Saturday, October 31, 2009


Lately as I've been stalking on Facebook and just talking with random friends I've noticed a "longing" -- for lack of a better word -- for the "undergrad days" or "undergraduate fun". I haven't felt that AT ALL since I graduated in May 2008. I wonder if that's weird? I mean, there are reasons, I think, why I feel this way, and the biggest one I think is that several of the friendships that I thought were solid, good friendships seemingly dissolved in the span of a week. Unfortunately that week was ACS New Orleans, which was supposed to be a good time! I hated it, and had a lousy time. That's really unfortunate because my other conference experiences were fantastic. Now that time has provided some perspective, I can talk about without some anger. I also sit there and ask, um, OK, so you want to be without money and would you really be happy with an endless repeat of class, test, drink, class test, drink...I don't about you, but that got old after about two or three repeats...

Junior year of college was AMAZING. I pretty much enjoyed every minute of it. I loved all my classes, research, and just thoroughly enjoyed it. The group of people I was around at the time all got along rather well, and we spent time together outside of class. A lot of us went to Germany that summer as well. We get back to school however and the mood had changed. Wanting the "Summer of Love" to continue I was looking forward to the year. Turns out that maybe we had been overexposed. It took a few months for it all to sink in, and I was probably distracted by the fact that I spent most of my time after ACS Boston getting ready for Armenia (which was fantastic, see my blog about that!). Had I not been involved in that it probably would have happened before Christmas. Some of it also involved someone that I wanted to maybe be more than friends infatuation may also have occluded reality (since of course that never happens).

Then basically January to March just SUCKED!

I get back from a great time in Armenia, and back to classes, but something just didn't seem the same. It felt really awkward. Looking back I think the biggest change was me, and that I had begun moving in a new direction, but I hadn't fully realized that moving forward is much better than moving backward, and that my new directions didn't necessarily mean I could keep old ones. Due to that I felt really isolated and alone. Just to make the story better was the situation with my roommate. There was no ugliness, no bad blood, or anything like what is often seen between roommates. Up until then we hung out a lot in the evenings, which was great for me because it let me unwind from classes, and I had a stressful class schedule. Well, just before I left for Armenia he found himself in a relationship. Cool for him, right? Well, for a while I found myself by myself at home with the roommate and the girlfriend...which was exceedingly awkward for some reason. Cue more feeling alone. You might say, well, why didn't I just go out and find something to do...easier said than done when I still had a lot to do because I was taking the class from Hell (PCHEM, which also saps your spirit) among other things, and remember things with my other friends were awkward. Thank God for Steele and DM or I would have been completely miserable.

So, that was a cycle of horrible, miserable PCHEM, awkwardness around chemistry friends, and awkwardness at home that continued from late February to late March, then it hit the fan, and just exploded in my head all at once. Rewind just a bit. I bought my ticket to New Orleans while I was still in Armenia because the tickets were cheap ($179 round trip), and all anybody was hearing on the news was how much oil had spiked, so of course the rational thing was to buy tickets BEFORE the airlines raised their prices. I passed this on to people, and most actually bought their tickets, all of course except those with whom I'd made arrangements to stay. Knock me over with a feather, right? Looking back I'm not sure why I was so surprised because I called the event well beforehand... Well when the light bulb finally clicked on in their heads of course ticket prices had almost doubled as oil had sky rocketed...What do said friends decide to do..they buy a package deal through a website three weeks before we're due to leave (way too late for a conference considering all the deals were gone). All good and well, except when it came time for hotel, suddenly it became prohibitively expensive for me to stay with them because to add me would've driven the price up from their prearranged price through the website so I'm told. Bullox I say to that because I would have been paying the difference! It was obvious to me that I was not wanted around. You know what, it's fine if you don't want me around but DON'T screw me over at the last minute because you don't have the guts to tell me straight up. At that moment everything I had been feeling boiled over. I didn't get outwardly angry and didn't say anything to anybody, but inside I was livid, and seething with rage. I felt like a pest and a bother, in other words embarrassed. I ended up having to stay by myself (not cheap) because I had made arrangements that had then been yanked out from under my feet. Also, while we were there because I was staying alone it wasn't easy to do things with people, and even though I made an effort to suggest things to do I felt I wasn't included. People who had told me they would call for food or going out never called. It would be a fluke if it only happened once, but over and over with several different people. I wasn't asking for concrete plans, but everybody wants to feel included, and I felt like I was having to force myself upon my "friends." Cue feeling a pest and a bother again. After the second day I finally said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I remember watching Gorillas in the Mist that night on television (funny the things you remember) and barely being able to see straight I was so angry. I was angry at the situation, angry at them, but most of all I was angry with myself for being foolish enough to put myself in that situation. I barely said anything to anybody the next morning as we went to the airport and instead pretended to do work. I hate feeling like a pest or a bother, and these were supposed to be my friends and people I wanted to spend time with, yet I was making a fool out of myself...Why shouldn't I be angry? After that it was over for me. I wish I could say my little hissy fit in New Orleans was a one off, but my feelings of anger and embarrassment remained...for months. I think one of the smartest things I've ever done was to not say anything about it at the time because I was venting my anger at three or four specific people. Some of the anger looking back was understandable, but not all of it. I STILL feel like I was shafted, however. I hit a precipice. I felt that if I had created the situation for myself then I would just remove myself from the situation. I wonder if people noticed a change in my demeanor or presence? I wasn't making an effort to have people notice a change in my behavior, but I'll be damned if I was going to go out of my way for them like before when I tried to be accommodating. Why bust my hump for people who obviously didn't give a hoot about me. Wish them well but I became a little more selfish after that. I also became much less apologetic. Again, thank God for Steele and DM, because without them I would have been completely miserable at school those last eight weeks.

