years.
24. Will you still be friends with the same people you are friends with now?
I hope so!

25. Major lifestyle changes?

If I go back to med school, that will be a completely ridiculous lifestyle change... but I think I'm ready. Other than that, probably nothing too crazy.

26. Will you be moving?
Not sure.  Depends on med school.

27. What will you make sure doesn't happen in 2014 that happened in 2013?
I'll try to freak out less... but I can't really ensure that that will happen.


28. What are your New Years Eve plans?

Dinner with friends at a friend's house, wine, champagne, hanging out.

29. Will you have someone to kiss at midnight?

Yep! 

30. One wish for 2014?

To know where I’m going and to get on my way there.

Top Posts of 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holy hell, it's the end of 2013. How did we get here? Where did the time go? What did I spend the last year doing? Where are we going?

(Answers: Generally by car, I have no idea, mostly working, pretending to work, sleeping, studying, or wishing I was sleeping, and 2014, I guess.)

I'm going to be linking up with Amanda over at The Lady Okie for Dear 2013, so look for that coming up before the ball drops! If you'd like to link-up, head on over to Amanda's blog and grab the html for the button. :)

The Lady Okie Blog

BEFORE I write my farewell letter to 2013, though, I thought I'd revisit the most popular post from 2013.

1. Apparently, a lot of you really wanted to talk about this, because "My Husband is Not My Best Friend" was the #1 viewed post of the 2013. If your spouse is your best friend, that's great! If they're not... that's okay too. I promise.

2. I'm going to blame this one entirely on Tina Fey being awesome. This was a post that was 4 weeks out from my MCAT and I was all about getting stuff done.

3. And this is why I need to do more link-ups with other fabulous bloggers! My link-up about spending $500 of imaginary money at Target was a hit. Glad to know you all love Target as much as I do!

4. Sometimes, I'm sappy and I write sentimental posts about my wedding. Apparently, that's okay with you guys. I also think the picture of the cool chicken definitely helped this views on this one, haha.

5. I don't know where you are, but someone out there, my people exist. The number one searched term that brings people to this blog: drama llama. Other phrases about llamas totally dominate the SEO part of my analytics. Glad to know that someone loves llamas as much as I do. My post about yelling at llamas was also a big hit. Thanks, you llama loving readers!

6. The only "Wonderful Stuff Wednesday" post to make it into the top ten was basically written by my friend Michelle. She's an internal medicine resident and she's also hysterical. And very busy.

7. Again, sometimes I'm sappy and I write love letters to my best friends. This was part of Blogtember, which was a fun exercise in which I (didn't really) blog every day, but I tried. Valiantly. Sort of.

8. I have no reason for why this was a top-viewed post, but I'm glad you all wanted to read an update about my life. Thanks for showing that you care, even when I'm just writing about school and work and being a ball of stress.

9. The Thankful Project! Day 1 of the project was to write about someone for whom I was thankful, and I picked my therapist. This was a fun link-up to do, and it was definitely nice to reflect on the positive things that I could be thankful for at a time when I was pretty stressed out.

10. Sometimes, we need to laugh, and sometimes, we need to laugh at someone who's afraid of a dead bug at 2 am.

I hope that you're all having a lovely holiday! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love,
A

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (I Guess)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So here we are on Christmas Eve. My office is basically a ghost town, I'm drinking coffee 2.0 (the first cup turned into a disaster somehow), I'm listening to random things on Spotify, and talking to some lovely people online about how Christmas is weird and not the same. Not the cheeriest of sentiments, I'm aware. Christmas is hard. Nostalgia for times past runs high and even though I know that the Christmas of my youth is gone and not returning, I still long for it. These days, I'm not so in to Christmas. I no longer celebrate it religiously, as I did growing up, and I find the hustle and bustle of the season to be exhausting, not exhilarating. As an introvert through and through, it is my own personal nightmare to be forced to go out into the fray to shop and travel, to spend hours in places with what I deem to be "far too many people", and to expect to have a smile on my face and a hug for everyone at the drop of a hat. Last night, I tweeted, "Is it weird to want to go on vacation by myself? I just want to read and sleep and not share my bed. Feeling overwhelmed by life/people." That 110 characters about sums up my state of mind these days.

