Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wish I could find a book to live in

That's some wishful thinking, but for the past few weeks, I've been trying to do just that. Amidst my disappointing MD application cycle and obstacles in my personal and academic life, I've felt helpless and lost. I've more or less accepted that I'll be reapplying to med school either next year or the year after, which is a huge blow to my self-esteem and my general perspective. I won't belabor the point, but it's easy for me to say with great confidence that I've been on a steady decline in emotional health since July of this year.

No wonder, then, that I blew through the entire Inheritance Cycle during Thanksgiving break (I should have prepared more for the interview that occurred right after, but at the time, I thought I'd done enough), then began reading the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik during finals week. I have always favored fantasy novels, but only recently have I really acknowledged them as escapism. Dense worldbuilding, and plot-driven (not to say that the characters aren't wonderfully engaging and developed) fantasy novels are the dazzling distractions against my melancholy, and bleak future.

I've been talking my sister's ear off about this series since winter break started, and though I'm only partway through the fifth book Victory of Eagles, I have half a mind to just start over from the beginning of the series for a second round. Though some plot points can seem contrived or silly, the general effect is a good one. How can I put it? Temeraire was made to be adapted into screen. Some of the supporting cast is bland and flat, but the dialogue is always engaging and drives the plot along.

Anyhow, the tl;dr version is that dragon-based fantasy novels are distracting me from the responsibilities and misery of my depressing future as a med school reapplicant.


Another thing, then. The title of this post draws from "Look what they've done to my song, Ma" by Melanie Safka, covered by Miley Cyrus and Melanie, which has become surprisingly (and painfully) relevant throughout this semester.

Indeed, I've felt as if my brain has been picked apart, then put back in all the wrong way just in time for me to bumble through my interviews. More importantly, I've become increasingly reliant upon/emotionally supported by my family, especially my Mom throughout this year.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Boston, Part II

First order of business: I'm going back on my promise about writing SOM interview reports. I've learned that I really, really dwell on them and it does me no good to agonize over my performance. Less work and less misery for me. Instead, I'll just be posting pretty (hopefully) pictures of my travels.

After my interview at Boston University, I took an Uber back to the BU undergrad campus with some other interviewees and took a quick break at my friend's apartment. After I charged up my phone and changed out of my suit, I packed up my stuff and took the T to Boston Common. As a note, I didn't know where to pay fare (selective ignorance, maybe) and ended up with a free ride. Apologies to the City of Boston.

Anyhow, the T spat me out in what looked like the theatre district. I walked around Boston Common, thinking about how in ye olde days I may have taken my livestock there or watched someone hang for a crime. I thought about seeing some more historical sites, but I had a flight to catch. This was a cool dome, though.

Then to the public garden. My hope was to walk through Boston Common and the garden, then down Newbury Street and then to the Heynes Convention Center to catch the shuttle to the airport. Unfortunately, I was walking west and the sun made pictures a bit tough. The bright patches of grass were blinding to look at, maybe helped by my familiarity with Californian drought conditions.

Another view of the garden.

I think I was trying to get a picture of the willow, since it's not often that I see them.

Ducks. We get more Canadian geese in CA.

A cool bridge. It would be nice to go boating here in the spring and summer.
General Washington!

My walk down Newbury St was punctuated by gawking at architecture. I forgot what church this is, but it was certainly a marvel.

I have no idea what this building is.

A Chinese tourist saw my suitcase and asked me if I were a tourist as well. He was taking pictures of buildings and asked if I could take one of him standing in front of some famous church. I think this church was the one he was looking for, and we parted ways after I told him I was on my way to the airport.

Upon my buddy's suggestion, I went to Emack & Bolio's for ice cream. This one was salted caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels, which was pretty delicious. I'm no foodie, but it seemed like a good treat at the end of the interview day.

Some final thoughts: I could see myself living in Boston for four years and more. That said, I saw Back Bay, MIT, and Boston Common on my trip, and a bit of South End and the BUSM and BMC area. Perhaps that isn't representative of Boston, but I enjoyed my trip. Since I didn't get to see any historical sites or museums, I know I must return, if only for vacation one day. If anything, I would go back just to walk all day through Back Bay, around the Freedom Trail, etc.

I hear back from BUSM in early January, so here's hoping.

UPDATE: accepted to BUSM with Dean's Scholarship! I'm going to be a doctor!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blue Velvet | Aspirational Outfit

Before I begin, I present: mood music

In spite of the fact that I have not attended any formal, dressy event since prom nearly four years ago, I still mess around with the idea that maybe I will need to be elegant for an evening. The spirit of this post about an aspirational outfit is that I would have in my closet ready for whatever dressy/formal event I am invited to.

Imagine: self in above outfit at a nighttime event. I look good in dark blue, the fabric drapes well, and the neckline looks flattering. I could pretend to be the night sky with some sparkles in my hair. Evening purses always seem a little too fussy or gaudy to me, so this sleek, minimalist tuxedo of a handbag hits the mark for me. Maybe the matching shoes are a bit much, and not versatile enough, but they seemed a perfect pair, and I think I'd be able to dance (or sprint) in them.

Summary: a simple, relatively unadorned outfit that suits my requirements for comfort and versatility. It's all from Zara, from which I own zero articles of clothing, so I can't attest to quality for price.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Big C hike and brunch at Wat Mongkolratanaram

I caught up with a friend today. JZ, a first year graduate student at UCSD, visited Berkeley this past weekend for a conference, and wanted to get food with me like old times. In anticipation for the meal at the local gem Wat Mongkolratanaram, we hiked up the hills behind campus to the Big C.

In spring semester freshman and fall semester sophomore year, we had classes that preceded a meal together (breakfast and lunch, respectively) and got into the habit of shooting the breeze and whinging about school, the future, and impostor syndrome.

