30 October 2007

A Campus-wide Eating Disorder


My good friend pointed out a rather disturbing fact to me the other day. Apparently, one of her classmates in global health class found that some horrible figure like 30% of the typical female college student's daily conversation is centered around food. Whether it's about what to eat, whether we should stop eating, boasting about how much we just ate, or weighing the pros and cons of going for that study-break cookie--it's all about food. Some of it in a healthy way, most of it not. The mere fact that we talk about it so much sounds pretty unhealthy to me. Once my friend mentioned this to me I noticed how much of my conversation really does revolve around food. I think I'm the last person to have an eating disorder, but it's fascinating (and horrifying) to me that my conversational skills are so limited by what I put in my stomach.

This reminds me of Michael Pollan's idea that America is afflited by a national eating disorder. As omnivores, so much of our everyday brain power is devoted to deciding what to eat--whether it's safe, what the benefits will be to us, and most of all, whether or not we desire it at the particular moment.

I remember the days when I ran cross country in high school and could put anything and everything into my stomach. Huge plates of pasta before the big race. Waffle cones filled with double, triple scoops of cookies 'n cream ice cream. Everything except for milk--which, I found out the hard way, takes hours to digest and will slosh around uncomfortably in your stomach for everyone within ten steps of you to hear. Back then, I'm sure I talked about food a great deal, but most of it was in anticipation of what I was going to eat next. Never about whether or not I should eat something. Now, though, maybe because of the limited healthy options available to me on a college campus, or maybe because I have some kind of minor eating disorder that afflicts all American young women, so much of my brain power is put to the useless task of deciding whether it is "okay" for me to eat something or not.

I say, forget about whether or not you should eat that cookie. Who cares if there are 300 calories in it? Just eat the damn thing, and think of those 300 calories as extra energy that you'll use to power your brain in its new task of thinking about something useful.

26 October 2007

How you might play Rachmaninoff with small hands...

This is awesome. Sometimes I wish I were genetically engineered to have six fingers on each hand, like the guy who plays Rachmaninoff in the movie Gattaca. But no, that would make me kind of weird.

Leon Fleisher to come next month!

Next week I'm auditioning to play at a master class with Leon Fleisher, quite possibly the most influential pianist in North America. He teaches at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and studied under Artur Schnabel, an Austrian pianist. I'll admit it: I didn't know much about Fleisher until a few months ago, when I first heard about this master class. I always feel a little out of place among my piano-playing peers when I'm at student recitals, since I have virtually no knowledge of music theory (as my teacher so kindly points out during every lesson), and am entirely unfamiliar with the great pianists. I don' t need to know much about Fleisher to know that he is amazing, though. Read his bio here, and watch him play Ravel's concerto for the left hand. It's so amazingly dark.

I was nervous before, but now I think I might trip when I get on the stage, fall over the piano bench, and hit my forehead on the keys with the most dissonant chord that you've ever heard. I'd love to have the opportunity to play with him at the master class, but it's not hard for me to imagine a scenario where he'll ask me something about a phrase elision or an appoggiatura (what?) and I'll just stare at him blankly in front of the whole crowd in the auditorium.

Excited...
But very nervous.

25 October 2007

Watson of Watson & Crick is racist?!

It's pretty amazing how someone can make such a huge contribution to one area of science, and then take us about a million steps backward in another (read about it here). Watson of Watson & Crick, what are you saying?

24 October 2007

Feeling young

There was an article in today's newspaper about the social awkwardness of entering college at a younger age than the norm. I can usually get through most of the year (except for birthdays) without remembering that I'm younger than most of my friends. I'm only a year behind, though, so I can hardly complain...one of my neighbors, I believe, is an 18 year old senior. Most of my friends have already turned 22, or are just about to, and to them, 21st birthdays are old news. At every party--okay, the two or so that I've been to this semester--my tell-tale vertical ID gives me away every time. Besides the part about maturing to the point where I am supposed to be able to handle myself around alcohol, what is there in a year?

I've also been hearing about a lot of my acquaintances from home getting married or engaged. They're all my age, but their lives seem so far ahead of mine. I'm guessing it'll be a decade or so before I get married (and at this rate, with my shyness, it'll probably be half a decade before I ever find a relationship). Granted, I'll be having a completely different set of experiences, which I am pretty sure I will love. But when the day comes that my friends now start getting married... well, this is when that year will be more than just a year to me. It'll be my full-fledged excuse.

21 October 2007

A bit of leisure reading

I've found another thing to occupy my attention when I am not and should be working: medical blogs. Blogs from veterans in the profession, and from rookies who have just started med school. I know, I'm probably about ten years behind on this technology fad. You'd think I would spend more time reading blogs, considering I write one that doesn't really get read. So, I'm going to start reading blogs now. The New York Times, and blogs.

If I wanted a really well-rounded base of knowledge, I would read multiple newspapers and not just the NYTimes. And maybe I would force myself to read the Business section every now and then for some information about the captivating? no, dry world of economics. But no, I'm liberal and lazy.

I've also found some great blogs from people who are or have done Teach For America (something I'm thinking about for my post-graduation plans). This is the beauty of blogs - the ability to read all the different point of views from those who are doing what I hope to be doing myself. One day I'll have one of those blogs myself. When I'm a little less lazy.