Those last eight weeks I just went through the motions. I went to class, didn't really say much, and kept to myself. I was still very angry, and I had to be around the people that I was angry at all the freakin' time. Graduation came and went, and like high school, I was very ready to go. It makes me sad sometimes to think about it because unlike high school I enjoyed most of college, but the end sucked. Everybody I've spoken to about it says they had a semester that was terrible. It's just unfortunate that mine was the last one, and for now seems to be what I think of FIRST when I think about undergrad. It certainly wasn't all bad. DM asked me to be in his wedding and I've been to Arizona twice to see Steele, so I can say I left GCSU with two solid friends, and that's definitely something good! Hopefully time will soften the bad memories and I'll get better about thinking about the great things that came out of that horrible semester. I just wish I could have learned sooner, and honestly that's the one thing I've taken out of it -- if it isn't there, it isn't there and my time is too valuable to waste.

Fast forward to now, almost two years later I think I'm a much happier, better, and smarter person for having gone through it. I wish I hadn't been stupid and learned my lesson a little earlier, but what can you do? I certainly wouldn't want to rewind.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A little Dominican culture

First off, let me reiterate that Dominica is NOT the Dominican Republic. I've had to explain to people several times the distinction. They're not even that close together, at almost 600 miles apart -- or the distance from Chicago to Atlanta. Also, getting to The Dominican Republic is much easier than getting to Dominica! Unless you live in a city with non stop service to either Antigua, Barbados, or San Juan it's going to take you at least two connections an an overnight to get here!

The Dominican Republic is a Spanish speaking country, while Dominica was colonized by the French and British. As a result, English is the standard form of communication here. However, there is a "French-based" language called Patois that floats around here. However, it about as much resembles French to me as English does Swedish. There is a significant African and Carib influence on it as well. It's not a written language, and I only hear it used by older folks. I'm sure there are plenty of younger people who understand it and can speak it, but when walking by groups of young people talking amongst themselves it's almost exclusively English I hear.

From a Caribbean standpoint I'm told Dominicans are very friendly. Define friendly??lol. I come from a culture (Southern) where "friendly" is defined as disgustingly and at times invasively nice. Manners are an art where I come from. Here you say hello to somebody you're just as like to get a simple "OK" (to a "hello", I know) as you are a "fine thanks". It's a little disarming at first.

On a DISGUSTING side note was lab demo yesterday. In a nutshell, not every group does every dissection -- that would be pointless. We split them up and then show them to the other groups. In a nutshell he kept finding ways to uncover and/or touch the cadaver's vagina. He had absolutely no reason to as nothing he was talking about had anything to do with the vagina. But he JUST KEPT TOUCHING IT. I wanted to just say STOP IT! It was very bizarre, and I asked the other people in the group about it, and they noticed it too, saying it was very hard to pay attention to anything he was saying because he kept touching it! Note to all future medical school students -- be well aware of where your hands are at all times.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The completely random things one thinks about...