Things definitely changed once my Mom-Mom died in 2004. My mom's 2 sisters and her brother stopped coming "home" to NJ (they live in MD and CA, respectively) and traveling on the holidays became too stressful and expensive. My uncle has a family of his own, so they were also trying to split holidays. The whole thing got complicated. My mom has always been kind of bummed out by the lack of festiveness surrounding the holidays, but I guess our extended family is just not an overtly festive one? That being said, I remember my childhood Christmases as being fun and joyful... but then again, I was a kid, so what wasn't there to love about presents and dessert and my relatives? Life is certainly more complicated now than it ever was then, and it's wearing on all of us. Although not terribly enthused about Christmas, I still want to make it nice for my mom, which she often reads as me feeling "obligated". Do I love stringing Christmas lights? No, but I'm going to do it anyway, damn it, because this is the time of year you do things like this. It's about spending time with your family and doing nice things for people and not being an asshole, so I will deck the halls until I can deck no longer.

I do love buying people presents, and Levi pointed out that even though he doesn't really like Christmas either, it's the one time of year he makes a point to think about the people in his life that he loves and appreciates (and for whom he wants to buy presents). I could do without the running around and the craziness and... this weird pressure I feel to make this a magical time. It's like when people used to say that "high school is the time of your life" and I wanted to look at them and ask what drugs they were on and could I please have some (but not really, because I'm an honors student, and we don't do things like that, thankyouverymuch). There is nothing that is wonderful about high school except when it ends and the fact that it gives you the ability to go to college (if you so choose).

True confession: I do not think that Christmas is the "most wonderful time of the year".

There, I said it. I think Christmas is hard and families are hard and holidays are hard. I think it's weird to transition from being a kid, to being an adult "kid", to someone who is married and now has to deal with 4 parents, not just 2 sets of 2. I feel like I have to abandon someone, and in the end, I'm abandoning myself to try and make everyone else happy. I don't even know who I'm pretending for this year. My mom? My husband? Society? All I know is that if I had my druthers (whatever a druther is... side note, apparently, Blogger thinks that "druthers" can only be plural and rejects the singular, which is definitely a word), I'd be at home, in my pajamas, reading in bed, and then eating something delicious. I would not be driving all over creation in an attempt to cram as many family visits into one day, when I bet that on some level, none of us really want to be there and we're all kind of doing it because it's how we've always done it and there are places we'd much rather be than where we are right then.

I love all of you people out there who truly love the holidays and spending time with your families.  If it gives you the warm fuzzies, then I am superbly happy for you. I really am. You give me hope. But it's hard when none of that happens for you and you're expected to have it happen... and when it doesn't, people look at you like there's something genetically wrong with you and "oh my God, why aren't you festive, damn it!?" (Side note: No one has actually said that to me. That would be funny.) Levi and I were talking about how someone he knows was relaying a story about how she went home for Christmas and her family took pictures for their Christmas card and it was awesome and she loved it... and Levi and I both simultaneously made the "wow, that's nauseating" face and decided we were really glad that never happens to us.

We're not grinches, we're just... not familiar with a place or time where those things happen. That is not our norm. Sorry?

I'd like to cultivate new traditions with my baby family, but seeing as we're all so stuck on doing the old ones, I feel like that might never happen. It's also hard because until it's more than me and Ken, it's... just me and Ken. (Obvious statement of the day, right there.) My family doesn't "do" the Christmas thing much these days, and his is all over it, and since we're a package deal now, I go where he goes. It's important to him that I'm there, and this is how marriage works. You compromise, you do things that are important to your partner, you grin and you bear it. He is (trying) to be understanding and found me a way to extricate myself from forced merriment after being there for a legitimate amount of time (no, 27 minutes doesn't count), so I appreciate that... but it's still his family and his Christmas, so... that's what it is. If we were to stay local, we'd be just having dinner with my mom and brother after spending the morning there, so it's not like we do anything spectacular. I'm not particularly sad to not be at my mom's house on Christmas; the problem is that I'm being forced to be merry at a time when joy is at a premium in my brain.

It's hard being Jewish at Christmas, especially because I'm a "new Jew" (I converted in 2011) and I don't have many traditions to uphold here all by my lonesome (my Jewish family is in FL). I am stuck with a foot in each side, remembering how Christmas was growing up, and not wanting to celebrate it now, and somehow still missing what used to be. Holy existential crisis, Batman.

