doc w/ Pen

journalist + medical student + artist

Tag: rain

City construction: my 2¢, and 12 words

280 miles: that’s the length of total scaffolding — aka “sidewalk sheds” — in NYC. I believe this outrageous number only because I read it in a 2017 New York Times article online, which features the picture above, of a site in Brooklyn. There’s even a New York City Buildings Department map of city scaffolding as of May 1, 2017 that tells you the status of each site, including whether it is unsafe. 280 miles. That would get me from NYC all the way to Washington, DC. Or one-third of the way home to Chicago. Hm …

New York City is constantly remaking itself. Constantly breaking down, building up. The end result might be a shimmering skyscraper. But the beginning and interim results, especially for those of us who live here, include road blockages, subway stoppages, sidewalk detours, rickety scaffolding, and a hell of a lot of noise.

For what seems like an eternity, construction crews have been working on the exteriors of the buildings in my apartment complex. Recently, they started on my particular building. A few days ago, I spied them (well, heard them first) hanging outside my living room window, banging and drilling and lord only knows what else.

It’s easy to grumble about all this, harder to smile. This morning though, as I stepped out of my building and peered onto the car-choked street, watching windshield wipers wrestle with the driving rain, I did smile. Because unlike those cars, unlike the drenched pedestrians doggedly pressing through this weather a block or two away (many of them walking dogs), I was dry. This thanks to the facade work, and to the unavoidable, unsightly scaffolding stretching up toward the grim sky.

The following 12 words — in the form of two 6-word stories* — capture both my grumble, and my smile. These are the two sides of the construction coin, the good and the bad, bedfellows tangled in a knot tighter than a surgeon’s wet dream.


Construction woe: brick-, brain-boring drills.

Construction pro: block-long tin umbrella.


*Note: click here to read my first post about 6-word stories, a now-viral phenomena initially begun by Ernest Hemingway.

A sound strategy for stress relief

Medical school is stressful. I don’t think anyone — whether looking from the inside or the outside — would deny that. So part of surviving the experience is about finding strategies to mitigate that stress. A healthy diet and regular exercise go a long way. Spending time with other people, doing non-medical-school things, is key too. Something else I’ve recently discovered is listening to the calming sounds of nature while studying. It helps put me in a peaceful frame of mind even if the material at hand is complex, and potentially frustrating. You can buy this sort of thing of course, but it’s also available for free — a plus for broke medical students — on YouTube. My favorite YouTube channel in this vein is Relaxing White Noise, which has 10-hour tracks ranging from “Bird Happy Hour at the Mountain Creek” to “Rain on Tent” to “Forest Night Nature Sounds.” There are also non-nature sounds, like a fan, but living in the concrete jungle of New York City I want to be reminded of green places and things. (I also want to drown out the perennial construction.) Here’s a sample of one track I like, “Forest Rain Sounds”: