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JUly 2019

VERBAL & VISUAL ARTS

carefully created, composed, and curated by

students


Aerial Magazine is a platform for student expression where we strive to bridge our passion for art and for science. We seek diverse works that showcase the unique perspectives of budding medical professionals and scientists in the Pacific Northwest.

Science illuminates the Universe around us and within us. As we progress through our education, Aerial Magazine offers a place to share our collective creativity and discovery. In loving memory of Zipporah, the fluffiest Therapy dog

Cover Art “The Link� by Ryan Ochoa, Dental Student

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It began with an idea. An interdisciplinary art and literature magazine that connects creative minds across OHSU. The idea ignited a small, passionate group of students: some with backgrounds in visual and musical arts, others with backgrounds in literature and writing, and all with an appreciation for creativity. A group united by the opportunity to reconnect with artistic pursuits that had been set aside to accommodate full grad school schedules. But an idea cannot stand alone. When we sent out our first call for submissions, we crossed our fingers and hoped that the OHSU student body would share our vision. As submissions poured in, we realized that the community support was greater than we had anticipated. Thanks to the contributions of our student-artists, we’ve created a collection worth sharing. Our hope is that after reading this issue, you’ll pull out your dusty guitar, open your watercolors, or take a dance class.

Please enjoy this sampling of the incredible spirit that drives OHSU students to learn, create, and explore different avenues for self expression.

-The Aerial Editorial Team

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Casey Jones Dental Student meet the inspiration behind this piece on pg. 37


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All viewpoints expressed represent those of the students involved in the making of Aerial Magazine. We are not endorsed by or in any way officially connected with Oregon Health and Science University, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.


Kyle Romine SOM Graduate Student


& This is my image of the Horsehead and Flame nebula in the Orion constellation. It was captured using my 610mm New-

tonian telescope and a Canon 70D on a tracking mount. To get fainter details of this nebula I combined over 12 hours of imaging data into one single image. The image was captured in Pullman, Washington over 5 nights.


i’ve sat here for two weeks. in this med school classroom surrounded by mostly white walls, and mostly white students, and mostly white teachers. learning about the reproductive system. the pelvic exam. The speculum, the stirrups footrests, the language to use to make patients feel comfortable. and i wonder what language i use to say i’m sorry for those that came before. what language says i’m not one of those doctors. i’m not the ones that tortured our women. that experimented on us. held us down while they wrestled scientific discoveries from our sacred depths. the ones that built wealth on our tragedy. i’m not the ones that took out our wombs, that sterilized our generations away, made us remember that if our african kids weren’t theirs to exploit they couldn’t be ours to love. i’m not them. yet i’m still here. stuffed into their white coat, their sterile office, asking you to step on their table, to put your feet in their stirrups footrests, let your knees fall to the side like they told you, using their tools to examine your

black body. and isn’t it their education in my hands? aren’t i a student of those educators that told me they didn’t have space to put these histories in their lectures? like the racism and trauma that birthed this medical education, a whole medical industry midwifed by the pain of our grandmothers, is an easily dismissed thing. a non-essential. a luxury. or maybe they’re too un/comfortable to teach. they’ve found solace in a dissonance as old as western medicine itself. maybe they know those truths would have some sitting here like me crying onto this page. letting the grief out to play. letting the rage burn. and when all the emotions have poured out of them. looking at each other. eyes bright with visions of a reckoning brewing. conformist white coats turned to defiance. turned to disruption. turned to redemption.

