Tomorrow is Gonna Be Better

Monday, March 31, 2014

I've been listening to a lot of Joshua Radin lately. This is one of my current favorites:

Okay, so apparently, last week was not a good week for blogging. To be perfectly honest, last week was not much of a good week for anything except trying not to give up entirely on life, the universe, and everything. I was not great company last week, so I didn't feel the need to fill this internet space with negative stuff. I'm still not out of the funk entirely, but it's a new week and hopefully it will be better than last week! Much like last Monday, I'll use the Weekly Wrap Up and Weekly Wishes link-ups to get this week started.

Last week seems like it took forever to get through and now it feels really far away, which is fine by me.

On Monday...
the seller for the townhouse that we put an offer on asked for "highest and best" by 2:00. We talked to our realtor and decided to go up from our original offer, which was under the asking price, to the asking price. I also went out with my friend Patricia after work and we got a glass of wine at Tria Tap Room, then went and ate pizza for dinner. It was great to catch up with her, and I am really excited because she had gotten into 2 vet schools and chose to stay at Penn instead of going to Colorado, so we get to hang out! Yay!

On Tuesday...
we found out that the seller had gone with another offer and that we were the back-up offer on the house. Our realtor thinks that someone either went over asking or had more of a down payment. I was bummed, but there are other houses. I honestly don't remember what I did on Tuesday besides find out this information.

On Wednesday... I had to remove myself from the symphony for this concert. Not only have my neck, shoulder, and elbows really been bothering me, I also realized that I wouldn't be in the state the weekend of the concert because I am going to Madison to visit one of my best friends, Emily! I am really sad that I won't be able to play this concert because they're doing Tschaikovsky's 4th Symphony, which is lovely. I'm hoping that I will have time to go back in the fall, but with med school, who knows? The upside to this was that I didn't have to go anywhere on Wednesday night.

On Thursday...
I was really sad in the morning because Ken was leaving for Seattle to visit a friend that day after school and I wouldn't get to see him until Monday night. I'm really glad that he and his friend Pete got to go (and that the tickets were decently priced!) but I missed him! Thursday was kind of a hot mess at work and I had a huge, internal, meltdown about not being able to find a house and being frustrated by my health. Thursday night, I stayed up way too late and read an entire book by accident. The book was Life as We Knew It, which was pretty good. It's apparently part of a series, but I'm not totally interested in reading the rest of them. It's a dystopian-type YA novel about an asteroid that hits the moon and totally changes the Earth's climate, and it's written from the point of view of a 16 year old girl. It was okay, but as I've found with most fiction, not my favorite thing. The end wrapped up too nicely for me for it to truly fall into the category of dystopian... I apparently like my dystopian fiction to be as depressing as possible, as evidenced by one of my favorite books being Never Let Me Go. Thursday night was also a blast because on top of my emotional meltdown, my body decided to freak out. I broke out in a rash, a strange lump/bump has emerged on the underside of my wrist, and my rib and back muscles were in spasms. It was... less than ideal.

On Friday... I somehow managed to go to work on 4.5 hours of sleep, despite the fact that I felt like death warmed over. I spent the morning helping to transfer all of our samples from the liquid nitrogen tanks on this floor to the new liquid nitrogen tanks in the basement. Fortunately, the guys who manage that system were here and did all of the scanning, unboxing, reboxing, and actual moving of samples and I just had to supervise and pull things out of the LN tanks. I left at noon to go to my rheumatologist's office for my loading dose of my new med, Orencia. I was pretty anxious because it's a biologic medication and while they're standard for RA and other autoimmune diseases, they're still a big deal. There are different biologic meds out there (you've probably seen commercials for Enbrel or Humira) that all act on different components in the immune system, but each one acts to effectively "turn down" your immune response. This is great for autoimmune disease, but not so great for keeping you from getting infections, so patients have to be careful. Orencia prevents T cells from being activated and it won't cause anti-TNF-alpha induced lupus (which apparently, some of the other drugs can cause in patients like myself who have more vague diagnoses). I don't have to go back for any more infusions because I am switching to the self-injectable form this week, so I'll be able to give it to myself weekly. I was pretty nervous about the infusion because some people react poorly to them, but I did fine.

Go, Orencia, go!
Not picture in the above photo is the nurse who first tried to put the IV in my forearm, missed the vein entirely, insisted on fishing around for awhile until I finally asked her to just stick me again, and who left the first needle in my arm while she was placing the second IV. Oh, also not pictured is the ugly bruise that was at my IV site because the nurse pulled my IV out at an angle for unknown reasons. ::eyeroll:: After my infusion on Friday, I went to Target to get the last part of Ken's anniversary present (Friday was our 5 year date-iversary and we are going out this week to celebrate) and get a few things, then went to get a haircut and highlights. I haven't managed to take a picture of the new 'do yet because it rained all weekend and every time I did something to my hair, the weather just ruined it. I promise to post one this week, though! And then Friday night, I went up to the car dealership to finally get the SD card for my car's GPS, pick up my second key and owner's manual, and also get my permanent license tags. I also got them to give me free floor mats because I had waited for a whole month for them to get this SD card and as such, was unable to use my GPS. After that ordeal, I met my mom for dinner, which was nice, and then I went home and passed out. Wow, Friday was kind of busy, haha.

On Saturday...
I woke up and went to Accepted Students' Day for med school with my mom! It was... overwhelming and insane. There were lots of people there because students were able to bring up to 2 guests, and there were lots of current med students and faculty milling around. The morning was spent being talked at by various Deans and advisors etc, and then we had a question-and-answer session in smaller groups with med students, which was useful. After that, we had lunch, and financial aid gave a presentation, which made me think I was going to vomit because debt is horrible and I have a lot of it thanks to undergrad and my MPH. Also at that point, I was sick and tired of being around so many people and I was exhausted and cranky. I spent the rest of the day mentally freaking out about finances and wishing I could go home and sleep. I did learn about the curriculum changes, all of which seem like good ideas to preserve sanity, and I got to talk to the financial aid people some more. After talking to some more students, my mom and I went home and I took to my bed for the rest of the day. I ended up taking a 3 hour nap, watching lots of DVR'd TV, eating cereal for dinner at 9 pm, and going back to sleep at 11. I also stress-ate a lot of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Whoops.

On Sunday...
I slept in and then met up with Patricia again. She took the train over from Philly and we went to Groove Ground in Collingswood. I wish that it hadn't been raining because it's always nice to walk around in downtown Collingswood, but alas, it was gross outside. We ended up at the Cherry Hill Mall and totally did not find anything worth buying, sadly. I did find this trench coat at H&M, but it was $60 there (although $25 online.. and totally out of stock) but I decided not to get it because $60 seems steep for anything at H&M. I also went to The Container Store, which is totally one of my happy places because it just makes me feel better to be somewhere so organized, haha. I finally acquired canisters for my flour and sugar, and I also got a counter organizer for my make-up. Yay organization! I then spent the rest of Sunday in my pajamas, doing laundry, eating Chinese take-out, and watching Amy Schumer's stand-up special on DVD. I also ordered new bras. FINALLY.

It's worth mentioning that when I told Julie this exciting news (she is my bra-guru... the girl has a gift, much like her gift-giving ninja abilities) she replied, "Brazel tov!" which made me literally snort-laugh at my desk. Ladies, this is the new way we are to congratulate one another when we purchase bras. Please adjust your vocabularies accordingly.

So that was last week. On to Weekly Wishes!

The Nectar Collective

Last week, I had 5 goals:

1. Get blood work drawn.
2. Go to the library to pick up books on hold and donate old ones.
3. Put together a blog schedule of sorts.
4. Get my viola to the luthier for new strings and decide where I want to take my bow(s) for rehairing.
5. Purge my closet, find the holes in my wardrobe, and figure out a plan of attack to fill them.

I accomplished 0.5 of them, with that 0.5 being to go to the library and pick up the books that I had on hold. I did nothing else on the list. At all. Perhaps this week will be better!

1.  Order transcripts for Rowan SOM.
I don't know why, but I have to send official transcripts to Rowan even though nothing has changed since they got the LAST official transcripts that I used to apply in the first place. Oh well. I already sent in my deposit and paperwork to start their summer program, and I can't send in the health forms until after I see my doctor, but at least I can send them my transcripts and check that off the list.

2. Get blood work drawn. Yeah, this still needs to happen. Ken has to go get his drawn this weekend, so I'll just go with him. What a fun and romantic date, right?

3. Go house hunting! (And don't have a meltdown.) Is it fair to put this down if you know you're doing it? I guess the second part of that goal is the more important one.

4. Do a closet purge.
For real this time. I'll also need to do this to figure out what I'm wearing to our anniversary dinner on Friday night!

5. Finish scholarship essays/paperwork and submit the application. Last week, I started the application for the National Health Service Corps scholarship for medical school. If I was awarded the scholarship, it would cover my tuition and fees for 4 years, plus a living expenses stipend. In return, I would be contracted to work for 4 years with the National Health Service Corps as a physician in primary care (my field would be pediatrics) in a health-professional-shortage-area. I know that I want to spend part of my career working in a medically under-served community, and this would be a great way to do it. If I don't get the scholarship, I plan to look into their loan forgiveness program once I finish my residency. I have a bunch of paperwork to finish for the application though, so that needs to happen or I definitely won't get the scholarship!

So, that's that! Don't forget to head over to The Nectar Collective and Ameliorer la Vie to check out some other bloggers' weeks and upcoming goals. Hopefully I'll be around this space some more this week, and hopefully I'll have some house hunting updates after tomorrow. For me, I'm heading out soon to get a massage and see my long-lost husband!

- A

Wrapping Up, Looking Ahead

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday always seems to come back around too quickly, doesn't it? I don't know about all of you, but I always feel like I could use at least one more day of weekend before diving headlong back into the week. I tried to psych myself up to get out of bed this morning by saying that on Friday, I would be working for half a day, but it's hard to get excited about that because I'm leaving early to go get my loading dose of my new RA med, which doesn't exactly sound like a bucket of thrills. Whoo hoo IV medication that might make you feel disgusting! (No, not really at all.)

ANYWAY, it's Monday, so let's make the best of it! Today, I have not one, but TWO link-ups for you! The first is one that I'm really excited about because it fits in nicely with how I usually like to start my weekly posts anyway. Rachael of The Rachael Way hosts The Weekly Wrap Up with Lisa of Ameliorer la Vie and it's a nice way to recap your week, read about what other bloggers did with their lives, and meet some new people! Let's start with that one!

Last week was kind of a hot mess. It all turned out for the best, I think, but going through it was not the most fun I've ever had.

On Monday, it snowed, and I nearly committed a felony due to my rage at the seemingly never-ending winter that is plaguing the northeast this year. Monday night, I got a massage and it was amazing and I wish I could go every week. At least I have on scheduled for next Monday!

Tuesday, it did not snow, which automatically made Tuesday way better than Monday. I also saw my therapist, which is often the best hour of my week. She is a life saver. Literally. Tuesday night, Ken and I went house hunting and saw a townhouse that we liked enough to consider putting an offer on it. We ended up not doing that. More on that later. Tuesday night, I also packed for my trip and spent a lot of time whining about how I didn't want to go to Florida and how I thought it was possibly a stupid and irresponsible idea. I spent most of Tuesday night tossing and turning, not sleeping very well at all.

Wednesday, I woke up at 6 am and couldn't go back to sleep, so I got to work stupidly early. It was Wonderful Stuff Wednesday and I talked about our recent house hunting adventures, including the time we were accosted by wild turkeys. I spent most of Wednesday morning going back and forth about whether I was going to get on my flight to Florida later that afternoon, finally deciding that I couldn't possibly go away for 6 days when there was so much going on here with work and house stuff. I successfully told my dad that I was changing my plans and shocking no one, he didn't disown me. The worst part of the day turned out to be having to lug my bags to and from work for no real reason. Wednesday night, I didn't go to symphony rehearsal because I was in pain and exhausted. I spent most of the night laying in bed watching DVR'd TV.

Thursday, I woke up, exceptionally glad that I was not in Florida. Nothing exciting happened on Thursday. Thursday night, a new house came on the market so I emailed Linda to see if we could see it Friday night or Saturday.

Friday, the lab tech at work was a giant pain in my butt and I exchanged these messages with my friend Pam:

Me: What's the rule on punching lab techs?
Pam: Call Occupational Health if they bleed when you punch them.

But, it was Friday, the weather was better, and we had appointments to see houses on Saturday morning. Friday night, Ken and I went to my mom's house for dinner, which was lovely because she made pot roast and there are few things that I love more in life than my Grandma's pot roast recipe and kasha. Sadly, I was so tired that I didn't have time to make challah, but we lived. We got to visit with my mom's friend Janet, who was visiting from NC with her daughter and man-friend. It was a good time.

On Saturday, Ken and I got up and saw 2 houses with our realtor. We were supposed to see three, but the second one we were scheduled to see had a broken storm door and we couldn't get to the lockbox. Apparently, the tenant that is currently living there is shady and doesn't like people seeing the house so... I guess he thought he just wouldn't let anyone in? Who knows. We ended up putting an offer in on the first townhouse we saw that morning, which was a lovely end-unit with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, hardwood floors in the living room, and updated an kitchen and bathrooms. The house had only come on the market late on Thursday night, but we were somehow the second offer, so we weren't sure what would happen. I spent the rest of Saturday relaxing, napping, and watching DVR'd TV. It was a very lazy day. I also took my methotrexate, which made me feel like crap. YAY.

Yesterday, we were supposed to go to lunch with my brother, my mom, and my mom's friends, but they picked a spot in Philly that is not my favorite and I didn't feel like driving into the city. I rescheduled plans with my friend Patricia for Monday after work, and then spent the rest of the day cleaning, doing laundry, reorganizing my bookshelf, and generally being lazy. The methotrexate really takes it out of me and makes me feel foggy, so I usually end up spending the day after I take it trying to take it easy. Overall, it was a very relaxing weekend and we were even pretty productive.

Which leads to our next link-up... Weekly Wishes!

The Nectar Collective

1. Don't murder anyone over the weather. - Check! Good to know, right? Always good to put an easy goal on your list.

2. Be packed before 2 am on Tuesday night. - Check! Even though I ended up lugging my bags to work only to turn around and drag them back home, my goal of being packed was achieved.

3. Actually attempt to learn short rows and work on the shawl.
- Thumbs down on this one. I did watch some Youtube videos and look at some tutorials... I just didn't do anything with my project. Whoops.

4. Read something. 
- Semi-check? I did read a few pages of The Noonday Demon, but I'm still in the history heavy chapter, which bores me. I'm hoping it's over soon, haha. I did put a bunch of books on hold at the library, though!