All of this, of course, said with the backdrop of the Berkeley hills, which look their best in a chilly morning mist or at dusk. Looking eastwards, you can nearly see to the UC Botanical Garden, a favorite place of mine. All of this land technically does belong to the university, but is Lawrence Berkeley National Lab property, I believe. Even so, I call it campus.
A clearing in the trees. There are two ways up the hill to the Big C and this one is the less 'strenuous' one. You can carry a conversation on this route, no problem.

The turkeys were out and about this morning and I caught them in a nice formation. Nowadays, I don't see a whole lot of turkeys on campus, but they often go downhill during the summer. Many of these guys have a tassel on their chests -- perhaps they are tagged for some kind of research?

Turkeys yet again. Hike the Big C and you're almost guaranteed to see them.

We made it to the Big C! A fairly good view of the UC Berkeley campus, with Sather Tower, the Campanile, close to the center. On a clear day, you can see the Dumbarton, the San Mateo, the Bay, and Golden Gate Bridges in one sweep. Not so today, but still some blue skies ahead.

The morning grey was dispersing by the time we headed downhill. The same flock of turkeys resumes its foraging. After making it downhill, JZ and I walked to the BART station and took the train one stop south to Ashby station. The temple is a quick (~5 minute) walk from the station in a residential neighborhood by a park and a library.

Yelp will describe Thai Temple (what I've mostly heard it called) better than I can. It is a Buddhist temple and a Thai cultural center that opens its backyard to hungry locals on Sundays for probably the best cookout I've had in a long time. Pay real American dollars for donation tokens (which can be traded back for $, and $1 = 1 token), which can be used to purchase food. My two-curry and rice plate cost 7 tokens, and it was substantial enough for two meals. I brought a plastic container anticipating leftovers.

The curries that I had: a chicken yellow curry and beef red curry, the latter of which I will probably dream about until I return to Thai Temple. JZ and I ate voraciously and stared at the food that everyone else (communal seating, of course) and I've decided that I will need to try whatever the beef noodle soup is when I return. Other dishes: mango rice, rolls, papaya salad, pad thai, etc. I think the best way to go about eating here is to go with a few friends, each buy a different meal, and share.

Even so, I'm still going to eat the basic UCB student pad thai from Thai Basil. Nothing's changing. Afterwards, we walked through a flea market and decided that the whole experience was very uniquely Berkeley, CA.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Boston, Part I

I'd never been to Boston. I'm sure I only saw a small subsection of this great city, but I was enchanted by the parts through which I walked. I spent two days in the city, around eight hours of which were spent on an interview, and did not get to see nearly enough of it.

I took a shuttle from Logan International Airport to the Hynes Convention Center in Back Bay. Observations: the trees are different, the buildings are old, and there sure are a lot of bricks. My plan of the day was to get some coffee, get some food, and sit around by the Charles River before walking to MIT to meet a friend, JC. This route took me through Back Bay, which was a serious wonderland of the most picture perfect Victorian brownstones.

Back Bay did not seem real. Of course, probably not representative of all of Boston, but still, it was a wonder to walk through. I was dragging my suitcase (very small, very light) over old road and brick while tired and dehydrated to the point of headache, but I felt pretty motivated by all the beautiful architecture around me.

Back Bay, and all the rest of Boston that I saw, was extremely walkable. If I'd walked that same distance (Hynes Convention Center to MIT: 1.2 miles, according to Google Maps) in Berkeley in my condition, I would be in for a bad time. Boston is flat, Berkeley is not. Anyways...

Crossed the Charles River by way of the Harvard Bridge. Smoot markings were pretty funny to look at. It was damn windy here, but still a great view.

Made it to MIT in one piece, took a nap in the lobby of the Marriott while waiting for JC, who took me on a campus tour. Interesting fact: MIT's buildings are connected to one another! Perfect for avoiding the winter. The computer science building was very quirky and busy, and my favorite since that was where JC bought me a Naked juice, which revived me from my exhaustion. I had wanted to see the shipbuilding exhibit and it was cute, but underwhelming. Original plans were to visit the MIT museum and Harvard, but there was no way I was walking that far.

A gingerbread castle at MIT. JC informed me that it was a dorm.

After touring MIT, I walked back across the Harvard Bridge and west through more of Back Bay to get to Boston University to meet another friend, RN. On my way, I passed by the famous Fenway Park. I took a break to eat some of the baguette and salami I bought in the morning from Trader Joe's.

I sat around at RN's apartment, and she took me around BU campus, which is a narrow strip between 1-2 miles long. We walked the length of it, took the shuttle back to her apartment, where we talked and I ate more of my provisions and napped. It was good to catch up with old friends in a new (for me) city, and though my plans for being touristy and rambling all over Boston were trumped by my lack of energy, I had a wonderful day.

After my nap and dinner (provisions yet again), we went to Whole Foods for her dinner and to find a gift for my med student overnight host (some potted flowers). I took the BU shuttle down to the medical campus, and that was a day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A/W 2015 | Wardrobe Planning

I'm back on musing about clothing again, but the truth is that after the heavy clothing purchases for med school interviews, rampant decluttering of my apartment, and unseasonably warm weather, I have no motivation to seriously add anything to my wardrobe. This post is probably just a placeholder for items that I would ideally possess at some point in the next couple of years.

The caveat is that I did not include any items of cold weather clothing that I may need when I interview in Cleveland (!!!) in a few weeks, or on the East Coast later on (here's hoping). I have no idea what I'll need, but I'll meet that obstacle if I get there.

I'm still very much enamored with the 'Dark Americana' aesthetic from r/malefashionadvice, despite being a year or two late. Is it silly to have brand loyalty to brands I've never owned before? Is it just the Made in America patriotism? It's pretty indulgent.

1. Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket, black heather - $158 - I was pining after the Uniqlo Ines de la Fressange military blouson, which was around $70 before it went out of stock. Because of the price, I'm probably not going to buy this jacket at all, especially since I've never tried it on. I like my clothes utilitarian, understated, and dark, and this particular jacket is in the good old-fashioned, tried and true Levi's trucker cut. Also, rugged individualism or something like that.

2. Timex Easy Reader and the Waterbury - $40 and $80, respectively - I don't own a watch. My two previous ones were cheapos from China that fell apart pathetically. Aesthetically speaking, the Easy Reader (left) is more subdued, feminine, professional, and affordable. However, the Waterbury has something about it that seems more consistent with my personality. Again, I probably won't buy either of these this season, but planning ahead for next year.

3. Frye Diana Stitch Boot, black nubuck - $160 - saving the best for last. I've been thinking about these boots since July when my current pair of black boots ($20 from H&M) well and truly approached death's door. However, I liked the look of a simple black boot with a low heel and slim profile. Boots are my weakness. Frye is supposedly still very high quality for price when it comes to women's shoes, so I'll place my trust in them there. These ones I will buy for myself, but I'm waiting for a discount (unlikely).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pinnacles National Park

I went to Pinnacles National Park on Labor Day, and meant to post these earlier, but life intervened. It was a beautiful, perfect, though scorching hot day. These pictures are rather feeble, but they are the best I have. Memories from this trip are holding me afloat right now.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Salt Water sandals | Review

After a lot of indecision, I purchased a pair of the Salt Water sandals from the Hoy Shoe Company at the end of June ($39.95 via Zappos). My shoe options were decidedly weather inappropriate -- Dr. Martens Chelsea boots, H&M ankle boots, or running shoes -- and simply didn't mesh well with high-temp attire. I've never really worn sandals or any sort of strongly 'summertime' shoe like espadrilles or slip-ons because I find light colors abhorrent and designs too kitschy.

Influenced by (copying from) the Dead Fleurette's coolness, I sought out the Salt Water sandals as my solution. They're fairly well-known in California, and I've noticed a few people wearing them around campus. These are non-obtrusive, quiet, plain shoes. They go with mostly all of my outfits, are damn comfortable, and quickly became an everyday, all-occasion shoe for me.

About the comfort: I'm a wide 6.5, which means I generally prefer 7 over 6.5, and always 7 over 6. Mine are black leather in women's 7 (and beware, the sizing is given in 'big kid' and 'women's') and were a bit narrow. According to the information in the box, the wearer is supposed to stretch and flex the shoe a bit before wearing, and that though they may feel snug, the leather will soften and mold easily to the foot. Because I found the front slightly narrow, my feet kept sliding back in the footbed, with my heel nearly slipping over the edge. I solved this problem by stretching the front of the sandals and consciously sliding my feet forward. Buckling at the tightest comfortable hole helps this process as well, and now, they fit wonderfully. If anything, they're a bit loose (as expected).

In spite of the 100% leather upper construction, these sandals are made to be submerged. While I didn't dip my feet in the slightly suspicious waters of Lake Merritt, I wore these kayaking with no fear of getting them wet. They wear well in casual walking around campus and town, even for extended periods of time. I thought that lack of arch support would be a problem, but the only discomfort was a bit in the ball of my foot, which has not bothered me. After about 1.5 months of near-daily wear, the soles don't show wearing and the buckles and straps, which were originally very stiff, are still sturdy.

These are not all-terrain and will do you little good in a hike or even extensive walking over moderately steep hills. Minimal tread, would not recommend anything more than a brisk, short jog in these.

All in all, these are great shoes. I've developed new tan lines on my feet, and they have filled a serious niche in my wardrobe. It's still summer in California, and I'll wear them until it gets unbearably cold to do so.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fall 2015 course load forecasting

In about a week and a half, I'll be starting my senior year of college. Without a doubt, this final hurrah at UC Berkeley will differ from the previous three years, most obviously due to the (hopefully) tremendous influence of out-of-state interviews at medical schools, which did inform the way I selected my classes. I've also been afflicted with a sense of wistfulness, of lost opportunities for boundless intellectual expansion that high school painted my undergrad education to be. Perhaps this will be the year where I'll finally live out that dream.

Without further ado:

Cell Biology for Engineers (4 units, letter graded): to fulfill my bioengineering laboratory course requirement. It's been eons since I've been in wet lab, and while I am not thrilled, this class is reportedly fun and effective at building a practical skillset. However, the mandatory 4-hour lab block will be a sure obstacle in scheduling interviews (I hope not)

Biological Performance of Materials (4 units, letter graded): another bioengineering class. Though I semi-audited a  class about mechanical testing of materials and last semester's cell and tissue engineering class had a solid amount of materials science, I've been eager to jump back into a materials course. A pal from my research lab and possibly my grad student mentor from that same lab will be taking this class as well

American Environmental and Cultural History (4 units, P/NP): most people I know completed the university American Cultures requirement as freshmen, but I've been procrastinating. Though the prevailing opinion is to take a big, easy, introductory sociology or anthropology class for an easy A, I've been waiting to find an AC that strikes my interest and fits my schedule. Easiness be damned since I'm not taking it for a letter grade anyhow. Yes! Senioritis lives on, but for practical purposes, I'll have less time than ever this semester, and I certainly don’t want to have the burden of writing articulate, well-researched/reasoned papers!

Environmental Philosophy and Ethics (4 units, P/NP): bioengineering majors are required to take an ethics class. My boyfriend coerced me (successfully) into taking this class with him, though I cannot fathom why he wants to take it for a letter grade. This class is mildly interesting to me, and though I do like the prospects of having course material support when I have to miss class, the alternative seems much more appropriate for my scholastically lazy attitude

Seminar on Social, Political, and Ethical Issues in Health & Medicine (3 units, P/NP): now this is the alternative. It's a 3-hour seminar series with no assignments. It's meducational, very interesting and popular, and relevant to my future. What stopped me from enrolling in this class first (unit cap on enrolling in classes until Aug. 17) was a concern about the grading scheme. If it's by attendance, then I may be screwed over by interviews. Thus, I enrolled in the above class just to be safe, and will drop either this one or the class above when I decide which one I prefer

If I have time time, I'll audit a Spanish class.

I'm not sure what this course load will be like. With so many P/NP units, how heavy will this burden actually be? Will my dreams of a chill senior year be dashed by the hectic interview season? Am I overestimating my ability to net interviews? Time will tell. However, the stark difference between this schedule and its predecessors is its remarkable lack of technical classes. I've taken 4 techs in a semester several times, and even those with 3 have been tough to bear (Spring 2015, with 3 techs + 5 letter graded units of Español). I'm so used to going full throttle with my schedule that having something lightweight is putting me off-kilter before instruction even begins.

Of course, research, clinic stuff, and MD application cycle 2016 will have more opportunities to intervene this semester, so I'll need to stay alert and ready to put some serious work in. Diligence is the engineering major's virtue.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sullen summer day

I fell hard for the skater/fit-and-flare trend, and this garment is but one of my troop of dark blue dresses. The fabric, as you may be able to tell, is yet another trendy trait: scuba (neoprene), love it or hate it. It gives this dress structure, and while ZZ and I disagree whether it looks old-fashioned or futuristic, it looks different.

My issue with this dress was simply how do I even wear this? None of my shoes looked right with it, the material retains heat while the cut leaves me with cold shoulders, and the print demands attention. I saw a girl walking about campus with some brown fabric boots and a leather jacket over this dress and I was perplexed.

Once I found the right shoes, though, things became simple. Why complicate things at all? Dress + shoes = outfit. I own no accessories or jewelry, and this dress is articulate on its own. What does it say? It flatters my figure, which is to say, it hides where my legs begin and accentuates the length of my arms and neck. The fabric is heavy and sturdy enough where a gust of wind wouldn't faze me in the least. It's long enough where I can sit down in any way I please. With the right shoes, dresses like this are the easiest thing to wear: crawl through it and go (though the high collar does have two annoying-to-do buttons at the back).

There's an aesthetic and a MAC collection titled 'Moody Blooms,' which always comes to mind when I look at this dress. Though I wish the flowers were bigger and less Forever 21, I like the color and print just fine. As I try to move towards a more beloved and consistent wardrobe, I will analyze outfits that I feel confident, attractive, and happy in. To me, I am in power and comfortable in this kind of a get-up. It's something that doesn't take much thought to put on, and though I hesitated to wear it in spring semester because I thought it looked a bit too dressy, screw that. I wear what I like.

Though I think it looks vaguely sci-fi and futuristic, I do feel like this when I walk slowly and purposefully in this outfit.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Stationery acquisitions

Except for the leftmost journal and postcard, all items pictured here were acquired within the past few weeks. This rare rainfall of paper goods is worthy of a blog post, I insist.

Clockwise from the far left:

1. William Morris 'Windrush' midi format journal, Paperblanks: Vol. X of my life, spanning Feb. 6 2015 to Aug. 4 2015. Behold that cover. The gold catches the light beautifully, but towards the end of its use, I did notice some wear at the corners and spine where the plastic film overlay was spalling. Overall, it's a gorgeous book, holding gorgeous memories. In summary: unplanned romance, over-planned MD app cycle

2. Cork pocket-sized notebook, Tiger: a gift from a friend who studied abroad in London in the spring. Unlined, small, and perfect for everyday carry. Once I finish my Moleskine, I'll use this as my commonplace book. Speaking of CPB, I need to utilize it better

3. Celestial journal, Peter Pauper Press: described as 'beatific' on the PPP website, this gem of a journal will serve as Vol. XI of my life. The heft is incredible, the binding durable and reliable. The paper is impeccable, edged with gold, and has slightly less 'bite' than Paperblanks, much heavier than Moleskin. It was out of stock until right before the death of Vol. X; it did go on sale right after I bought it, but ~ $13 is still more than reasonable for a notebook of this quality (so I say right now, time will tell)

4. Kitty cat sticky notes: a gift from my boyfriend's mother. Very cute and good for little lists and reminders

5. Watercolor UC Berkeley postcards: purchased from Avant Card from a sour cashier. I needed a postcard to send to my boyfriend's family but ended up buying four in total to make the $5 credit/debit card minimum

6. Old library photograph postcard: I got this from a Doe librarian a few months back and just now wrote on it. At the end of each diary, I write a postcard to myself n+7 diaries in the future, and keep the card in Vol. n until the time comes to retrieve it

This is a rare accumulation of stationery, which I find precious and worth writing all this for. Many of these were gifts, for which I am grateful. Blank pages, beautiful covers, elegant design -- stationery is the category of consumable good that I truly could dragon-hoard.

Monday, August 3, 2015

I.B.'s Hoagies: French fry adventure

Damn right the fries are my way.

When it comes to French fries, consider me a professional. Let this post be something to cleanse your Internet palate of the lovely foodie posts on other blogs. I know for a fact that Berkeley is crawling with good food for low prices, but this is my blawg and I want to talk about I.B.'s. Also, consider this a middle finger to the Golden Bear Café, which has recently decreed that they will no longer sell fried foods. I only got to eat their chili cheese fries twice. I loved their French fries and tater tots. I worshiped at the altar of their deep fat fryer.

Anyways, it seems kind of foolish that I've never been to I.B.'s. Smoke's Poutinerie across the street used to be my fry fix, but they're overpriced and le poutine does not appeal to me. Their fries are flaccid and overly salty. They also look withered. I.B.'s better hold their shape, are a more appetizing golden color, and have better crisp-crunch. Imagery.

I claim to be a red-blooded, fast-food-eating, salt-of-the-earth gal that doesn't care about pretty plating and food trends, but I did, in fact, cut up an avocado and mix it about with my fries. I did it in broad daylight on Durant Ave with my Swiss Army knife, so I did redeem some of my dignity. Cheese curds and gravy a la Smoke's does not appeal to me, as I would like to still have some brain function after a meal.

