Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of Bones, Brains, Chemistry and Poetry

So, yeah, it's been awhile. A lot of things went wrong in September and I just didn't feel like posting all kinds of depressing crap, and then school started and I've been a busy girl since that moment. I am taking 18 credits, like a crazy person, and working part-time but somehow apparently, it's working all right. I want to talk about my classes b/c there's some pretty cool stuff.

I am taking chemistry, for the first time since high school, and taking chemistry makes me realize that I am definitely a biology girl and not so into the chemistry. I perk up when we talk about things with biological significance, so I have a feeling that I may end up being one of those people who prefers organic chem to general. Still, after some initial frustration, I am getting into the chem and the mindset for it, and getting into solving the problems and getting familiar with the periodic table and the common ions again (I used to have this stuff memorized in high school). And I have a few friends in the class, so it's cool. This is the class that it has taken the longest to warm up to, but I am grudgingly starting to like it. There's a lot of homework, some to be done online as part of the grade and some to do at home for practice, and when I get into doing these things, things start to click and I get lost in it and feel pretty satisfied when done.

The lab for Chem is pass/fail only, no grade, so there's a bit less pressure there. I like my lab TA - very helpful and thorough, and things like staying to go over equations are optional so leaving early is nice, considering my lab ends at 8:30pm.

I'm also taking Intro to Behavioral Neuroscience through the psych department. It's cool b/c it is actually a lot of biology. We spent the first part of the class talking about neurons and the parts of the cell and cell receptors and channels and how neurotransmitters work and now we are going very in-depth into the gross anatomy of the brain. We are watching dissection videos and playing with models of the brain with detachable parts and going a lot more in depth than our book does. A huge part of the class is drawing assignments. For example, so far we had to draw a prototypic neuron, two different kinds of synapses, and a lateral view of the brain. I didn't sign up for the class expecting that I would need a sketchbook and colored pencils, but it's cool. I actually get really into it. I always really enjoyed the drawing parts of bio lab when we had to draw dissected squid eyes or detailed flower parts or dividing cells, and with the neuro class, I don't have to pretend to be able to see shit through a microscope, I just draw and color in what I know. It feels good the way that writing or playing music does; it's artistically satisfying.

My drawing of the right lateral view of the brain:

The prof for the neuro class works (outside of being a prof) looking at brain damage in criminals, so that's a really interesting aspect that he brings to the class. We also end up having lots of questions and discussions about things like brain effects of Ultimate Fighting and boxing.

I am also taking a creative writing class, called Writing and Healing, which also required a sketching journal and art supplies. I never thought my two 400-level classes would involve so much art. It's a pretty intense class. We do a lot of journaling, read a lot of poetry in class, go deep into our life stories and all that good stuff. We also have to read five books and write papers on them, and also write two papers on our journals, so there is a fair amount of work with the class. I've read two books so far, both by local authors, Live Through This by Debra Gwartney and Little Green by Loretta Stinson, and currently working on Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver.

On the first day of class, my prof read us some poems by Sharon Olds, who I love, including "I Go Back to May, 1937" which is one of my favorites, ever. She also read us "The Solution" which set the tone for the class that nothing is off-limits.

So needless to say, I was psyched that my prof read some Sharon Olds, and "The Solution" is definitely a daring choice! We also heard poetry from a book called In The Surgical Theater, which, ya know, just totally made my day. On the first day of this class, the prof told us about going to a conference at Duke University about medicine and writing, that involved doctors, medical students, writers, poets, etc, and the thought of these things coming together made my head want to explode with awesomeness of it all.

I will share one poem that I heard in the class. I am so drawn to anything involving the moon, so was really struck by this poem:

Facts About the Moon
by Dorianne Laux

The moon is backing away from us
an inch and a half each year. That means
if you’re like me and were born
around fifty years ago the moon
was a full six feet closer to the earth.
What’s a person supposed to do?
I feel the gray cloud of consternation
travel across my face. I begin thinking
about the moon-lit past, how if you go back
far enough you can imagine the breathtaking
hugeness of the moon, prehistoric
solar eclipses when the moon covered the sun
so completely there was no corona, only
a darkness we had no word for.
And future eclipses will look like this: the moon
a small black pupil in the eye of the sun.
But these are bald facts.
What bothers me most is that someday
the moon will spiral right out of orbit
and all land-based life will die.
The moon keeps the oceans from swallowing
the shores, keeps the electromagnetic fields
in check at the polar ends of the earth.
And please don’t tell me
what I already know, that it won’t happen
for a long time. I don’t care. I’m afraid
of what will happen to the moon.
Forget us. We don’t deserve the moon.
Maybe we once did but not now
after all we’ve done. These nights
I harbor a secret pity for the moon, rolling
around alone in space without
her milky planet, her only child, a mother
who’s lost a child, a bad child,
a greedy child or maybe a grown boy
who’s murdered and raped, a mother
can’t help it, she loves that boy
anyway, and in spite of herself
she misses him, and if you sit beside her
on the padded hospital bench
outside the door to his room you can’t not
take her hand, listen to her while she
weeps, telling you how sweet he was,
how blue his eyes, and you know she’s only
romanticizing, that she’s conveniently
forgotten the bruises and booze,
the stolen car, the day he ripped
the phones from the walls, and you want
to slap her back to sanity, remind her
of the truth: he was a leech, a fuckup,
a little shit, and you almost do
until she lifts her pale puffy face, her eyes
two craters and then you can’t help it
either, you know love when you see it,
you can feel its lunar strength, its brutal pull.

This poem really spoke to me. "Forget us. We don't deserve the moon."

Almost completely jumping tracks here, I have to talk about my favorite class - Anatomy & Physiology. I've been looking forward to this for a long time, and it is my one true biology course this term. I really love it. I love learning about the workings of the body. So far we have done a basic overview of the building blocks like proteins and lipids, the workings of the cell, and then all the different tissue types of the body. For the exam this past week, I was totally ready to identify things like pseudostratified columnar epithelium, the features of all the different types of connective tissue and to identify all the places in the body where all the tissue types can be found. It wasn't quite that in depth though. Now we are going on to skin, and soon to the physiology of bones and muscles.