Allie Dyer MD Student


Minhaz sarker MD student


Katia Erickson MD Student


Taylor Anderson Md Student


We expect to get out of life what we to someone else’s child. I have operated on put into it. We expect equality and fairan only child. She did not come into this ness. We hope to find happiness. We exworld on a whim. Her parents prayed for pect raise our children and see them grow. her, they cried for her, they strived for her. We do not expect cancer in the young. A new future realized. We made the cut, followed our ap“Is it cancer?” proach, and exposed the mass. To see disA little girl played while sitting on ease, to physically put my hands on it, and her mother’s lap, unaware of the hyperinto remove it from tense lesion in her this little girl was leg. The mother emotionally overwas panicked, unwhelming. The mask certain and fearful was fogged with of her only daughconcentration and ter’s future, her love for my patient. voice cracked as she discussed the We wait. Arms need for surgery crossed, we wait. with my attending. Small talk. We tower He was masterful over our tiny pain the way he astient. suaged her anxiety. As he spoke, I The phone rings. saw her terror fade and her posture “Clear margins.” relax. As the conAndrew summers versation continued, I could see MD Student I will soon have the her begin to trust skill and knowledge him, and then to resect disease, to alter outcomes, to be something amazing happened. I saw her able to say to another human being, “you breathe, angst evaporating, and then she are cancer free.” emotionally released her daughter to his Families will come to me surroundcare. A man she had just met. It was an ined in darkness. I will wade into the darkcredible thing to witness, the bond being ness with them, hold their hands, and formed between a patient and their physishow them there is light still. cian. I didn’t immediately recognize the This trust that we are given is satrue gravity of what I had done in the opercred, as an orthopedic surgeon it allows us ating room, nor did it come to me in the to intervene in the most invasive and decidressing room. It was later while sitting at sive manner to save form, function, and a stoplight that I realized the greatest gift I even life. could have been given in this life was the To hold the limp body of a small ability to heal a sick child, to return norchild, someone’s little girl, to blink and see malcy to families. my son in my arms; I have no words. I I called mine. have opened up a child. I have cut deep in-


H I r o R o s s

M D S t u d e n t


Ellee Shields Nursing Student


Corey Gallet de St Aurin

MD Student

Sunlight, Flowers Blooming, Warming, Hoping Season of Renewal and Strength Rebirth


OBDURATE

Dreamer

Mercedes Converse pa student


Ali Schlueter MD student

I asked Mom what kind of cancer you had so long ago, but she couldn’t remember. She said, “I knew you were going to ask me that. I looked it up once, but it wasn’t satisfying. Maybe lymphoma? Or maybe her thyroid?” We were in the car on the way back to my house after the donor ceremony. I thought about you during anatomy lab. Mom thought you donated your body because you didn’t want them to have to pay for funeral expenses. Mom in college, and her two sisters in high school, how was everything going to get paid for? She found your notebooks that you kept when you were dying, lists of names and numbers, recipes, things about the girls’ schools, budgets. But I hope it wasn’t just about the money. Did you have to take anatomy during nursing school? Did it awe you the way it did me? I thought maybe Mom would want to come to our donor ceremony. They don’t really know what school your body went to, there was no ceremony, they didn’t

get your ashes back. Mom said, “I’ve always associated death with nothingness, a void. There was nowhere to go to see her.” But you died a long time ago and we didn’t get very emotional at the donor ceremony. Well, we did in the beginning and it was beautiful, but it went on for a long time. But maybe we did feel something because we made fun of a couple people later in the car, how horrible is that? I feel a little sheepish to think about you, to write about you, I never knew you. But I wonder how it felt to know you were going, how it felt to leave three girls with a, let’s be honest, not the sharpest tool in the shed, father. And how must it have felt to picture a million futures that you wouldn’t see? Do you know everything turned out OK? Well, no one has given me a full description of what all happened in Chrissy’s “wild years”, but now, everything turned out OK. I saw you in my anatomy donor and I’ll see you in patients. Maybe you already know all of this, but I just wanted to write you and tell you anyways.


You are your best friend in her sunshiny tenderness Your mom in the way she comforts Your love in his gentle steadiness You are your brother’s quirks A mix tape of your old boyfriends’ tastes in music An old friend’s fire and bravery Your dad in his love of teaching (And probably his lame sense of humor too) And many other favorite things you collected from favorite people So when that demon comes to tell you you are nothing, Say back, I am everyone that I love.

Katia Erickson

MD Student


Megan Vandewettering MD Student


Katia Erickson MD Student

1. noun. The part nourishment to the 2. These roots c but also opening 3. In areas wher from its surroun 4. The first root course for the re 5. There are opti cess to water, ox to penetrate thro 6. Roots each ha allows the roots 7. The configura and is driven by tions. 8. There are sev cluding a primar state allowing for 9. Much like plan 10. If our own r mates and may c 11. If our roots that means we se 12. We are all b shaping the direc 13. Each individ roots close to fam 14. Our individu who we are now. 15. Our growth own personal ha 16. My roots ext equate source of 17. My optimal c 18. Although I h viduals I have me 19. My roots def often it is necess 20. verb. To establi