By far the coolest thing about I.B.'s is their condiment bar. Behold:

I put horseradish, kimchi aioli, ranch, sriracha, and a blizzard of Tajín over those fries. Fuck le poutinerie for only having malt vinegar and ketchup. Avocado on top. By the way, I got the small order of fries in a large container for better ingredient mixing.

In summary: fuck GBC for getting rid of fries, but I.B.'s condiments are far superior; cheaper and better-tasting than le poutinerie; $2.49 for a small order of naked fries, customize to your heart's content.

I've been writing secondaries all month so this here was a bit of a writing break. Another remark: the regular fries are far superior to the sweet potato fries, which come with a bizarre garlic sauce. I am told to be suspicious of the hoagies, which are very reasonably priced.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


This summer, it seems I've had a cataclysmic weekend at every turn. I'll face a few days of relative calm, and then BAM disaster. Usually, it has to do with the clinic.

Here's something to think about: this past Friday + weekend, I have spent 18 hours at the clinic. No rounding up: 18 hours over three days. I went to two parties over those three days, which were seriously fun, but 18 hours is ridiculous. As a note, though I am a coordinator (read: an administrator on good days, an autocrat on bad days), I am still a volunteer. If I'd been paid at my high school part-time wage, I'd be pushing $200, which is about two secondary applications for medical schools.

All that was furthered by personnel issues and the fact that I have taken on a behemoth project to implement (read: force) my section to use our electronic medical records system correctly. I'm not entirely sure how this happened, but sometime in the winter, our section (either I decreed it or somebody pushed it onto us) became the one to pioneer EMR. Of course, all this is good fodder secondaries because it shows leadership and struggle and this and that, but good God is it a headache.

I am told that this is usually the responsibility of an IT team. Though I am sure their timeline is much shorter, I carry the burden for an agonizing amount of time. But what about delegation? Don't make me laugh. Delegating in a volunteer organization with a collective structure is tough shit. People are lazier here. People don't need to care because they don't have accountability. Furthermore, the oversight and accountability administrator is me. More responsibilities, more headaches.

Why the hell do I do this to myself? God complex? Masochism? Not sure.

As this lovely picture shows, this weekend was a mess of clinic obligations, personal deadlines for secondaries, and social engagements. I didn't really sleep much, and towards the end of Saturday, it was already pretty clear that I was in foul weather again.

The Han Solo to my Luke Skywalker when I was a wee trainee (and he was a coordinator) always warned me about burnout. My parents and boyfriend do it all the time, but when it comes from my peers at the clinic who were in my same training cohort and have watched me grow into this responsibility say so, I feel it. All weekend, I was griping about not being able to finish my Duke secondary on time, not being happy with anything I wrote; I was really complaining about being overextended.

I think I burn out quite often, and just after I submitted my Duke app today (!!!), I felt rejuvenated. Fair enough, but I still have a marathon ahead. I want to really change the clinic, and what sort of change is truly good enough if someone didn't have to get tired over it?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer refresher

I'm just beginning properly writing my secondaries for MD applications now, and nervously awaiting the downpour of emails that will surely (hopefully) come after the holiday weekend. However, I won't be writing about that here.

In the past few weeks, I've begun noticing some less-desirable attributes about myself and my surroundings. Particularly, I am annoyed/disgusted by the state of my apartment, and how generally, I tend to clutter up my work and living areas. Not to say I'm a hoarder, but I surely don't need to hold onto all my past midterms. Same thing goes for the various small things hanging around my desk. I'm at home right now, but when I return to my apartment tomorrow, I'll have to do a very thorough cleaning.

More seriously, I am inattentive to the cleanliness of our apartment. One roommate is fastidious and tends to keep to her own room, but another roommate and I have neglected to keep up the tidiness of our space. We left the apartment in a pretty bad state when the semester ended, and I still haven't gone through and cleaned out the fridge, which surely has some kinds of rotten vegetables and mold in it. I'm being honest here.

Dirty dishes, dirty floors as well. I try to clean around the apartment more often this summer, since clutter and dirt stress me out, but I need to make it more of a habit. In general, I have a lot of things hanging around the apartment that I should just toss or sell, and once August rolls around, I'll make a serious effort to sell off my old textbooks. Of course, that's not the most egregious contributor to the mess, but that's an actionable goal.

Next, I'm unsatisfied with my diet, exercise habits (or lack thereof), and schedule. Towards the end of the semester, I was less diligent with cooking, and ended up throwing together some meager and unhealthy meals. Lately, my boyfriend and I have been making a greater effort to cook more and actually enjoy food. I may have mentioned this before, but last semester, I both looked forward to and dreaded mealtimes: I would not be hungry, but then again, nothing I made tasted good. He's recently demonstrated his superior cooking skills, so here's hoping I learn something from him.

In the same vein, I want to start going to the gym. Last semester, I was flattened by boxing tryouts, and swore that I would work out to get in better shape. I was hoping to be actually put into an intercollegiate fight this year, but in general, I should increase my level of fitness. My goal is to run < 7:30 mile, increase my flexibility, and try lifting. More broadly, I'd like to get in the habit of exercising regularly. I do have a phobia of looking stupid in front of people at the gym, but if it's my boyfriend telling me I'm doing something wrong/have bad form/some other gym critique, I'll be more confident trying.

And finally, I need to go all-in for secondaries. I want to allocate more of my free time to fiction writing and seriously cut down on dead internet time. Wake up earlier, exercise regularly, eat healthier, drink more water, go on more hikes, write more articulate and intelligent secondaries, hang out more with old friends, etc, etc.

That's all for now.

*** Not really. I changed a tag from MD cycle 2015 to MD cycle 2016. This is because I plan on matriculating in 2016.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Some more frivolous thoughts

You may notice that I still consider all fashion/beauty/aesthetic-related thoughts to be frivol, but that's just the way things are. If I'm on Reddit, it's usually subreddits related to this frivol, and there was a thread on r/femalefashionadvice recently about this very idea. Anyways, here's another post about fashion.

