September 11th

Hi. It’s been awhile and while there is a Summer of catch-up (spoiler alert: not much happened, #COVID) today is 9/11 and not a day to reflect on frivolity. Instead, I’m more interested in a quick flashback and some thoughts which, while not monumental, are mine and I’d like to write them down.

On 9/11/01, I was a senior at Williams College, a prestigious liberal arts school that I was doing well at, although certainly not a shining star. Looking back, I realize that I missed out on the potential that it offered in terms of a potential consulting or Wall Street career, or even an early Silicon Valley entry. But no matter- I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was 10 years old and I’m so happy with my career. It’s just amazing to me to see me how many other options could have been explored.

So, on 9/11, I was on my way to my senior biology seminar, “Circadian Rhythms and Biological Clocks” (or something to that effect). Even that subject has grown in leaps and bounds since I studied it in 2001. It really is amazing, even though I’ve only kept up with the field peripherally. The seminar was 9-11 a.m. and I was cutting through the student union around 8:45. A news report was on showing smoke coming from one of the Twin Towers. My first thought was confusion- I didn’t think it was the anniversary of the bombing in the ’90s because that had been a Winter day with flurries. What I saw on the screen was a gorgeous cloudless day just like the one that I saw outside in Williamstown, MA. Within a minute, I realized that it was real-time. Even still, the exact situation was unknown and what was known was that I had to get to class. An absence was non-excusable, apart from very limited circumstances.

The professor, whom I don’t remember although I can look it up, called the class to order, specifically saying to focus on matters at hand rather than developing news story. The next week, he briefly but deeply apologized, saying that he had no idea what had actually been happening. In the course of a 90 minutes seminar, the South Tower was hit and both towers collapsed. The world incontrovertibly changed while we were ensconced in a small academic bubble studying the current science in a field that has progressed in leaps and bounds during the following 19 years.

Since then, I’ve finished my career at Williams, followed by a medical career in the U.S. Navy since June, 2002. So much has changed within our country, our culture, our military, and our health care system. While there are deep, and even deepening, political divisions, I draw solace from the fact that overall, I feel we are learning from our circumstances and trying to effect change. I hope we are successful.

Reflecting on 2018

Since 2011, I’ve used this list to help reflect back on the year.  I really enjoy looking back while preparing to move forward. So…
1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Ate at Singlethread, a two (now three!) star Michelin restaurant! Watched the Boston Marathon! Went to a music festival with my sister! Drank a Bushwacker at Florabama!  Watched my brother get married! Had an amazing work/vacation trip to Denmark and Sweden! Presented a poster at an international conference! Went to a 95 year old’s birthday party!  Toured the Tesla factory! Became a birdsitter to four parakeets!
2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I dabbled here and there with habit tracking but nothing too serious.  I made some forward progress on my big research project at work by presenting pilot data at two conferences but, unfortunately, money that I was awarded in Oct 2017 wasn’t awarded until July 2018.  Furthermore, the contract wasn’t awarded until 26 Sept.  It was a frustrating 11 month delay, but I really needed to get the project updated before embarking on the larger study.
Anyway, this year I would like to work on the larger project, do a for-reals triathlon race, improve my Spanish, and be more consistent on some smaller daily wellness habits.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister-in-law!  Yay!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.  I continue to be very lucky in this regard.

5. What countries did you visit?
Germany (for five hours!)
Denmark
Sweden
Mexico

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
More time with my husband!  Peer-reviewed publications! More upper body strength!

7. What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Well, I always like my birthday and our wedding anniversary!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Continuing to keep our long-distance marriage vibrant, although I have mixed emotions regarding how good SMS and I have gotten at it!  But on a related note, I have orders to San Diego that I lobbied pretty hard for!  Overall, I am very good at my job and since that entails taking care of people who put their trust on me, I’d say that’s pretty big.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Ugh, failure sounds so harsh.  Maybe I can whine that I failed at being perfect but that seems like an impossible goal, haha.  In seriousness, I would say that while there were outside factors this year that impacted my research, it is still disappointing that I’ve been talking about the same study for over two years.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets! (repeat)
12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent/Two Households.  Plane Tickets.  Our savings account.
13. What did you get really excited about?
The answers to #1, hahaha.

14. What song will always remind you of 2017?
“High Hopes” Panic at the Disco, “Somebody Loves You” Betty Who, “Los Ageless” St Vincent, “Esther” The Hold Steady, “Remind Me to Forget” Kygo & Miguel, “Him & I” G-Eazy and Halsey, “I Dare You” The XX, “Good Kisser” Lake Street Dive, “Pirata de Amor” Yanfourd.  Also, “Despacito” by Fonsi with Bieber.  It isn’t the coolest song to admit to but anyone who says they didn’t hear and at some point find it catchy is either a 1. liar or 2. lives under a rock.

