Aug 30, 2007

Beach and wine!

The perfect combination!! This is another short entry because it's late and I have class tomorrow, and I've been busy all day pre-studying for the new classes beginning tomorrow, if "pre studying" consists of hanging out at the beach all day draped in Grenadian children, and then shedding said children and bumming out at the wine bar drinking Chenin Blanc.

Verdict: Parasit... rocked it... I am now an asswormologist. If you have explosive parasitic diarrhea, well, I can tell you how much it's going to suck. A useful skill, to be sure.

Genetics... we don't have the results yet, but I feel good about how the exam went. I had trouble sleeping (as always) but didn't feel panicky or horrible this time and it was only one night, I did the exam carefully, and thought that it was really fair and much less horrible than I expected.

What's weird and a little concerning is that most people either thought it was really pretty easy or insanely difficult. There isn't really a middle ground of "eh" people (at least that I saw), and that's a bit of a concern. I didn't think it was bad, but wondering if I missed some sinister effect. But hopefully, we'll see tomorrow.

For now, it's bedtime!

Aug 28, 2007

Finals already?

Eep! Parasit in the morning!

On the plus side, no more pictures of Ascaris worms in the near future!

Aug 25, 2007

More on polar bears...

Which of course, are the #1 threat in the Caribbean.

A bit of advice... and you can trust me on this, because when I'm in the States, now that I'm a medical student, people treat me like I'm a Real Doctor(tm)...

If you're ever in the Arctic and kill a polar bear, after Greenpeace gets done with you, do NOT, and I can't emphasize this enough, undercook, and then eat it. And don't think freezing it will help (which seems to be done by nature of it being a polar bear in the first place), because it won't. Trichinella nativa can survive freezing, so if you eat undercooked polar bear (or arctic fox), you'll still get larval cysts in your muscles... if the polar bear you eat happens to have been affected, which considering there's like 20 of them left, I'm not sure what the odds on that would be.

So consider this a public service announcement from me through my parasitology class. Please... please don't let your children eat undercooked polar bear.

You're welcome.

Aug 24, 2007

Bad Blogger

Yes, I'm still using the word "blog" despite the current chic hatred of it to describe things that are, by best definitions "blogs" since they lack better definitions.

So I haven't been updating all that much, at least not for all that's been going on, because well, all that's been going on!

Parasitology and genetics, as mentioned previously, are cool little two week classes that then deliver a final right in your third week. Pressure's on, baby! It's nice because you're only focusing on those two, so I'll tell you a little bit about them before bed.

Genetics is apparently highly variable, with some terms being really easy and interesting, and others having dull instructors and insanely difficult tests, so your mileage may vary. I don't want any angry emails.

Our instructor this term is a pretty cool guy from Newfoundland (that's an accent I haven't heard) who seems to do some solid genetics review without attacking anything too suicide-inducingly difficult. Now, the test may prove that wrong, but so far, I'm enjoying it well enough, particularly since the instructor likes to pepper his slideshow with oddities like Gattica movie posters and weird Radioactive Man style comics from the 50s where everyone has giant heads, like they've been infected by Toxoplasmosis as fetuses. Feti?

Which brings me to parasitology. Parasit is a bit scattered, and definitely high yield with a very lot of information crammed into a not very lot of time, but personally, I find it fascinating, perhaps even fascinating enough to investigate more thoroughly if I didn't think such an approach could land me dying near stagnant water by worms exploding out of my orifices, which is definitely on the top ten list of ways I don't want to go.

The instructor is cool, from Kenya, has done endless amounts of work in a bunch of countries, and fills his lectures full of interesting stories, like the 3-legged DDT carrying donkey that fell in a river and cured the village below of river blindness by wiping out the fly population (no word on what drinking DDT did to the villagers though), or the way in which the "Don't Feed Cysts to Dogs" song was passed on through 1000 miles of African villagers as a method of preventing cystic hydatid disease, which causes your liver to swell up with disgusting giant cysts until you look like you're pregnant with twin sets of quintuplets... if quintuplets were WORMS!!!

In the death and misery department, the little stuff seems to have the medal, but in the "holy crap, that's disgusting department", we've been studying nematodes for the past couple of days, thus reinforcing the list of countries I'd pretty much decided against ever visiting back in high school biology when I first got an inkling these awful creatures existed.

The only problem with parasitology (other than being high yield, thus high study time), is that it makes you intensely paranoid. I did perfectly well in Grenada for a term, but on day 2 of parasitology, sent the SOS email: DEAR MOM: SEND FILTERS WITH MESH OF FOUR MICRONS OR LESS... NOW!!!!

And no, Grenada doesn't have the really frightening exotic illnesses, but even a lecture on the complications of dysentery is enough to make anyone run for the nearest brita filter.

I'm still in "med student" mode though. Parasit is right before lunch, and after watching a series of slides in which giant Ascaris worms were shown both as "pooped" spaghetti, and, in horror movie fashion, crawling out of a sleeping/comatose girl's nose and mouth simultaneously, my response was: "So... lunch?"

To my credit, lunch did NOT consist of spaghetti.

if you google "Ascaris" you can find some appetizing pictures, though I wouldn't recommend it for people who don't have a strong stomach, and should be sufficient to scare most people off any field of medicine that comes within a 50 mile radius of those things... Unfortunately, they're relatively common... So just climb in your bubble, stop eating meat, uncooked vegetables, drinking water, playing in soil, or being bitten by bugs, and move to Alaska... but stay away from polar bears... they have parasites too (and big giant teeth and bad tempers, but it's the parasites that'll get you).

Aug 19, 2007


Conjugation of "to bootie". I bootie. You bootie. He/She booties. We bootie. Ya'll bootie. They bootie. And on Mondaymas, the day before Spicemas/Carnival, apparently, half the island of Grenada booties.

