Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking forward by looking past

From AMSA On Call:

As I contemplate returning to the medical school and starting my clinical rotations, I’ve come up with a few strategies along the way to calm myself down and turn my anxiety into anticipation.  These include reminding myself of how much support I will have over the next few months to regain my clinical skills, evaluating potential sequences of rotations to maximize early learning but minimize early embarrassment in front of future colleagues (by choosing to start with a field I don’t plan to call my career), and spending time with my resident/doctor friends, who all assure me that I will be fine and that no one will remember my first few awkward weeks/months on the wards.  The strategy I’ve been using most during the last few weeks, however, is looking forward by looking past.  I’ve been motivating myself to gear up for the third year of medical school by contemplating potential away rotations, research experiences, and vacations I would like to take during my fourth year of medical school.  Although I have come up with a volume that would not fit into another four years of medical school, much less a single year, the process of thinking about what comes after the exhausting, but hopefully rewarding ordeal of third year makes thinking about that exhausting ordeal a little bit easier.

I really embraced this strategy at the American Public health Association Annual Meeting in Denver earlier this month.  As I prepared for my own presentation, I worked hard to attend the presentations of other scholars in my field, to introduce myself afterward, and to a few with interesting research or clinical connections, suggest the possibility of an away rotation in a unique clinic or a scholarly collaboration on a project that would extend my dissertation research.  Honestly, until I was at the conference sitting in a particularly inspiring session, I hadn’t thought much about the next big transition after PhD-years to MD-years: school to the “real world.”  As scary as it might seem to think about finally leaving the happy bubble of Ann Arbor and my alma mater, it was exciting to think about what is coming next.  I think that holding on to the exciting possibilities beyond my clinical rotations just may get me through the worst of it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oh the holidays…

I’m back from a few days with my family and am feeling ready to get back to work. I ate a great deal at both Thanksgivings, spent some lovely quality time with everyone who was in town, and then spent the weekend relaxing at home on my own. Walter helped with laundry today:

I also got to hear the preliminary version of Ruti’s prospectus defense presentation this afternoon, which was lovely. I know she will be so glad when this is over, and I’m excited for the celebration this is to follow. I will be sending Ruti happy vibes all day tomorrow (and particularly around 2pm), and you all should too! Good luck Ruti – you will be awesome!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter of Detroit, Part I

You may recall the 2009 Summer of Detroit, and our escapades on Belle Isle, the Grosse Pointes, Hamtramck, and the fantastic finale that was the Tour de Troit. This was a great time, and provided the impetus to see some lovely parts of the city. Looking back at these posts, however, it is clear that while we did spend some quality time in the D, we ended up hitting a lot of the immediately adjacent suburbs, a city within a city, and things on the fringe of town. Enter the Design*Sponge Detroit Design Guide, a lovely list of lots of nice restaurants, shops, and museums, conveniently divided by neighborhood with a linked Google Map showing most of the attractions. I had already read about many of the restaurants and museums mentioned in the guide, but lots of the shops were new to me. In addition, my Detroit geography has never been particularly good (or any local geography, for that matter), so I was always lacking a real sense of how to “make a day of it” if I wanted to go into the city. I declare this the beginning of the 2010/2011 Winter of Detroit. Last weekend was the first excursion.

We started with an area that is already pretty familiar, the Midtown/Cultural Center area around Wayne State University and College for Creative Studies campuses, and tried out some new spots.

Leopold’s Books was a wild success, with me finding some surprise holiday gifts and Alicia picking up a new book about revitalizing Detroit. They stock a small but thought-provoking range of books, magazines, some gift items (like books of postcards), and an impressive collection of graphic novels published locally as well as from outside the city.

Located in the same building, The Park Shelton, we found Goods. They feature local handmade items, and also print t-shirts, bags, and baby garments with custom designs. I particularly enjoyed browsing the array of hilarious and snarky holiday (and other occasion) cards.

Somehow this photo of The Park Shelton looks more like a pencil or pastel drawing than a photograph, but I promise I didn't do anything to change it. Same with the photo at the top...

Although we had planned to walk from the shops (which were next door to the DIA) to lunch at the Motor City Brew Works, we were only able to find a meter that was good for an hour, so we drove. That was really the only disappointment of the day… We shared a great pizza, Alicia had a beer, and I, in my still cold-medicated state, had some locally made ginger ale that was tasty.

Right outside the restaurant, we stepped into the Bureau of Urban Living, another small shop filled with housewares and gifts. They had an amazing print of a map of Detroit with all of the neighborhood names written in that I’ve seen before, and coveted no less this time. Maybe next time I’ll finally pick one up…

Just down the street, City Bird was like stepping into a real world Etsy. In addition to their in-house designs, they stock a wide variety of things (and I mean really wide, from dish towels to leather jewelry) made by other local crafters and artists. I found a few (secret until December!) items I couldn’t live without, and will definitely make it a regular stop on my gift-buying excursions.

