35. On quitting

I circle back around to residency and flirt with being a doctor the same way you do an ex-boyfriend. When things are good you could care less. But the moment you hit a rough patch of bad blind dates and lonely nights in with Netflix, you wonder what could have been if you had stayed. One day you’ll see him having brunch with someone new, laughing and enjoying each other’s company; a glimpse of what once was. What could have been.

It’s easy to forget the downsides when you want to overlook them. When there are dollar signs and prestige at the end of the rainbow.

Many of my friends will be entering their last year of residency soon, well on their way to being full-fledged doctors. I cannot imagine the things they have learned or the pains it took to learn them, but I am jealous of them just the same. It’s the sister life I could have had, staring me in the face.

Around this time two years ago (two!)  I remember googling the words, “quitting residency.” I wanted someone to tell me that it would be ok. I wanted a role model with a success story that I could hold up to my family, friends, and myself.

I never found one.

Not one I identified with, anyway. I was no Michael Crichton or William Carlos Williams. I didn’t have any interest in business school or equity research.  I had done that thing so many poets and motivational speakers urge people to do – I had forged my own path. And it was/is terrifying.

So…I’m doing the work. To become my own success story.

It’s still a work in progress. It’s not at all glamorous. And I have a new definition of success. I don’t know where I’ll end up or how many times I’ll get it wrong before I get it right. But I will own every decision I make.

Because we should all be writing our own stories.

35. On quitting

34. Inspiration


3 things inspiring me today:

1. A classy luau
2. This instagram, found via cup of jo, combining celebrity snapshots and quotes.

 “Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

– Anthony Bourdain

3. My beautiful grandmother, who celebrated 80 years of life yesterday.

Happy Tuesday.
(Photo via studio diy)

34. Inspiration

33. No Ragrets*

Lately, I can’t stop thinking about something my mom told me last year.

We were driving from one end of California to the other, to see my uncle for what would be the last time. Her hands were on the steering wheel, and I was looking past her out the window. The sun was setting over parched farmland, coloring everything in amber honey and blinding us as we drove.
My thrice-divorced, recently remarried** mother was telling me about her prayer group. A weekly hour of husband-bashing and despair-sharing around a coffee table with cut fruit and hot tea – the korean housewife equivalent of a book club. She told me how these women shared similar frustrations and sometimes even alarming concerns about their relationships. It was their safe place to contemplate divorce and silently judge each other.
“I’m still a part of this prayer group,” she told me, her eyes fixed straight ahead at the semi rumbling three car spaces ahead of us. Ever since a string of traffic violations and a revoked license in the 90s, my mom is a very cautious driver.
She turned her head quickly towards me, though, as she said, “All those women are still married.” Her tattooed eyebrows arched into upside down v’s, her face a mixture of astonishment and unacknowledged shame. Out of all those women, after all those hours of shared confidences and aired grievances, she was the only one who had actually divorced her husband.
I know her intent in telling me that story. Her plea for me to stay. To stick it out – even though she hadn’t. Because it doesn’t feel nice to be the only one in the group who leaves. Because one can hope that rough starts and middles can have a happy ending. Because everything is clearer in hindsight.


I asked her if she regretted it now, all these years later.  Did she regret leaving my father?
She responded swiftly, without skipped beats or room for questions,




*I’ve never seen We Are the Millers, but apparently that’s a thing.

**I hate that someone’s life can be reduced to a few choice words.

33. No Ragrets*

31. Low Maintenance

I used to pride myself on being a low maintenance gal.

From bed to door, I could step in the shower and leave the house in less than 15 minutes. That didn’t mean that I could magically put on a face full of make up in that span of time, or knew the best way to wear my hair wet. I told myself that the extra fifteen minutes of sleep were worth it, and that I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I didn’t want to keep people waiting. I was easy-going. Low maintenance.

Maybe it’s the emergence of undereye circles, but now, I’m not quite the same person (most of the time; I still think the extra sleep is sometimes worth it).

I owe my roommate for this change of heart. She chooses her outfits with care, never leaves the house without eyeliner. She could run into her exes at any time without shame. It is all very intentional. And I am all about a life of intention. 

She helped me realize there’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. You should put your best face forward in clothes you love and feel good in. It shouldn’t be termed “high maintenance,” selfish, or superficial. I understand that we should all strive to live within our means (because credit card debt scares me more than this), but having polished nails and a good haircut should be considered good investments if the ROI is feeling great.

Talking about high/low maintenance always reminds me of this scene from When Harry Met Sally (above). Meg Ryan, as Sally: 

” Well, I just want it the way I want it. “

And that’s what it boils down to. 

There’s nothing wrong with sweatpants, hair tied, chilling with no makeup on (that’s when you’re the prettiest*).

Just make sure you give a damn about yourself. 

*I don’t think  Drake has ever actually seen a girl without makeup. 

31. Low Maintenance

30. Some days you just want to punch everyone in the face

Especially when flight days go something like this:

Also for the record, before US Airways boards “regular” passengers,the order goes something like this:
First Class
Uniformed U.S. Military (ok, i’ll give them that one)
AAdvantage® Executive Platinum / AAdvantage Platinum
oneworld Sapphire and Emerald
AAdvantage Gold
oneworld Ruby
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive cardmembers
After a wasted day of flight delays and airport changes and hour long car rides with awkward cabbies, I’m reminded that sometimes it’s better to drive.
Regardless of the journey, though, I know my destination is worth the hassle.
All of it.

30. Some days you just want to punch everyone in the face