Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm back!

Alright, I know. I’m a rubbish blogger. My creative juices have been sucked into painting the last two weeks and I sort of never quite got round to blogging. And you know when you put something off again and again, it gets harder and harder to get back to it… that’s been me and this blog. It’s the whole holiday thing – I’m not in my routine of going to bed at a sensible (!) hour, blogging on my laptop and going to sleep. Nope, I’m been staying up half the night messing about with acrylics and mediums and new brushes.

And the result? My first ever painting on canvas, and I think my first completed painting since the age of 16. So yes, I’m pleased. It was tough at times, but I got through, and I’m relatively happy with the end result. There’s good and bad thingsaboutit, and it’s a good place to improve from… When I get home and have the use of a digital camera or scanner, I’ll try and get a piccy up. It’s traditional ‘fantasy’, so not to everyone’s taste, but I like it.

Anyway, an quick update on my life:

· The Public Health Project is going okay-ish. At least we’re writing stuff. Prob 1000+ words by now.

· Serious concrete plans are in place for a production of Joseph, run by me and Felicity at our church. Copies reserved, in the process of getting rights, rehearsal dates being set. I’m terrified that we’re supposed to be steering this thing.

· My dad has reached the grand old age of 50. Well, its actually tomorrow but my family came to Birmingham for a delightful lunch at the Red Lion in Alvechurch. Lovely food, excellent service, nice clientele. Good find, that one.

· My special study module (SSM) is on religious beliefs and I have lots of ideas mulling about for it.

· I’m about to commence work on my second ever painting on canvas about – Jenna’s kissing couple commission. I’m worried, because it’s got to be right.

Currently reading: Memoirs of a Geisha. Thought it was about time I did.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Zoo Trip

Ah, I’ve had a delightful do-nothing day. It’s been bliss. And on top of that my clarinet is back, fixed, polished, and ready to go! I’ve been battering out a few old tunes tonight. It’s amazing how well my fingers remember something they learnt 7 years ago… My bottom lip on the other hand does not remember and is a little sore!

Yesterday was the day of the long awaited London Zoo visit. There was 8 of us – me, my brother John, my sister Rachel, my cousins Lucy and Helen, and Helen’s friends Sophie and Sarah, and of course my uncle, Andrew, who was paying. Yes, he treated all of us. Yes, he has no wife or children of his own to suck away his money and he earns a goodly amount.

Anyway it was a beautiful spring day – the first proper warm day we’ve had I think. We had great fun travelling – trains, tubes and a lovely walk through Regent’s Park. London has the most beautiful parks. You simply can’t believe the size of them til you see it for your self.

London Zoo was smaller than I remember, and bits of it are sad and jaded, the big cat enclosures and the Bird House especially. But there were also some amazing things. The Butterfly paradise was exactly that. The brightly coloured exotic butterflies flap around you, landing on you, and its unreal – as if you’re in a film. I was enchanted!

The giraffes were as impressive as ever, and I was seriously surprised by the size of the Okapi – I thought they were similar to a small deer, and they’re more like a horse!

The predatory bird display was good, the penguin feeding was fun, the bug house made my skin crawl, and the spider monkeys were impossibly cute.

I was however disappointed by the lack of information available. When I go to the zoo, I want to read great long display info on the animals. Something about the animal, its relatives, habitat, feeding, behaviour, discovery, population size, conservation of, etc etc. At London Zoo, they’re made great condensed info boards, for kids (or those with short attention spans) but without any further information on display. This makes me sad. The world is continually being dumbed down.

But it was a lovely day out. I feel I ought to have had big thoughts about animal welfare and rights, and conservation, but apart from reading some literature produced by the zoo about their conservation work, I didn’t. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe just a lazy one…

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

MP3 Oracle

I’m on holiday and I’m bored. That’s all I have to say in my defence.


Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you?
Wow – Snow Patrol
This is either very good (everyone thinks I’m great) or very bad (everyone thinks I’m a weirdo). Hmm, I know which I think is true…<> <>
Will I have a happy life?
China In Your Hand – T’Pau

The words to the chorus:

Don't push too far
Your Dreams are china in your hand
Don't wish too hard
Because they may come true
And you can't help them
You don't know what you might
Have set upon yourself

Oooo, it’s telling me to leave the Medschool and stop working so damn hard.

What do my friends really think of me?
Life – Jamelia

Ooo, this is horribly dark - if I can’t have you, nobody can…

Do people secretly lust after me?
Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
Well, only sons of men of the cloth apparently!

How can I make myself happy?
Farewell ye Spanish Ladies – an orchestra, but which I do not know

Great clarinet solo – think its telling me that sending my clarinet off for a refit today will make me happy. Good, because it isn’t going to be cheap!

What should I do with my life?
Bout – Jamelia

How did she come up twice when I’ve only listened to the album once?! Anyway, this is all about being independent and strong. That’s definitely me!

