Thursday Born

The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Archive for December 2010

Core Story – Reverb 10, Day 31

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What was Reverb10?

December 31 – Core Story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.) (Author: Molly O’Neill)

Yesterday, I started reading a blog written by a medical resident. He’s I think two years in, and while I loved reading it, there was a strong current of “I hope that’s not me in 4 or 5 years” coursing through my thoughts. I’m incredibly thankful for the life that I’m cultivating outside of my medical career – my ever-changing hobbies, my parrot, my friends, my boyfriend, my family – and I hope that come residency, I’m still nurturing those sides of me.

Right now my core story is certainly that I’m a medical student. I have been for 1.5 years, and I will be for2.5 more years. But my core story is not my entire story, and it wouldn’t be a very good one if it was, and that I think is the thread that runs through my posts. That I am a medical student but that I refuse to let it be an all-consuming part of my life.

How I share my story with the world is a bit of an obvious question to ask a blogger, or maybe it’s only an obvious question to ask an introverted blogger. At the rate that I open up to people in person, my story won’t get very far or be very deep, but writing in this blog, I’m able to share more deeply, and with more people.

***

And so ends Reverb 10! I hope I haven’t bored anyone with this never-ending onslaught of daily(!) posts. I’ve had a lot of fun, but I’m happy to return to my more occasional posting schedule. I suspect that this blog will begin to focus more and more on medicine and less and less on my creations; my education is becoming increasingly more interesting (I’m starting to feel like I’m actually learning about medicine as a field and career and not just as a classroom science) and my time and energy for making things will be shrinking.

But through it all, I hope my posts will still be good reading, infrequent as they may be. I’m determined to try to blog through third year though, because I’m so curious what it’s like and was always disappointed when I’d read through archives of other medical bloggers and third year was mostly undocumented. I know it’s for good reason, but I’m up for the challenge! Even if I only manage to write one entry per rotation, that’s something.

Thank you everyone who’s stopped by and read my Reverb 10 posts! You’ve helped me stay the course and finish, and also helped make this feel like a worthwhile experience. Happy New Year!

Written by Aba

December 31, 2010 at 5:21 am

Posted in Reverb 10

Gift – Reverb 10, Day 30

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What is Reverb10?

December 30 –  Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Author: Holly Root)

How fortuitous! I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts and I was waiting for Reverb 10 to be over before I posted it. As you may recall if you’re a pre-Reverb 10 reader of my blog, I built a desktop right before my last set of exams:

***

I had a really good birthday haul this year! A space heater from my friends, a new point and shoot camera from my family, a brookstone snuggie from my best friend, some delicious macarons from another friend, and now the fixings for my very own gaming desktop from my boyfriend.

So many manuals to read! Also, note how the bottom right is blurry? Took me a while to realize I needed to clean the lens.

Everything plugged in and ready to be turned on.

I just really like this picture. Except for the blurry corner. Sigh. I think I fixed it by the next two pictures though.

You can still see the insides! Even though it’s put back together! Only on this side though. The other side has no see-through panel. I had a picture of the other side, but then I deleted it. Possibly for the best, because I think this might already be too many pictures of a computer…

The blue lights amuse me to no end. =D Also, it fits in the awkward space between my desk and my bookshelf as if I planned this out.  But no, the space is there just because that’s where the outlet is.

***

But I don’t think any one of my birthday gifts is particularly more memorable than the others. This is a fairly unusual year in that they’re all very memorable gifts that I should be getting many years of use out of. I’d been wanting a space heater and a new camera for a while, I’ve been very entertained by the whole snuggie trend, and for many many years, I’ve wanted to build my own desktop computer.

You might be asking, what about Christmas gifts? I have another draft post about that, which may or may not actually get posted, but I don’t really give Christmas gifts anymore, which also leads to not really getting Christmas gifts anymore (though I did get some lovely cloth from my mother and a very nice perfume). I’m just happy to see all my family together at once this time of the year, since it happens so rarely.

Written by Aba

December 30, 2010 at 3:46 am

Posted in Reverb 10

Defining Moment – Reverb 10, Day 29

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What is Reverb10?

December 29 – Defining Moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. (Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)

I’ve started and stopped this post so many times and I’ve been consistently dissatisfied with the results.

