Monday, September 4, 2017

A/W 2017 | Wardrobe Planning

Do people still do these posts? Is the 5 piece French wardrobe format still relevant? (I do) (And it is still a reasonable framework for clothing purchases for me)

  1. Black leather boots - I've wanted a good pair of black leather boots for a very long time now, and I think this may be the season I finally drop the $ on a pair. These will probably serve as my primary autumn/winter professional shoe, especially once clerkships begin next year. As such, they need to be comfortable enough to wear all day in clinic and on the wards, though I probably will also buy something like Danskos for the OR and wherever scrubs are worn. Why boots, though? I thought about another black leather shoe like loafers, but these shoes must be suitable for snow and ice. Not that I'm expecting to trudge through inclement weather in them, but must be able to handle the elements in some capacity. Hustling the mere 50 yards from the medical school to the hospital in my heels during February was...not enjoyable.
  2. Trousers - I have a pair of black trousers, but I expect I'll need more come third year. It may seem odd that I'm planning on buying stuff for clerkships right now, but I figured slowly adding to my professional wardrobe is better than trying to do it all at once. This will probably be bought from Old Navy (the popular Pixie pants...stupid name) or Uniqlo.
  3. Black jeans - I recently cut up my pair of black jeans (more on that later, but it was in the name of a DIY project, and it was looking pretty shabby) so I may need to replace it. I'm not sure if I actually will. I'm curious to see how I fare this autumn and winter with the jeans I already have. Given I wore my selvedge denim jeans every day in January and February, I probably won't buy a new pair.
  4. Shirting - I really want this flannel shirt, the Black Stewart colorway of my known favorite L.L. Bean scotch plaid. I also am thinking of slowly adding to my professional blouse/shirting wardrobe for next year.
  5. Something for hiking - hiking pants? A jacket? In all likelihood, I'll buy more than one pair of trousers and fill up this spot. Not that I really stick strictly to the 5PFW model anyways. Oh yes, and I lost my watch somewhere and will need to replace it. I'm an idiot.
Reflecting back on last year: I am basically all set on winter gear, and would only really consider adding to technical outdoors clothes, and probably not even this year. I actually did buy the little black dress I mentioned last year, which I'll have a post about later.

The two other changes I'm making to my wardrobe are a refurbishing of an old coat (I cut off the sleeves and replaced them with material from my old doesn't look as bad as it sounds), and the eventual tailoring of my raws. The waist is ridiculously large and I need to take it in. Since the fabric is so heavy and the jeans are so integral to my cold weather wardrobe, I may need to get this professionally done.

Lastly, I am planning on doing a wardrobe declutter soon. I hate that idea, that even after being choosy about bringing stuff to Boston I have things I don't wear and will get rid of. But that's the truth, and I'm holding myself accountable. I'll follow up at the end of winter with a wardrobe inventory of sorts to continue holding myself accountable. To be honest, the only things that I really "need" to buy are the boots and the trousers.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Summer clothes in Boston

The psychedelic floral dress returns

This time last year, I made a post of the outfits I wore to Germany. With the exception of two new tank tops -- for school organizations that I belong to -- and two shirts from Uniqlo, I have made no changes to my summer wardrobe.

Which is not to say that I will not buy anything on my return to Boston (currently escaping the humidity by going back to SF). I've evaded much of the heat by staying in the hospital freezing under the AC or burning up under lead in the OR.

linen shirt - Uniqlo | linen shorts - GAP | boat shoes - Sperry | watch - Casio

I finally bought this dark blue linen shirt from Uniqlo. I originally thought I would venture for something light-colored, but I am a creature of habit and hate the way light colors look on me. It's perfectly comfortable on even the most hellishly hot (and humid) days in Boston. The loose fit is very airy and helps the fabric not stick to my skin, and generally makes the thought of summer a bit more bearable. I wear an XS here, and generally use shoulder width to determine XXS, XS, or S in shirts.

Linen dresses in Muji

My hunt for the linen dress continues, though I will probably buy the second one (middle and right images) if it goes on sale. Sometimes I have to go places and do things where short shorts are not appropriate, even on unbearably hot days. Despite all the time I spent looking online for a good linen dress, this Muji one may be the most accessible. Granted, it does look like a dark blue potato sack unless I tie something around my waist (drawstring from my shorts shown above), but I was generally very impressed with it in the fitting room.

