May 14, 2017

What I've been reading

I'll be transferring to schools in the fall and returning back to my old city and back to live with my husband. I still can't quite believe that I was accepted. This week's been a doozy. It's been filled with strange encounters with patients and their next of kin, an impromptu therapy session, and the start of my final meals with friends in this town.

I've started studying for Step 1 full-time, armed with UWorld and There's a lot of sitting in my future.

Here's what I've been consuming in the past few weeks:

Shallow cabinet heaven! A gorgeous modern apartment that's warm and filled with space-saving tricks.

Lauryn Hills - Miseducation of Lauryn Hills
Depeche Mode - did you hear them playing as the background to the Atomic Blonde trailer?? (so excited for that movie to come out!)
Dresden Dolls
Yoshida Brothers
Bastion Soundtrack/Antique Beats

Marimekko’s pattern of progressive design - I thought the company was Japanese, when actually it's Finnish.

Amazon opens their first bookstore in Chicago - It's unlikely that I'll step foot in there. For me, and for this article's author, bookstores are a place to discover a book you never knew about and to try out new things.

Sylvia Plath's letters - I remember my friends taking turns and renting The Bell Jar during high school.

Reading beyond our bubbles - On DFW

Ali Wong
Two Weeks Notice
Today's Special
(I'm looking forward to season 2 of Ode to Joy, starting later this month!)

Guardian Long Reads - Hermitage - There's a short bit in this story where she talks about how wealthy English landowners used to sign contracts with hermits to live on their estates, in caves, because of the belief that hermits spread good luck and kindness. Hermits signed because they were hungry and needed a stable home.

BBC's Food Program - On Herbs - I found myself desperate to taste all the varieties of spearmint during this podcast. It's likely we're renting a basement home, but if there's any hope of sunlight, I'm definitely having a mini-herb garden inside.

Still gnawing on Slice of Life. Started Coleman Barks edited version of Rumi poetry as well as The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. There are so many pages devoted to my dear Aristotle. My dear bland, logical, precise, and rational Aristotle, the founder of biology, the founder of logic, the founder of ethics and thinking about what it means to live a good life. And the inventor of everyday science terms. <3

One last bag left of Celestial's Tension Tamer, which really grew on me.
I just bought their new Lemon Lavender herbal tea and it smells wonderfully lavvy.

I'm nearly out of Windsor fruit teas. :(
And I finally found Celestial's chai bags, only on Amazon and only available in bulk. Once I move, this will be my first purchase. Can you imagine! Every day, perfectly perfume-y and gingery chai to start the morning.

I've been enjoying the teas with Belvita biscuits.

Til next time!

April 9, 2017

What I've been reading

I'm studying for Step 1, which is coming up faster than I thought. So here are the things I read and watched when I wasn't reading UWorld explanations:

1. The Strange Persistence of Guilt
It's an article arguing for a 'return' to religion to assuage the guilt induced by the knowledge that we're destroying the world/society, and by we, McClay seems to mean upper class, male, heterosexual Caucasian. How does becoming religious solve global warming? I'm not sure. :/

2. Amy Adams interview with The Guardian
"But what’s really changed is how I process work,” she says. “I used to have a dysfunctional relationship with my work, where I was bringing home all my insecurities and expectations, and if I felt a director didn’t love what I did, it would just plague me. That had to change."

"I remember looking at my husband and saying, ‘If I can’t figure this out, I can’t work any more, I’ll have to do something else. I don’t want to be that person, not for my daughter.’ So I figured it out.”

How to stop getting so emotionally caught up in your work?

“Yes. The first couple of years I couldn’t quite figure out the balance, and I didn’t have a clear separation between work and home. But I’m not living in this sort of obsessed space any more. It’s not that I don’t find my work important. It’s just that I now know, at the end of the day, I’ll be back home reading stories to my daughter,” she says.

This balance is what I need to figure out.

3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie interview with The Guardian
I love her view of feminism.

4. Why Rory Needs to End Up with Logan
Read this way back in winter, when the Netflix special of Gilmore Girls released. I agree 100% - Rory has changed so much, and not into the person I hoped she would become.

5. The literary tomboy is dead
The tomboy may stay dead; here’s hoping that one day, we can discuss female characters as individuals rather than stereotypes. I hope the Strong Female Character will also fade away, as we begin normalising the idea of women who are strong in myriad ways, not just masculine ones. But perhaps this very disdain of femininity proves that the tomboy is actually alive – it’s just been repackaged.

I really don't only read the Guardian articles. I read other things too! Their articles have just been catching my eye recently.

6. Why people prefer unequal societies
"Worries about inequality are conflated with worries about poverty, an erosion of basic rights, and—as we have focused on here—unfairness." Agreed.

Note Frankfurt's On Inequality book to check out for later.

7. Deliciously Ella
A feel-good healthy food blog :)

Two Poems

Such Simple Love

The Fat Old Couple Whirling Around

One video, one movie, one TV series

- On GMOs
This YouTube video explains my complicated feelings toward GMOs. It's the business construct around them (the same construct that allows them to thrive) that can be dangerous and place small businesses at risk. GMOs themselves, with proper research oversight, are safe.

- Grace and Frankie Season 3!!!

- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

One last note from

Doubt and ego push against each other, and neither of them does you any good. Your best move is to toss them both out of your awareness.

Replace doubt with humility and replace ego with intention. 

April 3, 2017

Grades and self-worth

I know I should know better. I know it's better for my mental health and that grades are often a percentage of how many boxes you were able to tick off. However, getting an average grade lingers far longer in my mind than I want it to. (Yeah, I'm one of those people; the type A in the corner triple-checking her work - although to be honest, these days, I'm finding it harder to care as much.) I want the lingering to be shed instantaneously, to be so confident in myself that I know that I'm more than the weighted average of my transcript.

It's clear what greater forces led me here - genetics for sure, my experience as a woman and a medical student, parental pressure, mostly only knowing the confines of higher ed, and the culmination of those factors into my own free will to continue to make the choice of agonizing and fretting about tiny things that don't matter. I once organized a container of buttons by size, shape, and color because it felt wrong not to. The poor lonely mixed up buttons, looking for their families! Neurotic justification.

How do I snap myself out of it? It is time, reflection, going for walks, reading? Those sound like short-term solutions to me, like taking ibuprofen for headaches from a growing pituitary tumor. I've got to cut it out - what's the source? It's a fear of not being enough - that I cannot succeed (whatever that might mean) if I don't do things perfectly. Not enough for myself, for my friends, for my family - but mostly for myself. And then to built an identity on that fear and to call myself type A, to hear others call me type A - suddenly, there is the expectation that you must succeed (again, whatever that means). It's an expectation felt in the ether, formed in the minds of others and expressed in what they say to you, how they look at you, and what they assume about you.

But here's the truth: none of that matters. Success is a table filled with the material goods of luxury, the imaginary titles of power formed through social contracts, and it's a table I want to flip over angrily and watch it all shatter.

March 31, 2017

What I've been reading

I've been working my way through Americanah by Adichie. We had a rough start, but I'm beginning to really enjoy it.

Also on Adichie, I read her New Yorker article back in Dec 2016 on the post-Trump atmosphere. She pins down our ambiguous feelings so well; I admire her decisiveness.

One more thing on Adichie - this NYTimes interview back in Nov 2016 on the overlap between beauty, makeup, and feminism.

Speaking of makeup and feminism, Emma Watson's Top Shelf interview on her beauty routine reminded me that I should be making more socially conscious choices of make up brands (just, my wallet, it cries).

I've also been reading A Slice of Life - a food writing anthology published 2003. I'm stuck on page 33 in the middle of a WASP-y guilt slog of dinner as performance. Looking forward to the MFK Fisher essay after it (which I've already read before, but I love her writing too much not to reread).

This Racked article on fake news building up a very real reputation - huh, doesn't that sound familiar - specifically the myth of a law stating men can divorce their wives if he's tricked into marriage via witchcraft (AKA that burnt twig she used for eyeliner). Damn did I trick my husband into marrying me then.

On life, I discovered a blog called Reading My Tea Leaves that renewed my motivation to live a simpler, more sustainable life.

And to help with a simpler life, there's this essay in Nautilus on famous scientists' work-life balance that I like but have conflicted feelings about liking. I like because work-life balance, come on, even Darwin achieved it. I don't like because the implication is that we should rest in order to work better. Ew. I want to rest to rest.

