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I guess I live here now.

(I have missed this icon.)
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I am three days into my first "real" year of medical school. (I have finally arrived at the part where it is ALL CLINIC, ALL THE TIME!) So far, I have worked 38 hours. I am totally understanding the work restrictions now in a way that didn't make any sense to me before.

I have seen people cheering for baby poop, and some septic shock, and some apendixes, and some deformities, and some dying. I have stuck tubes down people's throats, injected their IVs full of drugs to stop them breathing, and put a needle between someone's vertebrae. I have asked people invasive questions in English and in Spanish. People have taught me new Spanish words, and a lot about anesthesia.

This is really an unbelievable privilege. Please remind me that, when I start grouching about YET ANOTHER pre-"Bright and Early" start. (Like tomorrow, at 4:30.)
aintbroke: (flee you fool!)
I don't know how many of you are aware of this, but I am totally awesome. Really. I generally find myself delightful! And funny! And it is really only since graduating college that I have had any experience with feeling like a failure. (Peace Corps was tough.) (Medical school is tougher.)

I was supposed to take a massive test, back in February, but all signs pointed to my not being able to pass it, so I have instead, taken a lot of time off from school (more on that later) to take another stab at studying and take it again.
First of all, this test. Guys, I do not even have words for how terrifying this test is. It is the "you know enough to be a doctor" test, and much like the SATs, your score on this determines what options you have later on in life. I am very thankful that my interest lies in a primary care field, but I'd like not to be limited in where I get my future training. Also: what if I totally fall in love with surgery- this is a legit concern!- and then need a significantly better score to match*!
Step One has a very high pass rate, but I think a large part of that is that medical students by-and-large are robots. I believe I have spoken here before about my ambivalence to robots (so cool in theory! so lame in practice!) - I simply do not have the capacity to study twelve hours a day (which is what all the study guides are telling me to do.) Ugh. Anyway. I have narrowed my studying down to nine texts, four sets of flashcards, a single question bank and that is just going to have to be sufficient.

For the record, folks, this is why I can not find it in my heart to update this LJ more often- this is how exciting my life is. TEXTBOOK SELECTION! A bookshelf enters the arena, but only ROBBINS/COSTANZO/FIRST AID leave standing.

Taking time off for testing purposes has all kinds of consequences, of course. Because of the way blocks are scheduled, my options were no time at all, or four months. Because the first two months are consumed with test-studying, I don't really have time to set up anything super creative for the other two months (I have just enough responsibility locally that I can't travel. Curse you research!) so I don't know what I'm going to do with myself in July and August. Also taking this time "off" now means I will not have it later, for things like elective rotations, which I am actually thrilled about, but will not get to do. Arg!

*No one actually cares about this, but I do find it slightly alarming how much stupid medical school lingo (not like, jargon, or actual learning, but just lingo, has worked its way into my life. "Match" indeed.

As always, I really am delighted by all y'all who post regularly on LJ. My silence has a lot to do with me not having anything interesting to say; but I am here, and I am reading.
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After each medical school block, we get a four day weekend. Our major exams are always on Wednesday mornings, and then we'll have until Monday as time to ourselves. Sadly, it seems like the exact wrong amount of time- long enough to seem significant! But instead, is just long enough to catch up on activities of daily living that fall by the wayside during exam furor (Sleep. Grocery shopping). Our penultimate block started on Monday, and I've spent the last three days sort of frantically blinking at the wall. This probably means it's time to up my medication doses; joy and delight all around.

I am really ready for a solid month off of school, which I understand I will get in the fall of 2014; so that's not too long to wait. Oh, I wish I were joking.

In home news, we keep tweaking the chicken coop/run, and I think we've finally arrived at the happy medium of size, insulation, and portability. The garden is almost gone, though the housemate's mad canning has not yet ended. (We have ALL the peaches, tomatoes, tomato sauce, apricots, pears, and pickles that a person could possibly dream of. The jar collection is literally bowing the shelf we have it on.)
We finished part of the back patio- and honestly, there is nothing like manual labor to make me feel competent. Medical school is never about feeling competent, but pouring/leveling/floating/finishing concrete, I can do.

