Tuesday, August 29, 2006

back into the rhythm already

it feels like i never left school. wait. i didn't ever leave - considering that i did my research there all summer. but it feels like i never left class, i suppose. other than the fact that we're in a new classroom - on the third floor - far removed from everybody else. it's kind of lonely being a 3rd year. the 1st and 2nd year classrooms are adjacent to one another, so there is lots of socializing in the halls between classes - with teachers, classmates, etc. the third floor is very dull. no other classrooms and we're so faraway from most professors offices that we never see anyone. we are across from the munchbox - so i expect to gain weight with breakfast always within 20 yards of my spot in the classroom.

the classes are shaping up to be interesting. i'm actually excited about cardiology - it seems neat - how the heart works and all the diseases that go along with that. radiology IS going to be as bad as everyone says it is. i can feel it sucking up all my brain space already. respiratory seems ok. a little dry to start. exotics i will love, of course. reproduction is going to be hard, but i think it'll be really interesting, as well. we had a reproductive pathology lab today and got to look at all kinds of plastinated and wet specimens of reproductive problems. including a "male" horse that came in last year and was euthanized. it was a pseudo-hermaphrodite. it had testicles, a rudimentary uterus, and a cross between a penis (the head) and a vulva directly under the anus (where the vulva should be), as well as teats (male horses do not have teats, unlike male cats).
so yeah, that was interesting. i could explain what a pseudo-hermaphrodite is, but at the moment - i can't remember exactly. we haven't started our behavior class yet (next week, i think), and we have 1 or 2 electives to choose from (which also don't start for a little bit). so i only have 5 classes right now, though i'll have 8 before the end of the semester. and none end early :(

that's all to report here. my life is fairly uneventful. i've gotten into a rhythm of class, lab, the gym, home, dinner, studying. mundane but already stressful.

did i mention that jim passed his prelim???!!!???!!?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

fantastic news!

this blog is 99.9% about me. so, i i'd like to take a moment here and talk about someone else. my husband. for those of you who read this and don't know, i've been married for 7 years. since i was 20. six years ago, my husband -the history major - decided he wanted to go into mathematics and earn his phd. with absolutely zero math background. we're talking a phd in PURE mathematics here - stuff that you and i and 99% of the rest of the world couldn't comprehend if wanted to understand it. he took prerequisites and was admitted to the graduate program in 2001 and got his masters in 2004.

ever since then, he's been working very hard to gain his phd. only 10% of people that enter the program he's in will graduate from it. besides rigorous courses, he has to take 2 preliminary exams and write his doctoral thesis. the preliminary exams are extremely difficult and most people fail 1 or both. jim took the algebra prelim (and when i say algebra - i do not mean the algebra you and i learned in high school - i once looked at the proofs he had to do for this test, and i could not locate one number or letter or notation that looked vaguely familiar!) . he failed it. algebra is the hardest of all the prelims and many people do not pass. he had one oppportunity left to take that prelim. he had planned to take it last december/january. but crosby died, so he had to push it back to this summer. he's been studying hard all summer, and he has been very, very worried about this prelim. if he failed, he would be out of the phd program - and all his work from 2004 on would have been a waste.

he took it the wednesday before last - and after a week of waiting for his results- they're in. HE PASSED!!! i'm so proud of him i can barely stand it.

he still has to take 1 more, but algebra is the hardest of all the prelims - so we're not too worried about that. he did a great thing, and i'm happy and proud - especially considering all we've been going through lately.

YAY for my hubby!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

of the final push. i guess you can look at the new semester as that. there is no summer for us students after the third year, we go straight into the clinics and start our fourth and final year of schooling (not counting internships and residencies). i'm apprehensive about starting tomorrow. too much has gone on this summer for me to be ready to add school to the pile. i'm not looking forward to it in the slightest. our classes promise to be difficult, especially radiology and cardiology. we only have 7 or 8 classes this semester, 6 core and 2 electives (or 1, if we so choose). theriogenology (reproduction - for those who don't own a dictionary), multispecies medicine (exotics, yay!), cardiology, radiology, respiratory, and behavior. plus our 2 electives. i don't know which yet.

thankfully, they started us out lightly tomorrow, with a mere 4 hours of lecture and 3 hours of lab in the afternoon.

i'm trying to be optimistic. but it's really hard. i know how difficult this semester is going to be -- i'm fully prepared for all of that. i just don't want to do it. it's hard to keep pushing like this, every single day. i wish i'd had time for a real vacation this summer. but i never really got one. nor did jim. we pretty much worked the summer away. it's a shame, considering that after this - real life will set in for me.

