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So it's been a long forever since I've last posted - and since my last post I've finished up my pre-med work at American University, taken the MCATs, graded my last lab report as a Chem TA, interviewed and got accepted into medical school, moved to West Virginia, survived the first two years of medical school in Lewisburg along with passing the first step of the national boards, served on a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, went on a safari in Tanzania with my mom (took a selfie with my EKG book and a wild leopard in a tree!), fundraised for the next year's service trip to the Dominican Republic, directed and acted in the V. Monologues, performed Danse Macabre for the school's talent show, moved to Petersburg WV to do most of my third year clinical rotations, met the most amazing guy, moved back to DC, studied and passed my second step of the national boards, and am now in full-fledged gypsy-traveling fourth year medical student mode.

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There are moments when I am amazed that I'm actually in medical school and doing things like suturing up a man's face, delivering a baby, holding someone's hand and calming them down through the few moments before they are intubated, and in lots of very banal moments where all I can think is - 'you've mixed me up with someone who knows what they're doing... but I'll do my best to be what you need in this moment'.  Only because I know that I'm surrounded by others that have done this for years and that I have no fear about asking for help, am I starting to get a bit more comfortable with the uncertain world that is working in medicine.

Since summer I've lived and worked in Baltimore, DC, Philadelphia, Hartford (CT), and am currently living in Phili and working in Camden, NJ - at least for the next two weeks.  I'm applying to residency programs and interviewing all over the place, and on the weekends either traveling to interviews or new rotation sites, or working in the hospital to make up 'missed' time from my rotations while I was off interviewing.  In the hours I'm not in the hospital or clinic, or when I get a few spare moments, I find myself studying not for exams, but because medicine is a humbling field and there is .always. more to learn, more to re-learn, to understand better, more to improve upon.  That in addition to remembering the little details: to reserve the rental car for the interview on Friday, get my massively busy attending to fill out the school-required evaluation form and fax it in, to get those groceries, figure out where I'm living and what my commute to the new hospital will be, how the new computer system at the hospital works, learning a new hospital layout every few weeks, how my new attending and team run rounds, and all the little details of general life that seem to pile up alongside my laundry.

However, amidst the standard chaos that is life and being a traveling medical student, I have found the most understanding defiantly romantic man and so on the few days that my reeling and spinning slows we find ourselves together.  Wonderful adventures follow: hiking and exploring wherever I've seem to land, eating all kinds of wonderful foods, meeting friends, playing fiddle at SCA events, swing dancing at Glen Echo, Mobtown in Baltimore, or in downtown Phili in a public park.  On the harder weekends when I've been trapped by the pressure from the mountain of 'things I don't know' he's been there with his own computer and we've quietly, separately but together, pounded away on our work with the simple joys of sharing a meal together or punctuating a small measure of progress with a kiss as one of us stretches and grabs a glass of water.  He has also been there when the weight and severity and horror of what I encounter in clinic or in the hospital forces its way through my mental barricades - when I come home and find it crashing in on me - somehow kept at bay until I have closed the door of my apartment.  These are the moments when it helps immensely that we share the same field.

I never expected to fall in love with someone in the medical profession, as I am a decently geeky person, and in general most doctors aren't the same flavor as geek as someone who gets amused by things like positive anymore (http://microsyntax.sites.yale.edu/positive-anymore), or Firefly, or fiddling, or swing dancing, or the miriad of other non-medical things I find fascinating and wonderful in life.  It's not so say that it's not possible, but I thought it very unlikely.  Then Jeffrey and I met - and to say things went well after that point is a serious understatement.

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To give you a bit of background about him if you don't know him: he's a full fledged physician-scientist working at a .very. well known institution in Baltimore and despite all of that, incredibly humble.  Since he's tackled his own path to being a physician he understands what I'm going through as he's been there.  His schedule between research, clinic, and being on call is equally insane - although with the additional pressure of being an attending physician fighting both for his patients as well as fighting for research funding.  But whatever his academic and career successes, he is at the core, one of the most genuinely kind and gentle people one could ever meet.  He is geeky in equal measure as I am, evidenced that our first date we went geocaching and our third date we were playing fiddle at the Maryland Renn Faire with some of his awesome friends.  (Btw, he met my Dad for the first time that day - dressed in full garb bouncing in with a box full of dresses borrowed from his friends for me to wear to faire.)

We have been both been been blessed with fantastic families and amazing friends - who we don't get to see as often as we like - but in time I hope all of you will meet him.

So while I'm unlikely to be better about about updating this journal regularly I figured I'd take a moment and stop in.

Life has continued to take me on this wonderful chaotic mess of a journey, but I've been loving the adventure.

photo 4

I wish you all calm seas, a carrying wind, and a song in your heart.
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This past semester I had to make a video for my pathogenesis class.  Here's the youtube link:


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Greetings all!  

It was pointed out to me that my most recent post was still of a snow covered DC.  Spring has exploded most beautifully, and the spring semester has also come to an end.  I managed to get all my grading and studying done, and the summer semester has already begun!

This is a video that I finally took off my camera and thought was adorable enough to post. 
YouTube link:

It's hard to believe that we're expecting thunderstorms this afternoon when you have this kind of beautiful morning sun.

Mochi, however, decided to go into her favorite place in my apartment. 

Have I mentioned recently that I love my kitties?
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They have asked everyone to stay off the roads, including the snowplows due to the whiteout conditions.  Curious, I took my trusty camera and wandered out.  Here's what I found:

The view from my apartment window into the courtyard.

Me, in the same boots as before, but now showing you just how deep the snowbank is.

A woman crossing Wisconsin from Whole Foods.  Look at the fabulous visibility!

A view of the Tenleytown metro sign, and the mailboxes, previously showcased. ;)

And for the first time ever, video!  Just follow the links!

Wisconsin Ave Traffic:

Wisconsin Ave video

The wind and blowing snow in front of my apartment:

Snow video
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The snow has stopped, and everyone is trying to dig out.  I personally love snow, as you wander around a neighborhood and people smile at you, greet you, and are so much more neighborly!  It really brings out the best in people. :)  

Looking at the conditions of the roads, I'm pretty convinced that we won't be having classes tomorrow.  But who knows.  I'll be studying for the MCAT one way or the other.  

Some photos taken at 10am on Sunday, Feb. 7th, 2010:

A car buried on Albemarle street.

Albemarle Street looking towards Wisconsin Ave.

Yours truly, standing in snow.  Those boots go up to just below my knee.

A bit of scale.  That is a ruler of a standard 12 inches or just a bit more than 30cm, for those of you in metric.

Benches by Janney Elementary School.

Yuma Street folks digging out.

Looking up 42nd by the intersection with Albemarle.

 Thankfully, not my car.

Wisconsin Ave and Albemarle Street. 

I am thankful to have power, water, kitties, covered parking, and food.  And what's more, lots and lots of science to keep me from boredom.  :)
Hope you all are well!

Epic Snow

Feb. 6th, 2010 10:43 am
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DC was (and still is being) clobbered by some pretty fantastic snow.  The cats and I are happy and warm.  Since I have an exam scheduled for Monday I'm being a good student and studying.  However, this morning around 10am, I decided to go for a walk and take some pictures.

So here are my favorites:

Tenleytown Metro and Newspaper Boxes

Digging out the sidewalk

Wisconsin Ave

Reasons why I love not having street parking

A DC snowplow hard at work on Albemarle Street

Some pretty snow on my mitten.

But, as I'm convinced we'll still have school on Monday, I'm going to go back to studying for my pathogenesis exam.
Happy winter everyone!!! :)
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 Well, I have officially begun to study for the MCAT itself.  Mochi, however, is confused.

She's wondering, why there're no cats involved in an MCAT.  So here she is, remedying this obvious flaw.  

Later today, she was showing me where the cation was.  (ba-dump)

Furthermore, being a stylish kitty, she's discovered that she likes Puma shoe boxes.  

Penelope is still good, but spent most of today sleeping.  :)  

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Ben and me happy to be getting off the ground!  Currently on the ship having an adventure.  Will update when i return home.
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Well, the weather is against me. As expected, the 10:00pm flight out to Buenos Aires was delayed until tomorrow night. So it’s another night in the hotel near the airport. Luckily the food is tasty, the beds are comfy, and the heat works.

Look! Snow!

And me pouting about missing the night flight.
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Introducing Mochi Clark!

She's a shelter cat, estimated to be around two years old. I adopted her in mid October and she's warmed up to me amazingly fast. Penelope and her are still working out their relationship, but they'll hang out in the same room now. (As you can see in the picture above, Penelope is chilin' in the window.)

Unrelated: This is just pretty. I took the picture in Madison, WI when I was up visiting Sylvie in late summer.

This is Mochi and my first modified 'Aaron shot' (when neither person looks at the camera). Technically, you're not supposed to smile in these 'Aaron shots', but who can help it when you have a happy little cat jumping into your lap and purring every time you sit down?

For those unfamiliar with Japanese, mochi is a type of (usually) sweet cake made from pounded rice. They are usually white, although they come in different colors, and sometimes can be filled with cream, strawberries, sweet beans, and other things. It's one of my favorite Japanese traditional sweets, and they are typically made into little round balls. Mochi, the cat, has three brown and one black, round markings on her back that look like a paw print. For some reason they remind me of little stacks of mochi. And then there's the saccharin sweet comment that I could make... she's sweet like mochi. Yeah, that's a little too Hallmark, huh?

Penelope has been pretty good about sharing her space, and I've been giving her extra attention.

Penelope is still as beautiful and wonderful as ever.

Mochi has the cool genetic trait that makes her polydactyl. I've not noticed any increased dexterity that can accompany this trait, but you never know. ;)

And now you've been officially introduced to the newest addition of my family!
Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!
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Fourth of July weekend was a great whirlwind of family, studying, and fun.  My Cioci (Aunt) Ricki and Dziadziu (Grandfather) came down for a visit.  We went to a picnic and then watched the fireworks.  Dziadziu cracked me up by blowing the bubbles on the table.  For a while he was aiming them at Cioci Ricki.  :) I adore them both!  

The fireworks were beautiful, but as usual, difficult to photograph.  So I gave up and just enjoyed them.  Hope everyone had a good holiday weekend!

This evening Penelope was meowing at me while I was writing my lab report.  So I picked her up and plopped her on my desk to show her that there was no fish up here and also nothing fun was going on.   Naturally she sat on my notebook and started purring.  She's the best lab partner.

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Bio 210 is so much fun because we get FIELD TRIPS!!!!

Lab this week was at the Botanical Garden Conservatory, which was super fun. I brought along my camera for my report, and was subsequently blown away by botany.

Mom's always been the garden guru of the family, and while I've always enjoyed plants, until looking at them from a biological standpoint I've never appreciated them so much!


Faucaria Peersii" />

This is Faucaria Peersii, which is spiky and cute. (Both technical definitions.)

Assorted Angiosperm" />

As expected, some assorted angiosperm.

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This adorable little succulent. Look how cute and green!


And some AU students that crack me up.  I told them about Aaron shots, and while Maddie couldn't figure out the whole 'don't smile' part, and Matt was looking a little too far from the camera, it was memorable and hilarious.

Anyway, hope you all have a great weekend and a good Valentine's Day!
Also, hope everyone enjoyed Darwin's B-day!  

You Tube

Feb. 6th, 2009 05:49 am
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This is a cute kitty video I found on youtube.  Not only does it give you an idea of what a reasonably nice Japanese room looks like in a home, but the kitty is way cute!!!

Stalking Kitty!

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 Well, I'm back into the full swing of another semester.  While working on physics I decided to take a quick break to show you all how silly my kitty cat is!  She's recently decided that the box of paper is a much more comfortable place to sleep than the nice soft bed that's available for her. My kitty" /> On a box" />
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Dear readers,

Sorry for the lack of messages recently, especially since I've been in China.  I'm a little convinced that the Chinese government has somehow blocked live journal from working in mainland China.  However, from Hong Kong I can finally access it!  Wooot!

