Friday, June 29, 2007

Moraga Steps

Moraga Steps -- Hidden Gem of the Inner Sunset

Napa Valley

Paul and the grapevine - my favorite picture
Sterling Vineyard

Yay for Napa!
Sterling, V. Sattui, Sutter Home

Playing Catch-Up

There is a long list sitting on my desk of blog topics that I have been meaning to write about, but every time I sit down to write...I feel as though there is not enough energy or poetry to do the posting justice and so the topics sit patiently waiting like eggs being hatched.

In the past few weeks, I have...
...performed the neurological exam on real patients
...planned and executed an MSP lesson on antipsychotic medications
...eaten lots of good food at a secret hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant, etc.
...studied for the BMB final
...lost my position as VP of the informal Slacker's Club for being a gunner :)
...finished my first year of medical school at UCSF!
...played Guitar Hero for the first time and loved it
...gotten really really drunk from wine at a class party
...rolled out of bed and visited Napa Valley with friends the next morning
...discovered the Moraga steps in Inner Sunset
...started my summer project at Stanford and getting reacquainted with life at the Farm
...played darts last night at Yancy's and met some new first-year medical students

Summer Book Review

"Breakfast at Tiffany's"

From the summer online edition of UCSF "Synapse":
Summer Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

By Stephanie Chang

Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears will no doubt dominate the gossip columns this summer with reports of their outrageous behavior and various indiscretions. What fascinates me, however, is not Paris’ current incarceration or Britney’s nervous breakdown, but the fact that mainstream media and society at large appear so fascinated by the setbacks and exploits of beautiful, young, unattached women. It should come as no surprise that the stories or “plights” (forgive the word) of attractive, young damsels searching for their places in the world have dominated mainstream media since the publishing of Samuel Richardson’s bestselling novel, Pamela, in 1740.
The bevy of winsome literary heroines has grown quite large over the years … Lolita, Jane Eyre, Lily Bart, Bridget Jones … yet one particular young lady named Holly Golightly continues to charm, intrigue and delight readers with an appeal as modern as the starlets of young Hollywood.
Truman Capote’s classic novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, introduces Holly Golightly through the eyes of an anonymous narrator, a struggling writer living in New York City. The narrator first sees Holly in the hallway of their apartment building, “she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health. … A pair of dark glasses blotted out her eyes. It was a face beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman. I thought her anywhere between sixteen and thirty; as it turned out, she was shy two months of her nineteenth birthday.”
The fragile, touching relationship that develops between Holly Golightly, a society “playgirl” who sleeps with men and cashes their checks, and the introspective narrator who loves fanciful antique birdcages and yearns to be part of the “scene,” forms a window into Holly Golightly’s shocking past and enigmatic future.
Many authors have been accused of falling in love with their heroines, and it becomes painfully clear in each word, sentence, and chapter that Truman Capote has fallen in love with his literary creation, recalling the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Yet who can resist Holly’s charming innocence, her raw vulnerability, and gritty determination to find a “home” for herself in a world that cares nothing for her?
It would be a cliché to say that the complexity of Holly’s character resembles an onion with many layers, and it would be more appropriate to describe her as a richly flavored onion soup with paradoxical elements of youthful hope and jaded maturity – a 19-year-old with a graceful face of indeterminate age – worn into smoothness by premature hardship and sustained by a restless hunger.
“Never love a wild thing,” Holly Golightly counsels Mr. Bell, the bartender, before escaping to Brazil.
Perhaps Holly is not only addressing Mr. Bell, but also Capote himself and generations of readers who have fallen under Miss Golightly’s spell, because she warns, “You can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That's how you'll end up, Mr.Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You'll end up looking at the sky.”
Therefore, this summer, when you are not reading the tabloid misadventures of our favorite real-life society girls, take along Breakfast at Tiffany’s (an extremely short and readable novel that reeks of sophistication) to the beach, exotic country, or the lab bench, and meet my favorite wanton ingenue – Holly Golightly. She’s already got the chic thinness, the cool black dress, and the saucer-shaped sunglasses, but she also offers a depth of character and poetic insight that will touch you in its poignancy.
“It’s better to look at the sky [for wild things] than live there,” Holly insists, because the sky is “such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