Since my last fashion post, I have purchased 2/3 of the items I planned for, and one other shirt. I bought two knit crop tops from Forever 21, a navy-cream striped one and a rusty henley that would better suit my roommate, and the stone-wash denim shorts from American Apparel, for 20% off. I did it to congratulate myself for getting good grades this past semester. I tell myself these things.

Sometime last year, after getting really into lurking the whole minimalism/French wardrobe/capsule wardrobe/pseudo-Scandi/pseudo-gamine giga-trend (and it is a trend, for fuck's sake), I decided that I'd forever swear off fast fashion like Forever 21, H&M, and...actually, that's where 90% of my wardrobe is from. Oft repeated are the claims that the quality is shitty, sweatshop conditions, overly trendy, etc. Others put this more eloquently than I can.

Earlier this summer, my roommate and I were cleaning out our room. Mostly, this was her digging through the literal piles of clothes that she has and figuring out which things to keep and which things to donate. In this process, we found two of my grey shirts and three of my boyfriend's and multitudes of my black ankle socks. We heaped a ton of things into our donate pile and called it a day. When she left for her summer vacation, I tried to do the same to my clothes and realized that even the clothes I didn't want to keep weren't in condition fit to be donated.

This comes back to Forever 21. About 75% of my wardrobe comes from before college. I have very few items from middle school, but enough where I really do have to broaden that category. I have a difficult time letting go of clothes. This is a relic of the fact that I've been about the same height and weight since I was 14, and that even then, I recognized that I would be doomed to jeans and t-shirts and skater dresses (even before they were called such) for all eternity.

That is to say, I'm pretty happy with the way I dress, and I actually do like how Forever 21 t-shirts fit on me. The problem is that I use this to justify keeping clothes past their expiration date. My jeans from pre-AP classes are napkin thin. My crimson ribbed (sounds gruesome) polo from seventh grade should have been retired three years ago. All my $3 basics from Forever 21 and H&M inevitably lose their shape after the first year. I know this. I bought two tops from Forever 21 just a few weeks ago. I know better.

I also know better than to buy low-waist shorts or jeans, but thankfully I stopped that nonsense in college. Also, you don't have to wash your jeans after ever wear. Repeating pants gave me way too much anxiety in middle/high school.

Anyways, this post was sort of just about how I have an overblown wardrobe problem that stems not from over-consumption but from keeping clothes that are far too old/were low quality to begin with. Every once in awhile, I realize that I'm 20 fucking years old, applying to med school, and consistently wear clothes that I had back in the fucking day.

As a final note, mend and make do and all that, but probably buy things that can hold up to some wear before they start looking like napkins in the first place.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ready for review

Post-AMCAS celebratory lunch + recreational reading

Just a smattering of thoughts without a prevailing theme.

I submitted AMCAS yesterday morning with little trouble. My transcripts were received surprisingly quickly, especially since there was a delay with my community college one, and I my application was 'ready for review' when I woke up from my nap. Naptime, of course, is just one of the many leisurely activities I did yesterday. Alarmingly enough, I started and finished a recreational, non-meducational book (The Triple Package, by tiger mom Amy Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld) and also spent an absurd time on Reddit. I added one other American history/politics/economics/society book (A Call to Action, by Jimmy Carter, a president I very vaguely know as being the fella whose presidency correlated with the Iran hostage crisis) to my summer reading list. I'm about 80% through The House of God, and surprisingly haven't touched The Once and Future King.

To return to my favorite topic (the MD application cycle, of course), I'm still in the process of finalizing The List, which is not anywhere near finalized. Even so, I'm sort of letting myself kick back and relax this weekend -- and just this weekend -- before I go all in with pre-writing secondaries and burning my eyes out staring at MSAR. Oh, and I have jury duty on Tuesday.

In my leisure, I've been picking back up with my interest in frivolous things like clothes and makeup because I am a vain creature. My latest fixation has been the pursuit of a suit for med school interviews, which I will hopefully get. My suit shopping, however, is hindered by the fact that Reddit has convinced me (r/mfa, those well-dressed bastards) that my suit should be wool, should be lined. Easy enough for MFA! Women's suits, I've learned, are usually synthetic and usually feature flared trousers, which do not look good on me.

In other news, I'm restarting my independent research project. Last summer, I made some good progress on it, but we were hindered by the data collection method. This summer, the machine shop has new toys, and hopefully by the end of summer, I'll be trained to play with them on my own. I'll have to spend some serious time thinking about how to go about with this inquiry, since I don't know how and where this whole thing will be impactful. I need to be more prudent about planning out this project, planning out how much and what kind of code I'll need to write in MATLAB, planning out what models I need to make on SolidWorks, planning out what to do with the vast cloud of data that I get -- quite literally, since it's a point cloud of coordinates. Really, that's the crux of it. At this point, I'm just collecting coordinates without a good plan.

One final thing: I'm getting back into writing, amazingly enough. I'm hoping to regularly post on r/nosleep, and to get a long-term high fantasy project resurrected. This is all, of course, me dreaming about not writing secondaries.

Nothing else to report.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

MD application summer begins

I haven't touched this place in quite some time. The title of the post will tell you why.

