August turned into a vacation month, but it wasn't at first. It was actually supposed to be a pretty big month - an OB GYN sub-internship, a chance to get those necessary letters of recommendation, my time to make a solid impression on the staff and residents. A sub-internship that lasted a total of five days, before I knew I had to make a change.
In medical school, our third year is meant for exploration into all the different fields, for figuring out what you love and what is less enjoyable. And once you find that field, you make moves to get into that kind of residency - networking, research, making good first impressions. I thought it would be easy, that there would be a moment in third year where the heavens opened and a beam of light shot down onto the field I was meant to practice for the rest of my life, with songs of triumph playing in the background.
There was none of that. Not even a less-glorious "a-ha!" moment.
The problem I was having was a good one - I liked everything. At least, pieces of everything. I loved the craft of the surgeons in the operating room. I loved the joy of a successful birth. I loved the complexities of psychiatry and neurology, the thoroughness of internal medicine. My open mind left me with lots of options, but no direction. Panicked that I didn't have any time left, I picked OB GYN in May, so that I could at least have some form of schedule for the following year. I was excited, it was the mix of surgery and primary care that I wanted.
Fast forward to the end of July, when I had just finished my internal medicine sub-internship, a required course for all fourth years. A course where we work like interns, of course with guidance from the residents and the actual interns. And finally, I got a "moment" of sorts - except it was less immediate and less clear, lurking in the shadows of my mind and showing itself every now and then. The feeling that this is what fits. This is what makes me happy.
I ended that month with that feeling, but also with tons of rationalizations surrounding it - "give it more time, you are just being wishy-washy, you are like this with every rotation". It didn't go away though - I liked my next rotation, but I would be lying if I said I didn't go back to thinking about the previous month each night. Stressed out and confused, I did what I almost always do when I need an opinion - I called my dad. I thought with that call we would undergo intense analysis of my decision, pore over lists of pro's and con's, but he didn't tell me any of that.
He told me to go with my gut. And with those honest, no-bullshit words, I realized that my decision was much less complicated than I thought - and I had to make the change. The next day, I was dropping the elective and subbing in a vacation month, meeting a new mentor, and changing around my schedule.
My gut feeling. Something I initially wanted to ignore, but I'm so glad I didn't.
I think that a large part of our lives preaches careful thinking - making plans and preparing yourself accordingly. That "think before you speak" mindset. And I think it's a perfectly valid form of thinking for most of life. But today I'm telling you, it's not always the case. Sometimes you just need to close off all the voices and ask yourself what's stirring inside underneath. When you stop ignoring that "feeling", you may find the path clears up in ways you didn't expect.
Don't be afraid of it.
I made this cake solely because I had a dream the night before about a pineapple cake, and woke up with only that in mind. So I went to the grocery in the morning and picked up a pineapple. It was my first time ever dissecting a pineapple, would you believe it? How does mom make it look so easy? Regardless, it was fun cutting it into wedges and arranging it into a chevron-esque pattern - but you could stick with the traditional rings if you prefer. I kept it pineapple only, but add whatever other upside down fruit you desire - bananas, cherries, boozy raspberries like this one over here (that I'm dying to try, this woman is GOALS). To keep it somewhat interesting, I added some orange zest to the cake base and used the juice to make a quick mint orange glaze that I brushed over the top after inverting the cake. If herbs aren't your thing, feel free to omit the glaze - the pineapple-sugar mixture creates its own glaze anyways, as any good upside down cake should.
Hope your weekend is filled with good things. Like the Beatles and home-cooked meals.
Pineapple orange upside down cake (adapted from Epicurious)
- 1/2 fresh medium pineapple, halved lengthwise, cored, peeled, and sliced into wedges
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- Butter for the tin
- 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest from 3 large oranges
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
For the mint orange glaze
- Juice from 3 oranges
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of an 8 inch round pan (2 inches high) with parchment paper and generously butter the pan.
- Add the brown sugar to the bottom of the pan evenly, then place the pineapple slices over the brown sugar in any pattern you would like.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy (you can certainly use a hand mixer or even just a spatula for this cake). Add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the zest and the vanilla, and beat until combined. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and mix until combined. Add the buttermilk and mix gently again until combined. Finally, add other half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour the batter over the pineapples in the pan.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes clean. Remove from the oven when done and let cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, invert the cake onto a plate and slowly lift the pan off the cake. Let the cake cool completely before slicing. Enjoy with whatever you like to drink for a fun summer weekend (my family's making margs)!