Tuesday, February 28, 2006

research and other sundries

so, my research is off to a better and much more organized start this summer. i never thought i would say that i enjoy a 9-5 existence (more like 8-1 -but you get the drift). i worked every day last week (starting tuesday) - and our work went well. we're doing something slightly different this summer - something that promises to yield results. we're feeding e. coli beads labeled with a fluorescent dye to our hungry little birdie heterophils. it's interesting and fun. i don't think i'm supposed to type many details - confidentiality of research and whatnot. at any rate, i go in early, draw blood from the research birds, head to the lab, run my samples. i usually finish by 2 (at the latest) - and then i head to the gym. i've been working out steadily every day for almost 2 weeks. i feel good - and i actually look forward to visiting the gym. i sleep better and i just feel more settled mentally and physically. i see why people claim that exercise is good for depression. i ran a mile yesterday. probably not huge for some people, but considering my hatred of running and my generally weak physical condition, i was thrilled with myself. i've been slowly conditioning by doing cardio - on the elliptical and treadmill both. i've also been doing the machines with sharon. my goal is to run 3 miles by the end of summer. we'll see if that happens. i've been good. at any rate, i finish at the gym, come home and have the rest of my night to myself. and i LOVE it. i never want to go back to school. is that bad? it's just nice to have a goal in mind for our work this summer, the expectation of results and a paper (which i will have credit on), and a schedule that allows me free time and a REAL life.

friday was fun. i worked out hard with sharon, then jim and i met dee and alison at wok hay for dinner. it was excellent, as usual. we headed to border's after that for coffee, socializing, and books. saturday was even more busy. i worked out with sharon, then we all went and saw x-men. mediocre movie - entertaining and fun - but a little fluffy for my tastes. after that, i dropped jim off at home - and sharon and i went to the world grotto to see a band play. we met friends, danced, and drank. i wasn't very behaved. i didn't go with the intent of needing a driver -but i wound up needing one. 1 shot of tequila, 3 shots of vodka, and 1 beer later i realized i wasn't driving anywhere. we walked to another club in the old city, hung out till about 2 am, then went back to chuck's place for drinks and gummy bears soaked in everclear. i rolled into bed at around 4am. thank god jim was around to help me get undressed and under the covers, because i would have just slept in my clothes and contacts.

today was low key. tomorrow promises to be busy. going to gvegas to see the family. both of them.

more cool music:

the fray
nina simone
silversun pickups

Monday, February 27, 2006

warning: less than stellar grade alert!

that title sounds very self-satisfied, but i didn't intend it that way. we took our final in nutrition on the friday before spring break (st patty's day). i couldn't focus or settle myself to study for it properly. probably because i loathe the subject material with every fiber of my being. that and the fact that i've been a mental basket case lately (and those of you who think i'm ALWAYS a mental basket case can keep it to yourselves) -- i do loathe that class though. bad attitude, but bah - there it is. anyway, it was in 2 parts, as there were 2 instructors (unlike pharm II, which has 12 instructors! including a che guevera look-alike that dresses all in black and is only lacking a beret). anyway, one part was worth 80 points, the other 90 or so. i think. the point is, i always say i did poorly (and while that was true for gross anat first year, it's never been true since) and then do fine. this time, i outdid myself. i made a 59/80 on the first portion. i almost yakked up lunch when i saw my grade. it's dismal. we haven't received the other portion yet, which i'm fairly sure i did okay on. but i needed a 140/170 to maintain an A in the class. and i'm guessing, due to part 1, that i just lost that A. sucks. but i needed a very low score to maintain a B. so, i can't really complain. but jeez, i can't even muster up enough caring in me to be pissed at myself for how much i screwed off the night before the test. i think i had reached max capacity burn out at that point. that - coupled with all the other odd mental weirdness lately - left me with exactly 1% of my brain that was remotely interested in studying for the final. and i had an excellent grade going in - somewhere in the neighborhood of a 95%! so, i thoroughly screwed up the final.

ah well.

i also didn't do as well on my GI 2nd test as i did on the first. i destroyed the first one with a 97%, which i was incredibly proud of. this last one - again - boredom and burn out struck - and i just couldn't get it together mentally. i made an 85% on the test. we still have 2 more before the class ends, so no permanent damage. probably.

