What happened to Project 52?

The short answer: I gave up.

The long answer: Exams were upon me and then over the Christmas holiday, I didn’t have easy access to the internet. . . and I gave up.

{29} Exams, what exams?

Exams are around the corner, and my Facebook feed is buzzing with frustrated status updates and calls to religion. The academic world is stressed and it’s not just the students. Lecturers are cramming in last minute tutorials, tutors are trying to get the thickest of skulls to understand the most complicated concepts.

And me? I’m blogging in class one week before my first exam.

Pictured here: model student.

Exams should come labeled like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’m talking FDA mandated black box style warnings here because, frankly, life-threatening side effects are likely to result from the misuse of this drug.

A good healthy dose of panic is all well and good, but in the long run all it guarantees you is hypertensive heart failure. And possibly tin foil hats.

I’m guilty of the same things as everyone else (wittily expounded on here in this article from Cracked) but I like to think that as a professional procrastinator stress won’t kick my butt (too badly).

In the past I’ve done nothing differently when exams got closer. I’d been looking at past questions and reviewing my notes from the year started. And those exams didn’t ask you to remember much anyway.

Medical school is an entirely different kettle of fish. I do nothing for the first half of the semester and then suddenly wake up a month before the exams to a wonderland of gargantuan titles, obscure diseases and complex pharmacology. Joy.

Like this girl. Except with less LSD.

But I’m still not stressing (much). I have to completely rearrange my schedule, rethink my study strategies (invent study strategies, more like) and really really try not to fail this.

It’s a working progress and we’ll see the results in about two months. Crossing my fingers.


P.S. I owe Project 52 and entry from last week! I’m behind on everything but I’ll get to it soon.

{28} I know I’m getting Older when…

..when I start actually thinking about getting older.

Just last Saturday when I was on break at dance class, I happened across the group of younger dancers hiding out in a spare room. They were occupied with play-doh and their own innocent world of magic, and when I entered everybody stopped talking. It was like a grown-up had walked in. When I asked them if I could see what they were up to, I got a resounding NO.

I remember the days when kids that age would have loved me. Would have loved playing with me and making up silly stories, and making me plaster on play-doh fingernails, too. Not so any more. It’s like I’ve crossed an invisible line into grown-up land. Like I’ve lost that aura of youth which is so obvious to little children. I am not one of ‘us’ anymore, I’m one of ‘them’.

But strangely, growing up isn’t as dramatically devastating as I expected it to be. Without fanfare, without recognition, I’ve passed quietly from the world of playmate into the realm of caretaker. Not a friend, but a mentor.

It’s a sobering thought, that I can’t stop this getting older business, that it’s happening even if I don’t want it to. But, even stranger, I’m not sure I want it to stop.

{27} Remember, Remember

There’s lots of things we think of when November rolls around, not just gunpowder, treason and plot. November means All Saints’ Day, Día de los Muertos (hat tips to anyone celebrating those lovely cultural days) Thanksgiving. And November means Christmas shopping.

All Saint’s Day and Día de los Muertos were observed yesterday on the first. I’ve always wanted to see a Día de los Muertos celebration; the idea of commemorating ancestral spirits holds a special kind of appeal for me.

That, and I really love dead people.

As a non-American, Thanksgiving is actually the last thing that comes to mind when I think about November. But it’s not foreign to my culture at all. In fact we Jamaicans tend to be hyped up on US culture (what with living under their thumb) and it’s mostly because of the expats and the tourists who pretty much live here. So when you walk into certain supermarkets in certain areas of town, Halloween tricks, Thanksgiving treats and Christmas toys are all up for sale.

In different sections of the store, of course.

November for us is really a transition month. In October we had (not Halloween!) Heroes’ Day, our local/cultural celebration. It’s like Founder’s Day in the States, only it’s a bank holiday as well. Then you’ve got Christmas in December. And we ex-colonies really love our Christmas holiday. So November is the month that gets relegated to things like clearance sales (so shops can stock up on overpriced Christmas gizmos), early Christmas carols (played by overeager radio stations) and a preponderance of Christmas cards (so you know exactly what to spend your paycheck on). It’s one big pre-Christmas jamboree.

