More Adventures of an Adventure-Prone Girl

Anecdotes of a (not so) recent graduate turned "mature student" and some of the stuff that happened before that

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A lifelong dream made fuzzy realityFor as long as I can remember, probably from shortly after I learned to write, every year when…View Post

A lifelong dream made fuzzy reality

For as long as I can remember, probably from shortly after I learned to write, every year when…

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How to catch you up on all that’s happenedEarlier this summer, when little was happening but life was good, it was easy to blog. Once I…View Post

How to catch you up on all that’s happened

Earlier this summer, when little was happening but life was good, it was easy to blog. Once I…

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Painting those lemons gold: Part IThis week has been a little rough.
Sometime after getting home from painting a naked Irish ginger…View Post

Painting those lemons gold: Part I

This week has been a little rough.

Sometime after getting home from painting a naked Irish ginger…

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The Guilt is Eating at Me

I thought I was okay to stop posting here, but I find I feel like I’m abandoning a puppy. I’ve been writing in my new blog, so I’m just going to link the new entries on over here. I’m not going to completely re-post them, but meet in the middle in an attempt to wean myself off tumblr. 

About procrastination: Counterproductive Productivity aka The Lesser of Two Evils

Relevant meme: There’s a logical explanation

About my birthday: I’m only getting younger

About filling free time: No more pencils, no more books

About my good news: Success!

About having guests: Preparing for a Guest

Phew. That’s a load off. Enjoy them, or don’t. As you will.

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I’m moving!

In a bid to become a “serious” blogger with “deep” thoughts and a desire to “better my creative writing” I’m switching to Wordpress. My new address is: iosonochesi.wordpress.com

I’ll try to come back here every once in a while to check on you guys, but I’m not sure yet whether I’ll go through the bother of update this blog. We’ll see. It’s been nice knowing you.

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Am I the right girl for the job?

This week the NUIG medical school is holding a memorial service for the families of the people who donated their bodies for use at our anatomy lab. It’s a very nice gesture and I badly wanted to be a part of it. We had a planning meeting and the organizers were looking for somebody to write a student address to represent our class. My friend looked at me and said “Casey, you’re a good writer.” 

She reads my blog.

God help me, but there is little motivation like an ego-boost. Thus convinced of my prowess in written expression I raised my hand to volunteer. 

Fool.

What I failed to consider before offering myself before the altar of respectability and appropriateness was the fact that most of my blog is neither respectable nor appropriate. Though it may be good for a brief distraction or a quick laugh, my voice here may not be the voice you would want to listen to while it talked about your dead grandmother’s body. 

I’m just guessing.

My earliest ideas had to be summarily dismissed. They mostly revolved around the concept of a captive audience and were not helped along by the Skype conversation with my family during which my brother and dad truthfully, though unhelpfully, declared that the grieving families’ loved ones were “great listeners.” Though there is something touching to be found in the idea of a disheartened med student’s confidant, the mental image created ends up looking more like one of those old women who bathes, dresses and talks to her companion for months after his death. 

No go.

Even my good ideas had to be tempered, carefully avoiding the very reason for the memorial service. I discovered it’s damn near impossible to talk about cadavers, however positively, while avoiding words like dead and body. I found it amazing, and frustrating, how easy it was to slip. Even concepts like anatomy, specific anatomical structures, or studying tread dangerously close to forbidden territory. “I’ll never forget the blood vessels of the abdomen thanks to my study of your loved one,” while well-meant, is perhaps better left unsaid.

I began to wonder if I was up to the task.

In the end, I think my little blurb will be a nice addition to the service. While I wasn’t able to completely avoid the no-no words, I think I managed to balance them with heartfelt sincerity. Strict avoidance of descriptive imagery may have also have helped. I even managed to keep a little humor in it by skipping over the deceased entirely and instead poking fun at our ineptitude as students, the future doctors of the world.

God help us all.

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Well that would be embarrassing

My blood sugars have been going crazy lately. I may have mentioned that and my related frustration once… or a hundred times. It just seems that the tiniest little change in my life has been having a greatly multiplied effect on my glycemic levels. The latest in the series has been Casey gets her bike.

