Half and Half

October 14, 2005

Being a DES tutor is becoming more and more a full time responsibility. Kelly and I spend an hour’s worth of work before both anatomy and biochemistry review sessions to make sure that we have a solid presentation of the material for those who attend. We put on our show, answer any questions, and start prodding the students with the gaul to feel comfortable with the material. With preparation and execution, it comes to four hours every wednesday night and a cool 50EC.

Right after our exams finished, the first term’s began. This meant that any time in the library was not my time, but their time. This meant post-it notes on desks, mini-conversations walking past the door, and five or six one-last-questions a day. Somebody somehow got my cell phone number. After all of this bother Kelly and I were both very curious as to what impact we had. Did we help at all? Some students over the past week have come up to thank us for their A’s, others have come up to me to say that they almost failed. Seriously, they walk up and say, “Hi topher. About biochem, I almost failed.” Not awkward at all. So no, I don’t think we helped. I think the people that were going to get A’s got their A’s and the people that thought just showing up to a DES session would be enough got the rest. I have decided to lower my exposure and move to Sunday mornings at 10am. I can’t wait to tell you the stories about hungover responses to lipid synthesis.

My back tire blew out the other day and I have spent the last week trying to get it fixed. This has led to two amazing discoveries: there is a Grenadian yellow pages that might as well be a single sheet of paper saying “No, we don’t do that. You should ask somebody else.” and if I really want a good job done on my bike, I should go to the roundabout that splits Mont Toute, Lance Aux Epines and Grand Anse where, at the corner by the fruit ladies, there is a guy named Leon that hangs out there sometimes in the mornings, has a short black beard, and usually wears a grey sock on his head. Only in GND.

My friend Jarret is doing an amazing thing. He has started an organization called “Finding Smiles” whose goal is to entertain the orphans and sick children of Grenada. He has been meeting with the President of Grenada, the Health Director, the Dean of SGU, and exchanged letters with Patch Adams of the Gesundheit! Institute. This Saturday is SANDBLAST (some of you may remember it from last term) and Jarret has asked me to host a slackline demonstration from noon till three for the organization. “You know, just set it up, let the kids play on it, and try to have a few neat tricks to show them.” I’m scared for everyone involved. My neat trick will be neurotic safety and sustained unease.

Sherin is off in New York enjoying the rain and buying me a corncob pipe and a can of spinach. Once I shave my head and draw an anchor on each forearm the transformation will be complete. Look forward to the pictures from Halloween everybody!

Realized this morning that I’m not yet a year into this whole thing, topher.

Not funny Addendum:

The more and more that they teach us here, the more distressing the information becomes. We just finished up the endocrine system before midterms. Not only do I know people in my class with hyper- and hypo- thyroidism, but one of my classmates just discovered that his persistent sore throat was in fact thyroid cancer. He was flown back to the states, emergency surgery was performed, and during the tumor’s removal the nerve supplying half of his vocal chord was cut. Our class knows in uncomfortable detail all the problems that lie ahead for him. In Neurology, we’re learning about Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. Some of my friends have parents with these diseases in the early stages; this cannot be easy for them. I wonder how many people in my class anticipated what knowing all of this was going to do to us.

These last few weeks there has been much talk about a classmate of ours that tried to cheat on an exam, was caught by no fewer than six people, and tried to pass it off as a misunderstanding. The people that turned in this student wrestled with the decision for days knowing full well that an expulsion from a medical program would brand this student forever with a scarlet C: something you wouldn’t wish on an enemy. They realized that any guilt or sympathy they felt paled in comparison to their obligation to future patients that might be harmed by the type of behavior that cheating forebodes. They did it knowing that they would have to face the accused one by one and restate their accusations. I couldn’t be more proud of my class for making that painful decision and I cannot imagine how heavy the mistake of your life must weigh on a person.

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Post Midterm Post

October 6, 2005

Founder’s Library SGU

So I disappeared. Every day for the last 10 days has played out the same: awake and out of bed by 6:00, library and redbull on an empty stomach by 7:00, sitting in the same study room till midnight with a break for lunch and a break for dinner. Aderrall rationing into fourths and eigths of pills; people slowly moving their desks at home onto their desks in the library doing everything short of marking their space with urine; the low volume hum of too much information in too little heads; Dry Erase markers everywhere. Exam week is awesome.

And there was plenty going on in the background. At SGU there are three student factions: the Meds, the Vets, and the undergrads. The vets and Meds don’t mix geographically. They have their buildings and their horses, we have ours. The undergrads however compete for the same resources as we. Sometimes Darwin rears his head. Well, mostly it’s Freud.

The library has a limited number of study rooms with dry erase boards. Its 12, actually, and I know the room number for every one. They are a hot commodity and you must arrive early to secure them. Then you have to make it look like you have a study GROUP in there so you bring as many items as you can in your backpack and spread them out over every surface so no one will invade. The arrangment always looks hopelessly fake but must continue for appearence’s sake.

Now the buses don’t start running until 7am, so if you arrive before then you’ve got a good shot but the undergrads take the reggae buses in around 6am. Now they have class from 7-9, so that means that they are setting up shop and then walking away. The library has a policy against this: no squatting. So, if you show up and a room looks occupied but is without occupants you are completely within your rights to put their things in the hall and take over. In practice, this isn’t done. Everyone has been there: left there stuff to go to lunch, walked down to D-Store for some coffee, taken a smoke break. And everyone seems to respect the karma of I’ll leave yours if you leave mine.

Well not me, and not now.

If it looks like someone has left their things from the night before: in the hall. Undergrad has left for classes: in the hall. For lunch, for dinner, for anything: in the hall. I am very popular with the undergrads. Sherin has called me “heartless”.

Sure, there was turblence in the beginning. “Go complain to security” would roll off of my tongue. It became a mini movement as more and more Physio’s and Neuro’s were placing Physics and Bio’s outside. There were rules emerging as well. Bio’s did not attack Bio or Physio’s Physio. Everyone cow-tipped. A War of the Signs emerged proclaiming “Occupied DO NOT DISTURB”, “2 people inside on 10/02”, “Don’t even knock”. These were the rooms I targeted first, were the most satisfying. Eventually the field mellowed as people gave up the idea of squatting without presence and realized that everyone looks inside of an “Occupied!” room and leaves the “Join us if you’re quiet”s alone. It also could have been because exams were ending.

Anyway everyone learned a valuable lesson.

Another undercurrent was the theft of Kelly. In the beginning there was Terrel and his car: Yosemite Sam. No one else had wheels, so we all travelled with Terrel and were always together. Sam struck off on his own days later with his girlfriend Lauren. And then there were three. I followed suit with a moped and Sherin, proving once and for all that girls dig motorcycles. Kelly stayed true to Terrell by travelling, studying and eating never a few feet away. Then came Analisa; Kelly started to drift. The final blow came during exam week when I needed Kelly’s help to secure study rooms; a sort of rotating watch as one of us would eat while the other kept house. Now Terrel was alone. Kelly starting eating with me, studying with me, and taking the bus. Yosemite Sam alone remained. Exams are over, I’m helping Sherin with biochem, and Kelly has returned to a broken home. There is a lot of healing ahead.

Kelly is a boy. Probably wasn’t too clear from the story.

As for midterms, I did very well. Mom, I’ll send you an email in a little while with details. I promise. The email write-in contest is over with Nicol Averbuch the winner. I’m very happy with the responses. For those of you that had spouses write in, I’ve decided to count you both as a single person. Uncles, thank my aunts.

new favorite word: holosystolic

Thanks for reading everyone, and happy birthday Kimberly.

topher.