I didn't mean for this to be such a downer post, but maybe there's someone else out there that's feeling similarly (hi, I'm here for you) or maybe you know someone who isn't as merry and bright as you think they should be, and maybe they're feeling like I do.  Also, take this as a reminder that the holidays are hard on a lot of people for a variety of reasons, so be gentle with them. Even if they cut you off in traffic or take the last cart at Target or take 93 years to order their coffee at Starbucks. Be gentle to them. 'Tis the season, after all.

With that, I'm going to leave you with a "currently" post. Here is a picture of me, currently, letting my hair do whatever the hell it wants. Oh hey, it can be curly? That's kind of cool.

CURRENTLY...

Taking advantage of the natural light in my empty office break area to take a super-awkward photo
 
Reading >> I just downloaded Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris from the library, and I have a digital copy of Divergent on hold at the library as well. I'm technically still reading The Noonday Demon and Adulting, but I haven't touched either in a bit. I really liked The Noonday Demon, but I've hit a chapter on history of mental illness and it's just kind of dry for my liking. (I know, a book on depression and mental illness sounds thrilling, but seriously, it is really interesting and yes, I'm aware that this makes me a gigantic nerd.) I am so excited because until January 16th, I am free to read whatever I damn well please. On the list for sure are Divergent (if I can ever get it from the library), The Ocean at the End of the Lane (which I've had since it came out and I ordered my signed copy!), and any of the 217 books on my Goodreads list.

Watching >> Breaking Bad, season 4. Ken and I are obsessed, even though we basically say, "Wow, that was seriously dark..." after every episode and have to hug it out. I also have the entire current season of The Walking Dead to watch, the two most recent episodes of SNL, and a bunch of Top Chef episodes from this season on the DVR. Things on my to-watch list include Dexter, Sherlock, House of Cards, and Doctor Who. (Note to self: Find the Netflix DVD of Monsters Inc and send it back so you can get another movie. You fail at the concept of Netflix.)

Making >> The never-ending baby blanket is still... here. Alia is here visiting, though, so I'm hoping I can be inspired to finish it and then start the shawl that I have wanted to start for ages. Alia is my knitting guru, so I want her to be here when I start something that involves DPN's and lace and circulars and short-rows, haha. Sunday, I made 3 dozen s'mores cookies, a dozen gluten-free peanut butter blossoms, and dough for gingerbread cookies that will be baked tonight. ALL THE BAKING!

Feeling >> Excited that the semester is over (and that my insane studying for Immunobiology paid off with an A in that class!), not thrilled about the impending holiday travel and  subsequently spending hours in small quarters with large quantities of people who are very loud, and anxious about life, the universe, and everything (so... typical).

Searching >> For balance. And patience. And clarity. And contentment.

Wanting >> Decent weather, jeans that fit, more sleep, to see my best friends who are far-flung around the country.

Anticipating >> Reading, sleeping, baking, and present-giving. Also, seeing my most favorite Sarah next week!! (I haven't seen her since October 2012!!)

Loving >> Besides Ken, my kitties, and my friends... the fact that the semester is over. And my bed, of course.

Thinking >> About  med school applications,

Craving >> Sleep (always), more reading, a quiet mind, a vacation somewhere warm, time with my dad.

Working on >> Eating better and exercising. So far, it's not going so well.

Baking >> Gingerbread cookies tonight!

Struggling >> To keep it together.

Wearing >> Alternately between business-casual for the office, jeans and sweaters, and the coziest pajamas I own.

Merry Christmas, all.

Love,
A

Presents are Hard

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holy crap, my finals are over and as such, so is the semester. I thought it would never get here. That means that this weekend is full of all of the holiday preparations that I haven't been able to do for the last few weeks because I've had my head buried in many textbooks and study guides. So, to celebrate the end of the craziest semester and the beginning of being able to think about the holidays (for me), I thought I'd talk about the holidays. That magical time where time seems to move both faster and slower, as you run out of time to prepare and also can't wait until you get a few days off to relax. Everyone knows that the holidays aren't about the gifts... it's about the food spending time with your loved ones and reflecting on the season and giving back and celebrating traditions, regardless of which ones those are. Me? I'm a confusing one. (Shocking!) I grew up celebrating Christmas with my mom and brother, but my dad, who is Jewish, always sent us Hanukkah presents. The holidays meant Christmas, and Christmas meant getting a tree (we always had a real one when I was growing up), going to church on Christmas Eve (I sang "O Holy Night" with my brother or my best friend Mike every year for a few years), sleeping in on Christmas morning, making cinnamon rolls, and opening presents.

