My Tryst with Illness

December 4, 2008 at 4:26 pm | Posted in Me + Myself + I | 10 Comments
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I have been doing a lot of serious thinking lately. Most unusual, but when you’re confined to bed with a nasty sickness and a headache that threatens to match the effects of listening to Justin Timberlake twenty times in a row, it’s all you can do, besides counting flowers on the wallpaper. It is curious that in times of ill-health, the brain will merrily turn off the usual routine: appetite is the first to go, then talk and then sleep.

The first hurdle doesn’t pose too much of an inconvenience, but the other two do. Talking and sleeping, as everybody knows, are the two most important things in the world. And being the kind of person whose personal philosophy is ‘I talk, therefore I am’, I, more than any other could fully appreciate the agony of swallowing that disgusting bowl of oats without uttering a word. It seemed my voice had turned rather like one of those foul gooey medicines I’ve been prescribed by my physician, whose mission in life seems to force down as much medicine as he can down his patients’ throats.

Now, sleep. When i had done everything i could to ward of insomnia to no avail, I decided it was time for drastic measures. These drastic measures, I decided, were to be in the form of  ‘Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul‘ an atrociously mind-numbing book which had been gathering dust on my shelf for the past three years.

I open the book at a random page and start reading…

It wasn’t surprising that before long I was positively giddy about him. My friends told me I had no chance with a junior. My sister looked concerned for my potentially broken heart. But you can’t help who it is that you fall in love with, whether they are older or younger, taller or shorter, completely opposite or just like you. Emotion ran me over like a Mack truck when I was with him, and I knew that it was too late to try to be sensible. I was in love.

If that doesn’t make you fall asleep within five minutes, I doubt anything will.

Anyway, this ingenious discovery of a cure for insomnia notwithstanding, it would be wrong to assume that sleep was of help. If only the problems of the world could be solved by sleeping! I would definitely bag the Nobel Prize for Sleeping in that case. But I digress.

As I was ill, I wasn’t allowed to sit at the computer or watch TV or read, for fear of these activities putting a ‘strain’ on me, as the doctor put it. I would have told him that the only activity that is capable of putting a strain on me is listening to  Rihanna singing ‘Hate That I Love You’, but thought better of it.

One of the worst things about illness is the ever-present sense of idleness and exhaustion, co-existing simultaneously. Everything seems oppressive, and even the sight of fluffy teddy-bears seems annoying (at least to me). That’s when it begins to operate on psychological level. In an effort to drag my brain from the depths of despair, I hit upon a more brilliant solution. I raided my wardrobe and came up with the most disgustingly lurid clothes I could find. A bright-pink top that I loathe (I never wear pink) would do the trick, I thought. I know, stupid theory, but pink, whatever its faults, screams cheerful. And it worked, almost, my spirits had raised a notch somewhat.

I was down with viral fever, which went away within three days, but the Universe, not content with having its sinister plan executed in this manner, decided to add the finishing touches as well. General weakness prevailed, and I was convinced that it would be highly dangerous if I didn’t get well soon – no, not dangerous for me, but for the doctor, who was probably going to get strangled by me soon if he dared to prescribe me more of those yucky medicines.

When I was feeling better again I was allowed to walk around the house and climb up the stairs. I was so glad to have my health (and voice) back, I ended up in bed with sore ankles again later in the evening due to a hour’s worth of running up and down the stairs. I kid you not.

Anyway, the upshot of it all was that I now have a reputation of being ‘psychologically delicate’, which is rubbed in my face every time and which annoys me to no end. Hmph. When I end up finding the cure for cancer, I shall make sure I rub it in their faces at every opportunity I get. ;-)

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Brain Damage

November 20, 2008 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, Verses + Vignettes | 8 Comments
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My fingers have been doing the polka dance all over the keyboard for the past ten minutes, in the vain hope that it would rouse my brain from its deep slumbers and write something. Unfortunately for them, my brain just about happens to be the most stubborn thing ever created.

I can hear it chiding now, but this time I am going to have my way.
*racks brains for something to write about*
Don’t be stupid, brain, I can’t possibly write about jumping monkeys on the moon. They don’t even exist, you silly bundle of nerves and neurons.

Oh no! Blasphemy! I repent!

Emily Dickinson, bless her, once said that the brain is ‘wider than the sky.’ (Never mind the fact that she would have redefined the whole geometry from a sky to a  subatomic particle had she happened to live in our times). Anyway, the point is, the human brain never fails to amaze me. On two levels: its sheer brilliance, and its utter stupidity. Extremes on the spectrum, but both equally amazing, you see.

