Saturday, June 16, 2007

Being Whole: New Things

spices for chicken} I started medical school in Connecticut not knowing a soul for about 300 miles. The jumble of studying, New England snow, Eurocentric culture, and complete lack of friends made medical school a rough stretch of years for me, and I didn't adjust well. As I tried to grow as a person and as a clinician, I also clung to the few stable things I established in my life: calls to Sunny, my bedroom, my favorite books, and a few teachers I had longitudinal contact with through the three years. One of those teachers, Dr. Hom, is an experienced internist in Northwest Connecticut. I'm not sure if he guessed the extent of my disorientation, but we did speak often of how to balance a clinical career with a well-rounded set of interests. One of his strategies was to subscribe to a magazine on a new hobby every few years. When I started working at his practice, I think he was reading about chess.

This past year, there has been more new things than I can count. I'm now a homeowner and a cat keeper. I'm an MD with a paying job. I'm finally living with Sunny, and I have a partner I can share day-to-day work with as well as all the other lovely parts of a beautifully growing relationship. I have a new set of friends, though no new confidants yet. Still, as winter crashed the hospital with more patients than I could count, I found that sensation of disorientation becoming frighteningly familiar again. I will always remember my first winter with a pediatric service as a bleak, exhausting, and depressing time. Trying to avoid my usual habits of depressive episodes, I decided to try something new.

First, I started with yoga. Yoga is an interesting flip side to being depressed. A yogini still concentrates on herself, but on her musculature, balance, and posture instead of the roiling, confused mass of negative emotions that characterize me in a slump. I'd lost almost all of my Tae Kwon Do muscles and some of my flexibility by the time I came to Albuquerque, so it's been nice to work out while working on something. "Going to the gym" has always been a self-inflicted punishment of boredom for me. Yoga is fun, and as I'm naturally very flexible and non-violent, it fits well with me. Jubilee and Me

Next, I've started with more craft-type arts. I'm sculpting a tree out of copper and various other metals right now; the leaves will be out of origami paper. It was originally supposed to have origami hanging from it, but this one's too small. The next one, maybe.

I'm also gardening. I don't water consistently, so right now my tomatoes and squash are doing well, but I've managed to kill various bushes that should have been more drought resistant than the tomatoes and squash. My indoor plants are doing better. My kumquat tree has just flowered, and the whole house smells like its fragrant little flowers. I don't know how many fruit I'll let it grow yet, but since the tree looks pretty hardy, I might let it make a few.

Lastly, today I colored my hair purple! Not really an unusual thing to do, but my father has some old-fashioned ideas about that (something about changing your appearance means you reject your family; to see what I think of that, see this link ), and I am also generally conservative in my appearance. I now have purple highlights. I was originally going for anime-colored purple, but I decided on a very dark, almost black, purple so that I still look professional. Can you tell from the picture? It's hard to see; some day I will have hair like Aeon Flux.

No, we are not pregnant yet, but we're planning to start trying next year.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pediatric Check-Up: Out Of Intern-ment

Part 1:
Back in World War II, the US government rounded up a good portion of Japanese Americans and sent them to detention camps simply because the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. They were considered "security risks" based on their ancestry. During the scary days after 9/11, a good many of us worried a similar fate would befall the South and Middle Eastern Asians.

Now, during this year of internships, I have not been locked up or had my civil rights violated by my program, but all the same, there is a sense of imminent release. I look back on a long, scary year of tremendous forced growth, and try to assimilate it into myself in the most useful way possible. I feel that I've grown, but am still figuring out where and where I have more growing to do.

Me in San Diego Sunshine

  • Friday, June 01, 2007

    Iron Chef: May 2007 = Strawberries

    Jen Maito's Cocoa Strawberries

    What is "Iron Chef"? Iron Chef has been described as a "game show", though I tend to disagree based on the fact that creativity and inspiration are what win the day, not just blind chance and regurgitation of facts. Iron Chef is a Japanese television show with the whimsical premise of an eccentric gourmand who has Iron chefs and guests chefs face off against each other. In each episode an ingredient is chosen as the theme for a meal of multiple courses. Crazy dishes as well as hilariously voiced commentary make this show entertaining, though unfortunately no DVD's of the show were available the last time I looked. If I could just subscribe to the Food Network, I'd actually watch TV.

    At medical school, 5 of us started having themed cooking nights about four times a semester. While none of us ever went as crazy as squid ice cream, it was a fun way to get together and enjoy each other's company in a homey fashion. We never got around to having a competition since most of our houses didn't have enough kitchen space, but good times and good conversation were abundant. Since experience and good conversation are especially valued by Sunny and I, I'm hoping to continue the tradition in New Mexico. An added twist is to try and make the theme ingredient something seasonal. At some point in time we might add something like a conversation topic, and this last meeting we did a bit of origami. Hopefully Iron Chef will expand beyond the demesnes of Truc-Ha and continue even after I move on and out of Albuquerque, but I'll have three or more years to establish it, so we'll see. Elisabeth's Angel Food Cake

    Cooking, I've observed, is an artform that can be 1) avoided 2) dreaded 3) practiced daily 4) mangled. I personally do a lot of survival cooking that I use shortcuts to make tasteful and somewhat healthful. I have a lot of excuses. Part of my problem is that I don't really enjoy grocery shopping; going to farmers' markets twice a month is a fun and community-conscious alternative, but it doesn't provide for the rest of the month. I could go on, but sometimes I think about the philosophy of the endeavor. A cornerstone of daily life, I've often used the preparation of a nice meal as meditation practice. I don't chop well or evenly, but if I concentrate, it gets better, and I relax. I have to concentrate on planning everything out so that the scallops won't be in the pan long enough to get tough, and so that the salad won't wilt. I don't tend to have side conversations, and the house is usually quiet, waiting for the meal. The results are very concrete as well as mental. At the end of the two hours of standing meditation, I have a yummy reward for my endeavors. Either that, or my attention wandered, and I'm scraping the burned part off the chicken. As any meditation student, I also try to educate myself. This is a great justification for trying the cuisines of many ethnicities, as well as spending time at gourmet joints like Graze (thumbs down) or Ambrosia (thumbs up). Thus, I think that anyone can develop themselves as a capable cook (and should), and I'm have a lot of fun doing it for myself and with friends.


  • Iron Chef article on Wikipedia

  • First part of an Iron Chef episode