With that, another year of seconds.
I am definitely well into Block two of medical school and I haven’t updated this blog with any true thoughts or writing. I’m a bit frustrated that I don’t make time to write here.
However, the past few weeks I found myself pushed and pushed to create. I’m in a Narrative Medicine elective, facilitated by ER doc Naomi Rosenberg, which has inspired me tremendously. I know for sure that art is an essential part of how I will practice medicine. It’s way too late in the night to write lengthy, coherent thoughts, but I’ll share what I’m working on!
With the amount of categorization and grouping I have to do to tame the hordes of information we get in class, splashes of color are paramount. Sprawling nerve/vasculature trees and heaps of classes of drugs would be unbearable and overwhelming in monochrome. My particular favorite weapons of choice are Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens.
Early last year, I realized I was tired of my Pilot G2 pens, which had been staples in my writing arsenal for years. I previously latched on to them because of their smooth ink and strong, non skipping lines. But they felt tired in my hands. It's hard to describe the feeling. But, as writing tools, they no longer inspired me; they no longer felt a pleasure to use.
Then, during a work party, I observed my friends using "Muji Pens." I was immediately intrigued. Muji, I found, is a Japanese retail company that focuses on household and consumer goods which are described as, "born from an extremely rational manufacturing process, are succinct, but they are not in the minimalist style. That is, they are like empty vessels. Simplicity and emptiness yield the ultimate universality, embracing the feelings and thoughts of all people."
Their unobtrusive style fits in with my current simple, functional aesthetic. The .38mm tips are perfect for fitting a lot of detail into small spaces. The lines rarely skip and the colors are vibrant.
On that note, I used to loosely stuff my pens and pencils into a backpack pocket. But when I bought these pens, I felt like they deserved a better home. I looked around on Etsy for something that matched my personality and stumbled upon a very charming Pokemon pouch from this seller in Argentina. It features cute drawing of the generation 1 starters - with the strange omission of Squirtle. I'm quite taken with it, and I enjoy being able to toss the pouch into the main compartment of my backpack with my laptop, planner, and notebooks without having the fear of my pens disappearing into the abyss.
Pokemon Pouch by MyMoemoe | Etsy
.38 Gel Pens by Muji | Amazon
This is part of a series of what I hope will be a collection of my most valuable 'essentials' that have served me well in my medical journey. Stay on the lookout for more!
cw: mental health, ideation
This year was my most challenging one. For months, I descended almost irretrievably into a dark spiral of depression. There were times in which I questioned my own humanity, convinced I was some horrid creature merely masking as human. Paranoia attacked my sanity and safety, even in the brightest of days and in the company of friends. And in my deepest spirals, I contemplated whether the next day was worth living.
But I'm here. And there have been triumphs. This year, for the first time, I printed personal photography prints for a benefit auction, and raised over $200. I have the beginnings of an original musical. I've collaborated even more in film and photography. I finished a masters in Community Health and started studying medicine, pursuing a program in Narrative Medicine. I've seen more of the world, including the Galapagos and Cuba, inspiring me even more to fight against imperialism, colonialism, and rampant capitalism in all its forms. I've met new colleagues and friends who inspire me tremendously. I've laughed more than I can remember. I've discovered the amazingness of a show that is Terrace House. I've picked up painting and sketching. I have grown.
I stand today, still here, with an eternal, unquenchable gratitude for the people to who, through no small effort, I owe my life. Many of those know who they are and have already been thanked. I will carry a bit of them with me, always. But at the end of 2017, I cannot help but, thank the many masses of you who, knowingly or not, are also reasons I am here today, whether it was through dancing, coffee chats, social media interactions, or a simple, smiling hello.
Part of doing 1SE's for five years (compilation pending) is the sobering recognition that our days, despite our careful curation of our public selves, are filled with both the mundane and interesting, the exuberant and the sorrowful. Even when life sucks, those days exist, and I still film them. This realization grinds against our societal conditioning to always 'have our shit together,' but in a way, it is also liberating. The candid acknowledgement, even appreciation, of the spectrum of experience is, after all, what makes us human.
I have found that healing is not always short, nor is it linear. At times, our healing may even injure others. It often resembles that Japanese game show where contestants race up a staircase greased with soap. We're in such a rush to get 'better,' that we lose our footing and slip back down to the bottom. Even if we take our time, we can still fall flat on our faces and slide back into the darkness, dragging others with us. But we can, and will reach the top, one aching step at a time.
Reach out in times of struggle, collective healing is powerful. There are psychiatrists, social workers, mentors, professors, friends, even strangers. Despite the crushing isolation that one might feel, there are always those who will help, even when it is most difficult to do so.
-- those are also the ones, I've learned, that you should hold on to dearly. For those are a rare breed of friend that are irreplaceable in this world.
I originally set out to write more to accompany this video, but I've decided to reserve those thoughts for another time. In any case, my thoughts invariably distilled themselves into the same, simple thoughts:
Be kind to those around you. Listen - critically, but always compassionately. Apologize, then change. Acknowledge anger, but forgive generously. Accept, then let go. Recognize imperfection, but strive for improvement. It is okay to be broken. It is okay to cry.
Thank you to all who have been a part of my 2017.
I move forward, driven even more passionately to educate myself, dismantle oppressive systems, alleviate suffering, serve the people, tell great stories, and to build communities of love, creativity, and healing.
I live on, a bit more broken,
but ever more loving, ever more kind,
ever more human.