The way it's set up, the lectures are mostly physiology and the labs are mostly anatomy. So, in lab, we started out the first week with learning the bones, first of the vertebral column, sternum and pelvic girdle, then limbs and shoulder girdle, and then lastly, the skull and face (and hyoid bone). On Friday there was a bone practical for which I had to know all the bones of the body, and all their bumps and ridges and lines and divets and smooth surfaces and HOLES (the skull has a lot of holes), be able to spell everything right, and also be able to identify bones as right or left. I originally thought this would be incredibly challenging because of my low vision, but it turned out not to be a big barrier at all. Most of this was done with plastic (or real) bones to handle while learning this stuff, and while taking the tests. I also got a skeleton, which is big help in practicing things. I was able to take his head off, take off the top part of his skull and examine all the bone structures. I also was describing this to a friend of mine (who's a naturopath and also had a skeleton for practice when she was going through school) while at a cafe on campus and was thinking, wow, anyone who overhears this conversation about me taking heads apart is going to think I'm one twisted sister.

For the quizzes and practicals in the class, what happens is we walk in and get quiz/practical sheets and have to start at a station with a bone. Then we have to identify the bone or the structure (and as I was saying, w/proper spelling, and also identifying right or left). We get a minute and then have to move on to the next station. And so on. For the practical we had FIFTY bone stations, and a bit more time per station because a lot of them had two questions, like name the structure and the overall bone, or name the structure and name what articulates with it. My lab TA kept asking me if I would need extra time and assuring me that if I did I could stay after, but I didn't. I like to take the tests like everyone else. Plus, I was really confident that I knew the bones inside and out. I felt really good about turning in my sheet, filled out, with everyone else.

I find the anatomy lab very soothing, at least so far. Going in there and spending time examining bones and learning all their structures just really soothed me. That is probably pretty weird, but hey whatever works, right? Learning all these things also means I have words like medial malleolus, foramen spinosum, greater occipital protuberance, linea aspera, subscapular fossa and distal phalanges running around my head all day. Another cool thing was that learning the skull in anatomy lab coincided with learning the gross anatomy of the brain in neuro class, so I got to kinda integrate the two. Now when I look at the sella turcica (translation: turkish saddle) of the sphenoid bone of the skull, I automatically think, that's where the pituitary gland sits. I love it.

Sella turcica: (looking at the inside of the skull from above - that big hole you can see near the bottom of the pic is the foramen magnum, basically the opening to the spinal cord)

Starting this week we will be working with human cadavers and I am both excited and a little freaked out about the idea. I mean I have not seen many dead people, knock on wood, at all, so I'm wondering how it will be emotionally. On the other hand, what a great way to REALLY see how the body works, what connects where, and so on and to learn, really learn. Definitely with these classes I am appreciating different learning methods, like how drawing the brain stuff helps make the learning more physical in your body, how the tactile learning of the bones adds a new dimension.

My last class is a one-credit class called the Art of Medicine, which I had to apply to get into. It's taught at the hospital near my apartment, by a doctor of family medicine. It's really interesting, we talk about things like professionalism, communication, how to take a patient history, and most recently, how medical billing works. That was particularly interesting because I really want to take some classes that get into the social justice aspect of healthcare, so it was good to get a crash course in how it works, though I know there is a lot more to learn. The class only meets five times, and there are two more left. On the last class we do some sort of fake thing on a mannequin and also take a fake patient history (on a med student) which I'm pretty excited and nervous for. I don't talk much in that class. I just have the feeling everyone else is further along in their studies and experience.

The only downside of the class is that on days that I have it I have to leave A&P early in order to catch a ride with a friend. One time I had to leave while my A&P prof was talking about Van Gogh and how he may have had blue vision, a side effect of digitalis and some of the supporting evidence and how this may have affected his art. It was really interesting!

Along with all that, I am working part-time, from home, for an accessibility project for SimBiotic Software and their Eco Beaker virtual labs. Right now I am doing a lot of investigating science accessibility stuff that's already out there, as well as accessible games.

Somehow I am managing to take all these classes, work, and still have a social life. Oh and still find time to do things like watch House, even during the craziest week of classes so far! I like the challenges, honestly, of fitting it all in but man have I been tired. In fact I may go take a little nap. It's perfect afternoon for that, with a steady rain going on outside. I'm still struggling a bit with time management and figuring out how to make best use of my studying time. All these classes say things like "for every hour you spend in class, you should spend three at home." Well if I did that I would never sleep or eat or leave the house or work, so it is all about how to be smart about it.

It is an insane amount at once but I am just loving it :) And now, time for a nap.

Currently listening:
"The Chain" - Ingrid Michaelson - love, love, love this song. Will be seeing her live on Saturday, very cool. REALLY hope she plays this song, by far my favorite of hers at the moment.

The Chain

The sky looks pissed
The wind talks back
My bones are shifting in my skin
And you, my love, are gone

My room seems wrong
The bed won't fit
I cannot seem to operate
And you, my love, are gone

So glide away on soapy heels
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again
Then I will take, then I will take
The chain from off the door

I'll never say
I'll never love
But I don't say a lot of things
And you, my love, are gone

So glide away on soapy heels
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again
Then I will take the chain from off the door
So glide away on soapy heels
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again
Then I will take the chain from off the door

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More About Medicine

I announced on my facebook a week or so ago that I'm going pre-med in school, which is something I've been thinking about for a long time and want to say more about. I've been thinking of it as "my big secret" for awhile, but really it was more just something that was so new, and I was so uncertain of, that I had to keep it to myself for awhile.

And it really has been awhile. I first started thinking about it before my trip to India, back when I was visiting and applying to schools. I found myself really craving science, and really drawn towards medical this or that (and no, I don't just mean House and Grey's Anatomy, lol) in my reading and explorations. But I kinda thought I was crazy to even think about it. I mean, I'm old, or so it seemed, to make that sort of career choice. And I wasn't one of those kids who got in trouble for watching operations on TV and didn't people who wanted to go to medical school know it from the time they were born? It was such a difficult endeavor that I thought I was nuts to even consider it. Oh yeah, and then there's the low vision thing. Yeah.

