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it’s just a job

That’s what I’m trying to tell myself so that I’ll stop having anxiety attacks about it. It’s just third year. Everyone else goes through it and survives. And yet I can’t help but be unreasonably nervous about it. I guess too many years of being told I’m an unempathetic robot can do that to a person.

But it’s not just that. I kind of liked being a bum for the past six months or so. Staying up till 2am and waking up at noon was nice. Too nice. I think I’m addicted. I feel like my life is going to end. I’ve been sulking about it for awhile.

But I finally realized that it’s just like having a job (a really crappy one, but still…). Truthfully, I’ve never had a real 8-5 kind of job before. Sure, there was lab, but that doesn’t count at all. I’ve never had to actually do work for eight hours a day. I’ve never not been free to eat lunch whenever I want or take vacations whenever I feel like it. I never had to accept that the weekend is my only respite.  But now here I am having to do that. And more. After having been spoiled for so long. Not only do I have to accept that weekends will be my only time off, I have to accept that most of the time, I won’t even have weekends. That I won’t be home some nights.

Here I am boohooing about it when my peers (those who did not go to med school) have been living like this since they graduated from college. How silly of me! And yet I can’t help it. My life will likely never be the same again. But at least I managed to delay real life for this long. That’s what I’m telling myself. How long until I listen?

better late than never?

Tada! She’s alive! Ugh. I’m so bad. If I can’t blog when I have all the time in the world, what’s going to happen when I’m back on the wards and have no time at all? Well, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll have more to write about since everyday will be a new adventure. Yay.

What have I been up to? Absolutely nothing. Seriously. Nothing at all. Which sucks because when I decided to lengthen my break from school, it was so that I could do some clinical review work to make myself feel more confident when I return. Well, the powers-that-be made it sound so awesome…like they were going to totally hook it up…but when the time came, all I got was nothing. Don’t they know how hard it was for me even to ask for help in the first place? Why must they make me fight for it every step of the way? Well, I didn’t fight hard enough because *gasp* I thought they were actually going to keep the lofty promises they made me, so I ended up doing shit during my time off. What a waste of my time! I’m not getting any younger here!

Well, I’m not that dumb. I didn’t sit on my ass and twiddle my thumbs while I waited. I got cracking on studying. Big time. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve read, but I’ve read at least one book for each rotation, plus Bates, plus Step 2 Secrets, plus others in the time I had off. I don’t know if I retained much. I probably still can’t tell you the difference between croup, bronchiolitis, and epiglottitis, but at least I can make some wrong guesses that don’t sound completely stupid. I got ambitious and tried to set up Step 2 at the last minute, but without having done third year first, I wasn’t going to be able to study enough to do well enough for my standards in less than 60 days, so I gave up on that. If only I’d come up with that idea say 6 months ago? That would definitely have been enough time. But silly me, I was still waiting on my miracle from the administration. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Me.

I’m not whining. I don’t care anymore. I’m just trying to finish it all up now. No more breaks. No matter how scared or overwhelmed I feel. It’s time to just plow through. I’ve got more Chanels to buy, dammit and I can’t afford them with my stipend money! Just a word of caution to other MD/PhDs out there: don’t expect any help returning to your clinical years. Actually, you should expect sabotage. They will do everything in their power to make it harder for you than for everyone else. I guess it’s punishment for being such overachievers. So if you want anything from them, demand it and don’t stop until you get it. There is no being meek or being afraid of seeming too demanding. If you don’t get in their faces, you just get totally and utterly screwed. Like me. Don’t be like me. You deserve better.

twitter and site maintenance

I’ve been meaning to post, but I’ve been quite busy lately. In the meantime, I’ve finally joined Twitter, so you can find me there as mylifemypace. I’ll be posting shorter updates there when I don’t have time to write a full post. Feel free to find me there and ask me any questions you might have. I’ll try to answer in 140 characters or less. :P

In other news, the site appears funky right now because I’m upgrading my blogging software and it messed things up. I’m working on fixing it, so please forgive the strange appearance until I get everything worked out. I’ll be back soon with some new material.

i’m no princess nor do i want to be one

I’ve always believed in being self-sufficient. Sure, my parents were super-overprotective when I was young. I was never allowed to go out with my friends or school dances, even the prom. My parents pretty much took care of everything for me. My mom picked out my clothes for me until I was in seventh grade, something that is unheard of today when we have kids wearing one outfit when they walk out of the house only to change into something sluttier and cake their faces with horrid makeup the instant they get to school. But even so, I never thought I was a princess nor did I want to be treated as such.

