Of a New Year, New Blog, Writing and Me

Out the window dreaming. source

Out the window dreaming. source

This new blog of mine was always meant to be a space for me to try. Try to put my voice out there, no matter how vulnerable it might feel. Try to make my words matter, whether people out there were reading or not. Try to write daily, weekly. Try to cultivate a closely held, cherished seed of a dream being a writer into a real career.

The problem with try is this: it’s easy to try. When you’re just there to ‘give it a try’, it’s easy to be distracted, to be discouraged, and to make excuses. I could start writing something only to abandon it, and label that as a good try. I could make a resolution on Sunday to write 30 minutes every day, and by Monday, that desire would have faded away. But I tried, right?

It’s been something I’ve struggled with my whole life. Certain things came to me easily–school, ballet, music–and I would do well enough to earn some pretty compliments and win a few motley awards. But I was too scared of imperfection, failure, and comparison that I never fully tried to push myself past the point of ease to excellence. (Aptly as metaphor, I never did achieve an arabesque higher than my shoulder, nor full splits.) Certain things were hard–auditioning for the Wiz, making new friends at a new school during junior year–and when I never got a callback or felt intimidated by the confidence, coolness, and lifelong, hometown camaraderie of my classmates around me, I folded myself away in the comforting fold of things I did well. I was too busy to try again. I made myself too busy.

Somewhere along the line, after starting this blog, I became overburdened with the need to define myself to others. On recommendation, I tried to narrow down my blog on one thing I knew well – medicine – and to chip out a little corner of the vast and noisy internet for my own. As a result, I was discouraged by the fine focus of the subject matter, which disconnected my writing from the rest of my life, of which medicine is only a fraction. I got caught up in comparison with others. I halfheartedly tried to make an impact and grow in prominence. I retreated when my first efforts brought no immediate success. I was too busy.

It recently occurred to me that even as things decay over time, the years mold them and harden them. Collagen contracts and muscles loosen, but the skin hardens and the grooves grow deep. Bodies decay into dust, but that becomes impacted into the foundations of the earth. And less romantically, those habits and tics that start so innocuously in our youths become ingrained with age. Being risk-averse has worked well for me in casinos (free drinks, watch others lose money), but not so well in the rest of life. To start, but to never finish, is not an admirable quality.

Before writing was my ambition, it was my way of processing the world and my place in it. It was my way to express the things that didn’t come readily to my lips. It was my way of liberating my true self from behind my shyness. It was part of me. It’s the same with music, with the songs that I remake into chords at my piano, and with less certainty at my guitar, while the words of others are filtered through my tone and tenor through my throat onto my tongue.

So this is the year where I don’t try any more. I will be.

I am a writer. I am – and will be – an active participant in my own life.

In light of this change, the blog will be changing a little bit. The subjects will be both more far-reaching and more personal. The styles may shift here and there. It will be more frequent, even as it may get a little shorter. I’ll still write about medicine, because it is interwoven into my life. But medicine doesn’t make up all of it. I’ll write because I want to write, because I want to parse out the way the world appears to me and flows around me. And I hope you’ll be there too, to keep me accountable, be part of the conversation, and see what this blog can be.

/c

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Featured on Roads & Kingdoms

featured on roads & kingdoms pensacola bushwacker

Welcome to Mia…I mean, Pensacola. Redneck country, and home of the Bushwacker via

On a medically unrelated note: I’ve been featured again on Roads & Kingdoms!

Enjoy this little ditty on the surprising pleasures of redneck country, also known as Pensacola, Florida. Thanks to Millennial Moola for the introduction to his home state, and to the pleasures of Pensacola’s original drink, the Bushwacker. And thanks again to Roads & Kingdoms for publishing my piece (and the editor for his or her fantastic work, because boy, am I wordy.).

The Bananawhacker and Other Florida Panhandle Necessities

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What Women Can Do About the Pay Gap in Medicine

gender pay gap

Where’s the rest of my paycheck? Getty / via

Note: This is a guest post about the gender pay gap in medicine, and what women can do about it, from Travis at Millennialmoola.com. He happens to be my financial advisor, as well as my very patient boyfriend. Anyone who has any student loans should definitely check out his site for a free calculator and some easy-to-digest financial advice. For someone somewhat money-illiterate like me, he has been a godsend.

The following article about income negotiation was especially helpful for me as I was looking for jobs out of fellowship. As a new graduate, I was nervous about negotiating: would I lose the offer if I negotiated? Would I be viewed as greedy? What should I negotiate for (income, vacation)? How much should I negotiate for? In the end, his advice (and the nagging thought that I’d have to shred my feminist card if I didn’t at least try) pushed me to negotiate for a better offer, and landed me where I am today!

Hope this advice helps you too!

What Women Can Do About the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine

Travis, Millennialmoola.com

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Breakfast in Kigali: Finding Home Away From Home with Avocado Toast

I’m thrilled to share my piece published at Roads & Kingdoms (one of the best sites on the intersection of travel, culture, and politics out there, and Anthony Bourdain/Slate approved!). Thanks again to Roads & Kingdoms for allowing me to share my thoughts on my travels in Kigali and the universal language of food!

Speaking the International Medical Language of Avocado Toast

Photo by Christine Chu

photo // Christine Chu

 

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Kigali: On A First Arrival To Africa

kigali at night

kigali at night / source

Kigali is a city of hills and valleys. The land is green and lush with tall blades of grass, trees whose fruits I have eaten, but never seen. Paved roads settle in between the living things, almost like topographical lines. The road rises along the hills, then drops lazily down, then turns again. The sky throws itself high above the hills, black and flecked with stars at night, then turns into a blue, sunlit veil of an atmosphere during the day, so that you squint at the bright distant hills but never manage to clearly make them out.

I landed in Kigali at 1245 am, at a small, glossy airport that proclaimed itself as international and was decorated with all the gloss, color, and style of zebra skins. I stepped out past the baggage carousels and into the night with Jean Paul, the driver who had been waiting in a patient frantic for my gently tardy plane. I saw the stars and the green and the dark night and thought, so this is Africa, this is Rwanda. My first introduction to the continent, and to the country, and a most fortuitous introduction indeed.

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