i had straight As up until the nutrition final. i guess i'll have to wait and see how i did on part 2. i highly doubt that i missed a mere 9 points, but i guess it's possible.

so, spring break went by in a blur. i stayed in tennessee instead of going to florida. i decided the time should be spent reconnecting with that guy i live with (aka my husband). we'd seen so little of each other over the past 2 weeks, with all my finals and other non-final tests. it'd been a very foggy 2 weeks. at the end, looking back over it, i had a very unclear picture of what i'd been doing. i only knew that it involved studying frantically, going to class, and taking tests. i couldn't remember much that jim and i had done together, except packing frantically, driving to durham, running around doing wedding stuff, then coming back home and me studying, studying, studying, studying.

two people in my class have gotten divorced this year. it's so so sad. i understand now more fully why people do get divorced in vet school. it totally absorbs your mind and body both. you can't ever be fully with someone, because part of you is always in that classroom, staring at the board, thinking about all the tests that are coming, and everything you need to be doing, and if your grades are good enough to get a residency, and where you can get a residency, and will you have to move, and why am i thinking about residencies? i need to get through my neurology midterm on friday! that sort of thing. but still, it makes me sad to see people struggling with vet school and with life crises. of course, i'm going through a life crises myself. but j. is unbelievably supportive, so i can't complain there. he understands - to some extent -what i'm going through. and that makes it easier. sometimes too easy, because we both realize the other needs all the studying time they can get, and we wind up ignoring each other. hence, my decision to stay home for spring break. it was a good one.

i helped at school for 3 days, as well. it's interview for the class of 2010 applicant week. so, i gave tours of the vet school, hung out in the hospitality suite, and met people before their interviews. i also tried to keep people from being unduly nervous. god, i barely remember what it was like to be nervous about interviewing for vet school. i barely remember what life was like before vet school sometimes. at any rate, it was a mildly fun way to spend a couple of hours per day. i got to meet a lot of cool people. also, a friend of mine is interviewing for a spot. this is her 4th year being granted an interview, but not being admitted. i'm desperate for her to get in, because it's all she wants to do with her life. i'll probably worry about it over the next week or so as much as she will.

i guess that's all here. i'm not any more mentally stable than i was last time i posted. or maybe i am, who can tell? i get to do ophthalmological surgery tomorrow on cadavers, practicing my hotz-celsus technique, my keratectomy, and my conjunctival pedicle grafts. all should be fun.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

intense ennui

i have succumbed to that particular dissatisfaction that i think only inhabitants of first world/capitalist nations can have. the unhappiness and boredom that occurs even when following my chosen path, having a house that is warm, comfortable, and nicely furnished, having 2 cars, a wonderful husband...and pretty much everything else i could wish for.

does everyone get this? the desire to be away from everything...oh forget it. i should stop blogging, because i'm patently tired of hearing myself.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

1/2 way to clinics, grades

last night was a great time (1/2 way to clinics party). i got too drunk to drive myself home, so jess's fiancee took me home. sharon made sure i was safely on the couch, and then they went out. i couldn't have gone anywhere else, i could barely see straight. i had a great time. i let out all the tension that's been coiled up tightly inside of me for the last 4 weeks. yeah, yeah, i know - alcohol isn't a good way to manage stress, but whatever. i hadn't had more than one beer in over a month or more. so, it's not like i'm dealing with my stress by drinking. it felt great to completely let loose and be nuts. i danced a lot, and i got to ride the carousel! it was really fun. i did that before i was too drunk, i was afraid i'd get sick if i tried to do it later in the evening. i haven't been on a carousel in years.

so, i'm taking the day off completely. it feels great. of course, i have to clean my nasty house. but even that thought is kind of pleasant. i can actually clean without fearing that it's cutting into my study time.

so, we got our grades back on the pharm test. before the 'adjustment' - the highest grade on the test was a 78% !! that's atrocious. even after the curve, there was only 1 A. pretty abysmal. i made slightly above the average (about 3 points) with a 78. (after the curve). i was entirely fine with that grade. i was afraid it would be much much lower. somebody in our class failed it pretty badly. after the 16 point curve, they still only made a 54. which is really bad, considering that this test is half of our grade. i'm sure it's gotta be stressful for whoever it is. lot of pressure for the final.