While we were shopping, I overheard discussion of Open City Detroit, an organization with which (at the very least) both the Bureau of Urban Living and City Bird seem to be involved. It looks like a useful resource for small business owners in Detroit, and I wanted to make sure to link to it in case anyone is inspired to pick up and move…

It was a great afternoon, and I can honestly say I’m looking forward to winter. Now I just have to get work done instead of perusing the guide to pick the next neighborhood to explore.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sick Day

On Friday I woke up unable to swallow because my throat hurt so badly. I will limit the whining here, but suffice it say that I thought I might have strep throat and went in to get it checked out early in the day. In an uncharacteristically good decision, I decided to stay home and sleep/read/watch movies all day instead of trying to maintain my normal level of functioning. In retrospect, this is what I should have been doing every time I came down with a cold. On Saturday I felt 95% better, and was able to have a much more fun day than if I hadn’t gotten approximately 16 hours of sleep between the preceding night and preceding day. Walter helped keep me on track…

First, Walter implores me to stay in bed. He knows it will be better for me/us.

Next, Walter demonstrates the best technique to allow for maximum healing. He promises to move from my pillow when I try to sleep...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scheduling a defense

From Dose of Reality:

I remember when I scheduled my board exam. I wrote a blog post, very much like this one, documenting what seemed like a massive, but nonetheless intermediate milestone. Today, I check off another gigantic but relatively administrative milestone from the list: I e-mailed my doctoral committee members to schedule a dissertation defense. It still seems pretty far away (early-mid March), but it’s close enough that there are conflicts with various dates and I’m still waiting to hear from a few committee members about their availability. Being a rather calendar/list oriented person, being able to print on two pages the calendar between now and my defense seems like a big deal. In some ways, being able to chart out the endgame of my doctoral program has been one of the most satisfying moments in my academic career. It feels in some ways like I’m emerging from the trees to gaze happily at the forest, which ends in March.

When I posted about scheduling my board exam in December 2006 (yes, it really was 4 years ago) I talked about my fear of failing. At that point, it was failing in a standardized way, failing in a way that every other medical student would have the opportunity to do for years to come. At this point, my fear of failing feels far more nuanced and individualized. I know that I will finish what I need to do in time for my defense. There may be some rather busy moments/days/weeks coming up, but it will get done. Instead, my fear of failing is two-fold:

1. Some of the first advice that I got as a doctoral student was to plan on being a little disappointed with the amount of work you can do in a dissertation. “It’s not your magnum opus, it’s a starting point,” was what I heard repeated by a variety of mentors. Having internalized that fairly well, I nonetheless worry that what I’ve accomplished won’t launch my fledgling academic career in the direction or with the force I’m hoping for.

2. Though many fewer of my mentors have emphasized this, I’m looking to try to keep my life in balance for the next few months. I want to keep having at least a minimal social life, see family, play in the orchestra, read, knit, and keep my kitchen stocked enough to eat well. I worry that the stress of the dissertation will cut into this!

As I write these two points, however, it occurs to me that these are neither nuanced nor individual, as I suggested above. They are in fact the same fears that we all have about the process and product of any major undertaking. I’ll take heart in that, then, and keep pushing forward. See you all on the other side!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kale riff…

Last month one of the fine members of the small agent-based modeling discussion/support group brought the most delicious salad to our potluck. (As an aside, I would highly recommend pairing serious methodology discussions with good food!) She said that it came from the Food Network show Aarti Party, and I’ve just found the recipe online. It is a salad featuring uncooked kale that is delicious. That’s right, a salad featuring uncooked kale… that is delicious… The combination of lemon juice, sunflower seeds (which my friend had substituted for the pepitas), mango, and kale was delicious. Motivated by this, I got a bunch of kale at the farmers’ market last week. I had every intention of purchasing a mango to go with it, but never made it to the grocery store. Instead, I decided to make a decidedly more Midwestern, but nonetheless delicious, riff on the salad. I also hadn’t found the recipe online when I made it, so mine leaves out what might be some additional delicious ingredients, so be sure to check out the original recipe as well. Here it is:

Fall Kale Salad
For 1 large serving or 2 small servings

4-5 leaves curly kale, chopped finely
1/2 tart crunchy apple (Ida Reds work beautifully), chopped to 1/2 inch cubes
sprinkling of pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

To make it look pretty, put the chopped kale and apples into a bowl and mix. Sprinkle with pepitas and juice the lemon over the bowl. Top with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Baby… but no pictures…

I got in late last night after spending the last few days in Denver. I’m tired today, and can tell that the jet lag is going to be problematic, but I really did have a good time. I was a bit overwhelmed the first day of the conference, but that was taken care of completely when I got to visit with Brittany and Holly and their 12 day old baby Scarlett. I wanted to take her home. I offered to exchange her for one of my carry-on bags, but they declined, as they seem quite happy with her themselves. Sadly I did not have my camera with me (as it is still somewhat large for conference travel), so you will just have to imagine the cutest little baby ever, double swaddled and still sticking her little hands out of the top of the swaddling blankets.

The rest of the conference was also good: I got to meet some exciting people and my presentation went well. That said, I’m not sure that anything really even came close to being as cool as meeting the tiniest person…

Thursday, November 04, 2010

All this travel is getting old…

This weekend I’m heading to Denver for the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, and I’m trying really hard to get excited about it.  There are exciting elements, of course, like the fact that I’ll get to see my friend Sonia who will be flying in from DC, and the fact that I may get to see the tiny new baby who just joined Brittany and Holly in the world of people who have already been born.  And of course, I am actually excited to be presenting the first paper of my dissertation as a conference participant.  All of this is fine and good, but I just can’t seem to get jazzed up about getting on a plane and switching time zones.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.  Wish me luck…