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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.