Oh yeah… actually, I really need to go. More depressing musings on hitting a huge wall my second year of residency to come!
It’s a funny thing, to be in love with a city. I’ve been in love with New York City for years. I still remember how I met her and that instant that I knew I wanted to return and stay. I was seventeen years old, in high school, and visiting Columbia University for a second-look. I had walked in from 116th street, not in the center of College Walk, but on the north side. It was night, and campus was lit like it always was. Looking up, I saw the stone and brick rising around me and I knew.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like, if I had chosen New York over everything else. What if I had turned down UCSD to stay on the East Coast? It seemed like such a brainless reflex decision back then, as I stood in my baby blue gown on May 16th, telling the Dean of the Medical School that I’d go- I’d come! Only afterwards, when the gravity of those flippant excited works sunk in, did I realize what I had done. I booked a one-way ticket and spent a few last days with my then boyfriend. The morning of my flight, he made me a Nutella sandwich and as my plane lifted off from JFK, I cried. Holding on to everything from then, I kept the leftovers from that Nutella sandwich in its Ziploc back in my room until my mom, completely grossed out, threw it out for me. My memories of the City then became a series of short 30-second scenes: walking off the elevator on the 16th floor of my dorm and seeing the Empire State Building at night; curling up on my windowsill in the daylight and watching students come back from class; standing on subway platforms with my practiced unfocused stares; a few steps on dirty cracked sidewalk on a sunny day.
Promises were made that I never kept- that I’d go back, that I’d always go back.
I’m always being told that making plans is always the best way to ensure that your life doesn’t turn out the way you had planned. I don’t regret leaving. How could I, when I met Husband in California? On days that I especially miss being in the City, I remind myself that I’d rather be married and in Salt Lake City than single in New York. Cities are cold creatures who will never love you back.
All the same, I’ve never forgotten about New York; she will always be the one who’s gotten away.
Working at the Veteran’s Administration is akin to working in a different world, and anybody in the medical profession who has ever worked or trained in a VA system knows what I mean. At the VA Spa, the parking lot doesn’t fill up until 7:30am and the halls begin emptying out beginning at 3:30pm- even earlier on Friday afternoon. At the Salt Lake City VA, radiology is not in house nights and weekends, and ordering a right upper quadrant ultrasound for acute cholecystitis during these times is akin to committing a deadly sin. It’s a place where things happen a little slower, where everyone whispers that the staff is a little duller, and where OR turnover is at least an hour (although they claim it averages 36 minutes).
As such, all of the residents call it the VA Spa because this slower pace trickles down to us to some degree. The surgery residents take home call, which has been painful to some extent. For instance, because our new second year resident was coming off nights this week, I had been on call from Friday night all the way through the Wednesday morning. That was moderately painful and we were hurt badly by a CT scan that took 5 hours to complete after being ordered. (No joke. We were… put off.) However, we do get to go home earlier than most of the residents at the U. Beside this, the best part of being at the VA is that on Tuesdays, in the middle of our clinic day, we always have a lunch potluck.
It’s no small secret that I love to cook. More than that, I love to bake. So, when my chief approached me on Monday afternoon and asked me if I wanted to bring dessert or rice, I promptly replied, “Dessert!” I made toffee pecan bars that night. For the next week, I pulled out the bundt cake pan that we had received as a wedding gift and tried a recipe that had been gnawing on me since I had seen it on Joy the Baker. It wasn’t an entire success, but was thoroughly devoured. This past week, I made my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (which also happens to be smitten kitchen‘s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe as well).
And then last week, I had promised another resident a trip to Costco, so despite my heavy eyes from having lost sleep thanks to a middle of the night admit, we went. She needed toilet paper, so I pointed her to the very back corner of the Costco while I made the mistake of perusing the recipe book section. This resulted in my purchasing what seems to be the most promising cookbook in my collection so far: The Slow Cooker Revolution. So far, I’ve made the beginner pulled pork, which is now this household’s go-to recipe for pulled pork. Easy and absolutely delicious and flavorful.