Will I ever have children?
Your Song – Elton John (Ewan MacGregor from Moulin Rouge soundtrack)
I’m hoping this is because I would give any children of mine everything. This is has a full and lush production, and I think that just proves a point. When I say everything, I mean it. <>And because bringing them in to the world would make it a wonderful place for me.

What is some good advice for me?

A Winter’s Tale – the Magnets

‘It’s hard to be alone’. Maybe something about the fact that I find it difficult to let people in?
How will I be remembered?
Danger Zone – Gwen Stefani
Hilarious! True?
What is my signature dancing song?

Cursed – Robbie Williams

Hmm, love Mr Williams, but really not my dancing song. I’d have picked something by Franz Ferdinand or the Killers, or something disgracefully cheesy!
What do I think is my current theme song?
Wild Wood – Paul Weller
Nice song. Maybe I am trying to find my way out of the wild wild wood.
What does everyone think my current theme song is?
Voulez-Vous – Abba
O dear, this one is so true. My friends do rather think that I’m a ‘good time’ girl. Naughty, flirty, never serious!

What song will play at my funeral?
Crazy- Don McLean
Um, not exactly what I’d chose. But it’s not like I’m going to care.

What type of men / women do you like?
You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You
Any, it seems.
What is my day going to be like?
Round About Midnight – Sarah Vaughan
Think this is a heavy hint for an early night!

Go on, you know you want to - give it a go! If nothing else, it'll remeind you of some really great music you'd forgotten about, or some really bad stuff you should get rid of...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Family Rows

I’m currently sitting watching the most beautiful sunset from my bedroom window. It’s all soft pinks and purples, behind the silhouettes of budding trees. A balm on my soul.

I had my first row since getting back with Mum this afternoon. Unfortunately, we’re a family of passionate, stubborn people (passionate from the Mediterranean side, stubborn from the Irish) and although we get on famously when we’re getting along, we row like a nasty bar brawl when we’re not. This argument started over something ridiculous, as ever, and escalated to violent door-slamming and copious swearing by the end.

And by gods my mother is pig headed. I know that my siblings and I share a bad trait - we have to work stuff out for ourselves and hate being shown anything. I realised today that definitely comes from our mother. Jeez, but she was difficult. And she doesn’t listen when you try to reconcile with her.

So I gave up in the end, and took refuge in my room, with some music. All my decent piano music is in Birmingham, so I nicked my brother’s acoustic guitar and tried to remember every song I’d ever learnt.

Now my left fingers are very sore. And I hope my mother hasn’t poisoned my dinner.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Normal Service Resumes

I know, exams are no excuse for absenteeism, but I have been very busy. The exams are finally over now, and I’m on the train on my way home to sunny Sussex. At least I hope it’s going to be sunny… I’ve spend the last week stuck inside revising with the sunshine and blue skies jeopardising my chances of ever being a doctor, enticing me out to play. I did manage to resist, but still didn’t know enough pathology for Monday’s exam. It was a total nightmare. Thank God it was multiple choice. Even if you haven’t a clue what the red squelchy looking thing in the picture had been, in this life or a past one, you could just pick an answer.

Yeah, I did that a couple of times…

Wednesday’s Integrated Medicine and Surgery exam was much better – 100 MCQs and 50 extended matching set. I actually found myself enjoying the extended matching set questions, as they were matching up diagnoses with little case descriptions. It’s a nice feeling when you can read the description and know what it is before even looking at the options for the answer.

I haven’t slept brilliantly all week, fairly unsurprisingly, but weirdly enough the worst night was yesterday, the first night of the holiday. I kept waking up, panicking, my head running though causes of and differences between various conditions. Completely pointless and very sleep depriving.

Perhaps is because I don’t feel like I’m on holiday yet. I’m hoping that will change once I get home. I desperately need to unwind, as I’ve been feeling like a tightly wound spring for the last few weeks.

Anyway, I am sure some time doing absolutely bugger all will improve matters!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hmmm, no idea for a title....

I survived!

Yes that’s right, I didn’t cry, I didn’t run screaming from the ward, and I even passed.

I was terrible though. A walking bag of nerves and terror, in approximately equal parts, with a racing heartbeat and feeling very sick. I thought I’d failed every station (there were only six in the end) and nearly walked out half way through, because I just didn’t see the point of carrying on. I was really upset and annoyed at myself for being a complete failure when I went to get my feedback, and not looking forward to crying all over the examining consultants when they told me how bad I was. And then they all commented on my lovely bedside manner and good systematic approach and passed me! I got 3 Bs and 3 Cs, so I’m very happy with that.

But it did make me wonder how bad you have to be to actually fail… To be honest, I wouldn’t have passed me. And I do know of a few people who did fail. They must have been truly god-awful – rude to the patient, or not asking consent, or standing on the wrong side of the bed! Something fundamental, I’m sure. I did at least get those right!

(For anyone remotely interested, my surgical stations were a lipoma and massive unilateral lower limb lymphoedema, and the medical ones were aortic stenosis, left hemiplegia (stroke), pulmonary fibrosis and Parkinson’s)

The whole thing really got me thinking about why I panic so much over the practical exams. You know, the OSCEs, presentations, vivas - they all turn me to a snivelling wreck. And I wonder if it’s because everything I have ever wanted revolves around being a doctor.

Have you ever seen that episode of Scrubs, where Carla and JD are supposed to go to a photography exhibition? When they’ve had an argument because he asserted his doctor status over her as a nurse? Anyway, in this episode, Carla says to JD that his self esteem is so wrapped up in being a doctor, that it defines him and the way he sees the world. She says he looks down on her because she’s a nurse and he’s a doctor. And he says yes, sometimes he does.

That’s me. My self esteem is so caught up in medicine, and it defines who I am. Therefore, if I fail an exam its personal. Failing an exam is always going to be horrible, and ‘personal’, but to me it’s an attack on who I am. Not just something I’ve had a go at and got it wrong, don’t worry try again kind of thing, it’s actually failing at being myself. Being a medical student is how I define myself.

This could be a good thing – it might mean I really do want to do this, and it is going to satisfy me for the rest of my life. Or it might mean that the only reason I’m doing it is out of fear that I’ll be less of a person if I don’t.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm waaay too cool

Ooo, I am looking good tonight. It’s very cold in our house – due to the lack of cloud cover the nights are freezing, but hey, I’m willing to swap that for the days of Mediterranean skies and glorious sunshine – and I’m currently in bed, wearing socks and a woolly jumper over my pjs, wrapped in a duvet and fleecy blanket. And I’m dunking my biscuits in my tea. Once I’ve finished this, I’m going back to watching the Two Towers. It’s escapism from OSCE stress! I’m working my way bit by bit through the extended versions of the films, and it’s a lovely way to just switch off.

<>I started to write some more on fantasy and pigeon-holing people but the post got a little out of hand, and I got very tired, so I'll have to finish it tomorrow. Or Thursday, as tomorrow i'll possibly be going a wee bit crazy.

And I’m eating a bag of those damn sweets again.

OSCE in 41 hours.... argh!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Being myself for a change

I’ve been all by myself today. My housemates are both at home – their term finished last week, and so they’ve both gone home (one to Gloucester, one to Blackpool) for some time off. Not so for the medics! I do miss them being around, and I’m glad they’re not gone for too long. I tend to go a bit mental if left on my own for too long, you know, start talking to myself and stuff. I could never actually live alone, and have my own place. I’d end up driving myself mad. But it’s nice to occasionally have some time by myself, as it means I can do whatever I want, when I want.

So today, I stayed in my pjs til lunchtime, had the longest shower ever, pottered about tidying my room (it was covered in a fine layer of coloured paper and baby pictures due to paeds poster), went out on my bike, and finished up by doing some painting.

I went out on my bike because it’s been a fabulous spring day. The sun shone and even had some warmth in it (a first for this year!), the sky was eye-achingly blue, and everything seemed alive. Saw my first tree in blossom! Okay, so there were a few showers…but they were the short refreshing kind, and this is England. A day here is not complete without a precipitate of some kind falling from the sky.

I had my bike for Christmas this year. It’s nothing special, second hand, an ok sort of make, blue and silver. My Dad picked it up for £30 (his new bike cost more than 10 times that. Not that I’m complaining…much). There is one problem with this bike – it’s the largest size of ladies frame. I’m no short-arse (I’m 5’7½ ’’ – nearly 5’8’’ but not quite. Sigh) but even with the saddle as low as it can go, I’ve still got to jump to ride it. Which isn’t so good in Birmingham traffic. Put it this way, every taxi or van driver in Birmingham is out to get me. I swear. It isn’t great to be slightly offbalance and having to jump to get on your bike in busy traffic. I do think I’ll get better with this bike with a bit of practice, but today I just didn’t feel like toying with death, so I went along the tow path of Worchester and Birmingham Canal, between Bournville and the centre of town.

It was pretty good actually, bit puddley, some mud (most of which ended up all over me and my bike…). I like the tow path, because it’s flat and smooth, and there’s no traffic. You just fly along, minding the odd dog walker and Canadian goose (surely its time for them to bugger off home now?), and let your mind wander. It’s certainly done me the power of good.

I feel so much better – fresh air, exercise and a good think. Lovely. Back to the books tomorrow!

Ooo, and I finally got round to getting the acrylics out and having a play. Nothing serious, just a couple of studies for some ideas I have brewing. One is a study of Jenna’s kissing commission, which is practically there now, and one is the very beginning of a project that’s been fermenting in my brain for a while now. It’s going to be a series, based on the ‘elements’, which I am using as a very loose description – I’ve done some reading on it and I’m going with fire, air, earth and water as the basis of each of the four pictures. I’m going to portray them as women, as I’ve had lots of mother goddess ideas going on at the same time. Anyway, I spotted a photo of Charlize Theron in a pose I though could work for the fire element, so I had a go, using that as a reference. I like it, but it’s not right yet. I’ll get there though, there’s no hurry. It’s just lovely to be painting and being creative again.