Writing A Blog

With the slow down in blog posts, I decided to crystallize some thoughts on writing a blog. The main thing I’ve learned is that writing itself should be the main focus. Specifically, the important parts are the content of the writing and the process of writing. It’s an endless loop of writing, sharing, more writing. There’s occasional reader feedback and rethinking and regret when I look back at some of the things. I created this blog because it fit my personality. And in the end, it’s a hobby that challenges – one that allows me to better myself in the broadest sense possible.

Behind the times?

For many, the era of the personal site is over. In 2016, a personal site is more a landing page where someone places a short bio and links to other social media (Facebook, twitter, snapchat etc). Either that, or the website acts as an organizational or business front. Am I behind the times with wanting to create a personal blog? It seems that personal online presence has been trending to much shorter timelines via Facebook, Instagram, twitter etc.

It is much easier to share my thoughts and interests with these newer platforms. It’s also easier to have a discussion or continue a conversation on those platforms because they are more synchronous. At the same time, this often means they are more fleeting and posts from a month ago often don’t make sense without any context.

Why I do it

Nonetheless many personal websites still exist and many are created everyday. Yet, how many of those sites last? In the realm of personal websites in 2016, things are geared towards a very focused audience. I visit many of them frequently. However, I rarely visit a good personal blog that covers the gamut of an entire person. But when I do I feel a positive connection. These rare gems are blogs where you can tell the person has clear thoughts and can express strong opinions or educate me on a unique aspect of life. It’s a goal to reach that apex in writing, but also its a personal memoir as I’ve mentioned in the past.

In a personal blog:

  • I can more creatively tell my own story
  • I can record and share my own thoughts in more depth
  • I care more about having control over my public content
  • Plus its fun to design, develop and maintain this site
  • I care less about connecting with other people via other social media platforms

Conclusion

So yes, I will continue to share things here. This site will continue to evolve, but mainly I don’t want it to die. I vow to continue writing a blog.

 

The Woebegone Unwilling Audience Participant

A true #longreads story of terror by Thienan Nguyen

Winter in the Wet Mountains (Southern Colorado)

Winter in the Wet Mountains (Southern Colorado)

Filled with the uneasiness that occurs in anticipation of an impending show, I sat there aimlessly flipping through the provided show program. In this small community theater, I had just made my way into the front row seats (not physically in front – no one else had seats ahead of me). I soon discarded the program and watched as the rest of the audience passed by making their way to find their own seats. As the type of person drawn to inner workings, the gaps in the curtain providing backstage glimpses became an area of attention. What was going on backstage in the minutes before the show was about to start? Maybe twice a flash of light or a brush of the curtain would signal a hurried individual walking past. As I stared into that dark area, I remember thinking that this setting was very intimate. Performers were within arms reach of the closest audience members. The stage was set down low with a narrower lecture hall style assortment of seats sloping upwards for the audience. Separating the seats was one large middle aisle. Adorned on the armrests on each side of the seats were little plaques commemorating the generous patrons/donors to the theater. As enthusiastic audience members filed in, they crossed right on the front of the stage. The same track of where audience footsteps had just treaded would soon be the sanctuary of the performer. Except for a strip of plastic, there was not a prominent demarcation signifying where the stage ends and where the audience space begins.

Continue reading

Reflective Writing 2014

Seal Family Sleeping on Rocks

Seal Family Sleeping on Rocks

Written 12/19/14

It was so hard to sleep because it was so easy to not feel sleepy. That’s what I remember most about that night. I had adrenaline rushing through my body in multiple waves. I had witnessed some terrible things in the OR and was anxious about what I was about to witness a few hours later – something very unnatural and so unfamiliar. That’s when the rush was its most intense, but throughout the night there would be multiple volleys bombarding me.

We were starting a new case in the afternoon and towards dinner time, our patient had a terrible complication. I could just remember thinking over and over again how people who need CPR have such a poor prognosis. I also kept thinking how privileged I felt being a witness to what I had just seen in the OR. Was this patient going to die in front of my eyes? The surgery was to remove a liver cyst. Midway through, after the cyst came out, she started having dangerously low blood pressures despite several anesthesia interventions. Anesthesia was rushing, making calls, giving fluid, blood products, tons of pressors and the patient kept dropping. The surgeons were getting more and more frustrated. I cannot recall the specific turning point, but could vividly remember the aftermath. She had gone into Vtach or Vfib. I vividly remember that somehow there were tons of people in the OR. They – the people who found their way into the room – made sure internal paddles were ready and closely monitored the heart rhythm, while the attending and resident traded off giving CPR. The brutality with which they forcefully pushed their body weight into the women’s chest was stunning. The fellow in the room told me to just leave after they somewhat stabilized the patient. Still it was a continuing struggle for her life. There was a chance that I could eventually go on my first organ procurement late that night with the transplant team, and thus I needed some rest. It was already late into the evening. One part of me wanted to see the conclusion of this drama, but I didn’t need to be there. I could somehow telepathically or cosmically understand that I should go. Not because I shouldn’t see this, or because I didn’t need to be there for this patient. I felt I should go because I was being a burden on the frustrated medical team. This patient deserved better in this situation.

I ended up attempting to sleep on a friend’s couch while I waited for the text later that night that would call me up to go see a dead patient. It was so surreal driving across town. I really did not know what to expect at all. I hesitantly changed into my scrubs and then began to find my way to the patient’s side. I remember not being able to comprehend that this was a dead patient. They looked, sounded like, felt like a very sick unconscious patient. The chest was rising below her gown with the ventilator, the monitors were beeping and whirring. I also made the mistake of asking one of the nurses about the patient. Knowing her story, even the slightest snippet of how she ended up in the hospital made her alive in my mind. We soon rolled back to the OR from the ICU room. That’s when the second wave of brutality I would witness began. We made a gigantic vertical laparotomy incision and slowly worked our way towards removing organs.

Wow, what a learning experience, seeing all that anatomy. The situation divulged into education. I was not seeing a human body, but an anatomy lesson. However, when it came time to close the body, and I was allowed to sew up the huge incision, I remember thinking again how privileged I was. I began to see this lifeless body with half their body cavity carved out as a patient again. I noticed how sewing this incision needed to be done carefully to line up her tattoos. I noticed how closing her up, she would again look whole. Finishing up, I needed to take a pause, not to sleep, but to think and process. However, the surgeons were finishing up on the back table and prepping to go transplant their next patient, telling me to make my way back to UCH. I switched my mind back to the patient who was going to receive the pancreas and kidney we had just procured. On my way back to UCH, morning traffic hit and I don’t know why I couldn’t process much on that hour-long drive. I did not need to sleep, but could only think about the next thing, and feel this buzz in my body… I wonder why I did not think about the patient coding in the OR last night or contemplate my feelings about death in light of the patient I met who was already “dead”. The whole night I didn’t feel the need to sleep. Maybe sleep allows you to reset instead of pushing forward with the next thing. Maybe sleep allows renewal for processing the day’s next challenge. However, I’ve slept many nights since and still don’t really know what to make of that intense night.

Interests: Variety is the Spice of Life

Interest

(n) the state of wanting to know or learn about something or someone. (v) excite the curiosity or attention of (someone)

interests

I rarely remember my aspirations from my earlier years. One wild dream I had, was to be a professional curler. One main reason was reading the following quote.

Curling is mesmerizing for one reason: its simplicity. Chess on ice is the usual comparison, but it may be even simpler than the endless variations and gambits of Kasparov’s game. Leaning out on the hack and staring down the ice, curling engages the game-playing brain at its most basic and addictive of levels. Put this there; leave space here; completely screw over opponent. Like the best games, it is a true zero-sum game, but unlike chess involves the body, a kind of meditative rock-toss you do over and over again until you’re in the wordless space Zen Buddhist monks are always blabbing on and on about.  The ice helps: there’s blank whiteness, a few lines, and everything else evaporates away. – Spencer Hall (2010).

I remember reading this many years ago and thinking about how simple curling seemed, but how consuming it could be, how something like curling could be an escape, a passion, but also a challenge to overcome.

