Monday, December 16, 2013

Momisms_December_2013


DD: How do you have so much confidence in yourself?

Path201X: I actually didn't have much when I was your age because unlike you, I didn't have a Mother that believed in me the way I believe in you.

DD: So how did you get confidence anyway?

Path201X: Like I said before, I wouldn't say I had much in high school although I appreared to be very successful on the outside. And when I flunked out of college due to my grades, my confidence took a MAJOR dive! But what I was and still am very good at doing is surrounding myself with people who believe in me. Unforntualtely, that now means that there are people I don't regularly communicate with about my goals like my mother, but I've learned to be ok with that. It is what it is.

DD: But I need to know EXACTLY what you did to be so confident?

Path201X: I made up this little matra that I started repeating to myself after I was readmitted to undergrad after being kicked out of school. I would say to myself " My brain is a sponge and I will use it to absorb EVERYTHING I can. I'm smart and I'm capable of achieving ANY academic goal set before me. I am focused and will work hard to make sure that happens". And I would say this to myself over and over and over again just before exams and any other academic task. When you were little, do you remember me singing a song that went "you are sma-art"?

DD: Yes, I found it a little annoying at the time. Plus you still sing it to me every now and then.

Path201X: Well I did that because I wanted to have that instilled in you, that you could do ANYTHING you set your mind to. I know Senior year has been hard and you're disappointed you didn't make honor roll for the first time since you've been in high school. But when you're not feeling confident, just think about that song I used to sing to you. And maybe come up with your own too!

DD: Okay, I'll try that on my next exams.


And so my kid who had struggled more this year than in all the years of high school combined, is now on her way to making the honor roll at her new school. And obviously I'm VERY proud. But I can also admit that I STILL say my "confidence mantra" to myself pretty regularly and will ALWAYS do so when needed.

My hope is that you too will find that special something you say to yourself to give you that extra confidence boost! Or feel free to borrow mine!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fertilize your own damn grass!!


One of the things I'm guilty of career wise is not knowing when I should stick with what I have and not be tempted by something else that appears to be what I want. Some of this I attribute to having ADD as an adult, and some of it it just illogical thinking on my part.

So after doing a little more research into prospective PhD programs at my school, I'm right back to where I started in Biomedical/Health Informatics. AGAIN! URGH!!!

But this time the reason is made after VERY thorough thought to what I'd be losing by changing to another department and quite frankly, the job market. Sure, my heart ain't in Biomedical Informatics the way it's in Cancer Computational Biology/Cancer Biology, so I'm going to find a way, through my elective requirements, to MAKE IT MINE!!! Just like EVERYTHING else in life, NOTHING is 100% the way we'd like it to be. The people in my department are smart, kind to me, and open to EVERY educational dream I have, so how much sense would it make for me to leave such a supportive environment for one I know very little about? It's not only illogical, it's just a stupid idea.

So, my class schedule for next Spring is Health Informatics and a second semester Bioinformatics course. And in the meantime, I'm going to research Faculty in my department that can help me design my program such that my "heart" won't get left by the wayside.......while also attending seminars in Cancer Biology. ;)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Taking a sip from a fire hydrant, part 1


*image credit

The exponential growth in the amount of biological data available on the net is best compared to taking a drink from a fire hydrant, an analogy often compared to the medical school educational process. But unlike medical school info, this biological data can be written/stored in any number of programs using terms/codes that are often unique to who/where that data was created.

The slide below from my Bioinformatics course this semester illustrates just how significant the amount of available data is:


So where a MB of data was considered a LOT when I first started using computers on a regular basis in the early 90's, I'm certain we'll cross the yottabyte level in the next 5 years. And for the uninformed, that's 1 trillion terabytes, with ONE terabyte equal to 1 trillion bytes. YIKES!! That's a helluva' a lotta' data! MY question, what's the "end point", numerically speaking and how in the world will this data be stored, much less processed? Yeah, give me the medical school "fire hydrant" of info because that's small stuff compared to genomic data.

Moving on, one of the things I haven't really talked much about this year is my kid and let's just say that when you have a person straddling the line between smart mouthed teenager and adult AND is a Senior in high school applying to colleges, it can be a difficult thing. What I can say is that it would have been a COMPLETE disaster for me to be focused on full-time studies right now, because I would have lacked both the time or patience to "be there" the way I am now. So while I often wish I was in med school or at the least Residency, I also know I NEVER could have been the Mother I needed to be to my daughter. And this is as much about what she needs as what I need to do for her to feel like I've done my "job" as a Mother. One thing is for sure, I'll NEVER regret putting my academic goals on the back burner so to speak because I've so thoroughly enjoyed being there for her!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Get it in writing, ALWAYS!!!!

You'd think that by now, this isn't something someone my age doesn't already know. Which is why when I mentioned the "deal" my old company put on the table verbally regarding my position with the company, I added the following caveat in my 10/15/2013 post: "Assuming all this pans out of course, there's always a risk that things won't happen the way the company prez says, and if that's the case, I'll happily increase my client load and take the next graduate assistantship that comes in my school inbox.". Well in the world of business, NOTHING is what it seems until it's put on paper.

At the end of the day, NOTHING was put in writing which essentially meant that talk was cheap and NOT cash-able at ANY bank I can think of, LOL!! And that's why I pretty much take EVERYTHING I hear with a grain of salt especially when I realize I work with folks who would (and DID), work for free so that they could keep their work place visa which allows them in the US in the first place. And let me be clear, this is VERY common in the Scientist "industry" which is why wages are slow to grow and haven't increased much in almost 10 years. Yeah, Mr. Facebook, this is just what the average US trained Scientist needs, is a glut of competition from folks who'll work for free or for wages equivalent to what I made washing glassware back in the day. Yeah.

But because I know EVERYTHING happens for a reason, I immediately started looking for the silver lining in all this, and it didn't take long for me to find it. I now have to decide if I want to work on a PhD full-time with a FULL Scholarship/Fellowship beginning in the Fall of 2014 OR do I stick with plan "A", and shoot for med school in the Fall of 2015. Thing is, I realize that if I had jumped on that PhD bandwagon years ago, I'd be DONE by now and since the desire to earn an MD is NEVER going to go away, I'd be a much better employment situation in the location of MY choosing. And I have to qualify that because I get weekly inquiries about jobs in the US, so I remain thankful.

However while there are programs in place that will allow me to transfer to the combined MD/PhD program, there's the VERY strong possibility my age is going to be an issue for an Adcom. And yeah, I'm going there DIRECTLY because there's just NO other obstacle I see, given my record. Sure that probably sounds arrogant, but it's a fact. Just like it's a fact that there isn't enough research being done which is significantly beneficial to people of African descent, with our genetically heterogeneous selves. And turning down ANYONE qualified and committed to such a goal is just stupid IMHO. And medically reckless.

So with this in mind, my Spring schedule is STILL under evaluation as is the program I ultimately want to get my PhD in. Today, it seems to make MUCH more sense for me to go for a program I can transfer credits into and which I already have strong mastery of. And for the record, that ain't Computational Biology. It IS Cancer Biology and Pathology, so with a nearby program that integrates both areas within reach, I'm strongly considering that. And I'd use methods germane to Computational Biology of course, in light of the current employment outlook for PhD's. I mean, I find the program I'm currently in, Health Informatics, VERY interesting, but my heart just isn't in it.

So, this brings about a new term for where I seem to be going, Computational Cancer Biology or Cancer Informatics, both of which are a mouthful, LOL!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Green light, let's go!!


So it looks like I WILL be working at the major cancer center I first dreamed of working at TEN years ago. And it looks like I'll do so using a combination of the skills I've developed in Pathology and Computational Biology/Bioinformatics. The exact details of my new position aren't yet clear and are likely to change, it simply appears that I've come along at a GREAT time as the integration of genomic data starts to become part of the standard of care for patients fighting cancer. Put another way, the "bench" may FINALLY be reaching the "bedside" in ways never before seen in the history of the field of medicine and I couldn't be more thrilled!

Now the question may be what happened to my last position. Well, as soon as I sign on the bottom line for my new one, I'll fill you in. In the meantime, suffice it to say that if I NEVER work for a private company again that will be FINE be me, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, LOVE the financial stability of working at a major cancer center affiliated with a major university. So no dis, the majority of the people I worked with at my old gig with were really great and the things I learned there were amazing, but I DESPERATELY need a financially stable environment. However, what I can tell you now is that I will NOT miss the woman Scientist that rudely never spoke back to me during our weekly conference calls. NOT. ONE. BIT.

