Saturday, January 14, 2017

A review of my 2016 clothing purchases

So. This year I spent quite a lot of money, especially for a medical student with no income on the tails of a very, very expensive application cycle. However, I paid for everything then and now with the money I saved from part-timing in high school.

Winter accessories and new shoes

Anyhow, I figured I should make this post because one of my reasons for having a blog in the first place is to audit myself and keep an honest look at my lifestyle. I've always wanted to follow the five piece French wardrobe format, as you may be able to see from my seasonal wardrobe planning posts of yore, but moving to Boston shot that plan right down.

Shorts, old sweater, and the first flannel -- RIP, I hardly knew ye

I've included estimates of prices, which should be +/- $5 from what I really paid. Photos do not show all of the items listed, but the ones left out are easy to imagine. My purchases will be roughly categorized by function, with individual items listed in chronological order

Winter
  1. Fleece-lined leggings x 2 - January - $10
  2. L.L. Bean winter warmer coat, black - August - $90
  3. L.L. Bean duck boots, bison - August - $120
  4. L.L. Bean wool socks x 2 - October - $20
  5. Hat and scarf - October - $20
  6. Gloves - November - $115
  7. Smartwool baselayer, black - November - $60 (sale)
  8. Uniqlo heat-tech leggings, black - December - $20
Total - $355

This was the most expensive category by far, which is reasonable. Save my baby and toddler years in Chicago, I have never lived in a place with a winter, and thus needed to buy the necessary gear to not freeze to death. I tried to go as long as possible without wearing some of the heavy duty stuff just to see how far I could stretch my current wardrobe. So far, I've only worn my winter coat when the high of the day is below freezing and/or if there is wind. The boots I've only worn once so far after a larger snowfall. However, we still have three more months of winter, and I quickly learned that on those snowy, cold, icy, windy days, I put my money in the right place.

The Smartwool baselayer was a godsend. I wore it a ton in November under my leather jacket and it kept me warm. I'll wear it under my coat under extreme cold days henceforth. I need to buy more wool socks because some other wool socks my mother gave me are not warm enough. Hat, scarf, and gloves are necessary and so far warm enough. It hasn't been cold enough to layer the leggings under my jeans, but it will happen and I will be ready.

This was money I had to spend. Boston winter is no joke!

Shoes
  1. Sperry boat shoes - March - $80
  2. Hiking boots - November - $85 (sale)
I wore the boat shoes almost every day from late March to early October and they are accordingly beaten up. They were expensive, but I like them a lot. I got the hiking boots after I went backpacking with my running shoes and got wrecked by lack of tread, lack of stability, and frostnip. I haven't gotten too many opportunities to test out the boots because it quickly got too cold and rainy to hike.

Clothing
  1. Banana Republic Sloan trousers, black - January - $40 (sale)
  2. Thrifted blazer, black - April - $10
  3. GAP linen shorts, black - May - $15
  4. L.L. Bean scotch plaid flannel, blackwatch x 2 - October and November - $75 (sale)
  5. Uniqlo men's selvedge denim jeans - December - $50
Total - $185

The top two were impulse purchases: I knew I would need professional trousers and saw that there was a sale on Banana Republic and that was that. I've worn it to the hospital and will wear it to my clinical placements. The blazer was an emergency purchase for the conference I attended in April: the grad students miscommunicated the dress code and I had left my interview suit at my parents' house after the interview season ended. Goodwill came to the rescue: the cotton blazer came in handy for the Florida heat.

The shorts, flannel, and jeans have been worn regularly since their purchase. Regarding the L.L. Bean flannel: astute readers will recall that I lost my original shirt on a hike and replaced it during the Black Friday sale. Always hike wearing layers, but make sure they fit in your backpack.

Misc.
  1. Casio F-91W watch - January - $10
  2. Thrifted scrubs x 2 - August and November - $20
I bought a watch. It tells time. I were it daily. I wore it to the conference where I was among surgeons who wore watches three orders of magnitude more expensive. I wore it all summer and got a watch tan. I also wore it to gross anatomy sometimes; thankfully, it is easily washable.

Total amount spent on clothing in 2016 - $735
Total number of items purchased in 2016 - 23

Excluding the leggings and socks and scrubs, that number becomes 14, which is pretty reasonable. I do want to be highly critical of my consumption, but I'm not an ascetic or a minimalist. In fact, I am actively trying to build a more professional, adult wardrobe suitable for a medical student. Because I wear most of my clothes for more than five years, whatever I purchase now should be appropriate for a resident in her mid-20s. However, I'm glad that some of the big ticket items are now out of the way: winter coat and boots, interview suit, and handbag.

If you made it this far, congratulations and thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito

Winter break was not as productive Lord of Three Realms-wise as I had hoped, but I spent it relaxing with family, catching up with friends, and grinding harder on research than I ever had. Three phone meetings, many late nights, and much eye strain staring into lines and lines and lines of code later, and I'm pounding out an abstract. Anyhow, I had a whole slew of posts I wanted to write, but instead I present this.

Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point

There have been a lot of 2016 reflection posts, resolutions, and recaps. I thought about writing one of those, but what are years but arbitrary social constructs, and am I really new? But since the theme of Lord of Three Realms is and will always be to become a better version of myself, here are some quick goals for myself now that I am 22 (birthday was on Christmas):


  • be a better friend and keep in touch with the people I care about
  • be more efficient, have more self-discipline, and waste less time
  • bear misfortune worthily
  • more recreational reading and writing


Fort Point and Karl the Fog

Without further ado, here are some photos I took during a day trip in July. I've split the day up into Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito here and then Muir Woods National Monument in a later one. I found these photos scrolling through my camera roll and kept turning that Mark Twain quote over in my head.

The coldest winter of my life will probably be this one in Boston, and most certainly not a summer in San Francisco. It was figurative language to begin with, but I thought it would be a funny blog post to write when it will be below freezing tomorrow.


Visitors to San Francisco should definitely walk across the Golden Gate Bridge if they are adequately dressed. I made the local's mistake of thinking I could tough out the wind, Karl the Fog, and the chill by wearing shorts in July, but I was wrong. The wind is intense and I felt a bit nervous for the cyclists.

Spend some time at the visitors' center to learn about the bridge, its history, and the engineering behind it. MUNI has a stop right at the front, which was also crawling with charmanders and bulbasaurs (I visited during the Pokemon Go craze of summer 2016).

The fog disappears



The variation in temperature and visibility over a mere 1.7 miles of bridge was pretty astounding. It took less than half an hour to cross and yet looked like two completely different seasons. San Francisco Bay weather, am I right?


I took a bus into the town of Sausalito walked around while waiting for a phone call. It's a charming seaside town with cute coffee shops, but I camped out at Starbucks because I had a gift card. A bus runs from Sausalito to Muir Woods National Monument, my final destination, but I dallied too long around the pier looking at boats and thinking about what it would be like to live by the sea and have easy access to the redwoods.

Boats



Admittedly, this was not a very in-depth post about the Golden Gate Bridge or Sausalito, but just a repository for the pictures I took and a prologue to the much longer post with many more photos about Muir Woods National Monument. This, too, was really just an excuse to poke fun at "the coldest winter of my life was a summer in San Francisco" while winter begins in Boston.

In any case, 2016 was a wild ride, and 2017 is a new year. Good luck to you all and thank you for reading my blog this year!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

An update and some late autumn hiking


I am neck deep in our neuroscience module now and have two exams on Friday, after which I will go directly to the airport and fly back to San Francisco. Where did this semester even go?

I have a few updates I'd like to mention in this post, some important and some not. This post, of course, is also to share some photos I took of a recent hike in Middlesex Fells Reservation, which I visited in the early autumn. Taking pictures of the outdoors and fiddling around on VSCO is one of my favorite hobbies nowadays.

I also realize that I've included a potentially graphic story of a surgery I saw, so be warned.


I lost my LL Bean flannel on this very hike, actually. It was a bit warm so I put it in my backpack and fell out somewhere along the way. When I realized it was gone, we had already gone seven labyrinthine miles through the park and I was certain I could not find it again. I usually take pretty good care of my things so I was very annoyed and disappointed at myself, but I eventually did repurchase the same shirt. I liked it quite a lot and have realized that there is no way I can survive a Boston winter short on long sleeves. That's how I justified it.


School is going pretty well. I realized that I never wrote a summary or reflection post about gross anatomy, which is probably one of the most unique aspects of medical school, and one of the oldest and most arcane parts of medicine. I have time during winter break and should really do that. I also recently went to two talks: one about the history of surgery as told through advances in anatomy, anesthesia, and antisepsis; the other about the ethical transgressions in medicine and anatomy during the Third Reich. I have more research to do in both those topics.


My actual research is going well. I have a plan, a good mentor, a pile of work to do, and an abstract to revise. The project is something very important to me, and is in orthopedics, a specialty that I have long wanted to enter. I have shadowed the residents on call a few times and like the culture, like the work they do, and like their perspective. Of course, the surgery itself is cool beyond my wildest dreams.

I wrote back in the springtime about being utterly starstruck and sick with dreams after attending an orthopedics conference. I felt similarly after observing a trauma case that went to the OR. Long story short, a man in his 30s presented with a proximal and open distal femur fracture, a proximal tibia fracture, and lateral compartment syndrome. I'll spare the details for another post, but I was completely absorbed into the scene, the jagged ends of the femur sticking out of his bloody thigh, bits of plastic and glass removed, the red and yawning gash in his calf from the fasciotomy, the methodical placement of all the rods and pins and spacers to externally fix the limb...if this is bread and butter orthopedic surgery, I am all in. I've retold the story a dozen times and still go over the details. It was some parts carpentry, some parts butchery, all surgery. I want to see more.


For next semester's clinical skills class, I was placed with a general surgeon at our hospital. General surgery is second on my list for specialties and I am very excited to meet my preceptor.

Last week, some friends and I won a prize in our school's gingerbread house contest. A few hours later, some of more of us began our first Dungeons & Dragons campaign of medical school. We spent the week reading the player's handbook, building our characters, and telling each other how excited we were. Having a regular board game group has been great fun, but D&D will be even better.

Lastly, good luck on exams if you are taking them, and have safe travels if you are going somewhere.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Three documentaries, two books, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Now for a break from your regular Lord of Three Realms programming...a smattering of reviews of some recent brain food.

Three Documentaries


Staying Woke 101: watch a documentary and find discourse

Before the Flood - highly recommend

Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary about climate change is a sincere and ethos-laden warning siren about climate change. While Before the Flood does not cover much new ground, it brings the discussion of climate change once again to the mainstream, complete with interviews with heads of state, diplomats, scientists, and laypeople who recognize the dire consequences of the anthropocene. Indeed, it updates the narrative and turns the lens towards many aspects of the global ecological crisis, not just rising temperatures and sea levels, melting ice caps, or the ozone hole. This is a somber and comprehensive documentary with footage from Leo's UN appearance and the Paris Conference. Leo begins with a comparison to Hieronymous Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights and delivers through it a bleak message: capitalism and overconsumption will lay waste to the planet, and we must mobilize as a society to confront these systemic evils.

The True Cost - recommend

This one's been out for awhile and I feel that a lot of folks have heard of it. Fast fashion is one arm of global capitalism that has had tremendous ecological, economic, and mortal consequences. The Rana Plaza collapse, King Cotton abroad, pollution and emissions, and the ethical murkiness of sweat shop labor are all covered. I don't have much psychology or sociology book learning so some of the consumer behavior stuff was new to me, but I suppose this film will prompt many people to seriously consider their own consumption and relationship with objects. The documentary got the message out, but at times it does seem naively optimistic. I preferred Before the Flood much more.

Escape Fire - recommend


We watched this documentary for our public health class and it essentially lays out the status of health care in the United States today, and how unsustainable and costly it is. A few key points are how lack of primary care, exploitative private insurers and pharmaceutical executives, and the fee for service model is contributing to high-cost, poor-outcome care. I liked this film, though the narratives were fairly scattered and generally glossed over many structural flaws in American society that directly influence health care, but are not immediately obvious. I highly recommend this documentary as an introduction to medicine in the USA, with the caveat that there is much, much more to read and see.

Two books



All Souls - recommend; highly recommend for Bostonians and those interested in urban health, poverty and crime, and community activism

Before medical school, my knowledge of Southie predominantly came from Good Will Hunting, The Depahted, that one Anthony Bourdain episode, and Black Mass; I knew of Whitey and Billy Bulger, the desegregation riots, the Irish Mafia, etc. All Souls is one man's personal tragedy, and the community's long tragedy, that resulted from poverty and crime Bulger's drug trade. It is a story of the people of South Boston and their identity, and how it loved and feared, protected and was harmed by organized crime. All Souls is deeply moving memoir of growing up poor in South Boston, tragic and difficult to read, but an important perspective. One of the first patients I interviewed was an old lady who lived her entire life in Southie who, thinking back now, had been referencing some of the messages All Souls was trying to convey. South Boston has changed now, but All Souls was still an important read, especially for a newcomer who must learn a thing or two about Boston.

Also, our hospital features a few times in this book; if violent crime happens in Boston, chances are it will come through this trauma bay.

Hot Lights, Cold Steel - highly recommend

This is probably one of my favorite memoirs of all time. Dr. Collins write with great humor and thoughtfulness about his four years as an orthopedic surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic. From an impostor syndrome-afflicted intern to an admirable chief resident, Dr. Collins shows the highs and lows of surgery, the work ethic and discipline demanded of a resident at the Mayo at a time before the 80-hr/week cap. The graphic descriptions of surgeries are intense, gory, and left this wannabe future orthopod starry-eyed. Some cases are tremendously sad, and generally, I felt exhausted and overwhelmed reading about his life...orthopedic surgery resident, rural ER moonlighter, and father to one, then two, three, four, and more children during residency. I read this book in two sittings and didn't want it to end.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - recommend, but watch Moana or Arrival in theaters instead



This movie was a pretty indulgent visual feast with a perplexing lack of direction. I loved this movie, am confused by the direction of the Harry Potter franchise, and will probably throw money at the wizarding world for the sake of nostalgia. Eddie Redmayne plays a charmingly eccentric Newt Scamander, who I hope will star in the next movies instead of Johnny Depp. It was a fun romp through the wizarding world and roaring 20s New York, but had a loose plot with flat characters and poor sense of mood. However, I liked it quite a bit and will probably not watch the next one in theaters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stratton Mountain, Green Mountain National Forest | Vermont

Long Trail, I'm coming back for you someday

Once upon a time in Vermont...

...a man hiked to the top of Stratton Mountain in the Green Mountains, took a look around, and figured there should be a trail connecting Massachusetts and Canada.

And so the Long Trail was constructed by the Green Mountain Club, and still today, it stretches the length of Vermont, connecting Massachusetts and Canada. And still today, the Green Mountain Club is the steward of the Long Trail.


A few years later as the Long Trail was still under construction, another main hiked to the top of Stratton Mountain, looked around, and figured there should be a trail connecting Georgia to Canada along the full length of the Appalachian Mountains.

And so the Appalachian Trail was born, and still today it connects Georgia and Canada, and merges with the Long Trail in southern Vermont.


