Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Whole New World

I've been holding off on making a post because there are so many wonderful things I want to speak to regarding the last 2 days of my life.

A quick note in the interim to all the amazing people (friends, bloggers, family members, professors, strangers) who have given me an unending supply of encouragement over the past year and a half:


It's over baby. I went in, did my best. A challenging exam to be sure.

I will be spending this weekend hiking in the Valhalla mountains to decompress and get ready for the upcomming chapter in my life.

More to follow. But in the meantime--don't worry that I've had a nervous breakdown, shaved my head and abandoned the med school goal for ashram living.

Monday, August 25, 2008

'Twas the Night Before MCAT

Dear Blog Readers (yes I believe that I can make 'reader' plural),

In case you haven't pieced the obvious together I am writing the MCAT tomorrow.

I am desperately trying to be zen about the whole thing, which is proving near futile.

I know that the score tomorrow isn't going to define the rest of my life, and that it will not dictate if I get into med school or where. It may throw a wrench into the "when" part of the equation if I bomb it as I will have to rewrite and reapply (oh JOY!) again next year.

Ahh, next year. I can't even think about that.

This will be the longest and most intense exam I have written to date. So if any of you out there have any vibrant words of encouragement, last minute strategies, personal anecdotes of how you were bombing practice exams and then shone like an Asian prodigy on test day, or tips for what/how much to eat/drink during the 3 alloted 10 minute breaks it would be much appreciated. You can email me at subtleanvil(at) if you don't want the blogosphere to know that you soiled yourself on test day but still got into Stanford.

I will spend the rest of the day trying to fight the urge to curl into the fetal position and suck my thumb and/or watch reruns of 'The Office' on my laptop.

1200h MST tomorrow...please send God/Allah/Buddha/Confucius/Mother Earth/Pan/Universe--whatever you believe in--- a shout-out on on my behalf.

Studiously yours,


Saturday, August 23, 2008

"And There's a Fuc*#ng Ferrari"

I had my first ride in a Ferrari last night.

Which coincided with the first time I have ever felt cool getting out of a car or driving down a "strip". I feel very uncool and unhip 99.999% of the time, partially due to the fact that for the past year my pants almost always exhibit a drawstring waist, and my footwear--laces.

Yeah. Orthotics and sweat pants are really hot this season I hear.

I recently bought a new toyota matrix, which I love. It gets pretty good gas mileage, I can throw my bike/skis in the back no problem, and I can sleep quite comfortably in it with the seats down. These are all major bonus points which I appreciate on a regular basis...

But I can tell you it does not cause anyones jaw to drop, nor does it cause random strangers to hang out of their vehicles to compliment you on your 'ride'. People don't rev their engines when they are stopped next to me at a light. No. The matrix can do a lot of things, but it doesn't do any of those.

Riding in my friend Kate's 355 Ferrari last night (in pants with a zipper and shoes with heels) I saw what happens when you are sitting in a car that gives some men wet dreams. It was pretty hilarious. I may have to post some pictures...

The quote of the night goes to a 20-something guy who was sitting on a park bench near a set of lights that we were parked at. He was deep into some story of woe, it looked like he was listing off several things that had gone wrong for him that day, or month, or whatever...his friend was nodding sympathetically. When the guy looked up and saw the car he then added to the list as he threw up his hands,

"And there's a fucking ferrari..."

Oh yeah baby.

But like all things good and bad, it had to end. I woke up this morning to find my guise of coolness has once again vanished and I am back to being just a girl in sweatpants driving a matrix.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reality Check

I am embarrassed at what a whiny baby I have been lately.

"Poor me, I am writing the mcat next week!"


The news today has given me a reminder that I needed...of the fact that my life is so good I ought to be singing from the rooftops not wallowing in self pity.

Nothing like a good dose of reality to remind one of all the things I ought to be thankful for.

For starters, the fact that my brothers are alive.

I won't ramble on about it here as well, but another three Canadian soldiers died today in Afghanistan. They were all from my brother Russ' Battallion. No matter what your feelings are about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, hearing about young men and women dying is saddening and frustrating, so I opted out of my usually non-political postings and made one today on ohtanninbound in their honor.

My heart and prayers go out to their families.

Private Colin William, a medic who was killed July 7th.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Felt a Funeral in my Brain

I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead,
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.

And then a plank in reason, broke,
And I dropped down and down--
And hit a world at every plunge,
And finished knowing--then--

Emily Dickenson

Monday, August 18, 2008


The first thing that popped into my mind this morning was the Gibbs free energy equation.

I literally opened my eyes and before I could think,

"'s a new day...I'm going to make myself a coffee..."

I thought:

"Shit! Is it spontaneous if the answer is negative or positive, and what is it if the S is negative and the H is positive?"

This is no way to start the day.

I haven't even cracked biology yet. Exam is a week away tomorrow. Oh. Crap. Make. It. Stop.