Moving on, I also learned I could start the PhD program and transfer into the MD/PhD program at a later date. And this is BY FAR the best news I could have received given my goals!! But I also know convincing a committee to award me a spot is going to be a vertical battle since the tired argument of the number of years I'll practice is bound to come up. And as I've mentioned a few times before, I've been hearing this ALL My life the ONLY thing that's different is the "story". Whatever, I've already got one part of my story down, Pathologists die at the scope in their 80's, ROTFL!! But I'm saving the rest for my personal statement, which I plan to post AFTER I get that acceptance in hand. Still I'm realistic that I'll likely have to do the programs separately, and I'm perfectly cool with that, because it is what it is!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Uh oh, yet another U-turn!!


So, yesterday I had a final interview for a position that can best be classified as Pathology Informatics which for me is essentially biomarker evaluation via histology, informatics to evaluate the information gleaned from the cancers of patients seen in the clinic, and even a little work in the clinic drawing blood from cancer patients. And as my regular readers might expect, this combo means that I'm happier than a Turkey "pardoned" the week of Thanksgiving!! :)

Ever go some place and KNOW within the core of your very being that you're in the right place, at the right time, surrounded by people who will see you become what you've ALWAYS wanted to be? I thought that to myself as I was being interviewed by the MD/PhD I'm destined to be working with, that he's not only going to see me excell in this posiiton, he's going to see me become an MD too!



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Terrific Tuesdays!!


Actually, Tuesday is my very LEAST favourite day of the week, not really the beginning, middle, or end. Hmph!

So I've decided to try my best to lighten this day up for myself (and others) by posting funny science or medicine oriented images I find on the net.

And in celebration of my LOVE for cats and the fact that I'll be tutoring an Orgo I student over the next 5 days, I thought I'd kick off this Tuesday's series with the image on this post!

Enjoy!

And special shout out to all my fellow Chemists! :)


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Watch out below!!!!


*Image from goodle images


URGH!!!!! UUUUURRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that feels much better....................................................NOT!!!!

This is just where I am right now and how I'm feeling about my Bioinformatics course too!! Double URGH!!!!!

So here's the problem, after TWO WEEKS of trouble shooting, I FINALLY got a program given in class to work. Why did it take ME so long? They use the Mac operating system (OS), and I use Ubuntu. Why do I use Ubuntu when almost NONE of the folks at school doing this type of work use it? Because in the "real world" of Bioinformatics, most folks program in Linux which is what Ubuntu based on. And in a field like computer science, a LOT of what you learn in school is not only obsolete by the time you finish your program, you can be pretty sure that in the "real world", no one or few people are using what you learned in school.

That said, many people in Bioinformatics use the Mac OS (like the NIH), it's just that since most Bioinformatics departments are made of Computer Scientists (who have honestly mucked it up IMHO), you have to learn to use the OS they frequently use. And this creates a situation where from an employment point of view, they'll always be needed since it's just too much trouble for the average Medical/Life Scientists (MLS) to be trained to do this stuff. Along those same lines, it's also the reason I sense a tiny bit of resentment from a couple of the computer scientists (CS) folks I work with. But I digress, the point I'm making is that taking the leap from Medical/Life Science to essentially computer science is the MOST challenging thing I've EVER done. But personality wise, I'm so well suited for it because: 1) I'm as tenacious as they come and 2) I enjoy challenge of leaning something new. And like it or not, a LOT of medical science and research is going to involve a significant amount of computer generated data (human genome, anyone?) in the future. So yeah, my code may not be as "pretty" as that from a CS person, but it's functional. More than that, other people like me can understand it because I write it in a way for folks like me to understand.

Here's an example of the disparate way of thinking between CS and MLS folks. CS person says their doing sequencing of a portion of Chromosome #24? MLS says that there is no chromosome #24, there are 22 pairs of chromosomes and a pair of sex chromosomes, unless you're talking about a person with Downs Syndrome or Klinefelter's Syndrome. So if CS sends you a file referencing chromosome #25 to MS, the MS has a few questions to ask. You see CS folks are typically VERY bright, but they don't have the type of training folks in the clinical and life sciences have. And that's the HUGE gap in why EHRs don't work that well, but that's a conversation for another day.

The fact that I spend as much time looking at the results of my programs as I do troubleshooting it, is just the way it is for a newbie like me. And what I hope to do as I'm developing skills in this area, is to create resources that will not only be of use to me, but to others who think like me too.

Now I must get back to doing sequence alignments for a portion of the human chromosome Y, NOT chromosome #25 and NOT a male with Klinefelter's Syndrome either.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting down to the nitty gritty!

So this week my department is having their first journal club meeting and I'm beyond excited !! And not just because we're going to get free food, LOL!!! It will be first time this semester I'll get to meet all or most of the students in my department and the faculty as well.

I also volunteered to lead one of the seminars so I'll be busy looking for something really cool and interesting to discuss. Of course, it will either involve breast or prostate cancer and the bioformatics tools used to study these diseases. This will also be my opportunity to impress a few adcoms since a few of them are in my department (And I did the research to find that out ;))

And that brings me to a topic of critical importance to supernontrads (over 40 premeds) like me. What are you actively doing to get yourself admitted to med school? Are you kicking back expecting a med school acceptance to magically drop at your feet or are you working to the MAX, whatever you have to work with? At that's the key, work to the MAX whatever YOU have to work with. For example, so what if there are no "good" schools for you to complete your preqs, what does that have to do with the fact that you need to make an "A" in your classes no matter where you take them? So what if you're the oldest in the class, do you act old? Do you blame mediocre grades on getting old? STOP making excuses for mediocrity and get with the "success" program!!!

PS- Please allow me to clear up the misconception that I've got everything under control in this premed process, because NOTHING could be further from the truth. I simply thrive in chaos to a certain extent which is why I rarely get up in arms about all the things I balance in my life including PhD classes, raising a teenager, running a business, studying for the MCAT, and an internship in Bioinformatics. In fact, most days when I look at my tasks surrounding school/my gig, I feel like I have to climb Mount Everest up hill BOTH ways, ROTFL!! But the sense of accomplishment I feel at the end of the day more than makes what I'm dealing with worth it!

In other words, if you're not enjoying this process at least some of the time, then you may need to rethink your motivation for doing it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I've got your back!

Well this is not exactly what my advisor said, but that was the general gist of what he meant when I told him that I wanted to attend med school after I finish the program. And I can't describe how good it feels to be supported in what you want to do, however outlandish it is for people in my age range. Turns out there are a few of us in my program heading to med school so the next thing I need to do is get to know my classmates better, attend seminars in my department, ect so I can get my "face" out there.

However he also suggested I consider the MS program because I could very easily get it paid for. And I wasn't really prepared to tell him that what I really wanted to do was the MD/PhD program concentrating in Biomedical Informatics. At least not yet, but I am going to look into it since the program would be free.

And all this brings up an important point for nontrads especially SUPER nontrads, GO WHERE YOU ARE OR WILL BE WELCOMED!! I say to hell with trying to be the first at a certain school like you, go some place where people like YOU are welcomed! Now for the supernontrad (over 40), this may be more difficult in that you'll likey be 10 years older than the person whos age is nearest to yours, but you get my drift. Avoiding places that will easily put you down for being a super nontrad (Hopkins, anyone?), is the absolute smartest thing you can do to keep your spirits up and your dreams alive!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fork in the proverbial road


So it's time for me to pick my class for next semester but I have a decision to make first. Do I want to focus more on the "health" side of biomedical informatics or the "research" side of biomedical informatics? And after interning for the past several months focusing primarily on the research side of things, I've decided that the "health" side is where I want to focus my efforts, moving forward. And I'm sure that comes as quite a surprise to anyone that reads my blog regularly.

So why the change? I finally realized that focusing on the "research" side of bioinformatics is going to pretty much mean becoming a computer programmer, and I'm simply NOT interested in doing that. NOT. AT. ALL. The biggest issue however is that many of the opportunities in the field require a PhD, so it doesn't "feel" like a good holding spot for me until I start med school if I'm going to be limited. However, the most important reason is that I'm interested in clinical uses of the data I manipulate, NOT the code used to do the analysis. And if I'm really being real, I miss being around "people, people".

All of these deep thoughts I've had since my last post, come about due in no small part to being around Clinicians at school and quite frankly, needing to be prepared to meet with my academic advisor tomorrow. And I think I have my "story" down pat about the whys and what's next for my career in the next 1.5 years as I complete my certificate in Biomedical Informatics. At the end of the day though, I know these types of inner conversations are important if for no other reason than to stay focused and on course with what my ultimate goal is, to attend medical school in the near future.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fullfillment of a dream..........................

