June 29, 2005


I come bearing gifts and memories. Do you sometimes long for those days of lunch snacks hidden away in batman lunch boxes? Little goodies sitting next to your peanut butter and jelly sandwich tucked inside your barbie doll tin snacker? Well look no further no longer. I have created an ingenious alternative to those lovable snacks called Dunkaroos. Dunkaroos were the first genius snack made to include graham cracker minatures with heavenly, sugary icing. A brilliant unabashedly unwholesome topping on one side of the container and admired whole grain graham crackers shaped like animals on the other. If you haven’t tried the official Dunkaroos, I would not hesitate in trying to find them. They are worth the effort and the money. However, they are difficult to find sometimes. For those of you who already know of their goodness, I have an alternative that comes pretty close. The equivalent of approximately 33 dunkaroos containers, I suggest purchasing the two ingredients separately. Pick out your favorite Teddy Grahams flavor, whether cinnamon, chocolate chip, original or even reduced fat. Then pick out your favorite icing, vanilla, butter cream, chocolate, vanilla with those little poke-a-dot sprinkles. The icing comes in a small can-sized container that I think matches the box of Teddy Grahams pretty well. We careful in how you eat these two delectable treats, I wouldn’t suggest grabbing the box in one hand and the icing in the other while sitting on the couch watching a movie. As enticing as that is, you might not feel so good after you finish the Teddies and then start licking the icing container. I haven’t tried this…I’m just imagining the possibilities. I prefer to get a small dish into which I pour about 20 Teddy Grahams, then dip them in the icing. Self control is valued here too, as you could technically eat all the icing after eating only three Teddies. But that is the secret, this is my wonderous new discovery and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Dunkaroos Unite!

Ties and Freedom

Often it is the challenge of the second generation to define who they are. Some children stay close to their mother and father and teach their children to do the same. Some second generation children, however, decide to move far away and define themselves. My mother did this when I was two months old. Since then my family has lived hours from the center of my extended family and what ties have been lost to that family and community have been gained in individual freedoms which I have watched my mother enjoy. She has raised her children as she thought best, helped her new community, loved her husband, raised her animals and learned new skills all in new ways that were much different than first generation traditions.
Now as I, the third generation, observe my surroundings I see what I think are the best of three different worlds. I stay with my extended family enough to see those family and community ties, my family enough to see the values of individual freedom and choice, and then I see myself. I have the opportunity to reconnect, which is what I think is the greatest advantage of the whole process. By losing family and community ties to gain individual freedom, I can come back and reconnect new family ties and new community ties that are even more meaningful and are certainly much stronger.
Ultimately I think that we are each best when we are dissociated and free to become who we are. Sometimes families tell us who we are and it takes a long time to decide that for ourselves. But we can do it when we are supported, loved, disciplined and most of all when we are patient with ourselves. When we come full circle we not only have strong ties, beliefs and value judgements within ourselves, we then have the capacity to truly share family ties with those close to us and the community ties to those all around us. Paraphrasing Confucius, when asked how to change the world, he responded:
To change the world, you must first change your country,
To change your country, you must first change your state,
To change your state, you must first change you county,
To change your county, you must first change your community,
To change your community, you must first change your family,
To change your family, you must first change yourself.
*Note: This essay first appeared during my last Princeton Review Practice MCAT. Though I was not supposed to write in the first person (and I won’t in the future), I really enjoyed writing it.

June 28, 2005


I drove by the old house in Deer Run tonight. It holds a lot of memories, of when it belonged to my grandmother and then when it belonged to my cousins, aunt and uncle. I don’t remember my age exactly at all of those different times, but I know I was young. They were some of my first memories in fact. I don’t remember a lot of things from my childhood. I attribute that mostly to a good childhood, so good that days were all equally enjoyable with nothing outstandingly harmful or outstandingly surprising. That may be totally off however and I may just suffer from a bad long-term memory, the signs of which I am denying just by writing this.
That said, I do have very fond and clear memories of the house in Deer Run near Devil’s Millhopper here in Gainesville, Florida. I had Christmases there with my grandmother as the host, and my family and extended family as guests. We would eat wonderful dinners together, with all the children eating separately at a smaller table some distance from the glass tabletop and fine cloth where our parents ate. We kids would play upstairs in this little nook of a loft which overlooked the living room. A very narrow winding black metal spiral staircase went up right through the floor so that you had to be rather small to get up there anyway. When my grandmother owned the house we played Nintendo up there, with enough room for the television, pillows to lay on and only a few stuffed animals and random toys to fill in the spaces. There was a small wooden bench built into the way along the side of the loft overlooking the living room, the kind of bench that opened up so you could put things inside it. If you stood up on it and looked over the railing in fact you could throw things over into the living room, be it pillows, footballs or small children. We did enough of these things to break a few items, but luckily we never from any humans.
As I creeped by in the car, I imagined playing outside. So of my fondest memories are of the trees and the grass and the openness that existed all around the house before my aunt, uncle and the neighbors began to put up fences. There was so much more freedom, openness and friendship before the fences were up. Maybe it just seemed that way though, I was probably still using a blanky. Yes, I think I definitely was at that point. We would play games outside like tackle football, smear the queer, tag and hide and seek. We would hunt for Easter eggs in the spring and then we would hunt with super soakers in the summer. There were so many neat things about that house that I can’t forget, but that I am reminded of most when I see it again. To see the leaves fall and imagine laying underneath them again, suspended by blades of grass that felt the size of fingers, to jump in piles of leaves, to run and try not to step out of bounds by falling off the curb into the street. Those are my memories and that house is definitely one of my happy places.
When I stepped here into this house after getting out of my car, two thoughts hit me.
First of all, this will be a memory soon. My grandparents, extended family, then close family, then friends and soon my family will all past through and out of this life with me. I will remember the days that I sat in this house and celebrated Christmas, played video games, talked with my grandparents, ate breakfast, thanksgiving dinner, dessert and big fat turkeys. I will drive by the front of this house and sigh, much older myself and maybe with a family of my own. My life now will be a memory just as much as my childhood is to me now.
Secondly, I am part of different children’s’ memories right now. My brother is 9 years old and my sister is 17. There isn’t much hope for my sister. She’s old now, much older than my brother, and she is getting pretty set into her role as an adult (a young one like me more specifically). And although I am a part of her childhood memories still now, it is much easier to see the impact I am having on my brother. Or rather, it is easier to imagine it. I have a hard time looking at him like myself at that age. When I was 9, heading into 5th grade, the world was crazy and I was already grown up. I was as big as I was ever going to get and I had things pretty much figured out. The school gig was being pretty casual, I knew what was happening, girls were girls, boys were boys, I was coming up as the next Captain of the Safety Patrol, heading out to the gifted program every Tuesday at a different school, beginning to learn how to work computers and the new thing called the internet and all and all, I was a genius who brought his new Kleenex box every August, new Crayola colored pencils every other August and a new pair of shoes that were getting about a size bigger every year. I didn’t have any big kids around other than the 6th graders who seemed humongous, not to mention the middle schoolers. I never met any high schoolers and didn’t even think about college, ever. I had my world and that was that. For me now, the words middle schoolers mean small kids. Elementary school kids are small kids too. High school kids are bigger kids, but still uneducated for the most part, and college kids are definitely still called kids, though I call some of them young adults with only slight reservation. Where is my perspective even close to that of my brother? How I wish it could be some times, I think I would be nicer to him. Too often I think I’m just another dad, getting older myself and loving it too much usually, ready to be like my dad in more ways than one. So then my brother comes along and bam, I am starting to talk like my dad. I think it’s good for my friends, who need a kick sometimes, but for my brother I think it’s unfair. I want to think harder about what I would have wanted if I had an older brother at his age. I want to think about it, start to figure it out and then begin to apply it to make it happen. These are his memories and heaven knows how much I cherish mine.


