Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Catalina, Babies, and Vocations Versus Avocations

Fortunately, for my dad, he looks a bit less geeky than this guy, and probably plays the guitar better as well.

I have returned from my trip to Catalina with a renewed and refreshed perspective: ready to take on the world of small babies, diapers, forumla, sterilization of bottles and breast pumps, crying, demands for attention, and everything else that accompanies having two babies well under a year of age in one household. 

I was warned by several people that Andrew, the older of the two babies at nine months, might temporarily disdain me and want little to do with me as his way of expressing his displeasure at my having abandoned him frn a few daya of fun and frolid without him. Such turned out not to be the case. Andrew was thrilled to see me from the moment I walked in the door on return from Catalina. If anything, he's a bit clingy in response to my haveing been away from him for a few days, but he's handling the situation quite wel, all things considered. He did, after all, have both of his parents and all four grandparents with him in my absemce.

New Baby Camille Catherine  reached the grand total of five pounds this morning. We celebrated with homemade strawberry waffles and whipped cream. i don't eat whipped cream, so I skipped that part, but mine were delicious just the way they were. We pureed Andrew's strawberries, and gave him small bowls of of purreed strawberries and whipped cream into which to dip his very thin strips of waffles. He thought it was a great breakfast. 

The next part of my blog concerns a reply by one of my readers that my father has historically been inconsistent in regard to who is important in society  with regard to his later recommendation as to what career he recommended that I pursue. I shall attempt to address the responder's concern in a not-too-incoherent manner, as i'm still somewhat running on fumes. i need a long nap at some point today, and i suspect my state of sleep may cause me to be a bit unclear and/or redundant in my adress of the poster's concerns. Please forgive me if such is the case.

My dad is all about being multi-faceted as an individual himself, and would wish the same thing for his offspring.. While one primary focus may put the food on one's table and pay the rent or mortgage, other avocations may further enrich one's life in both literal and in emotional/ psychoogical senses, and, if one is lucjy enough, even in a financial sense.. My father worked his way through medical school, incurring relatively few debts along the way, as a musician whenever he had a break long enough to get a traveling gig. I've been asked not to identify the artists with whom my father toured or recorded, but they were well-known and accomlished musicians. My dad didn't have to "sell out" so to speak, or to compromise his musical principles in order to earn the money he needed to support himself and pay medical school tuition.

My mother, as an educator and as a psychologist - both clinical and educational -- in addition to being a musicicologist, holds doctorates in piano and vocal performance and enough on-paper background and practical ability in theory and musicology to teach upper-division courses in both at the university level. She was furthermore sufficiently skilled at violin to the degree that she could teach me well enough that I could obtain an undergrad degree in violin performance. On the other hand, she spent a large portion of her working years as a school psychologist and school administrator. She also recognizes the point of being multi-facted in one's approach to a career and to life in general.

Both of my parents recognize that writing is a gift for me. It is for my dad to some degree as well. He doesn't use it as much as I plan to, though he publishes more prolifically than do most research physicians at his stature in the profession, and does more of the writing himself than do most of his peers, most of whom rely on fellows and other underlings to do their heavy writing. My father's fellows are often disappointed at the lightness of the writing load placed upon them. Most research physicians of my father's stature consider writing to be a part of the job that is somewhat beneath them and not a task they particularly enjoy. My father considers it a perk of the job, A trademark somewhat characteristic of my father's journal articles is that they contain humor in places humor would not typically be found. (In part, this is due to the final draft usually being written after a couple Guinnesses or glasses of wine have been downed, but his wit is evident even if not under the influence.

My dad "gets" my need to write. I think he just feels that writing will be both easier and more fun for me if I'm not waiting daily for the arrival of  the mail carrier,  anxiously feeling the thickness of envelopes before opening them with hope that they contain contracts and checks rather than rejection letters and the return of my original manuscripts, so that I don't have to hit my parents up for one more loan in order to pay one more month's worth of  bills. Additionally, my dad believes that one is most inspired to write when one's mind is actively engaged and one's life is filled with cognitively challenging work He doesn't believe that the slow, contemplative life lends iself to the highest quality of writing for most who wish to, or , mmore appropriately in many cases, have to  write.