November also marks the end of the hurricane season, so that's another reason to spend horrible amounts of money. (Read: celebrate)

And I must say I love the feel of Tropical Christmas in the air. The cooling breeze. The overstocked department stores filled with people spending more money than they have. The Christmas paadnas coming to fruition. The children who get to go crazy for two weeks before they get OD’d on worm medicine to go back to school.

Ah, good times.

{26} Giving away books is like giving away pieces of my soul.

Giving books away doesn’t really hit you until you’ve dropped them off in the donation box, and you realize they’re not yours any more. And you don’t realize, until you’ve dropped off your motley collection, that it’s a revelation of who you are (much like rifling through someone’s trash).

I donated seven books to my class charity the other day. (we’re collecting donations of tin foods, children’s toys and books to give out to various homes/places of safety in Montego Bay). It didn’t matter that they weren’t my favourites, it still felt like I was cutting the invisible thread that binds reader and book.

Does anyone else feel that way? As a reader, when I read a book I make a connection; whether or not it’s a good book, I believe in it for the hours or so that I’m invading its world. That connection, for me, is real and tangible. And despite the fact that by the time I’m done with them I’m glad to have finished it, I’ve still read it. I know the story; I know which passages will evoke this memory, that feeling; I know the characters. And regardless of how ‘bad’ a book is, reading it has affected me. It’s changed some thought process, some idea, some way I previously had of viewing the world and myself.

Because that’s what I love about books: the way they challenge you. Reading for me isn’t just about the story – it’s about the aftereffects as well. It’s about what I can learn, how I can reinvent myself, and how I can change the world.

So giving away books is different from giving away cash or even food. It’s a sharing – the hope that the someone who receives it will be touched or changed in some way, that it will be exactly what that someone needs.

I am at one end of a paper cup telephone, waiting to see who’s on the other end of the line.

Half-way mark, guys! Only 26 more posts to go for Project 52!

{25} I must be insane

Whoever heard of someone reading for a medical degree and doing a cartload of extra-curriculars? That don’t give you extra credit.

In addition to my not insubstantial class load (classes 8-12 every morning; evening tutorials from 4 to 8, 3 times a week; lab exercises; study time; rescheduled classes), I’ve seen it fit to take up:

Dance club presidency
Directorial position in Rotaract Club
I had initially offered to be secretary of the Writer’s Club, but had to withdraw when I realized I was completely off my rocker.
Secretarial positions both in class and for the faculty’s outreach club (though to be honest I was appointed in these roles)

This is, of course, in addition to my regular dance classes outside of school. And I’ve volunteered for yet another production for my aunt’s church just because I love and dearly missed the choreographer. (Wonderful woman. Yells a lot. Throws shoes.)

I’ve already forfeited eating time to get more work in, but I’m not sure I can give up the sleeping so easily. While it may be considered attractive to be stick-thin, bags under your eyes are never fashionable. (She says at 1a.m. instead of sleeping).

I dance.
I write.
I study.
I . . . die a slow death from sheer exhaustion.

My epitaph will read:

She tried.

{24} Project 52 – what the hell is it, and why am I doing this again?

Project 52 was born out of an insane desire to actually make regular blog updates. (Who does that? I don’t know a single person who does that in real life). And like the special cookie I am, I decided that the challenge would be worth a shot. The second purpose behind P52 was to improve my writing skills through the diligence and dedication of consistent updates.

So far?

Near total failure.

Instead of motivating me to write, I’m shirking my duties because the looming deadline is counterproductive to my creative juices. And instead of forcing me to dish out high-calibre work weekly, it’s making me serve crappy, low-quality writing that I wouldn’t even want to read in a tabloid magazine. Project 52 would pretty much be considered a wasted effort, except – what was it Edison said? – I may have failed a thousand times before learning the right way to maintain a blog, but I learned one thousand ways not to maintain one.