A few weeks ago, I went with some friends to hike up Stratton Mountain for a weekend trip. This was my first time backpacking, and my first time camping in the autumn. After a lifetime of day hikes, state and national parks and forests and monuments, I figured there was no better time to level up as a self-described "outdoorsy" person than the present.

I'll put the metrics at the end, but the short of it was: ~3 miles to summit, ~3 miles to descend and reach shelter, spend the night in the woods, and ~4 miles back to the parking lot, bookened by ~3 hours in between Stratton Mountain, Vermont and Boston. This was in early November and temperatures ranged from high 20s (early morning) to 45F.


I don't have the photos to show for it, but the drive west and then north to Vermont was a blaze of autumn colors unlike any I had ever seen before. It looked as if Massachusetts were on fire and I was frantically looking everywhere so as not to miss anything. The road near Walden Pond State Reservation was especially beautiful and really tugged at my (...Transcendentalist?) heartstrings. 

By the way, I have read Henry Thoreau's Walden and found it very pretentious and overwrought in spite of many pearls about sucking the marrow out of life and romanticizing the Great Outdoors and whatnot. I said out loud, "I feel you, Henry!" but I still roll my eyes at most of Walden.

We stopped for gas and some s'mores materials in Vermont, where homes on large plots of wooded land, stone wells and walls, and dramatically cloud-shrouded hillsides made me yearn for...some mythic American Dream out in Bernieland.
 

The first mile was just me getting used to the weight of the pack. I left my backpacking backpack at home and made do with my school backpack, to which I secured my sleeping bag with my belt and some string. For most of the ascent I took the lead because I have a deep fear of falling behind in hikes and a strong desire to take photos at my leisure.


The first mile, too, was a slow, steady gain in altitude, which really isn't saying much. Slowly, the beeches, birches, and maples gave way to spruces, firs, and pines. We faced a few steep climbs in the first two miles, including some switchbacks that forced us to stop and rest and enjoy the trees (and let me know that my pace was unsustainable).


The mist never let up, and cast the whole place in an eerie gloom. Forget Thoreau -- the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King were inspired by the forests of New England.

The other obvious fan of New England's forests was Robert Frost, of course. These woods, indeed, were lovely, dark, and deep.



The last stretch of the ascent was quite strenuous, consisting almost entirely of steep switchbacks and muddy, icy puddles. There were few deciduous trees, plenty of conifers, and so much mist that we were certain not to have a view at the top.

With all that said, I hope the photos show that we were so completely surrounded by beautiful woods that none of that really mattered.


By the way, I clearly wore the wrong shoes for this trip. I just ordered hiking boots yesterday, but out of the three shoes I could have worn for this trip (Bean boots, Dr. Martens boots, running shoes), I picked the worst. Not even thick wool socks could have prevented my poor toes from freezing. There were too many slushy, icy, muddy puddles on the trail for me to have kept dry.


Just when it seemed as if we were on an endless rocky green staircase up the mountain, we reached the summit at 3940 ft, having gained 1758 ft in a bit over 3 miles (if you're thinking of hiking this, keep in mind that most of the elevation is gained in the latter half). The cold caught up to us at the top and we promptly put on the layers we had shed while climbing.

Always a fire tower at the top. This one is 55 ft

One of our party estimated it was just around freezing at the summit, and indeed, the puddles were all frozen over. Whatever it actually was, the temperature differential from the bottom to the top of the fire tower felt at least ten degrees. I climbed up the tower, which was treacherously slippery, icy, and windy, determined to get a view. Of course, I could hardly see the trees below, much less the Mt. Snow or Killington.

I estimated the elapsed time using the timestamps of these photos, from the first to this one of the tower. The 3.4 mile, 1758 ft ascent took just under 2 hours.

A frigid, heart-pounding view

We rested for lunch and got the hell going. It was cold just standing around.

The next 3 miles were to get to the Stratton Mountain shelter where we would spend the night.

Some adventure!