Can a person learn how to learn? I know that I have, but it wasn’t something I was taught in class, or by a teacher. That shouldn’t really be a surprise however. As I’ve read the beginning of the Becoming a Master Student Teacher’s Edition, I saw for the first time what the definition of teaching is: “to cause to learn.” Well, we all know that learning is an individual process. I learn because of experiences I have in my life and I take those experiences as lessons. So how can I be caused to learn? Mostly, the role of teachers in my life has been to provide an opportunity to me. My favorite teachers have spoken to me, shared things with me and asked questions of me which challenged my thinking and gave me an opportunity to explore new thoughts. I am definitely still learning now, and I feel in some ways that I have learned more this summer than I have learned in the past two years of college. I have gotten to see so much of my education and of the world by looking at it from a broad perspective. Science, the educational system, literature, art, religion, fitness and all kinds of other areas have become much more apparent to me than they were years ago. We are all very much available to improvement and are together in a system which shares all of its knowledge in summary form with its youngest citizens.
Yes, we can learn how to learn, but I think that can take a long time. I am beginning to realize how I learn, what learning is to me and why I want to learn and I am almost finished with college. I guess that isn’t a bad time table, but it still surprising to me. I came into college thinking I knew how to learn, how to understand, how to study. I was presented with the Student of the Year award my senior year for goodness sake. Well, I have not ever really owned up to that in myself I don’t think. But I think I see the potential and I feel very excited.

June 27, 2005


I think one of the greatest unseen benefits of taking this Princeton Review course over the summer has been a new found appreciation for science and overall human knowledge. The MCAT passages each of the three sections are often excerpted from great works of literature and human writing. I am able to read paragraphs from Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan, then Hemingway on the next page, followed by Stephen Hawking on the next. It is very exciting to me, to see knowledge brought together in this way. In school we often don’t relate classes to one another. Studying the MCAT, however, brings all kinds of things full circle. Gibb’s Free Energy is in biology, organic chemistry and physics and studied at least three different times in the class. The equation for relativity is used in just as many, like so many other concepts. Only slightly more than two thousands years ago, science was very simplistic and comprised one discipline. To be a scientist was to make all kinds of discoveries together. Even two hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin made discoveries now slated as meteorology, physics, thermodynamics, biology, economics, optometry and chemistry to name a few. Now they are in fields so far away from each other, it is the exception to relate things “interdisciplinarily.” To be an expert in any field is of the uptmost difficulty, no matter how specific the discipline. Being a student in this age is nothing less than exciting.

Smarty Pants

It looks like my class work is going to take a bit of a turn. Typically, students in the Princeton Review course have homework after class which they complete after attending the review of the chapters during class. It has been my intention to study before class, however, so that I would be up on things and have only a few questions about the topic when I got to class. For example, we will be studying Verbal 3 & 4 during tomorrow night’s class. During my old plan, I would have already completed Verbal 1 & 2, as well as Verbal 3 & 4 before attending class. All homework assignments would be done, the chapters would be highlighted, answered and completed and all questions regarding that section would be compiled to be answered that class. This has some downfalls. It is difficult to go through the class work before class, at least at a very in depth level. The class is structured in a way that doesn’t assume that level of knowledge when attending class and furthermore, after attending the review during class all the material in the covered sections becomes much much easier to go through. The instructor lays out a real map for each chapter and the traps and difficulties are outlined easily for us students. Because of these things, I am changing the way I am approaching this class. I will go over the material coming up by reading each chapter before we cover it in class, I will complete the homework right after class, and I will keep up with my questions so that before the next class I can ask for answers to any of my concerns. On this track, I am not behind class and I think I will definitely perform much better. I have never been a great studier, but I think I can become better. I will do that not by studying harder but by studying smarter. The goal is to understand the material and I think I see how I can do that in the best way and the smartest way.


Positivity is not as popular as I would hope it would be. Maybe that is because negativity has so many benefits. People who assume the worst, believe the worst and bet on the worst are in the best position whether they’re right or wrong. If they’re right, then hey, they knew it all along. If they’re wrong, then look at that it turned out okay in the end anyhow. I think it’s better to just stick it out there and be positive, try your hardest, hope for the best, plan for the worse, take whatever comes cheefully and help others. I guess I can’t really explain why. You’ll be wrong once in a while, it’s true. Sometimes no one will be behind you with support. But at least you will be fighting for the good in life and atleast you will know you tried, just like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

June 26, 2005


In light of some behaviors which do not meet my approval, I have felt the need to write down some of my own random wisdom for the classroom. Although there are exceptions, most of these things stand out to me as all-the-time-no-no’s for behavior in class:

  1. Turn cellphones to silent or off, do not let them vibrate or ring. Who do you think you’re fooling? There cannot be anything so important that you have to read every call that you get, calls which seem to come once every 10 minutes. And even if there were such important calls, how often do you get them? If you’re not going to answer it, don’t let it vibrate. Just wait and read who called after you get out of class. The vibrate sound is somehow even worse than a ringtone. A vibrate sounds just like the inner brain trembling you get when you look at something way too bright, a ringtone is usually catchy.
  2. Speak in your “classroom voice”, do not yell in class. We can all hear you and usually you’re the loudest one in class even when you try to be quiet. Just try harder, realize your yelling, notice we don’t need you to yell and go ahead and use your “classroom voice.”
  3. Respect the time and patience of your teacher and peers, do not monopolize conversations in the classroom or the answering of teachers’ questions. Though it is nice you are getting smarter, that’s what we are trying to do too. Some of us learn more quietly than others. The quiet learners are patient with the loud learners, so you loud learners should go ahead and be quieter for their sake too. It’s not going to hurt and hey, you’ll probably learn something from the people who you usually take the time away from.
  4. Allow time for other students to think their thoughts, don’t answer questions early. Speed is a admirable characteristic in learning, but some people are slowed down when someone interrupts their thoughts. Again, be thoughtful of others. We know you like to learn by talking and shouting things out, and we’ll let you do it some of the time. Just let us enjoy you not doing it all of the time.
  5. Eat before or after class, do not eat during class. You can’t be that busy, please, come on. Class time is not some kind of break your day where you can balance your checkbook, check your voicemails and eat your dinner. If you need a snack because you will go into a diabetic coma, we understand. But even then, do not eat anything loud for god’s sake. What’s loud? Potato chips, fritos, doritos, carrots, pop rocks, popcorn and bubble gum if you can’t keep your mouth shut. Just remember there are other people around you who aren’t eating, why?
  6. Do not try to relate concepts to something far fetched and completely unreasonable. If there is a direct parallel, and it seems like it might be helpful for the class to hear it, go ahead and share it. Otherwise keep it to yourself, share it with the teacher after class, write it down, or talk to your mom about it on the cellphone after class. Don’t assume we want to know that the formula for gravitational force looks a lot like some statistics equation related to the gross national product. It may, but we don’t care.
  7. Suppress the urge to let everyone know when you "get something." Why isn’t anyone else saying it? Because it would be much harder to get through any class if everyone yelled “I get it!” after every sixty second concept. We all know this, so we don’t say anything when we get it. If we don’t “get it” we ask about it after class. If it seems like a bunch of us don’t “get it” we ask about it during class.
  8. Come to class early, not late. Again, we are all early and why are we waiting on you, every class? Be considerate and remember when and why we are all coming together.
  9. Pack up to leave class late, not early. You were five minutes late for class, if anything, you should stay five minutes after all of us leave. You disrupt everyone else at the end of class by shuffling all your loud stuff together, cramming it all into your backpack and then sitting there with your arms crossed obviously taking nothing else in for the remainder of your time in your seat. Sit down, wait until it is clear that class is over, then pack up and leave after the teacher has clearly finished. It’s courteous if nothing else.
  10. It’s okay to laugh in class, but not in excess. Do not laugh so loudly that people don’t know what’s going, do not laugh to yourself looking for approval or in order to brown-nose a teacher by laughing at every joke they tell. No one is laughing with you, not because you “got it” and no one else did, but precisely because you didn’t.

Most of these concepts are simple, some were taught in kindergarten. Every one of them has as its principle the idea that we should think about others and treat that as we would like to be treated. Violations of these behaviors are often the result of short-sighted and selfish thinking and they can be cured with an exactly opposite perspective. It we think about things long-range and consider our actions as affecting others, we can begin to see better alternatives. Be considerate when you laugh, wait to pack your things, don’t come in late to class, think about whether a concept is unclear to most of the class or just you, consider your words and their impact on your peers and teacher, don’t bring things to class which distract your fellow students, respect the volume, tone and speed of the people around you and most of all remember we aren’t in class just to learn about some subject, we are learning about ourselves and our place together in a community. Become part of that by better understand yourself and by caring about and understanding others.

June 24, 2005

We'll See

My grandma has been gone to Chicago with my grandpa for a little while now. I’ve been in the house alone for about half of that time, with the other half spent with my family last week as we traveled down to Melbourne to visit with the Donisi’s and get Shayla so she could stay up in Hickory for a few weeks. I was laying in the pool over at my cousin’s house this afternoon after mowing the lawn and Aunt Mary came over as I was floating along. "Doesn’t it seem like Nan’s been gone for a long time?" she said. I didn’t say anything, I started thinking. She then said, "Well, it seems like longer to me. It seems like a month even." It seems like a week, I thought to myself. For the record, it’s been 16 days. I can see why we would both think what we do. I’ve barely been in the house alone for more than a week and they are coming back in two days. My aunt dropped them off two weeks ago and things slowed down some for her without her mother around. They hang out a lot and talk at least once a day. I’m just starting to get productive. Kind of. Not really. Man, I’m scrappy, barely studying and finding every other possible thing to do while I’m not studying, like clearing out my computer’s memory, making CD’s for my mom, watching Cosmos episodes, updating my journal, yadda yadda. I think I am used to having summers where I take a break from the old grind of school. This summer has not really been that, which is surprising to me I think. I feel like sleeping a lot and being lazy. But I’m kind of getting tired of being lazy too. Studying is kind of fun, I need to just get to it. We’ll see. Ha!

