the clinic aint no picnic


A few weeks ago, I received a letter from my employer informing me that I needed to get a tuberculosis (PPD) test ASAP due to state mandates that require all elderly caregivers to be tuberculosis-free. This sounds like a fairly benign process, and I suppose it was, in retrospect, but the reality is that it was a pain in the a**.

My company wouldn't pay for the test at our regular doctor's office; rather, they sent out a list of clinics where the test was free. I can't blame them, as they have well over 100 employees and it would be quite costly to pay for all of those tests; however, I just wish they would have calculated the time and energy involved in attaining this two-step test and given us paid time-off or reimbursement for pain & suffering.

First of all, I put it off for weeks. I left it for the last week possible; the last week before they would have canned me for non-compliance. So I wake up on Monday to a crappy, rainy morning, and realize that I have to leave at least an hour early so that I can wait for the clinic to open, which means waiting in a line full of sick people in the cool, morning rain. Geed.

I walk out my front door and realize that I don't have an umbrella. Geed.

I drive to the clinic in Germantown, park, and realize I have no change to feed the meter. Geed.

I scrounge around for some loose change in my car and find 30 minutes worth of coinage, knowing full well that I'll be parked for well over an hour. I suck it up and shrugg it off. "Not bad for a Monday", I tell myself. And with that positive affirmation, I step out into the dreariness of a rain-soaked Chelten Ave. and head towards the clinic. Less than five steps down the sidewalk, I see the line, maybe 20 people deep. "Not bad for a Monday", I remind myself.

30 minutes later, the clinic doors opened and we were herded like cattle through the ropes and corridors to yet another line. The security guard began to address the crowd, "all OBGYN clients, go over there and wait; if you have an appointment, go over there and sign in; if you're here for test results, see the nurse; to see the dentist, go over to the corner and wait; everyone else will be triaged and seen on am emergency basis, only one complaint will be addressed during this visit". At this point, I'm thinking "oh God, I'm going to be here all day just for a two-second PPD test". Then, the security guard said, "is anyone here for a PPD test?", to which my arm shot enthusiastically into the air, probably pissing off my line-mates. The guard motioned for me to come to the front of the line, and as I did, I thought "hell yeah!, I'm outta here".

Not so much.

The guard simply redirected me to another line, which lead to a mound of forms to be filled out, which lead to another waiting room. I sat and waited for another hour, and it was so loud and full of hard, clinical surfaces that it was hard to hear whose name was being called. I was paranoid that I missed my name being called and would be sitting there among the sick masses and hard tiles all day. Finally, my name was called, and I heard it. Two minutes later, I was done.

I was given an appointment slip and was told to go to the front desk to arrange a time to come back in 48 hours to get my results. So I went to the front desk, and the lady was so RUDE! She almost made me cry. She was yelling at me because I didn't know what color form I filled out earlier. Was it yellow? Was is marigold? Was it orange? Apparantly it made worlds of difference, and she made me feel like a piece of shit because I couldn't remember. I tried to kill her with kindness, but she was so miserable, and I became so affected by her negativity. She wouldn't give me an appointment, she just said to come back on Wednesday but wouldn't answer my questions. Geed.

The good news is that there was no ticket on my windshield. I had averted the Parking Authority once again.

Fast forward to Wednesday - another rainy day. I return to the clinic, and in a nutshell, am treated like crap and given the run-around by more miserable people who hate their jobs. I finally got my results - negative (duh) - but all in all, I spent over three hours and countless amounts of my vital energy on the ordeal, which will all be unacknowledged by my company. I had to take time off from my internship, and even worse, wake up early! And the worst part is, this PPD test is only good for one year!

My conclusion: the clinic aint no picnic! With that said, I recently discovered this website , which reminds me that it could always be worse...

Spring Break ?


You know it's bad when the highlight of your "spring break" is the ability to find parking on campus with ease. Woo!

65 days until graduation...

Italian Market


I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but until yesterday, I had never been to one of Philadelphia's most time-honored, iconic treasures: the 9th street Italian Market in South Philly. I have no excuse, I've lived in this city on and off for over ten years now. I guess I had heard so much about it that I automatically grouped it with all of the other tourist hot-spots that we locals tend to avoid, ya know, the Liberty Bell, Elfreth's Alley, etc.

Boy was I wrong! I decided to pay a visit yesterday morning because it was 70 degrees out (!) and I wanted to make Jay a delicious, fresh meal, so off to the market I went. I wasn't really sure what to expect, all I knew was that the Italian Market is the oldest and largest outdoor market in the country, and that it remains very similar to how it was set up over 100 years ago by the Italian immigrants.

So I drove down to South Philly and parked in a lot near 9th & Washington. I payed $3 to park and the attendant told me I was beautiful. I crossed the street, and another gentleman caught my eye and said, "you look beautiful today". Between the 70 degree weather, the cheap parking and the "beautiful" compliments, I felt on top of the world and ready to explore the market. (Note: If you ever need a self-esteem boost, go to the Italian Market, I promise that at least one person will tell you that you are beautiful).

The market is a 10-block stretch of 9th Street. It straddles both sides of the street and includes 10 blocks worth of street vendors, shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. The sidewalks are draped in colorful awnings, as they always have been, to protect shoppers from the elements, as this is a year-round market. What struck me the most is how timeless it felt; it truly felt like it could have been 1909, minus the credit card transactions. South Philly has long been home to Italian immigrant populations, but in recent years, immigrants from all over the world have claimed South Philly as home and the market reflects these demographic changes. While still strongly Italian, the market is a wonderful fusion of Italian, Spanish and Vietnamese influences. Mmmmm.

Like the city itself, the 9th Street Italian Market is not necessarily pretty, polished or polite; rather, it is gritty, dense and full of Philly "charm" (attitude). It's the real deal. It's a glimpse into the real Philadelphia, before William Penn lived in the shadows of Comcast and the posh "loft district".

I had a fantastic time and I wound up with some great buys. I still can't believe I bought four huge red bell peppers for $1. I guess that makes up for the $35 I spent on prosciutto, capicola, salami and Italian cheeses galore at Claudio's! Not to mention the $30 I spent on "pinch cups" and other cute kitchen accessories at Fante's. I'm a sucker for pinch and condiment cups ;)

Anyway, if you haven't been, do yourself a favor and go explore the flavor of S. 9th st. It is unlike anything I've ever experienced and I guarantee you'll walk away with a new appreiciation for the city and its roots! And if good, fresh food, culture and history don't appeal to you, go for the "you are beautiful" factor - guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

ebb & flow, yo


One of my favorite sayings is, "ebb and flow, yo". Actually, I beleive the saying is simply "ebb and flow", but I added the "yo" to make it my own. I can't seem to resist adding a "yo" to the end of sentences, especially if it rhymes. Anyway, I love this saying because I truly feel that life is a series of ebbs and flows; sometimes you can feel the ebb or flow in a tangible way and other times it's just a vibe or a subtle shift that is only recognizible in retrospect. Either way, it's all about change and how we react to it.

Tonight, as I sit here with the windows open (for the first time this year), I am enjoying a very tangible change; a change of seasons - an ebb of winter cold and a flow of springtime warmth. What's funny (to me) is how I'm reacting to this change; I'm here, writing again in a place that I haven't visited in over two months - my last entry was from mid-December. Is there a correlation, I wonder, between weather and writing? Did the writer in me freeze up and ebb with the rest of the Northeast in December? Hmmm.

Well, regardless of the reason, as soon as I opened the windows and pulled the screens down, I got the undeniable urge to come back and start writing (in this format) again. It feels gooood, by the way, just to be here doin' how I used to do, especially with the windows down, wearing a tank top, chillin'.

Give thanks for the ebb, for it leads to the flow, yo.