weekend whimsy

In grad school, and especially given our specific exam schedule of one exam per week (and typically early in the week), weekends pretty much don’t exist. At least the normal people kind of weekends. My “weekends” have classically been a random night in the middle of the week of either pure grandma-dom relaxing at home or our entire class taking over some bar because no one else is typically “turning up” on a Tuesday at 11 pm. This weekend, though, I actually was able to feel like a little bit of my old self and spent so much time outdoors, cooking, eating, and exploring my sometimes still new to me city – almost like I wasn’t a full time dental student. We do still in fact have an exam this week, but it’s not until Wednesday and it’s over a light six lectures of Dental Materials (yaaaawn). A lot of my classmates went home or traveled to see friends because it’s been a long season of back to back exams that have demanded our full weekend attention. That being said, several of my close friends weren’t here, so I decided to have a couple of days of full-on introvert adventuring, soaking up the newfound deliciousness of spring at every turn. THIS is what I imagined it would be like to be a grad student in one of the most underrated cities in the country. It was rare, refreshing, and oh so needed.green line

<real food+reading+sunshine+spotify playlists+abundant atisanal coffee+ample worship time = happy Jessie heart>

I discovered or RE-discovered a couple of things over the past two days about myself and my new home.

I am more thankful than ever for my perfect bike (Roxie’s her name) now that the weather makes it conducive for consistent riding again. No need to shell out random amounts of cash for SEPTA tokens when I can get to my favorite coffee shop on 3rd street in about the same time. She took me all over and back again through University, Center, and Old Cities two days in a row. I feel like I actually see more of the city and its people on bike as opposed to when I’m walking, probably with my headphones in or scrolling Insta at the same time. I want to truly see and know the corners of this place that I’ll call home for the next three-ish years. I don’t want to miss any hole in the wall restaurant or not make eye contact with the hotel doormen. I find myself looking up and noticing architecture more or remembering names of places I’ve seen on Yelp but have yet to try. While I at no point officially “went to workout” this weekend, I definitely got my miles in and especially while toting an all too heavy backpack, my body was pooped both days I got home. I also realized again just how small geographically Philly is compared to other major cities, and even going “all the way across town” is only about three or four miles. IMG_4996Am I an urban chic city cyclist yet? Denim jacket, Birkenstocks, fuchsia lipstick and I’d say so. I’m really not trying to pull off some new style, but I’ve found that since living here, it’s definitely changed. My wardrobe is a seemingly majority of greys/blacks/denim, and I’ve become more of a minimalist (and I’m not just talking about the daily scrubs). Gone are the days of college T shirts and Chacos every day (but summer’s coming…).

While running out to grab some dinner to go is too convenient (and all too common for me lately) it will never, ever beat the luxury of preparing and enjoying a balanced and colorful meal made mostly from that morning’s farmer’s market finds (organic arugula, Yukon golds, and a new rosemary plant for the window to name a few). dinnerMy instagram caption mentioned something about getting good at dating myself as a joke, but seriously speaking, I think it’s so valuable to know how to take care of yourself and treat yourself to a nice meal at home alone (maybe or maybe not accompanied by the glorious new Lumineers album playing in the background). I’m not at all asking for sympathy for my singleness, I’m simply saying I think I do a pretty good job of not letting the fact that I’m single be an excuse to not take the time to cook a nice meal, light a candle, and enjoy a glass of wine (or two or three) even if I’m not sharing that with someone else at the table. I know the things that help relax and recharge me, and that kind of beautiful meal with time and space to think to myself is certainly up there on the list.

As much as I convinced myself before moving here that I enjoyed cold weather (I still do I promise!), I never realized how much I equally love SUN and VITAMIN D. The thought of being inside my bedroom at my desk studying dental materials of all things while it was 50s-70s all weekend was horrendous. There’s a reason I grabbed Roxie and just GOT OUT – not caring how far any destination was because the further away, the more time to simply be outside after a winter of cooped up anatomy and pathology studying. IMG_5073I also made a pit stop on my way home today to sit out on a patch of green by the river near Boathouse Row that was highly populated with equally sun-deprived Philadelphians. It almost reminded me in the tiniest way of a stretch of Zilker park in Austin (miss that city) with blankets laid out, ample readers, and several soccer balls being kicked about by kids.

While Monday clinic and lab are coming soon at 8 am, I am entering this week re-centered and rested. I still managed to squeeze in some studying, but taking the time to get outside of school and my apartment and spend lots of time just being observant of the bustling little corner of the world I’m in now did me good. I love where I live, what I get to do, and I’m joyfully thankful for this season – in all its crazy hard and beautiful glory.guns out

Until next time, I’m counting down to SUMMER (update on that coming soon!), battling one. more. exam at a time, remembering to strength train and run more, becoming a sort of dentist by mastering composite restorations, and frequenting Philly beer gardens in all that spare time…

May we never lose our wonder, y’all.

