On January 4th, I published my ambitious new year’s resolutions. While I have made strides on most of these aims, the first five months of this year brought its share of setbacks and some lowered expectations.
1. Use no plastic shopping bags
Save for an aberrant moment of indiscretion late one February night, my discipline in remembering to bring reusable totes bags to the grocery store has been commendable. To date, I’ve only used four plastic bags, all of which have been subsequently recycled.
2. Cook a meal from each continent
Hannah and I, wanting to add some variety to our relationship, cooked two meals in the last three months that weren’t a variant of pasta or beans and rice.
The first was a Korean dish she learned in her Food and Drink of Asia course during undergrad called jajangmyeon, which I coincidentally cannot spell or pronounce to save my life.
Jajangmyeon is composed of thick soba noodles traditionally topped with a thick sauce made from black bean paste, cabbage, onion, soy sauce, and fried pork. (We substituted fried tofu sautéed with vegan duck sauce.) For garnish, we added julienned cucumber and traditional American hot sauce.
Our second meal was chapati, a versatile pancake dish made throughout eastern Africa. I first had chapati during a fundraiser in college for a girl’s school in Kiberi, a small slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
The dish is often sold by street vendors and can be paired with meat, such as lamb or chicken, or fruit.
Naturally, we chose the latter. In a somewhat bastardized attempt, we made chapati by way of crepes, smothering our concoction with syrup, strawberries, cinnamon sugar, bananas, and blueberries. Hannah and I ate the creation so quickly
and were distracted by Royal Wedding highlights that we forgot to take pictures to document our efforts.
Our next culinary adventure will be boerenkool stamppot from the Netherlands, a dish traditionally made of kale, sausage, and mashed potatoes.
Will I break my veganism to achieve this resolution?! Stay tuned.
3. Memorize five of your favorite poems
With the time demands of the MCAT and my application to medical school, I’ve had little time to focus on committing verse to memory.
4. Meet 50 new people
Recalling the three criteria I set for “meeting” new people,
a) learning someone’s name;
b) having at least a five-minute conversation with them (outside of an obligation, such as a training session); and
c) knowing how to connect with them in the future, be it through mutual friends, social media, or geographic proximity.
I’ve met 21 people to date, which is right on schedule.
In July, I begin my tenure as an AmeriCorps City Year service member along with nearly 50 fellow twenty-somethings. Accomplishing this resolution will be a cinch.
5. Read 50 books
At the time of writing this piece, I have read 16 books this year. Although I have endeavored to read during meals and every scrap of down time, as well as before bed, this resolution might be just a bit too ambitious.
You can track my progress this year on Goodreads, here.
6. Invest $2500
I’ve been fortunate to work a significant amount of overtime this year, leading to a larger amount of discretionary income than anticipated in January. Accordingly, the majority of this windfall has been placed in savings, either for retirement or for medical school tuition. This resolution has been achieved.
7. Qualify for the Boston Marathon (BMQ) and Run 2018 Kilometers
Due to the amount of time devoted to my occupations and to my eighth resolution, there wasn’t much time left in the span of a week to run, lest I cut back on sleep even more.
Nonetheless, at the time of writing, I have run 416 miles this year and will need to run another 838 by year’s end to meet this goal.
I completed my most recent race, the Wisconsin Marathon, on May 5th.
My performance of 3:34:54 is comparable to most of my other marathons. I consistently held my goal pace, 7:45/mile, for the 20 miles of the race, but hit an insurmountable wall during that final 10 kilometers, dropping to an 8:15/mile average split.
At present, I have plans to run another marathon in July and am awaiting confirmation from my good friend, Ryan, that he will be able to join.
8. Scoring a 520 on the MCAT
During the first twelve weeks of this year, I spent 105 consecutive days preparing for the MCAT, studying an average of 3.6 hours per day. I made about 4600 electronic flashcards, filled two notebooks with notes, and took seven seven-hour practice exams.
Concomitant to this preparation, I worked 50 hours per week in addition to commuting for about 10 hours.
I sat for the exam on April 21st and received my score just over a week ago.
While 517 is a far cry from my goal of 520, I take immense pride in this achievement given my financial constraints and the demands on my time.
In an effort to assist other low-income students in preparing for the MCAT, I’ve spent the last month creating TL;DR MCAT. (In the parlance of online forums, TL;DR is “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”)
This website features an exhaustive list of free resources available on the Internet and provides information on how I approached my exam preparation and stayed motivated throughout the process.
It will formally launch later this week.