Friday, April 29, 2011

Then and Now

I was sifting through "My Pictures" file when I stumbled onto this photo, circa Spring 1995. Fast forward 16 years and times are so different now. Back then, digital photography was virtually inexistent. I had to scan the hard copy of this photo onto my laptop.  When this photo was taken, I was 4 going on 5. I lived with my dad, my aunt, and my uncle in a little house in Baldwin Park. I was an only child. I attended a private preschool in West Covina. My best friend's names were Jessica and Becky. I hated to smile for photos and I had tiny little Asian eyes. The Easter Bunny in the pictures is the scariest looking bunny to ever cross this Earth. Doesn't it look slightly possessed?

Today, everything is digital and photoshopped. I'm 20 and awaiting my wondrous 21st birthday. I live by myself in a little apartment in Los Angeles. I have two siblings, ages 11 and 3. I attend a private university - University of Southern California. My best friend's names are Zaneta and Jessica. I love to smile for photos and according to my friends, my eyes grew bigger over time. The Easter Bunny in the first picture is still the scariest looking bunny to ever cross this Earth.

In so many ways, so much has changed since the old photo was taken.

Then: I spoke no English but was fluent in Chinese since I lived in Taiwan for an extended period of time.                                                     
Now: I speak English fluently while by proficiency in Chinese is debatable.

Then: I was a carefree 4 year old who excelled at coloring in the lines.                                                                                                                     Now: I am a junior in college applying to dental school this June.

Then: My favorite television shows were Sesame Street and Barney                                                                                                                         Now: My favorite television shows are Glee, Naruto, and American Idol.

Then: Prince William was twelve years old. Kate Middleton was thirteen years old.                                                                                               Now: As of April 29, 2011, Prince William and Kate are happily married.

In some ways, many things have stayed the same.

Then: I had shoulder length black hair.                                                                                                                                                                            Now: I have shoulder length black hair.

Then: I was introspective and reserved.                                                                                                                                                                           Now: I am introspective and reserved.

Then: I didn't drink milk.                                                                                                                                                                                                       Now: I still don't drink milk.

Then: California was my home state                                                                                                                                                                                 Now: California is still my home state

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Would Be a Terrible Marathon Runner

There's a reason I stopped posting on my old Tumblr blogs that all of my close friends had access to. I hated constantly having to censor what I said through words for fear that I would be judged. I hated having to come across in my posts as a strong, unshakable pre-dental student who sees life through rose-tinted glasses. I hated not having a more private forum to spill all of my insecurities.

Which brings me back to my original purpose for this post - school. We're down to the last two weeks of class and per usual, I'm burning out and losing motivation. I barely studied for my anatomy lab practical today and as expected, I probably did horribly. Where in the world does the Peroneus Brevis and Peroneus Longus originate and insert? I haven't gone into a test feeling this unprepared in a while. It's the end of the semester.

"I'll just do better next semester", I always say to myself consolingly. Except I say this to myself at the end of each freaking semester and at some point, there won't be anymore "next semesters" left.

I would be a terrible marathon runner - I'd start out strong, get tired throughout the rest of the marathon, then give up and simply walk to the end line.

I'm like the 2010 Oklahoma City Thunders basketball team in the playoffs against the Lakers. They have so much potential but they are unable to close out the game and finish strong. They wound up eliminated in the first round of playoffs. The Lakers went on to win the NBA Championship.

I'd like to stop leaving my test results up to the whims of fate and prayer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The End of Spring Football

There are so many ways to mark the passage of time; the semester slips by in a cycle of ups and downs. The end of spring semester draws near with the onset of finals and the beginning of wondrous sunny weather.

The end of spring semester is also marked by the annual spring football game, pitting the USC offense against the USC defense. After 15 solid practices across 5 weeks, the stage is set for the football players to show what they've learned throughout spring football.

Except it wasn't much of a game. Our defensive unit trounced the offence 42-29 after Dillon Baxter threw the only touchdown pass of today's game to Matt Barkley in the final play. At the end of the day, either our defense is much improved (compared to last year) or else our offensive line sucks this year - and I'm hoping it's not the second one.  Since I was assigned to look over the defensive linemen, my heart will always be loyal to the defense instead of the offense.

Since I'm not working football in the fall, today is somewhat bittersweet. It will be my last time working with the football team, forever. And while everyone is thanking Jesus today (it's Easter Sunday) that we no longer have to wake up at 5am and sell our livelihoods to the football program, we all admit that it was a great experience. In hindsight, it is probably a VERY good thing that I wasn't assigned to work football in the fall. I don't need an extracurricular to consume my life during my last year in college. On Saturday, we started setup around 9:45am and got back to Heritage Hall to finish unpacking around 4:50pm. Just like that, my Saturday was gone.

But I'm never going to be a part of a Division I football team again or work with potential NFL candidates. I'm never going to dine at the Galen Center with the athletes again. I'm never going to have a job where one of the occupational hazards was being run over by defensive backs divings towards the sidelines (believe me, there have been more than one close shaves). There's no other place at USC that has more pride and school spirit than the football team.