I thought that descending would be easy going, but I was mistaken. It was muddy and icy and slippery and it took all my concentration not to step in a puddle or lose my footing, hence the lack of pictures. I assure you it was much of the same haunted conifer woods, with a progression back to broadleafs as we went down. I also promise I saw little patches of snow, but never took pictures of them.


At this point, we were tired, but in high spirits. Many of us declared over and over again how happy we were to be out in Vermont and not studying, that to seek the outdoors and tramp around the woods shivering and with numb fingers and cold toes was so restorative.

Once, a friend said that he was so tired he could just sleep in a pile of leaves. Because we had been talking about Robert Frost since lunch, I replied: "We have 3 miles to go before we sleep...and 3 miles to go before we sleep."


Stratton Pond

After about 3 miles and two river crossings, we reached Stratton Pond and took a look around. The pond is less than 1/4 mile away from the shelter, which is essentially a wooden house for hikers. Shelters of varying degrees of comfort line the AT and LT, and this one was pretty nice, with several wooden bunks and a huge loft which I could comfortably stand up in. We didn't exactly "rough it," but that's fine by me.


After dropping my stuff off at the loft in the shelter, I headed off on my own side quest to take photos of the bridge, the river, and the pond.



I came back in time to help with the fire and eat dinner. We were joined by three other hikers, some middle-aged ladies who were clearly better outdoorsmen than any of us, and well-acquainted with the Green Mountains. Earlier in the afternoon, a whole gaggle of kids took a tour of the shelter (they were part of a ski school, apparently).

It was pitch black at around 6 PM and I was too ready for sleep to study by flashlight as I had planned to. There was plenty of room for everyone in the shelter, especially in the loft. I slept poorly that night because it was so cold and the sleeping bag I rented from school just didn't cut it, and because of the wind and rain. In spite of that, I got up early and roamed around again.

The leaves look like they are levitating
The shelter



The shelters, like the rest of the trail, are maintained by the Green Mountain Club. A fee of $5 cash per hiker is required when there is a caretaker there. There was no caretaker when we had arrived, but a few hunters scoping out the area in preparation for deer season the following week.

Snowflakes!

The night's rain killed our hopes for a morning fire so we just packed up quickly and headed out. It snowed for about half an hour and the Californians (including me) got very excited and forgot about being cold for a minute. Our new friends pointed out that because of last night's rains, our original route back to the parking lot would likely be very muddy, and recommended an alternative path that they were going to take after their breakfast.


The alternate route took us over the bridge, out of the woods, and onto a mountain biking and snowmobile trail. Though it added about a mile onto our journey, it was far better than trudging through icy mud in sneakers. The rest of the way was conversation and just good times.

A very picturesque creek with a potential beaver dam?


We returned to the parking lot and I promptly changed into dry socks as we high-tailed it to a diner. The coffee was strong and the maple syrup was unreal.

I wore a t-shirt, my L.L. Bean flannel, a light fleece, hat and gloves, and leggings while hiking and brought along a sweater and cotton trousers for when we hung around the shelter. Wool socks saved my feet and I should have worn different shoes. Next time, I'll be wiser. The shirt, though, was wonderful and kept me warm.

--

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I ought to reflect on how good I have it. My family loves me and supports me, emotionally and financially and in every other way. I am in medical school learning medicine, training to become a doctor, which has been my dream since childhood. I had a wonderful time hiking in a beautiful forest with like-minded people with plans to see more of New England's great outdoors. I had the great privilege of learning gross anatomy by dissecting a cadaver, and am thankful for the donor and the faculty and my classmates for making it all come together.

In general, I am content with my situation in life and the direction it's taking. I am optimistic about the future and I am thankful for all that and more.