Up until when I was in high school, it meant Christmas night was spent at Mom-Mom's, usually my mom's brother and sisters, eating ham (among other things), and opening presents. Things started to change after my Mom-Mom died in 2004, and everyone kind of fragmented. We spent a random Christmas in California with my mom's brother and his family (which was fun, but weird), and we started not having family dinners on the actual day of the holiday because it was too stressful. Things got even more complicated when Ken and I started dating, because then the day after Christmas, I was up in NY with his family. THEN I converted to Judaism, which further confused the issue. Ken has always celebrated Christmas, but he does so secularly, so he's cool with celebrating Hanukkah with me. Last year, we did Hanukkah presents and lit the candles etc. This year, Hanukkah was stupidly early and we couldn't get our proverbial excrement together for presents in November, so we just did the candles and the prayers... so presents will come at Christmas.

And presents are hard!

Gift giving itself isn't complicated. You go out, you buy something, you wrap it or throw it in a gift bag, and you give it to its intended recipient. But GOOD gift giving?  That, my friends, is a talent. My friend Julie is a gift-giving-ninja. She loves giving the perfect present, and she is always spot-on. I also love buying people presents, but I often get stuck trying to figure out exactly what would fit. Fortunately, I haven't given any completely terrible presents (as far as I know). It's not easy and there are a lot of people out there who just do not have a clue. I'm here to help! Here's what I think helps in giving someone the perfect gift.

1. Listen! (And pay attention.)
After about the age of 10 or 12, most people stop asking directly for presents, I've found. Sure, your parents might ask you for a Christmas list (mine still do, and I'm almost 28). I've noticed that, at least for me, if I want something, I tend to either just go get it. That happens most of the time, with regards to clothes, shoes, books, music, etc. That being said, people will often tell you what they want without saying, "Hey, I want (insert thing here)." For example, the fact that Ken constantly says that his phone is dying and doesn't have a car charger means that a long time ago, I made a mental note to get him a car charger for his phone. (Ken, if you're reading this, pretend you don't know that. I honestly don't know if my husband reads my blog, haha.) Last year at Thanksgiving, my brother barely had any cooking/baking vessels and no prep bowls (which made cooking dinner at his place super interesting), but I instantly knew what to get him for Christmas. If you listen and pay attention, people will tell you what they want/need without directly saying anything at all.

2. Don't be afraid to give a gift card.
"But it's so impersonal!" is the cry I always hear. Some people are really hard to shop for specifically, but more generally, shopping for them can be a snap. Last year, I was hard to shop for, even for my best friend, Victoria. However, Victoria also knows me really well, so she knew that if she couldn't pick out something specific for me that she wanted to get me something I'd love anyway. She got me a gift card to Amazon, because she had remembered hearing me say (see, listening!) that I wanted to download more books for my Kindle. Because of that gift card, I was able to download some great books, and if you've read this blog at all, you know I love books. I've given gift cards/certificates to restaurants that I know people love, or spas for massages or facials, as well as plenty of clothing stores. People sometimes get weirded out by the fact that you're effectively giving someone cash, or that you can't give someone the value of an entire massage or an entire dinner out for two. Your gift will help your gift-ee do something for themselves that they might not normally do (like get a facial) or will help pay for the dinner, and that's a nice gift in and of itself.

3. When in doubt, use the list.
This is mostly for family members. If you request a list of potential gifts that someone wants, don't turn around and then not buy anything on that list because you deem it "boring" or "lame". If your family member wants a subscription to Car & Driver, but you know nothing about cars and think magazines are stupid, well... it's a good thing that you didn't ask for that, then! If your gift-ee's list includes a Neat Desk Document Scanner, or a poster of the periodic table, or a set of measuring cups, or Rosetta Stone, or... whatever... then don't go out and buy someone something totally random and when they act confused say, "Well, all of the stuff on your list was boring, so I didn't want to get it for you..." because, well... that's insulting. If we learned anything from my Target link-up, it's that people can often be very practical in what they'd purchase or what they want, and even if you think buying someone an electric toothbrush is totally weird, it will probably make your friend/family member very happy to receive something that they really wanted.

