Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Happy Birthday Little Bird


It was my daughter's fourth birthday yesterday. We went out to eat at East Side Mario's, a favourite in our family for birthday meals. I have no idea why (it got really expensive!) but it's almost tradition at this point. 

She will be two months into kindergarten when her next birthday rolls around and I may be in med school. 

I'm feeling better about my interview in a couple weeks. The swim workouts are just what I needed to boost my confidence. I'm feeling stronger and more fit in a general sense and I like that. I swam regularly before now (which I've mentioned before) but I've really ramped up the intensity. Feels awesome. My skin seems to be appreciating it too, though my hair does not. 

Marks-wise, this year has been pretty decent except in imm. That prof is extremely particular about things and we've only had one thing handed back so it's hard to gauge where I am in his course. 

Still, I've been pretty relaxed and things are going really well. I've had a lot of time to focus on myself and to consider the future and things are really looking bright. I'm excited about how the next few months are going to play out. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Long, wet week

I am *wiped.* 

I go to the pool regularly and have since early this year when I rediscovered my love of swimming. I couldn't over the summer, but I swam at the beach every chance I had and, of course, spent a lot of time outside with the kids. 

Since I received confirmation of my MUN interview, I've ramped up my workouts. From 3 days a week to 5, and more intense than usual. 

The more regular workout is helping me do better with swimming. I require fewer breathing breaks, and my lap time is gradually decreasing. I swam for 30 minutes straight today, did some physio exercises for my knee, then swam a cool-down for 15 more minutes. I am a bit sore because of the intensity change this week, but otherwise feel fantastic and I'm looking forward to Monday when I will be rested and can get back to it. 

But for now I am tired. And I am going to go to bed. I have a big assignment to work on tomorrow. 

On a super awesome note, I received a fantastic gift from Kasia. She sent me some very thoughtful stuff for my interview and I'm so touched. You're awesome!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ottawa

I lived in Ottawa for ten years. I went to high school there, met my husband there, and had my first child there. I was even originally going to go to the University of Ottawa.

I enjoyed living in Ottawa. It's the closest thing to a 'hometown' I have in the list of places my dad was posted, though it's never going to be home as much as the Island is.

So when I heard the news today, and saw those pictures of the National War Memorial, it just made my heart ache. When I was trying to join the military, I would spend time near there, contemplating the Unknown Soldier. The War Memorial is right in the city - it's not off in some park, it's right in the central part of the city, in full view of buildings I worked in, visible for all around. As a reminder that violence is not always off in some foreign place, it can very easily be right where we live, right where we are, and the memory of our fallen and surviving Veterans can't be pushed aside on November 12th. The War Memorial is there, is visible, because we can't forget what it means.

That the events of today unfolded there, in particular, adds to the already-disturbing level of those crimes. Coming from a military family, and working where I do, I can't help but have an attachment to that place and what it represents, and to the members of the Canadian Forces. That's my family. It's hard to explain to people who didn't grow up in the military, but there's a common thread that binds military families, and that doesn't go away when you grow up, or when your parent retires. You're just all part of one community.

My heart is breaking for the family of the fallen soldier and for Ottawa tonight, to be dealing with the fear and the uncertainty that is going to continue to follow in the wake of these events. My friends who were downtown are shaken, and the larger military family that I will always feel a part of is reeling.

I can't quite capture all my thoughts this evening, but I want to wish any of you in Ottawa well, and I hope the coming days are able to provide some answers to the many, many questions today has left unanswered. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Round and round and going nowhere

I am, at this very moment, on the stationary bike in the corner of my dining room. I've been here for fifteen minutes and have another thirty to go. I realize that if I can type I'm not going as intense as I could, but oh well, I'm studying. I swam for 45 minutes this morning too. 

So, my suits arrived. They re gorgeous and clearly worth the $400+ MSRP. I paid nowhere near that. Actually, my MIL paid for these ones. I have another coming in the mail but I'll probably return it since these are perfect. 

The suits are amazing and beautiful but they renewed my sense of "holy crap the med schools are going to laugh at me" because I am tall and broad and scarier when in heels and a black suit. I have linebacker shoulders and women's suits tend to have padded shoulders. I do not require any sort of padding or my shoulders will be sticking up. 

I've picked which one I'm wearing to my interview but the pants are a bit snug which is why I'm sitting on a stationary bike at half past ten at night. I want to look my best for interviews, which requires a lot of work. 

Yes, I'm very insecure about my appearance. Can you tell? Just have to keep at it, I guess. I swim regularly, I bike, I eat pretty decently and I am doing my best. That's going to have to be enough. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

CASPer

Well, that was fun. No, really. I actually thought that was fun!

I type fairly quickly so while I didn't get as much into a few responses as I might have liked, I thought it went fairly well and it was enjoyable. A lot of the scenarios involved things I have faced in my actual life and so I reflected on how I handled them and how I might do differently. 

I won't know for a few months whether I get an interview or not, but if don't feel like my chances have dropped at all and may have gone up. That said, I've never written CASPer before. If I don't get an interview, it will obviously be due to poor CASPer performance since I'm very competitive from a GPA and VR point of view. 

I really did just write whatever I thought about the topic. I didn't try writing what I thought they wanted to hear, but what I actually thought. Some of the stuff was obviously trying to get a particular answer and I have no problem disagreeing with what they are trying to lead me towards. 

People seemed pretty stressed about it beforehand but I really don't think it was that bad. We'll see in January whether my feelings about it mean I did what they wanted. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

This Land

I'm a big fan of Firefly and the title of this post and the picture are references to Wash, my favourite character. 

There's a scene in the movie, Serenity, where he's piloting the nearly out of control ship and he's saying "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar" over and over. He lands the ship successfully and is promptly impaled by debris. 

I'm feeling a bit like this is how interview season is going to go for me; I can put everything I have into doing things exactly right and just when I think I've pulled it off, I'll be gutted by the unexpected. A successful ending is no guarantee. 

I write CASPER tomorrow and, despite the recommendations of some, I have not done anything to prepare besides reflect on how I have handled ethically sticky situations before. I have a fairly decent understanding of the health care system in Canada already as well as medically related law, so I'm comfortable with that aspect. 

Still a bit stressed about it. My friend is letting me write at her house and she and her family won't be home so it'll be nice and quiet for me to concentrate. 

While I am REALLY hoping that MUN works out for me because I absolutely want to go there, the more schools I interview at, the better my chances of getting in. I can't do anything to change my chance of getting an interview at Ottawa or Queen's right now, but CASPER is a huge part of determining whether I get an interview at Mac - equal to my GPA and VR in importance. So to keep my chances high, I need to do well on it. 

No point stressing, though. 

I am a leaf on the wind...


Friday, 17 October 2014

WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So much for my moping!

I HAVE AN INTERVIEW AT MUN!

If anyone there actually reads this blog THANK YOU FOR MAKING MY DAY!

I've booked my flight already (arriving Friday afternoon, leaving Sunday morning. Couldn't get a departing flight for Saturday evening so I need to stay another night.)

I need to figure out accommodations but that's a small thing. I have a test on that Friday and a lab in the afternoon but I'm really hoping my profs will be forgiving because I am NOT going to risk being late to the most important interview of my life!!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Running Sass

My husband's 15 year old cat ran away on Wednesday. He found her yesterday evening hiding in one of the obstacles of the paintball arena in the woods near us. No mean feat, considering she's black and he found her when it was almost dark.

She didn't like me for years, and does not like kids, but this morning she was snuggling my son and purring just because she is so happy to be home. One night in the woods changed her significantly. 

It's funny how quickly things can change. I have spent the entire morning refreshing my email. I woke up at 6:30 and have already half drained my phone's battery. The only time I wasn't refreshing it was when I was driving. 

Several people have already received invitations, including OOP applicants. I haven't yet. As the minutes tick by and I don't have a little blue-dotted new email from MUN, my heart drops a little further. 

But if I get one, it will all turn around in a second and I will be on top of the world. 

I'm not holding my breath, though. I desperately want to get that email, but I know I probably won't. It was a long shot anyway. I hate that I'm so bothered by this and it's not even a sure thing that I'm not being invited yet. 


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Swim Day

Today has been a rough day emotionally. It is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Given that I experienced a loss just last month, it's particularly poignant for me this year.

My physiology class was cancelled so I just spent longer at the pool than usual to work off the emotions of the day. My knee - which I screwed up pretty badly last year - was being problematic so I wasn't able to swim as hard as I wanted to. I kept having to take breaks to relax it in the hot tub. Kind of hard to work off your frustration and anger when you have to keep stopping.

Swimming has really become the best stress relief for me over the last year. The four months without regular pool time over the summer really impacted my progress, though. I spent a lot of time at the beach but didn't really do any hard swimming while I was there. Given that I have really bad asthma, the breathing while swimming is the hardest part to learn to control. I keep coming back to the fact that I really should see an expert to help ensure I'm exercising optimally for my limitations, but I never really get around to it. I make sure to get to the pool at least 3 times a week, so at least I'm moving no matter what.

At the moment, I'm just relaxing a bit before bed. I have nothing left to do this evening and am feeling rather bummed, given the day. Didn't hear anything from MUN today, but it doesn't appear anyone else did. People here have received letters a day or two after they were sent from Newfoundland, so I'm hoping that maybe if they sent a physical letter it will be here tomorrow. I'm going to ask MIL to call me if there's anything from MUN in the mail.

I can hope, anyway. MUN interviews are exactly a month from today so I hope I find out soon. My budget's pretty tight and I don't want to be stuck having to buy really expensive airfare, but I'll make it work no matter what.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Thanks

I realize yesterday was thanksgiving but I didn't feel like posting. I made pumpkin apple muffins instead and they were amazing. 

Got my Casper system check all done yesterday. The internet service at my house is absolute crap - 1Mbps is the maximum we get. It's too slow for the videos on Casper. It took me ten minutes to load ONE video. So I'm going to do it at my friend's house which means I needed to do my system test there. 

Today is another day of rabidly refreshing my email, hoping for good news from MUN. I was looking at a map of the campus yesterday and showed it to my husband. It looks like it backs on to a huge green space which is awesome and just what I would love to have in my next school (since I have that here too.) I've never actually been to Newfoundland. It is, in fact, the only province I haven't been to yet. I know lots of people from there and everything I hear about it makes me want to go there. It seems culturally the closest place to my home which is why I want to go there instead of anywhere else since I can't stay home. 

Yesterday was a fantastic day. Bright sun, crisp fall air, just utterly gorgeous. The kids went out to play - they were finding worms - and we finished the day off by cuddling on the couch watching Harry Potter.  Besides going to my parents' house for supper (which we did on Sunday. We made Chinese food, not a turkey supper) we don't do a whole lot for Thanksgiving. We spend time together as a family every day. We eat home cooked food around the supper table every night as we discuss our day. We have extended family living under one roof. The ritual of the turkey supper isn't that big a deal for us. As a family we are forming our own traditions - and ours are a lot more casual in general. 

Sitting with my husband and looking at the map of St John's yesterday made me realize how close we are to really being our own. We have always lived near family, so when we leave it will be the first time that we don't have family nearby. There won't be any going over to their house for special meals. We'll need to carry our new family practices with us, but balance that with ensuring the kids have an appreciation for the longstanding traditions that my and my husband's families have followed for a long time.

I spent most of the day feeling pensive. This is a season of transition as this region shifts into its quieter, colder months. When the land wakes up in the spring, that's when things will get really interesting for us. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

3.14

I made pie:

This is made from scratch from the pumpkins we grew. I made two pies (one for us for today, one for tomorrow) and froze enough pumpkin mush for three more pies. We had an early frost which killed the vines before many of the pumpkins ripened enogh, so we only had five left. Two were claimed by the kids for jack o lanterns. My son got the first slice, of course, because he's been waiting since the spring for the first pie. 

I've been busy this week, but with this nice relaxing week coming up, I expect I'll get caught up on everything and have some time to myself for once. 

With interview season approaching in the next few months, I've started looking at clothes to wear. I found out Macy's carries a bunch of really nice suits for plus sized women (I've made no secret of the fact that I am generously proportioned) so I'm going to order from there. I bought a dress  yesterday but I don't think it is formal enough. I might be able to combine it with a blazer, but I'm not sure that'd be good enough. 

I figure I'll just buy a suit or two that's a size too big and have the one I like best tailored so it fits perfectly. I'll post a picture once I do, since I want opinions before interviews. 

Haven't heard from MUN yet but it doesn't look like anyone else has either, so I'm not worried. They confirmed on Wednesday that invites would be out within two weeks, so it's just a matter of time. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Waiting for a friendly ghost...

The CASPER information is supposed to be emailed out today so I keep refreshing my email.

It's on the 19th (a Sunday) and 22ed (a Wednesday) and we get to specify preferred times. I'm going to go to my friend's house to use her internet during it because my internet at home sucks and it can take ten minutes for a two minute video to load - I don't want to risk anything going wrong with this.

Of the four applications I submitted, the one to McMaster has the highest chances of gaining acceptance. I really doubt I'll get an interview at Queen's at all, and Ottawa... who knows?

My preference list has stayed much the same since I started this process. MUN then Ottawa then Queen's then McMaster. It's not that I don't want to attend Mac, it's just that the other schools have aspects I prefer more. As well, the condensed program at Mac means less time to come home.

I prefer MUN because that's the only school, of the four I applied to, that will really understand what health care is like in Atlantic Canada. It is the only school I applied to that has a program my provincial government has input on. It is my "home" med school. Even though there is one other that does serve my province, I just feel like MUN is the school where I will fit in he best. All the MUN students I talk to, everything I hear and read about it, it feels like the place I really belong. It feels like a place that is looking for students like me.

I might find out this week if I get an interview, since they started coming out October 11 last year. I really, really hope I get one, but I know my chances are pretty slim. If I can just get an interview, I'm sure I can show them what a good fit I will be.

For now, I just have to wait. Wait for my CASPER email, wait for MUN to email, wait for January to hear from the Ontario schools. It's a good thing I have school to distract me or I'd be going mad.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Little Bird goes flying by

It's my daughter's fourth birthday in three and a half weeks. We've called her Little Bird or Birdy as a nickname since she was tiny. Like my birds, she eats constantly, but is still tiny and light-framed.

This time next year, she'll be in kindergarten. If we were in Ontario right now, she'd have started kindergarten last month, because there's two years of it.

I always get a little nostalgic around my kids' birthdays because it reminds me of how much time has passed, and how fast it seems to be going. My little girl will start school next year. She wasn't even 2 when I started working towards medicine, but here I am, waiting for interview invites. And there she is, opinionated and charming and silly and goofy and a feisty little thing ready to get out into the world and start building up her independence.

When I started this blog, I honestly was not sure if I could do it. If I could get good enough grades, do well enough on the MCAT, or build up my applicant profile adequately to be a competitive applicant. I knew I was good at self-directed learning and that I had a fascination with all things science, medical science in particular, but I wasn't sure I could properly translate that to the sorts of grades I would need.

But bit by bit, I have done just that. The time has sped by and I haven't crashed and burned. My lowest mark this year so far is 93%, and I have had around 15 items returned marked (quizzes, tests, and other.) I have a midterm  tomorrow and two midterms on Monday. And then on Sunday, my little bird and I are going window shopping, because I need to figure out what she wants for her birthday. Right now, she seems to be between interests - it's either Hello Kitty or Pokemon, and I'm never quite sure what she prefers day-to-day.

Four years have slipped by me in a whirlwind, and in just a handful of all-too-short months, I will know the outcome of this application cycle. Time keeps on slippin'....

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

That's a Wrap

I submitted my OMSAS application earlier today, before I wrote my second human phys test.

As I was going to submit it, the website gave me an error and wouldn't let me complete the submission. It was throwing an error because I had no courses entered for UOttawa. OMSAS says not to list courses from which you withdrew without penalty. I withdrew from every course I was registered in at UOttawa.

So, halfway in a panic, I called the OMSAS help line and a lovely woman named Karen helped me. She answered my question and even called me back later because she thought it might have caused an issue and she wanted to make sure it hadn't. Fantastic customer service.

Monday, I was contacted by MUN admissions. It's up to my provincial government to decide whether I'm 'officially' a resident of the province. I made sure I fit the posted criteria before I selected this as my official province of residence (the criteria changed this year) on my application, so I know that they won't have a problem with that. However, MUN said because I wasn't born here (I was born in NB and lived there for 3 months before we moved) the provincial government might want more information, so they were proactively requesting additional information from me. I wrote up a letter explaining things and hopefully that'll take care of it.

I'm hoping that the fact that MUN admissions is double checking means that they're interested enough in me that they're really examining my application. Interviews are in 6 weeks and invites should be out within the next couple weeks, so I'm really hoping they are seriously considering my app.

As things stand now, I've got to just put it out of my mind for the next few months (for Ontario apps) or the next couple weeks for MUN. I have one quiz, three midterms, and a huge assignment due between now and Tuesday so I need to buckle down and focus on school for the time being.