Nostalgic Trip

I am currently sitting on the balcony of my hotel room and looking out at this view, except now the sun is setting so the hotel adjacent is reflecting the pink light of a beautiful California sunset:
I have a glass of water at my side because I bought a bottle of wine without realizing I had no corkscrew, but I've been thinking. Something about living here made me want to start blogging, and even though I've had months of absence on this blog since I've moved away, being back here again after three years (and in a swanky bay-side hotel I didn't have to pay for on top of that) made me want to blog again. I'm pretty sure this feeling will go away once I return home, so I figured I ought to hurry up and post this.

I am so enamored of the food here. I am lucky if where I live there are places have 3.5+ stars on Yelp with >50 reviews. Here, I am swimming in 4.5+ stars and sometimes >1000 reviews. As someone with an obsession with Mexican food and sushi that could rival our society's obsession with celebrity breakups, I am in fresh salsa and fish HEAVEN. I seriously never want to leave. It's been so amazing to see a few of the wonderful friends that live here and spend time with them, too. And finally, this conference I'm at has been excellent. It's reminded me why I went into infectious diseases in public health and how critical conferences like these are to keeping up with research and making connections in the field. But, I wish I could be doing this from somewhere else. I don't mind the Midwest, but it pales so much in comparison to where I grew up and the hot southwest that I love.

Why did I leave again?!


That Darn Travel Bug

This is one of the few summers in my life I have not spent doing any traveling for fun...and I am going insanely stir crazy. This is not at all helped by the fact that N is going to the beach in southern California for a week with his family soon, during which time I will undoubtedly be the most grumpy person to ever grace this earth. So instead of doing the work I should definitely be doing, let me fantasize to you for a moment about within-the-range-of-reason-and-budget places I would like to go this summer, because I'm pretty sure the people in my real life are sick of hearing about them.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Can you believe this place is in northern Michigan? Also, look how humongous those dunes are compared to the teeny-tiny ant-people! From what I hear, the weather is not-too-cold in the summer, and there's some amazing hiking and kayaking on the lake.

Northern Kentucky
I would never have thought I would ever really care to go to Kentucky, but it's one of the few places within driving distance and I did tell you I was going really stir crazy. Desperation is a good way to get yourself to broaden your travel horizons, no disrespect to Kentucky. My two top interests are some of the tons of Civil War museums, monuments, and forts and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. I haven't looked into it yet, but I also hear there are some really neat caves there!

Cummins Falls State Park, TN
This is another place I recently discovered, also more or less within driving distance. Of course, going to Tennessee would certainly also warrant a stop in Nashville, I think seeing these unique falls and getting some swimming in would be incredibly fun and refreshing.
And finally, Niagara Falls. Do I even need to comment on this one? Maybe with a side-trip to Rochester or Pittsburgh or Toronto on the side...


The Benefits of Introspection

Somehow, another month is on its way out, and I am almost a year into living in the Midwest.

There's something so...homespun and small-town charming about it all that I can't quite wrap my head around. I've never lived in a place like this before, and I don't know if I will stay here, but I can't deny it has captured my narrow little mind and shown me all sorts of new things I will never forget.

I've never before had the urge to garden or plant, but now I'm growing three little herbs in a pot (baby steps) and it's truly a challenge not to be proud of myself (though I specifically picked ones I knew would basically live no matter what I did) that they're thriving. The fireflies are coming out slowly now, and I've been enchanted by them too. If there weren't so many darn mosquitoes-that-apparently-don't-give-a-shit-how-much-bug-spray-I've-doused-myself-in, I would just sit outside and watch them all evening.

On the other not-pleasant-at-all hand, N and I recently encountered a person laying at the side of a road near his house recently. He was mostly covered by the tall grass and shrubs, and we only noticed because his leg was about a quarter of the way into the very small road. We looked at each other in a moment of panic, clearly both thinking "Uh shit is he dead? Should we go check? Should we call someone? What do we do?!!!" We did go check, and thank goodness it appeared that he was breathing normally and just asleep. We figured he wasn't hurting anyone so we should just leave him alone and he had disappeared within an hour or so.
A while back N linked me to this seminal post on procrastination by Tim Urban and naturally, as I was putting off writing an SOP (oh my god, so. boring.), I read the whole post and every subsequent procrastination post linked to it. To my slight surprise, I discovered something very important. I fall into the "Successtinator" category where I happen to have a job that makes me feel fulfilled because I have many deadlines that require me to get things done and doing a bunch of menial tasks gives me the false impression of having achieved things, but in reality, my house just periodically gets VERY clean, and that is not an achievement to be proud of in the long run.

Procrastinators like me spend very little time in what Urban calls Quadrant Two: Important but not Urgent. He describes this as the quadrant of true fulfillment through activities undertaken for personal improvement (i.e. hobbies that are true rather than a quick way to ignore other things) and Successtinators spend a bunch of time doing other stuff and telling themselves they're doing really well while putting off the stuff in this section. This blog was started as something of a true hobby for personal fulfillment. I was Quadrant Two-ing hard for a little while, and then all of a sudden my interest waned and suddenly I was not blogging because it made me feel fulfilled, but because I hated to break the commitment I had made. It is nice (albeit a bit eerie) to have someone explain perfectly down to the T the way your procrastinator brain works, and I am excited to take this new awareness and turn it into action...I hope.
I am nearing the end of my first week of what I'm calling my food-discipline, caloric-deficit (FDCD) diet. This is pretty basic and just means I've planned all my meals around creating a certain amount of caloric deficit, while also accounting for the fact that I need to eat like 6 times a day to stave off hunger. To be on the safe side (because Jesus, it is hard to estimate calories), I have underestimated my basal metabolic rate, and overestimated the amount of calories things contain when I can't count them exactly. I have factored in exercise for about 2-3 days a week (though I have been reasonably disciplined as of late and am averaging about 4 days/week of moderate exercise the last couple months). We shall see how long this lasts. Hopefully, if nothing else, I will be exhaustively aware of how much crap I normally put in my body. All this being said, discipline sucks and I desperately want to go back to the land of not giving a fuck. Eyes on the prize, Mugdha...
Lastly, I was thrilled to rise today to the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage. Think what you might, but you cannot deny that love has truly won today. And if you haven't read the end of Justice Kennedy's description of the ruling, you truly should. What a time to be alive!

Happy weekend, all!


Tuesday Tunes!

Well, as I've said before, summer is here, and with it has come the time for upbeat pop, laid back rock, and the music of sunny days and warm nights. Here's some of my faves:

1. "Take My Hand (Remix)" - The Cab ft. Cassadee Pope
2. "In the Dark" - Dev
3. "Young, Wild and Free" - Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa ft. Bruno Mars
4. "Chase This Light" - Jimmy Eat World
5. "Fight Song" - Rachel Platten
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