Monday, December 14, 2009

Dreaming of NY

I remember why I left New York. I was tired of working long hours, and I missed being close to my family. Of course, now that I'm here, I have more free time and I'm literally living at home. Now I miss my New York family--not just my cousins, but my close friends who were there to support me through every decision I made. And now that I have free time, there is no other place that I want to spend it other than New York. I've been thinking so much about this, and my prime motivation to do well in school is to get into the PhD epidemiology program at Columbia, so I can be back with my New York family in Manhattan. Last night I had quite the dream, which captured what I miss most about New York...

So whenever I dream that I'm at Shilpa's apartment, she always has a deck-like fire escape. I guess that West side story/RENT apartment fantasy had never fully been erased from my mind. So anyway, Jasmin, Shilpa and I were on Shilpa's fire escape, and we were just talking and enjoying a glass of wine. Then we looked out at the other building roofs and saw a woman in heels and a fluffy cocktail dress climb out of her window. She hopped from one fire escape to the other, balancing her stilettos on the thin black bars as if she had done this dozens of times, and all while holding half a martini glass of something to match her dress. "Who is that?" I asked. Shilpa quickly responded, "Oh, that's Carrie from Sex and the City. She's making her way to her first party. This is rare. She's usually out much later." When she floated to the roof, I could see that it was indeed Carrie, and she whistled for her first cab of the night, which sped up to the roof, picked her up and disappeared in the direction of the meat-packing district.

Next we saw a professional gymnast who wanted to talk to us. Shilpa said, "Well if you shovel the front steps for us we can talk." He insisted on impressing us on the roof, so he did several acrobatic tricks across the roofs of the block and performed handstands on the banister of his fire escape. We clapped and cheered and he disappeared inside.

Jasmin forgot something at her home so she hopped across a few fire escapes, crawled through her window and came back with Christmas lights, which we dangled over the banister. We just continued conversation until someone would intermittently shout from below, "Nice Lights," to which we shouted back, "Thank you," and our simple responses impressed them as if someone from the deck rarely graced a response to the ground.

I think this dream represents how I see people in New York. Other than maybe 20 of the close friends I have in New York that I would allow on the deck and into my life, I view the people of New York as 6 million single-serving friends. The professional gymnast represents a special moment or memory one would have with a New Yorker, but I guarantee you, even if that gymnast ended up living next door, we would never see him again. Even if we sat on that deck every night.

Carrie is the icon that is supposed to represent us young professional women in the city, able to balance and float easily from one adventure to the next.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

In Dreams

So I've been wait listed at Tufts for about a month and a half now, and I've spent that time thinking of any conceivable way of acquiring further education credits, recommendations and any other way I can prove to them how serious I am about getting my MPH there. I've spent so much time thinking about what my future in three weeks will hold that I started dreaming about it.

My dream started when I entered a Biology class. The first thing I noticed was that there were several packages from high school students to the school, which had several Bio-lab projects inside. We opened a package and found out that these projects were groundbreaking impressive experiments that impressed even the professor, and I had immediately discredited all of the work I had previously sent in.

After viewing the contents of the package, I looked up and realized that these 12-year-old kids were in the next room working on something. I went in and saw about 50 petri dishes with different liquids in each one. I asked what was going on and the kids said that they all went onto the online class site and were told to take and record the temperature of all the liquid samples in the room. I quickly got my materials together so I could do the same thing. But I had one of those aluminum-framed mercury thermometers that couldn't possibly get the temperature of something in a little petri dish, so I was stuck. When I looked up again to ask for help, all of the 12-year-olds had gone downstairs to eat lunch, so my lack of preparation led me to miss lunch.

Then the professor walked in and said that the class hadn't even started yet. The students in my class were so epic, they had finished the coursework in the class before it even started. WTF.
Dream over.

I think I can analyze this one to a tea, because it is revealing all of the feelings that I have toward grad school. Of course to a much higher degree of exaggeration.

1. I'm afraid that the credentials I'm handing in don't have as much merit as I thought.
2. I'm apprehensive about being in classes with students that are as much as 6 years younger than me, of course in dreams, that means 12-year-olds.
3. I never had to worry about finding online material at Drexel, and there might be some essential online material in my classes that I'll never be able to find, because I'm obviously so computer-illiterate.
4. I have a long resentment over the time in ninth grade when I didn't have a lunch break on Wednesdays and had Bio-lab from 11:45-1:15 that day. I was sternly told the first Wed that Bio-lab is not a place to eat lunch, so I had to convince the crotchety Geometry teacher that I had to eat lunch in her class, and every week she would say in her trollish voice, "Elizabeth, it looks like you care more about your lunch than your geometry." She was right. I could have eaten lunch in History at 1:15.

In reality, I am aware of the changes that will take place compared to Drexel, ie, larger age gap, more online material, more competition. But I wouldn't categorize them as fears. I'm excited about what these changes will bring.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I need better theories

As I begin to become interested in particular topics in my studies, there are several topics that spark further exploration. (oh yeah, I'm taking online courses at University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and I'm giggling only because I can say Minnesota with a stellar Fargo accent, stellar)

The 20s and 30s represent prime childbearing years for low-risk pregnancies in white women. But while white teen pregnancies are considered extremely risky, studies show that African American teen mothers experience a survival advantage compared to infants whose mothers are older. As African American women enter their 20s and 30s, infant mortality rates increase.

The Weathering Hypothesis suggests that African American women may begin to deteriorate due to socioeconomic disadvantage. It is unclear why these disparities exist, but various social determinants are offered as possible explanations.

Reflecting on what other factors could play a part in this, I researched further and discovered there are several genetic differences between white and African American women. On average, African American women enter puberty and begin menstrual cycles much earlier than white women. The high-risk associated with white teen pregnancies may be because of the lack of fertile development, while most African American teens have reached fertile maturity much earlier and have already surpassed the high-risk pregnancy window during their pre-teen years. These facts suggest that it is possible that for African Americans, prime childbearing years could naturally peak in their teen years. [Don't be impressed, when I researched further, I discovered several other explanations shooting down this theory]

And so far, my world of theories are continuously being rejected. I think it's because I'm way too optimistic when it comes to health.

For example, we now know that some long-term smokers get COPD earlier than others. When speaking to a physician about possible genetic effects, I suggested that perhaps some guys have a gene that makes their lungs more elastic and resilient. The physician laughed and said "There's no superman gene. There must be patients with genes that make them more at risk for the disease." My immediate thought was, what a pessimist, but as I find out more about the approaches made to find these facts, the question is always, "Who's more at risk?" and never "Who's in the clear?"

Now that I've finally grasped that without prevention, every relevant person has a chance of being at risk, perhaps now my theories will have more worth. Of course, as I understand, it is common to have even the most profound trial findings shot down several times in one's career.

Why Epi? Why Now?

It's crunch time. For the admissions office, not me. I'm in the waiting game with no apparent timeline. Since, I've applied, I received various promises from one school that I will hear back in: 5-7 days, 2 weeks, 1 month from the app deadline, and now, the beginning of December. The other school has me waitlisted, which is just an excuse to have me wait longer.

Many of you are curious why I decided to make a career switch of this magnitude. As I learn more about Public Health, the combination of curiosity and passion has led me to create a list of all of the things I want to accomplish while on the road to a PhD in Epi.

Head-to-Head Trials

When Big Pharma finally breaks down and funds head-to-head-trials, they have all these dodgy ways of weighing data to their favor. I want to create an organization that funds head-to-head trials, while taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of each drug as documented by their pivotal trials. Clinical trial models should use treatment guidelines for measurements, any AEs that require special monitoring and other factors.

There is so much data already out there that we can use for retrospective trials. An example that has already been done makes an association between rib injuries and pneumonia. Rib injuries can cause patients to breath shallowly to avoid further pain, but shallow breathing can lead to a build up of bacteria in the chest causing pneumonia and other bacterial infections. Findings like these can prevent additional ailments in patients.

Unusual exposure
I feel that a fair number of trial proposals from physicians stem from undocumented evidence observed in the several patients they see everyday. I want to explore fields that might not be followed as often in medicine, and interview people who may have exposure to a specific group of patients that aren't seen by a physician everyday. An example could be interviewing trainers who help overly obese patients lose weight dramatically. The process of losing excessive weight is especially interesting, because the body does what it can to maintain the weight that the person is, so when they begin to waste rapidly, it would be interesting to know what the body does to cope and if these processes can be arranged into stages...

Regulate Big Pharma

Last year, the FDA put all of these regulations into place to align Big Pharma with better practices, but I'll tell you right now, they failed. Keeping sales reps from giving doctors flashy pens will not solve the manipulation behind sales. The first thing I learned in Marketing class at Drexel was that health care is an inelastic market. Even though Big Pharma does us a favor by creating medications that save lives, something should be done to remind them this business is for the lives.

-Keeping patients from getting a better approved drug, because the company's other less effective drug hasn't run it's life cycle yet--worse than a flashy pen.

-Paying doctors (key opinion leaders) millions of dollars to advocate a drug and pretend that all their patients flourished on the medication--worse than a notepad with the logo on it

-Redefining the disease state to fit the medication's needs and brainwashing sales reps into believing it--worse than a flash drive

Obviously, this is more of a health policy thing, but this is something I care about.

Stop and give yourself a pat on the back
Thanks to epidemiology, awful diseases have been controlled and even eradicated, and yet there are new diseases, new strands of old diseases, and several other things to keep epidemiologists at work. One question that I'm trying to answer through retrospective research is if we eradicated malaria, would there be a dramatic increase of anemic patients? How would we best prepare for this? Would it make sense to fight both synchronously?

There are several other efforts, I'd love to find out more about in general. I saw this film called "The Final Inch" about UNICEF trying to eradicate polio in the world, and it made me want to get involved. There are other diseases and ailments (HIV, diabetes, autism, malaria) where I'd like to know more about the current efforts people are taking to control or find the root of.

At the end of my career, I'd like to say, "Because of my contribution to public health, we know the cause of blank disease, we've eradicated blank disease, and we are living in a much safer environment, due to the data we've found stating blank." You get the idea. It may be difficult for me to be solely responsible for these things, but I hope to find correlations in the data that will lead to any of these great events.

Right now, I have to just get into an MPH program.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

David Benioff is pretty much my favorite author ever

I am so tired of authors like Elizabeth Gilbert (eat, pray, love) and Julie Powell (Julie and Julia) hogging the New York Times bestseller list. They sell a great product--overcoming an unsettling divorce by traveling the world, riding on only alimony and "self-worth" or following in someone else's shadow. Great Products. I'm not gonna lie, I read them both and loved them, however, I was disappointed that the New York Times Bestseller list is bombarded with Great Products but lack of literary masterpiece. I was yearning to find an author who was not only a great storyteller but a great writer.

Then I read City of Thieves by David Benioff. Amazing piece of literature with descriptive images that reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's work. Then I read his other two books and I was officially a fan. I'm upset that City of Thieves hasn't made any notable book lists as it was first published back in March.

I had been so overwhelmed by my grad school applications that I completely forgot to tend to my novel, and now that I just finished "25th Hour", I'm now inspired to continue. I guess I'm also inspired by Benioff's life story. He was living in New York teaching English in a crappy Brooklyn high school while writing his first novel. There is actually evidence of a normal life before publication that I can identify with and that is what makes him my favorite author.

Looking at his books, I noticed that the dedication pages kind of represented his life and career journey:

25th Hour: For Mom and Dad
When the Nines Roll Over: For Amanda. I love you.
City of Thieves: For Amanda and Frankie.

and I thought of the struggle it took for him to write his first book. Did he know it would become such a success? Did he ever consider dedicating the first book to a girlfriend that he didn't realize he would lose? Is that what the whole To Mom and Dad bit is about? And then I thought of who my first dedication page would mention. There are a lot of people who I want to address:

To Mom and Dad. I told you I would finish it.

Kitty, I'm sorry for filling a pixie stick with white pepper before giving it to you, but seriously, biting me wasn't the answer.

Emily, thanks for letting me stay at your house in London for two weeks. I want to especially thank you for staying late with me that first night as you told me stories about China before my 3 days of sleeplessness. On that fourth night, my lucid jetlag-induced 12-hour dream led to my story.

Shilpa and Jasmin, thanks for supporting me, and as promised, I'm moving back to New York, although I would have preferred to fulfill my promise through winning the lottery.

Delevega, thanks for teaching me to become my dream, but you're still a douchebag.

To the girls in my high school who gathered on the stairs on the last day of school, wondering which student in our class would break free of mediocrity and become an outlandishly successful and inspiring person. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to think, 'that person could be me.'

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Starnes and Shah Choose Boston's Indie Music Scene

I recently sat down with Dania and Zilpha from the band Starnes and Shah, and they dished about their new move to Boston, their busy New England tour, and new record, ‘Pink, White, Blue, Green,’ which is releasing in May 2009. While chatting it up with the group over papaya martinis, I found out what makes Boston such a great indie music scene, and it’s not the groupies…

Liz: What were the beginnings of Starnes and Shah? What made you guys decide to make music together?

Dania: Starnes and Shah had started in 2005. I had played alone for a while since college. Zilpha and I went to the same school [Sarah Lawrence] but didn’t really know each other until after we graduated. I did a lot of coffeehouse shows in the city, open mics and little features. After I graduated, I was still working in Bronxville and needed a roommate, and Zilpha and I met each other through a mutual friend, and we ended up living together. For the first year, we didn’t play music together at all. I knew that she sang and played music but for some reason we never played together. Then we both moved to Queens, NY, and one day, I had written a song and heard Zilpha humming in the other room, so I said, could you indulge me for a second and sing along, and she did, and that was it. From that point on, I forced her to sing with me forever. [Zilpha laughs]

Liz: I’ve heard several of the samples provided on the website. Very creative stuff. How would you describe your sound?

Dania: I tell people it’s a vocal duo and usually people cringe when they hear that but really what we are is sort of indie/folk and now we’ve evolved into rock, but still a vocal duo. There’s no backup singer. There aren’t really any indie rock vocal duos out there.

Liz: What’s your process for writing music?

Dania: I write the songs. The basic lyrics and melodies. I see myself as the storyteller. And at that point, they’re half-cooked, but when Zilpha and I get together on them, they really come to life, because when I write songs the second voice is always missing. We come from very different musical backgrounds. I don’t know how to read music. I’ve never been trained to play anything. And Zilpha is a classically trained singer and musician, and had a music background in the church band and didn’t know who Zeppelin was when I met her. It’s been pretty educational in terms of the structured way to view and arrange music, which is really Zilpha’s strength. Each of our strengths is another one’s weakness and vise versa. It’s very collaborative.

Zilpha: The consistent thread for me [whether it be music or acting] has been relating to a story that’s already been created and trying to make other people present in the telling of that story. I want to complement the story, not compete or undermine or change it. It means a lot to me to be in a group and make music again with people who are receptive to what my strengths and interests are.

Liz: Have you guys been on tour a lot in the past, and how will this upcoming tour be different?

Dania: We were both working full time jobs in New York, so we weren’t able to go on tour, so we were a regional band at the time and played in New York, and we did a show in Austin Texas. We’re really looking forward to starting this Boston tour, because we’ll have some rock shows, some acoustic shows. The nice thing about living in Boston is that there are other cities nearby that we get to play at like Burlington, VT and Portland, ME. We have a radio show in New Hampshire and we’re setting up other performances there, and we want to continue to play in New York. We really want to extend our reach. Our goal is to be able to get in a van one day and go everywhere and anywhere.

Zilpha: I’m originally from Dallas, and I really hope that we can play a string of shows in the Dallas and Austin areas.

Liz: Is there a favorite venue that you’ve played at so far?

Dania: [without a pause] Our favorite music venue, I would have to say is Patty O’Reilly’s music bar in New York. This guy named Rick Johnson holds a great open mic there. He used to hold one at this famous club called the C Notes, which closed, but he arranges open mics around a feature act, which is great because the showcase interacts with everyone else, and the bar scene is great. We did it a few times with a full band. We’re definitely looking forward to discovering which Boston venue will be a favorite.

Liz: I’ve heard your previous record Summer in the Woodshed, which is available now on iTunes, and selected songs from your new record on your website [] and I noticed great similarities between you and the Indigo Girls. What are your musical influences and your response to this comparison?

Dania: I’m a huge fan of the Indigo Girls, and I dragged Zilpha to a few of their shows so she’s a fan too. My musical influences are scattered: I love Oasis, which I still get a lot of flak for, and I loved Pearl Jam. I still and will always love them. I love Tori Amos. She is a great singer/songwriter and she has a great band behind her. When we were performing in New York, I made it a mandate for the whole band to see her perform live. I love the band America and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. My romance is vocal harmonies. Since we’ve been in Boston, I’ve heard some great stuff recently from the local band Faces on Film.

Zilpha: I grew up listening to a lot of country music, which would surprise everyone, George Strait, and Randy Travis, a lot of Randy Travis. I was a big fan of girl harmony groups like Envogue and Ace of Base and ABBA thus triggering my Swedish phase. I like to pretend I’m Swedish. My dad actually looks like one of the ABBA band members. [laughter] My biggest influence has been the people I knew personally that wrote and played music as I grew up.

Liz: What made you decide to move from New York to Boston?

Dania: New York is a great city, but it can be exhausting to pursue your art and pay the bills. We wanted to find a city where we could really tap into the artistic community, but at the same time, we didn’t want to go too far from New York. Boston has an amazing music scene, and other great music cities nearby.

Zilpha: I think that we were really fortunate when living in New York, because we had a “not New York experience.” We had a very intimate work environment at Turtle Bay Music School, where everyone knew that we did our music thing on the side, and that was our passion. And I don’t think we would’ve had the balls to move to Boston, if it wasn’t for our supportive workplace that believed in us.

Liz: Did the groupies follow you from New York to Boston?

Dania: Ha, well the groupies are PG-13, so none of that. But we’ve had some awesome people, who were friends, fans and supporters, period. We have some really dedicated fans across the country. It’s hard to make that commitment and move somewhere for art, and say I’m gonna give art a go, but we’ve had so many friends come out and say ‘we support you and good luck,’ and that’s why we didn’t want to move too far from New York, because we have a group there that support us and believe in us.

Liz: So what can we expect from Starnes and Shah in the near future?

Dania: I’m really excited. I know the band is excited. We have a bunch of shows all over New England. We’re gonna get a Zipcar van and just go, try and document all of our trip, and post snip-its on our web site, and then we have our CD release party in New York, which is very exciting. For us, we’re coming out of our 9 to 5 lives and dedicating our lives into this project, so we want to document all of it.

Zilpha: I’m very excited about the shows that we have. We’re going to play with the Bella Birds at the Lily Pad, and I think its great that we’ve already reached out to a local band. Similar to putting together a great mixtape for someone, I feel like we’re putting together a really fun evening of folk and soulful music. And we’re playing at Midway cafĂ© with one of the members of Hotel Universe, and we’re putting together a rock compilation to compliment his style.

Dania: I think the best part about it is being able to reach out to musicians in the area and form a community. We’ve been able to contact bands we like and say, hey, I like you sound, we should play a show together.

Liz: So I guess since you’ve come to Boston, you’ve been welcomed by other bands in the area and have already become a part of the local music community.

Dania: So far yeah. Right now, we’re ramping up about our first show on the 17th at Midway, but we’ve reached out to other bands and gone to see them play. Going to these shows makes me think, yes, indie music is alive and well in Boston. We couldn’t wish for anything better.

Liz: Fences the Plea is one of the songs off of your upcoming album, Pink, White, Blue, Green. The combination of the heartfelt lyrics and the strong build up sounded like an eclectic campfire for the advanced listener. Could you tell me what inspired the lyrics and music for this song?

Dania: Fences the Plea is a story of venturing into a new world. I visited Australia last summer. We both did. And I wrote this song before even going there, because Australia was a present place in my mind and my reality. The continent is so massive, and there’s something so open and wide about it, but in that space there are still people who feel trapped and encaged. And it’s a common love story, where someone feels a lack of freedom, but I thought it was really compelling to think of that in the context of Australia.

Liz: Pink, White, Blue, Green. It’s a very interesting title. Can you elaborate on where you got the title from?

Zilpha: We were discussing the title on one of our whirlwind weekends between Boston and New York on the Bolt bus [big plug, its great, it has wi-fi], and we were at Tick tock diner, and they have this retro table that was white with pink, blue and green speckles, and Dania asked me what the title should be and I said, pink, white, blue, green. And that also refers to the song Confetti [which has said phrase]. I always liked album titles that referred to a song in the album.

Dania: Pink white blue green is just about being all over the map at once and being in a small space at the same time, and bouncing crazily from one thing to the next, and to me that’s a metaphor for living in New York and trying to get out, but wanting to stay. We chose the album title because it was really representative of what we were feeling—unsure, all over the place, kind of loving it, a little bit scared, and it’s been an interesting ride and has been changing colors dramatically.

So, if you want to see Starnes and Shah live in Boston, watch them kick off their live tour on May 17th at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain, or go to their web site for more dates. Keep a close watch for their record releasing in May 2009.

You Haven't Seen Enough of the Cold War Kids

The Cold War Kids have been ruling the indie music scene since 2004, and their newest album, ‘Loyalty to Loyalty’ is a sure indication that they intend to continue their reign. The band started this year off right with a major presence at the SXSW music festival in Austin, TX, and for the next few months, they will be on a world tour with Death Cab for Cutie. There aren’t any Boston dates set in stone yet, but with their early album success, you can bet that the tour will extend its way to Beantown.

I recently heard their new single “I’ve seen enough,” and it sets up a disappointing mood in the opening line ‘how’s it gonna feel when summer ends, out of money, out of friends,’ but the song is a beautiful reflection of experiencing a situation you don’t agree with and deciding to step in and take action. This song reminded me of the feeling I had when seeing the poor response to Hurricane Katrina on television. I was done watching people dying in the streets. I had seen enough and wanted to take matters into my own hands. Supported by strong vocals and lyrics that successfully carry out the singer’s frustration, this tune is on the track to be a Cold War Kids classic.

There’s currently a music video directed by Vern Moen found here, but the web site verifies that an official music video directed by Sam Jones will release on their web site and probably youtube by the end of April, and “aspires to shatter all molds of existing online music videos.” I’m personally looking forward to the shattering. Keep a watch on their web site for these updates, so you don’t miss out on Nate Willett’s urgency to clap along with his own songs and the new music video.

Fiction Family Makes An Impression

Two musicians from different family bands have come together to form a band cleverly called Fiction Family. They just finished their first tour following the January 20th release of their self-titled album. Before hearing the album, I wondered how the pop lyrics of Switchfoot frontman, Jon Foreman would mesh with the bluegrass sound of Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins.

I was really taken by their first single “When she’s near.” If the song were in all major chords, it would have been chipper enough to be a mainstream top 40 hit, but the intentional change to minor and flat keys left an unfamiliar dissonance that made me want to curiously keep playing it over again. I listened intently as lyrics of celebration, written for a cheery upbeat melody, were hidden in somber undertones, as if they recorded it in Halloweenland from the Nightmare Before Christmas.

The rest of the album is laced with musical genius, spanning multiple styles of music and using various instruments. With rumors of upcoming albums and tours, Fiction Family is a band to watch out for in the future.

Mash-up Music Done Right

It’s late Friday night, and you’re driving home. Out of shameful habit you flip on Kiss 108 and hear two well-known hits spliced together in harmony known as Mash-up Mafia. Your first thoughts are, 'this is a great idea if they didn’t try and scramble this together five minutes before the show started.’

And due to strict copyright infringement laws, it was almost impossible to find a plausible professional mash-up artist, until now.

I recently heard the genius mash-ups from DJ Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk. I was immediately taken by his arrangements as my favorite slow jams were transformed into the ultimate workout album that encouraged me to stay on the treadmill for more than my patience alone would allow.

Girl Talk is one of those treasures ahead of its legal time, much like Napster was in 2000. It’s time to appreciate this gift with your head turned, until the authority reminds you that you are the only one being rewarded in this exchange, which is apparently wrong.

Known by the New York Times as “a lawsuit waiting to happen,” Girl Talk has released one of the best mash-up albums I’ve ever heard called ‘Feed the animals’. Go to the website, to hear the whole album, and if you want to buy it, pay as much as you think it’s worth.

I initially decided to buy it for $0.99, but when I realized that it was downloading before I even paid for it, I threw in a few more bucks to thank him for his altruism, the irony being that this is a combination of other artists’ work.

If you like Girl Talk’s album, and you want to hear the DJ live in Boston, before he gets sued, go to the link below and demand that Girl Talk stops here on his upcoming tour.

New Band Hockey Makes You Give a Puck

(Because I decided to stop posting Examiner articles, has threatened to erase my archives, so I'm re-posting them onto this website. After that, I have two new articles to share: one on my aspirations in the field of epidemiology, and the other on David Benioff, currently my favorite author)

the article...
After watching countless episodes of “Girls next door,” I came to the conclusion that good things come from Oregon, so when I heard Hockey’s first single “Too fake,” it didn’t surprise me that this energetic American wave band was from Portland.

Hockey’s approach to music introduces some new techniques, from the lead singers voice sounding almost conversational, to the half step increase within the chorus, giving an onomatopoeic feel to the song. The lyrics pompously discuss the singers’ admission of being shallow yet soulful, but the catchy riffs will have lost tweens rocking out, thinking there’s meaning to not giving a puck.

Hockey recently released their single in the UK last week, along with a long run of tour dates abroad, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their songs, here in Boston. At the web page, you can hear songs from their upcoming album, including the first single “Too fake.” American iTunes doesn’t carry the single yet, but you can buy it for less than a British pound at

Hockey will release their debut album in the US on June 16th with a slew of tour dates to follow. This is a band to be on the lookout for. I predict they will be red hot by mid-summer, hopefully with a real web site.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Don't Walk

I don't want to be the one that says "They don't make 'em like they used to"... but Chris Cerf obviously doesn't work for PBS anymore.

five years later...

...and it never gets old.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Grad School and stuff

A lot is changing as I transfer my life from working professional to grad student/research assistant. More importantly, I'm moving from my awesome 2-story bachelorette pad with seaside view and deck in Southie to Central square with at least one other roommate, depending on who accepts me. It's a big change. I don't feel like sharing any more. hmm, time for a youtube post with something irrelevant yet necessary...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Veering, steering madly across the sun

It's kind of been a while since my last post. I had to delete the last one, but I'm ready to post again. Below is a personal mission statement that truly reflects where I want my career to go. Although it may not appeal to everyone, it is a candid representation of how I feel.

I initially went into pharmaceutical advertising with the intent of helping people. As a medical copywriter, my job was to pull data from unabridged clinical study reviews (CSR) and create meaningful messages that physicians would find both relevant and compelling. (This included determining statistical significance by finding the CI percentages and p-values in the raw data.) The primary goal for these messages was to convince physicians to prescribe more of the medication we represented. Through this incredible experience, I discovered a strength and passion for interpreting data and understanding patient perspective.

I observed several market research focus groups in four cities on patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; most often the result of long-term tobacco smoking) designed to prepare us for the anticipated approval of a COPD indication for the drug I represented (Drug A). The purpose of the trial was to find out what specific symptomatic relief patients looked for in a COPD medication. Since Drug A is a maintenance medication, we wanted to know how this maintenance asthma medication could be beneficial for COPD patients.

Patients did more than recite a list of physical symptoms. They yearned to reach out to us about their disease on an emotional level, which we were unprepared to document. While it was frustrating that we weren’t getting the answers we anticipated, I was fascinated by the large number of patients, who offered us candid details about their disease.

In an attempt to determine whether COPD patients would fill their expired prescriptions, we probed them on why they would allow themselves to get so sick without seeking medical help. Most patients expressed an overwhelming sense of regret, because they were responsible for this self-inflicted, irreversible disease. They felt that after years of ignoring medical advice to stop smoking, physicians thought they deserved to die. Failure to treat their symptoms had led to a rapidly advancing disease. Although we were failing to fulfill our intended research, these data explained why so many COPD patients advance so rapidly in their disease despite available treatments. Later on, when we were searching through one of the CSRs, I noticed that patients with 190-pack-years had the same initial FEV1 levels as patients with 40-pack-years. These two incidents suggested that several other factors (behavioral and genetic, respectively) contributed to disease progression in patients with COPD, and I was eager to find out more.

When the market research trials were over, I decided to shift my profession to a field, which, first and foremost values appropriate patient care, even if it would cost me considerable income. I want to move my career in a direction where I can run trials that research other factors that affect disease progression in patients with COPD. I have decided that pursuing a career as an Epidemiologist draws the most parallels to what I wish to do—applying my background to finding correlations within clinical data and using those findings to benefit the patient.

I want to pursue my Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology (and later a PhD), because I know I need more resources and educational tools than my background in advertising can provide.

I’m eager to obtain the necessary tools that will enable me to run flawless, reputable studies exploring possible genetic factors that can explain why some patients are more structurally resilient/elastic than others. With this degree, I also hope to become involved with the endless efforts of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Working with the CDC and learning how they follow prevalence and record statistics of diseases and behaviors will influence the measures and statistical models that should be used for future studies.

Additionally, although my desire to reach out to patients with COPD is deep-seated, there are several other areas of public health that I’m eager to explore and delve into. My experience in pharmaceutical advertising has exposed me to only a few examples of how patient care extends beyond prescribing medication, and I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge of disease prevention in other fields as well. My goal is to find an academic program that will allow me to make a smooth transition from a profession that values a brand to one that values the consumer.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I had to delete a post, because it was too controversial. Yes, I know, awesome. I'm finally at the point where my blog is popular enough to offend people. My dreams have come true. new post coming soon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The game of life

I grew up playing with my sister and our neighbor, Rebecca, who lived across the street from us. From our little neighborhood bubble, it was refreshing to play with Rebecca, because she exposed us to other ways of looking at the world. She picked up many taboo phrases and conversation topics that she adopted from her older siblings. She was the first friend I made who had divorced parents. And she wasn't afraid to challenge life ideals. This came more apparent in the Milton-Bradley game "Life", which we played often. While my sister and I were reaching for the more expensive "Victorian" house card, Rebecca would always choose to buy the "split-level" shack. The picture of that place was still vivid in my head--the falling blue shutters, the gunshot in the window and the hole in the roof, and we added our own details. It was clearly a poor neighborhood. And every time she chose that card, we would both grimace and ask her how she could possibly choose to live in such an awful place, and she always responded, "Sure it looks like crap from the outside, but you haven't been inside yet. There's basketball courts in the basement, there's a pool in the back. It's one of those places where kids are always hanging out and having fun, and there's no curfew ever." For the rest of the game, the Victorian house began to not look as cozy. Even my car full of kids and my "life-changing event" of climbing Mount Everest didn't change the fact that my house looked empty, because I figured everyone would be playing basketball or video games at Rebecca's house. At the end of the game, Rebecca would always win, because she spent 160K less in the beginning, which was some good padding for those life challenges ahead. You would think that we would have learned from her method, but instead of trying to just win, at every game, my objective was to get "the job" "the salary" and "the house" then get married, have kids AND win. Actually, I feel like that was the imposed objective of the game, which I now find so negatively idealist. Looking back, I realize that Rebecca taught me the most important life lesson. It's not the picture you paint that counts, it's what you make of it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Tribute to Joanny's Life

This is the latest project I've been working on. When my grandma's memorial service was planned, I was asked to make an imovie to show the family during the service. My goal was to tell her story without using captions or narration and make a movie that minimized the outpour of tears. She loved music and often sang the tunes in this film. I would like to know how this is perceived, so any comments from non-family would be appreciated.

A few things to know: The picture quality for the web isn't nearly as good as the DVD, so I apologize if some of the pictures here aren't as clear as they could be, and also I decided to continue the music even after the visuals ended, because she really liked the last song.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oh the places I want to go

So, recently I've had several conversations about vacations and developed a list of the current places I would like to go and why. SInce I figured this is something I want to refer to later, I thought I'd document my list.

Oahu, HI: From the culture that can't be mimicked to the pipeline of the North coast, I would love to visit this place. If I went there, I would windsurf the areas where the surf is down, surf the kiddie waves that the Jersey shore would call huge, watch the big guys ride the pipeline, ride my bike or a vespa around Honolulu, and visit my friends from CBI and school, who moved there.

Malibu Creek, CA: Malibu Creek is a large basin surrounded by 15-20 foot climbable ledges. The highlight of bouldering here is that when you fall off the wall, you jump into the water. And this is nothing like the Quincy Quarries. This is a clean tropical paradise filled with fun and challenging climbs. I've been to Southern California dozens of times, but every new area I went to has a drastically different climate (hot beach weather, cold snowy mountains, desert, smog) and I'm not surprised to find this place is in that area as well.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: For a while, Paris was the starving artists refuge. It was an affordable place where artists could be inspired. Now, Paris is filled with wealthier American tourists making gimmicky art, and I feel it has since lost it's inspiring feel. Word is that Buenos Aires has taken over as the new place where art communes are thriving and color is most vibrant. If I went there, I would learn how to tango beforehand, so I could tango in the street with the rest of the city, I would see the gargantuous cathedrals and the art, and I would probably be mused to write something touching and heartgrabbing, while hiding in a crowded coffee shop. Oh and there is tons of sailing and colorful boats.

Anywhere, India: I don't know too much about it, but everyone I know who has gone, told me that this was a mecca trip that changed their lives. This girl who had just come back, said that when you come back to the states, you will question the purpose of everything, like why am I rushing for this train? Why do I never acknowledge the lives of the guys who work in the bodega? Do I really need butter on my toast? Why is my day ruined if my car won't start? I would love to be in a place that challenges my way of thinking and humbles me. I love being humbled. It costs less.

Capetown, South Africa: Again, another life-changing trip filled with climates and exotic animals our local zoos don't even have, but this time, there's sailing, surfing and windsurfing.

Dubai, UAE: I do really want to come here and see the worlds tallest building disappear out of my site, and ski indoors, and see the man-made islands, but I'm not a big fan of how migrant workers are treated. Especially the guys risking their lives on the largest building, getting paid next to nothing without health benefits. Not cool in my book.

Havana, Cuba: I had wanted to go for the food, cigars and beaches, thinking it was impossible, but my friend's brother got to go on a student visa. I think the rest of our country might get to visit within the next year or two, should a few more rules be lifted. I just want to know what the big fuss is about.

Playa Copal, Costa Rica: Yes, I want to go to Bonaire, Antigua, and any other windy water spot, but this place is premier for windsurfing and high-performance sailing. I almost got a chance to work with the guys at Kite Wind Surf, but I realized they paid in wind, which is awesome, but that doesn't feed me. This place looks like heaven on earth.

So that's my list.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle

CC: sometimes I like to make people cry. If it doesn't work, just click on the screen and it'll bring you to youtube.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The city so nice, they built it twice

Since these last six months in Boston, I've gotten used to the way the city moves, the way the people interact with me and each other. Every once in a while, I see someone with a Red Sox hat and get excited, but soon forget that I'm in Boston, and it's expected. I missed my friends in New York and needed an excuse to visit them, so I did.

Three weeks ago I went to Philly to get my indie life fix and visit my friends Jess and Nina. I arrived Friday afternoon when everyone was still at work, so I walked around center city and reveled in nostalgia that the city brings. Although, I'm not a Philly girl by any means, there are memories that shaped who I am today, so sadly, I can't discredit Philly anymore than I already do. And these memories come back to me randomly when I walk around the city. One in particular, I completely forgot, until I walked by a Baskin Robbin's near the Liberty Plaza.

My sister had come to visit me at Drexel and we decided that we would see a movie one night, so we walked to Penn's campus to the theatre hoping to see A Beautiful Mind. We had time to kill, so we stopped into a Baskin Robbin's on the way for ice cream. The owner/cashier of the store was excited to hear that we were about to see that movie. I think that film really touched him and he was hoping to discuss it with someone. He seemed like a lonely guy who was hoping to make conversation with someone in general, so all three of us talked for a while about movies and why he decided to buy the store. He told us to come back after the movie so we could have a serious conversation about it. We went to the theatre only to discover that every viewing for the day was sold out. We walked back frustrated and stopped into the ice cream place to let the owner know that we weren't able to see it. He printed out blank receipt tape from the register and proceeded to write down something as he said, "Now this question has been bugging me, since I saw this film. Now don't look at the paper until you see the film. After you see it, open the paper and please, please tell me the answer or confirm that there's a flaw."

I had this treasure in the form of a grocery list-sized receipt from Baskin Robbin's. The only thing better than buying enough ice cream to handle an ice cream receipt of this length was the big mystery question on the back of it. I went back to my dorm, and passed the note around to the girls on my floor who had seen the movie. I marveled at their reaction as each person looked stumped. Discussions about my secret paper became plentiful, so I quickly retreated to my cement cell. I tried my best not to cheat myself of a good movie and conversation. I had to see that movie so I could read the question. Finally that next Friday, I saw it and opened the paper. "When did you first realize that his buddy (the blonde) was not real?" Well, I didn't find out until the very end, when they point it out, and then I saw it again, and realized that there were scenes where the room mate was interacting with other people, and he helped Crowe's character toss a very heavy desk out the window, not possible for one person. A major flaw in the film. I had my answer and went to Baskin Robbin's to confirm. In the window, in front of a closed ice cream shop in the summer, was a sign notifying patrons that the owner had died, and that the store was closing.

You build so many memories, that somehow you consider this as storage in the attic that can only be brought back by nostalgic visual cues. This story was only a flash second of my time in Philly. I broke my raw eating diet so much that I probably reverted back to an unhealthy person, but the nightly Oreos and brunch at MoGlo's was well worth it. I continued my new found crap diet when I stopped in New York for dinner with friends, where I had gnocchi with pesto and a half of a seafood sampler.

There are parts of New York that I miss so much. This sounds funny, but I love how people think there. How the best conversations are heard in a coffee shop or a restaurant or the subway, and these conversations are about random things like window shades or sponge bob and never the weather, and yet they all seem intellectual regardless of content. Boston has this taste, where two friends walk onto a subway and somehow it's an excuse to stop talking. Maybe it's the polite thing to do, but I wanted to hear the rest of your story. There's plenty that I don't miss like the constant rotation of work, gym, sleep, and how my friends who've lived in their building for 4 years, don't know their neighbors.

So, I went to visit NY this past weekend. It should have been called a fitness retreat, because that's what it was. I arrived friday afternoon, and carried my crap to my friend's office so i could check out where she works and pick up her house keys. Then I came back, dumped my stuff off at her place and took a long walk in the city and breathed in the shared air, yum. Later I went out to dinner at Cafe Havana, where I had spicy creamy corn and a margarita...the fitness part is coming. The next day, I went to the Chelsea Piers annual Climber's Cup, and climbed for 4 hours, making sure I had a hearty lunch somewhere in between. I had the sushimi special: 6 pieces of sushimi (yellowtail, salmon, and tuna), brown rice, and miso soup for 11 bucks. And it's the freshest sushi I've ever had. I came home exhausted, but got ready for the drinks and desserts party. An hour into the party, we all realized we were the only ones there, but soon after, all of our guests showed up at once and we had a great time. Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and hit the floor. I was pretty sore from the climbing comp, but that wasn't gonna stop me from participating in our semi-annual gym day. We usually begin at 9 or 10, but since our get together ended late and drunk, we settled for 11AM. The schedule was as follows:

11:15-12:00PM absolute abs class
12:00-12:30 cardio on the treadmill
12:30-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:00 Climbing (I was happy to come back and work on the problems I couldn't get at the comp)
3:00-5:00 Swimming/hot tub

By 5:30PM, we were out of there, and ready to eat again. I wanted to continue my raw obsession, but ended up having a rib sandwich. I ate so fast, my friends didn't get to see the sandwich when the waiter gave it to me. I was hungry. I ended the night with chocolate chip cookies, and that was my weekend.

New note: I can't wait to see the movie "Where the wild things are," because it's directed by Spike Jonez and the soundtrack is written by the lead singer of the Yeah yeah yeahs and Arcade Fire.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

I think this speech is truly a testament to how schools should shift focus. Although I agree that putting an ADD tag on a child who learns differently is wrong, parents should be responsible for helping their children's talents flourish.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Master of nothing

I've recently been dabbling in a little of everything. I've become really involved with Artists For Humanity. I love the people and the atmosphere. There's something about working at a non-profit that makes everyone just a little bit happier, the reason being that the purpose for each task is always a humble one. Work on these spreadsheets, which will lead to benefiting underprivileged urban youth. Yeah, I think I can do that. But I also miss the team environment that I get in an agency. Collaborative projects, researching, brainstorming, concepting, oh yes.

I also started reanalyzing my screen printing designs, and there's a good chance that I will collaborate with a new T-shirt company, Mantra Collective, to design a few shirts. I'm really excited to be involved in shirt designing again, and hopefully it will work out, because I love hobbies that you can do while listening to music, and i can't write while listening to music, because my mind is battling what to pay attention to.

One thing that I wish I had the time to do is the Champion sweatshirt design contest, called Hoodie Remix, where you can select from a palette of different colors and patterns and custom design your own hoodie, which will be entered in a contest, and the winner's design will be sold at Champion as a limited edition. Again, wish I had the time. I would be all over that.

The Examiner is a site where amateur writers get to write a column on whatever topic they want. As an excuse to listen to more music, I became the Boston Indie Music Examiner ( and it has been awesome. My job is to listen to great music, do a little research on the band and touring info, and write about it. I could do this for a living, however, it only pays a penny per hit, (I've made 20 cents so far), and my Examiner "boss" is pretty stringent.

The novel's going strong. I'm about to hit 20K words, which doesn't mean much, since most of it needs to be rewritten, but this project has been a positive learning experience. It's taught me how to focus on particular scenes at a time. Normally when I write smaller projects, I just reread the whole thing to get a sense of what's working, but I can't keep rereading 20K words, or it'll never get done. Definitely something I'm glad I got into. I also learned that the best writing comes from setting aside 4-5 hours at a time rather than an hour a day, which is why my weekends have been filled. I've only let my dad read it so far, and it'll probably stay that way for a while.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Addicted to the white powder

Like most Americans, I am a refined sugar and white flour addict. I have often tried to kick the habit to avoid the risk of several health issues, but I've relapsed repeatedly. Both of these products are already processed and broken down, which leaves little digestion for the body to do. They're also empty calories and can only be digested by taking away vitamins that the body needs. Because these foods are quickly digested, they exert a quick blast of energy, which can later develop into a crash. It is the natural response in the brain to intake more sugar to overcome this crash, resulting in further addiction.

After weeks of eating extraneous amounts of bar food and frequent candy store trips, I decided that it was time for a 40-day empty calorie detox, where I would replenish my diet with only raw fruits and vegetables--the raw food diet.

I had already decided that I wouldn't go 100% raw. Although there are several calcium-enriched raw foods, women need to ingest a sizable amount to prevent future problems like osteoporosis, so I included skim milk in the diet. Since, this is a meat-free diet, there were a few more exceptions I made to include more protein like cooking wild rice, various beans and egg whites. To ensure I got the nutrition I needed, I reinforced my diet with Juice Plus fruit and vegetable vitamins.

I began the dietary cleansing in the morning with a fruit-heavy meal to replace the sugary cereal I was used to. The trick worked. In fact, I immediately felt much more energized the rest of the morning, where my sugary cereal would leave me counting the minutes until lunchtime.

Lunch on the first day, not so bad either, although, I had been away from non-processed food so long that I cringed when trying the bitter veggies like purple cabbage (Vitamin C, K), bok choy (Vitamin A, C, calcium), and mesclun greens (beta carotene, calcium, folate, iron). I had generous portions of various veggies as well as cashews and almonds for protein, and dark berries for antioxidant intake, but I was not left satisfied. My usual 4PM sugar crash was heightened by my hunger and thus spurred the first symptoms of withdrawal.

My craving for a York Peppermint Patty grew reckless, as I rocked the work day by, chewing on my pencil to pass the time. I had to hold my breath as free danishes filled the common area. I was breaking down, and the first day hadn't even passed yet.

Dinner was quite eventful as I washed down a bag of alfalfa sprouts with soy milk after my peanut butter/berry appetizer and wild rice adventure. My stomach was full, but something was definitely missing. I was surprisingly still standing after my post-dinner workout, but my desire to finish my day off with a slice of pizza and soda quickly turned into an obsession.

Similar symptoms continued throughout the week, and I would randomly find myself in a line at CVS with a bag of M&Ms in hand. I didn't remember walking in the store, but every time, I managed to put the M&Ms back and shamefully walk back out.

After a week of eating 70% raw food, completely without refined sugar and white flour, I was quite happy with myself. Then I was exposed to the several vices that Americans face constantly, eating out, and drinking. White flour is a staple of the American diet, and I could barely find options on a menu without it. I ordered the Mediterranean plate, a collection of spreads and chutneys, and grape leaves. This wasn't completely raw, but very healthy. I was in the clear until the waitress showed up with a basket of white pita bread, and ready to take our drink orders. I ordered a club soda.

The next week I was invited to eat out at an Italian restaurant. I could only imagine the several awkward moments I would have created had I accepted-- the dinner rolls, the pasta, the sweet meatballs, the hearty dessert. It would have been painful to be exposed to that night.

My battle with my addiction is far from over. The absence of cupcakes and candy has left a hole in my heart much bigger than the one I would create by eating them. I'm a few weeks into the diet, and my skin is noticeably clearer, my body is toner, but my mind is else where.

Opiates affect the mind by blocking out certain connections that the brain makes, forcing the brain to find creative ways to make new connections, and although it's extremely harmful, these thought processes cannot be created elsewhere. I think I might have found the newest, safest drug--healthy eating. As fresh fruits become my sole source of sugar, they begin to taste sweeter and fuller than before. I'm still avidly thinking about my next refined sugar fix, but I can finally see the progress made by a healthy raw food diet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Healthy Serving of BUTR

Bands Under the Radar is a free podcast available on iTunes that features music by mostly unsigned artists. Hosted by the lovely Kami Knake, whose knowledge in music spans to great depths, this podcast is not one to miss out on.

After hearing podcast #33, I knew I would be an avid listener and fan of BUTR in the near future. Her playlist pulls you in on the first song, which highlights emotion through it's dramatic change in keys. A sultry voice comes through the notes and stings your heart as he conveys his dreary message. Appropriately titled "Wire to wire/Blood for wild blood," from Razorlight I desperately repeated this title in my head, so I could download it on iTunes later. Until then, I was glued to my iPod as I heard the rest of the show.

I was not disappointed, hearing one refreshing new song after another, each exposing a new world of key changes, voices, and redefining music theory altogether.

If you want to find comfort in music appreciation, then I suggest you turn your FM radio off, and download the BUTR podcast. If you want to find out more about the podcast and the mastermind DJ behind the genius music choice, check out the website, which gives you an indepth look of the artists, and restates the playlists of every podcast Kami Knake has recorded in case you missed the titles the first time.

...I thought I'd be a music writer today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

John Frusciante: A music review

I lay face down, collapsing the parachute comforter with my body and only move for the satisfaction of crushing more blanket and the idea of movement. The light comes in through the skylight and warms my bare back, and I naturally dig and drag my fingers through the blankets like sand. I turned to see his face and my life made sense. He spoke in a wilting, tired voice, but he carried his words with strength and confidence as he told me about what he learned when he died, when his heart left him for heroine. He learned nothing about death but absence. He had more to say about life, and his lessons couldn't be expressed in words, so we spoke through touch and song. Death is cold and still, so we embraced warmth and movement. Death was a societal cliche, filled with repetitive motions that didn't make sense, yet the familiar motion fools everyone into thinking they understand. He rejected this by filling his song with several continuous genius moments that sequenced each other like a seamless piece of silk. My soul was hidden deep in the grooves of a track headed to a place--boring because it was known--and he picked up my soul by the heart and set it into the printless desert. Every step I take is my own.

I saw the light expose her, highlighting her lace which projected thin and playful tanning legs. I rubbed her warm back in large circles, grazing over the divot that protected her spine. She turned over and looked at me and smiled with tears in her eyes. In this moment, she realized that her life of imperfections brought her to this moment. The light reminded her of the beach. She told me that I inspired her to live a deviant life. We had each other to rely on and that was enough. Her torn lace expressed that nothing was stronger than what we had. My tongue slipped through with ease, and her long legs shuttered behind me, tapping my ribs. I reached her, and she understood me. I make her happy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lily Allen is my hero

This song reminds my of my sister, because it's so clever and bubbly, you almost miss the spite.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Drink for the children

I recently came across this organization called Artists For Humanity, which finds opportunities for urban youth to get paid for their art through corporation partnerships and auction fundraisers. This place also teaches kids the business end of becoming a professional artist and other creative fields (e.g. advertising). I thought this was such a great idea, I spoke briefly with one of the staff for possible volunteer opportunities. If they accept me (I had to submit a resume), I would get to work with kids again, and be able to focus some time on art as well.

I also started climbing again. My new climbing gym is at Metrorock in Everett, MA. There's a great community, and people are already talking about planning an outdoor climbing trip for the summer.

The book is coming along. I had to stop and rework my notes for a few weeks before typing more, but every step has been forward with this project so far.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Kelly Clarkson - Go

So, this song was on a Ford commercial a few years ago, but never released on an album or single. I can't even find it on iTunes. Good song.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Practice makes perfect

I hate seeing contestants on American Idol who claim that they've been singing their whole lives and preparing for the show, and when they get up to sing, they sound terrible. Either they are lying or the common fear that constant practice doesn't always mean success, is true, and these people may never sing professionally, ever, regardless of how much focused effort they put into it. I think there is a common fear similar to this that keeps people from pursuing their dreams. I share this fear when I've refused to share the drafts of my story with other people. I believe in it, but part of me is afraid that others won't. But the measure of success starts when you can convince others to believe in your project as well, so that's a high horse I need to jump over if I want to become a better writer.

I've been lucky enough to find a group of young writers, many of whom are also writing their first novel. In this group, writers submit their written material, and we meet up and discuss and critique their stuff. All authors are open to comments and it is a great environment to work in, because you have the opportunity to support other writers in their quest to perfect their written material. And in turn, you receive support from them as well.

I'm still reluctant to show the novel bits, so I submitted the Pride is Universal essay (rather than fixing it for Wilderness house), and I'm excited to hear the comments on Tuesday.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hotter than a pepper sprout

Although, I am nowhere near getting the novel and the web site done, I have some exciting news. I recently had the opportunity to rescue a 6-year-old German short-haired pointer named Pepper. I've been itching to get a dog for a while, but vowed that my schedule was way too erratic to keep one. When my sister brought her over, shared her story and said "you have to adopt her", I reconsidered. Although she came with some baggage, a sob story and abandonment issues, I quickly discovered that Pepper was completely house-broken, well-trained and knew and responded to several commands. I found myself arranging my schedule and making room for Pepper in my life. In the first few days of her staying with me, I found out that my newly found organization allowed me to exercise everyday and find more time to write, clean and do other errands, while being able to walk, feed and nurture Pepper as well.

The next step was to convince my landlord that this dog was a great idea. The first time I called, I panicked and succumbed to the worst convincing question ever. Can I have a dog? to which the landlord quickly responded, no.

I sadly accepted the fact that this might not happen, but later got the encouragement from friends an family to write my landlord a friendly letter, which included the phrases, house-broken, well-trained and additional security deposit. She called me when she got the letter and stated that I proved a good point, and I could keep the dog, free of charge. So, I have a new dog that I must admit, I'm already kind of jealous of, because random people come up to her and tell her that she's beautiful.

I'm having some trouble adding her picture tonight, but when blogger isn't acting up, I'll be sure to put in an image. Cheers.