NB: This also goes for bridal registries and baby registries, perhaps double for those lists. Usually, when people go "off-registry" it ends up multiple gifts of the same item, a plethora of ugly picture frames (usually engraved so the recipient can't return them even if they wanted to), 5 sets of toasting flutes that the couple will never use again, and bizarre baby clothes/toys/items that the couple doesn't have room for/want/need. The only time I have ever been glad that someone went off registry is when Julie (yes, the gift-giving ninja) secretly purchased a set of Honora pearls for me for my shower and they were gorgeous and beautiful. Other than that, stick to the list!!

4. It really is the thought that counts... 
I'm sure I'm not the first to say it, money is tight these days. I really love giving people presents, and I wanted to show my favorite coworkers how much I like them and appreciate working with them. What's a girl to do?? Well, this girl is going to bake. And give nice cards with thoughtful messages. I used to be concerned that homemade gifts (whether knitted, baked, or otherwise) were sad and unappreciated, but people really do like to know that you thought of them. Bonus: I always include the recipe when I give something that I've baked. I like to print it up in a nice font, or if I'm feeling fancy, I'll buy cute recipe cards and hand write it.

5. Give experiences.
Let's say you don't want to get someone a book or a sweater or whatever. Or let's say that the person you're shopping for doesn't like things. They don't like clutter, they don't have the space, or they think Christmas and the holidays are materialistic and don't want another thing. Give them an experience! Give them a handmade invitation that's a voucher for dinner and a movie, or tickets to a museum, the zoo, or an aquarium. I've done this for a few people in my family, and it's always been very well received.

Do you have any shopping or gift-giving tips? I'm going to try and wrap up my own shopping tomorrow, as well as getting all of the holiday baking done for the office. I hope you have a lovely weekend! What's everyone up to?

- A

$500 at Target

Wednesday, December 18, 2013



Hello there! For those of you who may be new around these parts, welcome. For those of you returning, thanks for coming back! I missed you. If you are new and are confused, that's okay and probably normal. You can go here for a (very brief) into about me and this blog (and llamas), here, or here to get your psychology on and learn about my  Meyers-Briggs personality.  You can read about our wedding here and here, and go here to see pictures from our amazing honeymoon in California, or here to read one of my most popular posts, which is about why my husband is not my best friend (apparently, this is a hot issue). Sit back, relax, enjoy... explore the weirdness that is my life. And now... on to the link-up!

Today is a special day. Today, I linked it up with two of my favorite bloggers (who happen to also be awesome in real life) and we're talking about one of my favorite things: Target.

True confession: Target is my happy place.

Even though I worked there for a few months in college, I still seriously love Target. I do most of our shopping there for household stuff, and if it's priced right/I'm feeling lazy, I'll even do our grocery shopping there. I definitely have to go in there with a list, otherwise, this happens:

It's a dangerous place. But an awesome place! My favorite Targets are the ones that have Starbucks in them. It's like going on vacation! (This may be indicative that I need to get out more.)

Anyway, when Chrystina of Chrystina Noel asked what I wanted to write about what I'd buy with $500 at Target, I jumped right on it! We linked up with Jamie of Escaped from LA, and we each separately came up with what we would buy with our imaginary $500 gift card to Target. We decided that tax was not included, but other than that, everything was fair game. Here's what I came up with!



