Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lampshade Headwear



 Please feel free to cast your vote for chapeau haute couiture.

My brother and I are back at school. We decided to come back a day earlier than we absolutely had to in order not to have to fight the very worst of horrendous traffic, which we would have faced had we postponed our trip back until Sunday. It's technically already Sunday now, though I never consider a day to have ended and a new one to have begun until I go to bed and get up, even if it's only for a few hours that I rest. On those lovely days when I have so much studying to do that I never actually make it to bed, I arbitrarily look out the window at some point and see that the sun has risen, and I officially declare tomorrow to have happened. Isn't it delightful to have such control over one's environment as to decide if and when a new day is to start? This power exists, I concede, solely in my own mind. While I'm perhaps a tad delusional, I have at least a tenuous grasp on reality.

The trip home served as a sweet reminder that I genuinely love and like my parents. They're good people. Our relationships are far from conflict-free. My parents and I have always had disagreements, and Matthew's and my newly-attained adult status has in many ways only intensified this. The things about which we disagree, however,  are just that -- things, which money can buy. We're not Trumps or Gateses, financially or otherwise,  but we have enough money to pay for anything we really need. My parents (usually my mom, though neither is my dad shy about making his opinion known) may at times be a bit insistent about being heard when Matthew or I have decisions in this regard to make, but in the end, the decisions are made by whomever has the right to make the decisions, and we go back to the people we were before any disagreement interjected itself into our respective relationships. I acknowledge that it cannot be easy to bring children into the world and to be responsible in every way for them for eighteen years or so, only to cede that responsibility and everything that goes with it to those children. It's uncharted territory for all of us that we're navigating.

This week marks a milestone for my brother and for me. We turn twenty-one one Wednesday.  I plan to celebrate it by getting just a bit bombed. I have class the next morning, and I have a final exam three days after the big day itself, so just how deeply into debauchery I can afford to sink is greatly limited by the rather poor timing of everything. My mother could have planned the whole labor and delivery thing a bit more considerately. 

On the other hand, had Matthew and I been born six hours later than we were, we would have missed California's cutoff age for kindergarten entrance for the year. We finished school a year early in addition to narrowly squeaking past the cutoff date. This happened when we were promoted mid-year from seventh to eighth grade. There are probably very few circumstances under which any school system would have allowed my brother and me to be advanced two school years ahead of our chronological placement. It was arguably a bit crazy even to bump us up a single year when we were already the youngest children in the class. Regardless, had my mother dragged out the labor process any longer, right now we would presumably just be wrapping up our first quarter of medical school. First quarter now seems like half a lifetime ago. I'm glad it's in my past even if such means the I'll need to limit the magnitude of my twenty-first birthday drunken revelry in the name of academic sanity.

Up to this point, the most alcohol I've ever consumed at a time is when I drank one-and-one-half bottles of Guinness in order to deal with writing a particularly difficult paper. Those one-and-one-half bottles of Guinness gave me a noticeable buzz. This time I'm going for the ever elusive midpoint between buzzed and wasted. Here's to hoping I find that perfect stage of almost drunk.

P.S. If anyone who reads this knows Senator Marco Rubio and happens to run into him before Wednesday night, please tell him that he's invited to my birthday party. I'm not sure exactly where it will be held except that I know it will be in a bar somewhere around here. For the first time in my life, I will be allowed into a bar. Miracles occasionally happen.

 I may need someone to carry me home on Wednesday night.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pass the Turkey

I'm most thankful not to have been a part of THIS gathering.

. . .  nor of THIS one . . . 
. . .  nor, for that matter, of THIS one . . . ***

I attended Thanksgiving dinner yesterday with approximately eight-seven other people. Eighty-eight was the closest count I could get of the total number of bodies present, but those being counted were not all that cooperative in regard to being counted; some may not have been counted at all, while others may have been counted multiple times. Additionally, the head count includes the heads of numerous babies, who shouldn't necessarily count as total, complete, and separate entities for practical purposes, but since I didn't have a factor to apply to infants, I counted them each in the head count since all of the babies that I saw had heads. Hell, the pro-lifers would say even the in-utero babies (I have no idea whether or not there were any of those, though no one was morbidly [as in in danger of popping out a new kid before the meal was over] pregnant) count as separate and distinct individuals since life obviously begins at conception, but I will not go there.

After the dinner, my grandmother called us. She was appalled at the dinner that we attended and said that we must not attend another such Thanksgiving celebration and must instead have a smaller gathering at our home with just the fifteen- or-so biological relatives who might show up, that we or must attend her Thanksgiving meal in Utah. My grandmother is a nice enough person, but she's growing every bit as senile as many of her age-level peers. For that matter, her Thanksgiving meal, with just her husband and Utah-based children and grandchildren, wouldn't have been much smaller than ours would have been. I happen to know that the gathering she held was too large to take place in the home of any of the attendees and instead was a catered affair held at some rustic LDS-owned mountain location in Utah. At least all the food we ate at our over-sized gathering yesterday was home-cooked.

After the meal, my immediate family (my parents, my brother, and my cousin who lives with my parents when he's not away at college because his parents kicked him to the curb after he failed to complete his LDS mission because of grave health concerns) discussed the merits of continuing to participate in the gargantuan Thanksgiving Day celebration versus having a more intimate gathering with just ourselves and the families of whatever biological uncles and aunts happened to be in the area. The conclusion we reached is that we genuinely want to spend time with all the people who attend the large gathering. (Half of the attendees are only there every other year, as they spend alternate thanksgiving Days in Utah.) we have the option of inviting anyone we'd care to invite to the event. If we wish, we can have a smaller and more intimate gathering the previous day, the following day, or whenever.

One of the main things for which I give thanks is not having been forced for much of my life to attend the family Thanksgiving affairs in Utah, where the food grows cold waiting while for long-winded relatives to finish praying before we can eat. 

 *** shout-out to Knotty and to textile-free Thanksgiving Day celebrations (which, for the record, Knotty did NOT have)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When it rains, it pours.

Fate had not been sufficiently cruel to me in calling an end to the longest relationship of my life (only three months and a few days but still a long-term relationship by my standards). Fate decided to call it quits on another significant relationship in my life and in the lives of three others when its fickle fingers claimed the life of my dog yesterday. The loss of the boyfriend is nothing in comparison to the loss of my dog.

Pope John Paul III, less formally known as "The Pope" and "Pope," passed away yesterday during what appeared to be a massive heart attack. His suffering was very brief according to my brother, who witnessed the episode. He groaned and fell to his side, then lost consciousness, which he never regained. He seemed to stop breathing shortly after keeling over.

Pope John Paul III first joined our family not long after my brother and I turned ten. We never knew his exact age because he came from the SPCA; their veterinarian estimated his age at approximately six months, which would have him roughly eleven-and-one-half years at the time of his death yesterday. That's almost par for the course as golden retrievers go these days. It's too short a lifespan for a dog in my opinion, although I would have chosen to have The Pope for the amount of time we had him versus any other dog  (except for our first dog, Our Lady of Fatima, who had equal status to The Pope) for one hundred human years.

The Pope initially slept in a spot roughly equidistant between Matthew and me. From the time I suffered the assault in my final year of high school until the present, however, he slept next to my bed whenever both the dog and I were in the same house at night. If I worked through the night on school assignments, he rested on the floor next to me wherever I happened to be working. How did he know that I needed him to sleep next to me? I didn't tell him.

I was in Merced (a few hundred miles north of here) when The Pope died. I have mixed feeling about not having been here. There was obviously not much I could have done either to ease The Pope's suffering or to provide any care that would have increased his chances of survival. Seeing him go through the fatal cardiac event would have been traumatic. Still, I would have chosen to be here had the choice been mine to make.