So, anyone who's been reading my blog long enough may recall my mentioning a certain cancer center and my STRONG desire to do research there one day. And that was a little more than TEN years ago. Well yesterday, my classroom was changed to a location AT this cancer center. And what can I say, from the moment I turned onto the street to park my car, the tears started flowing (as they are now as I'm trying to write this post).

Now I've mentioned on more than one occasion how much of a cry baby I can be about things that tug at my heart strings. And while I was looking for the parking garage at this amazing facility, I saw a Black family, mother, daughter, and father leaving the hospital, the Dad, being pushed in a wheelchair by his daughter. So what's so emotional about that? He looked exactly like my father and was leaving the cancer clinic. And all I could think about is how blessed he is to have his family there as he was being discharged from the hospital and of my own past, pushing my Dad in a wheelchair following his cancer surgery. The very next overwhelming feeling I had was about how this, right here, right now, was EXACTLY where I was supposed to be, but more importantly, WHEN I was supposed to be here.

Then I really did get my ugly cry on, LOL!!!

I can't put into words that feeling you have when every obstacle you've had now makes sense, every path you've taken (however long it was) now makes sense, but there's NO doubt in my mind that everything, both good and bad, was what I needed to happen to get me HERE. And where exactly is HERE?

HERE is the mindset that says NOTHING and NO ONE will deter me from my God ordained path, pun intended. My classroom didn't end up next to the pathology department by accident. I didn't see those Residents napping next to where I sat to have coffee before class by accident. And seeing a Black family leaving the cancer center hospital, end up in the crosswalk in front of my car was no accident either.

The fact that these facilities are beautiful, world class, and state of the art with the leading cancer folks in the world is kinda moot. The fact that my path to med school just got that much more focused and clear is what really counts!

I'll end this post with this Katy Perry song which says what I'm feeling better than I can:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fur-Low!

As the title indicates (in a very mispelled kinda way), I've been furloughed by the company I work for. And it's strange because I forgot we had a gov't contract until the moment they were telling us we were furloughed. Umm.

At any rate, working 75+ hours since mid August has REALLY taken a toll, so I'm going to be one of few people in the US who has been furloughed who's actually going to ENJOY this time off. And in my case, I'm not really going to be off per se', I'll still be working, albeit part-time and unpaid (for now) in Bioinformatics, and increasing my tutoring hours (THANK GOD for a well paying second gig!!) And the arrangement that I was sooooooo very blessed to put in place after they gave us the news yesterday will require that I essentially work "non paid" for the next 2-3 weeks while the company does some "financial restructuring". Then, I'll come back to work full-time as a PERMANENT employee and a HIGHER income (I think my official title is going to be Biologist, though I'm trying to come up with something a little more snazzy, LOL). The biggest catch of all is that I'll get back pay at a rate of 1.5 times my intern salary ~ 2 pay periods from now for the time I work "unpaid". So, mid November is going to be kinda nice!:) Assuming all this pans out of course, there's always a risk that things won't happen the way the company prez says, and if that's the case, I'll happily increase my client load and take the next graduate assistantship that comes in my school inbox.

In other words, I shall have a TALL glass of lemonade with plenty of natural brown sugar, with this load of lemons!! :)

So for whatever reason, this was the first song that came to my mind as I was leaving work yesterday, "Path201x got fur, low, low, low, low, low, low, low, lowed", ROTFLMBO!!'

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Where I'm going to..........................


One of the real difficulties with where I am professionally in my life right now is the obvious that I'm not in medical school yet and desperately want to be. But another difficult reality I had until last evening was that I wasn't able to specifically articulate what I wanted to be doing with my professional life within the next 10 years, or of how what I'm doing now would fit into my future. That was, until I read the following paper last evening, "Personalized Oncology Through Integrative High-Throughput Sequencing: A Pilot Study". And here's the link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476478/pdf/nihms-413659.pdf.

This paper suggests formation and use of a Sequencing Tumor Board which is essentially a team of professionals with training in oncology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, pathology, social and behavioral sciences, and ethics that interpret and make clinical recommendations based on sequencing data. And the SUPER great news for me is that EVERYTHING I'm doing right now and a LOT of what I've done in the past, including my MD goals of becoming a Pathologist, would fit in perfectly with such a professional goal.

Now, I understand perfectly well that careers often take paths different from what we imagine, but I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when I realized that the circuitous path I've taken in my professional career could come together quite usefully and in an extremely academically engaging way, by my participation on a Sequencing Tumor Board. At least for those years I'm working for "da man", my ultimate goal STILL, is to work for myself.

And speaking of building my business, I thought that once I finish medical school, I would expand my offerings to include test prep for the USMLE. That's a LONG way off from now I know, but a business owner/future Pathologist has gotta keep those ideas and goals FLOWING, LOL!!!

So I'll leave my readers with this 1970's gem with the hope that we ALL on some level, KNOW where we're going to!!!




Thursday, October 3, 2013

Feeling crab-ulous!

Most of the time when people ask me how I'm feeling, I usually respond with an enthusiastic FABULOUS!! But with temps STILL in the 90's, allergies flaring up that I didn't even know I had, I'm feeling pretty crappy these days. Add an asthma attack/a switch to more powerful meds to control it, and I'm feeling kinda low. But I KNOW without eqiovocation that I'm blessed just the same!!

Recently, I've received quite a few Bioinformatics job inquiries most of which have been in Maryland and that makes me feel great! But when I think about the cost of living/what you get for your buck in Maryland, the rudeness of the people who live there, and the state income tax, I grab myself a cool glass of cherry lemonade, "sat my a$$ down" somewhere and count my blessings, as the ol' folks used to say. I've really got a great life here in hot a$$ Texas!

The one thing that pains me more than ANYTHING these days is how much I want to become a Doctor and I use the word pains because so much of what I'm doing now requires medical knowledge, oncology and pathology informatics skills, to be exact. And I know it's all VERY good preparation for my future, I just wish my future in med school would just get here already!


PS- Shout out to my girl Iris and the medical student sitting 2 rows behind me (URGH) for keeing me focused!


PSS- PLEASE excuse the typos all of which I hope have been corrected, I can't see worth a darn, posting on an iPad, ROTFL!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Letting my hair down!!

Or should I say putting my hair on, LOL!! I haven't found a hairdresser yet nor have I been trying hard to find one. So I HAD to find myself a good wig shop until that happens. Now I'm sure most of my readers know very little about wigs and I was the same way until I lost my hair a few years ago after a bad perm. But I come from a family where wearing a wig is like wearing underwear, EVERYONE does it. Still, I was real hesitant for reasons I don't understand now, because "I keeps" me a few nice wigs on my dresser.

Speaking of fake hair, I can't for the ENTIRE life of me figure out why 99.99999% of the African women here wear weaves. And I'm NOT exaggerating either. Now I don't mean any harm by saying this, but if you need a trough of lye to get your edges straight, you should probably pass on the Brazilian butt length wavy weave, but alas, it seems the nappier the "edges" are, the longer the weave is, LOL!! (Side note, anyone that needs a translation of that, let me know).

Other news, I had to let my dental student go because I realized that a dental student that doesn't know that there are 1000 millgrams in a gram, probably needs FAR more help than I can provide for a student who's supposed to be taking Dental Biochemistry.

And because I promised my family I would get off the computer by 9:00PM, I have to go, but I hope to update again REAL soon!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Just keep swimming!!



Finding Nemo is one of my favorite children's movies and the Ellen Degeneres character is absolutely adorable.....and these days, her line from the movie to just keep swimming is the story of my life!

Between the kid that started her senior year of high school, me starting a doctoral Bioinformatics course, my internship complete with a dude who thought it was a friendly and welcoming gesture to ask me why I was needed at the company, and home search, my life is the epitome of busy in a VERY stressful way.