Yeah, I'm reporting late, but I was busy... first stressing, then celebrating... I didn't get to go to the Tuesday festivities, but Monday was awesome, particularly since it helped rip me out of my funk, thus I won't bitch too much, for at least the next, like... 1.5 blog entries. Maybe 1. But definitely 1. Or not.

Anyway, I was determined to do something for the Mondaymas as a break from studying for biochem, so I headed over to Lori's to see what was up. After checking out her *awesome* pictures from a summer in Europe, we managed to get outside just in time to be invited along by an EXTREMELY nice 4th termer to cram into his car for a grand total of 6 (in a four seater, starting with three in the back, one in the trunk/back, and two in the front, and switching, by the end, to two in the front, one sitting on the gear shift, and three in the back) and drive to the Carenage to see what was going on in town. I had heard something about events going on at the new stadium (where the Cricket World Cup was last term), so that was our tentative plan. For those who don't know, the Carenage is the road in downtown St. George's that runs alongside the harbor, and it's pretty cool.

Serene, eh?

Problem was, when we got to St. George's, we couldn't seem to get to the road that headed to the stadium... we kept getting diverted, and the town proper seemed to be somewhat deserted, so we decided to park, and begin walking along the correct route to see where we could get.


Turns out we kept getting diverted because otherwise we would have run right over the parade! As we walked to the outskirts of town, we saw more and more people until we saw a bunch sitting in the graveyard overlooking the main road, and then it was score!

Now, this was a serious bootie parade. There was a serious interest in bootying going on. From my study of anatomy, I wouldn't have thought it possible to gyrate butts like that without dislocations and hip fractures happening elsewhere, but the spirit of Carnival was in the air, and the soca truck was blasting, so bootie they did, and the funny thing, bootying is infectious, though I am certainly not a pro, nor was I wearing any variety of feathered bikini, but the love was there, I assure you.

"Hey buster, my face is UP here... above the feathers."

And the weird/cool part... if you turned around from the blasting soca music, colored costumes, and rump-shaking, this was the view:

You'd almost expect to hear birds chirping and see graceful butterflies floating by, but wait!

Even the birds and bugs bootie in Grenada! As do many of the children, which was kinda odd, but not all of them...

Er, no thanks on the sequins; I'll just hold the flag...

Of course, I'm one to talk considering some of the black sequined, feathered costuming my 11 year old butt used to be stuffed into when I was an ice skater, and that was when it was cold!

Carnival was hot; my goodness it was. Particularly when one is dancing, shaking or whatever, or actually, even sitting in the shade.

We ran with the parade for a little while, and then were starting to get uncomfortably hot, so headed back up to the car... and promptly got stuck behind the parade. Whoops! We couldn't find a way to get out of town (variations on a theme), so at a stop light, we asked a cop, who promptly told us nothing in the way of directions and instead starting yelling at us about having three people in the front seat of the car, and insisted we fix the situation immediately, a difficult thing when you're in the middle of traffic and behind a parade... it was similar to this time that we saw a girl wearing some variety of sequins and feathers climb onto the hood of someone's car before emulating Paris Hilton in that Carl's Junior commercial (sans burger), thus got the idea (once out of sight) to put Jason on the hood of the car (going slowly), thus ensuring an (almost) correct level of passenger occupancy.

At a similar time, Lori and I just decided to walk along the Carenage and meet the guys on the other side of town, thus negating the necessity of endangering Jason's life, but it was funny!

We met up on the other side of town, again with Jason sitting half on/behind the gear shift (carefully), and throwing himself backwards between the seats as we passed police officers, so we all became quite close on *that* trip!

Midway back, Danny, our benevolent driver, willing to risk cop-shout and broken struts for us, said the magic words "does anyone fancy a beer?" Oh, heck yes, I do. So we headed to his gorgeous house (HOUSE, like real people live in!)to drink Carib and chat about diabetes (hey, we are all medical students after all). His place has an enviable view, thus the beginning of my better attitude on Monday night and extending through, well, now, even.

So gorgeous views, the best bootie-party of the year, and a view overlooking the rainforest... all right all right, I'll be a good girl for a while... I think doing it helped me on the biochem exam too.

In case my spirits threatened to drop with the onset of classes (though I really like parasitology and genetics, which makes them easier to study), last night, I decided to celebrate my biochem test in conjunction with the big Aquarium party (I believe corresponding to the one I sprained my ankle at last term), but since the island has raised the prices on bar-drinks (apparently), we decided to pre-drink at my apartment...

We didn't have pizza, since I believe my apartment to be the ultimate beer/pizza pad, but beer and rum-raisin ice cream substituted well. Jay, David, and Nina came over, with Jay playing my guitar, us having a singalong, and all sorts of cool stuff... Simpsons, card tricks, tips on playing the tables in Vegas (I'm hopeless at gambling; I truly am), and so forth, before we swung to campus, picked up Laila, and grabbed a bus to Aquarium.

We got there around midnight and the party was hopping; though we went down the wrong hill and had to hop the wood fence to get in because we were not about to walk back up the way we came because it was also POURING rain, a situation that does not lend itself well to girls in heels that don't want to sprain anymore ankles. Had a lot of fun, danced the night away, and grabbed a taxi home. Good times.

As a quick addendum, no, medical school is not one gigantic party, but the beginning of term offers a few more opportunities to get out and have fun without sacrificing too much in the way of schoolwork. But for first termers, find a study groove that demonstrably works for you before you dive into the party scene. You have to know what works for you because once you get behind, it's half-impossible to catch up until after midterms. What worked well for me is taking one day a week to myself, that is mine, thus enhancing my play time for one day increases the intensity with which I study on the other days because I don't feel the burn out.

It's also far more interesting to write about, though David suggesting allowing my Manlocks study aid from histology, to become introduced to the wonderful world of parasitology... I'm tempted, but I think said fictional character would hang himself if he ended up with explosive diarrhea from Crpyto and a half-rotted face from Leishmania, so time will tell... I may just make up imaginary episodes of House as a memory key, especially since the show's not coming back on until September 25th.

In other news, now-hurricane Dean did virtually nothing to us, since I've gotten some questions on it. Some students reported that surf was a bit up on Grand Anse beach, but I don't think it was anything spectacular or particularly dangerous... I'm told we had wind and rain, and we certainly had rain, but I didn't notice any significant difference between Dean-rain and rainy-season rain. Pull for Jamaica though; poor guys...

Aug 15, 2007

I'm a second termer!!!!!

So, I'm a whole LOT happier now. My goodness, that in betwixt and between stage was unsettling to me, and now it's resolved.

It's about bedtime (early classes this term), so I'll have to fill in details later, but the short of it...

I got an "A" on the biochem exam, and a "B" in the class, thus, on my transcript, I have the same grade in anatomy that I do in biochem and I'm best at histo, a class about which I remember almost precisely nothing... No wonder residencies look at board scores instead of grades...

I thought the test was pretty hard, but it was apparently the same test the others took, including getting the same 5 questions thrown out, so that was cool...

One of the secretaries in the biochem office thinks I'm a complete freak now because she came out of the office just as I walked out of the other side of the office where I learned my score, and caught me mid "Holy crap I passed, I did well yee-haa whoopie" spastic dance...

I REGISTERED! I am now a REAL student of SGU and a second termer rather than a nonperson who can be disappeared at will. It means I have my frigging schedule at long last, since that was a particularly sore point with me.

I have my books, which, for the record, for all terms except first term, bring the receipt you're mailed at the end of the term when you order the books for next term, otherwise you may not get them until you do. I managed it thanks largely in part to a friend of mine who apparently was at the point today that I was at with Air Jamaica, and rode in on her coattails (without being mean; I used up my "Oh, that's IT!!!" rant to get my luggage back).

So all is well in the world, at least for the next few hours, and details on things like Carnival are coming.

Aug 14, 2007

Biochem tomorrow

So I finally get to conquer my demons and be done with them.

I feel really really well prepared for this exam, and I think I can say with confidence (which seems like an oxymoron) that I feel like if I can't pass the exam with the amount of work that I've done, practically no one could... not because I'm any kind of genius, but just because I've worked SO hard, done so many flashcards, incorporated so many ideas, that I currently feel like if suddenly tests were put in front of me, I'd do a heck of a lot better in biochem than I would in anatomy, and hey, no embryo.

I still have the stomach jitters... no twitchy sleepless crying jag sorts of things but a general unwell, lightheaded nervous stomach that comes and goes, that I'm hoping gets knocked out permanently with the test tomorrow.

It's not simply a matter of whether I pass or fail or any of that; I simply don't LIKE feeling the stress sick. It's decidedly unpleasant regardless of the outcome, and I think by learning to get over it and deal with it, I'll be a lot happier in medical school and a lot happier in my future career as a doctor. But I think I'm okay, and I think I'll be okay. The fact that I've already slept the last two nights and have eaten perfectly regularly up to this point already puts me FAR ahead of the disastrous end to last term. I'm beating this bitch, one way or another.

I wasn't ballsy enough to do Carnival/Spicemas today because I needed flashcard review, but doing the Carnival parade yesterday (pictures pending) put me on much better terms with the island again, and I remembered that I actually do like this place quite a lot, and there's no other experience like it, and being terminally pissed off for the next year and a half, even when given fairly good reason, is a waste of energy. Anything can be either an amazing time, a learning experience, or a reason to appreciate what's ahead, or perhaps a combination of all of them, and though I know there's going to be times where I'm miserable, like I said above, I think I'm okay right now... I'll give more details on yesterday at a later date, because it's not really going with the flow of my thoughts right now, which are more in the direction of prostacyclin (keeps the blood cyclin'), due to the cards I've been studying.

I went to class this morning, registration restrictions be damned, and genetics doesn't seem like it'll be too bad (we did mitosis/meiosis today) and parasitology not only seems like a class that lends itself to flashcards, but seems fascinating, if disgusting. We do more in parasitology than most American medical schools, but considering I like weird things that do weird stuff, and am thinking in a Doctors without Borders direction, it seems highly relevant and pretty cool, so it doesn't bother me that we're taking it. I'm bummed that I have to miss tomorrow's classes to take the exam, since so far I like both instructors for the courses, but I've got friends backing me up, so it should be all good.

I'm going to pass the exam, and I'm going to finally be a *real* second termer, so that's saying something.

Aug 12, 2007


I called Air Satan this morning to be told that ONE of my bags was in. I told them they'd better well drop it off at my apartment, and she said that because it was only ONE bag, I'd have to come pick it up myself and I said "let me get this straight. Because your airline is incompetent, I have to make TWO trips to the airport, when I'm getting low on money by having to buy things that I had in my luggage, which you have had for FIVE DAYS???" and she hesitated and said "yes, I suppose so," though was helpful enough to say they could drive me my bags when the other one got there, whenever that was. Right.

So I went to take the remaining money out of the ATM from school (after having to go over there to top up my phone since I was out of minutes due to arguing with Air Jamaica), only to have the ATM broken at school. I had to hop the bus to Spiceland Mall to find an ATM (which fortunately did work) to withdraw my rapidly dwindling funds so I could get a cabbie back from the airport. Also got a dish drainer. Got back to my apartment, dropped off the dish drainer, grabbed my passport and the luggage tags, and started stalking to the airport on foot in the rain, because I was in that sort of mood. About halfway there, a cabbie picked me up and offered to charge me 40 bucks to do the whole thing there, waiting and back, with an extra 10 if he had to wait a long time, so I figured what the hell, and with pretty much the last of my money, jumped in.

