Saturday, October 23, 2004

four more years

It occurs to me that I've now been writing The Underwear Drawer for almost four years now. Four years. Sounds like a long time when you say it like that. Back when I started, I was a newly minted second-year medical student looking for a creative outlet and distraction from studying for her Immunology final. And look at me now. A second-year resident looking for a creative outlet and distraction for studying for her Boards. I'm so pleased at the lack of progress I've made.

When I started The Underwear Drawer (which I still refer to as an "online journal," though it seems that the term "blog" seems to have come into vogue in the intervening years), there really weren't that many medical blogs out there. I personally didn't know of any back then, but you know, it's not like I was out there combing every single corner of the internet or anything like that. The sites that inspired me were largely kept up by writers or artists of one type or another, like Nikol at "Disgruntled Housewife", Gwen at the formerly entitled "How to be a Trailer Trash Housewife" and Pam at the formerly entitled "Squishy". Keeping an online journal seemed like a fun thing to do, and I missed my college writing habit from the days that I had a weekly humor-ish column in the Wellesley News. I was taken with the idea of using a different part of my brain that I was using in med school--that being the part of the brain that memorizes at which levels various spinal tracts decussate--and I liked the idea of having some sort of public accountability to keep up with the site, so that I couldn't just get lazy and drop it without having people e-mailing and giving me a hard time.

I don't really think of The Underwear Drawer as a "medical blog" per se, rather the online journal of someone who happens to work in medicine. Certainly I talk about things outside of medicine just as often as I talk about the hospital or work stories or what have you. But I guess there's no way of getting around the fact that as a doctor, medicine is a central part of your existence, the echos of which reverberate through the other compartments of your life whether you want them to or not. People talk about keeping their home lives and work lives separate, but I don't think the boundaries are always that clear. Especially when you're married to another doctor. Why, that's twice the lawsuits! (Kidding. Haven't been sued. Yet.)

I didn't really realize it until less than a year ago, but medical blogs have become a huge phenomenon. Well, I guess the practice of blogging in general has really taken off, but the medical sector seems like a popular niche market. I have to play ignorant on this subject, because I'm really not all that up on internet communities in general (meaning I don't really actively promote my site, or network with others, or have little snippy gang wars or whatever it is that people do when internet rivalries form), but it seems to me like a good thing, both the demystification of the medical process for the layperson, and the camaraderie of people going through difficult things together. It's just kind of funny, because now I find myself in a community that sort of sprung up around me without my realizing it, like Willy Loman's little house in the shadow of all these huge buildings.

* * *

Went down to Chinatown today for a change of scene and to grab some lunch. I'm always amazed at how cheap the food is in Chinatown. You can get a sandwich (or the Chinese variant, a bun stuffed with meat and vegetables) for $1.50 down there. Good luck getting full on $1.50 in any other part of Manhattan. I had a bowl of noodles and walked around. It's not exactly the least stressful place to take a constitutional--the streets were packed with locals and tourists and fishmongers and knockoff bag/pirate DVD/baby turtle vendors--but I did take some pictures that are up on the photo project page.

Did I mention, by the way, that I got a new camera? I did. It was a present to myself, and I love it. Thanks, me! It's a low-end digital SLR, the Nikon D70, and I'm just starting to acquaint myself with it by basically carrying it everywhere and learning by trial and error. I'm used to using either a regular SLR or a regular digital point-and-shoot, so I have to get used to the settings and buttons and whatnot. Funny thing about having a big camera, everyone is instantly suspicious. Especially in Chinatown. Maybe they thought I was with INS or something.

New on the photo project: Chinatown, part 1 of 2

Currently reading: Finishing up "The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll". This book is very Lifetime Television for Women. In fact, don't be surprised if Lifetime buys the rights, and then makes it into a two-part television movie starring Judith Light.

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