Thanks, Paul

Despite my promise to myself that I would blog more frequently, I’ve been a very poor blogger lately. Tonight, if I’m being 100% honest, I’m only procrastinating studying for a neurology exam (I’ve already read through the 121 pages of required information once, but a second time just seems dreadful at this point). Yes, this week it’s a neurology exam. Last week it was zoonotic diseases and urinary where the week before was reproductive systems. It’s a never ending cycle of exams every Monday (and the occasional Friday) that is leaving me feeling burnt out. Originally, we had two weeks of intense examinations followed by a month off where we were just responsible for classes and maybe the occasional assignment or two. This caused a lot of complaining during those two weeks of high stress and in an attempt to ease our burden, the administration decided to try a new schedule of one (or so) exams every week from the beginning of the semester until early November, at which point we would have about a month before finals. Though this eliminates the two weeks of intense stress, we now never get a break from studying. It never feels appropriate to slack off and watch Netflix because there’s always a huge grade on the line within the next few days. Some people really like it, but I’m experiencing burnout.

Throughout my existence as a caffeinated stress-ball, I’ve had unrelenting support from my wonderful boyfriend, Jeff. With our three-year anniversary coming up in a few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about our past and how we got here, as well as where we’ll be going in the future.

Jeff and I went to high school together, but traveled in totally different circles. We’d later find out from our parents that we actually went to preschool together, but neither of us remember this. We had mutual friends and were even both officers in our National Honor Society, but didn’t interact much aside from an occasional greeting. We both had long-term relationships in high school, so there was never a romantic interest, and once we graduated I didn’t think we’d see each other again.

I’m not sure if it’s out of a fear of growing up and losing touch with our childhood or just the desire to show everyone that after high school you really blossomed, but everyone followed each other on social media after graduation. Back then, I loved twitter and I sat in my freshman dorm up late one night bitching to my followers about the train outside my window that had been going off for the last three hours due to maintenance. My friends and I referred to the automated warning as “Paul” and I give him at least half of the credit for Jeff and my relationship today.

Somehow my posting lead Jeff to comment and soon lead to direct messages asking about how our first years away at school had gone. Our high school sweethearts hadn’t lasted and when we both went home for summer vacation, we made plans to meet up and “hang out” because dating isn’t really a thing of my generation.

Our summer together was sweet, but our schools were four hours apart by car and eight hours apart by bus (he didn’t have a car at the time) and distance didn’t appeal to either of us. We found reasons to argue and push each other away and soon decided it was just easier to call it quits and go back to school than keep fighting about how we would proceed. It wasn’t long until I heard from him, though.

I missed him. We clicked differently than I had felt with anyone else. I asked him to come visit and he did – he kissed me as soon as he got off the bus and I was in love. I’d tell him that a few months later and it would take a while before he said it back, but I didn’t care. I knew that he loved me in the way that he looked at me and I wasn’t afraid to say it out loud.

We were long distance until I graduated from Delval and even longer distance after I moved to Ohio, totaling just over two years apart. We fought like mad. It took a long time to learn how we each communicated and if he wasn’t just a stubborn as I was, it wasn’t by much less, so our arguments were loud and emotional and lasted for days. I remember crying to my best friend and telling her that I didn’t know what to do because I knew that I loved him, but we just couldn’t communicate apart. Text messages led to confusing mixed signals and being busy sometimes seemed like blowing each other off. Skype was great if a connection could hold, but it still wasn’t always enough. Two years is a long time to practice and we eventually learned that we needed to make time to see each other as often as possible and to try and give the person the benefit of the doubt before being hurt by a miscommunication.