My awe leads me to this unforgivable crime, oh, horror of all horrors, a poem composed in its honour.

It’s a bundle of nerves weighing barely three pounds
Yet actually wider than a sky on metaphorical grounds
Oh, it’s a wondrous little mechanism, all right
(Though, like a squeezed walnut, not exactly a pretty sight)

Old Freud, he couldn’t figure it out
Not that he was the only one about
Scourging the depths of the cup of the brain
Ended up only with a teaspoon in vain

But the riddle teases us right back
It’s nowhere as as easy as a MySpace hack
Like an old geezer put on public display
But who cares, MySpace sucks anyway

It’s best if you just give it a rest
Though we will never entirely tire of this quest
It seems the answer may elude us for a while
But we’ll get there by a long mile

I am now absolutely convinced of the feats of the human brain; for this, of course, is something only a talentless waste genius like me could produce. Shelley must be rolling in his grave. You made me do it, brain.

Oh Good Lord, my brain’s rebelling on me. I’m sorry for all the late night studying, please don’t leave me, okay? You’re all I’ve got.

Blah Doesn’t Even Begin to Cover It

November 7, 2008 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Me + Myself + I, Randomosities + Rubbish | 11 Comments
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I swear, if I had a quid every time I’ve cursed my own stupidity, I would rival Bill Gates’ record as the richest person on earth. Hell, I could make his fortune seem like a joke in comparison.

Those impulsive, hastened, rushed, I-don’t-know-what-I-was-thinking moments. Oh, how I loathe them. Whether it is shooting my hand into the air in class as soon as a what, why, how, which is uttered by a teacher, or jumping down an innocent bystander’s throat when I catch them playing a song I dislike in public out loud, or deleting my previous posts by mistake – I don’t know how I manage to rise to extraordinary heights of stupidity.

Impatience, impulsiveness, irritability, I’m all rolled into one. I need patience more desperately than Wall Street needs credit, than George Bush needs grammar lessons, and Pete Wentz a decent haircut.

The other day, for instance, I had just finished explaining my case of why I thought non-rhyming poetry superior to the rhyming sort, to a classmate who stood there looking at me with a fazed expression on his face.

Me: …Rhyming poetry has an element of structural arrangement to it. Non-rhyming poetry is more open and free-flowing, you see. It’s unconventional, it doesn’t follow standard patterns. Therefore it seems somehow more natural, like sort of resembling a jigsaw falling into place…
Him:
(interrupting) I’m sorry, what? I didn’t catch half of what you said. You talk too fast.
Me: (promptly shuts up)

Honestly, I have no idea why it has to be like this every time. Anyway, the moral of the story is:

1) When people say you talk too fast, it’s their fault for lacking in listening skills.
2) ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR STUFF. Unless you happen to have an awesome photographic memory like me, in which case you can type out yours posts word for word, like I did.

Mind Your Throats, Please

November 6, 2008 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Randomosities + Rubbish | 5 Comments
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Charles Darwin never really found out the relation between evolution and chewing gum, I believe.

It was dissection in biology practicals the other day. Now, if there is any thing I hate more than getting up early in the morning, it is dissection. I cannot bring myself to dissect a page, let alone an organism. Anyway, the professor was demonstrating and I was only half-listening, trying somehow to force my brain into imagining that the shiny scalpel I held in my hand was a paintbrush or something.

So, the professor grabs the cockroach firmly in one hand, makes a sharp cut and – I swallow my gum. Accidentally. Uh oh. I freak out, rush to the nearest water bottle, grab it and gulp it all down. Class and professor stand stupefied, staring at me gulping down water in such a frenzy, slopping it all down my front.

Professor (to the class): Ah, now, look here. A common case. This particular practical may cause one to feel nauseous.
(turning to and smirking at me): Especially, if one happens to be of a …ah…delicate disposition. A psychological problem.

I was too busy freaking out at my having swallowed gum to take notice of her petty dim-witted insults. She thought I was disturbed at the disection, well in a way I was, but not to the extent of feeling nauseous. It was that piece of gum that was probably clogging up my insides right now that I was getting freaked out at.

Swallowing gum was much more serious than a poor wee cockroach spread out before you waiting to be cut up in the…*shudders* never mind.

I had never swallowed gum before in my life. That’s right, not once. I’d always exercised as much caution during the simple activity of chewing gum as you would while handling radioactive materials. At that moment I was this six year old again, who had just chewed gum for the first time in her life. I thought I was going to die. Seriously. Luckily, that didn’t happen. The Professor continued the dissection and the snide remarks about ‘mental health’, but I didn’t care; I was grateful for being alive.

