Endless Entertainment

For the final day of Writing 101, the challenge is about our prized possession.

This was incredibly hard for me. I value and love many things from my computer to my futon/couch to my guitar. It was so hard for me to narrow down something. Then I asked myself, “What was the one thing that you had to take with you every time you moved?” And then the answer was easy — my DVD collection.

Ridiculous, I know. A DVD collection? I’m not a movie buff, so this makes this doubly weird, but I love certain movies and I absolutely LOVE TV shows. A big chunk of my collection consists of each season of my favorite TV shows, or at least the seasons that I enjoyed the most before I stopped watching (CSI, NCIS being huge examples). I have tons of movies too. Lots of action, some chick flicks, almost all the superhero movies. This might not be obvious from my posts, but I am obsessed with superheroes, especially Iron Man, so if you see references to various superheroes, do not be shocked. I can’t help myself.

My collection isn’t so much about just having them to brag, it’s mainly entertainment value. I go on random marathons where I’ll pick a show to watch from beginning to end (or current season if it’s still ongoing). My most recent one was with NCIS:LA right before school started, which actually spilled into probably the first week of school before it got too crazy. All of these TV shows bring a certain amount of memories and emotions when I re-watch them. Sometimes I’ll notice something I never did before, sometimes it’ll just be a craving for a certain episode of a show, sometimes it’ll be a refresher on the previous season so I don’t get lost when the premiere comes on. Lots of memories are attached to these, especially if I rope my friends or my cousin into these shows and we’re always texting each other during the episode.

A lot of it, too, is the time spent investing in these characters. It’s exciting, exhilarating in meeting these fictional characters. I invest a lot into my shows, it’s all or nothing. I’ll usually give a couple shows an episode or two, but if I’m not hooked, then I don’t bother. Sometimes, I can tell just by all the commercials if it’ll be terrible and usually I’m right, so why bother wasting my time and energy in investing? These TV shows become a part of me, as strange as that sounds, and my time is even more limited now, so I have to be picky. Once I’m in, I’m in it all the way until it ends or the writers pull the most ridiculous thing ever that turns me off (a la House S7 finale, for the biggest example ever).

So, yeah, my DVDs of my TV shows and movies are my most prized possession. They’re a big part of me. While I may never be a superhero and fight bad guys or investigate crime scenes, it’s where everything started. Since I was a kid I loved the whole saving the world and mystery shows such as Dragonball Z, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Scooby Doo. Action and mystery pretty much sells me every time. Maybe that’s why I ended up in Pathology. While there’s not much action, I’m a part of the diagnosing process which can save lives, and it’s definitely part of mystery solving. I love it. This is who I am, this is what I do.

As a final note about Writing 101, it was fun. I can’t believe an entire month already flew by! While I didn’t complete every single challenge or did them exactly as prompted, I did most of them and it was a great way of getting prompts. It definitely let me express my thoughts in ways I might not have had the courage to do before. Thank you, WordPress Editors, for creating such a lovely course and a great challenge. Now, onto my next challenge — Camp Nanowrimo July 2014 edition. (Yes, I know I said I might not, but I went ahead and bit the bullet. I have an idea floating around in my head that won’t leave, so here we go. I’m that crazy.)

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Hell Week the Second

I’ve been slacking on Writing 101 mainly because of Hell Week the Second. Three exams and a quiz, three days in a row. Needless to say, I’m beat. I hope to catch up this weekend now that I actually have time to do it. I’m dubbing this weekend my Free Weekend. I didn’t do anything after my lab practicum today and I don’t regret it a bit. I don’t plan on doing anything tomorrow other than some cleaning around the apartment (that I’ve neglected because of the exams) and finally starting some art projects I’ve been dying to get started.

So, I’m going to use this as my free write challenge for yesterday. It’s supposed to be at least 400 words of whatever, which is perfect for what I want to talk about.

I think my exams went well this week. I felt much better about Embryology this time around, at least in terms of less guessing haha. Anatomy lecture was a bit trickier than the first exam. My prof wasn’t kidding when he said that he made this one a little harder than the previous one. He said he “doesn’t want to have the reputation of being a push over.” Psh. We kept telling him he’s doing fine and we’ve been preparing for his exams like crazy. Clearly didn’t matter. It was trickier but I feel that I beat him at his game except for maybe a couple questions. I hope I did anyway. The lab practicum today was kind of tricky too. I missed a couple easy ones because I totally misunderstood where the pin was, which pisses me off. I mean this is lab, this is my wheelhouse. How can I miss such simple things? I guess I need to pay more attention. Whatever, I’m pretty sure I got an A, but I really wanted 100% or higher. Actually, I really wanted the maximum amount of points possible, including all the extra credit. I’m greedy like that.