June 23, 2005

Advance Humanity

Again, I really enjoy organization, categorization and simplification. I wrote what I did earlier because I began to think a lot about my own desire to record my thoughts, my feelings and my exploration of who I am and who I want to be. I have been writing in a journal for some time, just in one folder called My Journal, with each document in the folder organized by the date it was created. As I began posting these entries, I just would copy certain texts out of this folder and put then on Xanga that day or days later. I did this for about five months, until I got Blogger which allowed me to have multiple blogs under one central system. I could put my journal entries in one and say, trips I went on in another. The difficult then becomes, do I organize certain themes in my life, things I am thinking or going through? I’d like one place to list all the books and movies I like, another for my friends’ birthdays and things, another for the trips I go on, another for things about medical school and then the original for my journal entries. I don’t really think I like this anymore by this time and things have gotten too complex.
The point of my journal is to explore the different parts of my life, not to become its own part. Starting a separate blog called Acceptance which I’ve written in for the last two months, I realize that I have separated a part of myself into something else which I think “should be.” The very title indicates that I feel like I should be accepting a certain lot for myself, as a doctor, as a medical school student, as a pre-medical student. Why do I feel like this? There are a lot of reasons of course, a lot of different reasons that I am working through. Partly, I am working through those feelings in my journal, a system that incorporates my feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams about my life, part of which are my considerations about medical school. Medical school and the whole medical field is a consideration in part of my life, my life isn’t centered around it and my life isn’t a part of it. Similar to how Stephen King wrote about writing. He used to have a desk in the center of his study so that he could go in and write for hours at a time. The huge problem with that, which he wrote about in his book On Writing, is that he was using life as a support system for writing. It’s the other way around, he said. Writing is a support system for life. Life is the goal, the adventure and the journey. Medical school isn’t, writing isn’t, cars aren’t, music isn’t, none of that stuff is. I am living to live, to experience life fully in my own way, to grow in my own wisdom, and to learn to love better. I won’t be writing in a separate “journal” for acceptance, my acceptance of who I am will begin with me. If I feel like writing about it for any reason, it will go in My Journal just it always has. And as far as the rest of My Life is concerned, whether it’s adventures, random wisdom, classes, friends or whatnot, if I feel like writing about it and giving it it’s own blog then so be it. It isn’t meant to become a center of my life, a category that completes me, or even some elaborate system to that is meant to make me more interesting, a better person or gain some kind of inner peace. Improving myself starts with myself, my motivation, my principles and my values. My value starts there too. So, while all that is going on, I will keep writing in my journal, if I want to put it up it will go here on my central blog and it will remain named Advance Humanity. That, after all, is the catch phrase which I kept coming across as I used the thesaurus to conclude on this whole acceptance issue. I think it helps to define my principles, my values and in someway it helps define me. That’s my story for now and I’m sticking to it…for now.

Advance: exploration, searching, probing, studying, understanding, discovering, voyaging, journeying, learning, insight, wisdom, harmony, inner peace, perception, acuity, observation, awareness, sensitivity, knowledge, discovery, advance as breakthrough, discovery, new idea, revolution, development, growth, improvement, expansion, increase, training, education, enhancement, change, enrichment, excellence, fulfillment, completion, realization, rightness, progress, fortification, strengthening, further explanation, elaboration, clarification, explaining, elucidation, revelation, advance.

Humanity: humankind, civilization, human race, people, kindness, charity, compassion, sympathy, mercy, care, empathy, consideration, thoughtfulness, contemplation, respect, reflection, community, nation, intimates, family, ancestors, relations, introduce, development, evolution, progress, refinement, gentleness, kindheartedness, humanity.


I really enjoy organization, knowing full well that sometimes I can get myself into a bad situation. I can become too compartmentalized and allow things to worry me that shouldn’t. Sometimes I create four different categories for only four items, which becomes a self-defeating situation. However, other times the benefits of organization are obvious and desirable. I can put things in places that I can reference easily, share with others, review, revise and group with similar items. I can find a sense of completeness and progress as the amount of items in an area build one upon another. I can quickly save, store and enjoy items, not to mention I can make room for new items by organizing the ones I have. Here I am making reference to my computer more than anything else, but this also applies to my room, my car, my notebooks, file cabinets and so on.
I think one of the greatest challenges in all of this is to organize and plan in a manner which sets appropriate goals and expectations. “If you do not meet your expectations, you will often come away disappointed,” said the Dalai Lama. I think this is true. Maybe more elaborative, expectations of anyone on anything are the direct result of that person’s mind. Everyone decides what they want and what will please them. If someone has an expectation for a certain event, or for the outcome of a certain event, then it is the strength of that expectation that will decide their final satisfaction. Sometimes we set expectations that are too high for ourselves and for people around us and those expectations never satisfied. Then sometimes, we set minimal expectations in hopes of avoiding disappointment in ourselves and others, and still we are never satisfied. However, there are times in our lives when we are satisfied. We have impressed ourselves even when our expectations were high, we have achieved what we thought might be possible but we weren’t sure or we have watched a friend achieve something which makes them very happy and we are proud of them. I think those are moments when a healthy balance has been found, between expectation, satisfaction and happiness.
It is hard to know what to expect of ourselves. We are each great in so many different ways, with potential that we know we have barely tapped into. We each fail as we try to achieve our little goals each day but sometimes, more important than succeeding, we need to be patient with ourselves. We could complete thirty important tasks in a day while focusing on the one thing that we did wrong, or didn’t complete. However, if we were patient, compassionate and wise with ourselves, it is likely that we would give that incomplete task attention proportional to its place among the other thirty complete tasks. Moderation means rest, activity, reflection, rejuvenation, enjoyment and appreciation. We have a lot to do each day, but part of that is doing nothing. We have to take time to rest, time to do nothing, time to work, time to think, time to laugh and time to reenergize. Even the best saws become dull and we all know the worthlessness of sawing with a dull blade. If we look hard enough, we can see just how sharp we are on any given day. If we aren’t quite sharp enough, sawing won’t help. Finding what helps us become better, calmer, lighter and more compassionate will. It’s very much a part of who we are and something we have to consider every day.

Sleep Walking

How about that feeling you get when you sit down so long that when you get up your legs are asleep? It’s like pins and needles through both of your legs from your hips to the tips of your toes that you hardly ever feel expect for when they’re asleep. You get up and feel like sitting down, but you can’t. You want to laugh cause it’s kind of funny, but it isn’t. You know you have so start walking but it is painful, sort of painful, sort of just weird. The more you walk the more it goes away, but just barely. And at first it feels like it’s not going away at all, so you walk a step, stop, and then stand then moaning and laughing and feeling pathetic. How could I sit down so long? Calvin and Hobbes is just that good when you’re sitting on the comode I guess. Finally, after what seems like a hundred feet of drudgery, it’s gone. On to the next hundred feet of drudgery. Atleast the last hundred was entertaining.

June 22, 2005

Life and Death

Sometimes I fear death, especially when I ride in a car with friends. I think to myself sometimes, “Don’t you appreciate life? I can’t die here, I have my whole life to live and I am entrusting it to you. You drive like a maniac, if I arrive alive it will be a miracle.” I’ve arrived alive every time, and yet still I don’t feel convinced. I feel scared and afraid. I feel afraid of death and I feel afraid of life by that very admission. Death is not the opposite of life, as Dr. Remen has said, death is a part of life. And thus the purpose of life isn’t escaping death or having some kind of eternal, never dying life. I think I agree with Dr. Remen in saying the single purpose in life is to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. I have not yet experienced much death in my life, though I have thought about it a lot. I am young enough to let it get into my heart and into my mind enough to think about, and I am also young enough to begin to block it out. I think I have a lot to look forward to.