My kid is learning the hard way that Mom is NOT supposed to take care of EVERYTHING for her, so her finding a sense of personal responsibility is LONG overdue. My class is going GREAT but there's a good chance I may not be able to continue if my immunization stuff doesn't get processed soon. And I mean next week soon! My tutoring business is going so well that I'm turning down potential clients almost everyday now. But I may need another one soon if the new SUPER triflin', Howard Dental student doesn't get her self together FAST!!! As it relates to the VERY old home search, because of my good fortune career wise (I've been tentatively offered a permanent, almost 6 figure gig starting in 3 weeks), we quickly went from looking for a home, to a dream home! And I mean a pool, golf course dream home. Now I know for some of my readers, many of you have already "arrived" at whatever your dream home status is for you, but I've always tied this dream to my finishing medical school. Not anymore, I've decided that I'm going to live NOW while I can, and let other stuff fall into place when it does. Lastly, the Internship is where I'm getting workaholic "grief" because I'm working 50+ hour weeks trying to deal with the vertical learning curve. And quite frankly, when you're the ONLY Black and one of ONLY 2 women, that vertical learning curve takes on extra verticalness. But I'm MORE than prepared thanks to that disastrous stint in death Pharma recently. And it's an obvious plus when you so enjoy your work (can I getta' what, what for cancer research?) Plus, the other woman in the group, a beautiful Indian Computer Scientist, and I have decided to tag team on their a$$e$, feminine power style, ROTFL!!!

So with all that said, life is truly good right now and I'm so thankful to be in a "peak" period in my life! And I know without equivocation that all this busy-ness, stress, and learning is good preparation for medical school!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My HUGE announcement............................

..........I'M GOING TO BECOME A PATHOLOGIST, ROTFL!!!!

Okay, so maybe that's not such a HUGE announcement after all, but given that I'm spending a considerable amount of time reading slides and looking at Gleason scores, I'm feeling pretty certain that my path, pun intended, is getting clearer EVERY day.

Not that it was ever distorted, it's kinda hard sometimes to stay focused when you've got jerks AKA nasty people you work with at places, death Pharma , where you shouldn't be working, trying their best to keep you off your game. But then God blesses you in a HUGE way and you're reminded that if you dare to step out on faith, like relocating to a hot a$$ Midwestern state where you don't have a full-time gig, you'll be rewarded ten fold for being obedient. And that's my VERY convoluted way of saying that not only are my Pathology skills coming into play in my Bioinformatics gig, my main project is on prostate cancer, which excites me BEYOND belief!!!

So with that said, it's an understatement to say that my first week on my new gig was a blast and that I'm going to enjoy this ride until med school matriculation in 2015!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Brush the chip off your shoulders

So today is the first day of my internship/audition for a real gig, LOL!! Add I realize as I think about my last gig working in "death Pharma" that I may have just a bit of a chip on my shoulder for all the $hit I dealt with working there. So I'm praying REAL hard that I can keep that in check and make the most of an experience I've been waiting over 2.5 years to have.

Other things going on in my life right now is that my kid is working on what may end up being her first "boyfriend". And that's really great news because now maybe my Mom will stop asking me if she's a lesbian. Maybe it's me, but if a girl takes her time growing up, that should be celebrated on some level especially in the Black community. But it's a sentiment I've heard before from members of my family, if a person isn't into the opposite sex as much as others think is "normal" for their age, they're assumed to be gay. Now how dumb is THAT?!?!

So this guy is a 19 year old Engineering major she met at her Engineering internship this summer where my daughter was the ONLY female and one of only 2 black kids. He's also White, which I personally find hilarious as I think about the look her father would have on his face if he knew about this, ROTFL! Now me, in light of our multicultural background, I'm cool with the White boy. But there's just something about Black girls/women with White boys/men that seems to rub most Black men the wrong way. And that kinda tees me off since many of the ones with problems including her father, have dated White women. Of course, I DO take issue with the fact that this young man is technically an adult and my kid is just 16 about to be 17 so of course, I'm monitoring this situation VERY carefully. But then I remember that when I was turning 17, my boyfriend was a college freshman and though I'd dated him when we both were in high school, he was STILL an adult while I was a technically a kid.

Other news is that I've decided NOT to take the MCAT, I just didn't have much time to actively study given everything else I had going on this summer. So I'll definitely shoot for a Spring date as soon as the dust settles in my life.

I'll end this post with a song by my favorite rap artist which is most definitely appropriate as I begin the first day of my new career in Biomedical Informatics:



Monday, August 5, 2013

And 2 years after starting the journey into Biomedical Informatics.........................


............Path201X has FINALLY landed a strictly Biomedical informatics gig!!! YEAH!!!!!

It's only an internship, but it's a "foot in the door", and that's all I need, I'll kick my way in the rest of the way, ROTF!!!

And this is a big deal for a BUNCH of reasons, especially given the VERY contentious interview I had with the last and final co-owner of this company. Yeah, yet another contentious interview with a WOMAN (of course). I mean, this woman asked me question after question which I proceeded to knock out of the park (just like former pageant girls do)! And I felt like she just kept asking me questions in a rather futile attempt to get me to screw up an answer. For example, she asked me what I thought about the latest technologies to detect biological agents that can be used as weapons. And that would have been fine except in the particular CV she received, I didn't mention ANYTHING about my background in microbiology or biological agents, AT ALL!!! Now in her defense, I knew this company did some work in this area, but based on my prior interview and the description of the project I would be working on (a cancer project), I didn't brush up in this area which in retrospect, wasn't a good way to prepare for an interview. However, because I have a certificate in biological and chemical agents AND a minor in Microbiology, I really didn't need to. Still, I don't understand why some people feel the need to dig you a new anal orifice during interviews, but the good news for me is that this woman is in Cali and I'll rarely have to work with her. At least that's what it seems for now, but we all know how things can change.

The flip side of this situation is that the men I interview with seemed very impressed with me and my interview responses, almost as if they wanted to see if I could/would stand up to this woman. In fact, the CFO specifically said that he liked that I have a "strong personality" and could see me working in other areas of the company, like sales. No ain't it funny how people, especially men and women, see things differently?

The only downside to this deal is that I'm pretty sure I underbid myself BIG TIME when it comes to salary and that's actually okay because Interns typically aren't paid much. :( But if we mutually decide to turn this internship into a full-time gig 6 weeks from now, trust me, they'll have to come correct as in 6 figures correct, or else I'll walk away without a second thought. One thing I learn working in "death Pharma" is that if you undermine yourself on the front end, you'll NEVER gain the respect of the company down the road. And that's a lesson I won't EVER have to learn again!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'm coming out!


Ummm..... NO, I'm NOT suddenly declaring myself homosexual and while I don't agree with that lifestyle, I wouldn't dare judge anyone else for having it.

As the image indicates, that's the state of HOT A$$ TEXAS where I now call home and where I'm residing in a nameless major city. And I decided to "put it out there" so to speak, because I finally felt ready. I also decided that I don't need to concern myself with the malevolent intentions of people who stalk me on my blog and who may decide to get their MD parent to call a classmate on the adcom of a Texas school to "rat out" my outspokenness on MY blog. Nah, I'm gonna life God/Karma deal with those folks and keep steppin' into my VERY bright future!!!

For my "coming out" party, I decided to use the map of Texas which indicates where the incidence of breast cancer are concentrated because try as I might, I just can't seem to get away from being interested in anything but cancer. Or pathology for that matter. It's just so damn depressing to think about sometimes (cancer, NOT pathology), but the mechanisms of it just fascinate the hell outta' me!

Other news is that it's official, I'm a STEM business owner, the idea of which still feels like a dream (or nightmare), depending on which day you ask me about it. Today it's more nightmare than dream because I'm soooooooooooooooo far outside my comfort zone, I feel like another person. But it's not a surprise to anyone that knows me well that I have an education based business. And I just LOVE the different people/cultures I get to come in contact on a regular basis!

As for a full-time gig, I thought I was going to hear about my Tuesday interview yesterday, but alas, NADA!!! And that's gotta' be cool because I'll probably be too busy with my PhD courses and business anyway. It just would have been so nice to get that Biomedical Informatics experience on the job, but oh well, I'm sure as hell not complaining because business is damn good in HOT A$$ TEXAS, ROTFL!!!

I've also been thinking about the language in my last post and after I gave it some thought, it made me think about the first juror who spoke out after the Zimmerman verdict, and her comments about the young lady Travon Martin was talking to when he was brutally killed by a chicken $hit coward. The juror VERY harshly judged Rachel Jeantel, Travon's friend for the way she spoke/her mannerisms and I couldn't help but think about the young women I spoke about in my last post and how their DOCTORS likely perceive them when they seek out health care services. And I imagined that because of the cultural disconnect between most Doctors and minority patients, the "culture/behavior" of minority patients very likely affects the type of care they get. Just like Rachel's "behavior" affected that juror's perception of her truthfulness and thus the outcome of the trial.

Finally, in celebration of me revealing where I'll spend what will likely be the rest of my life, here's a video by Ms. Ross which says it MUCH better than I EVER could:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

City of Racthedness/Where's a urinal when you need one?