So for awhile, I was in this weird state of thinking about it but not even wanting to admit to myself that I was thinking about it. I was sure I was just plain crazy. But it did factor in. When I chose what schools to apply to, I made sure I could do prereqs there (even at Emerson) and when I visited schools I took a little notebook with me to record impressions, and along with general info and gut feelings and coincidences, and experience sitting in on classes, I noted medical-related things in my little journal as well, like Evergreen giving out a list of what medical/law schools their grads got into, or how at Portland State the tour guide mentioned that there's a cadaver lab for pre-med students and that while walking around I heard students having a conversation about Rh factor. So it was somewhere in my consciousness enough to note those things down in the notebook.

And then I went to India, and came back, and started planning to move to Portland, and then thought about that program in Denver and at the last minute chose to start school, all the while with this on my mind, sorta kinda. But by the time I actually started school, it was more solidified. Even though it was kinda painful to do so, as it brought up all the feelings of, OMG I must be crazy, I signed up for a one-credit class called Intro Pre-Med which was pass/fail and just meant to give overall info on the process.

When I stayed w/a friend last August in Portland, I had mostly felt overwhelmed by how big the city was (after living on Orcas Portland seems like NYC) and kinda intimidated about getting around. I had taken one bus trip to Portland State and had gotten lost a few times along the way. So when I came back to actually move in, I stayed w/the same friend for a few days before my apartment became available, it was in the middle of Portland State's orientation week and they had sent me this list of activities and one of them was for people considering going pre-med. I wanted to go, yet I was afraid to go.

I don't know what it was, but the first morning back in Portland, I somehow felt on fire and got up early, jumped on the bus and went to my school and went to the seminar. I got a little lost on the way, and walked in late. And kinda spent the whole time waiting for someone to tell me I shouldn't be there. I felt the same way in that one-credit class, especially when I disclosed my disability to the professors. But you know what? No one ever said anything. The seminar and later the class provided lots of information, and the class required us to write reflections about different speakers who came to talk to us so it gave me a way to think and reflect more on this possibility. And I was, by far, not the oldest person in the class. There were people from all lifestyles and backgrounds, people with previous (or current careers) in something else, people with kids and family at home, people with all kind of lives that sort of broke open my restrictive feelings of why I couldn't do it.

And then, somewhere along the lines, I learned that there were some blind MDs out there, some that became blind later and continued to practice (with one anesthesiologist, he continued to practice after going blind, at the request of his patients) and some that went through med school blind. And then there is my good friend who is blind and a naturopathic physician. It's definitely not a common thing, and I'm sure when I'm applying, I'll have to deal with a lot of misconceptions and people thinking I can't do it, but it has been done, successfully. People have found all kinds of alternative ways of doing things. I also found out recently that there is a woman with my same condition who is working as a nurse.

What has really tipped the scales for me is how at home I feel in the biology classes. I have thoroughly loved them all so far, and feel like it somehow fits better than any other college major I tried out before. I am especially drawn to the medical aspects, and loved the little crash course we did in A&P in the spring, and keep reading medical-related books even while taking these classes. And going into medicine, to me, seems like a great way to combine my love for the science aspect of it with the human element, a way to settle, in some ways, the right brain/left brain tug-of-war that has always been at work in the past when I've been in school.

So it's been on my mind for awhile. It was on my mind in India and we visited free clinics (although of course the only time I had real digestion issues in all of India had to be while touring a free clinic in Bodhgaya). It was on my mind when I was at the NFB (National Federation of the Blind) convention last summer and my roommate had a medical emergency and I went w/her to the hospital. And at other times during the conference when people would say things like, "My blindness is due to sarcoidosis," and I had to restrain myself from asking all manner of socially inappropriate and prying questions about their medical conditions. But it was after this summer, especially after, and a bit during, my immunology class that I started to really get a more solid sense of yeah, this is what I want to do, and I can do it. And that's when I started being more public about it.

Of course, nothing is ever certain. Who knows what I might find along the way or what new path may open itself to me, or if I get some healthcare experience and decide, whoa, not my thing, but for now, I'm pretty sure this is the direction I'm headed. And I'm really psyched about it. I also feel like this coming year will be a bit of a test of that direction, as I'll be full-time, and will be taking a few different science classes at once, and will be doing a year's worth of Anatomy & Physiology (which I'm so amped for, I've already started looking at the book, yes I'm a dork). And I want to start bringing in some Health Studies classes as well, because those look at the social justice issues involved in medicine and healthcare, which gives me a way to get the social justice stuff in there, and still focusing on medicine. I think that'll help round me out. A friend of mine pointed out that there's a long tradition of physician writers (so true) and I was thinking, there's also a tradition of physician activists.

So, I guess that's all I have to say about it for now. In my job search, I'm trying to get a job that somehow relates to healthcare, at a hospital or a clinic or find a good volunteer opportunity that relates. The volunteer position I applied to (and talked about in my last post) was with cord blood donation, which would have been SO COOL on so many levels, esp as I find myself drawn towards things like immunology, fetal development/women's health, which all would have related to that program, but I did not get that opportunity, at least not this time around! So, onward to the next things.

I just found out, as of a few hrs ago, that I got into a class called The Art of medicine for the fall term! I am really excited about that. It takes place at a local hospital and is taught by physicians (and the hospital is right near where I live, too) and to get in, I had to apply, write some essays, etc, so I am thrilled that I got in and can't wait for the class.

To be honest, I don't quite know what to do w/myself now that I don't have class!

Anyway, I could go on and on about this sort of thing, b/c I'm really into it, but maybe that'll be it for now.

Currently listening:
"Winter Song" - Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson - yeah I must admit that my musical leanings seem to be more romantic and maybe a bit sappy or cheesy as of late, which is kinda funny considering my recent post that my poetry tastes are not. But whatever, I love this song.

Winter Song

This is my winter song to you.
The storm is coming soon,
it rolls in from the sea

My voice; a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light,
to carry you to me.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love

They say that things just cannot grow
beneath the winter snow,
or so I have been told.

They say were buried far,
just like a distant star
I simply cannot hold.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love alive?

This is my winter song.
December never felt so wrong,
cause youre not where you belong;
inside my arms

I still believe in summer days.
The seasons always change
and life will find a way.

Ill be your harvester of light
and send it out tonight
so we can start again.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love alive?

This is my winter song.
December never felt so wrong,
cause youre not where you belong;
inside my arms.

