Prada & a grapefruit tea note

24 February 2017 § 2 Comments

23 February

After a good night’s sleep and some studying, I decided to watch the Prada show, which happened at 6 o’clock Milan time, and needed a good cup of tea.  Fashion show as study break is lovely, a twenty minute foray into another world of colours, textures, movement, and music, and left me with energy and ideas.  I especially enjoyed the fur at the bottom of the coats and skirts (good for keeping one’s knees warm), the ever-expanding lapels (which I would decorate with animal pins), and the beaded flower embroidery (this can be my new project).


Giant lapels, mixed florals, a coat for one’s knees  [all photos from Vogue]


Fluffy sweater & bandeau: new way to layer in spring

Lack of an explicit plot is a delicious chance to let one’s imagination create whatever split-second stories it wishes, with a new situation every few seconds, leaving one with a swirling sea of narratives and new perspectives.  The pale coat with blue flowers is a dream in itself, perhaps a winter coat’s vision of how summer would be if it were ever allowed to venture out in the heat instead of being packed away in a closet, and the green coat with floral embroidery is a winter coat coming to terms with its own reality.  I know I shall never see blooming meadows, it says, so I will grow flowers made of beads on myself.


A coat dreaming of summer


A coat coming to terms with reality

It’s especially fun to create stories around something that pleases you but that you would never wear, like the massive coloured fur hats that were wafting in the air whilst enveloping the tiny heads of the models.  At first they made me laugh, but by the end of the show, I imagined how fun it would be to wear one on a walk in the snow…


A green eskimo


A red eskimo


A blue eskimo

It was good to have tea since the show felt very domestic, with posters on the walls and lamps perched about the geometrically serpentine walkway that evoked thoughts of a home library big enough to explore.

White vanilla grapefruit (Harney & Sons)
This frivolous tea caught my eye when I was looking for white teas.  Palais stocks only a few, and though their bai mu dan is excellent, I finished it a long time ago and wanted something different.  Sometimes I enjoy tasting absurdly flavoured teas just to make fun of them, but this one is understated enough to drink about twice a month.  I do like to sniff it in the morning because the mellowed citrus wakes me up.  The grapefruit is tangy, and the vanilla provides a gentle counterpoint.  The result is a pleasant flavoured white tea, rather than a strongly fruity tisane with a sprinkling of tea leaves as an afterthought.  Make sure to let the water cool to about 80C before steeping, steep briefly, and drink it hot.  Three minutes makes for an intense cup, and anything more than that ruins it with bitterness, so I stick to two minutes.  I’m curious about how it would taste iced, so I’ll have to try it in the summer.

After I cycled to Reynolda to see a sea of daffodils, I cleaned up and returned to that side of town for a visit from l’orchestre national de Lyon.  Seeing Leonard Statkin conduct was a dream and reminded me of why I love being around a university, where things like this just arrive and give a golden glow to entire weeks (at least for me).

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Bow peeking out

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Silk tail


Trusty loafers




Stars and a tea note

22 February 2017 § 1 Comment

22 February

Happy 222!  It feels a bit like a holiday, but maybe that’s just my allergies making me crazed.  Today the rain precluded the bike ride to Reynolda that I had planned, but at least I was spared the terror of sharing the road with the enormous metal boxes sometimes known as cars, and also my daffodils got to have a tea party of sorts.

My own tea party today happened alongside five hour exams in a row.  As I have a wine notebook, I noticed how silly it is not to have a tea notebook, given how much tea I drink compared to wine…or really compared to anything.  Bon, let the tea notes commence.

Satemwa oolong (Malawi)
A scent of hay welcomes my nose as I open the tea tin—it’s a pleasant, sweet hayness, to be sure, not an odour redolent of an afternoon in the horse meadow.  A satisfying, full oolong that somehow strikes me as delicately robust, this tea is not too strong to drink in the afternoon.  Only recently (ten seconds ago) did I read the entire label and realise they have a website, which means it may be possible to restock my Malawian tea supply without returning to the country.  It would, however, be nice to take a trip to the north, where the mountains and coffee plantations are, especially given that the label also assures me that Satemwa is ‘so proud to bring you this extremely rare African oolong tea’.  They also make an oaky, strongish black tea and a green tea that tasted like a humble/rustic sencha, but I finished those over a year ago.

