From Beach, To Snow…

I’m currently on night-float in pediatrics. Which is pretty awesome, but also slow enough that I have time to think. Too much time, even. Which is not a good thing… but here it is. Two years have passed (well, a bit more) since I started medical school. A lot has changed. A lot hasn’t changed. Where does that leave me? … Honestly, I’m not sure. The biggest thing, I think, is that now when I look outside, I don’t see a beach or anything. I see snow. Yuck.

(I just have to say – ‘change’ might be the stupidest thing ever.)

***

When I started college, I told myself that it was the time for me to “change” and become who I “wanted to be.” I wasn’t quite sure who exactly that was, but apparently college was a great time to “discover yourself,” so I figured I’d get in on that. A few good & many bad experiences later, I emerged from college as a graduate. I had a degree!! And yet, far from being who I wanted to be (at least who I thought I wanted to be), I was even more confused and lost – and seemingly even more “off-track” than I had been when I started. I bounced around for a bit (taking random classes, writing, volunteering in Portland for a week, writing in Spokane for a weekend) before I went back to the same mindset I’d had before college. In other words, I figured I had known more of who “I wanted to be” (at least professionally speaking) in high school than I had in college. Weird. (Personality-wise, I still don’t know who I want to be, so that’s a different story.) Also, probably wrong – but how was I supposed to know that then? A BS in Economics had never been part of any plan, or dream, or anything – and after I got it, it still wasn’t part of any plan.

When I moved to Grenada, I told myself the same thing. That was my chance to really change and become who I wanted to be, especially since no one there knew me. It was a whole bunch of new people, I could reinvent myself (sort of) however I wanted. … It took all of 2 days for me to realize that that wasn’t going to happen. I stood out like a sore thumb for pretty much the entire 2 years, but the thing was that it never really bugged me. I was fine with who I was (well, mostly) – I had bigger problems trying to get past what other people seemed to think was the norm, because I didn’t fit it at all. And nor did I care to. Though maybe studying a bit more would not have been such a bad thing. And more importantly, I became very good (bad?) at letting my feelings confuse the fuck out of me – something that continues to this day. Half the time, I can’t even tell if I’m happy, sad, angry or hungry. It’s all just a conglomeration of everything. One thing I did learn in Grenada, which was a complete change more-or-less from all the time in Utah, was that I needed (certain) people around. Not just any random stranger – which is why I’m still deathly scared of New York – but someone I considered a friend (which, honestly, it doesn’t take much for me to consider someone a friend … 1 conversation is more than enough).

Two years after that, I moved again – this time to New Jersey. Again, a shot to change … again, no change really. Admittedly it’s only been like 6 months or so, and I’m mostly around the same friends, but I figure that’s enough time to realize that I really haven’t changed much at all in the past 2 years. At the end of all those chances (using “end” very loosely considering I just moved here), I emerged very much unchanged. And yet, still very different. The Sujal from 6 or 7 years ago would not even recognize this Sujal, who actually talks to people IN PERSON outside of school and ENJOYS it. In fact, he might see that as a sign that something is really, really wrong.

I’m still naive as hell about so many seemingly common things. Not street smarts really, but more just “how do you not know this!?” type of things. I could name multiple Bollywood movies where a car is pretty much a character (Taarzan, Dhamaal, etc.) but couldn’t tell you the first thing about any actual real car. (That’s just an example, but I think it proves my point pretty well.) I mean, it’s always been like that. In middle school, I could have told you all of Bobby Phills’ NBA stats (based on reading the back of a basketball card!), but I didn’t know the first thing about Dickens or Shakespeare or any other “classic” author. Feelings are the most confusing thing since the end of Inception. I’m a total self-defeatist about everything. I guess I kind of lived in a dream world … and I still do, kind of. Maybe dream is the wrong word – I’ve created my own bubble of things I care about, and beyond that I don’t know much of anything. And it’s a very small bubble, one that is shrinking daily as my interests continue to go up in smoke.

My life revolves, more-or-less, around 1) medicine and 2) having people to talk to. That’s the one really glaring change, I guess – I went from being the guy who sat in front of the computer all day (for years!) to a guy who just needs people to talk to (in person or on the computer – I’m fine with either).

I still have an insane number of mostly (totally?) irrational fears … a list that just keeps growing. I don’t even know why there are so many fears, or how to fix them – I learned recently that even facing them head-on (yay for zip-lining and a ropes course, I guess) doesn’t help them go away. I’m still equally fearful of it. … I’m still seeing my interests slowly disappear – some I just don’t care for anymore, others I just don’t have time for. Most annoying, I have very few activities of interest that match up with friends (especially the closest ones). Largely because I have so few activities that interest me in the first place. I pretty much become the “debbie downer” of the group. Which sucks, because I don’t want to be the bad friend in the group. I just don’t enjoy the same things as everyone else – I’d call it being “unique,” but it seems that everyone else just thinks I’m being stupid.

Not that I want to change too much of course – unlike some other people who embrace change (way too much?), I’m perfectly fine with the status quo. And if I’m not, I’ll change it to something I am comfortable with – something that involves the least amount of change to my life necessary. No need to fix something if it isn’t broken – and while I’m not perfect, I’m not going to sit here and say that my lack of similar interests makes me “broken.” Which I guess makes me a bad friend, or at least an insensitive one.

***

But that’s a story for another day. The whole thing that this stems from is simple – even with nothing changing, so much has changed in the last 2 years that I’m lost in my own life. I don’t even know what I’m fine with and what needs to change.

The two most important factors of my life right now (or at least 2 of the most important) have become the greatest source of confusion. I don’t know why I feel how I do – I definitely didn’t feel that way when everything started. And I don’t understand how there could be such an about-face in thought in just 2 years. Especially when, up until 3 weeks ago, I was too busy to even think about any of this. (That’s not to say I didn’t dwell on it – I did – but I was constantly having to choose between dwelling on thought and studying.) In fact, I felt the exact opposite. And even worse, I don’t know what I can do about it. I’ve tried to change my mindset, but it isn’t that simple as I’m slowly learning.

Enough has changed in the last year that I know there’s no real way to have a reversal of the course of events – the train has changed tracks and is barreling full speed down the wrong (?) track. No changing that. My own past is quick to remind me that lost causes are lost causes. No looking back & hoping now. I had that opportunity before (maybe), I let it go – and now it is completely gone. But I can’t help it. My thoughts, my actions, my insecurities; they’ve left me in an undesirable position. Short of literally grabbing the world by it’s shoulders (a truly impossible task) and shaking it to awaken it, that’s done. As much as it sucks (even more than the first time around, for sure), it’s too late. … I don’t even know what exactly it’s too late for, but recent events would suggest that whatever I’m thinking about, it’s too late. It’s like I was driving for a game winning touchdown – and then I pulled a Mark Sanchez and butt fumbled the ball away. I just fumbled away control of my life simply because I suck at the one thing I’m supposed to be good at (this is still part of Mark Sanchez comparison, for what it’s worth) – living my life. Yes, I suck at living my own life.

There will be other options, of course – hell, this current mess started as a dream beginning to the last self-created mess – but right now it just sucks. I don’t think I want a dream beginning anymore. The last one led me to Grenada, which definitely had it’s ups but also had way too many downs. I can’t work like that. I want this to work out positively (though I don’t know what exactly would be a positive result; I guess only time will tell that). For all the effort I’ve expended that I’ll never get back; for all the time I spent building this world without even realizing it; for everything – I just want it to work out with a positive result. I want to be able to look back at these days and smile, to be able to get lost in wonderful memories, and to be grateful for the decisions I made. I’m sick of regrets – I wish I could overcome that terribly annoying character flaw.

Maybe life is supposed to be hard, maybe it isn’t. Most likely, there’s supposed to be patches of both. I just seem to have a magical way of overly complicating things – I’m like the anti-King Midas. I turn golden opportunities to rubble faster than King Midas can say “gold;” I do it without even realizing what I’m doing. Golden opportunities don’t look golden until they’ve already turned into rubble – it’s like I’m metaphorically blind or something. Or at the least there’s a metaphorical delay between seeing something and my brain recognizing what it is. I’ve missed on a lot of probably great opportunities in life – things that I ignored for various reasons. Some I regret, some I don’t, and others I probably don’t even realize I’ve missed on.

As life moves on, as settings change while the scenarios remain the same, I’m starting to realize that the biggest issue is internal – I have no idea about myself. What I life. What I want from life. What I want to do.  At least not until the opportunity has passed, at which point it’s like “fuck, I should’ve done that.”

***

Point being, change sucks. And as life changes, the more I want it to be the same – while also wanting it to change a lot. I guess the summary of this post is pretty simple … “I’m confused and I don’t know why or what to do about it.” … Time to bid adieu to the most recent missed opportunity to have something change and stay the same – whatever opportunity that was. I probably won’t realize for another month or so.

I just need to stop thinking.

12 Weeks Later

Flashback to around 13 weeks ago. A bunch of students in brand new white coats walked into a hospital as future students of the hospital – something they’d been looking forward to for many years. They could be forgiven for their excited faces & looks of amazement – they’d worked 2 hard years in Grenada to get to this point and were finally done with the classroom-all-day approach (and that impossibly hard “Step” exam that had absorbed their lives for the past few months). This was the point everyone looked forward to – starting rotations in an actual hospital. Actual patients, as opposed to “textbook examples” that rarely ever hold true in the real-world setting. They sat down for orientation and, after a few brief introductions, handed their schedules for the next year.

A couple of students, yours truly included, quickly had their amazement turn to sheer horror as thoughts of “oh shit!” crossed their minds – their first rotation was going to be surgery. … We’d all heard the rumors about how surgery was supposed to be the hardest out of all the rotations. You never really know whether you want to do it first or last until your schedule tells you you’re doing it first – at that point, you’re certain having it at any point later in the year would definitely be better. But it’s pointless to think that – the schedule is set in stone, so to speak. It’s not about surgery itself, or the hospital, or the staff you’ll be working with – it’s just the immediate reaction due to stories that have been heard and the realization that you’re going to be starting the hardest rotation of all with pretty much no experience in the hospital at all. Obviously everyone starts off that way in some rotation and maybe everyone felt that way about their rotation – but I know I definitely felt it after seeing “surgery” listed as my first rotation. After the week of orientation, including a talk or three by the head of surgery that had me even more scared (safe to say, I’m easily intimidated), the actual rotations began.

I started off in burn ICU. As the lone burn clinic in the state, there were a lot of cases with massive burns that we saw. That said, it was nothing like I expected surgery rotation to be – even for a “sub-specialty,” which is supposed to be “easier” (or at least more relaxed). It was … well, not really anywhere as close to as bad as I thought it’d be. I got into the OR and got to scrub into cases. I got to do basic things like stapling & gluing, and more hands-on things like helping lay the skin graft on the burn site (I know, nothing impressive, but still better than just standing there). I went to clinic and got to see many different cases of burns – and how the doctors interacted with the patients. After 2 weeks there, I went on to orthopedics, and then general surgery for six weeks (4 with GI, 2 with bariatric & vascular), and then cardiothoracic surgery (1 week) and then anesthesiology (2 days). And just like that, 12 weeks were over. Of course, it wasn’t that simple/easy. Anything but, in fact. It was hard. Stressful. Just ask my friends who had to put up with me over that time.

General surgery especially was very painful/stressful. The hours were the longest, the things to do were the most (on the plus side, you were always busy so you never really realized you were tired until you sat down). Rounding with the attendings, spending days with the PA on the floor, seeing many things in the OR (and the cardiac cath lab), going with residents to the ER consults – there were many opportunities to see things and to learn. And on top of that, the many amazing lectures (even the ones that went for 3 hours) throughout the whole 12 week process. I feel like I learned A LOT! (though it might not show in the test results…). But now that it’s all over, I find myself looking back. Wondering.

The 12 weeks – they were definitely an experience. One I’ll remember for a long time. The good and the bad. The things I got to do in the OR. The time I accidentally scratched an itch while scrubbed in (it had been like 6 hours – I practically forgot I was still scrubbed in because we were sitting & waiting). Getting grilled during lecture, and responding miserably (and getting worse with each question). The random words of encouragement (& thanks) from attendings and residents and patients. But while I didn’t exactly learn the technicalities behind any huge procedure or anything (that was not the point, I don’t think – no one is going to expect a 3rd year student to do a Whipple’s procedure or anything), I learned a lot about myself (and about surgery/medicine of course).

I think it’s at least partially due to the awe of being in such a setting (the OR is, despite what it may seem like, a pretty majestic place in it’s own way) and my approach to things being more like a visitor than a student- I was more interested in taking in the experience and seeing whatever I could than in anything else – but I feel (in retrospect) like maybe I didn’t make the most of the 12 weeks I had. I mean, I was there and present, but looking back, I wonder if it would have been possible for me to do more, experience more, learn more. I’m not very assertive in any regard really, and that probably held me back at times. I didn’t go out of my way to ask if I could make the first incision, or if I could suture, or even if I could do simpler things outside of the OR like pulling out a foley or whatnot. I had no problem sitting back and watching things happen as they unfolded, in hopes of just seeing everything possible. Don’t get me wrong – when they asked me to do something, I did. It’s just if they asked someone else, say the 4th year student on the team or the resident or the PA or the PA student, I didn’t really try to get in and be like “can I do this?”. I just stood to the side and let it happen as it did. At the time, the student in me didn’t mind at all because I just wanted to see how things happened – how other people approached such an opportunity. While I feel like I learned a lot, they always say you learn more by doing something than just seeing it (okay, I probably destroyed what they actually say, but you get the point) – and I guess maybe I wasn’t the best at that. So I probably didn’t learn as much as I could have. That comes with being more of a follower than a leader, I guess.

I started learning during the first 2 years of medical school that I do not do well with stress. At all. And in these 12 weeks, it became very clear that I still had not really learned to cope with stress. My diet (if you want to call it that) goes to hell (hello, easy to prepare junk food & soda), my body goes to hell (hello, stress ulcers), my sleep cycle gets destroyed (sleep from 10 PM to 3 AM because why not?), goodbye interests (movies, music, sports – who cares?), and on and on. I just deal miserably with it. Maybe it’s because, until 2 years ago, I’d never really experienced much stress (I’d just run from any such situation if it arose and got annoying – but even that rarely happened), but I’m really not good at dealing with it. Got to work on that somehow. The diet went from “eating relatively healthy” to “eating whatever” to “not eating at times.” The lack of sleep became a huge problem – especially when you threw in 24-hour on calls on the weekend that cut weekends in half and on-calls every 6 days. The daily schedule became “get up at 4, go to hospital, come back from hospital at 6, quick dinner, pass out.” There was very little time for much else (especially anything I might have enjoyed, like movies) – and any time something like that happened, I’d suffer for the rest of the week because I didn’t get enough sleep. At times, I’d be so tired that I wouldn’t even eat because warming up “1 minute pasta” took too much effort and I was simply too tired. Headaches, which had plagued me throughout undergrad before disappearing for a while, returned in a firestorm. I got super sick for the 2nd time in 2 years – this after not really getting sick at all for years. But honestly – when I don’t have the energy to even watch a movie, something is wrong (and only 75% of the blame can go on the fact that all the movies coming out these days SUCK!). … I would like to apologize to the people I bothered during the 12 weeks in this state of … I don’t even know. I was the “difficult patient” version of a medical student/friend.

I am very easily intimidated and run over. Like, “stupid easy.” I knew I was like this coming in – I just didn’t realize how much it would shape the experience I had. It made much of the experience a lot more torturous than it should have been. From rounds to lectures to trips to the OR to oral exams, I was pretty much a disaster at the worst possible times – in front of the attendings & senior residents. My mind would just shut down and leave just me as a living cadaver, making it even easier to carve into me – and we’re in a setting where if you set yourself up like that, others will take advantage. I’d like to think I got a little bit better by the end, but honestly, I’m not so sure.

I met a lot of new friends – residents who are going into surgery (or not going into surgery), other medical students, physician assistant students. I met some awesome doctors who are really, really good at teaching (and being doctors, of course). I became friends with people I’d seen the last 2 years but never really spoken to. And I got to see awesome things (and participate in awesome things).

Amongst the coolest things I did: taking out the appendix (sure the attending and the resident did mostly everything, but I got to cut it out); draining fluid from the knee; “running for blood” in 2 different cases (running is a slight misnomer, as you just walk really fast to the blood bank and wait for them to check and double-check everything before walking back to the OR at an equally fast pace); “pushing drugs” into the IV; holding the heart in place in the body to allow for a clear view during a bypass; helping a patient walk after a surgery and seeing how happy they were. (Nothing really mind-blowing, but at the time it was like “oh man I get to do something!”)

Things I saw: split-thickness skin graft (taken from the thigh and placed wherever need be); a hip replacement; a knee replacement; a low anterior resection; a hemicolectomy; an ileostomy formation; a mastectomy & tissue expander insertion (the longest case I was in – it went for 7 hours); a sleeve gastrectomy; a pericardial window; a carotid endarterectomy; a CABG; an aortic root repair – amongst other things.

Things I wish I had been able to see (just because they seem like awesome procedures to see at least once): kidney transplant – donor or recipient (I actually went to 2 nephrectomies while rotating in anesthesia, but both times missed the actual removal of the kidney from the incision site due to various circumstances so I still never really got to see it), AKA or BKA, pancreas transplant (apparently they only do that with the kidney transplant as well and I don’t even know if they did that in  my 12 weeks, but I was never on that team so I never had a shot to see that), reversal of a Hartmann’s procedure.

Probably the weirdest moment of the 12 weeks had nothing to even do with the OR, or surgery really. Or even the hospital. … One of our on call days (a 24-hour call over the weekend) saw us paged (we were paged!) to the surgical library (where all the students/residents sit). We were told to go to the parking lot (of which there are many), and after all the confusion was sorted out, we found ourselves driving to Tree Top Adventures. When there, we were told why we had been called there – to participate in the ropes course. So we did – I did the whole thing too, even given my immense fear of heights. Us, the residents that had shown up and the chief of surgery – we spent 2+ hours on the ropes course and then ziplining. While on call. Quite simply, I learned that some fears are greater than other fears. And I conquered my fear of heights! … For the time being at least (I still refuse to climb up a ladder, or whatever).

Yeah. In terms of what I got to see in the OR as compared to what procedures did take place, I feel like I got to see a lot of what I’d have liked to see if I was an “innocent bystander” who had been granted access to the OR. Not everything, obviously/unfortunately, but close. Not that close means anything – this is a learning opportunity, and everything you didn’t see (for whatever reason) is one less thing you’ll know about when it comes up. (Though, if you base it on the shelf exam, I guess none of that really shows up.)

The “oh shit” feeling that crossed the mind when the schedule first came out – I can’t tell if it was justified or not. I mean, yes, this was a really hard first rotation and super stressful – and we saw people in other rotations who seemed to have much less stress – but on the other hand, it was probably a good one to start with. At least for me. It constantly kicked me in the ass – something I probably needed more than I will ever truly realize. Apparently the rest of the rotations will be “easier,” though we’ll see about that. Even now, I don’t know which is better to start with – the hardest rotation or something easier – because it’s all medicine. You have to do it at some point. And by starting with surgery, we’ve already seen so many different things (cases, presentations, approaches). That definitely cannot be a bad thing.

