2014: How'd I Do?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Last January, I wrote this post about what I wanted to do with 2014. Since the end of December is generally a time for reflection and whatnot, I thought I'd check back in and see how I did. 

1. Get into med school...?
Check and check! When I wrote this goal, I hadn't even received any interview invitations. Little did I know that a month and a half later, I'd be holding an acceptance letter in my hand. It's been a crazy ride thus far, and we're only almost 1/8 done. Yikes.

2. Knit a sweater
Nooooope. Once again, I have not learned how to knit a sweater. In fact, I'm still not quite finished that shawl that I posted about a freaking YEAR ago, but in my defense, I had to hunt down another skein of yarn in the colorway that I was using. Of course, the only reason that I needed to do that was because I am a moron who somehow turned a 1-skein project into a 1-plus-a-tiny-bit-of-a-second-skein project. This is why we can't have nice things. Like shawls that should only take a few weeks. I did knit a baby blanket for my friend Jenni, started another one, and have knit a couple of coffee mug sleeves (most of which have been ripped out because they weren't quite right). Maybe 2015 will be my sweater year...

3. Find a seamstress/tailor
Done! Thanks to Jen, the bride from the wedding I was in this past August, I found a wonderful seamstress a mere 15 minutes from our house. She does amazing work, is reasonably priced, and has a quick turnaround on jobs. I had my dress for Jen and Mike's wedding altered there, and I also had a few bras and a dress altered as well. Next up, getting some pants hemmed (finally!)

4. Put away money for savings
Check... sort of? Ken and I did put away money for savings, but then we bought a house, so... there went that. I didn't use the 52 week money challenge, mainly because I forgot that it existed, so maybe I'll try to do that this year. Who knows. I am calling this a success because we were able to buy the house, and now we're building our savings back up. #adulting

5. Go to the freaking gym... or quit it
CHECK. I finally quit the gym! It took... entirely too long, but it's great to know that I'm no longer paying $40 a month to not exercise. Remind me not to join a gym ever again, okay? Thanks.

6. Take more photos
I did accomplish this, but not because I used my DSLR, sadly. I did take a lot of photos this year, mostly of our cats, but hey... I did take photos, so this is technically a win. I also got a new lens, but I ended up getting the f1.8 50 mm, not the way more expensive f1.4 50 mm. In fact, I bought the 1.8 from Chrystina and I love the shots I've taken with it thus far. Maybe over the break I'll get some more practice in.

7. Build my blog
My original mini-goals were to write at least 3 times a week, buy a domain, get the blog redesigned, sponsor 4 blogs, go to a blogging conference/meet-up, and have guest bloggers. I.... did not do so well with this, sadly. For awhile, I was writing 3 times a week, and I may have averaged 3 times a week, but not on purpose. That's what happens when you go to med school, I guess. I didn't buy the domain for Simply A, mainly because I wanted to do that after I got the blog redesigned, and that isn't completely finished yet. I did sponsor a couple of blogs (Becoming Adorrable, Venus Trapped in Mars, The Florkens, and Six One Six), and I participated in a few giveaways with Becoming Adorrable! I also linked up with lots of blogs and connected with a lot of great bloggers around the country. I became part of the #PHLBloggers group, started by Chrystina, and even though I've only been to one meeting thus far, it was great to meet other women with blogs that are so different from mine. No guest bloggers yet... anyone want to be the first?

8. Be more intentional with my time
This was super vague, and I have no real benchmark for determining if I succeeded. I did stop looking at my phone so much, and Ken and I no longer sit in bed, glued to our phones before we go to sleep. Studying has forced me to uni-task, and hey, I actually kind of enjoy it. Imagine that.

9. Read more books.
Fail. In 2013, I apparently read 14 books. IN 2014, I read... 7. Again, I guess that's what happens when you go to med school. 

10. Attend synagogue more regularly
Nope, didn't happen. Whoops.

So... maybe 5/10, if I'm being generous with myself. Overall, not a bad year. I am putting together a little list for my 2015 goals, as well a year in review post, so look for those coming up. Let me know how you did with your goals for the last year!

As for now, I am heading back into my studying cave. Roughly T-41 hours until the last exam of fall semester, and then I will be FREE!

- A

Oh Hey, Friday - Holiday Edition

Friday, December 12, 2014

Another day closer to the end of the semester! Of course, that means we're another day closer to exams, but I'm going to ignore that fact for the next few minutes. Next week, I have an OMM written final on Monday, an OMM practical on Tuesday, class on Wednesday (wtf, why?), nothing on Thursday, and then our last block exam on Friday. And by "nothing" on Thursday, I obviously mean, "Studying until I fall asleep, go to class, or die." All that to say, the posting next week will probably be non-existent. I haven't been great about keeping up with it anyway for the past couple of weeks, but it certainly won't be getting better. C'est la vie.

So, without further ado, here are five random things for, "Oh Hey, Friday!" that are vaguely holiday/winter break themed.

1 | Ken needs to know what I want for Christmas, and I have no idea. 
Usually, I have at least a couple of things that I want, but this year, the only things I want are either school related (which Ken has vetoed), really expensive, things I'll buy for myself anyway, or things that need to be done around the house. He's requested "something fun" and apparently, I am boring. Any ideas of things I absolutely need!?

2 | I am apparently cooking on Christmas and that's going to be... interesting.
I am not necessarily concerned about messing up the food; I'm a pretty good cook. I'm more concerned that I won't be able to orchestrate roasting a turkey, making stuffing, making vegetables, putting rolls in the oven, making sweet potatoes, and making dessert... before 8 pm. But hey, at least I have a double oven and a convection toaster oven (in which I am theoretically able to roast a whole chicken or bake cookies), so we should be okay. I'll let you know how it goes.

3 | There is a perfect -1.00 correlation between my desire to bake and my desire to study.
Just a little stats nerdery for you. Also, there are just way too many recipes that I want to try... like this one... and this one!