Got to the airport to be passed between a couple of ticket agents, and wound up in the care of a surly jerk who grunted that I needed my lost baggage form, the one piece of documentation I didn't have, because I'd had to keep pulling it out. I said I didn't have it, but I had my original ticket stub, the baggage claim tags, my customs form, and my passport. He said "no" and half gestured toward the outside door.

Let me clarify that I am not someone to abuses service staff, even usually when they're showing less than service, even to a point of being passive in places because I know that service jobs suck as does dealing with angry people every day.

I threw a fucking fit. It was a solid adult temper tantrum. I refused to leave, told him I had everything that I had on the plane when I should have gotten my luggage and that they weren't taking it a day longer, that I had just spent the last of my folding money on a taxi, and I was NOT, I repeat NOT leaving until they gave me my luggage because it is MY LUGGAGE, and they'd gotten to keep it long enough, that I was sick of calling them, sick of being passed on, and I would be getting my luggage today, and that was that. Add exaggerated gestures and slamming my hand on the counter.

He glared at me, sort of made a dismissive gesture at me that could best be translated as "youse! fuggettabouttit!", and stalked off into the office, which I wasn't sure what that meant, but I sure wasn't leaving.

He came back out to help the other girl who'd lost her luggage, apparently on the same flight I was on, and I trotted right along after them, clutching my luggage tags in my hand, DARING them not to let me through the door, so on their heels I went back through the gate, back through security, with the agent nicely joking "They're finally giving you your luggage, eh?" and back through the "escorted passengers only" or whatever door to the place where the luggage from the flights comes in, including mostly the luggage that was supposed to come in on other flights.

I'm not sure if my coming along was his plan, but it certainly was mine, and he didn't say a WORD to me after grunting at me and waving his hand for me to go away, so who knows. Who cares. When going through all the security checkpoints, he was clearly only gesturing at the girl accompanying him, but they let me through anyway.

They had told me that I only had ONE bag, as mentioned, which was their arbitrary reason for not driving it to my apartment, as they have done for other people whose luggage was this late, such as the girl who had Air Jamaica (that's AIR JAMAICA, folks, a DELTA AIRLINES subsidiary) lose her luggage for three months, but as I looked among the island of abandoned luggage, I found BOTH my bags, cheerfully still wrapped in their fluorescent tape, and put a death grab on them. Lurch took my luggage tags, and ripped the arrival tags off the luggage, but didn't try to stop me from leaving, so that worked. Customs didn't even try to shake me down.

So I am now in glorious possession of both bags, and have all the wonderful things I planned to set up my apartment with in the first place, and clothes... and a razor. Halle-freaking-lujah.

Now, if only I can get my registration taken care of, we'll be all set.

The good part is that this entire process has been so bloody frustrating from missed registrations to no textbooks to broken ATMS to surly gate agents to lost luggage to late buses, to rainstorms, that I'm not even slightly concerned about biochem. I slept like a baby last night. I'm still studying for it, but panicked? Nah. I'm certain I'm going to pass because I'm really well prepared, but if I don't? Hey! I get to go home!

Aug 11, 2007

Apartment Pictures

Granted it's a bit spartan because money for decor awaits my loans and decor I already have awaits my luggage, but hey, that means this is probably the cleanest it'll ever be...

I'm not crazy about floral patterns, which adorns the couch and futon. I've already covered the futon, and I'll probably cover the couch when I can, but even so, I'm really pleased with the place, and particularly, with the amount of room, study space, and seating (see, I can be positive), particularly in comparison to even the single-room dorms. To give a comparison, my sitting room (the thing is sort of a pseudo studio apartment in which there are two very distinct areas separated by a partial barrier) is about the size of the dorms in SD1, which are shared with another person, and cluttered up by two beds.

Also, time will tell, but the service so far here is fantastic. The owner approached a group of us at the bus stop to tell us specifically about a girl who was robbed outside Banana's to caution us not to walk back, even though it's a short distance. Despite our flight getting in late, there was no problem getting into my apartment, inventory was done right then, I had an IP address the next morning and my tv was working when I got in, and when I needed help with the stove, it was a security call away.

And that's saying a lot, because if this blog is any indication, lately, I'm faint with praise.

Air Jamaica Update

Ah, the incompetence abounds...

In AJ news, I called yesterday, as I was told to do, to be told that the luggage from the 7th (they didn't specify MY luggage, but "the luggage from the 7th", which fills me full of confidence) would be coming in TODAY on a charter flight at 9:40.

Since it's currently 9:50, I called, as told, to be told that flight wouldn't be in until after 1 in the morning because the flight was delayed... ya know, just like the flight on the 7th was delayed, except in that case, it was still early enough to have a shot at getting to my apartment, but I'm sure the people on that flight, and their RAs/apartment managers will be THRILLED by the prospect of not getting in until after 1. Any guesses on whether THEIR baggage will make it? Especially if, as promised (which means nothing), the plane is full of the luggage of people from the 7th, since they reassured me yesterday that lots of people on that flight lost their luggage. They also specified that my luggage wasn't getting in yesterday (like they said it would be) because that was when last SATURDAY'S luggage was coming in.

One might have the novel idea that the people who flew that Saturday should have had their luggage on Saturday and the people who flew on Tuesday (the 7th) should have had their luggage on Tuesday rather than playing this "Where are the cookies? I put them in the goldfish bowl. Where are the goldfish? I put them in the clothes hamper. Where are the dirty clothes?" game that ensures that probably around 50 percent of their passengers are chronically pissed off and calling them daily while getting progressively angrier, but what do I know?

On the plus side, the people are getting a bit nicer, though they've stopped putting me through to Air Jamaica, so I think I'm talking to the people at the airport.