Later that afternoon I googled up ‘I swallowed gum’ and found out that the chances of an instantaneous death are rather low. Of course S and G and A all told me they’d swallowed gums loads of times before but I’d refused to be comforted.

‘Hello, I’m seventeen and I’ve just swallowed chewing gum for the first time in my life and I think I’m going to die.’

Oh well, I’m never chewing gum again.

Interstellar Overdrive

September 11, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Today dawned as another beautiful (*coughnonstopraincough*) day. The furious winds, the cold so deep you can almost feel it under your skin, the the smell of the earth, the vivid, lush green of trees, the cloud-laden sky stretching endlessly overhead, glistening raindrops, umbrellas, thick blankets, crisp toast, a steaming cup of coffee…

…hang on. We’re alive!

The Big Bang 2.0 Experiment certainly created no minor waves. Even a nose-permanently-engrossed-in-some-fat-book-or-the-other-and-totally-immune-to-gossip person like me couldn’t escape the wild anticipation, rumours, hysteria and frenzy all around me.

Observations:
JB: *fingersfuriouslycrossed* Go CERN go!
CG: Oooh! A baby universe, isn’t that pretty!
SA: Seriously, what is the point of this experiment? Isn’t it quite ridiculous to think that we can artificially recreate the conditions which created the Universe? When will these self-pompous scientists learn?
N: Ah dinniken why they ur daein it, jist fir tae prove at whit a hale lot aff canny folks they ur? Bliddy tubes aw dem. This ain’t gonnae work.
SF: Shair they ken whit they ur daein! Int nae hairm in tryin, is there? Ah hope fir the bes.
GL: Typical right-winged bullshit to make money off some stupid experiment while millions of children continue die of starvation. What a waste.
BBD: They can’t mess with the world like that! God made it. Only God can decide what to do it.
My wee brother: OMGOMG we’re all gonna die!

As for me, *I* find the whole thing incredibly exciting. It’s a huge undertaking all right. On the whole, I think the whole LHC thing is quite…astounding and a wee bit scary at the same time. I must admit, something on a scale as big as this fascinates me and frightens me. We’re treading dangerous grounds here. This is something that cut right to the core. Messing with Nature is a dangerous thing. The answer to the Big Bang – Universe’s biggest riddle – is something we’ve always sought to find. And yet, when (and if) we do find it…would it all be the same?

Whether we materialise the Higgs Boson particle or not, whether we identify the nature of the invisible dark matter that constitutes 25 per cent of the Universe or not, whether we modify the architecture of space-time or not, one thing is clear: we’re getting closer and deeper to an understanding of the Universe all the time. There is something about this whole thing – the whole element of mystery – the endless search, the maddening nature of the questions, and the hunger for answers.

Einstein put it very well in one of his most excellent essays, Physics and Reality:

The very fact that the totality of our sense experiences is such that by means of thinking, it can be put in order, this fact is one which leaves us in awe, but which we shall never understand. One may say that the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.’ It is in the sense of creating some sort of order among sense impressions – by the formation of general concepts and relations between them – that the world is comprehensible. The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.

The connections of elementary concepts of everyday thinking with complexes of sense experiences can only be comprehended intuitively and is unadaptable to scientifically logical fixation. The totality of these connections – none of which is expressible in conceptual terms – is the only thing which differentiates the great building which is science from a logical but empty scheme of concepts.

Some physicists, among them myself, cannot believe that we must abandon, actually and forever, the idea of direct representation of physical reality in space and time; or that we must accept the view that events in nature are analogous to a game of chance. It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving; and also every man may draw comfort from Lessing’s fine saying, that the search for truth is more precious than its possession.

Humanity has always been in the search for truth…since the beginning of time. In my opinion, our existence is threatened more by the possibility of giving up this search, than it is by Global Warming or warfare.

On a related note: I was quite taken aback at the number of people who thought that it was their last day on earth. I just hate it when people jump to stupid illogical conclusions concerning the ‘end of the world’. All that talk about the world ending in 2012 is rubbish as well. Weren’t we supposed to die in 2000, or on the of sixth June in 2006? =P It seems that every now and then someone will turn up with their own prediction of the end of the world. Guess I’ll go and make a prediction myself and massively publicise it…I decide to switch on the toaster tomorrow morning and BAM! the world doesn’t exist anymore! People will fall even for that… :roll:

PS. I wonder just what Einstein and Orwell would have said were they to witness this experiment.

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