Thursday, November 23, 2017

Late autumn updates

Do I even live in New England if I don't post pictures of the foliage? Autumn came and is on its way out. We got a tiny moment of snow last night. It is starting to get cold. We're making another turn around the sun.

Clothing, cosmetics, personal finance, and minimalism


I bought another flannel from L.L. Bean, and plan on revisiting my review of it from last year, now that I have a brand new one to compare to a year-old one. I have plans to buy another pair of professional-looking trousers, but am waiting for sales. I also have some socks and underwear to replace. This means Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping, which I have deliberately avoided for years. I am possibly also deferring my black leather shoe (or boot) purchase for another year. I just haven't found one that I really like.

How do I build my professional wardrobe while keeping consumerism in check? As much as I try to limit myself in how much money I spend or how many items I buy, it's also important to limit how much time I spend thinking about or planning what I'm going to buy. On the other hand, isn't having a plan better than not having one? Either way, I am not satisfied with the amount of mental space I routinely use thinking about purchasing stuff. There's got to be some kind of a balance (obviously I haven't found it yet).

I also finally (finally) washed my jeans that I bought in January. It sounds disgusting, but I wore them only in <50F weather, freeze them on the weekends, and they held up well. Raw denim cult, my friends. I'll write something about them soon.

So here's something a little disappointing: my friend group talks about shopping a lot. They really love Uniqlo, and as someone who owns a lot of Uniqlo clothing, this normally doesn't bother me. And it really is a minor annoyance, but they incessantly talk about sales at Uniqlo, make multiple orders a month on Uniqlo, and joke about lacking self-control from buying at Uniqlo. I only noticed this recently because they went crazy over a specific scarf that one of them had. Two others bought the scarf immediately. Something about that makes me uncomfortable, despite how many Uniqlo garments I personally own.


I'm getting back into makeup again. My goal is to have a bare bones makeup kit of items that I love and use regularly. Currently, I have holes in some parts of my kit (skincare, base), and excess in others (eyeshadow). It makes me feel more professional and put together. I will be patient in editing what I have, adding and subtracting, until it is perfect. It is 100% consistent with my personality that I am hyper-focused on what I look like. What I mean: I love my face without makeup, but if I do wear makeup, I am extremely critical about how it looks when I put it on, and how it wears throughout the day. I must still look like myself. I use very little makeup, but what I use must matter.

Personal finance and minimalism

I fell down the rabbit hole of personal finance and financial independence blogs, especially those written by residents and attending physicians. This is something I must learn.

Regarding minimalism: I'm trying. More now than ever, I realize I need to get my perspective in check before I go about trying to 'minimize' any other part of my life. I recently went to talk to one of the deans about how hassled I was by people gossiping about me (mostly my research) and he repeatedly asked me why I cared. Why did it bother me so much? I don't think I had an answer. He told me to read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (because I told him my sibling told me to read it years ago), talk to my friends and family, and keep doing what I'm doing. If there are people gossiping about my work, then I must be doing something right.

In other fronts, I'm working on reducing waste in my life. Still trying to go low waste, it's hard. But this is important to me so I'll work harder at it.

Step 1

This is the first part of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) that will determine whether or not orthopedic surgery is magical thinking or a real option for my future. So I am studying. I am doing better in school than last year, studying better, but there is still so much room for me to improve.

I've been thinking of potential vacations to go on after I take the exam in May. The dream vacation is to do a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon, but that is a far reach of a vacation. More realistically is Katahdin in Maine.

Research and scholarly pursuits

We're finally writing the manuscript. Our project won a prize at a hospital poster session. I'm glad that something I worked hard on since this time last year is finally coming to fruition. And now, I'm looking for more research projects. I want to continue working with my same mentor, and I feel more and more strongly about orthopedic surgery.

At the same time, I am more and more curious about general surgery as well.

..speaking of my mentor and orthopedic surgery, I shadowed him in clinic this week and it was awesome. It was a lot more fast paced than the surgical oncology clinic I normally go to, but I really like his style. Straightforward, to the point, but super comprehensive about all the options a patient could have, non-operative and operative alike. Orthopedic trauma has truly a crazy spread of patients, from little old ladies to a guy my age shot several times over a basketball game, joggers hit by cars, custodians falling from ladders, etc, etc. Vastly different patients with vastly different injuries, needs, goals, and lives. More than learning about how to care for fracture patients, I have another role model for how to talk to patients, how to listen to patients, and how to identify when they have questions, reservations, or things they don't understand.

