Saturday, January 28, 2012

Suppose I Wasn't Finished

I guess I didn't get enough of what I needed to get out in that last post because my brain is still going at 6:15 in the morning. I should be asleep already. Usually, I crash right after shows, but when something hits me this hard, there's no way to calm myself back down, and I don't want to become dependent on the medication that I've been using to help myself fall/stay asleep. What happened tonight was probably the only thing that could have bothered me tonight, and of course, I have some of the worst luck in the world, so it did. I mean, I suppose there could have been a fistfight, but I think I knew that the best thing to do was to just not tell anyone what happened until after the show (except for the person who came to check on me to make sure I was okay). The way I felt after that just makes me realize how much I really do care about this person and the friendship that we had. I put a lot of myself into relationships with other people. I put a lot out there, and I give a small piece of myself to the other person, and these pieces are different for every person. I don't want to lose any more pieces of myself, and I don't want to be bitter or vindictive. I just don't want to deal with drama anymore. I don't want to engage. I don't want this situation to be happening, and the only way it's going to get resolved is with an adult conversation. And I don't feel comfortable having people at my show that are there just to make me uncomfortable or intimidate me. And unless this gets talked out, I think that's what I'm going to have to state. I'm not sure how well that's going to go over. But I feel like it's the only way a conversation might take place--if I put my foot down.
On the plus side, I am extremely proud of myself for handling this situation as professionally as I did. I knew I was getting worked up and that something bad could have happened. I could have freaked out or completely lost it. But I just went in the back, felt crappy for a little, but then I was able to pick myself up and put that issue aside to do my job for the night. And I did so well tonight that it made it that much more impressive to me that I was able to overcome things that have really messed up my shows in the past. But I don't want to have to do that. And that's where I am at right now.
While I am awake, I might as well talk about something completely unrelated. I might be rethinking my plans again about school and whatnot. I love what I am doing now. I love doing that research and writing the articles. I love communicating information to others. I love making science accessible. I keep changing my mind, but what I want to do is keep going with this for the moment. The whole idea of moodtraining is amazing to me, and it fits so well with how I have always lived my life. And as soon as I start looking up grant information, I might be able to secure that as a full-time position because then we would have some money coming in. This is work where the hours just fly by. And it's fun. And I can do it on my own time. And I'm always learning something new. It's given me a lot to think about.
As for the other job, it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be. And I think even doing it for a little while is going to make talking on the phone that much easier for me. My mentor likes the way I deliver my presentation over the phone, and I'm not as terrified about it as I was initially. The people in my row are pretty awesome and make ridiculous and inappropriate jokes about assholes on the end of the line. And that makes it doable.
I just feel like so many things in my life are slowly moving in a positive direction, and I hate that there are these little things that are holding me down. I want to be in control of those things, but I am powerless at this point. I'll be able to change one of the situations after nationals, but as for the other, I don't know if it's ever going to get any better.
And about that quote. It doesn't have to be drag. It doesn't matter what it is. Life goes on no matter what the hell happens...unless you die, I suppose. Nothing has ever been the end of the world. Now I have to think back to 311 because that always makes me feel better.
"It's alright, wherever you are right now."
And I believe that. I always associate this song with a particular person and a particular purple car. And damn did I have a crush on him for a while. I wonder what he would say if he ever found that out.
The only thing that came out in the last five minutes was...FUCK.
I guess that means it's time to stop.

A Letter I Wish I Could Send

I ended up crying because of how you treated me tonight. I still really care about you as a friend, and I don't know why the fuck you are so personally affected by a decision that had nothing to do with that. The reason I did it was to save our friendship, which I've told you over and over again. You showed up at my show tonight, and I thought that meant we could start to work on things, but instead, you treated me like shit and knew how that would affect me. I can only hope that you didn't do this on purpose--come to my show just to fuck with me and make sure it would fail.

You still mean a lot to me. But I've come to a really difficult point right now. I feel used and manipulated, and I am deeply hurt by all of this.

