The first time I said “I love you” to someone

It’s been almost 10 years since it happened. For me, it was my first foray into this world of expressing my feelings of any kind. Being raised in a traditionally Asian household (well, that’s until we became pretty westernized…but more on that some other time), it was unusual to typically express emotions of any kind, such as “I miss you”, “I would like to see you later”, even much less “I love you.” Yes, I had had my “first kiss” while in camp when I was 13 years old, but that didn’t count because it was a dare. Callie, which is, of course, not her real name , was my first girlfriend, my first kiss, and my first love.

Why am I writing about this? Because this was the first time I ever really expressed such sincere feelings to someone else. Because you don’t ever really forget your first love, and I figured some people want to know a bit more about me. Because I rediscovered an old backup of my (god-awful) Xanga from that time-frame, and I thought it would make a good story.

“But, Guang Yi, you were 17/18 years old. How did you know you loved her?”

Trust me, I’ve wondered about this a great deal, and the answer is that at some point between high school Guang Yi and current Guang Yi, my definition of “being in love” with someone has changed drastically, yet it retains a few of the principles from back then. That being said, 17/18 year old Guang Yi definitely felt like he loved her.

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A few of the things in life that make me happy

I’ve been having a pretty shitty day, so instead of doing the things I usually do when I have a shitty day, I’m trying something new. Here’s a list of some of the things that make me happy in life.

  1. The sound and aroma of grinding coffee beans
  2. Puppies
  3. Smiling/laughing babies and children
  4. Playing my violin by myself or with other people
  5. Watching some bad (or good?) comedy or rom-com TV show or movie
  6. A friend who surprises me by doing something unexpected for me
  7. Talking about Rochester
  8. Singing loudly and obnoxiously with someone, sometimes in public
  9. A perfectly made latte with even microfoam and espresso shots that haven’t sat longer than 6 seconds
  10. The smile of someone (a patient, an old lady, etc.) that I’ve helped, even just a little bit
  11. Hummus
  12. My mother’s cooking
  13. Cuddling
  14. People’s satisfaction from something I cooked for them
  15. Hugs. Not just any hugs, though – good hugs
  16. Waking up and finding notifications on my Facebook with hilarious links or comments
  17. Learning something new and useless
  18. Clear sunsets
  19. How my skin feels right after I shave
  20. An unexpected but welcome phone call

Photo from Maniera

A reintroduction

As you may have noticed, I have changed the title of my blog from The Wondrous World of Guang Yi’s Mind to Classically Caffeinated Compositions. Why, you may ask? First and foremost, I thought that the first title was boring. When I first created this blog, I needed a title, and that was one of the first titles that came into my brain – it was easy to remember, and it was somewhat descriptive of the theme I wanted going behind the blog. Now, almost a year has passed since I wrote my first introductory post, I wanted a new name that was catchy, more descriptive, reflective of the majority of the content that I write here, and very me.

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Entropy, in the non-physical sense

Disclaimer: Before you guys go fleeing for the hills because I used the word “entropy”, don’t worry, because this isn’t going to be (entirely) a scientific piece. These are just some thoughts I have about the literal versus metaphorical meanings of entropy, and I’ll try to keep it simple.

Here’s your thought for the day: does entropy apply to non-physical objects as well?

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states:

The entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy.

Entropy is a measure of the order and disorder of the universe. Put simply, the natural state of the universe is chaos, and any system, no matter how organized and carefully constructed, will disintegrate over time due to entropy. These systems can be anything: human bodies, buildings, large machines…you get the point.

If you view everything with this perspective, I began thinking if the laws of entropy apply to non-physical things as well. First, let’s think about memories. In the literal sense, a memory is a series of electrical impulses in our brain with accompanying neurotransmitters, among other things; in the metaphorical sense, the sum of these impulses and neurotransmitters create the experiences that shape the people that we are.

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How and why I live my life through music

“Music is love in search of a word.”

“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”

Respectively, these were the words of French novelist and performer, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and Russian pianist and composer, Sergei Rachmaninov. These two quotes summarize my feelings about music and its impact on my daily life.

Have you ever had the chance to lie down on the floor next to a person playing a concert grand piano to feel the vibrations as well as hear the sounds? Do you get this feeling of peace and zen, a sense of om when the oboe plays an “A” and everyone begins tuning in synchrony? Sat down during an orchestral rehearsal in the auditorium, closed your eyes and just let the music wash over and through you? Do you constantly have some sort of music coursing through your head at all times? Do you feel no shame whatsoever singing Journey as you’re walking down the street? These are just a few things I do on a regular basis, and a small example of how I feel while doing some of these activities.

