Archive | July, 2011

becoming local

31 Jul

You might remember, I was hesitant at first about moving out to the ‘burbs.  I love my city, and I love city life…being able to to pick up an emergency roll of toilet paper from the corner Foodery at 11:30pm, to bike to school, to turn a corner and land in the Italian Market, to walk 100 yards to the Emergency Room (ya know, in case I happen to fall off my bike a block from home).  To be practically non-reliant on a car or any form of public transport, it’s a beautiful thing.

But where we live now, just outside city limits, is unlike any suburb I’ve ever known.  Maybe it’s because we’re a five-minute walk to the light rail.  Maybe it’s the young, somewhat hippie-ish energy of our neighborhood.  More than that, however, I think it’s the town feel of a it all.  We’re surrounded by independent businesses, by people who support them, by organized community gatherings, by scenic outdoor areas.  It doesn’t just feel like an extension of Philadelphia.

Today I took advantage of one of the Groupon Now! deals, and attended a $5 yoga class at this local studio I’d been dying to try.  (And now I’m just sort of dying a little, because Mark kicked my ass!  I swear, every single one of my intercostal muscles is sore…is that even possible?)

I got to talking with another woman in the class (who’s an ophthalmologist–jeez!), who recommended I go to the neighborhood cheese shop for their iced coffee.  They use ice cubes made out of coffee–brilliant!  Dear Dunkin’: maybe if you took a page from the cheese co. book, you wouldn’t have to double brew your iced beverages.

On the way home, I stopped byour nut store because our basil plant is growing like a freakin’ weed, I have to keep making pesto.  (Does anyone know if this stuff freezes well?)  The Head Nut also sells like every spice known to man (in bulk!) and gluten-free soy sauce (in original, organic, and low sodium varieties).

I think I’m becoming a townie.  Weird.


what is a ya-ya?

30 Jul

My bioethics paper is late.  And I’ve decided that the reason I’m having trouble writing it is because I have to write this post first.  It’s been on my mind a lot recently and, frankly, I’ve been avoiding it because I honestly don’t know how to begin or end it, or really what should go in the middle.  It’s on the topic of a community of friends that is rooted so snuggly into my semblance of self, I can’t comprehend how any facet of my life could be complete without it.  Maybe it’s arrogant of me, but I’ve come to believe that a group of this kind is far from commonplace, and I never cease to be bewildered by the luck I have to be a part of it.

You’ve seen/heard me reference them before, often calling them the Y’s or the Y’s & HMC for short, largely because I didn’t want to take the time to explain the meaning, but partially because I didn’t want to have to defend the name.  We are the Ya-Yas & Handsome Men’s Club, proudly.

Ten years ago, at the urging of two of my closest girlfriends, I read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.  I won’t try to pass it off as “high-brow literature,” but I think it should be a must-read for all adolescent girls.  Unlike any story I’ve known, it depicts what sensational relationships can exist between women.  I think it’s the first book that ever made me cry, although that’s now a regular occurrence.  (For those of you that have a copy, turn to 217 and read to 230, when Sister Solange and Genevieve save Vivi from Saint Augustine’s.  I think reading this passage might have also given me my first inkling that I wanted to go into medicine, as well as my affinity for lavender.)

And so, at the end of our senior year of high school, Erica, Liz, Stephie, and I formed our own Ya-Ya sisterhood, and soon our own listserv (because nothing says commitment like an electronic mailing list).  Within a year it grew to include a small handful of other women we love from high school, and then our men (best friends and/or life loves).  We became the Y’s & Co. and remained so for a long time.  But when the men equaled (or surpassed) the number of women, when they independently created “man adventures” and contributed to/facilitated/took part in leading group-wide events (like our annual reunions at Thanksgiving, New Years, and Beach Weeks), “& Co.” just didn’t cut it as a title.  “HMC” it was, although, for the life of me, I have no idea how we came upon that name.  I think our little group is something around 30 strong at this point.

