Posted tagged ‘me’

It’s A Queens Thing

September 5, 2008

It’s a peculiar thing. For some reason, it seems that the place where I am most attractive is in Queens – to men, apparently, and to mosquitoes. I’m covered in bites (from mosquitoes, not men) and when I walk down the street, eyes follow me. It’s a change from Dominica, where mosquitoes left me unmolested and guys’ eyes never turned my way while I was watching. I guess when I come home, my natural charm kicks in? Or maybe guys and mosquitoes in NY suck more than in other places? Maybe they’re more bold? Even though I really don’t appreciate it when it occurs, it is simultaneously unnerving and fascinating that while I don’t get checked out on the island (or in Boston, for that matter), I always am when I’m in my hometown.

Queens is just as lovely as I left it and I’ve been spending my days trouncing relatives in boardgames, watching bad movies with pals, following the US Open (Flushing Meadows, baby!) and catching up on politics. In my house, the DNC and RNC were theater and they were compelling. Don’t get me started on what I didn’t like – there was plenty of it – but I was rather touched by the presidential nominee speeches. Obama’s was absolutely awesome and McCain’s was surprisingly humble and genteel.

Ah, vacation was such fun! Learning to become a doctor is cool and all but it was nice to be able to watch tv, sleep late, hang with pals and do stuff I actually like to do for a change. I got to catch up on reading and writing for pleasure – four novels and two poems in two weeks is kinda slow but boy, is it satisfying, moreso than the hour-long professional massage my parents treated me to. I baked a delicious peach pie. I babysat my youngest two cousins, two ridiculously imaginative little girls who had a pretend pagent and improvised fake commercials. It was the most adorable thing.

Being home has been so good that I’m almost reluctant to return to school but in a few days, I’ll be flying back to the rock for another semester of fun. Maybe I’ll go to Art After Dark at the Guggenheim with my cousin or to Sushi Samba 7 with the padres and my little bro. Maybe I’ll have one of those new volcano tacos. So much to do, so little time…

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Christmas Cake

June 20, 2008

As far as most people are concerned, 26 isn’t one of the big birthdays. There are no milestones attached to becoming one year older than a quarter century – the best you get is maybe some nice cards and money from your parents and less hassle when you try to rent a car. However, there is a sort of significance to turning 26 in Japan – when a woman turns 26, she becomes what is known as a “christmas cake.”

Still tasty on the 26th?
Before I explain exactly what a Christmas cake is, I’ll have to explain a bit about how the Japanese observe “Western” holidays. It’s kinda trendy to celebrate Western holidays in Japan and some of the commercial biggies like Valentine’s Day, Christmas and more recently, Halloween, are pretty popular. The funny thing is, cultural significance sometimes gets lost on the way across the ocean and without the reason for the ritual, the ways in which the holidays are observed can seem a bit strange/wacky/hilarious to expats. One year when I was living in Hyogo prefecture, I saw Lovely Halloween Pocky at my local supermarket and was practically rolling on the floor because on the packaging for the pumpkin-flavored ones, a scary-looking jack-o-lantern was featured (okay) but on the strawberry ones, there was a strawberry with a jack-o-lantern face (um…) and on the melon ones, there was a cantaloupe with a jack-o-lantern face 😀 . They’ve since replaced melon with milk-flavored pocky and the package has a little ghost holding a pitcher of milk, so I guess they’re getting it.

Anyway, Christmas in Japan has absolutely nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with love and romance. Strangely enough, December 25th is one of the most popular days for visiting love hotels. There are even Christmas-themed love hotels – people can enjoy a little holiday spirit when they tryst all year long. For the most part, on Christmas, people generally snuggle up with their sweethearts and eat a delicious Christmas cake. The thing about a Christmas cake is that although it looks great, who wants one on the 26th?

Although antiquated, there still exists the view that a young lady should be married (or at least engaged) by 25 and that once she turns 26, no matter how lovely, successful or intelligent she may be, she’s starting to get stale (if she’s still unmarried and childless at 30, she’s a loser dog). 25 seems a bit young for matrimony to me, but I suppose I have begun to consider getting married and having a family a bit more seriously. I’m a person who likes to make plans and I always planned on being married by 30 and being a mom by 35 (before the maternal and paternal age effect risks spike). Of course now, considering my future medical career, I’ll have to squeeze wedding vows and childbirth in while completing my residency (although according to a pal here who shares the same birthday, the best time to get married and have children for med students is right before the beginning of clinical rotations. It also helps to marry a person whose work will allow him/her to take paternity/maternity leave). While I’m not quite ready to start perusing bridal magazines and picking out floral arrangements (well…the plan is to have white roses and ivy), I suppose I wouldn’t be opposed to an acceptable suit, were one presented by an acceptable young man.

Even though my cake has 26 candles, thanks to my lovely parents, most of the time, people assume that I’m around 19 or 20. If I continue to age so gracefully, when I actually am 30, I’ll still look 25, so I’ll be a loser dog in disguise!