This year, the big one time events that happened were my second oldest brother getting married, and my boyfriend graduating from college. Events that certainly have impacted my life significantly, but events that aren’t really mine.

2010’s events will be remembered as parts of school years, not calendar years, as stages that don’t really have a date but are part of a sequence, and many won’t be remembered at all. I finished my first year of medical school; I started my second year. I spent my last summer off doing research, and then traveling, which included my visiting Turkey for the second time, and Ahmet visiting Ghana for the first (and hopefully not last) time. He also started working his first full time job, and as a result, I’ve been to my first Office Holiday Party. (Do Doctors even have work-related holiday parties…?)

I’ve enjoyed Reverb 10 but I’m eager to stop reflecting on 2010 and get started living 2011. I’m ready to tackle (rather, to be done with tackling) the Step 1 beast. To be done, forever!, with taking actual classes (but, of course, far from done with learning). And I really want to know, firsthand: is third year medical school really as bad as everyone says it is? Next year I’ll be three years out from undergrad, pushing past two years living in one place, and celebrating my fourth(?!) anniversary with my boyfriend.

So, 2010. Certainly a less stressful year for me than 2009 was, but not all that distinctly memorable. And I’m happy with that.

Written by Aba

December 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

Posted in Reverb 10, Uncategorized

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Achieve – Reverb 10, Day 28

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What is Reverb10?

December 28 – Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

This prompt would have been much more fun had I not already done the first half several times.

Next year I most want to achieve being a smart medical student, which encompasses getting a good Step 1 score, but also doing well in my classes, and being able to have and follow intelligent discussions about the material we’re learning.

How will that make me feel? Smart. Less stressed. Less anxious about being put on the spot during my rotations. A good Step 1 score will have me feeling giddy and accomplished and like my future’s a bit more secure.

I’m not sure what I can do today to specifically capture those feelings, but I can think of things I can do today that will make today a good day.

1. Not have to go anywhere.
2. Read some fiction
3. Read some First Aid (Step 1 prep book)
4. Rework my travel plans for February. I need to visit my parents the weekend I was planning on visiting Ahmet that month, and I was also planning to have my best friend come to the US that weekend so we could go visit him together, so now I need to reschedule everything, and it takes me forever and is a bit stressful, but it needs to be done and I’ll feel much better when it is.
5. Nap.
6. Play some video games.
7. Eat good food.

….

Instead of working on this post some more, I’m going to go ahead and work on number 7. Breakfast time! Might come back later and do some retouching, but as you can see, writing a good blog post is not on this list!

Edited to Add: Good Day Successfully Achieved! Goodnight! =D

Written by Aba

December 28, 2010 at 3:51 am

Posted in Reverb 10, Uncategorized

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Ordinary Joy – Reverb 10, Day 27

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What is Reverb10?

December 27 – Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)

I have a strong dislike of alarm clocks, but they are a necessary evil. For years I used the same, simple clock radio, and woke up to its loud, blaring beeps. More recently, I switched to my phone, still using an alarm that was not kind to my ears (to this day if I hear someone using my old alarms as a ringtone, it gets the adrenaline pumping for a second or two). And then this past March, I came across an app for my phone that allowed me to use a song (Fireflies, by Owl City), and even to allow the volume to slowly ramp up, which was a much kinder way to wake up.

But oh, the joy of waking up without an alarm clock! Not on the mornings where it’s because I’m anxious and can’t sleep, or because I was just awake enough that the squeak of my roommate’s door hinge has pierced through my dreamy haze, or because I’m too hot or too cold.

No, these are the mornings where, do I even need to get out of bed right now? No, not really. But I will. Soon. On my own time. I wake up comfortable, no pain in my neck or arm from sleeping on them wrong, no too bright light assaulting my eyes. I wake up because I’m ready to, not because I have to.

Waking up without an alarm is a luxury I am now used to, but waking up content and relaxed? It happens, and it happens on days just like any other, just days where I happen to have my act together a little bit more than others, and I know that I do, and I’m not worried right from the get go.

It’s a simple joy, a joy to stretch and close my eyes again sans guilt, a joy to look at the time, think that I’ve had enough sleep but some more won’t hurt, and wriggle back under my covers without second thoughts.