Things I wont miss about football: consistently being the "water girl", waking up at 5am in the mornings, trying to figure where to stand so as not to be tackled by football players in training, manual labor setting up and disassembling things on the field, and giving up my Saturdays for practice from 7:45am - 2pm.

I realize it's hard for girls to be a part of the football program. They are scared of girls being a potential distraction for the football team. They are scared of girls sleeping with members of the football team - which has happened before. There is a lot of physical lifting that girls aren't capable of. In addition, girls can't go inside the football team locker room when they are changing or showering.

So I look back at the past spring working with the football team with fond memories. Hopefully next fall, working with the swim team, diving team, and waterpolo team will be just as meaningful.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Green Eyes

Sometimes I like to wear my Freshlook Dailies in green because it makes me look different. How many Asians do you normally see with green eyes? Perhaps I can pass off as an exotic HAPA...

My green contact lenses surely caught the attention of football players at practice this morning (although I'm really not supposed to attract their attention during their scrimmages). A football player walked over to the sidelines where I was standing and introduced himself.

"Dang! Are those your real eye colors?" he asked.

"No," I replied, "my eyes are really brown. I'm just wearing green contact lenses"

He wasn't half as interested in our conversation after I divulged this little snippet. But what do I care?


That doesn't bother me at all.

The green contacts aren't too bad - they are not extremely comfortable and they dry out faster than normal but you get used to them. Most people can't tell that I'm wearing green contacts unless they stand really close to me. I actually like the Freshlook in green better than the pure hazel since it provides a greater contrast for my eyes as well as a perfect compliment for red lipstick.

What's For Lunch

It's 1:26pm. I'm in the kitchen making myself a sandwich for lunch because I'm too lazy to cook anything substantial.

"I want to each lunch," I hear one of the girls in my apartment say through the doors.

The next thing I know, the guy comes out of her room and begins preparing a full-out meal - ramen, fried eggs, rice, chicken wings, and beef.

I definitely need to find a guy like that.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Bridge to Nowhere

I'm not the adventurous type of girl by any means. Given the option, I'd rather sit at home and be a homebody. But every year, I find myself willingly dragged into an extreme adventure trip - Six Flags, paintballing, etc. The thought process goes like this:
  • (before the trip) Alright! I'll go with you guys even though I'm scared out of my wits. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, how can I miss out? We are going to have so much fun!
  • (during the trip) Wow I am such an idiot for going on this trip. As long as I get out of here alive, you'll never convince me to do this again.
  • (after the trip) I'm alive! I will never do that again. Okay, it wasn't that bad - maybe I'll go there one more time? Oh, who am I kidding?!

This year, we decided to go bungee jumping off the Bridge to Nowhere in Azusa, California. The catch is that the bridge is literally situated in the middle of nowhere. In order to reach the bridge, people have to hike 5 miles (one way) over uneven terrain and cross the river 6 times. 

The Bridge to Nowhere, which spans the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, was built in 1936 as a means to connect the San Gabriel Valley with Wrightwood. However, a great flood in 1938 washed out all the roads in the vicinity, leaving only the bridge intact.

Anybody who thinks that this trail is easy is clearly delusional. Either that, or I'm extremely out of shape (which I won't admit to). The trail up the mountain is very rugged. There were times when I was hugging the rocks, praying that I wouldn't fall off the mountain because the path we were walking on was literally as wide as my right foot. There were other times when I was sliding down the mountain on my butt because the ground didn't look stable enough to walk on.

The river crossings were challenging yet surprisingly fun. Despite the fact that the water was thigh-high and the current downstream was strong, we all made it across.

"The key to crossing a river is to walk like a crab," our guide informed us, "you've never seen a crab fall over, have you?"

The highlight of the river crossing was that it acted like a natural ice bath for my right ankle, which probably would have swollen up considering how many times I rolled it while hiking. Lesson of the day: unsteady stones masquerading as stable rocks are not your friends.

The wilderness here is pristine. The five mile hike over rugged terrain limits the amount of human destruction that reaches this area.

The San Gabriel River was crisp, cool, and refreshing. The climb down the mountain to get to the river? Not so much.

Bungee jumping was wicked fun. There were a number of different jumps that people could do - the forward jump, the backward jump, the forward trust fall, the backward trust fall, the elevator jump, and the ankle jump. Surprisingly, the elevator jump turned out to be the crowd favorite while the backward jump was the easiest to execute.

I'm queasy from dehydration and exhaustion. All of my muscles and joints are making their displeasure about the 10 mile hike known. I'm also three shades darker than I was before the hike. Despite it all, I had a great time at the Bridge to Nowhere.

But it's a hike you'll never convince me to do again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Football Practice at the Coliseum

The USC Football team held their weekly Saturday scrimmage at the Coliseum instead of the Howard Jones Field on Saturday. The trainers arrived at 7:45am to begin carting equipment and gear out to the Coliseum in preparation for football practice. Being at football always means that it's going to be a long day. But getting the opportunity to step on the fields of the Coliseum and inside the football locker room is worth it.