As for the future – who knows about the distant future. If I learned anything about me & surgery, it’s that it probably isn’t very likely. I just don’t seem to be molded in the same way as the surgeons/surgery residents I interacted with. (I know, some of this might just be mindplay, but whatever.) But then, I haven’t seen any of the other rotations yet, so it’s hard to really compare anything. And I guess I still need to develop (a lot) as a person, so who knows what I’ll feel like after that. The much closer future (like, you know, tomorrow) – I start pediatrics. A complete turn from surgery, it would appear, but I guess we’ll find out for sure once it gets going. I don’t know about the assertive and pushover, but I definitely need to work on the stress management thing.

The experience was exactly what I made out of it (just like they say it’ll be); the knowledge I gained, though, was much greater than I ever imagined it could be.

Ending on a different note – there were some pretty impressive things/moments in the OR that would’ve been awesome to capture on camera.

Magic In The Operating Room

Now You See Me (2013)
***Spoilers below***

This post, like many before it, has been brewing in my head for a while. Two things really helped with that. First, I watched this movie almost 2 months ago. And second, I started my surgery rotation 5 weeks ago. That has given me plenty of time to think about similarities between 2 things that would seem to have very little in common – rotations in surgery, and a movie about magic and/or illusions. Now, I’m not claiming surgery is “magic” … it is anything but. Surgeons have worked their asses off to get to where they are, to have developed the knowledge to do what they do so well.

Why am I comparing these two things? I don’t really know – probably because I tend to overthink a lot of things (especially movies). I guess in that aspect I’m a bit like Ted from How I Met Your Mother, except he overthinks everything and I just do that for movies (usually). But the idea developed from something more concrete – and that something is a gross generalization that everyone seems to know though it seems to be very false.

“Surgeons’ are assholes.” Everyone has heard that (or at least everyone in that field). Of course, it’s not that they’re (all) assholes. Quite simply, they have to exude confidence – and they’ve gotten really good at it. Yeah, some might fall into that category, but that’s true for every field. In my experience, in most cases it’s simply a case of exuding confidence. And with good cause. These doctors are cutting into your body (emergency or not) and fooling around with something much greater than anything ever made by man – if they weren’t 110% confident, would you really want them cutting into you? They need to be confident and that’s what they are. … What happens, though, is that when students rotate under them, many of the doctors demand similar levels of confidence & expertise – because as much as students want to learn, doctors don’t really have time to teach and let students learn from mistakes. This isn’t a classroom anymore – any mistake could end up seriously hurting an actual patient. So you need to be perfect from the start. Throw all that together & BAM – they come across as assholes. Simply because the people that you are trying to impress are also the people that are trying their hardest to make your life miserable … because if you can’t stand that right now, life as a surgeon is going to be near impossible. To be the best that you can, you need to learn from experience … without making mistakes. (Just like the Four Horsemen in the movie – they know that one mistake could ruin everything.)

(Also, my plot review is below average because I saw the movie a while ago so I don’t remember everything perfectly.)

Now You See Me starts with multiple seemingly small-time magicians (Jesse Eisenberg as J. Daniel, Woody Harrelson as Merritt, Isla Fisher as Henle and Dave Franco as Jack) being viewed by someone we only see the back of. (Kinda creepy, almost. Yet a good start to the suspense.) They all end up getting called together to a random apartment building. It is here that we realize that there is some history between some of them – and that something big is going on. So big, in fact, that even they don’t know. They don’t know who called them there, or why. But eventually things clear up a bit and they find a set of instructions…

So we skip ahead 1 year. Any potential bad blood between the magicians has been overcome, as they all come together for a huge magic trick. They’re partners now. And sure enough, what they do is amazing. They pick a random volunteer from the crowd, “teleport” him to his bank (teleportation isn’t real, of course), and rob the bank vault. And then they distribute all the money (via a vacuum in the vault) amongst the crowd that has come to watch them. … The cops, led by Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) and the actually robbed French bank sent Alma (Melanie Laurent), are baffled – there’s no way they could have actually teleported a guy to France, right? They’re forced to release the Four Horsemen (as the magicians are called) due to a lack of evidence, despite Dylan’s best efforts to get them locked up. Lucky for them, Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman) has spent the last many years proving magic doesn’t exist and is there to help the cops. He shows them what has happened – it was all an illusion. The magicians actually robbed the bank before hand, and then set up a small room under their stage to look like the bank vault and sent their pre-planned (thanks to subliminal messaging) victim down to that room.

After some random fun with their sponsor Arthur (Michael Caine) and some banter between them and Thaddeus, the Four Horsemen head down to their next performance in New Orleans. For their next trick, they go one step above robbing a bank – and steal $140 million from Arthur and distribute it to the audience. We learn that Arthur’s insurance company had rejected or lowered the claims of everyone in the audience. The cops again try to arrest the Four Horsemen, but this time are stopped by a group of hypnotized audience members who believe Dylan to be a quarterback that they need to tackle (it’s a pretty funny scene). They escape, and an infuriated Arthur hires Thaddeus to expose the magicians at their next performance. Alma tries to tell Dylan that these magicians might have some connection to a case 30 years earlier with a Thaddeus-exposed magician who had then undertaken a dangerous underwater stunt and drowned. Dylan, who doesn’t believe in magic, doesn’t really seem to believe her either.

The magicians go into hiding at this point, but are eventually found out. In the ensuing car chase Jack’s car flips over and bursts into flames, killing him. The remaining 3 vow to finish their last performance. This time it involves stealing a safe from the same company that made the safe that the magician drowned in 30 years prior. They pull this off as well, and disappear into thin air – they jump off a building and explode into cash, which rains down on the streets. (It was, like every thing else, an illusion – they were never actually there.) That money is found to be fake – and all the real money is found stuffed inside Thaddeus’ car. Thaddeus is assumed to be the 5th Horseman and is arrested, though he claims that he has been framed.

In the jail cell, Dylan comes to meet him. Thaddeus has almost everything figured out – he can explain all the details, including Jack’s staged death – but can’t explain how they were always a step ahead. He realizes (somehow, I’m still not sure how this works out) that they had someone on the inside in the FBI. And, in the final magic trick, Dylan escapes out of the locked jail cell … using full on magic, it appears. But whatever, there has to be something like that in a movie about ‘magic’ (well, technically it’s about illusions, but whatever).

Thaddeus realizes that Dylan is part of ‘The Eye,’ the magician group that he’s been so vehemently denying the existence of. We see Dylan walking away from a very confused Thaddeus, who can’t figure out what Dylan has against him (and why). Dylan ends up meeting the Four Horsemen and welcoming them into The Eye. Later he goes to meet Alma and tells her everything – the magician that died in that safe was his father; the bank they robbed and Arthur’s insurance company refused to pay out his insurance policy, Thaddeus exposed him in the first place, and the safe company gave his father a subpar safe. Alma decides not to turn him in, believing that some things are better left unexplained.

It’s funny, because initially the biggest question is “Who?”. Who is the person seen watching all 4 individual acts and bringing the 4 together? Your mind shifts a lot. Is it Arthur, because he’s supporting them at the start (and because Alfred from Batman would definitely support them)? But then they straight up rob him for $140 million, so that seems unlikely. Is it Thaddeus? Is the whole banter between them a show for the cops? But then they frame him. … At some point, perhaps swayed by my recent (at that time) viewing of Special 26, I started wondering if maybe it was Alma – just like Jimmy Shergill was the hidden man on the inside in that movie. She came from nowhere, claiming to have been sent by the bank, and went full on in trying to catch the magicians – just as Jimmy showed up as a cop and spent his whole time helping Manoj Bajpai try to catch the thieves.

***

Of course, in the end, the “inside man” happens to be Dylan – the guy that is going hardest after them, the guy who will do anything to catch them (even put his life at risk when what he assumes to be Jack’s car flips over), the guy who so badly wants to catch them that he chases them through the streets one night and almost shoots them. … Your biggest critic is your biggest fan. As much as Dylan wants them to succeed, he also wants to catch them. He needs to see that they are good enough for entry into The Eye, he wants them to succeed in making everyone pay for what he (& his father) went through – but he has a job, and he’s not just going to roll over and play dead and let them do whatever they want.

Surgery rotation (and probably rotation’s in general, though I can only talk about surgery because that’s all I’ve been through so far) has similarities in that sense. When you start a rotation, the attendings and the residents (well, some of them at least) play that role of Dylan in your life. They want you to succeed – because your succeeding means one more good doctor and in a profession where it all comes down to taking care of people, you can’t settle for “subpar.” You need to be great – anything less risks harm to your patient, and one of the first tenets of medicine is “do no harm.” They are tasked with making sure you’re great. But then, if they teach you everything they know, you won’t be a great doctor – you’ll just have book knowledge. Like the first 2 years of med school. The only way to learn how to actually recognize pneumonia on the floor or how to treat any disease or how to perform a surgery is by watching it happen (repeatedly), by experiencing it first hand. No number of books read can prepare you for the many  intricacies that you’ll come across on the floor – because everyone is different. And that includes (to various amounts) their anatomy and physiology. How they respond to drugs, how they’ll react to a diagnoses, etc. You need to experience it on the floor first-hand, maybe even take part in some of the situations you’re placed in.  And for that, the people in charge of training students need students to be good from the start – there is no opportunity to learn from mistakes here.

That said, it’s not perfect of course. Some people expect you to be great (or greater than great) from day 1, which is a ridiculous expectation. You don’t just go from reading about a disease to knowing the exact surgical procedure to treat it. Some people (like myself) don’t learn via being yelled at about things (or intimidated, or whatever) – all it takes is previous exposure. If I’ve never seen a central line being placed, chances are I’m not going to know how to do it if you just ask me. So sure, I can lie to you and then go ask someone else, but what exactly do you gain from that? Not to mention, everyone seems to have a different way by which they “operate” (not in an “operation” sense, but just how they react to or treat certain things), so it’s pretty hard to know what Person C is going to want you to know on day 1 if Person A and Person B both taught you different things. … Whatever, that’s an aside rant about some of the absurdities. It’s like if Dylan had randomly brought the Four Horsemen together and on day 1 asked them to steal $140 million from Arthur. That would never have happened. It takes time and experience.

But in the end, the people that are hardest on us are going to be the one’s pulling for us – because it means they’ve helped introduce one more good doctor into the field (which will be much appreciated by patients) and it’ll look good on them if the good doctor ever becomes a great one and at any random point thanks the training doctor for such a valuable experience in making him who he/she is.

Becoming a good doctor (or more) is going to take time, experience … and good training. And while the training will come from many different people in next two years, one thing is for sure – the people that seem set on hating you forever will also be the people that help you achieve your greatest heights. You just have to be willing to accept that (as do they).

As for actual magic in the operating room, it doesn’t exist. The surgeons are experts in their field – they learned through the same experience-based method we’re trying to learn from. It can seem magical at times though. You go into a surgery with a orthopedic surgeon and watch them replace a hip or a knee. You go into one with with a burn specialist and see them replace burnt, dead skin with viable skin from somewhere else on the body. It’s not magic, it’s skill. But when you see it for the first (or 3rd, or whatever) time, it can seem magical. And when you get to play an actual role, that’s even more amazing – for example, yesterday, I got to cut out an appendix (perforated appendix in appendicitis). I mean, the attending and the resident did most of the work. But then he said to me “you get to perform your first appendectomy today” and handed me the knife  … even though I saw myself cutting the appendix, there was this feeling of “magic” that stayed with me for the rest of the day. Had I really done that? If I had, I had just done something “big” in an operating room (big for me at least – I’m sure appendectomies aren’t exactly “big” operations for any attending) … one small, insignificant step for mankind, one huge step for me. I mean, I didn’t do anything amazing. If I hadn’t been there, anyone else in the room could’ve done it with much more ease and way fewer butterflies in their stomach. But for that moment, I was given a chance to learn from experience. I did something amazing (in my own eyes).

Everyone is an illusionist (I know I’m not). But those that are … they can make anything seem magical. You know – now you see me, now you don’t. … The greatest illusion of all is making someone see something that isn’t there.

Birthday

Presents. People. Food. Cake.

That combination of words sums up birthdays (or well, the general idea of them) pretty well. When I was young, I was super excited for the presents & the cake. More people was good, but only because more people meant more presents. The best part about all the activities was when they ended, so that you could go back and unwrap all the presents (with “unwrap” being a nice way to describe the destruction of all the wrapping paper). Now though – many years later – it’s different.

For what it’s worth, when I say “present,” I’m referring to an actual gift from someone. Meaning something that can be wrapped in wrapping paper. I know that it can be counted as a present if a friend comes and visits or something, but I’m not referring to that here. Because that would just make things confusing.

***

Last Sunday was pretty much like any other day for most people. Yeah, it was “special” for me in the sense that it was my birthday … but in technical terms there was nothing much about it. Every day finds you being one day older than that time the day before and one year older than that point last year. So there’s that, but it’s not much. If you celebrated and had cake every moment that you were getting older, you’d be a cardiologist’s dream. And pretty darn big. So yeah, the Sunday was pretty much just another day. I was a day older than I had been on Saturday, and an year older than I’d been on September 15, 2012. Yay? The same could’ve been said any other day this year. Pretty much, it was just a random day where I didn’t have to go back to the hospital.

Of course, part of my indifference could have been because of the fact that I’d had a 7 AM to 7 AM call on Saturday (meaning that I got in at 5:30 AM on Saturday and left at 8 AM on Sunday). That’s not the lone cause of my indifference – which I know because I generally feel this way every year – but I’m sure it was a pretty big part this year. I was so tired by the time I left the hospital that I really didn’t care much about the plans for that night, or football, or anything. I just wanted to sleep. … And sleep I did. For as long as I possibly could without pushing off the other events for the day.

Last year, my birthday was on a Saturday … and we had a pathology exam that coming Monday. Safe to say there wasn’t much celebration that day – the fact that so many friends showed up at midnight to surprise me was shocking (and pretty awesome, I will admit). But then it was back to bed, because we all had to study all weekend. The year before that it had been my first month in med school so I didn’t know many people. My birthday fell on a Thursday – a couple of friend’s surprised me at midnight, but then the rest of the day (I remember pretty clearly) involved going to anatomy lab for 4 hours and then 2 hours of anatomy lecture. So yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve done much of anything exciting for my birthday. Not that I really minded.

***

When I was 18, I got a tennis racket for my birthday. I’ve gotten birthday presents before that. I’ve gotten a few birthday presents after that. But the racket stands out because 1) I remember getting it for my birthday (the stuff I got before I was 18 is a iffy mess in my brain) and 2) I really wanted a tennis racket. I’d been playing tennis for a while – and this whole tennis thing is a completely different story anyways. Point is, I wanted a new racket (needed, even, since my other one was getting too small). So that was an awesome present (thanks, ma & pa!) – one that I used for a long time. I didn’t bring it here with me, stupidly, but I will always remember getting that present and being very happy.

I remember a while ago, though I don’t remember when, my mother asking me what type of cake I wanted for my birthday. I said, completely seriously, that I would rather have garlic bread than cake- and this was before I pretty much cut eggs out of my diet. Quite simply, I’ve never been a big fan of cake. And while the replacement food changes based on what I really want to eat at that time, there are many foods I would rather have on my birthday than cake. Dosa. Paneer tikka. Enchiladas. Garlic bread. And on and on. I understand cake is a birthday tradition, but honestly … I’m perfectly fine without it. Happier, even.

As I mentioned, it was awesome to have friends come over at midnight last year. Maybe they came for cake (in which case they might have been slightly disappointed because there wasn’t an actual cake), maybe they came to get away from studying for a small amount of time, maybe they just came to hangout with whoever would be there and maybe they actually came to see me. Who knows? Who even cares? Point is, they were there to celebrate part of my “special” day with me … and that’s what made it special. And this year was no different.

***

After my not-long-enough nap, I got up and got ready and went out with a friend. She was going to adopt (or foster or whatever) some cats and I went along for the ride. Amidst constantly seeing on my phone that the Panthers were playing like crap and getting more and more pissed off about my car situation (another story for another day), I was along for the ride as she picked out 2 cats. We took them back to her place, saw them run away scared and hide, and then left.

Birthday meant celebration. Sunday meant tomorrow was Monday, and everyone had to be at the hospital pretty early. Combine those two and you get exactly what you’d expect – a birthday dinner at 4 PM. Well, closer to 5 PM considering that everyone arrived at 4 PM IST (Indian Standard Time). We went to a restaurant called Papa Razzi (Italian food, obviously). I had a pizza of some sort – honestly, I was more interested in the conversations going on than the food I was eating.

There were friends from around. There were a couple of friends that had driven down from New York too. I guess it’s an interesting look on my life that most of the friends I talk to now are all people I met in Grenada – it’s almost like the previous 20+ years in Utah never really happened. Maybe I’m just a bit too much like George Clooney from Up In The Air.  But that’s irrelevant – point is, friends had all come out to celebrate my birthday. Some of them had even driven a fairly long distance. All for Italian food & bowling – things they could definitely have done a lot closer to home too.

The list that started this post has changed greatly over the years in terms of order of importance. While presents are still nice (but usually very rare), they don’t make the day anymore. They’re more of an unexpected (but much appreciated) surprise than the norm. Cake, I’ve already mentioned I’m not a fan of. And food is food – great and whatever. But honestly, the day is made by the people. Not the quantity of people anymore, but the quality. I’ve never been big on huge parties either – so having a small get together with most of my best friends here was pretty much perfect. (And yes, there was some cake involved – I guess it’s impossible to have everything as desired.)

After dinner we all came back and scared the cats (unintentionally, of course) for a while before we went bowling. In other words, we spent a few hours talking/chatting/catching up under the guise of throwing 8-14 pound balls at pins. (Fine, fine … rolling – though I’m more of a thrower than a roller.) Irrelevant to everything, but I won the first game with the highest score out of the 8 of us (though in bowling terms, it wasn’t a very high score). So that was kinda cool.

There was nothing spectacular about any of the conversations that took place that night. We didn’t cure cancer, or find a way to get world peace, or create a Nobel Prize-winning presentation. Honestly though, we didn’t need any of that to make the night (and whole day) enjoyable. It was just a night for friends to get together and hang out and have fun like we used to in Grenada, using a birthday as an excuse to do it. That’s exactly what the day was.

Sometimes, it is kind of lonely to be in a new city all “alone.” (Yeah, I’m not actually alone – there are friends here, and a roommate, and even extended family.) But with my immediate family all relatively far away (aka – I can’t climb up or down some stairs and meet them like I used to be able to do when I stayed at home), it’s pretty awesome to have a second family to meet with on such occasions. Because while I’m normally too busy to spend too much time missing people, that day was a definite exception to that.

Friends – like a second family. And a great present. All wrapped in one.
Thank you all for spending that time with me.

81

A sense of finality and accomplishment comes from seeing your team snap a streak so long, so painful, so disgusting that it almost tarnished one of the greatest numbers in franchise history. So many seasons of losing has sort of made everyone numb to it – yeah, it sucks to have suffered another losing season the last 2 seasons after some relatively strong starts to the season, but there was also this feeling of “it was bound to happen.” Maybe just because it always seemed to happen to us. That is something that was not really felt this season. Somehow, this conglomeration of veterans and youngsters, star(s) and role players… somehow, this team had enough to do what no team in the past 20 years had been able to do.

Which, to me, is an awesome feeling of relief, because that number & the player – that is what made me a Pirates fan. When I mention that I’m a Pirates fan, people often ask why. What is it that drove a life-long Utah resident to become a Pirates fan? Especially one that had never stepped foot in Pittsburgh (and, unfortunately, still hasn’t)? …. Truth be told, I don’t have a really good answer to that question. The honest answer sounds very “fake” – as if it was made up just to have an answer “better” than “oh, I just picked one randomly.” If it is in fact better – I’m not sure. But it’s the truth.

A long time ago, we had this random book sitting around in our house. Two books, in fact. Both were green; one was titled something like Ventures, the other Nature or something like that. I don’t know what exactly they were, or where they came from. But both had a lot of random stories in them. One of the stories was about this baseball player who had not only been a great baseball player, but also had done a lot of charity work in Puerto Rico & Central America. A baseball player who had given his life in this effort to do charity work, when his plane had crashed soon after taking off. I was moved by the story – a lot – and decided for some reason to root for his team. The player was Roberto Clemente, his jersey was #21, and the team was the Pirates. Of course, by the time I started calling the Pirates my team, the Roberto Clemente era was long gone. So was the era where the team won – it was 2001 or so, and the team was in midst of 9 straight losing seasons. (Maybe if I’d looked into that before, I’d have picked a different team. But alas, by the time I found this out, it was too late – I had already adopted the team.) So that’s it – I picked a team based on a story I’d read about a player that once had played on that team.

And while the road has been long and painful, full of many stupid mistakes – drafting Bryan Bullington #1 in the draft and saying that night that he projected as a #2/#3 starter (for those that don’t understand baseball, it’s like having your first kid and saying that he could potentially be your 3rd favorite kid – at best); Derek Bell & Operation Shutdown; the whole Dave Littlefield era including drafting Daniel Moskos so high and trading for Matt Morris; the very many random “push for 81″ seasons that saw stupid trades; and the last 2 seasons, where the Pirates seemed close but just couldn’t get over the hump – it has definitely been a ride. Sometimes good, mostly bad – but still memorable at times. Two years ago, when I was starting med school, my biggest regret was that I wouldn’t be able to watch the sorta-competing Pirates on MLB on Fox – they hadn’t been on that in ages, and it seemed like the aura around the Pirates was changing. Of course, they ended up slumping to end the season and not breaking the 81 win mark. Last year, there was again excitement early on, only for it to falter as time went on and the Pirates slumped. Things finally came together this season and things worked out for the best.

It’s nice to see that the #21 in Pirates history will remain associated with Roberto Clemente and not with the patheticness that was this losing streak. While it would’ve been even more awesome if the win had come in Pittsburgh, there’s some poetic justice to the fact the win came in Milwaukee – home of the rival Brewers who had pretty much owned the Pirates at home until last season. In the long term, 81 wins is nothing. It doesn’t guarantee anything other than that there will not be a 21st losing season. It doesn’t say anything about how this season will end. But that’s not the point. It isn’t about celebrating a championship or playoff birth or anything. Quite simply, it is about celebrating the end of a dark era of Pirate baseball – one started by an unfortunate throw by Barry Bonds that was slightly off-line, and one ended with a Mark Melancon strikeout of Khris Davis. But it isn’t just about Melancon getting a strike out. This team has just been different from the start. Andrew McCutchen. Pedro Alvarez. Starling Marte. AJ Burnett. Jeff Locke, early this season. Francisco Liriano. Jason Grilli. Melancon. Neil Walker. A group of players developed by the Pirates – something that we hadn’t seen in a long time – and a group of “castoffs” by other teams. They made it work.

As a fan, it is an end to two decades of anguish. It isn’t like 81 is the end goal – it isn’t. In fact, it’s just a minor blip in the radar this season – just like 80 was, and 79, all the way down to 2 and 1. The only difference is that this is a minor blip that hasn’t been experienced since 1992. There is hope for even more. But that is just hope – just as there was always hope that “this is the year.” Now, finally, we won’t find ourselves having to think that at the beginning of every season.

The losing streak is over at 20 seasons. To Roberto Clemente – #21 is still yours. And it always will be.

The Tragedy Of A Pathetic Hero

Ghanchakkar (2013)
***Spoilers below***

Honestly speaking, I was really excited for this movie. Even with what I thought to be subpar songs (the Emraan Hashmi magic touch is gone, it seems), the cast and the trailer made it seem like it could be a pretty fun movie. Amnesia is overdone in Bollywood, but still, there was something about this trailer that made the movie seem interesting. Like, a comic touch on your typical amnesia movie with a fairly simple plot – your hero helps rob a bank and has to hide the money, but when his partners come to him 3 months later he doesn’t remember anything. … And yet, the movie that started off so strong fell quicker than Hrithik Roshan in Kites & John Abraham in Dhoom.

It’s funny, actually, because just yesterday when we were walking around a friend mentioned having “selective amnesia.” It so was a joke of course, about a topic I don’t remember, but it’s funny that I would watch this movie (due to a same-day recommendation from my brother, and with a same-day warning from my cousin) so soon after that conversation. Just because, well … amnesia.

The movie starts with a somewhat-fighting couple (Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan) and a phone call from a seeming daughter-in-law hating mother. And some other random phone call from a guy calling himself Pandit. After some more verbal fighting, our “hero” (if you want to call him that – he’s more just some average guy who we seem to be following around for no real reason) Sanju decides to meet with Pandit and his partner Sid’s friend (I know there’s no Sid in this movie, but he was the friend in Wake Up Sid and that’s how I remember him, so that’s what I call him from here on out). A couple of movie title name-drops later (including Emraan’s own Jannat), Sanju agrees to help them rob a bank. Full support from his wife Neetu, who seems very interested in having some extra income. About Neetu – she’s a temperamental person (especially when it comes to her cooking) who is obsessed with reading magazines and staying “fashionable” in her clothing.

Anyhow, the robbery takes place (with some comedy) – even with the unexpected police visit in between – and Pandit & Sid’s friend decide to hide the money with Sanju for 3 months before meeting up again to split it 3 ways. This, of course, makes no sense – why would they give it to him to hide and not just keep it with them? Or put it somewhere where you need all 3 people to get access? But whatever, a hesitant Sanju ends up with the money and they go their own ways.

Skip ahead, and three months later they call up Sanju and tell him to meet them to split the money. There is a small problem though, which he tells them after they drag him from his home to a train (in a very funny polka dot night suit) and threaten to kill him. He got in an accident soon after – and he is suffering from memory loss. He doesn’t remember them or the money, and he hasn’t told anyone else (not even his wife). His doctor, after some initial confusion (it seems) backs this story up. Pandit & Sid’s friend kidnap Neetu and take her with them (giving Sanju a week to find the money), but a couple days later the trio returns – it’s been decided the baddies will stay with the couple while Sanju searches. Thus begins a week long re-enactment of sorts of Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?, where Neetu  & Sanju get overly frustrated with their new housemates, while Pandit & Sid’s friend get overly frustrated with Sanju for not remembering with all that money was.

As time goes on, Sanju has a harder and harder time remembering things – he forgets his address, he forgets his car, he forgets where he lives, he forgets his friends’ names, and on and on. A couple of clues lead to dead ends, while others make him come up with seemingly false ideas – a friend (Parvin Dabbas) won a lottery just recently, so Sanju thinks he stole the money; he finds out he’d been looking at a house, so he assumes he was gonna double-cross his partners; his doctor ends up dead from accident, so he assumes it was murder; etc. As this goes on, he becomes more and more frustrated with things while everyone becomes more and more frustrated with him. After a false alarm of the money in the suitcase (which brings us to the interval), this plot continues drags on for another hour – him just trying to find it by looking everywhere and doubting everyone, while his memory gets worse and worse. (Yes, drags – by this point, you’re just waiting for it to end.) He gets frustrated, they all get frustrated and we get frustrated. Meanwhile, some stranger keeps calling Sanju and saying that he knows Sanju is lying about the memory loss.

Finally, after the week is up, he ends up on the same train – with Pandit, Sid’s friend and Neetu (who they captured and brought with them, leaving him a note). They’re demanding the money for her release. He still claims to not know where the money is – or who they are. Frustrated, Sid’s friend threatens Neetu – and Sanju tells them not to because she knows about the money. He has collected enough evidence (proof of a purchased plane ticket, a bank account locker in Neetu’s name) to believe that the money is with Neetu and his friend (Parvin), and that Neetu is going to London to join Parvin (who just suddenly shifted there soon after Sanju met him and demanded proof that he had actually won the lottery). Neetu counters by saying she’s going to visit her sister and that she had told Sanju this. They fight, and Sanju angers Sid’s friend, who threatens Neetu – only to be shot dead (!!) by some random guy. Pandit recognizes this guy and pleads for his life – but ends up shot to death as well. Sanju and Neetu have no idea what is going on – the guy demands the money and says he’s the one that hired Pandit & Sid’s friend for the job. Sanju realizes that this stranger was the guy on the phone. Sanju brings out the only weapon he’d brought with him – a dinner fork. The new guy laughs at Sanju, and then shoots Sanju’s hand and then Neetu twice – the second one being a seemingly fatal shot. He slowly realizes that Sanju actually has no idea where the money is and shoots him again; meanwhile, Sanju can’t recognize Neetu as his wife. After Sanju is shot again, a nearly-dead Neetu calls his name (and laughs?) – only for Sanju to not even realize it’s his name (he thinks Neetu is an accomplice of the new guy, and thinks she’s calling to him). The new guy quickly searches Sanju but only finds a banana, and laughs about how Sanju was going to kill him with a fork and a banana. He eats it and leaves the compartment at the station, kicking Sanju’s ringing phone to him as he leaves.