Which is basically a ridiculously circuitous way of saying that I learned more from trying and failing and trying and half-assing than I would have from just doing nothing. The mere fact that I pushed myself to get an update out every week – the mind-numbing searches for content, the depressing site statistics, the rare and priceless feedback – has given me so many lessons. What’s that oft used expression?

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.

I’m nobody’s fool (for very long anyway), but there are some things you have to learn the hard way, and blogging is one of them. For me, at least.

So I’m not quite ready to give up on P52 just yet. Here’s to entry #25 and 27 more weeks of trying to get it right.

{23} Rules of Blogging III – Networking

I’m going to need to do a bit of technical manoeuvring to get these dates in order. I hate missing posts.

When is xkcd not appropriate?

The long-term benefits of networking have been proven by sociologists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis other than my own meandering experience.

There’s no way a blog or blogger can exist in a void. No man is an island, and even without thinking about it or meaning to, everything we say and do impacts someone else. That’s even more true for bloggers, whose sole purpose is to put things out there to reach people. That means reaching readers (hard enough) and reaching other bloggers.

I think the trick to it is not considering the other bloggers as competition. Y’know, it’s not like BK and Mickey D’s in the Blogosphere. Unlike large chain fast food restaurants, we small fries kind of need each other to survive. And wasn’t the whole reason for blogging to make friends anyway?

Maybe not.

The point remains that most of us are small fish in a huge pond, and working together is really only in our best interests. Know a blogger? Help them out. Remind them to post, often. Talk to them about their ideas. It’ll make both of you feel better.


{22} This is going to be very unimpressive.

Let me put it to you straight: I’m in class, I’m tired, and my humour level is scraping the bottom of the barrel this morning. This post is going to be poor. In order to compensate, I’ll try to put in lots of pretty pictures to keep you occupied.

As a medical student, I think the thing I look forward to most is having people believe whatever I tell them.

Apparently searching 'doctor god complex' just gives me lots of Doctor Who spoilers.

It’s a sad fact, however, that the average patient is becoming much better informed than they were ten or twenty years ago. As a result, doctors have patients coming in and demanding treatment before the doctor can even diagnose.

You want me to WHAT?

I’m not saying patient education is a bad thing, and it definitely makes a doctor’s work easier when patients are well-informed. The problem arises when they think they’re better informed that the doctor, and they want to say what/how the doctor should prescribe.

At least a doctor’s job is rarely ever boring. And what with abusive patients, stubborn patients and eager-to-please patients, I just can’t wait to start clinical years.

{21} Doctors sing and dance, too.

The medical class at the University of the West Indies puts on an annual fundraisng theatrical production called Smoker. I’ve never been to one, but from what I hear the response is par for the course with theatre: kind of a big deal for some, negligible for others. As for me, it’s theatre: there’s no way this production could pass me by.

Of course, that’s not so easy with me stuck all the way on the second campus while all of the action is going on on the main. Despite the distance, I managed to get elected on the Smoker Committee – as Script Editorial Chair! Communicating/coordinating with the main campus is a pain at best, but now that they’ve gone and split my post between myself and the runner up, I’m given to wonder if they won’t start to bypass my input altogether. Which would suck. A lot. Especially as I’m determined to contribute in some (major) way to this thing.

So for the time being I’m just waiting. Our production won’t happen for another year or so, since the class ahead of us has just had their weekend. I’m all geared up for it, and so impatient to start planning, but everyone around me is kind of lukewarm about the whole thing. I’m being generous. The atmosphere is more like that chilly feeling you get when you dip your toe into an unheated pool. My campus has been really supportive of me, so I won’t complain. And I’m not sure the main campus is any more. . . enthused than we are. I guess it’s up to the committee to inspire the fervour. I just hope they don’t look at me; I’ve got about as much fervour as one of the cadavers downstairs. And about as much chance of sharing it.

I’ll just sit tight with my red pen and wait to do what I do best. Hopefully the ink won’t dry out before I’m called to duty.