"It's just drag. Life goes on."

You disrespected me tonight, and I'm not a scared little boy anymore, and if something like that ever happens again, I'm not afraid to have you escorted out. I don't want to be made to feel uncomfortable at my own event.

I've tried to talk to you personally about it, so I don't consider this a passive aggressive attempt. You refuse to talk to me, which I can only assume means that you have given up on our relationship. I will tell you right now that I have done no such thing. I'm incapable of being like that, even when I want to, even when it would be so much fucking easier to just not care.

I don't want to lose you, but there will come a point when I will decide that I must close that door, if nothing changes, in order to protect myself.

I hope you understand this, all of it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Intro for My Brain Basics Guide

I am ridiculously excited about my first article having been posted the other day. My next challenge was to write a brain basics guide. Believe me when I say that it is quite difficult to simplify certain concepts in neuroscience, but I've definitely had fun trying.

Here's the intro for the guide (which is now 10 pages long and will probably end up being somewhere from 13-15 pages total):

Think about how life would be if you could not communicate. Most of us feel completely disconnected even when we lose our cell phones for just a day, but imagine how terrible it would be to lose your nervous system. The nervous system is the great communicator, connector, and interpreter among the systems of the human body. It is responsible for transmitting messages from one cell to another and making sure the message is received and interpreted properly. It is also the system that allows us to perceive all that is around us through our five senses, learn a language and use it in an organized way, experience emotions, and remember the things that have happened to us. The nervous system makes sure that all of the above types of information can be shared amongst the system so that we can, for example, become happy when we remember our wedding day or take caution when we know that the pot on the stove is too hot. None of this would be possible without your nervous system, so you’re lucky you can’t leave home without it…unlike your cell phone.

Lol obviously this example was taken from personal experience...

Monday, January 23, 2012

This is What Matters

I know I've already posted this on facebook in various places, but just in case this reaches a few more people, I'm putting it here as well. Once you see, you'll understand the importance of passing the message along. Thank you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nerd Time

Two thoughts went through my head today, and they made me realize how strange I am, but I love it. (1) There must be or have been a lot of research involved in determining the perfect size for a can of soda or similar containers because of the average size of the human hand. I thought this because I have smaller hands and prefer Red Bull cans and the new 7.5 ounce soda cans, even though I sometimes drink two. (2) Cold activates the sympathetic nervous system, and we know that people with Asperger's have nervous systems that might be a bit different, and maybe mine is hypersensitive, which means that I get stressed out more easily and would react more strongly to cold. (Cold water agitates me and when it hits me in the face I literally have to hold back from screaming). P.S. I feel so good right now because my new job allows me to think and use the skills I have honed throughout my life.
I'm taking a break from my work to write a little about it. It's making me rethink a lot about what I want to do with my life, and it's taking me back to an earlier time when I had similar passions. I love to write. Working on these articles doesn't even feel like work most of the time. Working on this "Brain Basics" guide will be even more fun because I get to use the creative explanations I've developed and teach them to a large audience.
I'm in a good mood about this because I'm doing something that I feel gives me a purpose. It is meaningful to me. And this is so very well connected with the whole philosophy of moodtraining. You should check it out if you haven't already. I'm glad I found this place and these people because I have harbored the same philosophy throughout my life, and when I desired a career as a physician, that was exactly the type of philosophy I wanted to use in my practice.
I'm sure there are other things that go along with it, and everything comes back to the brain for me. It's nice not to be forced to interact with people if I am not up for it. It's nice to be able to work in a familiar and comfortable environment. There is instant gratification because of the time frame involved in producing a single article or review, which will activate the reward system. This is one of the reasons why I think artists, contract workers, and other people who work in fields where they complete small to moderate tasks find their work more rewarding and pleasant than those who endure monotonous and seemingly endless careers.
You see, it's the stuff I can't stop thinking about--the why's and how's of everything I experience and everyone I meet. I am a glutton for knowledge, but it's productive since I love sharing that knowledge.
It's tough to describe how awesome I feel right here, right now, and though that is transient, this writing is at least semi-permanent for me and for a few others. It is a reminder that I have felt like this before, just as the other pieces of writing I have posted here serve as reminders, and that I will undoubtedly feel like this again.
I want to have this written down just in case I forget that I am worth it. I want to have it just in case I ever again think that I am stupid, useless, or incapable of accomplishing anything. So, Dylan, don't you ever forget that you're so much more. Don't forget that you're a great person, not just because of your intelligence, but because you have the ability to be kind, compassionate, helpful, and so much more than you know at this very moment.

