Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hi y'all

Spending lots of quality in the hospital.

What I learned: it's impossible for restructure a hospital like Brigham b/c everything is entrenched in the philosphy of "this is what we've always done." To reform, it's almost necessary to build a hospital from the groud up.

Otherwise, I can be found lounging around on sandy beaches on my few days off.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Silences and Introspection

I live my life in a series of silences and introspection. When someone says goodbye and walks away with his back turned, I linger in my silent moment, wondering what “goodbye” actually meant. I’m too cerebral: too much introspection over the should-I's and would-I's, and always weighing out my reactions to people and things in perfect, exact proportions.

The battle for me is realizing that I don't have control over everything. Life happens over flu's, traffic near misses, misunderstandings, obsessing over the past, "I don't know if I'm good enough" internal fights, and "I'm too sad to get out a jar of ice-cream" depressions. Life happens with your hair in a pony tial and you wearing a flip-flops and a tank top with the bra straps showing.

Perhaps grace isn't about having artful negotiations and diplomatic goodbyes and the internal zen when you run into someone you used to care about (or not ending sentences with a preposition, for that matter). Maybe it isn't about feeling perfect peace when you read old letters and emails. Maybe it's about letting your regrets and hurt and loss run their course so you'll be done with them, and not feel the need to bury them away like landminds.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The life we live now.

I did half a dozen "home" visits with a woman living at a Cambridge Shelter last year. Someone just called to tell me that someone found her under a bridge in Chinatown three weeks ago.

"She passed."

Why do we say "pass"? What's so wrong with the word "die"?

She was 45, and she hated being on the "inside." Being caged in was a fate far scarier than being haunted down by dealers on the streets. When she called me, she was always standing by a payphone around Central Square or Chinatown. She always sounded cold.

She had three children, whom she never sees. Her friends were her dealers and her doctor at the shelter.

She used to tell me, "But everyday, everyday now, is my chance to turn it all around."

She's a sliver of my life. And we all die alone. And we are all but transient in each other's lives. The only person could have turned her life around was she. I couldn't do it for her.

With the time I got here, I learn to turn my own life around. And enjoy the view. How do I do it? I write. I live. I ask questions. I listen for the answers. And I send flowers to an unmarked grave somewhere in Cambridge.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Crushing tomatoes with bare hands

I'd be wary of anyone who keeps an extremely organized desk, or color coded notes, or anyone who keep his hands clean while cooking.

He’s probably boring and sterile. In life and in bed.

I’m a mess. Organizing is a fate worse than death. I can’t operate filing cabinets and keyboard covers and label makers and linen cabinets. I crush tomatoes with my bare hands, pulling the pulp into strips. Always leave the seeds in - viscous and lovely. There is no mixing spoon unlicked in my kitchen.

I abhor college ruled paper. Lines constrain me. I must scribble: harmless apples, tennis shoes, trotting horses, and even schizophrenic faces. (Never anything R rated in my sketchbook though).

Since when did we become so clean and organized? Since when did our lives become Ikea catalogs, with a holder and label and color, coordinated, friction-protection cap for every single, fucking thing? We've become sterile. Every 15 minutes in the day has a designated purpose. What happened to getting your hands dirty, singing off key on the streets, and letting a breath out with your belly and boobs roll and all?

Dig your hand into life, and let the juices and pulp seep through your fingers. Try it. You might just enjoy it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Wind on water

I know too many people who don’t have hobbies. Their hobbies become bar hopping to meet someone, and once they do, their relationship becomes a series of meals and movies. They love one another because it’s comfortable to have someone there at the end of the day, someone to order-in with, someone to just sit in front of the television with. They love their relationship because it’s comfortable.

I have a news flash. Anyone can sit around and watch TV and enjoy eating fries with you. If when you speak of your relationship, you say it’s just so nice and comfortable, you should open your eyes. I’ve found that kind of comfort with nearly every other person I’ve dated. It takes more than a night of 24 and take-out for it to be right.

To really be happy, you need to make yourself happy. You need to discover and commit to things that bring you joy, where hours ruffle by like wind on water.
Once you find what brings you this happiness, no one can take it away from you. You can't find it in someone else.

People leave. People change their minds. People die.

There, I’ve said it; I’m off the box. Go back to watching TV. I'm off to study for Boards.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Top Five Reasons to Love Boston

1. "Why should I major in Writing? There IS only going to be one Carrie Bradshaw." - Girl with Simmon's sweat shirt on the T.

2. Teen - "Hey, look at this! It says 'Train for jobs in biotch.'"Smarter teen - "That word is biotech. Why you gotta be ignorant all your life?"

3. Alison walks friend's dog around Jamaica Plain. Hobo jumps out of bush, shouts, "That dog is going to end up in pot of rice!"

4. "What kinds of books do you like to read?" Guy in Trident Bookstore. "Well, I like fiction, non fiction. But not much else." Girl, whom he's dating.

5. "Maybe you should let the pregnant lady sit." Alison says to male friend on crowed T.
"Why? I didn't knock her up. I'm not responsible if she can't handle standing." Male friend.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Woman without party - the life of a closet conservative

You know a conservative when you see one. He sports the Southern accent, walks the Texas swagger, thumbs the Bible, drives a gas-gusler complete with the obligatory American flag, and he goes to the shooting range for good ol’ American fun. He isn’t very smart either, which explains why there are so few right-wingers in any elite academic institutions. How many conservatives are there at Harvard.

Well, things are not that simple. Closet conservatives do exist here. They are intelligent people, and surprisingly, they do care about the poor and the sick. The only difference about these closet conservatives is how they act when the conversation drifts towards anything political. They stay mum, avert the topic, and fidget in their seats as their friends dive into Right-bashing.

I happen to be one of these closet-conservatives. I fit none of the stereotypes. I’m a minority. I’m Ivy-League educated, and I have never been to Texas. I read. I read the NYTimes and have conversations in my head with David Brooks. I am a tree-hugger and I get physically ill at the sight of hummers. I care about the 40 million uninsured Americans, and the plight of the working poor. I was raised by two such people. I simply believe in different solutions to these problems.

I'm a conservative in the old fashion sense. Small government, conservative government spending, more control on the local level, and let the folks in Versailles, Missouri decide for themselves what to teach their kids in their schools and how to run their city politics. Having grown up under a totalitarian government, I wary of centralized power, and of the notion that that big government understands how life works in Versailles and has the people's best intention in mind.

Sadly, these beliefs leave me with no party - neither Republican nor Democrat at this point. These thoughts leave me few opportunity to have a civil, political discussion here as well.

Sadly, in our fine academic institutions, we suffer from a profound uniformity of thought. No one dares to question the supreme evil of George W. Bush. All must tout the utopian vision of universal health care. In a place filled with intelligent and diplomatic people, we somehow resort to a kindergarten style of disagreement: “if you don’t believe as I do, I will call you names.” If you are not a liberal, then you are racist, deluded, homophobic, and selfish. The result is that we no longer discuss pivotal issues of American politics. The liberals already agree with each other, and the closet conservatives are too afraid to disagree. Lost is the art of gentle persuasion, and in its place, rehash of harsh sound bites of political pundits.

The Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (1853) defines the word “liberal” as meaning “free; open; not narrow; embracing other interests than one's own; as, liberal sentiments or views.” I beseech my dear liberal friends to embrace the original meaning of the word “liberal”. Realize that people have differences in opinions, and it’s not a reflection of character flaw or intellectual defect. Uniformity of thought is far more worse for our country than having a few right-wingers around.