I’ve been beyond busy which is probably a well played out broken record by now, but it’s the best kind of busy there is to be! First, I think we FINALLY found a house in a culturally mixed neighborhood and that’s the best news of all! Second, I made a cold call to a local bioinformatics start-up company and have an interview next week for an almost 6 figure job!!! Just out of the blue, I called them to see if they had anything and BAM…. JOB INTERVIEW!!!! On that note, I also have an interview for a bioinformatics position in the department where I’ll be completing my doctoral level courses in bioinformatics, and if I get offered both gigs, I’m going to have a VERY difficult time deciding between the two. The thing is, my job search experience hasn’t been that lucky, so I’m not really worried about that. But I DO have a preference among the 2 jobs, the position with the start up firm is my first choice.

So it turns out our new city/state with the best restaurants I’ve EVER experienced in a city, has a HUGE vagrant problem. And I mean as in I have been approached almost EVERYDAY I found myself in or around “da’ hood”…..or a major intersection. And they’re some bold mofo’s too and I say mofo’s because that’s what you are when you curse out a driver for refusing to roll the window down and give you some spare change. Now because I grew up near enough to “da’ hood” to understand and speak the vernacular VERY well, I didn’t mind rolling the window down to let you know just how well versed I am in ‘hood speak when I get cursed out for ignoring your coach purse carrying, brand new Michael Jordan shoe wearing, non vagrant asre, LOL!!

In other ratchet news, I stopped by a local family dollar in the serious “don’t drive in the daytime ‘hood” and it was quite a shopping experience. When we entered, we were greeted by an announcement that our actions would be watched for the entire time we were in the store. Mmmaky! Now I know how to morph into “hood posture” in these types of settings, but my kid has Bougie Black girl with NO ‘hood experience written ALL over her face! We shopped for a bit, gathered our items, then headed toward the front of the store so we could pay and leave, and as we walked up, we couldn’t help but hear the conversation the women working the cash registers were having:

Cashier 1 yelling: “Giiirrrlll, my man say I ain’t got NO titties, but I got enough ass to make up for it! Yeah, he always be picking at me, talkin’ ‘bout, I’m flat chested, but I KNOW I got it goin’ on with my fat ass”.

She then turns to me and says “May I help you Ma’am?

Cashier 2 yelling: Yeah, you ain’t got NO titties like me, mine big as hell!!

Cashier 1 yelling: “Dat’s a’right, I got’s more ass than you”.

Turning back to me, “Is this all you got Ma’am?

Me: "Yeah, ‘dat’s it. Can you ring me up?”

When we got outside my daughter was shaking her head and laughing, stating that that was the most ratched thing she had ever experienced, ROTFL!!! Now I won’t get into the “fronts” of these two women because I don’t want to be seen as picking at my “people”. But the 5 inch plaque looking like brown braces was so NOT a good look, ESPECIALLY when your weave is 3 feet long and "tight". My next thought was that I had NEVER seen underserved dental health like this. EVER. But then how many dental hygienist appointments could be had with 1 appointment to get the Korean silky special sewn into your scalp? Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm.

And that was how our excursion into the Family Dollar located in “da hood” went. That “trip” was followed by a short drive to the city for dinner at a great Greek restaurant where on the way we saw a man, on a main street, urinating in the corner of a building. Now I’ve done enough volunteer work in “da ‘hood” to have seen and smelled a LOT of things. But the past 13 years where I live in uber suburbia, meant that I hadn’t seen much on such a regualr basis especially after I stopped working in Baltimore. But honestly, thinking about how varied and interesting my patient population would be, and how my desire to work in a severely underserved area would be more than met right where I’m living now, made me more excited about my med school goals.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Momisms 103


Since we arrived in our new city on Sunday, we're living temporarily in a hotel until we look around more and find a place to stay. And I hope that's REAL soon because this 'ish is MAD expensive!

Path201X: "Can you Pul-eeze open the curtains?"

DD: "I'd prefer to keep them closed".

Path201X: "Why? I'd prefer the natural light to the artificial light."

DD: "I'm going to have the hood over my head because it's too cold in here, and I don't want to deal with a "Travon" situation."

Path201x: "Geez, are you serious?!? I guess that's the world we live in these days, where I brown kid lounging by the window of her hotel room is afraid to sit near a freaking window in a hoodie. Okay Boo-Boo, close the window."


Now I'm just wondering if any non minority kid is concerned about being shot through a window while wearing a hoodie INSIDE of a building?

Damn. Just DAMN!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Curiousity killed the cat.

So I decided to get one last post in before we finish up the last days of our 2 month vacay before settling in our new state/city.

I spent some time in my mother's double car garage, reminiscing about my past, wondering why in the world one person needs so many pairs of shoes and so many clothes. And when I say clothes and shoes I mean RACKS of clothes and shoes that to my understanding she wears. YIKES!! I first came across the 3 foot trophy I received for being my high school queen:



I was Miss X High School 1984, a contest I NEVER thought I had a shot of winning because: 1) My talent was flute and many folks just ain’t into musicians as much as singers when it comes to pageants especially at the urban high school I attended, and 2) The head cheerleader was the one I heard the faculty all wanted to win but you needed a 3.0 to compete and she had a 2.9. She did end up being Homecoming Queen though and we’re close friends today. And that was a cool memory especially for a “band nerd” because I got to meet the Governor of the state and was awarded a full scholarship to a small Alabama school, among many other “perks”.

Then I came across the following item and for a brief moment I stopped breathing:


My mother happened to be in the garage when I found this and the look on her face was as if she was a deer in headlights. And all I could say is why, WHY didn’t you tell me? She then gave me the biggest bull$hit answer I’ve EVER heard so I just left the garage and didn’t say much more for the rest of the day. And after this post, I’ll probably never bring it up again. But of course as a 7 year Komen volunteer, there really isn’t much more to say about it, I'm crystal clear on what the hat "means" and I know why certain women wear it.

Moving on, I’m currently working regularly with a Biology student and an Organic Chemistry student. So I decided to focus my MCAT prep on those 2 subjects for the month of July and I’ll spend August studying Chemistry and Physics, interspersing verbal study both months. I’m still planning on a September 2013 date though I’m procrastinating on registering because it doesn’t feel 100% like what I need to do right now. I’m aware that my time on this is running out, so I’ll decide by the end of July.

I also have my volunteer orientation next Tuesday at a MAJOR cancer center and right now, working on the OR floor is my #1 choice, followed by anything else that will allow me to work with patients. I know that will require early mornings, but I'm soooooo cool with that, so I made sure to bring all my scrubs and Dansko shoes for comfort. Man this med school thing, is really feeling closer and closer everday and most of my good feeling is in knowing that I'm doing it not just at the right time for me, but for my family too!

Finally, we’re going to be in New Orleans or Nawleans (as the natives say) this weekend and I can’t think of a better way to end a vacation before starting my 2 year path to the MD/PhD program, LOL!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The post before I change residency PERMANENTLY!

As my title indicates, I'm posting for the last time as a resident of Maryland. Actually, I changed my residency to my new state in May, including a new mailing address because I wanted to make SURE I'm a state resident when I apply to med school next year.

So I'll start with a job/work update. I now have 4 clients and if I get one more, I won't need an 8-5 job. And when I think about how politically charged most work places are, I'm kinda glad about that. I LOVE the flexibility of tutoring and regular travel to different places and meeting new people is a real plus too.

School wise, I've been unoffically offered a research fellowship in health informatics starting in August and that's the best news of all! In fact, it makes the fact that I never did find a suitable 8-5 gig an obvious part of God's plan for my life. And I'm not sure if I mentioned it before but my health informatics program is affiliated and housed at a major medical center WITH a med school, so you can probably guess where all this is heading! Med school and an MD/PhD program. The plan is to complete all the classes required for me to sit for my oral and written exams by the Spring of 2015, then start the combined program that summer. And yes, I'm not sure at this point how this is all going to fall into place because while my informatics program knows of my PhD aspirations, I've kept my MD goals in the down low for what I feel are obvious reasons. No one understands my interest in this program especially at my age, and that's okay. I'm going to do it anyway.

Now about that flight to and from my new city. URGH!!! I actually got sick on the flight there as in I had a "barf bag" on my lap for most of the trip, LOL. Double URGH!! But we had a GREAT time even though we didn't find a home yet. The other thing I'm certain about is that this new state/city is CLEARY in God's plan for me because absolutely EVERYTHING is falling right into place. And I don't have words for how good this feels. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Quick update from superwoman aka Path2012

So tomorrow, I'm flying out to my new city to take care of a couple things: 1) Finding a new home because doing so long distance isn't working as well as it did when I moved to Metro DC 13 years ago, 2) Meeting with one of my 3 new long term tutoring clients, and 3) Attending the wedding of very close cousin of mine whose Mom is one of my favorite Aunts and my daughter's absolute favorite Aunt.