Continue reading

Ambition

view from monarch mountain

View from Monarch Mountain by Thienan Nguyen

This writing project is quite an ambitious one. Ambition can be dangerous, but should it ever be bridled? Today I met a woman while in weight management clinic who had underwent bariatric bypass surgery this year and so far had lost around 30 lbs or 13% of her weight in 3.5 months. For those of you familiar with weight loss,  this is a wild success. In her mind she wanted to get down to her “high school weight” (125 lbs). An unrealistic goal in my mind.

She was dismayed during our office visit and wanted to discuss a long-term goal for her weight management. She had undergone bariatric surgery, was on appetite suppressant medications, working with a dietician on an intensive behavioral modification plan with diet and physical activity yet still was feeling depress because she still saw herself as “fat” when she looked in the mirror. These were very legitimate feelings. Did we discourage her and told her that she may never get down to her high school weight. Not at all, we continued to focus on the success so far, our patients current health situation and on taking things one step at a time.

Thinking about this patient I was reminded of my own ambitious project. Compared to my patient’s project, my writing project pales in comparison in terms of the dedication required. Changing habits is one of the toughest things we do, our brains work on familiar patterns. My patient needed to make drastic lifestyle and behavioral changes. I’m only attempting a habit that might take an hour or two (at most) each time I sit to write on this blog. It really humbles me sometimes realizing the little things I’m doing to grow as person compared to the drastic dedication others require to get to similar circumstances.

Last time I talked about intellectual vitality. Ambitious people have an element of that – a  spark that one can sense when an ambitious person is discussing their ambition. Those that are ambitious see a current life trajectory, compared it to an alternative they find more appealing and then dedicate their efforts to pursuing that dream or goal. Like I mentioned at the beginning, my patient’s goal seemed unrealistic. But who am I to say she won’t succeed? Would I rather be in a community filled with talented people but who squander their opportunities due to lack of ambition, or those that are presented struggles and work towards overcoming those obstacles with ambition. My patient was given and continues to receive all the opportunities to succeed. She is grabbing and clawing down the path towards the target of her ambition – both a healthy body and a healthy body image. I wish her the best of luck!

An Introduction

introduction
introduction

View from Hopkins Marine Station by Thienan

Blog Introduction

On my first post I’d like to begin with an introduction. It outlines the purpose and content of the blog.

As for the topic – most successful blogs have a topic. That is hard to decide. Instead of random “interesting” postings I see this as a memoir of sorts. A turning of my life into literature. It will definitely end up being topic-less generally, and seemingly random, but unlike instagram/tumblr posts I want each post to have a bit more meaning. I do enjoy seeing the interesting video, picture, etc, but as a written blog named, “thienanwrites” I am striving for a bit more writing. To answer the question, the topic is my life and the things I decide to write about. Flashbacks may be warranted, but I am deciding to this now and generally will be writing about what I find fit to write about during my day.

As I write I want to see improvement. Thus in this post I want to outline my 3 areas of critique. This is an informal grading system and I must admit I stole these 3 areas from an interview criteria.

1. Intellectual Vitality

Yes, lets leave it at that. I may make a future post on what I mean by that, but I feel its more tangibly grasped through experiences of the display of this concept rather than explained. Especially since I’m only starting out, I feel I want to reserve this for a future date when I have more experience with written communication.

2. Depth/Commitment

As I have mentioned, this will be an ongoing project. One that I plan on committing towards. Not only as a means of self improvement, but also as an outlet for self expression. By making this commitment I hope to explore topics deeply. Many things on the internet are very superficial. I want this blog to be tied together. Thus, my first idea is to include an image I’ve taken in each blog post both as an interesting addition, but as means to increase my grade on the next item.

3. Character/Self-Presentation

I think as a public outlet for self expression, I want to continually present a good impression. I know there will be readers who disagree or those that might not read at all due to lack of attractive qualities. Thus beyond the content of these posts, I think that being confident enough and having the character to put out something of which I would be proud remains a large goal. I originally thought to leave the first post picture-less, but that may be a bit boring.