Squash, Sage, and Simple Saturdays

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Today was lovely. It was a Saturday when I gave myself permission to remove any thought of school from my mind.  After a two or three week stretch of constant exams and the paper that I slaved over for weeks finally being finished,  I forced myself to take a deep breath and just BE.  I did things that really make me HAPPY.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy or appreciate my college experience, it’s just that more times than not, my weekends are filled with studying for the next test or catching up on projects.  As much as I am a self-proclamed learning-lover, it gets exhausting filling my brain with infinite amounts of information day in and day out. It’s so important to take time for myself occasionally in the rush of never-ending obligations and hectic schedules of college life.

After sleeping until my natural, non-electronic, alarm clock woke me up and tidying up my whirlwind of an apartment, I made my way to the local farmers market with my friend Shelby.  This is probably my favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings in Waco.  There are so many unique vendors selling everything from crepes, homemade soaps, hand-crafted espresso sips, local honey, and the always popular breakfast taco.  We decided on lattes and tex mex and caught up on life.

Seriously the best latte I've had - maybe because I was drinking espresso for a reason other than staying up late to study...

Seriously the best latte I’ve had – maybe because I was drinking espresso for a reason other than staying up late to study…

To make any leisurely Saturday complete I had to scope out sales at LOFT.  Of course I wasn’t able to find anything…(who I am I kidding?) In case my Saturday free of studying wasn’t already going to be relaxing and refreshing, I spontaneously booked an hour massage at a downtown spa. A chunk of my paycheck? Sure.  Worth it? ALWAYS.

Since sadly it has been WEEKS since our last roommate dinner, I insisted on staying in and cooking an actual meal for girls’ night in.  I was so looking forward to using my first butternut squash of the season I bought this week.  I made this creamy butternut squash pasta with our fresh sage and served with the best rosemary sourdough bread.  Fall perfection on a plate, my friends.  I roasted the squash instead, used rotini  (to snatch up bits of that delicious sauce), subbed 1/2 cup fat free half and half for some of the broth, and just chopped and added the sage to the sauce.  I knew 1/4 cup parmesan would just not cut it, so I took some liberty there. It’s roasty, creamy, warm, and good for the soul. It was a big hit, and it’s a great way to showcase one of my favorite fall ingredients.

Healthy comfort food at its finest

Healthy comfort food at its finest

My day of simplicity and saying no to schoolwork has come to an end, and tomorrow I’ve got to face the reality that is yet another exam on Monday.  I’m praying that God would open my eyes to see the simple but far-greater-than-these little joys He gives in the middle of stressful times, no matter what day of the week it is.

Saturday Studies

Sometimes I find myself resenting those college kids who literally never have to do any studying or homework between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.  Many weekends simply can be translated to “Oh good, no class Saturday or Sunday, so I actually have time to get all (or maybe just part of) my work done.”  It’s times like these that I sometimes question my choice of study when I’m posted up in the library doing research for my religion paper and studying the chymotrypsin mechanism while everyone on social media is posting annoying football acronyms and pictures of alcoholic or Greek-life celebrations.

I have to quickly snap out of my temporary pity-party and stop to take the time to be grateful to find myself in this situation of my life right now.  I’ve been given the privilege to attend a world-class university surrounded by supportive, intelligent, and similarly loaded-down-with-schoolwork friends as well as professors who genuinely care and always have an open office door.

As much as I wish I maybe had a little more free time on the weekends for sleeping late, spontaneous road trips, or just mindless TV watching, my time spent learning and studying is investing in my education.  These are the only four (now with just two to go) years that I will have the chance to explore all my interests and take classes like “Jesus and the Gospels” while every additional science course I take is one step closer to becoming a highly trained and knowledgable doctor.

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My research paper for my religion class has already been a source of unwanted stress this semester.  I had to plow my way through about twenty different ideas I had for topics until I could focus it enough in order to get my professor to approve. I finally decided to head in the direction of looking deeper into the implications of the Messianic secrecy theme seen in the gospel of Mark.  Sounds totally legit, right? I honestly feel like I’m in seminary with all this new critical/theological/biblical vocabulary and having to go so far beyond what I think I already know about the text.

My professor (who before he did anything on the first day, prayed over our class) is one of the most sincere teachers I’ve ever had at Baylor, and I’ve already spent about an hour in his office discussing the paper as well as just life in general.  He was generous enough to lend me his book including his contributions to the subject matter that he himself finds fascinating.  My first thought was, “Bonus points for quoting the professor?” followed by, “Wait, I’m in trouble if he’s such an expert on this.” This assignment has already been pretty eye-opening to me,  and it’s caused me to really look deeper into the gospels and how Jesus is actually represented in a way I’ve never thought about before.

I’m mainly writing this to bring my focus back to why I’m doing all this in the bigger picture.  I’m taking upper-level religion classes voluntarily with the end result ultimately being to graduate with an additional minor.  Having said that, I’m choosing to spend my Saturdays doing research instead of partying because it challenges me intellectually and allows me to discover more about what I believe as well as new things I never would be exposed to otherwise. Looking at the Bible academically some would say takes away from their faith, but I’d argue that it does just the opposite.