The family waited until I returned home today to bury him. No one told me about his death until I got here because my mom thought that crying all the way home might have impaired my vision and my driving ability. My brother had already dug the grave. All that was left was for us to say a few prayers and words of farewell and to sing "Amazing Grace."

Will Rogers once said, "If dogs don't go to heaven, when I die, I want to go where they went."  He expressed my sentiments perfectly.

Thanks, Judge Alex.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Eye Rolling, Tongue-Twisters, Hard-to-Pronounce Words, and Telephone Harassment

On Friday in lecture, the lecturing professor hit upon the topic of difficult-to-pronounce words in our current topics of study. He then brought several tongue-twisters up on the overhead monitor for all the students to practice. I admit to rolling my eyes. I'm sorry, Judge Alex (the judge doesn't believe in eye-rolling, as in he feels that it's inappropriate, not as in he places it in the same category as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy), but at the prices we, the students, are paying for medical school, wasting even fifteen minutes of our time on puerile tongue-twisters is eye-roll-worthy behavior.

The professor took exception to my eye roll. "Don't you roll your eyes at me, young lady!" he barked. I wasn't entirely certain he was speaking to me, as I was far from the only student who rolled my eyes at his complete and total disregard for the value of our time. "Yes, I'm directing my words to you, Alexis!" he clarified.

At this point, Cool Guy came to my defense. "Anyone who just rolled their eyes [sic], raise your hands. . .  Be honest." Almost half the class raised their hands, some presumably because they actually had rolled their eyes. The others were acting in solidarity against a totalitarian regime.  The professor ignored them.

"Why did you have to call me young lady'?" I asked him.

"You have a problem with being called 'young lady'?" he questioned me. "I've never even heard of anyone being offended by being called "young lady." That's a new one for me."

"Probably because you don't often refer to medical school students as such," Kal Penn interjected. "Young lady is something a person calls a female child when the person is reprimanding her."

"If the shoe fits. . . " the professor opined.

"It doesn't," I countered in my most monotone voice, all the while maintaining eye contact with the lecturing professor and exercising utmost caution not to roll my eyes again. "The shoe is too small."  

"So what would you prefer to be called?" the lecturing professor asked pointedly. I assumed his question was rhetorical. "I'm waiting for your answer," he told me. Meanwhile, the more easily amused among us were babbling asinine things like "I slit a sheet. A sheet I slit," thoroughly mangling their tongue twisters and saying the sh- word all over the place in the process, then laughing hysterically as though they were second-graders.

I continued to stare at him, channeling my inner Aubrey Plaza, though being extremely careful not to roll my eyes, as I pondered his question. He eventually looked away. For the record, it's the same professor who, months ago, questioned my used of the words debacle and fiasco, and who also asked my brother about my religion. (Matthew told him I was starting my own church.) After a moment, i answered, "Alexis would be perfectly acceptable, as would either Cutthroat Bitch or Madame Rousseau. Take your pick."

He declined to state his preference. Time will tell. For the record, this lecturer doesn't assign grades to us. Duh. I may be a bit stupid at times, but I'm not going to slit my own throat.

My phone has been non-functioning because someone created several bogus Twitter accounts, linked my cell phone number to all of them, and turned on notifications to a whole bunch of the people she followed using the bogus Twitter accounts. The moron was dumb enough to follow only people whom she followed on her for-real twitter account, so it was easy enough to find her. After complaining to the Twitter people, I took it up with her brother, who initially denied her involvement, but then said he would see to it that she ceases and desists.

Her awesomeness is incomparable.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rubric, Schmubric!

I'm not entirely sure this is a parody. 

I just received a text from a woman who was my middle school counselor and who worked in the district office with my mom in our previous town. She wasn't  my personal counselor or anything like that. For that matter, I do not recall her ever once counseling me except maybe for the time she had cafeteria duty and she told me I was wasting food because I threw away what she said was a perfectly good apple. Perhaps that would be considered counseling. I just thought she was being a busybody.