I keep hoping that one day, I'll wake up and suddenly be better with managing my time. Someday! I will set my bread to rise overnight, and bake while I am studying; instead of deciding I want bread at lunchtime and baking long hours into the night. Someday! I will take a few hours off class to finish an assignment, and actually do the assignment, rather than noddle about on the internet all day.

I mean, not yet, obviously. But someday.
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Oh, motivation, you are the worst.

I am having the worlds mildest cold, just enough to sap my energy and make me want to nap six times a day (up from my normal desire to nap four times a day). That, some vague muscle aches, and a chugging thirst are my only symptoms, so I am self-diagnosing with "first week back at school doldrums." That is the technical term, feel free to spread it around.

It doesn't help that I am avoiding stupid, boring, obnoxious paperwork. As if medical school weren't mind-taxing enough - it absolutely is, for the record - we are often assigned reams of what I am going to call busywork, just to make sure that every waking second is adequately over-full. Ugh, learning issues. (Insert fifteen of your best teenage eye rolls here, please.)

I spent six weeks this summer in my nominal hometown, on a rotation in rural medicine. I spent most of my time having another delightful lesson in keeping-your-temper-when-faced-with-beurocracy (Which never seems to get easier, even when I have packed a book for waiting hours for phone calls to be returned.) Infuriating!
What was delightful, though, was how much I enjoyed being in clinic. I spent time in a private OB/GYN practice, a school based health clinic, and a massive, hospital affiliated general practice; and I genuinely liked them all. (Ok, the school based clinic was lame, because school was not in session, so we saw 3-4 patients in a day, which makes things reaaaaal slow.) I was thrilled to see how much I like family practice, because I was not expecting to like it at all. (Too much variety! was my fear. As it turns out, that is a selling point, rather than a downside.)
And, somehow, rather than finding it depressing how many people don't have the first idea how to take care of themselves, it was instead wonderful every time a person came in and had their act together. A woman taking medications as prescribed? AWESOME. An eight year old excited about football, whose father asked intelligent questions about concussions? TRIPLE AWESOME. I legit high-fived my preceptor a few times after seeing a particularly excellent patient.

Now, back at school, we have started the Gastrointestinal block- and it is all colon all the time. Just keeping it glamorous, over here.
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One of the weirdest things about medical school is how awkwardly named the different parts are. First, for basically a calender school year, you are a first year (9 months). Then second year- which runs from August to February (6 Months- although I guess I can technically count this summer, so the six weeks of vacation and six weeks of clinicals make it 9 months.) Then third year, that runs March to the following May (14 months)- then fourth year which is actually a year long.
I can't imagine that this is standard- and it comes up a lot. Ugh. Why can we not name things more accurately medical school? Basically all I am doing is learning the most accurate name for things in and around the human body- why must this be so hand-wavingly bad?

The moral of the story is: I am done with first year, and I am going to New York to laze about and eat bonbons (Or, you know, hang out in the Natural History Museum) for a month. Yay!
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Today is my ten year lj-versary.

[ profile] isilya just mentioned that she's been around these parts for more than a decade, and I checked my calendar- only to realize that I too have been hanging out here for ten years.

Ten years ago, at this time, I was psuedo-interning for Noam Chompski, harassing people of varying importance at the Pentagon, testing out search engines to see what dogpile/google/yahoo considered the best results, learning how to hard code html, getting my heart broken by college admissions boards, and generally not being a whole lot younger than I feel today.

I sort of understand intellectually that it's been a long time. And when I add up the things I have done since then, I guess it has been a while. But I remember riding my bike to the IRC, sitting in that squeaky chair in the only room without a window, and compiling lists of bizarrely specific data- like it was yesterday. (Maybe even better than yesterday, because I can still cite you statistics on what percentage of GDP goes to weapons acquisition in ten countries, but I can not tell you what the 4th line treatments for hypertension are.)