I'll just jot down a few of my thoughts about the process here. I don't think I can really force this into a real post, so here it all is:
  1. Primaries are not as awful as MCAT studying. I have a feeling that secondaries, in terms of clock time and personal effort, will be worse. The June 4 'deadline' I have is very close, but after I really consider what's on my plate, I don't feel rushed for time.
  2. The first thing on my plate is the personal statement. Mine isn't there yet. I emerged last weekend from a truly horrible first draft -- fifth draft, but it was my first version of my PS -- and things have been better. Now, my current version seems more like a 'What is medicine?' rather than a 'Why medicine?' composition, so I'll have to work on that.
  3. AMCAS is a real chore. Work/Activities section requires the most thought, since it's essentially an expanded CV. Again, not too bad, but I need to portray my experiences strategically.
  4. The List. Oh, God, the List. It's in shambles. I cut it from 35 to 25, only to panic and think it's too top heavy. I got rid of some schools I would likely never attend, then added some more. I still need to cut, but my friends -- and I have very accomplished friends -- are encouraging me to keep schools such as HMS, Hopkins, and Penn. Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UPenn -- those are intimidating names.
  5. I have a lot of ups and downs. Ups: my GPA increased by 0.06, which I think is quite a bit; my MCAT is still very high. Downs: my writing looks mediocre, my GPA is still low, I don't have that many extracurricular activities, I haven't shadowed enough, etc, etc
  6. I've gotten a stronger desire to read and write. I finished The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down shortly after my trip to the library, and I'm about 75% through The House of God, which is making me daydream about going to HMS. Also, The House of God has a particular voice that has begun seeping into my diary entries. FUN FUN FUN. I also noticed that that voice is similar to the one I use when complaining to my sister and boyfriend.
Nothing more to say. I also bought two of the items from my wardrobe planning post a few weeks back. If only it were warm enough outside to bare skin.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Summer reading

My diary and my reading list -- slightly more aesthetically pleasing than just a page ripped out of a steno pad.

I've had the last of my final exams and am one paper away from being free to have my life consumed by medical school apps. This means the beginning of a summer of recreational reading!

Recreational reading is a term that I've come to like a lot. I don't get to do it at all during the academic year, which is unfortunate. And when I do get a chance, it's often during breaks where I reread my favorites and never pick up something new.

This is the MD app summer, so it's only appropriate that I stuff my list with meducational things. Meducational in this context refers to my immersion in the ethical, practice-of-medicine-oriented side of medicine, the life behind the career that I hope to enter. Basically, I want the non-technical side.

Summer Reading 2015
  1. The Once and Future King -- T.H. White
  2. The House of God -- Samuel Shem
  3. The Emperor of all Maladies -- Siddhartha Mukherjee
  4. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down -- Anne Fadiman
Going down the list, then. The Once and Future King is one of my favorite, moral compass-orienting novels that (grandiosely) helped define my personal sense of ethics and the human condition. High-faluting statement aside, I read TOaFK at a vulnerable, malleable time in my life. It was the beginning of the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, my first summer living in my apartment, my first summer at the clinic, my first summer in the lab. I had come out of a semester that academically beat me down and left me questioning who the hell I was and what the hell I wanted to make of my life. The Once and Future King is a whimsical, acutely self-aware novelization of the rise and fall of King Arthur and Camelot. It's difficult to read it as only a swords-and-sorcery fantasy novel alone or a handbook on the human condition, on 'might' and 'right' and the ethical challenge of leadership by fiat and leadership by example, and a whole lot of other things. Regardless of whether it has a place in the Arthurian canon or not (well...) it certainly forms an integral portion of my own ethical canon. I  read it summer 2013, summer 2014, and will do so for as long as I can.

The House of God is the infamous creature that apparently is required reading for all bright young things interested in becoming a physician. I haven't read it yet, but I do like gallows humor and have some measure of interest in the crass and abrasive golden age of medicine. Also, I liked Scrubs.

The Emperor of all Maladies won a Pulitzer prize, and I remember it being all over the public library in my hometown when it came out. Not terribly interested in oncology, but medical anthropology seems to be something I'm getting interested in.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures wears many hats. On one hand, it's a biography of the cultural clashes between Hmong immigrants and the relentlessly bureaucratic (but well-intentioned) healthcare system of the US. On the other, it's a handbook on the ethnography, anthropology, and history of the Hmong in southeast Asia and the Hmong in the US. It's a manifesto for cultural competency and humility in the medical systems of this country, and a cry for compassion and empathy and open-mindedness. It's required reading for anthropology students here and there, and the incoming class of the Yale School of Medicine.

I'll add to this list as I finish books. I'm probably going to limit myself on the meducating and gorge myself silly on A Song of Ice and Fire as I've done these past two summers (MCAT summer included).

Monday, May 4, 2015

The List

The List -- last week's version. Ignore the foolish red-pen remarks.

Today is May 4 -- tomorrow is May 5. Trivial statement, but el cinco de mayo happens to be the day when AMCAS 2015 opens. I'm a damn mess.

(AMCAS = American Medical College Application Service)

It's happening, and I'm at once shaking in my boots and ready at the starting block.

I am ready: I've spent the last three years preparing myself for this process, preparing myself for my future as a physician, preparing myself for years and years of humility and hard work. More importantly, I've given myself ample time and opportunities to learn and understand who I am and what I stand for, what I believe my purpose in this world is, and how I must best contribute to this community I live in. Furthermore, grades (low, but acceptable), MCAT (high, thankfully), and all the other things are done and accounted for.

I am not ready: I don't know where I'm applying to. The List is still under construction. My personal statement is still an unfinished draft.

Most of all, I am fucking scared.

It's not cold feet that I have, though. I've wanted this for my entire life. Before I even knew what I was good at, I knew in some capacity that I wanted to be a doctor. Childhood dreams are pretty silly and meaningless until they really do become attainable. If I screw up now, then what?

The List is something that I'd begun toying with in high school -- and it's stupid to think that it was because I knew that Johns Hopkins was a top med school, that Stanford and Harvard were also up there, and that I only wanted to be The Best. Shitty way of thinking, but from the beginning of college, I always had some little fantasy of getting my MD training at some super institution -- and that was before my GPA tanked, before I took my MCAT, and before I really knew a damn thing about being premed.

Building my list, I eventually understood, was pretty much pointless until I had an MCAT score in hand. Even with an absurd MCAT score, I was stung by my GPA and built a school list that, eventually, my friends said undercut me.