The woman was soon thereafter promoted from being a middle school counselor to being a district English curriculum director. What I and probably everyone else remember most about her was that when she came to our high school to model or critique lessons for English teachers, her favorite word was rubric. The woman wanted to create a rubric for every stinking thing under the sun. Does one really need to consult a rubric to know if he or she has a sunburn? I don't know about the rest of you, but if I've been in the sun and my skin looks red and hurts, I probably have a sunburn. If it's not and it doesn't, I probably don't have a very significant sunburn no matter what the damned rubric has to say about the matter.

Some kids eventually started calling this woman "Rubric Head." That was after my friend Brendan said that if she were to have another baby (she already had five kids; I don't know if she had another child or not after that) it would almost certainly be named Rubric. With high school students' typical difficulties in keeping their mouths shut about anything, someone told her what Brendan had said. She looked hurt, but she didn't stop saying "rubric" roughly once for every nine other words that came out of her mouth. My friend Nate said that when she was getting frisky with her husband or her trainer at the gym or with whomever was her main squeeze, she probably called out "rubric" at the moment of climax --  either that or she scored her partner's performance after each act of coitus based on a rubric she had created.

My dad had to work with Rubric Head on a joint parent/teacher/administrator task force established for the purpose of  selecting exemplar writing samples for each possible score on district writing benchmark exams. My dad couldn't have been much less interested in the committee's task at hand if the committee's defined purpose had been created based solely on what my dad had said would be terminally boring to him personally. He was on the task force because no one else would sign up,  so my mom volunteered him. It was one of the times I feared my parents might divorce. In the end, my dad dealt with the issue by downing two rum and cokes before he showed up for each of the four meetings of the task force.

I heard from on of my teachers who was also on the committee that a particular  writing sample was distributed for scoring. The particular piece of high school student work had no paragraphs, no punctuation or capitalization, atrocious spelling, nonexistent sentence structure, and didn't come close to addressing the assigned topic. My dad and several others instantly gave the sample a "1," which was the lowest possible score. Rubric Head immediately rebuked them all for failing to consult the rubric before determining the score. My dad, whose inhibitions may or may not have been diminished by alcohol consumption, countered her objections with, "Rubric, shmubric! I don't need to consult a God-damned rubric to recognize a piece of shit when I see it!"

The district superintendent reportedly muttered, upon witnessing the interaction,  that Rubric Head probably couldn't force herself to flush a toilet after using it until she rubricked the toilet's contents to ascertain that what was inside was, indeed, urine or fecal matter [though he didn't say "urine" or "fecal matter"]. My mother was mortified to learn the next day of my dad's outburst the night before, but everyone else I knew who either witnessed it or heard about it sympathized with my dad.

Anyway, cutting to the chase, Rubric Head is in town and wants to have dinner with my brother and me tomorrow night. I would have loved to make excuses except that A) my mom is already a bit irritated with me and B) Rubric Head is taking us to a really great restaurant. Matthew wanted to send in his place a guy named Emil from out cohort who looks like him and who will do anything for food. The only problem with Matthew's plan is that Emil is from the Basque region of France and has a fairly strong accent. Matthew is going to have to come to the Rubric Head  dinner with me. I told him we can decompress afterward by rubricking the whole experience.

We're going.  We may be expected to rubric the waiters, the meal itself, the quality of the toilet paper in the restaurant's bathrooms, and God knows what else.  I may need Prozac before the night is over.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cut the Cord

My mom is a micromanaging helicopter parent of the utmost degree. When i was still a minor, it was her absolute  right to parent in such a manner if she so desired. Now that I am an adult, she can still say whatever she wants, but I don't have to listen all that closely if what she says does not suit me. 

One could argue that because I'm living rent-free in a structure that she jointly owns and am subsisting mostly on food that she has financed, she still should have a say in what I do. I interpret it somewhat differently. If I were engaging in behaviors that went against everything she and my father ever taught me, she would have the right to ask that I either live within the rules of polite society or move out of the condo that she owns. I've banked enough money that I could support myself throughout the remainder of medical school if she pulled the financial carpet from beneath my feet. It's money that might be better spent on expenses when I am in an internship or residency and am not earning much money, but the vast majority of interns and residents survive on what they earn in their rather marginal positions.

Still it's good that I have the money that I've stored away. It allows for a level playing field in negotiating this game of territory as I'm finding my way to adulthood. It gives me freedom, in the event that a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce me under absolute despotism, so that I might  throw out such government and provide new power for my own future security, to borrow a few words from Thomas Jefferson. My mom can give me all the advice she wants. I can take it or leave it. If she doesn't like it when I leave the advice as opposed to taking it, she can evict me from the premises. If she evicts me, I can used my savings to live wherever i want. It works for me.

The situation in which my brother and I find ourselves is a bit unnatural. Brothers and sisters do not typically go off to medical school together. The fact that we did lends itself, sometimes through the most casual sharing of information with our parents on the part of either my brother and me, to intentional or unintentional blurring of boundaries. It's uncharted water for each of us to navigate. 

When i first began seeing the person I dated this fall, I asked my brother not to mention the relationship to my parents. It that I felt I had anything to hide from them so much as that I wanted to deal with the boyfriend on my own terms without any parental interference. I'm not sure how or even if they might have interjected themselves into the process even had they known, but it was easier with them not being in any way involved. It was not a hasty decision. I would do it again the same way if I had the chance to do it over. I probably will do the same thing again at least once. I won't marry a guy without allowing my parents to meet him first, but I can easily see myself carrying on a relationship of equal or greater length without their knowledge. My parents simply do not need to know every single thing I do.

In a few short years, my brother and I will each complete internships in cities away from each other and our parents. At that point the invisible tie that still provides a not-all-that-age-appropriate connection will likely disappear once and for all. Both my brother and I will always be connected to one another and to our parents in some intangible way. Right now, however, we're all a bit too connected. The metaphorical umbilical cord binding us all has entered the final countdown phase.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

6 lbs., 1 oz. and 27.5 Inches in Length

This is how the cello was displayed in the store. It's a Maple Leaf make of cello. Get it? Cute, huh? As soon as I paid my money I disposed of the damn leaf.

Don't worry that the kid is unnaturally thin. It's a cello.

Today I dealt with the recent demise of a relationship by undergoing a bit of therapy. To be more specific, it was therapy of the retail variety.  I took money that had been removed from my bank account months ago for the purchase of a new violin and bought a cello with it. It was not needed for my new violin because my uncle decided a few months ago to buy for me the violin of my choice after my mom damaged my previous violin. I won't even address the sketchiest details of that fiasco.

I was actually doing myself a major favor by spending the money, as it had been sitting - nicely camouflaged -- at the bottom of a decorative jar, beneath a cluster of glass jelly beans. We all know that it's not terribly prudent to keep a large cache of money stored underneath a mattress or, for that matter, anywhere else in one's home. I've been too busy even to visit a branch of my bank during business hours, and I felt even more nervous about going out with such a large amount of cash after-hours to deposit it into an ATM. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway, about why it was such a great idea to drop the better part of  six thousand dollars on a cello, a decent bow, and a sturdy case. 

My brother casually mentioned what I was doing today to my mom in a text. My mother quite predictably went ballistic. Her stated reasons as to why my indulgence was such an abysmal practice centralized upon the premise that what I did was to sublimate my emotions, not actually dealing with them, but rather,  engaging in the most unhealthy practice of compulsively dropping a large wad of cash on an impulse purchase. She said it wasn't really about the money.