Just a little letter to myself.

I think this is what those other folks call progress.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Have-Done, Not To-Do

Before sitting down to make a list of things I have to do, which seems interminable every time, I decided to use an old trick that I learned somewhere along the way, and you know, it really works. I decided to make the following list first, a list of things that I've already accomplished today:

woke up (the hardest part)
wrote a Neuroscience article
took a longer shower than usual
chose two drag numbers
opened my mail
didn't set spaghetti on fire
talked to my parents on the phone
took out some garbage
rinsed out my garbage can and scrubbed it with bleach
separated ALL of my dirty clothes by function
did 2 loads of laundry (so far)
cleaned the stove and degreased all the top parts
cleaned the kitchen floor
did some dishes
made this list

And then I was like...HELL YEAH.
Go Me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Article (unedited)

You can’t help but notice them from across the gym, gazing fondly and smiling at their own massive and well-developed musculature. Perhaps you’ve even been annoyed by their seemingly apparent egotism as you quietly go about your daily routine, hoping no one catches you yourself making furtive glances toward the gym’s wall of mirrors. But current research regarding body image and self-monitoring suggests that these meatheads might be on to something.

One area of the brain highly involved in coordinating information related to one’s body image and perception of physical self is known as the parietal cortex, an area that is well known for its role in utilizing visual and somatosensory information to plan and execute movements. Essentially, this area of the brain can help us to determine where an object is in space and how to go about manipulating it. Current research indicates that the parietal cortex also integrates visual cues and somatic input from the skin, muscles, and joints via a distributed network of neurons in order to compute body image.1 Some common disorders of body image such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder may be associated with dysfunction in this region of the brain.1,2

Given this knowledge, it is not hard to see that Mr. Meathead across the gym may actually be utilizing a self-monitoring technique that may aid in his quest to be the next Mr. Olympia. While this may not be your ultimate goal, don’t be afraid to pause to witness the remarkable physical transformations that can occur within a single workout. You’ll notice your veins and muscles have visibly expanded due to the effects of the strenuous exercise, and if getting big is a high priority for you, allowing your parietal cortex to indulge can help to positively alter your own perception of your physical self. So go ahead and stare!

Other types of self-monitoring have been utilized in helping individuals maintain their fitness goals, particularly those who have suffered from obesity. Consistent self-monitoring techniques, as shown in a study by Butryn et al., were associated with lower BMI scores and a higher ability to practice self-restraint.3 Whether the monitoring technique used is weighing yourself daily, maintaining a written and/or visual diary, or simply taking a moment in the mirror to reflect on how jacked you’re becoming, it is an important component of self-initiated mood optimization (Principle 1). And according to a recent study by Ryckman et al., those who harbor more positive perceptions of their own physical capacity outperform those with less positive views on tasks involving the use of physical skills.4 So ,simply by believing in your own strength and abilities, you put yourself at a tremendous advantage!

Optimizing your mood through visual and other types of feedback will have you feeling stronger, happier, and more satisfied with your choice to stay fit and healthy, and you’ll be more likely to stick with your regimen, regardless if your goal is weight-loss, muscle building, or something else entirely. A more positive perception of oneself permeates all aspects of thinking and being, influencing everything from our success at work to our personal relationships with others. By taking time to visually and verbally appreciate our daily fitness victories (and non-fitness victories), we can begin to harness that positive energy and use it as a force for good in the world around us.

