Walking through Baltimore, I find myself judging people and speculating on their nature in this world, trying to predict what they’ll do, where they’re going, why they’re doing it. Up until now, I reserved judgment only for people who had caused me harm, whether it was making fun of me, being mean to me, etc.
Walking through other cities does not elicit this response from me, but I conceive that the vacation effect is a big part of it. The only reason that I am judging people at such a rate is that I am depressed because of events in my life that also happen to take place in this city. For example, my involuntary celibacy due to the rigor of my self-imposed daily autoflagellation via studying. The incessant crime reports, and they’re the crime reports that I nonchalantly forget about, because I live here, and the dreams of going to a school in a perhaps more care-free zone.
Walking in Minneapolis (probably 1 million times safer than Baltimore) was carefree. I had intense amounts of work to do, but I was carefree. Things were in general cleaner, prettier, and newer. Baltimore has to deal with the fact that it is a city that died in the 1980’s and is slowly trying to recover. There are construction projects left and right — every day there are articles about Baltimore’s revitalization and efforts to make the city a place to want to come to, a place that you want to raise your kids, a place where you want to walk a few blocks to get to the bank.
On a given eight block walk, I will probably be asked for money eight times. I do not know how I feel about this. Most of the time, I do not have cash, which in reality is a dumb thing to do in a poorer city like Baltimore, where vendors are less likely to accept credit cards. If I have it to spare then I’ll give it to them, but I cannot help but wonder what they are going to do with the money. I’ve heard it all in the past few weeks, from “I just got out of prison and I need to take a train home tomorrow,” to people prefacing it with “I ain’t broke man but…” My friends tell me stories about their parents who immigrated here, and how the parents behave once the family visits the country of origin. One of my friend’s mom is quite vicious to the beggars, because she feels that she knows the name of the game that they play. My friend’s father is more apt to help them out, because pennies to us is a week’s worth of sustenance for them, even if they are playing with our heart strings by doing a masterly begging performance (they have to).
On a walk I think about all that I have, and how I wish I could have more – then I glance 100 feet ahead and see the homeless person attempting to make eye contact with me. I am rarely bold enough to look them in the eye, because they remind me of how much I can disappoint myself – and how lucky I am that I have the ability to be disappointed in myself.
I never really understood the alumni connection to a university. I’m probably just very jaded, and maybe I will come to regret this pledge. I was a Biochemistry major stretched too thin, and the the unfortunate circumstances of 2003-2007 did nothing to activate my love of Maryland football and basketball. and perhaps I will have to duel myself to regain my honor, haha.
Anyway, I don’t care. Even if my future wife is an enormous fan, she will understand that I do not give a damn.
It’s more than just being a person tinctured with venomous hate for his own alma mater, though. The NCAA has created a system of whackiness like the BCS and the way that money gets distributed to the coaches that perhaps I will expound upon when I feel a bit less lazy. Most of my dislike for it has to deal with the fact that it is such a weird reason to get young adults to attend a school. It’s also a weird way of allowing students to get a free ride. The only plausible argument is that it works to build community, which is dubious because of the high number of schools that seem to do fine without sports every which way. For students to pin all of their hopes in these athlete-student (99% athlete) hybrids is a little sick. We’ll fix this problem America.
On Friday during a cordial discussion with my contemporaries, I made an off-hand comment about seeing patients in the hospital, regarding me coming to the realization that the majority of the patients really are in the hospital for things that they have done to themselves. They can show you all the statistics in the world about preventable deaths, it doesn’t strike you until you ask a patient how long they had been addicted to a certain drug. One of my colleagues (I’ll name her Of-Baltimore, OB) proceeded to lecture me about being aware of people that are different than I am. I rarely procure this type of reaction, and it was refreshing. The method by which she tried to show me my so-called prejudices grated me in such a way I became something that I rarely am, defensive.
I found myself trying to defend my comments against OB, whom I severely doubted had a better grasp of the world’s differences and the differences between human beings, although I did concede that she did understand Baltimore’s issues better than I had. She grew up here, mere blocks away from the hospital, and I had grown up in my cushy D.C. suburb, speculating on which city was more terrible, Baltimore or Washington. In general I would always play devil’s advocate about Washington, D.C. and espouse its wonderful characteristics, but Baltimore I would unfairly mentally incarcerate and incinerate.
All things considered, OB probably lectures several people a week about the good characteristics and bad characteristics of Baltimore, which to its credit, has more of the former than the latter. She recommended that I read The Corner, which of course I feel obligated now to read since it was the second time in a week that it was lorded above me and to me as Baltimore’s bible.
OB’s Baltimore lecture to me really didn’t do anything to educate me about Baltimore, but I think it did do two great things. She broke through any prejudice I may have had about a person in medical school who claimed Baltimore as their hometown. From undergrad I had learned to assume that they were from Towson, or Lutherville, or anywhere else in Baltimore county. I qualify this as a person from medical school, because all of you may be thinking due to Baltimore’s demographics, she’s probably African-American, like me, but no. She’s Irish-American, which probably led to my initial grating against her light haranguing. Anyway, she showed me that she was much more sensitive to subjects like this, which is a relief. She at least temporarily stopped my encroaching jadishness against patients, the United States, and the world. So, thank you OB.
One of the things about making it in a post-graduate education is realizing the amount of information that they will attempt to pour inside of your head. I think one of the ways that I remember things best is to write about it, and then write about my thoughts on the subject. Some lucky (or unlucky) people do not have to worry about trying to fit things inside of their head because they do not have to even try. Their brain does it for them, no questions asked.
This article from last year from a group at Washington University in St. Louis confirms this — that people’s brains and memories are indeed different, and some may more successfully pursue certain careers than others.
That last part I inferred but hey.
Their key finding was that people who utilize visual inspection strategies (for example think about every inch of Charlize Theron’s body, I know you can), or people who utilize verbal elaboration (i.e., this blog [for me], sentences that you construct on your own) have better memory performance.
I want to reiterate that this is just memory. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are worse at understanding a blueprint of a skyscraper than any engineer, you can understand it just fine, but you’ll have to carry it around with you a lot. Unfortunately, using references in live situations is sometimes frowned upon. This is why you are not allowed to use your TI-83 on your damn Calc 2 final.
Those who utilize verbal elaboration more often tend to be more left anterior brained (they determined this using fMRI), and the visual inspection people are more left posterior brained. The group eventually wants to slow Alzheimer’s progression, which everyone alive probably thinks sounds like a superb idea.
Wired has an article about Hans Reiser, the man who’s company invented ReiserFS. ReiserFS is a decent filesystem that you’d only be familiar with if you run a machine with a flavor of linux on it. He is being accused of murdering his estranged wife, whom he was going through a terrible divorce with.
The thing I like about this case is that Reiser’s intelligence is being used against him. i.e., He enrolled in Berkeley THREE YEARS AHEAD OF HIS AGE GROUP, WTF HE MUST’VE DONE IT. I admit, he does a good job of looking like someone who looks like he could get away with murder. And his freakish ability to memorize large amounts of information will certainly scare the jurors, because if there is anything that United States citizens fear, it’s people with brain…talent. This explains the president we have had for the previous seven years.
Reiser is arguing that his wife is probably still alive somewhere in Russia. One of the wife’s ex-lover’s happens to be a serial killer who confessed to eight murders, but denies murdering the wife. Only on planet earth.
Along with television as one of the many things that I’ve cut out of my diet since entering medical school, there lies Facebook. Three years ago, during my sophomore year of college, I was one of the early adopters of facebook. I loved it, like 90% of the people who join it do, and I spent far too much time on it. Hell, I still remember when you had to type in thefacebook.com to get to it.
Every now and then Facebook and I would get into a fight. Usually it was over privacy concerns, as I was raised to be a very private person. Both my mother and father are ultra-private, even about things I feel I should know about them. One of my bank accounts I share with my father, and every now and then he’ll say, “I see you’ve purchased blah-blah,” which deeply irritates me. So you can understand my ire when Facebook started to creep into my life even further. So I, in perhaps a fit of depression, said fuck Facebook, and cut myself out of its ever-growing loop.
I’ve had some withdrawal symptoms, that’s for sure. In the past three weeks, I’ve tried to log in 10 times, I know, I’ve got the “this is how you reactivate it” emails to prove it. Friends have come up to me and asked, why did you quit Facebook? I usually tell them it wasn’t good enough for me, or that I needed to spend more time reading, studying, sleeping, being alive etc. I’ve received a few visceral responses, “Why are you so weak-willed?!”, “You’re missing out!”. Both ironic yet mostly true. If I weren’t so weak-willed, I’d be able to time manage properly I’d be able to do everything I want. It was Jefferson who said to his daughter, “It is wonderful how much may be done by always doing.” Until I can win the battle over avarices like Facebook and television, they’ll have to stay in the corner.
I love how I can careen back and forth between loving sports and hating them. Some days they seem like the most worthless, trivial thing in the world to worry about. But then I catch myself on Sundays spending six hours in front of the television, looking at all of the jobs that have been created due to these crazy weekly rituals. How many peanut-vendors, beer-vendors, ticket-vendors, janitors, camerapersons, cheerleaders, ballpersons, groundskeepers have jobs because of these things? It pays bills. We all help to pay bills. In my short twenty-two years, I have definitely spent over $2000 at various sporting events, and probably over $5000 in jerseys, time spent wasting time instead of doing something productive, cable television, and apologetic gifts for girlfriends along the way for ignoring them during the playoffs.
Two weeks ago, I disconnected my television. Actually, it was my computer monitor — but I’m never going back. I am going to use the time spent watching sensationalist news reports (something that Baltimore is really good at) to write in my blog, read for both study and pleasure, study, and sleep. I feel disconnected already, but I still use my friends for events that are simply unmissible, like yesterday’s Patriots-Colts game. Damn Tom Brady is great.
ANYWAY, here is an incredible blurry picture from July in the Bronx when we and my friend took a trip up there. Alex Rodriguez hit his 29th homerun just after I called it. Rodriguez hit a lot of homeruns this year, so that’s nothing special, but he makes a lot more money than I do. Maybe I can ask him to donate to the charity fund of me…
Today was productive. I avoided having a breakdown and I would say I was marginally friendly. I do not have breakdowns often, I’d say once every two or three years. The problem is, since coming to medical school, I’ve had a few breakdowns, mental and physical. For example, I’d be so exhausted that even going to bed at 10 PM, I’d easily sleep in until 2 or 3 PM the next day. Mental breakdowns are probably easier to handle, because it seems like everyone is going through them. Medical school started in August. It’s okay though, I think I am starting to see the light.
The problem is, I feel like I am in a slightly manic mood. I am only a first year medical student, so I do not really know the tell-tale signs of a true bipolar disorder. I’ll be okay though, I’ll just take this PCP… just kidding.
So, what is this blog about? I intend it to be the full diary of my life from now until the day I die, as much as I can stand it. I’ve been reading a lot of 18th century biographies lately, and I really admire how diligently they recorded their thoughts. I think I can be like them, if anything it will help me organize my thinking. I don’t want this blog to be too organized, so it’s going to be about whatever the hell I want, whatever I’m interested in day to day. I’ll categorize everything, and my hope is to have one of those blogs where I feel comfortable spewing just about any thought process that I have.
Right now I (momentarily) find myself the closest to my own (momentary) definition of an insane person. In this state, I step outside of myself and become my proto-me, I send pertinent e-mails out because if I don’t I’ll lose money in an unrelated partition of my life, I smile at things that I don’t find funny for the same reason, I abstain from looking from looking at pornography because of possible socioeconomic enslavement of the actors, I refrain from downloading music of deceased persons (out of respect, man) and other strange things. Pretending it all makes a difference amps up my drive for a few more hours until I slink back into my real, more pragmatic ways which are in every way the opposite of above. Caffeine & etc., bringing to you & me, bursts of youth. If we only got paid to be humans (inconsistent, indecisive, superstitious, afraid, insane).
One job I think I would thoroughly relish is writing absurd commercials which advertise products which seem equally as absurd, but the product itself would make life less absurd. Absurd humor is the best kind. I constantly curl up on the couch, grinning and snickering to myself while I scheme and imagine the endless amounts of childish entertainment that I would derive watching people’s reactions to my nonsensical commercials. The reaction that would give me the greatest pleasure would be from the person who had already seen my absurd commercials before, been shocked or whatever first response they had, then they’d smile and show it to their friends, just to see their reaction. I would then put those people in a commercial, the action of showing the person the commercial on tv or Youtube or whatever, and these interlocutors would then be hit by a comet, and then I would advertise something about paying attention to what scientists say. Delicious!
The next P. Madison commercial: investing in Macedonia. But that’s not absurd.