Recreational reading

I took Thanksgiving break to read as many books as I could. Sabriel (Garth Nix); The Two Towers, The Children of Hurin, and part of The Return of the King (J.R.R. Tolkien); and The Hot Zone (Richard Preston) are all great. I'm not a book reviewer, but I can recommend all of the above.


I have a lot to be thankful for
  • my family loves me and supports me in every way: emotionally, financially, in small ways, in big ways
  • I am exactly where I want to be doing exactly what I want to do
  • I have great friends, old and new
  • I am healthy and happy
  • I have great mentors that push me to do strong work and let me see and do cool things
  • I am finding time for creative pursuits and personal enrichment


  1. That autumn foliage is something else! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.
    Sometimes I feel like I spend too much time planning what to buy as well.. I feel like there may be better uses of my brain space haha. Hope the study is going well!

    1. Thanks! I expend too much mental effort on consumption, I think.

  2. It sounds like school is going well! Good luck with everything and the big exams! It's so crazy to me that medical students and doctors seem to have so many huge exams. (Lawyers only really have the bar, which they will only need to take once per jurisdiction, and it's not objectively the most difficult test, subject matter wise - even California is hard only because of a crazy high cutoff score - but I was a complete nervous wreck in the lead-up to the exam. I could barely function.)

    The financial independence subculture is really fascinating. I don't know that it can fully work for everyone (myself included, technically, because it requires a lot of math and accounting for a lot of possibilities I can't really predict right now so I can't really give myself a target), but the basic logic just seems to be perfectly in line with minimalism.

    On the Uniqlo thing: There is a still sometimes prone to excessive shopping side of me that might wonder how someone can get their "fix" by ordering multiple times a month from Uniqlo as their stock changes and new products releases are really quite slow by most American retail standards. I can relate to Uniqlo being bad for my self control when it comes to whether to experiment with something kind of new, like a new silhouette for pants or a skirt (Uniqlo hits a real sweet spot in terms of price and generally being a fairly conservative/"we make closet basics" take on whatever the trend is). I think it can be very strange and somewhat disorienting to hear people talk about their consumption, particularly in clothing, if their approach is very different. I've had a lot of moments like that because law students tend to be on the more well to do side (and NYC is a pretty status symbol conscious place).

    1. That's a really good way of summarizing Uniqlo's aesthetic. I recently went to a local Uniqlo and ended up trying on a bunch of their clothes just for experimentation. I love the design of most of their things, but I feel like some of their non-basics (if such a thing exists) don't suit my style.

  3. I often come across pieces that I LOVE, but I rarely ever think seriously about buying them, because something that I've come to notice about myself is that I wear the same things all the time, no matter what else is rotating through my closet. But once in awhile, I'll buy something, fall in love with the feeling, and I get more susceptible to consuming consuming consuming. I think I definitely fell prey to that this past Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I don't usually participate in it because I've never felt the need or urge. Welp. As long as I use/wear everything I bought, I'll try not to waste brain space feeling guilty about it. I think I got the shopping out of my system for awhile though, so right now I'm back in that love-it-but-I-know-I-won't-actually-buy-it mindset :P // It wasn't until the last year and a half when I started washing my jeans less frequently, which I attribute to the fact that I now live in an apartment where I have to pay for laundry. I usually leave a lot of things to wash at once, which often won't fit in one washer, so sometimes I'll pick and choose what I want to wash (underwear and socks, always haha) and jeans don't usually make the cut. I like the soft, worn-in feel anyway. // Do you watch Grey's Anatomy? I recently started rewatching it (I've watched up to season 10 in the past and don't plan to go further). // Ahh so happy that you're seeing the fruition of all your hard work! Congrats on the prize! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    1. In the time since I wrote this post, I got the underwear and black trousers that I mentioned, and impulse "bought" a Uniqlo thermal (some kind of a promotion where they just ship one to you for free). Marinated a bit on the topic of minimalism and conscious shopping. Work in progress, still. Still trying to figure out how I'm going to source the clothes I'll need for third year (some rotations are professional clothes every day).

      Anyways, I think I'm long overdue for a wardrobe declutter. I organized my stuff recently and found some things I never wear...and threw them all under my bed to think about later.

      Don't watch Grey's Anatomy, but I've seen parts of episodes. I think it's a show I could get into! But that's the danger...getting into shows