These are the friends you write home about, the people you can literally trust with anything, who will always be there when you absolutely need them—I know this all sounds so hokey (are you vomiting a little in your mouth yet?), but it’s very much true.  When I was heartbroken and sobbing over the telephone, my closest friend nearly drove to the airport to catch a plane in order to be with me, and I’m sure he would had if I had asked.  When I needed a place to stay one summer in college, more than one ya-ya family gave me the key to their home, my own bed and drawer space.  On the day my MA thesis was due, Y’s & HMC far and wide sent me funny pictures, heart-warming articles, inspiring videos to get my spirit up.  Although John was inducted into the group years prior, I needed the approval of the Y’s & HMC to marry him, it simply wouldn’t have felt right otherwise.  (Incidentally, John, when you do finally read this book, you’ll be pleased to know that for years the ya-yas referred to you as “such a Chick,” Teensy’s husband, who’s kind of the only husband who really gets the ya-yas, who makes them dinner while they have their much needed sisterhood time.)

Members of this group have written term papers on the nature of our friendship, have visited each other across the continent and overseas, have been sounding boards or active influences in most major life decisions.  We look each other in the eye when we toast.  (“Otherwise, the ritual has no meaning, it’s just pure show.  And that is something the Ya-Yas are not.” p. 16)  We spend hours curled up on each other’s bed, beach towels, or kitchen floors (often with brownie batter in hand in the latter setting).  We rent out entire inns when one of us gets married.  And year after year, for ten years now, we plan our vacation days around Beach Week, one designated week of the summer during which we all descend upon a house in Corolla, the Outer Banks (or a suitable alternative site)—might sound simple, but many  google spreadsheets are involved in this organization.

We are screenwriters, physicists, music directors, rocket scientists, paleoanthropologists, musicians, graduate students (you name it, we’ve got it), physicians, yoga instructors, teachers, consultants, government employees, military officers, peace creators, freelancers…and the list continues.  We are foodies, world travelers, readers, athletes, adventure makers, sharers, lovers, and listeners.  We are strong, creative, thoughtful, beautiful, courageous, and simply better because we have each other.  We are so much more than I can express in words.

Happy ten years!  Ya-Ya!

(I guess I should get started on my paper now?)

the runaway

29 Jul

Remember that fabulous artist and professor whose exhibition I got to see last month?  Well, I was most certainly surprised and entirely flattered when he asked me to model for one of his characters in his third graphic novel.  What a fun, novel experience!  My character is “the runaway,” one of the female love interests/antagonists of series protagonist “German.”  I don’t want to spoil what I know of the plot by giving away too much, but this photo shoot was blast, consisting of a range of scenes, from a butterfly chase to me vomiting in a sandpit.

Here’s an unfinished page of the novel Jeremy was kind enough to let me share:

The two best parts: 1) Since the pictures were going to be converted into drawings, the pressure was off.  We didn’t have to worry about getting the right light or angle, I didn’t have to be concerned about my clothes or facial expressions being perfect (which is awesome because a model, I am not).  To the best of my ability, I could just let myself have fun!  2) When a good friend finds someone who makes her so happy, its a joy and privilege to get to know that person.  How lucky am I to have this time with Jeremy Waltman, albeit a bit outside of my comfort zone 😉

For more of Jeremy’s work:

date night

28 Jul

We’re bringing it back.

In Boston, even though we were living with each other, we found that we rarely had the chance to have dinner together, just the two of us, unless we were really proactive about making the time, actually scheduling a dinner together each week.  (Between his crazy resident’s schedule and my two jobs, we joked about how much google docs and calendars have been crucial components of our relationship.  Hell, I’m not sure we would have even made it to the altar at the same time if it wasn’t for that nebulous, omnipresent entity that is google.  Shhoooooot!)

This week we had dinner at this tasty little byob near my old stomping grounds in Philly.  Wonderful food.  The BEST company.  And the meal was a gift from our former landlady in Boston!  She sent us a gift certificate when she returned our deposit.  Can you believe it?  Clearly she’s the sweetest woman alive and/or my hubby is quite the charmer.

nieces & nephews

25 Jul

All the cuteness, none of the responsibility.

Using them to coerce my big brother…

I think my favorite part is around second 46 when my nephew gives Steph a sneaky sideways glance.

Also, I sound like a toad.  Too much family/friends/fun = tuckered out aunt anna.


25 Jul

Such a bizarre-o name for such a surreal, albeit a little preppy, place.

I’ve always had a thing for tree-tunneled streets.  “You know what the best part is?” Steph said.  “No cars in sight!”


13 Jul

Within minutes of finishing our GI exam, my classmates started posting on facebook/gchat/twitter: “One fourth an MD”; “Year one of med school–check”; “Officially an MS2!”  They were all right, I’m sure.  Still, I’m with Toby, who would not allow a single drop of champagne to be drunk until the presidential appointee for the Supreme Court received 51 yea votes.  I believe in a thing called “tempting fate.”

So, for me, I didn’t officially become an MS2 until this past Friday, when I received my grade memo.  I know it’s only supposed to get harder and all, but I can’t help but feel oddly optimistic, like I can actually do this whole med school thing.  Plus, doesn’t “MS2” just sound so much more legit than “MS1”?  Like I actually belong here and might turn into a doctor one day…

the marker of a good night…

12 Jul

is the pain index of the following morning’s run.  And this morning’s was bad, really really bad.  In the 100-degree heat, something gross was definitely still slushing around in my stomach.  I was sweating vodka and burping peanut butter and funfetti icing (Alex, what did we do/consume last night???!).

How does that saying go?  Why do I keep banging my head against a wall?  Because it feels so good when I stop.

seventeen hours

11 Jul

John, Stephie, Ben, and I spent eight and a half hours in an overly packed Acura to get down to the Corolla, NC this Saturday.  Beach week is the best week of the year, and this year marks the 10th year the Y’s & HMC have been gathering together, huddled cozily in one house, playing Kings and High Tide, making stupid-ass decisions (licking the electric cold tub of death…shooting Campari…), and simply reconnecting after a year spent separated by states, oceans, and continents.

This year we have 30 (thirty) people making appearances at beach week.  I love us.

But I am not very good at demonstrating love after eight and a half hours in traffic.  So I said hello to the people who had arrived, darted into an empty bedroom and proceeded to sleep for 17 hours.  No joke.  Whoever said you can’t make up for lost sleep was seriously delusional because, apart from feeling guilty for being horribly antisocial, I feel 10,000x better.

Officially recovered from year 1 of med school.


when she strikes

7 Jul

Every now and again I actually venture outside my med school cocoon and meet new and interesting people who, while I mean no offense to my peers, bring fresh air into our circles.  It’s pretty great to get out of the med rut we so easily fall into, even if it’s simply reminiscing about the last adorably ridiculous comment Faust made during review (“Red’s my favorite color, but not when it’s coming out of someone’s mouth or butt.”).  When we meet individuals who meet or exceed our level of passion, but within a forum that is so not like med school–say, a professor and artist–we’ve hit the jackpot.

Meet Jeremy Waltman.


He’s going with my beautiful poet-med student friend Lauren.  Caroline, Eric, and I were fortunate enough to get to tag along with her for the opening of his most recent and ongoing exhibition When She Strikes, a collaborative installation by Jeremy and Matt Miley that comprises two wall-sized drawings, video, and sound.  Appropriate for the name, their work is certainly striking, to say the very least, a multimedia depiction of impact and damage.  The exhibition is free and open to the public at La Salle University until August 11th.  See it.

This project occupies an entire room.  Matt said that he built expandable sliding walls at his place in Brooklyn in order to provide the room to work.  Can you imagine?  I get overwhelmed trying to sew together patches for a quilt or crochet anything larger than a scarf.  I’m not sure I ever considered the confines of physical space on a visual artist…how did they even transport the project?