The "New" Medicine

Medical technology systems are the future of medicine. Tablet PCs in the doctors office will become the norm, portable medical identification in the form of ATM-cards, computer chips or key rings will be the new companion for patients, and websites will become a significant communication medium between physician and patient. I think this future is inevitable, and although it might seem wasteful at first, I think it is the best thing that could ever happen to health care.
As it stands, most staff in a medical office are administrative, organizing, recording, re-recording and communication records and notes. At the Emergency Room, it is unlikely that a hospital will have any records at all for you as a patient when you roll in. What medicines are you taking, what threats to your health did your primary physician observe during your last visit, what potential hazards do you possess within your complex anatomy? If you are extremely well-versed in your own health, fully conscious and possessive of a strong memory you can share all these answers with the attending Emergency Room physician. But then, if all these things were in place, why would you be there anyway? The truth is, there needs to be a seamless system of communication between professionals who are already dedicated to a community’s health and well being. That system is coming and it is needed immediately. “America is No. 1 in terms of health care expenditures - a total of $1.8 trillion last year and rising at a rate more than twice as fast as our incomes – yet it ranked no better than 16th in a study of 22 industrialized countries in what medical professionals call outcomes” (TIME Magazine June 27, 2005). I am not sure what role I will have in this, but as I read this article I became very excited about the possibilities. As a part of the younger generation, computers are everything and nothing to me. I hold my computer as one of my most prized possessions, while often not thinking twice about the fact that its very existence is only 15 years old. Our parents and the leaders in our world are just beginning to grasp all of the powers of world communication and high speed technology. By all rights, we are each marksmen with bows who can hit the bulls-eye every time standing in a crowd of veterans who are throwing arrows while trying to accomplish the same thing. We are inheriting a world of responsibility and greatness and barely know our own strength. I think it will be a great excitement to watch it unfold.

The Right Questions

Windows Movie Maker is beginning to frustrate me incredibly, or rather more introspectively, I am beginning to feel frustrated in response to the Microsoft Movie Maker 2 program and its limitations. I thought earlier today, and still hold true to this ideal, about how important it is for all of us to look at what we have and be appreciative of it. We are in a world of constant supply, of things which continually get “better” while previous things get older and are labeled “not as good.” I sit in a chair that could be better, in clothes that could be better, typing on a keyboard that could be better, surrounded by an item of every size, cost, color and use which could be better. Should we get those better things then? No, obviously the answer becomes a resounding “no.” It is obvious that that cannot be the solution. Sometimes we need new things, but if we really ask ourselves when that is we are often surprised by the answer. The Rotary International Club has something they call The Four Way Test (of the things we think, say or do). It is not a direct link to what I am talking about, but it is close. Before thinking, saying or doing something, a Rotarian intends to answer these questions:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

At first it seems like these questions don’t apply to buying a new camcorder, or a new desktop computer system, but upon further inspection it becomes more clear that they do apply. (1) It is the truth that a new camcorder will be more efficient, more fun, more compatible, more useful and more capable than an older camcorder? (2) Is it fair for me to buy a new camcorder for roughly four hundred dollars when I will need money for medical school later, when people live on less than a dollar a day all around the world, when in fact I am not employed to truly earn that money and when I could be using the money for someone else? Or is it fair for me to spend some money on myself for leisure activities once and a while like other people? (3) For what reasons do I want a new camcorder, will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it by more for selfish gain rather than for the good of other people? (4) Who will it benefit? Who won’t it benefit?
These questions are difficult, important and sometimes not so clear. It isn’t always clear what we need and what we need to appreciate. It’s hard to love the body you have, the materials you have, the car, the computer, the backpack you have when all around you there are new ones with flashy features and attractive new options. However, we all have moments of happiness when that thing we love, that friend, car, palm pilot, planner, computer, pair of shoes, t-shirt or animal shows us again why it is so important to us. We don’t always have to wait for those moments to create themselves, if we want to we can create those moments too.

June 20, 2005


I have a need to write a great deal down about Cosmos and I am very grateful to be able to do that on here, my unlimited tablet. Carl Sagan was a man who I think had great foresight and vision about humanity, our collective future, and the importance of science. I feel a lot of motivation after watching the thirteenth episode of Cosmos, both for my own future and for the future of humanity. I don’t believe it is over-exaggerated to say we are one world, one specie with one future that depends on all of us. We are not alone, but rather one world in a sea of billions of other worlds. The future of the universe is not a book written by us, but we are contributors. I think we have a chance to make quite a contribution. We could live on to make our future generations proud of us, grateful to us, and indebted to us.
I am not sure my role in that exactly, but I know there are a lot of things that I care about. I care about individual freedoms, rights of man, and science. I believe we have to observe the facts and change our own views if the facts say otherwise. I think that holding on to any fundamental dogmas can become a ball and a chain and that humanity leaps forward when it sees what it is carrying and then lets it go. If any observing creature from outside our planet was to observe us, it would see our differences as trivial in comparison to our likenesses. At first I wanted to find the transcript of the Cosmos episode to record here what I thought was best, but soon I gave up that idea as the entire video progressed to say not one thing I thought forgettable. We have responsibilities as humans, ones even our parents don’t have to tell us. Some, in that regard, that are silent our whole lives. We hear voices in our heads telling us what is right and what is wrong. For me, advancing humanity through compassion, understanding and reason is right. When I do something that makes me feel bad, it’s likely that that was wrong. There’s a lot in between too, I know, and trying to figure out what to do with all of that makes the experience that much more enjoyable, adventurous, exciting and…worth living.

