Prague, Sandbalst, and I will never bartend again.

April 17, 2005

In my Anatomy class, I just learned about Fascia Lata. It’s this great drink that the local Starbuck’s sells. I don’t think I’d make it through dissection without it. Also, you have a muscle in your thigh called “sartorius”. You know you are in the center of nerdville when people are singing Sartorius B.I.G. Oh, oh, oh, sar-TOR-eee-us! We start learning about Head and Neck this week. I think I’ll browse the classifieds and, you know, get a head start on my class.

In biochemistry I’m learning that sugar is pretty important. You can do a lot of things with it like store that sugar, eat that sugar, make sugar from scratch, and fail biochem.

The stangest thing about medical school so far is how many ways we are taught to kill someone. And not just that, but EXACTLY how it kills you and what part of what thing a poison tweeks in what way. Arsenic, Cyanide, Malonate, Rotenone, Oligomycin, Fluoroacetate. Quiz me I dare you. Yes I know I didn’t punctuate that.

The nerve and artery that supply your perineum (your nethers) are called “pudendals”. Pudendum means “ashamed” in Latin. Am I the only person that finds this hilarious?

Tickets have been bought and here’s my schedule:

GND to STL on June 8th
STL to Prague July 5th (arriving the 6th)
Prague to STL July 30th (arriving the 31st)
STL to GND on August 2nd

Prague you say? I’m taking a selective that places me in Prague for a little under a month. While there I get to shadow physicians, learn how to take histories and physicals, experience nationalized/socialized medicine in a country that was COMMUNIST a few years ago, and buy a nice wife.

Love Parade Berlin 2001The selective actually doesn’t start until the 11th. This means that I have 4 days to travel Prague, but I’m not staying in Prague. On Saturday, July 9th, Berlin throws the LOVE PARADE, an all day techno/rave in the streets of Berlin that attracted 1.3 million people in 2003. The plan is to pass out on the train back to Prague on Sunday morning in time to make it to our mandatory check in at 3:00pm. Place your bets now.

Each weekend during the selective we’re hitting up a different city. Yes Amsterdam. Maybe Vienna, but probably not Vienna. If any of my more traveled readers has suggestions, go for it: suggest. Try to keep it Soviet Bloc.

So remember all that work I was doing for SANDBLAST? Well it’s 9am here and I have to start setting up. I’ll finish this later…

hungoverIf I was a better writter, I might be able to capture how bad I feel. Right now, you’ll just have to settle for “profound ouch-throb”. When I stopped writing at 9am, I went upstairs to corral the 1300 jello shots we made. There were toasts; how many I don’t remember. I had a vegetarian breakfast burrito at 10am, then the work came. I wrote previously about a massive sundial mosaic on the beach that took five people four hours to half-clear. Maintainance or some such was supposed to finish the job this week so that it could be used as a stage. To no one’s surprise, that failed to happen. So in the middle of carrying ice and setting up beerpong tables and moving crates and crates of alcohol, I was pulled to finish the job. I enlisted six other people, got shovels and makeshift wheelbarrows (happy Rochelle?), and went to work like somebody was paying me (no one was paying me). We cleared it in less than an hour.

After that was the bartender meeting. This is the stage in the day where everyone is excited to bartend and thinks it’ll be great. When I look back on my life and contemplate bad moves… We took a break at noon to enjoy the Slip-n-Slide. Actually, it’s dishonest to use a brand name. We took a break to enjoy the 130′ sheet of tarp with soap all over it. Megha ran, jumped UP and fell DOWN. Gravity came as a shock to her elbows, knees and face. High comedy is having a running start longer than your actual slide. Kudos to you Megha, kudos.

Dizzy FloresBehind the bar we started naming our arms. Dr. Al Dehyde, The Octogon (watch Anchorman for that joke), Ferrari, La Tigra. I went with Magnum and Blue Steel. Oh what fun we had before people came. Our pitboss left at 1pm. We will call this zero hour. By 2pm, there were more than 300 people with the thirst. Have you ever seen Starship Troopers? The scene where the Mormon outpost on Klindathu gets attacked by thousands upon thousands of Arachnids, overpowering the infantry forcing a retreat that heart-brakingly claimes the life of Diz? It wasn’t THAT bad, but barely.

***As an aside, I have a working theory that Starship Troopers is one of the greatest movies of all time. The six criteria are

1. insects
2. war
3. nudity
4. Absence of Nicolas Cage
5. candy
6. and ninjas

Starship Troopers scores a solid 4. ConAir scores a 0. I have yet to find a perfect 6. No Jason, I will not consider anime because that isn’t real nudity.***

With the absence of a pitboss we were running out of ice, beer, liquor, cups, we were running out of “bar”. The reserves were, in a brilliant move, kept under lock and key 100 feet from us. Who had the key? Pitboss. Too much brilliance in one place! So I became the pitboss, shuttling (like so much malate and aspartate) supplies back and forth, cleaning up hundreds of empty bottles and yelling at people to clear a path CLEAR A PATH! And it really didn’t matter to the mob that I was not serving drinks. “Topher! TOPHER! Tropher! Tober! I need two Pitons and a Heineken!” Kill yourself. “Hey man, I VOTED for you!” And we will all note the use of the past tense.

I got to leave the bar at 4pm to jugde the hot body contest. Jealous? People just weren’t drunk enough to get in line to be judged, so we poured liquid courage down a few throats and things were on their way (God bless Nature’s social lubricant). Now in the Men’s Division we had your token bodybuilders that thought this was a serious contest and forgot that the three judges were all guys. As required by Natural Law, muscle and rhythm were inversely proportional and Hanz, Franz were laughed off stage. Then came Phil. Phil had the good sense to be incredibly obese and have fun with it, winning in a landslide. Oh how the women swooned. I must find a picture of Phil.

The Women’s Division was another beast all together. A few thought they were pole strippers, a few thought this was a dancing contest, and a few thought they just had to get on stage and “be hot”. As each contestant came up and panicked at the size of the crowd (we’re at 500 easy) they would look around until they found Jeremiah or me and proceed to reduce us to said pole. Jealous? Girls also heckled other girls. This comes as zero suprise to my female readers but gets me everytime. With great comuppance, we pulled the hecklers from the crowd and made them for all to see and boo. Yes, we were taking too seriously our titles of “JUDGE”. Nobody remembers who won, though in true Spring Break Fashion there were a hundred or so cameras at the ready.

And back to the bar (which was hell and had been nicknamed “Ivan” at this point) where we’re out of everything except warm Sprite, water, and the truly pissed-off. I’m desperately trying to find more beer in the bottom of the ice tubs and coming up with glass shards and blood. Good Times! I looked to Kelly and said, “I’m going to my room to sleep for a half hour. Don’t bother me before then; I’m feeling stabby.” That was a good three hours.

Just in time to wake up, get dressed and go to The Aquarium for the after party. So exhausted still that I walked onto the beach and started salivating over the boulders. Couldn’t find anything harder than V-sandals. I need a bumper sticker that says “I pine for granite”. Walked around being social for the next three hours as people kept commenting on how haggard I looked. “No I’m not drunk, I’m just tired from spending all day drinking.” Which was true.

Aquarium ended at 2am and off to Bananas with a busload of Indians. If anyone is looking to develop a useful skill, come to an island and refuse to pay for anything. Haggling should be in the Olympics with (A) a quoted price, (B) the actual cost, and (C) the bottom line at which the vendor gets so pissed that he RAISES (A). These are the things I think about when getting out of cover fees.

Inside my friend Jester is dancing with the club as a whole and removing his shirt at random intervels to really hammer home that he is the best dancer in the place. Peed myself. Once again, the smallest most unassuming girls are the craziest dancers. I’m not sure who sees this comming, but it is never me. It’s Nana from Ghana’s birthday and she pays me the following compliment: “You’re the only white guy I’ll dance with.” I completely deny blushing.

I’m in bed at 5am and proceed to dream all night about water and food; the last time I ate was the last time I wrote about it: 10am.

Profound Ouch Throb.

So what did I learn? Bartending sucks–tip your bartender. You have no idea who has been waiting the longest, so it’s okay to yell at your bartender (just don’t be a jerk about it). Regardless of how many times I’ve been skipped, the second I got behind the bar I served girls twice as often as I did guys. People will look at your hands and wonder if you were in a knife fight. You will piss people off no matter what you do. And Ipecac is the most perfectly named thing ever.

P.S. if you google “Fascia Lata” you can call me a liar; your “nethers” are your external genitalia; Ferrari, LaTigra, Magnum and Blue Steel are Zoolander references; Rochelle made fun of me last time for spelling it ‘wheelbarrel’; “malate and aspartate” are part of a shuttle-sytem in the cell that makes me a huge nerd; V-sandals is a climbing joke; the “I’m not drunk, I’m just tired..” line is stolen from The Family Guy tv show to which I owe so much.

P.P.S Anyone that comes up with a movie that scores a 6 will get a wonderful suprise souvenir from the island of GND. My mother will get one because it’s her birthday soon and she thinks I’ll forget, which I may still.