Ten years! I know many people are migrating away to other social networks- and it's true that I spend more time on tumblr than I do here- but I love this space we've built, and I love you all for sharing it with me. Thanks for the good times, folks. Thanks for teaching me, and telling me.Thanks for growing up along with me.

Here's to ten more years of whatever's coming next.

(In this post, the banana represents time, and the old woman represents me, shocked and astonished that time is catching up to me. You'll never take me without a fight, banana!)
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Way back, the semester that I was internng for Noam Chomsky, one of my colleagues told me that I was clinically happy. Like, whatever clinically depressed people have, only in reverse. (Note: post Neuro block, I am fairly certain that not only is this a real thing, I could map it out.) I'm pretty sure she meant it in a less than positive way, but I find it pretty apt. I mean, I am stupidly positive. All the time! And my brain does seem to work along entirely differently pathways than other people deal with.

Oh, other people and your functional neural pathways. How I envy you. What must it be like, having an attention span that lasts multiple minutes in a row?

It is spring, and the birds are chirping, the juniper pollen is rolling over my body in waves, and all I want to do is go climbing. I'm compromising by sitting on my couch and watching bad television. Indoors! At a screen! Not enjoying myself!

This has to count.
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My least favorite thing in the world is injustice. My second least favorite thing in the whole world, honestly, no joke, is shoe shopping. Guess what season it is in my house? (Reading back issues of the Economist and shopping for shoes? HOW DID YOU KNOW?)

In other news, I am glorying in the free time summer provides. Did I do any of the fifteen niggling things on my to-do list? No. Did I take some naps, attempt to read the entire internet, and most of the library? Absolutely.

Also: I am working on some art projects. Because art projects are excellent. Two friends are pregnant, and I am making one a quilt, and one a mural. A picture of this quilt in progress )

In other great news, it seems we have weathered the big part of my mom's brain surgery recovery. She's in the exhausted phase of recovery, which is much easier to deal with then the manic phase. She's bike riding, and smiling, and sewing, and generally back to her old self, albeit at about seventy percent of her normal energy.
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Life, man. It's crazy.

Before I start whining about my current situation: I spent Winter Holiday with my sister in the Czech Republic and it was awesome. (Awesome!) We are both of the "minimal museums" school of tourism so we spent a lot of time wandering around Prague, admiring street art and eating doughnuts. We learned the tram, subway and bus schedules well enough to give directions. Culturally, we went to the what was possibly the world's worst theater performance (Incoherent! Poorly performed! Too childish for adults, too old for children!), a fabulous retrospective of "Jewish Songwriters on Broadway," a few castles, fewer churches.
The highlights of the trip were: hanging out with my sister, who rocks like a rocking thing, winning a trivia contest in our hostel, and New Year's Eve. On NYE (which was the warmest night of the entire trip) we accidentally crashed a party of locals, who welcomed us, shared their birthday whiskey and champagne, and showed us the best (read: safest) spot to watch the fire works. Czechs- they love their fireworks.
Interesting observational facts: Blacklight theater is not as cool as it sounds. Eastern Europeans all drive standard American sized cars. Bohemia is probably the most beautiful place in the world, come summertime.

Anyway. Then I came home to study neurology.

Two weeks ago: we had three "snow" days. (One for snow, one for predicted but never arrived snow, and one because our state somehow had a gas shortage, so they shut down all major non-hospital institutions so they could turn off the heat.)
Last week: we had two weeks of lecture in one! Basically, I was crying for mercy.
Today: I took a test electronically (just like ALL the tests I've taken so far in school) except that this one somehow wasn't logged, so we have to take it again on Wednesday.


That is the update.
(In this post, the old woman represents MY brain, while the banana represents information ABOUT the brain.)
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Oh, LIVEJOURNAL. Why am I so lousy at writing? I want you internet people out there to know that while I read my friends page almost every day, and I think about you significantly more often than you might expect, writing remains teeth-pullingly difficult. Medical school has in fact, not made me a different person. (I admit, I was kind of hoping I would one day wake up all adult, or not in violent hatred with writing, but evidently this just isn't going to happen.)

