Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'll find us a way to make light

You guys, I still can't find my camera charger. This means I really still need to clean up my trash heap apartment. Instead, I keep getting distracted by trying to catch up with the world. For example, until yesterday, I didn't know what the frak birthers were- I'm still not sure I understand, for that matter, but really until yesterday, I didn't even know the context of the term.

I've also been distracted by music, because I knew better than to start listening to too much new music while I was on my surgical rotation. That's a dangerous bit of business. Sometimes, if I find a new song I like, I have to listen to it about 200 times, nearly crashing my computer. I've always been this way- my brother thought I was completely mental in high school as I destroyed tapes, because Mr. Khosla, I would rewind it all the time. Worse yet, it wasn't enough to just have the music playing. No, I had to sit there, nearly catatonic, absorbing the song for the 70th, 80th, eleventy-billionth time. That would not have gone over well on my surgical rotation- though there were still a few I'm-dead-tired-and-about-to-hit-a-wall moments when I set iTunes on random and said hello to a bunch of old friends.

Anyhow, now I'm kind of overdosing as a result. After swallowing whole the entirety of the new Goldspot album (which really is excellent and deserves a post all of its own) and the new Cornershop album, I have become fixated on two songs. One is not a very good song, the other is absolutely breathtaking.

The first is Pearl Jam's The Fixer which I've posted for your listening pleasure. Which is funny, because this is the song that I don't think is that good of a song. It's not a bad song, but it's not on par with Pearl Jam's gloried past. But the lyrics to this song really got me thinking this week. I've already had a few email exchanges about it. Most music, most films, most everything these days, truly, are about letting go. Even I, who used to be so in need of anchors and chemical bonds, have become comfortable with entropy and floating around without any restraints. At first, I thought this was just the nature of getting older, but lately, I've been thinking that it's more of a cultural shift, some sort of sign of the times.

And while I think that it's important to be present, to not dwell too much on the past or the future, there's something to be said for the lyrics to this song. I've thought about it specifically because I think that's what I found rather seductive about surgery. I don't think I'm ultimately cut out to do it for a living (punny!), but there's something so tempting about the simplicity of it (a surgeon somewhere is sharpening their scalpel and aiming it for my jugular right now for daring to call surgery in any way simple). There is something undeniably satisfying about it- cut out a tumor, cancer gone, thank you, come again. I know it's rarely quite that simple, but surgery lures you in with that possibility.

I suppose the lyrics to The Fixer are similarly seductive-
when something's dark, let me shed a little light on it
when something's cold, let me put a little fire on it
if something's old, I wanna put a bit of shine on it
when something's gone, I wanna fight to get it back again

I know, I know. I know the song is a mirage. I know it doesn't quite work this way. And I guess that's why I'll never be a surgeon, because I can't, at the end of it all, buy into the simplicity. I know it's not as straightforward as all that. Usually, if you're talking of letting go, if you've lost something, it was meant to leave or it's gone such that there's not much you can do to get it back again. You're just clawing at empty space, and wasting a lot of energy in the process, more often than not. It's odd. I think I've only got that fire for myself these days- I don't like the feeling that pieces of me are falling away. I will fight to get it back again, to get back those pieces of me that I did not want to lose. Like the part of me that can turn into a zombie because she happened upon some silly song.

The other song is Grizzly Bear's Two Weeks, which, I don't know what to say about it exactly. If you've listened to it a bunch of times, perhaps it's grabbed you like it did me. I mean, it has this to recommend it:
Would you always...
maybe sometimes...
make it easy,
take your time.

I love the unfinished thoughts, how much is left unsaid and unresolved. I know dysfunctional relationships are horrid and unpleasant to experience, but holy Toledo, do they ever make for beautiful songs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

there goes the fear again

There's this heartbreaking line in 500 Days of Summer:

You weren't wrong, Tom. You were just wrong about me.

I have alternated between wanting and not wanting to see this movie. It's a strange little and large experience. I found myself laughing even though it should have hurt. After watching the film, AP wanted to catch up on all kinds of things that had nothing to do with the movie, and I found myself a little bitter about that. I just wanted to cling to the movie, hold onto the whole experience.

But then I concluded I didn't really need to cling to heartbreaking and heightened scenes from a movie. We all have those scenes from our own lives, and it seems that this movie just reminds us all of that. And it is funny and sad, just like the film is.

Honestly, I don't even want to write anything else about it. Let's see how it stands up with time, but right now, it feels to me nearly close to Before Sunset in terms of breathtaking familiarity.

(But do allow me to say that I knew this movie was going to sucker punch me when the protagonist karaoke'd The Pixies' Here Comes Your Man. That's as good as sending the Borg after me.)