I remember him coming to visit me one time while we were on winter break. Since I worked at the equestrian center, I had to spend part of my break working before I could go home. Though we weren’t supposed to have visitors, no one ever checked, and he stayed with me the extra week that I was there then we drove up to New York together. It was nice going into work on a freezing morning at 5:45 to feed the horses and clean stalls, then come home, toes and fingers freezing, to a warm bed with a cuddly boyfriend in it. I had a dinner shift once that I came home from to find him making a dorm-room dinner. We had grapes, cheese and crackers, mac’n’cheese, and wine. For dessert, we had a brownie cake from the grocery store down the road and vanilla ice cream. We ate this in bed in our pajamas trying to stay warm because the school had a tendency of forgetting about the workers and shutting off the heat. That night, we walked the abandoned snow-covered campus to the frozen lake and sat in the gazebo talking about life. In all of the craziness I put myself through, he was my calm, and he still is.

He still plays with my hair when I start to get sleepy and rubs my back when I get stressed out. He ignores me when I start to lose my mind over something trivial and makes me dinner when he thinks I haven’t eaten (and I haven’t, cheese-its are not a food group and I need to stop pretending they are). Though I do my best to show him that he means the world to me, I don’t think that he will ever truly know. I hope to spend the rest of my life with him trying to make sure he understands.

Advertisements

My Inner Toddler

I’m currently sitting in class watching a professor sweat himself. I think he noticed that he made the class laugh at his lack of preparedness, but as he continues to reiterate this fact, my very “type A” class is beginning to squirm. His PowerPoint is a plain white screen with black print, indicative of it’s creation the night before, aside from the bright red type where he meant to add notes prior to class.

I understand our professors are doctors outside of class, but if I were to come to class like this, I’d never make it to the next year.

While I’m more prepared than he was today, I still have room for improvement. I’m always telling myself I’m going to work to be more organized, healthier, more efficient. But it’s as if I have an inner toddler who comes out throughout the day (usually when I need a nap) that tells me it’s okay to eat ice cream as an appetizer and watch Netflix for three hours. You deserve it.

Does anyone else ever feel like they have an inter toddler?

Narrating My First Day Back

Sometimes I narrate my life in my head, as if I’m on my own television show presenting a monologue in the opening scenes setting up the story. I think it’s a way of dissociating a little bit. I think it helps remove myself from my body when I’m feeling stress; it lets me float outside of my head and watch the way I interact with the world without actually having to interact with the world. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. When I would talk to a counselor about stress management in my undergrad, she said it was great that I was so observant of myself and my emotions, but I think it leads me down a wormhole sometimes. Especially late at night when I’d rather be sleeping than analyzing myself, or narrating my day again.

Today was the first day back to vet school for OSU. I’m a second year now and I felt extremely organized – I prepared my notes, packed a lunch, got a gift organized for my little. I paid attention in class and was feeling good until my boyfriend picked me up from school. The traffic was horrible with it being the first day of class and 4:15pm, so naturally he was agitated and swerving between and around slower cars. I started getting nervous as he approached other people’s tail lights more quickly than I am comfortable with and with every quick breaking of the car, my heart rate increased. I began thinking about the seven classes I sat through today and how much material there was to review already. I thought about the fact that I had to get to the barn to clean stalls and ride my horse because we have a show this weekend that I naively registered for while agreeing to work my regular full summer schedule through the first week of classes. I already felt behind and it wasn’t even day two yet.

So how can I fix this? Exercise helps. Pushing my body so that I feel tired enough to relax has always helped. But then I start making excuses. Well, they aren’t excuses really, to me they are legitimate concerns, but to the rest of the world they might sound like excuses. It’s 11:00pm right now, so my plan is to wake up at 6:00am and hit the gym prior to my 9:00am class. But I dyed my hair yesterday and specifically avoided washing it again tonight because it has a blue hue and it will fade quickly with too frequent washing. But if I don’t run, I’ll be anxious all day. But if I run, I’ll have to shower, because I didn’t wash my hair after riding tonight and elected to use dry shampoo instead which can only be used so many times before your hair feels glued on. But I need to run. But if I shower, my hair will fade to a dingy color and I used bleach this last time so another dye job could do some serious damage. This sounds all so shallow and insignificant, but as I write about it, I can feel this tension in my chest like my life depends on making this decision right now and making the wrong decision would ruin me.

