remember me

I’m still here. I promise. It has been over a month and a half since my last post, and this is not necessarily a normal length update, but rather a snippet of me saying I’ve missed this blog and that I promise this summer I will have time to catch up on so much from this semester.

THREE MORE DAYS until I can say I’m officially 25% a dentist. I find myself always saying this of life, but the past couple of months have truly been a blur. There have been countless exams, anatomy dissections, final lab practicals, very late nights, laughs, tears, celebrations, and more shenanigans of the first year of dental school as always.

I think I haven’t written in so long because at the end of most days when my head longs to hit the pillow, my brain and heart both seem as though they might just pop any minute. That is part of why I do love the outlet of blogging: to get those words and thoughts OUT. As a pretty clear 50/50 extro/introvert, some days one side wins over the other, but writing has always proven to be a steady and reliable compromise between word vomit and silence for me. A very apparent part of who I am is that I always strive to maintain a level of honestly and transparency about my life. I’m not a fan of facades, surface level conversations and relationships, or faking like everything is just constantly peachy when we are all human. We have got to start being real with each other. Between a very heavy stretch of school and doing what I can to finish up the semester strong, an ample amount of roller coaster changes in my family and friendships, and putting any efforts I do have towards labored prayers, I simply haven’t had the time or emotional energy to combat my weariness in order to write my usual bubbly and witty posts about life as a twenty something dental student in a new city. I will be in Philadelphia most of the summer working a community health type of internship but with a lot more time off NOT STUDYING nights and weekends, so I know that consistently blogging again is definitely on the summer bucket list. I will do my best to bring back more of the light hearted posts about the shambles of learning to be a dentist, too. School is honestly hilarious sometimes.

God has sometimes felt far these days, but I fight to believe that He is in fact near and still pursues me relentlessly despite my apathy. He still speaks to me through warm summer-y bike rides along the river, laughing/crying with a dear friend over a beautiful Italian dinner or post-church brunch, or through the constant reminder of his faithfulness that I am even here at Penn in dental school, pursuing the passion HE has given me. At the end of the day, I deeply pray that the story I’m telling and my new season of life here this past year has somehow, someway, not by MY efforts but His Grace, been a picture of how God redeems the brokenness. wave

Peace, my friends. I’ll be back very soon, and then you can call my (1/4) Dr. Jessie.

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April showers

Real talk: I’m getting really bad at titling my posts. It’s entirely cliche, and you’re just waiting for that metaphor to come around at the end when it is in fact a random title with maybe only a subconscious undertone of the whole springtime/rain into flowers/sorrow into joy theme…

In the past month or so, the snow and dark, gloomy days were traded in for sunny evenings and cherry blossoms. I looked up, and hello APRIL. Time in grad school seems to have exponentially sped up without my permission, and in less than two months I will have one year of this whole crazy thing I decided to do called dental school under my belt. Shout out to God, Chemex coffee, and daily mini power naps.

While I never want to view my blog as on obligation – after all, not to sound selfish but I do it mostly for my own words-lover processing/to look back on, and anyone that gets any nuggets of encouragement through my rambly brain is just the cherry on top that makes me feel like I have something to say that people might need hearing – I have experienced some very REAL writing withdrawals and hate that it has almost been a whopping two months since my last post.

I am not about to sugar coat anything, friends. These weeks and months have taken a toll on my weary little soul. There’s a reason posts have been nonexistent – any spare minute has been devoted to sleeeeeep and the occasional therapeutic bike ride or run now that I’m out of hibernation mode. *Side note: since blogging is becoming harder and harder to fit in, my Instagram has served as my more consistent virtual log for people to keep up with my shenanigans so family, friends, or pre-dentals interested in the daily grind – feel free to follow me there! (see lower right sidebar)* Aside from simply a ROUGH patch of exams that have sent my academic confidence from last semester (and um, I guess my whole life) on the decline, there’s just been a lot going on in my BIG-feeling heart and roller coaster brain regarding things completely out of my control (aka life). The end of this month also marks one year since Dad’s been gone, so obviously that time stamp makes things that much more real and brings all of that back to the front of my mind (not that it really ever leaves that spot).

Some little and big joy-nuggets have no doubt been interspersed between the self doubt or difficult days, and I STILL can say that dental school and living in Philadelphia is somehow crazy fun despite the sometimes literal hell we all go through together as a class (like fifty people failing our neuro-anatomy exam this week, I DO NOT JOKE). I’m so thankful for my friends here that pull me along day by day even when I might not be my usual chipper self and that I get to push forward as well.

DC

Spring break was straight up lovely and needed. There was so much quality time to make up for the first year after college not living in the same city as my best guy friend Ross: time spent Crossfitting, eating way too good, drinking strange whiskey cocktails, laughing at our weirdness, talking hard and long (good) life talks, singing in the car, and seeing the D.C. sights for the first time. churchHe temporarily lives there for an interim job as music minister before starting seminary back at Baylor, and it was a true treat to get to see him as a real post-grad adult leading his church in worship through two Sunday services. So so proud and thankful for him every day.

I also got to go home to the promised land for most of week and catch up on nephew cuddles, live in my pjs, sleep lots, eat some Mexican, and – oh yeah – find time to study for our neuro exam that was so nicely the Tuesday we got back from break. nephewsIt was very appreciated to have that time at my country home with my Mom, sister, and brother-in-law, though, since I’m still unsure when the next time I’ll have the chance to make a trip to Texas.

While the didactic portion of our curriculum has been worlds harder this semester, I’ve actually enjoyed the preclinical part of first year. We had our very first practical a few weeks ago that consisted of one difficult amalgam preparation (class II ML #30 for any dental folk) on a lower molar, one occlusal amalgam restoration on another molar, and an extra credit restoration on a premolar. This was the first time we had to complete three different projects in only four hours, and with no reassurance that we had a few extra practice teeth if we didn’t do the first one well (like with our weekly assignments we turn in). In a practical setting, the first tooth IS the only tooth. Your bur makes one turn for the worse in your nervous and shaky hand? Fail. practicalDentistry comes down to millimeters in everything we do – 1.5 mm depth, convergent walls, smooth isthmus, broken contact…So needless to say it’s a much different atmosphere than the usual day in lab with us talking around the world, making fun of each other, and joining in random sing-alongs when we’re going delirious. There was an obvious tension in the air and silence except for the hum of drills and scraping of hatchets (and maybe a dropped hand piece here or there – mine definitely being one of those). I handed in my work at the end feeling pretty confident but still unsure of how picky they would actually go about the extensive grading criteria.

When we got our results back, it was definitely a day maker after the day breaker of getting our pathology grades that same morning. I came to the realization that depending on the week, the particular subject, or specific lab assignment, we each will always have our different strong suits. I might be an average (or sub average) pathologist apparently, but based on my lab practical results I just might have superior hand skills (on THAT day…) that will help make me a great clinician one day. On another day I might ace my angiology exam and be a boss dissector in anatomy lab (more on THAT adventure later) while struggling on a composite restoration. Others might consistently score high As on exams and struggle to even pass the practical or simply have to take more time on their own in lab to practice. There’s always going to be “hand gods” that turn in model work each week but might care squat about their grade in biochemistry. All that to say, again, it is SO important to not get caught up in comparing yourself to your classmates based on ONE exam or ONE practical. We will all be competent doctors in just three years, we just might take different paths to get there.

I feel like I could keep writing for pages and pages about the ups and downs of the past two months. I really am not trying to come off as complaining in this post – only HONEST. But no matter how hard the little daily details of grad school life across the country from my family and friends can get, I’m still convinced more and more every day that following Jesus is the greatest adventure there is and without Him, my joy would be lost and my own strength far from sufficient. I’m overwhelmed at His goodness and grace for carrying me this far. He’s never gonna let me down. sunshine

pieces

Today I had a very rare lecture and lab free morning, so I went to sleep before eleven and sans alarm, naturally waking up around six and falling back asleep until nine. Sleep is a beautiful thing. I figured I’d make my way down to my favorite close by coffee shop and wake up slow, maybe fitting in time enough to review one lecture before our afternoon classes. This usually consists of listening to worship music, journaling or reading and praying, and probably then afterwards spending too much time reading all the sites I follow, catching up on Instagram, and following click bait to see Adele Carpool Karaoke (so worth your 15 minutes).  

One of my favorite songs, Pieces by Amanda Cook, came on my playlist, and this is a song that has meant different things to me over the past several months of knowing it. I feel like over and over again, it has been my heart’s declaration that even when it hurts and when I don’t feel like it’s true, to still know that God will never love us with a fraction or give us half of what we need. This season He has continually reminded me that he gives nothing short of the BEST for us, but often times in order for us to fully experience the fullness and extravagance of what he has for each of us, we have to wait. Wait for him to carry it to completion while he is continuing to refine our hearts in the time of in between. So many of us are in this “awkward” stage of new adult-ing post graduation and desperate to look ahead and jump ahead. Instead of rushing into wanting only pieces of second best and selling God short, let’s be confident that he will always love and give lavishly with his whole heart.green line

vision revisited

 

Back to the grind we go. We’re into our second week of the new semester and man has it already slapped us awake out of break-mode. Four frantic hours in lab figuring out how to take impressions and immediately pour them into stone models, only to find out the majority of us had to completely start over from the beginning sometime on our own time will do that to you. Now that I’ve somewhat settled back into routine, I do feel I have a refreshed perspective on things and new vision for how I want to approach this next chunk of our long journey to DMD. 2016 for me is already full of hope for new experiences and opportunities for growth as well as the assurance that God has me and will carry me through whatever is ahead.