White = first day, red = second day

  • Location: Stratton Mountain, in Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, part of the Long Trail and the Appalachain Trail
  • Distance/duration: 3.8 miles to the summit, 3.7 miles to the shelter, ~4.5 miles via IP road to return; 6-7 hours of hiking over two days, though the whole thing could be done in a day
  • Elevation gain: 1758 ft
  • Difficulty: moderately strenuous thanks to rocky, muddy switchbacks up the mountain, quite steep ascent in the final mile or so
  • Points of interest: Stratton Mountain summit and fire tower, views on clear days that are apparently quite stunning, Stratton Pond, Stratton Pond shelter
  • Overall: this was the perfect beginner's backpacking trip, I thought. I was among friends, we had a good, tough little hike that I felt proud for powering through, and the forest was beautiful. I really enjoy steep steep switchbacks and would love to do this hike again.
P.S. Some other thoughts on Vermont: at the diner, I thumbed through some real estate magazines and found the best deal to be 81 acres of forest (house and creek and well included) for under $1 million. On our way back, I took in my fill of the Vermont countryside dreaming that one day I may own some of it. 80% of the state of Vermont is forest, which has had net growth since the end of WWII.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

L.L. Bean black watch scotch plaid flannel | Outfit and Review

I present the L.L. Bean black watch scotch plaid flannel, the shirt of my dreams. It is warm. It is soft. The colorway is perfect. It fits well. I love it. I went from owning one L.L. Bean item -- the very sweater I am wearing here -- to five since coming to Boston. Shipping from Freeport, Maine to Boston is quick and easy. Here is a demonstration of an outfit I was pretty pleased with including those very items, as well as my preliminary thoughts on the shirt.

Sunglasses - Ray-Ban | Fisherman sweater - thrifted (L.L. Bean) | Flannel shirt - L.L. Bean | Belt - Uniqlo | Jeans - Uniqlo | Boots - Dr. Martens

Internet reviews agree that this shirt is boxy and runs very large -- fine by me, as I was looking for a looser fit. My first order of XS completely swallowed me up so I exchanged it for a XXS. At some point, I talked to a lovely customer service representative from Maine whose son was interested in applying to my medical school.

Shipping is free, but I was charged about $7 for the exchange, which I was fine with. I bought the original on sale, and that discount was honored on the exchange. L.L. Bean has a godly warranty, and I have heard that their scotch plaid flannels are still high quality and well worth the price ($45 regular, though I got 20%).


Please do forgive the weird angles and proportions -- I am a novice at outfit photos, and fashion blogger I am not. The only decoration in my room are my maps of Boston, Massachusetts, and New England, though I may put up some postcards when I have the motivation. Also, the sunglasses are there because I prefer to go internet incognito when convenient.

For more context on the fit, I am 5' 5" and have an approximate bust and waist measurement of 32" and 25". The shirt is in the Misses' Relaxed fit, and XXS supposedly fits bust sizes 31-32" with a 29" sleeve. It feels perfect at the shoulders, but I have cuffed the sleeves once in these pictures. The actual body of the shirt angles slightly outwards, it seems, and there is generally a lot of fabric at the midsection and in the sleeves.


The flannel is 100% cotton and made in El Salvador, very heavy and soft, and almost too warm to wear indoors. I wore it layered under this sweater -- 100% cotton, wooden buttons, made in Maine -- and was toasty warm on my walk to class this morning at 39F, and overheated when walking home at 52F at lunchtime. It is quite a stiff fabric, which is especially notable at the collar, cuffs, and midline.

I like to think that this shirt is one first step towards a wardrobe that I am very, very happy with. I was uncertain about buying a flannel shirt new for $45 ($36 on sale), but I have wanted this specific one for a very long time, and know I will cherish it for many years to come. The navy fisherman's sweater has long been a California winter staple since my senior year in high school, and I am happy that it will get more use in the Massachusetts autumns to come.

P.S. These grey jeans are too small for me, I know. When I bought them, I did not even lift, and I have made leg gains since coming to Boston. Upper body gains, on the other hand...


P.P.S Here I am wearing this shirt out in the field, a preview for an imminent blog post and adventure report.