However, as tomorrow I'm flying back to the States I can't do a huge update.  So yet again, this is a message saying that I'm planning on updating, but it might take a wee bit of time to get everything arranged and in order!

This is a picture from the journey of part of the Forbidden City in Beijing.  I'm sure you'll see it much better on TV when the Olympics get in full swing, but what can ya do?

So look forward to more updates soon!!! 

For now, I'm homeward bound!!!! 

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Who knew that from studying Japanese that summer at Cornell to satisfy the linguistics language requirement would lead to such a wonderful experience in Japan?!?!

I'm having a very difficult time saying goodbye to everyone, and I don't think I truly am feeling the full impact of what's happening just yet. Tonight Teruyo and Masao (my homestay parents from my first summer in Japan) took me out for dinner after work and after dinner they drove me to the hotel I'm staying in. Masao hugged me and I started bawling. I've been crying on and off saying goodbye to students, but this was a full on tearful goodbye. They've promised to come to the States sometime, and I really want to show them around!

Today a student who I only taught once, and otherwise just saw around school came to give me a present. (Beautiful handmade indoor slippers.) Mr. Shibata had recently heard that I like playing and listening to the violin so he decided to give me a mini-concert. He hadn't been playing for long as he only started after he retired. He brought his violin up to school and played 'Meditation' by Massenet, which is one of my favorite pieces (and one that is very emotionally packed for me). Then after playing a few pieces he gave me his violin and asked me to play something. I haven't played in about 7 months, and was hoping I hadn't forgotten everything I knew. I played a bit of something, and it didn't sound terrible. We continued playing 'pass the violin' until we had both run out of music. He's in his eighties and I'm amazed that he's still taking lessons and learning new things. I hope I can be as spunky and cool as him when I'm old. He said some amazingly profoundly deep things that you might expect to find someone in a movie say, and then (in English) bowed himself out of the school. It's weird saying things like 'Take care! Keep studying! Good luck! Farewell!' while bowing deeply and then waving.

Anyway, lots of farewells, tears, cards, and presents. I taught my last large lesson today and at the end everyone applauded. I managed to not cry because I was telling myself to be in teacher mode. I think I'm doomed to be red faced and puffy eyed at tomorrow's farewell party. It's the largest party I'll have ever gone to at Aeon. I'm touched just by how many people are coming!

Laura and I had dinner last night, and I'm still mentally saying to myself that I'll see her soon. It's far more likely, as we at least live on the same continent! But, as I'm not expecting to see my students ever again, it's a little worse.

After leaving Japan I'll meet Mom in Beijing and we'll have a fun vacation together in China. Then I'll come back and actually get to all the posts I've neglected. (Or at least the really important ones like Thailand.)

Wish me luck!

(flowers from one of my cute kid's mom)
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Greetings fair journal readers!  I apologize for the false promises of Thailand updates.  I've been very busy getting ready to come home, and the Thailand updates have been shoved to the back burner of my neighbor's cousin's vacation house.  However, in a rare fit of updating fun I bring you my weekend!

This past Sunday (6/15)  Laura and I headed on out to our favorite city, Kyoto.  We were in search of something I had heard about and had always wanted to try: Nagashi somen.  Somen is a type of noodle, and nagashi is a style you eat it.  Somen is usually eaten in the summer cold with a light broth, and it's a favorite of mine.  The nagashi part means that it's delivered to you by means of a bamboo tube and a current of water!  You wait at a place on the counter for the noodles to go shooting down and you catch them with your chopsticks, dip them into your sauce and enjoy! 

Laura found a good looking place in Kibune (a bit North of Kyoto) and we had a blast catching them and not only were we eating nagashi somen, but we were doing it on top of a river!!!  It was the coolest eating experience ever.  Anyone who's been to Japan in the summer can attest to the severe heat, and so the river really helps provide a natural air conditioning.  I don't want to think about how many bugs would be there at sunset, but for a lunch treat, it was very reasonably priced (about 1,200 yen) and relatively bug free.