Lauren Raymond MD Student

t of a plant that attaches it to the ground, stabilizing it and providing plant through an extensive network of branches and fibers. can be shallow, making plants vulnerable to Earth’s elements g up new spaces for growth. re water is sparse, roots grow deep in search of nourishment ndings. t that stems from a plant is called the radicle and it sets the est of the plant’s life. imal conditions required for growth of the root, including acxygen, and adequate soil compaction levels to allow for roots ough the Earth. ave their own individual anatomy with an inner layer that then to growth from their endogenous origin. ation of root systems serves to structurally support the plant hormones that promote or inhibit growth in different direc-

veral different phases of growth that a root must undergo inry growth state involving elongation and a secondary growth r growth in diameter. nts, our own roots often define us and shape the course of the rest of our lives. roots are shallow, we may feel more vulnerable to smaller changes in our personal environments or clichoose to move in a different direction in search for growth elsewhere. are deep, we gain the nourishment that we need from our environment and the people around us, even if ettle in more than we had initially intended to. born fearless, radicle even. Our personal journey begins there and continues with each new experience, ction of our lives. dual has their own unique needs that can be met in different environments, whether that be establishing mily or choosing to create a community for oneself elsewhere. ual phases of growth come at different periods of our life and can often define who we were then versus . doesn’t stop. We continue to perceive our environment and develop in a direction that is optimal for our appiness. tend back to my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. The dry, inhospitable desert did not quite have the adf nutrients needed for my roots to fully develop and remain nestled in the dirt. conditions for growth included cleaner air, forested trails, and frequent watering (lots of rain). have not laid down roots near my family, I have found that my needs are met through the incredible indiet in the community around me. fine me and shape each direction I take in life. Though I will always continue to grow, every so sary to trace back my roots and examine the path that has lead me to the life I lead now. ish deeply and firmly


Aubre Gilbert MD Student


Sun on my back, pumping my knees Heat in my thighs, tightness in my calves Wind cuts at my brow while I see the city pass by Wheels turning, pedals spinning

Seeing the world down on the streets

S. Cody Woll

With no barriers and rarely no fabrics Freedoms to take, new scenes to see No need to park, no reason not to stop

The only thing moving me forward is my own body

The only thing getting me to stop is my own curiosity

My rig is my Frankenstein creation Donated parts from friends and scraps Jon’s time at the Hub made it real Racing on a bike made from and by others

On my bike I am in a different world Independent and free as the land sped below The sight from the buffs that summer Fire in the sky as we all rode home

MD Student


Minhaz Sarker MD student

Hiro ross

MD student

“It happened again.” Cam rounds the corner of the house and marches toward me. The paneled wall stretches politely, making way for his purposive, swinging arms. “The lawnmower made a break for it.” I lower my screen, shifting on the pliable membrane of my lawn chair. It adjusts with me, soft nerves and pneumatics buoying my weight as I turn. “Of course it did,” I tell him. “Where’d it go?” He gives me an impatient look.

I know where the thing went as much as he does, but neither of us particularly relish the idea of dissolving our shins in acid to retrieve it. I’ve seen what the water of that place does— I’ve seen great lengths of skin slough off, one layer at a time, in thin, semi-transparent sheets. I’ve seen the ashen mounds of ex-geese who thought the lake might make a decent migrational stopover. “All right,” I sigh. “But bring good boots.” ❂


The inland tide pool used to be a quarry, back when things were made of metal and wood. Hundreds of years of stagnancy, leaching, and extremophile activity has made it the dynamic and lively place it is now. Its depth changes with the growth and decay of algal colonies, its color varies from blood red in the winter to a shining, rhododendron pink at the height of summer. The slow breathing of whatever multitudinous entities live at its bottom coaxes the acrid waters to wash over the surrounding rocks, advancing and retreating as consistently as any ocean tide. Each year, it grows a little larger. “Do you see it?” Cam asks me. We stand at the cliffs by the pool’s edge, shielding our eyes against the sun. My gaze follows the downward ease of brown scree to the shallows, where some ineffable creature is slithering under a trail of red ripples. “You don’t think it made it to the water, do you?” I ask. “Dunno,” he answers. “Last time, I caught it on an outcropping, with the tourists. I think it just likes to sit and stare.” I crunch along the edge of the old quarry, perking my ears for the gravelly rumbling of rocks caught in a lawnmower’s tooth-blades. I breathe in, trying to distinguish the smell of its biofuel from the mélange of sour, acrid stenches belching from the depths of the pool. No luck. “It’s not up here,” I say, mouth more confident than the rest of me. I glance over to the parking lot, where a crowd of schoolchildren has gathered to view the red tide pools. A teacher, or some other guide, is holding an eager pair back from the edge of the slope. “You make sure the ranger doesn’t bother me,” I mutter, tightening the cords on my boots. “I’m gonna go down.” ❂ The lawnmower is an expensive item. It’s an old model, a prototype, but a gift well beyond my own budget. The only reason I could’ve ever owned such a precious thing is because I was

