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!

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