I shall share my opinion here even if no one desires to hear it because this is my blog and I can say whatever I want as long as it's not libelous. Almost anytime someone gives you the line, "It's not about the money," it really is all about the money. My mother is upset that I spent nearly six grand on a cello and related paraphernalia.  If I had gone out and wasted three hundred dollars on high-end cosmetics, she probably would have considered the practice not conducive to mental health, but she wouldn't have given a rat's rectum [shoutout to Knotty] that I had done it.

Before you find yourself too firmly entrenched on her side in this dispute, let me relate just a bit of my mother's retail history. When she was fourteen and a high school junior she purchased a new Trans Am with earnings from a gambling ring that she operated in her high school. She was still almost two years from being able to drive legally when she bought the Trans Am. (I'm not suggesting my mother let the car vegetate in the garage for almost two years. According to her siblings, she drove herself even to eighth grade in a second-hand Mustang she bought years earlier, also with gambling ring earnings. I'm just saying it wasn't legal for her to have driven the car.) One or the other of her parents must have signed for the car, but she would have been the one to fork over all the cash at the age of fourteen. I drive a freaking Honda Civic at the age of twenty. For the record, I consider myself quite fortunate to have the Honda Civic, as not everyone can have Judge Alex, who buys Lexuses for his offspring, as a father. I'm merely mentioning this to give you, the reader, much needed perspective in regard to my family's financial history.

Moving along to my mother's more recent history, she has not one, not two, but three grand pianos in her present home -- one for each floor of the house. The pianos are two Steinways and a Kawai, for the record -- which are not exactly Wurlitzers in the grand scheme of all things piano-related. That doesn't even count the baby grand that is in my room there and was purchased for me by my Godparents. My mother also purchased a 6'4" ebony Boston [a Steinway subsidiary] grand for the condo. My mother's net worth in pianos alone is equal to or greater than the combined wealth of the average two-income family in the U.S. Isn't that just really sweet as well as sensible? Is it normal to be too damned lazy to descend a flight of stairs to play a piano?

I'm not suggesting that my mother has spent money foolishly on a regular basis throughout her marriage. She herself has worked at decent-paying positions for all but a few years of her marriage, and what she spent on pianos probably didn't even touch my father's salary, the magnitude of which I don't know, though I'd have to guess that what he pulls in is substantial. What I am suggesting is that my mother is the proverbial pot calling the proverbial kettle proverbially black by complaining about my recent indulgence. My not-quite-six-thousand dollar purchase pales in comparison to the money she's spent in an arguably frivolous manner.

All sales of used merchandise at the store from which I purchased the cello are final. I've watched enough of courtroom TV shows to know that the only terms under which my purchase could be invalidated would be if the cello, bow, or case  had been in some way falsely represented. I did my homework. My cello is the real deal. The cello is here to stay. 

My mother needs to learn to look on the bright side. This figurative coin of sorts actually has two bright sides. Side A: I would have spent even more on the cello except that a high-end cello, while it sounds great when played by an experienced and talented cellist, is actually more difficult to play than is a bargain basement cello. I split the difference and went with a mid-level model. Side B: Even if I have a bona fide musical instrument addiction -- which I do not -- it's far cheaper than a drug or gambling habit even without the necessity of paying for related stints in rehab.

The song of the day for today should be a cello song except that I cannot actually play the cello yet, so instead, we will go with Gloria Gaynor's breakup anthem of the 70's or 80's or whenever it was recorded.

Friday, November 13, 2015


"The best way not to get a broken heart is to pretend you don't have one." -- Charlie Sheen ****

Love is probably overstating it, but I was in a relationship from the very end of August until now. A relationship of less than four months is not exactly the substance of which history's great romances are made, but considering my personal romantic history, it lasted practically a lifetime. Like many relationships, alas, it didn't stand the test of time.

My former significant other was and is a classmate. This makes things perhaps just a tad awkward, though not excruciatingly so. It wasn't the most intense of relationships ever, and the split wasn't overwhelmingly ugly. 