I can’t think of a way to end this blog entry other than to wonder where these two divergent interests will lead me. Sometimes I feel like I was really actually destined to a life of housewifery. Some weeks, I spend more time reading my cookbooks than reading papers and textbooks. And then, Husband reminds me that once we have children, that he has dibs on staying at home with them while I bring home the bacon. I wonder if I will become one of those women my mom used to scoff at: women who could afford every luxury in their kitchen, but never actually got to use any of it.
So, this post, as the title notes, has no substance. I just felt like I should leave a note here because I have a second right now and I have other things I’d rather not do. Those things would include: working on our wedding book (still, again… ), finishing up reading all of the papers my fellow gave me before this rotation ends (in like, 2 days), restocking our fridge with frozen Chinese goods, napping, exercising…
Most urgent, strangely enough, is getting this wedding book done with so I can use these groupons before they expire!!! Yikes.
Husband is post-call today and still not home. I cooked myself breakfast this morning after going to the VA to round, so myself and the entire place smells like bacon.
So our condo doesn’t really get great natural light. It’s something I realized before we bought the place, but something about not being able to buy the place just made us want to have it more. No, just kidding. The lack of natural light is a bit obnoxious to me, but I know that we’re not living here forever, so I’m dealing with it. I’m the sort of person that if I’m indoors and it’s sunny outside, I want to open all the window shades to let it in. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be sunny. The sun just needs to be UP. It is for this reason that during daylight hours, I don’t really like to stay at home to study or work at my computer; it’s just too dark inside and I feel like it’s nighttime instead of daytime and it makes me sad. Of course, this is worsened by the fact that our study/guest room/extra room/storage space doesn’t have much of a dedicated window, just some ambient filtered light.
The problem then is that my dual display (I love you, dual display!) is in the study/office/room and this photo book project which is quickly overcoming my life and becoming less and less fun by the day is best done with a dual display.
Jeez, how am I complaining already?
In the lines of other updates, Husband and I went to our first ever Yelp Elite event a few nights ago. It was fun! It was a surprisingly diverse group as well, which was surprising and really nice. You could have picked up the entire party and moved it to LA or NYC and it would have made sense: maybe 15% Asian, 20% Hispanic/Latino, and the remainder “other.” (And by “other” I mean Caucasian…)
Okay and this photo book is staring me in the face and asking to be completed.
Oh but one more thing! There was this OR circulating nurse yesterday who before tying the back of my gown, gave me an AMAZING back rub. I am saying “back rub” instead of “massage” because it sounds less creepy. However, it was not really a back rub. It was a massage, and a damn good one. Apparently she does it for everybody and it’s her “thing.” But OH MY GOODNESS it made me realize how badly I’d like a nice long massage right now…
Here’s a survey- being on home call puts a bit of a damper on things. My “rule of thumb” for being home call at the VA is that I’ll never be 30 min out from the hospital. However, I haven’t decided on a rule for call backs. Honestly, I never gave it a thought because I always call back pages within 5 minutes; more like 1 minute, really. So doing things like skiing and cycling are out. But now I’m wondering- what about things like… getting a massage? Going to a yoga class? I would really like to go to a yoga class. But can you imagine my pager going off and then I have to run out and possibly get called back to the hospital? Ugh, I’d be so pissed if I had paid for a class. I’m sure too that all of the other students in the class would also look at me in disgust and think to themselves, “Why didn’t she turn her pager off?” Hahaha! I’m saving the world, one vet at a time…
That summer of 2005, I learned a lot about myself. I learned about how inflexible I could be with how things are done and how that tends to drive people away. I learned that I was fairly particular about how certain things were done- even to the point of arguing about the best way to get from point A to point B in NYC, and that certain things weren’t worth alienating people for. Basically, I learned that I needed to chill out, a lot. But, what I didn’t realize was that I had gained some recognition that what was perfectly normal and common sense to me could be understood as being completely foreign.