Let me just first off I am incredibly jealous of everybody at home getting rained! We have a two year drought and then it starts to rain when I leave! For the record I love cold/cool rainy days in the fall. Say what you will about my psyche but that makes me happy, lol. Watch us have the warmest Christmas in twenty years when I get home...And watch Chicago be in the fifties in January, haha!

I usually listen to some music while I study to block out background noises, and today the song "Your Love" by the Outfield came on. I instantly flashed back to that night at 8E's with five or six good friends standing around in a circle screaming the song at each it too much to smile and want that to happen again? I remember dancing with Feet and Awad that night too...and I'm instantly sad that my friendship with Feet seemingly dissolved over my trying to do what I thought was the right thing. I am also still angry with the people who put me in that situation because they cost me a good friend. Feet, if you by any chance ever read this I hope you know I'm sincere. I'm a lot of things but insincere isn't one of them. In fact, I'm so honest at times it's brutal (not always a good thing). Would I still do it, more than likely because I still believe it to be the right thing...why can't doing the right thing always work out for you?

I think I'm at that stage where I finally have something nice to look back on, where I was just "me". No school, no studying, none of that, just me, living a little bit. I wasn't defined by anything related to school. People at work saw me as an employee, an equal, and my friends were just my friends. Not my friends because we were in the same department or worked in the same lab. Yes, some of my best friends stem from school/lab, but that's no longer our environment and we're still friends. If that's not clear let me know and I'll have a go at explaining it again, haha.

I have to learn how to take it for just that. Sorry Bon Jovi, but you can't always go home. Well, you could, but nobody would be there, and by having left you're a different person and your life has changed. I look back on those events/times/places with smiles because I'm only thinking about the happy times at that moment. When my thoughts go a little further and I remember why I was there, I'm not missing it quite as much. I was in/near Athens solely because I worked nearby. I was able to do nothing from Friday afternoon to Monday morning if I so chose because that was just it...I had nothing to do once work was over. Unfortunately it wasn't getting me anywhere. I know I've written about that before, but it's been an adjustment. Nothing I don't think I can't handle, but nonetheless, it's an adjustment.

I've been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately, though exactly why I'm not sure. I remember her machine gun rat-a-tat laugh, going to the bookstore on an almost weekly basis, traveling around Georgia when I was younger. I remember she took us to Williamsburg and D.C when I was 9 and 10. I remember going to the Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge, TN. I remember those weekly drives to Alpharetta for piano lessons. I remember a lot, and they're all happy memories. It's interesting that I should have these reflections now. She died almost nine years ago. It makes me wonder what I'll remember about Granddaddy...

I don't know what the deal was today, but song after song came on that resonated pangs! haha. "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?" by Stevie Nicks came on a little while ago, and the song always makes me want to cry. Why I'm not entirely sure. Like most Stevie Nicks songs there isn't a great deal of linearity and/or transparency in the lyrics. BUT, nonetheless, it's moving. Incidentally, there's something just flat wrong with hearing a song like that followed immediately by "Womanizer"...or the like. I mean, c'mon iTunes, have a little tact! I'm sorry, that's just wrong!

Has anyone ever written anything for you
In all your darkest hours
Have you ever heard me sing
Listen to me now
You know I'd rather be alone
Than be without you
Don't you know

Has anyone ever given anything to you
In your darkest hours
Did you ever give it back
Well, I have
I have given that to you
If it's all I ever do
This is your song

And the rain comes down
There's no pain and there's no doubt
It was easy to say
I believed in you everyday
If not for me
Then do it for the world

Has anyone ever written anything for you
In your darkest sorrow
Did you ever hear me sing
Listen to me now
You know I'd rather be alone
Than be without you
Don't you know

So, if not for me, then
Do it for yourself
If not for me then
Do it for the world
Poet...priest of nothing
Poet...priest of nothing

-- Stevie Nicks, Keith Olsen

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


This is about a week-long trip I took with Dr. R to Moscow in July 2008 to attend and present the 5th International Conference on Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines (say that five times fast). I'll let you know now that the travel details may be a bit much, but this is basically a copy and paste from a travel forum I blog on, with extra details added in the middle.

Living near Atlanta the most convenient option was Delta. I was excited to try out their 767-400ER having flown the 767-300ER several times.