i made an A on my zoonoses midterm (took last monday). so...i guess that's all to report from here. that last picture is right before i went home and passed out for 14 hours.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

i have neglected my blog. i don't feel like writing much lately. i'm mostly sick of hearing myself.

we had our ophthalmology midterm on monday, nutrition midterm on the proceeding thurs. both tests went well. ophthal. was long though. it took most people the entire 2 hours to take the 13 page test. all short/long answer, no multiple choice or anything. my kind of test. i usually do well because i like to write and don't make stupid mistakes.

we're in ABLEs this week, which is GREAT, because i need desperately to catch up in all of my other classes. going to brooker for the funeral meant i missed 2 whole days of classes, and i've been frantically studying for tests/quizzes since i got back. it hasn't given me a great deal of time to keep abreast *or anywhere near abreast* of all the work.

and that's it. my life is pretty much the same -- school school and trying not to collapse under the weight of my seeming endless array of neuroses and anxieties.

Monday, February 20, 2006

anything interesting to say?

not really. i ran 2.2 miles last night with jim. it was ungodly humid, and it was not a good run. i've been feeling a little off for the past few days - physically. headachy, stomach queasy. in fact,my stomach talked to my mentor this morning, while i sat in his office. always amusing. when we finished running, i thought that i was going to pass out. the humidity was so high! it wasn't even a hot night really (upper 70s). but i was soaked in sweat. jim took the opportunity to tell me that i was 'dragging' - TWICE. as if i didn't notice:) i had planned on taking the day off from exercising today, but i think i'll go to the gym and do the elliptical or cycle or something that's not running. i say that, but watch - i 'll go to the gym and run 4 miles. last time i got on the elliptical, i only stayed on 5 mins, then switched to the treadmill. running feels so much better. in a significantly more jarring, uncomfortable way.

work is going very well. i'm pleased with the progress of our research, i've got the assay down pat, though i still make stupid mistakes. for instance, i was very preoccupied yesterday when running my hardwon 15 samples. i was really off in la-la land. i went to wash the cells - which should be done with a buffer made specifically for that purpose - and instead, i grabbed a bottle of distilled water. so stupid. i wasted all that work and then had to retrieve the rest of my blood from clin path (not happy about it) - so that i could eek out enough to rerun the samples. luckily, there was enough left.

not much else to talk about. i spent father's day in greeneville with both of my families, had a fairly relaxing weekend. i haven't started any books at the moment. i'm considering what to read next. the end of the affair was good to the end (haha) - although unsurprisingly, it was completely depressing. anyone have any suggestions? i've got the harry potters - but i'm not ready for that just yet.

4 more days till i'm 27:(

Monday, February 13, 2006

the endless tide

***warning - this is a red flag post - which means i'm afraid it's going to offend. which isn't my intent. but read at your own risk***

there are so many words inside of me that if i don't spill them on to paper, i really will go mad. i don't write enough anymore, so when i sit down to write, the words get jammed up in my brain. there are so many that they all try to come spilling out onto the paper at one time. the result is that they all get stuck in the doorway - and nobody gets out. and i try to write, and i stop - afraid that i'm going to sound stupid or illiterate - or the worst - not be able to articulate what's going on inside of my head.

i don't even know where to start. with death and dying? with the demise of rational, free, intellectual thought? i can't even begin to pick a place. so i'll start with my uncle's death. today was the viewing. i was in a room with many close family and friends. people i had known my whole life. and aunt rita, buster's wife of 50 years. and i was standing there, and all i could think was - what is the feeling of loving someone all your life - and then they are gone? forever unretrievable to you? i ached with sadness to think that jim would ever be away from me. i couldn't - and can't - imagine what aunt rita is feeling. the person that has been there - who knew her probably as intimately as she knew herself - is gone into that silent land. from which there is no return. i think i would be empty, so totally empty in my loneliness without jim. i can't imagine being at home, thinking of something i wanted to tell jim, and realizing afresh that he wasn't there - and that he never would be again. the feeling that wells up inside of me at the thought is utter void of being. a sense of loss so profound that it makes my chest tight and my breath come up short.

