amberite_archive: (me with scarf)
PEOPLE, you guys, sometimes they are just AWESOME.

Like when the quiet girl with the headscarf brings in a carafe of what she rather vaguely calls Arabic coffee and cups for sharing
and it's almost more fresh cardamom than coffee and there are these flowery notes too that you can't identify and it's like the best thing ever
and you go "wow this is amazing do you know if any restaurants around town serve coffee like this"
and she goes "no it's my family recipe, here, have some more, I'm going to bring it to class every Wednesday"

and she looks familiar, so you tell her about your autism spectrum disorder and prosopagnosia, because you try to be upfront about that especially when talking with people of color so that they won't have to feel like it's a race thing when you get confused (ah, intersectionality problems)

and she tells you it's okay and she loves the fact that you're a walking dictionary and you both get to talking about how everyone has different brains and it's okay

and it turns out that you were in a class together a couple years ago
the one where you were the designated loud heckler, and everyone either loved or hated it and still remembers you (she loved it)

and you find out that you're the same age and having the same career trajectory doubts and questions even though all the life reasons for why it's a problem are different ones
and it just helps so much right now.

CARDAMOM, PEOPLE
IT MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER ♥
amberite_archive: (science to do)
"By the smile that plays on your lips," Mandor said, "I feel the entertainment must be excellent. Care to share the punchline?"

"Asked so sweetly, how can I refuse? You will know well, I am sure, that metaphysical dealings sometimes require sexual congress." Fiona arched a brow in his direction.

"Certainly."

"It is not nearly so often that sexual congress requires, perforce, metaphysical dealings. Thus, as you say, I am entertained."

--

Note to self: In future, always write porny fanfic while working on applications. They are two entirely different kinds of embarrassment, and thus take the sting out of each other, improving workflow.
amberite_archive: (Default)
While finishing up the process of this year's med school application, I've somehow become firmly resolved to attend a Clarion workshop.

The knowledge that this is what I want to do snuck up on me. the same way I decided to get my tattoo, the way I decided to go to China. Some decisions, I ponder and go back and forth and think about for a long time; others... I don't even know my backbrain is running the algorithm until it dings and pops up a "Decided!" notification box.

I've longed to do one since I first heard of them (at fourteen) but it's never seemed remotely realistic or feasible, and nor has it seemed necessary. But people graduate those things with a sense of mutual motivation and drive, and while I've muddled along for years making writing happen almost despite myself, I know that once I hit med school I will no longer be able to take the long and winding road to productivity. I need a new work ethic.

And the next few summers represent my last chance to go this route. The summer after first year of medical school is formally known as "the last summer vacation of your life", and if I don't get in this cycle (which would make Summer '13 my last) I'm going to do a bunch of things that make it likelier to get in next cycle (making it 2014.)

Which gives me two or three years to have a shot at getting into a Clarion workshop, to cement my dedication to writing even as I fling myself madly into something larger than anything I've done before.

I guess it's one of several ways in which my lifestyle follows polyamorous patterns. If you're committing to a new partner, do something to make things work more solidly with existing partners... and that's as valid an aphorism on the purpose/activity front as on the personal front.

Now, to the novelmobile!
amberite_archive: (future life)
I've been listening to a lot of Kate Bush lately. The week I finished writing my application for med school, I got through it by listening to "Joanni" from Aerial on repeat. As with many Kate Bush songs it is as much the feeling of the thing as the lyrics; it's a song about Joan of Arc. The song conveys this sense of... purity of spirit, perfect shining conviction.

Trying to write a thing that is both extremely flattering to oneself and entirely true, while at the same time trying to look at it from the perspective of an outside reader, is enough to give anyone a whanging headache.

"Joanni" was kind of my theme song that week; it reached the part of me that is still a child with that perfect conviction, that drive to impress adults with my intelligence. Life is hard and complicated, but to that part of myself, the part that always wants to do good and loves the spotlight and chatters cheerily about science for hours, it feels more simple. The fear of failure doesn't reach there.

So I guess I can conclude that in some part of myself I think I'm Joan of Arc. ;-)
amberite_archive: (Default)
And not the usual ones either; much sillier than that.

In my last-minute cramming for the final exam that begins in a couple of hours, I am studying the names of plant tissues. But I keep reading "cambium" as "cambion." Apparently there are these little demons made of cork that help trees create their secondary growth... who knew? :D
amberite_archive: (me with scarf)
Golly. May I just say I am ever so sick of fussing about with squid parts. Photosynthesis today, and not a moment too soon.



...Though, mammals, on the other hand... (I wrote the following last week, so where it says "today" and "yesterday" insert the appropriate days from last week: I just hadn't got around to posting it.)

(7/14/10)------

I don't know that it's normal for people to get as intense as I do about things. I especially don't know that it's normal for pre-meds, but really even for people in general.

But then, that's always been a part of my experience - I remember my sixth grade yearbook: I got my fair share of harrassment that year, but at the end of it, more than one person I barely knew wrote me an inscription of "Stay weird" with multiple exclamation marks. Stay weird, stay yourself. I remember feeling self-conscious at the time, but also taking the message from it that I was a valuable outlier. It reminded me, you're not like the rest of us and don't even try, but it also told me something I'd never known before: that people who hardly spoke to me gained strength and comfort from my presence.

Dead things ahoy! )

In other news, I think I did pretty well on my midterm - though right after the exam is always too early to tell for sure.
amberite_archive: (Default)
I did my physics presentation and the sky didn't fall. I didn't realize I was expecting it to, until the not-fallingness of the sky overwhelmed me with happiness. Golly, golly, golly. Where to start?

My physics presentation was a poster and accompanying discourse on the topic of seizures and electrical activity in the brain. Maybe not a big deal, except for the part where that area of neurology has fascinated me since I was four years old. (The other day, while working on this project, I had a thought that explained it quite well: I have the level of intense interest in neurology that most people do in sex. That's not to say it's a sexual interest, just... the intensity level; sex is the only thing I can think of that people are normally supposed to be that preoccupied with. And it's easy to have an involvement in sex, whereas brain skience is this rarefied thing you have to train for.)

When I was, oh, eight to ten years old, most of my interactions consisted of telling strangers about my obsessions. I didn't really see them, either; they were just there to hear about my interests.

And I'm an adult, and I Got Better, but some part of me is reduced to jaw-dropped awe at how fascinating this stuff is - and another part is always, always in "whoaaaa, dude, I can see the universe from here" mode, and if other people can't, I can almost never convey it to them.

In short, this stuff engages my id. I stare into the wide spectrum of human consciousness, and it stares right back. And I want to work in a field related to it. And I'm scared of being that obsessive person to whom the correct response is "that's nice, dear"; scared of crossing the streams, of having bad boundaries, of falling in. Conversely, scared of shutting off my intensity so that the interest drains out of it, because, c'mon. This stuff is cool, and if I didn't think it would stay that way, I wouldn't want to make a career out of it. I am in this for the sheer wow of it. I'm not sure if that's the sort of thing I can say in a med school interview, but it's true nonetheless.

Well, today I dressed up in my nice button up - black and grey stripes, doesn't exactly scream professional!goth but does sort of sing it out at a nice volume - dabbed a bit of Large Hadron Collider on my wrists to give off the crisp smell of science, and headed in to OMSI to present my poster. My physics teacher liked it and so did his TA's, and so did the general public types, young and old, and they all asked excellent questions, and I hooked people in by talking about deja vu, and everyone was fascinated and no one ran away.

And I was fascinated and didn't run away. And one person even Got It.

I can be that person who's happiest babbling about weird neurological phenomena and still be witty and comprehensible to others and employ my hard-earned social skills. And I've been wanting to prove this to myself my entire adult life, ever since I shoved this stuff in a box for a few years and slammed the lid on it because, at the time, I couldn't.