June 19, 2005

Father's Day

For Father’s Day this year I was able to spend some time with my sister, brother and mother as they drove with me down to Melbourne to have a short visit with friends. I rode shotgun in my sister’s new (and first) car as she drove down behind my mom. We sat and talked for near an hour about dad, our childhood and things we remembered about each of the houses we’ve lived in, friends we’ve played with and all kinds of experiences we’ve had. We recollected a number of statements, reflections, sayings and nuggets of wisdom impressed upon us three children by the unyielding power of the one man. As I have written down a detailed list of things and made a short little movie of them, I think the narration and storytelling following each prompt is really what is most fun. Every little thing has a story, with each a small piece in the large story of our family. Dad Definitions are words that we thought up which we learned from our dad:
· Ratfink - (noun) any trouble making kid
· Punk Kid - (noun) also trouble making kid; may be coupled with "ratfink"
· Loser – (noun) amiable greeting designed to reinforce individual worth
· Dork – (noun) person of questionable normalcy with “unique” coolness
· Geek – (noun) very dorklike with an affinity for high technology and nerdiness
· Turd – (noun) reflective of a “base” nature, highlighted by acute idiocity
Sayings and characteristics I have called Definitively Dad are each things which I know I carry into my own behavior. “The Nat laugh” is something we hear a lot in the house, something we think we can each reproduce easily. Similar in that way is the Nat "animal recall" whistle which dad uses to let the dogs and cats know it’s time to come back. It’s very loud and I’m still trying to get good at it. Quotes from Nat that we thought up include:
· Who do you love, who do you love child?
· You're going to be sorry.
· Don't make me come over there.
· I'm gonna get you.
· You're gonna get it.
· You just wait.
· What are you punk kids doing?
· What do you mean by that?
· There's no feeling like getting that pull on your fishing line.
· If you touched it you should have caught it
· Ohhhhhhhh Duster Wuster, Ohhhhhhhhh Francie Wansie
· You kids don't know how good you got it.
Then all the Random Comments collected include jokes as well as quips from television shows and inside jokes from over the years.
· I once knew a guy that was allergic to Kleenex...
· Let's go ride bikes
· What does an umpire say?
· I know what you're typing cause of the sound of the keys.
· Saaarcasmmmm...
· I'm not your daddy, well, maybe I am...
· This is a wonderful dinner. Thank you Judy Lu
· "How interesting, and what language would that be?"
· What do you call a dog with no legs?
· Heard about the guy who breathed helium, had a heart attack, and no one helped him?
· "Are you gonna finish that joke?"
Maybe my favorites, however, Stories & Scares include all of the many fiction and nonfiction events which we could remember in a short amount of time. Little things like, “Look out, there's a giant rat in the shed...” and “be careful, I think I see something out there in the trees,” were always on the tip of my dad’s tongue and still are. They don’t even have to be suggested by anything factual whatsoever, in fact, I think sometimes his best motivation is just instilling true terror within easily terrorized children. Such were Travis, Leighanna and Elias and now as we have grown older, such are we still. My dad used to dress up in a black hairy gorilla mask and creep around to look into a window in the dark of night with dead eyes and gorilla gloves as hands. He would be very patient and laugh for as long as he waited after he finally got a hold of one of us, slowing walking into a bathroom and gazing out the window, or doing the dishes and looking up at the glass in front of us. I think the only reason he ever stopped was the simple fact that he lost the mask and gloves. There were stories he told to us each as children; one about a Pink Gorilla that was a freak of nature which escaped from the zoo. You, the listener, go looking for it of course and tremble as this mad man reels of a story sure to end in some kind of hideous disaster. The gorilla is coming near you, quickly, running faster and faster. It finally reaches you and screams out while grabbing you (adding to the effect, my father would usually apply a death grip to a nearby child’s knee) growling, "TAG YOU'RE IT!" There would be no mercy in that tale, as many others. There also would be no silence after the tale, between my father’s laughing and the children’s screaming. Jack Tales were some of his favorites, like Sopdoll. I am trying to learn them myself. He told stories about when he was a kid, like when on Halloween he ran into some real ghosts. Even real stories, like when he was my age and went on a road trip with friends and saw a ghost, a guy in the white t-shirt, during a pitch black night. He and his friends drove up and down the road but never found him. On that same trip, one of his buddies woke up from a slumber and looked out the window to a truck in the next lane, yelling without even thinking about it, “HEY, TEXAS SUCKS!” That night didn’t end well. In fact it ended with a car full of boys about to piss and shit their own pants and trying to outrun the truck for a half hour that seemed like an eternity. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that ride the line between fact and fiction, or the ones that were fact to begin with but then sounded better as they were “added to.” When I was a kid I somehow got the motivation to spread my own poop all over my clean white crib until the whole thing was unrecognizable. When I was older my dad and sister and I all built a go-kart together. Well, mostly my dad built it and I rode it, crashed it, complained a lot and then my sister rode it and complained too. I think my dad wanted to ride it pretty badly, but I bet now that it’s over, he probably enjoyed laughing at us a lot more. I tipped the thing over trying to turn around, spilled gasoline all over myself and then laid their sobbing and complaining until he walked some seventy feet down the street to get to me. Such is life I suppose. I think I’ve learned to not complain quite as much as I did then, like when I had to poop really bad and couldn’t make it home. My dad didn’t get mad at me, but he didn’t help me either. That was a trail of tears. Overall, the stories and scares are very positive memories. I still am working on memorizing The Final Quest, an epic poem about King Arthur about 10 minutes long, which my dad shared with my classes at school for years. And if my kids ever want to get a slip n’ slide, we’ll make one. All we ever needed was some plastic covering, some wire hangers, a baseball base to hit at the bottom, some soap and a hose. By god, that’s all my kids will need too.
Lastly, we included Movie Quotes and Songs which my dad liked best. From O Brother Where Art Thou "My hair...", “Isn't this place a geographical oddity, 2 weeks from everywhere.”, “R-U-N-N-O-F-T”. From Shrek, “Yeah, right before he burst into flames.” From Monty Python and the quest for the Holy Grail, “What is your name? What is your quest?”, "Some call me...Tim?", “Karl Bannog! Sharp, Pointy Teeth...”, “What are you doing in England? Mind your own business”, and “Your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elderberries.” From Ghostbusters, “Cats and Dogs living together, mass hysteria” and “Did you tell him about the Twinkie?” From the Goonies, "But the worst thing I ever done - I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa - and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life." And lastly, from the Christmas Story, “Mr. Parker: He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny. Mother: He does not! Mr. Parker: He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare!”, “With as much dignity as he could muster, the Old Man gathered up the sad remains of his shattered Major Award. Later that night, alone in the backyard, he buried it next to the garage,” and “Ralphie: No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! Santa Claus: You'll shoot your eye out, kid.” His own Songs, which I will end this memoir with, include ones known to us as Ice Cream Man, Standing On The Side of The Highway 4 Exit, Rocky Raccoon and Sweet Baby Jane. Whatever it was dad was the one to tell it, do it, sing it, joke it, define it, hold it or laugh at it. He is all of the things that he shared and they have become him to all of us.

