Monthly Archives: May 2010

Ashamed

Today’s match went horrifically wrong. There was a record number of yellow cards given…to my team. To be fair, the other team’s coach was running his mouth off and thrash-talking us. But this is not the first coach we have met to have behaved like this, so i am not sure why my team mates took it so personally. The referee was also a bit old-schooled and anal, but if you were respectful, he was reasonable. And that’s the whole point. I don’t think we are a very polite team. We sneered and jeered at other teams, and bitch about them too, so we are no angels ourselves. (I refrain from this shit, but we are a team, and so shall bear the same responsibility.)

Some of our players have no team spirit and i am appalled that the coach did not mete out a few well-deserved harsh words or two. What do you say of a player who was supposed to be on the field but did not want to play, and both teams had to wait for her, and our supporters on the bench had to cajole her on the field, whilst our team watched silently on? What does that speak of our morale? Is it any wonder the coach of our opponents’ team seized the opportunity to psych us out? And he did it successfully because the hot-headed players of our team completely ruined our formation and strategy.

Not to mention that our striker went down in a tackle (to be honest, she goes down real easy, i play defence with her, and as a defender i give her a wide berth because she is always yelling and complaining when she goes down; i say she needs to get her shit together), stood up and actually shoved the other player. The referee already thinks we are a team with bad manners – so guess what? Another yellow card. Another player tried to argue with the referee. One more yellow card. Argued more – was threatened with a second yellow card. I was just waiting to see when the red card was going to come out. And then the coaches nearly got into a fight. The game had to be stopped for the referee to reprimand both of them, whilst us players just stared on. I was appalled.

After the game, the thrash-talking continued. I just watched on silently. I heard one of my players boast that they had punched an opponent out before and put her in hospital. She would not hesitate to repeat her performance. I wondered if she knew how childish and foolish she sounded. Another hot-headed one cawed that she was not angry (even though she shoved the other player) and said that if she was angry, no one would have been able to hold her back. She yelled at another of our teammates who tried to calm her down. Again, the coach said nothing.

This coach is starting to prove to me that he is very weak. We played on our opponents’ home ground today. It was a beautiful ground, well-maintained, clean change rooms, seats provided. Clearly a rich, family-friendly club. Ten minutes into the game, our coach lit up a cigarette and strode up and down the beautiful grass, ruining the fresh air with his toxic fumes. I am not sure where he tossed his cigarette butt. Someone from the other team politely told him to not light up anymore. I was embarrassed for him and for my team.

I turned up for every training, and have been training in central defender position. Today i played midfield, and i was utterly confused. A few of the other midfielders were not playing the same strategy, in fact two of us were quite confused. I believe that cost us a goal or two. Since i was so confused, i clearly should be and was substituted. I did not mind that – better not to be a liability. I spent more time warming the bench i reckon. Why train me in a different position and get me to play another position altogether? And because of that, i get benched? Just because i can fucking run does not mean i am a versatile player, fool! You are ruining my confidence and the team’s confidence in me. Fuck.

Last training, only six players including me turned up. Six players were still players nonetheless. I was ready to train. The other five players did not want to. The coach concealed his frustration. When i stated that the coach drove more than 1.5hours to training straight after work, a few of the other players pounced on me and told me not to make it seem like it was their fault when the other girls did not turn up to train. Sure it ain’t their fault that less than half the team did not show up, but it certainly is their responsibility to respect the coach and train regardless of the number. You know what happened? The coach took out a bottle of wine, downed two whole glasses, distributed a glass each to those players who wanted one, before we went for training. I was astounded.

I am not happy. I really am not. Wednesday i am going to let the team know that – if they want my commitment, especially if i take forty minutes to get to the training grounds, and they take less than half that time, they had better get my position right, let me train where i am supposed to be, and give me more playing time on the pitch. I have enough of feeling wretched and responsible after every match (we always lose) when the other players do not take responsibility.

If not, sayonara, my friends. You are on your own. I will not stick my neck out for people who do not deserve it. I am still reeling from the shock of witnessing the atrocious behaviour of my teammates.