If you're in Portland, and want to see my poster, it'll be hanging up at OMSI the next few days.
amberite_archive: (future life)
In other news, this last term I made:

A- in Ethics
A- in Physics
B in Organic Chemistry
A in Physics Lab

I am bummed to have broken my straight-A streak in physics, but an A minus is hardly the end of the world. Altogether not a bad showing. (GPA this term = 3.48. GPA for my postbac work so far = 3.68.)

It is, however, the end of the year, and for that I am quite relieved. I took on too large of a load, between school and work and creative work and my fleeting attempts to have a social life, and it's making me realize that a path in medicine other than the M.D. may turn out to be the right one for me. Still have a lot of ruminating and learning to do before I make my choice.

Summer brings another insane workload - I'll basically be completing nine credits over the next three weeks, an amount of school which would be equivalent to 27 credits if extended over a normal term - but I have elected to take the first two terms of bio as the summer intensive and finish the third somewhere else later, in order to get August and September off. (The extra four credits in the first three weeks are a biomedical physics class taught by the physics teacher I've enjoyed throughout this year, and it should be a relatively easy way to buff up my transcript and, better yet, finally understand more of what my father does for a living.)

More importantly than that, it will be different coursework. [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd recently reminded me gently that taking the same classes every term is not what everyone does, and not, in fact, what I used to do in college - it's what I'm doing as a post-bac student to get a degree quickly; no electives and few extracurriculars. No wonder I've been hitting a wall. I honestly think that the huge workload in front of me will feel easier than the last term (which was only 14 credits stretched out over a normal quarter) did because it won't be the same things over and over again. I need a lot of novelty in my information flow, and I haven't been getting it. This next year I'm looking into creative ways to make sure I do.
amberite_archive: (Rassilon whoopass)
My laptop stopped being able to connect to the internet reliably a couple of months ago after my cat knocked it off a chair. Now, this wasn't a big deal at the time - it's a hand-me-down and, well, a good machine but no real prize, and my real prize was my desktop - also not top-of-the-line but a sleek little case packing a 2.4 ghz processor and a reasonably sized hard drive and enough RAM to play a few decent games.

Note the past tense. Yes, that is the past tense of foreboding and doom.

The keyboard tray in my desk is coming apart and occasionally just falls off its rails. On one occasion it fell off and hit the floor and jolted the machine, a debacle I've spoken of here before; on another, more recent occasion, it hit the box but no harm seemed to be done. Except that I got crashes more often - still occasionally, but more often.

Not having had a hard drive go rotten on me like old milk before, I did not heed these warning signs.

Last week, booted up as normal and then tanked. When I turned it on again, it was trying to boot from the network because it couldn't find the drive.

I didn't panic initially. I plugged it into a USB enclosure, hoping the boot data was damaged and the rest of the drive OK, but no dice. I brought it in to Red Star Machineworks and told the tech working there about it.

When I saw the dubious look on his face I knew it was time for panicking.

Unfortunately, his attempt to freeze it overnight and begin recovery didn't work, which means that the only option available to me is thousand-dollar-plus cleanroom work that I really can't afford and which my hard drive probably isn't worth.

Due to my habit of keeping old computers around rather than cleaning the crap off them and selling/donating, I *may* have contents up to 2008. This would be great. I'd rather not have lost most of my China pictures and music collection. I won't have the chance to look until after I get back from the East Coast, though.

Tomorrow morning I'm heading out to DC to visit [livejournal.com profile] lyssabard and [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd and the other wonderful nifty people I know there, and I can curl up into a little ball and twitch. (Did I mention this computer crash happened in the lead-up to the finals I just completed this morning - which I probably did not nearly as well on as I could have, due to being unable to access my usual study methods? Well, now I did.)

My apologies to anyone I infect with the throat crud I seem to be harboring.

Oh, yeah, this week was a real winner. :P

More promisingly, I ordered a netbook today - I've been thinking of one for a while, because I see my fellow students studying ebooks on their netbooks and not being stooped over by pounds and pounds of dead trees, and I am daily envious. And the lack of computer really needs to be dealt with. So I sent away for a Samsung N120 (under 3 lbs, 97% full size keyboard) from Overstock.com and bought the extra warranty since it was a refurbished model. It should be here by the time I'm back.
amberite_archive: (chaos)
* I got back my physics final exam grade and so I've got an A in the class - maybe an A- if they have set the cutoff higher than last time but that's unlikely.

Not sure how that ochem final went. I have entirely given up on trying to predict my results. Even when I know what I answered AND what the answers are, the partial credit is so damn screwy that I have no way of guessing how much I'll actually get. So... bugger that for a lark. The final grade shall emerge next week.

Ethics I can't imagine I did too shabbily, and both ochem and physics labs have likely done me no worse than an A-, though I don't know for sure yet.

...and I may have just screwed up my ability to use the tuition benefit my dad gets (for this term, at any rate) by forgetting to send paperwork in time. We'll see. If so, well... lots of article writing and brown bag lunches are in my future, but I can survive.

* Oh, and I just ran into an *awesome* book. It's called How Not to Write a Novel and it's what it says on the tin. All of their little writing samples have excellent little easter eggs in 'em for those of us who have seen, and identified, real-life bad writing, and I often find myself guffawing out loud.

* In other other news, Dr. Peter Watts was convicted of obstructing a border guard in a courtroom in which the fact that he'd been assaulted, and had not been violent in return, had been completely established. His crime? Asking what was going on instead of complying with orders quickly enough after being beaten up. I Am Not Making This Up. I am fucking livid.

* Over and out... and over to the DC area for a while this Monday. I'm going to be staying with [livejournal.com profile] lyssabard and [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd for a week, and if others in the area would like to hang out, have lunch, etc, I'm game.

Yarr!

Mar. 2nd, 2010 10:08 am
amberite_archive: (into time... and SPACE!)
Useless Organic Chemistry Revelation #332: Everything sounds better when you put "and bears, oh my!" after it.

Examples: "Enols and ketones and bears, oh my!" "Grignard reagents and bears, oh my!"

------

I'm sorry I haven't had the chance to put jewelry auctions up yet (for those just tuning in, my cat ran up a big ol' vet bill and I'm going to be putting some up to try and recoup costs...) It's just one thing after another lately. As soon as I have a spare moment, I'm going to try taking some photographs and posting things up, and y'all will be the first to know when I do.
amberite_archive: (lard bucket)
But I got A's (straight-up A's, no minuses) in everything except organic chemistry, in which I got a B. (A's include the lab for said class, by the way - due to an excellent TA, who I think I've enthused about here before.)
amberite_archive: (spock humans are funny)
If the priority rules for naming compounds in organic chemistry kick my ass, do I get to yell "CAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHN!"?
amberite_archive: (gallifreyan text 1)
In case you wondered, dear local friends, why I have not been seeing you much lately, I am spending my time answering questions that look like this:

"Reaction of 3,3-dimethyl-1-butene with hydrogen iodide yields two compounds A and B, each having the molecular formula C6H13I, in the ratio AB=90:10. Compound A, on being heated with potassium hydroxide in n-propyl alcohol, gives only 3,3-dimethyl-1-butene. Compound B undergoes elimination under these conditions to give 2,3-dimethyl-2-butene as the major product. Draw the structure for compound B."

And for about a half hour at a time they are totally and perfectly comprehensible, and then my brain jams and leaves me staring at pig latin.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It will help VERY much to switch to a different class schedule in the winter, I think, that concentrates my classes all in the middle of the week. This stuff is at my complexity level, and I should be able to work through it faster, but I've been running up a sleep deficit that really gets in the way.

Mah brane.

Nov. 2nd, 2009 02:43 am
amberite_archive: (Default)
Apparently, when I stay up too late studying organic chemistry, my brain starts spinning terminology into awful band names:

Al Kane and the Substituents

Cyclohexane and the Chair Formation

The Halogenated Radicals


...and I'm like, brain, really? Is that the best you can do?
amberite_archive: (into time... and SPACE!)
Did my final exam yesterday at the height of a nasty head cold, dreaded the results, ran all sorts of projections on my calculator, and came back to get them today and determined I have an A minus in the class.

Since this is exactly the same thing that happened to me the first "term", I guess I can now reasonably predict that taking finals in unsound physical condition will usually lose me about half a grade from what I would have gotten otherwise.

I'm still doing well and that's what counts. And I get to do things today that aren't studying, even if I get to do them with a sore throat and a stuffed-up head (bleck.)

Aww, yeah!

Aug. 24th, 2009 01:05 pm
amberite_archive: (never underestimate a redhead)
Lab class is done, over. Instead of having to submit a report today we filled out a measly little data table and handed it in. And, since I got my long-form lab reports back today and looked upon them and said they were good, and since the class was pass or no pass, I shrugged and did not bother to apply my usual perfectionism to the data table.

For some reason my syntax is waxing Biblical, I suppose because I am looking forward to a day of rest. Tomorrow, the prof is giving the final to those who want it, and the rest of us can take it on Wednesday -- meaning that I have a day in which to study non-groggily, a thing which I was lacking last midterm, to no good effect.

And I have ninety-eight percent decided to NOT try taking organic chem, bio and physics simultaneously this whole year, and instead will be taking ochem and physics, leaving bio for another crazy summer haul. Because I'd like to do things! Things like learning the material cold instead of feeling like I'm trying to balance on a tightrope all the time. And volunteering in a clinic. Oh, and seeing my awesome friends (HI!)
amberite_archive: (third doctor sonic loofah)
Still annoyed that "reduction" is what happens when an atom gains electrons. Yes, yes, negative charge and all, but the grammarian in me balks. I have to go around thinking of an electron as an ACME portable hole or a Bag of Devouring. I bites them.
amberite_archive: (donna oi)
One defeat at least - the last week of attending lectures with a head cold seems to have completely shot to shit my comprehension of the material, and consequently I think I'm going to foul up the first midterm of the second section. (Remember, one week of this class = 1/3 of a term.) I'm practicing problems and going, whuh?, when for the first section I knew I had this down.

So I'm making a backup plan, which consists of dropping the rest of this, getting into a statistics class that coincidentally starts tomorrow, and picking back up in the fall.

It would mean another year in school, but I'm really flailing here.
amberite_archive: (eye)
So I got my final grade back yesterday for the first term (aka three weeks) of the gen chem intensive, and I seem to have acquitted myself more or less admirably with an A-. The final, on which I made a C, was about as tough as I expected, but one question which I should have gotten totally threw me for a loop -- and that was because I came down with a cold the day before the exam, and came in slightly feverish and miscalculated the simple addition that should have given me the molecular weight of carbon dioxide. Oooops. C'est la vie. I had good enough marks in everything else that this didn't take me down too hard. (I thought she'd curved because I thought that mark would give me a B, but no, it turns out that the cutoff for an A- is a little below ninety.)

And then the next day after the finals - new term! Complete with a new teacher (who will, at least, teach us through the second two-thirds of the class.)

Yes, this is definitely chemistry for crazy people.

This morning, on the bus, I met a young OHSU resident. I'm always a little awkward when talking to people who are ahead on the trail (most of the ones I've met so far have been med students) but I think it says much for OHSU and Portland that they've all been quite gracious and not condescending. Heck, even the other pre-meds have been pretty nice. Most PSU professors seem to grade on a model where they will curve up a failing class, but will not curve down an "overly successful" one - and I can't help but think the other way of doing things, the competitive model, is just a total clusterfuck as a way of encouraging people to learn.

In the classes I've been taking, students are happy to help each other, which means that the total average knowledge and understanding of the class goes up. And frankly - given I haven't met a student in there who isn't a pre-health major - we want that. The world deserves doctors that know their stuff.

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