Sunday, January 22, 2017

Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent with her heel

Boston Common - cow pasture, witch hanging site, public park, and gathering space since 1634

This Saturday, I exercised my First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly with around 125k others in the Boston Women's March for America. Boston Common was a confluent mass of women and their allies, of all ages and races, with many signs and clever slogans that summarized the tangled mess of thoughts I had one day after the inauguration.

It was an uplifting day, being among the masses of like-minded people who recognize that the rights of women, people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, immigrants, the poor, the marginalized, etc are in peril. I saw Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and other women leaders and activists speak. Now more than ever, I know that solidarity and allyship must be key pieces of my role as a citizen, a voter, a peer, and a future doctor.

Some students from my school marched under our school's official banner with white coats on -- our school, even among other medical schools, leans progressive and likes having official presence at events like these. However, I arrived too late to find them and instead marched with one of my friends from college. More eloquent peers and activists and journalists have covered the Women's March, but I'll throw in the last of my two cents here:

This was an exceptionally peaceful, organized demonstration. "Respectability" is a loaded word when it comes to public, highly visible forms of civil expression. "Civil disobedience" and "peaceful protest" do not apply to this march, which, given the sheer numbers of people involved, is probably for the best.

The overwhelming amount of pink pussyhats and images of genitalia made a strong statement about the vulnerability of reproductive rights, but also, an uncomfortable definition of women's rights as the rights of cisgender women. And while this conflation of pink and XX chromosomes and womanhood and feminism did its job to mobilize millions of marchers worldwide, deeper intersectionality is needed if this movement is to move forward.

Intersectional feminism is for everyone. I need to practice it more visibly and more productively from now on. For all my critical thoughts about the march, I am glad that it happened at the scale that it did, I am glad to have participated, and I am proud to be an American.


This title of the post preceded the post itself. It is a slightly modified lyric from the Battle Hymn of the Republic, one of my favorite patriotic songs. It was written during the Civil War by Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist, feminist, suffragist, and Bostonian.

My favorite recording of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is by Odetta. There is no comparison.

Very notably, it was sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir during President Obama's second inauguration. It was also sung at Donald's pre-inauguration, but the GOP still refers to itself as the party of Abraham Lincoln, so there's that. 

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

  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!

  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.

  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.

  1. Casio F-91W watch - January - $10
  2. Thrifted scrubs x 2 - August and November - $20
I bought a watch. It tells time. I wear 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 (and washed it after) many gross anatomy labs. It has been on my hand and grazed the insides of many cadavers.

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.


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!