It had seemed that things were finally leveling out. I even had slightly high *gasp* blood sugars once or twice which had been unheard of lately. Then I took my bike to be repaired. It got a new front tire, new rear brakes, and a new chain. It rides better than it ever did and I’m no longer taking the bus to school. The result: hypoglycemia galore. 

As I have been wont to do lately, I aired my frustrations through social media and had immediate confirmation that I have the world’s best friends.

I now know that in an emergency, especially one involving hypoglycemia, I want to have Harry around. He did not hesitate to caps lock yell at me to open my juice with a knife and drink it. A man of action is a good person to have around in a pinch. 

My other winning friend was Kait, who managed to strike the rare balance of caring and knowing what needed to be done and then, once sure the danger had passed, not being afraid to talk and joke about it.

After learning that I’d consumed enough sugar, she proceeded to scold me for almost dying before she could come visit me. What had me in stitches soon after was her assertion that dying because of a medical condition would be pretty embarrassing for a medical student. Later when I was trying to explain it to my parents over Skype, I was still laughing too hard to tell it properly.

Of course, should I be dead, I couldn’t very well be embarrassed, but she claimed that everybody who knew me would have to be embarrassed on my behalf. She even wrote a poem about it:

 There once was a girl named Casey

and without some sugar she got spacey.

Even though she studied med

she ended up dead

and I will give 5$ to whomever can finish this limerick

This might seem dark to some, but I’ve heard it theorized that type I diabetics have a morbid sense of humor and I know it’s certainly true of me. It may very well be true of most people with a chronic illness. This small interaction is the best conversation about diabetes I’ve had in recent memory, maybe ever. Even my mum was laughing at it later even as she tried to say she should find it upsetting. 

So, Kait, I’ll be here for you whenever you get a chance to come visit. As for that last line, maybe something like “and we’re all a bit embarrassed by Kait’s precis.”

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I wouldn’t call myself a cook… but I can now cook some things.

For most of my life, my cooking abilities have been limited to the preparation of sandwiches and bowls of cereal. Even these present their challenges what with carefully monitoring milk to cereal ratios or choosing the appropriate condiments.

I would have thought that my time in Italy would have seen the greatest surge in my food preparation abilities. While I did learn to make pasta by hand, I mostly just ate a lot of store-bought fusilli with pesto. By mostly, of course, I mean always. The produce and other ingredients were just so good that it was nearly impossible to make bad food.

Ireland isn’t like that. I tried making pasta here a couple times and it was terrible. I don’t know why it was so bad, but I suspect the fault lies with Ireland’s lack of sun, elegant architecture, and well-groomed men. There’s a small chance that sub-par ingredients and mineral heavy water were also to blame. 

I was spoiled in Italy with a wealth of variety and taste. In Ireland, on the other hand, cooking invariably consists of:

  1. boiling the flavor out of some meat and/or vegetable
  2. potatoes

With the aims of more flavor (the enemy of #1) and better glycemic control (made difficult by #2) I’ve been forced to get more creative with my cooking. Last semester I learned stir fry, or at least my version of it, and tried it with many variations of vegetables and sauces. Eggs are my new go-to food when I don’t feel like waiting to eat and sometimes I even eat them on bread I made myself (discovered when I had a whole lot of flour and little else to eat). Pancake flipping is a recently discovered skill which has led me to some major over-consumption, and lentils which have led me to break my no boiling rule.

My most recent accomplishment has been tacos, or a Casey-in-Ireland estimation thereof.

Whenever I’m away from home for long periods of time I find myself craving Mexican and Chinese food to the point that all other food starts to look unappealing. Even chocolate. The grocery store here has an aisle for different “ethnic” foods, including Mexican, but other than the jalepeños and refried beans, I cannot recommend any of the foods you’ll find there. The salsa has an odd consistency and only comes in mild or extra hot, evidence of an opinion that you are either Irish or you are not. The “guacamole” is terrifying to behold and only shares it’s color with the avocado sauce I’ve grown to love.

Disappointed by the bland imitation Mexican food I found, I gave up early last semester. This semester, though, the cravings returned with a vengeance. Guacamole was the first thing I learned to make, discovering that mashing up avocados, tomatoes, and onions in a bowl and sprinkling them with lime juice and salt was not so difficult as I had feared.

My confidence boosted, I braved an attempt at salsa. That event could probably be a blog post all it’s own (top chef me, cutting onions, watery eyes, hot peppers, a sharp knife, and a blender) but I’ll let your imagination do the work. Though the initial result was a distinctively pink concoction, it smelled and tasted like salsa and packed quite a punch. Over the next couple days, as it sat in the fridge, it even remembered how to be red.

Thus armed with homemade guacamole and salsa, I decided to give tacos in Ireland another go. They were simple, just refried beans, corn, guacamole, and salsa, but they finally satisfied the craving that had been gnawing at my insides for weeks. 

I’ve still got half a jar of jalepeños in the fridge, so once I get my hands on some chemistry lab style goggles I think i’ll be ready for another go. Maybe I’ll make more tacos or maybe I’ll try the salt and pepper pita chips again. 

Nom nom nom, I might feel the start of another craving coming on…

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So is it a butter churn or a German-Spanish dictionary?

I’m technologically challenged. 

Though I’m an excellent button pusher, an acceptable internet navigator, and a mediocre typist, my ability to grasp most aspects of technology is essentially zero. This goes for all sorts of technology from cell phones to computers. You should have seen me the first time I was handed a flash drive. You’d have thought I was a neanderthal with a flashlight, absolutely bewildered and amazed. Once, when asked what kind of phone I had, I answered, “Pink.” 

I am the stuff IT nightmares are made of, and I’ve terrorized my fair share of technical help personnel. I never mean to be difficult. I just don’t have the comprehension or vocabulary to ask the proper question nor to understand the explanation I receive once my intrepid assistant manages to decipher my inquiry. 

This brings me to my poor brother. In our family he is by far the most technologically capable. Between me, my mother who still closes her internet browser only to open it again every time she wants to begin a new search, and my father who types about 5 words per minute using only his index fingers, Chris has his work cut out for him. 

The other day I was chatting with him on Facebook when he mentioned that he was about to watch a 3D movie and it was going to be “doooooope.” I’ve never watched anything 3D when not in a movie theatre, and certainly not at home, so I asked how he was doing it. He mentioned that he had a new 3D projector. In the stunted part of my brain that is meant to house technological knowledge, this conjured an image of something more akin to a hologram, as though the projector could somehow create a 3D landscape in a room.

I was amazed. I was jealous. I was also clearly an idiot. 

Upon learning that he needed both the 3D projector and 3D glasses, my brain nearly shut down. This seemed ridiculously redundant. If the projector did 3D, why would he need the glasses? Conversely, if he had the glasses, why would he need a special 3D projector? It made no sense. Convinced (correctly) that I wasn’t understanding, I begged for a simplified (for everybody’s benefit) explanation.

What ensued was a hilarious conversation in which his attempts to put technology into non-technological terms, for my benefit, only succeeded in bringing me to a previously undiscovered level of confusion before ultimately reaching enlightenment. Here, for your enjoyment, is our very own Abbott and Costello skit:

Chris: Here, let’s say that 3D is Spanish.

Me: Ok. Hola.

Chris: You speak English. A computer file is German.

Me: Oh dear.

Chris: You don’t know German.

Me: True.

At this point, he seemed to already sense this was going to go awry, so he tried to back out, but I genuinely wanted to understand. Being the good guy that he is, he kept with it.

Chris: Okay, you know what? No. there is no tldr (too long, didn’t read). You need them because… there.

Me: But what am I supposed to do about the German?

Chris: Nothing. NEIN. SCHNELL SCHNELL.

Me: Scheisse. I went to google translate, let it automatically detect language… it got German, but apparently I last translated to Irish. So if you ever need to know, scheisse = cac. Cac. Lolz.