We traveled back down to Kyoto and met up with Elysaar around Sanjo in Kyoto.  We wandered around a bit looking at the markets and shops.  Then we decided to enjoy some more cheap kaiten zushi (conveyorbelt sushi) and then headed over to our new favorite parfait store. 

The store has over 150 parfaits!  Elysaar and I enjoyed translating the sometimes useless descriptions.  I finally decided on a raspberry chocolate parfait.  It was heavenly! 

We retired to our very nice hostel.  It was more like a hotel than any hostel I've ever seen or heard of. 

Here are the pictures (and a cool video of the noodles):


After having a Sunday dedicated to delicious, and less common food, we woke up on Monday for another taste of adventure!

Laura, Becky, and I had taken maiko photos on one of our first trips to Kyoto, and it was a lot of fun, but Laura and I both kinda wanted to try it again with a different studio.  Being the amazing weekend planner that she is, Laura found and made reservations at a really cool, professional studio that included a professional photographer with the package that let you go outside.  So we arrived at the studio at around 10 after a light breakfast. 

They have you change into a undershirt/dress thing and white socks that have the big toe separate.  (Kinda like basic toe socks)   Then they put the make up on, they put the kimono on, and then a wig.  The whole dressing process takes about an hour or so.  Then we got to wander around with the professional photographer for a bit.  After they were done we had a half an hour to wander around and take our own pictures, as well as pose with other tourists.  It was fun having our pictures taken with so many Japanese tourists.  I guess a tall, blue-eyed maiko isn't exactly a common sight!  We had so much fun wandering around in our platform sandals.  I was a bit afraid I'd topple over, but I managed it ok.  The photos came out great and it was totally worth it! 

The makeup is removed with baby oil!  Then after it's all off you wash with facial soap.  I still feel like my face is recovering from the whole process, but it was worth it!

Then we wandered around a bit, had an amazing tofu lunch, and then some kinako ice cream.  I was dead tired from walking around in the shoes, and from walking around the whole place in normal shoes.  So we decided to head on home.

This weekend was probably my last in Kyoto until I come back in the far more distant future.  It's an amazing city, and I'll miss having it just one short 35 minute shinkansen stop away from my home city.

Enjoy the pictures!!!


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Happy Birthday Laura!!!!

It is Laura's birthday, and I am happy to be included in the loving masses who are celebrating today!

Her birthday today actually shook Aichi prefecture with a small earthquake.
how important it is!
So, watch out world, we'll be celebrating this awesome girl's birthday 'till Japan shakes a bit more!


(If that is still on an angle, I officially give up on trying to turn it.)

Laura, for those of you who somehow don't know, is the best travel buddy, talented photographer, amazing weekend planner, skilled french toast (and other delicacies) chef, pro takoyaki turner, fashion adviser, pop culture guru, mango lover, rilakuman enthusiast, and so many other things. She is also an amazing friend who I feel totally lucky to have met in training here in Japan. Without meeting Laura it's questionable if I would have stayed the second year here in Japan, and I'm sure I'd have gone to less than half of the cool places we've been together. Most of this journal has her to thank, and so I just have to do a little picture post to show her how serious I am when I say:


Who couldn't love someone who enjoys the teacups that much?!?!?

(I really did try my best to alter this photo so you don't have to turn your head sideways.  I promise!)
Laura's first upclose experience with an elephant.

Laura in a mushroom growing house!

Rockin' it up in Fushimi Inari.

So, here's to you Laura.  I hope you have an amazing birthday!
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Before I start the series of Thailand updates (sorry they're late, I've been kinda busy recently), I'd like to show off that I figured out how to use the photo stitch setting on my camera and my computer.  Here's a taste of the pictures I took in Thailand, and me being proud of myself:


May. 7th, 2008 10:14 am
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I am back from a rockin' Golden Week vacation in Thailand.  It was great, and soon I will try to get all the pictures online and show you all!
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