Thursday, July 12, 2007

lobotomy anyone?

So I'm currently reading "Another Day in the Front Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside" by Katrina Firlik.

Don't ask me why.

"I know how you are with your things," Leslie said when she asked me why.

What she means is - my tendency to become obsessed with certain subjects based on what I see on TV. When I was obsessed with the television show 'Alias' (RIP Sydney Bristow), I was on the CIA's official website every day. I downloaded huge PDF flies of global terrorism reports and the statistics of different countries. I headed straight to the military history and intelligence subsection at Barnes and Noble. I read "See No Evil" by Robert Baer before George Clooney turned it into a dysfunctional 'Syriana'.

So I like Grey's Anatomy...and now I'm reading a book about a brain surgeon.

I'd like to imagine that if I weren't so squeamish about...well...everythng - I might have gone to medical school. You're surrounded by workaholics. You get to learn a lot. The overall system of medicine is rather straightforward. You don't have to wonder where you're going to work. A doctor's office, a hospital, a lab. Methods might change - for the most part - people will always have one heart, one brain and two ears. Certain things are certain.

And you make a butt load of money.

Firlik starts out Chapter 2 with the following sentence: "Sometimes I wonder why I chose such a strange career."

I'd read the first chapter standing at the "New in Paperback" section at Borders. When I read that sentence - I knew it was a purchase.

I've been wondering why the hell I've chosen journalism - the way the head cheerleader wonders what the hell has kept her with that idiot from 3rd period Social Studies - who thinks sucking whip cream from the can is cool - for so long. At least in medicine - or intelligence for that matter - you're roped into a pretty specific field. For an over-obsessive thinker like me, journalism is like letting your two year old spend an entire 24 hours unsupervised at Toy's-R-Us. Sure there's plenty to entice the imagination and peak interest and it'll be a lot of fun - but the kid is bound to hurt himself.

When I ask myself the question - all I can come up with is: there's really nothing else I want to do. But the world of journalism is annoying and cluttery. It's like walking into the living room of someone who collects an obscene amount of nick knacks. Or salt and pepper shakers. Or Elvis memorabilia. There's the fact that it's an old world - and for the most part - you can't just jump right in. You have to bide your time writing articles about a department store that's a hundred years old in a town nobody has ever heard of because you need proof you can write to get into a bigger publication. And at most bigger publications, the people who write there are already pretty well established - so you have to keep writing articles about shops that sell natural gas - until one of the well established people retires. Or dies. So you can get in. Only there are seven hundred other people waiting for that exact same position.

And there's the fact that more and more the world of journalism is less deserving of respect. Like when it reports that sensitive military documents that should have been classified were easily found online: and then it reports where. Dear terrorists: have at it.

And so I'm more drawn to the world of journalism that focuses not on "late breaking news" but in depth pieces... magazine articles and books.

Like the one people like me pick up on any given day.

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