little birds


may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile
ee cummings

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Walker Quote

“Every time my heart breaks it opens a little wider.” - Alice Walker

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sun and Moon

Golden Gate Bridge, April 2006
I like to often say that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most beautiful bridge in the world...during the daytime. There has never been a more perfect coupling of rugged natural beauty and a daring, orange-red colored, Art Deco structure that seems to exist in harmony with the craggy rocks, the white surf, the diamond-covered bay, the white sails, and the greenery around the Marin headlands. During my 2+ years in the Bay Area, the Golden Gate Bridge has come to signify "San Francisco," "beauty," and "home." When I am lost (physically and spiritually), my eyes unconsciously seek out the Golden Gate Bridge and I can see it from UCSF like a shining red North Star that can give me my bearings and lead me back home.
There is a nursery school on 10th and Kirkham called "Gates and Bridges Nursery School." I like the concept of gates -- like the gates around Harvard Yard -- that stand open and waiting for travelers. Likewise, I like the concept of bridges (as Kim pointed out a few years ago), because of the beauty of their inherent function -- to connect two separated places together. Once in college, we had to use little Post-It arrows on a map of Boston to mark out our favorite place in the Cambridge/Boston area...and I chose to mark the MIT bridge (ah, where the #1 Mass Ave bus crosses!) because there were some moments when the view of the Charles River literally stole my breath away. At night, you can see the bright lights of the city twinkling in the water. In the winter, you can see the Charles River frozen over. But the best view from the bridge is during the summer, when the bright sunshine illuminates the blue water and the white, delicate sailboats look like wisps of cotton.
But I digress. As I said before, the most beautiful bridge in the daytime is the Golden Gate Bridge. However, the most beautiful bridge in the nighttime is actually the Golden Gate's ugly step-cousin, the double-decker, gray-colored, industrial-looking Bay Bridge. Like Cinderella, the Bay Bridge is a structural equivalent to Sarah, Plain and Tall during the merely functions (somewhat) well and takes you from here to there. However, when night falls, the Golden Gate Bridge disappears from view and the Bay Bridge explodes into luminescence. As the sunlight fades, the Bay Bridge becomes a jewel-encrusted belle covered in delicate strands of shining lights from view of the Embaracadero. A very pretty sight when dining there at sunset.
So I like to always tell visiting friends that if San Francisco is my home, then the Golden Gate is my SUN and the Bay Bridge is my MOON. In this city by the bay, I will never grow tired of these celestial wonders.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Beer and Science

Last Friday, a few medical school classmates hosted a Beer and Science night, featuring a presentation on Alex Fay's work which brought him fame as the cover boy of "Cell" earlier this year. UCSF sponsored the beer, which was all specialty beer hand-picked by Alex.

Here is the email:

"Dear Colleagues,

For those interested, I will be giving a talk tomorrow (Friday) evening covering the following topics:
I. A Brief Timeline of Beer History
II. How is Beer Made?
III. The Cell Biology of Gap Junction Localization
IV. Some Beers that I Like
V. Some Places that I Like to Drink Beers that I Like

In addition, thanks to funding from our class reps, there will be plenty of high quality strong beer for your enjoyment.

There are also a few root beers for the teetotalers.

Please let me know if you need my powerpoint slides in advance.

Hope to see you there,

It was great! We got to learn about beer and drink gap junctions. :-)

The Eyes Have It

For an ophthalmology elective this quarter, we learned about conditions like red eye, glaucoma, etc. The best part was the climax of the course, which was a sheep eye dissection in a microsurgery suite. It was thrilling using a tiny beaver blade to cut around the iris of the eye, then we used a blade to pop the eyeball and all of its juices came out. You have to be a curious little kid sometimes to get through medical school. Then we used the tiniest little silver scoop (it looked like a miniature silver slotted spatula) to scoop out the lens in a surgery for imaginary cataracts. I always thought that the lens looked like a contact lens (concave, clear, hard, etc.), but it was actually just a little lump of clear jelly. I pretended to not be surprised; it's a good skill to learn in medicine, I think. Then we sutured the eye back up using tiny instruments (small, expensive, doll-like instruments) and that was the hardest part. It was so slippery!

Finally, we played with slit lamps in the clinical exam rooms. Ophthalmology is fun!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

FAC Chamber Music Night

Musicians and Singers for the first annual Chamber Music Performance
June 9, 2007
UCSF is an awesome place because of the PEOPLE who work and study here. The class of 2010 single-handedly organized a bevy of social events and activities without any guidance from the school except perhaps for some funding, which impresses me a lot. Tonight, we had a chamber music performance by members of our class and some fancy food sponsored by the Food Appreciation Club (also known for the "Southern Cookin' with fiddle and banjo event," the Persian food event, and the Indian food/Bhangra event). Needless to say, it was amazing.

Jenny, Vignesh, and Albert

Piano/Visionary, FAC Visionary, Violin/Food Lover

Trio for Brahms

Paul and Albert playing "elevator music"

Katie and Tushani singing

Cadaver Memorial Service

Art by Perlita Perez (MS 1)

"To live in this world

you must be able
To do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
And when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go."
Dear Cadaver #9,
It's hard to believe that your remains will soon be cremated and scattered over the ocean.
Thank you for donating your body to medicine and for allowing me the opportunity to learn the intricacies of the human body in an unforgettable and highly effective manner. To be honest, even though I have only known you for a year...and our interactions were mostly limited to a tightly controlled setting with five other students at the table...and even though your conversational skills were somewhat non-existent...I feel like you have been a strange sort of friend. Familiarity is a funny thing, and now I think about those dozens of hours spent poring over your organs and vasculature as if it were the Book of Life, and maybe that is not so far from the truth. Strange to think that you have single-handedly shown me that Man is a World Unto Himself, and that your gift has changed my life and hopefully the lives of many others.
Can I call you a friend? Because you have helped me, given selflessly, and never questioned or rebuked us even when we devised the "Resistance Method" to test whether certain white strings were nerves or fascia ("if it breaks when you tug it, it was fascia"). Even though you were a strange green color and had a really interesting liver, you smelled familiar and the other cadavers just didn't smell the same. We touched your heart, your lungs, your brain, looked into your face and handled every muscle in your leg. No other human will ever be so open and clear to us, so bravely exposed and for that we are grateful.
The memorial service held at UCSF last week for the cadavers was extremely touching. You would have liked it, I think. Two baskets of white flowers stood at the head of the aisle in our lecture hall, and the first year medical students read poems and written pieces. One of our classmates played a haunting waltz on the fiddle that made my insides ache. The anatomy faculty attended the service, and one of the faculty members read a poem from the New England Journal of Medicine and she cried throughout the recitation. She mentioned how every year, there are new cadavers all unopened and pristine, and a new class of medical students who are all strangers. As the year progresses, the bodies "come apart" and the class "comes together" as the process of dissection slowly instills knowledge into our inexperienced heads. You made all the difference.
Thank you.

E.E.. Cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(I who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings : and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touch hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the yes of my eyes are opened).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sorry for the Absence (Seizure)

Wow, this is my first post for the month of June and so much has happened already and during the last month (known by some as "May," which has flowers brought by April showers). It was sort of hard for me to start writing on this blog again after not writing for so long, getting back on the horse is harder than I expected and last month was actually sort of painful in a good way. Anyway, I will try to catch up, because I do have so many thoughts to share with you (all 10 of you, readers).

Plus, I think that I am developing "ahb-sonce" seizures. Do you ever close your eyes and lose a month of your life?