Monday, January 30, 2012

I Could Seriously Go For Some Ice Cream After Writing This Post

    Whenever the subject of celebrity crushes comes up, two names always get mentioned when you converse with me. Jennifer Aniston, the lovely Rachel from Friends - America's sweetheart, and Demi Moore, the stripper fighting for her daughter's custody in Striptease, and one of the few women who actually look better than her husband when they are both bald. One thing they have in common is that they both look better now, in their 40s (42 and 49, respectively), than they did in their 20s. Granted, they both have personal trainers and rigorous routines and I think Demi's daily food intake consists of little more than an orange (I know she ate a burger recently at a photo shoot, but it's funnier to say it that way), but it definitely pays off for them. They're gorgeous.
    And the nice thing is, for the most part they've been good celebrities. They don't party too hard, they keep it fun but fairly modest. They've both had divorces from actors I like and have gotten involved with guys I'm not a fan of (I love John Mayer's music - it's unfortunate he's a douche; I've never liked Ashton Kutcher, whatever). But recent events have put one certifiably over the other...
    Demi Moore was recently sent to the hospital. I really hope she's okay, I wish harm on no one. But rumor has it that she was sent to the hospital after doing "Whip-Its" or "whippets." Have you all heard about this? Apparently you snort the nitrous oxide out of a can of whipped cream, and you end up with a full can of whipped cream that doesn't work (for the parents that want to make sure their kids aren't addicts).
    This is the stupidest idea I've ever heard. Are people so desperate to get high that they've tainted the sanctity of whipped cream? Doesn't whipped cream give you enough joy as it is? I mean...why wouldn't you just eat it, and get a natural high? I mean, if you really want to alter your mental state, they make alcohol-infused whipped cream (the chocolate variety is delicious) (I can't even imagine what snorting that would do to you).
    I feel like Demi would have someone in her life telling her that this is a bad idea. Heck, if you don't have anyone in your life that would tell you this is a bad idea...go find some new friends. And stop being stupid. I myself am immensely thankful for the friends I have. When I first found out about this incident, I was with a great group of people, and I am confident that Nikhil, Zach, Peter, Christina, and many others would definitely stop me from doing something as dumb as "whippets." Nushin is probably already doing them and I need to hold an intervention (to all readers, I'm sorry, Nikhil was having nightmares because I hadn't mentioned him in a blog post, and he and the others are very important in my life).
    Again, I wish Demi a swift recovery, and hope that people will see her as an example and use their whipped cream properly.
    And to Demi or Jennifer - if either of you would like to debate the merits or faults of this decision, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'll be waiting.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things You'll Find on the Island, Or A Series of Links

I know lately I've been trying the "incorporate a lesson into my blog posts" thing, but that's really not why I started this blog. I kind of wanted to just put my musings and scattered thoughts somewhere. I have amazing friends who I can talk to about anything, but I can't always be random-tangenting into topics I want to discuss. Though once in a while, I do that...

Anyway, I wanted to write today just about some things that give me joy. At this point in the semester, we're taking exams every Monday for the first six weeks. So Monday nights I take a little time off. :)

Most people who know me and talk to me for more than 5 minutes, or sit in my car for more than 60 seconds, get to know that I love jazz. All jazz. Big band, small group, electric, acoustic, modern, classic, fusion, and more. One of my least favorite varieties is vocal jazz. Don't get me wrong, I've played with some amazing vocalists. If you're ever in the Minnesota area, or just want to hear an amazing voice, check out my old friend Laura Ellen. She's one of the best. Lately, I've been giving an immense amount of iPod time to a vocalist or two that I heard on Jazz.FM, my favorite radio station. Canadian vocalist Shannon Butcher was played the one day, singing what might be the happiest song I've ever heard. I later downloaded her latest album on iTunes, and it's fantastic. From the first track "Joy In My Heart," (seriously, I think singing it too much might make me poop butterflies) to the cover of Bryan Adams' "Run To You," and all the other tracks, it's great. Tight rhythm section, fun tunes, and to top it all off, she has a lovely voice.

Words With Friends. I know it's clich├ęd, but I just started playing it a couple weeks ago. And it's amazing. At first it was taking up too much of my life, and I was afraid my studies would slip. But I've downregulated my time spent there to just once a day or every other day, so it's a nice distraction without keeping me away from studying too much. I like that it stimulates me to get creative. Though I swear some of those words are fake. I mean, what the heck is "zeks"?

While watching the commercial for this new movie, halfway through I thought to myself...this movie can only be called "Man On A Ledge." Anything else...and I will be severely disappointed.

I defy you to listen to this song and not get it immediately stuck in your head. Special thanks to my good friend and mentor, Aaron, for that. Sorry for putting herpes on your Facebook wall.

And for yet another musical thought - dubstep. I know most people like to jam out and dance to dubstep, but I can't get enough when I'm studying. My friend Eric turned me on to The Glitch Mob and since then, that station on Pandora has been my study soundtrack for most of medical school thus far. And from there, I found the group Emancipator. Like chill stuff? Check out their page, download the free stuff. Then go pay for the album. As one decidedly amateur reviewer so eloquently put it, “Um, it’s really pretty, but like with SICK beats.”

As I write this post, I realize that I'm sounding a little like my sister Jocelin's writing. She and I have a very chicken-and-egg thing going on where we act a lot alike, but sometimes even we're unsure which one of us started a particular behavioral quirk. But she's a pretty cool person, weirdo that she is. ;)

So that's some stuff that I've been digging lately. Hopefully you enjoy it too, and we can talk about it.

Also, can anyone recommend a good beard trimmer?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Renew, Rejuvenate, Recycle

Happy New Year!

Well, so much for keeping up steady posting during school.
I'll say this, I can't really blame myself. One of my classmates said it best on the morning of our last final when he said, "This semester...felt like it was a year long." And it certainly did. Since my last post, we flew at the speed of light through an array of somewhat interrelated subjects through the insanity that was Fundamentals I and II. Learned skills of how to deal with difficult patients suffering from physical as well as emotional pain in Clinical Practice of Medicine. Felt like doctors as we fulfilled our assignments of talking to patients in the real world with our preceptors ensuring our progress. And of course, the dreaded yet amazing tour de force that was anatomy. But we made it through, and without too much damage. Over a quick hurdle of biostatistics that our exhausted minds only barely absorbed, and then into the sweet freedom of winter break to renew our mental strength and capacity for next semester.

But as exhausting as the semester was - reducing some of us to tears, some to fits of fried laughter, and some to numbness - I and most of my classmates would not have had it any other way. We were exactly where we wanted to be. And it's worth the craziness.
But that's not what I'm writing about today. I find myself thinking about how, in addition to rejuvenating my brain, this winter break has been a major time of renewal for me.
I renewed my connections with my extended family over Christmas weekend. I have a big extended family - 29 first cousins! (I'll pause a moment while you gasp.) I absolutely love it. Since they range from ages 5 to 30-something, I relate to some of them better than others, but it's always a happy moment when I can see any of them, usually because a significant amount of time passes between such occasions. It's great to catch up with them. I have older cousins who have forged a path into the medical field (we're Indian, big surprise) who now tell me war stories of their time in medical school, and give me advice on where to go from here. I also have younger cousins who look to me for guidance - at least, they would if I saw them more, to my regret. But more than that, we just have a good time in each other's company - watching movies, trading stories, talking about how silly or wise our parents are, and (in my family's case) playing the couch game (I'll explain later). Being with them is always awesome, and one of my goals for the future is to see them more, or at least keep in touch better.

I also renewed my connection with the house in which I grew up. We just had all of our hardwood floors redone, and there are few things that make you see a room more differently than taking all the furniture (and everything associated with that furniture) out of it. "Were those walls always pink?" "Where did this rug come from?" "Oh, that's where I lost that shirt!"