5. Schedule a freaking haircut.
- Check! Friday at 4:45! Highlights and a trim are happening. I'll have a fresh blowout for Accepted Students Day at Rowan this Saturday, too. Strategic hair appointments are key.

6. Vlog.
- Totally failed on this one. Not going to Florida, being exhausted, and basically shutting down my brain after leaving work meant that this just wasn't happening. Perhaps this Friday, but... I make no promises.

3/6 isn't bad! 4 if you count reading a few pages as "reading something". Not too bad. I'm especially proud of #1, even though I shouldn't be, haha. Also, I totally reorganized my drawers on Sunday, so even though that wasn't this week's goal, I am still counting it. Whoo! I can finally find things!

As for this week:

1. Get blood work drawn.
I have been holding onto a prescription from my primary care doc and one from my rheumatologist. (Side note: Blogger thinks that "rheumatologist" is not a word. What the heck?) They're not urgent in the I might be dying sense, but I'm sure my doctors would like results from them.

2. Go to the library to pick up books on hold and donate old ones.
While reorganizing my bookshelf over the weekend, I thought about how much I don't want to move all of these books the next time we move (which theoretically could be this May/June). I also thought about how I needed to really go to the library to pick up all of the books that I've been putting on hold. If I don't go by tomorrow, they're going to put some of them back, which would make me sad. Not that I couldn't just request them again but... it's the principle of the thing.

3. Put together a blog schedule of sorts.
I'm not sure if I'm 100% ready to schedule my posts out for weeks at a time, but I would at least like to have some idea of what I'm writing every week. I haven't been good at writing with any kind of consistency, and I feel like I'm kind of all over the place with content, so I want to try and focus on what I want to be going on here. I am thinking about getting this planner printed and bound at Staples. Has anyone used this or another blog planner that they like?

4. Get my viola to the luthier for new strings and decide where I want to take my bow(s) for rehairing. 
I am usually really good about getting my viola  "check up" once a year, but last year I missed it and now I really need new strings. (I've broken 2 A's and I am officially out of spares.) It has also been an embarrassingly long time since I had my bow rehaired. Additionally, I'm playing on a "spare" bow because my original bow that I bought in 2004 with this viola had an accident and now looks like this:
Image credit to Joshua Henry, bow maker and restorer
Sad day, indeed. I don't even remember how this exactly happened because it was so long ago, but after researching a bit, it seems like it should be fixable, even if the value of the bow is totally shot. I was never planning on selling it, so I'm really just going to happy if it's usable. We'll see. There is a place in Haddonfield that I could try, and there is a bow maker/repairer in Mount Airy that comes highly recommended. Decisions, decisions.

5. Purge my closet, find the holes in my wardrobe, and figure out a plan of attack to fill them.
Ok, so this is more of a three step goal, so maybe I should just stick with "purge my closet". I find that I wear the same things every week, while much of my closet's contents languish in disuse. I've also recently lost 15 pounds (although not in any way I'd recommend) and my clothes all fit differently now. Some are still wearable, but others need to go (looking at you, size 12 jeans and size 10 work pants). Basically, this is another declutter/organizational push spurred on by the potential move in our future. Less to pack! Also, an excuse to buy new clothes? As much as I dislike shopping, new clothes are always fun.

So, now you know what I did last week and what I plan to do this week! Let's see if I can accomplish at least half of these goals. The overarching goal, as always? Stress less, worry less, freak out less. We'll see how that goes...

Happy Monday, all. Don't forget to link up with Melyssa and Rachael for either of these link-ups. Meeting new people always brightens my Mondays!

- A

And Then We Got Accosted by Wild Turkeys (And Other Adventures)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Well folks, it's Wednesday and I've already had at least three meltdowns, including one before 6:30 am, which has  to be some kind of record, right? I'll expect my certificate to arrive in the mail any day now, thanks. It's also Wonderful Stuff Wednesday, so there will be some fun links down at the bottom to check out. But first, a story. Or three.

As I mentioned before, Ken and I have been house hunting. This has been... an experience. Adjectives that I might use to describe this experience include, but are not limited to confusing, interesting, exciting, terrifying, annoying, bizarre, unsettling, thrilling, gross, enlightening, educational, and fun. Sometimes, it's all of those things at once. It's also caused me to say a lot of things, such as:

"Why would this person paint all of the rooms in their house various neon colors? Oh God, it looks like a clown tripping on acid designed this place."

"Why on earth is this carpet mauve... and more importantly, why is that wall made of marble?"

"Well, I guess you could paint your walls and your ceiling hunter green... that's a choice."

"Oh hey, this wall paper is literally taped to the walls."

"Why is there a random spiral staircase here when there's a perfectly functional, normal staircase in the front of the house?"

"I think someone stapled this carpet down through the top..."

"Why are all of these doors lockable from the outside? Eek."

"Oh hey there's a fireplace... in the bedroom?"

"Why the hell is this entire kitchen covered in contact paper?"

"Do you think someone died in here?"

"I think I need a round of vaccines after being in that bathroom."

"I guess it's cool that there's a third floor... but what the hell would we do with this space... and why are there three ceiling fans up here?"

"Is there a reason this lamp looks like a disco ball?"

"I guess these people really liked this grey carpet... that they put in every room of their house."

"Can I fit in that closet under the stairs?"

"I think that dishwasher is older than I am."

"Holy shit, wild turkeys."

Yes, there was a herd of wild turkeys at one of the condos we saw yesterday. A small herd.


These guys (girls?) were literally trying to attack our realtor's car as we turned into the parking lot of the condo complex, and then I had to shoo them away from my driver's side door when I attempted to exit my own car. They were less than thrilled. Apparently, there are 2 more that belong to this group, and there's another herd of 5 more turkeys that wander the area. One of the neighbors told us that the groups showed up about 6 months ago and they have no idea why or from whence they came. Also, turkeys are aggressive, man.

As you can see, it's been quite the adventure. So far, we've seen 9 houses, 8 of which were no good. We saw one last night that we weren't 100% "IN LOVE" with, but we might put an offer in anyway just to see how it goes. It's a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom townhome in Marlton, which is where I grew up. It's much more spacious than what we have now and has some nice upgrades. It would need paint, and I'd like to replace the carpets (either with new carpet or laminate/fake hardwood), but it has a new roof and the windows are newer. There is a tiny backyard where we could grow some herbs or veggies, lots of closets/storage, and a fireplace (although that's in the dining room, oddly). It has a galley kitchen, which are not my favorite, but it's not nearly as narrow as the one we used to have, there's decent counter space, and the appliances are newer. There's nothing really wrong with it... but I didn't have that "WOW" moment that I guess I was expecting. Can I see us living there? Sure. I guess. But again, there wasn't some magical moment.

Although, I didn't really have that moment when I bought my wedding dress, either. I liked it, it was fine, I could see myself getting married in it, and it was in my budget. There wasn't anything really wrong with it, minus the fact that I hated how much I weighed, but then I lost 40 pounds and things were better. So maybe I'm just not someone who has "moments". For those of you who have bought houses... what do you think? How did you know you found "the one"?