we stand against it as long as we can, but there is always inevitably a break in the ranks. and one by one, we (all) fall. some after long, long lives, and some gone from us too soon. my heart hurts all the time now it seems like. and it's not just because of the loss of crosby and seeing my family suffer. it hurts because i've lost that which i had up until recently - the freedom from the burden of sorrow. and now it will be with me always - instead of lessening, it will only grow deeper and more profound, as one by one - the people i love and cherish - pass out of my sight. i know that i want to go before jim; i don't think i can bear his loss. even if it meant going before i'd fully lived a life, i would still want to go first. what makes this harder is that it's nothing - our lives, our sorrows - they are tiny drops of sadness in a vast ocean of time. our sorrow is minor, unimportant. the world goes on. life goes on. crosby and uncle buster won't go on, but i will. for however long i am allotted on this earth. and then i'll go - and eventually, there will be nothing here. no one to remember us - my family - the things we taught each other, the love that held us together. i look around at all the sorrow and emptiness in the world - all the bad things that people do to themselves and the people they love. and i can't fathom why anyone would inflict more hurt on anyone else. the world is already hard and cruel, full of sharp edges. people fall into darkness every day, gone forever - isn't that enough? isn't it enough to watch everything and everyone you love die - without adding to it the pettiness and sadness of everyday life?

if god is real, is there any separation between him and us? christians say yes - that sin stands between us and god. but if we are from god, and in his image, aren't we OF god too? would a baby that died go to heaven or hell? wouldn't god have seen the possibilities of a baby's life? known what choices he would make? assign him a place based on the future decisions he would have made, had he lived a long life? and if that was true, then isn't that baby of god? and if so, then wasn't that baby god - in some form - and now he returns to that from whence he came? because if god could see the future decisions, despite the fact that that baby never lived a full life, then was that child even real, or just a part of god? and if that's true, then are we all just pieces of god? scattered on this earth? how can that make any sense? how can we exist so separately from god but be created by god, in his image? how could god have made us - imperfect? evil? sinners? - if god is perfect and god is love - then how could anything so evil as humans spring from him?

nothing i ask or say or write is anything new. i realize this. there is nothing new under the sun. i'm not even coming up with particularly interesting ways to say these things. but i can't help this flood of questions - because i know that if i did become a christian - i would have to accept that there are no answers to these questions. at least, none that i will ever know. and i can't accept that. and i can't accept a god who would create man "in his image", condemn us to hell for sins passed down from the first humans, and then only redeem us at the hands of a blood sacrifice. the blood sacrifice of his son. a man. or a human manifestation of the divine or whatever jesus was supposed to represent. i want nothing to do with a god that would damn us to hell because we chose the wrong religion - the wrong path. i would never choose a god who sees no difference between a child molester and a person that chose to live a secular but good life. but then again, maybe hell isn't the place of fire and brimstone that i always pictured it as. maybe hell is right here on earth, in watching all that we love wither and pass away. maybe hell is the separation from void. because in the void, we are nothing, we are weightless, we do not exist - and there is no joy. and there is no sorrow. there is nothing. the absence is god itself, the very fabric of void.

i guess it sounds like i am angry. and in some ways, i am angry. i get the same implacable faith every place i turn, but no one can answer my questions, no one can even help me see a path. because there is no path. we're all lost in the woods. some of us are lost together and some of us are lost and alone. but we're all lost.

i feel sad and lost, too.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

downright boring

my blog is becoming, yes. also, yoda-like am i, apparently. it must be reading pharmacology and the desire to bang my head repeatedly against something hard - preferably concrete. our pharm midterm is on thursday. the amount of material i am attempting to cram into my head is staggering. i'd be a lot more worried about this test if i didn't see my panic mirrored on the faces of most of my classmates. ah, to know that i'm in good old-fashioned put it off till the last minute company.

seriously, i've been pretty down lately. school is taking up every available neuron. i haven't even been able to read anything. i've been listening to a lot of good music, though. i've discovered some of pink floyd's early works - especially syd barrett stuff. really good music. and i've been listening to depeche mode a lot, fits my dark and destructive mood. my ipod is probably going to catch on fire, i use it so much. umm. haven't read anything. haven't even finished 'like water for chocolate' - which is shameful, considering how short it is. music and school have been my life lately. i haven't even been in regular contact with my family. my stress is manifesting itself in odd ways.