partially responsible for its birth. Well—maybe not the birth, I wasn’t there for that, when the shuddering, moaning thing was sucked from a long, steaming tube and thrust into the world. But I was one of the conceivers, the designer of the arrangement of chemical gradients that would guide its optic development. We wanted a lawnmower that could recognize dead grass. We wanted one that knew where the lawn ended and the moss began, one that could move around flower beds and scattered playthings. It had to distinguish between brown and green, between natural and unnatural colors, between this direction and that, it needed depth perception and a sense of scale. I had a few designer pollinators under my belt, so I was well-versed in the construction of photoreceptors, facets, retinae and signaling cascades. Several models were proposed—bee eyes, dragonfly eyes, gecko eyes, the usual parade of boring tetrochromats. Eventually, due to an entirely political dispute about the lingering copyright on ogre-faced spider eyes, we decided to model our lawnmower’s optical system on some combination of mantis shrimp and zebra finch. Or a combination of mantis, shrimp, zebra, and finch—the design was so collaboratively convoluted that by the time my input was .received, we already had three labs from two different departments on it and no one could agree which cells had come from where. Consequently, I can’t say what part of its genome codes its proclivity for wanderlust. But I can say that this kind of thing happens often, especially with crossbreeds, and especially with natural variants like mine, a stillbirth by industry standards. You never know what attributes come linked with what. The neurological structures specialized for sensing ambient temperature might carry with them the blueprints for violent aggression, as was the case with our firm’s first and final attempt at building an air conditioner. Or the same eyes that guide a mower to an overgrown patch of grass might draw it to the depths of a poisonous pit. Continued


So it’s my fault, at least partially, that the thing likes pink. ❂ I find it on a peninsula of broken rocks, growling with indigestion. It wanders between curling fingers of red water, blades pulling up and regurgitating acid-coated pebbles. It is unencumbered by the dangerous taste of those minerals, unafraid that one sudden breath from the depths of the pool could submerge it completely. I call to it, but I know that hearing is not among its tangled conglomerate of senses. I can only follow it, boots slipping over sheets of incandescent moss, perilously wet. I stumble, recover, and stumble again, something akin to parental instinct driving me forward. I call out once more, wordlessly, but it putters onward, to the rippling red light of the foaming waves. When I reach it, it has already dipped one greenish, fleshy wheel into the water. A small pillar of steam curls skyward from the ripple, heavy with the stench of burning organic matter, but the mower doesn’t reel or retract. Whatever force that tugs on its neurons, leading it toward the water, is stronger than its sense of pain. De-

Lavinia Turian MD Student

liberately, almost flippantly, it disregards the danger it has been programmed to avoid. I lunge forward before it descends any farther and outstretch my arm. I manage to wrap a gloved hand around one keratinous handlebar, a vestigial structure leftover from generations of mowers pushed and pulled by owners. I dig my heels into the rocks and yank it backward with all my might. It resists. Its tubules hiss as it tugs against me, wheels spinning, kicking up acrid crystals of poison salt. Its gears turn, its pneumatic motors distend, and with a bituminous exhale, the thing releases what I can only call a scream. ❂ Cam wasn’t impressed by the prototype I brought home. Then again, he was never impressed by those machines whose names were their purposes—vacuum, dishwasher, refrigerator. He was not charmed by their teleological candor, nor their elegant shapes or translucent skins, nor how well they did their jobs. But that’s just him. The closest thing he’s ever had to an appliance was a small, bulgy-eyed childhood dog, whose function, even after years of interrogation, he has failed to explain to me.

