Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Blog About Homes and Friends That Mostly Just Ended Up Being About My Band

I've discovered that I'm really good at making where I am home.  When I moved out of my parents house for college, it only took living in Pittsburgh one, maybe two years, for me to feel like a stranger whenever I went home to Greensburg and to miss the streets of Pittsburgh.  The summer of my sophomore year in college was the last summer I spent "at home" in Greensburg.  It was actually already not my home, I spent that summer sleeping in Leah's room because Nina had taken my room and my dad had made Nina's room a movie theater style TV room.

But Pittsburgh was my home and I didn't care.  Junior year I moved into my first big girl apartment in Oakland.  It was appropriately a semi disgusting hole in the wall complete with obnoxious neighbors, but I lived there up in my attic room for two years and felt comfortable and at home there.  I made myself a home easily with my friends who had turned my family in Pittsburgh.  I then moved out of Oakland, up in life, and into Shadyside for my last two years in Pittsburgh.  Finished my senior year in school and spent a year working "in the real world" at Children's Hospital.  These two years, are when I finally started to really feel young, in my twenties, and moving up in the world.  I was living with my best friend, I had numerous friends within walking distance of my house, I had a dog, rode the bus to work, went to trivia night every week, and generally had a lot of fun doing a lot of activities.  Apple picking, ziplining, skiing, game nights, trips to Cedar Park, Wine Wednesdays, Treat Yo' Self dates, the list could go on.  But then I decided to go to med school in Maine and leave everything and everyone I had ever known behind.

You know, the number one thing I was terrified about with ALL of med school was making friends.  I was not at all scared about the academics and legitimately thought I wouldn't make any friends and would be a complete loner.  I seriously want to laugh at that now.  I like to think I'm pretty self aware, but clearly I don't give myself enough credit, because I have once again found a home in Maine with a lot of people I would easily consider my family.  If there's anything I would say about my classmates (also known as: friends) at UNECOM would be that we have each others backs.  Because, med school, is actually pretty hard.  It's more emotionally hard than it is academically hard.  It is very easy to feel like you are dumber than rocks and don't deserve to continue on this journey.  But the second you think those words, you have five or eight people behind you telling you you are wrong and you can do it, and we will get through this together.  And that is very powerful.

Now, not only do I feel like I have made myself a home in Maine (also I live in a beautiful three story house that costs me about as much as my one floor apartment in Pittsburgh did .. ), but also I did this really awesome, fun thing and that is that I JOINED A BAND.  As the lead singer.  !!!!!!! ??? !!!

About two months ago now, my friend Krishan messaged me saying that my roommate Kasturi told him I have a good rock voice and him and his band are looking for a singer and asked if I would be interested.  I was really hesitant at first.  I thought, "Do I really have time to be in a band?" "How long do they practice?" and "I don't even think my voice is that good."  But, inside I was also really excited because seriously plan B is be in a successful rockband. And wouldn't it be awesome to have both plan A and B?!?!

The first practice I was super nervous.  I printed out some of the lyrics of the songs Krishan sent me and that I had been listening to basically non stop since he sent them to me and brought my mason jar of water and went to Chris's house to practice.  When I knocked on Chris's door, his roommate answered, and I didn't really know what to do.  I didn't know how to be convey that I was "there to, like, sing with the band?" Because I didn't really know what I was doing! I was just going with the flow as best I could!

I went downstairs, pretty much met the drummer, Alex, for the first time, because I had never really seen him a lot in class before.  Chris handed me a mic, and I couldn't help but think "Oh god. What? A mic?" I made sure they definitely knew that I had never done this before and really did not know what I was doing.  My legs were mostly shaking the whole time.  We did a few songs, I secretly LOVED it, but on the outside probably looked like a doe eyed deer in headlights.  The guys seemed to be pretty excited with me but we all seemed to be keeping it cool.  I really wanted to ask if they liked me and my singing because we made plans to practice again in the next week or something and I was so close to saying, "So, does that mean I'm in? Because I'm not sure and I'd like to be in."  But as we were leaving Krishan told me something that mostly sealed it in my mind that we're gonna keep a secret because that's secret band stuff.

I came home and thanked Kasturi profusely for ever giving them my name because I loved it so much and I said that I hoped that they liked me and it was seriously so awesome but I was keeping it super cool so as to not look like a weirdo (cats out of the bag now, though). Then a couple days later Alex made a new facebook message and included me in it, named it the TOUCH Hours and I knew I was in.

And the band has been exactly what I needed but didn't realize I did since coming to med school.  I was about to be really proud of myself writing a whole blog entry and not mentioning stuttering once, BUT-- I don't stutter when I sing (different brain pathway) and its just sooooooooo nice to just sing and be fluent and to not feel like I'm going stutter or not think about stuttering.  I find I'm slightly more fluent while I'm in band practice.  We'll do a song and then I'll have to say something in between about it and I'm better at stopping myself and saying my words easier and more fluently when I'm at band practice.  And it's not just that, I used to be really into music in high school and my first couple years of college, but then I got too busy with school and other parts of life to keep up with music (unless it was Paramore), and now I go to sleep listening to music almost every night (I'm really cool about it and fall asleep with my big headphones on).  I spend my spare time learning lyrics to songs and take study breaks to go sing downstairs in my basement.

We played our first show a few weeks ago.  This was, I think, less than a month than me joining the band.  We had played together three times total I think, four if you count when we met at Chris's the night of the party to play our songs and warm up before we played.  That was a surreal night.  Like any band, we ended up showing up at the party about 15 minutes after when we said we would start playing.  We had gotten caught up practicing, and then it sort of takes a lot of time to break down a drum set and everything and get it in everyones car and then we caravanned it over to where the party was which was a semi ordeal in its own.  As we were carrying in Alex's drums to the house I couldn't help but think as I was navigating through a pathway caked with ice and snow with my converses that have holes in both the heels that this is the COOLEST thing and I am seriously in a band.

I ended up talking a lot about the band.  A little more than I meant to.  But that's what I'm talking about- I was not close with any of the guys before I started singing with them and now I feel totally comfortable with them (which is why I'm only slightly embarrassed to post this blog, because I'm sure they'll probably read it, but "we are musicians, we don't judge." as Alex would say).  I feel like that with all of my friends at UNE.  I went and watched Laura give a talk about epilepsy the other week and got emotional watching her talk and was so proud of her and I haven't even known her that long! But I feel that way about everyone I've met here!  My heart just wants to explode sometimes with how much I love everyone.

Speaking of hearts! My band's name is Tetralogy of Fallot, and you should like us on Facebook if you haven't already.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What You Think Is Not Important

I have admittedly been in a slight rut lately.  At the expense of being cryptic, because I don't want to get into it, I've been dealing with stuff at school that I've never had to do deal with on this level before. And it took its toll. I found myself listening to the negativity and doubt and the nonbelievers and allowed their thoughts to take a home in my mind.

It has been taxing to me on multiple levels, but mostly because I don't like being unhappy and negative and angry and pissed off and sad and scared and frustrated.  I choose to be happy and full of hope and life every day because I don't understand why you wouldn't.  What is the point of looking at a rain storm and only seeing the misery and loss of a sunny day?  One time during the summer I walked to a park with my dog so we could hang out and I could read.  There were clouds accumulating when we got there, but I wanted to stick it out and read outside with Iorek for awhile.  Then when the clouds started to really look ominous, I figured we should probably leave.  Not even two steps out of the park it started POURING.  I didn't have an umbrella.  All I was wearing was a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, and it was dumping rain, within 30 seconds we were soaking wet. I couldn't really see because of the immense amount of water that was flooding my face and my mascara was running, blinding me with pain.  But it was kind of fun?  I couldn't help but laugh at how ridiculous we must look to the cars whizzing past us as we shlepped home.  I'm pretty sure I only took one step into my apartment before throwing off all of my wet clothes to get into a nice warm robe.

I could have been really pissed that whole 10-15 minute walk home in the literal downpour, but what would have been the point of that?  It does no use to dwell on the negativity when you can always find some part of your situation to make you laugh.  I have forgotten that. I have accidentally let everyone else's thoughts and opinions of me stamp out that part of my personality.

Right before I went in for my scoliosis spinal fusion surgery the nurse came in to give me drugs or do something, I can't remember now, but she very specifically said something along the lines of how I was going to be lucky to survive the surgery.  I was the opposite of pleased.  Literally five minutes before I'm about to be put under and you tell me that I'll be lucky to wake up?  I was livid.  I told my mom something along the lines of I never wanted to see that nurse again.  But she lit something of a fire in me, because I did not just go sixteen years on this earth with a spine the shape of a question mark to bite it while trying to get it straightened out.  I let the drugs wash me into oblivion while constantly thinking, "I'm going to wake up.  I'm going to wake up. I'm going to wake up."  And I did.

That is my problem with medicine.  Medical people like to make a lot of assumptions, as if they have any idea of what they are really talking about.  Don't tell me I'm not going to survive a surgery because I might look like a weird case to you.  Who cares if I was born with tetrology of fallot, two left lungs,  had a curve of over 70 degrees, and was mildly underweight?  Who are you to say that my body probably won't be able to handle it? I literally do not care what your statistics say or what your science wisdom tells you, there is more to health than the workings of my cells, there is the soul and fire inside of me that holds me all together and that can make or break your diagnosis.  There is so much of the body we have yet to understand, don't act like you know why and how everything will play out.

I actually attribute the fact that I woke up to my little mantra I spoke as I was falling asleep, because it was an admittedly hard surgery.  That is what I decided tonight that I'm going to take back.  I don't care what you think about my stutter.  I don't care what you think is happening inside of me when I'm stuck in a stutter, because you don't know.  I don't know and I'm in me.  How anyone can act like they have any clue is beyond me.  I am done caring about your concern over my speaking ability.  I am done listening to your ignorance masked as confusion, and I am done being seen as only a stutter.  I am also done with the notion that putting someone in an impossible situation breeds success.  I don't bow down to fear.

I had a preceptorship with a family physician a few weeks ago and I asked him what his advice was for my stutter.  He told me to not apologize for stuttering and to be brave with it. Tonight I decided to get back to my happy self.  Tonight I decided to love whatever comes out of my mouth.  From now on I don't apologize if the words tumble out as a stutter.  We have choices in this world.  I choose to focus on being the best that is me, and get back to the happy "I love med school!" Mia that I was first semester.