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Look into his eyes and you can see, why all the little kids are dressed in dreams

Look into his eyes and you can see / Why all the little kids are dressed in dreams – Sonic Youth, Diamond Sea

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A piece of art in Ashker’s Juice Bar, in Buffalo

I was sick with a cold, and at a residency interview, trying to be nonchalant about my sickness. The residents took us to a bar, which was really tacky — waitresses all wearing tight striped referee tops and tight pants as the required outfit. Kind of objectification of women, but I guess this is a mainstream kind of bar that I just have never been to before…

Because I was sick, I had no energy to interact with the interviewees or residents, so I watched the goings on from atop my stool.

Guy 1: Where have you lived?
Guy 2: Mostly in Ohio, except for 3 months in Australia, 3 months in South Africa.
Guy 1: Oh, cool, Australia, I’ve been there…

It was cool watching these two struggle to make conversation. If I wasn’t sick, I’d have been in the trenches, trying to make conversation too. But from atop my bar stool, I could watch, and realize: these people are no different from me. Now I am sitting at Ashker’s juice bar in Buffalo. A waitress just came up to me and asked me to participate in her focus group about how they could improve the place. Her voice wavered. She was nervous. All these people, scared, nervous, awkward, just like me.

This cold has given me a little taste of what it would be like to be chronically ill: never feeling 100%. People living with real chronic diseases have my utmost respect. But even when the body is working right, a lot of adults (me included) have a chronic mental disease: not having real dreams. Instead, there are these faded fantasies of sex and money, work and life optimizations.

A doctor who interviewed me this weekend asked: what was the most difficult part of med school for you?

I said: not treating patients as people, forgetting that they are people.

Is there room in the hospital, with its uniforms, electronic medical records, machinery, this and that, to treat patients like people? Hell yes! I see it done all the time. But it takes a constant self-reminder. It takes a certain kind of dream of what medicine is.

When we look at kids, we are benevolent and warm towards them. We think: they are seeing life for the first time, they have dreams. But why just kids? We all need to dress in dreams, now more than ever.

My crack at song interpretation:

Look into his eyes and you can see 
Why all the little kids are dressed in dreams  

becomes, towards the end of the song:

Look into his eyes and you shall see 
Why everything is quiet and nothing’s free 

The guy grows up, sees there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Maybe that’s the difference between kids and adults: kids really dream. Right now, I’ve had just about enough of these weak adult fantasies. I want to dream once again.

Investing in laid-back

investing in laid back

My dad told me a story of a Chinese guy who came to the US as an engineer. His company took forever to get him a visa. He didn’t mind. He bought a house, started a garden, and eventually, in 7 years, got a visa. When he went back to China, all his friends had gone into business and had gotten rich. But they had high blood pressure and were all stressed out. Meanwhile, he was happy and healthy. He had invested in laid-back.

I saw some old guys discussing investments one time. I thought: who really cares about gold or silver when you are very old? I can’t promise any definite health benefits, but I think it’s a good idea to invest in laid-back. You don’t need a lot of money to invest in laid-back, you just need time.

I’m not really all that good at investing in laid back, I’m not really all that good at life. But I’m working on it. Today, I got stressed on the road and ran a yield sign which could have caused an accident. Today, I ate way too much ice cream and felt sick. But today I also laid in the grass in the park and watched the sky. For a second there, I connected with the universe. Then I went back into my rat-race, need-to-do-stuff frame of mind.

A neurologist said that neuroradiologists make tons of money. I had to restrain myself from going on a wild internet chase about neuroradiologist salaries. The Chinese guy wouldn’t have wasted his time on the internet looking up neuroradiologists. He would have just gone out to his garden.

I need some life coaching, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I guess I implicitly thought school would teach me life skills, but it has not. It is helpful to me to have a religion other than competitiveness.

Recently, I’ve found two good life coaches:

-The Jewish religion, with its emphasis on taking a day off every week, for family, friends, reflection, and growing your soul.

-Yoga, with its emphasis on moving the body in a healthy non-competitive kind of way.

Goodbye, atheist capitalist academics. Hello, mystical solitude. I’m putting all my money in laid-back.

Personal ad

personal ad

I’m shifting in my thinking from looking at a girl across the coffee shop, and thinking, “Oh my, she’s hot!” to thinking, “She’s hot, but I wonder what her brain is like?” I think that’s where I was going with this personal ad: Single white male seeking female with ability to contribute a smart, kind half-of-a-brain to making a baby!

The fluorescent light test

for the next 3 years i won't see the sun

My dad can spend his whole day in the basement tinkering under fluorescent lights, even when it is bright and sunny outside. How does he do it? I guess he likes tinkering.

When I first started working in a lab, I was really into it. I remember saying to a friend: “The lab has no windows and I’m here under fluorescent lights, but I like it, I’m into what I’m doing.” If a job passes the fluorescent light test, it means you can get into the mental work to a very high degree.

Over the next few years, working as a medical resident, I will miss the sun. Let’s hope my job passes the fluorescent light test.

Zero population growth, it’s a sexy thing!

quorum sensing

exponential growth of people

Population growth is exponential. When each individual in a population is replaced in every succeeding generation by more than one—even by a very slight fraction more, say 1.01—the population grows faster and faster, in the manner of a savings account or debt. – E.O. Wilson

Back in the day when there were monsters eating us up all the time, I think it was perfectly acceptable to “be fruitful and multiply.” But in this day and age, we need some quorum sensing.

Quorum sensing is the ability of bacteria to stop reproducing if resources are scarce. More humans means less nature, and I think it’s time that we stopped having more than 2 kids. Even 3 kids per generation means humanity will grow exponentially, which is unsustainable.

I did a little pen-and-paper experiment (first picture above). I started off with one female (pink circle) and made her have either 2 or 3 kids for 5 generations. I flipped coins to determine the sex of her offspring. If the offspring was a male, I did not make it have offspring since men don’t have babies. If it was a female, I made either 2 or 3 offspring. The difference between 2 kids / generation and 3 kids / generation is huge. 3 kids puts us into exponential growth and 2 kids does not. Exponential growth means that we crowd out all the grass :(.

So yes, big families are nice but if we keep up this charade were just yeast in the beer bottle. Zero population growth, it’s a sexy thing!

Ben: Do you think you’ll have kids?
Me: I probably will. But really, the world doesn’t need more people, what it needs is more good ideas.

Some photos of buildings in Hong Kong (courtesy of Michael Wolf). People aren’t bees and shouldn’t live like them.

a39

a42

a57

a1191

And finally, a song on the theme:

 

Happy in the rule prison

happy in the rule prison

For my birthday, my rabbi told me to think about something I want to change in my life. I thought that I live in a world with lots of freedom. I can do this or that at any moment. Too much freedom, I’d say. Choice overload creates a lot of anxiety.

Orthodox Jews have less freedom. There are specific things to do at specific times. Specific holidays with specific rituals. Shabbat means no cars, no stores, no work — a real day of rest. And it happens every week. Something is nice about that even rhythm of life. As my rabbi said: within rules, you find your freedom. It seems like an oxymoron but I think that it’s right. The rules create an identity, a morality. “I follow these rules, these rules are me.” They also create a predictability. You know what’s coming and you can be fully present and enjoy Shabbat when it comes. Something is nice about having many things decided.

Neuron furniture rearrangement

neuron furniture rearrangement

Theoretically, it should be possible to summarize a book in terms of the physical effects it has on the brain. Grapes of wrath? Great book. It made the following changes to my brain:

  • Neuron 3.42q23432432.9329, dendrite 4224 moved to position 34223 on neuron 324.qer.243234.
  • Neuron 3qb.242342.3242327 grew six more folds to its golgi apparatus.
  • And so on…

It’s trippy to think about putting a camera on the brain as it is fed sensory experiences and watching the neurons grow and rearrange themselves through life. A bunch of living brains on display in the brain museum. Brain reality TV. This one’s a doctor, this one’s a lawyer, this one’s a scientist, this one’s a priest. Different neurons moving in different ways in different brains based on different experiences.

A bunch of arrows and X’s in the brain somehow catch all that we experience. As you read this, your neurons are slithering and sliding over each other. What a trip!

I’m a dude

im a dudeI think I’m officially a dude. I looked at myself in the mirror last night at a bar bathroom. One beer in me and wearing a shirt and a tie, I thought: “I’m no longer a kid. This isn’t how kids look. I think I’m a dude now.”

A few years ago, I checked out about 200 library books, thinking I’d have time to read them. I have slowly been returning them. I realize now that I’ll never have time for them all.

Kids and adults learn differently. Kids plunge full force into learning whatever is interesting. They are curious about everything. Adults mostly stick to learning about their area of expertise. Like the wiley old frisbee player, they conserve their limited energy.

I always loved Richard Feynman because he seemed to follow his curiosity. In one story, he talks about how his Nobel prize was in part thanks to him getting curious about how a frisbee flies and trying to work out the equations for its motion. My uncle said, “Nothing I ever learned was extra or unnecessary. Everything comes back, in some way.” I suppose that’s true, but still, I need to focus.

I talked to a professor about how I am indecisive about what to do with my life. He said, “It’s natural to like everything, but life is short. You have to hurry up and do something.”

I’m a dude, I’ll be an old dude before I know it. It’s time to get to work.

Keep hitting that adventure button

adventure button 2

One night my brother and I hiked through the gorges in Ithaca, NY. We got to a waterfall.

“Want to go in?” said my brother. I was scared. I didn’t want to get wet and cold. But we took the plunge and it was great.

It struck me that 5 years ago I wouldn’t have been as hesitant. Maybe in 5 more years I won’t even go under the waterfall. I think I’m becoming less adventurous.

Adults are less adventurous, I think. Adults are creative and adventurous in specific areas where they feel safe, but aren’t adventurous in general. They are more fragile and like comfort more. Maybe they understand that you can get hurt and maybe they’ve been there and done that and they can relive their waterfall memories without needing to get cold tonight.

But kids are more alive. The adventure button is this big red button which delivers a drop of surprise. It’s good to keep hitting it, well into old age.

A dollop of newness

newnessnewness 2

I went to see my brother and hung out with his friend, an architecture major, from Dubai, who worries about how she can be creative in a career in architecture which is dominated by big companies which hire architects to do little parts of many projects, and so the architects don’t have ownership over the big picture.

She is currently designing a building modeled on a creature that lives deep underwater. She thinks and worries about things totally different from the things I think and worry about, but there are commonalities for sure.

It’s nice to get a dollop of newness into my life sometimes. I guess that’s why I like travelling.

Prestigious Banana

prestigious dude

Prestigious dude

Prestigious dude

If the banana’s got no sticker

It’s not food

Isn’t it weird that we put stickers on fruit? A banana is the baby of a banana tree. It is not a brand.

Isn’t it weird that we put stickers on people? This one went to college X, OOOOHHHHH, AAAAAAHHHH. It’s a trick! Don’t fall for it! The prestigious college degree means this person is good at jumping through hoops. If that is what you are looking for, then by all means, pay attention to the degree. But don’t delude yourself into thinking it means more than that.

Fruits don’t need stickers and people don’t either. If the banana’s got no sticker, I’m still interested.

Outside Radio

outside radio

Me: Who invented ambient music?
Foster: The rainforest at night.

Humans evolved in the wild, and now we spend our days in boxes under florescent lights. Is it any wonder we go crazy?

Try Outside Radio, available anytime in the summer when you turn off the radio and go outside. No offense musicians, but nature is better than you. Same goes for writers, artists, movie makers and all the other creators of stuff you consume through computers and TVs. So please, stop reading my bullshit and go outside.

P.S. I want to learn bird language.

Eye contact is hard, just sayin’

retinal connection

Sometimes I find it hard to look people in the eyes. Like right into their pupils. It takes a lot of focus and courage.

The picture on the bottom is a sketch of optic disks and maculas (the part of the retina with the best vision). It’s an intimate thing, projecting the image of another person’s eyeball onto your macula. If eye contact is good, I imagine the retinal vessels shaking hands.

Join a health cult!

joe's health cult

So I did yoga a few years back for the first time and it was kind of nice but also time consuming and meh, whatever, I didn’t keep it up.

Then I started doing AcroYoga, which is a social thing and suddenly there was a purpose to yoga: develop flexibility so that you can do these cool new moves with people. In no time I was doing yoga at home.

My advice for health habits is to join a health cult. Raw food potlucks, group runs to train for marathons, overeaters anonymous, whatever. If it’s social it’ll work a lot better. And intimately social is even better. If you are friends with the people you are training for a marathon with, you care about it more.

Flossing support group, anyone?

Friend bandwidth

friend bandwidth

It’s scary to be open and share this and share that and share ugly demons and weird visions. And a lot of the time it’s not possible, especially if you think you will be judged. But it’s good to find some way to share and share and share.

Imagine a fiberoptic cable connecting two brains. What’s the bandwidth? How many bits of information can be shared between friends? How strong is the connection? How thick is the cable?

Louis CK had a nice tribute to George Carlin, where he’s talking along these lines:

Some alveoli

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In med school they have you learn FEV1 / FVC ratios for obstructive and restrictive lung disease.

To calculate FEV1 and FVC, they tell you to breath in as much as possible, then breath out as fast as you can until your lungs are empty.

  • FEV1 = the volume of air you can blow out in 1 second, “forced expiratory volume, 1 second”
  • FVC = total volume of air you can blow out, “forced vital capacity”

The reason these are important is they diagnose which category of lung disease you have:

In obstructive lung disease, the bronchi are narrowed, but the alveoli are normal (narrow bronchi in the picture). It is hard to get air out through the bronchi, so the air pushed out in 1 second (FEV1) is reduced. I drew a small air cloud in the picture to show this. Since FEV1 is low and FVC is normal, FEV1/FVC is reduced.

In restrictive lung disease, the alveoli are inelastic (shown by the thick wall in the picture), but the bronchi are normal. There is no trouble getting air out of the alveolus, but the total lung capacity, and the FVC, is smaller due to the inelastic alveoli not being able to fill up with air. I drew a big cloud in the picture showing a normal FEV1. Since FEV1 is normal and FVC is reduced, FEV1/FVC is high, and can in fact be greater than 1.

Indecision is a torture fest

processing

3rd year of med school was a whirlwind tour through lots of different lands. Now I’m in a quiet time. I’m giving myself time for processing all these experiences.

I don’t know what I’ll be when I grow up. Why can’t someone decide for me? Why do I have to mull things over? Why can’t it all be easy and painless? I just want to do handstands and watch the birds.

But this is me. I don’t make decisions easily. I suppose I’ll feel good at the end. I’ll feel like I made a choice, even if I end up wanting to change it. It’s nice talking to people like me, people who need processing time.

What I won’t compromise on

what i won't compromise on

Just a little note to self as I go through my career-life.

I got to meet a lot of pretty miserable rock stars…Because a lot of them maybe set out on a certain trajectory. When they were 17 they had a dream that they wanted to be a rock star on stage and by 25 they did it and they were a rock star and they got famous and at 35 they’re still doing it, because that’s just all they knew or they were on a certain trajectory but it didn’t actually suit them anymore. Or maybe when they got there they realized that this isn’t what they really wanted. Maybe they just wanted fame but they didn’t want to have a boss and they sign a major record label deal and they realize they’ve got a boss.

You need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing otherwise you’re going to go in circles for so long. You don’t want this deathbed regret where you’ve pursued something that someone convinced you that you should want instead of what really works for you and you’re left with this horrible feeling of “What did I spend my life doing?” 

Well, you should have asked that earlier.

What do you want? Money, Prestige, Fame, Leaving a legacy, Freedom. Whatever one or two appeals to you most, go for it.

Just know what it is, and don’t diffuse.

I lived in NYC for 10 years, and if you go around you see the word Trump everywhere…I thought: what’s with this guy? Why does he have such a need to put his name on everything? But then I realized that OK, at a certain point, he must have decided that it’s important for him to put his name on things, which means he decided to make less money by doing so, because if he let somebody else put their logo on the building then he could have just been the owner and made more money. But no, he decided to make less money and more legacy.

On the other hand, you can optimize your life for freedom. I really like setting up my life so that I could just disappear or be antisocial and go read books for a month. So I had to set up my life to make myself unnecessary so I was free to go do other things. 