And so after spring break, some clinic friends (four of whom will be attending top 10 MD programs this fall) gave me their input: I needed to aim high. They cited that LizzyM number, which I didn't buy. I've gotten very good at beating myself down about being bad at school, bad at organic chemistry, iffy at E&M, and so their advice to put top schools on my list that I'd long before shot down as being unrealistic came as a shock.

And even now, I don’t know what to do. More or less, my selection methodology before was to take out all schools for which I was UNDER the 10th percentile GPA for (an embarrassing amount) and schools for which I was OVER the 90th percentile MCAT for. This means I can go to almost zero med schools, so I scrapped that idea. LizzyM occurred to me, but I have off-kilter numbers -- bra size analogy withheld.

But, vaguely, I have come up with a different sort of selection criteria, and have adopted a very labor-intensive method for cutting my list down.

Questions for consideration:

  1. Do I fulfill all the admissions requirements?
  2. Location? (How safe is the campus and surroundings? Where do med students live? Proximity to airport? -- and, of course, I prefer California)
  3. What does the tuition look like?
  4. Home orthopedic department?
  5. Curriculum and interest groups (student-run free clinic is a must)

And things of that ilk. As I stand right now, I have a list of 34 that I want to eventually cut to 25. At least I'm putting more thought into it than I did for college apps.

(I added UC Berkeley last-second to my UC App. My mother practically forced me to, but I am pretty grateful that she did. Go Bears and such.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Let the sunshine in

For someone who does keep a daily diary, I would think that keeping a regular blog would be a piece of cake. Evidently not.

Here's a collection of ramble-thoughts accumulated over the past month, with my reviews/impressions of two productions I saw recently.

It's times like this where I wish I kept some sort of longer-scale record (ex. a blog) during freshman year, since my worries now are just a continuation of those from 2013. On my plate: academic achievement, letters of recommendation, med school personal statement, med school this and med school that. 2013: will I be able to volunteer at the Free Clinic, will I be able to find a research lab? 2015: am I an adequate de-facto leader at the Free Clinic, will I be able to conduct my own research project effectively?

My worries stem from the fact that I am applying to med school this summer, my ultimate dream for most of my life, my one and only North Star. This situation has been made more dreadful (not dreadful as in plummy, archaic dreadful, but dreadful as in it fills me with some kind of dread and anxiety and eagerness) because my boyfriend has almost exact opposite problems (they stem from indecision and uncertainty in his career goals).

Anyhow, these things, as well as my recent feelings of scholastic mediocrity have put me in a sort of dreary, gloomy mood. To combat this melancholy, I talk to my roommate, my friends, my boyfriend, go visiting. And for something completely new: I went to two shows (a concert and a musical) and they were spectacular.

Bach Mass in B Minor

One of the last of Bach's compositions, the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) is a complete setting of a complete Latin Ordinary Mass, consisting of the usual movements:

1. Missa (Kyrie and Gloria)
2. Symbolum Nicenum (Credo)
3. Sanctus
4. Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, and Dona Nobis Pacem

At the risk of sounding too weird about synesthesia, B minor is a grim, stately, blue key, and through it, the Mass achieved a level of cosmic grandeur that I can't attempt to express here. I attended the University Chamber Chorus and UC Berkeley Baroque Orchestra's performance of this masterpiece, and I don't think my evening could have been better. As a note, with each movement, the Latin lyrics and translations were projected above the stage, which deepened my understanding for this musical wonder.

The Ordinary Latin Mass spans a wide spectrum of the relationship between Man and God, and it spoke pretty strongly to this agnostic. Solemn supplication and mourning for the sins and suffering of Man and Christ (B minor) yield to the hope for deliverance and miracle by the grace of God (D major).

A few of my favorite movements: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Cum Sancto Spiritu, Crucifixus, Et resurrexit, Et expecto, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Dona nobis pacem


Not as much to say on this one. AB (roommate, CivE) and CB (EECS) and I went to Barestage's production of this musical that CB's roommate was in. A summary: Vietnam War draftee meets a tribe of long-haired hippies and they sing about society and their time, youth and their struggle to find their place and purpose. Given Berkeley's history of protest and involvement in activism during the Free Speech Movement, Civil Rights Movement, and anti-Vietnam movement, I was already engaged with the material.

Interesting thing about Hair is that it was written and debuted on Broadway in 1969, and I was astounded to see how meta their entire analysis of that time was. Anyhow, the female vocals completely hit me, and gave me some genuine chills. The playbill included a lengthy introduction about the modern interpretation of some of the problematic content, including racism and cultural appropriation in the script and staging.

A few of my favorite songs:  Aquarius, I'm Black/Ain't Got No, L.B.J., Hare Krishna, Let the Sunshine In

Afterwards, we got doughnuts, explored an underground parking lot, and watched CB fly a fighter jet around Vinewood, shooting missiles at the city (Grand Theft Auto V, a favorite pastime of the EECS house). A good night.

And now, the two of them together: the Mass began with the choir lined behind the audience in a pitch-black concert hall. One light was shone onto the conductor, and at her first baton drop, the hall rang with the first note of the Kyrie eleison, and it was as if a choir of righteous, solemn angels had descended onto our mortal congregation. And truly, it was a surprise, and nearly got me God-fearing. On the other side, Hair ends in a surprisingly somber way, and the final song, 'Let the Sunshine In,' read as a desperate plea for peace, love, and understanding -- and mercy. It was a demonstration of tragic solidarity (no spoilers here) and the cast took from the stage running helter-skelter to reassemble behind the audience, ending the song without musical accompaniment.

So, perfect bookends. The symbolism was not long-coming; not to mention, Hair ended, too with dim lighting.

Kyrie eleison -- Lord, have mercy. I still think about these two shows. What an experience.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Puerto Vallarta 2014

Left: Phoenix Sky Harbor
Right: mountains and desert

Left: agriculture
Right: coastline of Jalisco, MX

Left: a villa in Puerto Vallart
Right: statue - of who, I don't remember
Left: umbrellas on the beach
Right: un edificio

Left: Los Milenios
Right: La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Guadalupe