Monday, April 26, 2010

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Apologies for not updating in . . . 10 days?! It's been a hectic 2 weeks or so. 3rd block of exams finished last week. Neurosci and physiology as brutal as ever. Cell & tissue biology as easy as ever. Home stretch! Thankfully we're on endocrinology now in physiology, perhaps my favorite of the subjects (and I hear the professor teaching it is really good too!).

Last Wednesday I called a meeting with the outgoing LGBTPM board and those interested in becoming the new board. Kat was, surprisingly, very happy and relieved that I "stepped up" as the new president of the group. She was more than content being the treasurer of the group. Two other M1's also showed up - I designated one of them as secretary and the other as community chair. Now, we need to haul ass and really improve the group for the next academic year.

Later on Wednesday I also went to a meeting with all the other outgoing and incoming presidents/co-presidents of all the student groups. Harry, my co-president for APAMSA, had the funniest expression when he found out I was going to be president of LGBTPM. It was like he couldn't suppress his laughter and disbelief as he asked, "Wow, how did they single you out to be president?" Needless to say it was amusing.

On Friday I played basketball with my roommate and some friends again. It's been years since I last played, so I sucked (then again, pretty much everyone but Harry and my roommate sucked). I was so sore the next day, but less so than when I played the week previous. After that, my roommate and I went out for sushi before going to Harry's apartment to play beer pong. Neither of us wanted to play, but we had nothing else to do.

Beer pong at Harry's was . . . a mistake of sorts. There were only 5 of us there total, 4 of which were Asian. Us 4 Asians basically downed 24 of 30 beer cans (since my roommate and I lost a lot, we drank the majority of the beer). I was drunk enough to get into my "depressive state" which I hate (this is why I avoid drinking much). There's a sweet tipsy zone where I'm rather silly, loud, and easy to laughter. But just a little bit more tips me over into drunkenness where I just get depressed. They were quite taken aback by my depression, despite my warnings hours in advance that it'd happen. Once I was sober enough (around 2am or so), I drove my roommate and myself home. The next morning, my roommate and I woke up with slight hangovers, grrr. It wasn't too bad, but enough to be annoying.

We saw Kick-Ass with a few friends. It was a pretty good movie, it was exactly what I expected it to be (though the plot was somewhat different than what I thought it'd be). The main actor was kind of cute, in a dorky kind of way. Now that I looked him up, the main actor, Aaron Johnson, is English. Wow, props to any actor/actress who's able to flawlessly speak in a different accent (like Hugh Laurie in House MD). That's skill right there, perhaps even talent.

And that brings us to today-ish. I have a couple meetings to run for various student groups this week. I have to look at the agenda I set forth in the emails again . . . I realize I have to send out numerous email volleys and be kind of a hard-line in order to really get people to do stuff in a timely manner. And I still have to re-read the grant and project report again (for the who-knows-how-many'th time) some time before the meeting I'm holding tomorrow.

Lastly, remember Online Guy #2 (Drew)? Well, I messaged him out of the blue on that dating site just to say hi and such, not expecting a reply or anything. Surprisingly, he responded back fairly quickly!! Needless to say, perhaps a small bit of hope is reignited. :-) Btw, I've determined a new "screening system" when looking at guys' profiles on that site: automatically screen out the theater/dance majors. There are so many of them and they're all so alike! Not what I'm looking for, sorry.

Anyway, long update is rather long. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. And now I sleep.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Overworked Bitch Goddess

Harry: My perfect [breast] size is C. Like a small-mid sized C. D's are just way too fukn big. Like "Holy cow, I can't even hug u big."

That quote's not related to anything, I just found it amusing how it came up while we gchat'd.
So I was chatting with Michelle earlier today, and it seems neither of her roommates like me. I honestly have no idea what I did to offend them, because I've barely interacted with either of them. Roommate #1 apparently thinks I have a "know it all" attitude and that I should never be allowed to have patient contact (and more than that, she thinks I shouldn't go into peds). And Roommate #2 has no respect for me and thinks I should never have gotten into med school. Again, I've barely had any interactions with either of them and I've been nothing but polite/cordial with my the vast majority of my classmates. Also, they've been pretty polite back to me in public. Ugh, why can't people just show their true intentions/feelings to my face instead of this "fake niceness?" Sigh, the drama. :-/

Later I was also chatting with Michelle's bf, Lee. After a while I told him that I may be working with Roommate #2 (who I'll call Kat) on the exec board of a student group (I'll get back to the issue with her later). He asked which student group and I told him the LGBT one. He was surprised (I don't blame him) but was very "whatever" about it, like he is about pretty much everything that's not poker or Starcraft 2, lol. We talked a bit about the severe lack of LGBT health issue awareness and training amongst med students, and here's what he had to say about that:

Lee: [Regarding LGBT health issues] No offense to some of our classmates, a lot of people could use the wake-up call. :-P

That's my sentiment exactly, hehe. We've had no training or even mention of LGBT health issues throughout all of M1 year thus far, and I don't expect we will. I've heard from the M2's that they cut out (or will be cutting out) a small group discussion/module that focused on LGBT stuff during our M2 year. What little education might remain will likely be lumped into the "Psychiatry" or "Behavioral Sciences" course, together with fetishes, pedophilia, etc (at least, that's how it used to be years ago, I don't know if it's still true today).

Lee also mentioned how he doesn't know anyone in our class who's openly "out" (little does he know, lol). But I put it into perspective: why would anyone come out in med school? The rather conservative atmosphere of med schools isn't conducive to one coming out, especially if there's the slightest chance that it'd negatively affect one's career down the road. Furthermore, once someone comes out, it no longer matters what else they are. For example, they'd become "the gay guy" and any other defining thing about that person is wiped clean. Who wants to be "that gay guy" anyway? No one.

So yeah, I do want to make the LGBT group more visible and more applicable to the student body, as I can almost guarantee all doctors will run into a LGBT patient at some point in his/her career. The question is: how? I have a few ideas, but I want to expand further - and that I don't know how.

The outgoing president pretty much did indeed designate me as the future president of that group, I just confirmed. The only thing is, Kat is also really interested in being involved in the group. She was telling Michelle earlier today that she feels like she's going to be the only one on the exec board and will single-handedly improve the LGBT group, she feels that strongly. Except, once Michelle told me some of her ideas, I noticed that they're almost all doomed to failure.

It's going to be rough working with Kat. She wants that leadership power, and I don't want to give it to her because she'll use it to dominate the rest of the exec board (all potentially 3 of us). Funny thing is that she doesn't know I've been designated as the president of the LGBT group, so she really thinks she's the only one. She'll also be the president of 2 other student groups, treasurer of 2 more student groups, and a chair for a student group. To add one more presidency to that list would make her implode with stress, especially M2 year (at least, it'd implode me). Michelle is rather fed up living with her, because everything has to go her way. If not, she apparently becomes a total bitch. This kind of makes me want to be president even more, to "contain" her bossiness.

Sigh, so much drama before anything's even started! What to do, what to do, what to do?! I hope she'll at least be cooperative and polite to my face, otherwise the group will collapse. But again, hard to say as she seemingly has no respect for me and thinks I shouldn't even be here. Oh, and she wants to go into ob/gyn (because according to Michelle, she dislikes men). See the comic below under "ob/gyn" (original source here):Oh, and also look under the "Neurology" panel. That's exactly what I think about neurology. So much knowledge, so little ability to help.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Seats of Power

Well . . . it's been a while since I last blogged. Seems like no one missed me. I'm not particularly surprised. Not much has happened, exams coming up next week that I should be worrying more about.

First, there are things I need to learn to let go. While I'm not an argumentative or confrontational person (at least, I hope I'm not), there are a handful of things that do get to me and really rile me up. I won't discuss what they are here. Suffice to say, I've encountered several of those in the last 2 weeks or so. I think I'm okay now.

Second, I reached my 3-mile run goal last week! :-D I haven't run 3 miles yet this week, as I played basketball instead on Sunday and yesterday with my roommate and some friends. I'm sore all over from basketball (especially my lower back where lumbar transitions to sacral, and my butt).

Third, I'm now in a few "seats of power," muahahaha. As the new co-president, I just had the APAMSA (Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association) change-over meeting from the old executive board to us, the new executive board. I have a . . . thing with power, more specifically "organizational" power. See, the first thing I do is to organize things. It borders on pathological OCD I think. I have this itch to reorganize certain things my way. I mean, honestly, I went through the entire massive APAMSA continuity binder (full of crap, btw) and took out lots of old stuff from 2000-2004 that we almost certainly won't utilize. As long as I'm barred from this "power," I could care less. Anyway, I have big things planned for this group, lol.

I'm the co-chair of FMSA (Family Medicine student Association) Patient Education. The other co-chair and I have been collaborating with the free clinic managers and putting our schemes and plans slowly into motion, even though the FMSA change-over meeting hasn't occurred yet. We're slowly politicking ourselves with members of the free clinic managers to gain support - the intrigue is . . . interesting, to say the least. Again, major plans set in motion for this program. Hopefully what we envision will turn out great for both student volunteers and patients.

Lastly, somehow (I'm not entirely sure how) I've been "hand picked" to be the new (co-?)president of the LGBTPM (LGBT People in Medicine) group by the outgoing co-presidents. I made myself clear that I refused to be president if it's just going to be me running it, as I can't do it alone; other than that, I was more than happy. Apparently they "found" 2 other interested members. But unlike APAMSA or FMSA Patient Education, I've no solid goals/visions for LGBTPM. It's a very small and dying group, I almost want to declare it un-salvageable. But I'll try my best to "revive" it, perhaps by first renaming it as the "People in Medicine" bit is rather confusing. There also needs to be an "A" for "Ally" in the title somewhere. I wish the LGBT acronym had more vowels that it could actually spell something pronounceable. Maybe "B.L.T.GAlly" (Bacon Lettuce Tomato GAlly?), lol. I'm just being silly.

Anyway, seats of power! Co-president of APAMSA, co-chair of FMSA Patient Education, and (co-)president of LGBTPM. Time to implement the changes I want and hopefully everything goes smoothly. 2010-2011 is going to be quite the busy year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The "Reformation" Symphony

Several weeks ago my roommate and I had a debate about music, what it is and what it's for. As a classically-trained musician, I've come to appreciate the styles and techniques of music, and how they evoke particular emotions or feelings. As someone who took courses on rock music in undergrad, my roommate countered that rock music was just as subtle and evocative.

He had argued that classical music is highly repetitive and pretentious, that the composer crafts a piece to deliberately elicit a specific emotion or scenery in one's mind, and it almost "tricks" the audience to think about music a certain way. I countered that while classical music may have that intention, the intentions of the conductor and the musicians also add uniqueness each time a piece is played - there is a marked capacity for personal expression with almost any classical piece. However, technique-wise, one can't compare rock music to the layers of sound in a symphony. My roommate also finds the 4th movement of symphonies the most boring, because it's "simply" a recapitulation of the previous 3 movements. I . . . respectfully (but vehemently) disagreed.

When I was in DC over Spring Break, I brought this up with my friend Jake. He, unsurprisingly, aligned with my views. He played trombone in marching band and concert band in high school, and has perhaps a greater appreciation for classical music than me.
Anyway, I present the 4th movement of Symphony No. 5, Op. 107 by Felix Mendelssohn, or more commonly known as the "Reformation" Symphony. I had last played this piece in high school and it has remained one of my favorites. Follow along as I comment on what I feel in this piece.

In the 4th movement, the piece begins with a wind chorale of Martin Luther's hymn, A Might Fortress Is Our God. The flutes and piccolo first sing alone, their sounds like prayers floating high into the air. Soon more wind instruments join in as the theme is repeated (0:25), adding their lyrical voices to the flutes and piccolo. Finally, the strings join in (0:46). Then together, the music steadily climbs higher, starting with an ascending scale (0:53) and culminating as if with arms outstretched at the sky (1:02) before lowering briefly. This is followed by a determined declaration (1:15) that builds up to a kind of expectant tension, resolving only as the cellos and tympani enter galloping (1:39).

When the theme recurs (1:45), it takes on a different character than the previous lyrical chorale - it is now almost like returning traveler whose home is within sight. As this traveler nears his destination, his excitement builds and builds (2:06) until he arrives and lets out a deep sigh at the bottom of a descending scale (2:13).

Thus begins the second theme, a joyous and elated moment, a celebration as the orchestra embraces the reunion. The cellos take their turn, skipping down a descending stairs (2:34) before racing back to the top (2:38) and shouting out again with the rest of the orchestra. There are hugs and cheers all around, the brass calling out in fanfare. The cellos begin a kind of hearty chant (3:00) that is then passed around amongst the strings.

The violins and violas build their excitement in their arpeggios (3:31). Then the strings almost seem to say "tell us about your journey" of the traveler (3:42). The brass respond in fanfare alone (3:47) and begins to tell the tale. The strings, holding a single chord, wait and listen attentively for the lyrical winds (3:59), which sound like chirping birds with their trills. Like children satisfied with a good story, the strings boom out their joy (4:19) and their excitement builds again, almost uncontainable. The strings scramble all over up and down with their quick arpeggios, children running at top speed (4:37).

Then, tired of running, the violins and violas calm down (4:54). In this rare moment, the cellos take the time for introspection, repeating the first theme (5:01). Like the chorale at the beginning, the cellos seem to stretch their arms skyward (5:08). Slowly, the strings seem to awake from a nap (5:37) and then repeat the second theme (5:50). This time, the violins switch places with the cellos and begin the round (6:02). Almost restless and annoyed with the strings, the winds and brass play the first theme over them (6:37) - a slower, bolder, and more forceful iteration, as the strings continue playing underneath.

Then the entire orchestra realigns and plays the second theme in unison (7:03). As the winds and brass drop away, the strings being their climb up (7:22). But then even the strings drop suddenly (7:30), now quieter and more legato, as if motioning for the winds and brass to catch up. Together the entire orchestra builds in intensity, gathering force until the first theme reemerges at last (8:18). This last version of the theme is anything but the same as the chorale at the beginning, now a powerful exaltation of the entire orchestra at the end of the symphony.
You can imagine playing a piece such as this has an almost spiritual quality/aspect to it. Even now after so many years, I can still envision the music in my head. The transformation from the reflective chorale to the powerful ending, all the while using the same two themes, exemplifies the composer's skill in modulation. Repetitive perhaps, but at least each repeat is different with its own unique tones, qualities, and emotions.

Anyway, I somehow thought this piece to be strangely apt for Easter. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. :-)