Dec 15, 2014

And the beat goes on

Time is whipping by really quickly.  I've always been a terminal procrastinator, and that applies to things like "seeing things as being far in the future when they're quickly approaching", if that makes any sense.

In my last post, all the stuff that's either in the past or in the immediate future seemed so far away.  And then it was here.  Christmas with mom-visit, New Year's, call week, dad visit, next week is San Diego.  The week after that is Nicaragua.  Where did the time go?  It makes me think strongly of the board exams coming up in 18 months and how simultaneously long and short that time seems.

It's also 18 months until I leave Charleston, so like my fellow third years, I'm compiling my Charleston bucket list.  Go to the plantations, eat at about 15 different restaurants, run the bridge.  That sort of thing.

I did cross the Biltmore off my list, which is kind of cheating since it's 4 hours from Charleston, but my mom's visit for Christmas went splendidly, I kind of killed myself cooking both because I had the time off (hooray!) contrasted to last Christmas, and because my boyfriend scored a 500$ gift card to Target during his company's gift exchange, and I stole half of it to get a kitchenaid mixer because the older I get, the more dominant that second X chromosome becomes.  So I did prime rib the first night, lobster the second night, and then we hauled it up to Asheville for Christmas banquets, gingerbread competitions and a candlelight tour (and of course, wine tasting) through the Biltmore.  Lovely, truly.  Pricy, but lovely.  Too brief a visit.

Incidentally, the new format for blogger not only tends to kill me but has an incredibly sluggish response speed to my typing.  It's currently listing my last paragraph as a misspelled word, so apologies if this entry seems curt or strange.

The next week I was covering surgical pathology so that others could enjoy a free New Year's week, though I still was able to get out pretty early on New Year's Eve and secure the party at the Alley, as we did last year, though this year without immediately jumping in the car to drive to New Orleans the next morning.  I'd say I feel more comfortable with surg path now, but that's usually the sort of statement I make before everything deteriorates spectacularly, so we'll hold it off for now.

I felt relatively refreshed entering my call week after that, though it does lead to the tricky situation of really eating into the clinical pathology time as I'm frequently consumed with the AP side.  It's important, but I've felt in the last six months like a lot of the lab time becomes expendable, and that's concerning for people that have their eyes on the test prize.  It's something to watch for, certainly.  Anyway, I've been in a odd little work funk lately.  This kind of culminated in my call week.  I feel way more comfortable at each task I'm assigned, but when they overlap each other, I feel like I can't

And the beat goes on...

Things that have happened since August...

Well, now I'm halfway through my final year of residency, hurtling toward fellowship.  I have, as of last week, registered for my AP/CP board exams with approval of my license and medical school diploma.  The registration relieved me of 2200 dollars from what is thankfully my now dwindled educational fund.  I spent my last thousand (minus what the hotel costs will be) on a cute small collection of books from the "Biopsy Interpretation of" series, because I know how to have fun.

Thank goodness for that educational fund, man.  When you're interviewing for residencies, find out how much it is.  Even if your salary is higher, that salary is going to be taxed, and if you're doing income based repayment for your student loans, that'll shave it right off, but the educational fund is free of all that.

So between May and June, my colleagues and I will be flying to Tampa to take this heinous double part test, which means I'm in the beautiful time of the year where fourth years begin to prepare for hibernation and become utterly useless for everything else.  And I'll be returning to studying once I complete this blog post, actually.

So the training journey is nearly at an end, minus that whole cytopathology thing.  At that point, there will be *another* licensing exam and I will hopefully stumble out of this whole mess as a triple boarded pathologist who will then be swimming in job opportunities (please?).

It's still a bright scary world out there.  Texas provides at least a stopping point on the road to "being grown" but after that, it's a big black hole.  The man and I kind of fell in love with Denver during the Great American Beer Festival, so maybe they'll open a spot for a youngster in a year and a half.  But still, everything is sort of winding up, and so much faster than seemed possible.  It seems like yesterday I was "covered in bees!" panicking to Grenada, and now I'm trudging toward an exam so far beyond the scope of the Step 1 that it makes the Step 1 look like SAT prep.

I have a weekend left of call... this weekend actually, which I traded for a lovely weekend in Asheville back in August.  Then I can finally do what I keep saying I'll do which is retire the scrubs.

I now have my permanent license in South Carolina.  One is necessary to apply for boards, and that lovely educational fund covers it, so it's official.  State law varies, but in South Carolina, IMGs such as myself cannot apply for permanent licensure until they've completed three years of training, so with that finally behind me, I have the unrestricted medical card.  Of course, I let my DEA license expire in the way back so I can't prescribe any of the fun drugs with my unrestricted license, so sorry guys, no illegal scrips for you.