And it’s an ordinary joy that I’m voluntarily allowing to become an extraordinary joy, in no more than six months, most likely fewer. There are major sacrifices that one makes for many career choices, but there are also minor ones. I won’t ever be returning to my old, faithful ten plus year old alarm clock, or to the grating ring of my cellphone, but I think that waking up with a lazy smile is going to become quite the luxury all too soon. It will fall victim to either anxiety, or to chronic sleep deprivation, or an on and off combination of both.

From what I’ve gathered, a number of people at my school either currently take, or have taken sleeping pills. They have trouble falling asleep, and I’m going to bet they don’t wake up well either. I admit, I’ve had trouble falling asleep on occasion, but I’m determined to avoid medication (fine, non-over the counter medication. Benadryl has been my friend in the past).

Speaking of sleep, it’s past midnight here and I’ve been woken up every morning. I don’t think I can quite aim for a joyful morning (too many things rattling around in my head that need to be done) but I can aim for pleasant, and that’s a very close cousin. Goodnight!

Written by Aba

December 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Soul Food – Reverb 10, Day 26

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First I wanted to share a blog post from a blog called Mothers in Medicine. It’s just a nice cute story about turning working on Christmas into a not so bad experience.

And now onto my reverb 10 post!

What is Reverb10?

December 26 – Soul Food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)

I’ve had a lot of good food this year. Food I’ve made, food friends have made, food made by strangers who are paid to make it.

Most of the food I’ve made is posted about in this blog already, like my Thai inspired Coconut & Lemongrass Fish Soup which was almost perfect except for the tough bits of lemon grass but which I loved nonetheless and can’t wait to make again. Each meal of the leftovers made me just as happy as the last. Or the Olive Oil Orange cake. Or my strawberry jam. Or my mead, which isn’t really a food, but is as it surely packs quite a caloric punch.

And then there are the meals that aren’t quite worth posting about, but which I loved anyway, like the fish I bake and eat with yellow rice with maybe a tiny bit too much butter. Or the mug of chai tea I made the other day with the tea bags my friend Amrita gave me and it was seriously the best chai I’ve made at home. Or making myself a bowl of ramen with just a bit of the packaged  seasoning but really making up my own broth, and cracking two eggs into the pot (my tiny little ikea pot which I happily eat directly out of) and poaching them to the perfect point where the yolk is still a bit runny but not so runny that it completely dissolves into the soup.

Oooh, the little jar of fish one of my friends gave me. I love sardines, but I admit they’re generally without much flavor. These were packed with spices and just… absolutely delicious on their own or with saltines. Runners up in this category would be Trader Joe’s canned smoked herrings. So good with rice as a quick, pre-exam night meal.

I recently discovered truffle salt, via my mother. She made scrambled eggs with it and… wow. Best scrambled eggs I’ve had in a really long time, if not ever. And then I re-discovered fried eggs and toast. And then I discovered fried eggs and toast, with truffle salt! Yeah, I know. Amazing! (And that is a sing-song “Amazing”, with a long a.)

There was a lot of good food over my summer break, in Ghana and in Turkey. I meant to post about it separately but I never got around to it… And right now I’m not about to pull up the pictures, but the two dishes that come to mind first are Seafood Pizza (in Ghana, which I just had again today) and this… ground beef/yogurt/veggie dish in Turkey that I really want to learn how to make.

I don’t eat out at restaurants often any more, but I took Ahmet out to dinner for his birthday and we went to this little restaurant called The Stone House and… wow. I am often unimpressed by restaurant food, but I loved every single thing we had there (well, I liked the truffle mac and cheese) and I didn’t have any “Meh. I could’ve made this just as well at home!” thoughts because I really probably couldn’t, and that, in my mind, makes for a very successful restaurant outing.

Oh! And the shrimp and grits in Charleston! Oh the shrimp and grits in Charleston… That’s definitely up there in my list of top meals this year.

Then there’s the pumpkin bread Hao made (the first time was the best), and the buttermilk cake with raspberries that Amrita made, and the ribs that Ran makes, and hm, I can’t right now think of anything that Joe specifically made that I loved but I’m sure there was something because I’ve had many meals in his and Ran’s apartment and he has to have been responsible for something I really liked.

And now I’m hungry and I need to stop writing this post.

