Posts tagged ‘Work’

I have been waiting…

… for a certain opportunity for some time. Like all true and truly big opportunities, this one is a mixed bag that has been bunging around the inside of my head and and is being the cause of much inexpressible anxiety. This is the first chance that I’ve had to sit down and try to put it into words.

If it works out, I will be headed to the UK for a year. I realize that in the big picture of modern technology that’s kinda like strolling out for next week’s groceries (no, wait, sorry, nowadays people order next week’s groceries online, right? I am so behind), but to this dinosauress it is a big deal. I have never lived abroad or alone before, unless you count things like conferences, in which case then yeah, I have a great track record of fending for myself in various Hilton hotels for up to five days at a stretch.


So why do I want to go? Because it will mean a year’s experience in aspects of psychiatry that are little-known to Singapore. I would learn stuff that could help my tiny department-to-be (it’s technically not even one yet) grow. In that process I would also have to learn to be more independent. Lug my own groceries home. Make new friends. Figure out appliances. Fill my fridge with nine different brands of cider. Cook more than instant noodles (or maybe not; I have been told that I eat worse than a bachelor). The prospect of these things fills me with frickin’ dread… and then I think, but I can go to London and see a musical – maybe even Shrek. To Paris again, where they have the best salted caramel chocolate in the world. To visit my friends living in Cambridge.

To have the adventure of a lifetime, basically.

And then I hear a snarky little internal voice going, yeah, but what if you hate it after the first week? Or get homesick? Or just plain sick? What if you decide that you can’t stand the cold? Or the accents? And ooh… what about the fact that KFC IN THE UK DOESN”T DO HOT N’ CRISPY CHICKEN?


Welcome to the inside of my head, Dear Reader.

This internal cacophony has been going on for something like ten months now, and I am hoping for some direction in a couple of weeks, when the result of my application should come out. If it fails then I will cheer myself up with the bunch of activities I can only put on hold now, like helping out in various dear folks’ weddings, or continuing my yoga classes. If it succeeds then I will… well, go.

Now I need me some fried chicken and beer for dinner tonight.


November 15, 2011 at 17:06 6 comments

Settling in

It’s the third week into my new position at the Buffalo Farm and I’m settling in all right. It normally takes me about two months in any new posting to adjust out of the funk of unfamiliarity, so this is really good.

Much of this has to do with the work environment – I’m no longer run into the ground churning out numbers, but can take enough time with my patients so that I know them more as human beings and less as hateful statistics to chew through (when you’re scheduled to see twenty patients in two and a half hours, believe me, hate is not too strong a word for how you begin to feel toward the human race). I’m getting involved in research and media interviews, and even a play produced in conjunction with a local professional stage group, to increase awareness of the subspecialty I’m in. Work is actually pleasantly exciting for a change.

And I get alone time. This is really important to me. Part of this is due to the fact that the colleague I’m sharing office space with is abroad (confession: I actually made a typo here and typed “a broad” – something which is totally unnecessary to confess, but I thought it was funny because said colleague is really a dude) till next month, so the whole room is mine for a while. It’s wonderful. I’ve been colonizing my space slowly. I’m not done yet, but I have my super-strong Japanese-meal-set and four-leaf-clover magnets up on my cubicle walls, and my self-painted mirror on my table, and John Mortimer cheek-to-cheek with Michael Chabon and Milan Kundera on my bookshelf. There are old photographs and cheery notes on display. One photo especially, of Dreying and me, stands out because neither of us particularly wanted to have our picture taken at that moment, being busy discussing something serious. But we had no choice in the matter, and so the picture consists of two big and very painful grins… which I find quite funny on hindsight.

Amazing, by the way, how a picture can recall a thousand words.

Thus soothed, I find myself looking at Christmas with unusual enthusiasm. For the first time in years, I’m thinking of appropriate gifts and even of writing cards a full month before the day. My twelve-year-old self would no doubt have been horrified at this lukewarmness (lukewarmth?), but, hey, kid, you haven’t been through the mill of working life yet. It’s nice to look forward to Christmas again.

November 25, 2010 at 17:53 4 comments

A day in the life of a blitzed-out Katie

I’ve had such an eventful day that my brain is fagged out and I can’t do anything more that can be truthfully called work. Let me download a little here.

0830 – 0845: Photoshopped mugshot  – taken half an hour previously – for staff pass.

0850 – 0930: Saw a lady with such awful family problems, it would put almost anybody off men.

0940 – 0942: Peed.

0945 – 1000: Took a cab.

1010 – 1025: Waited.

1030 – 1100: MY FIRST RADIO INTERVIEW. Exciting that. I’d never even been to a radio station before, and there I was, all goggle-eyed and swivel-necked. I had to suppress a disastrous urge to burst into giggles when I was introduced as someone with “many years of experience” in my field. The worst was over the moment I opened my mouth, though, because I could stop being nervous. I think… hope… it went OK. Was less than grammatically impeccable in many spots.

