Friday, 27 February 2015

7 by the Sea

I really don't feel like being at work today. Really love my job, but I am just feeling very seriously meh.

Reading week has not been nearly so relaxing as I hoped it would be, but that's how things go, isn't it?

As it is, I am on one of my coffee breaks and I am planning a trip, something very outside of my usual sort of research.

Next summer (2016) will be my husband's and my tenth wedding anniversary (wow.) We never really had much in the way of a honeymoon since we were, well, poor. We borrowed his mom's car - didn't have our own at the time - and drove to my home province where we spent five days. My husband had never been here, but fell in love with it and wanted to stay, so we moved home a year and a half later and have been here ever since.

I've only been off the Island five times since coming home. Twice for medical appointments. Once for my MCAT, once to pick up my husband when he flew home, and then for my MUN interview. I have not left Atlantic Canada in exactly seven years. And I do mean exactly. Today is, incidentally, the seven year anniversary of my return to the Maritimes.

Never really have been much of a traveller, but lately I think I've been bitten by a travel bug. I spent just over a week in Europe (mostly France, some side trips) for my 17th birthday, and I'd really like to go back. I was supposed to spend the first three days of that trip in London but they cancelled that leg of the tour which really annoyed me. I have wanted to spend time there since childhood.

I'm not one for big cities, but London has held my interest since I was little. I have no idea why, but it has, and I have learned a lot about it and its history over my lifetime because of my interest. Since my husband wants to go there too, plus do a Battlefields tour, I think we're going to do 10-15 days in England and France for our tenth anniversary.

It's going to be a matter of figuring out how to do it on a snug budget, and being able to justify the expense when we're putting so much into my education, but I think it will be worth it if we can manage to pull it off.

My first trip out of Atlantic Canada in 7 years is going to be to Hamilton, Ontario. I would like to follow it up with something a little more... fun. No offence, Hamilton, but you're not exactly a tourism hotspot.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Well Read

I'm now on reading week. It started a bit early, when the university announced they were shutting down campus due to deteriorating conditions right as my biochem class started. 

Because of the absolutely massive storm last weekend. I only ended up having two days of class this week - Thursday and Friday. And Friday's was cut in half, anyway. 

They exercised the option available to them to extend the academic year. Now, instead of finishing class on April 8th, my last day of class will be April 14th. The extension was optional for professors, but mine have already said they will be using it. Exams have been compressed to a shorter period, and will go until April 24th instead of the 23rd. 

The published tentative exam schedule is horrifying. All five of my exams are set to take place within 61 hours. My first exam is 9am on the Saturday, and my final one goes until 10pm on the Monday. I have 15 hours of actual exam writing time between when I wake up on Saturday, April 18th and when I go to bed on Monday, April 20th. 

Imaging is first, at 9am on the Saturday. Then biochemistry and endocrinology at 2pm and 7pm on Saturday. Biotechnology and human physics finish off Monday, at 2 and 7, respectively. 

It is a horrible exam schedule. I like getting them over with quickly, but having two exams each on two consecutive days with only a few days between the end of class and the start of exams is pushing things a bit! Plus, my two most content-heavy courses are going to be on the same day. 

So, my content review is really starting now. We haven't had nearly as much material by now as we normally would, considering we've lost the equivalent of more than a week of classes. I have reading goals for this week, particularly with two midterms next week, but am also making sure I actually enjoy my reading week too, by doing something I've intended to do for a while but haven't wanted to committed the time to doing. 

I have written fiction for most of my life. Most of it had never seen the light of day, and I actually intend to keep it that way. I once wrote a 160,000 word novel, decided I hated it, and deleted the whole thing. My pacing was all wrong, my characterization sucked. It was just amateurish, though that is unsurprising given it was over ten years ago. I can still recall a lot of what it said and I just have to roll my eyes. It may be obvious to those reading my blog that I write quickly and don't have a particularly difficult time finding inventive ways of describing things. This should make it fairly obvious that I enjoy writing. 

It has been a few years since I wrote anything besides school work, essays, poetry, and a couple children's books (one was actually considered for publication, though ultimately rejected and I didn't bother trying again.) This week, I've decided to do a compressed version of NaNoWriMo - the annual month-long novel writing event. Basically, I've given myself the same conditions, only I have to write a 50,000 word novel in ten days. 

