Carnegie stage 13 Embryo showing neural tube and brain flexures
Rapid growth folds the neural tube forming 3 brain flexures:
- cephalic flexure - pushes mesencephalon upwards
- cervical flexure - between brain stem and spinal cord
- pontine flexure - generates 4th ventricle
I left Seattle on a Thursday, one day after my last as a young, excel-toting management consultant. Leaving the office with 2 large sacks with the assortment of picture frames and high heels I had left (but actually rarely worn) at the office, there was a moment of elation followed by a moment of panic.
I was no longer accountable to my outlook calendar or the gantt chart in my powerpoint slides. With my computer abandoned and my out of the office (forever) automated message activated, there would be no more fire drills, no more steering committee presentations and no more text boxes to format. The freedom was exhilarating but was accompanied by a nagging fear that I had done something incredibly stupid. I was voluntarily departing a job I loved, leaving colleagues who had become my friends and champions. But it was too late to take it all back. I had no choice but to soldier on.
Going back to school implies a step backwards, even while stepping forward. On the surface, it means things like adjusting my spending habits to reflect the change in my income from moderately positive to aggressively negative. Passing by a café on the trek home, I realized with a sinking stomach that I would have to think twice the next time I don’t ask the price of my drinks (and then later realize I spent more on my cappuccino than I did on lunch). I will need to curb my ever enthusiastic consumption of everything in the J Crew catalog, and possibly ban myself from ever stepping foot in Soho. I will need to devote weekends to books and reading, rather than an endless parade of Brothers and Sisters on Netflix.
Beyond habits of living this re-entry into notebooks and tab-dividered binders also entails a shift in accountability. Professional development goals and promotion schedules are replaced with formal cycles of assessment and question answering. There are no more euphemistic discussions of my strengths and development opportunities. These are replaced simply, by scales of 0 to 10, from 1 to 100, rated as passage or failure, know or not know.
There is no more “going off line” at the end of the work day, as lectures and labs bleed into hours of channeling lines of understanding between concepts in a language I barely speak.
In the first year we are accountable first for pieces of knowledge, then later on for execution of tasks both technically complex and heavy with humanity, requiring fluency with ethics and empathy, and also a confidence and ease that still eludes all of us.
It is hard to grasp the gaping chasm between the people we are today and the people we are expected to become. This is not like getting trained in microsoft excel with its straightforward shortcut reference sheets and colorcoded formula cells. We learn the body, with its layers of vasculature and innervations by literally peeling back layer by layer, here exposing the transversus abdominus, then the lung, then the no longer beating heart buried deep within the pericardium.
On this awkward transitional path from Ms. to Dr. (currently a name reserved for and will forever be associated with my infinitely more distinguished father), I will simply be that girl who has no idea what the hell she is doing.
Suddenly, my “pre-med” days are decidedly over. I’m finally, officially here, where the furniture barely fits into the space that has been allocated to be my New York City home, and where it is the end of summer just on the cusp of being fall. Outside the 6 train loudly announces its passage downtown and the ambulances on Madison avenue blare on approach to the hospital that is also my school.
This just might be the hardest thing I will ever do, and its going to take the rest of my life.
In low moments that I am sure will come, I hope I’ll remember the optimism of this beginning, and carry with me all my dreams and aspirations – to be a good doctor, a compassionate champion for all that is just and beautiful, and to be a light to those who have none.
I never could love San Francisco the same way I fell in love with Boston. Those of us who travel with our stomachs along with our eyes have infinite conquests in the bay, both visual and gastronomical. And yet the many delectables and stunning vistas over napa and golden gate did not hold my sentiments, even as they held my attention.
The bay was always his place, not mine – the promise land of Tesla-driving, kombucha-drinking, inventing, and world-changing sophisticates; certainly no place for an ingénue like me. He had dreamed about this place from our dorm rooms in North Carolina, talked about the hacker lifestyle and read about all the up and coming entrepreneurs taking Palo Alto by storm. For him it was always about building something exciting and new, while I was always more comfortable inhabiting the nostalgic and worn.
More than the cold deception of sunny but jacket-required days in the middle of summer, the ego of bay dwellers rubbed me entirely the wrong way. They didn’t appreciate my preference for hard copy books or deciduous trees; they didn’t understand my appreciation for seasons – cold Christmases and hot beaches.
A year ago I showed up in San Francisco wanting to see what he saw, wondered if I was missing something, somehow unworthy of a place so mythologized, even in its name – in Chinese, jiu jin shan literally meant old gold mountain, named for the gold rush of the 1850s but somehow also a nod to the modern day gold rush of ideas and idealisms. I found myself wondering what it was about the urine tinted sidewalks of the Mission mixing with the scent and promise of authentic burritos that appealed to the restless and the brave. In the end I turned down the offer from the bay, and as a compromise, found my new address in its more measured sister city further up the coast.
In general the oversaturation of Amazon and Microsoft against the foundation’s island of global health has confirmed what I have always known – that I crave humanism over technology, history over innovation, perhaps most notably, medicine over business.
But In many ways Seattle has been a pleasant surprise for this too-neurotic, too-serious west coast skeptic. I will miss the scale of these mountains, this nature that demands to be taken seriously, and the ethos of “getting out there,” breathing it all in but not leaving a trace. I have indulged in your premium coffee beans and your appetite for fresh, real and unassuming food and drink. I have had tremendous opportunity for meaningful and impactful work. I’m happy to have been here, and in 2 more weeks I’ll leave with some bulky hiking boots and a taste for the vast and the humbling.
Here’s to the next adventure.
Telling Stories through Food with @leesamantha
For more photos and videos of Samantha’s culinary artwork, follow @leesamantha on Instagram.
"When I first started creating food art, those in bento boxes (called charaben) had been around for a long time—but I was more interested in exploring food art out of the box and simplifying the technique,” says Malaysia Instagrammer Samantha Lee (@leesamantha). “Since then, I’ve developed my own unique style of storytelling on plates that explores a variety of subject matter and ingredients,” she adds.
A mother of two daughters, Samantha started devising ways to get them to eat in a healthier and more independent way by applying creativity to her presentation. She designs scenes on plates featuring celebrities, popular characters, animals and famous landmarks, made up mainly of local and fresh edible ingredients. Samantha’s ideas and creative inspiration come from a variety of fine arts as well as from her daughters, whom she describes as having “endless imagination”.
Samantha is also careful to keep food waste to a minimum. “Before I begin putting any new ideas on a plate, I sketch out my designs and write down ideas and ingredients I’ll be using. It helps me to be more organized and prevent food waste.” Her minimalistic approach shows in her camera work as well. She edits very little by choosing to shoot in natural light and avoids using too many props in her photos to “let the food art stand out and speak for itself.”