1115 – 1130: Got a lift back to the Buffalo Farm from the local celeb who was interviewed with me (woot!). Found self talking about mutton brain soup. Scolded self for having no idea how to make a good impression on people.

1140 – 1150: Wrote up notes on lady with awful family problems.

1200 – 1220: Took another cab.

1228 – 1230: Peed.

1230 – 1410: Lunch talk at Nut Farm on child abuse. Argh.

1420 – 1450: Took another cab. Note to self: buy Comfort stocks. 

1500 – 1530: Handed in staff pass photo and HR forms to HR lady. Looked innocent when asked for forms that was supposed to have, but did not have.

1545 – 1550: Obtained Kopitiam staff card.

1550 – 1555: Activated new ATM card.

1555 – 1600: Paid credit card bill.

1600 – 1610: Hunted for new-baby gift for S&C. Bought Mothercare vouchers after nosing into three shops.

1615 – 1620: Composed official name card.

1620 – 1625: Answered emails as politely as possible.

1625 – 1630: Tidied desk.

1630 – 1700: Worked on presentation due Thursday.

1700: Threw in the towel. Peed.

So now I’m just waiting for Mr. Manx to finish his day so he can pick me up to go visit S&C and their new infant J. I don’t even know what J stands for yet. I’m terribly tired but it’s a different kind of tiredness than the one I get on the Fruit Farm. It’s better.

November 9, 2010 at 18:16 4 comments

On the bright side

I just realized that I probably have one of the last few jobs in the world in which I can tell people very sternly, “If you don’t want to hear what I have to say, you can go find some other doctor to treat you”, and they say, “Sorry, doc” while their parent nods approvingly and thanks me for being firm (instead of threatening to sue).

October 5, 2010 at 11:25 4 comments

Pen to paper

I think I stopped writing because of my exams, really. Before The Draught happened, I was mugging so hard over my damn thesis that I think I simply got tired of writing words. Said thesis was an involuntary work comprising a research project spanning about two years, and, horror of horrors, it HAD to contain a minimum of 10,000 words. Who wants to read 10-freaking-000 words on a half-baked project?! A well-baked project, so to speak, exhausts its consumer by the time it hits about 5,000 words. My half-baked project, therefore, tasted at least twice as bad as it had to. I still feel sorry for whichever examiner ended up with my stuff. Personally, I would have used it as a doorstop.

That wasn’t all there was to the exams. After the thesis came an interview comprising a journal critique and two vignettes. The preparation for these things took months. And when you’ve reached the point for which you’ve been slogging for months, sometimes you get a little silly. I had a superb attack of the sillies during my second vignette, which went something like this:

Examiner: You are the ward consultant and one of your patients has just been found hanging in the toilet. What do you do?

Me: Hanging as in hung himself? Not, like, hanging clothes?

E: Hanging. As in hung himself.

Me: Right. Is he, uh, dead?

E: Yes. He is dead.

Me: OK. I would inform my consultant…

E: You ARE the consultant.

Me: Oh, right. I forgot. Well, in that case, I would… [insert unimportant exam babble here for about three minutes]

E: OK. What, though, might you do in the immediate setting? 

Me: (blinks) The immediate setting?

E: The immediate setting.

Me: (perplexed) Uh, make sure he was really dead? (firmly banishing visions of holy water and a wooden stake)

E: He is really dead. What next?

Me: (hopefully) Get rid of the corpse?

The other three examiners were sniggering openly at this point and I thought I was dead (hur hur) duck. It was only later, when I was swapping war stories with my friends, did I find out that half had also attempted to describe body disposal and one or two others had wanted to perform CPR on a dead man.

Ah well. We all passed, by the way. Good citizens, your psychiatric needs will henceforth be ministered to by a bunch of clowns.

But the real point of this post is to record the fact that I signed my contract with the Buffalo Farm today. My deal with the Fruit Farm will come to its natural end by the beginning of next month. I will still return to the Fruit Farm twice a week for a while, but the remainder of my time will be spent in the more breathable environment of the Buffalo Farm. That is a remarkably refreshing thought. I take it as a divine blessing that I was able to scrounge up the requisite certificates to present at the signing (if you don’t know me so well, let me tell you now that while I have a passably organized mind, I am extraordinarily untidy about my belongings, and possess unsurpassed ability to lose trifles like my birth certificate; I probably have no proof of my own existence), and I think it was meant to be.

October 1, 2010 at 18:22 4 comments

Why the Fruit Farm is bad for my mental health

It has been a day of weird conversations. The first one took place at about 9 a.m. with, not a patient, but the spouse of a patient who made me wonder just whose name truly deserved a place on my ward list. The gist of it went something like this:

Spouse: (launches into diatribe of patient’s evil deeds over the past three decades)

Twenty minutes later…

Me: (interrupts torrent) Thank you, but I can see where the previous two doctors wrote five pages of notes each about the same history which you are now sharing. For the third time.

Spouse: Yes, you must help me. Because… (diatribe resumes)

Me: (interrupts torrent) What we have done is…

Spouse: (interrupts me) The admitting doctor said you will help me. Listen… (diatribe resumes)

Me: (interrupts torrent) So far, we have…

Spouse: (ignores me) (continues diatribe)

Me: Excuse me. I am trying to tell you how we have tried to help.

Spouse: You must help me! You must help me! They said you would help me! You must help me!

Me: I am trying to. Fine. You tell me. How do you want me to help you?

Spouse: I don’t know.

Me: (blinks) You don’t know?

Spouse: You’re not helping me. They said you would help me. Why are you not helping me? You’ll never help me. Why won’t you help me?

Me: (decides that the patient’s diagnosis is Crazy Spouse)

This went on for half an hour more.

The next two conversations, both via telephone, were much shorter. One took place between me and an on-call medical officer.

Me: Do you want me to get you dinner, since you are busy with your on-call duties?

MO: Oh, no, thank you, Dr. Katie, I can get my own.

Me: No need to be so formal, OK? Calling me Katie will do.

MO: Haha, OK, sure, thank you, dear, bye. (hangs up)

Me: (blinks) (pokes ear)

Finally, conversation between me and an unknown member of the hospital staff.

Phone rings.

Me: Hello?

Mystery Staff: Yes?

Me: (thinks: why is SHE saying “yes”?) Yes?

MS: Yes? Yes?

Me: (thinks: I can do this better than you) Yes yes yes?

MS: Who’s this?

Me: You called me. Who are you?

MS: I didn’t call you.

Me: My phone rang! I didn’t call you! YOU called ME!

MS: Oops, sorry. (hangs up)

Ten seconds later. Phone rings.

Me: Hello?

Same MS: Yes?

Me: (screams) (hangs up)

April 30, 2010 at 22:59 7 comments

In the past…

… Month – word count of thesis versus word count of blog: 9487 to 0. This, I think, is the reason that my spring of blog-inspiration dried up. Evidently and alas, I have brains enough for only one composition at a time. The good thing, though, is that the damn thesis is drafted and disseminated to three unfortunate souls to plow through. After it comes back, I have to mutilate and re-patch it, get it nicely bound, and send off three more copies to three more unfortunate souls.

… Week – night-call count: three. As in, this is the third night in the past seven days I’ve spent stuck in the Fruit Farm till the sun rolls around the next day. And I’ve got a grand ward round, normal ward round, lunchtime talk and afternoon clinics to be at tomorrow, none of which I look forward to. Half my work here revolves around being forced to take responsibility for people that no one else wants. I’m not sure what kind of medical specialty that is. In the pecking order of glamourous jobs, it’s probably somewhere between prison warden and Victorian poorhouse manager.

… Day – number of times called ‘Madam’ by my medical officer: twenty-three. I don’t bloody know why. It’s come to the point where, each time I pause for breath, he puts in a ‘Yes, Madam’, or ‘Thank you, Madam’. One day, he will address me as ‘Madam’ one too many times, and I will probably answer, “Yes, Slave?” 

March 31, 2010 at 22:00 4 comments

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Welcome to my blog!

My blog-name is Katie but I will not respond if you call me that in real life because it's not my real name. Yes, I do practise virtual-world paranoia. No, I do not enjoy stalkers. But I do enjoy writing and having folks reading said writing, so welcome to my world. It's nice to meet you.

Playing in my head over and over again argh

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song (Jim Croce)

Book(s) of the moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)

Books read in 2010 and 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - 'cos the movie's coming out!
Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean Koontz) - ah, bugger, it's part of a series! Now I hafta find all the books...
Dismantled (Jennifer McMahon) - oh, good one
Tigerlily's Orchids (Ruth Rendell)
Shutter Island (Dennis LeHane) - reminds me too much of work
Holy Fools (Joanne Harris) - it's official: I prefer her scary books
A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Unauthorized Autobiography; The Beatrice Letters (Lemony Snicket)
The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
The main books - 11 so far - of the Southern Vampire series; the Aurora Teagarden series except for A Fool & His Honey - that makes it 7; Sweet & Deadly (Charlaine Harris)
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)
Room: A Novel (Emma Donaghue)
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
The Bachman Books (Stephen King)
Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
The Sandman, Vol 1 (Neil Gaiman)
The Burden (Agatha Christie) - her crime novels are waaay better
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

Visit my photoblog!

I started my first photoblog on 3 May, 2009. Each post features one picture, with a little story of how it came about. Do take a look by clicking on: Manx Pictures
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Don’t say I didn’t say this…

Disclaimers: 1) I cannot help but bitch about work sometimes, but everything here comes under the realm of personal remarks, and nothing here is said in my professional capacity. Nor does anything here reflect the opinion of the institutions that employ me. This is just me shooting off. 2) Most identities have been anonymized, particularly those of folks I know on a personal basis. Same goes for my workplaces. However, commercial and public places and figures remain named. Otherwise some things just wouldn't make sense. 3) Links and sources have been provided where appropriate and possible. They are not meant to challenge anyone's ownership. If this causes any discomfort or offence, please let me know.


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