I haven’t felt like this in a long time and I guess it’s to be expected as I head back to school after a summer of hard physical work in a low-stress environment. I didn’t think the anxiety would hit quite so soon. The logical answer is to forget my hair and run because I know it will help. Blogging helps too, in its own way. I guess that’s kind of odd when it’s just more narration. But maybe putting it down in a permanent place where I can come back to it and read it, even edit it, will help loosen that tightness in my chest tonight.

Literally about Recycling.

The last two weeks have been all about moving from way-too-close-to-the-university, Columbus, OH to Dublin, OH. It’s only a 20 minute drive (which should only be a 10 minute drive, but everything near Columbus takes 20 minutes. Thank you, traffic) but it’s a world away with quiet streets, local food (as opposed to chains restaurants and fast food), and a larger apartment. My boyfriend and I are really happy here, it’s nice to have something you’re proud of and want to care for.

In moving, we made sure to get rid of things that we didn’t need anymore, so we donated clothing, recycled old electronics and unnecessary files, and overall got rid of some of the clutter in our life. We’re not the only ones, as it is the season for moving, but I’ve been sad to find so many things simply thrown away.

I’ve always been very earth-conscious, out of both a love for our planet and the anxiety behind the idea of not having a planet to live on anymore. As a child living in NY, we had a very large recycling program and were taught at a young age how to sort the trash into true trash, compost, and recycling. At the end of the day, there’s very little trash left at all. When I moved to Ohio, I noticed that apartment complexes very rarely offered recycling services and while hubs can be found around the city, few are easily accessible. So people throw it all away – paper, plastic, food scraps, old furniture, old appliances – all into the large metal containers behind the complex. While I don’t yet have a plan for how to potentially change this habit, it horrifies me to realize that not everyone treats the planet the way that I was raised to. If this is how the majority treats it, it’s easy to understand how the planet is so endangered by the human race and that’s something to truly fear.

8 Small Tips for 1 Big Step

Since I graduated a year early, the class that I started undergrad with just recently graduated this past May. Many of them were accepted into veterinary school and a few are even looking forward to attending The Ohio State University with me. While they’re very nervous for what they’re about to embark on, no one seems to be as nervous as those who are only just applying to veterinary school.

I’ve had many friends reach out to me asking about my GRE test scores, my GPA, my experience hours, my research hours, the interview, from what the questions were down to what I wore. I remember being as nervous as they are. I remember taking the GRE twice because I didn’t think that my first scores were impressive enough. Yet when I received the exact same scores the second time, I decided it was a risk I was willing to take because I wasn’t willing to spend the money again or stare at a screen for that long again. Now that I’ve gotten so many questions and finished out my first year, I’ve decided to put a few tips together on how I would recommend preparing yourself for the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