4 | I am really not looking forward to the traveling we're doing around Christmas.
We do this every year, and every year I think it will be easier, and it never is. On the 26th, we're driving up to Long Island for the usual "Day After Christmas" festivities at Ken's grandmother's house. This is when we celebrate Christmas by cramming way too many people into a tiny house so we can eat Italian food and play poker until midnight. For bonus fun, I get to answer the same 20 questions from his relatives over and over again. And there's no wine. I don't play poker, so I usually spend the evening trying to entertain myself. At least this year, I can go back to Lynn's apartment when I'm tired and want to go to bed. Usually, I drive home on the 26th and Ken stays to see a few friends, but this year we're both staying over at Lynn's until the 27th. Then we're having dinner with Ken's dad's family. And then we're driving home and I'm collapsing into a pile.

5 | We are theoretically taking a couple days and heading up to the Poconos.
I haven't been up there in probably ten years, and Ken has never skied, so it should be an interesting trip, haha. Don't worry, there will be photos. Anyone have any favorite Poconos hotels or vacation recommendations? 

And on that note, it's back to the studying. The only breaks I am taking this weekend are to get acupuncture tomorrow and to grab lunch with my friend Patricia. Other than that, you'll find me in a Starbucks, mainlining coffee and cramming information into my tired brain.

Have a great weekend, all!

- A

PS: This time next week, I will be finished my last exam and will officially be 1/8 doctor. What!?

Winter Break: Then Versus Now

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome to the week before exams, where the caffeine is plentiful, the tensions are high, and meltdowns are frequent, and sleep is at a premium. Hooray. As we approach the long-awaited winter break, I find myself dreaming more and more often of the things I want to do over my vacation. Then I stopped and laughed at myself, because the things I dream of doing on my break are totally lame. Winter break as a med student is even different from winter break as a working adult.  So, here are the things that I used to look forward to and do, versus what I'm looking forward to now.

Then: Playing in the snow!
Now: Praying for no snow, so you can get out and run all of the errands you haven't done in the last 4 weeks

Then: Eating the cookies your mom baked
Now: Grocery shopping, so you can bake your own cookies (or you know, have something for dinner besides frozen pizza or cereal)

Then: Making a Christmas list
Now: Frantically shopping for gifts because you have exactly one (1) purchased 

Then: Shopping at the mall
Now: Doing as much of your shopping online as possible so you can avoid humanity

Then: Seeing your relatives that you don't get to see very often
Now: Mentally preparing yourself to see your relatives (and in-laws, because you have those now), and that usually involves alcohol 

Then: Waking up early on Christmas morning to open presents
Now: Sleeping in as late as humanly possible and not opening presents until after you've had at least one cup of coffee

Then: Avoiding chores and household tasks that your mom wants you to do
Now: Cleaning ALL the things! Organizing ALL the things!

Then: Christmas carols!
Now: Trying in vain to find a radio station NOT playing "Last Christmas" by WHAM for the 43rd time

Then: Spending hours mindlessly surfing the internet
Now: Avoiding using a computer as much as you can 

Then: Catching up with your friends by staying up late having sleepovers
Now: Catching up on your shows by staying up late bingeing on Netflix

There are, of course, a few things that haven't changed. I'm still going to sleep in on what would normally be "school days," I'm still going to make cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning (even though I don't celebrate Christmas, really), I'm still going to drink hot cocoa with way too many mini marshmallows, and I'm still going to love Christmas lights twinkling in the night as I drive around (probably frantically shopping). 

What about you? What are your winter break plans? Are they markedly different from how you spent your winter vacations as a child? Do you still have a winter break? 

For now, I'm going to hunker down, continue drinking tea, and cramming as much studying into the next 8 days as possible. Ready, set, go!

- A

Coming Down the Home Stretch

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hello, hello! I have been resurrected from my turkey-induced-coma* and am back and ready to voluntarily walk in front of a bus rock and roll with the last chunk of this semester. How crazy is it that in 16 days, God willing, I will be 1/8 doctor!? Absurd. And awesome.

That right there? Perfectly describes med school, by the way. Absurd and awesome.

Anyway, I hope that everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and ate a lot of delicious food. I had not one, but two Thanksgivings, traveled to 2 different states, and slept as much as I could. After our exams on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was completely worn out. I also wasn't feeling great about my exams, so I just wanted to not think about school for the next 4 days. Here's what our long weekend looked like:

Thanksgiving selfie in Long Island at Ken's sister's apartment
How cat-parents do Black Friday: 88 lbs of cat litter and 50% a off cat tree!
I think it was a hit.
I made waaaay too much sweet potatoe casserole. This was only 1/3 of it!
When you whip sweet poatoes, they do weird things. I thought it looked Muppet-esque.
Playing our new favorite game, "Strain" at our second Thanksgiving in Maryland on Saturday
Ken's giant omlette (and equally giant croissant) at breakfast on Sunday
Made some progress on my latest knitting project... even though it's slow-going, I'm still in love with it.
This little guy melts my heart
So that was our long weekend. It was so nice to just sleep, eat, and hang out with both of our families. Ken's mother and Lynn's boyfriend had driven in from Kentucky, and on Saturday, Ken and I went to Maryland to have dinner with my mom, Levi, Aunt Kathy, Uncle Jack, Aunt Laura, Uncle Don, and cousin Garrett. It was really special to have Don, Laura, and Garrett with us, because they live in California and usually aren't able to come out for big holidays. It was really fun, and I was definitely sad to leave on Sunday. We're already trying to plan our Christmas get-together, which last year didn't happen until March so... we'll see how that goes, haha.

In the mean time, what is happening to time? I can barely operate that it's December, let alone the fact that it's going to be 2015 in less than a month. I have exactly 1 Christmas gift purchased, so clearly, I'm doing well in that category. Fortunately, Ken and I are just doing candles and latkes for Hanukkah and we're saving our presents for Christmas, so I have a little more time than I usually would. I have ideas for most of the people for whom I'm buying, but now I just have to make time to go and acquire said things. Thank God for online shopping!

Speaking of time, Chrystina wrote a great post about "me time", which she was inspired to write by Jenn. I'm not big on making New Year's Resolutions, mainly because I can never keep them and then I'm just upset with myself, but I do like to try and recenter myself. I am notoriously bad at self-care, and while I've been improving in that arena in the last year or so, I know that I could do better. I wrote about saying no now so you can say yes later on when Julie interviewed me on her blog, and sometimes, I'm okay at doing that. Often, I make plans and then have to force myself to go do them because I feel bad canceling. I almost always enjoy myself, and I am 99% sure that part of the reason it's so difficult to get out is because my depression is kind of bad right now. I'm working on fixing that... it's slow going. But anyway, me time is super important, and so I thought I'd give a little brain space to examining just how I spend my time. The questions all came from Jenn, so head over to her blog (which is full of design and hand-lettering awesomeness!)

What do you read or watch during me-time?

Okay, this first question has already made me realize something. When I have any free time at all these days, I want to be asleep. That is probably not ideal. But back to the question. Since we gave up cable, I no longer can just flip on the TV, which is probably a good thing (or else I'd never study). I rely mostly on Netflix and Hulu+ these days, and if I have free time you can find me watching, Criminal Minds, Scandal, The Black List, How to Get Away with Murder, or American Horror Story. I've also totally fallen in love with The Killing (on Netflix). Wow, I watch a lot of really dark stuff. Ken and I also recently went through and watched all of the Marvel movies, so I am totally caught up now. (Also, I am Groot.)

I used to read a lot more than I do now, which makes me sad. I actually just finished the first book I've read since... sometime in the summer. I finally got a hold of a copy of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, and it was just as good, if not better, than Gone Girl. I don't read a lot of fiction these days, even in my free time, so you can usually find me with some kind of science/medical/psychology non-fiction. I also read a lot of blogs, but I don't really count that as me-time.

What do you wear during me-time?

Pajama pants are pretty much non-negotiable, but I also wear pajama pants most of the time when I'm at home because I don't believe in wearing real pants unless you absolutely have to do so. Usually, I'm in one of my softest/oldest t-shirts that no longer sees the light of day outside of my house, and sometimes I'll add a hoodie. And fuzzy socks. I am frequently cold.

What are your me-time beauty products?

Is it bad that I couldn't think of any off the top of my head? Probably. If I really want to relax (and have the time), I will fill up the tub and throw a Lush bath bomb in there so I can soak for awhile and come out smelling like a rose. I don't take baths unless I'm already clean (because ew), but they're really relaxing and calming. I often read in the tub, too, so I can kill two birds with one stone. (Is being productive part of me-time? Am I doing this wrong?) If my nails are in good shape, I'll polish them, but I'm not really good at it and my nails are rarely in polishing shape so... it's not so much fun. I'm also really into face masks, especially the Biore ones that heat up when you put them on. So refreshing. I tried an oatmeal one from Lush once and it was pretty good, but it smelled like cookie dough and I wanted to eat it (I didn't, do worry. Rule #49 is don't eat the chemicals beauty products even if they are probably edible and totally natural.)

Current favorite nail polish?

As I mentioned above, I am really not great at polishing my own nails. It usually looks like a small child with ADD attempted to do so, so I generally leave that to the professionals. The last time I bought nail polish was... a really long time ago. I guess my first choices would be something by OPI or Essie, but they're so expensive that again, I don't buy them very often. Any suggestions?

What do you eat/drink during me-time?

I used to love to go to Starbucks and relax, but since I study there pretty much all the time, I think those days are behind me. I'll let you know. I do enjoy drinking coffee, tea, or cocoa, especially if I'm watching TV or reading. Then there are times I really just want a glass of red wine. Food kind of varies. I eat a lot of popcorn, but if I'm really feeling indulgent, I'll just eat chocolate. Screw it, it's me-time, right?

Current favorite candle?

I love candles, so I have quite a few! Lately, I've been switching between burning a vanilla caramel candle that Ken got me for my birthday almost 5 years ago (it was one of those giant jar ones), and a three tiered candle that smells like vanilla bourbon, pumpkin spice, and apple cider (depending on which layer you're in). It's very "fall" smelling, so it was a nice switch from my normal vanilla. My absolutely favorite candle of all time is the Blue Hydrangea candle by Nest. I picked mine up at Blue Mercury, but you can get them at a variety of places. That smell is just intoxicating and I love it.

Do you ever have outdoor me-time?

Not if I can avoid it! My allergies, combined with my temperature and sun sensitivity, make outdoors a potentially dangerous and un-fun place. The only time I ever would consider outdoor me-time is down the shore in Ocean City, but I have to be slathered in sunscreen, wearing a hat, and sitting under an umbrella. 

Would you ever go see a movie alone?

I haven't, but I think I would if I had to. I don't go to the movies frequently, and if I do, I am usually with Ken, my friend Lindsey, Levi, my dad, or my friend Jenn. I think going to the movies by yourself makes sense, though. It's not like you should be talking with anyone during the movie anyway!

Favorite online shop?

I attempt to do most of my shopping online for two reasons. One, it allows me to acquire things without having to put on real pants (and we all know how I feel about that) or interact with most of humanity. Two, I am 4'11" so I have to shop petites and the biggest selections are online. Because of my online shopping proclivities, I tend to shop at places where I can either return to a brick and mortar store or at places that offer free return shipping. My usuals include LOFT, The Limited, and Banana Republic. For non-clothing items, I head to Amazon, and while I've never ordered anything from Uncommon Goods, I love to peruse their site.

Anything to add? What else do you do during me-time?

I call people, especially while driving (because voice-activated Bluetooth is amazing) and catch up with people. I think I do 90% of my talking on the phone while driving, actually. I also like to knit, bake, and of course, nap with my cats. 

What about you? Do you carve out me-time on a regular basis? If you had more me-time, what would you do? 

- A

*Turkey doesn't actually make you sleepy. It's probably all the carbs that makes us feel sluggish after a big meal. The more you know!

Blogger Men Tell All: November

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ken, in his usual state of being covered in cats
Hello, party people! (I'm going to blame my post-exam brain for saying that. Just go with it.) It's time again for Ken to grace the blog with his presence as part of a monthly series hosted by Becca called, "Blogger Men Tell All". Here we go!

1. What food do you look forward to most at Thanksgiving dinner?

Stuffing has always been my favorite Thanksgiving food, even if it just comes from a box. Nana used to make hers with red wine. Nothing else comes close.  The Toback sweet potato soufflé is a super close second.
Wife's note: That soufflé is totally amazing, if I do say so myself.

2. Do you ever go shopping on Black Friday?

I've never gone for any of the big sales. I did stand in front of an Old Navy for a few hours once on Thanksgiving night/early Black Fridaymorning.  They were giving away copies of Lego Rock Band when you bought a pair of jeans. The line didn't get long until right before the store opened and the jeans ended up shrinking but the game was good. Once was enough.

3. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

I pretty much enjoy all the things you're supposed to enjoy about Thanksgiving: spending time with family, helping cook the food, watching whatever football teams happen to be footballing that day (go Eagles?)

4. Do you travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, or do you stay close to home?

I go wherever the food is, which usually requires at least a little traveling. Last year was local but this year there's two Thanksgivings in two different states.

5. What are you most thankful for this year?

I'm thankful for having an awesome wife, awesome friends, a great house, a job I really enjoy most days, three cool cats, and a hot tub. And Smash Bros. And Dave Grohl's beard.


So there you have it. I'm planning to do a little Thanksgiving post on Friday, but right now, I am ridiculously thankful that all of my exams for this block are finished, and that in 24 days, I will be 1/8 doctor. Craziness.

Today we had our anatomy practical, which was on all the stuff located between your clavicles and your diaphragm. For all the non-medical readers, an anatomy practical is an exam where any of the structures in the body that we had recently dissected (for this block, anything in the thorax) are tagged by our professors, and we have to go around and identify everything. 40 of the tags today were in our cadavers, and 10 of them were on various bones (not from our cadavers, but still human) around the room. The coolest part about the thorax was definitely the heart. It's so intricate, and there are so many things going on in every part that it's kind of wild that the thing works at all. While hearts are pretty cool, I'm really sure that I have no desire to do cardiology, and my desire to never enter an OR unless I absolutely must (like when I'm on rotations) was entirely reaffirmed. Lungs are also pretty cool, and feel like wet Nerf balls, basically, but all of the cool physiological stuff that lungs do (like... getting oxygen into your blood) happens waaaaaay down inside them in structures we can't see unless we use a microscope. Anyway, I think the practical went pretty well, so I think it will definitely help what is sure to be my suck-tastic grade on the written portion. (Apparently, this is the norm. No one does well on the written portion and everyone rocks the practical, so "no one fails anatomy." I'll take it.) 

From the exams that we took on Tuesday, I found out that I passed biochem (thanks to my 100% on the genetics portion... thank you, gods of genetics), and as such, am still passing the course for the semester. In fact, I can get a 54 on the last exam and still pass. Not that I plan on getting a 54 but... nice to know I'm basically grade-locked in passing-ville. (What kind of sucks is that even if I got a 100%, which would never happen, I'd still only be Passing, not High Passing, but whatever, P's get degrees, amiright?) The other exam was our cardiac physio exam, which was rough. I think I passed.... I really hope that I passed. The good news (?) is that if I failed, the class runs for the rest of the year. This is only our second test, so I have plenty of time to bring up my grade. But seriously, I hope I passed.

Anyway, that's all over and I'm really glad because this block was really hard on my body. I kid you not, I pinched a nerve in my neck while studying over the weekend that caused me to not be able to turn my head. Fortunately, I go to an osteopathic school, so I had any number of people willing and able to work on my cervical spine and try to fix it. After a few treatments and basically spooning with my heating pad for 3 days, I could kind of move... but then I got a migraine on Monday that is just now going away. Let me tell you, studying when the room spins every time you move your head is really not ideal.

So, as you can imagine, the next four days will be dedicated to using my brain for as little as humanly possible. Tomorrow, Ken, Levi, my mom, and I are taking the train to Long Island to have dinner at Lynn's (Ken's sister), along with Ken's mother and Lynn's boyfriend, who are driving in from Kentucky tonight/early tomorrow morning. My exciting plans for Friday include avoiding any and all retail environments, cleaning the house, knitting, and catching up on the last 2.5 weeks of television that I haven't seen because I was either studying, asleep, or wishing I was asleep. On Saturday, Ken and I are driving to my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jack's house in Maryland for "Thanksgiving". My mom and Levi are going as well, and my Uncle Don, Aunt Laura, and cousin Garrett are in from California, which is really great. We don't get to see them very often because they live so far away, so I'm always glad when we get to steal them for a holiday! Sunday, we'll be relaxing and I'll be trying to get myself psyched for one block for this semester. Apparently, there is so much to learn about the cardiovascular system that we need two blocks in which to do it. This final block for the fall semester is the second half of cardiac physio, cardiolymphatic histology, cardiolymphatic microbiology, and our final chunk of biochem and genetics, which has nothing to do with the cardiovascular system. We also have our Osteopathic Principles and Practice written final and practical exam in there. Basically, it's going to be a crazy 3 weeks until the semester wraps up. WHEE.

I'm just not going to think about that now. That is a problem for future Alison. For now, I just have to worry about baking, eating, sleeping, hanging out with Ken, and playing with the cats, which is exactly how I like it.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. 

- A

The State of the Med Student

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Wednesday, which used to mean Hump Day Confessions, but Kathy gently laid that link-up to rest, so here we are. I'm remarkably well-slept, given that I went to bed at 12:30 and woke up at 6:30. I should have gotten out of bed when I woke up, but I realized that class started at 10 instead of 8, so... I went back to sleep. I did, however, go downstairs to reset the coffee pot from its 7:15 start time to it's new start time of 8:30 (because priorities). Then I went back to sleep and it was glorious. Gersh and Sinatra came to visit me, and after briefly trying to wrestle on my face, they settled down and snuggled. 

We are 6 days from our Cardio I Block exam and I'm in triage mode. I'm also slowly descending into pre-exam madness, so here's the state of the med student:

Random sheep emoji that I sent to a classmate

High-fiving over our mutual screwed-ness

Ken, looking at my notes: That chart gives me hives.
Me: Hives were on my first micro exam. We can't talk about hives for this exam.
Ken: Oh. Well, that chart gives me... high cholesterol?

Me: Whenever I read, "free cholesterol," I think of little blobs of fat holding signs, yelling, "Free cholesterol! End cholesterol enslavement now! We've been wrongly imprisoned! No taxation without representation!"
Ken: Wait, what?
Me: Yeah, I guess that last one didn't make much sense.

Sarah: Well, I'll let you get back to your studying.
Me: Oh yeah, it's so much fun.
Sarah: Totally fun, except you really just want it to end.
Me: So much fun, except that you really just want it to end.

And sometimes, I forget what I'm taking notes on and this happens:

Then, there was this:

An oldie, but a goodie. Torsades is my favorite, but Vfib is kind of how I feel right now.

And this:

And yes, Wenckeback is a legitimate rhythm.

There are plenty of silly, medical videos on YouTube, and some of them are even helpful! So essentially, the state of the med student is... crazy-stressed, slightly delusional, overtired, and under-caffeinated. If you have a med student in your life, give them a hug. But then wash your hands.

- A

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

Monday, November 17, 2014

I would talk about my weekend, but it pretty much just included a ton of studying (but somehow, still not enough), too much coffee (if there is such a thing), and not enough sleep. See also: Med school, 2 weekends before a block exam. Fun, except not fun at all.

What is fun though, is that I woke up to find out that I was nominated for a blogger award by Lulu! What a lovely way to wake up on a rainy, cold, Monday morning, right? According to her blog, the rules are as follows:

- Thank the person who nominated you for the award
- Add the One Lovely Blog and Versatile Blogger logos to your post
- Share 7 facts about yourself
- Nominate 15 bloggers to admire and inform the nominees by commenting on their blog

So, since I have nothing else to talk about this morning, I figured I would do this. 

1, I've been blogging since I was 16! I originally had an OpenDiary, but then Open Diary ate my blog, so I started a Live Journal. I wrote there for a few years, but finally started Simply A on October 21, 2012. Oh hey, my blog just turned 2 last month. Who knew? Happy birthday, blog.

2. I am in med school and most of the time, it's totally awesome. Most of the time, it also totally sucks. Just go with it. I am 99% sure that I want to do my residency in pediatrics and then complete a fellowship in a sub-specialty, but I don't know which one yet. Some of my current thoughts are pediatric oncology, pediatric rheumatology, and pediatric emergency medicine.

3. I don't believe that astrology is anything but entertainment, except for when Mercury is retrograde. That's my excuse for when shit goes sideways, anyway. Fortunately, Mercury won't be turning retrograde until January 21st, so until then, we have to find a different excuse for the weirdness.

4. I've always had allergies, but I wasn't allergic to any foods until I was in college. Now, in additional to being allergic to trees, grass, ragweed, dust, pollen, and cats, I am allergic to tree nuts (which, thank God doesn't include peanuts, which are legumes), shellfish, avocados, and have oral allergies to a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables. Life without guacamole is sad.

5. I only learned how to apply eyeliner last year, and I prefer liquid pen eyeliner than pencil because apparently, I am a spaz and need adult supervision at all times.

6. I didn't drink coffee until grad school, and that was only froofy espresso drinks. I still love my froofy espresso drinks, but most days, it's regular coffee with cream and sugar. I also don't really need coffee to function in the mornings, I just really like it. The ritual of making coffee, getting my travel mug, and sipping a hot beverage just makes me happy. Also, med school requires caffeine, no two ways about it. 

7. I have small feet... I wear a size 5 or 5.5 shoe. Sometimes, I can wear children's shoes. I am not really obsessed with having 423 pairs of shoes or something, but when I find shoes that I like that are in my size, it's really hard not to buy them. But I'm also really picky about shoes, so I don't buy shoes very frequently. PS - If you have any recommendations for good, online, shoe shopping, leave 'em in the comments!

And I am nominating 3 people, because I do not have time to nominate 15 people. Sorry!

1. Just the Elevator Pitch
2. I'm Your Katie Qué

So that's that! Now I'm off to study for the next 900 hours of my life, and by 900, I mean 184, because that's approximately how many hours are left until our exam.

Happy Monday... it's almost over!

- A

Late Night Link-Up

Friday, November 14, 2014

So, it's almost 10 pm which means approximately 3 people will probably read this today, but whatever. YOLO. Or something.

Okay, I promise to never say YOLO ever again. Can we still be friends? Cool.

My life is totally being absorbed by the anatomy of the thorax/embryology/the nervous system/cardiac physiology/genetics/lipid metabolism, so as soon as I'm finished this mini-post, I'm going to go listen to 93 anatomy lectures until I can no longer keep my eyes open. My Friday nights are AWESOME, you guys.

ANYWAY, I remembered to link-up with Chrystina today for One Down, One Up, so, here we go!


One Down
My one down this week was how ridiculously far behind I am with my studying. I feel like I am never going to catch up, which isn't awesome and not really an option, so the next 11 days are going to be absolutely miserable as I try to cram a million things into my brain. WHEE. As such, my plans for the weekend include... studying, going to a tutoring session, studying, and... studying. Also, spending more time with dead bodies than any normal person should. Go team med school. Trying to remember that even when it sucks, being here is awesome... but this block is sapping my will to live.

One Up
On the up side, I'm starting to really gel with some of my classmates now. I studied for a few hours on Wednesday with a classmate until we bailed to eat dinner at Panera, and then again on Thursday until the Starbucks kicked us out at 9:30. (Why isn't Starbucks open later? Seriously.) It's nice to feel like I might actually make some friends on this wild and crazy adventure. I mean, it's kind of hard not to bond when for at least a couple hours a week, you're physically touching so many of your classmates in OMM lab, or when you're up to your elbows in cadaver, right? Right.

And so, here ends my late entry of randomness. Head over to Chrystina's blog to read about other people's weeks, and have a good weekend!

- A

Awards I Should Receive

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sometimes, just getting out of bed feels like the hardest thing in the world, especially now that it's starting to get colder and darker. I basically just want to hibernate all the time. I know that part of that is from my depression not being super well-controlled right now, but even when I'm feeling at my best, sometimes, life is hard. (Thanks, Captain Conspicuous!) Because of that, I think we should be handing out awards.

Congratulations on Not Punching That Stupid Person
True life, sometimes, I want to punch people. Don't we all? More true life? I've never punched anyone. Ever. This might be because I am not entirely sure I would know how to punch someone, but also because, as my wise friend Pam says, "Degrees, not felonies." Sometimes, it's really difficult to not punch someone. For example, when someone is lazy and doesn't take personal responsibility for anything, the fact that I am not punching them in the face is a goddamn miracle. We should be positively reinforcing people for not assaulting others in public.

Best Performance of Feigned Interest in Front of the In-laws*
Don't get me wrong; most of my in-laws are great, or at the very least, tolerable in small doses (some require very small doses). However, sometimes, you just don't care about what they're talking about or don't feel like explaining for the 93rd time, why I don't celebrate Christmas or what I'm doing in med school. However, because I want them to think that Ken married a nice person and because it's the socially appropriate thing to do, I have to fake it. So yes, please tell me about that time you had an inspection at work, or talk to me about poker for 93 years. Tell me all about your friend's gall stones or why you hate your new phone. I can handle it.

*Also appropriate for coworkers, people on airplanes, classmates, or friends of friends

Good Job Extricating Yourself from the Confines of Your Blankets Today
I live in NJ. It gets cold here. It's now getting dark at like, 5 pm. Soon, it will be snowing. Getting out of bed is ridiculous. Since we can't call out "snuggled" to work, and eventually, I have to go to school, we should congratulate those of us who left the comfort of our beds to interact with humanity. We even put on pants (usually)!

Congrats on Keeping Your Cool While Explaining Technology to Your Mom
It's happened to all of us. The phone rings and your mom (or some older relative) is on the other end, asking how to get "the Google" to work, or wondering how they made their Word document 900% bigger than they wanted it. The best is when they're asking something extremely specific to their machine and you have no idea what they're even looking at. Bonus points given if you're more than 50 miles away at the time. If you can stay on the phone and explain to them how to fix the problem, or even if you have to politely remove yourself from the conversation by saying that maybe a neighbor could help them, or suggest that the Geek Squad at Best Buy might be able to assist them, good for you. Basically, if you can keep your brain from melting out of your ears or from slamming your head into the closest wall, you get this award.

Other things for which we should get awards:

- Not eating out for a whole week
- Remembering to put the trash out before the garbage truck rolls by your house
- Putting on real pants to run errands
- Wearing a bra for more than 8 hours
- Staying on hold with your health insurance company
- Not setting Comcast on fire
- Staying awake during a 7 am meeting
- Taking vitamins every day
- Flossing

What about you? Why should we give you an award? What awards do you think we should give out to other people?

- A

You Say Crazy Cat Lady Like It's a Bad Thing

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's not a secret; I am totally, completely, 100% obsessed with my cats. With all cats, really, but my cats are clearly the best, so you'll just have to deal with that. In case you're new around these parts, here are my fur-children:

Name: Gershwin
Nicknames: Gersh, Gershy, The G-Man, Buddy
Age: 14 years young
Weight: 12 lbs (formerly a 23 lb chunker, but a diet and thyroid issues have him slimmed down)
Likes: Snuggles, shoelaces, freeze dried chicken, Lysine treats, wet food, watching birds and squirrels
Dislikes: Liquid antibiotics, being tackled by Sinatra, when Mom won't let him on the counters
Natural Habitat: Cat bed, human bed, end of the couch cushion, closet, inexplicably in the bathroom
Catch Phrase: "I'm giant and orange, but I think I'm a 2 lb kitten. Rub my belly?"

Name: Luna
Nicknames: Looney, Looney Tooney, Luna Tuna, Lunaface, Miss Face, The Face, Little Girl
Age: 6 (but she's an old soul)
Weight: 16 lbs (she's the densest cat ever)
Likes: Laying on Ken, hiding, sleeping in sunbeams, sleeping as close to you as humanly possible
Dislikes: New people, the kitten, loud noises, change, the vacuum, being picked up
Natural Habitat: Under the kitchen table, under the bed, in any sunbeam she can find
Catch Phrase: "Nothing is okay, nothing will ever be okay!"

Name: Sinatra
Nicknames: Little Man, The Kraken
Age: 5 months
Weight: 4 lbs
Likes: Chasing anything that moves, tackling Gershwin, sleeping under chins, eating, playing with water
Dislikes: Being hissed at, not being allowed on the table, not being allowed to eat people food
Natural Habitat: All over the damn house, wherever you don't want him to be, under a chin
Catch Phrase: "WHEE!"

They're all rescues and all three have very distinct personalities. For example, Gershwin is currently lounging next to Ken, Luna is hiding upstairs in the cat bed in the hallway, and Sinatra has been chasing a wrapper from a lysine treat for the last 20 minutes. Welcome to Monday night in my home. As I was sitting here tonight, I found myself thinking of the crazy things I've said to the cats and thought I'd share a selection of them with you.

1. Why are you eating that paper?
2. No, you can't lay on my face.
3. Sorry cat, you're just going to have to accept that this isn't happening right now.
4. Get off. No, seriously. OFF.
5. Get down from there! You know better!
6. What the hell are you even doing up there?
7. Where did you find this? What even is this?
8. No, you can't climb in the oven.
9. Where's your sister/brother?
10. For the love of God, calm down, I'm trying to help you here.
11. Didn't we have this conversation?
12. Are you even listening to me right now?
13. Why do you need to be right there?
14. Well, that's what you get for running under my foot.
15. No. No. No. No. No. No. Fine.

It's a good thing they're cute, right? I wouldn't trade my fur-babies for the world, and honestly, if I didn't have a husband, I'd be a crazy cat lady for sure and would adopt ALL THE KITTENS! For more pictures of my cats (and other things, but I'm just being honest, it's mostly cats) follow me on Instagram and make sure you like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter so you're always the first to know when there's an update (about cats, or otherwise!)

And before I go, there are only a few things I love as much as I love cats, and one of those things is birthdays. Another one of those things is blogging. Let's combine the two and celebrate Becca's birthday this month with a giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The give-away runs until next Monday, so make sure you enter! Wouldn't it be nice to have some extra cash for the holidays? (Or you know, you could adopt a kitten or two!)

- A

Testing... Testing...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

... is this thing on?