My father's viewpoint is in diametric opposition to the early premise of A Room With a View, that it is the right of every young woman to be provided with a room with a view so that she can contemplate and write without the necessity of such mundane matters as how to sustain herself while she does so. My father believes that not only has this sort of attitude -- that of a right of a daughter to be "kept" with no responsibility toward her own livelihood -- has contributed to the setting back of the women's movement for generations longer than needed to be the case societally, in addition to setting women as individuals back in terms of their inspiration for whatever art form they cared to pursue. While there is a season for everything, including watching and contemplating, true inspiration more often comes from being an active participant in the world around one, and not merely an observer. Furthermore, this idea of a woman's right to be provided with a livelihood of any sort, be it a room with a view, lodging in a more cloistered setting, or plane tickets and paid hotel rooms to jet-set around the world living a life akin to those of the Kardashian offspring or Paris Hilton and her sister Nicki***, my dad feels, perpetuates the idea that, at least among women, the right to participate in the creation of art, including fashiopon design,  is the sole domain of the wealthy -- an idea he detests. Many of us detest that idea when it comes right down to it.

I could ask someone currently earning a living in the field of writng -- perhaps journalist Jaci Stephen, to name one such writer,  which is more conducive to writing:  free room and board on an unlimited basis in some remote yet scenic locale, or actually living and working among one's writing subjects, scrambling for interviews in competition with other writers also trying to eke out a living at their craft?  i don't know  what Jaci's answer would be withut having asked her,  but I suspect I could make a reasonably good guess.

My dad recognizes that I will probaby always need to write, and that it is not beyond possibility that at some point either writing or music could overtake medicine as a career for me. Still, he felt that not taking advantage of the ease with which the mastery of mathematical and scientific concepts have always come to me,  compounded by the medical school scholarships literally falling into my lap, which is not the case for most med school students,  would have made it foolish for me not to study medicine if only as a way to provide inspiration for writing and to finance a fledgling writing career, hopefully not maiming or outrightly killing off too many patients while doing such.

We are a family of multi-dimensional people. My parents respect my skill as a writer. They just think, as I do, that a degree in English composition isn't, in and of itself, the most useful degree on the planet, though there's an abundance of time for me to return  to the university setting and earn one if I truly believe the lack of such degree is standing between me and the attainment of any of my goals.. I took more electives in the English domain than were required. Those, combined with what I had already learned and what comes naturally to me, have probably provided me with what I need in order to spring-board a writing career if I so choose it. Furthermore, among professors under whom I studied while completing undergraduate studies, at least one of a few I would choose would likely be willing to serve as a mentor to me as a fledgling writer.

In summation, other than the severe time and energy encroachment, nothing in the study of medicine stands in the way of my becoming a writer as well as a physician or surgeon. Will it happen for me? It's all a function of life's great balancing act. i do not yet know just how adept I am at walking a tightrope or juggling, or any other such thing, either metaphorically or literally.

***i hold no personal agenda against any of the Kardashians nor against the Hilton sisters. I'm just not certain that the lifestyles afforded by their wealth give them any significant creative  advantage in the production of whatever art forms they pursue.  The concept that "it takes money to make money" certainly works in their favor, and  the media exposure that comes along with their territory certainly works to their benefit in promoting whetever product it is they're apptempting to hawk. They may complain about their excessive nedia exposure, but when it cmoes to promoting perfume or fasion lines, it definitely works to their advantage; I don't hear them complaining about that aspect of their publicity.  In terms of quality of production, however, I'm not at all convinced that the proverbial  Room With a View or , in their cases, mutiple rooms with as many views anyone one would desire, enabled them to produce a product in any way superior to that produced by the competition. They'll make a lot of money, but at the end of the day, I don't see the financial advantages as having enabled any of them to have created and developed a product the quality of which surpassed that of the competition less supported by financial advantages. They will have made more money simply because it takes money to make money. The sad aspect of this is that if one of such children of privilege actually comes uo with a product that is artictically superior, it's unlikely that proper credit will be given. Instead, the success will be attributed to the financial advantage enjoyed in the first place by the child of privilege who came up with the design for the product.  


  1. Well, I thoroughly enjoy the writing you do here. :)

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  5. I can understand and relate to your need to write! While I no longer publish blogs, I have returned to pen and paper diaries, which have provided an amazing reprieve for me mentally. I am not sure if you feel this as well, though at this point in time so much is happening and changing in my life that I want to record where I am now. Maybe that is vain, though, I 've kept journals since elementary school and I love to have my mental/emotional growth recorded. I see no reason why you cannot be both a doctor and a writer. You have such a natural ability for both!

    1. Becca. I find writing that writing with a pen and paper produces a wholly different form of inspiration. For me, it's more creative. If I wanted to write anything i considered truy creative, it would probably have to start on pen and paper, then be trnasposed to computer.

      I also find that there's some like t writing by hand that, for me anyway, lends itself to memorization. I tend to write out anything that has to be memorized verbatim. Also, writing something out with pen onto paper tends to help me make sense of concepts that are difficult for me to grasp.
      The memorization thing makes perfect sense to me, but the idea that writing something out by hand should make a difficult concept more comprehensible isn't something i can really explain, but since it works for me, I just go with it.