And then I reconnected with Richard Marx. Not in person, I've never met the guy, though I'd like to some day. I know what you're thinking now - "Who's Richard Marx?" Check out his songwriting and production discography and you're bound to recognize one-third to one-half of the names. Richard Marx's self-titled album was the first music I ever owned - my father handed the audio cassette to me, I slapped it into my Walkman, and that was that. My cousins will tell you how I used to listen to that tape almost obsessively, and in retrospect I was pretty ridiculous. But I just found something relevant in his music, something spoke to me. In addition to writing songs for other artists, he's put out several albums of his own over the last 23 years, and just recently released "Stories to Tell," a compilation album with acoustic and electric re-recordings of songs he wrote for himself and for others. And on top of that, he actually replied to one of my Tweets! I reacted quite calmly on Twitter, simply re-Tweeting it, but I was definitely doing a little dance when I saw it.

And finally...I know most avid readers like myself use their downtime to get into amazing new series like "The Hunger Games" or great biographies or instant classics or the next Tom Clancy or John Grisham book. Me? I chose to use this time to reconnect with The Animorphs. Mostly due to the fact that my friend Juliana keeps insisting that I should finish them, and I like the satisfaction of finishing a series. So I picked up where I left off at book 19 and am continuing all the way through #54.

All of these renewals had something in common: there was some level of change involved in my experience. Many of my cousins, the ones who watched over me and influenced me in my childhood, have children of their own now, all in the age range of 1-7. The last time I was in that full of a house for Christmas, surrounded by running children...I was one of the running children. I love kids, I always have. And it's interesting to see the other side of these interactions - to be the one watching over them as they have adventures by the couches, the monster that they need to fight, or the airplane to help them fly into the next room. It's no preparation for actually raising children, but it does make me look forward to the idea...but not for a while.

Meanwhile, inside the house, our living room, dining room, my parents' bedroom, and all the kids rooms look radically different. Partially because with Robin now being the principle child of the house and me only visiting on major holidays, my parents moved her into my old room and me into her smaller one. That's different. But just the feel of the rooms is different now. They're cleaner, for sure, but the shiner floors and some new furniture bring a new essence to them. It's unfamiliar, but it's like a rebirth. Like I'm exploring the rooms for the first time, in a new leather cockpit and new shiny wood and glass control panels and a much cleaner interior. Though, for those of you that have seen my living room before...the giant picture of Jesus is still in the same place. :)

Richard Marx's latest album has a disc of reworked versions of his classic hits, as well as recordings of some of the songs he's written for other artists. I was always Backstreet Boys over N*Sync, but I really enjoy Marx's versions of "This I Promise You." Marx spent most of the '90s in the Adult Contemporary section, but he's brought out more of his modern rock side in the 2000s, returning to his roots but adapting to the times. And I love artists that do that. (Side note on comebacks and adapations: While I agree that Madonna could make a very successful comeback, who thought it was a good idea to have her do the Super Bowl halftime show? I don't wish unemployment on anyone, but I kinda hope that person was fired.)

And the Animorphs? Well, in middle school - the last time I picked these books up - they were just entertaining books. But now, in my 20s, I see much more in the books. I mean, I hate eisegesis as much as the next guy, so I'll try to avoid that. But in addition to seeing how much K.A. Applegate influenced my own writing, I was astonished to see the depth in the stories. The middle school kid heroes of the series have aged greatly in the course of 30 books. Applegate has effectively captured the battle-ravaged minds of warriors who have seen death, betrayal, and genocide, and combined it with the angst and insecurity of the entry into adolescence. And then she condensed all these enough that middle school readers could understand. Take that, Stephenie Meyer. If you'd like to join Juliana and me in discussing and debating these books, let me know. :)

I used to be very big on tradition and lack of change. While I still struggle with it a little bit, I realized a few years ago that change can be an amazing thing. Sure, some traditions are good, and when something's being done right, there's no need to change it for change's sake. But one has to be able to adapt to change when it does come. All of these renewals I've experienced have only helped to reinforce that. Whether it's sharing new life experiences and the joy of children, or breathing new life into an old room, or giving an old song new life, or finishing the story of the battle to save the Earth, or just renewing yourself for the next round of medical school, there is no problem with revisiting the old. But don't be afraid to look at it differently, since there's a good chance you'll find something amazing in it.