Really feeling the whole "last of" tour of Charleston.  I've been steadily moving things off my bucket list (carriage ride, rooftop at Vendu, go to the Macintosh) and feeling the kind of "last Christmas here" sadness.  I've also been kind of wandering through apartment listings in Houston, and they seem nice.  Gotta make the commitment at some phase, and I will definitely need to get a bike.

When I'm not buried in microbiology lectures, I've been on kind of a health kick that was initiated by both getting cooking bling (Kitchenaid from last Christmas and NOW an overly expensive Vitamix blender) combined with getting suckered into running a half marathon in Florida in February despite nearly being killed by the bridge run, which was less than half the distance.  Still, I'm running for Save the Children, and they're a good cause, so if you want to toss a couple bucks my way in the name of securing me a permanent knee injury, the address is here.

You even get to see me dressed up like Alice, and I'm contemplating wearing the costume if I can make it without dying.

Running is an insidious creature.  It's been my go-to exercise off and on because it's cheap and easy, and kept me from going crazy (er) in Grenada.  Most of my running save for in Grenada has been on a treadmill, for years even, and it's only been lately that I've been pushing into the great outdoors, and I have to say, I kind of like it.  But I keep getting sucked farther in.  For years, I'd run on the treadmill, go all out for the first mile as fast as I could, and then walk/jog the rest in gasping bursts.  No strategy, definitely a no no for accumulating injuries, and thought a 5K was really all I was ever going to be able to do.

Well, and then a 10K, because the Cooper River Bridge run is a quintessential part of charleston, and why not, right?

Now I'm following my NikePlus trainer and arranging happy hours around when I can get the best mid-dusk run on the waterfront and working toward the half marathon.  Where I'll stop, really.  I won't get sucked into a marathon.  Well, at least I won't get sucked into an ultramarathon.  Check with me in two years.

Doing the training correctly has been helpful though, and now I use the first mile to actually warm up rather than suddenly sprint as fast as I can until all the bits and pieces holding my lower legs together start to snap and pop, and it's allowing me to really again appreciate how beautiful Charleston is (and how dangerous its drivers are).  My longest run so far without stopping at all is 6 miles, and the long runs are starting to feel better and better or at least "not as terrible as before".

And then with the work hours decreasing and the study crunch requiring more "can't sit around or will go crazy" ness, I've been cooking up a storm lately.

Few things... I've been poor for a while, and the story of the last ten years of my life has been accumulating things that 16 year old me would have scoffed at.  150 dollar running shoes?  Please, shoes are shoes.  Yeah... but the glycerines really help my plantar fasciitis.  Artwork for the wall?  So long as Rolling Stone still has full centers of Trent Reznor, you're just a few pieces of tape away from home decor!  Yeah... but frames.  Frames even make counter culture stuff look nice.  Cookware??  I mean, you can get a hand mixer from a store for 5 bucks.  What's up with these stand mixers?  It kneads dough for me.  Well, at any rate, I can tell you I'd *never* pay 500 dollars for a damn blender.

Sigh.  Last year, when I got my kitchenaid, a friend of mine said "The two things that changed my life were my kitchenaid stand mixer and my vitamix blender".  I trust said friend's cooking opinions, so I went home and googled vitamix blenders since I was poor (see above) and had no idea what they were.  My first response was laughter, obviously, because who would pay that for a blender?  In my defense, my blender is a combo gift from my dad and my boyfriend, if that justifies it.  All that's left for my Martha Stewart kitchen is a set of expensive knives and a set of expensive pots/pans.

But I'm liking cooking a lot, and I'm loving the fresh ingredients, though I'm being careful not to be one of "those" people.  "Yes, I'm making a smoothie with pomegranate seeds and chia seeds but I will absolutely *not* refer to either as a "super fruit/food"".  I'm finding a lot of fun recipes and enjoy challenging myself with them.  When I completely run out of medical school/residency related themes for this blog, I'll just start posting recipes.  I'm also having fun making my own flour.  The boyfriend is diabetic so I'm trying to keep the glycemic index low, and you can pretty much grind up *anything* and make fake flour.  There's about three cups of chickpea flour now occupying my cabinet because I found a bunch of dried ones on sale and went "Ooh!!!  This will be like magic!" because I have never had a good blender before, thus the art of changing the state of something (like beans to flour) still stirs a certain sense of magic and wonder in me.

The whole foods approach is also making it easier to make absolutely anything without needing to scrap around for ingredients.  No salsa?  Tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, and onions.  No guac?  Avocado, tomatoes.  No pasta?  Flour, egg, and water through the pasta maker.  No ice cream?  Milk, ice, frozen berries.  No rice flour?  Rice in blender.  I'm a year out from killing my own chickens.

So that's the update.  A six month crunch to boards and moving, punctuated by the growls of "pulse mode" when I'm making my morning smoothies.