Now if anyone has been reading my blog for a while you know that I'm not the best "flyer" in the world, but I've long since recognized that it's something I need to get used to. REAL quick. But tonight, I'm relatively cool thanks to a glass of my favorite Riesling. Of course the problem is that I won't be having one of those before my 6:30AM flight so I'll have to rely on prayer and thoughts of my glass of Riesling from the night before.

At any rate, my posting won't be as regular over the next few weeks as I prepare for the final leg of my vacation, including going back and forth to my Moms. But as soon as we settle down in our new city, I'll be sure to update!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a VERY safe holiday weekend. :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's YO' thang........do what YOU want to do!

So the past month had been VERY minimalist when it comes to working and the reason is because I've been sweating bullets interviewing for jobs and looking for a home. And the home search is what's working my nerves the most because when you live on a budget, you're going to be limited. And that's the bad news. The good news is that because our budget is going to so much farther than it did in Metro DC, we're going to end up with a really great home!!

To update everyone on the programming bootcamp, I decided to withdraw my name from consideration and I seriously hope I haven't permanently burned that bridge. If we weren't in the middle of a major move and vacationing, I may have considered it. But I've just got too much on my plate already and EVERYTHING would have needed to be “back burner-ed” in order for me to attend. And in retrospect, not having a house in place before going across country to attend a 1 month training camp seems a little illogical to me. So I passed on that and as much as I would like to attend it, it's simply not the right time for me.

I'm also heavy in Orgo review and have also picked back on my informatics classes. Thank goodness for MOOC otherwise, I'd be too far behind to get caught up. And if you don't know what MOOC is Google it, it's the wave of the future as far as education is concerned IMHO. Speaking of classes, I've been accepted to a certificate program in Health Informatics starting this Fall, yeah me!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Momisms 102

* After church photo taken in June 2013

DD: I'm REALLY looking for to my senior year of high school!

Path201X: I'm not, you're probably going to go on your first date this year.

DD: I know, I can't wait for that too!

Path201X: Yeah, well your dates are going to be chaperoned, and you'll never be allowed to ride in your boyfriend's car.

DD: That's cool, it'll be nice to have a driver for my dates!

Path201X: Really?!?! Well, I'm sure your boyfriend won't agree with that!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Got get it!!!!

“Yo Faith ain't never small that's what brought you this far
See you got your dreams and you got your prayers and you got
Yo God he gone take you there, See everybody has a season and I believe
this one's yours Cuz you been workin, waitin, this what you been prayin for”

* Excerpt from the gospel group Mary Mary’s release “Go get it”


URGH! That’s the way this post is going to start and the reason is an excerpt from an email I got yesterday:

“Kimberly, I want to personally reach out to you to let you know that you’re one of our top candidates (for our computer bootcamp)and that we’re looking forward to you completing the second part of the application.”

Now obviously under normal circumstances, a letter like this would be a VERY good thing but today, I’m just thoroughly C-O-N-F-U-S-E-D!!!! But should I be?

When I look back over my life over the past 5 or so years where my own goals and dreams took a deliberate back seat, I see a LOT of stagnation, as in a fear to step out of my “norm” and do something different. So while I have a VERY good idea about how my interests in computer programming/informatics can be directly tied to my patient care goals, I have a difficult time “seeing” how this can work from where I am right now. Some of this is because I haven’t found the right mentors in the field yet ie Physician-Scientists who are also interested in Informatics, but some of it's because I was kinda waiting until I got to the major cancer center to seek some folks out. But perhaps I need to do this NOW before I even get there.

I’m a STRONG believer that little in life happens by coincidence so I’m pretty clear that I’m supposed to follow through on my application to this programming “bootcamp”. And I’m also clear that my med school/MCAT goals don’t have to be put aside if I’m accepted because: 1) I already have a good score to apply to med school with, 2) I’m not applying to med school until summer 2015, so I could take the test in Jan 2014 if I couldn’t do it in Sept, and 3) A 2 week delay before I start my gig at the major cancer center probably won’t be a big deal to my future PI.

So while the details of the next big blessing in my life aren’t clear to me just yet, I KNOW it’s there so I’m going to put fear aside and go get ‘em!



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 2013 from comment to post

"Thanks for the quick reply and I agree with you 100%. You have a very strong voice that is needed right now. As you know, you and many others are the answer to what so many of your ancestors from various backgrounds have prayed and suffered for.
From reading your blog, you are obviously very intelligent and talented, which can sometimes make certain decisions more challenging...for what it's worth, please move forward with your decision to become a physician-by any means necessary. As you know it will give you a voice like no other field you've expressed interest in (that I know of). You are very much needed and you obviously have the ability. Throughout your journey, there seems to be a consistent reoccurrence of the desire to be a physician, and I don't believe that conviction will ever leave until you become one. So many times we look to hear "God's voice" concerning direction and He's speaking to us all the time (story of my life!)...that still, small voice or that recurring desire...To wrap this up, your people need you to continue to fight the good fight and plow that md road! So excited about the steps you've already taken and I am confident that you will make an amazing doctor:)
(Sorry for the long post)."

It seems that since I've reconnected to my spiritual side in a significant way, God has a way of speaking to me in ways which are ALWAYS right on time. So first, I want to thank this Anony reader for helping to me to keep "centered".

Now anyone who has read my blog for a while understands the "zig-zag" path I've taken to get to medical school. Well, with the big 5-0 looming in the not too distant future, getting off "path" is the LAST thing I need to be doing right now. So, I'm seriously considering withdrawing my name for the computer programming boot camp because I've already got a research opportunity at a major cancer center waiting for me, beginning in the middle of next month. Plus, I'm waiting to hear back about the informatics/engineering gig. And as great an opportunity the bootcamp is, it's just not where I need to be focusing my energies right now because it's going to take precious time away from my med school goals. Put another way, I can NOT do computer bootcamp (and it's 10+ hour days) and MCAT review at the same time!

And with that said, I'm back to my Orgo review. Thanks again Anony!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 2013 Top Ten

So, here's my June 2013 top 10 for the road:

1) As a result of my interest in using computer programming applications to health disparities research, I read numerous articles on computer programming on a regular basis. Well a few months ago I made a comment about the lack of gender and racial diversity in the classroom of a new and emerging company that provides "bootcamp" training in programming languages. Then a few days ago, I received an email from one of the owners that saw my comment that said "If you're concerned about the lack of gender and racial diversity in our classroom, why don't YOU apply to our program?". So I did, and I recently made the first round of cuts for selection into the 1 month, all expenses paid program starting in July. I've got some other requirements to meet including submitting a youtube video (YIKES!!!) but hey, when you put it out there, you MUST be willing to see it through!!!

2) That was a loooog #1, so I'll probably make this list a little shorter, LOL!!!

3) My daughter and I are enjoying our vacay, staying a couple days on Jacksonville Beach. And because I haven't worked out since I don't know when, I'm starting to get a "muffin top":


The good news is that it won't take much for me to get back to what's normal for me. The bad news is that I have NO Idea when that's gonna' be since it's too hot to workout down here, ROTFL!!!!

4) Here are some pics we took on the beach. Can you say VERY nice time!?!?


And as you can see, I'm still sporting my nappy natural hair and lovin' it!

5) Speaking of a vacation away from the country, living in the country is soooooooo NOT for me. Between the frequently dropped calls and the SLOW Internet service, I'm going NUTS!! And having to drive 30 miles ONE way to get to my Starbucks on is a really crazy. But hey, gotta LOVE visits down South to visit Mom!

6) I'm studying Orgo now which was right on time for the 2 Orgo MCAT clients I saw recently. Yeah, I'm REALLY enjoying this MCAT prep this time around, LOL!!!

7) I've had a number of interviews since my last post, and my new number one position is one using informatics (of course) for an Engineering company. That would require I shorten my vacay but with a comfortable six figure salary and the ability to work from home 2 days/week, that would be quite alright with me!

8) Finally, life is hella' hot down South, but STILL VERY GOOD!!! :)






Saturday, June 1, 2013

Road trip 2013

The posts over the next weeks will chronicle our road trip this summer before finally landing in our new home state (which I'm still reluctant to disclose at this time due to the presence of a$$holes jerks who don't like what I say on MY blog. And I want to keep my blog open for the cool people! :)).