Hi. I'm back. After the exam almost 2 weeks ago, I essentially fell off the face of the planet. I literally, (and I mean literally, not that stupid and incorrect OED definition that's been added because apparently as a society, we can't help but mangle our language) averaged 15 hours of sleep per day. I am fully convinced that after exams, one can have an "exam hangover". Mine just happened to last for almost a week.

The good news is that our anatomy lectures are all recorded and so we don't have to go to class (because there actually is no class there, just the recorded lectures), so I didn't have many lectures to go to at all, and the ones I theoretically should have attended I... didn't. Whoops. This week has been better with regards to lecture attendance though, so there's that.

I don't have much to report in the way of "things I did when I wasn't here," because most of my activities involved me being asleep. I did buy a new rug for our dining room:

The room is starting to look more... room-like, but I am still not in love with the set-up. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do with it since the room is the shape it is, but I'm working on it. Once the piano is in there, actually where the big, orange, cat currently is in that photo, I'm sure I'll feel better. At least, I hope that I'll feel better. Otherwise, I don't know what I'm going to do.

Oh, and it was Halloween. We had about 50 kids trick-or-treat at our house, and we only had 2 Elsa's! We had a few Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (boys and girls, rock on) and quite a few ninjas, oddly enough. We also had a tiny Hulk try to come in the house and pet Gershwin, which was so adorable I almost burst. We also had this guy show up:

And no, I didn't give him any candy because chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Also on Halloween, I dissected a cadaver, which I think is the most appropriate way I've ever spent a Halloween. Our cadaver is a 91 year old lady who we named Trudy, and she has great lungs. In all seriousness, though, as much as I can't stand dissecting things because I find it boring and not a helpful learning experience, I truly appreciate the gift our cadavers give us as students. So thank you, "Trudy," wherever you are. Because of you, I will be a better physician. (And way to take care of those lungs.)

I also learned the important reason I set the coffee pot to brew the night before, because otherwise I have to operate my coffee pot before having had coffee, and then this happens:

Yes, friends. I forgot to put the coffee in my coffee pot before brewing said coffee. Whoops. Fortunately, I had time to brew a real pot before class, otherwise I may have committed a felony. Semi-related, I learned that Sinatra is alternately afraid of and intrigued by our coffee pot. This is what making coffee with a kitten in the house is like:
He knows he isn't supposed to be on the counter, and in fact, the next thing after snapping this photos was to spritz him with that purple spray bottle sitting behind him, but he kept getting back up there to investigate. He kept trying to stalk it, but then it would hiss or bubble, and he'd get scared and back off. My kitten is cute, but he isn't that bright.

Did I do anything else exciting? Not really. Went to class, slept a lot, dissected a cadaver... you know, run-of-the-mill stuff. This weekend should be fun because my dad is coming to visit from FL, and I haven't seen him since the last time he was here, which was over the summer. We're probably going to check out this exhibit at The Franklin Institute (because we're a bunch of nerds), watch a lot of football (during which I will knit and be confused), take in a movie, and eat a lot of delicious food. Tomorrow though, before the fun commences, I will be cramming anatomy into my brain like it's my job, which I guess it kind of is at this point. #medstudentlife

OH! And one more thing! I met Anna Nalick!


I went to World Cafe Live on Tuesday night for her concert with a few friends, and afterwards, she hung around to sign things and meet people. She is the sweetest, and I'm so glad that she's back on the music scene. Her next album should be out sometime in 2015, and I am STOKED. It was 8 years ago that Jenn, Brian, and I met while in line at our first Anna Nalick concert, back when the House of Blues in Atlantic City still existed.

Team Nalick, then and now!

And on that note, I'm off to go feed the parking meter (so my car doesn't get towed again) and then study until my appointment later this afternoon. Then... more studying. Thanks for checking in, and I swear, more interesting, amusing, and perhaps even useful things will be around this space soon! In the mean time, head over to Becca's blog to check out my guest post on how I ditched cable and how I'm surviving.

Have a lovely Thursday, y'all.

- A

I Can't Today.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Today is not going how I thought it would be going, and I'd like to submit a complaint to the management. Mercury is so retrograde right now it hurts. Just have to make it to Saturday.

How I Thought Today Would Go: Wake up for an invasive procedure at a doctor's office (we'll just leave it at that), blood work, therapy, studying until I fell asleep, went to class, or died.

How Today Is Actually Going: Woke up for an invasive procedure at a doctor's office, blood work, therapy, found out my car had been towed from a handicapped spot because my placard had fallen down, locating my car, paid a $21 cab fare to get across town to rescue my car, paid $175 to get my car back, found out that I had to drive back across town to contest the towing and the ticket, parked, walked to the other office, waited in line, was told that I can't contest the towing or the ticket today  but that I could schedule a hearing, couldn't schedule a hearing because my ticket wasn't even in the system, drove home in the rain, ate gross fast food for lunch, threw every piece of change in my wallet all over my car, and then sat in this Starbucks and tried to restrain myself from standing up and screaming, "THAT'S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS!" when a lady sitting next to me was trying to convince another lady to try some natural products and included the phrase, "Yeah, tapeworms have a good amount of protein."


1. Tapeworms are parasites, you shouldn't voluntarily ingest them.
2. Tapeworms are designed to live in your GI tract, unharmed, so no, you can't digest them... otherwise, we wouldn't have this problem.
3. That is not how science works. Or life. Please go home.


So yeah, that's my day. I'm also freezing and exhausted and I have to cram so much information into my head that while in the cab on my way to wherever the hell today, I wasn't wearing my seatbelt and actually thought, "Well, if I die in a fiery car wreck, at least I don't have to take this exam tomorrow."

Welcome to crazytown, population: Me.

Or, as I said to someone the other day, "I am on the Struggle Bus to Struggle City."