On the minus side, we are now at 4 days without luggage, without an answer from DELTA AIRLINES, without compensation, and without someone willing to physically track down my luggage to make sure where it is and if it's coming at the times they keep telling me.

And yes, that's AIR JAMAICA and DELTA AIRLINES. Your source for delayed flights and lost luggage. But their seats are bigger than American Airlines, who, by the way, also sucks, with delayed flights and horrendous baggage restrictions. In case it seems like I'm just needlessly bitching about any kind of air travel, American Airlines, Air Jamaica, and Liat have *pretty much* cornered the Grenada market with a few exceptions that fly in sporadically, thus, since they have little competition and a high market, both among students and locals, none of the three put ANY effort whatsoever into customer service and have differing and equally deserved horrible reputations. I have not flown Liat, but consider my first term roommate's story was far worse than any of mine despite only involving a flight to Trinidad (90 miles), I'm not encouraged to do so in the future. So far, the best airline I've found that actually goes to Grenada is Conviasa, which is the official airline of Venezuela, and has excellent service and staff, so I'm beginning to wonder if it might be worth going through Caracas just for the privilege of getting to my destination on time, well served, and with my luggage. It's not a lot to ask, right?

In SGU news there is no news, oh, other than the fact that their registration prohibition also means I can't get the books that have already been paid for out of my loan check, which by the way, has been dispersed to them, thus they are charging me for classes I'm not supposed to attend with bought books I'm not allowed to have. On the plus side of that, I can access the parasitology and genetics lectures online, which means I actually can prestudy for those classes despite the best intentions of the university to keep me from viewing ANYTHING that could potentially help me in my new courseload until I pass my biochem exam.

In Ishie news, I've reached that point where I'm almost getting amused by the multifaceted and stunning incompetence I've seen at all levels when trying to engage in beginning my second term, which is keeping me in better spirits. I have long ago learned to embrace my cynicism, since it amuses me, and apparently when I came back here, over the summer I'd become just too much of a gosh-darned optimist, but fortunately reality has bitch-slapped me back into remembering that being negative is a lot more satisfying, thus allowing me to laugh at the stupidity of others rather than having anger explosions in response to it. This also helps me in my quest to be the bastard female offspring of House and Dr. Cox.

I've also finished transcribing all biochem notes and small group cases into flash card format thus can now spend my time, instead of bent over my desk, sprawled out on my intensely comfortable though not wildly aesthetically pleasant sofa getting my biochem on, so that helps the mood.

It also helps to have the support of friends and family, with people both here and abroad not only offering help (thanks mom and dad!) but a virtual or actual shoulder to cry on/ear to bitch into, which is helping keep me sane, as is my sweet-ass apartment (pictures pending). Today, I discovered that I was not actually out of propane for my stove/oven, but simply didn't know how to turn on the tank, and despite it being a weekend, I was able to get someone to help me (security) in under five minutes, service that perhaps should be emulated by certain airlines and medical schools.

Oh, though to give SGU credit, when I went up to the clinical skills office the other day to check on a selective, the secretary who... well, let's just say has quite the reputation over here, was extraordinarily nice to me, joking around and everything. A certain cranky biochem professor also apparently invited a student over to his table, laughed, and was social and pleasant, so maybe there's hope for the human race after all and... no! DOWN, inner optimist! DOWN!


Aug 10, 2007

Fed Up.

That was sure fast, wasn't it. Yup, I'm already in "I want to go home now" phase, because while I think I've been a pretty good sport about things up to this far, I have had enough today. Enough of this island and enough of this school.

NOTHING this term has been easy. Getting to the frigging airport wasn't even easy, nor was the flight here, but whatever, part of traveling, homeland security, caribbeanland security, whatever.

Air Jamaica lost my luggage. Which happens all the time because they suck. But that happens, and I expected it to happen, and at least I knew they sucked so I could pack some stuff in my carry-on, and at least I was able to get into storage yesterday so I could have things like towels and a pillow. So that's all right. I can live with that.

I have to take my biochem exam, but that's my own fault, though I'm the only one who seems to think it is, but I'm prepared for it, spent the entire summer studying for it, etc. Whatever; it's cool.

But I've had enough. It's been three days and Air Jamaica can't even tell me where my luggage is. All they can say is "it may be in on the next flight today" and to call back later, and when I call back, they repeat. No one gives a shit. No one knows anything. Why should I expect any differently, and their parent company, Delta, haven't had the common courtesy to even address the letter I sent them, so Delta, you suck as well.

By itself, is that enough? No. Though after seeing a very nice woman in the biochem office, I somewhat expected the following to happen, it still really coldcocked me to the head when it actually did:

I went to register today with the registration voucher, which allegedly means that you have everything so you can register. Now, this is for second term, and if I don't pass the biochem exam, I would have to decel. Now, decelling would keep me in the same school and require the same loan money, so it seems obvious that one should register the student provisionally, and if said student fails, revoke the registration and enter the student in the alternate program.

No. Instead, I can't register until I pass the exam. Which means I can't get the loan check until I pass the exam, despite the fact that everything the students need tends to be right when they arrive!

Even better, they won't even give me the fucking SCHEDULE for term two, and since term two officially starts on the 14th, and my test is in the middle of the 15th, and I'm not sure if they'll get my grade in by that night, that means by their standards, I am supposed to miss between 2-3 days of my first days of class. Now, the genetics class is approximately two weeks long, and worth one unit, and starts right away, with the final exam at the end of August. This means... and I'm going to put a separate line for this:

The school, St. George's University, advocates, nay REQUIRES that a second term student misses over 20% of a class as a punishment for being sick for one of the first term exams. That is their message.

If something happened where you couldn't take the first term exams/, not only are the exams typically more difficult to discourage people from faking ill, which is absolutely awesome to the people that actually are, but they think the best way to discourage this is to make students already having trouble MISS THE FIRST 20% OF GENETICS. And you get to do it without money. That should teach people.