4 July 2008
I arrived at ATL around 130 for my 330 flight. I checked in and was through security in approximately five minutes. The airport wasn't very busy which surprised me considering it was Friday afternoon, maybe it had something to do with it being July 4th? As usual I walked to my gate. Is it just me or do people need to learn to GET OUT OF THE WAY of other people who are trying to move?? My flight left out of gate E33 so I headed there initially and nabbed an exit row (30A I believe). Since there was nothing going on down at that end of the concourse (and no windows to view the other concourses to boot) I walked the length of the concourse. The KLM A332 to Amsterdam was there waiting at its usual gate E22. The Lufthansa A340 was sitting pretty a few doors down, though I was thrilled NOT to be on it after my trek from Charlotte to Munich in December '07. I saw all the various DL flights on the FID, though I think the only one other than mine that was actually boarding was DL to Dakar and then on to one of the South African Destinations. Eventually it came time to board. I looked around and noticed there were A LOT of children on this flight, all under the age of ten. Oh goody.

Once on board I was lucky to have the seat next to me empty. Don't take row 30 on the 764, the armrests don't move due to the personal tvs being stowed in them. We sat at the gate for at least another half hour due to a malfunction with the AVOD system. It never got fixed so we left the gate with no distraction for the next 11 hours! A FA sat in the jumpseat across from me and we struck up a brief conversation as we lifted into the hot skies over a rain-deprived Georgia.

A meal service followed about two hours after takeoff. As usual I took the pasta over the chicken offering with the granite-for-bread substitute and the complimentary wine. I definitely don't consider myself a wine connoisseur but I'm not a huge fan of DL's wine offering. After dinner I tried to settle down and catch a little bit of sleep but I could not get comfortable. I have difficulty sleeping upright. Being on the exit row I curled up in the floor and was about to fall asleep when the FA told me that I couldn't do that...........
After I got settled back into my seat all of the kids on the plane decided they'd had enough sitting, and seemingly all at once started sprinting up and down the aisles, which would have been fine except for the thumping those little feet made on the floor! I managed to get two hours or so before the plane woke up.

The FAs on this leg were mostly good. There were three or four Russians, and they all wore the red dress uniform. The one who had my aisle was dutiful, but a little to brusque, though compared to some of the people we encountered later she was downright friendly. I had the usual DL breakfast of a banana, granola bar, and tea. We landed smoothly in Moscow a few minutes behind schedule. I had been talking with the FA for a few minutes again before landing and she gave me a few tips. Another Delta flight from JFK flight had beat us as we were late.

I had heard immigration at Moscow's Sheremetyevo (yup, that's the name, say it without spitting and I'll give you a cookie) could be rough, however I had no problems. While we were in line a Russian and an American who had apparently exchanged words and bad feelings let everyone else in line see their little display. It was rather humorous, as the Russian carried on for at least five minutes before the immigration officials escorted him to the front of the line just to shut him up. I was through in less than ten minutes, where I waited on a ride.

The ride took a while. Thankfully the ICPP people organized buses/taxis from the airport to the various conference-sponsored hotels, otherwise it probably would've been an astronomical cab fare. NO WAY was I braving the transportation system in a country that a) I didn't speak the language, b) said language has a totally different alphabet, and c) there was absolutely no indication of where my hotel was in relation to the city and how to get there on the second busiest metro system on the planet. As it turns out that was probably the wisest decision, as, come to find, it would've involved a bus, a train ride that involved at least TWO transfers and then ANOTHER bus. Sheisse! The thought of all that with two bags does not sound appealing at all! As it was it took almost two hours to get to the hotel. Moscow traffic is horrendous, and was the entire time we were there. I wondered for a minute if I was in LA by mistake.

The hotel itself, called Hotel Youzhny, was not fancy by any imagination. I would barely call it comfortable! It was in an old Soviet block, and there basically clusters of four rooms sharing one bathroom. Dr. R actually had an apartment just down the hall as they had Br. and By. with them, made sense.

