Write with a pen.

October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last year, I started writing in pencil because I was working on so many calculations. Indeed, there was room for error last year. I could make some mistakes.

As I come closer and closer to finally entering the world of medicine, the pressure is building, and room for error is rapidly closing. In one of my classes, I actually must write in pen, if I want the ability to request a regrade.

The transition has been somewhat unsettling. A perfectionist at heart, I felt that the ability to erase seemed like a safe-haven — and it kept my notes looking flawless. But now I’m writing my problem sets and lecture notes in pen, because I need to practice.

I need to see my errors, understand them, and correct them. I need to highlight my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I need to learn to be better, faster, clearer — the first time around.

This year, I’m not f*cking around.

peanut butter cups and kit kats.

September 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

This week, I’ve had this insane craving for peanut butter cups. I don’t eat them often, but there was something about this week that made it difficult for me to abstain. In fact, I did the exact opposite and devoured an entire package of peanut butter cups from Duane Reade. I was probably a horrific sight to see after the crime, but it just felt right. It felt like being a kid again — before I knew that eating a whole pack of candy was the wrong thing to do, before I knew anything really.

When I was young, there were these special nights when Papa came home from work with treats for my older sister, Dianne, and me. Ate Dianne usually got Crunch Bars or something of the like, but I always got Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats.

I never knew why Papa always got me peanut butter cups and Kit Kats. I don’t remember telling him that I favored the two types of chocolate, and, actually, I have always been pretty impartial. I’d eat anything. Nevertheless, Papa would come home with those treats in tow, each type seemingly chosen with one of his daughters in mind.

Maybe he wanted to be consistent. Maybe he saw how savagely I devoured them when he first gave the peanut butter cups to me, and he thought, “Well, that’s what Milna likes best!” Maybe that’s all the store had. Maybe it was random. Or, maybe he wanted to make it a tradition, something sweet for his daughters to remember him by.

It happens to be one of the few things I do remember so vividly about him. It makes me wonder about him. I wonder where he got them from. Was it from schoolkids selling candy for a fundraiser? Was there a store near his dealership in Jersey City? Did he stop by there every few days to pick up lotto tickets?  And, while he was on line, did he throw the chocolates on the counter and add it to his bill? Did he think to himself, “While I’m at it, might as well? For the girls.” Did he even think in English?

I don’t know, and I wish I could ask him. It may not seem like any of this really matters, but there is so much I’d ask him if I could talk to him today. And it wouldn’t have to be deep. It wouldn’t have to be life-changing. I wouldn’t need to know if he was proud of me or what he’d do differently about his life.

I just want to know more about him.

As time passes, I feel that I forget more and more about my father. I knew him when I was too young to know anything, to appreciate anything, to savor anything.  Sometimes, I think that I’m forgetting the sound of his voice. Like I’m losing what little I have left of him. And that’s frightening to me.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of another year in what’s been a lifetime of growing, learning, and living without my father. Perhaps that’s why my subconscious craved for a piece of my innocent past, a taste of what I once had.

A father who brought home peanut butter cups for his youngest daughter, the one he’d never really get to know too.

Enter the grind.

September 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve made my decision. I’m going to “link” to medical school. What this means is that, instead of applying to dozens of medical schools next summer (and entering medical school in the Fall of 2013), I will be applying through a special program at my school. The deadline for my application is December 1 of this year (AH!), and I will apply to only one school. The admissions committee at Columbia’s Postbacc Premed Program will choose whether to nominate me for linkage. Upon nomination, the school of my choice will either accept me or reject me, and that acceptance is contingent upon getting a 34 on my MCAT next April or May. If all goes well, I’ll be a medical student somewhere in New York City — one year from now.

I just had to say that, to write that, to make that real. Life is about to get intense this semester, in a way that I have never known, and I’m still trying to get all the sand out of my apartment. This week has been the first week of hard work — the first of many endless days, but I have decided to stay true to this commitment to myself and to my future in service.

This is serious for me. Getting to the next step means I must succeed right now.  A week ago, the thought of that seemed so intimidating to me that I could hardly keep the anxiety at bay. I’ve since regained my composure, but the gravity of it all remains clear to me.

I am going to work with all I’ve got, so if you don’t see me until next summer, I apologize.  However, I do promise my dear girlfriends that, 5 years from now when I am a doctor, I will give you a life’s worth of antibiotic prescriptions for your many issues. Ride or die, ladies.

Ride or die.

For lack of words.

August 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve been trying to write for weeks now, and I just sit in front of the screen — without anything to say.

Now, that I’ve entered this new, odd world, inundated by science, I feel exhausted by the end of the day. It takes work to refocus the way I view the world — to see it with the eyes of a scientist. And then when I find the time to reflect on what I have learned, what I have felt, what I have sensed, my thoughts fall away.

On my desktop sits a quotation that serves as a daily reminder of what I need to do. It comes from one of the greatest thinking men in history, and it says, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

I agree, so I’m going to cut the shit and start thinking again.

You must trust.

April 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just read the words, “Trust the Universe,” and it immediately made me feel good.

I like the idea of fate. The idea that everything will somehow come together. The idea that, little by little, piece by piece, everything will be in the right place at the right time, because you were meant to be as you are with what you have, with what you know. Indeed, you were meant to be as you are where you stand. Today and for always.

At times, it can be a relief to think that I’m not behind the wheel. But, despite the fact that I like the idea of fate, my actions expose my true belief system. I believe in work. For me, it’s much easier not to trust the unknown – the universe, everything that’s seemingly out of your control – and, instead, rely on work. You do work; you get stuff done. You drive every moving part forward. Without you, nothing changes.

But when I look at the life that unfolds around me, I can’t help but see how wrong I am. My life is the product of both chance and persistence, serendipity and diligence, good timing and great follow-through. Everywhere I’m headed starts with the blessings and the opportunities I’ve been given, and is realized by late nights, sweat beads, and tired hands.

It can’t be as simple as just trusting in myself, or even just in fate. So, I’d make an amendment.

Trust in yourself and in your power to do. The universe will see you through.

give of yourself.

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

When you think you’ve done enough, do more.

It’s all worth it.

Just wow.

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

So, last night, the Bataan Association/Foundation hosted the annual Fall of Bataan fundraiser to support our scholarship program in the Philippines. After weeks of planning, inviting, writing, updating, shuttling, etc., etc., BAUSA has another charity event under its belt, and it feels good.

I want to thank my friends and family from the bottom of my heart for supporting the Bataan Association and for believing in our mission. We’re going to send 12 young people from Bataan to college this year, and that’s going to make such a huge difference.

Right now, I’m feeling spent from a weekend of do-gooding with my family. Very spent, but well spent.

Well spent indeed.