ahh. i made an A in ophtho. i made a 97% or so on the final. i was very happy with my performance, especially considering that it was the week of grandma's funeral and all that other stuff. i didn't think i'd get enough studying time in, but i guess i did enough. pharm is going to be another story entirely. it'll probably be another neuro semi-fiasco. out of 68 people, there were 16 Ds and 1 F on the neuro midterm! that's a lot for our class. 25% of the class did SUBPAR. made me feel better about my 72. not much, but somewhat.

alright, i guess i've procrastinated my 10 minute break away. back to antiseptics and disinfectants, anti-fungals, chemo, fluoroquinolones, beta-lactams, and everything else - oh my!

Wednesday, February 8, 2006


two roads diverged in a yellow wood (i think i diverge onto the mortal path)

i've been very negligent lately in posting. it's not become i'm swamped either. i just don't find myself wanting to write too much - at least here. school is fine. i took my endocrine exam monday, it went well. friday is GI - which is a HUGE test - and is going to be very difficult. but ...whatever.

mostly i've been thinking about myself lately. as if that's any different from normal. actually, that's not entirely true. i've thought about my family a lot - and my friends - which is part of all this.

i've come to a kind of mental divergence. one path is the path i want to follow - that of changing my bad character traits, fixing my attitude, and becoming a better, stronger, more level-headed, less emotional, and less mouthy person. the other path is the path that i know i will end up following. down that path lie all my shortcomings, character flaws, past mistakes, mistakes yet to be made, etc. every day, i ram my head against the wall of my character shortcomings. every single freaking day. every day i'm reminded anew of how the things i say and do truly affect other people. part of me wants to continue my quest for true character/self-improvement. but a vast part of me lately wants to give up, accept my flaws, and move the $%&@ on with my life. i'm so tired of banging my head against the wall. of looking back with regret and looking forward with trepidation.

i'm not saying this how i want to. i was reading farenheit 451 the other day (for the first time, believe it or not - phenomenal book) - and i came across this line: "why waste your final hours racing about your cage denying you're a squirrel?" as lines go, it isn't the greatest - but it drove the point home head-on. why waste my life trying to deny how and in what environment i was raised? why waste my time trying to change things that are apparently - every day it becomes evident again - impossible to change? i try - i swear to god that i do - to be a better person - to be a person worthy of my life. and yet, every day - i look back over the past - recent and distant - and reflect on how little progress i've made. i see why people need a personal relationship with a savior. i really do. because - in accepting jesus and his sacrifice - you can unburden yourself of the innumerable flaws inherent in our nature. you can dump those off, be forgiven, and just get through the day - doing the best you can. i have no one to blame for my flaws. sure, i can say that my family is the cause of my EXTREMELY loud mouth, my extreme opinionated-ness (is that a word?) and the belief that i am ALWAYS right and all those more colorful aspects of my personality. but -- i am also an individual, a rational person with the ability to change those things about myself that i don't like. at least, that's the theory. but each day that passes, i realize that i am static - never changing. only feeling like i'm changing, while life progresses in exactly the same manner as always. it's comforting to see myself reflected in my family - because then some of the blame for my 'bad' side can be placed elsewhere. and when i say bad side, i mean the less good qualities about myself - always believing i'm right, never being able to keep my opinion to myself, my distrust and dislike for authority. i don't want this to sound like i got nothing good from my family. i'm only talking about the bad things here. not the myriad good things.

and on top of that, it gets worse. i almost feel some sort of ... rationalization of my bad traits. i can look at myself and say, "i am trying, trying to be a better person" - and then i can almost excuse my mistakes - because -after all - i am striving toward something better. but now - i can't even tell if i really am trying to change. i can't tell if i'm truly trying or convincing myself that i'm working on the flaws - and that makes it all okay.

it's so hard to get out of my own head and see things objectively. i guess it's technically impossible. i don't forgive myself the mistakes i make. i keep them and cling to them. because by knowing what mistakes i've made - i feel that i can be reasonably assured of knowing how people feel about me. i never see myself clearly in the context of myself or of anyone else. and that's frustrating. this is why i don't post anymore. i can't articulate what's been floating around in my head.

i'm so in my own head, all the time. some would call it self-centered. but my ruminations are always about how i can make myself a better person - and someone that's better to interact with. i don't want to say and do some of the things i do. a lot of the things i do. and so i analyze, and i think about them - and i try to find the root of those things. and then i try to uproot those things. this is all very abstract. so i'll use a solid example - tattoos. i was raised to think they were trashy, an indication of poor judgement and even worse behavior. and i still think that - to a large extent. but i have relatives that have tattoos - and i don't need to say those things in front of those people. because it's not changeable. and what's the point in hurting someone else's feelings? and yet, sometimes i get pleasure out of it. and i don't even understand why. it's some sort of self-righteous condemnation/superiority thing. sure, i admit that i'm probably not the first person in the world to feel that way - but that doesn't mean that i shouldn't rise above those feelings and doing/saying those things. and yet, i never seem to overcome it.

sometimes i just want to give up and be a social outcast and never leave the house and the confines of my family. it would make things so much easier.

this has been one long stupid ramble. i knew this would happen if i tried to post all that's been in my head lately. so - forgive it. and i didn't even really get started on my recent minor epiphanies about religion. but whatever. sorry if it was nonsensical.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

not much to report here. today and tomorrow are open house at the vet school. i took the birds today (titus and epi) and thousands (literally) of children gawped, poked, and screamed at them. it was nerve-racking and exhausting. i came home and slept for 4 hours. i needed it desperately. my ophtho final went well. my neuro midterm grade was very disappointing. i knew i didn't do well, but i didn't expect to do as poorly as i did (a 72)! i will have to work especially hard on the final to bring it up to a B+, an A is probably out of the question, since i would need a 100 on the final to do that. i guess it's possible, but highly unlikely.

it's the first C i've made on anything this year. i'm annoyed with myself - mostly because i was so distracted and couldn't make myself focus to study. but whatever.

that's about all here.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

fool me once, shame on you

fool me twice - and i am never going back to the lost savant. it's cursed with bad karma. i didn't see it the first time, but there's no denying it now. it's a coffee shop - very cool place with excellent hand-pulled turkey and great big sloppy salads. the first time i went was the night crosby drowned. the 2nd time was tonight, to study for endocrine. and rhi called me, sobbing uncontrollably - to tell me that milton and piggy had disappeared from the backyard. they have been missing since 3 pm this afternoon. i am - by the way - by NO MEANS equating the loss of crosby with the loss of 2 pets. they're not even in the same ballpark - and i don't want that to be what people assume when they read this. i'm just pointing out that both times i've been to that coffee shop, i've received phone calls from people crying so hysterically that i couldn't make out what they were saying. i've gotten maybe 3 phone calls like that in my entire life. not counting the 2 that happened at the lost savant. so, i'll have to do without hand-pulled turkey. i'm being halfway serious here.

at any rate, we had opthal lab today - learning to do a basic eye exam. it was a bit frustrating, since our first dog acted like a nutcase, our 2nd dog hated to be restrained, and it took about an hour and a half to finally find a dog we could work on. everyone else, of course, had behaved dogs. but i got to do nasolacrimal cannulation and see the retina via indirect visualization, so it was pretty cool. i was thoroughly cranky by the time i left, though. i came home, cleaned bird cages, fed bird beaks, then turned around and went to the coffee shop to meet j and s to study. i wound up only being there about an hour and a half (long enough to eat dinner and go through about 1/8th of the notes) - when rhi called. we drove over (jim had come for a change of studying environ) - and helped look for about an hour. to no avail. we're hoping someone picked the dogs up to take to the pound. they haven't been hit by a car, because we've been down every single road within 10 miles of the house. so....once done with that, i came home and preceded to study for about the last 4 hours. we have an endocrine lab and quiz tomorrow.

and here i am. i have nothing else interesting to relate.

the picture above shows the hypothalamic/pituitary axis - the hypothalamus (in the brain) secretes a tropin called CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone) - it's carried by the portal system to the pituitary, which then releases ACTH (adrencorticotropin hormone). this goes to the blood all the way to the adrenal glands (near the kidneys) and causes the release of cortisol. cortisol is a GREAT steroid that helps you get up in the morning and exist! without it, you get Addison's disease. with too much, you get Cushing's disease. cortisol is also called a stress hormone - in that it increases during times of stress!