The city

The first day I guess I got to the hotel around noon, and then crashed for a few hours before heading out into the city to learn my way around. Let me say the metro at first is not foreigner friendly. Whereas in most places the metro merely has multiple lines running through one station, in Moscow, oh no, they have to be special. Each line has its own name for the station. The way the maps are laid it it initially looked like they could actually not be near each other. Anyway, after one time of getting it wrong it clicked, and basically you learned to follow colors first, then as my proficiency with the Cyrillic alphabet developed follow colors and then look for our station. We didn't get lost again! The metro rides are very long in between stops, but it's not as though there is a shortage of stops. And the Metro itself, wow. The Soviets did a lot of terrible things and my opinion is that their ideas of economics were flawed (I guess history supports my ideas, haha) but they did a fantastic job designing many of their metro stations in Moscow, especially those closer in. Aside from the initial difficulties transferring lines it's a very easy system to use. Note: if you're going to be using the Moscow Metro alone...LEARN THE CYRILLIC ALPHABET. Are there English maps available...yes, but not in the stations or on the trains themselves, so they're really kinda pointless. Something that is useful is an English/Russian map, but unless you get it in size 72 font it's not much help because the words are so freakin' long. The system is for the Muscovites and their Russian-speaking brethren. Others are more than welcome to use it, but get out of the way because they couldn't care less if you get it or not!

The little blue circle at the bottom left is the station we had to get off on, and THEN take a twenty minute bus ride!
Buying tickets could also be very interesting! Bus tickets had to be bought on the bus, I wasn't made aware (not like I could read about it or anything...) of any other option. I had my numbers down pretty good actually, and would usually buy tickets in packs of four. Once or twice I didn't have a bill small enough and wasn't sure that's what the driver was trying to tell me. After one round of that she got a little testy. That also happened at the train station once. I was trying to buy tickets and the ticket agent was an old woman. Probably miserable in her old existence having to schlep train tickets to pay her rent. Anyway, the simple "dva" and holding up two fingers didn't do the trick this time. She asked me a question and when I hesitated she screamed the question at me. If I had been able to I would've said "Lady, I'm not retarded, but I do not speak your inexplicably convoluted and unnecessarily complicated language. I want two tickets, and I'm in the metro difficult is that...give me any tickets that will let me get on the train..." She screamed again. I looked at the guy behind me with a look that was half "help me, please, I'm desperate" and half "If-you-have-any-prayer-of-getting-out-of-this-line-get-your-ass-to-the-window". Thankfully he (very nicely) handled the situation, asked me what I needed, and I gave him my money and profusely thanked him in Russian and English. Note: if you're traveling to Moscow and need help, ask the young folks. They are almost always willing to help even if their English and your Russian isn't great. Older people are hit or miss, though frankly I ran into more misses. I guess it's not too upsetting considering the whole tourism thing and contact with Westerners is still a relatively new thing to them, but yeesh it can be frustrating!

I explored Red Square a little, and just randomly walked around hoping that I wouldn't find myself in a precarious situation! The hotel was not near a metro station, so getting there involved either a long walk on Leninski Prospekt or a (just as long sometimes!) bus ride. I headed back to the hotel and got some well needed sleep.

Dr. R and company arrived the next day, and I happened to be returning to the hotel (where I had gone I don't remember now) as they were checking in. By. and Br. were conked out and the adults were looking zonked as well. They settled down and I helped watch By. so the adults could sleep. Br. as usual was a ball of energy. and By. a mess, lol. Br. and Mrs. R and I grabbed some food at a Georgian restaurant. We had absolutely no idea what we were ordering, but it turns out I ordered dolmades and they got some sort of chicken. It was pretty good.

We did the whole conference thing, which was exciting and interesting. At the same time it was difficult because a lot of the presenters were Russian, shock right? Some of their English could've been better, and the jetlag made you very sleepy. Once or twice I fell asleep in the middle of a talk. Dr. R did as well, several times (and I must say, she snored). Nothin' but love Doc! We met two girls from Ireland one day at lunch. One was a researcher, and the other an accompanying friend. We ran into each other several times over the course of the conference, and enjoyed chatting and exchanging out stories of getting lost on the Metro. Presenting at the conference honestly wasn't a big deal. It was just like any other two hour poster session I'd done several times at the ACS, except now these were porphyrin specialists. I must say, I was thrilled to have the chance, but if they didn't like it, oh well. Honestly, if they thought I was unqualified or shouldn't have been there, well, maybe they're right, haha! The way I looked at it was it was a learning experience and more than likely I wasn't going into research (a year later that's confirmed) then no harm no foul, I got to present my work (which I worked very hard for I might add, whatever that's worth).

