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.
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.