The Birth of a Nerd


It’s been roughly 1,512½ hours since we last spoke. I’d like to say a lot of things have happened since then and now. I’d like to describe the exotic locales and hair-raising adventures that have kept me from you for so long, the tales of mystery, fun and excitement, the hilarious anecdotes and witticisms that I’ll be writing about for months to come. I’d like to sweep you off your feet with charming stories so that you soon forget the chasm that has developed between us, the unforgivable dereliction of my duty to provide you with a constant stream of beautiful folk day in and day out. I’d like to, but I can’t.

You see, unless you find stories about the hydrophobic interactions of non-soluble molecules particularly riveting, anything I tell you about the past two-and-a-half months probably isn’t going to have you on the edge of your seat. I found out pretty quickly on my eight-hour journey back from Oakland to San Diego with my Dad that the colligative properties of solutions do not make especially interesting road trip conversation topics. The same goes for quantum mechanics, DNA replication models and the intricacies of molecular photophosphorylation.

The problem is, suddenly these things have become incredibly interesting to me.

I spent so much of my life negotiating around the stickier, more troublesome elements of maths and science (kind of like how a triacylglycerol molecule would avoid the hydroxyl groups of water molecules, am I right?). I felt safe amongst grammar and vocabulary, secure within the pages of a novel and coddled by the familiarity of a language I needed to use every day. Maths stumped me. It wasn’t that I was bad at it (though I was also pretty bad at it). It just seemed so mean. There is nothing forgiving about mathematics. English would invite me over to its house with a nice broad question, ask me to elaborate, give me some wiggle room in response and a chance to express my own opinions, before sending me home in the afternoon with a good grade and some friendly constructive criticism. Maths and science would steal my lunch money and give me a wedgie. And a B-.

I began to change my opinion about science when I was introduced to biology. It wasn’t long before I was in love, describing the alimentary canal and mitotic cell cycle not only with the beauty of a writer, but the precision of a scientist. (Biology, you see, allows room for both.) After maths and chemistry were done holding my head in a toilet, biology would be waiting outside the bathroom with a towel and a hug. And so, I accidentally fell in love with science. It wasn’t enough to stop me from reverting back to the familiarity of the humanities when it came time for university, however, but through those long three years biology waited for me patiently, snubbed, but knowing that one day I would return.

And so when it came time to get my prerequisite subjects for medical school, I was a little nervous. Would biology still remember me? Would we still have fun together? Could we restore the As of the good old days? Even more importantly, how would chemistry and maths treat me now that I was all grown up?

It turns out I had nothing to fear. Biology and I are back in love. It’s as though we never left one another’s side. As for chemistry and maths, well let’s just say things have changed a little. We’re all a bit older now and those silly days of our adolescence have been mostly forgotten.

Of course, my writing has taken the biggest hit of all, now that, you know, I’m a scientist and everything. It’s been hard to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard midst all the formulas and equations I’ve had to learn, but now that I’m back home for Christmas I’ll be able to catch you up on the little bits and pieces that have occurred in between lectures. I suppose a couple cool things may have happened to me since last October, and I’m sure I can squeeze out a good story here and there. Whether or not you’ll need to start memorizing portions of the periodic table in order to read my blog, well, I can’t make any promises.


While I stay busy searching for the perfect folk song based on the quadratic formula, I’ll have to make do with donations from elsewhere. Wonderful, beautiful Lacey emailed me out of the blue last month with a fantastic suggestion that has been keeping me very happy. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan are The Milk Carton Kids, a couple of wise LA fellas with a penchant for making beautiful folky noise. Midst the cornucopia of nu-folk offerings and Mumford-imitators, I really respect a couple of guys who can cling on to their Americana roots, and still make something that sounds so original. While their lyrics can sometimes seem a little contrived, and sometimes even cringey, for the most part they echo something deep and meaningful, and have me hooked throughout.

everybody loves something new/ ’cause you can open it and plug it in/ and it feels like a good night’s sleep/ like the girl you like paid you a compliment/

Holly has three basic principles when it comes to finding music that she likes: anything with jangly guitars, vocal harmonies and a catchy melody will eventually wiggle its way into her heart and onto her iPod. I’m pretty sure The Milk Carton Kids, who tick all of Holly’s boxes will be there soon too.

Check out Queen Jane below, but also know that they have TWO FREE ALBUMS available on their website, should you, you know, want free music or something.

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Dec 2011

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Grey Favorite says:

    I love the Milk Carton Kids! I saw them live twice this month when they opened for Over the Rhine.

  2. Ami says:

    Well there you are! Thanks for sharing.
    Surely there is some good holiday folk out there for you to share.
    Hope you get to enjoy your break.


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