Because I love lists, I just wanted to put down in writing some of the changes (I’m not calling them new year’s resolutions per se) I want to make and fresh hopes and dreams I have regarding my school life, relationships, and journey with God. These aren’t really hard and fast goals, more like ever-evolving things and a way for me to help cast some vision on this next season.

  • Not apologize for saying no sometimes – mainly in terms of social life. I want to really realize that it’s okay to not go to every single event or outing that my class organizes. Last semester I was so caught up in really making an effort to get to know everyone and make my new friends, so I had a very real case of FOMO I guess you could say.  And I had a blast no doubt. This semester, I want to better learn how to distinguish when I do need a fun night out and when I need a grandma night in: cooking, reading, writing, playing guitar, and going to bed gloriously early when I can afford it. Real rest is so needed and so sweet.
  • Fall back in love with letter writing. My pen pals got somewhat neglected last semester, so I want to remember the value of this beautiful and old fashioned way of keeping up with my friends who are all over. I’ve already sent out a couple 🙂
  • Strive to maintain a consistent motivation to stay ON TOP of studying and review notes more regularly instead of going hard for about five or six days for only one course. I’m not saying that my methods last semester didn’t work, but I really want to put more time in earlier to keep the stress (and caffeine) levels more even. On the same topic, since I am going to class (too guilty to skip again even though it’s completely okay and plenty people do), I want to make it worth my time and actually take notes the whole time. Note to self – pack more healthy snacks for that 1-5 pm block.
  • Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep. Remember that I have a Crock Pot. Remember that cooking is one of my first loves. And remember that I’m living on student loans.
  • RUN again just to run without training for any race. Oh wait, it’s winter in Philly now…
  • Carve out ample and regular time for calling and FaceTiming my favorite people. You know you who are, and seeing your faces and hearing your voices will beat an occasional text any day.
  • Wake up earlier. I have always been a morning person, but I think recently extra sleep has won over actually really enjoying those first couple of hours, pour over coffee in hand and with my quiet and not-yet-cluttered mind. Yes, I know I’m exhausted as it is, but nothing is more energizing and life-giving than more time spent with Jesus before the crazy non stop rush of all the rest of the hours in the day.
  • Press into community and fully settle on a church home. I visited a new one this past Sunday that’s definitely promising, so I’m praying that God would make it clear to me if that would be a healthy place for me to grow and plant my roots down deep for the next three and a half years I’m here. I still deeply miss my Waco people and church home there, that is for sure.

Our rare and welcomed two hour lunch break is now coming to a close, so I’m going to call this working list done (for now). It’s off to lymphatics and pathology for the afternoon.

Newness

It’s the classic story of finally having free time (I’m sorry what??) and yet still failing to write anything over my break. I was way too busy resting, eating, watching Ellen and Botched and Fixer Upper, eating some more, reading lots (leisurely finishing 2 books), spending time with some of my favorite people, and sleeping some more to make time for blogging sadly. Since I posted, the class of 2019 at Penn Dental has officially survived one semester making us still-very-not-qualified-at-all 1/8 or 12.5% DMDs! All the exams, wax-ups, late nights, and never ending two hour lectures of our first few months are finally finished. doneThat is, until we start bright and early again tomorrow! Long gone are the days of the precious three or four week college Christmas breaks, hello grad school where they now hate Christmas. Ok I might be exaggerating a tiny bit. We love school, we really, really do.

My flight left the same afternoon we finished our last exam, and I finally realized the weight of the classic song, “I’ll be home for Christmas.” I was now one of THOSE people in airports during the insane holiday rush that happens anytime post Dec 20th-Jan 2nd, praying for no delays (surprise, it was delayed).  I think being so far makes being home for the holidays mean that much more, though. It takes real effort and money to make it home in time, and so I think I really sensed the value of being able to be with my family when so many people have jobs, things like military commitments, or just family divisions that hinder everyone being together.

My break was unfortunately a short ten days, but also extremely restful and brought so much opportunity for reflection and clarity as we welcomed the new year of 2016. If you know me at all, you know January is one of my favorite months, and I love the contagious anticipation and hope that finds its way into everyone’s hearts at the beginning of a fresh calendar year. I was able to get ample aunt-nephew play and cuddle time, saw some old friends, and had a couple of incredibly honest but so needed conversations. EBy the way, those things you need to get off your chest, just DO it and don’t keep waiting. Life is entirely too short to not be real with people, and I am so thankful for the time I had to reach a new place of honesty and transparency with a dear friend. God’s timing is never what we expect, but always in our best interest. Christmas was obviously a complicated mix of emotions with it being the first without Dad, the first that I had to fly home for, the first with a new nephew, and lots of other changes for my family. It was somber, but the reminder of the gift of Jesus permeated the days with a sweet and inescapable peace.

Because our break was so brief, I feel like so much has happened in my heart and mind the past several days not thinking about school for once, and this is a very mild and measly attempt to somewhat process where I’m at with it all. I haven’t even really had time to think about my so-called “resolutions” (I don’t really like the cliche term that gets overused for the sake of diet and fitness marketing – I prefer a more real and introspective evaluation of things that matter) or goals for the new semester and new year. My plan as of now? Get a long and beautiful night’s sleep and simply show up for our light 4 hours of lecture this first day back – full of riveting dental materials and blood cells. Back to the grind I go, and I do want to fully commit myself to our new courses and labs. I also still so desire to seek the incredibly fine balance of happy & healthy with academic success, not just on the surface but on a very real soul level. On thinking back on 2015 and looking ahead to 2016, this is what I wrote for the popular “best 9” Instagram post I shared. Perspective is everything, and I am confident that the best is truly yet to come.

instaNeedless to say 2015 was one heck of a journey with entirely too much packed in 365 days. Probably simultaneously the best and worst, and I now I can say I fully understand the dichotomy of bittersweet. So much loss, but still so many milestones, celebrations, and new adventures to be extremely thankful for. He gives abundantly and takes away, and I’m entering 2016 with immensely more perspective on what and who matter most. I’m expectant and full of gratitude and joy of what’s to come. Thank you all for joining along for this crazy ride. “I found life and I found laughter. In forgiveness, I found rest. On the shoulders of redemption, I found hope when hope was dead. I could lose it in a moment so I dare not close my eyes. I’ll watch fear fall with the sunset and see hope rise with the tide. And when the pain is true, sometimes these troubles prove that I’m alive.”

Musicals, macrophages, and (almost) Merry Christmas

In exactly one week I will officially be done with my first semester of dental school and HOME on TEXAS soil. Wow oh wow am I ready. This girl is a weary soul right now. The only things getting me through one more week and two exams are nonstop Coldplay jams (their new album is glorious as usual), all the fun little events interspersed in the midst of study madness, and even more coffee. And more prayers than ever.smile I was texting with my old roomies the other night and the one who’s also a first year dental student at another school finishing up this week asked us for book recommendations for the much anticipated break coming up. To quote her, “I’m gonna sit around and spend time with God all day long and read inspirational books, ’cause oh my gosh I’m done with dental school.” My thoughts too, girlie. It’s crazy how that one extra week plus a few days in December  (compared to my undergrad’s schedule) really makes a big difference.

Today we checked yet another exam off, this time a strange and un-welcomed combination of immunology and a pharmacology introduction. Pharm is actually really cool, and I enjoy studying it! It’s honestly like a big puzzle of understanding what drugs do to the body, how they do it, and why they can be so dangerous. Thinking about having the authority soon to write prescriptions is definitely a big responsibility. I think because it’s so new, different, and relevant to clinical practice, I feel a pressure to really learn the information. I’m sure a lot of people realize an attraction to dentistry over medicine is because we don’t (hopefully) necessarily have to deal with serious conditions/death on a regular basis like medical doctors often do – some OMFS trauma would be an exception maybe. We wouldn’t want anyone in serious trouble after their dentist prescribed adverse drug reactions (warfarin + metranidazole = scary). Also our professor for that…well he’s a character and probably deserves his own post describing all his crazy antics (maybe I’ll interview him!). He’s a fantastic teacher though. That foundational science class was a monster of credits (over 5) so I’m constantly battling between hoping I miraculously squeezed out the grade I wanted and also completely accepting that “grades aren’t everything” – words from a convo tonight with one of my college best friends who happens to be done with said grades for the moment because he’s GRADUATING this Saturday. Shout out to all you December grads at Baylor I know – y’all know I’m so proud and excited to watch your futures that God has for each of you.

mormonWhoever said people in dental/med school can’t have a life outside of studying, I beg to differ. I think about all that I’ve been able to do and experience just this first semester living in such a fun new place. One of those top things would have to be last Thursday going to my first real musical, The Book of Mormon, here at the Forrest Theatre with a few of my favorite classmates who also enjoy the finer things in life like short rib ragu, ricotta gnocchi, and fine arts. Even though some would argue the show we saw wasn’t so “fine,” it was darn hilarious. Admittedly there were moments when the crude factor reached a new high, but I still found myself laughing through the whole thing. The musical/choreo talent was awesome for sure. theaterAnd of course I appreciated the history lessons for those that really don’t understand just how drastically different Mormon theology is from Christianity. Another fun tidbit I’m so looking forward to is tomorrow me and my friend Sarah are going to the Johnnyswim Christmas show at Union Station (pics to come I’m sure) and putting microbiology of plaque-induced disease to the back burner for just one night because I am in serious need of some holiday cheer. It’ll actually be my third time to see that crazy beautiful, insanely talented duo, yet I’ll never get tired of their serenades.

I’ve had several of the prospective class of 2020 Penntists message me and email me, and while I am entirely honest with them with the good and the bad (for instance, it’s OKAY to turn down Penn b/c of the price), I always can’t help but say how much I LOVE Penn Dental and my fam here. They’ll always ask me if I’m happy with my decision overall. It’s funny when you step back and look at the big picture with so much gratitude or why you made the decision they’re currently wrestling with (I do NOT miss that month of roller coaster emotions), the little nuisances of exhaustion and frustrations get overshadowed.

One week til 1/8 D.M.D. river

so what are you even learning anyways?

Dental school I think is sometimes very misunderstood by the general public and even other health professional students. People really wonder what could we possibly be learning and doing for four whole years just to “fix teeth.” You guys take anatomy? AND do cadaver dissection? Why do you have to know biochemistry (still currently wrestling with figuring that one out but I know it’s important somehow)? What does embryology have to do with cavities? Also, the confusion between us and hygiene school is common, especially for people who have generally healthy teeth and only see their dentist when they go for a cleaning anyways. So it makes sense that those folks don’t really understand what we’re actually trained to do, which is just a tiny bit more than clean teeth.

That being said, I thought I’d give you guys a look into the courses we’re taking currently and what a typical “course load” or “week in the life” looks life for dental students. Courses (or more generally, subjects – it’s easier to explain that way) that we’ve already finished up include an intro to oral medicine, embryology (development) and some histology (study of tissues, introduction of some pathology) of epithelium. For instance, our exam today (they have a weird thing for Monday exams here that’s just unfortunate) covered all topics of bone biology: histology, formation, endocrinology, some physiology, and an overview of radiological anatomy. The next chunk of this course that starts tomorrow will go more explicitly into anatomy of bone. Our “Foundational Sciences” course is currently going through biochemistry and metabolism, and will later reach topics like immunology and an intro to pharmacology I think. We started a new course today that is basically microbiology and it’s relation to dental science. So for these “Biological Systems” and “Foundational Sciences” courses, we typically have each of these lectures three to four times per week depending on the schedule.

We also have our Dental Development/Anatomy course which correlates to our lab time spent waxing all the different types of teeth. We’ve finally made it to the molar (five cusps and a insanely intricate occlusal table definitely make for some fun…) to finish up this first lab course, ending with the lovely written final next week. This one’s pass/fail PTL. The lectures for that course are typically only once a week and our four hour lab time is also only on Wednesdays. Wednesdays are also when we have our four our block of time in clinic assisting 3rd and 4th years. We’ve really just started this part of our curriculum, but it’s already such a nice change from sitting our butts in a lecture hall 8-5. Actually getting to interact with patients and see the flow of how things run in clinic is a nice look into the far off but fast approaching futures we have as [student] doctors.

The last portion of our curriculum currently would be occasional small group seminars (usually one per module) and our rotations through the advanced sim lab that I talked about a while ago. Typically, we have very lecture-heavy Mondays and Tuesdays 10-5 usually (also start at 8 sometimes), Lab/Clinic Wednesday 8-5, one or two lectures Thursday or Friday with most of the rotation times fit in later in the week as well.

I hope that helps give you guys an idea of what we actually do here in dental school, and especially gives you something to look forward to (?) for any of my pre-dental readers out there. Obviously more than teeth. Dental-specific things actually make up a very small percentage of our course-load in first year. We do start a new lab course, Occlusion, soon and next semester will get into the trenches of Operative (i.e. drilling, restorations, etc).

fallExams are roughly once a week, give or take. They cover a LOT of material, though. Every week in itself pretty much mentally feels like the roller coaster of finals hell/post-finals heaven of undergrad. The test today was over 14 separate lectures (our lectures are two hours mostly…). So when everyone thinks my new life in Philly is the glamorous colorful display you only see on Instagram, think again. Most days are hard, long, and monotonous, but I just make it a point to stop and smell the roses. Or stop and see the trees you could say. Or stop and buy the donuts. I want to constantly live in a place of gratitude. It is so easy to quickly forget how hard we worked our butts off for four years in undergrad and even longer for others to get to this point. I really strive to keep at the forefront of my mind the faithfulness of God to have carried me this far, and that I really am only here by his grace and goodness. When people only complain all the time about school – any kind but especially grad school – I just want to look at them and say, “But you wanted this remember? Thousands of people would give anything to be in our place right now.” Try to remember how you felt this time last year desperately awaiting that December 1st acceptance day, friends. Education is a GIFT, y’all. A gift that we’re paying hundreds of K for, but still 🙂

You all know how much of a proponent of self-therapy I am (shout out to Yesle and JJ, you two constantly remind me that it’s ok and good to make me and health a priority some days), and today was chock full of it. On top of the immediate post-exam Federal Donuts run to share sweet warm goodness with some of my classmates, Sarah and I went out and about after class ended at an earlier three o clock today. By the way, I miss those days when getting out at three felt so late. I indulged and bought my favorite magazine (how could I NOT with that cover title that is basically my life motto?) and purchased some new business-y digs for ASDA’s NLC THIS weekend! I hate that retail therapy is such a real thing, even when it’s something as simple as a pencil skirt. To top it all off we won these adorable and sassy Sweetgreen totes. magPost-exam nights are my favorite. I had to laugh when I asked Sarah if she wanted to look in Urban Outfitters, too, while we were walking around. I told her I didn’t need to spend anymore money and she said, “Yeah me neither, but I love just going in places and not feeling like a student for a little bit.” Preach, sister, preach. The epitome of dental school feels like just that. One night you’re cramming until 2 am, hyped up on double shot espressos, locked away in the Sky lounge, and questioning your decision to choose this long and narrow road (and maybe when you last washed your hair). Fast forward to the next day, when things as simple as trying on cozy scarves, dipping hearty bread in a hot bowl of chili, and reading the covers of all the glorious books in the bookstore you want to read make you feel a little more human.

one sixteenth a doctor. basically.

It’s pretty much the halfway point of the semester, give or take a few days. We’ve got two whole finished courses, five exams, three tooth wax-ups, and our first time in clinic under our belts. It sounds pretty pathetic in comparison to the gigantic hurdles we have ahead of us for the next four+ years, but at the same time it’s incredible how much we’ve learned and done in just eight weeks of dental school. The fact that we already have real grades on our transcript already is crazy (don’t worry Mom, they’re good ones).
journalMy journal I started mid-summer reached full capacity – I guess you can imagine how much has been on my mind in the past few months and the rambling prayers and dreams that covered those pages – and there’s something so refreshing about opening a crisp new one and writing on that first page. I love how it correlated with the shift of seasons here in Philly, too. Turning over a new leaf and page, literally. This week lows are already in the 30s and 40s and some days the highs only get to the 50s. I don’t miss the still-90-in-October part of Texas, sorry.

Since my last post we had our initiation dinner for the dental fraternity I joined, Psi
galsOmega. It was an excuse to dress up (and let me just say again – all my classmates are dang attractive), enjoy a great dinner, and have a fun Friday night out with my new sistas and bros, both new members and upperclassmen. For people wondering what on earth a dental school fraternity is about (I realize it sounds more geek than Greek), it’s basically another way to make connections with your class and classes above you, network with alumni (shout out to homegirl Dr. Maggio), get involved with more service opportunities, have fun socials to look forward to, and receive academic help along the way. We have three equally great ones here at Penn, and I have friends that joined each of them but there’s also no pressure to join any of them. To a lot of people’s surprise, there are a million things to get involved with during your time in dental school.

Speaking of, I haven’t had the chance to update you guys that I did in fact get offered a board position on our chapter of the American Student Dental Association. I will be a contributing editor this year, and I’m so pumped for all that’s in store for Penn ASDA. My position is basically responsible for writing occasional articles and posts for our newsletter and website as well as just help out in general with publishing those or gathering ads. Being on the board at all gives a lot of options for other ways to get involved, too, and definitely opens up doors for ways to serve in the future. One thing that I am privileged to have the chance to do is travel to Chicago at the end of this month with nine other board members for ASDA’s National Leadership Conference. I’m one of two D1s going, and I can’t wait for a weekend of meeting dental students from around the country, hearing awesome speakers, and learning even more about my role as a leader in ASDA and in my future career in general. I’ve also never actually been to Chicago, so I’m so thankful to have the chance to go finally! I’ll be sure and write some highlights post-NLC. Deep dish pizza better be involved too, just saying. 🙂

This week after our tough chunk of exams that were pretty close together, I’ve definitely enjoyed some down time and getting caught up on life-things instead of school-things: the ever-growing stack of letters that need responding to, buying my first real winter coat, that thing called laundry, stocking up on fall baking supplies (pumpkin errthing happening soon), Saturday morning FaceTime coffee catchup dates, oh yeah and sleep. I also spontaneously traveled outside the city on Wednesday after a long day of clinic (our first time assisting!) and lab to hang with my Philly fam away from home, the Clarks. The fall harvest dinner spread was worth the trip alone. Butternut squash soup, smashed sweet and purple potatoes, seasonal salad, roasted rosemary salmon, a creamy bourbon maple cocktail, and did I mention apple crumble?! Geez so much better than my normal weeknight concoctions. We actually didn’t have lecture until three on Thursday, so I even made a sleepover out of it. I’m so thankful to have such a fun and supportive family right up the road from me, and I will definitely keep them in the back of my mind when I need a city/school escape. clarksIt’s one of those really cool full circle stories how we’re connected again. Ian and Susan were my parents’ best friends back in the early 90s, and even though I didn’t really remember them much, I always knew how much they meant to my family from the way Mom or Dad would talk about the Clarks. The last time I saw them I think I was two years old, and since then they’ve moved frequently all over the East Coast. When I finally decided to come to Penn, Mom and Dad realized that they were going to be only 10 miles away from me, along with their daughter and son in law, Hannah and Greg! I just can’t help but thank God for crossing our paths once again. He knew I’d need some times of good foodie meals, laughing, and family music time with every one on a different instrument – much like my old times back home with Mom, Dad, and Megan in the window-lined music room.

These days, I feel like God is teaching me more and more about rest, contentment, and that whatever I have in my head about what the future might hold will never compare to the good he actually has for me. I love looking back and seeing how He works in the big and small and in ways that we were so blind to at the time. I’m constantly asking for clarity for things that confuse, distract, or overwhelm me (there’s plenty currently) and peace and strength for the days at hand. your love

I’m leaving you with the lyrics that have been playing again and again through my headphones since Amanda Cook’s new album was released a few weeks ago. This one is called The Voyage, and I feel like it relates entirely too well for me as well as several of my friends in this season of graduating/post-grad/20-something adventure that we find ourselves on. I find it ironic that I titled this post before I rambled up to this point, and now it really seems to actually relate to this very song in a way. We get so caught up in exactly how much further we have until that next thing is checked off – grad school, a serious relationship, big move, that dream job…when in the end, the pressure’s off and God is continually with us. I don’t think He’s really one for destinations. He wants us to walk beside Him in the journey.

Speak, even if your voice is trembling
Please, you’ve been quiet for so long
Believe, it’ll be worth the risk you’re taking

You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling
There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones
What you make of this moment changes everything

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

Set your sights, sailing far beyond familiar
In the rising tide, you’ll find the rhythm of your heart
And lift your head, now the wind and waves don’t matter

What if the path you choose becomes a road
The ground you take becomes a home
The wind is high, but the pressure’s off
I’ll send the rain wherever we end up
Wherever we end up

I am the wind in your sails

[brought to you by post-exam jello brain]

We are definitely reaching the thick of the semester, and time for blogging sadly got put on the back burner this past week. Today we had a monstrous Foundational Sciences exam. I won’t dare tell you how many pages my typed study guide ended up being or how many Spotify playlists I burned through in the past 5 days. Oh joy, we’ve got another one coming right back at us for Biological Systems on Monday. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of just seeing the mundane of studying and going to lecture and lab day in and day out, and I’m still really trying to maintain healthy balance and perspective constantly.

scrubs

We finally got our classy navy scrubs in (am I a chief surgical resident on Grey’s yet??), so that’s at least one step closer in the “Dr. Price” direction. Let’s be real, I’m so glad I chose a career where professional pjs are the norm everyday. GRD lab is also off and running at a quick pace and we’ve already finished our central incisor and canine wax-ups, and now we’re working on the premolar. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it’s basically where we build an entire tooth out of nothing but wax and have to create all the details of the anatomy of that specific tooth. It’s feels very archaic with our Bunsen burners flaming as we heat our waxing instruments, melt and pick up a drop of wax, and try oh try to place and “flow” it where we want to build that marginal ridge or distal contact point before it solidifies. Fun? Surprisingly, sort of. Frustrating at times? Definitely. Hilarious b/c of the people I sit around and what we talk about for four hours? You know it, Novin, Ash, and Marisa 🙂 The faculty are pretty helpful with constructive criticism along the way, but when it comes time for grading our finished product, a non-dental person wouldn’t believe how many details go into what makes a #12 a #12 aesthetically, how it articulates in occlusion, where the height of contour is placed, how it’s aligned in the arch, and every other thing they can take off points for. wax

The morning temps are dropping (glory glory #fallelujah), the Bean boots have made their debut, and I’m getting more and more excited to experience my first real fall living on the East Coast. Jenna, one of my BEST friends from Baylor got to come visit last Thursday through Sunday and we had an absolute blast together. Even though it was dreary, windy, and rainy all weekend due to the hurricane, we loved it and enjoyed adventuring around Philly with plenty of studying and coffee shops thrown in, just like old times together. She’s at Boston U for a Master’s in Public Health, so she definitely understands the grad school grind and how weekends unfortunately can’t always be all play and no work. The main reason she came was to go see our boy Ben Rector in concert with me, and we later realized when we saw him in Waco last was an exact year ago so of course we had to take another pic with yet another Ben T shirt together. It was such a refreshing time getting to catch up on East Coast life that we’re both new to, church, school, family, and relationships with Jenna. jennaben

I definitely wish sometimes that I had more time in the day for things like my latest Don Miller read, Scary Close, experimenting with seasonal dishes in the kitchen, lifting more weights, writing more letters (the stack for correspondence in my metal envelope hung on the wall is growing quickly…), but at the same time I’m learning to cherish the small moments here and there, even if it’s in the midst of the business. Things like lunchtime Bible study with classmates, walks through the gorgeous Penn campus, solid heart to heart text novels/convos (during collagen synthesis lecture oops) with friends back home, a conversation with the barista, attending a local “black church” last Sunday with my church-hopping buds and having a sweet time of worship, and the never-ending Spotify music sharing and discovery with friends here and home. philly

Sometimes I walk down the street or through campus, and I think to myself, “Do I really live here? Am I actually in grad/dental school?” Oftentimes we get so caught up in the negative – i.e. “all of the above except” exam questions, if we got an 8 or a 9 on our tooth waxing, how many hours of sleep we’ll get tonight – when there is so so much around us to be grateful for. I pray that I never take for granted the opportunity I’ve been given to be here and to be learning so much every day to one day be able to use these gifts and this knowledge to really make a difference in peoples’ lives.

A verse that I’ve always hung onto for a long time and especially in times of transition is Habakkuk 1:5 – “…be utterly amazed. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” God always has some crazy exciting things up his sleeve, and I am constantly asking for an increase in patience and trust that His ways are higher than mine. Let us be filled with expectancy and hope, always. Those things you’re believing for? Keep believing.

Until next time, I’m studying epithelium and the thrills of saliva, adding pumpkin pie spice to my coffee grounds, biking and running more in the cool of the day, and falling more in love with my favorite season.

Feels like home

I did what every responsible grad student does when you find out that you’ve got a rare three day weekend (thanks again, Pope): make it a four day weekend and book a trip back to the old stomping grounds for some quick but quality time with the place and people I love and miss every day. My mom and sis are pretty upset that I made the trek to Texas and didn’t get to see them (HOME home’s a few hours away + no car), but I knew this was my one chance all football season to catch a Waco weekend and home game until next year probably. I’m deeply sorry fam, and I promise this will make Christmas and your November visit that much better.

When school started, I had no idea I would make a trip back this soon, but honestly the timing could not have been better. Homecoming sadly was not an option (tears for days) with our class/exam schedule surrounding that weekend, so I was desperate to find another random weekend when I could escape Philly to return to the promised land. Nothing against my new home which I love, but being back in the land of Tex-Mex, “y’all,” and Baylor football was seriously beyond good for the soul.

rossMy old roomie Chels picked me up from the airport in Dallas (meanwhile I had already started sweating the five minutes I was waiting outside…DON’T miss that) and we jammed and gabbed all the way to Wacotown. I met up with my best guy Ross for a big hug, nostalgic Shorty’s pizza, half pitchers (Shiner cravings = fulfilled), and talking life – the little and the big – all night long. It’s weird how places like a tiny, college joint, pizza shack can be jam-packed with as many memories and conversations like that as that place.

chels

Friday was full of lots of friends, catching up, more favorite food spots (LJ’s baked oatmeal of course), talking forever with my favorite prof, walking around campus and it already feeling different, and even sitting in on an a cappella rehearsal just for fun. Of course I couldn’t go to Texas and not indulge in ‘jitas and ‘ritas, so that’s exactly what me and Chels did (followed by catching the Grey’s premiere in our pjs in bed and going to bed at a gloriously early hour for a Friday night).

The downtown Waco farmers market was buzzing with people, new vendors, and great live music even more than I remembered. I love coming back to that city and seeing the growth (i.e. the Waco revival that is a very real thing) that’s happened there even from a few months ago. I’ve gotta say I miss the culture and people of Waco/Baylor for sure. It feels like one of those places where you can go anywhere and see everyone you know, and even if you don’t know them you could probably strike up a quality convo with any “stranger.” That’s not exactly the same for the crowds of Philly and the East Coast. kellieI headed to the glory that is McClane Stadium afterwards and ran into so many lovely faces there. My dear friend Kellie and I had actual seats (what is post-grad life even?) which were straight up in the path of the blazing 95 degree afternoon Texas sun, so I spent a lot of time walking around seeing friends in shadier spots. I can’t even describe the emotion, though, watching the new Baylor Line run on the field and the pre-game hype video, thinking about the endless memories I have of sweet victories the past four years. baylorLiteral goose-bumps. We quickly worked up the scoreboard while the sun worked up my slight sunburn. The game finished 70-17 in typical Baylor fashion, and I spent the rest of Saturday having girls night and talking school, church, and (possibly) guys with Sarah, Gigi, and Danielle – girls from my old Lifegroup who always open their home – and hearts – for me when I’m in town.

One of the things I was looking forward to most was getting to go to my old church, Antioch, and partly why I booked my return flight for as late as 7 pm. It was a pure joy to worship with my old community and hug so many necks afterwards. God has definitely promised to provide a new community here, but I know it will take time and most likely look different from what I knew for four years. After a quick lunch with more friends and what else other than a Iced No Bull at Common Grounds, I was sadly saying goodbye once more to that little central TX town that has so much of my heart.

girlsShauna Niequist said “Sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters so much.” I could not agree more. As much as I miss my hometown, family, Waco, friends, and Baylor, I know that being in Philly at Penn Dental is so good, so right, and so needed for this season. God is so kind to give us opportunity for adventure and growth, even if it sometimes seems painful at first to leave behind the comfort and familiarity of a safe place. I realize being gone (even if it’s only been for just a month now) has shown me more and more about what and who matter most to me. The vague but certain promise of “See you…soon” is enough for me to look forward to the next trip back, whenever that may be.

CG