Monday, July 26, 2004

Soyouwanna be an Instant Reinassance Man/Woman?

So at this moment I'm listening to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. It is amazing. Anyway, it is notable that I am listening to classical music because I am not "music person." I went to this private elementary and middle school that didn't have the budget for a band or orchestra, and I didn't fully appreciate the fact that my mom made me take piano lessons. I think that If I would have gone to a different school I would have played the saxophone or something...or the violin....I don't know. Point is, I don't really know a lot about music, and thus I don't have the same appreciation for it as someone who has been playing music since they were a little kid, or someone who plays music all the time. I play a little piano, and I'd like to think that I made a kind of breakthrough in my understanding of music recently, but I am no expert. And I don't think there are a lot of people like me (non-experts) that regularly listen to classical music. I think the same could probably be said about jazz. Its like how I can appreciate an amazing dribble move that an NBA point gaurd might make during a game more than someone who hasn't played point gaurd since they in 3rd grade. Music people have a greater appreciation for not only the difficulty, but also the genius of certain works of classical music and/or jazz. They can separate it into components and study it, similar to what I do in a science lab. I just like how it sounds.

But anyway, I'm am (was, actually, that paragraph took a long ass time to write, believe it or not) listening to Beethoven's Moonlight Sadness. Why? How? I recently struck world wide web gold when I stumbled across perhaps the greatest website of all time (at least, for people with a lot of time on their hands). Soyouwanna.com is composed of tons of mini-crashcourses on the things "they never taught you in school." Its basically full of the free, condensed versions of those big orange books that claim to be the Official Idiot's Guides to various subjects, from baseball to dating to investing. If the Idiot's guides are like life's Cliff Notes, this shit is like a Cliff Notes for the Cliff Notes. And the variety of subjects is quite impressive. There's everything from Soyouwanna cut a demo (for those of you who like to "rock."), or learn how to use feng shui, to Soyouwanna get a sex change. Yes, I'm serious. And thats just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. I encourage you to go exploring. Its like walking through the the row of games at a carnival, trying to decide which one to play first, except its free! Its actually kind of humorous. Its so American in that we are obsessed with instant gratification...like fast food...wait, I learned about this is Sociology class. Mcdonaldization.

So, yes, this website is a prime example of the dreaded sociological "phenomenon" known as the "Mcdonaldization of American culture," but I dont' care. I think its great. Its a catalyst. Take me as case study. I've always been interested in classical music. But everytime I've tried to listen I'd get bored. I just didn't know how to appreciate it. Maybe it was my lyrics obsession...remember the two kinds of people? But my recent interest in the music (not just the lyrics), which I can owe about 50% of the credit to that fateful IM conversation with SLS, and 50% of the credit to 311's "Amber," lead me to once again begin thinking about getting into classical music. But how was I going to know which songs to download? Which are the composers/pieces I should hear first as a classical music novice? These were the crucial questions at hand. If I was at home I could ask my dad, because not only has it seemed at times that he knows everything, but he also listens to classical music like its his job. Thats all he plays whiles he working in his office....and he's all about listening to "Morning Classics" on our local NPR affiliate. But I'm a big boy now. I live in my own apartment. By myself. In a big city. What am I going to do? Suddenly I remember that I had recently been looking for some simple chess strategy (the fucking computer kicks my ass EVERY TIME. Even on the lowest difficulty level. I never even put up a fight.) I had accidentally found this site that had asked me: Soyouwanna learn how to play chess? Hmmm...I wonder if there's a "Soyouwanna learn about classical music?"...YES! There it is. Exactly what I wanted! How many times in a websearch do you actually find EXACTLY what you're looking for? I don't know if I EVER have, unless I have the exact title fo the journal or article that I'm looking for. So I gave it a try. I read a little about the different classical musical eras and styles. I learned some essential terminology. I downloaded some of the pieces that the site recommended (one of them, of course, being Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata), from the best composers from each of the said eras, including Mozart, Handel, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and Gershwin, to name a few. And I love it all. Now, I'm not claiming to have anywhere near the apprecition of a "music person," but I have a much greater appreciation than I did yesterday. So much so that I think I'm going to read up more on classical music, and download more. But not before my next crashcouse: Soyouwanna learn about jazz?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

moment immortal

Note: (yes, another note.)  I wrote this right when I got back...BEFORE the "brace yourselves" post...but for some reason I didn't want to publish it then.  It isn't as all-encompassing of my emotion as "brace yourselves."  I'm publishing it now, so here you go.

Well, marriage has finally infiltrated my group of high school friends. My buddy Nate got married this weekend. His wedding (in which I was one of the crucial "ushers") took place in Bozeman, MT, on Saturday, July 17. Its Monday, July 19, and I'm in Portland...and I still don't really have any idea what exactly happened this weekend.

No, it is not because of intoxication...Although, intoxication and this weekend did have a rather intimate relationship.

So, as time goes along, and I continue to process the fact that Nate is a married man, perhaps I'll add a post now and then regarding my conclusions, or lack thereof. Right now, I'm going to write about something that I've been thinking about for a while but seemed to come to a rather pointy head as I observed and took part in the events of Nate's wedding.

I don't know how many times I've been told to appreciate each and every moment. I thought I understood the rationale well enough. Appreciate this moment, because before you know it you will be in the midst of another, altogether different moment, and all you'll have of the previous moment are your memories. And if you consciously appreciate the moment, your memories will be more vivid. Yeah, that makes sense...but there HAS to be something else to it.

Story time: The wedding took place outdoors, at around 6 in the evening, and the scorching sun was still very present. I bet was 85 degrees during the ceremony. The ceremony took place on a grassy lawn, near a creek, with the Bridger Mnts, very picturesqe. Perfect, one might say. I finished my duties as all important usher, I took a seat. Before I knew it, I was looking back at Katie (Nate's new wife), all 5'1'' of her, as she was walking down the aisle. Katie and I have always had an interesting relationship. I mean, we get along...but sometimes I'm just too fucking skeptical. Sometimes I think I have people figured out more than I really do. I really didn't know what to think about this wedding, from my perspective they (Nate, 22, and Katie, 20) looked way to young. But Nate has been on cloud nine for the whole ride--the dating, the serious dating, and the one and a half year engagement--so I never spoke up. I could see that somehow he knew what he was doing, even though Katie's obvious immaturity at times would annoy the living shit out of me, and cause me to fear for the future of the couple. Anyway, so I was looking back at Katie, walking toward her parents (both of whom were completely overwhelmed with tears), and she looked so perfect. She looked so real. She was holding back the tears...trying to smile, and I was in love with the moment. It was a perfect moment. I leaned back in my seat as she finally made it to the altar, and all the tension in my body...all the anticipation and concern for Nate, and concern for Katie, and the conviction that they shouldn't be doing this...it all disappeared. I saw the look on Katie's face...and then on Nate's face...and I was overwhelmed with the love they felt for each other. The ceremony lasted only 15 or 20 minutes...which was quite enough for me because it had been over for me before it had actually began.

I realize now what I had been so afraid of. I was afraid that Katie didn't know what she was doing. Like I said, I was confident in Nate's state of mind following his decison to so quickly enter the world of adulthood. But I hadn't seen it in Katie. I was afraid she wasn't going to make the realization that she was in a perfect moment. I was afraid she wasn't going to realize that she was in an immortal moment. History is unfolding at weddings. This was perhaps the biggest moment that both Nate and Katie will EVER experience. But time didn't stop so as to allow them to let it sink in. Time just kept going like it was any other normal day. Most people only stand at an altar and hear "you may now kiss the bride," once in their lives. ONCE. It happens and then it is over. Never again. And thats how it is for all of the greatest moments in life...perfect, but fleeting, and then gone. There are memories, yes, but that moment will never be again. But if you can recognize the perfection of the moment...while still IN the moment...you can keep it. I was afraid Katie wasn't going to recognize perfection. She proved me wrong. I saw it in her face, I heard it in her voice when she made a toast, and in how she couldn't stop smiling the whole night.

After the ceremony, and the food, and the wine, I proceeded to have what will be one of the greatest nights of my life. So much love. So much appreciation. So much perfection. The only time I got quasi-emotional (although its happened a few times since yesterday morning) at the wedding was immediately after I danced with Mrs. Nate. While I was dancing, I wanted to test her....I guess...gauge her state of mind. "This night has been so crazy," I said. "But fun!" she replied with the brightest Katie smile I have ever seen.

I went back to the corner fo the room and put my head in my hands for a few minutes...cried a few tears. I don't really know exactly why. I know I was really happy, though. I don't think there are English words that can describe the species of happiness, however. I'm just going to leave it at that.

One moment I was driving to Bozeman, and Nate was a bachelor....the next I was driving to Portland, and Katie's last name had changed....likely FOREVER.....and now I'm sitting here, sharing with you. So it goes.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

brace yourselves...

My mind is in one of its more out of control states...I don't think its been this bad since the week after Graduation....The wedding I attended this weekend has started a storm...just like so many things have done recently...I mean, a good storm...a storm of chaotic thought, however...maybe writing will help me articulate...cause I'm not really getting anywhere by just thinking...This post will have no organization or logic...and it will have a lot of elipses...I like elipses...I really need to write because I'm thinking a lot...and not just about the fact that I just watched one of my good friends from high school become a married man...but I think it might all stem from it...I feel so old...but I also so aware of my youth...and I'm afraid...afraid of losing my youth...but I'm also elated that I am young...I don't know what I think about strip clubs (not that I FREQUENT them, but I will admit that I visited one for the purposes of the ceremonial BACHELOR PARTY_...part of me wants to write off all the girls that work there because of their chosen occupation (I mean who makes a voluntarily decision to let themselves become an object...less than human?)..except I have always given EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt, and I'm not sure if thats a bad quality or good quality, although I think in the end it will benefit me...but if you ask Linkin Park, "In the end it doesn't really matter." But it does matter. In the end. Linkin Park is WRONG. Why? Because love never dies...that is, unless we kill it...Love, obviously doesn't give a shit about the obstacles before it, notably time and space....You can fall in love with someone that you have just met because of one thing that they say...or one way that they look at you...or one way that they touch you...I truly believe it...You can fall in love with someone just as you realize that in the next moment...this person will no longer be there for you to talk to and to touch...but you will still love them...even when they're gone...and you will still get that funny feeling every time you hear that song that reminds you of them...even if it was just for a few days and may have been one-sided...you can fall in love with someone who you are dancing with at a wedding...who you never met before the first time you danced...and who you will barely get to know and probably never see again...you can connect with someone just by touching their hand and feeling them touch back...reciprocal...recipricol kinda but not exactly like the way the way two people look at each other as they stand together at the altar...this was the first time I really paid attention...almost made me burst into tears in the middle of the ceremony...oh, and the way she looked...in her eyes...as she walked down the aisle...so much love...God?...although I feel depressed right now, I'm really not...my mind is just trying to process all this new emotion...emotion that it never felt before this weekend...New emotion? If that doesn't prove the existence of some sort of higher power, I don't know what does. If all the framework of consciousness is simply explained by neuroscience, how do you exlpain feeling a new emotion?...new emotion...it makes me feel alive...makes me feel excited for the next moment...cause even the next moment could bring yet another new emotion...I made several new friends this weekend...just guys that are living life...having the same types of thoughts/experiences that I am...loving life as much as I am...laughing at life as much as I am...If I can give any advice right now it would be that you should laugh at life more often...sometimes thats all you can do...laugh...often recently I've been so happy about being in the moment that I was in that I just couldn't stop laughing...nothing was funny, though...it was just beautiflul...like dancing after the wedding...and drunken karaoke after the wedding...(by the way, listen to more country...Its a good reminder that sometimes the best things in live are not complex at all...they are actually as simple as getting a beer with friends...ore those little moments that Brad Paisley sings about in "Little Moments" I, too, live for those little moments)...or getting stoned with oliver in my car in my sketchy parking garage a couple weeks ago...or getting drunk with my cousins for the first time ever (at a family reunion!)...or sitting in a ghetto apartment in Estacada playing caps with O, Drew, and Kinley...or watching Nate on stage at his bachelor party...with 4 naked girls giving him lap dances and riding on his back as he around the stage...or making a fool of myself at the wedding reception...on the dancefloor..and seeing the looks on the faces of the friends who never knew this side of me...time and space and love...when are they going to come together for me? ever?...appreciate your up's cause there's gonna be downs...appreciate your downs...cause there's gonna be up's...as Modest Mouse would say, "well we'll float on there's good news on the way...and we'll all float on alright...don't worry, even if things end up a bit heavy...we'll all float on alright."....love that song right now....I'm so eager to float on...to experience...to love...ok, I'm done...for now...l

I want to fall in love. But I know its going to happen...just don't know when. I'm not depressed...just impatient. But we all float on. Float on.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The calm before the proverbial storm (Why does that thunder sound like wedding bells?!?)

So I'm about to leave for Bozeman. Actually, in that Bozeman is 752 miles from here (according to Mapquest), I'm gonna break the trip up a little, and the first stop will be Walla Walla. Its a little out of the way, but it takes about 3 hours off tomorrow's drive. In case you don't know Bozeman happens to be the site of my buddy Nate's wedding. He is the first of any of my buddies to tie the knot, and this will be the first wedding that I am voluntarily attending. I'm pretty sure I'm about to lose my mind, and I feel eerily like I'm in the midst of the calm before the mental storm that will inevitably ensue once it fully sinks in that Nate, uninhibited and almost overly wild in high school so much as to the point of being arrested for vandalism, is "settling down" FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. Actually, writing that just now made it sink in a little more. But I still have a long way to go. A LONG way.

Marriage is insane. I can't even wrap my mind around it right now, which is why I'm know I'm no where close to ready for it. Then again, perhaps if I was in a relationship, I would be putting more thought into it at this point. But I'm not, fortunately (or unfortunately) so marriage hasn't been a source of much thought. However, now that I will be force-feeding marriage-related stimuli into my brain over the next three or four days, I'm sure I'll have to think about it. Cause I HAVE to think about everything that happens to me, whether I want to or not. Not just think, but dissect. I have to break everything into components, and examine each component from all angles. Very scientific. (Hmmmm, I wonder if I think that way because I've been trained to do so by my area of study, or if I was drawn to that particular area of study because of the way I inherently think. Interesting though, I don't think I've ever had it before....) But right now, I'm calm. And I'm going to Walla Walla tonight, and things , as they are now, in my mind, will be complicated only in that I will have people to hang out with. Perhaps I will tap their brains for their thoughts on marriage. The storm starts tomorrow evening, when I arrive in Bozeman and dive immediately into the obligatory bachelor party (Oh my God,I can't believe I'm going to a bachelor party tomorrow night!) And the storm will probably not end for a few weeks, or maybe a month...but I'm ok with that. Its just my neurons making connections, and I'm all about that.

I've decided that I'm going to try to keep a written diary...short entries that record my random thoughts pertaining to various stages of the drawn out process that is a wedding. By the way, the wedding is on saturday. As I said, thursday is the bachelor party, and friday is the reception dinner ("Open bar, dude!"--Farva). I'm going to publish the diary on this here blog, either in installments or all at once when I get back. So, get ready. I'm gonna go drive. So it goes.

NOTE: This was written on July 14, but not published...because blogger was having issues. The written diary thing didn't work, simply because once I realized the magnitude fo the experience I was in for this weekend, I realized that I couldn't take away from it by attempting to keep a log. I just needed to sit back and experience. There would be plenty of time to reflect...and I wouldn't forget the important moments. Besides, as soon as you try to observe something from a scientific standpoint, you disturb it. Its the age-old problem with science (I'm actually probably going to write a post about this sometime). You seek out certain observations instead of entering a situation with no expectations (not that you don't expect it to be a good experience, just that you don't expect that it will make you feel a certain way, or that it will happen a certain way), and just letting it happen, and letting it make you feel. This way you leave room for a new emotion.

NOTE; The previous NOTE was written immediately after the "brace yourselves" post.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Things I enjoy at the moment...

The glass is half full. This is an optimistic post. These are the things about my present life that I enjoy...the things that, when I think about, I find myself involuntarily smiling.

1.) I REALLY enjoy people watching in the city, as I've said before, specifically on public transit. I especially enjoy the people who are listening to their headphones and nodding their heads to the beat. These people don't care that they look kind of idiotic in that nobody else can hear a beat, and thus are NOT nodding their heads. I admire that.
2.) I enjoy the fact that the majority of my day, working in a research lab, is comprised of wasting time on the internet (which is what I'm doing right now). Incidentally, my grad student "mentor" is sitting behind me at his cubicle, and has been watching (and laughing at) Strong bad emails for the last half an hour.
3.) Speaking of Strong Bad, I enjoy HomestarRunner.com, and Yetisports online games, and I highly recommend both sites if you're in the business of wasting time.
4.)I enjoy reading the Sports Guy. I wholeheartedly agree with Krishna when he called him "just what the doctor ordered."
5.) I truly enjoy the summer TKE listserve banter. How did the world get by without listserves?
6.) I enjoy working in a biomedical science nerd's heaven. If you too are a science nerd, you understand why. And if you're not a science nerd, just replace science with whatever kind of nerd you might be. For example, SLS, imagine working in a place full of Dickens nerds. I'm with "my people."
7.) I enjoy Blockbuster's "Unlimited Movie Rental Pass"...unlimited rentals for a month (you can have 2 out at a time, with NO LATE FEES), all for $24.99! I enjoy that Oregon has no sales tax.
8.) I enjoy the fact that I can draw so much enjoyment from sitting on a hard kitchen floor with three other people playing doubles caps (which somehow I've gotten MUCH worse at recently...) for 3 hours, like I did last night in Estacada, OR...I even kinda enjoyed waking up good and hungover at 8am, and driving my ass back to P-Town so I could come here and "work." I enjoy(ed) Anchorman last night as well, although I understand if you don't.
9.) I enjoy that I got a 26 on my first practice MCAT last saturday. With a month left before the actual test...my goal is to add 2 points to each of my sections...which would give me a 32. Don't worry about how the MCAT is scored...a 32 would be awesome.
10.) Speaking of which, I enjoy the fact that I am more confident about my potential career path than I have been since I graduated from high school. You never know with me, however...Like, next week I could be saying I'm going into the Seminary. Actually, scratch that, I can put a gaurantee stamp on that not happening. Like, next week I could be saying I want to go into...um...public bus driving...?
11.) I enjoy the anticipation for my trip to Bozeman, which I will embark upon on thursday. One of my buddies from high school is getting married. This will be my first "friend wedding" and I'm probably going to freak out about it and maybe lose my mind, but I'm looking forward to that. Losing your mind is ok, because when/if you regain it, you will be in a better place than you were originally. Its kinda like when you break a bone and when it heals it becomes stronger than it was before the break. That point has been reinforced for me this summer. Several times. Regardless, you (three?) readers can look forward to a post recounting my experience.
12.) I enjoy my newfound appreciation for Radiohead...although I don't quite understand it. Actually, come to think of it I think it is a product of my also newfound appreciation for listening more closely to the music of a song--not just the lyrics.
13.) Finally, in case you haven't noticed, I enjoy blogging. Although, it might ruin me.

Anyway, maybe I'll make a post sometime about things that I DO NOT enjoy, which might touch on such things as the disaster that is my beloved Seattle Mariners, lonliness, and the fact that I'm broke. But that will be another time, because I'm in a good mood today, and this, as I said, is an optimistic post. And everyone can use a little optimism. So it goes.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Boozer is a bitch, and the Cavs are stupid. Which one is worse?

This is why I can't stand professional sports sometimes. Obviously, pro sports could not exist without money. And, since these athletes have such amazing physical gifts, it is only natural that millions of "average" people are willing to throw down their money to buy tickets, purchase apparell, and watch games on TV. Millions of fans means millions and millions of dollars. Where does the money go? Well, yes, it should go to the athletes....

But money fucks up the entertainment value. Team loyalty? Forget about it, players are going to go where the money is. Do they worry about the fact that their enormous contracts might actually hinder their chances of ever reaching the championship level, since now their team can't really afford anyone else? Pay-Rod didn't. But don't even get me started on that guy. Once my favorite player while in Seattle, now my most despised FUCKING Yankee.

Now Carlos Boozer, a young, up-and-coming, hard-working big man, previously on my list of respectable players, has gone and made a complete ass of himself And he's lost the respect of any true fan of sport. Hell, he's lost the respect of any true fan of keeping one's word.


You see, what he doesn't seem to realize is that Cleveland was giving him a huge nod when they "let" him out of the final year of his contract to become a restricted free agent. As a restricted free agent, the Cavs would have the match the offer of any other team, in order to retain him. But they hadn't planned on having to do that, because he had verbally agreed to re-sign with the Cavs. They didn't pick up their option for his final year, because he has become rapidly worth much more than his $695,000/year salary (hard to believe anyone who plays a game for a living should "worth" more than that, but its all relative). They wanted to pay him more, as they (and, I'm sure, he) believed he deserved more. They let him go because he "agreed" he would sign a 6 year deal worth $40 million. This was very noble of the Cavs, but plain stupid. DO NOT PUT ONE OF THE CORNERSTONES OF THE FUTURE OF YOUR FRANCHISE OUT IN THE OPEN! God Damn! I should be the fucking GM. If I was GM, we would most definitely have our big man next year. Why not KEEP him under contract, and then move to negotiate a lucrative long term deal? Sure enough, as soon as Carlos hit the free agent market, other teams started offering him much more than the Cavs could match. Money fucking talks, I guess. Now Boozer will be a member of the Utah Jazz, as he has a agreed to a 6 year deal worth a whopping $68 million. And the Cavs are just shit outta luck, cause there is no way in hell they can match that offer sheet. I'm not even a Cavs fan and I'm pissed. So stupid.

Don't blame the Jazz, they're just trying to win. And they just made themselves a MUCH better team with the addition of Boozer. Cleveland screwed up, yes...but by screwing up I mean they decided to believe the word of their young star. And why shouldn't they believe him? They gave him his NBA chance by drafting him. They developed him into the $68 million dollar player is today. They were just trying to be nice. But in a business where numbers like $68 million are commonplace, you can't be too nice. Just ask Carlos...who, in the process of moving to beautiful Salt Lake City has walked away the opportunity of playing with the heir to Air. And don't think Lebron's gonna forget this one, Carlos. Way to go, man.

Three blocks with Jeff

Wouldn't you know it. Just when I mention the rarity a certain occurance, namely, a random person approaching a fellow random person and initiating a conversation with,"So, tell me about yourself.", it sure enough happens to me! Well, I guess those EXACT words weren't said, but this still qualifies:

I am walking to my bus stop this morning and this guy (later I found out his name was Jeff), who happens to be walking in front of me turns around in response a startling noise which was behind both of us, and, for whatever reason, I catch his attention. Apparently he notices I am chewing gum.

"Hey man, you got anymore of that special gum?"
My natural (societal?) reaction was to be a bit startled.
Special gum? I hope he just wants a piece of gum, that won't be too hard. I'll give him a piece of gum and he'll be on his way.. As I had just opened a new pack of Wrigley's Doublemint, the answer was:
"Yeah, do you want a piece?"

"Sure man, anything to keep my lips from smackin'."

Hmmm...Not quite sure what that means...But I give him a piece, and we start walking together down Columbia St. To everyone else, we probably look like old pals.

Jeff, if you need a visual, is about 6'2'' or 6'3'', African-American man wearing sunglasses, probably in his late early to mid 40's. Before I know it we are in conversation.

"I've been looking for a job, today, my man."
Oh,Tight. I'm having one of those random meetings I wrote about the other day! Oh, ok...I should respond.

"Oh yeah, how's that going?"

"Well, the job market here in town is pretty slim. Its a struggle. Do you know how difficult it is to have to worry about finding a job and secure housing?"

No, I don't know how difficult it is at all, as I am a wealthy white kid who has been priveledged all his life and thinks he has it tough this summer because he is living "alone" and has a "boring" research internship.

So I answer, honestly, "Well, I can imagine."

"What's your name, my man? My name's Jeff."

"I'm Mike." Do I offer my hand to shake? Before I started college, I was one who would always wait to shake someone's hand until they initiated the handshake. A handshake is a big deal. Its the next step in a relationship after casual small talk...but its a rather large step. I've observed enough meetings, and been offered enough hands to shake to know what situations warrent a handshake. And this one most definitely did. So I put my hand out, accompanied by a confident, "Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too!"--Jeff replies enthusiastically. I am happy that I have shaken his hand.

He asks me where I was from, and I tell him, and I tell him that I am just here for the summer. Where am I headed, he asks. I'm walking to PSU, where I'll catch a bus up the hill to OHSU, I say, because I have a research internship up there.

"Oh really! Well thats great, young man. I only went to half a year of college myself...then I went into the Navy.

This guy has had a much harder life than I have, and he's still struggling. I want to know his story. I wish I could help him. Wait, I did help him. I gave him a piece of gum.

Suddenly, Jeff gets on his soapbox. I can appreciate the soapbox...I do that a lot too (you probably noticed this from my posts...but what is a blog if it isn't just an online soapbox?)

"You know, there is so much conflict in this world. I've had a lot of Christianity in my life (oh no, is he going to...I really hope he doesn't...) And in reading I've come across the word "ethnos" a lot, which is the Greek word for a different race. It's where we get the word ethnic group or ethnicity. There is too much ethnic conflict in the world, man. So many people in this world want to put down people that are different from them. They are afraid of difference. There's too much racism in the world, man."
Wow, this guy did a 180 from where I thought he was going...From his first few soapbox words, I thought he was going to start preaching. Instead, he has just reinforced something that I've been struggling with for a long time. How can some people call themselves Christian and at the same time be so intolerant of people who are different them? Wait...why is he telling me this? Why the racism bit? I'll have to ponder that on the bus on the way to work.

We apprached to the 10th Ave intersection, at which he had to go left, and I had to go right. I didn't necessarily want to leave Jeff's company, as I was confident that we could have had a very extended conversation about the problems with humanity, but sometimes time and space just don't agree for very long. How many times do you meet someone in one insant, make an connection in the next instant, and then part ways in the instant after that? Time and space sometimes only come together for an instant or two. You just have to take all you can from those instants, I guess. Maybe its easier to do this if you enter into every relationship as if it will only last an instant.

"Alright man, I have to make a turn here. It was nice to meet you, and have a good day, my man."

"You too."

Then I pondered our conversation on the bus...like I had decided. I was especially intrigued by Jeff's racism speech. What was the motivation?

Maybe its because he didn't expect me to be so forthcoming with my gum, and my conversation, and my handshake. Maybe he was impressed? Obviously he sees a major probablem in this world, in racism, and he's no doubt had personal experience. I could have just as easily have been someone who was startled by a big black man asking for a piece gum, and chosen to ignore him altogether. He's probably had multiple experiences along those lines. Why else would he feel so compelled to communicate his concerns to a young punk he just met on the street? Perhaps he knew that I saw the same problems that he did, and he recognized someone that he could recruit to his lifelong fight against it? I don't know. I won't ever know, as most likely I'll never see Jeff again. But he has become part of my memory(and this blog), and has thus impacted my life. And it was a positive impact.

In a recent post, I mentioned the importance of all relationships, even 10 minute relationships. Well, add three-block relationships to that list.





Thursday, July 08, 2004

Response to SLS

I'm in the mood for a philisophical debate with Scribbs, whom you all might now as the author of The Success Blog. Now, I realize that I'm a science major, up against a humanities (english) major, and I know that SLS can be pretty damn philisophical...smart philisophical...enough to gotten me to say, "Damn, I've never thought of it that way," on more than one occasion. So I'm fully prepared to get my ass kicked. But I feel I've done a lot of quality thinking over the last year and half, and I'm up for the challenge. So it goes.

Story is, "Scribbs," (I've also called him SLS, if your confused) and I had an interesting little IM conversation the other night in which we discussed two different ways that people generally listen to music, and he wrote about it in a Recent Post. I alluded to it as well, in my Previous Post following my glorious reunion with running, to which SLS commented, stating: (This is just part of the comment, I actually recommend reading the entire post)

"I disagree, about the two kinds of people that you say are simply people who "fail to recognize or decide not to recognize the value of either the lyrics or the music". I can't speak for you, but as for me, I do recognize the value of lyrics (which are, for me, not my thing). My point, is that while I recognize the value of lyrics when I actually hear them and internalize them, this is not something that I initially and instinctively do. I cannot change that, because it isn't concious. I place no greater "value" on music than on lyrics; rather, I simply do not naturally "hear" the words of a song. It just doesn't register. "

Here is MY question: Who is to say that there are not other areas of your consiousness that you haven't reached yet, but are reachable by training yourself to think in ways that you are not used to thinking? Take learning another langauge. A lot of the meanings and ideas conveyed in other langauages could never be directly translated in English. Perhaps this means that there are other ways to think that we are unaware of unless we are fluent in another language. Fluent, as in flawlessly able to transition between two languages during one conversation...even mid-sentence, like my mother can do in Spanish and English. Anyway, these other ways to think would inevitably allow us to be consious of things that we never realized our minds were capable of being consious of. My point is that although I like your explanation using the subconsious aspect, it is simply under our current mode of thought to believe that we will never be consious what what we call our "subconsious." But, you can train yourself to think in a different way, just as you train yourself to do physical tasks. You are CHANGING your brain when you learn to do physical tasks. You are CHANGING your brain when learn to listen to the lyrics and music equally. Synaptic Plasticity. You still are just as conscious of the lyrics as you ever have been, but now your SIMULTANEOUSLY more consious to the music. At this instant, you may not think you are capable of that, but how do you know? Maybe your "sub" conscious is merely something waiting to be found in the depths of your consciousness. Its always been there, in your mind, but only in experience can you learn to recognize it. There will always be subconscious, but I think our conscious minds are capable of becoming conscious of our subconscious. My my opinion is very much fueld by my knowledge of neuroscience. It just makes sense to me, even scientifically, that our minds are capable, on their own, of so much more than most people ever will realize. Have faith in the ability of your brain to expand your consciousness. It has the biological and physical tools to do so.

Our consiousness is merely our personal archetype of consiousness. Archetypes have been replaced before, haven't they?



Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The joy of running and "So, tell me about yourself."

I went for a run today. Now, this is of more significance than you might originally think. Running and I have kind of been on the outs lately. After 7 seasons of competitive running, it was beginning to get old. I realized that I didn't like running as much as I had once liked running, and I decided that running and I needed to take a break. A separation. But, as they say, sometimes a separation can be the best thing that ever happens to a relationship. Today I realized that I missed running. So I went for a half an hour jaunt through hilly NW Portland. The weather was great...not too hot, but sunny enough for me to take my shirt of and show off how ripped out of my gourd I am (not). Once I hit my stride I suddenly remembered why I like to run. Running by one's self is like driving solo (which I reflected on in my last post). Nobody/Nothing else can dictate your thoughts. You're alone with yourself and your thoughts, while at the same time accomplishing something, defeating something. Not only are you overcoming the boundaries of space, but you also can defeat your physical body at times pleading with you to "Stop!" Mind over matter. What is more (at least for me), the constant pressure of the physical strain somehow allows me to simplify my some of my thoughts that are too chaotic, and I can better sort them out. Again, an example of how physical health contributes so much to mental health. Every time I realize that it also becomes clearer to me how much I could positively affect the lives of others as a physician. Better crack down on my MCAT studying...

So, in conclusion (of the intro): Don't write off running just because of the general (mis)conception that "running sucks." Give it a try, especially if you could use a quick mental health boost.

So here are some of the thoughts that have been zipping around in my head recently:

The most amazing thing about the city is the large variety of people I see, even if its only in passing, each day, on the bus, at work, and just walking around downtown. I am amazed by my own individuality, which I have only begun to realize in the last few years, and this amazement makes me immensely curious about the individualities of others. I know that there is so much to me, so much to my everyday thoughts and consciousness, that 99.99% of people in the world will ever know about. Of course, there are probably some things that NO ONE will ever know about, but there is a lot about me that even casual acquaintances know. But I see people every day that I will never see again in my life. I will never know anything about them. Each person has a unique story, just the same as I do. I want to know their stories. Maybe one of those people has something within them that, if communicated to me, would change my life for the better. I'll never know, for the most part. Other people have always been my greatest resource, in terms of providing me with new ways to think, and new things to think about. I just want to tap everyone's mind, and share with them mine. Sometimes people meet their "soulmates" by some random/accidental meeting. I think about that a lot.

Most people would think I was weird if I just walked up to them and said, "So, tell me about yourself." Hell, I'd be alarmed if someone did that to me. I think that sucks. Why are we so possessive of ourselves? Is it society? Human nature? Both? I'm guilty of it too, like I said. But, if I think about it, I realize that in sharing something of myself, its not like I'm going to lose what I just shared. In fact, it might become even more a part of myself, as I see the appreciation (or lack thereof) that another has for it. This is why I like blogging. Writing posts like this one gives me a chance to share something that is within me with a few people who happen to visit my blog. Reading other blogs gives me a glimpse into the minds of other people, giving me new perspectives, new tools with which to build my perception of the world.

You may have noticed that I'm obsessed with the notion of perception, and that the world is only (and only can be) what we perceive it to be. Thus, I believe you can modify your perception by gaining perspective. A perspective is different way of perceiving, and this can only come from another person's communication of their perspective, whether it through the use of spoken language, written language, touch, music, or any other form of communication that I haven't mentioned. By the way, if have any other forms of communication you would like to remind me of, post a comment. I'm really interested in communication at the moment. Communication is key. That is, unless you're completely satisfied with all of your personal archetypes.

Speaking of communication through music, I realized last night, after a conversation with the author of The Success Blog, that I am almost completely a lyric person. By the way, I started the conversation, and I wouldn't want to think The Success Blog is taking all the credit for the insight in one of his most recent posts. The post, which you may have read, is entitled Two Types of People. Now, I can use this to add to my point in the last paragraph. There are NOT two types of people, in my opinion. Its just that one group fails to recognize or decides not to recognize the value of either the lyrics or the music, depending which element that they prefer to direct their focus. Its an archetype thing again. I think one could train himself/herself to focus more on, for example, the lyrics, just as much as he or she focuses on the music. He or she has the ability to learn to think differently about the music to which they listen. Thus, I have challenged myself, in my music listening, to concentrate more than I have before on the actual music. I gained a new perspective, a new way to think, last night from SLS, and I am thankful for it. He helped me to realize that music itself can be a form of communication, however open-ended. Intrinsic in its open-endedness is its ability to say things that are perhaps more profound than any lyric ever could.


My fascination with perception stems at least partly from the fact that I am also fascinated with neuroscience, especially right now, as I am working in a behavioral neuroscience lab. My lab studies the neurobiological substrates that lead to drug addiction, which is interesting all in its own, but I'm not going to write about that in this post, maybe later. I just want to share with you my fascination of neuroscience. I think everybody should at least have an idea of how their brain is working to produce what is known as consciousness and...perception. And, wrap your head around this: The study of neuroscience is simply using our brains to study our brains.

So it goes.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Weekend Ramblings: Red, White and Blue Edition

I went to Walla Walla this weekend.

I was sick of sitting around here...in a city by myself (virtually). I've learned rather quickly how strange it is to be in a city by yourself. The city moves too fast sometimes, and there are too many people, all of whom seem to know exactly what is going on, and where they're going, leaving me as the only one who never really has a FUCKING clue what is happening. I bet I look like a deer in headlights when I'm sitting on the bus and when I'm walking around downtown. Maybe not so much anymore, as I've gotten somewhat used to it. I've adapted, I guess. Its crazy how I never give myself enough credit. I never believe that I'm capable of adapting, even though I always do. I always find myself in a new situation and get flustered...which causes me to lose (at some level) my ability to think rationally, and I feel as though I'd be better off if I just ran away...if I just quit..and went back to something that is more comfortable to me...more familiar. You know that feeling when you just start a new job and you have no fucking clue what is going on, and all the other employees know each other, and they know how to do everything? I hate that shit. Its that shit that causes me to lose all self-confidence. Thats how I felt when I first got to Portland. I was terrified. I've grown a lot in recent years though. I know (and am frigtened by the fact) that when I was younger I would have quit so many things, run away from so many potential relationships, and missed out on so many wonderful opportunities if my mom hadn't been there to make me go...to drive me there and drop me off with the words, "You're going do do this, whether you want to right now or not. You'll thank me later." In fact, she's the reason I ended up at Whitman. I was sick of going to new places, dealing with new people and taking repetitive college tours. I wanted to quit...call it good. I thought I had it figured out. But I hadn't stayed overnight at Whitman yet. She made me go...I would have been a Richmond Spider. Something tells me that would have been bad news. Where you go to college is in many cases a huge determinant in how one decides to percieve the world and his/her fellow human beings. I know it has been for me. I'm scared of the Mike who, in some alternate dimension, decided to go to college in Richmond, Virginia, instead of Walla Walla, Washington. Do you think such a dimension exists? Maybe it doesn't matter...I don't know how many times people have told me not to speculate on "what might have been," but sometimes I just can't help it.

I really had a lot of fun this weekend, and I strenghtened several growing relationships, which I'm most excited about. And to think that I, naturally, was hesitant...hesitant over the whole social comfort zone thing that I was just alluding to. And it did take a little convincing (not from my mom, this time, though), but I went...because I knew if I didn't I'd regret it. And it was probably the best weekend I'd had all summer.

Long, solo drives are underrated. They give you chance to put in your favorite CD's (of all time, or of the moment), and get lost in the blissful monotony of the road, and appreciate the elaborate scenic transitions. Walla Walla to Portland, for example is a very interesting drive. Notable is the extremely stark contrast between the almost desert-like geography in eastern Washington and Oregon (by the way, why the hell ANYONE would want to live in Umatilla, OR is way beyond me.) and the lush, very green hillsides of western Oregon and the Portland area. The one constant is the strikingly wide, soothingly-slow moving Columbia River. Also notable is the tree farm on I-82 ( I think). I like to look between the rows of trees because to the human eye they look never-ending. I think it would be tight to just walk down one of the rows. Pretty soon I bet I wouldn't even be able to hear the sounds of the Interstate.

Being in Walla Walla during the summer is somwhat surreal. Whitman is in hibernation. The TKE house is dark and locked up. Surprisingly, not depressing, just surreal. In a month and a half that place is going to be once again full of life...its good that it rests. Croquet and Volleyball on an empty Ankeny field was fun though. We had the whole campus to ourselves.

In my downtime at the Barn, I played some NES (yes, the original). I believe its good for the soul to play NES...simply because it brings me back to my childhood so quickly. But, I pose the question: What the fuck is up with Super Mario Bros 2? I mean I realize that the premise of all the Mario games, in which the a fat, mustached, red-overall wearing plumber who jumps on turtle/duck hybrids is insanity in itself, but Mario 2 is supremely screwed up. Mario 3 at least follows the same general format as Mario 1, all while being a very impressive upgrade. But Mario 2 makes absolutely NO sense. There are no time limits (as in the other 2), getting coins is absolutely irrelevant, and eating cherries does NOTHING to help your cause. Seriously, why waste time programming the cherries? Not to mention the bosses: Weird, pinkish looking lizards that shoot eggs at you. Where are the koopas? And after you kill the bosses, you clime into a hawks mouth. Where are the castles? And theres this weird, alternate shadow dimension that you enter when you throw a bottle of potion down on the ground and it transforms into a door. And suddenly you have a choice of characters? NOBODY wants to play with Toadstool! And the Princess? Are you kidding me? This NOT fucking Mariokart or Mario Tennis. This is Super Mario Bros, which means the characters should be the brothers Mario and Luigi....and no one else. Its simply inexplicable.

I read an intersting post on The Success Blog (link is on sidebar) which briefly reflected on the notion that the best things in life are not found...they find you. I don't know if that's entirely true. Pleasant surprises aside, if you don't put yourself in position to be found, you won't be. And in the case of people, I think its reciprocal. Two people postion themselves to be found...and they hope. Through love, they end up finding each other. Right now I'm positioning....and hoping.

Where are you?

Songs of the Moment:
Ratatat-El Pico
-Electronica...but brilliant...Like a musical story, fill in your own lyrics.

Radiohead-No Surprises
I find myself disagreeing with...but somehow identifying with Radiohead's lyrics. And the music is incredible.