I'm still not entirely sure the exact nature of the split. I was there when he broke it off (in person; he's hardly a blatant anal orifice) so I know what he told me, but I'm uncertain as to whether or not what I was told was the real reason. My friend asked me why the guy would lie about his reason. Sometimes the course of least resistance is easier than the truth. Sometimes a guy tells a girl what he thinks will be the least painful thing to hear or what will make him sound the least like a jerk when his words are repeated to someone else. Sometimes a girl does the same thing, of course, but I didn't break it off with the guy in this case.

There was (and still is) a slightly-greater-than-four-year age gap between us. The age discrepancy was cited in the conversation that went on for longer than it should have, ostensibly because the guy felt guilty, as a contributory factor. I did nothing to encourage him to keep talking, to rethink his decision, or to do anything. If someone does not wish to continue a relationship of any sort with me, that's the person's choice. It's beneath my dignity to attempt to cling to anyone who is plotting an escape.

I didn't give away to this person anything that I cannot easily reclaim. The preceding statement was intentionally cryptic, just as the guy may have been cryptic in regard to what he said to me regarding his reason for ending things. Had I been older, would he have been more open regarding certain things he may have desired in a relationship? I have no idea. One thing the guy said was that in a few years a four-year age difference between him and someone else or between me and someone else probably won't be significant, but at this point it is. 

My brother and I are younger by more than a year than anyone else in the cohort. Most of the students in my cohort are considerably more than a year older than we are. The mean age right now is 24, years, 10 months. I'm 20 years, 11.4 months. I try very hard not to be silly and to be as mature as anyone else, but when the people here look at me, they seem to see someone who is not their equal in terms of age and maturity. I cannot change who I am.

I've never mentioned or alluded in any way to this person in my blog. I suppose I'm doing the ultimate mention now, although if you're not someone in my cohort, you haven't the foggiest notion as to whom I may be referring. My own parents have no idea. My best friends from places other than here have no clue as to what I'm talking about.

If I were Taylor Swift, I would probably write a song about the guy, and everyone who knew him would recognize him in the song. He should probably consider himself most fortunate that he's getting off with a mere anonymous mention in this equally anonymous blog.

This, too, shall pass.

I don't really like Garth Brooks --or, for that matter, any country artist -- all that much. I did, however, come across a lovely cover of one of Brooks' songs by  Celtic Thunder artist Colm Keegan along with cellist extraordinaire Laura Durrant. It's their video, and I hope they don't mind that I posted it, as it perfectly suits my current rather gloomy mood.

  ****  not necessarily a person after whom any sane being I know would choose to pattern his or her life                

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Something I Never Discussed (a bit gross)

This is the place. (I actually borrowed that quote from Brigham Young, though he was speaking of something very different than anatomy lab. Or was he?)

I read an old blog allegedly written by me (in the interval in which it was written, only I had the password to this account, and I gravely doubt that a hacker would go to the trouble of gaining access to my leg just to make a single rather benign post) in which  I mentioned that I would share how it is to cut through human flesh, albeit dead human flesh.  I can see now that I never addressed that topic.

It's pretty gruesome, actually. The closest I'd ever come to it would have been cutting beef or chicken prior to cooking. Chickens are not all that similar to humans in an anatomical sense, however, so one could work as a KFC prepper (as in cutting the meat up long before it gets to the local stores) for many years and still have no clue as to what it is like to cut into a human. And one would be, if one is anything like me, perfectly happy to keep it that way. Cutting beef is a bit more similar except that the skin of a cow was removed long before it reached anyone's cutting board. If the hide were in place, it would be of a much tougher consistency than would human flesh be. Any attached vital organs would have long since disappeared as well.

