Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 574: The healing power of grades

Ha! Except not.

I happened to check my grades today and they came out and I did fine. Luckily. I won't lie. I wasn't super-fantastic at the final but I appear to have done well enough to keep my GPA up...ish. All in all, I'm glad I'm just about done with my requirements. I'm taking an online statistics course next quarter as well as this random Biochemistry course through UC Extension. It's expensive as heck but I think it'll be good to get my "smart"-juices going again.

I am back at my internship today...we're not doing much, unfortunately. A post-doc wanted me to help him with Western blots so that's really the main reason I came back. I would much rather be hanging with my best friend who's back from law school but I thought it was important to put in some (chubby) face-time. Especially since I was out for a week.

Anyhoo, that's all the news for now.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 569: Sad chubby puppy

This is the title of the picture-text I sent my sister yesterday.

That is because I looked like this...

Sad and pale and a little swollen. I was quite disappointed my face didn't swell to the point of a goiter, but a friend pointed out that that just signifies what a good oral surgeon I had. So, I guess there's that. Or, my face is already so round there's no where for it swell to. One of those.

Anyway, I had my final on Tuesday. It went okay. We'll see. Then my surgery yesterday...which was prefaced by a rejection email from Tulane University, which said...
Dear Applicant:

We regret to inform you that your application will receive no further consideration for the class to enter the Tulane University School of Medicine in 2010. As you know the class is limited to 177 students, and the available places do not go very far in accommodating the large number of highly qualified applicants who have applied to the Tulane University School of Medicine. We hope that you receive an acceptance to a medical school of your choice and that both success and happiness will be yours as you continue your training.

Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs
I must say. I was not a fan of this rejection letter. Others have been somewhat nicer. This one is just poorly worded. I wasn't even sure I was rejected after the first read-through (granted it was at 6:50AM, the morning of my surgery). Anyway, at this point, I am resigning myself to the fact that I will not be getting in this cycle. This is because I have not been invited to an interview where, numbers-wise, I fit in perfectly with these schools.

No worries, no despondent Jess here. Just a statement of facts. When you've got a grandmother who enters other people's cars and a father who helps ice your face and get your meds and a mother who drives back two hours to see you recover from wisdom teeth removal and friends who care enough to stop by to check up on you...what's a rejection or five? There are certainly enough good moments to cover the bad.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 566: It's the small things in life

I would like to tell you all a story.

My grandmother (super freaking adorable) collects our family's water bottles in order to return them for change. It's a thing of hers. My mother, grandmother and I went to the bottle exchange/return center yesterday. My grandmother did her thing -- waited in line, exchanged bottles for cash, etc. My mother and I waited in the car. As she finished up her business, a white car pulled up to the return station.

As the car pulled up, my grandmother started walking toward it. I turned to my mother who was in our silver car with me and I said, "Mom, I think Grandma's going to get into the car." My mother could see the same thing and she started to roll down her window, but it was too late. My grandmother opened the white car's door and realized her mistake. She laughed and apologized to the elderly gentleman as my mother was yelling out her window, "Mom! We're over here! Mom!"

My grandmother begins walking towards our car and I can't even begin to tell you how hard I was laughing. I saw the whole thing happen and it was one of those situations that's too perfect and too surreal for words. For a second, I thought we were in a movie.

The moral of this story is to tell you that it is the absurdly small moments that help me realize that getting rejected from four schools (with presumably no good news on the way) is fine. I've got time on my hands. I'll apply next year -- a year older, a year wiser, and with prettier teeth. Everything happens and at this point, I'm just learning to relish in the good moments that arise every day. It's much easier said than done but honestly. Just thinking about what happened yesterday still makes me laugh.

And as my dad likes to say, "laughter is the best medicine."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 564: The master of my fate

I feel like I've been very downtrodden lately, and I'm sorry to say this post may be in that vein as well. I just want you all to know that when I write it all out, it helps me actualize and solidify my feelings so I can move past them. So don't think I'm permanently depressed.

