The tire popped on my moped two weeks ago as I sped out of the Johnny Mango parking lot. Not my finest hour. A chivalrous man came to my rescue on the side of the road and helped me to wheel the scooter into Kwik Trip for free air. He then proceeded to fill it up for me when I got confused about how to use the machine. He also had a tire pressure gauge in his car, which I apparently also needed. Men—do strive to be Prince Charmingly like this guy—have a tool belt and a glove compartment full of patches and other handy trinkets at the ready at all times. I confess I do often pretend to be more helpless and more distressed than I really am in situations like these because I can tell Man as Rescuer loves their rare, and ever rarer moments of damsel-in-distress heroism. All that to say, I’m a damn good damsel.
Following that episode of deflation, the tire had to be replaced, KP and my neighbor Eric exhibited yet more chivalry on behalf of the busted tire, taking the moped to a special shop and then home again to fuss and tinker in the garage, then back to the shop. Two weeks and a hundred dollars later, I’m gleefully back in business, albeit admittedly the entertainment business as I have decorated the scooter with a festive flower vase and a mudflap bumper sticker of a silhouetted naked lady (which Mom gave me) reading a book next to my MFA program slogan which reads “Beauty will save the world.” Entertainment because even on Broadway, my max speed is 25 mph (read: I love my brain and current intact cranial architecture). People wave at me like I’m a parade float rather than a motor vehicle, or maybe it’s because I’m smiling like an idiot. I love my moped. Watch out for Speedy Red coming down the avenue—I plan to joyride this thing until my knuckles freeze to the throttle—which may very well be this Friday. Autumn leaves are falling fast.
Coming into the home stretch with the neurology rotation, I’m trying to take my understanding of neuro-anatomy to the next level. Braiding challah is a good excuse to review the brachial plexus. But, admittedly, reading my Neuro book makes me feel like (click) Izzy when she listens to Billie Holiday. Methinks I’m not a neurologist. If surgery made me feel young at heart, neurology has made me feel elderly at heart. Or, at least this week on stroke service, ever more wary of elderly hearts. And of mine own breaking with every patient I see. Neuro is tough on the empathetic.
Pumpkin Spice Challah
Adapted from The Village Baker
2 cups sourdough starter
2 cups warm water
2 whole eggs and one egg white
3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
6 cups white flour
Glaze 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp cold milk and poppy seeds or sesame seeds for topping
Mix yeast with water, oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin spice, and then start adding the flour and salt in small bits until thoroughly incorporated. This should take like 10 minutes. Meditate. Empty dough onto work table and knead for 5 minutes. When the dough is soft like satin, round into a ball and put to rest and rise in an oiled bowl. Let rise until it doubles. Punch dough back down and split into six equal sized pieces. Roll each into a thick strand and braid two loaves of three strands each. Set on parchment to rise for maybe an hour or two. Then glaze and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. While you’re waiting for the loaves to come out of the oven, study the brachial plexus, med students. Then, Challah!
Give one loaf to a neighbor you haven’t seen in a while. Or someone you’ve been remiss in loving on. Track down the chivalrous random guy who helped you with your tire and do something equally random and chivalrous. Do so without expectation that your love will come back to you. Give give and give again, without requirement. I think this is the overlooked answer to the secret of life.