Heng Chen MD Stu


udent

He was bewildered by the lawnmower, though it was a perfectly simple design. It would cut the grass, process it through a cascade of enzymatic coelomata, and excrete something close to a fertilizer. The biochemists had worked for months perfecting its defecation, but when it roared along the length of the lawn, leaving a thin trail of brownish half-liquid behind it, Cam had given me a look that to this day I have yet to interpret. Then he shook his head and retreated back into the house, muttering something under his breath. The kitchen must’ve heard him talking shit about the lawnmower, because the toaster suddenly began burning our bread in solidarity. ❂ Someone is yelling behind me—Cam, or the ranger. I perk my ears to listen for the sound of my name, or the threat of a hefty fine, but the lawnmower’s steam-choked moans thicken in my ears. It has as good a grip on me as I have on it. We struggle, limbs entangled, heels and wheels digging into the poisonous gravel of the tide pools. Someone yells again, but I can’t answer. At the moment I know I can’t retreat, can’t budge.

We won’t let one another go. Either that mower is coming back home with me, or we’re both plunging into the foaming red water. I readjust my grip and pull at it, forcing its wheels in a more favorable position, but it wriggles in my grasp. It moans, straining its eyestalks, twisting to keep its buggy facets on the shining pink of the pit. Consumed by the strength of its instinct, it manages to submerge another wheel in the hissing water. “Shit,” I mutter, and the vomitous taste of acidic steam touches my tongue. After another moment of struggle, I speak again. “Sorry.” I lift my foot. The mower moves under my hand, lunging again toward the water, raising its eyes to the glistening surface. The moment my heel meets the angle of its highest facet, the eye twitches. It doesn’t close, it doesn’t retract, it’s paralyzed by the hue of water. It only stares on as my foot slams into it, ripping the delicate fibers of its stalk, smashing it into the cartilaginous socket. A crack runs through the fibrous casing of the mower’s body, and a series of tiny tremors run to my knee. When I remove my leg again, the only thing left of the eye is a torn membrane and a dark smear of photosensitive fluid. Continued

nick Calistri MD Student


Quickly, ruthlessly, I destroy the other eye with the edge of my boot. The mower releases a cry and deflates, shuddering with pain. I can see the muscles around its socket twitch, attempting and failing to lift its eyestalks and restore its sight. Only after it has been thoroughly blinded does the lawnmower go limp. It loosens the brakes on its wheels, it spits out the last of the pebbles in its spinning mouth, and lets me drag it across the stones, back to safety. Distantly, I can hear that voice ringing out again. I lift my eyes, and at the base of the scree, beyond the lip of the tide pool, I see two figures. Their faces follow me as I carefully tread back toward the slope, lawnmower in tow, wiping the crystallized poison from the soles of my boots. I can’t read the expression on Cam’s face, but the anger in the ranger’s is clear. “Don’t come here again,” she growls. ❂ Cam doesn’t speak on the ride home, he doesn’t speak as we march up the path to the sleeping house. Only well after I let the blind lawnmower loose again on the lawn does he open his mouth. He watches the thing graze aimlessly for a while, gurgling, spitting. Then he shakes his head and sighs. “If we wanted something that eats grass and shits it out again,” he says, “we should’ve just bought a goddamn goat.”


Sam Baldwin Nursing Student

Chestnut-BackeD Chickadee Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

…outside my window from my home on Marquam Hill.


Minhaz Sarker MD student


A letter to my first patient, who taught me about happiness in the face of bad news and a worse prognosis. You have cancer, it’s terminal and we both know it. You are measuring your life in weeks, hopefully months. But that is not why you are here. 3 days of fever when your immune system is at its lowest got you a ticket into the hospital despite your lack of other symptoms. I smile at you through my yellow mask each morning, hoping you see it. I am a student playing doctor, but you cheerfully greet me on each arrival, insisting on calling me Dr. Ashley. I can’t help but feel things are backwards. You comfort me and make me smile and laugh.

You tell me stories of your granddaughter and cats even after I tell you that you are getting another round of whole brain radiation and cannot go home, at least until your fevers resolve and your immune system recovers from the chemo. Every morning you forget what exactly ANC stands for, but we are both waiting for the magic 500 number; keeping track on the white board in your room. Finally, 11 days later, your fever is gone and your neutrophils replenished enough to send you home. You tolerated the low bacteria diet, yellow masks, and frequent labs, armed only with humor and reindeer pajamas, your “happy pants.” We celebrated your lack of infection, a bullet dodged, all while knowing the real killer lurked in your lungs and brain. But today, today we won. Today you will go home to see your cats and make more memories with your granddaughter, and tonight you will sleep in your own comfy bed. You were my first patient and you taught me about the important moments in between: laughter between treatments, stories, and the importance of happy pants. Thank you.

Ashley Stading

MD Student


Arianna Robin

MD Student


Chrys Buckley MD student

In October, I went to a weekend workshop at Corporeal Writing in downtown Portland. Lidia Yuknavitch, whose writing I’d fan-girled over for years, asked us to go around the room and describe our state of being in that moment in one word. I said “in-between” and explained that I’d been in medical school for two months and I was having a hard time. Not with the material—I’d taken an obscene number of science classes in undergrad, and had tutored chemistry and biology for about seven years, so my background was solid—but with whether med school was right for me. I was probably the only person in my class who daydreamed of dropping out so I could take some shitty admin assistant job that would leave me time for writing. I told Lidia and the group that if you’d asked me before that day, I would’ve said something more fraught like conflicted, but there’d been a subtle shift, at least for that moment, and now I was inbetween, more making the transition than fighting it. Lidia called it liminal.


There is never enough time. There often wasn’t before medical school with the cacophony of shifting class schedules, tutoring job schedules, volunteering, research, shadowing, studying. There definitely won’t be during rotations and residency. In this didactic phase of the curriculum with its all regularly scheduled stuff mostly stuffed into a Monday through Friday 8am-5pm schedule, I might find my best shot at regular writing intervals, and so I do what I can to, in the words of Portland-based author Cheryl Strayed, “write like a motherfucker” while time allows. And still, it’s not enough. And still, I always want more. And still, I guard my time like a jealous lover. During my med school application cycle, some of my interviewers asked me what I was most proud of. I knew the right answer would be that time I saved a baby or cured that rare disease, neither of which I had done of course. At least, something that showed teamwork or helping others, and there were countless little moments in my job as a chemistry tutor that I could’ve talked about. Instead, every time, knowing better, I answered by talking about this essay I’d recently written. It was too solitary a thing to use as proudest accomplishment but it was also the truest answer I could come up with. This sprawling, interwoven personal essay in 18 sections that clocked in just under 10,000 words called “Reasonable Doubt.” It had taken me a year to write and revise. I’d dedicated an entire independent study class term to re-working this essay after I originally thought I was done. Its words had worn their rhythms into me as I wrote and chucked and rewrote and read aloud for nitpicks, and rearranged section orders and continued, always, to distill what it was about: violence, mostly, how it shapes us, and ambiguity. Other kids, my brother, thought cartoons when they thought Saturday morning, but for me, when I think childhood Saturday mornings, I think of waking up inspired to write something, to capture some story idea, and working on it in my room before I went downstairs. It wasn’t every or even most Saturdays, but it was the Saturday mornings I remember. Jennifer Jahncke neuroscience Student

Science Around Us:


Science Around Us:

Science Around Us:

Jennifer Jahncke neuroscience Student


As an albino, I’ve been part of this albinism organization since I was about six, and there was some talk awhile back about having a business card with some quick facts that we, or parents of kids with albinism, could hand out to anyone asking questions. It would save us all the exhausting explanations and direct them to the organization’s website (NOAH). I don’t know if this ever materialized but an essay I wrote called “Seeing and Not Seeing” is my calling card, the primer on what it’s like to be, in the parlance of the blind community, a high partial. I did my best to answer the question I got most often, “What can you see?” and to explain how it is that I can be legally blind but not totally blind, legally blind and intensely visual, legally blind and, you know, a full person.

If asked the question that just about every self-help, change-your-life book asks, what would you do if you knew you only had a year to live, the answer for me is easy. I would write. I would drop all other outside commitments except for the people that I love, and I would write. I would write on a resident’s eighty-hour workweek schedule. I would write because I wouldn’t want to die with so much unwritten still inside me. I don’t think my answer to that question about what I’d do with a year left to live has ever changed. The specifics of the writing projects have but the overall gist has always been the same. The problem, and I suspect this is true for most people, is that how I would live my life if I only have a year to live isn’t how I would live my life if I have decades. The problem is that how you would live if you were dying with a clear expiration date for your celestial discharge is unsustainaScience Us: with ble over longer stretches of time. The problem is that how you would live ifAround you were dying a clear expiration date for your celestial discharge is unsustainable over longer stretches of time. The problem is that mostly, except in some medical situations, we don’t get to know how much time is left. And if we do know by some doctors’ estimates, most of that time will likely be spent too sick to do all the things you say you would do if you knew you had x amount of time left to live. The problem is we always live our own lives only from the inside. That “Reasonable Doubt” essay that I talked about in interviews all started a few spring breaks ago. When I went to the gym, while I pedaled away on the elliptical, I watched The People v. O.J. Simpson on my iPad and was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had to tell the story of Ricky, this kid who went to my high school for about three-quarters of my freshman year and who’d been crushed by the O.J. verdict that October. In telling it, I’d wound up winding together the stories of Ricky, my friend Amber, and me at that age, the private battles we were each fighting against our own private powerlessnesses. The essay slid back and forth in time and contemplated if or how we ever truly escape who we were as children, with interspersed true crime pop culture, tiny anecdotes from my own life, musings about what we make of our stories, and always, always, music.

Noise Correlation

Not all of my writing, not even all of my more personal writing, addresses albinism or disability. But I think I might be constitutionally incapable of not writing about music. I weave lyrics into stories, anecdotes, ruminations, vignettes, sneak them surreptitiously into screenplay dialogue. Being a writer while going to medical school feels a lot like leading a double life. I most definitely serve two masters—the caduceus and the muse—and it’s a constant act of balancing on a fine point. I often feel that I’m doing neither to the best of my abilities and I wonder about that. About if it’s okay to adopt an “I just need to pass” mentality about medical school and slack off Continued


on studying in favor of writing. About if it’s okay to adopt an “I just need to get words down” mentality about writing, focusing less on the thoughtful craftwork of shaping them, which I always think can come later. About if “good enough” is good enough. I struggle with knowing I could do either thing better, but probably not both. Except. I keep thinking about my constant podcast consumption. True crime, pop culture, politics, three different podcasts about The Bachelor which I’m not even watching anymore, podcasts about other true crime podcasts. Podcasts when I wake up in the morning, when I get dressed, when I eat, when I cook, when I take the aerial tram between campuses, when I work out, when I walk, when I run errands, when I go to the bathroom between lectures. Probably worst of all, podcasts when I fall asleep. It’s the podcasts and the being attached to my phone that worry me. The constant distraction.

It sent me back to square one, to wondering how much of my writing self I’d have to give up for this career, and if I was willing.

I keep toying with doing a phone detox of sorts, thinking that I’ll probably have more mental energy and concentration for both masters. Not enough to serve both to the best of my ability because they are always taking some from the other but maybe enough to serve both a little better than I currently am. I keep wondering if all those podcasts are drowning out my own voice.

I’m mostly working on what I originally imagined as an essay on sexuality and disability but which has sprawled into over 565 double-spaced pages, with several notes of things I want to include still waiting at the bottom of the Word doc to be written. There are personal stories, of mine and of others. There is academic research. And there is a lot of pop culture analysis. I’m unsure what if anything I’ll ever do with this massive, unwieldy beast of a piece of writing but I know it’s something I have to write. If “Seeing and Not Seeing” is my primer piece of work about disability, this essay “The Accommodations of Desire” is my magnum opus, albeit still in its infancy stage where there’s puke everywhere and it can’t stop shitting the bed. My alarm goes off at 5:15am. I get up, make some tea, dump my Daily Harvest smoothie into my blender, fill a glass with water, pee, light a candle if I’m feeling like it’s that kind of day, and sit on my couch with my laptop and write until 7am, 7:15 if it’s a dissection lab or preceptorship day because I don’t have to leave as early. On a good day, I can get in over 2000 words. On a rough day, or a day when I do more rereading than fresh writing, it might only be 600. On a test day, I often skip writing in favor of morning studying, but not always. The constant balancing continues. There are all these dual degree programs with medical degrees. MD/PHD, MD/MPH, MD/JD, MD/MBA. Why isn't there an MD/MFA option? Why isn't this a thing? That would be my dream life. In a way, I'm doing my own makeshift MD/MFA. During winter term, I took an elective in Narrative Medicine. And a screenwriting class at Corporeal Writing from Lidia Yuknavitch’s