After the practicum we did more dissections except not really lol. We opened up the abdominal cavity but didn’t really do much. There’s gonna be a lot of cleaning to do the next lab, which will be our last dissection lab before the final. That’s fine. I originally signed up to do abdominal cavity, but then there would be 3 of us doing that while the other two did a hand and foot. It’d be too crowded, so I switched to face and neck. I’ve never done that region mainly because I was so scared of doing such a delicate dissection, but I figured this would be my last chance at doing it, so why not. That way I can officially say I’ve worked on every part of the body. I’m pretty excited.

While we were ‘dissecting,’ one of the UC Davis people with the body program was embalming one of the cadavers to be used in the future. So I pretty much ditched dissecting and ended up talking with this wonderful lady who patiently answered all my questions about the embalming process and the body program. I’ve heard all about the process, but I never had the chance to witness it. When I was at Mt. SAC, we got to take a field trip to tour UCI’s facility where they do the same thing, but we never got to watch how they do it. Apparently all the UCs work in tandem with each other and help each other out in fulfilling special requests if that school is unable to. For example, if UCI has a special request for breasts and they don’t have any on hand, they can ask UC Davis or UCSF (or any other UC who does this) for them. They’re all sister programs and all the bodies are donated prior to death, so they all want to be here. Because they’re sister programs, they all know each other so the Davis lady knows the Irvine guy, which is so cool. The Irvine guy is so awesome and laid back. He’s BFFs with my Mt. SAC profs, so we get a few perks haha. The Davis people are so nice and helpful, it’s fantastic that Drexel gets to work with them. Our program director said that it was pretty much luck that Davis would take us, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. Whatever fell into place and whoever said yes to let us in, you have my eternal gratitude. The employees are top notch and so is the Coroner’s Office. It is an absolutely fantastic facility and we are so blessed to be able to share that space.

The Coroner’s Office is awesome, have I said that enough?. I’ve already witnessed parts of three autopsies. We’ve all creeped in the hallway by the locker rooms to watch as they dictate and open up the body. But every single time it gets to the good part, our prof comes to get us. Today, we actually got to see them open up the skull and they were just about to take out the brain when our prof came to get us so we could take our exam. We were all like, “Really? You have impeccable timing.” The last time, our prof got us right before they cut open the skull and we were like, “It was just getting good! Come on!” Can you tell how excited we are? They also don’t mind that we creep on them haha. But I can’t tell you how valuable and excellent it’s been to witness all this. I can’t wait to do the autopsy rotation through here. It’s pretty much a done deal according to our director, they’re just waiting on the final confirmation. I. Cannot. Wait.

Life has never been sweeter.

Fail. Fail again. Fail better.

Oh gosh. Today’s challenge is to write about your fears. Hahahahaha. That’s a good one, WordPress.

Spiders. Oh my effing goodness, it’s spiders. I just killed one and it was the toughest little SOB on the planet. It refused to die. I guess I kind of admire it for toughing it out, but holy crap it scared the crap out of me. No, you don’t even know. I was sweating like crazy just getting the nerve to kill it and then fighting it. No joke. In fact, I’m still in the process of cooling down. Sympathetic nervous system aka fight or flight was working overtime. I’m actually on a little adrenaline rush, which is why I’m posting now instead of trying to sleep before my big embryology exam. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it has too many legs, too many eyes, it can crawl on anything and it can effing bite. I had bad experiences with that as a kid, so maybe that’s where it stems from.

Anyway.

I don’t want to talk about that anymore. Lets talk about other substantial fears — like failure. Since I’m on this entire failure kick lately, which I’m guessing this whole challenge is about — themes and writing — I’m going to continue on. I won’t hold it against you if you decide to skip over this post since all I do is talk about my failures as a student. That’s cool. I wouldn’t blame you. But this is also one of my biggest fears.

I’m afraid to fail.

I know everyone says that failing is good, failing is progress or whatever. Failure is an opportunity, only if you take it as one. Since I was a child, my parents always told me to get good grades, so I did. If I got a B, it was bad news. My reward was earning money for every A on my report card, and then less for every B. Yes, they basically bribed me and it worked. Forget about anything if I ever got a C. My first C came in undergrad. That’s when I experienced failure, or what I attributed to failure anyway. Maybe that’s when I started getting complacent after I kept getting Cs.

Because I was afraid to try.