The news from medical school is now all: Genetics! CANCER!
I am really glad the world is full of different people with different interests, because some people in my class are excited about this. I find the whole field wicked boring, and we have a million and a half hours of lecture daily. Guys I am bad at lectures. I got though it, I guess, but the ending of that class really couldn't have come quick enough. I just, the whole topic is just so depressing. And probably it's because we study only in terms of what goes wrong (a lot) and what we can fix (not so much) and oh, man, just don't take drugs when you're pregnant. Or get overly warm. I mean, jeez.

I have distilled all the wisdom of the five week block into a few salient points: to whit- genetic abnormalities are crazy, and don't get cancer. Aaaaand done.

On the flip side, this break has been pretty fabulous. It is American Thanksgiving, which my mother and I celebrated by not eating ridiculous amounts of food, and instead geeking out about sewing projects. I haven't finished mine yet, but be prepared people, IT IS AWESOME. Also: I designed a tattoo, made a lot of marshmallows, played some board games, read some books, did not go black Friday shopping, and slept. Oh, there was a lot of sleeping.

Also: I worked a clinic. It turns out that what they say about stethoscopes is true- you wear one, and people start deferring to you in a way that is bordering on inappropriate. I was asked for my expertise and opinion on things like: what job to take, if a woman looked pregnant at what would have potentially been the third week of pregnancy, interpreting the results of a pap smear, if that heart murmur has changed quality somehow, what color crayon to finish a picture in, how to translate the word "heartburn" into Spanish, and other things that I am just, vastly unqualified to definitively answer. (Answers: Whichever one you like better. Lady, just pee in the dang cup and then we can talk. Well, it says "NORMAL" in really big letters across the top. Lemme go find you a real doctor. Blue, definitely blue. Acidez.)

I like this clinic, but I am not sure I like being treated like a doctor yet.
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Things that are good: My flatmate* and I celebrate the hallowed tradition of Muffin Monday.** I have fresh raspberry/strawberry/banana muffins. With chocolate.

Things that are bad: I have had a headache for the last week. It isn't horrible- it's not debilitating or anything, but ugh. A whole week! Nothing makes it better! (On the upside, nothing makes it worse, either.) I'm not usually a worst-case-scenario-ist, or a hypochondriac, but guys, I'm pretty sure I have an aneurysm. (I totally don't have an aneurysm.) I actually went to a doctor about it on Friday, but the drugs he gave me were so bad. Oh man, I am never taking drugs ever again. ESPECIALLY if they come with a prescription.

*See, because we do not share a ROOM, I feel that "roommate" is the wrong term. "House partner" just sounds weird, and "leasemate" ... Actually, I kind of like leasemate.

** Throwaway line from a TV show that has become a thing we celebrate with baked goods? Come on now. This is why Amelia is the best leasemate EVER.
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I know those of you out there in the world have been waiting on pins and needles- but it's cool, I just got back the results for the first of the barrage of tests I took in medical school, and I have definitive proof thatp I can read.

Oh sweet fancy MOSES, do I wish I was joking.

I have fancy results, with norms and averages printed on them any everything. It's a little disconcerting to think that people get into medical school more or less illiterate (that probably isn't fair, but whatever, they made me take a reading test, so pfft) but doesn't this seem a little late in the game to address that? Oh these poor medical school administrators- they mean so well. They give lectures on how to balance school and life and bless their little hearts I am sure they think they are helping. (It turns out, that you have to balance school and life! And sometimes that might mean that you can't go on a family vacation because you need to study. But sometimes you should skip some studying to go do something fun. This stuff is profound, yo.)

Other than these pointless and a little insulting meetings: it turns out medical school is kind of hard. So far it is hard in precicely the things I am bad at; lots and lots of fiddly bits of information that all sound the same but are critically different and information that I'm told is very important but I honestly can not care about. It's like taking organic chemistry and economics at the same time!

On the upside, I have definitely discovered ground zero for any undead uprising, I tell you what.

Back in July (which is already MONTHS ago) I started school with a block (medical school is organized into blocks: now you know) on pubic health. Now. I am a firm believer in public health. I once dressed up as John Snow for famous people day (Super dork, yes.). I worked in public health in Jamaica. I thought really hard about getting a masters in public health. People. I read the Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report for fun.

That block was so full of propaganda I was tempted to vote Republican. Which sucks, because if I was turned off, what happened to the people who didn't already agree with the basic premise?

Then we started HSF&D, as the first "real" block of medical school is familiarly known. Human Function, Structure and Development. Or: gross anatomy, embryology and histology. It is a lot of information, only a little of which is tangentially interesting (did you know that humans have a vestigial claw retracting muscle? I KNOW, RIGHT? It's called the palmaris longus. NOW YOU KNOW.) so I am struggling with caring enough to actually study enough to actually pass this stupid block and never have to think about the innervation of the paricardial sac ever again. Until I see someone who's having weird neck pain, I guess.

Soon, I will hit my stride, fall into a good routine, and suddenly I will deeply care about the innervation of the ascending colon. In the meantime, I will quietly nurse my resentment. Because as much as I dislike being chained to my desk, I'll get used to it. I am not sure I will get used to my fellow medical students.
Looking around a room full of medical students, I am honest to god not sure how I managed to sneak by the selection committee. Which isn't to say that I can't do the work, or haven't earned my place or whatever. It's just that everyone else is apparently from a very different planet than mine.

To whit, an example: During orientation, we took the Myers-Briggs personality test and were asked to group ourselves by result. There are a hundred and sixteen of us all together, and the four groups we broke into were one of about sixty, two of about thirty, and one of five. And I'm standing there, with four PA students, looking out at this mob of students thinking "Oh boy."

Turns out medical school doesn't really select for people who enjoy spontaneity.
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I am an observant person. Not about people, because people are complicated and weird, but I notice things about my surroundings. A lot. Here are my incredibly astute observations from my two months in Central America. (More touristy notes about what I did and where I went are alongside the jillion photos I took.)

Nicaragua has full sheet newspapers. El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have half-sheet tabloid sized newspapers. I don't have a theory about what this means, but I did notice it.

There are significantly fewer mototaxis in Guatemala than other countries. There are fewer mototaxis in bigger, modern-er cities than there are on the countryside. Nicaragua has the most horses. Also cows. Nicaragua was also the only place we saw horse drawn carriages. Apparently, they are taxis, that normal non-tourist people take, but with a horse, instead of a motor. Also: pedi-cabs are all over the place in Nicaragua, but non-existant in Honduras or Guatemala.

Guatemala is the coolest, temperature-wise, but Honduras seems much steeper.

Guatemala has held onto their traje tipica, while both Honduras and Nicaragua have embraced the shorts-and-t-shirt look.

Nicaraguans are crazy about baseball. Even during the World Cup.

Food is pretty uniformly lousy. There are a lot of beans, and rice, and they are usually over-cooked and greasy. (Sometimes they are also cold, which just makes the trifecta of lame.) The food is also unspiced. Oh and the cheese- super salty fresh cheese, that I learned to loathe.
Restaurants catering to tourist tastes often overcompensate. I failed to eat an overspiced Thai curry- it was too hot for even my New Mexico trained tongue to handle. Another memorable meal tried to incorporate tarragon and nutmeg into a marenade. For the record: no.
On the other hand, they do have all those fabulous tropical fruits that I desperately miss when I can't have them. Pitaya, maricuya/calala, gineps/caneps/meloton, mangos of twelve different varieties, tiny finger bananas, ripe papaya.
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A few times during the last couple of months, my parents would call me and say "Have you considered X" where X is quitting my job to travel, moving out of my apartment, crashing with them while waiting for my plane to take off, moving boxes and furniture into their garage- and I would have to say "Oh YEAH, I actually already X" where X is gave notice at my job, purchased a plane ticket, moved all my boxes into their garage, borrowed their car...

Moral of the story: Just because I have a plan, doesn't mean other people know it. Weirdly, other people do not live in my head!

To recap: I quit my super rockin' job, purchased a plane ticket to Honduras, moved my apartment into a shockingly small number of boxes, and am crashing with my parents until tomorrow morning, when I fly out for two months of vacation.

It's been a pretty crazy few weeks, let us be honest.
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The last few weeks have been a little outrageous- there are only but so many hours in a day, and realistically I can only do like, three things at once.

There was theater, then skiing, then Spring Break week at work (which is basically made of insanity, let's be honest) with my very own camp, which was even crazier.

But mostly. On Wednesday I got official notice that I have been accepted to medical school.

Medical school.

To become a doctor.

My level of excitement is kind of hard to contain.
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I came home from Canada, and probably for the first time in my life, promptly uploaded my pictures to flickr. I however, completely forgot to post them here. My photos are here, Amelia's pictures are here. (My photos have better captions.)

Basically guys, the take home message is this: Go. Go to the Olympics. Doooo eeeeeet. It is way cheaper than you are expecting (we did the whole thing- airfare included) for a thousand bucks a piece, which is not very much when you consider that it was the Olympics and it was made of awesome- and you should totally, TOTALLY go.

Really. Put it on your calender. Tickets for London go on sale next year, and you can watch wacky events like synchronized swimming and the javelin in person. While waving a flag! (My only regret was not buying many many flags to wave while there. Next time!)

In other news, I came home from Canada, only to throw myself into theater once more. I tell you what, folks, working tech for two shows at once is a terrible, terrible plan. Now, one is finished, and the second is half done. (For the Quirky-ites, Partition is showing at Explora this, and next weekends, and is pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.)

Next on the agenda: Taxes! Waiting for medical school! Stupidly large knitting projects! More fun with self-adhesive vinyl!
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I had a conversation with my sister this week where I had to tell her that I wasn't holding back information, my life really was that boring.

Cripes, my life is boring lately.

That isn't actually a complaint- not at the heart. I'm just doing things that need to be done- theater things, other theater things, church things, work things, basic human maintenance things- and none of them are very interesting.

Like, for example: For the last few months I've been (in my small way) boycoting genetically modified soy. (Not because genetically modifying food scares me, but because I watched Food Inc. and company who holds the patent has awful business practices.) I have become one of those people who reads the back of every label in the grocery store, and this week I discovered all ice cream has soy. I also nearly got frostbite in the freezer section.

For fun, I am re-knitting a sweater for the fifth time.

HOWEVER: next week I am going to the OLYMPICS. That will not be boring. It will be thirty kinds of awesome, and I am super stoked. Ice Hockey! Curling! Snowboard Cross! LUGE! Vancouver! My fabulous friend Lisa who I haven't seen in five years!

Then I return to holding pattern position til March. Ugh.
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Today, I saw a snowflake.

I mean, obviously, I've seen snow before- but this is New Mexico! Our snow is either something that bears striking resemblance to styrofoam- tiny little white balls of dry, sticky stuff, or big wet clumps of many many snowflakes stuck together.

BUT TODAY: I totally saw a six-sided individual snowflake. They looked just like the pictures! It was super exciting. (My dad, who was born and raised in Michigan, was significantly less impressed.)

It snowed an awful lot today, out there on the ski slope, and while I am in fairly decent shape for running or climbing, I am in terrible shape for skiing powder. Evidently, it requires quadriceps of STEEL. I foresee more stair climbing in my future- that or more days when my legs are made of jello.

Thursday: I interviewed for medical school. In my limited understanding, I totally rocked it. Now, I just have to wait a few months.

Also: three weeks to the OLYMPICS! In Vancouver! That I am going to! MUAH HA HA.
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In the last month, I've provided forty-two nights of shelter. Some of the people stayed more than a night, and some nights I had multiple guests, but people: I live in a one bedroom apartment.

That was pretty much madness.

Other than that, I have two photos that pretty well sum up what I've been up to. Weddings and Superheros. Oh, if only I had COMBINED THE TWO. )
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