Fortunately, I have since ingested a warm chocolate chip cookie and a latte, so I'm doing much better than I was before that. Also, here are some things that are good:

1. My name isn't Phillip Phillips.
2. My car has heated seats.
3. I found a bobby pin in my purse so I can keep my bangs out of my eyes.
4. I found a seat at the Starbucks by 2 outlets. TWO.
5. In 21 hours, this exam will be over and I can drink heavily relax.
6. My kitten thinks I am the best thing in the world. Ignore the fact that he thinks this because I am the one with the food.
7. I just got a coupon for 50% off everything at LOFT and I'm going to order this dress because I need it in my life.
8. I don't have bed bugs. Or any parasites, for that matter.
9. I have a massage scheduled for Monday. I hope she doesn't mind if I pass out and drool on her table.
10. Pam sent me a picture of this llama:

And in case you're having a day like mine, here's an adorable porcupine eating a pumpkin. I want to hug it, but that would probably be the worst life choice I've made yet. Yes, even worse than that time I got a graduated bob.

Okay, I need to go study now, because this binder is my best friend. The kind of best friend that you want to light on fire and throw out a window. Yeah, that kind.

Send help. And caffeine. And for tomorrow, wine.

- A

Living the Dream... Or Some Reasonable Approximation Thereof

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hi. I'm still alive, just mostly buried until a giant pile of notes and textbooks and study guides, swimming in a pool of my own tears. See also: Exam week.

This weekend wasn't super exciting, except for that Ken and I got to see my brother's a cappella group, After the Bar, perform as the opening act for Keystone A Cappella. It was really fun, and I was the world's proudest big sister ever.

Then on Saturday, I slept in and our new dining room table was delivered. It's beautiful:

The best part is that it is easily distinguishable from our floor, which was not the case with our former table.

Apparently, having our table delivered was entirely exhausting, because I went back to sleep for another 2 hours before heading out to Starbucks. I set up camp there and didn't leave for 7 hours, minus the 30 minutes I took to eat dinner with Ken at Chipotle. My friend, Julianne, came to study with me and she reminded me that yes, I do have friends in med school. She is pretty much the best and I need to hug her to thank her for her friendship and sanity-saving this weekend.

Saturday night, I continued studying at home until roughly 4 am, although from 3:30-4:00 or so, I was just knitting and finally catching up on this season of American Horror Story. As Julie said, "It's effed up." This is not surprising, given that it's Ryan Murphy and American Horror Story, so effed up is the name of the game. As expected, the acting is on-point, the writing is fabulous, and the story is shaping up to be quite interesting. The clown that everyone is talking about isn't as terrifying as I thought he'd be, but there's one character on there who isn't even one of the "freaks" that totally creeps me out.  Are you watching AHS? What do you think? Do you have coulrophobia? (If so, don't click that link about the clown, and if you did, I am not responsible for any of your medical bills or therapy that may be required as a result of viewing that article. Call my lawyer. Just kidding, I don't have a lawyer.)

ANYWAY, that was Saturday night. Sunday, I slept in again (because bed at 4 am) and then spent 4-5 hours at the library at school. We were baffled by the desk lamps, which led to this conversion:

Med Student 1: Med Student 2 came over and was freaking out because she can't figure out how to turn this light on.
Me: I know, she was under the table for awhile trying to fix it.
Med Student 1: I told her I'd come look at it. ::inspects lamp:: I think there might not be a light bulb in this...
Med Student 3: That could be a mitigating factor.

See also: How many med students does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

This gem also happened:

Med Student 1: Are there educational goals?
Me: Yeah. Don't fail. 

The rest of Sunday was spent studying, again until almost 4 am, which resulted in sleeping until 10 am today, and subsequently missing my appointment to get my car's oil changed and figure out why the engine light randomly lit up. Because that's what I needed this week.

Anyway, this weekend, my brain felt totally overwhelmed and overly full. There were many times I wanted to give up. There were many times that for an hour or two, I did give up. I just closed my notes, picked up my knitting, and watched an entire episode of something without trying to also outline something or cram information into my brain. During exam weeks, if you were to ask me how I was liking medical school, I'd probably tell you that it sucked, I hated it, and that I wished I could just go back to my office job where someone paid me to essentially organize large piles of paper while drinking coffee made by the office Keurig. If you asked me whether you should consider going to medical school, I would probably tell you to have your head examined and to pick something that was less expensive, less time consuming, and less stressful. When I left the library yesterday, I wanted to run screaming from the building and not look back. 

That all sounds pretty terrible, huh?

I have to keep reminding myself that about a  year ago, I was waiting for secondary applications for medical school and was hoping and praying to any deity that would listen that I would eventually be accepted somewhere. I slept, ate, and breathed med school applications. Whether I would be accepted consumed my every waking thought, and probably most of my dreams as well. When I was finally accepted in February, it was a huge weight that lifted off of my shoulders, if only momentarily, to be replaced with the much heavier load of, "Oh God, I'm going to go to med school." Regardless, I was finally getting to achieve this dream.

When people say, "Living the dream!" it's often sarcastically. You can almost hear the eye roll, the exasperation, the wish to be anywhere else, doing anything else. In fact today, I said to a classmate, "Yup, just living' the dream," and she chided me saying, "You should be more excited about it!" 

You know what? She's right. All 162 of us in this class are living the dream. The dream that at some point, none of us knew would be a reality. Out of over 5,000 applicants, we are part of the 3% that made the cut. There are plenty of people out there waiting for another admissions cycle, praying and hoping that they too can get to live their dream of becoming a physician. Sure, the dream may certainly feel misguided at times, and this week, I kind of feel like I'm living a nightmare instead of a dream, but this is it. This is what I wanted. For better or worse.

So yes, tonight I will go home after class, eat dinner, and shower, all the while minimizing the time it takes to do those things so I can get back to studying. I will continue to massacre my sleep schedule in the name of studying, and my husband may forget what I look like. My friends and family may wonder if they'll ever see me again. My blog will probably be neglected. (When you can barely remember to shower and eat, this is not a surprising idea.)

Eventually, Friday will come, I will take my exam from 8-12, and then I will go home and collapse into bed. Then I will reset my life and we will start this entire thing all over again. In a mere 60 days, we'll take our final exam for the first semester of our medical school careers, and then we'll be 1/8 of the way to being doctors. This is not a drill! 

We are all living the dream... or a reasonable approximation thereof.  I have to remind myself how damn lucky I am to be able to say that. It truly is a privilege, and I hope that all of you can say that you too, are living your dream.

- A

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