Long December

I’ve been thinking about making a music list from the mid-to-late 90s for the OR. It’s really the time period I know best for rock music, apart from the stuff I listen to today that does not always tickle people’s music loving ear. I don’t know WHY- I’m talking about The National, Arcade Fire, Cold War Kids, Robyn. I think it’s because part of what makes OR music tolerable for most people is some familiarity with the bands which, frankly, my uncool staff have never heard of (<– this is tongue-in-cheek). BUT, we all like the "modern rock" of the 90s so in an effort to find ways to frivolously spend my money, maybe I'll putter around iTunes for a bit.

Last weekend, I felt a little more Christmas-y because I went to the Nutcracker with Jen. It was a great production. What I liked most was in the first act parlor scene, there were so many visual jokes and side encounters occurring. It was so clever! I loved it! We also went out to dinner afterwards which was a little bit of a bust- Jen did not like her meal and there weren’t any great alternatives to her liking. I think part of the problem was she was so excited for an amazing (sounding) salmon salad on the menu, but instead of grilled salmon, it came out raw. Isn’t that weird? I mean, I get it, but there was no indication on the menu that it was raw and I would assume that salmon on salads is usually grilled. Anyway, I enjoyed my plate of vegetables. I was trying to eat very “cleanly” with a vegan diet. I always feel good with unprocessed foods and more veggies, but it will always be a little bit of a phase sort of thing for me. I love all types of food too much, although my day-to-day eating is often more vegan/vegetarian based on my preferences.
This week was another week at MDA down. Lots of clinic notes left over, although not as many as the mountain from last week. I had a two good days in the OR although yesterday I was with an attending who trained at PITT, where it’s well known that their OR mode is “moudus assholendai.” So, my head was bitten off for a solid 1.5 hours and then at the end, I was told “great job.” Sheesh. I know I do better with complaints than compliments in the OR but yesterday was bordering on the little much side of things.
This weekend, my TTD is a little mundane. I want to get everything set for my soon-arriving departure date and my even sooner-to-arrive boyfriend visiting for Christmas! Awesome! For fun, I’m planning on seeing Young Adult with Jen and Shirley. Otherwise, I’m laying low and keeping my nose clean!

Christmas Spirit!

Hey-o! I’m feeling a little more Christmas-y with my new little tree! I ordered a ready-made (Charlie Brown) tree from 1-800-FLOWERS for both Mechen and me. I love it! It’s so cute. It’s a teeny live tree in a pot with a potholder (ha, ha, they actually call it a “tree skirt”) that has a countdown calendar with little felt ornaments for each day. My favorite part about it is the Christmas feel I get when I’m in a dark room right before bed and the Christmas lights are on. The lighting always makes me think of Christmas. And, bonus points for being a thoughtful girlfriend and getting Mechen a tree! This is a nicer way of looking at it than to point out that I once again lived out my Christmas shopping mantra, “One for you, one for me!”

Speaking of Christmas shopping, I’m going to the Mall today for family and friends gifts. I haven’t done that in years but I’m looking forward to it. I have high expectations! I definitely want to cover Mom, Dad, Ed and Brady so that I can mail there stuff off overseas (I already may be too late to get it there in time). I also need to shop for Joe, Mechen and a few friends back in San Diego.
Speaking of San Diego, I am in TOTAL countdown mode at this point. I cannot wait to go back. I miss Mechen and my friends. I also want to feel part of my residency program again. I feel I’ve been gone for so long due to Kaiser, research and MDA. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not checking out three weeks early but I’m really looking forward to moving on, closer towards the end of residency!
This week wasn’t too bad. Three days in the OR plus a bonus assist on a neck dissection yesterday. It was pretty crazy- I was holding hooks for a former medical student when I was an intern. It was his case and I was happy to help (read: heckle), plus we were on our own for about two hours. Nice!


(The title is a poor written form of how I hear Adam Sandler sing “Thanksgiving” at the end of his turkey song. I have a thing for male singers who sound as if their voices are about to crack- I always whisper a silent prayer, “Oh, please don’t let them crack.” Ok, I don’t REALLY pray. But I do stress.)