Now, if there are any school officials reading who have a problem with this, please tell me what other message a student is supposed to get from this, and if it's just administrative paperwork, please explain why no schedule is allowed to be given (they flat out refused!) and why only registered students are supposed to attend classes.

I'm not some burn out slacker that wants breaks and a thousand second chances to pull a fast one. One of the biggest regrets of my LIFE is not taking that fucking exam at end of term because I was ready for it, I knew I was ready for it, I've spent my entire summer studying for it, I was deeply embarrassed by the events of last term to such a degree that I was endlessly blaming myself and STILL hate myself for being weak, and was trying to take it anyway despite having been in the hospital that morning. It is not HELPING to be treated like a second class citizen because I had a valid medical excuse, nor is it helping me be the best student I can be to be FORCED to miss class, though screw them, I'm copying the schedule from a friend and going anyway, and they can shove it if they have a problem with it. I am not here to fail.

But that doesn't mean that at the moment, I don't want to pack it all in and go the hell home, because oh man, do I ever.

In a little over an hour, I can call those people at Air Jamaica, and have them skate me until tomorrow. I can't wait.

Home sweet Caribbean home...

Yup, back in Grenada, as many have probably figured out by now (hi Lorrie and Lori!).

Why haven't I written before now? Because I'm lazy? Check. Because the first night I didn't have internet? Check. Because because because. But no more making excuses...

Getting to and from Grenada just flat sucks. It does. So far I had my adventures with American Airlines and getting left at the gate for 8 hours to meet another flight that was 2 hours late to go to a destination that wasn't my original. Blech. AND a 70 pound rigid baggage allowance, and by rigid, I mean THEY WILL MAKE YOU LEAVE YOUR SHIT AT THE AIRPORT! Yeah, that rigid. Can't pay extra for it either.

So.... forget that... try Air Jamaica. They weren't too horrible to my parents who kindly brought a bunch of my stuff last term, AND I got all my stuff then.

This time? Boston to New York to Montego Bay to Jamaica, a flight schedule that sucks when all goes well. Did all go well? No.

First of all, again, I will reiterate my hatred of driving in Boston by regaling my tale of getting lost on the way to the airport after leaving the apartment late, so my send-off was a hyperstressful nasty sort of affair, punctuated by HUGE lines out of Boston, poorly marked lines, and kiosks that directed me to "see a gate agent", for absolutely no reason. Awesome.

I'm flying enough now that the security is less of a problem. I used to juggle stuff, but now when I arrive, it is with no metal on my clothing, shoes off, laptop out, no liquids/gels because I don't feel like dealing with the crap, and everything but pants down. Assembling it on the other end still takes some doing...

Flight to New York not bad, but no one told me that in New York, you have to go out through security, take the... Monorail, I suppose, to the next gate, and go back IN through security. Fuuuuuun. But made the plane. Which sat on the runway for an hour.... guess about how long my layover in Jamaica was? "Big deal", I thought. "Classes don't start for a week, I have my biochem flashcards, and there are worse places to spend the night than Jamaica". But the flight from Jamaica to Grenada was late, so I got to sit in the airport on the floor, fortunately distracted by running into Emma and Nina so I had good conversation.

The problem? Well, Nina and I both live in the same apartment complex, which expected us in at 4:40. This was not to be, and I was horribly worried there would be more crap going down and I wouldn't have a place to sleep that night.

Oh, but bigger problems for me. I get to the airport, and not one, but BOTH pieces of my luggage are missing. My luggage is hard to miss because given Air Jamaica's impeccable reputation for losing luggage CONSTANTLY (if you fly them, always pack living stuff in your carry-on, because they lose a huge number of bags and really don't seem to give half a rat's ass about it. They get them back to you when they get around to it). And to anyone from Air Jamaica, I will say nice things about you once you give me my luggage back, which, as of right now, you have not. Until then, I will continue talking massive amounts of shit about you, including a daily "luggage watch", so be advised.

The immigration officer was a sweetheart. The customs officer, on the other hand, was a complete douchebag, and I have no problem saying it.

When you go to Grenada the first time as a student, they will charge you for your own laptop. The one you bought and paid for and use for your own. Yup, that's the one. Sure. Fine. Whatever. I can live with that even though, yes, I think it's B.S., and technically they shouldn't be charging you for it since you won't be on the island more than 6 months at a time, but I'll pay it.

But I DID pay it, and kept the receipt, but when I got the receipt, apparently that guy just scrawled random numbers on it from the bottom of my laptop, which was NOT the serial number, and despite the make and model being the same, this customs agent simply would not believe that it was the same laptop, and wanted to charge me, so I scanned the bottom of the thing frantically, FINALLY finding the right set of arbitrary numbers, which seemed to actively piss him off, despite the fact that I PAID THE FREAKING IMPORT TAX LAST TERM.

Then, since he couldn't get me on the laptop, he sternly asked me what else was in my bags, to which I replied "clothes and flashcards" to which he snapped "besides clothes!" and then ordered me to open it, searching for more of my crap to tax. Fortunately, he missed the iPod.

The general rule is that if you don't screw around about your laptop by trying to hide it or sending it in with a family member, you present the laptop receipt, pay between 5 and 10% of the price of it, and then go on your merry way. If you screw with them, then you may get charged on clothes, scuba gear, electronics, or whatever they want to hit you up for.

I paid the tax; I did nothing wrong, and I didn't give the guy a lick of attitude, so my only conclusion is that he's a complete jackass. You heard it here first.

This sort of thing can create kind of a vicious cycle. There are a lot of students here that seem to really hate the island and the people that live on it and talk them down and are rude to them, causing many locals to hate the students. Then, many of the locals are completely rude to new students, who have not been rude or done anything, causing the students to hate the island and the people that live on it and you see where this is going...

