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old school

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

This is quite the timely prompt. One, it allows me to procrastinate even more on studying for AAP (which I basically have decided is impossible). Two, this is exactly the direction I’m going in.

So, let me explain. The prompt asks about when was the last time you took the time to write something substantial in the old fashioned pen and paper. Well, I write my notes in class everyday with a pen and a notebook. I don’t know if that qualifies as substantial, but I’ll consider it as one. I’ve also started carrying around a small pocket notebook to write down all my ideas and to do lists or whatever. It’s the Baron Fig Apprentice. I’ve mentioned this brand quite a lot because it’s quality stuff. I love it. It has decent pricing and it definitely competes with the bigger brands such as Moleskine and Leuchtturm. I’ve practically converted to Baron Fig notebooks exclusively. (And no, I’m not getting any sort of endorsement from these guys. I just really really love their products.)

Going back to the old school idea of notebooks, it’s something I’m doing now. My notes have always been in the cheap Mead notebooks you get for about a quarter during back to school sales. That hasn’t changed since high school. But now that I’m getting into fountain pens, I’m starting to realize the quality of hand writing everything again. So much so, that this novel that’s been burning in my head for the last year or so as finally taken over my brain and I’ve decided to write it all down in a Baron Fig Confidant. It’ll just be notes for now, but I eventually plan on writing it all out as well as typing it because it’s so much faster.

In fact, the entire fountain pen experience has been quite a trip. I want to buy more pens! And ink! It’s expensive, especially for a poor grad student. But it makes writing so much fun again. I’ve never found more excuses to write things down than ever before. I actually cracked open one of my lined journals I bought a couple years ago to start a journal. I buy all these notebooks with all the intentions of filling them with journal entries, or with a millions of ideas for stories that run through my head, but I never actually do. Now I do. I just realized I missed yesterday’s entry, but that’s okay. I can write a new one right after I finish this post.

So to really answer this question, yes, I wrote an actual journal entry a couple days ago. I’m going to write one soon. I’m going to start filling up my Confidant with awesome stuff. In fact, I have another Confidant that’s filled with doodles. Well, it’s maybe about a fifth full, but the rest of the blank pages are there waiting to be filled up with the next greatest idea.

To answer the second part — could I every imagine going back to pre-keyboard era? Oh heck no. If EVERYTHING, including my paper and reports and what have you, had to be hand written and turned in? Forget it. It’d take forever. The convenience of the keyboard and the computer is fantastic. You can send emails in a flash and get a reply just as quickly. Imagine asking for something important in writing and having to wait two weeks? No. There could be phone calls sure, but then you’d have to hop in your car and pick up the powerpoint or the documents in person. For the sake of efficiency, I don’t ever want to go back to a pre-keyboard era.

But for personal matters such as journals or letters or novels? Sure, go ahead, write them down in the old fashioned way. Sometimes, it’s the experience of putting a pen down on paper and having it glide across as you put down your ideas is really what it’s all about.

so this is my life now

So this is grad school.

Grad school is perpetual exhaustion. It doesn’t matter if you had one class or two classes or more during the day. Even if they were two or three hours each, it’s still draining. It could be the easiest class ever like Med Term, but I will still come home and crash for a couple hours. Stay up late to do more studying, get some semblance of sleep, wake up and do it all over again. I live in a state of exhaustion. That is my normal.

I talked to my cousin, who is in the Navy, last night and we were comparing lives. His is obviously more rigorous, but at least he gets paid a bit. I have to pay to stay in this state of exhaustion as training. We both did this to ourselves. Technically, he volunteered for the Navy and I applied to grad school. I think it’s safe to say we’re both where we thought we’d never be at this point in our lives.

It’s funny. I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but back in the day, grad school was never a goal for me. It wasn’t needed. As a kid I dreamed the usual — being an astronaut, a ninja, a genius superhero, or a super genius inventor that created stuff for the heroes. Now, granted some of that hasn’t changed, it’s just changed which superhero I’d like to be. 😛 I’d still love to be a ninja, I’d love to have the brains of Tony Stark so I could invent AND be a superhero (without all the narcissism, but I guess that’s what makes Tony lovable?). I definitely do NOT want to be an astronaut though. I just liked the spacesuits and the idea of zero gravity.

In high school, they lied to me. They said you don’t need grad school, you’ll get a job when you graduate college. So, grad school was never within my sights. I just figured I’d go to a university, graduate, then work in some kind of lab doing whatever lab tech job they wanted me to do and work my way up. I toyed with the idea of doing forensics because I was really into CSI back then and I thought it was the coolest thing. Then I realized it’s a lot of chemistry and tests and legal stuff that I don’t want to mess with. But I honestly don’t think any of my high school friends would be surprised that I chose to go pathology and do autopsies or cut open surgical specimens for a living. I think most of them figured I’d be doing something gross and/or gruesome since I was the one who liked to do all the dissections and wanted to go see a cadaver lab.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised I went this route. Everyone else could see it before I could. But every single day I show up to class, I keep reminding myself that I am here. I am getting an advanced degree to do this. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time. It’s different, too. They treat us differently, have higher expectations of us and we have to learn almost everything on our own. There’s no more hand-holding or coddling. It’s, we’re all adults, say whatever you want, but we still expect you to go home and do copious amounts of reading and studying to come back next week and get tested on it, okay? Any questions? No, okay, let’s move on. Everything is accelerated, but that could be because summer is 10 weeks instead of the usual 16. So we’re breezing through everything. Gross Anatomy is 5 units, which isn’t anything I’m not used to, but we had 16 weeks to do all this stuff. In fact in prosection at Mt. SAC, I had 16 weeks to skin a cadaver, pick off the fat, and separate muscles.

We had to do all that in 3.5 hours today.

We skinned everything in about two hours, but the fat is the worst. I ended up with the torso, and we have a big guy. So the others helped me skin and take off some of the fat. We didn’t do it all, because it’s literally impossible, but you can see some muscles! You can see the trapezius and the latissimus dorsi on the torso at least. I think you can see part of the teres major and maybe a bit of the infraspinatus, but we’ll see. Apparently we’re going to hit the nerves next week. I don’t know how that’ll happen. But it’ll be interesting to try.

This is grad school. This is my life. It’s a good thing I like a challenge and getting dirty. (I was absolutely filthy today, no joke.)

(Yes, I know I changed my layout again, but I’m finally happy with this one. It’ll stick around for a while, except I might change the color now and then. Red is my favorite color, plus I’m a Niner fan, so really, what did you expect? It sure as heck won’t be lime green.)

(Great) Expectations

This title always makes me think of the Charles Dickens book I absolutely dreaded reading back in 8th grade. Hopefully by now, I’ve gotten over the trauma and I’m trying to change the connotation of this phrase — Great Expectations.

I don’t usually make new year resolutions because I find them pointless. I probably won’t even last a day or two before completely breaking them/forgetting about them. But this year, I told myself that I needed to get into a PathA program no matter what. I’d do whatever it takes to get in. This was my second year applying and I was running out of ideas to make myself look better on an application, and running out of time. I needed to start my career ASAP or else I don’t know what I’d do with myself.

Why not get a job elsewhere, one might ask. The simple answer is: I can’t see myself doing anything else. Well, except maybe if I had a full-time, well paid job in prosecting cadavers all day, every day, but that’s a different story. My goal, my ONLY goal was to be a Pathologists’ Assistant. I don’t want to be a Pathologist, I don’t want to be a Histotechnician. I don’t want to be anything else. It was PathA or nothing. My mom kept insisting I come up with an alternate plan just in case I didn’t get in this year. Well, my plan was to just reapply again and again until someone finally said yes.

Then it happened. Drexel said yes, we want you. We’ve got a seat for you up in Sacramento, come join us. I accomplished my goal for the year.

Now my new goal is to survive grad school. If I can make it out of this summer semester alive, that’ll be a big accomplishment and I’ll celebrate in the week I have between summer and fall. Then, my next goal is to survive fall semester which I hear is an absolute doozy and a killer. The classes only get harder and more intense, so that’s always fun and exciting. In the end, though, this is what I want. I want to be in this program and learn and train from those who have experience in the field. I want sleepless and endless nights of studying forever just to catch up. I want to work hard and see it pay off in the end.

So, I have high expectations for this year. Maybe some of them are too unrealistic, but hey, the biggest goal I set for myself has already come true. If that can happen, anything can, right?