This is my winter song to you.
The storm is coming soon
it rolls in from the sea.

My love a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light
to carry you to me.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love alive?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Applying to Jobs with a Disability

It's a challenge, which is probably fairly obvious.

I go through this cycle sometimes, and it happened again today. I hear about a job, or in this case it was actually a volunteer position, and it really sparks my interest and I start thinking of all the reasons it's perfect for me and how much I would love to do it. And I start feeling this hopefulness and excitement and like my passion has been ignited in a way, and I feel it in my heart, my gut.

And then, along with that at a very slight delay, is the maelstrom of crappy feelings, all the worry that even if I get an interview, I'll never be picked, because of my disability, because even if I know I can do the job I won't be able to convince the person doing the hiring that I can. They'll have too many questions. And then there's the fact that deep down, I have my own worries that maybe they're right. So it starts to feel like this impossible wanting, like I really want the job or opportunity but I'll never be chosen. It sucks.

I've had some weird job interviews. I usually try to at least somewhat address my visual impairment because I know they are wondering about it. My eyes move. I don't really make eye contact. It's not like I can hide it. It's obvious. And if I bring it up, it usually makes the other person uncomfortable or they get quiet or a seemingly good interview seems to take a turn in the wrong direction. And sometimes I can tell that the moment the person realizes I'm visually-impaired, the door is closed. Living with something like this all your life, it gets so you can tell when a person is reacting to that, when they're uncomfortable, when they start talking to you like you might be mentally retarded, or fifteen years younger than you are. You can tell when they don't really believe you can do it.

It's grueling. I hate applying for jobs (doesn't everyone?) partly because I just don't want to deal with people's shitty attitudes and the uncomfortable situations and all the rejection.

The thing is, I've had a lot of jobs. In my life, I've worked in a kitchen, as an environmental education instructor, as a camp counselor at two very different camps, at a bookstore, a department store, a movie theater and for a short while, at a library. And I've worked as a self-employed editor/writing coach/transcriber and taught a writing class. It's not like I don't have a good track record. But none of that seems to matter, most of the time.

And the hardest part is knowing what to say and when. When I was younger, I basically just didn't address it. I didn't really even want to admit it to myself so I didn't talk about that with employers, but as I said, it is obvious, so, they knew. And as far as how that worked out - hard to say. I got some jobs, didn't get others, and some of my job experience was with the visually-impaired community, so maybe that made it easier.

As I got older I wanted to be more direct, as I've often found that not doing that is a disadvantage, leaves people with questions they feel they can't ask, etc. And that worked out...okayish. I mean, I got jobs, but it was often after months of looking.

And then I moved to Portland. Now, I was admittedly, out of practice. I'd had the same job for six years. I hadn't applied for a job in a long time. I decided to be even more open and usually mentioned my visual-impairment in my cover letter, in passing, assuring them that it would not affect my ability to do the job.

Well, I have not even gotten an interview. And yeah, it's hard to find jobs in Portland. Unemployment is at a real high, and you hear all kinds of stories about people with advanced degrees working at coffee shops with no benefits, that sort of thing. So, it's hard for everyone, and there is the factor that I am entering a different field (science) but I can't help wondering if my openness about my disability plays a part in the fact that I'm not getting asked to interviews.

70-75% of blind and visually-impaired people are unemployed. That number is STAGGERING, especially because there are so many gifted, brilliant and talented blind people who could do any number of jobs. A lot of the people who are employed are under-employed, or work in the visual-impairment field, which is great for those that are really into it, but it's not my personal calling.

I went to my school's career center a few months ago and this woman there looked over my resume and cover letter. She had almost no corrections. A little changing of this and that around, really like three comments in total. She didn't think that was the problem, at all. But she did tell me to take out everything that referenced my disability. Her advice was to leave no trace of that fact in my resume or cover letter (which feels a little...dishonest), and to wait until I get called for an interview and then mention it, somehow, after they ask but before I arrive. Because if I just show up all visually-impaired without giving them any indication they'll feel like I've tried to pull one over on them.

In the last few months, I've heard the same advice from other people as well. Still, it feels weird and awkward to deal with. I think the fact that I am now not putting anything like that on my application materials makes me feel a little dishonest and guilty. I dread the thought of going to those interviews, with people who probably will wish, after they invite me to go to one and I tell them I'm visually-impaired, that they could take the invite back.

So I've put off applying to this one job I REALLY want for awhile. I just don't want to get rejected! It is a job I KNOW I could do, one that totally fits my skills and strengths and interests but I don't know, I get scared. I just kinda don't want to deal. And then today I found out about a volunteer opportunity that is also kinda perfect, totally related to two different things I'm interested in, is only two hours a week (so I could potentially do the job and the volunteer thing and school - I'm at my best when I have a lot going on) would be an amazing opportunity and I have such genuine interest. And it's really close to where I live. And it would just be so, so awesome, and I find myself wanting to put off applying for that too b/c of the same shit.

I realize at this point that I am standing in my own way! If I don't jump on this, others will. It just sucks so much sometimes to get all excited and then there's the let down. It is just hard sometimes to want to face dealing with all the rest of everything. I get all nervous and immobilized and that just isn't helping the situation any. It just sucks sometimes and it can be hard to feel motivated to face the suckiness and awkwardness and the dilemma of how much do I say or not say and what's right and what's not and dealing with the other person's discomfort. Ugh.

But if I really want these opportunities, I've gotta grab 'em. So I think that'll be my mission for this weekend - get some of this shit done. Get out of my personal molasses and give it my best shot. Not really feeling the motivation to do it but I think I'll try to push through that and do it anyway!

Currently listening:
"Duet" - Rachael Yamagata and Ray Lamontagne

Oh Lover, hold on
'till I come back again
For these arms are growin' tired,
And my tales are wearing thin

If you're patient I will surprise,
When you wake up i'll have come

All the angerwill settle down
And we'll go do all the things we should have done

Yes I remember what we said
As we lay down to bed
I'll be here if you will only come back home

Oh lover, i'm lost
Because the road i've chosen beckens me away

Oh lover, don't you rome
Now i'm fighting words I never thought i'd say

But I remember what we said
As we lay down to bed
I'll forgive you oh
If you just come back home

Hmmm mmmm
Hmmmm mmmm

Oh lover, I'm old
You'll be out there and be thinking just of me

And I will find you down the road
And will return back home to where we're meant to be

'cause I remember what we said
As we lay down to bed
We'll be back soon as we make history.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some interesting things from the crazy world of immunology (and summer classes)

I just finished a four-week summer course in immunology, as part of my biology degree. Summer classes are INTENSE. Material that is usually spread out over an entire term is squished into four little weeks, and you have class four days a week, two and a half hours a day. And overall, you cover a huge, huge amount of material over a really short amount of time. There is lots of reading. It's intense.

To make it worse, Immunology is a 400-level biology class, meaning mostly seniors take it, who've had several years of bio already. I've had one. There are also two recommended prereq classes to take beforehand: cell biology and microbiology. Since all I've had is the first year (called "Principles" at my school), I haven't taken either. So, I knew I was getting into something a bit over my head. It was just, I really liked the immune system part of Principles, and I like a challenge and it sounded kind of badass to do something that difficult in a short amount of time, making it that much more difficult. And it just sounded soooo interesting. When I was first thinking about it, I asked my Principles prof if I would be crazy to try it. She said to me, "All our summer courses are intense but I think if someone could do it, it's you." And that felt really good. But I still thought it might be half-crazy to try. Anyway, the class was full. For awhile I checked, day after day, to see if there were any openings and when there weren't, I kinda gave up.

And then one night, less than a week before the start of summer session, I got drunk for the first time in months and was talking to a friend and realized that spaces were opening up in summer classes, and felt newly inspired and drunkenly decided to sign up for the class. It's just, I was signed up for what probably would have been a cupcake class, but the thought of taking immunology just got me excited and sometimes you gotta live your passions. So I drunkenly decided to sign up.

The last four weeks were a total whirlwind. And I learned some interesting things that I want to share on here, now that it's all over.

But let's start with the basics. I told someone yesterday what class I was taking and she paused for a minute and said, "Okay, what does that even mean?" So, basically what we learned about is how the immune system works and what happens when it doesn't. A lot of it would probably be boring to most people. There's a lot of really detailed learning about what different types of cells do, and there are SO many different kinds of cells in the immune system and sometimes what they do overlaps. We also learned about antibodies, and how our bodies make them to be specific for different foreign invaders, and about inflammation and later allergic reactions, and about how each different type of cell matures, and how it activates (which are long sequences of this protein in the cell does this to the next protein, which does this to the next protein, which splits the next protein and on and on until you get the turning on or off of genes). And then we learned about the little chemicals each type of cell puts out and had to learn what each of these things, oh and what's on the surface of all the different cell types and how that helps it act, and autoimmune disorders and the complement system (for anyone who is familiar with this type of thing, on my final today we had to draw the complete classical pathway of complement activated by IgG against a red blood cell, up through lysis of that rbc, which I had some fun with).

It would be hard to overstate the sheer amount of information we had to learn. There were so many charts and tables we pretty much had to memorize - antibody classes, cell surface molecules, complement molecules, cytokine molecules, all those steps of activation - where and how they're made, what they effect and how they do it. It was a whirlwind of information. There were probably close to 300 pages of lecture notes, not to mention the reading in the book, and all my own handwritten notes from lecture, with all the added things the prof talked about in addition to what was just on his formal notes. INTENSE INTENSE INTENSE. But I kinda loved it.

My favorite part, and I don't know why I am SO fascinated by this, maybe because it comes up a lot on things like Mystery Diagnosis, lol, is autoimmune disorders. I just find it so fascinating. There were only two questions about it on our final, two incredibly easy questions, which disappointed me because being so fascinated by it, I really knew that stuff fairly well. ANYWAY, here are some interesting things about autoimmune diseases:

Women are far, far more likely to get them than men, in most cases. In a lot, it's 2 or 3 to 1, but in some, it's as much as 10 or 20x more common in women! I mean, that is wild. Why the heck is that? Some are thinking it is related to estrogen or other female hormones. And that makes me wonder about all of the hormone-treated food we eat, and birth control pills and other types of contraception related to hormones, or hormone therapy during menopause. Women are also likely to get autoimmune conditions earlier than men. A really good example of that is myasthenia gravis, which will hit women in their 20s or 30s and men in their 50s or 60s or 70s.

Another thing our professor told us, more than once during the course of the class, was that autoimmune diseases are important because basically it will be very unlikely that anyone nowadays will make it to old age without getting one. A sobering thought, for sure. And a lot of things that I never even thought of as autoimmune conditions are, like diabetes type 1, chron's disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, MS, celiac (which my doc thought I might have but thankfully, I do not). And then there were some I knew were, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and there were plenty I'd never heard of. I mean, ankylosing spondulitis (no idea if that's even spelled right) - that doesn't even sound like a real thing.

It does seem like these conditions are getting more common over time, and I think part of it is that testing is getting better, but still the thought that everyone's bound to end up with at least one is sobering.

Some have a high genetic correlation, like ankylosing (one of the highest, related to HLA-B27 gene), and some it's more iffy, like MS. And in MS, they're not even totally sure of what happens. Neurons get demyelinated (removal of the protective coating) but they're still not sure if it's by antibodies, or killer T cells, or some combination, or an upregulation of this thing called FAS which leads to cell death, or even how the invading antibodies and T cells cross the blood-brain barrier.

And some are related to infections. The two we learned about are an association between a certain (rare) strain of strep with later development of rheumatic fever, and kids who get coxsackie virus have a higher tendency to get diabetes type 1, and to a lesser extent, some autoimmune conditions, including MS, have been linked with infections of Epstein-Barr. And there are also types of drug-induced autoimmunities, including a form of lupus. It makes me wonder if there are any autoimmune conditions linked with vaccinations, b/c they cause the body to make antibodies and mount an immune response. It would be interesting to know more about that.

Maybe it's a bit twisted because some of these are really, really horrible conditions, but I am so fascinated!

We also learned about all types of allergies (known as hypersensitivities in the world of immunology) and boy did we speed through that part of the course, and how there are four different types and all the different pathologies that result. And we went a little bit into some immune deficiencies, such as hereditary angioedema, which apparently is fairly common.

An interesting thing about allergies is that the first type (the more immediate type) is thought to have evolved as a way to fight off parasitic infections because that particular system is very efficient at dealing with that, and it is possible that we have increases in allergies of this type because in the western world, we don't really encounter many parasites. Apparently there is a correlation between people who've had some low-grade helminthic parasite infection and a decrease in allergies.

We talked about the different blood types and how even if you've never been exposed to another type, your body still makes antibodies to it (scientists don't know why b/c usually you need to have exposure for antibody production to be activated in any significant way). And we talked about Rh (Rhesis) factor and how that affects moms and babies, which had some personal relevance because it affected my brother and sister both.

The parts we did not get into were more detailed looks at immune deficiencies, transplant rejections, tumor immunology and vaccination. Kinda thinking of reading some of it on my own b/c it all sounds interesting.

But a lot of it, yeah, would probably be dreadfully boring, chapters and chapters of cellular stuff, to anyone who's not really into it so I will try not to bore anyone any more than I already have. It's just hard to stop myself because I really love it. And the crazy thing is, in this class, as intense as it was, we really only scratched the surface. There would be so much more to learn and understand.

Sometimes I have these thoughts like, the immune system is so exquisitely put together, so detailed and nuanced and intricate, and so many different mechanisms have come about to deal with so many different things, it's amazing. And b/c it's so intricate, it's sometimes surprises me that more doesn't go wrong more often, that people live as long as they do.

Just today, my friend Wren posted this article on her facebook, about if birth control pills affect womens taste in men and it is all based on the MHC complex, which was a huge topic of the course.

MHC, or HLA in humans, is a set of genes that determine what molecules are expressed on (almost) all of our cells. It is how cells of the immune system recognize cells as self or non-self. It is why our bodies try to attack transplanted tissue. In the article it suggests that women can smell a man's MHC/HLA type (this was mentioned briefly in my textbook for Principles as well - crazy!) and seek out ones that are different than their own. It makes perfect sense in terms of evolution because if you mate with someone whose HLA is different than your own, your kid would theoretically have a better chance of survival and avoiding the genetic susceptibilities to diseases and autoimmune conditions. It's kind of like how pure-bred dogs are often at higher risk for diseases than mixes.

It was even suggested in our Principles book that people can smell whether people themselves are homozygous (got the same copy of the gene from both parents, aka themselves have less genetic diversity) or heterozygous (got different copies of the genes from each parents so have more genetic diversity themselves) and tend towards the latter.

Anyway, it's an interesting article!

All in all, I think I did pretty well in the class. We had two exams, and I did exceedingly well on the first one, a complete perfect score, but the final was a lot harder, covered a lot more, and more complex material and it was comprehensive, so, it was tough. I need to somehow stop myself from ever changing my answers, lol. I still felt okay, but man that exam was brutal! One of the hardest I have ever taken.

Regardless, it's over and I enjoyed it and learned a lot. I was mentally engaged and interested. But it is a relief to be done. And just when I think I'll have some big reprieve from all that work, on Monday I start genetics, which I honestly think, in comparison, will be a lot easier. There aren't any prerequisites beyond what I've already taken and it won't be so over my head, I hope, and I'll have people I know in my class. So, looking forward to that. And then, after those four weeks, I will have a real summer vacation.

Currently listening:
"Catalyst" - Anna Nalick - been on a Grey's music kick - especially Season Five, which I loved, but I'm actually not entirely sure where this song is from, oh well.


L.A. lights never shine quite as bright as in the movies
Still wanna go?
'Cause something here
In the way, in the way that we're constantly moving
Reminds you of home

So you're taking these pills
For to fill up your soul
And you're drinking them down with cheap alcohol
And I'd be inclined to be yours for the taking
And part of this terrible mess that you're making
But me, I'm the catalyst

When you say love is a simple chemical reaction
Can't say I agree
'Cause my chemical, yeah, left me a beautiful disaster
Still love's all I see

So I'm taking these pills for to fill up my soul
And I'm drinking them down with cheap alcohol
And you'd be inclined to be mine for the taking
And part of this terrible mess that I'm making
But you, you're the catalyst

You'll be the vein
You'll be the pain
You'll be the scar
You'll be the road, rolling below
The wheels of a car
And all of the thoughts, on God
Don't know if I'm strong enough now
You'll be the vein
You'll be the pain
You'll be the

These L.A. lights, no no,
They don't shine quite as bright as back in Frisco
Do you wanna go?
Still wanna go

Friday, July 2, 2010

Geese and Poetry

Well, it has been awhile (though let me just say I have written and not posted several blogs, not that that's necessarily a good thing, just kinda wanting to say I haven't completely ignored the blog, just felt somewhat reticent about posting) and I guess I don't have much to share, but lately I keep thinking about posting poems I like, so that's what I'm gonna do.

It's funny to say this, as a writer and a person who LOVES lyrics, but I am not so big on poetry. Out of any form of writing, I know without question that it's my weakest area. And it takes a lot for me to really like a poem. In several instances, I like poems that friends have written more than those by established poets, but from going to several poetry gatherings on Orcas I have collected and cultivated some that I really love. I've been going through all my folders lately, so it's been nice to come acrosss some of these treasures. I want to read over the ones I've collected, and collect more. And I just feel like sharing.

So the one I have really been thinking about lately is "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver. I am not always a huge fan of hers, but it seems this one comes in and out of my life. I've read it at various writers circles and workshops, it's quoted in my friend Janet Thomas' book Day Breaks Over Dharamsala and it was on my mind a lot when I went and did the Snow Goose weekend over spring break in Montana. I was sort of leading the poetry and writing section of that weekend and one of the things I wanted to do was bring in poems about birds or geese (and just as an aside, one of the many conclusions I've come to after my first year of biology with the aid of that weekend in Montana, is that birds are AMAZING creatures). I didn't really think this poem was great to read to eight-year-olds, but it's been on my mind off and on, ever since.

"Wild Geese"
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I love that line, "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." And when she says, "the world offers itself to your imagination," I immediately think of the natural world, and I relate to that. And who can resist a poem that starts with, "You do not have to be good"? That opening line will make anyone feel a sense of relief!

I also found this one, "Snow Geese" which I wish I had found before the Snow Goose weekend because it's a bit more accessible I think, to kids. Mary Oliver writes a lot about nature, and animals, and sometimes it's just a little too sweet and soft for me. I think that a lot about a lot of poets, like they're just saying, I saw this beautiful scene, but don't give it a story, if that makes sense. I like poems that awaken me to something, that make me feel, or think, or give me chills, or won't get out of my head, or make me hold my breath the way she describes in this following poem. So with that said, I must say I like "Wild Geese" above better than what I'm about to post, but since we're on the topic of geese, and since I like it okay, especially the beginning, here it is:

"Snow Geese"
by Mary Oliver

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

Experiencing migrating snow geese really is a rare, transient and pretty astonishing thing to witness.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What the fuck is wrong with people?!

(Or, more simply, venting)

So, okay, awhile ago I signed up for this online dating site (OKCupid) kinda reluctantly at the suggestion of a friend. She had met some cool people on there so I kinda skeptically signed up and whatnot. After the first little bit where I got some really weirdo creepy interactions from some creepy dudes I pretty much stopped going, completely ignored the site and pretty much forgot about it. And then, sometime last week I got an email that some guy had msg'd me on there so I went and looked and he had a pretty cool profile. We seemed to be interested in a lot of the same things, he reads tarot, he likes Tori Amos which is a plus in my book, really seemed to be into good conversation, it was clear we were on the same page on a lot of topics, etc. So I was still feeling hesitant but I thought what the hell and wrote the guy back.

So he pretty much immediately gave me his number and asked to talk on the phone. I thought it was a bit odd only b/c we had barely communicated AT ALL. I'm new to dating sites but not to online interactions obviously (lots of time on a forum) and no one in all my experience has ever wanted to talk on the phone so immediately, not even the weird creepy dudes from OKC! And I wasn't really comfortable with it. I definitely, definitely can get a sense of people through writing, so I told the guy I'd like to chat on the site a time or two first. I wanted to get a basic sense of the guy. I do not think that's unreasonable.

Apparently he did. He wrote back that I needed to conquer my fear, he said something like, "identify the cause and fix it." That is total paraphrasing but you get the gist and then he said he'd call me today. It pissed me off. It made me feel like he wasn't listening at all, but I have also found that sometimes when I'm doing things like setting boundaries with people, I'm not as clear as I think I'm being, so I restated how I felt, and did it stronger, without being a jackass or aggressive, but firmly stating it. So anyway I had also told the guy I wasn't going to be around all weekend/yesterday because I had a huge exam last night I had to study for.

So I woke up this morning to this msg from him. He went off on this whole thing saying I don't know how to manage risk in interpersonal relationships and all this stuff about how he needs to see people in person ASAP and implying there's something wrong with me for not wanting that. I thought it was pretty rude. And he still said he is calling.

So my reaction is WTF?!?! I gave him a piece of my mind in return. I mean, really wtf??? I am so fucking pissed. Way to totally not respect my needs or boundaries, you know? The guy is acting like it would have killed him to not talk on the phone ASAP, to chat with me once or twice, and the fact that he twice said he's going to call me anyway when I've clearly said that I don't want him to?! WTF is wrong with people? I told him if he's this unwilling to do a simple thing or respect my boundaries, I have no time for that shit. I didn't say it quite like that, I wasn't rude or anything, but you know what, I was in a terrible situation a few years ago living w/someone and constantly catering to his needs and ignoring my own and maybe that situation did actually make me stronger, b/c I'll tell you, I'm not putting up with this shit.

I don't know if I'm overreacting. I am really fucking pissed. I am also super irritable lately for health-related reasons and so that's not helping matters, but I really, really don't think I was being unreasonable in this situation. I guess a part of me is worried that maybe I am, that maybe he's right about my inability to manage risk in interpersonal relationships or something. That part of me that always feels guilty for asking for ANYTHING for myself is activated, and the part of me that is lonely thinks that I shouldn't turn guys down b/c it's not exactly I get asked out and so maybe I should just go along with it.

But I also don't want people in my life who are going to be judgy like that and who can't take the time or energy to do a simple thing to respect my needs. I do a LOT for other people, you know? And I think it says a lot that he won't do a simple thing for me. It's hard to not feel like I am asking too much b/c I always feel like I am when I ask for anything, but fuck. I'm proud of myself for holding my ground, for not just going along w/what he wanted, and for expressing it in a way that was strong but not assy and at the same time it is a little uncomfortable b/c I'm not so used to this.

The thing is though, a few months ago, I had another dating encounter, in real life, that did not go so well either. I don't want to say much b/c there is one person on my facebook that may know the guy, but it didn't go well, in my opinion. Again the guy was really pushy and totally didn't listen to me. He'd probably be fine as a casual friend but I ended up really not having any interest in dating him or spending too much time w/him. He told me once that I have really clear boundaries, which was, for sure, the first time anyone EVER said that about me, lol. I am usually more on the doormat side of things, but trying hard to change that.

But god it makes me feel like such a BITCH. And it's not a comfortable feeling. It makes me feel a little crappy about myself, like I "do not play well with others," as the saying goes. I'm sooo used to being accommodating and doing what everyone else wants that it's really kind of difficult to be doing something different. It feels awkward and unfamiliar and does make me feel like a raving bitch. I think I feel like a raving bitch even when I'm just barely, barely, being assertive but still I feel it. Ugh, I guess it's just something to get used to. I am almost thirty, I can't be letting people walk all over me. I just can't. And if that makes me a bitch and means I don't play well with others and makes me "uncoupleable" to steal a word that a friend used recently, so be it, right? Still, it is just not so comfortable being in such unfamiliar territory.

Currently listening:
"Nothing to Say" - Soundgarden

Nothing, nothing, nothing but the one thing

Someone said my words are out of balance
Nothing to say, you've got nothing to say
Dying words, I bury everyday
Nothing to say, I've got nothing to say
Nothing but the one thing

You've got nothing, nothing to say

Nothing but the one thing

Big bad word, spell it with four letters
Nothing to say, you've got nothing to say
Oh my god, your words are out of balance
Nothing to say, you've got nothing to say
Nothing but the one thing
Nothing, nothing

You've got nothing, nothing to say

Nothing but the one thing

Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Okay, it's been forever or whatever...

...and I actually had a friend (who I don't get to talk to enough) email me asking if I was okay b/c my lack of blogging worried her. Really I have no good reason other than just being busy and pathologically inconsistent in some areas of life.

So, it's been over two months! Lots to update.

Shortly after the last blog post, I went to this very impromptu weekend seminar in Salem. The seminar itself wasn't impromptu but my going was. I didn't even find out until the night before and just decided to go with it. It was for the NFB (National Federation of the Blind) of Oregon and I met some great people, learned some stuff and caused some trouble (talked three other blind people into finding a bar in a town that none of us were familiar with and ended up at this bar called The Pink Elephant with black&white checked floor and some drunk girl that gives really interesting dating advice in the bar bathroom - good times). I don't know what it is but sometimes I just have this irrepressible urge to cause trouble, stir up some mischief and this was a good outlet for that. And I will just leave it all at

During Spring Break I went to Montana to take part in the Camp Eureka Snow Goose weekend. This was a weekend camp for blind kids to observe the migration of Snow Geese by sound. The geese stop very temporarily at an area called Freeze-Out Lake on their long migration north. They stop to rest and feed on nearby barley fields. When they take off from the lake to go to the fields, the sound they make is hard to describe. Underneath the snow goose chirpings, the beating of their wings as they prepare to fly almost sounds like a motor in the distance, and it ripples through the sky as if the geese are doing "the wave." It was a great experience to be part of, pretty magical, and so great to work with the kids. They were all girls, with varying degrees of interest in the topic. The youngest girl was a virtual expert on birds, especially geese. She could recognize so many bird calls! She pointed out the call of a trumpeter swan while we were trekking out to listen to the geese. Two of the campers had never spent the night away from their parents before. It was cool to be involved with working with them on independence skills as well. Also met some really great people that weekend.

And saving the best for last, I had an even more impromptu trip to Seattle a few weekends ago, to see SOUNDGARDEN at their first live show in over thirteen years (and my first SG show ever). I am still kinda shocked that that happened! I found out about it via a friend's facebook but wasn't sure the show was even real. This was the night before the show. I went to bed thinking, wow, I wish I could go to that and sure that there was no way. Then the next morning after I got home from class I was trying to find stuff online and it looked like the show would for sure go on that night. Then I got an email with a ticketmaster password and by some magic, actually got tickets. I texted my friend Kelly and asked if she wanted to go see Soundgarden that night. She was at work but her response was, "Hmmm let me think about it...YES" and she picked me up about an hour later. The show was AWESOME! I can't wait until they tour, and I may in fact be going to Lollapalooza in August again this year. I can't miss the Soundgarden/Chris Cornell party.

It was a total rockstar day because we drove there and back all in one day, and I had commitments throughout the rest of the weekend. Nothing like a rockstar trip like that to make you feel younger and more full of energy than you really are!

When my lease ended at the apartment I moved into before school started, I looked for another place. The location was amazing - right downtown, two blocks from campus, but it was a tiny space that I felt like I was paying too much for, and there were a lot of maintenance problems. And living downtown was starting to get to me. There was just no relief from the noise, especailly at night when the #@#%$ street sweeper would be going at alllll freakin' hours of the night. Plus the rent was going to go up. So I found a new place. I now take the city bus to school (sometimes a few times a day) and live in this really nature-y area, just a few blocks from a nature trail. I have little back and front balconies (shared w/neighbors) and windows in every room, and I'm in a one-bedroom now. I am kind of in love w/my new apartment. There's a cute little dining area, hardwood floors in the living room and bedroom, lots of views of trees and it has a really good feel. The downside is it doesn't havemuch storage space (my old place did) so I find myself in desperate need of some furniture to deal with this. Overall though, I love it. I have a real kitchen now, instead of a closet (literally) at my old place. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot around my apartment except a hospital so I say I have traded nightlife for nature, and I am so glad I did.

Lovin' it. Loving this term of biology. We're doing an overview of all the animal body systems, kind of like an Anatomy & Physiology crash course. It has definitely been the hardest material we've covered all year, but it is nice to be challenged. What can I say, I freakin' love it. I can't wait to take more bio classes and actually will be taking A&P next year. Since I will be full-time I can bring in the writing too and have signed up for a writing class in the fall. It's cool b/c the prof for it is the same prof whose class I sat in on when I visited PSU last year before my India trip, and I had all kinds of synchronicity with her and the class, all these little things that related to other things and I remember someone on here told me to pay attention to those things when making my college choice, so...coming full circle in a way.

I did sing "hold On' for my voice class, and it went okay but would've gone better if I hadn't been so nervous. What's cool is I am now taking voice lessons from the teacher, privately, now that the class is over, and her fee rate is so beyond reasonable! And we are now working on "China" by Tori Amos, which just totally floats my boat. I feel I am getting so much more out of this because it's one-on-one and all. I know I am getting better at pitch and clarity. It's still kinda nerve-wracking but oh well. If it doesnt' scare you at least a little, is it really worth doing??

This term for my "extra" class I am taking piano and loving that as well. I just love having my scientific, intellectual side and my musical, creative side fulfilled at the same time. The class got split into two groups - one that is going faster and one that is going slower - and I'm in the faster group which feels really good. I know I am keeping up and learning a lot, and my music-reading abilities are improving too. We have a recital in class on Friday, where we have to play in fornt of everyone. I am kinda psyched for it because I am doing this song called "Ocean Mist" which is in E minor (which the instructor described as the darkest) and I LOVE it. I am so much more drawn towards the minor chords and sounds. To me the song sounds like a dark northern ocean mist, not a California one at all. Love it.

There is a lot more I could talk about I'm sure, as it has been over two months, but I have to finish reading about the immune system (a chapter that has just raised sooo many questions in my mind) and go to bed. I've got that recital on Friday and a major exam on Monday to prepare for but I also had to stop in here and finally give some updates now that I am a bit more settled into my new apartment and finally have internet turned on there.

Currently listening:
"Mad World" - Alex Parks

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And the tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head, I want to drown my sorrows
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
Because I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world
Mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Get to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher, what's my lesson?
She looked right through me, looked right through me

A nd I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
Because I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world