It’s easy to get the impression that I don’t love food, because I don’t eat a lot and I often can’t really be bothered to put anything elaborate together because why on earth do I need to eat so many times a day this is ridiculous I have better things to do! And of course I don’t actually need to eat that often, so, well, I don’t. But good food is good food! How can you not appreciate good food? Even okay food is worth appreciating. And great food, well, great food you remember forever.

There’s a magnet on my mother’s fridge that says “Never trust a skinny cook.” You can’t trust me to whip up a homecooked meal every day, but you can trust that every now and then, I’m going to get inspired and make something really tasty. Without strictly following a recipe*, of course. Pssh.

*(Unless I’m baking or making candy).

Written by Aba

December 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Photo – Reverb 10, Day 25

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Merry Christmas!

What is Reverb10?

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Just one photo?

This photo won out over four others because it’s a better picture of me and a better picture in general. The others included me reading (while clearly chewing on the inside of my cheek, a longstanding habit), me curled up with my laptop in a “I am not expecting company or to see the sun” outfit, another me shut in with laptop picture, and a picture that was taken just after this one, but of me staring directly at the camera and smiling openly.

This picture is me out on a date with Ahmet, in Turkey, at a fancy restaurant named Sunset that had a beautiful view, and he took it.  Somehow, a lot of the pictures he took that night came out really well, and I was tempted to post a series of three of them (including this one). I’m not quite sure what this picture reveals about me, but it’s one of those pictures that really clicks with how I see myself.

Those pictures are rarely of me looking straight at the camera. They’re also rarely of me doing my full on photo-smile. It’s the pictures of me looking off to the distance, at most, glancing sideways at the camera. The pictures of me with a slight smile or no smile at all. The pictures of me where I’m in my head and not directly interacting with anyone. The pictures of me not posing for a picture, but interacting with the photographer as a person, or being completely unaware of the camera and the world outside my head.

Written by Aba

December 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Everything’s OK – Reverb 10, Day 24

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What is Reverb10?

December 24 – Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? (Author: Kate Inglis)

Everything isn’t going to be alright. Life will be alright in the end, I think, because a lot of what makes life okay is attitude and outlook. Moving on and embracing life in the face of failure, tragedy and death.

But everything? No, every little thing isn’t going to be alright. What’s alright is that I’m going to keep trying to be okay even though every little thing isn’t. And some big things too.

There’s been a lot of moments this year that had the “Everything is definitely going to be okay!” feeling. Moments wrapped in feelings of love and safety and pride and accomplishment. Passing a class I really struggled with. Getting honors in a class I studied thoroughly for and actually understood. Realizing that I definitely can do this whole medical school thing, and well!

But then later comes the realization that it was just a moment. School is a tangible thing, but other aspects of life are murky. A few good hours are in no way a promise that things will always be that way. You can fall in love and get married, but no one can tell you how long you will have together, no one can tell you that when they walk out that door, they’re coming back. (I went through a phase in life where every time someone left the house, I wondered if that was the last time I’d see them. I didn’t panic each time; I was just coming to terms with the concept).

For me, it’s not about moments giving me a false sense of security. It’s about moments motivating me to keep going.  Maybe later in life I will have some proof moments, but right now my life is all about earning the state of okay. Okay is taking work. Okay is taking commitment. Okay is taking trust and faith. Okay is not a pre-defined equation just waiting to be solved.  I’m still figuring out what the equation is.

This post brought to you by the realization that I couldn’t use the moments I wanted, those happy fuzzy warm moments, as proof that everything will be okay, not only because some are too personal for the direction of this blog, but because I don’t believe that they’re proof.

In other news, my niece’s adorableness factor has increased by like a thousand now that she can walk. I didn’t think she could get that much cuter, but I was so, so wrong.

Written by Aba

December 24, 2010 at 2:02 pm

New Name – Reverb 10, Day 23

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What is Reverb10?

December 23 – New Name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? (Author: Becca Wilcott)

I suppose I would go with Coco. Coco was one of the names in the running for me, after Coco Chanel, but it, and Paige, lost out to a very traditional Ghanaian name, Aba (If you follow me on twitter, that’s my full name but next to no one calls me that). I was in theory named after someone (I always forget who), but it was somewhat a naming after of convenience.

See, in Ghana, most (all?) of the tribes have names that are associated with the days of the week. Obviously, not every one actually uses those names, and many people have them but go by one of their other names. My three older brothers, for example, were all born on Wednesday and share the same day name, but only the eldest is referred to by it. I don’t have any other official names, and have always gone by Aba, which is my name because I was born on a Thursday. Hence, the name of my blog. I’ve been meaning to thoroughly explain that for a while.

I used to not like my name. I didn’t exactly dislike it, but it just… it didn’t sound pretty to me. Perhaps it’s because most media I read and watched was Western, so I had a westerner’s ear for what names should sound like. And not too many people I knew went by their day names. I was actually the only person I knew in my school in Ghana who went by Aba. And it wasn’t that I wanted a Western name. There are plenty of Ghanaian names that I thought were prettier.

Then somewhere along the line, I started to make peace with my name. A few people I told that I disliked my name, non-Ghanaians, were surprised and said they really like my name. But I think it all came together as I myself came together, more fully accepted who I was, and a part of that was accepting how I am called. I learned to like my name, and much more recently, I think I can say that I love it.

Having struggled for so long with my name, I can’t spend an entire post on a different one. No, this name, my given name, the name I have responded to all my life, that is the name that deserves a post.

Well, that and another. You have heard of Anansi the spider, yes? Well,  he’s Ghanaian, and Anansi literally means Eight Legs. So no, in Ghana, we do not call him Anansi the spider. His name is Kweku Anansi, because he was born on a Wednesday (like my brothers!). And this is why my mother had wanted to name my oldest brother Spider. Sadly, my oldest brother was not named Spider, but it makes for a fun story. :)

Written by Aba

December 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Reverb 10

Travel – Reverb 10, Day 22

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What is Reverb10?

December 22 – Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt)

Ironically, I’m in the midst of packing and running off to Ghana to be with my family for the holidays, and I might not be able to properly write this post right now. I might edit this from my phone once I’m at the airport, but in case I don’t, I’ll be posting again tomorrow, once I’ve safely arrived.

I love the technology of airplanes, but I can’t wait to get a break from being in one for so long! (this is my third trip since Friday)

Edit:

Ok, I have arrived safely in Ghana! Yet another delightfully warm and humid Christmas! (as all my Christmases have been since after my fourth).

How did I travel this year? Primarily by airplanes. Big planes, medium sized planes, and tiny planes that make even me, 5’3″ and fairly skinny, feel cramped. I’ve traveled from Saint Louis to DC, New Haven, Charleston, Accra (Ghana) and Seattle, and back. I’ve flown from Saint Louis to Accra to Istanbul to Bodrum to Istanbul to Saint Louis. Cars, taxis, buses, trains, subways, shuttles, light rails and more have also been involved.

But no boats. I haven’t been on boats often, and I didn’t go on any this year. Wait, that’s a lie. I took the ferry again in Istanbul. I love the ferry.

Three hours ago I finished my final plane ride of 2010, and I am relieved.  The existence of planes is key to my happiness, but I quickly tire of them. I was going to count how many individual flights I’ve been on this year and then I stopped because just thinking about it was exhausting in this travel weary state of mine. I need some sleep. (It’s somewhere over 26 flights though).

In 2011, I would like to travel shorter distances, but that will not happen because no one is moving. I know of 5 trips that I am making for sure, one that is very likely, and I’m quite sure that at least once or twice my parents will unexpectedly (to me) be in the US and I will go visit them in DC. I have no trips planned or desired that don’t involve visiting family or Ahmet. I am not a traveler by nature, or at least, I don’t think I am, but I’ve not been given a choice in the matter so it’s hard to say for sure.

I’m looking forward to travel in 2013/end of 2012 though. Why? Because then my ten year passport will expire, and I can travel for another ten years with a picture of me that I like! The current one was a rush job when we couldn’t find my passport in 2002 and I was sixteen and probably at my heaviest weight and still had my braces. Wait, it costs $82 to add more pages when a renewal is $110? I might be getting a new passport much sooner then. I’m not sure I have space for another international trip after this one, but we’ll see where the US puts my re-entry stamp.

I do need a new State ID asap… My DC one expired in October and I don’t like flying with my passport for domestic trips. Not looking forward to dealing with the DMV, but I need to get a driving learner’s permit anyway (no, I don’t know how to drive yet. Hush).

Written by Aba

December 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm

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