Following that summer, I returned again to my bubble of an Asian Christian fellowship, my culture shock from the summer quickly becoming a distant memory as I returned to old habits and being surrounded by people who understood all the things that I took for common sense and simple reality: relative frugality and the value of hard work; ambition and the prestige surrounding a good job; stupid immature jokes and watching tons of anime; familiarity with Asian foods; and of course, family style eating.
I moved on to medical school in San Diego, and again, unintentionally, found myself surrounded by Asian people. I didn’t exit my comfort zone again until January 2010, when I did an away rotation in Montana.
That month in Montana was one of the best in my lifetime. The medical part of the rotation was a total joke, entailing a half day of work in a barely busy clinic. The rest of the day was spent skiing at Big Sky, Montana and living with a group of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the privilege of spending time with. Despite the fact that I was the only Asian of the group, we had enough in common through our mutual experiences in medical schools across the country that I never felt like I was the odd one out at all. The culture shock part didn’t have anything to do with the people I was living with, but instead with the fact that Montana isn’t much of a diverse place. It was the sort of place where I, myself, would stare at Asian people because I never saw them around. Having spent my entire life in places where Asians are at least 10% if not more like 30% of the general population, Montana was the whitest place I had ever been. It even became almost a joke, where if I had seen someone Asian, I’d run back and tell the rest of my roommates. There was this one party called Snow Bar, which will live in infamy due to the degree of drunkenness and hilarity we had managed to achieve, where there was a whole bachelor party full of Asian guys. Intoxicated, I had walked up to one of them and announced to him, “HEY! You’re Asian too!” He had stared back at me, completely bemused, and quite honestly, I don’t remember what happened after that. Probably some short awkward conversation.
And now, this brings us to Utah, where my husband and I were placed/had elected to do our residencies.
(again, to be continued…)
The first time I realized how Asian I am was the summer after junior year of college. Incredibly Christian at the time, I had opted to be an intern at Summer in the City during summer break. Our mission was to spread the love of Jesus by enabling local churches to reach out to those in need. It’s a pretty neat idea and organization, but “out of the scope of this discussion.” That summer reminded me of being part of some reality TV show- 4 girls, living in one 1 bed/1bath NYC apartment, working together and discovering the City together. In fact, the Atlas, the apartment complex that the contestants for Project Runway resided in during the NYC seasons, was just around the corner.
That summer, despite the fact that 3 out of 6 of us doing the summer internship were Asian, was when I first became acutely aware that not only did I look Asian, but I think Asian.
To back up and start from the beginning, I was born and raised in Southern California. I had Asian friends, went to an Asian church, and even my white friends were more Asian than I am; two of them now speak Asian languages better than I do. They know what Pocky, Yan-yan, and Hello Panda are and both have spent more time living in Asia than I have spent living in Spanish-speaking counties. We spent high school making trips to the local Asian market, just for fun. And then, in college, I joined an almost entirely Asian Christian fellowship and spent all of my time surrounded by Asian people. Not on purpose, but because that was just the way it had worked out.
And then, summer of 2005, I found myself in almost uncomfortably close proximity to a white-washed Korean girl from Portland, an African American girl from Florida, and a white girl from Arkansas. In less close proximity, my company also included a quiet Asian boy from the South, a white bread boy from Texas, and a white couple from good ol’ Middle America. It was about as far out of my comfort zone as I had ever lived for a total of 10 weeks.