I'm far from the reincarnation of Jeffrey Dahmer. The idea of controlling a knife as it descends through layers of human tissue in no way appeals to me. I refuse to allow my distaste for all things gory, however, stand in the way of attaining my career objectives. so I always used a scalpel as efficiently as possible in order to minimize my time spent in the anatomy lab.

One of my cohort mates suggested that people who have been involved in hunting mammals are slightly desensitized to the grossness of the whole process of cutting into tissue. This is likely true. It's not so true, however,  that I would necessarily recommend that anyone who is much like me go out and buy a certified Dick Cheney hunting rifle and commence with shooting away at anything on four legs that walks by. If hunting is something that a prospective medical school candidate likes to do or does of necessity, more power to that person, and the person may have a slight edge on the rest of us when it comes to not hurling during one's initial stint in the anatomy lab. 

In terms of the tactile-kinesthetic principles of functioning in an anatomy lab, however, there's as much dissimilarity between the mammals typically hunted and the ones one will dissect in anatomy lab as there is similarity. Think about it. Or don't, if you're squeamish and don't have to think about it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Most Tenuous Topic

Even this seemingly benign photo is probably doing more to red-flag this blog and to invite scrutiny from the testing Nazis than is prudent. C'est la vie.

Late in this calendar year I will take a test that is more important in terms of my future than has been any other test I've ever taken in my life. The SAT was important both times I took it. (Sometimes it really is worth it to take the SAT twice. My first time through it I did well. I nailed the thing my second time through.) The LSAT and mCAT were both important, as at those points in my educational career I wasn't entirely certain what options were open and needed to be prepared for either law school or medical school. I don't recommend preparing for both simultaneously. I didn't exactly do that myself. I took them eight weeks apart, which is probably closer than a sane person would take two of such vastly different tests of such magnitude, but it is at least doable at that interval.

All of those tests are ancient history and not entirely relevant anymore, however, as step numero uno of the behemoth test I'll be facing at or near the end of this academic year dwarfs every other exam I've ever taken.  People have been known to lose their sanity over this exam, or so I'm told. In fairness, some of those who supposedly lost their sanity in connection with the exam had only the most marginal of acquaintances with the very concept of stability. Still, the concept that it's a test that is known to screw around with everything one has ever thought of or felt about oneself even to the most confident of individuals on the planet is a point I do not take lightly.

You might have noticed that I have yet to mention the name of this exam. I won't, or at the very least I will not do so in today's blog. After reading the cautionary material, I've become so paranoid that I don't want to put anything in this blog that might cause it to show up on a google search and hence fall under  some test Nazi's radar. i intend to fly well under the radar on this one.

On the other tests I've taken, test security was addressed. With this exam, multiple sections concerning "irregular behavior" are in the earliest information disseminated to prospective test takers. When I read the term irregular behavior  I wondered if those charged with preparing students for this exam referred to the borderline Aspies, schizophrenics, and others with special needs who are likely present in the med school population just as they are in every other segment of society. I thought the ban on irregular behavior pertained maybe to self-stimming or to conversing aloud with the voices in one's head during the test. I thought wrong. Irregular behavior refers to anything that might interfere with the integrity of the test. We're not to share anything from the test with anyone. Not with lovers. Not with offspring. Not with womb-mates, i.e. twin siblings. Not with test preparation material publishers. Not with anyone.

Well in advance, we're already studying for this killer of an exam. We study to some degree in groups, though much of this study will be a very solitary effort. In one of my study groups, several of the members aren't particularly interested in prepping for the test. I'm a bit worried for them, though it's their own problem if they fail to see the light very, very soon. I cannot learn the material for them.

In the end, I'm a proficient test-preparer and a good test-taker. I don't procrastinate. Chances are that I'll be fine, though I do not underestimate the enormity of this milestone exam.

I'll probably write about this again in the upcoming months, as at some point classes will end and preparing for the test will encompassing nearly all of my waking hours. Then again, in the interest of test integrity and of flying under the radar, perhaps I will not. Time alone will tell.