Grabbed a taxi to Cool Runnings, half expecting to have to beg a night home off someone, and with only my carry-on, but they were waiting for us, ushered me into my apartment with great haste and compassion, got me situated, didn't demand the rent up front (though I paid a down payment before I left last term), did the inventory on my stuff, and showed me how things work. Then, I had a knock on the door and the manager said that he was taking my friend to the store and asked if I would like to go get some things, after the owner of the complex had offered me some toiletries and other basics because I told him AJ lost my luggage.

Awesome! I'll have pictures soon, but right now it's kind of a mess due to getting three of my bags out of storage today. The others are intact, no worries, but I couldn't see a reason to attempt to haul dive gear and such out of storage when I don't need it, but what I DID need were blankets and other essentials which, of course, had been packed in my luggage, but fortunately ALSO had representation in storage. Thank goodness.

AJ's losing of all my luggage ensured that I spent the last two nights sleeping on my sofa due to an aversion to sleeping on a bare mattress without a pillow. Now, my sofa is quite comfortable (though too short for long term efforts), but it is hardly a replacement for two suitcases worth of home necessities.

Today, I hung out with friends and had a blast and topped it all off by heading for Banana's for light drinks, though they raised the price of Carib, so I am not blogging drunk, especially since I need to save my cash for the taxi I will have to take to the airport to recover my luggage if they ever find it (no, I'm not letting them off the hook tonight, especially since my razors are in there and EWWWW).

Hanging out with people today was really cool, and I got to see the beautiful apartments Lori and Emma have, which make me mourn my lack of interior design skills (and things to interior design with, so to speak). But I have more of a beer and pizza place.

So that's the story. I'm also taking the make-up biochem exam, which has been inexplicably scheduled in the middle of my lectures on the second day, but I'm just grateful to take it and I feel really well prepared, so there ya go.


Aug 7, 2007

Final Countdown

Five hours until my flight takes off from Boston. About an hour until I'm supposed to leave, spending my last bit of time blogging and then printing out pictures so I feel less like I'm living in a hotel room.

I get in during the late afternoon, contrasted to the fairly late night last time, which will make everything easier to arrange, which is one of the reasons I scheduled things this way rather than trying for a flight that didn't require getting to Boston suicidally early in the morning, risking hitting moose, deer, and foxes on the way down in the dark.

And there's a bit of fear creeping up on me now. As I said last blog, not like before where I was paralyzed with both joy and fear, but an impending feeling of dread that comes from the knowledge that the momentum of my life is building and building. It's strange when you work your whole life for a dream, but then when you're actualizing that dream, suddenly it's a lot scarier.

There's the difficulty of leaving the ease of life here behind. Again, I have rent and electric bills, and a hundred other things that throw me right back into adulthood, albeit a scholastically protected one, which contrasts sharply to an idyllic little Americana existence of Wednesday cruise nights at the local malt shop/outdoor seafood place, BBQs with the neighbors, and car trips any and everything else.

That makes it very very difficult to leave, a summer too perfect you might say, but at the same time, this sort of fantastic comfort makes it easy to fall into a pattern that Aldous Huxley would probably attribute to vast quantities of Soma. A gram ain't worth a damn. Still, a pleasant sensation.

Saw the Simpsons movie tonight, as my last big thing for a while, and thought it was cute, plus novel that I was probably the only one in the theater that wasn't completely baked. Had dinner next door at a Chinese restaurant, probably being my last heart-stopping MSG fest for a while, and got properly lost on the way to said locations, touring northern Massachusetts and seeing a family of deer, so in all respects, I've probably done everything I set out to do this summer, but for a few things. Would have liked to get back to Boston...

But I'm Grenada bound... no way around it; it's back to the Rock for me. At least this time, I'm packing the local money, which I've somehow managed to hang onto for three months.

Aug 6, 2007

Where'd summer go?

Yup, that's my general thinking at the moment. I certainly had a *full* summer with minimal use of it morphing into the couch, so certainly enough of it to satisfy.

But in less than 24 hours, I'll be on a plane well on my way to Grenada, and it's hard to be excited or thrilled. Perhaps I fear change, and it's good that I'm no longer running around screaming "Covered in BEEESSS!!!!" like I did before I came for first term, but I'm still feeling a little bleak, likely because of the knowledge of having to set up, get in, get settled, back into the life, get used to not driving again, and then, before I have a chance to settle back, take a huge biochem exam that, if I miss for any reason, will get me kicked out of medical school.

No stress. None at all. No, really.

But there's a lot I'm looking forward to as well. Seeing my friends again, David, the beach, getting back to a place that has a steady gym so I can work out, and a field to play rugby. That's all cool stuff. I'm excited to see what the new classes will hold. I'm excited to see if I have conquered the demons that were plaguing me last term, and get a chance to repay all my friends for having to put up with me in the last week. New dynamic.

I'm primarily packed now. Just need to weigh my stuff and make sure it's under 50 lbs a bag, which will probably be borderline. I'm wondering if Air Jamaica will lose one or both of them... I do like a mystery.

When I brought my parents, I brought a good deal of stuff with me, and was able to take my guitar and dive gear, which ate up a lot of space, but was really good for me to get to the island. Now, I'm going full practical. I am up to the brim of my luggage requirement with all the amenities... tons of clothes (thus enabling me to go even longer between 'ruh ruh all I have are dirty scrubs' laundry days), kitchenware, bathware, everything to set up a real "home" in my new apartment, which I'm really hoping goes well, with a mother who's going to send me some SWEET pots and pans since I found the ones on the Rock sorely lacking and overpriced.