Inside the USC Football locker room at the Coliseum

The Saturday football practice was the day after I found out that I was not picked to work football in the Fall. Instead, I was assigned to aquatics in the fall and women's volleyball in the offseason. Needless to say, I was very bitter about having to work at the football practice on Saturday.

Not only did I get assigned to aquatics in the fall, I am assigned to work women's volleyball in the spring - which is their offseason. Yes, I really wanted to work volleyball. But I also wanted to work volleyball when they are in competition season. I also heard that volleyball is one of those sports where you don't get to do very much because the certified athletic trainer does everything. The student athletic trainer also doesn't get to travel with the team at competitions (which won't be an issue for me either way because I'm working during the offseason).

Seriously, I want to know how I offended the athletic medicine staff?

Despite my overall bitterness at my less-than-optimal sport assignments, I had fun at the Coliseum.

It's fun to be at the center of the action. How many people can say that they were almost knocked over by a USC wide receiver running towards the sidelines. How many people know what has happened behind the scenes at football practice long before the press releases an article on practice? How many people know members of the football team on a first name basis?

Perhaps in retrospect it was a good thing that I wasn't assigned to work football in the fall. Having to work football practices 7 days per week as well as working football fall camp from 7am - 7pm doesn't sound very ideal. This gives me more time in the week to dedicate to my other endeavors. But if the option of working fall football came around, I would still do it without  a doubt. It will be my last year at USC and I want to maximize my experience in the program. Like I said before, I'm not afraid to put in the hours if I were given the opportunity.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kidney Dissection

One of our labs for physiology is a kidney dissection. The dissection part is actually really easy - you just slice the kidney in half and voila! The part that is hard to digest is the sheer size of the kidney itself.

The kidney that we were supposed to dissect was HUGE. To give you guys a little perspective:

The kidney is bigger than my hand. Actually, I think the kidney is bigger than my face.

I'm not entirely sure which animal this kidney belonged to. My lab partner said that it might have belonged to a cow. I'm thinking that it may have belonged to an elephant. Or a whale. Perhaps T-Rex?

Nevertheless, we dissected the kidney and observed all its glory inside. See the cortex? Medulla? Renal pelvis? Pyramids?
Hepatic arteries and veins
 Renal arteries and veins (thanks for catching my mistake)?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Made It!

After weeks of working 10 - 15 hour weeks, working 5:45am shifts, tending to football players, and observing the athletic medicine staff in action, I have been officially offered a position in the student athletic medicine program! From now on, my life will probably be consumed by training and working at athletic events but I don't mind. I have just one year to maximize my experience through this program and I am willing to sacrifice almost anything for it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

La Jolla Cove

The weather in Los Angeles had been unusually cold this winter so we decided to venture as far south as we could for spring break. With the drug cartels and everything, Mexico wasn't an option for people who valued their lives. So we drove down to San Diego for the weekend and made a pit stop at La Jolla Cove.

So we wandered along the coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

It was the same day that the tsunami waves from the earthquake in Japan was projected to hit the Southern California coast. Thankfully we made it out of there alive.

Some brave soul tried their hand at surfing on this particular day.

Some other brave soul stood on the cliffs to fish. It was reminiscent of The Old Man and the Sea, except he reeled in a big heaping pile of seaweed.

The weather was mildly sunny with a slight breeze - perfect for a stroll along the beach, not warm enough to dip into the water (which was freezing cold, by the way).

But we stared longingly at the ocean, hoping for the coming of summer weather in Southern California.

The End.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hard Work With Perks

Happy Gullible Awareness Day!

I walked into work this morning at Heritage Hall to find the place infiltrated with yellow Peeps and glazed cinnamon rolls. As I opened the ice machine to get ice, I found the inside filled with Otter Pops. In the words of a football player, we got "punk'd". If getting "punk'd" means I'll be showered with free food, then so be it!

April Fools Day included getting 5 free items from American Apparel with a minimum of $10 purchase - the BEST deal ever!

While working in the Galen Center, I got a free preview of the Nickelodeon's Kid's Choice Award. I noticed that Willow Smith was assigned her own backstage locker room (located in the USC Men's Basketball locker room) right next to Snoop Dog's locker room.

USC also has a tradition where students can get new/free student ID card on April 1st or October 31st of each year.

As well as a free Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences - in celebration of their historic $200 million donation to the USC College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences.

Last but not least, I got a free escort back to my apartment from two of the guys on the USC football team - Christian and Martin. It's so sweet of them to remember me even when I'm not working on the football field and to ask me if I was planning to come to football practice tomorrow. They also asked me if I was going to eat at the Galen Dining Hall with the football team.

Anyhow, that was my April Fool's Day in summary. It seems that everyone is pretending to hook-up on Facebook as their April Fool's prank. After the 6th hookup on the Facebook news feed, the joke is becoming a little old. I can't wait for April Fool's Day next year.

Pictures from April Fool's Day in our apartment last year: