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Destroyer of Nations

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been a while [Nov. 28th, 2013|12:01 am]
Destroyer of Nations
I haven't written here in a long time. I logged in to check out some of my old entries, to see how I felt about some things in my past, but I didn't find what I was looking for. I was wondering about some experiential details of an old relationship, but apparently I didn't record those feelings here. It doesn't really matter, I know what I feel now, and that's what's important.

Been painting. Addicted to it. Screwing myself by staying up and writing this. It's gonna be hard to wake up early enough to paint, maybe I will anyway.

It's easy to write some neurotic bullshit about not feeling good enough with my painting. That's stupid. It's dumb to compare for all the usual reasons. An impressionistic portrait is not a realistic portrait, and the same is true the other way. An amateur portrait is not the same as a professional portrait--and a professional portrait also lacks something an amateur portrait has. There's no sense in comparing. Comparing only distracts from the present moment, from the process.

The real joy doesn't come from the final product, it's from the process. The goddamn process. All that bullshit about the journey being more important than the destination--not bullshit after all. Fuck.

These paintings go through many phases. Maybe it starts off orange and yellow and ends up purple and blue. That happens most of the time. I commented that it's not very efficient. Alex pointed out that efficiency isn't the goal. Goddamn right it isn't.

I'm working on the biggest project I've seen to completion in a long time. It's just taking up a lot of time, not sure how many hours I've put into it so far, doesn't really matter. I worry about that sometimes, then I remember that it's not about the time. Maybe I put weeks of time into it--doesn't matter. Even if I were doing it for the money, it doesn't matter how much time goes into it. I can't think like that without corrupting the process.
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complaining [May. 9th, 2012|10:31 pm]
Destroyer of Nations
I'm burnt out. Maybe saying that you're burnt out is what makes you burnt out.

I'm just tired.

Shit's good, I'm just worn out. It's the 9th. I have 51 more days in total until things change a little. 51 more days, minus 2 normal days off, and 10 days of vacation off. So 39 more days? Shit. I can do this. I just gotta get through the next 20 days and then I get vacation. Then I will recharge, and I'll feel like a boss again.

So I had decided on the child fellowship. I had decided on it, feeling strong, not tired, feeling good. Then I remembered some things. 4th year of adult psych is cake. It's all electives. I could spend a couple months working in psych hospitals in Thailand if Paul hooks me up.

What does that mean? It means I have 7 more weeks of inpatient madness, and then 12 more months of clinic. And after that, things slow down. I get tons of free time. I get room to breathe.

And if I do the child pscyh fellowship? Then instead of the year of joy, I get a 18 months of super busy child psych clinic, and 6 more months of super busy inpatient child psych. Holy shit that makes my heart feel fleeting terror.

Maybe I shuold still do it, though. For the experience, and the license. I don't know right now.
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drive [May. 3rd, 2012|06:15 pm]
Destroyer of Nations
Drive was a good goddamn movie.

Now I'm gonna play guitar and eat a hamburger.
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more work and workout [Feb. 26th, 2012|01:44 pm]
Destroyer of Nations
Worked out for 40 minutes today. Should have done an hour, but that cold is still bugging me, and I didn't want to make it worse. I already took 2 consecutive days off, couldn't risk taking a 3rd.

So I've got 6 days in my workout. Days 1 and 2 are heavy, so basically like 6 different types of lift, and for each one I do 3 sets, and each set is between 2 and 8 reps. Fewer reps is better, because it means I'm pushing myself. If I can do 3 sets of 8, then I need to up the weight. Days 4 and 5 are the same.

Days 3 and 6 are endurance days. I was doing 4 different types of lifts, with 10 sets of 10 reps. It got pretty brutal near the end, after about set 5 or so I started to feel it. Today I switched it over to 5 sets of 15 reps. It's way harder. Like a million times harder. Maybe part of that is because I have a cold right now, but the second set of 15 is a struggle. Hell, the first set is a struggle. My muscles just aren't used to that kind of endurance. That's a good thing. It should suck. If it's easy, I'm probably not getting much out of the workout.

I just wanted to talk about that, because I like it.

Work. I have a couple thoughts about work. Yeah, I bitch about it, because it does suck sometimes. The work itself isn't challenging to me, it's fascinating though, and I love it. What's difficult is the workload, the paucity of days off, the long hours. That fucking sucks sometimes, as I've bitched about before.

But there are a couple ways to look at it that are hard to accept. First, people let us into their lives. They tell us their secrets, they tell us things that bring them joy and shame. They tell us if they are afraid or angry. And they are desperate for relief, and they have come to us to seek the advice or the chemical that might help them be happier. That's beautiful. We should be honored to be in that position. Even the alcoholic who comes in every month when he runs out of money and can't afford more alcohol and knows that if he just says that he's suicidal and has had a seizure before we'll admit him and keep him warm and safe and well-fed. It should even be an honor to help that guy, because while his actions are ostensibly volitional, he's still consistently making terrible life decisions, revealing some sort of pathology (whether or not we have the tools to manage that underlying pathology is a different story...).

The other hard perspective to accept is that we're trainees. There are people experienced in this field who are allowing us to work with them. They are our teachers. They are using their time and energy to train us in this field, to make us proficient. And it is their demand that we do this work. They are allowing us to care for their patients. The only recognition we really deserve is that we've suffered and consistently survived years of tests and assignments. We've gone through those small fires to prove our worth, but we haven't yet arrived. We've got more work to do. So we interview their patients, explore their histories, formulate plans, and then discuss our ideas with the experts who have taken us as students. We are not their peers, we are not equals.

There are a couple other sides to this, but I've run out of steam to write at any length. There is a lot to learn to gain proficiency, so it seems more efficient to cram all that training into 4 years of insanity rather than 8 years of soft ease. The other idea is that the challenge sort of breaks your mind. It breaks those unseen and unspoken limitations you hold about yourself.

That's all for now.
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working out and overworked [Feb. 18th, 2012|03:51 pm]
Destroyer of Nations
It's been about 6 weeks that I've been going to the gym 6 days a week. A couple weeks in there I think I only went 5 days. In the past I've gone to the gym a lot, like my 3rd year of med school I was going almost every day for a while, but I've never really been consistent about it. There was something I read somewhere, or maybe I heard it in a pirated motivational MP3, or maybe I was lounging around contemplating things--regardless of where it came from, I've been thinking about consistency. In particular, consistency in working out.

It's actually more than that. It's easy to go to the gym (or kung fu, or to study, whatever) if I want to do it. Duh. But that excitement about doing whatever fades after a while. At first, the excitement keeps me going, then it starts to fade and I change things up a bit to keep it there (run instead of lift, do practice questions instead of reading books, etc), but soon that fades too and then I'm just not into it anymore.

That was never a problem with studying, because I never saw another option. I mean, I had to study. No question, it was my life, I had no choice.

But for working out, I never have to work out. It's never been an obligation. If I didn't go to the gym, then in a way I was rewarded. Instead of going to the gym, I got to play video games or paint or kick it with people. Even though I was going to the gym in the hopes of being stronger and feeling healthier and looking better, it's like I have two minds. One mind wants the outcome, and the other just wants to have fun. As long as the gym is fun, the minds are in accord, but then it stops being fun.

So a few months ago I decided to take away the fun from the gym. Or, maybe more accurately, decided to go to the gym regardless of how I felt about it. The decision was made before today, so it doesn't matter how I feel today, I'm obligated to go.

After these few weeks, it feels habitual. I want to go work out. It's not even fun, really, it just feels good. It feels good to get that extra rep, or to surprise myself and lift way more than I did the week before. And it feels good when I'm all sore and kind of achy the next day. It feels like I've accomplished something, even though it's just moving some heavy thing around for a few minutes and then putting it back where I found it.

The down side is that I only have time for 1 other thing in my life every night. Get home from work, go work out, then do 1 thing I enjoy. That sucks. I keep telling myself that I'll only work 20 or 30 hours a week when I'm done with this residency slavery gig. That kind of gets me through the days.

Work isn't bad. I love it. I love seeing people get better, seeing them enjoy life again. I even like it when the victories are small. Maybe this guy isn't out making his way in the world, but at least he isn't taking swings at the nurses anymore. I love that stuff. But I have this sort of smouldering exhaustion deep down. I think we all do. You have to. You can't do this sort of work at this pace and frequency and not be tired all the way down. Just do the work, smile, joke around whenever you can, be polite for as long as you can, go home and don't think about how you only get 4 days off in a month, don't think about call, don't think about the bad residents, don't think about how this is going to continue for another 2.5 years, don't think about how that amounts to 2.5 times 365 days of this.

It's actually not bad. I enjoy it. That's the mantra.
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buddhism and astronomy [Jun. 2nd, 2011|07:52 pm]
Destroyer of Nations
There's this idea shared by some more famous astronomers (Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson) and some Buddhists. It's the idea that conscious experience is the universe experiencing itself subjectively.

The universe experiencing itself subjectively.

Carl Sagan is explicit in this thinking. He says, "We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself". Neil Tyson echoes similar ideas, but generally seems more reserved about it.

And Buddhists say this as well.

It's a gorgeous idea.

When I'm with a patient who is going through crisis, who is depressed, who is psychotic, who is manic or paranoid or delirious, I always take a moment during our conversation to see this person as a little part of the universe, as much as my little mind is able. When I see a woman distraught that her kids are taking advantage of her, and she feels that it might be better to be dead than to deny their demands of her, I wonder what this says about the universe at large. I wonder what it says about our natural impulses. I wonder what it says about the behaviors of other forms of life (bacteria, rats, apes) to whom we are related, to with whom we share enormous swaths of genetic code.

And with the idea in mind that we are all small parts of the universe experiencing itself subjectively, I wonder what that says when people cut themselves and swallow knives. I wonder what it means that about 1% of Americans die by suicide. I wonder what it means when people love or hate other people and other things in the world. Or when people murder people. Or when people commit fucking genocide or drop their babies in boiling water.

But then there are jokes and laughter and smiling and hugs and kissing and syncopated beats and Rachmaninoff and Dali and Tarantino and fucking Homer and sex and goddamn orgasms.

And the creatures that do all of those things--the good and the bad (whatever those are)--are more alike than they are different. And they're all little bits of the universe. The same process that caused that tiny condensed thing to burst and expand and become everything--and I'm talking about the big fucking bang--that whole process is still going. Just like evolution, the process that is the big bang is still going on all around us and inside us and in everything that exists everywhere.

That fucking process leads to Rachmaninoff. That process leads to genocide and infanticide.

I gotta get back to the canvas.

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updatism [Mar. 10th, 2011|09:11 pm]
Destroyer of Nations
It's been a while. It's been a while since I've done a public entry, anyway.

So I got that HTC Desire (phone) a while back. It's amazing. It's fast, does everything I want. It doesn't fuck around. The only thing is that I kind of miss having a hardware keyboard. Truly, I miss having a number pad and using T9 like a boss, but barring that (because how many smartphones have a goddamn number pas anyway?), a hardware keyboard would be nice. Touch screen keyboard hurts my brain.

Vegas was OK. I want to be all negative and say it was a bust, but it wasn't. It was fun. Had some drinks, saw some freaks, enjoyed myself wholly. But Vegas is not a destination for me. I should have gone to Barcelona. I'm embarrassed to even admit that I could have gone to Barcelona.

Gamble. Not the Vegas kind. The doctor kind. Doctor Gamble found a psych elective in goddamn New Zealand. He got approved for it already. I gotta go talk to my bosses, get that shit going. That would make for the best senior year possible. I couldn't be chief if I went to New Zealand for 3 months and then Thailand for a month or 2(two? please?), but I don't even want to be chief really, except the title would be monstrous.

I started painting again. It's a picture of Alena when she was like 7 or 8 months pregnant. Her face is so goddamn medieval in these photos. Her expressions remind me of those old icon paintings of Christ. So I'm working on it, and that's something to talk about.

This new style. I'm working on a new style. A new-ish style. Before I'd just put black everywhere. I'd just smear that crude oil all over the goddamn canvas. Everything that wasn't something was black. Lots of dark. And for this one? Not so! I'm not even using pure black and white. The darkest parts are just pure red oxide. It's maybe the same game as before, but instead of black and white, I'm just using shades of red oxide. Still stuck in monochrome, but I don't feel like a coward hiding behind black paint.

It's hard to get motivated about going back to work tomorrow. Mostly I want to go travel more. Belize is coming up in June. I've started talking about Thailand again. I really like having those 4 islands of rest spread out throughout the year... might be misery to take 2 weeks at once to go to Thailand. I might not come back this time.
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stuck in monochrome [Feb. 25th, 2011|09:13 pm]
Destroyer of Nations
I finished notes about 8 PM tonight. It's been a monster of a week. Up until this week, I'd been done with all my work by 6 PM. Dunno what happened. Maybe I'm working harder. Maybe I'm working dumber. Maybe I'm putting more umph into my work.

I didn't go work out. I haven't worked out for almost a week. I'll be a week tomorrow. Ugh. Instead of working out, I sat down and painting. It's one of those lovely pictures of a lovely friend. I've been sitting on these pictures for somewhere close to 3 years now. And then a couple days ago I was struck by the inspiration, and I put down the outline. And tonight, I started to paint.

I haven't painted in months. It's been a long goddamn time since I've painted anything meaningful. Maybe years. I did those lovely ladies I gave to Steve, that was sort of meaningful. But not like this.

I always indulge in the illusion that things are somehow different now.

Things are not really different.

It's a battle between habit and being present in the moment. I was present at first. And then I willfully embraced habit, and things got shitty really quick.
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monsterismism [Jan. 16th, 2011|11:17 am]
Destroyer of Nations
Rocked through rounds in about 45 minutes. Wisely decided to finish my notes at home, like a sagely sage.

Got not much to tell you right now. Not much at all. Except for a few things, but I don't feel like talking about them right now.

I might get back to this later.
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what this?! [Dec. 26th, 2010|10:53 am]
Destroyer of Nations
This month has been about as good as I could ask for. Tons of vacation days, no weekend rounds, lots of sleeping in.

And in 5 days I'll have been a resident for 6 months, which means: 1) Patient load increases from 7 to 8, and 2) An attending no longer has to lay eyes on my patients in clinic. It also means a mere 18 months left of junior resident madness.

I've lost something in the last 6 months. I'm still reeling from the October/November marathon of masochism. I haven't been able to paint. I put a little paint down a few weeks ago. I couldn't focus on the details. I'm probably just artistically deconditioned.

Gotta get back into painting, working out, guitar. That's it. Well, then there are books, too. And writing.
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