I also had a refreshing mint green tea served very hot with a touch of dark brown sugar, which always makes me wonder why I do not live in Morocco, put on my stars shirt, and rode my scooter through the rain to the last clinical skills class of the year/forever.

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These shoes were a gift from mother two years ago (hi mutti!) that I used to wear to work every day and have started wearing again

This is one of the most reliable skirts.  I like to wear almost any colour with it—most often a mossy green wool sweater—but it was pretty warm today, even if I hadn’t been wearing stockings (my legs are not naturally iridescent).  This is usually the closest I get to wearing a t-shirt.

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When you need a hug but no one is around, find a thick sweater whose arms are happy to envelop you

One of my preceptors made brownies, and we had a casual few hours of discussing our interview and physical diagnosis exams this week and looking forward to clerkships.  My other preceptor divulged that she used to have giggle attacks and had to leave the patient’s room sometimes.  Whether that resulted from lack of sleep during residency or the fact that she is a pediatrician was unclear, but it gave me hope for my own pathology of laughter…

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Holding my notebook because I left for school right after this

At this point, we have learned all of the basic physical exams and how to interview patients.  Somehow, slowly, I have grown more comfortable asking the most intimate questions I can imagine asking someone.  Over the past year and a half, I have just begun the lifelong practice of being present and open with a patient, who is inherently in a vulnerable position by sharing private information, whilst allowing a story to unfurl.  It is difficult to extract all of the information I want or need and to remain the guiding listener, rather than the interrogator, in the conversation.  It fascinates me that the real work of medicine is entering someone else’s narrative and welcoming (accepting? earning?) their trust.  Of course I will learn how to do lots of things in the future, but right now I have a clear vision of how the doctor-patient relationship ought to be, and that is a good starting point.

Now I will go eat a delicious bowl full of chicken salad that I made yesterday.  It has excessive amounts (the right amount) of toasted walnut bits, grapes, and very thinly sliced celery, and I used half sour cream and half mayonnaise, which makes it much better since I dislike the latter.  Have a grape day.


Kristen gave an enormous glass bowl to me for Christmas, drastically increasing the average bowl size in my kitchen from minuscule to almost normal



21 February 2017 § 1 Comment

21 February 2017

I have been composing in my head a lot and then deleting or forgetting it all, which is surely a sign of failing to stop once and a while and write with my physical hands and a physical pen.  Studying for boards is an absurd, unnecessarily grueling process that perhaps deserves its own post—or rather, it deserves nothing, but this one thing represents so many things that are perverse about medical education, and an intelligent exploration of that is better than complaining.

In the meantime, I will focus on a fulfilling source of choice for me, which is getting dressed.  Especially when considering that the limitations on what I wear take effect in a few months, I enjoy putting together things that I usually reserve for completely separate ensembles.  Although I dress by intuition, and reasoning usually ruins the process (which isn’t necessarily art, but it’s a process that often stretches me, because I like thinking about what physical things say about abstract things), recently I have found that setting my intention for the day, or focusing on one emotion, or wondering what the sartorial equivalent of a cup of bancha hojicha is (more on that in future), has expanded that feeling of intuition and led me to find new ways of putting together old things.  This idea has given me a sense of being grounded, of the creativity that comes of the recombination of what is already comfortably in my life.  Native elements, rearranged, promise near-infinite variety and newness, in a comforting and somehow fresh way that actual new things cannot give.

In my physical body, fatigue is growing, and so when my homemade espresso—2 tablespoons of coffee and 2-3 ounces of water, made in a French press and sipped with a sleepy eyed gaze—was brewing at 7 o’clock this morning, I pulled out my Willy Wonka sweater and put on the sweetness I lacked.



Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination


With a silk-cashmere scarf for a chilly morning

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Off to class

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