I was asked in clinic a while back "where I'm from" in the tone where they expect me to say someplace exotic, just so they could say "Oh, how interesting". Normally, these questions don't faze me, especially if they're asked by nice patients who seem genuinely interested in me and how school's going for me. But this was asked out of the blue by a patient's relative. I wasn't even interviewing them. I was shadowing in the corner and hadn't said anything throughout the whole visit. I couldn't help but feel slightly revulsed by their look, even though they asked and looked at me politely. I felt like a specimen right then. Should I have? What was their intention?

March 30, 2017

Forgot we were political creatures

In clinic the other day, something funny happened to me. A peer had just wrapped up a patient visit and she turned to me, saying "I hate it when patients start talking about their political views." Yup, that can be super annoying. "It's the worst when liberals start talking about this-and-that - don't they know they're in a conservative place!"

Uh. Honey, have you seen my rainbow caduceus pin (the two snake Hermes symbol that hasn't granted me the power of flight yet, but I'm still hoping) right there on my white coat, in front of your eyes? My "I'll go with you" transgender support pin on my backpack? The fact that I have alluded to my immense hatred for Trump in our prior conversations?

For some reason, I continue to assume that doctors are innately destined to be liberals (Hi Ben Carson, forgot you existed briefly), at least social liberals. We're in a career that is so centered on "helping people" that we can't even say during medical school interviews that we want to help people - because it's such a given! Doesn't helping people mean looking after them not only when they need healthcare, but then they can't afford healthcare, when they can't afford housing, when they can't afford the basic living standards that others can? What's all this about selectively helping people? It starts to sound like being a doctor is just a bottom-line paycheck career.

I continue to be flummoxed.

November 23, 2016

Dream Thanksgiving Menu

I've been home for the holidays, so to speak. Even though I've got the week off from school, I've so far spent most of my days in cafes, mainlining cappuccinos and trying to finish this project that will simply not finish itself. However, I have been cooking whenever I get the chance.

I've really missed being in the kitchen. Usually, I spend about two hours per week in the kitchen, making something for the slow cooker or pressure cooker that will last me the week. This week though, I've so far been able to make homemade marinara sauce (and discovered that Trader Joe's canned tomatoes are ace), corn chowder, and some tapas-like dishes AKA we're trying to finishing everything in the fridge before we head to my parents' for Thanksgiving.

Spanish garlic shrimp with a splash of rice wine, garlic roasted brussel sprouts, beef kofta on a bed of caramelized onions, and quesadillas with leftover halloumi cheese was our dinner last night. So much butter was consumed.

And so much butter continues to be consumed. I have an apple galette made with a stick of butter in the oven as I write and it smells amazing.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I won't be cooking for Thanksgiving. We'll be heading to my parents' for the annual 3 days of unending hot pot and weight gain. Though if I were to cook for Thanksgiving, here's my dream menu - it's little weird but it's what I'm craving and it's what makes me think of a family gathering:

1. "Peruvian" rotisserie chicken (honestly though, I think I'd just drive to Mr Pollo and pick up one of theirs.)

2. Potatoes gratin

3. Canned green beans and bacon

4. Pan-seared pork and chives dumplings

5. My mom's vermicelli stir-fry

6. And a key lime pie

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

November 18, 2016

Throwback - Modern films set in 20th century

I've noticed some of my favorite TV shows and movies are ones set around the 20th century, with that peaceful cinematography of long shots over the countryside or city with saturated clothing colors set against pale faces. The homes are decorated with wallpaper or with bare cream plaster, but never white paint. Minimalism is kicked out to the curb and onto its ass, because in the time of new inventions and progress, who needs to think about paring down items into the five black pants and ten white t-shirts. Yet at this time, so many still cared about their well-worn closets, stitching and hemming, because they knew that the things they own should be well-taken care of. There's also always a gramophone somewhere playing Bohemian swing or soft jazz. And the ladies all wear hot rollers for a good curl.

Without further ado, here's my list. More recommendations always welcome :)


Chocolat (2000) - french countryside, chocolatier, and a single mother 

Coco Avant Chanel (2009) - single lady being a boss, beautiful fashion

The Hundred Foot Journey (2014) - Charlotte Le Bon and the floral night slip of my dreams

Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) - a fashionable delight

TV Shows

Agent Carter

Peaky Blinders

The Time in Between (also a novel)

A tiny aside for books

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson -
this was such a cinematic book, set in the 1940s, a girl who restarts her life every time she dies