Anyway! Thanksgiving was great! Mechen came down on Wednesday night and even though his flight was super-delayed, at least I knew which airport to go to this time. I picked him up, made him wait outside on the deck while I lit 38(!) candles on his homemade cake and then I let him in while singing “Happy Birthday!” It was his birthday the day prior and I didn’t really have it together to send him a card so since he was visiting a day later, we had his birthday party then. I made him a homemade German chocolate cake (delish!) and bought him a bottle of D&G The One cologne. Mmmmm, it smells incredible. And, yes, I know it’s in part a gift to myself but he loves it too!
The next day, we slept until 2. Sagoy! I was SO TIRED from work and we hadn’t gotten back from the airport until 1 so I can definitely believe it but I haven’t slept in like that since college. I hopped out of bed, put the turkey in the oven (prepped the day before) and then, once human after coffee, we started making our Thanksgiving sides. From smitten kitchen.com, we made a delicious cranberry sauce. Thebittenword.com provided our stuffing recipe (amazing!), green bean casserole (burned the milk and spoiled the dish although Mechen gallantly ate some) and gravy. The mashed potatoes we winged and then the sweet potatoes were loosely based on a foodandwine.com recipe + what I could remember from my Mom’s recipe. It was a feast! The stuffing I really loved because there were little bits of greens from kale and surprise moist bites from stewed plums (read: prunes) that gave great texture and way less gross to think about than canned oysters. We ate, ate and ate. We also watched the Cowboys game, which was very exciting.
The next day, we slept in again but actually made it out and went to Benjy’s for Happy Hour and a light round of appetizers. We took it easy b/c I was on call Saturday (boo), but overall, it wasn’t TOO bad of a call day although busier than I wanted. Finally, we went back to Benjy’s for brunch on Sunday where I had the most amazing shrimp and grits dish ever, even better than Urban Solace in SD.
We also finished the entire first season of Downton Abbey over the weekend. It was amazing and completely absorbing. I HIGHLY recommend it, even if an early 1900s English period piece doesn’t seem to be your gut instinct for great viewing. And Maggie Smith’s character and line delivery was tart and clever.
This past week was back to reality in a big way since I got the gift of lots and lots of clinic. I didn’t write any notes b/c my presentation was on Tuesday so I was preparing for that. I spoke a little too quickly and probably could have fleshed it out a little more on the sentinel lymph node biopsy (I was told not to though since it’s been covered in the past). But it was well-received and, most importantly, it’s OVER!!!
This weekend, I have Friday/Sunday call. Today was spent recovering from the constant paging that marked my night and I’m about to do laundry. I did go for a run, although slower than my normal pace. My legs felt a bit heavy. Tomorrow, I’ll go for a run before my shift start and then head into work for some mega-note writing. *Sigh* Hopefully next week will be a lot less clinic. Next weekend, I’m going to check out the Menil Collection, King Tut exhibit and go to the Nutcracker with Jen!

Houston weekend

I’ve had a life this weekend! Hooray! It’s a beautiful golden weekend, aka no rounding, and I’ve had the best time. On Friday, I went salsa dancing with two other residents and one of their friends and it was a lot of fun. I’m not very good at dancing but once I got out on the floor (after a shot of tequila), I got my rhythm back and had a great time. Our group was two guys, two girls so it was nice with friends. I stayed out late, went home and totally crashed.

Yesterday, Jenn and I went to Tiny Boxwood’s for lunch/brunch and then hung out later that evening and went to Pondicheri, a delicious modern/American take on Indian food. The poppadoms were so tasty with a little heat and while the spice level on the other food was a little on the low side, it was all pretty tasty. Then we saw J. Edgar which was a thought-provoking movie, more in terms of trying to decide how much I liked it. The acting was amazing and the love story element was so subtly told but it was sometimes difficult for me to figure out how much I cared about the story. Anyway, I’m definitely glad I went. I will rarely go out to movies on my own but when I do, I’m almost always happened I decided to go.
Today, I’m finishing my presentation. I have a great plan and story arch for my talk so I’m going to get it done and send it off to Dr. Myers. Hopefully, there won’t be too many edits needed although it won’t matter since I have a lot of time (read: 8 days) to work on it if there are issues. I think it’s fundamentally solid though- hopefully, this isn’t some sort of delusion!

Texas breakfast!

