Monday, March 26, 2012

Love this book: the perks of being a wallflower.

This is the first book I wished I had written.

I read this on the exercise bike sweating drops onto the pages and gosh this is the most wonderful piece of literature I have read. Because the character Charlie is so honest and feels everything and says things like this:
I didn't feel like reading that night, so I went downstairs and watched a half-hour-long commercial that advertised an exercise machine. They kept flashing a 1-800 number, so I called it. The woman who picked up the other end of the phone was named Michelle. And I told Michelle that I was a kid and did not need an exercise machine, but I hoped she was having a good night.
That's when Michelle hung up on me. And I didn't mind a bit.
And I am at peace with the ending. Somewhat unexpected but I think it explains a lot about Charlie. Charlie on the significance of your own problems:
I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China... because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad... It's just different. Maybe it's good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. Like Sam said. Because it's okay to feel things. And be who you are about them.
And it's now a movie!
Picture Source

motivation for everyone.

Today's thought of the day involves "swim suit season". At the gym today, our instructor yelled out, "Swim suit season is coming!!!!!" and everyone started pumping harder. You could see the spark in their eyes. Not the first time this has happened.

Is Swimsuitseason a monster everyone is trying to outrun?

It's perfectly dandy that everyone is working out to look great when they go to the beach. Maybe someone will film them and run it slow motion with the beach waves glistening in the background. That would be something beautiful for the world.

My motivation for pushing through those classes comes from my nutrition professor Dr. Anding: I don't want my bones to snap like twigs. (Speaking of twigs, I held a black and white warbler in my hands this afternoon! It had flown into our department building so someone decided to pick it up and freeze it.) What really worries me is the possibility that I am speeding up my metabolism and just running my engine uber-fast which isn't good for me.

I picked up a bag of spinach at the Rice farmers' market last week and it is the most delicious spinach I've tasted. I was snacking on it on my way home. Snacking on spinach. It has a completely different texture that's almost lettuce-like.

Ten weeks until I fly out to Korea. There is so much to do before I fly out, but the motivation that keeps me going (my Swimsuitseason-monster) is spending time with family and relatives. I am actually staying for more than two weeks this time, so I want to learn how to play the so-geum (Korean flute) and jog with Appa and bake for my family and do all the wonderful everyday things I have been missing. In both senses of the word.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

When studying Spanish pays off.

After that sad morning in Philadelphia when I failed to squeak a single Spanish word to Portuguese men, I've made progress.

1. I understood phrases from "Born to Run" without Chris McDonagall dutifully explaining ever line. (Awesome book, by the way.) Bruja. Caballo. Loco. Corriendo. I think I may have summarized the entire book in four words.
2. I was able to read SkippyJon Jones believably for the kiddos' bedtime. Including the parts where Chihuahuas appear in SkippyJon's fantasy and speak in Spanish and Spanish accents. Holy frijoles!

I wanted to be an interpreter for a long time in middle school because I thought I was talented at languages. I took up English so easily! I had no accent! I took Latin in high school and gradually decided otherwise. Taking Chinese at Rice also convinced me that I didn't have natural talent at learning languages, I just had exceptional English tutors.

Because the sun is finally out after months of clouds
At the library yesterday I saw a 5-year-old reading a storybook in Chinese. So wonderful.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Onward to D is for Dentist.

I started a new blog. Officially.

It is called D is for Dentist and as you may guess, I am going to write about dentistry. Specifically living in Philadelphia and being a dental student. It is all of two days old.

With this blog, I wanted to get used to writing (aka talking to no one and everyone). Since this new blog has a pretty narrow focus, I haven't decided if I will keep this blog once D is for Dentist starts picking up. I like being able to talk about whatever interests me: this blog is a place for me to ramble about anything that sounds cool to me. Hm.

The other blog is still a work in progress, so be nice.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Singing in French and debating healthcare.

M who is a co-worker in my department moved into her new apartment couple of weeks ago. She invited a dozen friends, neighbors, and co-workers for her housewarming/St. Patrick's party this Saturday.

I haven't laughed like that in a long time. Or had that much cheese and wine. Two observations: our department is very international and very active. The neighbor who brought over the guitar (he's Moroccan) sang us songs in French and Spanish, and it was wonderful. Also, half the guests had walked or biked to M's apartment. In 80's Houston weather. On St. Patrick's Day with dangerous drivers on the road.

At one point we had a heated debate about social justice and disparities in healthcare. The psychiatrist was dealing with the fact that he had to prescribe instead of treat the patients (pharmaceutical companies throw some awesome parties). Coming from international backgrounds, many of us had different opinions of what works and what doesn't. Socialized healthcare, capitalism, doctors living the same lifestyle as mechanics in Sweden. Korea has a universal healthcare system where everyone is automatically covered and the insurance claims occur between doctors/government. Going to the ER for toothaches is almost unheard of. Everyone was yelling with exaggerated hand gestures and personal vendettas with no resolution in sight. Then M brought over a new plate of Caprese salad and everyone calmed down.

Couple of thoughts:
1) Is it enough to say, "The world is big. You don't have to live in the United States if you don't like its policies. Move somewhere else"? Even if you decided to leave the life you'd built, your friends and families, country boundaries are becoming more and more artificial. It's a global world. I guess you could evade your problem (aka not have a panic attack everytime you turn on the news) by immigrating somewhere else. But when does it stop? Maybe you just have to take some Xanax and stop thinking so much.
2) How do you resolve your social ideals with your personal actions? For example, I could scream all I want about disparities in healthcare, demand changes happen. But I can't start taking in patients who can't pay for their treatments. Or could I? What if I was going to be fired for doing so? 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

happy white day!

Today is White Day in Korea. In Korea, Valentine's Day is for women to confess their love with chocolate, and on White Day (a month later) guys give ladies candy to do the same. On April 14th which is called Black Day, men and women who have not received anything (and are forever alone) "celebrate" their singledom with ja-jang-myeun, or black noodles.

I went to bed at 8PM feeling sick (there are about three people around me who are sick) & woke up delirious wanting a pancake. So even before daybreak at 5AM, I whipped up three good old fashioned pancakes. We have a review session this afternoon for our exam tomorrow. Must keep going-going-going.But in another news, I have found a roommate and an apartment! It is the most adorable place ever. I will write more about it once it is officially ours.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Race photo from the 5k

Raceshots took pictures at our race, which were finally up this morning on their website. Look at this shot of me seconds from the finishline. I die.
Trust me, this is the better picture
But see how wet the pavement is? How dark the streets are at 9 in the morning? My Philly host and I are already discussing running schedules! There's the Philadelphia Marathon late October...or more realistically the 8k. Baby steps, people.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

first 5k: Bayou City Classic!

I ran my first 5k this morning, the Bayou City Classic. Couple of weeks ago, a bunch of my runner friends decided to run this race, and I figured why not? After sleeping through the thunderstorm, I woke up to a breezy 55F, sprinkling outside with the roads already flooded. 
mid 50's plus rain and some winds...

10k lined up at startline
The start is a little less dramatic than expected...
Here we are, after the 10k racers have ran off. At this point, we're already soaking wet and waiting. I was nervous since I had not run an entire distance of 5km since... maybe 2011, that one morning when I was so inspired (caffeinated) and ran along University. I don't particularly enjoy running.
Our course looked like this. The first mile up to the post office was easy breezy, although some people began jogging full speed. Since I didn't have music, I tried to distract myself by looking for orange colors. The little loopy ramp was difficult due to the incline (and eventual decline), but once I made it back onto the streets, this was the last stretch. Just keep running, just keep running, just keep running!

The final stretch had people lined up cheering us on, so I sprinted the last block to the finish line. The 5k-ers didn't get a chip or a timer, but the guy who ran in with me had one: 30:09. My somewhat arbitrary goal was 30 minutes, and considering it was pouring and windy, I am happy.

We grabbed after-race snacks/goodies/beer and trotted home.
Chicken and fruit in one bowl. Peppery apples-mmmm.
Happy and dry at home with goodies
We are already brainstorming which next race to run together. When I told a neighbor that I was running a 5k, she told me "Congratulations!" which seemed like an interesting thing to say. But I feel so accomplished and inspired after running this mini-race that this compliment makes sense. Now I have a baseline to improve on and quantifiable goals to work towards, a minute at a time.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Philadelphia Love Letter.

A quick lunch break before heading off to the med center for our meeting.. (Did you know today is International Women's Day? A co-worker brought in cookies and flowers for all the ladies!)

I had saved this lovely clipping from a touristy magazine I picked up in Philadelphia. Turns out, this is part of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, specifically Steve Powers' Philadelphia Love Letter series. All these murals are visible from the train.

Here are some more murals from the project website (okay, the link gave me a virus, so... google at own risk):

Definitely worth a train tour to see more murals from this series. Whimsical and so so so romantic.

Monday, March 5, 2012

old and new roommates.

I almost included a video to a 90's pop song with cheesy inspirational topics, but I'll spare you. For the first time in a long time, I can picture myself in 5 years, maybe 10, 20 years. It is not a hazy image of me floating around anymore. And I am starting to move in that direction towards the new me, wrapping up my life in Houston with checklist of tasks.

One is leaving the boys.

I think I've found someone to take over my spot. She'll be amazing, and as Lo reminded me, I am happy I'll be leaving them in good hands. But it still saddens me to know my Friday evenings will soon be sans Wii, made-up games and bedtime stories, nights like tonight.

After I let Littlest pick his out his pajamas ("Ta-yo!"- this means Star Wars) and loop each limb through the opening, he hops out of the bed to brush his teeth. He holds out his toothbrush so I can squeeze a pea drop of toothpaste onto it. While he's brushing his teeth (which means he turns on the toothbrush and holds it in his mouth for ten seconds), I tell him "I'm going to be a dentist." He looks at me in the mirror and smiles, letting his little teeth show. "Do you know what a dentist does? Open your mouth? I'll be taking care of those teeth." Littlest collects water in his palms, licks his hands, then puts the toothbrush back in the medicine cabinet.

Littlest get in bed and looks at me as I'm about to turn out the lights. He says "Good night, Yesle" except his "Yesle" sounds more like "Yah-slee".

I think I definitely want a roommate next year. But how can I really know someone through Craigslist or facebook? Roommates used to be completely random in the World Before Facebook, and college kids all over the world survived just fine. So why not?
Tomorrow a penthouse, that's way up high! Tonight, the "Y", why not? It's NYC!
This has got to be my favorite part from Annie. Same goes for me. Why not live somewhere historic, "cozy", rat-infested with roommates for a little while?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Frank O'Hara: Personism

"Selected Poems" by Frank O'Hara (Literary Bestie sent me "Having a Coke with you") accompanied me to Philly weeks ago & I finally finished the collection last night. Couple of favorites including this last verse from "Steps"  that just makes me giddy.
oh god it's wonderful/to get out of bed/and drink too much coffee/and smoke too many cigarettes/and love you so much
And this stanza from "Poems" makes you believe (or feel) the power of love
.... when I am in your presence I feel life is strong and will defeat all its enemies and all of mine and all of yours and yours in you and mine in me sick logic and feeble reasoning are cured by the perfect symmetry of your arms and legs spread out making an eternal circle together creating a golden pillar beside the Atlantic...
Finally, my favorite "For Grace, After a Party":
Some albeit muted frustration then suddenly forgetting that you were supposed to be upset at that person, smiling at them as the sun shines in through the curtains. It's subtle and realistic.