Friday, December 16, 2005

practicals, planes, and other words that start with p

Today is practical day! If only that meant that everything I did today was practical. No, instead I will be identifying structures (anatomical and histological) for a grade for 45 minutes. And then I will take my less-practical written exam. Here are the p-words in my brain right now:

practical - my exam today
plane - what I will take to visit Ash (yay!)
phosphate - main titratable acid in the kidney
purines - nucleotides whose synthesis I still need to learn
pyrimidine - more nucleotides...
party - what I will attend once my exams are done
presents - my main occupation for the coming week


Monday, November 28, 2005

A little early

Well, I looked at my calendar briefly last night and noted that I had class at 8:10a this morning. I was running a little late and practically ran up the stairs to class. Upon arriving, I found the lecture hall empty and after a brief panic (thinking that the lecture was somewhere else), I looked at my planner and found that class started at 9a. I might not have been so scared if we didn't have the professor that publicly berates students who come in even 30 seconds after he has started...

So, as you may have guessed, the Admissions Office blog has been delayed until "mid-December." As such, I'm going to try to post more regularly in this space. You see, I was selected as a "guest blogger," meaning that I'll get to post monthly about exciting things I'm taking part in. Which will be exciting, but less regular. Although, it's hard to be less regular than things have been thus far... At any rate, I'm going to make a solid effort... Even if it involves posting pictures of my knitting projects because those are the most exciting things in my life...

I'm sort of rambling (still have a fair number of circulating catecholamines keeping me a bit jumppy), but this week should be good. We are learning cardiac and pulmonary exams, so I will be jubilantly examining the hearts and lungs of my classmates (and probably Alicia once I get home)...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Electron Transport Chain

Oh how I wish it could just transport me away. I'm sitting in my oh-so-miserable muscle metabolism lecture. While much of this insanely busy sequence involves a great deal of dissection and anatomy studying, a smaller portion definitely involves compromising with my professors "sick love of enzymatic detail."

And here we are at pyruvate kinase. For those of you who wish I would post more regularly, this is why I don't. What is there to say about pyruvate kinase? Other than that it catalyzes an irreversible reaction in the overall oxidation of glucose in the body... Basically, an enzyme only a mother could love.

Also, it's National Coming Out Day (NCOD, for those of you who find food word acronyms appealing)! Whee! (At least I have a fun rally to look forward to after this abysmal lecture.) Have a happy NCOD everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I am so much closer to being Dr. Dre

Well, I've started school again. I am a happy M1 (the oh-so-cool abbreviation for a first year medical student) and am thoroughly enjoying myself. However, as my life has been reduced to typing up the answers to my "Intended Learning Outcomes" questions and intending to learn them, my posting may be a little less frequent. However, I thought I would take this opportunity to create my own list of some of the coolest things that I have learned in the past few days.

10. It can actually be funny when professors make sex jokes. Somehow they seem appropriate.
9. My medical education will apparently not be complete without drinking. As much as I try to avoid it, the faculty keep making references to it.
8. When you have acute appendicitis, it gets all red, and sometimes there's some supperative exudate (read: pus!). Then, when it dies, it turns all black! (Yay pathology lecture slides!)
7. There are very few genetic components to the following disease condition: a man is looks both ways, crosses at the crosswalk, and out of nowhere an 18-wheeler crushes him.
6. The immune system response can be adequately paralleled by the invasion of Saxon England by the Normans.
5. "It's not fair to just look at the liver histopathology slides and say, 'oh, this guy was on the sauce.'"
4. When a part of your brain dies, the immune system turns it into soup and you end up with a hole.
3. It's okay to cry in small group sessions, because secretly it makes everyone feel better even if it feels really tense and horrible at the time.
2. Good old German pathologists named lots of things after food. My most recent encounter: "caseous necrosis" = dead tissue that looks like Brie, or maybe Parmesan
1. "You just can't have 30 lbs of dead meat swinging in the breeze..." without getting gangrene.

You may have noticed that many of these seem to come from my pathology course. This is because I love pathology, and both my pathology lecturers are... wow... in two different ways... but wow...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Furniture, furniture, everywhere!

I'm definitely going to miss all of the folks who are out west/are heading out west... I'm just going to point out that Colorado, already acknowledged as one of the coolest states, hardly needs this influx of fabulous people. I mean, come on. Michigan, now there's a state that needs to hold on to it's cool people. Who's going to vote with me next year??? Anyone? Anyone? I know that there are a few of you, but I'll miss those of you who will be casting your beautiful blue/green ballots in another state. And for so many reasons beyond your votes.