Maybe it’s because I lost my mom when I was so young and had no choice but to take care of myself (though I suppose I could have been like others I know who just became serial monogamists because they always needed someone to take care of them instead of learning how to be independent). Or maybe it’s because my dad used to always fill up my mom’s gas tank for her…until one day he didn’t and she had to try to get gas herself and didn’t know how and felt absolutely humiliated. I have never wanted to be dependent on another person for anything. To that end, I made it my mission back in college to learn how to take care of my car on my own–I learned how to change my own tire, I learned how to change my own oil, and I Iearned how to drive stickshift so that I would never be limited in what I could drive. I’m handy around the house and I mow my own lawn and trim my own bushes. I’m not afraid to get dirty. I fight my own battles.

Even now that I’m married, I still do plenty of the dirty work. I don’t do much with cars because otherwise, what would my husband be good for? But I still mow the lawn and trim the bushes if he doesn’t have time. I’m not afraid to take out the trash. I do the laundry. And I cook. When we bring home groceries, I’m not a princess who prances inside leaving my husband to bring everything in just because he’s a foot taller than me and way stronger. I insist on helping. Even with heavy things I’m pretty incapable of lifting, like 52″ lcd tvs, bathtubs, and furniture, I still have to help. I just can’t help it. If I am capable, why not help?

Well, apparently what I think is normal for me is not how other girls women behave. There are women out there who think that their significant others exist only to be their servants/slaves. It makes me sick when I see these poor men so castrated by their women. It makes me hope that these women are giving them damn good reason to give up their manhood so. I’ve seen guys cook for their girlfriends while she does not ever lift a finger for him, even when he is sick. I’ve seen guys loaded down with 15 bags of their girlfriends’ stuff while the girl prances into the house with not a care in the world. I’ve seen guys who escort their girlfriends to places like the bathroom and wait for them to come out. I’ve seen guys who drive their girlfriends (who are damn well capable of driving themselves and have the means to do so) to school even though it significantly disrupts their schedules to do so just because these girls want to look like princesses being chauffeured around by their awesome boyfriends slaves. I would go on, but I think I just vomited a little in my mouth. And I think you get the idea.

Is this really what it means to be in a relationship? If that’s the case, then why do men bother? If I were a guy, I would rather just hire myself some love when I feel the urge. Nothing could possibly be worth the level of humiliation these guys suffer. Nothing. And yet I see it all the time now. Hello, men!? Here’s your wakeup call! You do NOT have to be treated like slaves! In fact, if you are being treated like a slave, then your girlfriend doesn’t love you and is just using you as a slave. Love does not equal servitude. You deserve better. And there is better for you out there. Ditch your ball-and-chain and put yourself out there and find someone who who deserves you! Please! Someone’s got to teach these women that there is no such thing as being a princess in this modern world! It starts with you!

insomnia

I can’t sleep. As I lay here typing this post on my iPhone, my husband and both of my dogs are snoring happily away. I’ve always been somewhat of an insomniac, but it had been getting better…one hour to fall asleep instead of two or three. But now here I am two hours out and no amount of reading is making me sleepy. And, of course, the more I think about falling asleep, the harder it is. Perhaps I fool myself. I’ve been staying up until 2-3 am every night for the past six months. Maybe that’s why it has been easier for me to fall asleep…because it’s damn late when I finally hit the sack. Tonight we went to bed at 11. I guess all I have to do is wait for it to be 2 to fall asleep. It’s just that it’s no fun when everyone else is sleeping.

i think my sister-in-law is an alcoholic

So my husband and I vacationed awhile ago in the vicinity of Sister-in-law and was promised that she would make the 1.5-hour drive to eat lunch with us before we departed. Well, she decided to not show her face that morning at 8am as promised, which I could have cared less about if I wasn’t anxious to get started on our 8-hour drive back home that very same day. Not only did she not show up, but she also did not even bother calling to let us know nor did she (or Miniman) answer repeated phone calls that were made to them.

When we finally contact them, we find out that they have not even left yet and they have the audacity to try to get us to change our plans to work around the fact that they couldn’t get their horny lazy asses out of bed. My husband is far too nice about the whole thing (as usual), so I just grabbed the phone from him and proceeded to chew Sister-in-law out, about how she’s such a hypocrite for not respecting her elders (us) when she continually tries to make it seem like we don’t respect our elders enough (not true), about how she thinks that the world revolves around her, and how we’re supposed to follow her schedule even if it’s extremely inconvenient for us to do so. Suffice it to say, I made her cry, which is no big accomplishment because she cries at the drop of a hat. Well, my silly husband still wanted to meet up for lunch even after all of this drama, so we wait for them to show up. When they finally do, we meet at a restaurant, where we walk in to find Sister-in-law wearing sunglasses. Inside. Who the hell does that besides Hollywood celebrities? Seriously. Who does she think she is? When probed about her reasons for being so pretentious, she continually claims that her eyes are sensitive to light because she stayed out too long in the sun the other day. What kind of bullshit excuse is that?