Rumors, Lies and Chromosomal Abnormalities

May 28, 2008

Can you find his deltopectoral triangle?

Can you find his deltopectoral triangle?

It’s week 3 at Ross and the pressure is on. It has become readily apparent how easy it is to fall behind and why some of us aren’t going to make it through. The amount of material given to us is snowballing and whatever we don’t cover in lecture is our responsibility to learn before Mini I, the first big exam. With all the work and the rampant rumors about how treacherous the minis are (how they’re designed to weed out half of the class, how professors lie about what and what not to study), I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. Add to that some sad news from home and a longing for familiar company and…well, I really could use a big hug.

But all is not as dismal as it sounds. Even though I’ve been studying for 5~6 hours a day, my eyes have not yet begun to bleed. I’ve created an intricate schedule that is designed to maximize my study time and I’m currently working on ways to improve efficiency. I’ve found a good study group for biochem and am in the process of organizing another for anatomy. And even though it still feels like we’re all acquaintances, I’ve found a few people here that I can laugh with, which is my chief criteria in selecting friends. Hopefully, instead of becoming desolate, I’ll be forged by the difficulties ahead and remain steadfast and focused. I didn’t come here to get sent home after the first exam.

Today, I had my first Problem-Based Learning (PBL) session, which is easily the most enjoyable class I’ve had so far. In PBL, a group of eight (or so) students must discuss a case or scenario and ultimately, diagnose a patient. We’re given information about the patient in bits and pieces (today, we received 3 pieces of the puzzle) and each case is discussed for three weeks. At the end of the third week, we must reach a decision about what we think is wrong with the patient and recommend a course of treatment. It’s really quite fascinating. I’d love to tell you all about our case (it’s a really interesting one) but even though it’s theoretical, we’re not permitted to discuss it with anyone other than our colleagues (doctor/patient confidentiality!), so I’ll just mention what my research topic is for next week’s discussion: viable chromosomal abnormalities and mental development of individuals who present with them. Trust me, it’s scintillating!

I’m excited about tomorrow’s dissection of the scapular region. It won’t be as easy to see the muscles as it would be on Mr. BBQ Muscles above but I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge…

Going Natural

May 20, 2008

Warning – what follows is a quirky quarterlife issue that has absolutely nothing to do with medicine. If you are only here for the info and updates about med school, feel free to skip this one.

Those of you who have seen my updated Facebook profile (or read the previous entry) may be quite alarmed. What happened to your hair?! No, I didn’t cut it. What happened to the magic of the flatiron??? Well, the flatiron, magical though it may be, isn’t going to cut it in the heat and humidity of Dominica. So, what was once a lovely, long, luxurious mane has shrunk into a coily, curly coif that is a cross between Sister, Sister and Sideshow Bob. Ladies and lads, I have gone natural.

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Things I Will Not Miss

April 22, 2008

Back in Queens, trying to squeeze a month’s worth of catching up with friends and family into my 8 remaining days. Though I managed to move on short notice with very little incident, I was surprised by how reluctant I was to leave Boston. From the beginning, I had only considered it a place I was passing through and with that in mind, deliberately tried not to form attachments. There were times that I hated living in Boston and couldn’t wait to leave.  But on my last night, I kept wishing for another week, a few more days, one more chocolate chip cookie from Paradise Cafe, one more ride on the Red Line at sunset, one more moonlit stroll along the river…

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Why I Like Babies, Part 1

April 8, 2008

I adore babies. Not in the ‘all women love babies’ way. Yes, babies’ tiny toes and fingers are cute but what is most fascinating to me is how they develop, from embryo to infant, and how they learn to be little humans.

It was the end of my junior year of college when my youngest cousin Zaira was born. I remember this one time when Zai was a few months old and was just getting the hang of hand-eye coordination. She’d just begun to figure out that there was a way to convey objects from her hand to her mouth and so we’d place her pacifier in her palm and watch her slowly bring it to her lips, as if testing out the mechanism of movement. (more…)

Why medicine?

April 7, 2008

It’s the question every applicant dreads. Whether it’s an essay topic or an interview ice breaker, if you apply to med school you are going to have to come up with an answer to this one. It comes in many forms (e.g., ‘What inspired you to pursue a medical career?’ or the more blunt ‘Why are you here?’). Some people can condense their ambition into one or two sentences. Others struggle to articulate it in less than 500 words.

To be honest, I’ve never given a straight answer to this question. I’ve always given the noble, beneficent, soft-sell version of my desire. I want to save babies. I “picture myself in a white coat with a stethoscope slung around my neck making my rounds in the NICU, listening to tiny hearts, letting tiny fists squeeze my index finger.” Yes, I could happily spend the rest of my life doing just that. I can’t think of a profession that would be more fulfilling or more satisfying. However, these reasons are not the root of my passion.

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