Sunday, November 15, 2009

people try and hide the night

Sleeping is giving in, no matter what they tell us
Sleeping is giving in, so lift your heavy eyelids

You might think, from the way I post around here, that I've just been on surgery rotations for the whole of the past six months. Because it's the only time I seem to write about anything. For a while, this fact really bothered me in the sense of oh holy sh*tmonkeys, am I destined to become a surgeon, fml?!? But revisiting the OR this past week, I've become more aware of why I find myself writing about it.

First of all, there's the whole novelty of it. One of the things I've learned this past year is that the easier rotations are the ones you have no interest in doing for the rest of your career; strangeness makes sense. I treat all surgical endeavors like I am visiting the set of a movie or a distant planet or something similarly completely out of my sphere of reality.

Then, there's the fact that surgery is a magnet for ridiculous personalities. Perhaps that's why surgeries are so often the subject of fictionalizations of hospitals. All the characters are down there in their scrubs, equal parts bravado, brains, and eccentricities. You know what you're getting into with surgery. You don't expect kid gloves, you don't expect to be treated well, you don't expect forgiveness.

Then there's the simplicity of knowing what you can expect from surgery and surgeons. You expect to be worked to the bone, and you expect to be shamed, and you rise to that sort of humiliation because usually there is low-hanging, tangible fruit to grab to escape embarrassment. Surgeons may grumble about how you haven't memorized every artery or ligament, but if you can manage to tie a good knot, well, then you might be spared a complete flogging as a med student. Is it a good and useful way to educate? Not really. But it's predictable.

This song was randomly played in the OR this past week, but I was thinking of how apt it is. Surgeons are on this kind of crack; they convince themselves that rest is for the weak, a chance to cut is a chance to cure, and medical complexities are not worthy of their attention.

I mean, also this Arcade Fire song is independently an a$$ kicker. It's filled with mischief and energy, and as soon as it came on in the OR, I wanted to shout out, oh it's you, old friend! Like an old drinking buddy visiting from out of town reminding you of why you were always so fond of them. I heard it and was refueled for the rest of the very long day.

That's the difference, I guess. Internal Medicine, which is probably where my future lies, prompts me to want to pull out Billie Holiday and have a stiff drink- and that's a post for another time when I've a lot more capacity for introspection. With Surgery, I get a peppy Arcade Fire or Phoenix song, and convince myself all of this is so temporary, it will be gone before I have time to be completely exhausted by it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

but we didn't mind, we didn't know better

So I had wanted to write this whole thing about a Regina Spektor song. It had all started because I saw her perform very recently. Unfortunately, every time I sit down to write about it, the only thing that seems to come out is an unintelligible mess. Oh well, try, try again.

I’ve already beaten to death a (now) rather old Spektor song, Fidelity, but when I heard it live, it pretty much evoked the exact same reaction I had when I first heard it. The strangest things can happen at a good concert. Standing in a crowded theater with the lights down low, I was transported to a sunny block in Potrero Hill, big dumb grin on my face. A good, good friend, an evaporated one, one of the ghosts, introduced me to the song so many years ago. And as I listened to Spektor play it, I thought of how perfect it was and how sometimes people just get you. Sometimes, entirely unintentionally, but then again, it turns out that doesn’t really matter.

Here’s another Spektor song. Initially, I had wanted to write about Eet- it seemed a very appropriate song for a few friends who are going through rough patches at the moment. Only problem is that I just don’t feel that way at the moment. I don’t feel that time is fading or dulling things.

Once you get infected with love, it’s like a virus, that’s how I feel. It’s a virus that lays dormant, and you think you’re cured, and oh, next time it will all be so different. Then someone comes along, infection gets reactivated, and next thing you know you’re sprawled out on the ground, sick once more. And I suppose you could be sad about that, but Spektor does not appear to be, not in The Calculation, which seems to laugh at the sleepwalking that goes on in life and delights in the fire that ignites when there is an awakening.

It’s all rather absurd from a certain angle. Right after falling for someone, the arithmetic begins. Does it all add up? What is the ratio of good to bad? What can be subtracted? Can the feeling multiply exponentially? Or is the whole thing headed for long division? But you could pull out every polynomial and apply all the integrals, and none of it would give you an answer. Maybe the only thing mathematic that applies is infinity- it feels just that large and intangible, that real and unreal.

I suppose all of this applies to writing something down about this song. I could try to describe why it is a great song. I could try to explain what about hearing Spektor open with this song sold me on it. But it likely wouldn’t make any sense, not from outside my head. Still, people keep on singing love songs and trying to write about things they can’t fully articulate, don’t they?