Here are some pics of the journey so far:

Pic 1:

This is me in a big a$$ shirt and some tight, hot a$$ jeans on some "fancy, smancy" beach in South Carolina. But inappropriate dress aside, I just HAD to have lunch there and just rolled in there on a whim, obviously, or I would have dressed appropriately. However, I was REALLY feeling myself, strutting around with my big a$$ Georgetown Alumni teeshirt on! Yeah, ya'll don't know nothing 'bout 'dat down in South Caki-laky!



Pic 2:

Now I see some CRAZY things when travelling down South, but the site of this just seemed VERY strange in post 9/11 America:


'Dis here deserves a WTF because these tanks are ~ 200 feet from a home/neighborhood! YIKES!!! I don't know if these tanks are full, but if not, I'm sure there's enough residual sulfur to warrent an evacuation if there were to be a problem!

Day 3:
"Oh my goodness, look at that nappy hair on yo' head". Now some of my non Black readers probably aren't familiar with how big an issue hair is in the Black community. But I blogged before about how I lost EVERY strand of hair on my head some years back after getting a "bad" perm. And I've been perm free since, though I still flat iron my hair when I feel like it. And last week whiile packing up 13 years of my life, I just didn't feel like it. So I'm wearing it in it's natural texture in two neatly placed twists:


The thing is that my mother HATES it which is perfecty fine with me and she let me know EXACTLY what she thought about it. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Moving on, I'm 3 days into what is going to be ~ 21 day road trip, with plans to include 10 states maybe more, depending on when I get tired of driving!

LIFE IS SOOOOO D*MN GOOD!!!!!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

10 lessons learned in 13 years.

Thinking today about my last Friday as a resident of the Metro DC area, I'm reflecting on all the hard "life" lessons I've learned over the past 13 years I've lived here (which is longer then I've lived ANYWHERE else in my entire life). And I thought it would be interesting to put these on a list, so here goes:

1) Many of the people out to help you won't look anything like you. And some people out to hurt you will.

2) Try hard not to work in an environment where you'll have to compromise your integrity to be successful, and be mindful that having integrity could cost you your job. Can you say Big pharma anyone?

3) 90% of achieving your goals in life starts with positive thinking, so maintain positive thoughts and ONLY keep company with positive people.

4) There are people evil enough in the world to use your words on the Internet to destroy your dreams and aspirations, so don't be afraid to address the issue if need be. #keepagoodlawyer

5) If you're severely disparaged on a job interview, do NOT take the job. EVER!!

6) Never work for a woman willing to sleep with her boss to get promoted in rank or for a "man" who gets PMS once/month.

7) All the love in the world won't make a person with an addition get clean.

8) Recognize and accept the fact that there's a reason God set the path in your life the way he did. So don't waste time questioning it, make the most of it and keep it moving!

9) A person that supports your dreams and aspirations is worth their weight in platinum! So focus on them, NOT the naysayers even if that includes close family.

10) Persistence and tenacity eventually pays off!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Correction to previous post!

I just need to correct a SERIOUS error in my previous post about studying for the MCAT. I already corrected the post, but I need to reiterate what I was saying here to clear up ANY confusion about what I was trying to say.

The point I was making about answering questions on the exam is that you be able to answer at least half of the questions with out reading the passage first, NOT the question stem (which doesn't make sense if you think about it).

So again, it's my opinion that a well prepared student can answer at least half the questions on ANY section of the test without reading the passage first.

Monday, May 20, 2013

THIS is how you celebrate graduation from med school!



Well, we're neck deep packing for our move and right now I'm just THROUGHLY exhausted! I have a habit of moving boxes with my legs which indirectly involves my knees. And THAT means that my knees are KILLING ME right now!!!!! URGH!!!! I'm trying to do as much as I can before the movers come so I don't ripped off like I did the last time we moved!

I haven't done much in the way of ANY kind of work and that's because packing IS my job right now. I did some MCAT Physics and added Chemistry just for fun, and scored double digits in both. And speaking of MCAT, I think I'm going to refrain from mentioning my scores in the future because it's starting to sound a little like bragging since I always score in the double digits. And quite frankly I should be scoring in that range since I tutor MCAT students. But what I am going to do is drop some knowledge on what has made such a HUGE difference in my scores now versus 21 years ago.

So here's tid bit #1: Read the answers BEFORE reading the question stem, and "unofficially" answer the questions you think are correct. By "unofficially" answering the question I mean to place a little dot with your pencil next to what you think the correct answer is. Then read the passage to answer the remaining questions.

Now I strongly believe that if you can't answer half of the questions on ANY section of the test without reading the paragraph first, then you need to work on your reading comprehension for verbal and/or your basic knowledge base for the science sections.

Despite all the packing, I did manage to have some fun this weekend when I attended the med school graduation of a former co-worker's kid and that in and of itself, probably isn't very remarkable since he's a PhD. What is remarkable is that it took this person SEVEN years to finish med school after a series of medical and academic setbacks. And I tell that story because there's a LOT to be said about importance of tenacity and perseverance in achieving ones goals. But there's also a LOT to be said about conquering whatever test taking/MCAT issues you have NOW before your matriculate, because no one knows how the rules for becoming a Doc are going to change in the future.

So with that said, I've never regret the path I've taken to get to this place especially as it relates to mastering standardized test taking. Because not only will this help me in the future, but hopefully, I'll be able to pass on a few helpful tips to others too!

Finally, cupcakes are my absolute favorite sweet to eat and I'm thrilled to say that the medical profession themed cupcakes in this post were VERY tasty! And I'm going to end this post with a shout-out to my girl Dr. T, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, and TRY again!!!:




Wednesday, May 15, 2013

T-minus 21 and counting!



*Image credit google images

So in less than 2 weeks, the place we've called home for the past 13 years will no longer be our home! Hallelujah!!! Make that a double hallelujah!

Knowing this, I went home to NC this weekend to see my family since it will be awhile before I see them again once we move. And given all the pure garbage AKA drama going on in my family right now, that won't be a bad thing! No details needed, every family I know of has a certain level of dysfunction but geez, some people seem to thrive on it!!

Anyhoo, my first stop is ALWAYS a hot spot called Paul's place pictured below:


And when I say I ate hot dogs, I mean I had hot dogs for lunch AND dinner for the first 2 days I was there, LOL!!! So I "prepared" myself by keeping my fat intake on the low in the days before my trip (and hell naw, it probably didn't make a big difference!). Funny thing is that my Internet didn't work so I ended up having a true vacay, though not being able to get on the Internet for almost the entire time I was there was kinda HARD!!!!

I also went to church and my daughter took this photo afterwards:


The thing about my kid is that now that she's older AND taller, I'm starting to have frequent "speeches" with old, crusty men trying to come onto my kid. BAD IDEA, I'm the queen of the "what da' hell are you looking at with your old a$$" statement, ROTFL!!!

Another commonality on my trips back home to NC is breakfast at this fine, dining establishment:


Yeah I know, I'm lucky I get outta' there without an active case of shigellosis, but hey what's country girl at heart who's eaten at some of the finest restaurants in the US supposed to do, other than hope I don't get a case food poisoning, LOL???

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Awwwwwww d*mn, here comes that freakin' microscope again, LOL!!!!

So I'll find out THIS Friday if the Oncologist at the medical school department of a MAJOR cancer center, wants me to run his histo lab. Yeah, THAT again!!! And right now I feel sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo schizo when it comes to my career right now, that at THIS point, it's just laughable! I mean just yesterday, I was communicating with a school about finalizing a teaching position this Fall, and NOW this! And while the salary is just "so-so", the relocation and temporary housing assistance is the biz-ness!!!

Uh-hmmmmm Path201X, and I'm just about ready to replace the "X" with a number! :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Black girls DO play chess.


So I mentioned last year when we moved to a predominately Black county in Metro DC last year, that one of the reasons was because I wanted my daughter to have more interactions with Black folks who are like our family. And so far, I've been more than pleased though I'll NEVER understand why folks in this county settle for average to below average public schools. Actually, I do understand it on one level as it was explicated to me by a man who works in Ed Admin in this county. And let's just say that when Black folks talk about "educational conspiracies" created to keep us down, there's some legitimacy to that sentiment.

Anyhoo, after I removed my daughter from Orchestra a couple months ago due to some racial bullsh*t that after 3 years, I had tired of seeing her deal with, she was told to choose another activity. Well one of the activities she'd wanted to participate in was chess club, but her school didn't have one. So I was thrilled when I learned there was one not 5 minutes from our home.

