“You think that’s a miracle?”

Below is an excerpt from Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros, the advice from a grandmother to her granddaughter… and to you and me.

“There’s no sin in falling in love with your heart and with your body, but wait till you’re old enough to love yourself first. How do you know what love is? You’re still just a child.
But I saw God when we made love.
Of course you did. You think that’s a miracle? Smell a flower and you’ll see God too. God’s everywhere. And yes, he’s in the act of love too. And so? That boy’s not the only one who can love you like that. There’ll be others, there ought to be others, you must have others. Ay, Celaya, don’t wind up like me, settling with the first man who paid me a compliment. You’re not even a whole person yet, you’re still growing into who you are. Why, all your life you’ll be growing into who you are. That’s the trouble. God gives us the urge for love when we’re still children, but the age of reason doesn’t arrive till we’re well into our forties. You don’t want somebody who doesn’t know his own heart, do you? Look, he’s a little boy, and you’re a little girl. You’ll find someone who’s brave enough to love you. Some day. One day. Not today.” — The Awful Grandmother in Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

I read this chapter on a bus in Lima, Peru, and laughed. And between you and me, my eyes were full of that salty water that hurts and heals. Receive wisdom when you need it, friends. Even when it’s 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years later than when you thought you needed it. When the words you needed to hear finally arrive, you may chuckle to yourself, thinking how funny life is and your tears might surprise you. You thought you moved on. And you did. Sometimes the truth of how you’ve grown and what you’ve learned is enough to grow that lump in your throat, make you pause at how ordinary yet universal your hurt was. You think that’s a miracle? It is.


M1 and done


When people ask me how my first year of med school went, I wish I had something extremely profound yet succinct that could describe the last year of my life. I would like to sound both cool and self-actualized, while also humble and funny. Sadly, I usually end up with some variation of, “It was really hard, but I loved every second of it.” I’m not sure how else to describe med school, other than hard. It was hard in a way that leaves you feeling satisfied after a long run. Hard like trying to grow up and start a new season of life. Hard in the easy way of falling in love, with a new city and new friends, while saying goodbye to old ones. It was an adventure, a grand one.

Ten years from now (much less right now), I won’t remember the vitamin deficiencies, the rare bacterial diseases, or the spinal cord tracts and neurodegenerative disorders. But I’ll remember the time when we danced all night at Trust in our Halloween costumes (and I lost my phone and didn’t even know it until you found it face down in the snow when we were going home). Those hikes at the Pinnacles, Raven’s Run, and the Gorge. When I was heartbroken and showed up to class puffy-eyed from crying all night and you told me I looked like shit. But you brought Magee’s donuts because you knew my heart. When we did BRS anatomy practice questions in your living room, and overdosed on your “go go beans,” laughing hysterically at how we learned so much yet knew absolutely nothing. That time in New Orleans when we walked to Cafe Du Monde twice in one day, the first with happy grins over dark chicory coffee and fluffy crisp beignets and the second to sop up our UK Final Four heartbreak tears with round 2 of beignets. When we hated every single second of neuro block and watched all those Thursday night movies at “our theater”, the cheap one with expensive hotdogs. The times you wouldn’t let me study alone, because you knew I would just fall asleep. When my car got towed from Common Grounds. When my grandmother and dog died in the same week and you were the first person I called. When we discovered Maria’s burritos. The nights we stayed in and baked cookies instead of bar hopping. When you waxed my legs and we drank all the wine. When we put each other on suicide watch and told each other it would all be okay, wouldn’t it? And it was okay. It was better. It was hard, soul-crushingly, inspiring and amazing.

And I’m better for it. Stronger, weaker, braver, kinder. Thank you for making the hardest year of my life, the most amazing so far. Cheers to three more years and ever after.


So an Asian girl walks into a bar…

One obvious truth about being Asian in Kentucky is that you are surely a minority. There are simply not very many of your fellow people living here. Herein presents a case of simplified supply and demand, specifically in social interactions. Let me be specific. I don’t go out much. When I’m not studying on a Friday night, I love nothing more than staying in with a mug of tea and as many Hint-of-Mint Newman O’s as I can shove in my mouth whilst watching Scandal. But every now and then I get the urge to act my age and venture out to some bar or club. One of these rare urges happened a couple weeks ago, and I found myself with a few friends at a hip bar, complete with faux taxidermy and $10 cocktails.

Later into the night, a guy came over, wingman in tow, and pitched a really gentlemanly proposal of buying our entire table a round of drinks. With no strings attached. WHAT. He specified he would act as our personal butler and just take our orders, deliver the drinks, and then go on his way. Again, WUT. We were all pretty flustered, so he switched gears, and got straight to the point. “Well… the real reason I came over here was to actually buy you a drink,” he said while staring at me. Hold up, what is happening?! After his continued spiel about the no strings attached offer, I eventually said we were leaving soon but thanked him anyways.

Truth be told, I wasn’t used to attracting attention from grown ass men, much less a man with enough money to throw down for bougie cocktails for an entire table just to talk to one girl. To be even more honest with you, I was newly single and didn’t know how to react to drink offers from strangers. Perhaps another post is required on notes-to-self about fielding drink offers, but for this post, let me focus on the fact that this gentlemanly, financially stable(-ish), adult male was Asian(/-American). Part of me wishes I would have said yes because he was Asian. Is that weird? Probably. I felt as the only other Asian-American twenty-something there, I had the responsibility to support this guy’s move. (I mean come on, it takes some confidence to come over and introduce yourself cold turkey). Maybe because I was the only other Asian in the room, he felt like I was the only person he could buy drinks for? Is this thought process race-contained racism? I don’t know. Supply and demand, guys. It messes with my social cognition. For a split second in that bar, my inner thought dialog was that he might be one of the few Asian-American guys I’ll meet in Kentucky so I should probably just say yes.

Ethnicity aside though, he had the thoughtfulness to ask permission before condescendingly sending drinks over (like some masochistic guys do), was incredibly gentlemanly, and had that classic nice guy look. I think his name was Steve? Steve, if you ever read this and find me in a bar, try that offer again. Because I believe I’ll say yes. Not because we’re both Asian, but because you were a nice guy with good manners. A lady appreciates that.

Yours truly,