Whatever you choose, this is your compass. You need to optimize your activities based on what is important to you.

Derek Sivers

People are adaptable

people are adaptable

My brother currently lives in a closet in New York City. It’s a nice closet, with a window. The only thing it lacks in the way of amenities is air conditioning. This is actually significant because New York City in the summer gets very hot. But as far as I can tell, my brother’s overall happiness isn’t affected that much by his simple living arrangement.

I visited my brother and slept on the couch in the common room. My brother gave me his fan, which helped me make it through the hot night. My brother’s closet was significantly hotter than where I slept. But he was able to sleep without a fan.

It’s easy to get used to modern life. Sleeping outside or on the floor or in a super hot room seems impossible to me, since I’ve gotten used to my comfortable bed over the past few years. It’s scary to think about living without modern amenities. But it is possible. People are animals and people are adaptable. I think it’s healthy to shed the trappings of modern life from time to time and test the limits of what you need to live. It creates gratitude, and makes you realize what you need and what you don’t and what is nice to have. I haven’t gone camping in a while, but would like to soon.

“One of the misconceptions about life is that you’re supposed to be out of pain. And we can’t be out pain all the time…Meditation taught me that if I look at the pain and be still with it, the pain lessens…Pain that comes and goes is different from pain that indicates that you’re harming yourself.” – Susan O’Connell

Dan’s Creative Chocolate

dan's creative chocolate

I remember getting dizzy going blockbuster video from looking at all the options. I’d look at one video and the next and the next. A lot of stores are disorienting because they have too many options.

I’ve decided to start a store called Dan’s Creative Chocolate. It will feature just one chocolate. When the chocolate is sold, the store will close. If this store is a success, I will reinvest my profits into starting Dan’s Creative Outlet mall. It which will be full of stores that sell just one thing, and they will all close when the thing is sold. The mall will last about a month.

Looking for a man with a focus and a temper

looking for a man with the focus and attention

Looking for a man with a focus and a temper / Who can open up a map and see between one and two – Sonic Youth, Teenage Riot

ADD is watching many things, lighting a match, saying: cool little fire but I’m bored, and lighting the next match. Focus is building one big fire.

Drishti = eye gaze. I just did some ashtanga yoga where there’s a flow and you have to synchronize your breath from one pose to the next. You have to look at your thumbs as the world is moving around. Focus is watching your thumbs with the gaze.

Computers promote ADD because you can see 100 different pretty things, click on one, get bored, click on the next, get bored, and click on the next and the next and the next. Match 1, match 2, match 3, match 4 but there’s no fire at the end of the day and we are out here cold in the woods. To do anything you need to focus. I’m looking for a man with a focus and a temper, who can open up a map and see between one and two.

In 1971, the psychologist Herbert A. Simon emphasized that a wealth of information means a dearth of something else: attention.

Nir Eyal

The art of noticing

the art of noticing

Just spent 4 days in New York City and went to exactly zero shows, concerts, parties, or museums. What we did do was walk around and sit in parks a lot. It was uncomfortable in the beginning. I felt myself getting bored and restless.

But after a while, I got better at getting entertainment from noticing new things. For example, in big cities every building has its own water tower on the roof. This is because the water needs to be stored above the level of the building to provide pressure for the faucets, and traditional water towers are shorter than skyscrapers. This is the kind of thing you only get to see when you give yourself time to notice things. Doing nothing is an investment in yourself.

Jonesin’ for eyeballs

jonesin for eyeballs

Why do I blog?

Every artist is a bit of an egotist and wants their stuff seen by other people. I’m no exception. I dream of scanning my stuff in and having a portal to a million eyeballs and becoming an internet sensation. Maybe even I’ll be able to make money off this blog…and so go the dreams. Fame and fortune, blah, blah, blah.

These dreams are stupid and contagious. I have been addicted to looking at my blog stats, trying to increase my twitter followers. It’s time to stop. The point of this blog is not money and it isn’t fame. The point is sharing my soul with other people, and helping me figure out myself. My goals with this blog are to:

1. Share my writing with friends.

2. Meet new people who like my stuff.

I’m not interested in having a billion anonymous readers that I can somehow serve and make money off of. That might be one way to make a living, but it’s not for me. So this blog will remain a little mom-and-pop operation, where you can come in and have a cup of tea and a chat. Really, this blog is just an excuse to have a chat about stuff that matters to me.

“And I thanked God that my blog introduces me to people who can change my life.”Penelope Trunk

Don’t read on the john

public service announcement

I’ve started a “Health Tips” section of this blog. I am interested in preventive medicine / healthy lifestyle stuff  and I’ll be posting health tips with drawings.

Here goes health tip #1:

Don’t read on the john. Apparently reading on the toilet causes hemorrhoids. This is a shame, because this is one of my favorite activities but I will give it up, because I spent 4 week working with a colorectal surgeon and would really rather not give that guy any business.

Next Muffin

next muffin

I have realized that I’m fairly contemplative and like to sit down and think about medical cases, but the busy medical system doesn’t allow for that much contemplation. There are too many patients, too little time. One of the nurses I worked with commented on a resident: “He’s great but he takes too long. He gets fascinated with the cases. He needs to learn to churn ’em and burn ’em.”

I spent 7 weeks in Ghana and got sick and got to experience being a patient over there. It was even worse – the doctor saw about 200 patients/day. There was no extensive history and physical. Just, “What are your symptoms?” and next thing I knew I was getting a malaria shot and pills to take with no explanation of my diagnosis (and I probably didn’t have malaria).

Sometimes in clinic I feel like this Ross Noble skit, only instead of “Next Muffin,” it’s “Next Patient:”

Silly humor is the humor for me

jokes about bad things

I was in the grocery store the other day and we were prancing around being silly. Suddenly I got off on the wrong humor-path and made jokes about dark material. It could have been funny ha ha and onto the next joke, but my friend had some traumatic experiences related to what I was joking about and said not to make jokes about that stuff.

Comedians make dark jokes all the time, and I often think they are funny. If someone else does it, I don’t have to be as actively involved. I can turn off the set if South Park gets a little too mean. But I don’t  want to go there with my humor anymore. Every time I do lately it seems to backfire and I feel bad. And even if I get away with a dark joke, what’s the point? I’m too sensitive for that kind of humor, and it doesn’t uplift me. As far as I’m concerned, a good rule will be to joke about what I know. If I have a particular traumatic experience and want to joke about it, that’s fine, but I shouldn’t be making jokes about other people’s trauma.

It ended up being fine, and we found one of those mini peppers on the ground on the way out of the grocery store. I put the pepper into a bouquet of tulips. It blended in just perfect. We made jokes about replacing tulips with peppers. When boyfriends bought these bouquets for their girlfriends they’d have some explaining to do. Silly humor is the humor for me.

 

Mediocre by the metrics

mediocre by the metrics

I spent my whole life studying to get good grades, but getting good grades these days seems kind of silly to me. Spending all my time learning stack of books number 1 means I am not learning stack of books number 2. And stack of books number 2 might provide me with intellectual growth, self-insight, and fascination.

So getting super good grades right now doesn’t seem like a marker that I am smart, it seems like a marker that I’m missing out. I guess from now on I’ll be mediocre, as measured by tests. Maybe this means I’ll be a waste. But after a while I hope I’ll at least feel more like an individual. Time spent looking at the sky is time when I can puzzle over the world, myself, and get new ideas.

Permissions

permissions

Good cultures are all about permission. Cultures can be improved by giving people permission to do things that make sense. Not giving permission to do good things creates fear and destructive habits. Below is a list of things I need to remind myself I have permission to do. In parentheses I have put the initials of the people who have said these things to me.

Dear self, you have permission to:

  1. Ask questions, even to your superiors (RF)
  2. Have long hair at work (JW)
  3. After doing activity x, do something neutral to reflect before transitioning to activity y (JJ)
  4. Come home after a long day of work and do nothing (AC)
  5. Ride your bike and think and process the world (DV)
  6. Say no when you don’t feel safe in an acrobatic or dance move (SS)

One reason I like self-help books and advice speeches is they give me permission to not feel bad about doing things that go against the grain. Right now, I’m taking a long time contemplating my medical career decision, and everyone is saying: “Go, go, go. Decide, decide, decide.” But John Cleese says that it’s good to take the maximum amount of time to contemplate, because that leads to a better solution. He even gives a comeback to say to people who pressure me: “Look Babycakes, I don’t HAVE to decide until Tuesday, and I’m not chickening out of my creative discomfort by taking a snap decision before then, that’s too easy!”

Lost love letters

lost love letters

When two friends stop in the street to talk about the weather, they don’t actually care about the weather. They have stopped to say to each other, “I enjoy your company. We are still friends.” – David Mamet

One of the most meaningful letter exchanges I have ever had was between an ex-girlfriend and me that took place after we had been broken up for several years. In this exchange, I told her how I felt, and she told me how she felt. Though we wouldn’t pursue being together, we both said, “I love you” in our own little ways.

There’s a simple tactic used by therapists in family therapy. They have kids draw out the members of their family as circles. They then have them put a straight line between individuals if they have a good relationship, and a jagged line if they have a relationship filled with conflict. The kids draw it like they see it.

I like this simple way of looking at things. In some cultures, words don’t matter that much. What matters is who is talking to whom, and how they are talking. What mattered in my letter exchange with my ex-girlfriend was not what the letters said, but that the letters existed in the first place. If the letters got lost, it wouldn’t matter because they were just expressions of underlying good vibes.

I’ve been lately shutting off my phone, not writing many messages to people, and instead focusing on thinking good things to people in my life. Content doesn’t matter that much. Context is much more important. You can say whatever blah blah blah you want. Kids will always know if the lines are jagged or smooth.

Wierdos have more fun

wierdos have more fun

Josh: I went to this mermaid festival on Coney Island yesterday.

Me: What’s that?

Josh: It’s a bunch of wierdos celebrating summer.

Me: Are they dressed like mermaids?

Josh: Some are. Some just aren’t wearing a lot of clothes.

Lately I’ve been hanging out with jugglers, hoola hoopers, fire spinners, slackliners, acrobats, drummers and the like. Passers by might think, “What a bunch of wierdos.” But I think that wierdos have more fun.

I do like humble normal people who can eat a nice meal at Applebees and not have to prove anything to anyone. But at heart I’m a wierdo. For the most part, I’ll skip out on the Applebees to do some cartwheels in the park.

But I get judgmental too. Comic convention people? Super wierd! I have to remind myself that it’s not my place to judge.

“A song is just something to waste your time. I’ll listen to yours if you listen to mine. A song is just something to waste your time. But so is everything else, so do whatever makes you feel fine.” – Jeffrey Lewis.

“We just came back from Japan but maybe I feel more at home here. Freak like…freak like me.” – Kazu Makino, Blonde Redhead

Pillows for adrenals

pillow for adrenals

“Want a bit of unsolicited advice?” my cousin said to me. “Take a nap. If you push yourself and don’t sleep your work won’t be very good. You look tired. You have bags under your eyes.”

Relaxing is a skill. The other day I was at a coffee shop doing work and stressing out. After a few hours of this, I zoned out. I looked at the house across the street as the sun was setting. The textures and colors were so pretty. Time didn’t exist.

Zoning out rocks. When the world is a slow moving soup, ideas can solidify and float slowly past each other. Since they are moving slow, they can click together and make big idea islands. That’s how PCR was invented: on a zoned out car ride in California.

Zoning out is when you really appreciate the incoming sensory streams. Yesterday, I took a walk and  looked up and zoned out. Flies were swarming like schools of fish, bats flew overhead eating them, all with the backdrop of cotton candy-pink clouds. On a daily basis, I miss so much of the world that’s right in front of my eyes.

It’s these pesky adrenal glands. They are the Piglet of the endocrine glands, always stressing out. I’m going to get a surgeon to install tiny inflatable pillows behind my adrenals. When I want to relax, I’ll just push a button and inflate these pillows. My adrenals will then be able to get comfortable, switch off the lights, and take a nap.

When people as me how I lived so long, I tell them that when I was told to stand, I sat. And when I was told to sit, I lied down. – Winston Churchill (I think!)