Sort of related, sort of not. I have an extremely brief break but am trying to make the most of it. To that end, of course, I had to make some ice cream. When I've straightened out my apartment well enough to find the charger to my camera, I will document it, but there's a rather funny story associated with it. Well, it's funny to me. It might be disgusting to others.

I had decided to make peanut butter ice cream. I don't know exactly why, but I don't question these impulses anymore. I had put some half-and-half in a pot and started to heat it up. Scalding milk and heavy cream is the basic beginning to making the base for ice cream, at least the way I make it. The half-and-half had been in my refrigerator for 2 weeks but it was unopened and pasteurized, so I figured it was fine. Well, not so much. I started to boil it, and spontaneously, it just started to curdle. At first, I tried vigorously stirring the mixture, thinking I could get it homogeneous again (ha! What kind of Indian am I anyway?). Then I stopped and took stock. This was shaping up for FAIL of the major variety.

And then I laughed and stopped trying to make it work. I love you, Tim Gunn, but sometimes making it work involves embracing failure. So I let the mixture full-on curdle and then set it aside. I took out some fresh heavy cream and milk from the refrigerator and made the actual ice cream custard base while the curds cooled down off the stove. The peanut butter ice cream came out just as I would have liked- not too sweet, a little salty, a fair amount of peanut butter flavor.

Then I examined the curds, and decided, what the whey, and strained out the liquid. Then I dug up a recipe for chocolate ricotta cheese muffins, and made them. I ate one (okay, two) this morning to make sure this whole crackpot scheme did not involve any unwanted microorganisms causing problems. No issues. And the chocolate muffins came out moist and tender because of the curds. It wasn't what I had in mind when I had started the whole production, but that, ultimately, is part of the fun, isn't it?

Yes, indeed, I am looking forward to autumn.

Friday, August 14, 2009

it's not a miracle we needed

Luxuries at the moment include blogging this post, and the promise of properly washing my hair tomorrow morning- I could have indulged and washed my hair tonight, but frankly, I lack the energy such a task requires. Yes, I'm fully aware of how idiotic that statement is; doesn't make it any less the case.

I will write this because I used to, once upon a time, mention music more frequently than not, and eventually, the following will lead to the mention of music, I swear. This past week has been, well, the suck, let's call it. Probably the worst part of a med school rotation in surgery is that, as a student, you end up spending a lot of time standing, nervously trying not to break the sterile field, but unable to see or do much of anything. At such times, you are acutely aware that you could be doing other things with this time, like, I don't know- sleep, eat, study, go to the bathroom, shower. But, such is surgery.

Today, I was unfortunately scrubbed into an excruciatingly long surgery. The first week, when I was stuck scrubbed into these types of marathon boredom sessions, I used to get progressively impatient, noticing how tiring it is and starting to fixate on that Danny Glover quote "I'm getting too old for this sh*t." Probably moreso than any other specialty, it's seductively simple for me to latch onto that quote and use it as an excuse for all.

But then I have to remember that, were that the case, I wouldn't be here at all. Yes, it is a bit more physically demanding some time, but then I've never been a person who enjoyed standing around for hours on end and I've never been a person who could function on a minimal amount of sleep. I made do when I was younger, and I can make do now. It's just easier for me to fall into the trap of whining right now because it's fairly clear to me that I don't want to be a surgeon.

I don't know if this is a distinctly female thing, but I can only think to describe myself yesterday as being so tired that I was afraid I was going to burst into tears. Just from sheer exhaustion. Does that only happen to women? Better yet, does that only happen to weirdos? Regardless, I came home and decided that I couldn't have another day like that. There's no crying in baseball and all of that (no worries though, I did not cry at the hospital- on principle alone, I will not be driven to tears by surgeons). So today, I was actively thinking of ways to deal with the boredom.

The room was silent, which, as it turns out, was a blessing. Most people complain because this particular attending does not allow iPod's to be blasting music while he wields his scalpel. Usually, I would complain too, as one of the few joys for me the past few weeks has been analyzing various surgeons' playlists (I still have a soft spot in my heart for the dude who played most of the Pretty in Pink soundtrack and General Public's Tenderness). However, it means you are at the whim of someone else's tastes. Today's silence was a kind of a freedom.

I've already posted it here in the past, but I think Phoenix's 1901 has fueled me through 2009. Or, when I've worn it out a bit much, Lisztomania is just as useful. It reminds me of the year that The Killers first broke and I kept finding myself driving at unsafe speeds whenever their songs played on the radio. Phoenix is pretty much my Red Bull. There's something so hopeful and hopeless about the songs, but the music has this pulse and drive. These are songs of now, somehow. So, when I really can't take it, when I think I can't take another minute, I let the music get into my head and it just pushes me forward. No choice but to keep going, that's what the band seems to say. And at 3:30 in the morning, or when holding a suction tube for two hours, that's a message that needs to be heard.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

you're gonna send me, right back to the start

Allow me to apologize for the manic nature of these posts. And let me write up front that this post is mostly silly. I think some silliness is warranted right now, because the serious things can't be written about at the moment.

First, I've thought about writing about this post since the first time I saw this video some weeks back- I think I first got the link from A N N A. I'm sorry it's not embeddable, but I suspect that most people have seen this wedding entrance dance by now anyway. A couple of my classmates have since sent the link to me as well, with the requisite ZOMG! and squee!'s required of their generation.

Do I sound grouchy? I suppose I am a bit. I do think the video and the idea is super-cute. I think all weddings would probably be improved by such ceremonial flourishes. Only, I wonder- have all the viewers of this video never been to any Indian weddings? Have they never seen any Bollywood movies? Yeah, these guys danced down an aisle, sure. Indians dance all the way down the street on their way to the wedding.

I don't know, but I was just thinking that it's sort of funny that the West seems to have just discovered that dancing is not a crime, and may actually demonstrate an appropriate amount of joy at an event that is supposed to be celebratory.

I just realized I totally sound like Indian Uncle on Goodness Gracious Me who yelps out "INDIAN!" at everything.


Though I know it's rather unfortunate to celebrate a person's body of work after they've passed away, rather than while they were still alive, I think John Hughes is so imprinted on most children of the 80s that we very nearly take him for granted. What I think makes Hughes' movies so Hughes is not that they were so quoteable- though they often were- but that they have such personal significance. I know that probably seems stupid, given how light in substance some of the movies appear. But they meant something to me as a kid, and even now. I was having these thoughts when I heard about his passing away:

  • Even though the premise of Pretty in Pink is ridiculous on so many levels (and I'm not sure I'll ever understand how we're supposed to believe that Molly Ringwald ruining two perfectly decent dresses to create one of the ugliest dresses in film history is an indication of her character's talent), I've always been fond of it for a few reasons. First, the music, my goodness, the music. Second, I had a Duckie in college (he bore an uncanny resemblance as well). And even though Pretty in Pink never fully delved into it, I know how sweet and also how painful that can be.
  • Sometimes I think I was permanently scarred by Hughes' movies. For example, I think Some Kind of Wonderful might have destroyed me on par with Say Anything. The latter movie is destructive in that it leads people to believe that there might be a Lloyd Dobler out there (although some of my friends have met and married him, so keep hope alive!). The former is destructive because it leads people to believe that Watts' martyr-style devotion can lead to a happy ending. I don't care though. I love Watts. How many characters can get away with saying "you break his heart, I break your face"? Even if Watts hadn't strolled out into the fade to black wearing her best friend's future, she'd still be the person I'd rather be.
  • Probably my weirdest reaction to a Hughes movie was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. While so many of my friends were cuckoo for Ferris Bueller, when I saw the movie, my first instinct was to sympathize with his sister. I think this is because my brother was something of a Ferris Bueller. He wasn't really that popular in high school, but he was always the one getting away with all sorts of misbehavior. He could and can quite effortlessly charm people, and things just always come easier to him. So me, I could understand Jeanie's rage. And of course, I could relate to Cameron. My entire adolescence centered around worrying about getting in trouble, but then ultimately being dragged into doing something irresponsible.
  • Even though a part of me begrudgingly has to admit that I like Sixteen Candles, it was also the first movie that I saw and thought this is some effed up sh*t regarding racial stereotypes. I've had entire hourlong conversations with RR about Gedde Watanabe, and whether he feels a sense of self-loathing about that role or whether he just found it funny.
  • I came to realize that I was officially an adult/old due to a Hughes movie. While I still find the movie entertaining, The Breakfast Club now just seems like a bunch of overdramatic teenagers feeling sorry for themselves (with the exception of Bender- I now wonder why protective services never intervened on his behalf). But I'm not too old to remember that I did once think that it captured a lot of what it felt like to be in high school. I suppose it's a bit of a relief to find that high school really doesn't hold the same weight it once did. (on a side note, Don't You Forget About Me was my high school graduation song, which is sort of funny to me now because, um, I have forgotten. A lot.)

Anyway, as a tribute, I am also posting a song from Sixteen Candles that I've always liked, just to finish off the nostalgia overload.