2009 has not been very good to me. A lot of it was of my own making. Taking my MCAT too early and bombing it. Taking a month off to gallavant across the country and whatnot. ...which caused me to take an MCAT prep course in late summer ...which caused me to take my MCAT at the end of the testing cycle ...which caused me to apply late which is where I am now. ...Rejected from four schools (I got the Georgetown e-mail yesterday).

It also sucks when things are so out of my control that there's nothing I can do but accept it (e.g., Davis technical glitch). A friend of mine put it so aptly, "it must be really discouraging." Which it is. I know I shouldn't take it personally. A lot of it just came down to timing. I'm just frustrated with how much time and effort I put into it only to be rejected and discounted because I was three months late.

Also, I may be preemptively depressed because I have 14 schools to hear back from. Fourteen. I know. It's a big number. However, three of my rejections came from schools that I had a decent chance at getting an interview for and they all shot me down. This does not bode well for the schools that were definitely beyond my reach. It also doesn't bode well for the schools that I also have a good chance at. So fourteen sounds like a lot. In reality, it isn't much of anything but more rejections.

Lastly, I should be hearing back from most schools by the end of the year. Most schools let an applicant know within six weeks of his/her application's completion if the school will offer that applicant an interview. Most of mine were completed late October/early November. They will all be informing me how qualified I am, but they will not have the opportunity to offer me an interview. They are incredibly sorry they couldn't select me because there was an incredibly large pool of qualified applicants this cycle. This in no way signifies I am incapable of attending medical school. They are incredibly sorry (again) and wish me the best of luck. Blah blah blah.

I should just write my own letters and send them to myself.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 561: Fail better

Dear Samuel Beckett,

I only recently came across your saying, "fail better," when I read an article Reader's Digest did with the actor Jon Hamm. I read it and it seemed kitschy enough. However, as my life progresses, I'm finding how pertinent your saying is to my current situation.
Ever tried. Ever failed.
No matter.
Try Again. Fail again.
Fail better.
Yesterday, I realized I should probably update schools with my new activities and classes (my mentorship, a Biochem class I'm thinking about taking). As I looked at my list of schools, I decided to focus on updating schools I really want to go to and then work from there. I checked out my Davis application to discover that it still wasn't complete (a month later!). Rather than freak out, I called the Admissions office and the woman informed me that the Davis server was down for a bit and it was "difficult to find those individual letters" but she inputted them and now my application is complete. Yay...sort of. Allow me a moment to express how annoying all of this is...

Applying to med schools is long, lugubrious and year-long. The hype I felt at the beginning of all of this has converted itself into a form of mental-hypochondria (I am now waiting for a small envelope of rejection from each school). Add in the element of "rolling admissions" and you have a stress-bomb on your hands. When I have done everything I can to turn things in on time (if not early) and whatnot, I expect the institution I'm applying to to, pardon my French, have their shit together. Granted, I should have kept a closer eye, but the damn application itself says something along the lines of "we manually input your letters of recommendation. Please don't be surprised if this takes some time." Blah blah blah. I submitted my complete application in late October. It is December 2nd. If I don't get an interview because you screwed up...well, in what universe is that fair?

I know, I know. Life isn't fair. And things happen. Ergo, my new motto for life is to fail better. Because failure is never what defines us. Rather, how we act in the face of failure (and adversity and failure's other cousins) is what counts. So this is what I'm doing. I'm getting my act together. I'm going to stop being such a Debbie-Downer and try being a Jubilant-Jessy.

And here is where it starts. With the holiday season underway, I thought it was important for me to step back and be thankful for my whole life. I have a family that loves and supports me. I have friends who bolster and inspire me. I have a roof over my head, filled with central heating. I have a closet full of clothes (which I probably only need half of). And I get to try and achieve more than I think I'm capable of (at the moment. There are still gobs of doubts due to the constant influx of rejections). All in all, life isn't bad. It would take a lot more to be even remotely bad.

On that note, thank you Mr. Beckett. Thank you for helping me say-aloud that it isn't the trying again that's daunting, it's the failing again that is. And if I'm going to fail, you're right Mr. Beckett, I might as well fail better. Heck, not better, but with a bang.