Studying for Midterms

April 6, 2005

Today, I walked across campus in the rain to the library, opened up my backpack to grab my books (which were wet) next to my umbrella (which was wet). I will do this two more times this week. It’s Good Friday and Grenada is closed. Every student from every term has gone home to be with family or to another country to enjoy themselves leaving the first-termers alone in the library to study and devolve into Lord of the Flies. It was noon before we had a streaker; 3:00 before someone brought in a cooler; and by 11:30 (as I write this) my friend Mike Caglia has placed a crab trapped in a pizza box on the table with a sign thatsays “Free Pizza”. Hilarious. Of course noone is coming near it because five of us are staring at it and giggling from behind are cubicles. This is why I bring my camera everywhere. People are playing football between the desks right now. My friend Charles is wearing his Dadpants and is telling everyone to be quiet. So that we don’t have an YMOTANA repeat, “Dadpants” are what you wear when youare acting like a Dad.

***How responsible am I these days? I was invited to GQ’s 25th anniversary party at LaLuna (read nicest place I’ve ever seen) tonight and didn’t go. That’s the level of commitment here. Also, how stupid am I these days?***

The library is closing and we’re heading to Street Meat. Streat Meat is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of guys on the side of the road cooking barbeque, selling beer and drinking Grenadian Moonshine. They have this in every country I hear. Biochemistry tidbit: the reason you don’t want to drink moonshine is that it gets converted into formaldehyde in your body. Formaldehyde is what is preserving my cadaver right now. Bad news.

Day 2 of studython: losing focus. To pass the time my friends and I have divided the class into grasshoppers and ants (if you haven’t read that parable, go read that parable). The grasshoppers started off ok, but now they’re walking faster than everyone else and asking so many questions about the material that you wonder how they’re learning anything. They stalk the rows asking everyone if they have last year’s exam or a Board Review Series book. They copy other people’s notes. By Day 3 the ants are so tired of being bothered that a mass migration occurs to the third floor. But damn those pheremone trails, they’ve found us again by dinner. Despite the general panic, confidence is high in our class for the biochemistry final tomorrow.

Exam is stout but fair. The ants are checking the posted answers against their spare scantrons and feeling alright. The grasshoppers are not checking their scores at all. Wait for it. Wait for it. And they crack.

It’s Day 4 and Embryology is tomorrow. Despite how bad people were cut by Biochem, they ain’t got time to bleed. Easter break is over now and the library is PACKED. It gets this bad: people are carrying chairs from other floors WITH THEM on smoke breaks to prevent thieving. I know it’s not a word. Embryology is two credits out of eighteen and few have taken it seriously. Here’s the thing: conceptualizing how a zygote goes from ball of cells to hideous monster to slimy baby is time consuming; you really can’t cram it in. Embryo is also the class that gave us such gems as syncytiotropholast and extrahepatic biliary atresia. At this point in the week people are actually losing their minds. One girl started laughing hysterically in the middle of the second floor and had to be brought outside by her friends. Another bought 8 redbulls at 9pm. Yes, for herself. My study group is bunkered in a private room with a desk behind the door.

Someone walks out of Embryo and asks to no one inparticular, “Was that the easiest test you ever took or what?” He got strange looks from a few people who knew better. He ended up passing by a question. Little note: a number of medical schools have HighPass, Pass, and Fail as grades. We have A, B, C, and F (so if you barely pass they really see it). We also have a program called Decel: If you have a GPA under 2.25 after midterms, you drop two of your classes and fall a term behind. At this point, people are trying to figure out wether they are dropping Biochem and Histo, or Anatomy and Embryo. Historically, 1/3 of the class Decels at midterms with the option open until the day of finals. We have all night and all of Thursday to study for Histology and things play out as they have all week, leaving the weekend open to study for Anatomy. Anatomy is an incredible course and really the first time most of us began to realize how dumb we are. For instance, I had no idea how small my lungs and heart were or where my stomach was located (grammar police?). So that the professors could prepare the cadavers for the “identify this” portion of our exam, the lab had to be closed a day before. That last night of availability, students were everywhere poking through other people’s bodies and interrupting review groups. Walking around, you could hear wrong answers everywhere.

STRANGEST THING HAPPENS: Library is dead Sunday night. Arguably our hardest exam is tomorrow and the place is EMPTY! We are beside ourselves. There isn’t a grasshopper in the building. We all get together in the middle of the floor and have one large open review where we ask any question we want and get the right answer. It’s fantastic and, more than that, fun. Everyone is happy with how they preform the next day. Out at dinner I see Morgan Freeman and say “hello”. Much smaller in person.

So that was midterms. Feeling the anticlimax a bit and missing the high of studying. This weekend a number of people are flying to Barbados, Margarita or Trinidad to live it up and keep the party going.

***How responsible am I these days? I was invited to Barbados this weekend for a surfing trip and am not going. That’s the level of commitment here. Also, how stupid am I these days?***

Very stupid, topher.