The conference had also organized a tour of the city, which was a lot of fun. We went all around the city, and I must say, I'd already experienced it, but I was reminded of just how BIG Moscow is. Unsurprising I guess as Moscow is the center of the Russophile world, but still, it's just so MASSIVE. That night Dr. R, her husband, and I went to a grocery store just down the street from our hotel. On the way we passed a group of kids that had gotten into an ugly fight. I would say they were in their early/mid teens. Several of them were bloodied up and the cops had been called. We went on our way and found our way into the grocery store. We were there, frankly, to buy vodka. I mean really, you can't go to Russia and not come home without some Russian vodka! Incidentally I also had a bottle of cognac from the banquet. I don't think it's been opened but it's there nonetheless, lol. Anyway, it didn't take long to find the vodka because the vodka section was an entire freakin' wall! The hard part came in choosing which kind to buy! The only one I recognized was Smirnoff, and I sure wasn't going to buy being that when I could get it at home! Anyway, after about ten minutes of walking up and down the WALL trying to figure out what kind of vodka we wanted to buy, a local observed our difficulty, and started talking to us, in Russian of course but his intent was rather clear. We bantered by pointing for a minute, and I pointed to one bottle and his shook his head vigorously and pointed to his head indicating that choosing said brand would result in an unpleasant morning. He then pointed to a brand (which was quite well stocked incidentally. We promptly between the three of us bought forty bottles! It was absolutely hilarious when we got up to the check out counter and the cashier saw us with a buggy full of mostly vodka. Her eyes got so big, and I couldn't help but laugh. She spoke no English and I tried to convey that these were not just for us!

The conference banquet was cool as well. It was held in a palace on the outskirts (by outskirts I mean like Atlanta halfway to Athens) that was built by Catherine the Great. It was apparently a small palace, but it was definitely opulent. The food was pretty good. I definitely took advantage of the free wine, haha.

One afternoon Dr. R and I just went walking through the city. I honestly have no idea where we were as we just started walking "that way". Somehow we ended up near a train station after like two hours of just wandering (Beloruskaya Station IIRC this far removed from it). We walked through a part of Moscow that was very old and compact. It was very pretty. We had hoped to stumble across a church or two that we had seen on our tour, but alas, the city proved just too big! I like walks like that because you see the most interesting and unexpected things. Honestly, I don't think I would've seen the statue of Catherine the Great cut into six or seven pieces or a group of teenagers carrying an "Apteka" sign in front of the Polish embassy had we not done that walk. I do remember Doc saying "Oh Jay, we've gotta get you married!" Um, thanks for the interest Doc, but I'm perfectly happy being single right now!

12 July 2008.
After a week in Moscow it was time to head home. I had arrived alone but we were traveling back together so that made the cab fare much cheaper, though it was still approximately RUB4000 (or about US$200). We arrived for our 1040 flight at 800, just as the check-in counters were opening. I believed we used counter 1-3. We were lucky to arrive when we did because we were among the first ten people in line and soon after the line got very long. I was sent to the BizElite counter to check in. Both of my bags had been well under weight when I left ATL, however 10L of Russian souvenirs had weighed one of them down a little The check-in agent must have been in a good mood since it was still early because she let me through. Incidentally the baggage searcher winked at me as she came across my souvenirs! After clearing immigration we mosied through SVO airside which is an unimpressive string of duty free shops. I found a spot upstairs to watch the array of Aeroflot jets come and go, and watch the KLM 744F land. We weren't initially permitted into the waiting area, but once we were we were all exhausted after the week so we just relaxed. Again there were going to be a large number of young children on this flight. Both the ATL and JFK flights were waiting in this lounge.

The plane in this picture is the actual plane that we flew from Moscow to Atlanta and was taken THE day we were leaving Moscow. Judging by the angle the plane is flying I must assume it's landing, so unfortunately I cannot say I'm in the picture! I didn't take the picture but was able to track it down at Boarding was finally called and I made my way to 27F. I noticed that no headphones had been placed on the seats contrary to custom. I asked the FA if they were going to pass them out because if they weren't I still had mine from the last flight. She said they were running short and that if I could use my own that would really help them out. The only reason I asked at this point is because they were buried in the bottom of my carry-on and I didn't want to disturb my seat-mate once I was situated. This particular FA would serve my section most of the flight, she was fun. Most of the FAs on this flight were very jovial and carried on conversation with all the passengers. We settled in and pushed back only a minute or two late and proceeded straight to the runway and lifted off into the sky. At this point the Captain came on and gave a rather long winded talk. As most of us had already booted up the PTVs this was rather annoying as they not only went on standby when he spoke, then the FAs came on translated what he said, then came on AGAIN. It was a very chatty first hour!