Not only that, but she’s ordered a glass of wine to go with her lunch. Who the hell drinks wine at lunch with their family when no one else is drinking? And at a pizza place? It’s not like we were having $100-steaks or something. Bad enough she ordered one glass, she ended up ordering another. Maybe one is to be snobby to go with the shades inside thing. But two at lunch? That’s alcoholic territory. It really wouldn’t surprise me if she’s turned into an alcoholic. She’s a super narcissist with an extremely fragile ego underneath it all who’s with a short guy who might be a pedophile just because she’s desperate to get married. I’ve seen less narcissistic people become alcoholics.

Funny thing is…I mentioned my theory to my husband because no matter how much I can’t stand her, I don’t want to see his family go through the pain of dealing with an alcoholic family member and he summararily dismissed it. I hate how I get nowhere with them. They are the kings of deny, deny, deny. If we pretend there’s nothing wrong, then maybe everything will be okay even though everything is not. Well, when this all eventually blows up, he can’t say that I didn’t try to help.

the art of the major professor hunt

I’ve received some questions lately about how to find a good major professor and thought that I would address them in a post.

First off, I’m obviously not really one to be doling out such advice since I chose horribly wrong, but I suppose I could at least speak to the warning signs to look for when on the hunt for a major professor.

1. How many grad students/post-docs does he have? If your lab-to-be is as deserted as, well, the desert, you should go running for your life. Why? You would think that the fewer people in the lab, the more attention you’ll get. Though that may be true, do you really want attention from your major professor all of the time? Plus, fewer people in the lab means more meaningless non-PhD-related grunt work for you. And did you ever stop to think that maybe there’s no one in the lab because your major professor-to-be is impossible to work for and anyone with half a brain knew better than to work for him? Yeah, nothing says run for your life more than an empty lab.

2. How does your major professor treat the people who are in the lab? This question might be hard to assess without actually spending a lot of time in his lab. For the few weeks that you may be there for your rotation, everything might appear rosy if your major professor-to-be is good at hiding his mean streak (like mine was), but given enough time, the mean streak will come out. Do the people in his lab seem happy to be there? Or do they secretly lunch together and dish about what an ass your major professor-to-be is? When I was a fresh-faced undergrad in my major professor’s lab, the people there dropped hints to me about how he may not be as nice as he seemed, but I was too naive to catch the hints then and paid dearly for it. If you get the sense that someone is dropping you a hint, take it and run for your life. You can always thank them later.

3. Here’s a simple hint. Ask the other grad students in the lab how they like your major professor-to-be. Sure, they may lie through their teeth, but unless you’re completely socially inept, you should be able to tell when they’re lying.

4. Has your major professor-to-be had any experience with MD/PhD students? Your future mentor might be awesome all-around, but if he hasn’t had any experience with us special kids, you still might end up screwed, simply because he just doesn’t know how the program works and the corners that may have to be cut in order for you to finish your PhD in a decent amount of time. If your major professor-to-be has no experience, be frank and ask him what his specific goals are with you given that you are on a special track and how he plans to help you finish your PhD in the allotted time. Ideally, the two of you would come up with a schedule that you will hopefully stick to so that you don’t end up spending forever on your PhD. If he truly is a good major professor, he will be able to adapt to your being a special case.

5. For the daring: come up with some crazy idea for your PhD project and run it by your major professor-to-be and observe how he reacts. If he berates you, then it’s obvious you should run for your life. If he gently tells you how your idea is crazy but finds a grain of non-craziness in your idea and tells you how to develop that non-crazy point into a workable idea without making you feel like an idiot, then he may be a keeper. Just be careful of the ones who are subtly berating you for being an idiot…they sound like they’re being nice, but they’re really just telling you you’re an idiot. If he doesn’t mention a single good thing (no matter how small) about your crazy idea, then that’s your cue to run for your life.

6. If your major professor-to-be is constantly telling you how great he is or what a nice boss/mentor he is, then you should probably run for your life. Someone who’s really great won’t have to tell you how great he is. His lab atmosphere and the people in the lab will tell you that. If he’s going to great lengths to tell you how great things are, then chances are the exact opposite is true.

7. Go with your gut. Regardless of empirical evidence, you should go with your gut. Even if everyone in the lab seems happy and you hit it off with your major professor-to-be, if your gut has nagging doubts, you should listen to it. It’s probably right.

These tips are more common sense than anything, but they are good things to ask yourself when you’re evaluating a potential major professor. You will be spending many years with this person. This person will decide when you get to move on with your life and go back to med school. This person can make you hate science. Or he can make you love it even more. Learn from my mistakes and choose wisely. If just one reader gets the point and doesn’t make a fatal mistake in choosing their major professor, then I will finally feel that I have not blogged about all of my struggles in vain.

happy howlidays!

Surprisingly enough, it’s been a rather quiet holiday season here for me. I got all of my Christmas shopping done nice and early (and mostly online as well), so I didn’t have to partake in any of that last-minute nonsense. The in-laws are too busy groveling to Miniman to give a shit about what I say or do. I’m spending plenty of time relaxing with my two wonderful dogs. Things are good. Hope they are for you too!