The best example of this is when we kept ordering Chinese takeout for dinner. The first time we ordered from there, we were sitting around looking at the menu, and like most Chinese places, the majority of their dishes were large and meant to be shared “family style”*, but there were also a few “dinner special” options that entailed a smaller serving of a main dish, along with rice and a side dish. Looking at the menu, I had suggested that we order “family style,” only to be met with a room full of blank stares. After explaining the concept, I met up with a large amount of resistance: “What if I don’t like one dish?”, “What if I like one, but everybody else eats it?”, “I’d rather just have my own food.” I was in complete disbelief. In my experience, one of the best parts about eating in large groups was the ability to eat family style. Sure, maybe you wouldn’t get to eat all of the General Tso’s chicken by yourself, but you’d also get to eat a vegetable dish and maybe some pork, beef, or noodles as well.
The group ended up each ordering their own dinner special. I remember thinking then that perhaps their culture was more individualistic, with each person unwilling to compromise for a collective greater good. Or maybe there was just a greater fear of the unknown and unfamiliarity wtih Chinese food (albeit Chinese takeout).
At any rate, it became a tradition that once a week we ordered Chinese takeout. And that was the day of the week that I walked 2 avenue blocks to get Chipotle instead.
(to be continued…)
*In family style eating, a selection of different dishes are ordered, the bill the split evenly, and everybody shares everything. This allows for a greater variety of foods for everybody to sample and enjoy.
I have gotten close. I have found that previous pie crust recipes I’ve tried that have had variations on flour+butter+ice water have been flavorful, and others have sworn by them, but although I get big delicious flakes and don’t overwork the dough- AND keep it as cold as possible, there has just been something not quite right. For some reason, they’ve always been way too difficult to cut, making serving beautifully uniform slices almost impossible. Absolutely nothing wrong from the flavor perspective, but a complete fail as for texture.
And then a completely different and radical recipe showed up, ingredients including now white vinegar, a beaten egg, and a goodly amount of salt. AND the claim that it can be frozen and when baked would become even MORE flaky. Tempting! I had tried the all-butter crust over and over again without complete success, so why not give this recipe a shot?
Really freaking flaky. Not the huge flakes that made my other crusts difficult to cut, but a nice almost-crumble that make the pie ridiculously easy to cut and serve. But… there was something missing in the flavor department. Maybe next time a touch of sugar? Maybe next time I’ll split the dough into half instead of thirds so I could get a thicker crust?
Well, this one’s definitely the current winner. Now I have only a few more pie crust recipes to try on for size.
(And by the way, has anyone else noticed that on every blog, the author has discovered THE WAY to make pie crust? I swear, it’s as variable as how different surgeons put in ports for laparoscopic surgery. I do it the way someone else does it, and it just doesn’t work out for me. But it sure does work for him/her! Maybe pie crust works the same way. I just need to try how all the different “experts” claim is the “best,” and then decide which works the best for me. Oh well. We’ll see.)
Happy thanksgiving, all!
It’s 10:14pm, past my bedtime, and this is one of the rare days that I’ve even had my laptop on. It takes my computer a good 5-7 minutes nowadays to get running, and that just seems like too much time and effort most days.
Today, I got home around 3pm, and was trying to figure out loan stuff. So there I was. Computer on. Oh, right, once upon a time, didn’t I used to have this blog thing?
I have so much swimming around in my head that I want to share, but I can’t. Anybody could be reading this and unfortunately damn HIPPA and patient privacy keeps my mouth shut.
I’m so frustrated yet so satisfied yet so exhausted and SO over hours. And that’s about all I can say.
Reading papers about a melanoma trial. I’m totally confused because the attending with whom I worked with last told me to read up on this paper, but the results that he quoted me with are completely contradictory to what I’m reading. I am SO confused right now.
For fear of somebody from my workplace reading my blog, I can’t say much except to stay very vague.
But there’s this scene in Mean Girls, where Lindsay Lohan is at her goth “true” BFF’s workplace and looking through stuff in the store. She keeps on talking about Regina, because she can’t stop. The line went something like, “I knew that everybody was sick of it and that I hated her guts, but I couldn’t stop talking about her. It was like I was obsessed.” Okay, I probably got the line entirely wrong, but that was the general idea. There’s someone whom I work with…
And there! I’ve already given away too much!