Well, even when I tried, I failed. So, I figured why keep trying? Just keep being a C student and you’ll still graduate. You’ll still be able to move on with life, get a job, etc. That’s what I told myself anyway. Trying leads to failure. Trying = failure. I don’t want to fail or keep feeling like a failure, so I stopped trying. I realized trying was the root of failure.

No, lack of trying is the root of failure.

By Pablo Pintachan

By Pablo Pintachan

I love this picture. I found it on Baron Fig. They’re selling a limited supply of these kinds of posters and I’m seriously debating shelling out the $25 for this just because it’s that awesome. Fail. Fail again. Fail better. That is life in nutshell.

It’s not easy. I’m not going to sit here and preach and say that yeah, failing and getting up again is easy. It’s not. There’s all these inspirational quotes that go around saying that getting up defines who you are or whatever. It’s true. But they also don’t tell you how incredibly hard it is to get up sometimes. I was flat on my face for years before I finally peeked out from under the rock and plucked up enough courage to pull myself up. For some, this comes natural to you and I’m slightly envious of you. Rock on with that confidence and courage. For others like me, who are scared of the consequences of failing, and want to hide and pray it’ll all go away, it takes a little more. Sometimes we need a little nudge of encouragement from others, or in my case, a massive shove to get my butt moving.

Everything seems scary until you dive right in. When I finally did that with grad school, it felt liberating. I actually was proud of myself for stepping up, filling out an application, and writing about myself (which I hate to do when it comes to academics and such) regardless of the outcome. I put it all on paper and left myself exposed, and it felt wonderful. Because I took a step. Because I finally had the courage to get up, face some of my fears, and push through. I did something I never thought I’d be able to do before.

I know, I know, sending in an application shouldn’t be that big of a deal — except that it is. At that time, it was the first major step to the rest of my career, to my life. I put everything I had left in me into that application, and made myself sound the best I could to land an interview. Luckily it all paid off.

So not all consequences equals failure. Sometimes there are great outcomes. But most of the time, it takes a lot of failing and rejection and getting up again and again before we finally see some of that success pay off. I had so many schools reject me the first round before Drexel said yes during my second round. In fact one school sent me TWO rejection letters, you know, just in case I couldn’t figure that out from the first one. I think I still have them. I keep them as motivation to prove to all the other schools who said no that they’re missing out. And sometimes, it’ll serve as a reminder of my journey to get to this point.

Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. Get up again. Fail. Fail again. Fail better. And remember this:

I saw this floating around on Twitter before. Don't know who to credit, sorry!

I saw this floating around on Twitter before. Don’t know who to credit, sorry!

riding the waves of failure

I know I said I would catch up on the previous days this weekend, but that was impossible. I had way too much to do.

So this whole Serial Killer¬†challenge is interesting, to say the least. The Lost and Found theme wasn’t anything I expected, and I didn’t even do the ‘found’ part of it. I guess I’ll just lump that with today’s challenge.

Lost and found. I’ve lost many physical/material objects from socks to pens to homework assignments. I’ve lost family members, too. But for a long time, I lost confidence in myself and my competitive drive that kept me going for so long.

Now, I know it’s stupid to have silly little competitions, especially when it comes to grades and whatnot, but using my friends’ success and higher grades drove me to be better. Not that we were in actual competition, but it was a good motivator and reminder that I still had some ways to go before I could even come close to saying I was the best or in the top. All during undergrad, I was satisfied with being average. I didn’t care about getting As and Bs, as long as I passed that was fine. I became complacent in my abilities and it didn’t get my anywhere. I had all this potential going for me after I graduated high school, and I just let it all go to waste because I didn’t care.

Because of that, I started to feel inadequate. I started believing that I was average again and that I couldn’t get better, only worse. Then came the whole failure spiral and by the time I started to pick up some of the pieces, it was too late to save my GPA. In the long run, GPA doesn’t mean crap. It’s a fancy number assigned to put value on whether you’re made for school or not, which is ridiculous, and yet my entire sense of confidence when down the drain because of it.

I found myself again at Mt. SAC. I know, I know, I keep mentioning this, but it’s true. I found my passion, I found that competitive fire again. I got 92 on my first prosection exam and someone else got 98. I was angry with myself that I didn’t get the highest score or even come close. That’s when I knew I was back. When the final rolled along, I did my absolute best and I think I ended up with 98, and quite possibly with the highest score. Most of all, I found that my skills were useful for something. I found that I could do things I only ever dreamed of or watched on TV. It was a great feeling.

Grad school squashed that feeling pretty quickly. The Histology exam I took last week destroyed whatever good feelings and confidence I had left. I haven’t received my actual grade yet, but I know it’ll be poor and it’ll be very hard to recover from since there are only two exams for this class. It all will ride on the final in a month’s time. I started feeling like I was back in undergrad, that I wasn’t good enough. Except this time, I did give it a good effort and I still failed. That’s the hardest pill to swallow — when your best isn’t enough. Thankfully, I had a friend tell me this:

You should get super competitive like you did back in SoCal.

It was a simple reminder that put me back on track. I just need to get competitive again. I don’t know what any of my other classmates got, I doubt they’ll spill anyway, but I do know that the only way to go is up. I have to do better and if I score within my goal range, then maybe I’ll have a shot at salvaging my grade and my GPA (yes, the things that don’t matter, yet they do).

It’s a roller coaster, this failure and confidence deal. It always has been. Sometimes I just need someone to help right the ship so I can cut through the waves. For that, I’ll be forever grateful for all the people in my life. If I hadn’t found them (or they hadn’t found me), I don’t want to think of where I’d be right now.

Open Letter to the Mediastinum

Today’s challenge includes a book, page 29 of said book, and writing about the first thing that pops to you. And if you’d like, write a letter. Looks like I get to write another Open Letter! Woot. So, the first book I grabbed was Grant’s Atlas¬†because I have to read/research stuff for my anatomy lab tomorrow. Lo and behold, the mediastinum popped up on page 29, and it just so happens that’s my assigned region for lab tomorrow (all by myself in three hours! I need a miracle).

Dear Mediastinum,

I know you have lots of important things within you. Like the heart, the pericardium that surrounds the heart, the esophagus, the trachea, a bunch of nerves and such, plus blood vessels. But you’re so confusing. The geniuses that decided to name EVERY LITTLE PART OF YOU is slowly killing me. Like what are these sinuses and angles and whatever. Why make it complicated? Why not just forget those weird things and stick to actual structures with weird names and spellings.

Like Vagus. When people hear vagus, they think Las Vegas and think of awesomely drunk times and parties and gambling or whatever people do over there. Because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Not this Vagus. It’s all about wandering around the entire body and being all parasympathetic to the all the internal organs and help regulate them and whatnot. Maybe it is like Vegas after all. It’s promiscuous and hides behind lung roots and gets around to literally everything.

Let’s not forget about the originally named Thoracic Duct of the lymphatic system. This all important lymph vessel that drains 75% of the body apparently is also really easy to rip and it’s supposed to look like a vein without blood. So, um, does that mean it’s ridiculously hard to find? Because I haven’t seen you before and I really am not looking forward to finding you only to accidentally break you and ruin everything. I will try to be gentle, so please don’t break on me.

Also, these Splanchnic (which is kind of a fun name to say, until you say it three times fast and have to spell it correctly) nerves sound like a pain because they form another confusing plexus that I’m still not quite sure I understand. There are three of you: greater, lesser and least. I’m only supposed to locate greater, but it sounds like you like to hide in the back and be all mysterious and creepy. Plus you guys hang out with the Sympathetic trunk, which is also my enemy. Do I really want to expose you?

Actually, yes. I do. Just so you can stop hiding and being a wuss. I will conquer you.

At least the trachea and the esophagus are relatively easy, although the esophagus likes to play hide and seek behind the trachea. But you guys aren’t complicated. You give me the break that I need.

I won’t even get into the heart. You’re way too complicated for this letter. And for my brain right now. You’re important, yes, I get that, but all the confusing blood vessels and structures? Yeah, no. Okay, I lied, you’re not that confusing. You’re just complicated. You can chill inside your cool little fibrous pericardial sac, surrounded by your closest and squishiest friends called the lungs. But I’m not quite sure how much the diaphragm appreciates you slouching on top of it. What, you’re too cool to sit up properly? Psh. Or is it the great-blood-vessel-mohawk hairdo that’s doing it? Maybe complicated isn’t the right word — drama queen is.

Oh, Mediastinum. How important and confusing and complicated you are. I guess if you were that easy, I wouldn’t be interested. But it would definitely make my life so much easier. Please go easy on me tomorrow when I take you apart. You probably won’t like it, but I do want an A in Gross Anatomy and I do have to teach about you when I’m done. So, please, just be kind to me and in return, I’ll take good care of you. Promise.

Forever struggling to figure you out,

The Anatomy Nerd

[I know I’ve skipped the last couple days — I’ll get to that this weekend. It’s been kind of a crazy week.]