From the top left:

1. Threshold Bar/Wine Storage Tower
Ever since the wedding, we've had an overabundance of wine. Not a bad problem to have, I know, but we are seriously out of places to put it. We have one, tiny, wine rack and there aren't any places to put our super nice, Riedel wine glasses, so they're still in their (highly padded) box, not being used. Also, on my imaginary list of "things adults have" is alcohol to make mixed drinks, and currently, we have vodka... which we only use when we make vodka cream sauce. Granted, we're not frequent drinkers, but I think it would be nice to have an organized, pretty, piece of furniture to house our adult beverage accoutrements. Also, it's on sale, and I love a sale! ($125.98)

2. 2 Piece Vermont Bar Stool - Brown
Something we have in this condo that we didn't have in our first apartment... a breakfast bar type thing. It's not a LARGE breakfast bar. In fact, it's more of a breakfast ledge. Regardless, it's a place people tend to congregate, especially when I'm in the kitchen. Our kitchen is small, so hanging out in there while I prep and cook food is difficult for our friends. Having bar stools would solve this problem, so they didn't have to awkwardly lean against our breakfast ledge to chat with me! ($179.09)

3. Sonia Kashuk Limited Edition "Star Studded" 7 Piece Brush Set
In the last few years, I've learned how to apply basic make up. I'm not great at it, but with enough time and the right tools, I can manage to look pretty decent. My big accomplishment in this realm was discovering how to apply liquid eyeliner! One thing I've learned is that the tools make all the difference. I have a few brushes here and there, but there are definitely ones that I'm missing or that I think need to be replaced. I like the Sonia Kashuk line at Target, as it isn't ridiculously expensive, but the products hold up nicely and do a good job. And who doesn't love a cute brush case? ($24.99)

4. Oral-B Floss Action Refill - 3 Count Replacement Heads
Another true confession: I love oral hygiene. I love going to the dentist and having my teeth cleaned, I floss every night, and I am absolutely obsessed with my electric toothbrush that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago. (Yes, I asked for a $100 toothbrush for Christmas.) Anyway, the brush I have has a sensor that tells you when to replace the heads, which is nice. I like these floss-action ones because they really get into the crevices in your mouth (sorry, ew) and they don't hurt my gums. I guess when you'd choose to spend part of your $500 shopping spree on toothbrushes, you know you're officially old. ($27.55)

5. Miss Jessie's Quick Curls
Chrystina just ran a post on curly hair, so if you have curly hair... go check it out! I have wavy hair, but I usually straighten it. Until a couple of years ago, I didn't even know it could BE curly (totally being serious). Now if I'm in the mood, I throw some product in my hair, scrunch, and go! (Okay, there are a few more steps than that, but Chrystina covers it in her post.) I've tried a lot of products, and most of them leave my hair crunchy and weird, but Miss Jessie's is different. So far, I've only tried Pillow Soft Curls, and it works well, but it's a bit heavy for my wavy hair. I chatted with one of the representatives from Miss Jessie's, and she recommended this Quick Curls formula. The whole product line is pretty cool, and it's run by two sisters who wanted to revolutionize the product world for curly-haired ladies. I just ordered some from their website (they're having a 40% off sale!) so I'll let you know how it turns out! ($25.49)

6. Stack 'n Store 4 Piece Canister Set
Hi, my name is Alison, and I am totally boring. I have been looking for canisters for flour, sugar, and other baking supplies for so long, so I knew I had to put them on my list. These aren't the cutest things around... in fact, they're clear and kind of lame, but more important than looks is lock-ability when it comes to flour and sugar. These are also dishwasher safe, which is key because I hate doing the dishes! ($26.99)

7. Daria: The Complete Animated Series
La la la la la... I actually might go out and buy this because when I found out that it existed, I nearly jumped for joy. Daria was totally one of my favorite shows growing up, mainly because I could absolutely relate to the bookish, sarcastic, often cynical, completely athletically-challenged, Daria Morgendorffer. Seriously, I am so excited about this! ($34.59)

8. Creative Motions Pet Carry Bag
You had to know that something cat-related would show up on here. Currently, we only have one cat carrier (since someone decided to pee all over the cheap-o cardboard one last time we moved, ahem, LUNA) and that's fine if we only need to relocate one cat at a time. However, we might need to move them again some day, and it would probably be good to have a second carrier. I have a soft-sided carrier that is airline approved, which this one is not, but this one is bigger (and far cuter). I like the soft carriers better than the hard ones, because I feel like my cats are more comfortable. Also, we don't go long distances right now (just to the vet, essentially), but if we needed to ever travel far, I'd go hard-side for sure. ($39.99)