  1. Grades don’t define you. They’re very very important, don’t get me wrong, and vet schools are pretty unlikely to look at a candidate who has lived their years of undergrad on academic probation. However, a “B” is not going to ruin your chances. A “C” won’t get you declined either. Remember, applications and interviews are designed to give you opportunities to present yourself to the best of your abilities so use them! Take these chances to explain potential dips in grades if you have them. If you just had a tough time, accept it and realize that there is much more to the application than your GPA.
  2. Take the GRE seriously, but not too seriously. This is much more easily said than done. There are certain questions on the GRE that you will not be prepared for, even if you study constantly. You are not meant to know every single question on that exam. Study as much as you can before it, but don’t let it consume your life, especially if you’re still finishing undergrad.
  3. Don’t do things just to put them on your resume. I completed an internship at a local zoo to “round out my resume” and add a few exotic species to the list. The only thing that I gained from that internship is that I did not want to work with exotic species. While this is important to know, you don’t want to spend a huge chunk of your time doing something you hate just so you can write it down.
  4. Use things you like to find opportunities that can help fill your resume. I was very involved in my undergrad career with different opportunities from Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life to Student Government Board. If you have a club you like, consider being an officer to gain leadership experience. These are also great opportunities to network with people throughout the nation through retreats and seminars.
  5. Be honest in your interview. When interviewing at Mizzou, OSU, and U of Florida, I was asked what I would do if I were not accepted to veterinary school, or some variation of that. At first, I wanted to say that I would apply again, but anyone who knows the process knows the amount of energy and money required to complete it. I honestly could not imagine how I would feel if I were not accepted, and for some reason all that came to mind were cupcakes. I love baking cupcakes. They make me feel good and artistic and creative. So I told each school that I would open a bakery. Each interviewer was shocked with the response, some laughed and others asked for samples if I got accepted. Other times I was asked questions that I did not know the answer to, so I told them I did not know and hoped to learn that while in veterinary school. The panelists all appreciated my honesty and got to know me in the process.
  6. Ask your interviewers questions. They want to know that you’re prepared for veterinary school, but you need to make sure that this school is right for you, too. I made a point to ask about mental health practices that the school takes part in. This is a growing concern throughout the profession and it is important to me, so I wanted to go to a school that had a good program in place.
  7. Start early and take breaks often. This process is long and tedious, especially if you are applying to a bunch of schools like I did. Many of the supplemental applications will have questions you’ve already had on the common app. Take it slow, but keep in mind your deadlines!
  8. Remember that this huge event is only a small part in your life. Everyone who applies to veterinary school has felt the same anxiety that you’re feeling, but it won’t last. It’s certainly not something that haunts me at night, nor any of my friends. I have lots of friends who weren’t accepted their first time and either reapplied or chose different paths. I have quite a few friends who did get accepted and decided they didn’t want to be veterinarians after all. Right now, I know, all you can see is vet school. This doesn’t feel like an option, you might not have a back-up plan, this might be the only egg in your basket, but there is so much more out there. Keep pushing through and remembering that there is more to life than vet school. Remember your friends and family and lean on them for support. Remember your teams, professors, pets, and hobbies. It is so easy to get wrapped up in this world, but remember that you’re more than just a potential vet student.

Bag of Marshmallows

I’ve always had a tendency of writing when I wasn’t in a happy place and turning to other sources of art when I felt good. My art tells an onlooker how I’m feeling, but only if you line it all up in order. That’s why I’ve never written a love song and many of my posts here are rather cynical – I’d rather unload my feelings into this empty space instead of letting them out somewhere or to something or someone tangible.

So I haven’t written anything lately. That should be good, right? That means that I’ve felt like I have it all together – friends, family, vet school, barn life. Honestly, I thought I did. This last Spring semester felt (in the loosest term that can be applied to vet school) relatively easy. My grades went up, I was social, I didn’t have a single panic attack. Had my anxiety finally gone? Well no, it doesn’t go away, but had I found a way to reign it in? I certainly felt much better. Until I realized I was mulling over these ideas while eating from a bag of marshmallows.

Let’s back up. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I think it runs in my family. I’m the kind of girl who can demolish a row of Oreos, feel sick so I’ll drink some milk to settle the nausea, then dive into the second row. I’ve never been a skinny thing, though I have never felt the urge to call myself heavy, and I have always loved food, from making it to eating every last bite. However, I hate marshmallows. Unless they’re toasted over a piece of chocolate and a graham cracker or melting away to ooey gooey goodness over a cup of hot chocolate, I couldn’t care less for them. Yet here I was, eating them straight from the bag, their strange powdery outside soaking up my mouth and that unnatural dissolving sound as I chewed through them. Thinking about it makes my nose wrinkle.

So why was I eating this bag of marshmallows? Why had I eaten a bare piece of bread earlier? Why had I bought a biscotti with my coffee, chosen a bagel instead of yogurt, opted for chips instead of an apple? And when was the last time I went for a run? When I was at Delval, I would run every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, to avoid a panic attack and for any chance at sleep. When had I stopped needing that? And when had I gained 15 pounds? It wasn’t just yesterday.