The food service came around and I chose the pasta, I remember this time it had spinach in it! The PTV system on DL is very user friendly and had enough choices to satisfy me, though my seatmate brought his own. He watched what appeared to be old Soviet movies that seemed to take place during the time of Ivan the Terrible? Just a guess. Looked like rather cheesy acting to me but I wasn't following it that closely. I watched on my trendy PTV Charlie Wilson's War, Stop Lossed (good movie!), a few episodes of Bill Engvall and I started Fool's Gold. I didn't finish that one as it was predictable after the first thirty minutes. It reminded me of Sahara and National Treasures 1 and 2 all over again, and I didn't care too much for those movies to begin with. After that much TV I couldn't focus on the TV anymore (I don't watch that much TV at home) and listened to music and read for the rest of the way. The FAs were very attentive and per usual came by with a veggie-cheese pita and ice cream (vanilla Yuck!). Plenty of drinks also followed. Two hours in the kids got tired of sitting. I tried to be less irritated at this point but there were plenty of parents who were keeping their kids from running and screaming down the aisles. I understand its difficult for a child to sit still that long but my grief!

Once over South Carolina and Georgia I had fun picking out some local landmarks. For the local folks I flew over Lakes Hartwell and Lanier, the Mall of Georgia, Stone Mountain, and around the southeast end of Downtown. We landed on the North Side of the airport. I was one of the first ones off and hauled ass down to immigration to avoid the line. I got stuck behind some Lufty FAs who were oblivious to the fact that I was behind them and wanted to go around (in case you haven't noticed that's a big pet peeve of mine, get out of the way of someone behind you!)

The line for American citizens was very short and I was through in no time. The line for non-American citizens was a little longer than the last time I had flown though this may have been because I arrived earlier this time and the LH, KL, and an AF flight had all arrived along with DL flights from AMS. BRU, and MAN, as well as our own SVO. Baggage claim was interesting because a customs beagle named Button was standing at the end of the belt. This was the first time I had seen that so it was interesting to watch. I claimed my bag, then proceeded through customs blah blah blah. Put the bag back through and proceeded back through security. This time I was too tired to walk back and wanted to get home so we took the train back down to baggage check. For the first time ever the bags took FOREVER to arrive on the claim. I had two so I had to wait even longer. Eventually they both came and didn't reek of distilled beverage so all was good!
I would definitely recommend a trip to Moscow. It's a BIG city so plan a head and don't even think about trying to walk very far. The streets aren't exactly laid out in a logical fashion, but the Metro is fantastic and thorough.
Hope you enjoyed!

Some thoughts

The settling process has occurred now that the first mini is over. I think a lot of us feel more at ease now that a) we know how the tests are structured and b) we know how we did and not EVERYTHING is an uncertainty (BIG HELP!). As in undergrad, I continue to be amazed at the show some people put on about how much time they spend either studying and/or in the lab. I mean, really, either you're just that insecure about your abilities, or you never learned how to study and your brain just doesn't retain information. Either way it's really annoying when you're around people who can ONLY talk about class/material and demand to be quizzed while eating (school is off limits during meal time for me, unless you're going to make fun of a profess). For cryin' out loud people, did you never learn that you learn best taking frequent breaks. I have always been convinced that if all you do is study, you're going to do poorly. Could I study a little bit more, probably, and I'm still getting back into the rhythm of having to be productive after five. It's getting better and better, but nonetheless, there is room for improvement. I refuse, however, to sacrifice my sleep. The brain is useless when it hasn't rested, and my brain in particular revolts after one night of lousy sleep.

I know people who only go home once a week, and practically live at the student center (disgusting if you think about it from a hygiene perspective) -- said individual carries the same towel around and as a consequence -- it stinks... I know people who never leave the library. I ALWAYS see them at the library when I walk by. Personally the library is too crowded for me, and I've never been a library studier. My frequent breaks (at least once per hour) aren't conducive to that environment. Post mini observation -- I've talked to two people who claimed to have panic attacks, and I know of one person who didn't even answer twenty questions (out of 126) on the mini because he literally fell apart. I felt really bad for said individual, however, he was one of those who was ALWAYS at the library and rarely slept. Hopefully such results will encourage people to rethink some unhealthy habits!