The photo in this post is her playing one of the leaders of the club, so on her very first day participating, she was playing one of the best players they have. And by best, I mean he's a nationally ranked chess player. Yeah. But what I was VERY surprised to see was that there's only 2 other minority women in the club, so my goal of getting her around minority girls her age has not been as successful as I would have liked. Now I understand that most of the things she's interested in don't have a lot of Black participation, but I though for sure that wouldn't be the case with a chess club in a majority Black county. Oh well!

Speaking of my kid, I'd been stumped for the last 2 days on ONE physics problem in translational motion, which has been since 1986, the bane of my physics existence! Well not anymore, in 2 mins my kid with the 98% average in Physics over the entire school year was able to quite easily explain to me the following: 1) When doing problems involving free fall, acceleration is ALWAYS negative and 2) I'm supposed to use equations for the Y axis NOT X axis on these problems because I'm looking at vertical movement, NOT horizontal movement. Now I get that this are NOT difficult concepts to learn/understand/practice. But this is a GREAT example of just how damaging "mental blocks" about certain problems can make you feel dumb as rocks. The "translational motion" issue is one I've held for 30 freaking years and that is simply ridiculous! In the past, I was always bailed out in the PS section on the MCAT because of my Chemistry background, but when I became an MCAT tutor, I realized that I was going to have to FINALLY let that "crutch" go. And with my new found test taking strategies and an in home Physics tutor, I finally hope to do just that!!

Finally, I've started thinking about the MCAT stat that in my score range, the chances of my score decreasing is HIGHER than the chances of increasing my score, and that's kinda worrisome. Then I remind myself, that the statistical chances of me improving my score from where I started to where I ended when I last took in in 2011, was 0.00001 percent. And I mention this to my readers who may be concerned about being able to raise your score, the fact is that you SHOULD be concerned. But don't confuse concern, with defeat, do whatever you have to do to get that score up!! And I'll continue to contribute tips that helped me do the same. And with that, bring it on, 'cause imma be ready on September 12, 2013!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Except when it comes to the MCAT, ROTF!! I started my registration for the MCAT which I'll complete later this week, and boy has the registration formed changed!! Of course, when you've taken the MCAT multiple times over a 20 year period, you're bound to see some changes! Notable ones include breaking the African American box (a phrase I HATE, I prefer Black American) into 3 categories of Blacks, including African, Afro-Caribbean. I think this is critical because most med schools classes seem to be over run with Africans NOT Black Americans and culturally there are too many differences to name. Along this line, I don't think Africans should be entitled to the benefits of Affirmative Action, my personal belief being that the program was set up to right wrongs created by 300 years or so of slavery and the descendants of these people who are severely and negatively impacted. And if in my professional and personal experiences I'd seen more of an attempt of the 2 groups of Blacks to work together, then I'd feel VERY differently. But Africans tend to look out for other Africans, first and foremost. And that's just dumb because I don't see ANY other groups of folks doing the same, the Chinese, Indians, ect ALL work TOGETHER!!! So, it'll be real interesting to see what the data looks like in 5 or so years with all these categories.

Moving on, I took Physics and Chemistry exams and did pretty well overall. In both subjects I average an "11" which is significant because I tried a new strategy for answering the problems, I did NOT read ANY of the passages first. This is the same strategy I use in Verbal and do well there, so I'm thinking this may be a permanent change in my test taking strategy. I've also observed that if you can't answer at least half of the science questions without reading the passages, then there's a serious lack in comprehension of the material covered in the question. Again, this is all anecdotal, but pretty compelling just the same.

I also worked on my personal statement, most of which was written over a year ago while I was on the metro. And today I looked at it and felt pretty proud, I think it really captures who I am and how I got here very well!

Finally, anyone looking for updated MCAT tips from me, should check out my blog over the next few months.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I got the pow-er!!!!


*Image credit, google images

So I decided to review verbal in prep for my MCAT last week and the first day, I averaged an "8". But the second day, I averaged a "13", which is significantly better than I've EVER scored in the early part of my MCAT review. Again, much of the credit is due to the fact that I do MCAT stuff for a living and for that I'm VERY thankful. And now better able to see why God set things up for me this way in the first place. Yeah, I feeling kinda powerful about this MCAT thing:



Other very fabulous news is that I had an international client from Asia, an exciting first for me! I also had 2 interviews this week for histology positions and really, I don't know why in the HELL I'm still considering those. I mean yes, I want to be in a hospital setting again mainly to help me segue way into informatics, but not in that capacity where I've been frustrated working with the people who do that type of work for a living. So shout out to my Informatics guru Lori for setting me on the straight and narrow with my career decisions and forcing me to put ALL my professional eggs into the Informatics basket. Blessedly, my tutoring work gives me financial space to make the best professional decisions I can, so I need to get another dose of "faith and patience" and wait this thing out.

Anyhoo, those 2 histology interviews I had earlier this week were kinda of a waste of time for other reasons, in that one of them wanted someone who’s certified which I’m not, and the other was really trippin’, ONLY wanting me to seek positions through them. I mean what da’ hell, this isn’t that kinda economy, so while there’s significant advantages to them for “hogging my talent”, I’d never be stupid enough to go for something like that. Sure, there are folks out here looking for jobs by playing one company up against another, but companies have LONG since stopped being loyal to employees, so why are THEY trippin”? Again, all this is yet another reminder that business ownership is the ONLY way to go, the companies you work for aren’t going to look out for you, and as I've learend in an extremely hard way last year, neither are the people you work with.

So I’ve decided to sign up to volunteer at a local hospital known for being strong in the informatics, and hopefully that will come through. In the meantime, I’m back to going full speed ahead with my health informatics courses, so I’m happily, crazily, busy these days! And other than gain 2 new clients, I haven’t done much with the “business side” of my business, mainly because I’m not sure where we’re going to be living in the next 6 months (And it’s expensive to transfer a business to another state). What I do know is that this business stuff is more work than I EVER imagined, but the idea of having something I own and run is priceless!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Physics state of mind!



So I took an MCAT Physics exam on Thursday and scored an "8". And given that I hadn't review anything before hand, that's not a bad score.

For my in depth review, I'm using the book Conceptual Physics along with the solutions manual that accompanies it, and I still believe this is the best physics book I've ever come across. And when you've taken physics at 3 different universities which includes an online review, it gives you a little background for making a judgment call about good physics text books. Now I should mention that this book is NOT heavily math based at all, but it's the theory that's proven more challenging for me, so this book works. And I have to admit that I’m really, really enjoying Physics this time around while giving ALL credit for this new attitude to the MCAT tutoring I do on the side.

Other rather surprising news is that after months of rarely getting leads about local positions, I’ve now got more than a few to consider AFTER we’ve made the decision to leave. URGH!! And I haven’t changed my mind about moving one bit, but I may consider adjusting the timeline. The biggest players in this decision to relocate after 13 years of living in metro DC is a combo of the fact that my kid can get her exact engineering major at this school (which is only offered at about 20 schools in the US), and I’ll have access to both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. And the combo of osteopathic and allopathic schools is important because as I’m now in my late 40’s, I’m VERY concerned about my chances at an allopathic school. But what I’m not concerned about is getting accepted somewhere…………… eventually.

Other things going on in my life right now is that I’m still working on my business plan and website, though now I need to think about whether or not I want to wait to register it in my new home state or register it here then transfer which isn’t an inexpensive proposition. I can say that this is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done because I’m sooooo far outside my comfort zone.

The last thing I really needed to do right now was place an “order” on my career/educational priorities and that was no easy task. As it stands now, the order is this:

1) Continue to review Physics for both MCAT and business reasons for the remainder of April and May 2013.
2) Take the certification exam for Histology in June 2013, which if I can secure a hospital based lab position, will make it easier for me to transition into a paid health informatics position.
3) MCAT subject area reviews will be one month on each of the remaining subjects after physics in May, including Bio, Orgo, and Chem. I’ll study Chemistry last since that’s my strongest area for an exam date in September.
4) Continue working on courses for Health/Bioinformatics certificate throughout the summer.

As for moving, that’s probably on hold until at least August 2013 because my kid was selected to be an engineering intern with a major local group. This means that she’ll miss an engineering honors program being offered in the new state (which I’m thrilled to say is strongly recruiting her to their undergrad program), but that’s okay, because I’ve learned the hard way that having a great plan ONLY works when it’s timed right!

At any rate, this post has me in an empire state of mind: