Friday, November 30, 2012

Managing stress in dental school

I wrote this article for Penn’s ASDA newsletter OPenn Wide called “How to manage stress in dental school”. Mid- to late-October was a pretty rough time for me, and as I was doing my mini-interviews for this article, it was motivating to talk to classmates about how they stayed motivated in dental school.

Betty the editor and I were discussing what I should write about, and what interested me most was how others were keeping this up, how they kept pushing through. It’s fascinating how everyone deals with stress differently (everyone also studies in wildly different ways, but that’s a post for another time).

I open with a reminder from my favorite newsletter:

Eating a healthy diet will help you stay energized, focused, and well rested during times of stress. If you are not mindful and eat junk food or frequently skip meals, you are more likely to perform poorly or get sick during stressful times.

So true. Junk food can be instantly comforting, but I always feel worse afterwards.



These are the wonderful people I’m studying with at Penn.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New dental chairs- moving in.

The things dental students get excited about…

A moving truck was parked at Penn last week. Going in and out the dental school we eyed this suspicious truck until we saw what they were unloading: new dental chairs!


This was pretty exciting. You know when dental chairs are old and broken, and the patients has to be moved up and down in jerky movements? No more.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Calm before the storm

This is it. The last four weeks before winter break. We currently have seven ongoing classes and after this week (first week in a long time without exams!), will have an exam parade with five exams over three weeks. Gulp. These little happy reminders keep me going. Just get to your happy place.

I especially love this quote from my Philadelphia marathon goodie bag because it gives me a sense of control that I can turn this day around.

run run

Yesterday I received some discouraging news. The person delivering the news said: “This won’t make you happy, but your socks will.” I was wearing some ridiculous Korean pink-and-blue socks. I was still pretty bummed. And I think I’ll focus on school for a while.

2012-11-27 08.29.25

Over Thanksgiving, Mark kept saying “it feels so good to get out of Ithaca!”. I think he said it every morning afternoon when he woke up. He loves college and classes and his fraternity but I see how a break (or a breakout) could feel so invigorating. Sunshine in Arizona over winter break will do me a lot of good… including give me a little color. I miss the tan, happy lifeguard Yesle. I also miss the little things like drive-through coffee shops.

What are you looking forward to for winter break?
What’s on your to-do list for winter break?
(Mine’s to learn how to blow-dry my hair Smile)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Philadelphia Thanksgiving.

Our contribution to dinner was this Korean sesame tapioca bread. I bought the bread mix at H-mart couple of weeks ago. It’s by Q-One and called 깨찰빵믹스 (literally means “Sesame Tapioca Bread”). I love Korean bakeries & their selection of savory breads. If you’ve had the Korean pancakes: ho dduk/hotteok, it’s that mix of chewy/savoriness I love. It’s also ridiculously easy to make.


Result is a light, airy but chewy bread. It bakes like a toasted bagel: I made this as appetizer for our Thanksgiving meal.

When Sharon first told me she was making everything, I was a little skeptical. She told me she’s never cooked much before. But um, best dinner I’ve had in a long time. We had some problems with the turkey (aka it had to hop from oven to oven) but in the end, everything turned out perfect.

2012-11-22 18.33.02

Mark came down from college to spend Thanksgiving in Philadelphia. He had a crazy day of traveling and layovers due to the mess at Penn Station & finally came into town after midnight. Here we are, siblings with the entire Thanksgiving food spread. I especially loved the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. And do you see the Christmas decorations in the back?


It was Mark’s first time in Philadelphia. It was a short trip of 3.5 days but we tried out different restaurants (in the end, his favorite was the leftover lamb: “I need more laaaamb”) and caught up. We chatted, walked around chilly Philadelphia, and grabbed dessert on our way home from the library. Seriously, the night before we had gelato on our way home from the bookstore.


I loved having Mark over for Thanksgiving- it was sort of like a staycation! He’s coming over again in a few weeks & I’m already making a list of places to take him. On the top of the list: a real Philadelphia cheesesteak place.

How was your Thanksgiving break?
What did you bring to your Thanksgiving dinner? (Funny stories count!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Life After Dental School: Dreaming & Debt

Today we have a guest post from Abigail from 5th Avenue Acquisitions. Sometimes I forget that there is life after dental school (especially if you already have student debt) and that I need to be educated on how to be a financially savvy businesswoman too. Abigail talks about useful tips to keep in mind early as dental students.

Whether you’re preparing your application for your dream dental school or proudly wearing that school’s sweatshirt, you have reasons you chose to become a dentist. The path toward a career that allows you to control your own time, provide a critical service to the public, and own your own business. That dental career path is paved in gold- or is it?

The cost of a dental school education has been steadily increasing. The American Dental Education Association’s annual Survey of Graduating Seniors reports that the average debt for 2011 dental graduates is $203,374. Before these graduates with new letters behind their name even see their first patient, they carry significant debt into their dreams.


Do you dream of owning your own practice but see debt as the obstacle? After all, you made an investment. At 5th Avenue Acquisitions & Venture Capitalists, I work with dentists everyday to identify their ideal practices. In the process of identifying and financing these purchases, there are a few tips I’ve learned. There are things you can do now to make those dreams of ownership become a reality, maybe more quickly than you think.

1. Wear your two hats proudly and educate yourself for both: dentist & business owner. You are in a unique and potentially highly-profitable career. Right now, you are spending a great deal of time studying the science behind dentistry. In order to enter into your practice with confidence, don’t delay asking and learning where profitability and value lies in a practice. Asking now will allow you to hit the ground running, paying back those loans quickly. (Just a hint: patient files!)

2. Create your ideal practice checklist. Through your learning of practices, you know that not every practice is grown the same. But some are poised for faster growth than others. For example, did you know that rural practices often gross more than urban practices? It comes down to the time and trust of your patients. If you are in an urban location, your patients will be those working close to your office. They often block only a short amount of time, an hour maximum, for their appointment. If you see x-rays are needed, they likely will decline due to their schedule. Additionally, their family will likely not be patients. As a rule of thumb, the family will go to a dentist near their home.

3. Build and maintain relationships now for practice growth later. Maybe you’re continuing your education because you love kids and being a pediatric dentist is your dream. Think about five years into owning your practice, you’re looking at ways to expand. Maybe you have maintained a relationship with your colleague in orthodontics, or another peds colleague focusing on special needs. Either of these individuals could be a potential merger of dental specialty practices for you. It would be a natural synergy. But you need to allot time, in school or post-graduation, to network and continue building on your relationships.

Here’s to your bigger dreaming!

clip_image002 Abigail Widynski is enthusiastic about two topics: growth and expansion. In her role at 5th Avenue Acquisitions and Venture Capitalists (, she feels privileged to talk about these two everyday. Abigail is the founder of the online consultancy, Wild West Content Strategy and serves as a board member for two international children’s organizations: Hope4Kids and the U.S. Executive Board of Grain of Wheat International. Abigail is a graduate of American University and Imperial College Business School in London. Abigail invites you to reach out to her at

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rothman 8k thoughts.

Katherine, Rachel and I went out to cheer for our Penn D1’s aka the “Penn Dental Running Club” team at last week’s Rothman Institute 8k. There were elite runners who ran <25 min 8k’s. Even at the finish line they looked so beautiful, gliding with long legs swishing past. I think some people even ran this 8k as a warm-up to next day’s Philadelphia marathon

2012-11-17 07.30.28

Later that night I was volunteering at one of the charity partners for the Philadelphia Marathon. We hosted a pre-race carb-loading dinner for the runners and I spoke with three guys who all had different foreign accents. I didn’t realize how many runners were from out of town or even out of the country.


Photo from Katie F- Penn dental runners and supporters before the start! Don’t you love our matching shirts? Jackie designed them and we made them over dinner the night before. Katherine and I are holding up our signs on the ends.


It was so inspirational to watch these runners! The beautiful Philadelphia museum & downtown backdrop didn’t hurt either. I’ve started to up my mileage- I ran to the river this weekend and my ankle(s) felt perfectly fine. Thank you new shoes? Twelve months to go until next year’s 8k! This time I won’t sign up for a race six months in advance…

When’s your favorite time to run?
Are you planning to run a race soon? I really want to do a color run!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Food truck Philadelphia: NY Gyro

First Wednesday of Thanksgiving break & I headed out of the apartment early for morning meetings. I ran around to check off my errands in between. Note to self: you will never feel overdressed at Wharton- everyone looks so gorgeous and professional, even on the day before Thanksgiving.


For lunch, I finally had my first Philadelphia food truck experience. Jackie and I grabbed lamb lunches at the New York Gyro Truck on Walnut. We waited in line for twenty minutes before finally ordering our foods. Totally worth it.


I hopped off my vegetarian bus for my first halal meat meal. For $5 I got a huge lamb salad with So. Much. Meat. Some of the other dishes are grilled in the truck in front of you, but lamb wasn’t. Once we put in our order, we were in and out in five minutes. We found a sunny bench to sit on.

I was in heaven. The hot sauce was perhaps too hot for me to handle- I was sniffling and grabbing napkins every bite- but the lamb was soft and chewy. I love the texture of lamb. I also had a ton of leftovers, enough to feed a hungry traveler dinner and a very late linner.

I need to check out the many food trucks down on Spruce sometime. Dental school’s on the west periphery of Penn campus so I rarely venture in that direction.

Food picture! I love this, of Maurice Chevalier and Audrey Hepburn from NY Mag.


Do you like spicy foods?
Have you ever eaten from a food truck?

Two weeks after braces: new orange bands

My two week progress on braces: my teeth have moved! My canines aren’t touching anymore.

This appointment was the dreaded part: a new thicker wire. Braces-veterans (I swear everyone in our dental class has had braces) warned me about this. Fully grown men admitted to crying the night after they changed out the wires. I was prepared.

After switching out my arch wire Helen asked me if I wanted colored bands. She’d been really disappointed when I picked clear ones at the last appointment. Clear wires don’t really make your braces any less noticeable, so I picked orange for Thanksgiving festivities. Helen was so much more excited than I was when I told her- she’s the best.


For my stubborn twisted molar, I might get a Temporary Anchorage Device or TAD for short. It’s a small screw embedded into your alveolar bone which serves as an anchorage device for your teeth to move/rotate on. It’s a relatively new procedure (15 year or so) still under much scrutiny and development in the orthodontics community. I’m thinking about giving it a try. You might see pictures of my teeth in the next review article for TAD…


Helen gave me celebratory chocolates for finishing Histology! So I walked out of the orthodontics department with my tongue crib and chocolates in hand.

My teeth didn’t hurt the night after new wires. It might be because I just passed out on my bed, but I’m managing. Also, I might not have dodged surgery just yet- I’m meeting with a perio-orthodontist upcoming week(another reason why I love Penn dental) to discuss another potential problem.

I just love these orange wires. I can’t wait until my next orthodontics visit. We’re going to hang a mirror on the light so I can see what’s going on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012.

I am being called out on my no-waste Thanksgiving resolution. And that’s a good thing. Here’s an article from the CNN Eatocracy blog on cutting food waste on your Thanksgiving day.


Philadelphia is just beautiful right now. The leaves are changing colors and the sky is the bluest blue. I love you, you’re perfect. Don’t ever change (= turn into winter).


Happy Thanksgiving, whatever beautiful place you’re spending this holiday at. This year I’m most thankful for the great support from friends and family during this stressful time. We have some great teachers and amazing classmates here, and I’m happy I chose to come to Penn for dental school. I’m seeing glimpses of a bigger picture: dentistry’s role in public health & what I can contribute.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Looking at your own teeth

(In less than 12 hours I will be done with our last Histology exam! Then my Thanksgiving break begins. I’m staying in Philadelphia but looking forward to having my baby brother here with me. Okay. A couple more slides…)

Looking at my own teeth is now one of my favorite hobbies. Now that I know what teeth are supposed to look like, it’s fun to look at my own teeth.

You know you’re in dental school when you get a free small mirror and you get really excited… because it fits in your mouth. You can stare at your maxillary teeth all day long. (Do you see how my third molar- because my second one is missing- is ridiculously twisted?)

2012-10-29 22.32.12

Also during an evening watching Youtube clips with friends, we talked about celebrities’ teeth: “Her teeth look a little off. What is it?” “He has a small gap between his maxillary laterals and canines.” Um.

I used to feel uneasy talking to psychology or performance majors because I felt like the former was analyzing me or the latter was “acting”/lying. On a similar note about how occupations can seep into your life, dentistry is doing the same thing to us! All we see is teeth. (“I guess he has nice hair… but did you see his teeth? Swoon.”)

What weird occupational hobbies do you have?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving without food waste

Here’s something to think about for this Thanksgiving week. You never see restaurants/bakeries serving sandwiches made with loaf-ends. Where do they go?


crusts(Picture from the talk)

Watch the TED talk by Tristram Stuart. I am certainly guilty of wasting food. I let vegetables rot in my fridge and throw them out without eating any of it. I regularly throw out cheese I didn’t securely close or milk I accidentally left out on the counter. It’s part laziness, part carelessness.

This is food that could feed hungry people in our communities and around the world. The issue of obesity versus hunger, choosing nutrients versus calories, overeating versus malnutrition… may not have to be opposing issues.

This Thanksgiving week, I’m reminding myself to not throw out any food, to eat everything I buy and cook. It does take some planning to think about meals and remember which ingredients will spoil sooner. Plus, a little hungry man’s coming into town. I think that’ll help.

I am also amazed at how one photograph deliver a powerful message. On a related food-note, good-bye, twinkies. Good-bye to fried twinkies at Texas fairs.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Care package goodies from Korea

I got home from a study parade one night to find a huge box at my doorstep. Umma sent me a box full of cute stationery and snacks from Korea. I could barely carry it up the stairs… not that I minded!


I asked for specific Korean stationeries like 0.3mm pens and highlighters. I didn’t get the cutesy-character ones but Korean pens are the best. Even the cheap ones write so smooth & have the best grip. Also, Morning Glory erasers: try them. You’ll never go back to anything else. (I wrote about cutesy Korean stationery and staying organized also a few months back.)

Umma included a bunch of Korean snacks including traditional Korean han-gwa’s. These are delicious honey-coated grain snacks that are sticky. I sneaked in a few before my appointment to put on braces.

2012-11-06 12.27.34

It was such a great pick-up in the middle of a long semester. I felt a little homesick for Korea, but this motivated me to really push myself until summer when I can be home with family in busy/hip/beautiful Seoul. Thank you Umma-bear! Loved everything.

Thanksgiving is so soon! So so so soon. A small resting stop here.

Because Umma included a bag of amazing coffee, everything from my package smells like coffee. I just put on a scarf from the package and… smells like Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans (I’m joking- I can’t tell them apart). This makes me smile.

What are your favorite care package goodies?
What have you been study-snacking on this week?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Philadelphia marathon weekend: 8k’s tomorrow!

It is Philadelphia marathon weekend! Rothman Institute 8k is tomorrow. Meeting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at 7:30. Temperature in the high 30’s with mild cloudy weather. I’m ready.


…. to cheer.

After my stupid summer injury this summer- and let’s be honest, I didn’t train at all this summer- I found another eager runner to take my spot. I spent too much on physical therapy to be reckless. Plus, I didn’t want to run it for the sake of running it. I wanted to PR (ha- this would have been my only 8k) and spend weeks leading up to it running, sweating, pushing myself.

So I’m waking up at 5:30AM tomorrow to head over to the museum. When gun goes off, I’ll be standing on the side and cheering on my lovely dental school friends. I’m really happy that so many of us love running (one even runs a sub-20 minute 5k…).

Tonight wee carb-loaded over dinner, made matching Penn Dental runners shirts, and watched Ok! go music videos (Needing/Getting is crazy- they drive a car to “play” instruments.) Next time this year… half-maybe? It is on my list of 25 things to do before 25. Tomorrow it’s game time. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On ASDA’s Mouthing Off: “A halfway point check-in from a D1”

I wrote another post for ASDA’s official blog Mouthing Off!


It was great to reflect on this semester so far & sum up mixed sentiments I’ve been feeling. Can you believe next week is Thanksgiving already? Our only class on Wednesday got canceled so my Thanksgiving break starts early. Mark is finally coming to Philadelphia. Until then, two exams to go.

Check out my post here. I’m so excited to write this post for ASDA, especially since I wrote my first one a while ago on the mixture of: is this real? & excitement here as a dental student at Penn.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

“Today was a good day.”

I love Glee, and I love Dianna Agron. She runs this great website which showcases beautiful art called You, Me, and Charlie. I need to share this interview with Dianna Agron (reminded me of my end-of-the-year birthday party this summer)- Read more at Women's Health.

My goal has always been not to look forward to the next thing, but to relish and celebrate the successes I have at the moment. Whether it's landing a part in a student film or having a good day in acting class, I never discredit anything.

I believe in rewarding yourself too. With every job I've gotten, I've bought myself something. When Glee was picked up, I rented a piano for the year. For smaller victories, I'll go to dinner with a friend, or go for a walk and think about it all. It's important to say to yourself, Today was a good day.

I love this.

I finished my bikram class without fainting. I was having a really tough time, probably because of this week’s junk food marathon. And I powered through a tough lecture on the immune system on a Sunday afternoon. I also stayed off facebook for 48 hours!

I picked up coffee and a muffin from the Metropolitan Bakery and took a moment outside in beautiful 70’s weather.


I need to remind myself to be proud of my little successes. Dental school may be hard, and it’s easy to be let down. But I’m here, and I’m getting there.

(Do you like my smiley manicure?)
What small success are you celebrating today?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kal Penn at Penn: take interesting paths

One evening I sat in my living room and watched “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle”. I think I also had sweet potato fries cooking in the oven. It was a good night.

This Sunday, Kumar aka Kal Penn came to University of Pennsylvania campus to talk about his career in politics and acting. (This week Penn also hosted Arianna Huffington and Bill Clinton!- I love my school.) Janet and I took a study break from arteries and vessels to hear him speak, although we had no idea what he was going to say. He had previously taught here at Penn.

I lost my notes from this night and am frustratedly (is that a word?) looking for them. But here’s some points I do remember. During the Q&A session, a student asked if it was difficult for Kal Penn to leave his acting career and graduate degree in-process to work in the White House. His answer: “No, because I was interested.”

To deviate from a clear set-up life path- star in a blockbuster in ten years, get that Ph.D.- and chase something just because you are interested in it seems… irresponsible. But maybe liberating. I scratch my head trying to see myself in five years, ten years, then plan to get on that road.

But plans change. Interests change. Life happens and new paths open up.


Kal Penn also discussed the changing face of Hollywood. For starting actors, they may be typecast according to their looks and ethnicity (Kal Penn played an exchange student named “Taj Majal”), but those roles may be necessary to step up to roles outside cultural boxes. With rise of audience-involved media such as Youtube, we now have a bigger role in deciding who we put on our screens.

I also loved how unapologetic he was about his past silly/funny/crude humor movies. “I had a good time making them. It was fun.” And that was enough. I love this attitude.

He was so eloquent! And so relaxed and engaging. I must say when he’s not making one of these faces, Kal Penn is very handsome.


The talk turned political at some points because election was two days later! (Student: “Will you ever run for office?” Kal Penn: “Um, no.”) And America now has a new but old president. Good night, Mr. President.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I’m a dental student with braces.

Study break! Hi lovely people. I have braces now! This (plus my nutritional habits aka coffee addiction) now puts me at a high risk for caries on CAMBRA.

Here’s me during my unknowingly- last happy weekend without braces: I went clothes-shopping with Janet, ate Korean cookies, bit into many apples, and snacked on sticky gooey junk foods (October ended with the biggest free candy fest of the year). I also saw Kal Penn which I’ll write about soon! (is up, complete with a picture I took so close.)


I had an afternoon appointment with my orthodontics resident Helen on Tuesday. She had prepared a treatment plan for me after our initial test series with X-rays, impressions, and many many photographs. She explained that one option was surgery in the summer continued with braces afterwards.

Or we could go with a non-surgery option, but compliance would be especially important. I would need to wear my retainers every day and fix my tongue-pushing habits. Otherwise my teeth could move back… after which we’d be back to square one.

Helen and I talked about this option for a while. I asked her about the specific concerns I had about my maxillary canines, my twisted molar in the wayyy back, and alveolar bone loss. (Sometimes dental school students make the best patients, other times...) I would need to come in every 2-3 weeks for adjustments.

I said: “Okay, I’m happy with this plan. I’d like to go for it.”

Helen said: “I’ll start setting up.”
You mean, today? Right now? Actually… yes. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Three hours (and multiple mini-naps) later, I had top braces on. Putting the braces on didn’t hurt. It was a couple of hours later that my jaw was throbbing. I couldn’t even bite into pita bread without crying. I look a little out of it here, holding my interproximal brushing device:


It’s been two days with braces and the brackets are really uncomfortable. The inside of my cheeks are scraped up and hurt every time I chew. But I am happy with my decision and more excited than anything: to have textbook occlusion and to be able to cut up flat foods.

It is a big investment both in terms of money and time, but I’m happy. (To be honest Z helped me tremendously with this decision to get braces as an adult. Before I had made up my mind I was a whining mess of: “Will I ever have friends? Will people ever like me? Do adults get braces?”)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dr. Bergey of Bergey’s Manual: Penn professor

We just started two new classes: microbiology and radiology. Microbiology is taught without lab, which in my opinion makes it tougher. BIOC 318 at Rice was no walk in the park but I learned so much! A lot of things about diagnostic testing I remembered running. Like seeing the bubbles after dropping hydrogen peroxide for catalase testing. And flipping through Bergey’s Manual: the bible of bacterial identification.

Photo from my senior year:
(frown probably because I spent five hours in a smelly bacteria lab)

fri 012

Dr. Bergey- of Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology- taught at University of Pennsylvania! With this marvelous fact we saw photos of University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine throughout the years. I love that our school is so historic. I feel personally connected to these scientists and factoids we’re studying. These giants studied here, at this place where I’m studying now.

We have a big arteries/vessels/lymphatic system exam on Friday. Snacking and studying marathon in session. Um, what happened to everything we learned in Health Promotions?2012-11-06 17.58.21

Brush up. Guard your heart.

Give your heart a break… from atherosclerosis.

gumsheartPicture from Dental Partners of Boston blog

Just as I was prepping to write this post, I read that a new gene therapy named Glybera has been approved. This treatment will help patients with lipoprotein lipase deficiencies. These patients cannot break down the fats in their blood causing abnormally high levels of lipoproteins and fats in the blood. The preliminary research by Dr. Kastelein of University of Amsterdam had been published earlier this summer. Lipoproteins was the star of our biochemistry test this Friday!

Okay, onto the link between dental hygiene and cardiovascular diseases.

I wrote preliminarily about how there has been no shown link between gum disease and heart disease. The current position by the American Heart Association is that while there is an association (including shared risk factors), there is no causative relationship between periodontal disease and atherosclerosis. Neither do they support the statement that periodontal interventions decrease long-term inflammation leading to atherosclerosis.


But P. gingivalis- a major bacteria causing periodontal disease- has been found in arterial plaque. In mouse models, infecting mice with the same pathogen causes early stages of atherosclerosis, in addition to the expected periodontal disease. The observational studies are not enough to establish a causal relationship, but controlled studies are hard to conduct on humans for such a serious condition.

While a definite causal link hasn’t been shown yet, I think it’s only a matter of time until it is revealed. This implies that proper oral care may positively affect coronary health. You don’t brush your teeth just to have fresh minty breath. You brush up to protect yourself from systematic conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Walking home with a friend we talked about spinal decay. It starts at 20. We’re all degenerating bodies, sitting in squeaky chairs, learning about collagen and SALFOPSM and the importance of fluoridation. Another week in dental school getting older in B13.

I told her I hadn’t been working out as much since starting dental school. How frustrating it’s been, since besides that I’m not exercising enough, gym is where I de-stress.

“For me it’s nonnegotiable”, she explained. “It’s like eating or breathing. If I don’t do it, I’ll die.” I laughed out loud but this lingered with me as I walked home. To squeeze in gym with our busy dental school schedule, YH goes to the gym- often at 6AM- before class every day.

Nonnegotiable is the key word.

Dental school does not mean you get to put your life on pause. You’re not magically going to transform into the person you dream of being upon graduation. This is the journey. Graduate school routines build your life habits.

This weekend I read this article by Miguel Ortiz of Harvard SDM. It is titled “Is dental school the right time to start a family?” and published in the last ASDA newsletter (the answer is yes). I loved this line at the end, where he put what I’ve been building up to, in perfect words.

2012-11-03 16.28.43

Life is right now. What’s nonnegotiable in your life?

Meal planning for vegetarians

I am making the switch to being a vegetarian.

Planning vegetarian meals is much tougher. With meat, I can fill up a plate with a quarter protein (broil up chicken or use leftovers from dinner), a quarter grains, and half vegetables. But without the meat (which is often provides the hot/salty/sweet flavor of the meal), my meals just taste bland.

My go-to meal the last few weeks has been this:

2012-09-30 13.16.32

gochujang (Korean hot chili sauce), lettuce, a fried egg and mashed up avocados with rice.

It is delicious, filling, and perhaps most importantly, so easy to whip up. But I need some variety. While looking up vegetarian meal menus I found this article on I’m sorry but “pan-fried pieces of tofu, raisins” for dinner just sounds sad.

Here’s a better alternative. Look up vegetarian restaurants and click through their menus. This will give you tons of ideas for your next vegetarian meal. Veggie Heaven in Austin is somewhere I’ve been meaning to go for a long time! I was in Austin for a journalism conference and got a free T-shirt from here. Some gems from the menu:

#25 Tropical Rain forest with fried tofu


#37 Eggplant Tofu. Eggplant is the best thing in the world. I love its slippery texture- oh and also okra!


And Steam Buns with mushrooms inside.


Since I can’t get to Austin from here, I’m adding broccoli, eggplant and firm tofu to my grocery list. Mock Veggie Heaven meals in my own kitchen… because I’m really sick of salads.

Have you made a change to your diet lately?
What are your favorite vegetarian recipes?

Friday, November 2, 2012

October’s thank-you

I have a major thank-you for October: I can now run a mile!

Although I had to give up my spot in the upcoming 8k, I can complete a mile without feeling like needles are poking at my ankle. The physical therapy bill was not pretty but… I think I learned my lesson. Plus I know what to do next time it happens if someone else hurts his ankle.

So I am grateful. I’m going to start slowly building up my mileage again. But not too fast- slow and steady wins the race. Literally!

And about Halloween, the last day of October: our dental class dressed up to class on Wednesday. I was an artist. Or a Frenchman. Or an artiste? I don’t really know.


At Penn president Amy Gutmann’s annual Halloween party I spied a Binder Full of Women. He kept opening up his binder to show people the list of women inside. Genius.

2012-10-31 18.35.55

And Oh. My. God. So much candy. Carbohydrates are: B) not essential nutrients. And yet…