Music is my panacea, my place of zen, my balm. It lives in my DNA, it runs in my veins, it resides in my soul. I believe that music holds the key to many of our problems – even diagnostic medicine is looking to frequencies and tones to pinpoint ailments now! Both the acts of listening and playing help me through life. A few years ago, when I found myself unable to cry over losing someone, going to a performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem unlocked something in me and allowed me to grieve. Even now, when I feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, or upset, turning to my violin, going to orchestra rehearsal, and/or playing with a friend or two causes me to focus completely and turn off all my troubles for a couple of hours, letting me channel everything into my playing. Also, ask anyone I know: I’m a nexus of music – many things that people say remind me of a song (that I’ll instantly start singing or humming in my head or out loud), or I’ll almost always be humming or singing a tune as I’m simply sitting or walking around. Music in every form holds some sort of association or poignant memory in my mind, and when I hear certain songs, it causes me to travel back in time and relive those moments as if they had just happened yesterday.

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What phone numbers do you still remember, and why?

1.) +6562422812 (Disconnected)
My old home number in Singapore…considering I was never home for the 3-4 years we had this number, I’m surprised I still remember it.

2.) +65XXXXXX38, +65XXXXXX08
My parents’ cell phone numbers, still in use. Of course I’ll remember these in case of emergencies. No, I don’t remember my sister’s Hong Kong or Singapore phone number 😦

3.) +1 (516) 889-8633
Phone number for my apartment in Long Beach, NY, when I lived there from 1997-2002. It’s just one of those weird things that still sticks in your memory, I guess.

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The patients we treat, and the lives we can and can’t save

Disclaimer: Any names or places I use in this entry have been changed in accordance with the laws outlined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect my former patients’ anonymity.

I would be lying if I said I remembered every patient that I’ve seen. I’m pretty good in that when a patient sees me afterward and smiles silently at me, I’ll remember what I did for them; otherwise, my mind is a large mush of cuts, bruises, fainting, backboarding, intoxication, and sprained limbs. There are several people that always stick in my mind, and that I find myself thinking of sometimes.

Just like in real life, I remember all my firsts. Most of these were in controlled, practice settings, so the memories are not as strong, but they still keep a special place in my brain. The first person I set an intravenous needle into was my buddy in my platoon in medic school. The first person I took a real patient history on was a recruit who was reporting sick for a fever. Notice how I said “most of these”.

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Your Career Choice versus Your Career Want

I don’t have many memories of my childhood, but there is a particularly poignant one that remains firmly etched in my brain, and I have found myself thinking about it very often in the past few months. I was in Kindergarten, and it was a day where our teachers asked us to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I remember writing “I WANT TO BE A DOCTOR” in all caps, blue marker, on a strip of manila paper about two inches thick.

Not many of us has a career goal stick to us for so long; many get to college and graduate without a good idea of what they want to do, while others go into college thinking that they know what they want to do, but they switch to something completely different while they are there. In the British education system, you need to have an idea of what you want to do already when you’re applying to university because you apply to specific majors within the program, not just the institution as a whole like in America. This forces you to choose what you think you want to do at the young and tender age of 18. I have found that many of my friends from the British education system find themselves in careers that they are very unhappy with.

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My Anti-Valentine’s Day (Singles’ Awareness Day) Rant

Did you know that St. Valentine was eaten by lions? True story.

Generally, Valentine’s Day is the day that usually ends the season of breakups, which usually starts before Christmas. As with all relationships ending, the reasons vary, but I think that a lot of the ones that end around this time tend to be for commitment reasons (such as meeting their SO’s family). That being said, this period also has the highest number of couples proposing or tying the knot, so I guess it evens out…but I’m not going to talk about those couples. THIS IS AN ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY RANT AFTER ALL!

My friend, Michael, and I used to bet on the number of breakups we would see (largely from my Facebook or my group of friends because Michael didn’t believe in the social media thing and I had a huge group of acquaintances and friends to look at), starting from around the middle of December and ending on St. Valentine’s Death Day. The winner got…I don’t even think we bet anything because I think it was more for the fact that we wanted to secure our places as worst love grinches in the world. And kudos, I guess.

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Musicians are Athletes too: The Professional Entertainer Debate

There is a huge rift between expectations and pay between professional musicians and professional athletes. For the sake of comparisons, when I say professional musicians, I’m referring to classical and jazz musicians as even at the peak of success, they do not make nearly as much money as popular musicians even though they put in significantly more work (I’ll go into this argument later). Similarly, regarding my definition of “professional athletes”, I will be referring to football, hockey, basketball, and all those sports that pay their players obscene amounts of money regardless of whether they win or lose.

What sparked these thoughts? I recently picked up my violin again for the first time in months. I didn’t play much because my wrist hasn’t been in the greatest shape, but Doris, if you’re reading this, be proud of me because I’ve only mostly been working on scales, etudes, and Bach. Playing the violin again reminded me of many conversations I had with musician friends throughout the years. Having spent lots of time around musicians of all sorts growing up, we all joke about growing up and living in a paper box – we only say this half-jokingly. Almost every professional musician I know has to work at least two or three jobs; sometimes those jobs have to do with music, but a lot of the time those jobs don’t. Two examples of this that immediately come to mind:

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