Semi-Charmed Life


Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009)

Yesterday, one of the greatest and most influential icons that lived during my time passed away. While he was a severely troubled man, his legacy is undeniable. Anyone who tells me they don't have one Michael Jackson song that they like is obviously not a fan of music.

A good post:

Andrew Sullivan from The Atlantic

There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life.

But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence. Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.

I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.

I hope he has the peace now he never had in his life. And I pray that such genius will not be so abused again.

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Real World Blues

I went to Miami this past weekend with some friends and I have to say, it was more enjoyable than I expected it to be. I'm not much for the whole sun, sand and surf deal but decided to go because I don't get to go on vacation with my friends often. I'm glad I went. Miami is beautiful, although I could have done without the extreme humidity. I brought my camera and took pictures, which I will probably post up soon. I didn't like how my pictures turned out. I tried to focus on people instead of "things," and I found that much harder. I feel like all my shots turned out ugly, but whatever. Ultimately the whole point is to document my travels, although it would have been nice if the pictures didn't suck.

Coming back required an adjustment period, which I'm more or less still going through. Monday was rough. I felt depressed and completely unmotivated throughout the entire day. I feel much better today though. I guess the shock of returning to the real world has finally wore off.

On a different note, it seems the rate of new lesions on my wrists and neck have dipped drastically. The back of my neck is pretty much clear, although I have some on the right side of my neck that are still running its course. My wrists are clearing up relatively well also. I'm sure I will get more through the next few weeks or so because the incubation period of the virus is anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks on average. Regardless, the decreasing rate of new lesions is good news.

I have an upcoming trip to Baltimore this weekend to see the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Maryland, performing music from the Final Fantasy video game series. I was really looking forward to this but my enthusiasm has died down ever since the Miami trip. My wallet took a monster beating. I'm dreading the arrival of my credit card statement.

'Til next time . . .

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Unconditional Love?

Unconditional love is a crock of shit. Love may not always be a rational emotion, but to love unconditionally is to walk around with a sign on your head that says "SUCKER." Unless you're Jesus Christ, but come on even the big JC only gives you everlasting life and all that jazz if you believe in the guy. It's NOT UNCONDITIONAL! If my man J can't love unconditionally, what chance do we have?

I hope no one mistakes this as a pessimistic or cynical view of life. I don't think I'm a cynical person at all, but I have to roll my eyes when this subject comes up. To me, love is an ongoing transaction. If one party fails to deliver, why should the other continue?

I'm not trying to get all Mr. Economist though. Love definitely is an intangible and unmeasurable emotion, but what I'm saying is someone CAN do something that crosses the line and forces me to reconsider where that person fits in my life. Of course I'll have different tolerance levels for different people, but I don't believe for a second that there exists a person that I will love unconditionally. This includes family as well as friends.

If you don't agree, explain to me why.

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Impatience is a Virtue

Patience is over-rated. They only teach you that patience is a virtue when you're young because the adults want you to STFU. Maybe I'm biased about this because I'm an impatient person by nature. I accept the fact that there are situations where impatience does not serve anyone well. But impatience, at least in my experience, has been very beneficial to me in certain situations.

I think it can be argued one facet of impatience is impulsiveness. Although I don't think being patient and being impulsive are mutually exclusive, I think being impatient has a lot to do with many of my decisions. Comparison shopping, for example, is something I HATE doing. I don't know how some people can spend weeks researching on what tv to get or what camera to get. I believe that as long as you're not shopping from the bottom of the barrel, you will NOT notice any appreciable difference in whatever you're getting. I think the same for bargain hunting because it is worth more to me to have what I want NOW than to have to spend time and effort to find the "best" product or to save a couple of dollars.

Yes, you might be reading this and think that my impulsiveness is an indulgence in instant gratification. I'd counter that what you perceive to be instant gratification is actually swift execution of a fresh idea in order to not lose momentum. Some people tie being impulsive with being irrational, but I feel I make very rational decisions . . . just very quickly.

Snowboarding started out as an "impulse" for me. I had been snowboarding a handful of times and had planned to get more serious about it for some time. You can't be good at it if you don't own your own gear. Well years passed and I did nothing about it, until one day a friend told me about an online sale. I purchased everything the same day. I deferred all my purchasing decisions to my friend and just bought whatever he told me to buy.

Same sort of deal with my camera. One day I decided that photography was sort of cool and maybe I'd get one. I told my friend to keep an eye out for whatever he thought was a good deal, and he got back to me the very next day with an ad on Craigslist. I went with my friend to meet up with the seller and bought the camera immediately.

I approached bjj the same way. I had been watching MMA for a few months and one day I thought to myself that it'd be pretty cool to learn brazilian jiu jitsu. I went into the first academy I checked out, with the intention of comparison shopping at a few different academies but I signed up on the spot.

What I'm trying to illustrate here is the positive side of being impulsive. I have so many friends who want to get into something but they muddle themselves in needless research and decisions, and after a few weeks they put it off til some other time. Or they convince themselves that it's not something they need. Other times people will use lack of funds as an excuse to not start something. All that rationalizing ends up with them doing nothing.

I think being impatient places an emphasis on the NOW. Wanting things to be done right this minute, when the desire is still burning. Well at least that's my positive spin on being impatient.

That said, you can find the ugly side of my impatience when I'm snowboarding, mountain biking and eating. I'm THE WORST when it comes to waiting for people.

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Bad Doctors

In this day and age, it surprises me that customer service is not what every professional lives and dies by. Some people can get away with sub-par customer. I've been to plenty of rude mechanics before, but as long as they fixed whatever was wrong with my car for a reasonable price, I was happy. Doctors should be above that.

I was extremely upset in how I was handled by a doctor I went to this past weekend. When the doctor came into the examination room, he asked me what my problem was. I told him and also told him how the previous doctor treated it, which I wanted to do. He ignored me, so I repeated myself, at which point he told me how he has had several publications and has done extensive work at Mt. Sinai. He told me that if I come to him, I do things his way.

I would have been much more open if he had simply explained what he was doing. The doctor took zero time in explaining to me my condition, as well as what medication he was putting me on. He also performed a PAINFUL procedure on me which took me by surprise because he did not tell me what he was doing. He had his assistant take out a tool which was shaped like a screwdriver that and proceeded to zap the shit out of me. I had to google what the medication he prescribed for me does (imiquimod) as well as the procedure he performed on me in the office (electrocautery) because he left me in the dark about both. It was just a "trust me and let me do my thing" kind of thing. Looked like he was in a rush to leave or something.

Now don't get me wrong. He might be a really good doctor, but this is not how you treat patients. Patients are not cars to be worked on. A good doctor takes the time to inform their patients about their condition and what their options are.

It seems like this is always the case with Chinese doctors. Chinese doctors are THE WORST. I have so much more to write but I can't think straight right now. Sigh. Mondays. =/

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