June 17, 2005

The "New" Layton

"We have a problem," Robby had written in his reply to my e-mail. "Give me a call or let me know when it would be a good time to call you." After giving him a call, it was quickly revealed that Layton Hall would not be a men's dorm next year, it would be a women's dorm. Because of the 25-year plan at Campbell and the subsequent lack of space caused by extrication of key university staff offices, all Honors women on campus were moved from their houses into alternative dorms. The entire women's campus, however, became so full by this and the incoming class of freshmen, that another site was needed. Robby fought "tooth and nail" but Layton was chosen as the overflow site. Thus, the "new" men's campus honors/graduate dorm is now the 3rd floor of Sauls Hall. I told him this was ironic for me, considering I lived there my first year. He laughed. Sauls is argueably the smallest men's dorm on campus, yet I have enjoyed staying there one year out of my past two at Campbell. Michael Sellers, my roommate, said oppositely that he could not stand to stay another night in the dorm. Size is part of the issue. Layton has many strong points. Each room has an individual AC unit (Sauls does not), is carpeted, and is entirely indoors while Sauls can often be loud (though not bad on the 3rd floor), is not carpeted and has inner hallways that can get pretty cold or hot depending on the season. It is a lot to take in at once, but it looks like my semester is going to be a bit different than I thought it was going to be, both good and bad.

Many Hats

I want to be a healer, to help the sick become healthy. I want to be a counselor, to help the healthy stay healthy and to help the confused fight answers. I want to be an educator and mentor within my community, teaching those who seek out lessons and teaching small lessons to those who might not know they need them. I want to be a politician, to improve my community and provide one voice for the support of people’s liberties and happiness. I want to be a lawyer, to protect the rights of all individuals, whether they are poor or rich, and whether I agreed with them or not. I want to be a law enforcement officer, to be there for the helpless and in need, to be prepared for others when they need help. I think I want to be a physician. I have only one life to live, and so many lives to fulfill. I want to work as everything and as one thing. I want to be a medical doctor.

June 16, 2005

Role of Physician

Doctors as scientific ambassadors to the community. I think John was correct in saying this, only faulting in too short an explanation with too conservative of an estimation. I think it is accurate to call Physicians priests of the community, healers, counselors, confidants, scientists, politicians, educators and leaders. They range in their duties, more so as the years grow with the age of civilization, but I think there are many potential positions which medical doctors can hold. I myself am not sure to which positions I am interested in applying. As I sit together with groups of people, I am usually quiet, collecting as much as I can about the people there, their stories, attitudes and preferences. I take in facts, observations and pictures away to think through later. In fact, I think that I prefer to collect as much as I can to sort through alone, to write about, to think about and then to talk about. What is the purpose of life, this interaction, this thought? Sometimes it’s not worth asking, or else it would ruin a very fun, safe and adventuresome activity. But sometimes it is worth asking, and in fact, for me that can be even more fun to answer.

June 15, 2005

Field of Study

At first I chose to major in the field of Biology as a preparation for medical school but as I write this now, approaching my junior year in college, my reasons have changed. I have always appreciated science, its relatively new achievements for human kind and its perspective on problems and solutions, but now I am beginning to love it. After the Enlightenment, a rigid world of orthodoxy and dogma became less appealing to the majority of people around the world. Instead they created, and I've inherited, a world were class didn't determine ones station in life and instead ones future was determined by merit and ability. After attending college, I’ve gotten to see a wide range of people as well as a wide range of belief systems and I have seen science in a new light. When someone questions a foundational belief in science, and succeeds in developing experiments that disprove even the strongest tenets in a field, that scientist is given the highest awards. I like that system. I plan to serve in the Peace Corps after graduation for two years, hopefully assisting people in a foreign in developing public health clinics which they can then maintain with the work of their own people. After that, I hope to attend an osteopathic medical school to become a physician, possibly with further training in public health. I am not sure exactly what direction my life is going, but I know that my guiding principles will be the same as science; peace, understanding and service. I hope that maybe one day I may assist in national or international health as both a student, a scientist, and as a doctor.

Appalachian Trail!

In fond rememberance of a wonderful time, I have made this entry about my great summer hike with great friends during five days on the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of Virginia. We scaled the highest peak in the state, and still had time for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In early June of 2003, Chris Hewitt, Josh McKinnon, Chris Koenig and Travis Hellstrom faced mad cattle, rough switchbacks, difficult rice, challenging terrain, rough rhododendrons, pesky poison ivy, wicked wetness, heralded heat, germy jungle rot, periless peaks, prancing ponies and sideswipping sleet, all with heads equally shaven and smiles broad. Congratulations you pilgrims of pleasantry, dogooders of drought, borrowers of baldness, trekkers to timberlake and conquestadors of courage. Your journey will be forever remembered and treasured. It’s Boil-In-A-Bag Rice You Idiot!

June 14, 2005


I have enjoyed this editorial for sometime, but I am glad I waited to write about it. After watching the Benjamin Franklin PBS Special two days ago, I have found quite a nice quote to pair with it.

“I wondered for a long time whether the commonwealth suffers more from hypocritical pretenders to religion or people who openly reject religion. I think the hypocrite is more dangerous. Especially if he holds a government post. The public hypocrite trumpets his godliness, people then take him for a saint and allow him to ruin their country…all in god’s name.” – Benjamin Franklin as Silence Dogood

“I’m amused to find the following quote from Republican icon President Dwight Eisenhower in his presidential papers: “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt…, a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.” (Nov. 8, 1954). How embarrassed Ike would be at the state of the Republican Party 50 years after he expressed those thoughts. The “stupid” Texas oil millionaires have taken over the American political/economic system and have successfully manipulated lower and middle - class fundamentalist Christians into voting for politicians whose policies will harm the lower and middle economic classes. How cunning!"
- Phyllis Saarinen, former Republican, Gaineville, FL

June 13, 2005


I give my very highest marks to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the amazing film Benjamin Franklin. I am amazed. Simply amazed. There are certain movies which a person can watch that automatically reorganize all other movies even watched into the category of as good or not as good. I expected a difficult three and a half hours of viewing when I began the video which I checked out from the Gainesville Public Library, but Lord of the Rings I is the only equal length movie I can think of which I found to be this good. Bravo! Encore! I’ve watched every minute available on the DVD, special features, making of the movie, and even watched some parts over again so I could record what was said. Thank you PBS, I give you my very highest regards.