I'm well on my way. I just started on Friday and I'm halfway done already. I won't be posting it, and I won't trying to publish it, I'm barely proof reading the damn thing. It's entirely for me because I need to get the story out. It's basically just a way for me to write my own happy ending after the rough year I've had, though I'm getting to torture my characters a little along the way, which is the fun part. I should wrap up by Wednesday based on where I am in the storyline, and I feel better with every chapter I write. 


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

All the Buzz

To my amusement, my region made it to Buzzfeed. Considering we are geographically and demographically the smallest provinces of the country, we are not very prominent in general.

We're just starting to dig out now. Our road is down to one lane and the banks on the sides exceed eight feet. My husband has spent a total of five hours working to clear our driveway - keep in mind, we have a snowblower - and he probably has another hour or two to go. We've been snowed in since Saturday afternoon, and significant parts of the Island are still without even road access. Because of that, and because we may be getting another storm on Thursday, my endo prof moved the midterm to March 2. Next week is reading week, so we've basically ended up with an extra two weeks to study. 

It will be interesting to see if the schools open up tomorrow. The university most likely will, but I don't know about the public school boards. I think that my son has missed somewhere around eight days due to weather in the last month alone. I've missed six, I think, and five work days. Thankfully, my husband and I still get paid if our workplaces close, though most people don't (and we never used to) so the weather is causing some pretty serious strain on people. 

Just sitting here, curled up with a cup of English Breakfast, and listening to my daughter cheer as she watches Inuyasha, her new favourite show. It's been a very peaceful few days home with my family. Three school days left this week, maybe, and then I have reading week. March is going to be a very, very busy month considering February is pretty much scrubbed. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Stormchips Aplenty

Well, we are definitely stuck inside. The second floor windows are obscured by snow. 

That is a Rav4 beside that snow drift. They are deeper out back, but it can't get a good photo because the windows are covered in snow. 

The deck is full. As in, completely filled in up to the top of the rails. As soon as the wind dies down a little bit, we'll be getting out to clear that as a priority 

My cat is not amused. 

The whole province is shut down for the day.  Ploughs are off the roads, police are advising people to stay put because they can't get to them. There's a tractor trailer that's been flipped on its side off the road since yesterday because no one can go get it. The road crews were trying to clear some roads just for emergency purposes but had to abandon the equipment because the drifts were coming in as fast as they cleared them. Pretty much every business on the Island is shut down, and the few that aren't have employees sleeping there. 

Unless this dies off right quick, we might see a state of emergency declared. It used to be that a storm like this hit only once a decade. We're now seeing them annually. We've had more shutdowns this year than last, and last year was a record. We don't often see two day straight shutdowns like this, but this is the second year in a row we've had one. I have seen four blizzard warnings this year alone.

We've had over 70cm of snow fall since this storm started yesterday. It's crazy. 


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Storm and Watching

Rumour is that MUN decisions for the NL pool will be out tomorrow. 

I am desperately hoping they changed their minds and will send out the Maritime competition decisions as well, but I'm not holding my breath. 

Even then, I'll be somewhat obsessively checking my email and the premed site. I'm excited to find out who I might be sharing my med school years with.

Last year, I wrote about how excited I was to read about acceptances because those are the people who would be my immediate upperclassmates, assuming I get in this year. The ones I would ask questions of, who would pave the way for my year and with whom I would share half my preclerkship and half my clerkship. But this year, as I watch acceptances come out, it will be my fellow classmates. Possibly. If I get in too. 

The NL applicants who find out tomorrow (maybe) whether or not they will attend med school next year may well be the people I will see every day. The people I will make friends with and go for coffee with. The people with whom I may share four of the most formative years of my life. I'm excited to see who those people are. Almost as excited as I am to find out whether or not I will be joining them, which I won't know for at least another six weeks.

For tonight, I'm curling up with some tea and listening to the storm batter my house outside. The snow drifts are almost up to the second floor windows. We can't see out the basement windows, and the dog almost has to swim out to go pee. It's a good thing it is a provincial holiday tomorrow, since this is supposed to continue well into the day. My work (federal, so supposed to be open tomorrow) likely won't open because of this rather intense little weather system that is paying us a visit. 

The quiet day should allow me a fair amount of time to do some stat watching, one of my favourite activities. Though it is much more important this year. 

Good luck, Newfoundland applicants. Some of you may be getting fantastic news tomorrow. Try to get some sleep. 

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Postings

I grew up in a military family, so I am familiar with moving long distances on relatively short notice. I seem to recall we'd have, typically, around 3-4 months notice of an impending move. We would usually have the relocation services people to access for support, but ultimately it came down to my parents to work out the details. 

Because we will have relatively short notice that we'll need to move, my husband and I are basically setting up things ahead of time so that if I get accepted this year, we can basically just hit the first domino and things should fall into place. We will need to move for the end of July, and we won't know until April or May so that doesn't give us long. 

I've researched housing markets in Hamilton and St. John's, so I have an idea of where we should look and what we can expect to spend. In either case, we'll have a short house hunting trip.

Once exams are over, we're going to start the downsizing in earnest since it is likely we won't end up with a house as big as the one we are currently in. We've lived here for four years so we've sort of "goldfished" into the place, with our stuff fitting the house quite well. We will have movers in to do estimates as soon as I get an acceptance. 

The first step, before any of this matters at all, is for me to pay my deposit and immediately contact a professional student line of credit advisor, because if we have access to the PSLOC it will make it a whole lot easier for all of this to happen. 

Everything is in place, really. We just need to wait for the word "go." It's amazing how much more complicated things become when you have a whole family to consider versus just oneself. When we moved home seven years ago, it was so much easier than it will be to leave. This is part of what annoys me about how long the application process in Canada takes. A couple months is a very short period of time to tear up your roots and drag a family a long distance. At least in the states, they can have 6+ months notice of their acceptance. 

If I don't get in this year, though, I'm going to be really annoyed. All this preparation, only to have to put it all on hold and wait another year. It happened to me once before. When I was about my son's age we were supposed to move to Germany. Then we didn't. It still rankles, twenty years on.i hate having grand plans dashed at the last minute. 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Little Bird's Colours

Believe it or not, I didn't realize until recently that my daughter - who is four - has heterochromatic eyes. That means they are different colours. 

It is subtle, but you can see it in daylight or in a good photo. She also has blue sclera, which is a surprisingly hard thing to photograph. That's related to the collagen defect issue that she inherited from me. Mine are subtly blue as well. 


I noticed it when she had her hair cut a couple weeks ago. Her hair had never had anything more than a trim, so it was most of the way down her back. She hated having long hair, so after she asked a couple of times, and I made sure she understood it meant she wouldn't be able to wear her hair up like she had been, she instructed the hairdresser to cut it off at her shoulders. Her hair is the same style as mine now, only she has bangs. 

Because of my son's challenges, I tend to have to pour more energy into him and, unfortunately, sometimes my daughter has less focus placed on her. I do tend to talk about her a bit less here than I do my son, but I try very hard to balance the attention they receive at all times. It's too easy to end up spending more time and attention on the child who is most like you. I am very aware of this and try my hardest to avoid it, because my son is so like me and my daughter so different. But she is still a fantastic little kid and I so very much enjoy the time I spend with her. She is at a lovely age, full of wonder and silliness, and seeing her grow into the person she will be is fantastic. 

I have just been spending a fair bit of time lately considering parent/child relationships, so I wanted to do a post about my daughter. At some point, I plan to have this blog printed as a hard copy version of my journey, and I want to make sure she is in here too, so that she doesn't feel forgotten if she reads this someday. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Twelfth

At 3:30, the commissionaires went around at work, telling everyone we were being ordered to leave at 4pm. There's some work being done on the roof and since my office is on the fourth floor, we had to go. Considering I work until 6:30 on Thursdays, this meant an early day for me. I don't think my boss was overly thrilled, but safety first!

That's taken from the front of my building, right in the heart of the city, at the start of one of last week's snowstorms. I don't actually remember which one because we had four, and I got most of the week off (paid!) because of it. 

Three months from today, I am going to take the day off work. I almost never actually schedule time off, but I'm making an exception. 

While MUN doesn't give exact dates of when they are sending out decisions, I am fairly sure it will be either April 2, 7, or 10 for non-NFLD applicants. But I can't really take off a bunch of days right then just in case I get a decision on one of them, so I'll just spend two weeks refreshing my email constantly, most likely, and getting little else done. Well, it'll be the start of the government fiscal year so I will have to get lots done, but less than I might otherwise complete. 

Ontario, though, they plan their acceptance dates well ahead of time. Second Tuesday of May. That will be May 12 this year, so I am taking the day off to either celebrate or mope, depending on the decision. In the unlikely event that I already have been accepted to MUN (I don't have a great deal of optimism about my chances there), I'll probably still take the day off since I've been planning to take off OMSAS decision day for two years. 

