Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Brake

As I am currently on vacation from school and this blog is called "Jack to School" it is hard to find anything relevant to write. But I will say this: I love being on vacation. And I did learn something new yesterday, even away from school, if you can believe it. Yesterday, on Christmas, I learned a skill that I have always been ashamed of not having: driving stick shift. Yes, yesterday I got behind the wheel of the b.f.'s manual transmission car and with his instruction, drove. I may have stalled the car about 57 times, but eventually I got the hang of it and after many many jerks and jumps, finally was able to start smoothly. I'm definitely not ready for the road yet, but it was thrilling. Driving stick has always been one of those skills I thought I should possess. And now, I do. Sort of. At least around a parking lot with no other cars in my path. Merry Christmas to me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sloth and Gluttony

Done and done with my second quarter of school. That last week there was kind of intense. Not intense like stressful, just intense like, holy shit I have a lot to do this week. But, it ended on Thursday with a presentation, a Biostats exam and a U.S. Health Care exam.

The presentation went well. Three of us out of six presented our social marketing campaign about safe sex in retirement communities. It got some laughs, which really was my main goal, so I was happy. And it made me feel like I was succeeding in my goal of combining creativity with public health. Check out a few posters I made for the fake promotion of our campaign. (Keep in mind I am no graphic artist and apologies to my readers who have already seen these in class):

As for the Biostats final. It was fucking hard. And not only I found it hard. Even people who get stats found it to be ridiculously difficult. Why make it so hard? Why? When I handed it in, I almost said to the professor, "That was mean." But, then I felt bad and held back. But it was mean. Why should I feel bad? Here's an example of how insanely hard it was. About five of the 20 questions were based on analyzing a study that involved the categories: 1) HIV and no other chronic disease, 2) No HIV, but other Chronic Disease, and 3) Otherwise. How the fuck am I supposed to keep those straight and figure out the right statistical answer? I'm not. And hence, I didn't! But you know what? It's over. Me and Biostats are so dunzo. It was not an amicable breakup. Biostats was a total asshole in the end. Even if Biostats comes crawling back, I'm never getting back together with Biostats. Ever. Trust me. So, don't even try, Biostats. I've moved on.

After Biostats, I had a whole hour to study for my last final (making it my final final). Luckily, I took U.S. Health Care pass/fail, so my hour of studying turned out to be sufficient. (I passed. What's up!? Who's a failure? Not me!). It's the only grade that's in so far.

Since then, I've been drinking beer, eating, shopping, running errands, taking care of business (I made a dentist appointment, for one. A small miracle), watching The Wire, watching movies, watching the Eagles (currently), making lentil soup (currently), going to the gym, and sitting on my couch, playing with my new Ipod Touch. It has been a lovely couple of days. Simply lovely. This sloth and gluttony will continue through Tuesday. Then I pick up my super awesome distraction from the airport and we continue the vacation lifestyle through the new year. Aside from the weather, it's one of the most wonderful times of the year. One of them. I also really like summer, fall, and spring.

Oh, here's something exciting I learned recently. The book, Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Canceled, (available in bookstores Jan. 27), in which I have an essay, also contains an essay Jon Stewart wrote. Suh-weet! I was pretty psyched when I discovered that. More on that when it becomes available. (Remember above when I said I wasn't a failure because I passed U.S. Health Care? Well, I lied. My essay is about a particular failure, or at least being rejected. Hooray for rejection!).

Speaking of failure, back to the Eagles.

Happy Winter!

Happy Hannukah!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In the Thick of It

It's Tuesday evening:
2 papers and 1 problem set down.
1 presentation canceled (nice).
1 presentation left to prepare for.
1 biostats final, 1 persuasive communication final, 1 behavioral theory final, and 1 U.S. health care final left to go.
1 little annoying paragraph thingy I need to write to replace the canceled presentation.
many beverages to consume when this is all over on Thursday afternoon.

Not to mention, I had my last biostats class ever today. EVER. It ended with a biostats themed christmas song*. Many people sang. I did not. I got out as quickly as possible. Adios, biostats class. I will not miss you.

* At the beginning of biostats all the way back in August, we were encouraged to submit biostats-themed poetry, artwork and songs. Some people, very few, actually had the time and the interest (and apparently nothing better to do) to do it. Throughout the two terms, our professor has played and exhibited the various submissions during class. There were two songs today. One was a Christmas song, something like "Deck the Halls with Z Statistics". I don't remember. Somehow the professor actually got a fair number of us boys and girls singing as we all left the lecture hall. Like something out of a bizarre, wholesome Christmas musical, where we all were supposed to have learned a very important lesson about the meaning of Christmas. Or at least the meaning of Biostats. What those lessons are-- this Jew has no clue.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


In the next four days I have:
4 finals
2 papers due
2 presentations
1 biostats problem set due (which according to the professor, "oh, this one is short. it shouldn't take too long," and which according to the actual assignment is really fucking confusing and yes, will take too long)
5 hours of work at my job
1 super awesome distraction sadly far away in Mexico
1 gazillion lame distractions at my finger tips
1 really big need to exercise more

After four days I have:
1 month off (!), in which I have:
0 papers
0 presentations
0 finals
1 super awesome distraction back from Mexico
1 dentist that I need to find and see and have tell me I don't have any cavities even though I haven't been to a dentist in three years
1 doctor that I need to find and see and hopefully tell me why I'm so tired all the time
1 eye doctor that I need to find and see and get a new contacts prescription from so I can literally see
1 trip to Philly
1 trip to NYC
1 trip TBD
1 trip to LA (?)
1 tailor that needs to be found to finally shorten the pants I bought weeks ago
several presents to buy
several movies to watch to make up for the fact that for the first time since the last time I was in school I've seen only a handful of potential oscar nominees
1 presidential inauguration to attend