On the plus side, you have all left me with your furniture and appliances. Apart from the fact that there is not an inch of wall space in my bedroom right now that is not covered with a piece of furniture, and that I will probably have to give up the microwave at some point, I am wholly appreciative of your generousity. To say nothing of the wealth of plants for which I am now caring. They are thriving, simply thriving, but I can tell they miss you. Although, since some of the plants may not have noticed that their home changed hands, and since others of the plants may feel that their previous home has only been compressed into one room, it's not surprising that the plants have not yet registered the shock.

But all sadness aside, here's a mental exercise for all of you: Start with one oddly shaped, somewhat small attic bedroom. Then, place the following furniture in such a way that you can still do yogalates on the floor: 6 bookcases, two dressers, a small chest of drawers, a bed, a music stand, and a cello. Good luck.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Why mothers should not dictate self-esteem...

Thank you to the three of you who have posted comments in the last few hours... Having engaged in some thoughtful self-reflection, and eaten a cookie, I've decided that you are right. I am not, in fact, a boring person. In fact, I am exciting! Yay me! And I will continue to post about my exciting life! And I will continue to use exclamation points where they are gramatically! unfit just to bother Ash! Whee!!!

My mom says I'm boring

This will be a quick one:

Basically, my mom says that my blog is boring. So basically I won't be posting anything until I have something not boring to post. Please feel free to comment on this post and let me know what you'd like to hear about. (And also if you think that my blog has been so incredibly boring you can hardly stand it.)

San Francisco Part #3

Well, it's been quite some time since we were actually in San Francisco, but for those of you who require this kind of closure (me!!!), I thought I'd post one last update. On Sunday, we went to the Pride Parade. It was a bit of a let down for me, as Showtime was by far the biggest sponsor (maybe MGD?) and there were a lot of politicians in cars. But I love the babies, so that part was good. Lots of cute babies.

After the parade we went and saw Bitch, formerly of Bitch and Animal. Am I remembering correctly that Animal was/is dating Susan Powter? At any rate, she was pretty good, and I'm a sucker for anyone with an electric violin...

We went up to Fisherman's Wharf to catch our boat out to Alcatraz, and also had some dinner. It felt much more frenzied than that, I'm not sure why, but it did. Also, Alcatraz was really cool. We went in the evening, so it was all dusky and nice. The cell house wasn't as creepy as I expected, and I got the impression that Alicia was a little underwhelmed. We did get to hear them open and close the cell doors, however, which was loud and cool. This is apparently why they called it "the slammer." Our tour guide said that it was particularly those doors, the ones at Alcatraz, because they were the first ones of their kind ever. Such excitement.

Finally, as we were walking around the island, and seagull attacked us. Now, I'm not a huge fan of birds as it is, but I was really quite terrified. We were walking up a little road, and there were some cute little seagull-lings (baby seagulls, whatever those are called). We walked up the road, in theory past the baby birds. Their mom didn't think that we were far enough away, and I ran like there wouldn't be a tomorrow. I felt the need to warn another tourist headed down that way, though I think she was more afraid of me (picture me panting from the run, trying to explain that the seagull farther down the road might attack her)...

At any rate, Alcatraz was a hit, even though we didn't get back until late. Monday we got up and packed and caught BART back to the airport. It was pretty uneventful (thankfully, given the excitement of getting here). Mom picked us up at the airport, and that was that.

I was like a zombie at work on Tuesday, but that was to be expected.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

San Francisco Part #2


I woke up at about 6am (yay EST!), read for a while, and went to sleep for a few hours more. It was nice. We lounged about the hotel room until we made it out the door at about 11am. The plan for the day was: 1. walk up Powell to Fisherman's Wharf to check it out 2. walk to the Ferry Building to eat in the Japanese deli we saw 3. take the BART to the Dyke March.

We accomplished all of these things. The walk up Powell was longer than we expected, but we walked by Union Square and saw all of nice shops (I went to Lush and got shampoo... yay!!!), as well as Chinatown and the cable cars. We also walked up a number of somewhat large hills and noted that everyone was parked with their tires pointed in the appropriate direction. This was impressive to us.

Fisherman's Wharf was interesting, though we were mostly there to scope it out for our Alcatraz tour on Sunday. We got Ben & Jerry's, which was delightful, and walked the Embarcadero back to the Ferry Building. (To put this in a little perspective, we started at Pier 41, and the Ferry Building is just past Pier 1.) On the way there, Alicia dropped chocolate ice cream on her "I heart Michigan Vaginas" shirt. This seemed like fate. (Some background for you: When we were at the 89X show I somehow ended up with nacho cheese, the scary orange not-real-cheese kind, all over the front of my shirt. I think it's permanently stained now.) We're pretty sure that there is a higher power that does not believe that we should wear these beautiful shirts. That aside, we decided we needed to wash it out. The only public toilet was closed temporarily, so we snuck into a restaurant (with the help of the hostess) to wash it out. It worked pretty well. We made it to lunch and then took the street car down to the Castro. We got the kids fare on the street car even though we tried to pay the full fare. The driver told us we looked like angels, and that we only had to pay $1 for both of us (instead of $1.25 each). It was nice.

We walked from the BART station to Dolores Park, the start of the dyke march, and had a fabulous time. There were lots of performers, speakers, and, of course, dykes/lesbians/dyke-identified-bi-women/dyke-identified-trans-women/excitement. I bought a shirt and am still really excited. The theme this year was "Dykes Across Borders" which I really liked...

The most exciting part, at least for me, was the breast self-exam. Six women on the stage took off their shirts and demonstrated how to do a BSE and how to help your partner do one. It was fabulous.

Unable to participate in these things in a purely participatory fashion, I suggested that Alicia and I volunteer to decorate the truck and hold the banner. The truck decorating was moderately exciting, but holding the banner was the best.

The dykes on bikes went first, and they were so cool. Not so cool that I want a motorcycle, but cool. Then came the cable car filled with senior dykes (can I just mention that the "Old Lesbians Organizing for Change" are really cool...) and other folks who couldn't walk the parade route. After the cable car, the truck we helped decorate drove, filled with sound equipment and people dancing.

After the truck, Alicia and I, and about 6 other volunteers, carried the "San Francisco Dyke March 2005" banner. Then came thousands of women. It was fabulous. After a number of blocks (okay, most of the parade route, but not all of it) of being surrounded by a number of women marching topless, Alicia and I decided to join the crowd. I was sort of hot anyway, and it was really fun to walk around without a shirt on. Nice and cool.

The Dyke March ended in the Castro, and the truck parked to play music in the street. We dance for a little while, put our shirts back on, and went to find another bathroom. We walked around, got soft pretzles, and then walked back to the BART station. We were tired and while we made it until around 9:30pm or 10pm, we were exhausted.

San Francisco Part #1


After a delightful Thursday night in Ferndale with my mom, we left at 5:15am to get to the airport and catch our flight. What mom may have noticed when she checked her e-mail, however, was that our departing flight time had been adjusted at the same time that our returning flight time was adjusted, and we were, in fact, leaving at 6:15am, not 6:50am. While this error on my part nearly cost us a day of our trip, we ran through the airport (me almost in tears) and caught our flight with 3 minutes to spare. After that, our flight was relatively uneventful. We did, however, have a flight attendant with a freakishly loud and annoying voice. When the woman sitting at the end of our row told her that she didn't need to shout she responded, "I'm sorry, but this is my normal speaking voice," only nasal and loud, really loud. I tried really hard not to laugh until she was out of hearing distance. Unfortunately, assuming that she spoke so loudly because she couldn't hear well was the wrong assumption, and I'm pretty sure that she heard, even a few rows back, Alicia and I laughing uproariously in solidarity with the woman on the end of the row (who was also laughing). The flight attendant was not as polite during the latter part of the flight...

One point I forgot: as we were getting off of the plane from Detroit in DC (where we changed planes), the flight attendent (a different one...) told us, upon asking to which flight we were connecting, that we "might want to kick it up." As we were walking in the airport I repeated it, sort of to myself, to laugh a little more. Alicia, who was carrying the luggage (rolling it behind her really, but nonetheless, taking care of it), thought I was talking to her. We both laughed a lot once we realized that I wasn't being an inconsiderate jerk and that she wasn't just offended for no reason.

I slept for a little while on the plane, but Alicia only closed her eyes for a little while. Nonetheless, we were awake and excited when we finally got off of the plane in San Francisco. We had an eventless BART ride to our hotel. It took us a while to find the entrance to our hotel, however, as it is located at the intersection of three streets, two of which dead end into the third. While the street address is on Mason, there are two entrances, neither of which are on Mason. One is in the back of the building (which is unmarked on the side facing Mason) behind the parking lot. The other is on Turk, a smallish road that seemed so unimportant at first glance. Now that we know how to get in, life is good.

After some showering and unpacking, we decided that we would walk to the GLBT Historical Society to check out some photography exhibits they had. We had an address on Mission, and naively assumed that it would be in the Mission as well, near all of the other queer stuff. We walked from our hotel to that point (about a mile and a half, would be my guess) only to discover that when we found Mission St. (we walked down Market to look see what there was) that we were at the 1700 block looking for 657 Mission. It was, in fact, the opposite direction from our hotel. This is what Ann Arbor teaches you: everything queer should be located in a small little ghetto, not spread about the city. This is what San Francisco teaches you: do not assume that you know your way around a city you have never visited. We walked back up Mission St. and found it. The photo exhibit (Many Dykes, Two Photographers) was good, as was the exhibit about queer athletics (Sporting Life: LGBT Athletics and Cultural Change from the 1960s to today). They also let me use their bathroom, which was soooo nice of them.

Since we had some time before the Trans March was supposed to happen, we walked up to the Ferry Building to see the water. It was nice, and we got to walk through the downtown area a bit more. We made it, ate some dinner (tasty Mexican food...), and hopped on the BART to the Mission. (We decided that our four/five miles of walking were enough...)

The Trans March was exciting, though we didn't actually march. We stayed to watch the speakers, performers (yay drag kings!), and of course, the crowd. There was a pretty good turnout and we had a good time. At about 7:00pm however, Alicia and I were both feeling tired. It was, after all, our first day in Pacific Time, and we got up at 4:30 to be ready to leave for the airport. We came back to the hotel, read and watched TV for a while, and feel asleep at about 8:30pm.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why don't I have more upper body strength?

This past Sunday, the 5th of June, was Motor City Pride. This day of LGBTQIA celebration takes place in my happy hometown of Ferndale. Yay Ferndale. It would seem, as Ferndale is my hometown, that I would have no trouble arriving on time, or at least within a reasonable margin (plus or minus 15 minutes). As fate would have it (and I don't usually believe in fate, but Sunday tested my lack of faith), however, I did not arrive at Pride until well after 3pm, with the ETA in Ferndale en 11am. Here is why:

When Alicia and I got out the door, it was approximately 10:30am. We knew that we were a little late, but only about 15 minutes. My mom and Mr. Dave were expecting us between 11 and 12, so we weren't too concerned. We walked over to my parking space, got in the car, and tried to leave the city. And by tried to leave the city I mean that we quickly realized that the Ann Arbor-Dexter Run would do it's best to thwart this plan. While I have nothing against runners, in fact, some of my best friends are runners, I do not care for the organizers of this event. They had blocked off all of the Main St. intersections except for Huron, and only one side of the Summit intersection was open. Now, it may seem very obvious, knowing all of this, for those of you who are veteran Ann Arbor drivers, that the easiest way to get onto M-14 from my parking space on First St. was to cross Main at Huron, take Fourth to Summit, and get onto Main and then M-14 from there. There were, however, no signs indicating that this would be the easiest route, or even indicating which intersections would be blocked off. As such, it took 45 minutes of driving around looking for an open intersection before we finally found a cop/coordinator who acted as though I were so silly for being confused but eventually told me which intersections were open. So we made it out of Ann Arbor.

Mostly... I think that we had probably effectively passed the city limits, we had passed M-23 and were almost at the Ford Rd. exit when we heard an interesting noise. Sort of thumping, sort of grating, sort of not promising in terms of our chances of making it to Ferndale. We realized almost immediately that it was the tire we had fixed with Fix-A-Flat (which works fabulously in the short term)... I pulled onto the shoulder and we got out and looked at the tire. It was oh-so-very flat. I called my mom to let her know that we'd be a little late, as it was 11:15am at that point. She expressed some doubt that we would be able to remove the lug nuts, but I wanted to give it a try. We had everything we needed except for biceps of steel. We had the car on the jack (not all the way, you're not supposed to do that until the lug nuts are off), the wrench out, the spare tire in the back, a bottle of gatorade to help us make it in the blazing sun, and a magazine to read after we realized that we needed my mom to drive out with Mr. Dave and a can of WD-40. I was standing on the wrench when I realized that those stupid nuts were not going to move on my watch.

Once Mr. Dave (and my mom, of course) the tire came off with ease, and the spare went right on. Upon closer examination, we saw that a tiny flap of tire had ripped off on three sides, letting all of the air out of the tire. We made it to the tire store somewhat near my house, got a new tire, picked up a cold 12-pk of Molson to thank my mom and Mr. Dave, and finally got to pride.