 

15. Compared to this time last year, are you: 

– happier or sadder? Happier
– thinner or fatter? Samesie
– richer or poorer? Richer (continuing to save)
16. What’s one thing you wish you had done more of?
Foreign language practice
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Reading gossip.  I did really well for several months but I have had a major backside reading British royal drama.  I know!  What a loser but it’s an addiction!
18. How did you spend Christmas?
A great family day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Insecure, Game of Thrones (way to jump on that bandwagon late), Borgen, Victoria
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I read 70 books this year!  Favorites include Pachinko by Lee, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Carnegie, Beartown by Backman, Behold the Dreamers by Mbue, Bad Blood by Carey, The Great Believers by Makkai, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Zeun, Normal People by Rooney,  Less by Greer.  It was a really good reading year.  There were a few duds, but overall, excellent.
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Gulf Shores Fest was awesome.  I also saw the Turnpike Troubadours, who were excellent live.  Groups new to me were Lake Street Drive, The XX, Betty Who.  I also kind of love Halsey- I feel slightly embarrassed about it but I can’t fight an earworm!
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Lady Bird, Free Solo, Won’t You Be My Neighbor
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
38. An amazing weekend in Sedona with SMS, highlighted by an incredible meal and stay at Singlethread.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being in California with SMS!
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
Boden reigns supreme but I am currently loving joggers- they are so awesome looking as long as the pockets don’t lie over sides of the hip (disaster!).
26. What kept you sane?
Getting enough sleep, maintaining perspective

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

Things I am (un)seriously worried about…

I recently read a quote- and I don’t remember where, blog/insta/photo caption…who knows!  But what the quote disparaged was people who use two spaces after a period instead of one.  Wait, what?!  That’s a thing to make fun of?  I didn’t even know one space was a thing.  Ever since learning to type, commas have had one space, periods two.  The Atlantic even has an article covering the controversy.  Ok, wait, let me read it…hmmm, it seems to imply that everyone is a winner but by the end, the reader can clearly tell the one-spacers are the 1% of intellectual superiority.  The author likens people who use two spaces to people who still have their smartphone keyboard sound effects turned on.  Rude!  Everyone knows that people who have their keyboard sound effects are people who can barely handle the technology of zipping up their pants in the morning, let alone modifications to their smartphone.  I am not one of those people (checks pants zipper…ha, ha, I kid.  I’m wearing scrub pants).

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I am also worried about becoming a bird lady weirdo.  Let it be known, my parents did NOT set me up for success on this one.  As the birds’ baby-sitter, I have to deal with the fact that there are four birds (which seems excessive to some) AND that they are named after me and my siblings.  Fortunately, there’s not much of a competition in the smarts category since these birds are pret-ty dumb.  They are, however, very cute.  The cutest one is (naturally?) the one named after me.  She is also, however, the biggest pig and first to the food.  Let’s not talk too much about that factoid.

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All four in my hand!  At once!

But I am showing off smartphone pictures of the birds.  I know!  How can I not, though, when I successfully get all four of them to eat out of my hand at once?  It is amazing.  Forget my jerk of a co-worker who, upon seeing this marvel said, “What?!  Who cares.  It’s the trick birds are supposed to do.  My dog can do lots of tricks but birds?  This is it.  This is what you do with birds.  Buy birds.  Day 1, feed them out of your hand.  Day 2, give them away.”

I also put together their wooden playground, which I found very difficult.  Although my Mom (my real Mom, I don’t have a bird Mom) said that it was easy and that I should pour myself a glass of wine and do it.  Well, I drank a cup of coffee and watched a YouTube video.  Some of the supports are a little tilted but the birds like it. How do I know?  Because it’s their new favorite pooping spot.

My nostrils are crooked!

[Update 1/1/2020: Far and away, this post is the one that gets the most hits from direct search queries.  Since I am now an experienced ENT surgeon (although this is not medical advice), do not worry about crooked nostrils!  Most people have slight asymmetry to their faces.  Specifics on nostril-shape: a deviated septum or flared medial lower lateral crura can cause differences in nostril-shape.  Surgical correction is likely to help but unlikely to create complete symmetry.  Also, if you have a wide nasal base and want your nostrils made smaller, be aware that it is hard for the nose to look normal after Weir incisions- scarring that I’ve seen is fairly obvious since surgical alteration of the alar groove tends to give a “stuck-on” appearance to the nose.]

Have you ever thought that people notice the weirdest things? I was thinking about facial symmetry the other day. Although you would think one side of the face should be a mirror image of the other, it’s often not. Sometimes it’s due to acquired life experiences- a scar here or there, for example. But a lot of the times, it’s just the way a person’s face is. I’ve seen pictures before where true mirror images of a person’s side of the face is copied to the other and it is really interesting. Some people look way different, usually in terms of how their countenance appears.

This thought comes up every so often because I frequently think of a plastic surgery patient who came to follow-up and was very upset that her nostils were asymmetrical. Qu-est que c’est? Who thinks about that? Well, my sister for one. Ask her about what she thinks about Rosario Dawson’s nostrils. Something vaguely bothered my sister while she was watching a movie featuring R.D. and at the end, thanks to an illuminating camera angle, my sis realized that it was RD’s freakishly large nostrils.

Discuss amongst yourselves. Next up in vague Mike Myer’s line references: “Head” in So I Married an Axe Murderer.