Last night, we had a big BBQ for me, grilled up all sorts of stuff, and got to talk with the neighbors for the last time, partaking heavily of one neighbor's bottle of red cat wine. That's some good stuff, and it's particularly good that despite splitting a magnum with her, I don't have a headache. I also got punk'd by one of the nurses that works with my mom, because I went to fax some of my school paperwork from the hospital and she said "You're going to medical school? For nursing?" And I apparently went kind of wide-eyed/dead faced, and she laughed, and my mom laughed. She reads the blog, so hello there! You won't get me twice!

So that's today. No funnies, because well, I'm not feeling all that funny... just nervous with a mild impending feeling of dread. But at least now I know what the omega protein does.

Aug 3, 2007

Yegads, it's hot...

This is New England; I was assured a summer full of snow and reindeer. Or moose at least. A moose has been spotted in Sharon, which is probably walking distance from this apartment, but do I ever see them? No. I just have enough innate knowledge of them to have my knuckles white on the steering wheel after dark, because there's no WAY I'd survive running into that. My car wouldn't handle anything larger than a chipmunk.

I did my last day of shadowing yesterday, and naturally, there was all sorts of cool stuff I hadn't seen before, in one case, that even Dr. White hadn't seen before, to make me miss it extra hard when I go back to basic sciences. I really really really like everyone there, thus after I said goodbye to people and strolled happy go lucky into the parking lot, my face started leaking.

I say that because first of all, I HATE crying, truly do, and secondly, because it wasn't accompanied by any strong depression, or warning. I had the same thing happen last Tuesday, where suddenly, face was wet and it's like "what the hell? I've have this gene inactivated for years. I had a frigging kid I did CPR on up and die on me and didn't cry, but I'm getting all wah wah now??" Not sure why I hate it so much. Probably because it seems an unfair way to ensure discomfort in other people and then causes them to tread lightly around you for fear they'll hurt your widdle feelings. Fortunately no one saw it yesterday, though I'm probably making things worse by telling you all about it, but whatever; the relatively anonymity of the internet, despite most people knowing who I am, affords me an artificial veneer of emotional protection...

ANYway, I think it's that I tend to fear change a bit, since I even felt mopey leaving Grenada, and the note I left on which wasn't altogether positive, but I'm sure I'll feel better once I'm back. I really do like school. The other thing is the inertia of my life at present. It's easy to stagnate and have medical school always be that thing you were going to do, that you're planning to do, and then you look back when you're 60 at your life, your comfortable job, your kids, and that was always the dream you never achieved, and no one ever seems to really plan for that; it just happens. This is both good and bad. Bad in the sense of not actualizing a dream, but good in a sense of... well, then you never have to be put to it. You never have to deal with having a shot at your dream and worry whether you're going to make it through and if it was the right decision.

So there's some fear there. Good, normal productive fear, I think, but fear nonetheless.

And that's that... Tuesday gets closer and closer though; I'll tell you, and I still have to pack, which I fundamentally hate.

Ah well.

Aug 2, 2007

You're a doctor, right?

That was the question my neighbor asked me as I stood at the door, clad in faux silk maroon yoga pants and a Carib t-shirt. The only way I could have looked less like a doctor is if I'd had a freshly lit crack pipe hanging out of the corner of my mouth.

"No... I'm a medical student."

My neighbor, who is an incredibly nice woman, presents the sliver in her hand; I do my best to remove and irrigate it, swab the injured finger with an alcohol prep pad, and apply a bandaid. "You're so gentle!" she exclaims.

Ha! So I got a patient... of course, I was more qualified to remove a sliver from her finger by virtue of having been EMT certed, since foreign-object removal has not been covered in histology, anatomy, or biochem.

Does that count as practicing medicine without a license? I have a certificate. I have many certificates. None of them proclaim me to be a doctor, but I have them, and that's what's important.

People don't seem to quite know what to make of "medical student", and I'm wondering if this is a common problem. Most of the hospital personnel just assumes I have *way* more experience than I actually do, likely thinking I'm in my 3rd or 4th year medical rotations, unless, of course, the anesthesiologist drills me on basic anatomy in front of them. Heh heh.

Now, the assumption that I am a doctor, while really really strange, since I don't feel anywhere near that, bothers me the least because it makes me feel all big and important, though also scared to death because people want me to do stuff, like not be stupid. When it comes to pre-docs, a lot of people seem to think that once you enter medical school you... you know, know something. What they don't seem to realize is that trusting their health to someone with half a year of basic sciences is virtually identical to running up to a freshmen physiology major and asking them the same... But no. Med school equals doctor knowledge. Maybe still requiring a supervisor, but competent. And my perspective is "dude... I'm still afraid to TOUCH you for fear that in my new baby-not-a-doc roll, I may break something off, or worse, get yelled at by the kind surgeon who's agreed to babysit me for the summer... and I say the word 'dude'! Come on, now!"

What I do mind are the girl=nurse ones. Nursing is an admirable profession, but if a woman says "I'm going to medical school", especially when she adds "in the Caribbean" should not be an invitation to chirp "Oh! You're going to be a nurse???" No... because then I'd be going to *nursing* school, wouldn't I? That's why the names are different. And I feel that nagging feminism sensation rise up when I think "If I were a guy who said I was going to medical school, people would think 'doctor'"... and then I think "I'd better get used to that, because people will assume that I'm a nurse even ONCE I'm a doctor and some jackholes will even completely refuse to be treated by me and my evil ovaries, and then I will exploit the other direction of sexist assumptions and force them to buy me free drinks, fix my plumbing, and tune up my car."

And that makes me feel better, because if you haven't figured this out already, I'm enormously petty...

In other news, while microsomal cytochrome P450 liver enzymes may not be as boring as say, the stock exchange, cricket, or tournament golf, except for the part where tylenol kills alcoholics, it's pretty high on the list of "things that make Ishie go comatose".

Bed time!