It was great.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The fruit of my labor: congestionamiento

I get these ideas about updating my blog and I go online and save them as titles... and then I forget about them for about a week and have to go back and remember what I was thinking about. Work is going well, although sometimes I doubt myself and feel proud all at the same time, which is confusing for my brain. Like when I spend twenty to thirty minutes scanning the La Leche League International (LLLI) website ( in both Spanish and English trying to find the word for engorgement. Shockingly, this somewhat common breastfeeding ailment that can be cured by, among other things, cold cabbage leaves applied to the entire breast area, is not in my Spanish-English dictionary. And, contrasting from my lovely translations, the formatting in the English and Spanish verious of the LLLI Frequently Asked Questions is totally different, and not all of them are translated. Where's a partera when you need one? (I suppose that I could settle for a Spanish-speaking lactation consultant...) Anyway, I finally found it. And I felt such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, and ridiculousness all at the same time.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Happier Note: Running from the Egg Woman

Well, after my depressing post of last week, I've realized that I have an amusing story to share. This story is the direct result of my forgetfullness. But I should start at the beginning. I got to work one day last week, and was discussing my vegetarianism (now pesci-vegetarianism, as I eat fish...) with Fredda. Fredda is also vegetarian and prefers free-range eggs. While this immediately calls to mind little eggs running around like crazy before they are trapped in little plastic cartons, I know what she means. I like to think of happy contented chickens running around before I steal away and eat their young... It sounds a little off, but what can you do. At any rate, Fredda mentioned that a woman in the OB/GYN clinic, henceforth "the egg woman", sold eggs from her free-range chickens for $1/dozen. This sounded pretty good to me, and the following day I was introduced to the egg woman. I asked for 1 dozen eggs, and agreed to pick them up from her office on Monday.

Now, that was Thursday. After an entire weekend, I had completely forgotten about the eggs. I would remember them in the evenings, or even during afternoons when I wasn't working. When I finally remembered on Thursday (after Alicia e-mailed to remind me) I got out my wallet to prepare to go apologize to the egg woman and to get my eggs. I realize as I'm opening it that I've paid Ash for stamps, and only have change. Counting it, I have $0.98. This is not the same as $1, especially since I have 8 pennies. I ask Angela for a dime, and she's also cleaned out her bag recently. I decide that the "found" dime on the desk can be at least temporarily mine and seek out the egg woman. When I find her, sweaty change in hand, she says "Oh sweetie, I know, I sold the eggs to someone else. Do you work next week? I'll bring the eggs in and say 'here sweetie, here are your eggs,' and you can put them right into the fridge I know that Debbi has there." Somewhat embarrassed, yet also relieved, I returned to the Resource Center and returned the dime to the desk.

Today, I arrived at work, only to realize that I have forgotten my wallet at home. I sat in the little back room of the Resource Center praying that egg woman had forgotten about bringing me my eggs, or that if she didn't see me out in the front, she'd assume I was out. Instead, she left my eggs with Fredda, who promptly brought them into the back room and said, "Oh Andrea, here are your eggs!" with such excitement in her voice that I didn't know how to bring up that I had no idea where I would find $1 to pay for the eggs. So I acted very busy (which I was, in my defense), and later when Debbi came in I ask whether she thought that the egg woman would mind if I brought her the $1 tomorrow when I had my wallet. She lent me a dollar, and now I have my happy eggs. I still owe Debbi $1, but I know it can't get any worse. And the eggs are brown.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I don't know if you remember

I got an e-mail a couple of days ago containing "las noticias de SPS," the news from San Pedro Sula. I spent the summer there, working with a couple of different programs focused on HIV positive patients. It was a wild ride, emotionally, and while I feel like I worked through a lot of things while I was there, though, clearly, I'll be working with it for quite a while. That's not the point of this post, however... The news that I got was really just a quick sentence to let me know that two of the patients I had worked with had recently died, and that the daughter of a third had hemorrhagic dengue. She introduced the news with "I don't know if you'll remember [patients' names]". My initial reaction was exactly the one I had prepared for myself: "Oh, that's too bad... I guess this is what happens when you work with AIDS patients in a third world country."

I guess I still haven't really grasped what it all means. (I didn't really think that I had figured it all out while I was there...) I don't really have any words to make it all make sense. I love reading others' posts where they seem to have it all figured out, or at least have some semblance of clarity. I guess that my final insight, the one that seems to fit for me, is that it doesn't all make sense: that people die in Honduras while we live here in the US, and that the system here and there reinforces the acceptability of this dichotomy. So while I'll be back to work on Monday, busily publishing my women's health newsletter in Spanish as I try to save the world, my friend's baby will die. C'est la vie?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Beginning

Well, I've done it... I've created a blog. I can't really believe that I'm doing this, especially since I'm at work. (Although, technically since I didn't take a lunch again today I'm done.) We'll see how this goes...