husband wherein I workshopped one of my first draft completed screenplays. And I did a deep, developmental edit of a friend's book manuscript about her experience with Cushing’s Syndrome. All of this, with rare exception, outside of my morning writing hours. Pretty quickly, I realized that all those extra projects on top of the difficulty of adding anatomy to the medical school menu that term were way too much. There was a finite limit to how much I could juggle and I had found it and much sooner than I would have hoped. It sent me back to balancing on that fine point, or struggling to. It sent me back to square one, to wondering how much of my writing self I’d have to give up for this career, and if I was willing, and what to do since there obviously was no obvious percentage upon which to decide, and would I later regret having gone into medicine, as some doctors do, and what to do with my instinct that my best answer was maybe. It sent me back into the fraught ambiguous, the conflicted in-between, the daydreams of shitty admin assistant jobs, that goddamned liminal. TO BE CONTINUED…..

Mohamed Yahya and Jehan YahyA

MD Student


From left to right: Sweta Ravisankar (PHD student) Yashaswini raghuram, sridharini Sridharan Photo by gidu sriram

The Bharatanatyam performance is usually a solo dance piece. While all dancers are extremely experienced, they learned and practiced different styles over the years. Rather than conflicting over their differences, the three dancers grew, motivated, and learned together, creating the Sankalpa Dance Ensemble. The ensemble not only embodied tradition, but also creativity that springs from the fusion of individuality. Sankalpa means a connection with the heart’s highest intention. Between busy academic schedules and tending to the duties of motherhood, Sweta, Yashaswini, and Sridharini managed to practice from evening until late in the night. They have truly lived up to the dance ensemble’s purpose and hope to bring the Bharatanatyam dance form to audiences in Portland.


Casey Jones “I started doing artwork when I was young, for the same reason I did most things when I was an 8 year old; because my older brother did! These days, I do art for me. I love the challenge of trying to replicate on a canvas, what I see in real life. In this painting, I tried to capture the most eternally optimistic woman in my life. She would hold your hand with a smile as she listened to you talk, making you feel like hearing you was the most important part of her day. Her selfless nature was inspirational, and her zest for life was contagious. Helen’s parents emigrated from Greece. She attended Florida State Women’s College, worked for Pan Am Airlines during WWII, and co-managed the Dennis Hotel in St. Petersburg, FL. Helen lived to be 98 years of age and made all of our lives more full. Cheers to a very special lady.”


Meet the makings of the Mercurial mind mash bringing you Aerial, Issue 2.


By author’s name Ali Schlueter………………………………………………………………………………12 Allie dyer…………………………………………………………………………………………..3

Andrew summers……………………………………………………………………….7 Arianna Robin…..…………………………………………………………………………28 Ashley Stading…………………………………………………………………………26 Aubre Gilbert……………………………………………………………………………...17 Audrey Tran…………………………………………………………………………………27 Casey Jones………………………………………………...……………………………….iiii Chrys Buckley…………………………………………………………………………..29 Corey Gallet De ST Aurin…………………………………………….10 Ellee shields………………………………………………………………………………….9 Heng Chen…………………………………………………………………………………………21 Hiro ross……………………………...…………………………………………………….8, 19 Jennifer jahncke…………………...……………………………………..30, 31 Katia Erickson..…………………………………………………………...5, 13, 15


Kyle romine …………………………………………...………………………………….…2 Lauren Raymond……………………………………………………………………..16

Lavinia Turian…………………………………………………………………………….21 Meghan Vanderwetting...………………………………………………14 Mercedes Converse……………………………………………………………..11 Minhaz Sarker…………………………………………………………….4, 19, 25 Mohammed and Jehan yahya….………………………………34 Nick Calistri ………………………………………………...…………………………...25 Ryan Ochoa ……………………………………………………………………cover Sam baldwin…………………………………………………………………………………24 S. cody woll ……………………………………………………………………………….18 Sweta Ravisankar….…………………………………………………………….35 Taylor Anderson……………………………………………………………………..6


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Profile for Aerial Magazine

Aerial Magazine - July 2019  

Aerial: Verbal and Visual Arts, Issue 2 Carefully created, composed, and curated by OHSU students.

Aerial Magazine - July 2019  

Aerial: Verbal and Visual Arts, Issue 2 Carefully created, composed, and curated by OHSU students.

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