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“You’re Not My Homeland Anymore”

Or “So I’m Leaving Out the Side Door” Part Two

Since this post is a sequel to that one, I’m posting the lyric video again.

In “exile” from folklore, Taylor Swift and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver are singing to and about an ex-lover. For me, the song has taken on a totally different, personal meaning.

It’s held steady as my favorite song on folklore (with many others way, way up there, at this moment the next closest has to be “the lakes”) because the whole concept of exile seems to fit my life right now. Even if it’s (semi) self-imposed.

For me the you of the song isn’t an ex, isn’t a lover, isn’t a person at all.

It’s medical school. It’s medical training as a whole. It’s the medical education industrial complex.

“So I’m leaving out the side door”

I’m leaving medical school.

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(Overdue) Writing Update: Second Place in Kay Snow

KaySnowContestLast month, I posted a much-overdue writing update about being published in Aerial. In continuing that trend, here’s another update that is also long overdue.

Last year, I placed second in the Kay Snow Writing Contest in the category for graduate-level students. I’d previously placed third in Kay Snow nonfiction back in 2013 for an essay. This was the first time I entered since. You do have to wait a couple years to be eligible again (I think two or three) and I gave it six.

The piece I entered was a memoir chapter called “Eclipses of Jupiter” (previously called “Constant Eclipse” on here) a flashback chapter in Moonchild, the memoir project I’m working on (which you can read about in this sketch, and on my Memoir page, and see lots of posts about here).

It was also the chapter I read, so long ago, at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC as part of The Best Memoirists’ Pageant Ever in 2007, which I apparently never posted about back in the day, though I was sure I had (couldn’t find anything in my drafts either). The picture on my bio page comes from that event.

One of these days, I’d love to get published AND paid for a piece of writing. It’s always been one or the other, never both. This was a cash prize, of $100. Plus a free day at the Willamette Writers conference.

I had plans for that. The timing was perfect for the conference last summer. It fell towards the end of an Enrichment Week at medical school, meaning we had to sign up for activities but most of the week was totally open. Meaning that I could go. Meaning that my writing life and my medical student life were brilliantly coalescing for the second time that year. Back in March, the yearly AWP conference had been here, in Portland, on my bus line, perfectly overlapped with my Spring Break. It was all so charmed.

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The Artist’s Way Reflections – The Basic Tools: The Artist Date

Artist DateIn The Artist’s Way, the seminal book on creativity, author Julia Cameron introduces two Basic Tools, after the introduction and before the week-by-week chapters. These two Basic Tools, she says, are the cornerstone to connecting with creativity.

The first is Morning Pages, discussed in last week’s Artist’s Way Reflections column, the practice of writing three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind every morning. I’ve wrestled with these pages, but ultimately find them to be helpful, a way to connect to what I’m actually feeling, which isn’t always easy but is in its own way grounding. They’re also a good source of fresh ideas, a way to puzzle through problems and often a place to dump the mental waste before starting the day.

The second Basic Tool is the Artist Date. You’re supposed to go on a “date” with your artist self once a week. Do something fun for an hour and no one else is allowed to come along. Quality time with your creative side.

And I’m going to be real. I get the theory behind it, it all sounds great when Julia Cameron extols the values of an Artist Date. But in actuality, I hate it.

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“So I’m Leaving Out the Side Door”

This morning, I did a thing. It has to do with what is for now still unsayable but which came up a lot in this anguished post earlier this week. This thing I did is a huge step towards being able to talk openly about it, which I’m dying to do.

This song was playing at the crucial moment of doing the thing, and that’s where the title for the post comes from. Even though my situation is so different from what Taylor Swift and Bon Iver are singing about, everything feels like it fits. It’s my current favorite off of folklore, and I don’t think that’s an accident.

Lines that stick out for me at the moment, aside from the one used in my post title include:

“you’re not my homeland anymore”

“you were my town
now I’m in exile seeing you out”

“second third and hundredth chances
balancing on breaking branches”

and the one line I always want to scream along with the perfect bridge of this song

“I gave so many signs”

Spoiler alert: The sequel to this post, “You’re Not My Homeland Anymore” is now live and spills all the tea on this cryptic post.

Until next time,

-April

Creativity Goals Check-In July 26, 2020

goals1

This is a column I’m going to start doing weekly on Sunday nights (or thereabouts depending on circumstances). I’m going to check in on how I did that past week, and post what my creativity goals are for the coming week.

I wrote about this a bit in my recent re-entry post “Jumping Back into the Blogging Ring” – I’m really motivated by goals and plans, and I’ve found myself relying on that more and more in our corona times. I spend a lot of time thinking about goals and planning, and figured I’d share.

With today being the first one, I thought it made sense to start out by talking about what I’m working on. I really struggled to come up with a cohesive goal list or plan for the year even before everything went upside-down and I still feel like week to week and sometimes day by day is how I’m taking things. I’ll try to write something for August that’s a more overarching plan for the month, so hopefully I’ll come up with that in the next couple of days.

But for now here are the main things I’m working on:

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Jumping Back into the Blogging Ring

IMG_0349When I started posting again in April, as April, I thought I’d come back quickly to regular blogging. Yeeeeeah, about that. Clearly that wasn’t the case.

I’m going through some major life upheavals, and though I won’t go into it now, I plan on posting about it on here at a later time. Right now, a lot of it is still under wraps, kept off of here and off of my social media, but as things move forward that will start to shift.

There’s just a lot to work out and through and I’m really in the shit right now.

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Med School Application Journey Crisis Point

NOTE: This is not a new post. This post is from April 2018. I was looking to link to it and found I’d taken it down, reverted it to a draft (I also found a bunch more drafts of posts I thought were published in there, oooops). I guess I took it down once I decided to go to medical school, bury the evidence of my ambivalence.

So, yeah, spoiler alert: I went.

Here’s the post from April 2018:

There’s an episode in Season 7 of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai has to write a character reference to Luke. When she tells Rory that she can’t write the letter, they have this exchange:

Rory: Sounds like you’re overthinking this. Maybe if you just put pen to paper.

Lorelai: I tried that, I thought, “I’ll just sit down and write whatever comes – no judgment, no inner critic.” Boy was that a bad idea.

Rory: Really? Why?

Lorelai: Because my brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish. “I’m writing a letter, I can’t write a letter, why can’t I write a letter? I’m wearing a green dress, I wish I was wearing my blue dress, my blue dress is at the cleaner’s. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue, ‘Casablanca’ is such a good movie. Casablanca, the White House, Bush. Why don’t I drive a hybrid car? I should really drive a hybrid car. I should really take my bicycle to work. Bicycle, unicycle, unitard. Hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey, monkey, underpants!”

Rory: Hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey, monkey, underpants?

Lately, like for the last month, my brain feels like hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey monkey underpants.

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My Medical School Application Journey (So Far)

pre-medimageI had my first medical school interview a few days ago, and I feel like cataloguing my experiences here, as a way to both share the experience I’m going through in applying to medical school as a non-traditional applicant with a disability, and also as a way to collect some of my impressions in one place.

To back up a little, I applied this summer. After my final final exam as an undergraduate (physical chemistry), later that afternoon I started filling out the application. No rest for the determined. I submitted my application in July, applying to 19 schools. This sounds like a lot (and it is) but I know people who’ve applied to double that many. In September 2016, I sat down with my finances to plan out how much I needed to have saved for each step of the process and had determined that if I met those goals, I could apply to ~18 schools. So pretty much on target.

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MCAT Results

I just realized I never updated my site with the results.

Scores for my test date came out on Oct 27th, a little bit after noon and very soon after I got off of work. I was still at my workplace (a tutoring center) and everyone was busy, so I was just walking around the office, pulling up the scores on my phone.

Here are the results:
IMG_1239Needless to say, I’m over the moon about my score. And hugely relieved that I don’t need to tackle this beast of a test ever again.

I’m also really, really grateful to all the people who helped with this, and all the events that fell into place, like winning a prep course I never could’ve afforded, my boss letting me basically take the month before the test completely off, the people who helped me get accommodations, all the people who helped me understand physics better, all the people who were understanding when I wasn’t all that available this summer and early fall, the people who knew exactly when a much-needed break was mandatory and invited me out to do things, all the encouragement and support that people around me offered (via text, long phone calls, emails, conversations), all the professors that gave me a solid background in the sciences, and whatever luck allowed me to get a verbal score that was better than my practice tests.

When I got my score, I was in shock. I won’t lie, I expected to get a good score, I knew I had solid understanding of the subjects (tutoring a lot of them was a major help), but there seemed to be so many factors in all of the sections that I really was preparing myself to get a lower score than predicted, and had told myself I would not retake anything over a 510. So  to get a score that high, I was kind of in shock. I still remember after I first checked it, trying to write my first text to tell someone and my hands shaking so much I couldn’t get the text out right away.

This past weekend, I celebrated with a karaoke party, which was a total blast!

Who knows what will be next?

~EJ

Battling the First Practice Test (Diagnostic) – MCAT 2015

mcatpracticeA few days ago, I took the official AAMC (company that issues the MCAT) sample test as a diagnostic to see where I’m at. Took it on the comp using my wonderful black background and took part of it on my iPad while the iPad was dying. Since it’s timed, I got a charger but the cord was short and I had to sit scrunched under a desk so it could charge while taking the test. Uncomfortable testing conditions for sure, but at least I had that black background!

Oh and contrary to the image I found for this post, this sample test was not free!

Here are my impressions of the sections. I don’t think I’m allowed to discuss specifics for the sample test so I will be more general here.

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