January 24, 2012

Oh, the joy

I've always been a musical person.  I took piano lessons from the age of 3 until I graduated from high school; I sang in choir in middle school, taught piano lessons in high school, and took a leap into a cappella in college.  Strangely, though, I rarely fell in love with an artist or a band the way teenagers supposedly do, going crazy over new albums and spending all their hard-earned (barely-earned?) cash on concert tickets and posters and memorabilia.  Instead, I tended to listen to whatever came on the radio, with a preference for alternative stations but taking plenty of guilty pleasure in Top 40 hits and catchy-trashy Pop.

Recently, however, I've finally fallen into my own taste in music.  I'm sure it will change over time, it changes not only with my mood but also by season, by the timbre of my heart.  All of the music I've been listening to for about the last year or so has been similar: female vocalists, plenty of melodic development, narrative lyrics, varied harmonies, and rhythms that make me conduct an invisible band as I listen.

Specifically, these artists are playing in my headphones or at least in my head: Adele, Florence + the Machine, Ingrid Michaelson, Hem (a very new find: thanks, Pandora!), Regina Spektor, Sara Bareilles.

Ingrid Michaelson just came out with a new album, Human Again, today: As soon as I got an email saying that my preorder was ready, I couldn't wait to download it and listen.  Something about her songs make me want to close my eyes and let the narratives just wash over me; this album is no exception (I'm listening now!) and in many ways, it's her best so far.  The sound is different than before, more textured and developed with a larger cast of instruments.  In many ways, it feels like the perfect combination for my ears: a complex sound that appeals to my classical training (I'm always trying to anticipate the next chord change and they're not always obvious) but with the lyric and modern qualities of a good novel.  At the same time, it pulls on my heartstrings, it  strikes an emotional chord almost déjà entendu.  (I feel inspired: it makes me want to write, to draw, to paint, to create something myself.)

I wish I didn't have to spend tomorrow studying.  All I want to do is put on this album and absorb it, bask in it as I would the sun.

January 20, 2012

There's always something else

Things I did today:
-go to class
-play lots of Words with Friends
-go over 4 pharmacology lectures
-bake bread
-make supper
-drive in the snow, safely

Things I did not do today:
-cartwheels
-knit
-read a book for fun
-snack
-paint my nails
-watch TV

Things I still have to do today:
-study some pathology
-shower
-study more pathology
-sleep

January 18, 2012

SOPA

If you haven't heard anything about how the US government is trying to censor the internet, you should find out more by visiting this website.

If you prefer a more humorous approach to learning, Cracked did a great piece on SOPA, too.

You would think with all the other crap that the government could spend its time doing (oh, you know, fixing the economy, continuing to reform health care, polishing up the Bill of Rights by actually standing on the side of people's rights, finishing up wars that we've started, finding solutions or implementing measures to slow global warming, revising the food system, getting new and equally inefficient legislators elected, working to actually improve education in our country...surely they have enough on their plate?  Seems like a hell of a to-do list to me) they would be too busy to mess up something that already works just fine, like the internet.

Guess I was wrong.

January 12, 2012

Adapted for Flight

He is gaunt.
The skin of his face has wrinkled
exponentially, the grooves carved deeper
than they were before.
He is gaunt but
somehow, she tells me that he has put on weight.
It feels like he is still dying,
he has given up
on staying here with us.

He is cancer-free.
The nurses at the chemo center
gave him a certificate and everything,
it must be official.
He is cancer-free but
somehow, it does not feel like a victory.
It feels like a reprieve instead,
the battle won
but the war already a lost cause.

He is brittle.
The points of his spine press into my hands
and his shoulder blades are sharp
when I embrace him.
He is brittle and
somehow, he is already broken.
It feels like a portent,
his legs like chickens’,
thin hollow spindles ready to splinter.

January 2, 2012

100!

In elementary school, to mark the 100th day of school, everyone brought in 100 of some item.  One year, I brought in miniature oreos, vacuum-sealed by my father when he sucked the air out of a ziploc bag.  Another year, I brought in pennies.  Other kids brought in matchbox cars or bottle caps or candy that was then shared out to the class.

Looking back--I have no idea what the point was.  A math exercise?  Proof that we could count that high?  A free holiday for the teachers, since we did other silly things together with other classrooms and other grade levels?  The 100th day was not even a metric point in the year--our school years were around 180 days, so the 100th day of school generally fell just after school started up again in January.

100 posts, two years+.  Huzzah!

Triumph

Triumph is, as a noun, a victory or achievement.  As a verb, it means to achieve a victory or to be successful.  Above all, triumph implies an inherent obstacle, an adversary.

In many ways, last year felt as if it were loaded only with obstacles, with very few triumphs scattered throughout.  Obstacles seemed to crop up at every opportunity: school demands, depression, relationships, insecurities, family issues, diagnoses, tragedies.  But it would be untruthful and ungrateful to refuse to acknowledge the triumphs as well: love, friendship, fulfillment, service, success, reward for hard work and countless hours in the library, family, returning home.

To some degree, the year veered wildly from obstacle to success and back again.  My emotional weather vane seemed to pivot accordingly, swinging from mild-tempered to despair to the unadulterated high of pure desire.  I wish I could say that I have left those sea changes behind me, but instead I feel that this year will only promise more of the same.  Too many of the obstacles from last year still hold their tentacles on this year as well.  Grandpa's chemo beat back the cancer with a vengeance, but depression has robbed him of his sense of worth and a desire to live.  Boards loom like a specter of doom, hanging over my head until June 9th.  I have battled with my own myriad insecurities and I have no doubt that the fight will continue.  My relationships have shifted significantly in the last year, and the direction they will take this year is as much a mystery as they would have been had I tried to predict them a year ago.  My uncle's heart is in desperate need of exchange, and we have nothing to do but wait.

I believe in the power of thought, though--that what you think about becomes manifested in your life.  I want this year to hold true to its promises (promises that I confess I have extracted without mercy): to live meaningfully, to better my health, to earn my successes, to let go of fear, to be open, to be grateful, to humble myself, to reflect, to grow.

Here's a salute to the old year, and a welcome to the new.