So there it is. I had found a new habit. It could be worse – I could have taken up drugs or alcohol like some of my stressed-out friends. Some time in the last year I had started to feel my anxiety come on and reached for a doughnut instead of my running shoes, convincing myself it was a craving, and realizing that it felt pretty good and required a whole lot less sweating.  So each night if I had any hope at sleeping, I mindlessly dosed myself with a bolus of carbohydrates and simultaneously fell into a new routine. Subconsciously I realized that the butterflies in my stomach couldn’t flutter around if my stomach was full to the brim.

I’m making moves to change this, which is harder than I thought. Tonight I drove all the way to Ritas Water Ice just to turn around once I realized that I didn’t even want it, I just didn’t want to feel what I was feeling. And that made me panic even more. Isn’t that the punchline to every addict’s story? I can’t just quit food for good, it’s something we require, so how am I supposed to keep myself from eating until I’m numb? Planning helps, both mentally and physically. Choosing what I will eat and when helps keep me from snacking. And forcing myself back into an exercise routine helps, even though it’s hard after finding ways to cheat around it. Tonight I came home and pounded out a mile. I don’t need to exercise far to get the point across to my body, just hard. Drinking a lot of water helps because it gives me that full feeling without laying on the carbs. And writing helps, because apparently it’s a good idea to keep posting even when I think I’m feeling fine.

Insignificant Infuriating Incident

I haven’t written much lately and it’s only hurting myself. I love to write as a way of reflecting and organizing my feelings, or sometimes just to vent.

 

Tonight I am mad. My boyfriend lives with me now and it has been pretty smooth so far, but it’s easy when his friends are far away. One came to visit this weekend thinking he wants to come to OSU for grad school so of course he’s staying here. He’s my boyfriend’s best friend and I can’t stand him.

 

He’s not a bad person, I don’t have a strong reason for disliking him, but day one before I even said a word to him, my stomach turned against him. I secretly hoped he was just the roommate, but no – he was the best friend.

 

I’m very uncomfortable around him since he told me that by dating Jeff, I was taking away from his college experience and dampening his good time. He also made some comments about me taking Jeff away when he moved out here from Albany, NY. Clearly, I’ve been blackmailing Jeff and he has no choice in our relationship. Clearly.

 

But he is Jeff’s best friend and therefor I must play nice. So when Jeff wanted him to stay, I said yes, of course. When Jeff would be at work when said best friend came to town, I agreed to be home to meet him and take him to dinner. But at the end of the night he stayed at the bar while Jeff finished his shift and I went home to sleep. Until 1:30am that is.

 

Around this time, they came in loud and laughing and started playing music. I heard my neighbors waking up (the walls are paper thin). I listened to them criticize the artwork I had made and hung to surprise Jeff. And then I heard them take a drag.

 

I am 100% anti-tobacco. If you want to kill yourself on a cancer stick, please take it outside. After texting Jeff multiple times so as to avoid losing my cool in front of his friend, but receiving no reply, I got up and went to the kitchen. I quickly and sharply informed them they were loud, to take down the damn art if it’s that bad, and to please not smoke in my apartment.

 

They took it outside my door for and hour before returning, Jeff to our bedroom and best friend to the pullout couch. Best friend could be heard pulling a drag and coughing until Jeff told him to stop, only after I threatened to kill best friend before the cancer stick would. After the world’s shortest discussion, Jeff is now snoring and I’m still angry.

 

The most important thing to me is validation and if you tell me I have no right to be mad, I’m not getting what I need. So I’m writing to the Internet because I know you, those who make-up the Internet, will do a better job of dissecting and mulling over this insignificant infuriating incident than I can while laying here staring at the ceiling. It’s now 4:15am, I might as well get up and go for a run.