Hospital scrubs

A very, very kind chief resident gave me three pairs of scrubs in my size when I told her I had gotten mine from Goodwill. I won't be regularly in the hospital (much less the OR) this semester unless I have specific shadowing arrangements, so these scrubs will just have to wait until M3. But I would be remiss to leave this post without acknowledging that I spent most of my summer thus far wearing these. Not particularly flattering, but very comfortable.


I completely neglected this blog in the past few weeks. This post was kind of a cop-out because the posts that I had planned involved me going through tons and tons of photos (Germany posts from last summer, more gardens, more hiking). I also recently had an inexplicable hankering to write something more about personal style, wardrobe building, and fashion-related. One factor may be a pretty black dress that I basically impulse-bought off Poshmark. It hasn't arrived yet, but I hope it suits me.


The other thing that I wanted to examine was this notion of practicing minimalism or living with less or low/zero waste. I don't necessarily categorize myself as a "minimalist," but I have drunk more and more of the Kool-aid, read more and more of the "discourse" around it on Reddit/Instagram/blogs, and feel more equipped to use it as a tool to construct my own ethics about consumption, ownership, and...other stuff. If there's one thing I loathe about minimalism blogs, it's when they get preachy and take the moral super-high ground.


And my last thought of the night is that I had a conversation with some of my friends about shopping. None of us "go shopping" as a hobby, but we were having some premature worries about having to build up a professional wardrobe in time for clerkships. I'm still sticking to my guns about wardrobe planning and restricting the number of clothes that I'll buy, but I am planning ahead now.


And that's it. My next post will probably be a photographic summary of one year in Boston. One year already! Time really does fly.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Muir Woods National Monument | California

"Here in this grove of enduring redwoods, preserved for posterity, members of the United Nations Conference on International Organization met on May 19, 1945, to honor the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, thirty-first President of the United States, chief architect of the United Nations, and apostle of lasting peace for all mankind." - memorial plaque in Cathedral Grove Muir Woods, 1945

Here is a post of many photos and few words. I think these are the best photos I have ever taken. I went on a hike in Muir Woods National Monument last July right before I moved out here to Boston. Somehow I never got around to editing the photos or sorting through them, but just looked at them when I felt homesick.

I already waxed poetic about Sequoia sempervirens, the coast redwoods, true icons of the Californian Pacific coast, on a previous post about Big Basin State Park, so I'll just leave these photos here.

Doe and fawn

Californians and non-Californians alike: please visit this place. Please hike beyond the first 1.5 miles of the park. The next time I come here, I'll hike to the beach. I hiked here alone and realized I'm seldom out in nature by myself. These are the most beautiful trees on Earth.

Take a look at these big ass trees

Here we enter Cathedral Grove, where some of the largest, oldest trees in this forest stand. This is probably as close as I will come to a spiritual experience, and this forest is probably as close as I will have to a house of worship.

Looking through these pictures, I feel a bit overwhelmed with homesickness for California. In college, I lived in a treehouse-like apartment in a redwood grove. My apartment in Boston is on the sixth floor a block away from the so-called "Methadone Mile." Though Boston has certainly grown on me (bricks and bricks and bricks and bricks and the ability to walk across the city easily, I know that the East Coast is not home. Somewhere out West is home.

But thankfully I'm back in the San Francisco Bay Area for awhile longer. This summer has been exhausting but so much fun. I have had the most wonderful experience doing research that I believe in, and learning as much as I can from the residents and attendings on the orthopedics service.

"Not only would this focus attention upon this nation’s interest in preserving these mighty trees for posterity, but here in such a ‘temple of peace’ the delegates would gain a perspective and sense of time that could be obtained nowhere in America better than in a forest. Muir Woods is a cathedral, the pillars of which have stood through much of recorded human history. Many of these trees were standing when Magna Carta was written. The outermost of their growth rings are contemporary with World War II and the Atlantic Charter." - Secretary of Interior Ickes letter to President Roosevelt, February 1945

“These great redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument are the most enduring of all trees. Many of them stood here centuries after every man now living is dead. They are as timeless and as strong as the ideals and faith of Franklin D. Roosevelt.” - Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., U.S. Secretary of State, 1945

The park is heavily trafficked near the entrance, but much quieter farther off. I'll go farther next time.

As much as I think I want to live somewhere else, looking at these photos reminds me that California is my home.

I didn't track my mileage or elevation gain, and don't have numbers to share. A bit more on logistics: I took a $5 shuttle from Sausalito to Muir Woods, which gave me a lot of time to look out the window and daydream about owning a cottage looking out over the Pacific Ocean, with redwoods on my property and within hiking distance.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sartorial lessons from surgery

As an introduction to clinical medicine, we first years were individually placed with various school-affiliated physicians around Boston. I feel very, very lucky to have spent my Wednesdays at a surgical clinic at our teaching hospital, with a preceptor and mentor (Dr. M) who I hope to become one day. I could fill an entire blog post on clinical knowledge, surgery knowledge, life knowledge, and how-to-be-a-doctor knowledge I have accumulated, but this post is about the sartorial lessons.

In this clinic, the surgeons wear dark suits, ties, monograms, polished shoes, and no white coats. All other MDs and MDs-to-be wear white coats. What did this mean for me? These three outfits represent the only things I thought appropriate to wear to clinic, where male M3s in pastels and khakis looked exceedingly out of place.

Purple top - Ross | Trousers - Banana Republic (too fitted?) | Shoes - Fitzwell | Maroon blouse - NY&Co | Dress - Uniqlo | Watch - Casio

Lesson #0: I am a first year medical student unaccustomed to dressing professionally and have no idea what I'm doing

Lesson #1: when the attendings wear suits and look like bankers and politicians, go as formal as possible without wearing a suit

For me, this meant charcoal grey and quiet jewel tones. The sleeveless tops were fine because I always wore my white coat (not true for all placements). I generally dislike collared, button-down shirts because fit is so fickle with them. Blouses are more forgiving and read a bit more formal. I think I was in the minority of my female classmates who regularly wore a dress to clinic, but I am much, much more comfortable in a dress than in trousers. This one was long enough where sitting, standing, kneeling, etc were all very comfortable.

Lesson #2: accessories and layers matter. Comfortable shoes and a watch are necessary.

On top of these base outfits, I wore a black cardigan and black tights to stay warm during the winter. Because I had a locker at school, I never had to commute far in these clothes and could easily walk to clinic without snow boots, even in blizzard conditions. Because I err on the side of being too formal, I usually wore a dark grey overcoat instead of a parka.

Corollary to #2: an anecdote

Though I spent most of my time in clinic, I often accompanied Dr. M around the hospital to talk to radiologists or other services. Following around a much taller person while wearing heels can be a chore: the dress + low block heel made it manageable.

Dr. M's advice from one of these occasions: "I noticed that you're always walking a few steps behind me. Don't walk behind attendings, walk next to attendings. When a young female medical student walks behind a male attending, it looks subservient, especially if you're the only one there."

How does one young female medical student follow an attending around without looking subservient? Wear comfortable shoes and take longer strides.

Also Dr. M: "Always wear a watch."

Lesson #3: details matter when trying to look like a competent, clean, and professional adult

I got a lot of this kind of advice from my high school job at an ophthalmology clinic where my primary grooming objective was to not look like a high school student. I think that patients may be less inclined to trust someone who looks quite young and unkempt, and attendings less likely to take one seriously. I combed my hair and made sure my makeup looked okay before clinic, and that I wasn't tracking in salt, snow, slush, or ice. Unlike these pictures, I did try to make sure my white coat look like I had not just dug it out of my backpack.

Lesson #4: dress for the job you want?

These are just thoughts I've had from my placement at a surgical clinic where the surgeons wear suit. But also, I haven't seen what female attending surgeons wear when not in scrubs. Yet another thing: I want a woman surgeon as a mentor.

Any advice on how to dress professionally? Thoughts on how to succeed as a young female in a male-dominated field?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mt. Monadnock | New Hampshire

I realized that since coming to Boston, I have blogged very little about the city of Boston, ye, the state of Massachusetts. Instead, a good portion of my content has been excursions to Vermont and New Hampshire. Here is another one of those adventures from earlier this month.

Mt. Monadnock is one of the only geological points of interest in New England that I knew about prior to moving to New England. It has featured in the poetry of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and (quite curiously) H.P. Lovecraft. While internet sources disagree about precisely how many people climb Mt. Monadnock each year, it is generally agreed that it is one of the most summited mountains in the world, trailing Mt. Fuji.

We took the White Dot Trail up to the summit. It's a 3.8 mile loop with an elevation gain of 1771 ft, to the summit at 3165 ft. Mt. Monadnock is not a particularly tall mountain, but it is the most distinguished feature of the landscape by far.

I very wisely wore many layers and my fancy hiking boots. The hike begins with very modest uphills, and then very abruptly transitions to some steep scrambling over boulders. We kept a brisk pace because the clouds looked ominous and we definitely did not want to be caught in the rain during the ascent. I personally really enjoy scrambling and thrive on steep, steep uphills...but rain would have made the ascent very precarious. I'd say that this hike is one where good traction and ankle support are especially important.

We hiked up in short, fast bursts on major uphill sections, taking in the rolling New Hampshire valleys under threat of rainfall with each break. Because I use my iPhone for all my pictures and generally go nuts editing on VSCO, I am prone to sort of amateurish landscape photography. I'm also not used to taking pictures under such ominous clouds and mercurial sunshine (or lack thereof), so please forgive the visuals.

The second major snack break

There are two major stretches of steep scrambles, and at the end of the first was where we had a major snack break. This stretch of flat was perfect for boulder hopping, looking at all the trees growing between rocks, and stretching out. We rested a bit and then made our last push to the summit, which was a bit farther than we had initially thought.

Looking for stunted trees at the second major snack break

Lunch at the summit, which was ridiculously crowded but still very enjoyable. I can see why Mt. Monadnock is one of the most-climbed mountains in the world: it's very close to Boston, it's fairly accessible to novice hikers, and they pay-off is wonderful, both in the summit itself and the feeling of digging in to get there. I don't know if any of my photos can express how steep it was in some sections, but it took real effort, perhaps more than any of the hikes I've documented here so far.

Getting ready for the final push to the summit, which was farther than we thought

We didn't spend quite as much time at the summit as I had wanted, but it began to drizzle and we wanted to get some of the steep, scrambly descent behind us before it poured. It never did quite pour but the rocks were at some points completely covered with rain, and some of our party did slip. The descent is more anxiety-inducing, and my joints did take a beating...but luckily, I didn't fall.

Some trees on the way up. I tend to write before I edit photos, and am still not great at spacing things out. Here, the text describes the descent and I haven't even gotten to the summit pictures yet!

All in all, we left Boston at around 9 AM, stopped at McDonald's, got to the mountain and hiked up and down, went to Taco Bell, and returned to Boston at around 5 PM. I chipped in $7 for the rental car, bought hash browns for $1, bought a honeydew for $3 near Taco Bell, and mooched off some of the junk food that someone was too full to finish.

The summit

  • Location: Mt. Monadnock, in Mt. Monadnock State Park in New Hampshire
  • Distance/duration: 3.8 miles loop, about 2 hours to the summit
  • Elevation gain: 1771 ft
  • Difficulty: moderately strenuous thanks to the really steep, really fun scrambles; could be harder in rain or winter or hotter weather
  • Points of interest: that sweet, sweet view
  • Overall: this was a really fun, satisfying hike. The scrambling was tough, but entirely worth the pain. I can see why this place is so popular, but at the same time, the trail and summit are very crowded.

By the time I got around to editing the photos and finishing the honeydew (I froze some of it), I realized that my first year of medical school was just about over. How do I describe this first year? I can't articulate it well in this addendum to a blog post about hiking up a mountain, but here are a few thoughts about this year and the summer to come.

My first year of medical school was a lot of things. It was an affirmation in that I know more than I began that I am where I want to be doing exactly what I want to do. It was a challenge, academically and professionally, but I learn best in challenges and in failure. I made some good friends, and had more fun than I am used to having. I also found mentors: a resident who wants me to succeed, an assistant dean who let me cry in her office twice and then helped me find my courage again, a preceptor and role model who taught me not just about surgery and how to care for patients, but how to be more confident and capable.

I think I always had an impression of Boston being some kind of intellectual ivory tower of medicine, and it kind of is. However, our hospital is decidedly blue collar, safety net, and deeply concerned with the intersection of medicine and social good. I was lucky to have found and stayed on the same research project since the autumn, and will work harder at it this summer. It's about both medicine and social justice; orthopedic surgery and opioids. The opioid epidemic in New England (and the Rust Belt and Appalachia and small town America) runs deep. It's systemic and demands policy at all levels of government. It's a fight I have been waiting to enter.

As far as Lord of Three Realms goes, I have a few posts waiting in the wings. I also realized that I have half of my Germany posts from last summer yet to be written. I hadn't expected my blog to turn into New England day hike report central when I first started medical school, but I do have some hiking planned this summer, and I will take pictures and write about them. More recreational reading, and more excursions out of my culinary comfort zone (I have recipes to try).

Last thing: I'm thinking about working on the blog actually adding headings and categorizing things reasonably.

And that's it.