9. CeraVe Unscented Foaming Facial Cleanser
Until very recently, I only ever used Neutrogena on my face. However, after being diagnosed with RA and being put on meds that make my sensitive skin even MORE sensitive (thanks, methotrexate), my dermatologist recommended that I try CeraVe. I was skeptical, because Neutrogena had been so good to me for so long, but I absolutely love this cleanser. I have really sensitive skin, so I can't use anything scented on my face, and I love the way it foams up without stripping my skin of all moisture. I also use CeraVe moisturizing lotion on my face and body, and they have an even more moisturizing cream for those extra dry spots. There have a whole mess of products that I haven't tried, but I am sure they're great. Totally worth the few extra dollars! ($11.99)

10. Reach Gentle Gum Care
Yes, another oral hygiene product! As I said before, I floss every day. This is a new habit as of 6 months ago, and I'm so glad that I started doing it. My dentist obviously had been after me to floss every day since I've had teeth, essentially, but I always forgot and my teeth were always fine, so I wasn't totally motivated. Then I decided after my last appointment that I would try and get into the habit, and now I'm practically addicted. I seriously feel weird if I don't floss before I go to bed! I also started carrying dental floss, because there are few things worse than having something stuck in your teeth when you're at work! (You'd be surprised at how many people have asked to use some of it, too, haha.) Anyway, this stuff is great b/c it doesn't hurt your gums, which is the main complaint I used to have. I also needed something cheap to fill in my gap towards my $500 limit. ($2.99)

Grand Total: $499.65

Whoo hoo! That was a pretty fun post to write... and now I have more things to add to my wishlist for when people ask me for gift ideas! Make sure you check out what Chrystina and Jamie bought on their imaginary shopping trips, and leave me a note in the comments... what would you buy at Target (or your favorite store, if it's not Target, which... why isn't it???) with $500? Click below to find out how these ladies would!


How would you spend $500 at Target?

Click below to find out how these ladies would.

Chrystina Jamie Alison

- A

**This post was written only for my own enjoyment. I did not receive compensation or recognition in any way from Target or any of these brands. I do think they're all awesome, though!**

"Life is Cumulative" and Other Things I Learned in Immunology

Monday, December 16, 2013

 

Congratulations, we've reached the point in the semester where I seriously have stopped caring but have to continue caring so I don't fail all of my finals. WHEE. I have a final tonight for Immunology for which I am woefully under-prepared, so of course, I picked now to update the blog.  Granted, the last time I was woefully under-prepared for a final and blogging, I ended up getting a 95 on that final, so maybe this will work out for me. Who knows?

The last 10 days have been full of studying, appointments at doctors, and seeing some friends. I didn't really have much interesting post because I was spending my time in a conference room with some lovely ladies, cramming immunology into our brains. I did receive lot of clothes that I had ordered from Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Banana Republic, but I ended up returning most of them. I did keep a pair of jeans from Ann Taylor and a sweater from LOFT, but other than that, it was a bust. I just placed an order from The Limited and The Gap, so we'll see if my pants quest comes to an end with either of those orders. It's really hard to shop when you are 4'11" and have an extremely short torso... and aren't a size 2. I must have the strangest shaped body on the planet since I am convinced that there are approximately 5 things that I've been able to buy off the rack. And yes, I know, tailor things. But that's expensive and time consuming and isn't entirely practical at this juncture. Perhaps in the future, I'll post about some of my shopping woes so we can commiserate and give each other advice.

Anyway, the last couple of weeks have been rough, and this quote is one of my favorites. It's in a journal that I have and not only does it make me giggle, I also think it's pretty true. Sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction and that can be hard to deal with. It makes me feel better about feeling so out of control because sometimes, the only thing to do is to just lose it. Granted, I try to lose it in contained ways that don't affect my general ability to function. This is sometimes more successful than others. I've been feeling pretty on edge lately, and reality has been hard, so maybe it's okay that I don't feel great. Thanks, Philip K. Dick! (PS: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was lovely. Thanks for that.)

So, in honor of my immunobiology class ending tonight (T-6.5 hours until the final begins), I thought I'd post some quotes from the professor and TA's:

On why carriers and haptens are important concepts:
"You can inject a ton of DNP into a rabbit, they don't mind. They'll just turn yellow."

On why experiments get done the way they do:
"Immunologists tend to be lazy and cheap."

Prefacing the Clonal Selection Hypothesis:
"If you had fallen asleep up to this point... please wake up. Good morning!"