Obviously, neither of us knows German.

Chris: Okay, well the comparison is this: the file is in German; a TV/projector only knows how to translate to Spanish; you need something that will translate Spanish to English, hence, the glasses.

Me: Why can’t the file just be in Spanish? Or why can’t the projector read German?

Chris: The projector reads German just fine.

Me: Oh right, speak German.

Seeing that I was hopeless, even with the relatively familiar topic of foreign languages, he decided to try a new metaphor to simplify it even further. 

Chris: Or here, think of it like butter. You need that middle step of churning it, or it isn’t butter. Without the extra step, it’s still just cream.

Me: This is quickly turning into my favourite, if least enlightening, explanation ever. So what you’re telling me is that the projector is just a projector, or a butter churn, or a German-Spanish dictionary?

Chris: Take your pick.

Here I thought I’d finally got it. The projector was just a projector, like so many others I’d seen. It just took a computer file or a disc and made a picture with it like a TV. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about, but at least I thought I’d grasped it.

Me: So it isn’t special?

Chris: What isn’t?

Me: The projector.

Chris: No, it is. 

Nope. I hadn’t understood anything. 

Chris: Here, think of it like audio. There’s mono and stereo, right?

Me: Yup. Sound is all in the same place or it gets split.

I do have a very basic grasp of some technology.

Chris: Right. It’s either one thing going to both ears or two things going to two ears.

Me: Uh huh.

Chris: So it’s the same thing. The TV is mono - one signal to both eyes. A 3D video has a channel for each eye, but you need something that can separate them, like two wires. So your headphones splitting into two wires is the same as a 3D TV displaying a 3D image.

Me: They don’t just split the image in the file?

Chris: It splits it, but doesn’t get it into a form you can handle. It’s still just electricity.

Me: Ok. I like this explanation. I think I get it.

Chris: The earbuds themselves are the glasses, you can’t hear electricity. The headphone translates it to sound. Same with the glasses. You can’t understand the signal, and the glasses sort it for you.

Me: And now it makes sense.

Something about vocal harmonies coming at me, a different melody in each ear, to create a cohesive musical experience suddenly made everything clear. My understanding is still a very basic one, but at least I now have an understanding.

I was highly entertained and very impressed with my brother’s ingenuity in explaining a fairly technical thing to, well, me, and I told him as much.

Me: Thank you. I’m pretty sure that whole discussion is going to become my next blog post.

Chris: Haha, well good luck with that.

Me: Oh, I’ll manage. I think the world will marvel at your ingenuity and infinite patience because, you know, everybody reads my blog.

Chris: What can I say? I’m a good teacher.

Me: Ja, zer gut. Oops… not what I meant to say.

Chris: ?

Me: I think I meant: ja, du gut bist. Meaning, “yeah, you’re good” in German, but instead I said “yes, destroy good”

Chris: Way to go champ.

 

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Bet you didn’t know my musculoskeletal system could do that

A few weeks ago a dinner was held for the international students studying medicine at NUIG. It was a big event at a swanky hotel with good food and entertainment from different students including a couple of dances to Hindi gods, a virtuoso violin performance by the student who composed the piece, Irish step dancing, a variety of Mexican dances, and more. All the international students and most of our professors were there.

It was a nice way to spend the night though it had me wondering what I could do to represent the tiny American population next year. All I’ve come up with so far is twerking and I have a feeling that I might offend the Malaysian students enough that I wouldn’t be invited back. I’ll have to keep thinking about it while maybe fine-tuning my booty popping in the meantime.

I hadn’t ever really considered before how difficult it would be to think of some sort of performance that would be purely American. I don’t do anything with music, so rock ‘n roll and jazz are out. I’m not going to fry enough chicken for hundreds of people. A Native American tribal dance might be just a step or two short of politically correct. I’d hate to subject a captive audience to any attempt I might make at the national anthem. So what am I left with? Given the amount of American entertainment and influence in the world you’d think it easier, but though I can see many things and think “that’s American” it’s rare that it represents me or even my part of America. I welcome suggestions.

After the performances were over and the plates cleared, a DJ started playing music and people were invited onto the dance floor. The majority fled for the doors.

I enjoy dancing, terrible as I may be, and don’t mind making a fool of myself either, so I stuck around while my friends went to the bar for some refreshment. All of a sudden I heard Nicki Minaj’s Starships starting to pulse from the speakers. At this juncture it’s important that you know I rewrote the words to this song for the English summer camps I did in Italy last summer and one of the helpers choreographed a dance to it. It has one section in particular that I’m partial to, as anybody who’s seen me when the song is playing can confirm, in which I twist my hands quickly while gyrating my hips in a vaguely disco-inspired frenzy. It never fails to make me happy. 

I don’t even know the real words to the song. Instead I quietly rap “3, 2, 1 oh, the numbers go on. English zone, oh, yes I’m in the zone. Fun for you, me, have a good time. Imma wiggle my booty and make English mine” to myself. Yes, I really taught this to small Italian children. With a dance. It was fabulous.

Needless to say, I got mighty excited when I heard the the first guitar chords thrumming across the rather subdued room. I set down my bag at a random table and immediately began my G-rated rapping while starting in on the dance, by myself, in the middle of the tables. Most of the steps are not that exciting, but that’s fine because my favourite part is a real crowd-pleaser.

As the post-refrain electronica kicked in, I surrendered to the hand-spinning, hip-thrusting majesty of the dance. Anybody remotely associated with me backed away slowly (to give me ample space for optimal dancing, I assume). It was only after I’d been doing this for a while that somebody pointed out that my musculoskeletal anatomy professor seemed quite impressed by my groove. He was standing by the bar, apparently in conversation with a colleague except that he seemed to have lost track of the discussion and was instead watching me and laughing, his ample belly shaking and his face turning red.

I experienced a momentary loss of rhythm (because normally my rhythm is undeniable), missing a beat as I nearly stopped, embarrassed. After the briefest of pauses, I decided if it made me happy, and it made him happy, then I would be a damn fool to stop.

So I didn’t.

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You know, I think people are okay

I’ve been having some issues lately trying to get my healthcare and medical supplies sorted. I didn’t have to worry about it before now because I had stuff from home, but I can’t avoid it any longer and it’s becoming more of a hassle than I ever realized. After a particularly frustrating day I was trying to walk home, a good 15-20 minutes from where I was. At the very first road crossing, not yet 50 metres into my journey, the little pedestrian signal was flashing yellow, warning me to get across quickly. I made to step into the crosswalk only to nearly be hit by a car.

It’s important to understand that in Ireland, cars clearly take precedence over pedestrians, unlike in Italy where pedestrians are the unchallenged rulers of the roads, or America, where it seems to be a fairly even split. If the traffic light and pedestrian light are flashing yellow at the same time, a thing I’ve only seen in Ireland, the cars will always go, regardless of whomever may be in the crosswalk at the time.

Having lived in Italy for over two years, I am used to my sovereignty on the road and the Cars First mentality of Ireland drives me mad. Already having a bad day, this latest encounter did nothing to help my mood. 

I gestured at the yellow pedestrian signal and turned to unleash my most withering look on the unsuspecting driver only to find that the poor man clearly already felt awfully sorry. He had seen the proof of my right to cross too late, focusing only on his yellow traffic light, and was now trying to make up for it by gesturing madly for me to cross. 

By this time my signal was now red while the traffic signal was green, and as there were two lanes of traffic I would not be able to cross, regardless of how willing he now was to wait for me. I stepped back up on the curb and did what may have been a slightly over-dramatic, “Oh no, after you!” gesture.

image

When I looked up, he was still there, looking terribly apologetic, and still wildly gesturing, now clearly checking to see if I really meant for him to go and if I would I forgive him. He looked so comical with his exaggerated vehicular charades, and was so clearly sincere in his wordless apology that I couldn’t stay mad. Once he saw me crack a smile he drove away, waving at me as he passed. I’ll probably never see him again, but I almost feel like a made a friend that day.