Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recharging my batteries

It's Sunday night at 9 pm and it's the first time I've opened my laptop all weekend.

While that statement might give some a heart attack because it means I haven't studied all weekend, I sorely needed these couple days to relax and recharge before getting ready to hit the books nonstop for the next couple weeks. Last week was one of the most stressful in recent memory, and there's nothing like going home, seeing all my closest friends and family again, and getting out of Baltimore for a while to re-energize and revitalize my spirits again.

First off, remember that exam I was studying for last weekend? It was horrible. I won't bore you with the details, but everyone that I talked to felt like it was one of the hardest tests we've ever taken in medical school, and our class average dropped about 10%. I didn't do as well as I wanted, but I feel like that pretty much after every exam. I think I finally need to let go of those days when I could study two or three days before and ace a test because the bar is set so much higher. It's a sobering fact and only something that I'm starting to accept after a year, but I think it's essential so I don't get depressed after every exam. Coming to terms with medical school is a work in progress so check back with me later, but what else was there to do but move on? After a fun Monday night at the bar where everyone wanted to forget about the day's test, we still had to get through the rest of the week. Tuesday was spent hanging out with an old college buddy who came up for a surprise visit and having an impromptu reunion with my favorite London boys. I don't usually like surprises, but this was the best kind! Then it got serious the rest of the week: I sacrificed a few precious days not studying to finish writing my final research paper and then gave a 15 minute oral presentation in front of 3 judges for Medical Student Research Day on Thursday. I didn't win anything, but it was good practice presenting a scientific project. Between research and starting ICM (my clinical class where we learn how to actually see patients; this year it's at the VA, the Veteran's hospital) this week, I barely had any time to learn any of the new material (mycology), which stressed me out even more. I know, even not studying (falling behind) stresses me out, but at least it's only the beginning of the new unit and we have 3 weeks to catch up. But it's also a double edged sword because it means we have an extra week's worth of material we have to hoard in our brains before we regurgitate it for the test (we usually only have 3 weeks of material, but this time we have 4 for mycology, bacteriology, and parasitology, infamous for being the hardest course in med school). Ahhhh. And so the cycle of stress starts again.

Nonetheless, I took a much needed break this weekend by going home, hanging out with my parents and sister, getting a mani-pedi, and catching up with close friends both in MoCo and in DC. It's amazing how hanging out with your friends makes you feel good again. I came back from meeting up with a friend in Rockville feeling so refreshed and recharged, like I could handle life again after talking with her! I sorely miss that in Baltimore. At school, I feel like I rarely talk about anything other than school with my friends and it's hard to form a deeper connection with people when you're all just focused on getting through the day and studying. Even though I love having 160 people in my class who understand what I'm going through and who are on the exact same schedule as me, I sometimes feel like I'm alone in having to cope with it. Reconnecting with some of my old friends from high school, college, home, whatever, makes me realize how important it is to have a support system outside of medical school who will remind you that there's actually life outside of med school! I think I had forgotten that a little in my day-to-day grind in Baltimore, which was why this week of getting out of the city and catching up with old friends was so welcome (even at the expense of my studying. In fact, I think that should be the point.) I told my friend who surprised me on Tuesday that am I going to remember any single night of studying? No. I'm going to remember going out having a good time on a Tuesday night in Baltimore. Even though I might not get the best grades out of my school friends, I feel like there are other things that are more important in life and I'm not going to apologize for that.

I feel like my posts have been very serious/philosophical of late. As you can see, my blog is pretty personal and as you all know, I'm an (sometimes brutally) honest person, and this is is how I really feel, so why pretend otherwise? I promise I'll post more light-hearted recipes and pictures in the future, especially since it's about to be OCTOBER! Which means it's time for pumpkin season, candles, sweaters, boots, and Halloween so soon. In the meantime, here are some pics of what I've been doing recently.
 Cauliflower crust pizza in my new cast iron skillet. It tasted good, but I still have to perfect that cauliflower crust. Yes, I'm still on my diet. 
 Assembling my zucchini lasagna (again). This time with goat cheese and spinach. 
 Ta-da! Couldn't resist sneaking a piece before the pic. 
 Matcha green smoothie! A delish post-work out drink/lunch. Combine 1 small frozen banana (this gives it the creaminess and smoothie texture. Before I discovered this trick, my smoothies would always taste really icy), 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 bunch washed kale, and 1 tsp matcha green tea powder for a delicious and low cal, high protein green smoothie. 
 Matching leather jackets and boots for fall. 
 Stang of Siam, a cute little Thai place we went to to celebrate some friends' birthdays. 
Some of my favorites in DC! On the roofdeck of this new British bar on U. St. called Brixton. 
An idyllic DC street right across from my friend's new place

Next up, a family friend's wedding this weekend! So excited for the wedding (first one I'm attending), not excited for the 5 hours of studying in the car on the way there and back. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blog binge

I've been on a blog binge lately, namely because of the black hole of productivity known as Pinterest. I'm obsessed right now. For those stragglers who have yet to get a Pinterest account, Pinterest is basically a virtual bookmark "board." It takes users' favorite pictures and articles from around the articles and "pins" them on a giant board that you can scroll through and then re-pin to your own boards. It's kind of like Tastespotting or any of the gawker sites, except for every concept conceivable: fashion, interior decorating, travel , food, work-out tips, products, inspirational quotes with a heavy DIY influence, so you'll find a lot of "make your own prepackaged foods" or "tailor your own shirts" pins.  You know how they say that getting a Facebook notification or text is like a drug addict taking a hit nowadays because we're stimulated so much by social media? Well, Pinterest is kind of like that for me -- whenever I sign on, I feel instantly a little less stressed, a little happier because the page in front of me is full of beautiful DSLR taken images of weddings and recipes instead of antibodies and complement (currently in our immunology block). I could happily spend hours pinning those beautiful home decorating DIY's, work-out tips, sewing tutorials even though I've never stitched a pillow, upholstered a chair, or hemmed my own pants in my life (I have used some of the work-out tips though!). And then once I've pinned it to my board, I usually forget about it or never look at it again. Clicking on picture then takes you to the original article or blog it came from, so I've also discovered so many new blogs lately, and then that leads to another hour or three wasted reading through the blogs of beautiful and glamorous women, who's lives I will never have. It's fascinating and addicting in the moment (ooh, a blog for petite Asian women! a blog for decorating my future dream home! a travel blog of all the places I want to go!) but in the end, pretty pointless and even counterproductive, because not only am I wasting time in the moment, I'm also only fantasizing about a life I won't ever have the time to lead as a future doctor. But nonetheless, I've added them all to my blog roll to obsess about at a later time. If you must know, they're Gary Pepper Vintage (a gorgeous Aussie's high end fashion blog), Iowa Girl Eats (healthy, yet hearty food from a girl who shares my work out to eat philosophy), Extra Petite, and Alterations Needed (the later two have handy tips for buying clothes for petite women. I'm nowhere as small as them, but I think I'll give buying kids clothes a shot now!). And what do you know, I'm back on Pinterest to procrastinate even writing this blog post.

Here are some of the pins that I've actually used!

I spent 2 hours this morning straining the mixture with paper towels because I didn't have a strainer or a cheesecloth. But I love pumpkin creamer...and this way I can have it all year round! Though I did see it for the first time in the grocery store this morning! I grit my teeth and made the organic version myself though. 

I haven't gotten through this whole workout yet, but seeing random work out pins come up always inspires me to take a break and sweat for a couple minutes. 

I've been doing this after 45 min long cardio sessions as well. Try it! It's calming. 

Anddd some on my wish-list: 

My dream bathing suit! Don't have a spare $225 to drop on it right now though. 

Gorgeous medieval rings.

In personal news, this weekend was a quiet weekend in Baltimore for me. It's the first weekend after the test, so nothing too heavy academically (except a slew immunology lectures I have to catch up on hanging over my head), but most of my friends are home, so I've just been staying in, reading, working out (yesterday), and cooking and Pinteresting (today). This morning, I ran to the Farmer's market though and picked up a huge bag of kale (I feel like he packed 5 lbs of kale into a 2 lb bag!), sweet peppers, thai chili pappers, sweet potatoes, and an acorn squash today. Then stopped by the normal grocery store to get some eggs and cream. And it all came to around $20! Grocery success. I wasn't a total hermit and went to a friend's house on Friday night before hitting up a couple bars in Fells (the next morning, I explained to my mom the concept of a pregame. I love how my parents don't act surprised when I tell them how much I drink anymore...) and cooked zucchini lasagna with my friends before watching a really depressing war movie. But the lasagna was delicious! 

I used this recipe, but I use recipes as more of a guideline to what I need to do rather than following it to the tee. My friends brought over rainbow chard, so we chopped that up and put it in the sauce, and I added mushrooms and omitted most of the meat to make it even healthier. It was still great! 

Tomorrow it's back to the grind. Already looking forward to next weekend already!