Franklin was born at a time when witches were tought to be real and he died at the dawn of the modern age. It is an age that to a surprising degree he himself helped shape. He came from a society where class determined ones station in life and he helped create a country where merit and ability could flourish. In a rigid world of orthodoxy and dogma he believed to the core of his soul in the virtues of tolerance and compromise. The quintessential optimist he never doubted, even for a moment, that the future of humanity lay in the infinite power of human reason.

“The rapid progess of the sciences makes me, at times, sorry that I was born so soon. Imagine the power that man will have over matter a few hundred years from now. We may learn how to remove gravity from large masses and float them over great distances, agriculture will double its produce with less labor, all diseases will surely be cured, even old age. If only the moral sciences could be improved as well. Perhaps men would cease to be wolves to one another and human beings could learn to be…human.” - Benjamin Franklin

June 12, 2005


I think I appreciate a lot more as I get older, including qualities in older people which I previously thought vices. Mostly because I am afraid of the trait in myself, I am hesitant to embrace my grandfather’s affinity for social interaction. He is great at getting people loosened up and comfortable, talking about anything and everything in an effort to both humor and understand the people he talks to. He will laugh about at something generally funny one minute, make a crude or sexual remark the next and then go off on some unrelated tangent that somehow comes back to a flaw in the government. He is very much like a carsalesman in that way I think, but I don’t mean it in a bad way. Just like Edward Bloom in Big Fish, some people are just social people. I think Leslie has been that way for a long time and for that reason has raised a daughter who has become my mother and raised a son like me. Lately, and tonight when I saw him, I have tried to be much less judgemental and more appreciative and open to experiencing what he brings to the environment around him. There are many things I love about my grandfather, and things which I do not wish to cultivate in my own life, but like Benjamin Franklin said about his wife, “I sing of my plain country Joan, some faults have we all, and so has my Joan but then they’re exceedingly small and now I’m grown used to them so like my own, I scarcely can see them at all.”

June 9, 2005


How do you thank all the people you want to thank? How do you thank all the people in the history of your country and the history of your profession, that have done so much to help you, even those people who are alive today who you can't thank because they’re so busy? How do you thank those people and show them that what they have done has meant a lot to you?
I think that maybe one answer is that you should live your life in reflection of what they did. You should care about what they did enough to live it out in your own life. I think Martin Luther King Jr. in that way thanked Gandhi for his work, as many students have done for their mentors. In my life, I have a lot of people that I would like to thank such as Rachel Naomi Remen, Mrs. Rights, my community leaders, my country, my parents; people who have in many ways given up what they had and given up their own wants to help me and to help others. Truly I think that that is part of what caring about others is, living in a way that respects others and shows your own care for the future, your appreciate for your life and for each day that you are living.

June 8, 2005

Second Gear

I feel like I’ve come a long way on my path to becoming prepared for the MCAT test in August. That being said, I think it is most appropriate to say I am only switching into second gear now. I have the beginning of the class behind me whether I am prepared for that or not. I have a lot of work to do and I have to check up to keep with the schedule I have laid out for myself. It is inappropriate and ultimately my own failing to fall behind. I have everything I need to accomplish my goal of being prepared for each class and completing ALL of the necessary homework to see the best improvement. It will be very slow and it will be consistent. There are no short cuts, I cannot speed up my study time and the only thing that can improve my study habits is hard work. I have to keep at it and put in the time, I have to pay attention and be very deliberate in my work. The material is there and I must go through it. I can and I have paid to do it, it is my job and it is my honor to have this high caliber of an education. I intend to work very hard and that starts tomorrow morning. Bright and early.

Calvin and Hobbes

The joys of Calvin and Hobbes. I would like to take this moment to send out an official Travis Hellstrom Inner-Peace-A-Gram to Bill Watterson, creator of the famous comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. As of January 1996, the world acclaimed and ten year syndicated comic strip was official retired. Since then Bill Watterson has sold over 34 million copies of his 17 books, with a final collection coming out this October 2005. I must say I have enjoyed some of those books for many years, no doubt starting my readings only a couple years before the strip retired from papers. Nine years later and nine years older I sit reading the books still, a few minutes ago in fact. No longer a sixth grader laughing my head off in Melbourne, Florida but now a junior in college laughing my head off in Gainesville, Florida I would say I have come far...but that in fact would be a stretch. I am still so much a kid, loving things like cartoons even more today maybe than I did back then. I certainly appreciate the intricacies more intellectually now, but maybe that’s not what loving things like that more is anyway. I think kids are very pure in their intentions, even if it is their intention to cry to get their way, their motivations are often very simple and often understandable. I think a lot of my life will be spent defending the rights and abilities of children, allowing them freedom and opportunity like I have had, and if I am able to do that effectively I think it will comprise a hefty portion of my success in life. For every Calvin I think there ought to be a Hobbes, a First-Tiger. Maybe then we can all be so lucky.

June 6, 2005


Sometimes three minute conversations are perfect, like tonight at dinner when my Papa Leslie and Aunt Debbie were able to join both me, Big Nanny and Papa Jack. I asked how Papa was doing, how he liked the ribs and later after studying for an hour I helped him out to the car asking him if he could call again when we could have dinner together another time.
Sometimes three hour conversations are perfect, like tonight when I talked, got up to date and laughed with Joshua Sands after walking a mile in the neighborhood. I watched the sun set, the neighborhood go to sleep, and my own cellphone battery drain down to the bottom before the conversation was over and still, there were still thirty good minutes left.
Sometimes it takes three long paragraphs to be the perfect conversation, like when I wrote a reply back to Natalie at the Brody School of Medicine about trying to find out if I want to be a doctor, why I’m really not sure, and how much I appreciate her talking with me.
And then sometimes it takes three years to get up the perfect conversation, like tonight when I was able to read the reply of a sweet friend who I haven’t talked with in just that long. Unlike the three minute conversations that can’t go over that extra minute, and that three hour conversation that wouldn’t really last that extra hour and unlike that three paragraph conversation that has to fit inside a decent-sized e-mail, the great thing about three year conversations is they have a whole year to finish up.
Sometimes three minutes are perfect, sometimes three hours, and then sometimes the perfect length is right at three paragraphs. Whether its three years or three words, the perfect conversations all have their own lengths. And they always have that perfect person to share them with.