Thursday Born

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

Archive for December 2010

11 Thing I don’t need – Reverb 10, Day 11

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December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

On first reading, I took this as eleven things that currently exist in my life that I want to get rid of for/during 2011. Nope, that wasn’t doing it for me. Instead, I am reading it as a more general “what are 11 things that could be in your life in 2011, that you really don’t want to be in your life.” Ah-ha! That gives me something to talk about. (And now I have this song stuck in my head.)

1. A bad Step 1 score.
To get into college, you take the SATs or the ACTs. To get into medical school, you take the MCAT. To get into a US residency, the only way to become a licensed practicing physician in the US, you take the Step 1 (and both Step 2s, and the Step 3). Of the three/four tests, the Step 1 is the most important for getting into residency. It’s my new MCAT/SAT score, and it’s far more important than my grades this year. If I fail the exam, I can retake it until I pass, but if I pass with a bad score? That’s it. That’s my score. I’m not aiming for a competitive specialty like Radiology or Dermatology, but I am aiming for options, and options means a good score. I’m taking the test in June, and it’s kind of a scary thing to have looming over my head.

Some schools give their students a long time to take the test. Mine gives us four weeks & a weekend between second and third year, during which we get to study for the test and then take it. Apparently it’s enough, and I plan to make the most of it and study my ass off (pardon the language). Originally I had wanted to get at least a week off before third year to relax, but I think a good score is more important to my longterm mental health.

2. Pass Grades on my Tests
I may or may not have had two Pass grades this year so far. No more! One of them was expected, and honestly, I was aiming for it, but the other one was a surprise and that’s not the good kind of surprise. High Pass and Honors next year, please. Honestly, not having Pass grades won’t make a big difference, except for the fact that a better grade means I’m learning the material better, which will be necessary for the Step 1.

3. More Loans
Med school has me about $56K in debt right now. Ouch. Unfortunately, there isn’t really much I can do about it except to keep living within or under the given budget and make sure to apply for financial aid on time (ha, like that ever happens; they’re really accommodating though, thankfully). Fewer loans would have me feeling a bit better about my financial future though. Not that I feel terribly insecure, but it’s a burden in the back of my mind that I already can’t wait to be free of. I like feeling like my money is actually mine.

4. An ego
Honestly, I don’t have much of one. But I better keep what I do have in check once I start my rotations next year. I need to be as pleasant and eager (but not too eager!) as possible, a consummate team player all around! Why? Well, it’s the right way to be as part of a team, but also because Letters of Recommendation are about as important as my Step 1 score. Also, my grades next year are much more important than this year, and they’re also going to be much more subjective than this year. It will be a little less about what I know, and more about how much it seems I know and how competent and reasonable I am. Thankfully, I’m really good at appearing competent and reasonable.

5. More Foods Ruined
Medicine is really fond of describing things using food. I thankfully don’t have a strongly visual mind, so I’m not always going to be thinking of yeast pseudohyphae when I see spaghetti and meatballs (or when I eat cottage cheese… Sigh). But still. It’s a bit unpleasant. Unfortunately, this is going to happen anyway and there’s nothing I can do about it but to keep a strong division in my head between food as a medical descriptor and food as the actual things that I eat.

6. More Blogs in Google Reader
I keep adding blogs! Largely because I’ve really downsized what I allow myself to do online, so adding more subscriptions to google reader is a way around that. However, I’ve also started unsubscribing to blogs, because sometimes after a few months of reading someone’s stuff, you’ve gleaned all you’re going to and it’s time to move on. So next year, I need to stop adding blogs, or at least keep unsubscribing at the rate that I subscribe. At least I don’t compulsively read the entire archives of blogs anymore? Most of the time?

7. A Caffeine Addiction
I’ve made it this far without developing one, and I’d like to continue. This directly leads into the next one:

8. Sleep Deprivation
This will be hard. I’ve heard through the grapevine that some rotations equal eighty hour work weeks. Um, ouch. I thought that was what residency was for? It will be a struggle to stay sane and get enough sleep, without relying on caffeine. I’m going to have to be strict with my time management, and probably rely a lot more heavily on setting timers. I lose track of time really easily. Like right now. It’s 5:30 already?! But it was just 4:40…

9. A Bad Diet
Like sleep, healthy eating will be a bigger struggle next year. Healthy eating cheaply will be an even bigger struggle. I might be putting our chest freezer to even better use next year, because I refuse to live on premade frozen dinners (usually unhealthy or too expensive or both). Sardines will also be a very good friend next year. And thought it’s tempting to lean heavily on the ability to put lots of cheese on anything to make it taste good, I’ll need to resist that, because dairy is one of those things I actively try to eat in light moderation.

10. Favoring the future over the present
I’ve always been terrible about this, and I need to keep working on it. I’m always thinking about what comes next, and sometimes that means I’m missing what’s going on right now. As wonderful as the idea of being a doctor is, and being somewhere not this city or state where there’s a bigger airport hub, maybe being somewhere without drastic seasons, really hopefully being in the same city or at least state as my boyfriend… All those things would be wonderful, but they’re not now. Their time will come. There’s some great things going on in my life right now and I need to pay more attention to them.

11. Being sick
I haven’t had a cold in years now. My allergies have popped up, my digestive system’s a very special snowflake, and I get cold really easily, but I haven’t been actually sick in a while. We’ll see how I survive spending most of my time in a hospital… I think I’ll be okay, but I hear that’s it’s almost impossible not to catch something when you work with kids, and I’ll probably have to do some pediatrics at some point.

I apologize for the wordiness! I’m a bit verbose by nature when I write and I really need to get back to studying. I’ll probably edit this down later.

Written by Aba

December 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Wisdom – Reverb 10, Day 10

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December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

The use of the word “wisest” means that my decision doesn’t actually have to have been wise, it just needs to have been wiser than all the others. But I haven’t had to make a lot of decisions this year, honestly. As I said in response to the first prompt, this year has been a transitional year, a year of continuing to go with decisions I’ve already made. A year of waiting for another year or two before I have to start making tough, life altering decisions (what residency? where?).

This year, I’m still working hard to get through medical school. Living in the same apartment with the same roommate. Hanging out with the same core friend group. Dating the same guy (and deciding that long distance is just going to be something we have to keep dealing with for now). Writing the same blog. A member of the same (wonderful and tightly knit and incredibly supportive) family, which in the past few years has started to expand a bit (2 sisters in law and a niece!). Owning the same parrot (someday I might be choosing between re-homing him or acquiring a second bird to keep him company, but I’m not ready to make that decision yet). Learning to make new things and making my mother worry that people will think I’m not studying enough (I love you Mommy! =) ).

Considering that this was a pretty good year for me, if a quiet one, maybe my wisest decision was not rocking the boat.

I wish I had the time and was in the mental place to sit down and write a clever poem or craft a beautiful essay about some important, deep moment this year, but I’m in the middle of my exams. Thus I’m going to make another wise decision and be content with this as my contribution.

—-

In other news, today I had my first exam of this block, Dermatology, and I’m pretty sure I got at least a High Pass, and hopefully Honors (our grades are Fail, Pass, High Pass, and Honors. I really miss last year, which was entirely Pass or Fail). The begining of exams means that it’s time to give my lil’ sib something, so next time she checks her mailbox, she has a small bottle of mead, a jar of apple butter, and a jar of apricot jam waiting for her. All made by me. I thought having a vegan lil’ sib was going to be difficult, but instead it’s given me an excuse not to worry about baking right before exams! =D

And now back to studying for the next three exams. So close to the end of the year, I’d hate to rock the boat now by failing something because I’ve been too busy blogging!

Written by Aba

December 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm

(Study) Party – Reverb 10, Day 9

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What is Reverb10?

December 9 – Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

The real answer to this question is what I answered for Prompt # 3, my brother’s wedding this year. So instead, I’m going to ramble a little bit about my med student study parties, and in a few hours go start one. I’m being a bit liberal with the word “party” here, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

Sometime early last year, I started studying with two of my classmates, Ran and Joe. They’d come over to my apartment, we’d study, they’d sleep in my living room, and then we’d head over to the exams together (and often my roommate Hao would make us breakfast). They soon also started spending most weekends in my apartment (I would love to let you assume that we were studying, but more often we were playing video games. I can however assure you that there has been much less of that since second year started), so it kind of made sense that this year, they moved into my building. They ended up not taking the apartment next door as planned, but two floors below us is more than close enough.

Consistently, we still study together the night before exams, and sometimes earlier, depending on the difficulty of the exam. Tomorrow’s is based on 6 hours of Dermatology lectures, so at 5pm I have yet to venture down to their apartment. For Pharmacology, we had been quizzing each other over dinner and other random moments for over a week before the test.

Studying together is, for the most part, taking old tests together, via laptop connected to TV. We sometimes also go over review powerpoints and other materials together, but by far, I find doing the old tests together the most helpful approach. We think through the questions on our own, and then we discuss the answers, and then we check the answers, and then we re-discuss as necessary. I admit that often I do some of the tests by myself first. Multiple passes through the material are always a good thing.

Sometimes, food is indeed involved. We’ll make dinner, we’ll make a fast food run (lately, Church’s Chicken), or we might even have dinner brought to us by a classmate we’ve invited over. If Amrita has had the misfortune to be visiting during exam time, there will definitely be freshly baked goods. Rarely is there music. Clothes are always involved, but shirts are not required, if one is Ran or Joe and the weather’s warm enough. Sweats are more likely than jeans. Robes are not unheard of. And yes, sometimes, there are shenanigans. A group would not be worth studying with repeatedly if there were not occasional shenanigans. :)

Written by Aba

December 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Candy Time!

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I was talking to my friend Amrita about hoping that crushed candy canes are in stock in the grocery stores this year, and she was kind of appalled that I’d buy pre-crushed candy canes. A few weeks later, my friend Joe comes back from Atlanta and what does he have with him? A pretty mason jar of candy canes that she crushed for me!

And appropriate timing. I don’t really have anyone in particular I wanted to make candy for this year, but I still wanted to make a batch before I really buckled down to study for my upcoming exams. I think I might try to make candy more often (ie, more than once a year), because watching it transition from stage to stage is cool and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something really sciencey and fancy. This year, I made some toffee and some peppermint brittle. I might make a tiny batch of peppermint bark later.

Either I read my thermometer wrong, my thermometer’s inaccurate, or the given temperature was too low. I think the it needed 30s to1min longer, to get to the proper candy stage. Instead it’s in a weird stage where it’s crunchy and yet still chewy. Thankfully, it still tastes wonderful. :) ( I need to figure out if there’s a setting to leave smilies as punctuation, instead of turning them into images).

The peppermint brittle is interesting, and tastes like hard butterscotch candy with candy cane pieces. In other words, it’s really good! In the future, I might decrease the salt a tiny bit, and try to spread it even thinner. And maybe add more mint extract.

But all in all, the recipes turned out well! Now to figure out what to do with all of it…

Written by Aba

December 8, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Beautifully Different – Reverb10 Day 8

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What is Reverb10?

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)


This is a really hard one for me. Don’t get me wrong here. I love myself. I was a bit of an angsty teenager (quietly and privately angsty, alone in my dorm room listening to my emo music and writing in my livejournal) and wished fervently that I was a different person. But then sometime right before and during my freshman year of college, I just… stopped. To say I stopped entirely would be a lie (more on that soon), but I started to really accept that I was who I was and I was going to have to live with me for the rest of my life, so I might as well love myself.

Chopping off all my hair that December probably helped, because when you’re a girl with inch long hair, you can’t really hide. You stand out more. It forces you to be okay with that.

Like I said, I didn’t stop the angst entirely. Sometimes I do still wish I was more bubbly. That I was a warmer and openly affectionate person. That I was easier to get to know and love. And I’m still rather sensitive about criticism that implies that I should be that way.

But when you get down to it, I love me. I love that in groups I’m mostly quiet, except for the occasional well-timed remark. I also love that I can be surprisingly talkative one on one, if you get me on the right topic. I love the way I sing and dance when I’m in my room by myself and it’s a good day, or it’s a bad day, or just a normal day. I love that I try to keep track of random things about other people, just for the hell of it, and to make gift giving easier. I love that I love to listen to people talk about themselves and their lives. I don’t know if being listened to really makes people light up, but I think that’s the best thing I do for people. I listen.

I’m amused by the fact that I’m often thought of as the reasonable, rational one. The responsible one. Because historically, I’m actually rather absentminded, and a bit of a slacker (work smart, not hard!). But I’m down to earth, I hate to exaggerate or misrepresent, and I don’t (visibly) panic or freak out.

I’ve never been the lead role or the rock star and I’m glad, because I have terrible stage fright. Behind the scenes is where I want to be, where I belong. Stage Manager is as front and center as I go. This confuses some people.

In terms of my appearance, I actively try not to talk or think negatively about my body. That’s (sadly) pretty different. I used to be really self-conscious about my (non-cystic) acne, and the resulting freckle-scars I would get on my face and back, even when I didn’t pick at them. I also had random pigmentation on my legs from scratching too much when I let my skin get dry. I still have these things, though they’re much better now, but I learned that no one cares. So I happily wear strapless or strappy dresses and skirts and shorts, scars be damned! And I’ve learned to love my natural hair. It doesn’t look “too ethnic” and it’s not un-professional. It’s just my hair.

As a medical student, I’m definitely unusual in that I’m very Type B, where most of my classmates are Type A. I also wasn’t a science major, and I worked for a year between undergrad and medical school.

I’m a US citizen but my parents were immigrants. And I lived in Ghana, where they’re from, from the ages of four to thirteen. I fit the definition of a Third Culture Kid fairly well.

I love to read fantasy novels, and some sci-fi. I play videogames. I used to watch a lot of anime.

I have a pet parrot. I spin fire. I brew my own mead and I can my own jams.

I don’t actually like most commercial candy very much.

I like a  ridiculously broad spectrum of music.

And I’m a chronic dabbler.

I’m me. Yay! =D

Written by Aba

December 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I’ve moved!

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I finally got around to buying a domain! http://www.thursdayborn.com is the new address for this blog. If you go to http://thursdayborn.wordpress.com, it will automatically redirect you to the new domain, but it cost me money (12 whole dollars!) to set that up, and being a broke medical student, I may or may not decide to pay for another year when it runs out (november 2011). So please, change any links! And change the blog you’re subscribed to in google reader.

In other news, I have a test on Friday, and three more the week after. I have stuff to blog about (I built a computer and made some candy!), but I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it. GI, Endo and Derm don’t seem like they’ll be that bad, but, well, famous last words.

Written by Aba

December 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Life in General

Starting Reverb10

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In college, I took a class called Daily Themes. Every weekday, we had a prompt, and we had to write a response of a certain length. I really enjoyed that class, and I’m quite fond of some of the pieces I wrote. Recently I noticed a friend on livejournal doing a sort of writing challenge, answering a prompt for every day of the month, and I kind of wanted to do it but the questions were a bit too personal and I wanted something I could post on my blog.

This month, on twitter, I kept seeing people advertise posts on their blogs with the hashtag “reverb10.” I finally looked into it, and while some of the prompts are fairly personal, they’re broad enough that I’m comfortable responding to them here. So, time to catch up! I promise future responses will, on average, be much longer!

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)
Transit. This year has felt very much like I’m in transit. I haven’t just started anything; I’m continuing on with things I started last year or even long before. I haven’t even moved! For ten years, I moved every year (boarding school and then college), and I have to say that it’s been really nice settling, if only for four years. I would like next year to be a year of Affirmation. I’ve made a lot of choices that next year will (hopefully!) be affirming.

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)
Be a medical student. Okay, no, that’s not fair. Being a medical student is actually contributing by giving me material. A more valid answer would be idling. A lot of the time I’m not even actively browsing on the internet. I’m just… idling, trying to figure out how else to avoid doing what I should be doing, but not actively doing anything. I can eliminate it, and I’ve been working on it (somewhat successfully) all year.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
My second brother’s wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. I’m having trouble picking out one moment in particular, because there were several. But it was a breathtaking whirlwind of people I love (my brothers, my parents, other family, family friends, my boyfriend), delicious food (shrimp & grits!), a charming new city (I need to go back someday), and sheer fun! I loved the bridesmaid dress I had to wear (burnt orange), I loved the speeches (ranged from touching to hilarious), and the whole event was bursting with positivity. At the reception, the dance floor was actually shaking from the second to last song! I really need to get back to studying soon, so sorry, I know that wasn’t very vivid. =/

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)
In a strange way, the beginning of a new generation in my family did this for me. I have one niece, who just celebrated her first birthday, and watching her grow from a baby who couldn’t even focus on me into a little person who can explore, and show preferences, and attempt to express herself… Well, it’s hard for that not to cultivate a sense of wonder in your life. I’m the youngest of my siblings too, so this is the first time in a long time that there’s someone younger than me around. I did have two younger cousins that I was close to and watched grow, but they moved to the UK a long time ago.

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradle)
Certainty. I’m still letting go of this, but I’ve been working on letting go of certainty, and being okay with that. There’s so much about my future that I want to know now, but I can’t know yet, and I can’t let that stress me out right now.

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)
Candy! I made peppermint brittle and some toffee. Out of butter and sugar, primarily. As for something I want to make… Been meaning to crochet a blanket for one of my high school friends who had a baby in May. I have the yarn too; I just need to get around to it.

December 7 – Community Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)
This is a hard one for me, and I’m not really sure how to answer it. I don’t think I’ve really discovered new community this year. Same friends as last year, same classmates, same family, etc. Wait, no, that’s a lie! Hao and I discovered local fire spinners this year! Wonderful community of people. I just wish I felt up for hanging out with them more often, especially since I’m definitely not going to be much up for it after June 2011. As for next year, I hope to foster good relationships with the medical students, residents and attendings I’ll be working with in the hospital.

Written by Aba

December 7, 2010 at 8:14 pm

So what I’m hearing is…

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Our Practice of Medicine class is so much better this year! The first year version often felt a bit… wishy-washy, but lately it’s felt a lot more relevant and useful.

We learned about Motivational Interviewing on Thursday, and I had a blast. We had a half hour introduction to the concept, and then we split into small groups. Each group had one doctor (we got a psychiatrist; not sure if all the others were too) and one Standardized Patient. What I didn’t realize going into this, was that we were all going to practice on the SP in front of the entire group! So the doctor started the interview, and we rotated in.

Our SP actually was an ex-smoker, and she had built her persona off of her own experience. She was tough! And she did a really great job of making it seem real (which makes sense, because it was real). I was really nervous about my turn, but I did just fine. I was a bit miffed because I was heading in a certain direction, and right as I was about to take the conversation there, the doctor interrupted (he interrupted everyone with tips) and suggested that I do that. So it seemed like I was just doing what he told me, but I swear I’d already thought of it! I struggled a bit once that was done though, and I started to rush her too much. It felt weird doing what felt like a therapy session during a scenario of someone coming in to see a primary care provider for a quick check-up, and I let that influence my pacing. I’ve noticed that I do that in general, when I’m being watched. I feel like I need to be quicker, because people are waiting on me. But it’s okay, and I’m supposed to take my time.

The SP gave us some good advice about what it feels like to be a smoker, and how all smokers have thought about quitting, and how she hated being asked if she had. She also talked about how she didn’t want to try to quit, because what if she fails? So now I know a few key things not to bring up when trying to counsel a patient to stop smoking.

I kind of wish we’d gotten to do other scenarios though. I know counseling smokers is going to be common, but there’s so many other applications to Motivational Interviewing, like counseling people to exercise or eat better, and I feel like people know how to be more PC about smoking, but not so much with other issues. I guess we’ll learn on the job, though.

So yeah, it was fun! And it affirms a bit that I really want to talk to my patients in whatever specialty it is that I end up in. I’m pretty sure the doctor leading my group was the one who really made me think about Psychiatry again when I went to the Psychiatry career talk. I’m not so sure it’s at the top of my list, mostly because I don’t have much experience with the psychiatric population, but I think I’m leaning more and more toward some sort of primary care. Every now and then I half-wish I’d done Clinical Psychology or gone some other route so I could be a therapist, but I still believe I can find what I’m looking for in medicine. I’m feeling a lot better after this experience and after my hospital session. :)

Written by Aba

December 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Right. That’s why I’m here!

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I finally started my hospital sessions! I hadn’t been in the hospital at all yet this year, and it’s been weird. But no longer!

We’re partnered off for these (one doctor; two students) and for the first session, one of us was to do the physical and one of us to do the history. For the next four sessions, we’ll each do a complete history and physical. I was really nervous as it’d been so long since I’d done a physical and just as long since I’d taken a patient history. To top it off, as I waited for the metro train to school, I got a text message from my partner saying that she wouldn’t be able to come because she was sick…

I waited by the nurse’s station for about twenty minutes until my preceptor found me; she’d just gotten my partner’s email or she would have gone ahead and cancelled earlier. So she let me decide; I could cancel the session and make it up later with my partner, or I could do it on my own today and pick if I did the history or the physical. It was kind of tempting to put it off, but I’ve enjoyed my occasional one-on-one experiences with doctors/residents/fourth years, so I decided to go ahead and do the session.

I still don’t have a good plan for a default general physical, so I picked to do the history. I’m good with the history, though I really need to memorize the “Review of Systems” questions. The review of systems is a check-list of symptoms you ask a patient if they have. It’s like a final “just making sure we haven’t missed anything!” step to the history. I’ve always been a little put off when it gets asked of me when I’m going in for just a check-up but I understand why it’s used.

We had to wait another twenty or so minutes while the patient she’d scouted out for me finished eating. Considering how long it’s been since I’ve done a history, and my patient was hard of hearing, I think I did a good job. I need to get better at using simpler language though. I’m usually pretty good at that but there’s a few questions that I just didn’t have an alternative for in my head yet.  I really liked my patient though. She kept asking me if she was being helpful or if she was answering the questions right, and she was a really good sport throughout the whole thing.

For the physical, my preceptor was great and walked me through it. She had a really accurate idea, somehow, of what I could do on my own and what I’d need guidance for. I didn’t feel babied and I didn’t feel lost. It was just the right pace and now I have a much better idea of what constitutes a quick but still pretty thorough physical.  I also got to feel what a “thrill” is. My patient needs dialysis and she has a maturing Arteriovenous fistula. When you put your fingers over it, you can feel the blood rushing through it, instead of pulsing. Sometimes medical terminology is bizarre and it’s hard to connect the word with the phenomenon. This time? Dead on. Thrill really fits what I felt.

Looking forward to January! My preceptor (a fourth year EM resident) is doing an away position through December, so we’ll start again when she gets back.

Written by Aba

December 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Thanksgiving Recap

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Thanksgiving was a welcome mid-block break, but coming back has very much a “hitting the ground running” feeling. I wrote this post on the plane ride back and only now am finding the time to edit it, add a few pictures and post it. There’s less than two weeks till exams start again (The Friday after next!), which means I spent a good deal of my Thanksgiving break curled up on a bean bag chair with a small ikea desk and my laptop, catching up on lectures. I’m returning more caught up than I left, which is good, but it will take continued effort to stay this way.
It was unexpectedly cold in Seattle, and it snowed! Likely the most snow Seattle will see at once all winter. And yes, it’s true; the city does shut down at the slightest bit of snow/ice because they really aren’t prepared for it and the roads get very dangerous (see this video for evidence of cars, and two busses, sliding down a hill because of the ice). It was beautiful though, and my first snow of the season.
Last Thanksgiving was a lot of fun; my boyfriend visited, and as it was his first time in my city there was sight-seeing to be done. And as it was my and my roommate’s first time properly settled in an apartment, there was a lot of shopping (mostly furniture and electronics, a few clothes). There was also a lot of cooking. Even though it was a small four person dinner, we had a full spread of homecooked items: a turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, bread rolls, pecan pie and pumpkin pie. This year I visited Ahmet, and we kept things very low-key. All Black Friday shopping happened online (I personally didn’t do any; last year’s buys should last me at least a few more years), and Thanksgiving involved very little cooking.
Having proven, twice, that I am capable of cooking an entire Turkey, this year I settled for buying turkey cutlets. They were far more pricey per pound than an entire Turkey, but much quicker to defrost and bake. I ended up over-baking them (followed the timing I read online instead of checking up on them myself) but they still tasted fine with the gravy (which I did make from scratch) and I’ve had drier meat from a whole bird before. Everything else was pre-prepared. Trader Joe’s stuffing, mashed potatoes (I’m a bit embarassed about this one but I just didn’t have it in me to do it myself), cranberry sauce, sweet potatoe fries (which I tossed in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg before baking), and pumpkin souffles (a lovely lighter ending to our meal than pumpkin pie). Everything turned out better than I expected for a pre-made Thanksgiving Dinner. :)
We did have a “real” dinner on Friday though, which was really nice because it’s been three years since I’ve been in someone’s home for Thanksgiving, and it was Ahmet’s first time. There were even kids, complete with a kids table/adults table separation! Homemade whipped cream is delicious, by the way.
Other than all the studying, I also made pizza for the first time. Again, lots of Trader Joe’s shortcuts: pre-sliced meat, premade tomato sauce, pre-shredded cheeze, and premade dough. Still cheaper than buying pizza, and maybe still healthier than a restaurant pizza (note to self: be careful who you let add the cheese). It had portabella mushrooms on it in addition to the meat, and I would’ve added some broccoli or spinach or asparagus but I don’t the three young men I was going to be eating it with were rather ambivalent (if not actually opposed) to the idea. Anyway, it was really good! And really quick. I’m always on the lookout for ways to cut corners while keeping things healthy, since as much as I have fun cooking, it’s more a hobby than something I want to (or will have time to) do several times a day to keep myself alive and healthy.
I’m thankful that I had a Thanksgiving break at all (who knows what it’ll be like next year), and I’m thankful for my family and my friends and my boyfriend, for my noisy, territorial parrot, for having gotten into and doing pretty well in medical school, and for being alive and well in the first place. Life’s been good to me lately. I can complain (who can’t?), but I shouldn’t, because the things to be grateful for far, far outweigh the things to whinge about.

Written by Aba

December 1, 2010 at 11:56 pm

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