Sanju answers it and it happens to be his mom, who again gets in some anti-Neetu talk (as she’s been doing on every call) before getting to the point. She asks when Sanju is going to pick up the suitcase. Sanju, super frustrated at this point, asks what suitcase… and what ma. He doesn’t remember her or the suitcase. His yelling attracts the attention of new guy, who hears about suitcase. He jumps into the train car – and then slips on the banana peel he’d tossed there and impales himself on the fork lying on the ground, killing him. A frustrated Sanju throws the phone out the train car. The movie ends with the train in motion, and a Kaante-like scene with a rollover of all the dead people and then a look at the suitcase sitting in his mom’s house. (Note, though – I don’t know if Sanju was fatally shot or not; he might have been kept alive with no memory, judging by how jumpy in direction the director of the movie seems to be.)

So it ends … Sanju has/had forgotten almost everything. Name, address, wife, mom, suitcase, car, friend, hospital, doctor, everything. The seeming comic-mystery movie about an amnesic bank robber randomly turned into a sort-of gore fest, punctuated by the punctured neck. No idea where that came from. There was no suspense/mystery at all – he had actually forgotten the money and all and never remembered. All the doubt, all the proof – it was all nothing (or so it seems). He was just a victim of his own memory lapses. And the way his mother kept calling, you pretty quickly got the idea that the money was probably there – there was no other reason for her to ever be mentioned/involved in the film.

Was Neetu actually cheating on Sanju? Maybe, maybe not. They definitely tried to make it seem that way. Parvin mentioned his wife left him because he was having an affair, but when asked whom with, he didn’t respond. Neetu knew his address off the top of her head. But that’s all pretty vague in terms of being evidence either way. Did she have a sister in London that she was going to go meet? She said yes, the memory-less Sanju said no. And the ticket he had supposedly bought her (her story) was a one-way ticket, which is slightly confusing.

Of course, they also seemed to be implying Sanju was actually fine with how long it took the doctor to “recognize” Sanju as his patient – as if the doctor was just playing along. Or maybe he too suffered from amnesia?

***

Continuing on from my thoughts on Raanjhanaa, I can’t help but wonder if Sanju would be more of a tragic hero than Kundan (who in my opinion was not any sort of hero, tragic or otherwise). On one hand, you can kind of feel for him (if you buy into this story, which was REALLY hard for me). We all have moments where our memory fails us – and those times suck. So to be like him and be losing memory of everything – this which he would have known “like the back of his hand” – must be really frustrating. In that case, as he forgets more and more things and you see his life falling apart, you can’t but help feel for him – he did one job at the passive insistence of his wife, and it ended up costing him everything (well, that plus the accident cost him everything). That’s what describes a tragic hero, right? Not necessarily his own death – but a guy who has everything and loses it all. He lost his wife, his mom, the money & his memory – there’s not much to lose beyond that. His life, I guess – that may or may not have been lost as well. If he survives, his life will be similar to Aamir Khan’s in Ghajini – without the revenge factor, of course. So much less “exciting.”

The biggest thing standing between Sanju and “tragic hero” status is the movie direction itself. At first, you don’t know if he’s actually lost his memory or not – if he’s playing them, then it’s definitely not full on tragic hero status. By the time you’re sure he’s lost his memory (when him & Neetu get shot on the train), it’s too late to start thinking of him as a tragic hero – the movie is practically over. In that case, he’s just a hero done in by an awful, choppy script. From “comedy” (without the funny) to “suspense” (without the suspense) to “thriller” (without the thrill) to “dark comedy” (again, without the comedy), the movie jumped all over the place. More than Sanju, it was the movie that had no sense of direction, no sense of identity. It didn’t know what it wanted to be or how to get there – so it tried to find the answer everywhere. In the end, it just gave us a really bad soup with everything thrown in and horribly mixed.

Kundan was done in by his own attributes – his anger, his obsessiveness, his desire to be “the man” at any cost. Sanju, meanwhile, had no such dilemma. He wanted to find the money (or so it seemed – we couldn’t really be sure if he was just trying to double-cross them or not), but was hindered by something even closer to him than his attributes – his memory. As much as Kundan could’ve changed his personality & his characteristics if he’d tried (which he didn’t, because he was determined to come out on top no matter what), Sanju could not change that the accident had zapped his memory. He knew something – but there was no guarantee he’d know that same fact the next day, or even the next hour. But in the end, Sanju was done in by something that was well beyond his control – the script. As much as the story had potential to be really good, I feel that is missed out. A lot. Especially with that cop-out of an ending. And the introduction of new guy at the end – that was pointless. Except to increase the blood level greatly with the fork through the neck.

More correctly, though, Ghanchakkar might fall more under the category of “pathetic plot” than “tragic plot” – tragic plot would suggest that Sanju was done in by his own actions (as Kundan the non-hero was); pathetic plot suggests that Sanju was done in more by circumstance & others. If he survived, he’s going to end up alone (and with no memory of anything/anyone) – which should be enough to make the viewer feel a little bit sad for him (and not feeling that he deserved that outcome), even if the movie tried it’s hardest to keep you from feeling that. The other major difference is between a tragic hero & a pathetic hero – tragic heroes are strong characters; pathetic heroes are unfortunate weak characters (Sanju). That isn’t necessarily Sanju’s fault – it is just how his character was written. From the start, he was never more than just a guy along for the ride – living a bland life (same arguments with his wife constantly) and just trying to be your typical “average Joe.” There was never any show that Sanju was anything more (they did mention once that he was good at getting into bank locks, but it was pretty irrelevant in the scheme of things after the first 10 minutes). If anything, they threw us into a story where the main character was already falling from grace and expected us to fall in love with him. The problem, though, is that they gave us nothing to fall in love with.

Acting-wise, the guy playing Pandit was alright. But overall, everyone was just annoying. The weird Bollywood-version of a phone-sex scene with Sid’s friend was just odd. Vidya Balan was oddly annoying. I know she was good in No One Killed Jessica and Kahaani, but I’m pretty much done – she just gets on my nerves right now (I blame The Dirty Picture). Emraan Hashmi as the mentally-tortured guy played his part well, but again, it was really hard to feel for him until the very – by which point I was so ready for the movie to be done that it was no good. Pandit & Sid’s friends were probably the only people who weren’t “too bad,” but even they got annoying after a bit. And like with Abhay Deol’s death in Raanjhanaa, Sid’s friend’s death here just did it for me – the movie went from “crap” to “crappy” and my mind started wandering in every which direction after that point. The only really funny part was the Ghajini/Khan scene, and that was done to death by the trailer.

I’ve seen a lot of movies I really didn’t like recently. Karzzzz, Joker, Raanjhanaa, Ghanchakkar. While I’m not in a mood to really rate them right now, I do have to differentiate between really bad movies (the first 2 on the list) and bad movies (the last 2). But overall, I’d put this on about equal footing to Raanjhanaa.

Hero, Or Villain?

Raanjhanaa (2013)
***Spoilers below***

It’s funny. Earlier this week,, my roommate & I were having a random conversation about life and at some point, the topic turned (for a brief second) to the idea of someone being a villain in your life. More specifically, to someone being a villain in their own story. It was a random comment – we laughed it off and went on with other topics. There was no real reason to think on about it – I mean, who wants to be a villain in their own story? Plus it was just a conversation we had for fun – no one is actually thinking of becoming a villain right now. We don’t even have time for that if we wanted to.

That said, the concept of being a villain in your own story is interesting. Like, is it even possible? I assume almost everyone sees themselves as the hero/heroine in their own story. The villain is someone else – mother, father, brother, sister, friend, the person’s actual boyfriend/girlfriend, cops, some stranger, whoever. I guess Dhanush’s character might have felt the same way in this movie – he was the hero, Zoya (Sonam Kapoor) was the heroine, and her family, religion & boyfriend were the villains. … But as an impartial viewer, that’s not what it came across as. The entire time, it felt as if Kundan (Dhanush; narrator) was the villain as he told the story and that Zoya & Akram/Jasjeet were the protagonists.

The movie started off with Dhanush being carried on a stretcher to a hospital while narrating over the scene. Then it cut to flashback – which is how the whole movie is told. Right from the start, this was a sign to me that I would really not enjoy the movie. There are exceptions (Barfi!, I guess), but for the most part if a movie starts off with the hero in trouble and going to flashback, I’m going to hate it. Kites, for example. Or Musafir, which I turned off as soon as the movie started with your protagonist getting shot. Starting the movie off like that does not make the hero any more of a hero – in fact, it makes you think that they’re not going linearly just so that you might start to pity someone who is obviously going to do something stupid.

So it is no surprise that stupid is what we get here. Apparently, from a very young age (say 8?), when Kundan first saw Zoya, he has been “in love.” All you know from the first scene is that there is going to be trouble – she is praying and shown to be Muslim, and you know the only reason they show that is because they’re going to have some Hindu/Muslim thing at some point. Typical Bollywood. Whatever, time skips ahead during a song. He becomes obsessed, following her everywhere and always having an eye on her. He decides he loves her; she slaps him. And then, every day he comes to see her and get a slap. One day she tells him his name, and then he lies about his (so that she’ll think he’s Muslim). Of course, this can’t last long – she realizes the truth and slaps him in anger, saying she hates liars. Apparently, that is his 16th slap from her. … So now you know it. 1 glimpse of a face, constant following/stalking, and 16 slaps = love.

Not learning, he keeps following/stalking her. Finally, one day he gets on the same  rickshaw  as her and asks the problem. She’s pretty blunt – religion doesn’t allow it. Plus, she doesn’t love him. Seems reasonable enough. … So then he cuts himself right there on the rickshaw (cut scene #1); she feels bad and tries to make sure he doesn’t die. Throw in a scene with an evil aunty gossiping to her parents about how she was with a Hindu boy, and her parents send her away for years. He manages to get close to the train when she’s leaving and says he’ll wait for her.

Skip ahead many years. Kundan is all grown up now (though Dhanush still looks like he’s 15 – and we’ll realize soon enough he still acts like he’s 8). A friend of his, Bindiya, is in love with him, but he has no interest. Apparently for the entire duration of time, he’s just been dreaming about Zoya. He calls it love. It seems more like an insane obsession, bordering a little bit on creepy. Also, he needs to grow up. But by some odd coincidence (ha!), Zoya is returning today. So that’s obviously not going to happen – so Bindiya is going to keep pining away (in a pretty obvious fashion – at one point, she’s feeding a cow and asking her to make sure that Dhanush marries her and that Zoya ends up dead). Dhanush goes to the train station to receive her – she doesn’t even notice him.

So he goes back to his creepy, stalkerish ways – apparently he’s been working at her house to impress her parents or something. He goes there, she sees him – and doesn’t recognize. He finally reminds her of who he is … by enacting the cutting scene from years before (cutting reference #1). He goes and asks her when they’re going to elope/get married, she just says he’s crazy and leaves. He, of course, takes this as a sign that he should stalk her even more. So he does. Her parents try to get her to meet a guy – so he takes his anger out on her. Then she, desperate not to meet this random doctor, asks Kundan for help – and he forces Bindiya to help him make the doctor look like a womanizer. Bam!, marriage chance gone. And doctor’s life ruined (ruination #1).

Then the bombshell drops – Zoya explains the reason she couldn’t marry the doctor is because she’s in love with other guys, whom she met in college. She tells her story to Kundan, who she views as a good friend. He, on the other hand, drives the scooter they’re on into the water (after her flashback has ended) and leaves her there. This leads to (cut scene #2), where Kundan does it AGAIN. Zoya explodes at him, yelling about how he only seems to know to cut himself if he doesn’t get what he wants (sounds like a more suicidal version of Govinda from Deewana Main Deewana – Govinda’s character was more homicidal than suicidal) and how he’s pretty much become a villain in her life.  She explains that just cuz he’s helped her parents, doesn’t mean they’ll get them married. Plus the religious difference they harped on earlier. And she loves other guy, and will cut herself if she can’t have him (cut reference #2). Still though, she ends up asking for his help in getting her father to meet other guy. Kundan helps – but tells her that their relationship (whatever it is) is over, and that he’ll never think about her again (even while helping to set up her marriage). And he goes and tells Bindiya he’ll marry her – it seems as if he’s doing this just to “get back” at Zoya (who never even loved him). (Ruination #2.)

And then the day of the weddings, he learns the truth. Zoya had been lying – Akram wasn’t Akram, but instead Jasjeet – a Hindu. He’s infuriated, because Zoya had seemingly used the “religious” card to reject him (Kundan seemed to miss the many different episodes of “I don’t love you”), and goes to her wedding and announces the truth to everyone before leaving. … He gets word later that Jasjeet had been badly beaten by Zoya’s family (ruination #3) and that Zoya had – well, what else – cut herself (cut scene #3). Zoya’s friend (also Jasjeet’s sister) comes and yells at Kundan, and he finally seems to realize what he’s done – because he helps find a badly beaten Jasjeet and takes him to a hospital. He decides to help Zoya – so he kidnaps her and takes her to Jasjeet’s place to unite the lovers.

But alas – Jasjeet has succumbed to his injuries, leaving Kundan bewildered and Zoya in complete shock (ruination #4). … And this is where the shit hits the fan. Raanjhanaa becomes overly dramatic – think 2nd half of My Name Is Khan. Yes, there is still PLENTY more to go in this movie. Instead of saving a town from a flood just because he’s SRK, Kundan decides to enter politics (because that’s what Jasjeet/Zoya were doing). In one scene, a seemingly deadly face-off between cops and farmers (over hostages) is ended by Kundan when he just goes and talks to the farmers. In another, the future politicians (led by Zoya) meet with some resistance – and Kundan quells things just by yelling insults. What, no one has tried that before? I’m sure there’s more scenes after this – but I don’t know. I read the Wiki page and skipped ahead to the already obvious/stupid ending. And sure enough, after some random backstabbing (Zoya sends him to a rally where she knows he will be attacked/shot after being brainwashed by a politician) and what-not, Kundan ends up dead. Just like Jasjeet. But unlike Jasjeet, who had to narrate his story of love (and lying to her parents on her behest for this love) in a few minutes while laying on a hospital bed, Kundan is allowed multiple hours to tell us his tale of obsession, creepiness & villainy before he succumbs to his gunshot wounds.

Villain.
-He knows Bindiya loves him, so he uses that whenever he can – while ignoring her until the rash wedding decision, and then completely missing out on the wedding. He can’t control who loves him/who doesn’t (or whom he loves/doesn’t), but it seems to be shown that they are friends at least. And even then, he never really treated her like a person. And he never apologized for skipping out on their wedding just because he was angry at Zoya (the reason he was going to marry her in the first place, no less).
-He has been stalking/creeping on Zoya for a long time – over 8 years, in fact.
-He gets Jasjeet killed. And by the time he realizes what he’s done, it’s too late.

They say that everyone sees himself/herself as the hero of his/her story. That’s probably true. And in this case, the story is told in a way that would normally be used to make Kundan seem like the hero. But from the start, it felt as if he was anything but. Even in his own story, he was coming across as the antagonist – the one who creepily obsessed over a girl, the one who had no problem grabbing her arm until it hurt her while yelling at her, the one who was willing to cause her emotional grief just because she dared to love someone else, the one that got her boyfriend killed. At first, it seemed like Kundan understood he was being the villain when Zoya said as much to him – and that it affected him enough to make him change. If nothing else, it seemed like his love would win out in the sense that he would let things go because she was going to be much happier with Akram. But even then, his anger got the best of him and he decided to get in one last punch – a punch that pretty much ruined 4 lives beyond the point of repair. There’s a limit to how far one can go with obsession over someone else (or anything, really). Go too far, and it will have a negative impact on someone.

Is it possible to be a villain in your own life? I don’t know. That would be hard to pull off, just based on what it would take to be considered a villain. That said, it is possible to be a hero in your own life and a protagonist in someone else’s (for example, if his girlfriend leaves him for you or whatever). And, if you take it further, it is possible to be a true villain in someone else’s life. And with Kundan, that is exactly what we have. He goes beyond the steps of just being a protagonist (obsessive creep who won’t leave her alone) in Zoya’s story and becomes a true villain the moment he announces to Zoya’s family that Akram is actually Jasjeet.

In this movie though, all 3 leads end up being a villain to someone. Not just a protagonist, but an actual villain. Kundan (to Zoya). Jasjeet (to Kundan). Zoya (to Bindiya). Jasjeet does it unknowingly. Zoya does it just by being alive, because at no point is she trying to steal Kundan from Bindiya. Kundan, though, does it AFTER being told he is acting like a villain. I don’t know – that seems like a pretty big warning sign to me. … Is there a true hero? I don’t know – I’d put my vote in for Jasjeet, but obviously the story is based around Kundan so maybe they were trying to make you feel for him? They seemed to be going for tragic, broken-hearted hero … but that was lost when he became overly addicted to Zoya, when he cut himself, and when he got Jasjeet killed (even if he did change after that). And after he joins the political movement and starts (unintentionally) replacing Jasjeet atop the party, it gets even worse – you can tell it is even more painful for Zoya.

Throughout the entire story, that’s one thing Kundan never seems to realize. Sure, he loves Zoya – but at no point does he realize just how much he is hurting her with his actions. Even when he tries to right his wrongs (taking Zoya from the hospital to take her to Jasjeet), he just leads her to pain (Jasjeet’s death) and then manages to make it worse (replacing him in his own party). By the end, she’s gone from someone who was always enjoying things to someone devoid of almost all emotion (similar to Ranbir Kapoor in Raajneeti). And the whole transformation is a result of Kundan. … She obviously didn’t know this was going to happen when she originally responded to his flirting/stalking by slapping him the first time, but then – who knows where life will take you? One seemingly irrelevant action 8+ years ago started her down a path that culminates with the loss of the one she loves. (That’s not to say Zoya is completely innocent of all blame – she learned how he felt, and yet still did things that she knew would lead him to continue his obsessive ways.)