god, in less than 12 hours, i'll be sitting in the 3rd year classroom - back in school. again.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

home again

well, i'm over my fear of flying. the last 2 flights home were actually enjoyable! my first flight from san antonio to memphis was at 6:15am, so i got to watch the sun rise. my 2nd, from memphis to knoxville, was short - but the day was beautiful and i sat in the first row - so i actually had leg room. i think it finally dawned on me how safe and routine flying is. i don't know why or what did it. maybe just having 6 flights in 7 days was enough. whatever the cause, i can now comfortably board an airplane without total mental shutdown.

this new found comfort was a combination of many thoughts. for one, over and over again, as we taxied out to the runway, i would see the line of planes waiting to take-off. it seemed so totally routine - like cabs or buses lined up in front of a hotel. i began to realize how absolutely mundane flying somewhere is.

but really what struck me was that my fear of flying was almost totally based around the fear of the loss of control and subsequent death. and death is with us every day, everywhere we go. no - actually - it's more than that. the fear was the fear of the unknown, of being out of control - of not knowing what would or could happen in the next seconds. but ALL of life is like that. sure, daily life is routine and safe. we never think that we'll be hit by a bus or slip in the shower and hit our heads. because showering is so routine, so normal, so safe that we never even think twice about it. flying isn't routine or safe for me, because i start to feel out of control. but that's the POINT. control everywhere else outside of a plane is just illusion. i think i'm in control in my car, at school, in the classroom, in my house. but it's all a facade. we have no control, anywhere in our lives. i think i finally realized the basis - the root - of my fear. not merely death, but the loss of my perceived control over when and where it happens to me. and it's exactly that - a perceived and phony control. i have no control. i can't spend my life fearing everything that might represent the slightest possibility of death, else i'll never leave the house. or get out of bed in the morning.

as for LSU and TX - both went well. the poster presentations were enjoyable. the experience itself - not so much. the event planners only planned for 80% of who showed up, despite having received registrations from many more than that. so, instead of being in a nice hotel room, we were stuck in a freaking dorm room. no TV, no phone, no nothing. just beds. it was really depressing. overall, i was glad to leave LSU when the conference was over. i did like baton rouge, and i could definitely see going there for an internship and/or residency. one fun activity was visiting alligator bayou - a cypress swamp (2000 acres) privately owned. i got to go out on the swamp in a barge and see lots of wildlife, including a mother alligator lying in a den, on a clutch of eggs. i have many pics.

i presented my poster there - but didn't do an oral presentation. i did do an oral presentation in san antonio, on monday. we stayed in the rivercenter marriot, a $350/night hotel. luckily, we got a conference discount (a mere $138/night). i was unimpressed with the hotel. it was nice, and the beds were fantastic - but they didn't even provide breakfast! however, i enjoyed my first foray into the world sans husband. in some respects. i missed jim, and i wanted to be home - especially considering all that we're going through right now - but it was also nice to see that i was capable of being on my own. of getting a cab, being in a city 1000 miles away, boarding an airplane - all alone. i told jim that i think that having been with him since i was 17 years old has weakened me in some ways - made me dependent and frightened to be alone. going to TX was a big step for me - the flying alone - the being 1000 miles away from him and being okay.

at any rate, i gave my presentation on monday at 3pm. it was in front of approximately 300 people, in a huge ballroom that could have seated 700 easily. i was terribly nervous beforehand, and all during my talk, my knees shook. however, afterwards - people kept coming up to me and gushing about how professional and comfortable i looked speaking in front of people. dr jones raved about my talk for a good 5 mins, saying things along the lines of i was a public speaker/teacher in the making, that i looked unbelievably relaxed, sounded confident, enunciated, and explained my research clearly and succinctly. i was thrilled that so many people were impressed with my talk. i also got to meet dr lafeber himself (founder of lafeber bird foods) - who funded our study. i was able to thank him directly for his monetary contribution to my research, which was nice.

i met a lot of vets and students, as well. it was a good networking opportunity - and it was great to get my face and public speaking ability out there. all in all, the oppportunity itself was great. i think i was the only 'undergraduate' vet student to speak (residents and interns also spoke). i felt special and proud of myself. i did well. all that said, i was really, really glad to come home on thursday. in fact, i wasn't supposed to come home till saturday - but i missd jim so much - and needed to be with him due to all of the chaos at home - so much - that i changed my flight to 6am on thursday and came home early. he met me at the airport with roses. how sweet is that?