Before the midterm:
Student: Is the final cumulative?
Professor: Life is cumulative! Think about what would've happened if breathing wasn't a cumulative experience!

On how we make hybridomas:
"The good news is, unless you're a mouse, is that myelomas are inducible in mice!"

On receptor variability and how we get it:
"If you were God, you could do it that way."

Not even really sure what he was talking about here... possibly viruses:
"They can be induced to do weird stuff!"

On the complement system:
"Herein lies a very sad nomenclature problem."

On our presentations for the complement system:
"It cannot be offensive or distasteful. If it is, you will be eliminated and flogged."

Important life lesson:
"Inbreeding never ends well."

Explaining flow cytometry:
"The speed of light is really fast!"

Just for clarification on experimental design:
"This is not rocket science... this is immunology."

On standardizing answers:
Professor: Guys, it's the answer you should always give in this class.
Student: It depends?
Professor: No! Well... yes. But! No! You can't tell!

In response to construction going on outside of our classroom at 8 pm:
"I love Penn. Anything that can be done to disrupt education will be done."

On colleagues:
"There was this dude at Harvard. Ha. Dude. Gentleman."

In response to crazy noises outside of our classroom:
::thumping::
"That isn't good. Isn't that how it sounded in Jurassic Park before a T-rex came through the wall?"

On the secrets of immunology:
"Are you read for flies and dirty little secrets!?

The crux of immunology:
"If you get it wrong, you'll die."

And that, my friends, along with a million other things and abbreviations and cell names, is what I learned in immunology. Now, back to the studying!

Oh! Before I go! The blog has its very own Facebook page! Check it out, like it, and send it to your friends! And... check back tomorrow for a blog link up with Chrystina of Chrystina Noel and Jamie of Escaped from LA. Hint: It has to do with Target!

- A

Goodnight, Bug

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Friday! We made it!  ::falls over::

I have a final in my microbiology class this evening at 5, and at the current moment, I am woefully under-prepared... so I'm blogging, obviously. I simply must tell this story though, because it is just too typical of my life to not share with all of you.

Last night, I was studying for my final. This was the scene:

Sleeping husband and sleeping cat. Gershwin, of course, chose to sleep on my microbiology textbook, but only after being told (multiple times) that no, it was not appropriate to sleep on Ken's face. Seriously, can this cat get any cuter? I maintain that he cannot.

At 2 am, I called it a night, showered, and went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. That's when I found this in the middle of my kitchen floor:


Can I get a collective "ewwww" from the internet? Thanks. Normally, I am not terribly squeamish about insects, but at 2 am, I was not about to tangle with an earwig. Instead, this was my solution.


I thought about leaving a note on the cup so when Ken came into the kitchen in the morning, he didn't just pick it up and get a nasty surprise, but I decided that I'd just tell him in the morning. With that, I said goodnight to the bug (literally) and went to bed. I hoped that the cats would leave the cup alone, but figured that if they didn't, maybe they'd just take care of the bug as well.

This morning, Ken woke up at his normal time of ass o'clock and as he was leaving the bedroom, this conversation ensued:

Me: Babe, there's a cup in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Ken: Okay...?
Me: With a bug under it.
Ken: Okay...

::goes into kitchen::
Ken: is it a big bug?
Me: No, not really. But it is disgusting.
Ken: Is it a fast bug?
Me: I don't believe so. It didn't run away when I slammed a cup over it last night.
Ken: Okay.

(two minutes later)

Ken: Alison, this is a dead bug.

And then we laughed for awhile because I had trapped a dead bug under a cup. Either that, or I had trapped a live bug under a cup and it died in the middle of the night, as postulated by Julie.

Julie: Maybe it died under the cup in the middle of the night!
Me: I killed it!?!
Julie: You may have contributed significantly to his no-longer-living.
So, that was my early morning, insect adventure. Now it's on to coffee, studying, sample processing, and general productivity until 5:00, at which point I will brain-dump everything I know about viruses, humoral and cell-mediated immunity, host-microbe interactions, immunological techniques, and antibiotics onto my final. Then tomorrow starts the process of studying for the immunology final and the histology final... the next 13 days are going to be interesting.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and if you're somewhere where it's precipitating (like it is here), stay dry!!

- A

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