Friday, April 29, 2016

Outfit sampler for the early spring

I always feel strange taking pictures of myself, and feel even stranger putting them on here. However, this here blog is a bit of an archive of my thoughts about personal aesthetic and taste (of which I have little, I think). I think I am easily influenced by trends in aesthetic and style, and though I think I'm a fairly moderate consumer, fitting into (or not) a category that I admire does make me feel a certain way about myself. Why isn't personal style as simple as wearing what we please? Maybe for a more steadfast, self-aware individual, it is. I'm not quite there yet.

T-shirt: Forever 21 | Belt: Uniqlo | Watch: Casio | Trousers: H&M | Shoes: Sperry

And now here is the debut of the shoes I listed in my S/S 2016 wardrobe planning post. I bought them, enjoy them, but am not 100% satisfied with the color. I wish I'd chosen the darker brown, or the Sahara/honey colorway. Anyhow, I'm still getting the hang of wearing the boat shoes with/without socks. I wish I'd gotten them years ago.

I used to love/hate/never wear these trousers back when my everyday shoe was the Dr. Martens Chelsea boots. At that point, it was just a bit too utilitarian for my liking, and I still think that they look a bit like part of a uniform. However, they're the ideal weight/texture for a cool, early spring day, and I've worn them most days that average 65-70 F.

Top: Forever 21 | Watch: Casio | Shorts: Old Navy | Shoes: Sperry

Here is the debut of the black linen shorts I purchased from my S/S 2016 wardrobe planning. I went shopping with my sibling during spring break and thought I'd gotten a pretty good deal on these (40% or something), but the khakis my sib got came out to be <$1. A few days later, I bit the bullet on the full price Sperry's so I guess I lost the frugality rivalry pretty soundly.

I feel like a recurring theme of my wardrobe is blatant violation of some archaic rule where navy + black + brown should never be worn together. I also feel like I vaguely try to emulate a breezy nautical/Yankee prep aesthetic. That, or I'm still trying to dress like the French (or French-adoring) girls. Je ne sais quois, ok?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Complications, The Checklist Manifesto, When Breath Becomes Air

As a continuation of my pre-meducation, here is a "tasting flight" of three books on medicine by two esteemed Indian-American surgeons.

Complications | Atul Gawande

Last spring, I read Being Mortal and was completely floored. Atul Gawande is a Renaissance man: a surgeon, a scholar, a writer, and an entrepreneur and has reached some kind of star status in popular science writing. Complications is a compilation and revision of some of his pieces from The New Yorker, written during his general surgery residency. Though the book retains this piecewise/anecdotal character, the persistent theme is of uncertainty and complications in medicine, focused on surgery. Atul Gawande is an excellent writer, and really immersed me into the patients' stories and identities, which is sometimes lost in other medical writing. Since he was a resident writing this, there is a powerful sense of wonder, newness, and awe, which I hope I can feel at that stage too.

The Checklist Manifesto | Atul Gawande

Errors in the operating room can be minimized by use of checklists, and here's how to do it -- that's the book. Exceedingly complex systems with great room for error (and dire consequences when they occur) can be managed by clear checklists outlining safety-critical steps, and have been used by pilots for decades. Atul Gawande's push for implementing checklists in operating rooms, for many procedures and in many different hospitals here and abroad, is basically the premise of the book. I listened to the Ted Talk shortly before I read this and got pretty much the same information, albeit with less narrative decoration. It's a fast, easy read, but out of other Gawande books, it doesn’t stand out.

When Breath Becomes Air | Paul Kalanithi

The first quarter this year, it seemed that everyone was reading this book, or planning on reading this book. I first read -- and shed tears -- reading four pieces from the New York Times directly related to this book: Dr. Paul Kalanithi's reflections on lifespan, a version of the epilogue by his widow Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, an interview with Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, and the review. Dr. Kalanithi was an accomplished neurosurgeon on the cusp of finishing his residency training, with expansive wisdom, education, and philosophical capacity. The driving theme of this memoir/collection of meditations/elegy was: what makes us human?/what makes life worth living? Not to be insensitive, but it rather reminded me of one of Walter White's more sinister lines from season 5 of Breaking Bad: "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really, I was alive." When Breath Becomes Air was undoubtedly well-written; emotional and moving at its best, but lofty and esoteric at its worst. Suffice to say his English degree is very apparent, and that I'm not well-read enough to follow his references. The epilogue by Dr. Lucy Kalanithi was particularly impactful, the foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese far less so.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Dreaming and wishing

About a month ago, I went to my first conference with members of my lab and other biomechanics labs. This was not the first time I've been a co-author on a conference poster or a podium talk, but this was the first time I had seen the spectacle with my own eyes.

The first day of our trip, we attended the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting. The venue was expansive, the exhibition hall a literal circus of flashing lights, glossy card flyers, displays of implants and devices and tools, beautiful sales reps, free coffee, free fruit, free tea, free doughnuts, a Jaguar parked in the middle of the conference floor. My grad student mentor recommended a few of the smaller booths to look at, but we scattered to the colossals: Zimmer Biomet, DePuy, Tornier. As an undergrad on the cusp on my medical education, I felt like the smallest fish in the exhibition hall, an utterly out-of-place child. When we met with one of our collaborating surgeons, I shook his hand, and noticed with horror that there was powdered sugar on the cuff of my blazer. Slovenly undergrad indeed.

That afternoon, we quit the glamour of AAOS and went to Magic Kingdom. I watched the fireworks show and heard all those cheerful Disney voices sing about dreams coming true and all that. By God, I made a wish when Jiminy Cricket told me to.

The next few days were spent at the less dazzling, less formal, but still staggeringly intimidating Orthopaedic Research Society annual meeting. After about three years immersed in the same projects, all related to the polyethylene component of the total shoulder prosthesis, the world of orthopedics seemed endless, expansive, and more than I could have possibly imagined.

Over the past few months, I've been trying to disenchant myself from orthopedics, notorious for being a competitive, exclusive boys' club from multiple sources. Less than 10% of practicing orthopods are women. Ortho residency seems incompatible with pregnancy and childrearing. There are incredible obstacles, and yet, it has always been a dream of mine. Attending the conference thoroughly enchanted me back into this dream, and I have yet to let it go.

And so, I think the only solution is the original solution: enter medical school with an open mind, explore all specialties and ask many questions. That's the plan. But, because I started thinking about this theme when I was watching the fireworks show in Magic Kingdom, best remember that to be a Disney heroine, I've got to keep on dreaming and wishing, working hard, and doing my damnedest to accomplish what I want.