Zoya’s turn as a “villain” (actually, both turns) is pretty interesting. To Bindiya, Zoya is the evil person that is slowly (or not-so-slowly) stealing Kundan from her grasps – without even knowing it. While Zoya doesn’t really reciprocate feelings (except the time she tries to help him when he is stupid and cuts himself), Bindiya can see how Kundan is becoming enamored with Zoya … and how it is driving a thorn into her dreamed out life. Bindiya, thankfully, isn’t crazy enough to go and cut herself. But she’s always telling Kundan that he won’t end up with Zoya (partially out of jealousy, but maybe because she also understand the religious differences and what issues would arise?), and even has the scene where she’s feeding the cow and asking if she’ll end up with Kundan or not. Like Kundan, Bindiya is obsessed with the one she loves – but she’s in a tragic, ill-fated story from the start and we all know it. The only one that doesn’t, unfortunately, is her. Her excitement when Kundan says he’ll marry her is real – she doesn’t know the reason he says it (if she did, maybe she wouldn’t have agreed – but that is no certainty given the childishness of the characters in this movie), but you can only imagine the anguish she must’ve gone through sitting and waiting for Kundan to show up to their wedding. And when he dies, she has lost just as much as Zoya has – and she has no one she can blame except Zoya. … Later on, Zoya gets an actual chance at being a slightly gray character (and not just someone cast into that role by a jealous person) when the politician tells her to make sure Kundan is at the rally so that he’d get attacked. Maybe she’s just feeling numb, maybe she’s angry for what he did, maybe she’s angry he’s trying to replace Jasjeet or maybe she’s just in search of a political foothold. Whatever the reason, she does that – and Kundan does end up getting shot. (Luckily, she realizes the stupidness of her actions and owns up to it – but by that time it is too late and Kundan is well on his way to meet Jasjeet.)

It’s possible to be a protagonist in your life, yet have shades of gray while being a sort of antagonist in others’ lives. But when you reach the point of truly being a villain, you’ve gone too far.

***

The saving grace of this movie is Abhay Deol, which is pretty ironic considering that he has a small role before he is killed off. At his entry, I was already at the point where if he hadn’t entered the movie I was going to turn it off. Kundan’s childishness was pissing me off – he had already cut himself once and you knew the moment Zoya mentioned Akram that he was going to cut himself again – and I was looking for any reason to keep watching. Abhay Deol provided that – until they ruthlessly took that away by killing him off just when it seemed like he was going to get better (and as expected, the movie got even worse after his death). The only other really good things were the songs and Sonam Kapoor’s acting.

Dhanush looks like he’s 15. Which is fine and all, of course. It’s just weird. He’s like the anti-SRK. And honestly, Dhanush’s acting was pretty good. But for a main hero, his character was so unlikable that I was sick of the movie 5 minutes in. When the child Kundan is childish, that’s fine. Well, except for the cutting ridiculousness. But when the adult Kundan is also childish, we’re going to have problems. When you make that character the hero/narrator of your movie, you have to do something to offset his unlikableness. They failed miserably at that. Every character they introduced (other than that gossipy lady who can’t keep her nose in her own business) made Kundan seem more-and-more annoying, more-and-more unlikeable. And you can tell they weren’t trying to make him seem like a villain in his own story based on the 2nd half, where he can do no wrong. At that 5 minute mark, I actually tweeted the following…

This isn’t love, this is insanity. And stupid. And I’m only like 5 minutes in

Little did I know that it was only going to get worse. Much worse.

Curtain

The title of this post is obviously a reference to Agatha Christie’s final Hercule Poirot novel.* That said, this post has nothing to do with the book. Nothing at all. I haven’t read the book in ages. In fact, the only non-textbook I’ve read in the past 6 months is Dan Brown’s Inferno, which I read last week (and was pleasantly surprised by). But that’s a different story all together.

Curtain, of course, refers to the end. And it is, in some ways, the end. Of multiple things. Almost two years after it began with a red-eye flight from LA, an insanely long stopover in the Miami airport, a rain delay, and a desperation “meal” from New York Bagels of orange juice and … what else but a bagel … after leaving the airport at midnight, it has come to an end. I’m done with school in the Caribbean (yet, nowhere close to being done with “school”). I’ve been home for weeks – but due to studying and all, I’ve only had a “life” for the last week and a half. Which I guess is what people mean when they say “welcome to real life” and “growing up.” (Again, 1 book in 6 months – that might be the fewest I’ve read in such a span since I was like 5.)

But what exactly can I refer to when I say ‘curtain’? What has come to a close? And why can’t the curtain open up again? I don’t even know. There’s so much, in some sense – but it’s all very confusing.

The USMLE is done. Finally. Days/weeks/months/years of studying later, we don’t have to hear about how it is the hardest test we will ever take – because we’ve already suffered through it. It’s still scary, of course – and will be until the results come out. Because the test means so much, no matter how much you study you never feel prepared. But that’s that – for now, its good riddance to that test (at least the Step I part of it). That said, there’s still two more parts of the USMLE left, and one of those 2 parts is split into two parts (it’s kind of like when they decided to split the last Harry Potter book into 2 movies, except in this case it’s more like they turned the 5th book into 2 movies and left the last book as one movie). The point being, a lot more tests remain.

But beyond that, so much comes down to the results of that test – and by so much, I mean the future – that it is hard to know what is done and what isn’t at this point. It’s crazy, really. For the second (third?) time in my life, my “future” comes down to the results of a standardized test of sorts – this one, though, was a million times harder than the others (and the 8 hour time frame definitely didn’t help).

The time in Grenada is done. Over. It’s time to move on, and move I will. But those memories (good and bad), the two years of 6:30 sunsets and more earthquakes than thunderstorms and rain that fell whenever it damn well pleased, that’s all gone. In my first two days home, we had more thunderstorms here than I experienced the entire time in Grenada. The dock, the beach, running to the gas station (and almost dying in pain EVERY TIME), laying at the cliff watching shooting stars, waiting 30 minutes in a Subway line for food – it’s all done. It was just two years, but at times; it felt like a lot more than that. And other times, it felt like no time had passed at all. They say you start missing the place at some point after you leave. It may be true, but for now, all I really feel is … well, tired. I guess the fatigue of the test still hasn’t full worn off.

I will remember many things fondly, of course. Random memories from random episodes of life run wild in my brain all the time and this probably isn’t going to be much different, especially considering the time that I spent there. I will forever be grateful for the friends I made, be it before first term had begun or after fifth term had ended – the people that made 5 terms (and then some) possible. Random things, like getting on a bus and going to the beach for a sunset just because. Or exploring the island with friends because I had a camera and nothing better to do. Path lab (both the people and the jokes). Random Bollywood movie nights. Visiting the dock when my brain had had enough of the studying. Waking up to an earthquake – twice. The insane rain storms we witnessed from inside during the Kaplan course. The multitude of late-night New York Bagels visits – sometimes for food, sometimes to see people, and sometimes to study (and usually 2 of the 3). And there are many more (I could write multiple posts about these). They are small. Hell, most of them are probably more-or-less insignificant – even to the other people that were there. (Like sitting on a bench for hours. Or going to Umbrellas to eat at the end of [most] terms.) But it’s those moments that more or less defined two years of med school for me (aside from the studying, of course, but that was a given from day one – when we were assigned 100 pages of reading for just 1 of the 4 classes).

For better or worse, my twenty-plus years in Utah might be done as well. Not that I’ll never come back or anything that drastic of course – I mean, family is here and I guess my heart is still kind of here (because home is where the heart is?). I’ve been told that people leave and then realize they miss the place so they come back. Who knows? Maybe that’s true. I haven’t even really moved away yet, so it’s hard for me to determine how I’ll feel after that. But for now, it seems over – future visits will not be so much about “going home” as they will be about “visiting family.” Maybe spending most of the past 2 years in Grenada helps that mindset – I haven’t spent 2 consecutive months here in quite a while. I’m going to be moving on and moving away (test permitting, of course – I guess I should say that until I know my results for sure).

Not to lie, I’ve wanted to “get away” for a while (I remember saying as much as early as 9th grade English). I’ve had opportunities to get out for a bit, of course. A couple days in St. Louis back in high school. Going for interviews to random places (“few days” events). A week in Portland with a group of fellow students I’d only met twice before. A couple of days in Spokane (alone) right after Portland. And most recently the 2 years in Grenada. I’ve learned a lot about myself, but well – I guess it wasn’t enough. Or maybe I haven’t learned enough about myself. Either way, I’m going to be leaving again. For at least one year, most likely two. And maybe even more – a lot more. (That is something that only time will tell.) That’s one thing that the people that know me know about me really well – I’ve wanted to get out of here. So that is kind of exciting. Maybe not where I’d imagined really, but it’s a start. Or maybe a lot more than a start.

In the end … the thing about curtains is that while some are drawn to a close, others are opened. I guess in the near future I’ll find out which ones are opening for me at this time. Some pretty big things in my life have come to an end very recently (or are coming to an end very soon), which can only mean that some pretty big things are going to be opening up now. “Growing up”?

The winds of change are approaching already upon me. Life is changing. It is time to embrace the change because, well, the curtain has already drawn to a close on the past 2 years of life. And I don’t have the ability to reopen any of these closed curtains. Whether I want to or not is not the question. It’s not even an option. What has passed has passed.

* = Okay, it’s not really obvious. Not even to the people that know me really well and know I like her Hercule Poirot novels, because I’ve never really mentioned this one. It’s not my favorite, that’s for sure. … What is interesting to me, though, is Poirot’s actual history (thank you, Wikipedia). Apparently Dame Christie wrote this way before it was published and then had it locked away and to be released after her death. This would guarantee a full closure to Hercule. This was during World War II, where she feared for her own survival. Dame Christie ended up being alright, and wrote plenty more novels before Curtain was published. This is fine, of course – more great novels. But what it also means is that, due to the many novels, by the end, Poirot was ancient (90+) as was Hastings (call him Poirot’s Watson, if you will) was equally ancient (and the girl he was set up with, anything but). Yay for random absurdities due to putting a book in a vault. (Not complaining though – it was a fitting end for the entire Poirot series, even if the ages don’t match up at all.)