So yes, we were accosted by wild turkeys. Sometimes, life is random like that. In fact, life is really random and confusing at times, and plans can change in an instant. For example, between Monday when I posted and this morning, I had a huge meltdown about how I didn't really want to go to Florida while we were trying to house hunt and while work was kind of nuts, and this morning, I canceled my trip. Of course, it wasn't that simple and the cancellation of today's trip was preceded by yelling and freaking out while packing, a nearly sleepless night, waking up before my alarm and being unable to go back to sleep, arguing with myself while getting ready for work, multiple phone calls to my mom, crying while driving to work, a frantic email to a Twitter friend who offered her kind ear, the making of a T-chart, a half-started blog post, and finally calling my dad before he went to work to tell him that I was losing my mind going to have to reschedule my trip because I was somehow too stressed out to go to on vacation. (Figure that one out, will you?)

I guess it sounds kind of nuts to be that upset and stressed out about changing plans, but the real issue was that I didn't want to tell my dad that I wasn't coming and have him be really disappointed. After I was accepted to Rowan, I had toyed with the idea of canceling my trip and even had talked to my dad about it, but I decided that I needed to go anyway. The closer we got to the trip though, the less I wanted to go and the less reason I saw for going. I also knew that my anxiety about telling my dad my change of plans was completely and totally irrational, but there is some context there that you're kind of missing. The Reader's Digest Condensed Version is that my parents divorced when I was 3 and my dad moved to Florida, where he's lived ever since. Growing up, I barely had a relationship with my dad, not because he was a bad person, but simply because it's really hard to have a relationship with someone you barely knew when they left and who now exists 1300 miles away from your life. In high school, the relationship that I had longed for finally began to materialize and ever since then, we've been very close. We talk multiple times a week and try to see each other as often as we can. I know that the relationship is solid and stable, and that my dad supports me in my decisions. I also know that if I happen to do something that he doesn't like, he isn't going to stop speaking to me or disown me. At least... I know that intellectually.

Somewhere in my brain is the 7 year old girl who misses her dad and wants so badly for him to be a part of her life that she would literally do anything to make him happy. That little part of me lives and dies on his approval. (A similar part of me lives and dies on my mother's approval, but I spent a long time in therapy getting over my need for that. Or... at least I'm still in therapy working on that.) There was some part of me that was terrified to tell him that I wasn't coming because I knew how disappointed he'd be, and disappointing someone is one of my most hated things in life. I was worried that he'd tried to talk me out of it, or that he'd want to know why... when really, the reason was, "Because I can't imagine leaving right now because my life feels insane," which also sounds insane because who the hell is too stressed to go to Florida on vacation?? Oh right, I am. That would be me.

As it turns out, my dad didn't disown me, violently press "end call" on his cell phone, or decide to never speak to me ever again. He wasn't even angry (which apparently is surprising to no one but me). He was disappointed, but only because he really likes spending time with me. He said that no matter what, he will always support my decisions, and that he understands that I have to do what is best for me. He said that he knows that I have a life and that he has to fit into my life, not the other way around. It really was the best that conversation could have gone, and yet I still have some lingering sadness about not going because I do like visiting with my dad. I just am not in a place to go away for 6 days while house hunting, trying to keep work from collapsing into a pile, and while not feeling 100% physically well. I'm also pretty sure that by Sunday, I would have been ready to shoot myself out of boredom because we didn't really have any plans for while I was down there and I can only do nothing for so long. At least now, I can schedule the trip for when it makes more sense with my life and when I can actually go and enjoy the time I'm spending there. What a novel idea.

That's all the news from here today, so without further ado, Wonderful Stuff Wednesday!

First up, some graphics of the various ways in which Hollywood has destroyed our country in film. Who knew "The Blob" took place in Downingtown, PA? I sure didn't.

I also love when Jenny, writer of The Bloggess, recaps what search terms brought people to her blog. Some of my favorites this time around were:

“Why is everything making sense in my life?”  (Frankly, that would be disconcerting to me too.)

Mouse riding on octopus (The weird thing here is that seven different people looked for this.  I’ve disappointed seven people in one week.  At least.)

“You mean I’m not a reptile.”  (You sound disappointed.  But if you typed this you are probably not a reptile.  Or you’re a very talented reptile.  Either way?  Good news.)

“Is it safe to fix a loose needle on meth syringe with superglue?” (None of that is safe.  Everything you said is unsafe.  I’m not sure why I’m having to clarify that.)

This post on A Practical Wedding today, which has nothing to do with weddings, had me nodding along every line. What is it about our generation that makes us feel the need to do more, see more, have more, often to the point of self-detriment? I see it in myself all the time. How about you?

I might need this in my life. On a billboard.

Also, this is one of my new favorite songs and subsequently, new favorite bands. You might have heard this on the radio, but what intrigued me about it is the accordian! I swear, it's more fun than it sounds.

Anyway, those are some of the wonderful things I've found around and experienced. What's wonderful for you today? Share it in the comments... after the morning I had, I could sure use it!

- A

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

Monday, March 17, 2014

File this one under "N" for "Noise, fuck this."

For the love of God and all that is holy, make this winter end. If I wasn't leaving for Florida in 2 days, 6 hours, and 44 minute, I may have just given up on life today. And if my plane is delayed on Wednesday, I may punch someone. Sorry, everyone at the Philadelphia airport. You may witness a meltdown in Terminal C. Just warning you now.

Anyway, as you can see, it snowed here again! SHOCKING. I know that it's not technically spring, and even if it was, the weather wouldn't care... but seriously, I am so disproportionately hateful of this weather it doesn't even make sense. It makes me so miserable and I feel like this season has sucked out my soul, covered it in ice crystals, and left it outside in a puddle of slush. I'm honestly not even that excited to be spending 6 days in Florida because I'd rather be house-hunting at home, but I think that the sunshine and the palm trees will do me good. Also, I may commit a felony if I stay in NJ and that would really screw up my going to med school and becoming a doctor, so it's better for everyone if I go get some Vitamin D and enjoy not wearing 300 layers of clothing. 

Also, literary nerd alert, I'm aware that the quote I stole for this post's subject (from Richard III, which I admittedly have never read) is actually talking about how their long, awful, time is now over and good things are coming, but I'm using it in the way that John Steinbeck (and others) used it to express general dissatisfaction with the current events. And man, am I dissatisfied with the current events/weather. 

At least the weekend wasn't full of snow and horribleness. My friend Katie was visiting from Texas, and it was really good to see her because I hadn't seen her since our wedding! Sadly, I spent most of the weekend feeling really rundown and crappy (thanks, RA, methotrexate, and general pain) but it was nice to spend time together, even if it was mostly on the couch. Lots of delicious food was had, we watched Dallas Buyers Club (amazing, go rent it right now!), and caught up on each others' lives. We also went house hunting on Saturday, which probably deserves it's own post. Look for that later this week!

Sunday, I was supposed to go to the Anna Nalick concert in Reading, PA with a few friends, but I was feeling so crappy on Saturday night and woke up on Sunday feeling not much better that I decided that I couldn't go. I knew that I could have made it work, but I was already running on a deficit and I didn't want to completely wreck my body before the work week (and traveling). Being a grown-up sucks, basically. I spent the entire day in my pajamas and managed to do a couple loads of laundry and clean the bathroom before my headache landed me squarely in bed. The only thing this afforded me was the ability to clear out the DVR, which isn't all that much of an accomplishment, but hey, it was something. It's good to have goals. Speaking of which...

The Nectar Collective

Let's start with last week's goals:

1. Return library books.
Done! I even paid the fine I owed. I know, I'm impressive.

2. Reorganize my dresser drawers.
Nope. I thought about it yesterday... so there's that. I ended up just staying in bed and thinking about how nice it would be to organize my dresser. Not quite the same thing.