Is that a funeral march I hear??

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I am Leo Hear

Today is my birthday.

So to celebrate my last year as "someone in their twenties" I've decided to do a little comparing to the birthday that brought me into this decade.

Hmm...only a few subtle differences.

Well, at that stage in my life there was a core group of us that became somewhat recognized as a band of creative merrymakers. Ones that were skilled at throwing wildly successful and entertaining theme parties.

I can't really go into details because the last thing anyone needs is a ruined political career...Some of the themes included, "Cowgirl Divas" and "Rockstars and Girls in White Panties" (if you get the Mike Meyers reference you earn 10 points) . Only a handful of these print photos are now starting to show up on Facebook, which makes me thank the gods of modern technology that digital photography was NOT mainstream during my early twenties.

My birthday party's theme was "X-Women" because of the hype around the recently released summer blockbuster "X-Men". Ahem. Yes it was that long ago.

We rented a bar for the night that my friend Shelley owned, which soon became filled with scantily clad super-heroes and heroines. I had even rented a full costume and wig for my "Ice-Queen" portrayal (part of my homage to the Snow Queen, but with a more evil sounding twist).

Oh my oh my was it ever a blast. The bits I remember. I do recall that it was the only time in my life that I needed double sided tape to keep the sides of a white sequin dress from revealing the top half of my birthday suit.

By the end of the night there was a lot of smeared mascara, scattered glitter, sweat-stained Lycra, and beer-soaked feather boas in the bar, making it a birthday that will forever stand out in my mind. Well...excerpts from it least.

Today I am alone. Studying for the exam-which-will-soon-be-dead-to-me. I drove out to hang with my family only to find that the twins are both out of town with their kids for a holiday. It's okay, I'll kick back here in this quiet (air-conditioned-thank-GOD) house and keep myself busy.

This evening I will treat myself to a road ride on MY NEW BIKE!!!!!!!!!! (aka birthday present to self).

And then study some more.

So let's see, 20th Birthday:

-private bar party
-surrounded by friends
-making music
-wearing wig and snazzy dress
-hot rockstar boyfriend
-mind suitably altered for evenings events
-sweaty Lycra
-stress free existance

29th Birthday:
-sweaty Lycra from road ride

Wheeeew! Glad there is at least one similarity!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Two Weeks Left

At this exact time in 14 days I will be half way though my MCAT.

Excuse me while I go have a panic attack.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Uncle Fester

I can't take credit for the name as it was my pal Craig who coined it on our hike last week, but here's "Uncle Fester" at about day 10.
Since when do blisters get blisters? It just ain't right!
I'm proud of him in a twisted way, he's kinda grown on me (pun intended). But I've had enough. I've been trying to train for my Himalayan trip (and possibly a race in September) but have had all kinds of issues; Fester, something weird happening with my Rt. patellar tendon, and Rt. lateral plantar pain radiating up behind my lateral malleolus (my guess is peroneus brevis tendon).

It's really frustrating. And it makes me feel like a wuss complaining about it, especially since my dear friend (and athletic hero) AMG just won the Calgary marathon with a completely torn ACL. But I've been eating NSAIDS like candy and'd just be great to get out there and feel strong instead of spending the runs trying to distract myself from a demon pitchfork jabbing at various areas....does this mean I am getting OLD??? *gasp* Is this what it is like???

Especially nagging, wussie ones. I think next week I am going to try and take it easy. I tacked on 94kms of running in the past 2 weeks and 20kms of hiking. It's just tough because right now the only thing that makes me feel good is exercise...sigh...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Arctic Shopping

Bostonian in New York recently made a comment about obtaining fruit in the Arctic and I was reminded of a contract 2 summers ago working in Kugaaruk, Nunavut.
I had a three week contract there during a crazy RSV outbreak. It was just me and one other nurse manning the station in a community of about 800. It was pretty hectic and after a few days we got into the groove of trading off: I'd call the medevac, monitor the child while she went upstairs and slept, ate, brushed her teeth, and stared blankly at our one channel of CBC North. Then she'd come down a few hours later and we'd switch.

After two weeks of this we were sent a third nurse for relief who was a new NP grad lacking some basic assessment skills so we were forced to buddy her the entire time. Thus giving us no relief at all. It was a harrowing experience having 4 month olds come in with O2 sats of 76%, respiratory rates in the 70's and tracheal tugs you can see across the room. All this with the nearest medical facility hundreds of miles away by plane access only. By the end I could nearly do a respiratory assessment and peds I.V start in my sleep. I had also picked up my colleagues habit of yelling "cocksuck!" every time the on-call phone rang. Classy, I know. But it made us laugh.

I did get 2 days off in the three weeks there. One of those days I was able to get a paddle in with the mental health and addictions counselor. It was wonderful breathing fresh sea air and feeling the wind on our faces.

The locals were pretty cute.

But the "dairy section" left something to be desired.
(Note toilet paper roll in right corner).

And this was the fruit and produce section.

The local store had all but run out of any fresh food at all, there was no bread and no dairy that wasn't expired. That week the store manager did charter a flight however, bringing only the most essential item into town, Pepsi. No joke.

A week later some cottage cheese arrived, I bought several tubs and spent the rest of my time there surviving on cottage cheese and canned pineapple. It was to be the last time I traveled north without bringing my own food, despite the hassle and (occasional) heartache. Some trips my cooler would be left in an hot airport hangar for days and I'd get everything floating in 2 inches of thawed blueberries and their juice. Other times my food luggage would end up in -40 degrees outside, my soy milk frozen and exploded.

It's all part of the adventure I suppose.

Bostonian's comment brought me right back to the trials of healthy eating in the North. It's been almost a year since I was up there and had nearly forgotten that thorn-in-my-side to working there. And here I am, mindlessly enjoying all the local produce without a moments pause to really appreciate it.
Like strawberries that don't even need to be chewed, just pressed between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. I am reminded of the small blessings we take for granted every day here in southern Canada.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Internet is Weird

So. Weird.

I am a stat junkie. A numbers girl. So I like seeing how people stumble onto my site. I get a kick out of finding out what searches or other blogs are linking me, which photos or definitions have lured people in.

I've noticed some very odd ways that the intertubes bring folks to my so-called-life blog, this blog, or my Flickr account.

I find it all very amusing that several times a day I get hits when car junkies search "AC cobra" they come up on a photo of my brother in his garage and then some ramblings about my family hanging out on the boat. I am sure they are less than impressed.

And although Raffi may no longer be a name on the lips of children across the nation, people still google him and apparently they come right into my clutches.

The "banana phone" lives on. Too bad the 'banana hammock' does as well.

And then there are the expected hits, like people finding me when they google "asystole" or "atrial fibrillation" and such, but there is one new, very odd, and somewhat unsettling net which is catching some folks surfing the web.

My friend Marnie's boot cast!

I tracked down the site but one needs some sort of profile to get in and I cannot be bothered to make up a bunch of bogus info and set up a fake email account just to get in...though I must say my curiosity is piqued. Evidentially there is some German fetish/forum for people with casts or on crutches. They like the looks of Marni and her one-crutch-wonder self and have linked to my site! These pics were from Nature Nerds staggette...and I figured they were pretty harmless. Apparently some folks find them hot...or should I say, heisse?

This photo has had over 350 views.

This one, over 750.


What kind of chafes me is that I am really pleased with many photos I have taken over the years, yet the nearly 2000 hit spike came from some photos of me and my friends leg wrestling and standing around watching each other do handstands!

Some of my favorite photos that I am actually proud of, like these ones below have only enjoyed a whiff of the attention the grainy blurred stag/crippled friend series have had!

Nunavut Day Celebrations
A Man Who Stole My Heart in the Arctic
The Underdog.
Glimpse into train station in Morocco.
The Market in Fez.

But no. It's the crutch that brings in the hits...this one

I am not so creeped out by it all to make my account private but it has certainly given me pause with regard to what gets some folks all hot and bothered. Medical conditions are sexy apparently and as my friends the Gillatrons have discovered, some people find them through searching "sexy woman wheelchair".
(Thanks for stealing my post idea E.C)

Is there a theme here?

Maybe I ought to start wearing a wrist brace or use a cane when I go to pick up groceries and see what happens...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Borderline Pleasant

Okay sometimes MCAT studying isn't sooooo bad...

Countdown is at 21 days.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Running out of Brain Cells

Kara and I decided that we wanted to do a long run today.

We made sure everything was in order: drank plenty of H20 last night and in am, had a great protein/carb breakfast, coffees. Only one thing was getting in the way of some sweet oceanside pavement pounding--both of us are working on some pretty remarkable instep blisters right now. We didn't want that slowing us down so she pulled out the first aid kit, slapped on some blister pads, and we were off.

At around the 13km mark I couldn't help but notice that my blister was giving me serious pain and I decided that said blister pads were useless. After the run I mentioned that the pads didn't seem to work as I hobbled around 'Picnic' with my recovery coffee. Kara then realized that she may have made a mistake and given us wart pads.

Great. Wart pads, nice. Nice one.

Salicylic acid+heat+sweat+friction+mileage+skin breakdown=perfect.

I pulled off my sock and found the circumference of the blister had tripled and so had the amount of fluid.

When her husband came home I made some joke about how she'd left her wart pads on the counter near the salsa and it was less than appetizing. To which her husband said:

"Wart pads? Those are the felt floor protectors for the bottom of the chairs! Not wart pads!"

Me: "Nooooooooo..."

He: "Yes!" as he flips over island stools and shows me.

Yeah. We're brilliant.