Yum, look what I had for breakfast this morning! A flipped around Texas waffle! Today was a day off so I got to enjoy the breakfast buffet that’s held daily here at the hotel. During the weekdays, my day is well underway by the time the buffet starts (0630). But on the weekends, I tend to enjoy although I don’t want to overgraze. Anyway, they switched out their boring waffle makers for TX shaped and even though I obviously don’t know how to plate it properly, I had a TX-sized breakfast. I stirred in a little brown rice protein to make a little more balanced and brought it to my room so I could use my real maple syrup. It was awesome.

I was up pretty early b/c my co-resident texted me at 0700 asking the name of a patient that I should have added to our master list. Thanks for that. Although it could have been avoided if I had done the edit but still. As a result though, I had breakfast, coffee, my laundry complete and a 7-mile run ran all before 12. This afternoon, I HAVE to work on my presentation followed by a sampling of a highly recommended Tex-Mex place with Jen, a fellow resident (and not the earlier morning texter!).
My week was pretty awesome this week. One day in clinic and four in the OR which included 3 neck dissection, 2 partial glossectomies and one laryngectomy. It was a pretty banner week. I also took the time to write some things down so that I’ll hopefully be able to incorporate all the lessons I learn intraoperatively into my practice rather than forgetting the details and starting at the same place each time, skills-wise. Does that even make sense? It’s just sometimes, there is so much I want to hold onto in my brain, which is sometimes frustratingly sieve-like.
Alright, off to shower, call my parents and work on my presentation while dreaming of the enchiladas and margaritas that I’ll have tonight!

Houston Restaurants

Although my life in Houston has not been the most social butterfly-like, I have made it out to a few restaurants. This is in spite of the fact that even patients have noticed how much the fellows and residents work. I’ve been asked several times (not unkindly) if I have a life and/or how is it that I’m working so much?

So, in order of my personal preference-

1. Tiny Boxwood’s Cafe (3614 W. Alabama St)

Mechen and I went here for brunch/lunch and it was so good. We went around 3 o’clock so it was busy but not standing-room-only. Mechen had the turkey avocado club sandwich, which was delicious. I had the salmon served on greens that was also tasty but a little out of proportion. It was at most 3 oz serving of salmon on a whole bag worth of mixed greens. The dressing was also a little heavily applied but I quibble! We also had a chocolate chip cookie that was a touch too underdone but so good. The sangria was delicious and helped turn our afternoon of lunch and a museum into…lunch. A lunch of leisure. We moved from our table and had a second glass while resting on the couch and it was an awesome way to spend a beautiful afternoon. And we still made it to the Byzantine chapel and Rothko chapel!

So, even though most of the dishes had a detail or two that I personally would change, the food was high-quality and in an amazing, relaxing setting.

2. Benjy’s (2424 Dunstan Rd)
I went here for dinner last night with a friend from work and the most awesome thing is their 7 day a week Happy Hour. We had appetizers and drinks that were delicious. I had a blood orange margarita, glass of Pinot and a “Pom Collins,” a riff on a Tom Collins with vodka instead of gin and sweet/savory pomegranate molasses. The appetizers were half-price and Jen got a pizza, while I got the butternut squash crepes and calamari. I didn’t eat all of it b/c the portions were huge and it didn’t appeal to Jen but it was very tasty. I will definitely be back at night and also to hit up their delicious-sounding brunch. Whoa…I just Googled the brunch menu and it is more amazing than I thought. Yum!

3. Pappas Steakhouse (5839 Westheimer Rd)

Mechen and I went while he was here. I figured we should go to a steakhouse while in Texas and this was the one I selected after querying many people. The steaks were amazing and perfectly cooked. I was a little puzzled when the waiter assured me he could do a “medium/medium-rare” but I loved it. Hot, seared but still pink on the inside. Our sides were delicious and we felt good about supporting the butter industry single-handedly. The deconstructed pecan pie was terrific, too. Finally, special shout-out to the sommelier who linked us up with a 2004 Spanish wine, “Mas de Can Blau” from Celler Can Blau. I will definitely seek out that wine to buy in the future.

4. Goode’s BBQ (5109 Kirby Dr)

The meat is cooked well but I’m not a fan of the dry rub/ketchup-based BBQ sauce. Unless Mechen is really seeking out more BBQ, I think I’ll take a pass. Not bad, just not my thing.