So, for good or ill, this cycle will all be over in three months. Unless I get on a waitlist, but I'm trying to not think about that. I'd rather a straight up acceptance or rejection because a wait list means our lives will stay in limbo even longer and two months is already barely enough time to plan a move. Having less time than that to prepare to move is really, really unappealing. 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

QRS Tea...

My daughter is a bit behind in her literacy skills (she's four, it's not a huge list) so I've enlisted my son to work with her a bit. It was once the norm for older siblings to be involved in teaching their younger siblings, so I consider it part of his schoolwork to read to his sister and help her learn word parts and sounds. So far, so good. She listens to him longer than she does to us, so it's a good way to keep them busy while my husband and I finish up supper or tidy or whatnot. 

Lately, my son has made a point of curling up with a cup of tea in the evenings, after this is all done and over with, much like I used to do. A relaxing tradition I should probably get back to because it's a fantastic way to unwind. Who'd have thought an eight year old would like tea so much? These aren't sweet herbal teas and he doesn't take milk, just a pinch of sugar. 

One thing I really need to get back to, tea aside, is to get up earlier. My husband, hero of mine that he is, usually lets me sleep until 7 in the mornings. We have different sleep patterns, but I really want to get in the habit of going swimming first thing. Because I drive my son to school in the mornings - it's the only way for me to get to class on time - I would have to bring him with me, but he gets up very early so that wouldn't be a problem. 

If I got up at 6 and got dressed and out the door by 6:30, with my son (quite doable) we could both go for an early morning swim and still have some time for a quick breakfast afterward before going to our respective schools. 

The problem is that I would have to be up at 6am. It's been a while since that was my norm and I've gotten soft and even when I have every intention of making it happen, it often doesn't. 

Must work on this. I miss my regular swimming and need to get back to it. 

Monday, 9 February 2015

RSVP

I did not do well on the biochem midterm today. Took a calculated risk based on it being worth only 10% and I'm okay with whatever I end up with. The tutorial quizzes are easy and the online homework is pretty much a guaranteed 9.7/10 for its weighted value, so I can afford one mediocre mark.

So while that isn't a big deal, the physics test I have coming up worth 15% is a big deal. The course has relatively few marked items, so I need to perform adequately on all of them. I have not been consulting my agenda as much as I should and almost forgot about it. The test is Wednesday. Fortunately, I am very comfortable with the material and we're allowed a formula sheet so I'm comfortable with that. I understand the relationships between the modalities we're studying very well, so I'm not terribly concerned. I'll review tonight, but I don't expect any difficulty. 

Now, here is one thing I am REALLY GLAD I set a phone reminder for, because it almost slipped my mind. 


I have to have this returned by Friday and nearly forgot. I'd set a reminder for today so that I could use the nice scanner at work. So now I have it sent in and my interview is confirmed. I do need to get a passport-sized photo done. I wonder if I can just use one of my own photos and print it out in the correct size. I'll have to ask. It'd be dumb to go spend $10 for passport-style photos if I can go spend $0.25 to print one at the Kodak kiosk. 

I'm feeling exceptionally out of step this semester, and I think it comes down to the fact that my courses are pretty relaxed. It's not like first and second year courses where you have checkpoints; the learning is up to us, there's no hand holding. I like being treated like the independent learner I am. If I want to choose to be lazy for a week, that's on me. I'll make it up later. 

At the moment, though, I'm going to go re-watch my favourite Sherlock episode while I work on an assignment that doesn't require too much brainpower. Entirely unrelated side note, but if you haven't seen that show, you must. It's a BBC production, but it's on Netflix. The writing is fantastic and the acting very enjoyable. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Half to go

If I am successful gaining admission this year, I will start in six months. 

Not six months from decisions, but six months from *now.* MUN and Mac both start in August. 

I started this blog almost three years ago, and have had nearly 90,000 views since. My first post was May 17, 2012. 

In it, I wrote 

In a job I had a while back, they talked about the necessity of 'painting the picture' - talking about the future in certain terms, not as a possibility, so here we have it.

One year from today, I will have a 4.0 GPA. 
Two years from today, I will begin intensive studying for the MCAT. 
Three years from today, I will be holding an acceptance to at least one Canadian medical school. 
Seven years from now, I will introduce myself with the title 'Doctor' because I will be able to.


I did manage that 4.0 in my first year, and I wrote my MCAT a year earlier than I had originally planned.


Ontario acceptances come out on May 12, five days before the third anniversary of the day I wrote those words. It will be exceptionally fulfilling if I am fortunate enough to be able to fulfil that third point on schedule too. 


Keeping my goals in mind throughout this process has helped with the roller coaster I have lived to get here. To be honest, I would never have predicted the craziness that would follow in the time after I wrote those words. The last three years have been exciting, humbling, at times distressing, but overall have been unparalleled in terms of personal growth. At the moment, I am sitting beside my daughter, only a toddler when this started and now only months away from starting school herself, and I am across from my son who has grown from a kindergartener to a confident and independent second grader who drinks tea and analyses the world with a sharp eye. 


As I am sitting here, somewhat nostalgic for the quieter times in my past, I am looking forward to the flurry of activity that awaits us in the coming months. If I am successful. If the picture I painted three years ago proves true. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Extra Coffee

So that midterm I was supposed to have today?


I could dig a cave into the snow in my front yard and be able to stand up in it. The drifts are over 6' high. There was almost no snow two weeks ago. Our snowblower is just barely able to keep up, but my husband is trying to get it to go along. 

The university delayed opening until noon which means I can't write my midterm in my 11:30 class and it has to be moved to Monday. Since the school was closed completely yesterday, the Thursday biochem tutorials were deferred until next week so my prof cancelled today's tutorials (mine included) too. I essentially now have the day off and an extra three days to study for the biochem midterm. Not complaining...

Since the kids and I are just watching Netflix in our pyjamas, I'm having an extra coffee and appreciating the quiet week I've had, thanks to the weather. I'll miss having snow days when we move. I know most places don't close down for winter storms the way my little Island does. But nowhere else is like my little Island, so it stands to reason we'd do things differently. 




Thursday, 5 February 2015

Storm Day... I give up

We've had about a metre of snow fall this week. My son has had only four days of school - none consecutive - since his suspension two weeks ago because of all the snow days. The university has closed three times in the last two weeks, and there was one day where the student union went to the media, upset that the university hadn't closed because many students had trouble getting in.

My first midterm is tomorrow and I'm going to be honest, I've been pretty lazy about studying for it. I've had a lot of extra time so I've been picking at the material. Not terribly stressed about it to be honest.

I was sick over the weekend so basically lost the whole two days because I was asleep on and off.  Screwed up my sleep schedule so badly that I've barely been able to sleep the past few nights, hence the posting absence. The extra dark weather probably isn't helping.

January and February always seem to be the hardest months for me. It's been a very mild winter (until this dump of snow) so it can't be that, but it's probably due to the lack of sunlight. Even though every day has a bit more light than the last, it's been months of relative darkness so it's unsurprising, I suppose, that I'm feeling it. I also have had almost no time for swimming because I have five on-campus classes this semester, so I am either at work or in class all day. Less exercise. It is really getting to me and I think I need to get out moving to break out of this funk I am in.

I haven't been completely idle, of course. I've been preparing for my McMaster interview. Reading more, brushing up my analytical skills, making sure I keep oh on the news. Been practicing with another interviewee who has her interview at UBC this weekend (I don't name people on here unless they tell me to, but I know she reads this so good luck!!!) Practicing with someone is, I'm finding, quite useful. It's helping identify my areas of weakness and get used to the more formatted approach which will probably be expected at Mac.

In that vein, I'm going to be practicing with one of my classmates this weekend too. We're going to grab a classroom and do actual MMI style instead of just timing.  The whole walk in/say hi/etc. She's interviewing at NOSM right around the time of my Mac interview, so we'll be able to meet up a few times I expect.

I didn't have this much practice prior to MUN, and I felt that went well but it was only their second year doing the TaMMI, so I am not sure how well my experience there will translate to Mac.

I keep forgetting it is February already. My husband's birthday is in ten days and mine exactly a month later. My Mac interview is in 55 days, and I'll hear from MUN a couple of weeks after that.

Kind of funny how MUN takes five months to decide on its non-IP pools while the Ontario schools decide in about 6-8 weeks. May 12 is only seven weeks after my Mac interview, and some schools interview into April. NL residents should start hearing from MUN soon, though, and I'm excited to see who my potential future classmates are. The ones I met were all very nice!