1. Ehrsson HH, Kito T, Sadato N, Passingham RE, Naito E (2005) Neural Substrate of Body Size: Illusory Feeling of Shrinking of the Waist. PLoS Biol 3(12): e412. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030412.
2. Wagner, Angela; Ruf, Matthias; Braus, Dieter F.; Schmidt, Martin H. (2003) Neuronal activity changes and body image distortion in anorexia nervosa. NeuroReport 14(17): 2193-2197.
3. Butryn, Meghan L.; Phelan, Suzanne; Hill, James O.; Wing, Rena R. (2007) Consistent Self-monitoring of Weight: A Key Component of Successful Weight Loss Maintenance. Obesity (15): 3091-3096.
4. Ryckman, Richard M.; Robbins, Michael A.; Thornton, Billy; Cantrell, Peggy (1982). Development and validation of a physical self-efficacy scale. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 42(5): 891-900.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Spirit of Radio

Sitting in Wood Street Station, waiting for the trolley to take me home from a brief yet productive workout, I was not-so-subtly reminded why my favorite song--out of the thousands upon thousands of songs I know and love--is my favorite song.

The thoughts that flowed through my head from each and every direction literally sent a charging rush of positive energy through every nerve in my body. It gave me chills and filled me with tears at the same time. It both excited and calmed me.

This song is an expression of the meaning of my existence, and I'm not talking about career goals or anything of that mundane sort. I'm talking about the type of thing Robin Williams mentions in Dead Poets' Society. It is something that is not necessary to sustain life, but, just like in the movie, it's what I stay alive for.

And it's how I can explain myself to others. It's how I tell my stories. And it comprises a great deal of my story itself.

My favorite line from this song is engraved on the back of my iPod. It is perhaps an answer to my other favorite quotation. And now I'm sure you'd like to know what it is, in case you aren't familiar with the song or my little green mp3 player:

"One likes to believe in the freedom of music..."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This Morning

I have opened my heart, and it feels like summer.

Friday, January 13, 2012


These hopes and dreams are basic needs for those who sing instead of breathe.

Being Out

It is because of senators that are allowed to remain in office when they so clearly believe that death should come to transpeople who defy the arbitrary laws of gender expression constructed by our society that I will never be able to live as stealth. It is because of those who fear and hate a seven-year-old transgender girl scout that I cannot remain silent about the issues that are important to me--the issues that affect the lives of millions of people both like and unlike me. Silence is just not an option.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Silver Key

"Calm, lasting beauty comes only in dream, and this solace the world had thrown away when in its worship of the real it threw away the secrets of childhood and innocence."

I could take it in a million directions, the line for which I made the mad dash to the drawer across the room in search of a suitable highlighter. Sometimes I feel like I am watching the world throw away the things I think it should hold most valuable. At other times, I know that the general concept of "the world" isn't real in itself, but I still get smacked in the face by friends I have lost to the pervading ennui.

The point of the story, or one of the many, rather, is that our division between what is real and what is not real is an arbitrary one, for all images--those within our heads and without--are filtered by the same human vessel. Our perception of the world of dreams and imagination is just as valid as our perception of what we consider to be the real world. But people lose this. They grow up and leave behind the key to their dreams, and they realize what a shitty place reality has come to be. But the problem is that their dream worlds have wasted away from lack of use by the time that they even realize this, so neither world contains anything useful for them. I vow to fight against becoming such an empty shell.

It's not about figuring out which things matter and which things don't. An old teacher of mine used to say that perception is more important than reality, and he mentioned this in reference to the start of various international conflicts, commenting that both sides will believe themselves to be in the right. There is never going to be a sole reality, and maybe that itself is the unifying factor of reality, however we choose to define it in the first place.

So...I decide what my reality is going to be, and I decide what matters and what does not, simply by choosing to believe in this or that, choosing to acknowledge this or that, etc. We are all designed to create our own version of the "meaning of life".