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Life over the past week

Last week was grueling. I have come to realize that i am severely over-loading myself with my extra-curricular activities. But i can’t just drop all of my lessons because the regression of my skills would be appalling and the money i have invested over the years in these lessons would go to waste. I think the tipping point came when i joined my soccer club (note: i am not complaining – i am liking this club a lot). I was not expecting the physical fatigue that came along with the training. I would push myself during training (i can feel and see myself getting fitter and i am absolutely loving it) but the next day i am incredibly fatigued. This is also when i understood that one can die of physical exhaustion – i could never comprehend why this was the case; you need to experience it firsthand i suppose. Plus i am no longer playing as goalkeeper. I am now stationed on the field as central defender. Whilst i relish the opportunity to run on the pitch, i am also hesitant in the coach’s confidence in my fitness level. In the position allocated to me; i am required to run the full width of the pitch. Tomorrow is my first game in this position. I have to admit that although i am excited, i am also kind of worried that i may disappoint the team and myself.

On the medical side of stuff, i am starting to get a little anxious about job applications and interviews. I am not as worried as a few incredibly frazzled medical students (don’t get me wrong; i am not saying my grades are extraordinary or my CV gives me an edge over the others, but i think it is more to the contrary, where i just do not want to compete for a position in the larger and seemingly prestigious (as perceived by most of my peers) hospitals); but the datelines are near; and so i must really start putting in some cover letters and CVs. The fear of not securing a position has yet to hit me. Rather i am troubled by the more mundane stuff – the clothes i should wear for my interviews, and hence the inevitable shopping trip. I am not the shopping sort and my sense of fashion is limited to t-shirts and jeans; hence shopping is a very stressful activity for me. The act of changing in and out of clothes exhaust me far more rapidly than running a couple of laps round the field. I know it is all psychological, but the weariness is all too real. Someday when i can afford it, i am just going to hire a personal shopper and get this person to do all the legwork for me.

Then the very last thing i need to consider is whether i want to stay in this state, move to another state, or return to the homeland. Over the past few weeks, i have made my mind up about one matter. After i graduate, my career is going to take a backseat. I am going to put my family as top priority. Hence if i were to move to another state, i would have to uproot all the networks i have painstakingly made over the past few years and start fresh (and lonely i presume) in a new and foreign state. Or i can return to the homeland where friends can introduce me to their networks although i may have to really relegate my career to the bottom step – i think finding someone who would want to or even agree for me to go to a third world country to practice medicine is going to be very difficult. I say i will let my career take a backseat, but i ain’t letting it go up in flames, especially after 6 years in medical school. Or i could stay in this state, although staying in this state is like taking a sitting-on-the-fence kind of approach. If i return home, chances of setting up a family are going to be very high. Moving to another state would further my chances of getting into a training programme. Staying put is just that – a fifty-fifty chance. And no, the decision is really not such a no-brainer i can assure you.

So much to think about. All these on top of my impending exams. I think this semester has one of the heaviest workloads of all semesters – pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology have so much material to learn, it is almost mad. Did i also mention that my interviews will be in the last two weeks leading up to my exams? I am not quite sure how i am going to handle the next few weeks. To add the icing to the cake, the contract for my current residence will come to an end in three months, and i may have to find a new place. It is going to be interesting to see how i react. The one good thing i have noticed is that on Friday when i was really stressed and did not want to get out of bed (i have been cultivating really bad habits recently – too long afternoon naps (which then affects my night sleep), skipping dinners and re-discovering facebook) and thus not turn up for soccer training, i still dragged my sorry ass over to the training ground (the one advantage of a team sport is that you can’t afford to be lazy because your actions don’t just affect yourself). After two hours of intense training, i actually felt better. My mood lightened up and my perspective brightened up. It was quite incredible. Endorphins really have potent anti-depressive effects. What the hell. Anyway i got to put in a couple of pages of studying before retiring to bed. Early start tomorrow – gonna volunteer at the RSPCA.

I have been too busy to do my laundry but i had to absolutely wash my clothes yesterday because my soccer attire from last Sunday needs to be ready by tomorrow. And i don't have a dryer. Hence this impromptu clothes stand on my bike pump to dry my socks in front of the heater.

The dog, abandoning me in my (rather chilly) study room to sprawl lazily in front of the heater by herself. What the hell.

Oh, i forgot to mention, the dog has passed her final hurdle in Basic Obedience today with flying colours. We are moving onto the Intermediate level next week. I marvel at how much has been achieved in less than a year. The same time last year, she was a rowdy dog plagued with separation anxiety and dog-to-dog aggression; and i was constantly stressed with the prospect that the neighbours would lodge a complaint against my noisy dogs. Sometimes, the inevitable has to happen (rehoming my other dog), and it works out for the best in the long run. I am so proud of my dog.

I love comedy songs

A bunch of us heard this song early in the morning as i drove us to the hospital, and we were laughing to its ridiculous lyrics and catchy tune. Certainly made my day.

Poisoning pigeons in the park

This second song which i discovered on YouTube is even better.

The Elements

I am going to purchase a few of his songs from iTunes!

Throwing up

Just feel a little sick at the moment. BJJ training tonight was more intense than usual. Training with the female players is more painful than with the males. The males tend to be careful and don’t just jump on top of you. The females could not care less. Actually, i do. But i was kneed, rode on and sat on with no sensitivity that i gave it right back. Unfortunately i weigh a whole lot lighter…(and i am still careful despite wanting to do a pain transference).

I feel sick and i have not even eaten my dinner yet.

(I need to quit whinging and stop being a wuss.)

I think it is also because i have not fought so hard and so long in ages. Need to breathe.

Slip of tongue

During a presentation on Pap smears and cervical cancer.

Lecturer: Who gets a Pap smear?

Uncertain student: After 18 years old and…erm…three years after the first sexual encounter?

Lecturer: Does this patient (refers to the case study we were discussing – a 19 year old who had sex for the first time two weeks ago) need a Pap smear?

Increasingly confused student: Yes…

Lecturer patiently asked another leading question: This patient is over 18 years old. Tick. Is it three years after her first sexual encounter?

Student realized his big mistake.

Lecturer continues: Let’s take an extreme example. A twenty-three year old who has never had sex, yes, she does not need a Pap smear.

I stared at her and before i could stop myself: What the fuck? Extreme example?!

Half the room was filled with students who come from the same Eastern background as me; students who are over twenty three years old, students who are too conservative to practice pre-marital sex.

I stared at my friend. He gave a don’t-look-at-me look and shrugged. Apparently i was the only one awake. No one else noticed. Or they did and just let it passed which is just as bad.

Gosh, this is one rotation where i had more consultants preach to us that sex before marriage is good and that nuns have it especially bad because their celibacy increases their risks of endometriosis and fibroids. What the hell.

Taking a walk through the neighbourhood

Three years ago when i was working in Starbucks, i remembered walking in winter time to the nearest train station which was a fifteen minute walk at fast pace, but usually a twenty-five minute leisurely one for me. It was too early in the morning to be rushing around. I did not have a car at that time. I remember (and to be honest quite fondly) waking at 3am, feeding the dogs their breakfast at that unearthly hour, before catching the first train into the city. I recalled noticing that the only other passengers are usually the tradesmen, and most of us would be snoozing on the train. I remembered thinking that if i never took up this part-time job, i would never have known that a tradesman’s job could be this demanding. That was the morning shifts.

The evening shifts stretched till midnight. I would be catching the bus home because it would be too dangerous to ride on the trains alone at that hour. You meet all kinds of people. My area is a safe one – encountering a drunkard would be unheard of. However, the train that travels through my suburb, travels through fairly treacherous ones after my stop. Drug addicts and people looking for a punch aren’t uncommon on the train. The bus stop is an eight minute walk from my house. My street is pretty dark – i am not sure why. I remember walking through the blistering cold, and always walking in the middle of the road. I would also automatically switch the iPod off when i alighted from the bus, keeping a keen vigilance on my surroundings. The sidewalks were full of shadows, and i was full of paranoia. I always felt that someone could be hiding in those shadows. The dogs in the neighbourhood kept me company during my walk. They would shuffle or growl as i walked past and that would reassure me because if there was someone else out there, i would have been alerted.

The entry of my street would be lighted up by the streetlamps on the road. The next lighted area would be the small private hospital beside my house. I chose this neighbourhood because i know i would be safe walking at 3am; the hospital is always awake, and if there is trouble, at least i know someone can come to my aid. I would get home close to 1am after my night shifts. The dogs would be waiting for me patiently. And i would take them out for their walk, in the middle of the night, through the same dark street, out onto the main road.

Together, the three of us would stroll quietly along the deserted road; me trying to stay warm in my jacket, the dogs’ breaths visible in front of them. It was a time-out for me, twenty minutes of complete solitude with no human interaction. Just my thoughts and i. I was dead exhausted but i was content.

Almost two years later, i would quit that job to focus on medicine. I would also re-home my terrier because of a variety of reasons and circumstances. I hardly walked my dog in the night. We go for a stroll at a more appropriate hour where we can meet other dog owners and their dogs, and watch the neighbourhood kids zoom around on their bikes, or observe the soccer matches going on.

Then two months ago, my routine changed again. I resumed martial arts training, and found myself a soccer club. Nights were spent in one training or the other. Days were spent at the hospitals. I started walking the dog at nights again. It was not as late as those nights we used to patrol, but it was still late nevertheless. Now it’s the both of us, walking quietly along the silent road, me lost in my thoughts, and the dog checking in on the other neighbourhood dogs. The cold air numbing my ears, and condensing the dog’s breath. And i realized i miss these night walks. The solitude is refreshing, the cold winter air a reminder that it is the small things in Life that counts. And when i think about this neighbourhood, and the years i have spent here, i can’t help but feel a little wistful because i know in less than a year everything will change completely.

A new phase of life awaits me, and i would walk through another milestone in my life, this one six years in the making. Regardless of my decision to stay in this country or to return to my homeland, i will be moving and leaving this neighbourhood. And i know that i will miss these night walks of solitude, miss the days and nights which i spent slogging my arse off, dead tired but contented and proud to know i can withstand hardship and that i will work for what i want. This place holds a lot of memories, an unexpected residence and now a calculated move into another place.

I am sad but excited at the same time. What did i say? This is the paradox of life.

Human behaviour

I run into the most obnoxious, unreasonable people around. I used to get incredibly riled up by such people, and i still do, although my self-control is much better, but then you got to ask the question, how come i get so much practice for me to be able to actually monitor my progress in managing such people??

I met one such person just now, a complete stranger. I had three options – play his game and trade nonsensical remarks, ignore him or defuse the situation calmly and reasonably. I can proudly say that i have gone through all three techniques in my lifetime. The first strategy is just incredibly childish, and i am glad i outgrew it in high school. The second tactic was really bad for my heart and my mental health. I may not have brought myself down to the person’s level, but i was certainly brooding intensely over their behaviour, to the extent i get headaches and anger spurts for no good reason. Because of that, i realize ignorance may work for some, but certainly not for me. So i have chosen the last technique – to actively engage the person in a reasonable manner, and to give the person a piece of my mind in a Zen-way. How the person chooses to react would then reflect on him or her character, not me. If he/she is amicable, we end on a happy note from a bad situation. If he/she explodes, i employ my laser gaze and give a look that reads, “Dude, you have issues.” They will be severely embarrassed even if they don’t know it then.

I am still fine-tuning my reaction to such people because it can still be very challenging to formulate words in the middle of the tension when all i want is to slap the person up his/her head.

Anyway, i met such an abrasive character just now, and i handled it well. I had time during that encounter to calm down and think of my reaction. I wondered what my friends would have done if they were in my position. In fact, i called up a friend. And you know what? None of my friends have ever been in such situations. None of them seem to meet caustic people at the rate i seem to be encountering them. So they could not give me any advice. They were just as appalled and as astounded as me.

Because of this constant patronage from nasty people (hell, i don’t even go looking for them; i keep to myself most of the time and apparently according to friends, send out a stay-away-from-me vibe at times), i have developed quite a strong, almost aggressive attitude when it comes to dealing with people who just want to be a hindrance to others. I did reflect about it and i know how this started. I used to be a coffee barista, and my God, some customers can be so full of themselves. I started out meek. By the third month, under the guidance of the more senior baristas, after observing the difference between the baristas who seem to be able to defuse such situations and those who just sank under the pressure, i understood the important distinction. When you are tough, people think twice about crossing your path. After all, those who are on the look-out to bully others have inferior complexes and insecurities of themselves. They need to ride on others to validate themselves.

This way of managing people, i discovered, was applicable in all facets of my life – medicine, sports etc etc. The downside is i scare some people. I think even my own mother. Who thinks i am arrogant. I can live with that, although it really is not my intention to make people afraid of me. But i can’t help what others think.

I was pondering about why i seem to be meeting such people at an exponential rate when another friend offered me two reasons.

“Bad luck.”

Well…i am more of a believer that everything happens for a reason rather than some random cosmic forces working in tandem to ruin my day.

“It’s because you go out and do more stuff than the rest of us, hence you meet more people, and inevitably more difficult people.”

Flattering i suppose, but really i am still puzzled.

Why am i meeting so many terrible people? Am i being prepared for some huge calamity that will befall me? Am i going to have to deal with a whole load of people some time in the future?

Gosh.