3. Get a haircut.
Nope. I fail at self-care, basically. Now I have to wait until next week when I get home from Florida, so I apologize to anyone who sees me and confuses me for a sheep dog.

4. Work on the shawl.Also no! I got the shawl out last night to work on it, but I couldn't focus on any of the YouTube tutorials for short rows long enough to accomplish anything. Also, I am still afraid that I'm going to screw it up.

5. Go house hunting!
Yes, but it was mostly a bust. Film at 11.

6. Post a bunch of stuff on sale for Craigslist/Amazon.
Done! If anyone needs MCAT prep materials or a TV stand, let me know! The MCAT prep stuff is mailable/Dropbox-able (that's totally a word). The TV stand... is not. Sorry.

So... 3/6. That's not so great, but at least I don't owe any more money to the library and they'll let me check out more books before my trip.

What do I want to accomplish this week? 

1. Don't murder anyone over the weather.
Ok, that's not really a real goal because it's not a real possibility that I would ever murder anyone. But still, good to remember that even this winter will end. Eventually.

2. Be packed before 2 am on Tuesday night.
I am the worst at packing before a trip. For example, the night before we left for our honeymoon, I was packing until 3 am and we woke up at 5 to get to the airport. It was not a good life choice. I'm only taking a carry-on bag because I refuse to pay for baggage unless I absolutely have to, and plus, I'm going to stay with my dad so there are some things that I don't need to bring (like large bottles of shampoo or other liquids, etc). I'm leaving directly from work on Wednesday afternoon, so I need to have everything I could possibly want to take with me packed and ready to go that morning. I'd also like to sleep for more than 20 minutes, so we'll see how that goes.

3. Actually attempt to learn short rows and work on the shawl.
With 6 days of practically nothing to do ahead of me once I get to FL, I should, in theory, have plenty of time to focus on a YouTube video (or 5) about how to do short rows.  After I'm finished with this shawl (which at this point, could take half of my natural life), I really want to start a sweater. I have about 94 patterns saved on Ravelry. Decisions, decisions.

4. Read something.
I somehow still have not finished The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon, and I haven't touched Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 486 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown since August. I also recently picked up a copy of Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs, and I have 6 books on hold at the library... and a bunch of books on my bookshelf that I haven't read yet. At least ONE of them should be finished while I'm on this vacation, right? Right.

5. Schedule a freaking haircut.
This is absolutely stupid, but here it is on the list again.

6. Vlog.
For weeks, nay, months I've been saying that I would Vlog Like a Boss with Ashten of Always Ashten on Fridays. I've always been "too busy" or felt weird recording a vlog in my condo while Ken sits in his office wondering why his wife is babbling incessantly to herself (or the cats). This week, though, I'll be home alone at my dad's house on Thursday and most of Friday, so I really hope that I can get a vlog done! Now I just have to decide what I want to talk about...

And speaking of Ashten, her sweet dog, Warner, has been diagnosed with Protein Losing Nephropathy, an uncurable disease that causes dogs to lose protein through their urine and it often leads to kidney failure. If you've ever had a sick pet, you know that it's horrible. And expensive. This weekend, I nearly had a heart attack because I thought something was seriously wrong with Gersh. I turned around to see him unable to stand up and walk in the middle of our living room. He basically wouldn't use his back legs, and he looked at me like he was so confused. The first thing I thought of was, "Oh my God, my baby is having a stroke. Or he's thrown a blood clot that's lodged in his spine. I am going to lose him." I ran to him immediately to try and figure out what was wrong, and he just wouldn't stand up. I called our vet, who of course wasn't there because it was Sunday, so I called the emergency vet. They said that I could bring him in and the charge for an office visit was $125, let along any x-rays, blood work, or medications he might need. I didn't care; I was ready to run out the door in 2 seconds and throw the entire thing on my credit card if it would help fix Gersh. Fortunately, Gershwin seemed to get over whatever had happened, and we concluded that he had simply gotten his claw stuck in the carpet, tripped, and pulled a muscle. An hour after the event, he was jumping up on the bed, eating, playing with toys, and being his adorable self. We were lucky, and I can't imagine what I would have done if we hadn't been. Ashten and Warner don't know how long they will have together, but they are choosing to fight this incurable disease for as long as they can. Having a sick pet drains your energy and your bank account, though, so if you can spare a few dollars, consider heading over to The Warner Fund and reading their story. Plus, Warner's adorable and Ashten dresses him in crazy outfits, so it's worth it. I promise.

Anyway, that's about all the news that's fit to print over here. Don't forget to link up your Weekly Wishes at The Nectar Collective, and if you live somewhere warm, please send spring-time vibes towards the Philadelphia area, okay?

- A

This is Your Brain

Friday, March 14, 2014

So, I was about a year old when this PSA aired, but I figured I'd post it because hey, always good to remind people not to do drugs. Unless they're legally prescribed to you for a specific purpose. Then you should take those drugs. But don't abuse those drugs. Promise? Okay, moving on.

Anyway, happy Friday to everyone out there! We made it! This weekend seemed interminable, but once again, we've arrived on the cusp of the weekend. My brain feels approximately like that fried egg up there, but that isn't the sole reason I posted that video. I actually wanted to post this video:

The first thing I thought when I saw this video was, "Man, I would seriously pay someone a lot of money to have a NOTHING box." I can honestly say that there hasn't been a moment that I can recall where I have been thinking of "nothing". It baffles me that sometimes, I can ask Ken what he's thinking and the answer is legitimately "nothing". HOW. How does that work!? I don't understand. Does not compute.

I've been having a rough time this week, and seriously could use a "nothing box". I couldn't figure out why, in particular. I don't feel terribly depressed or anxious, but I've had some weird symptoms that could be anxiety related. Especially at night, I've found that my lips and hands are tingly when I'm exhaling. There is pretty much no biological reason for this that I can fathom, so I'm going with "it's anxiety related" until proven otherwise. This doesn't necessarily make me feel any better, and it certainly doesn't solve my problem, but hey, it's better than saying that I might have some weird neurological problem, right? On top of that weird symptom, I realized this week that I've been having neck pain for over a month now. This doesn't seem necessarily important to note, but I think it's a large part of the reason why I'm so cranky.

If you search "chronic pain and depression" on PubMed, you get 6,002 articles back, so you could say it's pretty well documented that there is a relationship between pain and depression. Being in pain actually changes how your brain functions, which can, in turn, change how you act. People in chronic pain have been shown to have trouble making even simple decisions and interacting with others, as well as having difficulty concentrating. This is likely because when you're in pain, your brain is constantly being activated. That doesn't sound bad until you realize that your brain is trying to do a lot of other things besides process pain signals, so it ends up making a person in pain have similar deficits to those attempting to multi-task. Essentially... nothing good.  One of the explanations behind why people with chronic pain also have an increased risk of depression is that the pain not only "rewires" the brain, but also causes an increased reaction emotionally to other pain experiences. These brain changes basically make the patient feel hopeless in that the pain will ever stop, which often impedes someone's willingness to be treated for depression. Also not good.

So... I've been pretty cranky and I didn't really understand why. Nothing really seemed to be bothering me in the usual way. Unfortunately, anxiety and depression have this nasty way of  functioning below the level of awareness. I was talking to my brother about it, and apparently, as you start to address cognitive aspects, anxiety/depression often start to manifest themselves biologically or emotionally. (Thanks, anxiety. Love that feature.) On top of that, I've been in near-constant pain for over a month. I wake up in pain, I go to bed in pain, and I spend practically every moment in between those two events in pain. Is it excruciating, terrible, "oh my God, I'm on fire" pain? Not always. But on a scale from 1-10, it settles in at a 6 or a 7 for most of the day, occasionally getting up towards 9 and never much less than 4. I take a daily anti-inflammatory, so I can't even imagine how bad the pain actually is underneath the meds. My only relief is muscle relaxants or narcotics, which knock me out, and occasionally I can get the pain to decrease with heat or ice, although not in any appreciable manner or for any real length of time.

It sucks.

Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that I don't "deserve" to be cranky because I'm in pain. I'm doing as much as I can to make the pain go away and being cranky about it isn't changing anything. So then I got cranky because I was cranky. How's that for stupid? Intellectually, I know the toll that chronic pain can take on a person, and yet I don't allow myself that same "courtesy". This isn't all that surprising, given my proclivity for not being nearly as kind to myself as I am to others. I think another layer to this is that I am feeling frustrated at the inability of my various doctors to find a basis for this problem, let alone a solution for it. I was so relieved when I found my rheumatologist because he was the first doctor who was willing to listen to my symptoms and my history and who wanted to try to treat what was going on, even when he didn't have the perfect laboratory diagnosis. Now though, we don't know where this pain is coming from and the usual methods of decreasing or stopping pain aren't working for us. Despite the fact that I spent the better part of 7 years "accepting" that medicine might not have the answers for what was wrong with me, going back to that state is incredibly difficult, frustrating, and disheartening.

So yeah, I'm cranky. I guess that makes sense, when you put together underlying depression/anxiety, near-constant pain, and lack of clear direction as to where my health is going. What I'm trying to tell myself is that I'm allowed to be cranky, even if my only real option is to "suck it up" and deal with the pain. I'm allowed to express frustration, anger, sadness, confusion, whatever. This is a clearly frustrating ordeal. If I were counseling a friend or a patient in my situation, I would absolutely tell them to "feel their feelings" (one of my favorite things to remind people to do) and to validate those feelings. Feeling crappy isn't fun! What I'm not allowed to do is to take my frustration or crankiness out on others, which I think I've been doing a pretty good job at avoiding. I'm not allowed to let my pain or my frustration take over my life. I'm not allowed to let this destroy the otherwise decent existence that I've managed to cultivate this year.

Which brings me back to the brain video that I posted above. I can't put this pain in a box. This pain is in every box. Depression and anxiety is in every box. It's part of the reason I can't sit and think of "nothing". Even when I'm thinking of what I think is "nothing" there is pain, fear, frustration, and confusion underneath of everything. I guess that's why I'm still in therapy. I also guess that's why I'm so terrible at yoga or meditation. My brain really does feel like a giant, interconnected, tangle of crap. For knitters out there... my brain closely resembles yarn barf:

Image credit to Mirror Mirror Blog
Everything is connected to everything else and I can't possibly think of one thing without thinking of twelve other things that may or may not be tangentially connected to the original thing. It's just how I work. When I'm stressed out, the last thing I want to do is "nothing" because then it just stresses me out even more. I have a constant need, perhaps even compulsion, to continue thinking because somewhere in my brain, there has to be an answer. At least, that's what I tell myself.

(Spoiler alert: That is not the case.)

Sometimes, I think that I would love to be able to get to a point in my life where I can think about nothing. Where I can literally just exist without worrying about where I'm going, what I'm going to do next, or what terrors could possibly befall me. I'm certainly not there yet. I'm not sure if I'll ever get there. I don't even know what that would look like or how that would feel, to be able to live like that. I'm actually kind of terrified to find out, because on some level, constantly ruminating and perseverating lends some kind of control, or really, perceived control, to my life. If I'm thinking about it, I'm doing something, and therefore, I'm in control. (Spoiler alert: This is a big, fat, lie that I somehow continue to believe.)

So what is the point of all this? Brains are complicated. Pain, both emotional and physical, is complicated. Life is complicated. (Understate of the century.) So as I head into this weekend, what am I trying to do? I'm trying to enjoy myself. I'm trying to focus on the fact that a great friend is here and I don't get to see her very frequently. I'm trying to look forward to a day when I'm not in pain, even if I don't know when that will be. I'm attempting to keep my brain in a place of excitement and joy for the future, rather than trepidation and abject terror. Yes, there is a lot ahead of me, but there is a lot directly in front of me, right here, that is good.

I have a wonderful husband and two adorable cats. We're starting house hunting (tomorrow!) and the weather is (theoretically) getting warmer. My family is supportive and loves me (and mostly refrain from making me want to punch them in their collective face). I'm freaking starting medical school in June, and that in and of itself, is a gigantic accomplishment. I may be in pain, but there is going to be an end to that. I have to believe that it will eventually resolve because otherwise... well, let's not even talk about that because it's going to be fixed. Things are going to be okay. Somehow.

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend. Spend some time in your "nothing" box if you're lucky enough to have one (because I'm not entirely convinced that they evade women as a population), and remember to be kind to yourselves. Oh, and happy Pi Day. Pie fixes most problems, so when in doubt... eat some pie.

- A


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Wednesday, and somehow, it feels like this week is simultaneously dragging and flying by. Also, I have no idea how it's already March 12th, but I'm kind of not okay with that. I mean, the closer we get to June, the happier I will be, because June means leaving my job and starting med school, but I feel like days are slipping away without being used to their full potential. My March calendar is kind of overwhelming:

I believe in color coordination.
... although at least it's mostly fun things on there. And hey, my bills are paid for the month. Like an adult! In other "like an adult" news, Ken and I are meeting with the realtor on Saturday to see some houses... although she hasn't gotten back to me on when or which ones we're set up to see. Trying not to freak out about that. Trying not to freak out about a lot of things, actually, which seems to be my default setting.

But, it's a Wonderful Stuff Wednesday, it's sunny (or at least it was, I have no idea what it's doing now because my office is window-less), it isn't 20 degrees (although it will be tomorrow... joy), and one of my best friends is coming into town tomorrow. Also, I've decided to combine Wonderful Stuff Wednesday with "So What? Wednesday" which I found out about via The Florkens Let's get to it. First, some Wonderful Stuff!

I've had kind of a rough go lately. Daylight Savings Time continues to mess with me on physical and emotional levels, so I've been trying to find some good stuff to read. Some of that is about being kind to myself, like this post by Heather (of She really hit the nail on the head with her post about why we should be gentle with ourselves at this time of the year. One of my favorite parts:

"Give yourself credit for having a pulse, kid, because you open up the engine into any human being and you’ll find missing and broken pieces."

Or this post, by Ashten of Always Ashten. Talk about someone who's going through a lot right now. Her fur-child is sick and she is under a lot of stress, but she bravely told her story about her experience with anxiety and panic, and most importantly, how she is NOT sorry for who she is. Major props to her for that. I could use a shot of whatever she's having.

Sometimes, we just need to lay it all out there and declare what our roadblocks are. This open thread on A Practical Wedding is about exactly that, and how sometimes, we make our mole hills into mountains. I definitely needed to read that today.

And then there are times you just need to read about a rescue farm that enlists people to come snuggle the animals. No seriously, if you live in or around Santa Clarita, check out The Gentle Barn. They need people go snuggle the cows!

But if hugging cows isn't your thing, maybe you can snuggle premature babies.

And there's always this video of my cats losing their minds over the fact that Ken opened a can of tuna in their presence:

Plus, you can always say, so what...?

So what... if my cat occasionally gets out of bed before I do on weekends? Maybe he has something to do and I don't. Ever think about that?

So what... if sometimes, I eat cereal for dinner... multiple nights a week? Cereal is probably healthier for me than eating a brownie for dinner, right?

So what... if my dresser drawers are a complete disaster? At least I can find things... most of the time.

So what... if I unfriend people on Facebook who I haven't talked to in years... on their birthdays. What, it's the only reason I know they're even on my friends list!

So what... if I have 93 craft ideas "pinned" on my Pinterest boards and haven't accomplished a single one? Someday, when I have free time, I'll have LOTS of options.

So what... if I don't really need to take 4 days off to go to Florida for a med school interview anymore? I could still use some sunshine, 80 degree weather, and unlimited palm trees.

So what... if my idea of a great weekend usually doesn't involve leaving the house... or my pajamas? I'm an adult, and that makes this okay.

So what... if I am woefully behind on my DVR'd shows? That means I'm doing something more important, right? (Wrong.)

What are you saying "So What?" to this week? Link up over at Life After I "Dew" and check out some other lists... and don't forget to tell me what's wonderful on YOUR Wednesday!

- A

Life Update and Weekly Wishes

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hello, lovely readers! It's Monday, and it's the day after Daylight Savings Time began so I don't know about you, but I am really struggling today to stay conscious. I was fine for most of yesterday, but today my body is not having it. I am really glad that I have no plans after work tonight because I have a date with my pajamas, the DVR, and my bed. And also an ice pack, because I am still having a ton of pain for no apparent reason, and I also have a giant bruise on my neck/shoulder from my lidocaine injections last week:

Such a lovely shade of greenish-purple...
Anyway, aside from apparently now bruising like a peach, which I blame on taking a daily NSAID and weekly methotrexate, I'm doing pretty well. The weekend was lovely and very relaxing. On Friday, I visited my friend Jen and her 6 month old baby, to whom I am "Auntie Alison". I am pretty obsessed with her and I also was really excited to finally give Jen the endless baby blanket that I had started when she was pregnant. Better late than never, I suppose. Jen loved it, and my niece immediately tried to put it on her head... and then chewed on it, so I'm going to say that she liked it as well.

On Saturday, Ken and I slept in and then met with our realtor to discuss house buying things. I was really nervous (because apparently, house hunting makes me even more neurotic than I usually am... fun for everyone!) but our realtor, Linda, is wonderful. I've known her since I was in elementary school since she was our neighbor and her kids went to school with us, so it's comfortable to work with her. She is very on top of things, has a good sense of humor, and has a lot of good foresight; I'm so glad she's working for us! She took down all of the information we gave her on our wants and needs in a house, and also spent a lot of time explaining things like what goes into closing costs and the different types of mortgages. The best part, besides the fact that she is incredibly knowledgeable, is that I didn't feel stupid at all, even though I basically know nothing about buying a home. I know that that's the purpose of realtors, but still, it's nice to not be made to feel like an idiot.

After our meeting, Ken and I grabbed brunch, and then I got a migraine and took a 3 hour nap. So... that part was less than fun... but after that, my friend Lauren texted me and we set up plans for an impromptu get together for that evening, which was lovely and involved gourmet burgers, wine, milkshakes, crazy stories, and a lot of laughing at Zinburger in Cherry Hill. Sunday night, I was terrified that my phone would forget to switch over to DST and that I would oversleep and miss my massage scheduled for 10 am on Sunday morning, and I guess my anxiety was enough to wake me at 6:15 am. Surprising no one, my phone had "sprung forward" an hour, so that anxiety was quelled. However, I was unable to go back to sleep for... an unknown period of time, but was so over-tired that I was practically hallucinating and then having anxiety about that. So that was fun. I woke up to go to my massage and fortunately, didn't feel completely and totally zonked. My massage was good (as most massages are) and afterwards, I went home to prep for the people we had coming over later for food and games. The afternoon was really fun, but by 9:00 I was practically falling asleep on the sofa. Stupid Daylight Savings Time.

So yes, aside from being exhausted and bruising like an overly ripe piece of fruit, life isn't too bad for a Monday. It's sunny, it's over 50 degrees, and I get to go home and lay around in my pajamas. And it's also a great time for Weekly Wishes!

The Nectar Collective

I can't even remember what my last goals were the last time I posted a Weekly Wishes link up, so I'm going to assume that I accomplished them. Go me!

1. Return library books. 
I am really good at turning a free library into something that costs money. I read 1 of the 3 books I currently have checked out, and I had started a second one, but sadly, couldn't really get into it and then I realized they were overdue and needed to be returned anyway. They've been in my car since last week, but now they're a week overdue. The plan is to take them back tonight on my way home from work.

2. Reorganize my dresser drawers.
I don't know how, but my dresser seems to collapse into a chaotic mess every few months. I'm going to go ahead and blame it on entropy. In any case, my sweet husband puts away the laundry most of the time and he has no idea where things go, so they end up in places that they don't belong (according to my strange sense of categorization that is apparent to me and that's only occasionally, if I'm being honest), and then I'm running around going, "I can't find my pants!"... and that's never good.

3. Get a haircut.
This is just getting ridiculous.

4. Work on the shawl.
I think I need longer circular needles...
Thanks to my friend Alia, I learned how to pick up stitches from a non-live edge and now I just have to figure out how to do short-rows. And then... I have to block this thing, and since blocking a rectangular baby blanket gave me some problems, I'm not exactly looking forward to this task. Updates to follow.

5. Go house hunting!
This is happening on Saturday and I am SO excited. :-D

6. Post a bunch of stuff on sale for Craigslist/Amazon.
We really need to get rid of this TV stand that we aren't using that continues to live in the back of our living room, and I have approximately eleventy-billion MCAT prep books and other such materials that need to find new homes. Also contemplating selling my celtic harp b/c I don't really play it and it should be enjoyed by someone who really wants one... but I'm so sentimentally attached to it. Things to consider...

Anyway, it's 5:30 over here which means it's time to go HOME. Don't forget to head over to The Nectar Collective to check out the Weekly Wishes link-up and link up with your own goals. As for me, I'm out of here. My pajamas are calling my name!

- A

One, Five, Ten

Friday, March 7, 2014

As a blogger, I never thought I'd hear this statement come out of my mouth, but seriously... I am tired of writing about myself. Not in the blogging sense, though! For those of you who are fortunate enough to know nothing about the medical school application process, it is a process. A long, painful, obnoxious, expensive, process. Not only do you have take all of the right classes (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, labs, physics, math, and a plethora of "recommended" elective science courses) and take (and do well) on the MCAT (which costs money), you have to write a personal statement. Then you get to write even more essays about various things and how awesome you are for your secondary applications (which cost more money!)

By the time I finished this application cycle, I think I wrote a total of 21 different essays about why I want to be a doctor, challenges I've faced, lives I've changed, decisions I've made, what sets me apart from other applicants, number of orphans I've saved... whatever. I hate writing about myself for exercises like that. It feels forced and canned, and there's always some inane word or character count limitation. Who can write anything meaningful in 250 words or less? Especially with prompts like, "Noting the mission and objectives of the Osteopathic profession and (school name) , please describe your personal characteristics that demonstrate your interest in this field. Include an example of an event in which your actions directly influenced the life of another person and relate this to your goal of becoming a DO." In 250 words. You got it.

Surprisingly, I only had to write essay about where I saw myself in ten years. I thought that was interesting, as one would think that an admissions committee would like to at least have some idea of where their graduates think they're headed. It was for a school that had an huge emphasis on community service and under-served medicine, so I guess they also wanted to know whether that kind of thing fit into their applicant's future career goals. It was one of the less-painful essays to compose and I felt like I could really express myself in it. Of course, this doesn't come as a surprise to me because I spend most of my waking hours thinking about the future and and what kind of plans I can make. This can often be a problem because I end up not living "in the moment" ever and as soon as I accomplish one thing, I take approximately 3 seconds to celebrate it and then I'm moving on to the next thing to be tackled. I'm forever on a treadmill of "I'll be happy when..." and it's something I work on in therapy and on my own a lot.

There's a lot to say about plans. There's, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft agley," (who doesn't love some Scots poetry on a Tuesday afternoon?) Or there's always, "Life is what happens when we're making other plans," or the Yiddish proverb, "Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht" (Man plans and God laughs). Plans are some of my favorite things. I'm a self-professed control freak, and plans mean control... in my delusional brain, anyway. I make contingency plans for my contingency plans. It's kind of a problem... but hey, it's worked to get me where I am thus far, so I'm going to go with it. (This line of thought... not fully endorsed by my therapist. Hm.) Anyway, Bon over at The Life of Bon posted a link-up yesterday about where we thought we'd be 1, 5, and 10 years out of high school. Like Bon, my 10 year high school reunion is this year (what the hell?) and I am definitely not where I thought I'd be at this point... but I'm also definitely okay with that.

Senior Prom!
That's my date (and boyfriend at the time and for another 4 years after that), one of my best friends, Mike, and his then-girlfriend, Jen.

I'm pretty sure this was the last day of senior year in our AP Genetics class. Still friends with Kris, in the blue!

Year: 2004
Where I Thought I'd Be One Year Later:
I thought that I would be loving the hell out of being away at college at Wittenberg University in Ohio, finally away from my mom (who at that point, was like, THE WORST ::teenage angst::) and having lots of fun with my then-boyfriend, who was also going away to college in Ohio. I thought I'd be best friends FOREVER with my high school best friend and that the guy in the photo up there would be the great love of my life.

Where I Was: Turns out that going away to school is HARD, man, and when you're one of the only people who isn't from Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, or Kentucky, it's you and the international students hanging out in the dorms on many weekends. I loved my classes, things with the boyfriend were pretty good, and I had met THE BEST girls ever, but I missed my mom like crazy (funny, she was actually not the worst) and missed my cats and I missed my bed and I hated having to share a bathroom with 30 girls. At the end of my first year of college, I actually transferred to Drexel because being in Ohio was too hard. Also, I have approximately 0 digital photos from freshman year because I had a flip phone and no digital camera.

Sarah (AKA: LF - Little Friend) and me, our freshman year of college. She is my favorite!

A not-so-focused photo of my roomie (to my right) me, and some other fabulous ladies at... some kind of fancy dress-party during my freshman year.

The morning after an all-nighter before our cell bio exam...
Rockin' the Drexel sweatshirt and failing at using the blender.

I was in an all-girls acapella group. This was a show at Halloween. Yeah...

Marielle, Victoria, and I performing, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" my senior year in Naturally Sharp, the vocal jazz ensemble. We were the freakin' Andrews' sister, I'm telling you.
Somehow, David and I survived being bio majors and we both got accepted to med school and we graduated from Drexel in 2008.

Year: 2009

Where I Thought I'd Be 5 Years After High School:
I had such grand dreams, haha. In 2009, I planned to be in my first year of med school, married to that guy from the picture up there (my date, not Mike), and living the dream... or a reasonable approximation thereof... whatever that meant. I had no idea where I'd be going to med school, but I knew I was going.

Where I Was: Well, at the start of 2009, I was in the worst depression of my life to date. The guy I had been seeing in med school unceremoniously dumped me, I was failing 2 classes, I was homesick, and in February of that year, I had a complete breakdown, left medical school, and (voluntarily) spent 4 days in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. I moved back to NJ, stayed in bed for a few weeks, then eventually got my job as a unit secretary back. I started reconnecting with some of my friends and started dating a new guy. (Spoiler alert: That new guy is now my husband. Life is funny.) I was convinced I would never go back to med school and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Later that year, I started my MPH at Drexel University and was living at home, dating a guy who lived in Long Island, and spent my weekends driving up and down the turnpike to see him. It wasn't all bad (although I still hate the Belt Parkway!) I figured maybe I'd be an epidemiologist and work for the government. Who knows. At that point, I was glad to be alive since earlier that year, that proposition had been dicey.

My mom and me at the white coat ceremony... back before med school sucked my soul out.

Cats! I had to include this because Luna is an adorable kitten and Gersh crammed himself in a tiny box.

John and me at his rehearsal dinner. I was his "best man!"

Emily, Sarah, and me in Sarah's house the day after I was in John's wedding.
The first summer after Ken and I started dating we had dinner at Levi's... and I was really excited about this tomato sauce. I believe the caption to this photo was, "SAUCE-SOME!" Yeah, we went there.

My friend Constance, her then-boyfriend (now-husband) Paul, Ken and I went to Key West in December. SO fun!

Year: 2014

Where I Thought I'd Be 10 Years After High School: Obviously, I would be a doctor. A pediatrician. Possibly a neonatologist. I would be married and maybe thinking about kids. I didn't know where I would be living, but I figured it would definitely, absolutely, NOT be New Jersey. I would be successful and have money and be able to take vacations and would know what the hell I was doing with my life.

Where I Am: Well. I am not a doctor, but I'm going to start working on that in June (!!!). I still want to be a pediatrician. Maybe a neonatologist... or an oncologist... or a rheumatologist... or an emergency medicine physician. I'm living in NJ with my husband (who is NOT the original guy from my high school photos, but is the love of my life and one of the best people I know on this planet) and we're actually thinking of settling here and buying a house and raising our future children here. So much for definitely not living in NJ, right? 

By someone's measure, I guess I'm successful...? I have an advanced degree (that I'm not really using), I have a job (that doesn't pay what I'm worth), and I don't live with my mom anymore (although I did until 2011). I have enough money to pay my bills and even do some fun things, but please, let's not even talk about the mountain of educational debt I've acquired. Ken and I have taken a couple of vacations, including our amazing honeymoon, and we'll probably continue to at least get away for a few days every once in awhile. 

As for knowing what the hell is going on? I have no clue. I definitely know less than I thought I would by now, seeing as I figured that at 28, I would firmly feel "adult" and I do not. However, the more people I talk to, the more I'm finding out that none of us ever really know what's going on. We're all just faking it and some people are better at looking like they know what they're doing than others. What do I know?

I have the best friends in the world and an amazing husband. My family loves me and will be there for me no matter what, even if sometimes they make me crazy. I know how to work hard and I know that eventually, it gets me where I want to be. I know that I want to be a doctor and now, I'm going to med school and I couldn't be more excited. I know that life isn't fair and that's okay. And in the end, I know that I'll be okay, too. So will you.


Are you where you thought you'd be 10 years after high school? Is anything completely different than you thought it would be? Let me know in the comments, and have a great weekend!

- A

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