For the rest of eternity, I have:
0 biostats problem sets
0 biostats midterms
0 biostats finals
0 biostats class
0 biostats frustration/anger/stress/wonder about why in god's name am I taking biostats
1 major sense of relief about the above

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Homework

I'm actually quite proud of myself. When I started school I told myself that I wasn't going to worry about grades and that I was going to attempt to lead a normal life even with homework. Surely with my lack of postings lately it may seem like I've been spending all my time on homework. And for a moment I was. Then, a few days ago, I realized something-- that I physically and mentally can't spend all my time on homework. Maybe it's because I'm old and can't focus as well, or maybe it's because I care, but not enough to stress, but when I was an undergrad, I was able to lock myself in the library for 12 hours straight and work. Now, not so much. Last night I got home from school, did a few hours of work, then went out for a beer. And I'm a happier person for it. This term I have way too much going on. I don't really have free time during the day, making it nearly impossible to get any work done before 5 pm. But, I also can't work from 5 to 12 am like I used to. I need to keep that in mind when planning for next term. More time during the day for homework --> more time at night for relaxing and leading a "normal" (read: me when I was working) life. Oh, also, sleep. That's a key component. Lately I haven't been sleeping well. But, last night, I remembered "Wait, there's help! Simply Sleep!" And this morning I am wide awake. Hooray for sleep! Hooray for me!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Forgive and forget, please!

Sorry everyone for my complete lack of posting the past, er, few days. Please forgive. Friends in town, shit going down, finals abound. Today, I very nearly fell asleep in class. Bad news, indeed. But, fortunately the class following it was canceled. Can we get our money back for that? The class that was canceled is ridiculously disorganized and of course has the most work along with it. Boo.

What's new in Baltimore, you wonder? Well, the Washington Monument was lit last week in a special "Monumental Lighting." All the local Baltimore news stations were in my 'hood, covering it, as was a local celebrity-- some former Baltimore Ravens player. And I thought celeb sightings only happened in New York or LA! Someone quick, call Gawker Stalker.

The whole thing was actually pretty cool. The fireworks were fun, and even better was watching how in awe grown men and women still are of fireworks, myself included. I've also never seen fireworks set off in the middle of a city, very close to buildings and trees. I was sure something was going to catch on fire. Nothing did. But, since it is Baltimore, there was plenty of talk about how it sounded like gunshots and how easy it would be to murder someone at the event.

Check out the pictures I took:

This is one before the lighting (I must admit, I thought the monument looked better pre-xmas lights, than post):

Fireworks on the monument (fire hazard? Maybe):

And fireworks very close to buildings and trees (Fire hazard? Definitely):

Well, people, finals are next week, then I'm free for a month. Suh-weet. Then time to start looking for an internship/job for when I graduate. Working part-time for a non-profit, I am reminded that I would prefer not to work for a non-profit in the long-term. Does that make me a bad public health student? Quite possibly.

As for the person who commented about how she is looking at grad schools-- why don't you send me your email address and I can tell you more about it.

Later, all. I promise.

Monday, December 1, 2008

And I'm back

As a wise man once said about me and my blog today, "If you have time to write 'I don't have time to write' then you have time to write." So true, wise man. So true.

So here I am writing, even though really, I have no time to write. You might think since I had midterms last week, I'd be free and clear for awhile. But you'd be wrong. With this quarter system, I have finals and final papers due in two weeks. But, then, then... I'm on vacation for a month. Yay for school!

I started my job today. The woman I'm working for is in Dakar (where else would she be?) so, I'm doing work that I wouldn't otherwise be doing. But it's actually a good thing. Until my new boss gets back, I'm doing research on malaria, rather than working on multimedia projects about the program. You see, I know next to nothing about malaria, just as I know next to nothing about most diseases that I'm learning how to prevent through awareness, promotion, education, blah blah blah. The school of public health teaches how to create programs and campaigns around various diseases, but doesn't actually teach us about diseases. So, malaria is my disease du jour thanks to my new job and I'm happy to have it aboard. Welcome, malaria, to my knowledge base.

There were several things I've been meaning to write about when I had no time to write, but now I can't remember them. Oh yes, one thing I've discovered is that I'm pretty certain I want to continue to do something creative when I'm done with school. I have to remember that. It's not easy when JHSPH is so focused on research and community health programs and evaluation, because honestly, that's not what I want to do when I graduate. I still miss certain things about TV, like working with creative people, like entertaining people, like making money, like not worrying about grants or grant proposals or evaluation research. I know they all come hand in hand... but that is what I've been thinking about lately.

The other thing I realized today at my three hours back in an office is that sitting at a desk in an office is not as easy I remember it. In fact, it's hard. I know it takes getting used to and once one is comfortable at a new office, it's easier. But today was kind of shocking being back at work. I kind of see why people never leave school... because starting work kind of sucks. But thanks to my former freelance lifestyle, how many times have I started new jobs? Many. Too many to count. So I won't count. I'll just remember that the first few days and hard and then it gets easier. And then the paycheck comes.

Excuse the abrupt ending, but I'm out of time for now.

Just a little bit longer

I know, I know. You're all holding your collective breath for a new post. Well, hold it just a bit longer. I promise later today I will fill you in on the goings on in Baltimore and beyond. I'm starting my job today, otherwise, I'd have time to write this morning. But, just think, later today, I will have so much fodder to write about. In the meantime, check out the amazing place where I'm now working. (Specifically, doing multimedia stuff for the Gates Malaria program).