Another thing I'm not comprehending is people who have spent HOURS, as in the majority of their day, in the Gross Anatomy lab several days in a row. Personally the smell is revolting, and spend that much time with your face THIS CLOSE to dead bodies filled with preservative (and some of them are starting to mold) cannot be a good thing. More than one friend has complained today of having had severe headaches since Monday. The first question I asked them was how much time have they spent in the lab... Not to say I'm not studying or haven't been in the lab, but I try to limit my time in there to max three hours at a stretch, no more than once a week, the smell is just too intense. Also, the fact that at least ten people are standing around each cadaver drives me crazy and having to wait ten minutes to get one on the body is frankly a waste of my time!

Classes are hit and miss, totally dependent on the professor. As such, I only attend some professors' lectures now. I go to class daily, just some lectures are pointless to attend because the professors either have a droning-shoot-me-now-I-could-drive-to-Cleveland-before-you-finish-this-sentence kinda thing going on, or their slides are ludicrously thin on information and just show pictures. This is fine until one has to write down what they say. Of course it's impossible to transcribe everything they say, but even jotting down notes becomes futile because by the time you figure out not only what they're talking about (not easy with say, an Indian subcontinent accent) and then what they've actually said, they're usually on to something else. As one can imagine the scenario quickly gets out of hand! As a result, with such professors (thankfully there are only a small hand-full) it's easier to just read the book and watch the lectures online later. Side note -- being able to speed up a lecture actually enhances your willingness/ability to focus and concentrate. It's beautiful thing!

With regards to Dominica it's a hate/ok I'll tolerate this relationship. And it's honestly just about everything. Something I highly doubt I'm ever going to get over is the lack of variety with food. If I were being honest (way overrated) I would probably say that not being to eat what I want when I want and not having a supermarket is by one and only beef, but it's a disgruntling one that permeates and affects my attitude about other things, haha. I want Barberitos and Thai food right now like nobody's business. I'm also having an intense craving for such I've eaten pizza like every day for a week, and I'm still on a cheese fix...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things that drive me nuts...

* Slowpokes in the fast lane.
* Drivers who drive UNDER the speed limit
* People who don't get how to go through security at airports -- it ain't rocket science people -- shoes off, liquids and electronics out
* People who complain about something being different the first time they experience it
* Dubbed movies/TV shows
* Pronouncing "pecan" as "pee-cann"
* Italian and Vietnamese (the languages just tear up my nerves)
* Paris Hilton, Beyonce
* Knee-jerk extremists
* Nancy Pelosi
* Rush Limbaugh
* Island time
* Daylight Savings Time
* Politicians and people who make their living off politics in general
* The lack of trash receptacles pretty much everywhere outside North America
* Mac fanatics
* Britney Spears fans
* Madonna unequivocal ability to sap the fun out of everything by trying to political and preach
* Academic idealists

Jeeeez what a week...

MINI I is done...yay! Ok, now we get to do it all over again. If we actually had to spend all our time in medical school doing this I think space in the shrink ward would've been maxed out LONG ago. All we did was study and go over questions. No, I did not sacrifice any of my sleep (willingly anyway, the last couple of nights I've had difficulty getting to sleep). We then had a histology lab exam...can you say extreme monotonous drudgery?

A rather amusing set of events happened the other day while I was walking around. First, around eightish I was walking from campus to Rituals (the sandwich/coffee shop) for a smoothie -- I hate coffee. There was a young woman in the streets and at first I thought she was just being stupid. However, as I got closer it became obvious she wasn't playing with a full set of bocce balls. She was screaming, hollering, holding her head in her hands, almost got run over by a car, and didn't appear to be aware of my presence until she almost rammed into me. I was somewhat worried she was going to go postal on me. She was also throwing rocks at things/cars. It was a little disturbing!!

This morning I got mooed at by a cow on my road. Why it decided to moo at me I'm not entirely sure. It mooed at everybody, but why??? The cows are used to being tethered on that road where OF COURSE people walk by all the time. Interesante , I say.

In other news I did pretty well on the mini. I passed all the sections well above "Minimum Passing Score" (as in not even close to even be considered "poor" or "average") and somehow managed to score a 100% on the physiology section. Mental note, find out which specialties may involve a lot of physio, lol.