Plato believed that we lived in a world of
images, three-dimensional shadows of the true one. What we see with our eyes is nothing more than a cheap imitation of its true state.
example, the chair we see before our eyes is nothing more than a shabby image of the true chair that exists. We carry on everyday with
flawed perceptions of the true ideal form.
Life After College:
Year 3 - In Transit
[Sunday, November 30, 2003]
Dimples. And I don't mean the ones in your face.
My brother told that I was fat this weekend. I became paranoid and thus tried on every outfit i'd brought home for the holiday, and he proceeded to tell me that each one made me look even fatter. Sometimes, I didn't even have to wait for his response, I could tell by the grimace on his face.
"Can you suck in?"
"Um, can you suck in more?"
I couldn't believe it.
I spent the entire night with my arms crossed around my waist. Maybe if I put my scarf on... the ends of it will cover my stomach.
What is this new obsession with weight that has consumed women as they get older? Weight has always been a main concern of young girls everywhere, but most of my friends have been able to eat whatever they wanted. They either a) thought they were beautiful just as they are or b) simply didn't care.
I fell into the latter category. I simply didn't care.
Recently though, I've found myself increasingly more and more unhealthily obsessed with weight. Could this merely be a reaction to the slowing down of metabolic processes that naturally happens to women as they start entering their early to mid 20's? Or is it because I'm starting to realize that it's not just Pigs who dump girls because they get too fat, it's normal nice guys that could be anywhere?
The realization started to strike a few years ago, when my high school friend Pootie mentioned that he's thinking of breaking up with his girlfriend. The sentence following that was "She has this tummy." At first, I thought perhaps this was a single exception. A superficial chance happening. Pootie had never been that superficial before. Perhaps it's just like lightning striking. Everyone slips once in a while. But then Fisher mentioned that he was thinking about breaking up with -his- girlfriend because she was getting fat. That was when the castle began to crumble. Fisher is one of the nicest guys I know. We get along wonderfully well and he makes me laugh like no one else can. If Fisher himself has fallen prey to this, then the rumor really is true - there is no way to tell which guys are superficial and which ones aren't. It's a crapshoot!
This could only mean that all guys, even the nice ones, care about things like weight underneath it all. And when you're one of those girls who's started gaining, it quickly becomes a concern. Not necessarily because you think you have a weight problem, but because you'd like to nip it in the bud before it -becomes- a problem.
And thus the obsession begins.
I started to get dressed tonight for my friend's birthday party. I tried on a few different pairs of jeans, convinced that each one made me look fat. Thinking that my mirror might simply be a fat mirror, I headed to my roommate's mirror, only to realize that it told the same story. I had to grudgingly concede that maybe it was just me. Not that it was any large surprise. Second only to my ability to depress myself is my ability to live in denial. I'd seen photos this Thanksgiving from our Grand Canyon trip in April and nothing slaps you in the face with your weight the way a photo does.
To top it all off, my brother called me THUNDERTHIGHS. Not only does that automatically generate a vision of dimply thighs, but it also comes complete with a mental soundtrack.
PootieSNEL (10:25:45 PM): mmm...chicken thighs...
Pootie's response to my outrage at being called Thunderthighs didn't make me feel much better. Not only am I thunderthighs, complete with soundtrack, but now they also generate visions of food. Hardly sexy.
That's it. I'm going to start running tomorrow. Three times a week. After I finish the German chocolate cake Fisher brought.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, November 27, 2003]
The Trappings of a Man.
They say that you are what you wear. The same man will attract tons more women dressed in riches than he ever will dressed in rags. I wasn't ever sure what stock I put in statements such as those. As far as I was concerned, the trappings of a man were more an indication of the sort of man he was, almost like a thermometer for where he would rank in your personal Man Scale. I was never a huge fan of men who were too polished. To me, that indicated stuffiness. I can't date a man who spends more time getting ready than I do. But in general, I never paid attention much to what guys were wearing.
That is, until this past Thanksgiving. Fisher came to spend Thanksgiving with my family since he was in New York alone and his family was in Texas. I've known Fisher for almost a year now. We spent almost 24 hours a day together this past summer, doing things like checking out used bookstores in the Village, finding new brunch places to eat at, discussing music, and sprawling out in Central Park to write. And through it all, he was just... Fisher. Funny, goofy, slightly awkward Fisher. Which was perfectly fine with me. I knew I was slightly awkward and goofy as well, and I liked to think I was funny. In the back of my head though, I always wondered how he managed to land those hotshot investment banking jobs. I never thought he was the type who would fit into that sort of environment. He was too down-to-earth.
Today though, when he stepped off the bus, it all became clear. Crystal clear. He stepped off wearing this fabulous camel coat that looked great on him. And he was dressed so.... well. Not too polished, but not too grungy either. Just perfect. And, he'd brought a huge chocolate cake from Cafe Lalo with him. I knew my mother was going to love him. Whenever I bring any male home, whether it's a friend or a coworker, my mother always assumes that I'm secretly dating him. I didn't expect it to be any different this year, but as soon as I saw Fisher step off the bus, I knew it was going to be a more difficult situation this time than any previous time.
The rest of the evening only confirmed my suspicions. He knocked the pants off my parents. As we sat down to dinner, he ate his lobster in a very non-prissy way considering that he was wearing a very nice shirt with his cuffs rolled up in that wonderful way that guys do it, but still managed to look like a man and not like a Neanderthal tearing away at his food. He talked to my dad about investments and poker, and talked to my mom about cooking and her kids. He even drew my brother out of his shell, and -no one- ever draws my brother out of his shell. I watched him butter up my mom and dad like they were dinner rolls. And when my dad said that I was too indecisive with my life, Fisher stuck up for me and said that it's only because I'm good at everything I do and have the background to do anything I want. Having a lot of options always complicates the decision process. I could feel a warm glow inside me that was more than just the wine. Hell, I was being buttered up and I knew it, but I didn't really care. This boy can TURN ON THE CHARM. I looked around at my family. My dad was laughing and joking with Fisher, my mom was beaming at him, and my brother wasn't glowering at him. I almost reached over and squeezed his knee under the table as if we actually were dating. So this is how he landed all his jobs and his gorgeously cool ex-girlfriend. This is the other side of Fisher I had never seen before. I think I had underestimated how attractive it is when a guy gets along with your loved ones. And most of all, he did it so naturally and in such a swinging easy-going manner. Most guys are studiously on their best behavior when they meet parents of any sort. Stiff and polite. Fisher was perfectly natural, as if he was always this slick. Only I knew how dorky he could really be.
A few moments later, we were in the car, and he was just... funny goofy Fisher again. It was like a veil had been lifted. I looked at him thoughtfully with his slapdash grin. So this is his secret. He can turn that charm on and off like no one else I know. And for one night, I had seen Fisher-in-action. I was used to scrubby Fisher. Tshirt-and-jeans Fisher. Central park Fisher. Fisher who complains about his gut. Fisher who trails along behind me while I shop (poor guy). Fisher who is an ibanker by day and novelist extraordinaire by night. And this 180 left me with my jaw hanging open. How much of a guy's charm are his trappings? The way he dresses, the way he talks. Fisher happened to dress in the exact style that gets my groove (and my mother's). For one day, he wasn't Just Fisher. He was FISHER.
And the next day, my brother dragged me to the mall so that I could find him a button down striped shirt just like the one Fisher was wearing. And Fisher shoes. As I stood outside the dressing room waiting for him to try clothes on, I glanced down the row and realized that all the people waiting outside the dressing rooms were women. And as each dressing room door opened, the males inside stepped out uncertainly and looked questioningly at their respective female counterparts. My brother stepped out and looked at me hopefully. I shook my head. He accepted my opinion as if it was the word of God and tried on the next item. The blonde girl beside me smiled and commented, "Why is it that guys can never seem to dress themselves?" as she walked by to find her boyfriend a better belt. What came to my mind though wasn't guy's lack of fashion sense. What came to mind was the thought that guys do realize on some subconscious level that the trappings do make the man. Or at least, they get you in the door. Why else do most men bring women with them when they shop? Why else is it that most guys will readily admit that most everything in their closet is purchased by their mother, sister, or girlfriend? And in absence of being able to work on things like being smooth with parents and knowing how to turn the charm on, they work with what can be worked with - and that is style. If they can get their foot and shoulder in the door, perhaps they can bumble their way through the rest of it. And let's face it - girls are willing to put up with an awful lot of bumbling. Guys are simply endearing when they mess things up a little, especially when they're well-dressed bumblers. They're endearing just because they're guys and they're trying. Trying itself is adorable. As my friend so gloriously stated yesterday, "Ink. There are so many boys out there! And they're all so cute."
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, November 25, 2003]
When I Grow Up.
I want an apartment with a fireplace and a cozy living room with hardwood floors and a warm rug.
I want to sit in the evening on a comfortable leather couch with the fireplace burning to my right, snow falling quietly outside the french bay windows to my left.
I want to curl up on the couch with a wool blanket wrapped around me, a cup of hot chocolate in my hand (with a dash of peppermint schnapps), and nick at nite playing on the television.
The city will be silent outside my window, put to sleep under a blanket of snow.
I'll be wearing flannel pajamas with warm fuzzy socks on my feet and my hair will smell like shampoo.
My eyes will reflect Dick Van Dyke and shadows will play in the corners, courtesy of the flickering fire.
Popcorn and chips will sit in a bowl on the coffee table, and my medical textbooks will lie forgotten under the couch.
Posted by ink |
I've recently found out that I'm that girl that everyone talks about talking to, but nobody actually does. I found this out through a girl who actually took it upon herself to talk to me.
I've discovered that not only do people socialize differently by geographical region (social behavior that is acceptable in New York is frowned upon in Boston) but they also socialize differently based on classification. People in science definitely move in different circles than people in business do. They speak in the language of amino acids. It's weird, I can't relate to them right off the bat. I'm still trying to master the learning curve but I think I'm improving. It's like studying primates. They ignore you at first but then slowly start to accept you as you begin to imitate their behavior.
My old coworker Lion claims that I probably go to class with a bunch of social deviants. Deviant however, implies a departure from the norm, which is set by the majority. By that definition, I'm the social deviant. As Accenture would tell me, I have to discard any preconceived notions, ramp-up quickly, and adapt to the corporate culture of the client - the client now being pre-med students.
I find it disturbing that I still think in terms of the client and consulting concepts. But old habits die hard. Especially when certain behaviors have been beaten into you. Leaving consulting is like leaving jail. After you're sprung, you're still a little paranoid about picking your soap up in the shower even though you logically know that you're now in the bathroom ALONE. Wearing a boat-neck sweater at this time last year created a stir because a manager caught a glimpse of the edge of my bra strap, causing me to take it up the ass with a "point for improvement" on my performance review concerning dress code. To this day, I cannot wear that sweater, even to class, without being hyperaware of my bra straps. It's like joining the corporate culture meant that I got tattoo'ed with it - like joining a gang. You can't get out easily. I'm hoping my stint in consulting doesn't mean I'll have to carry the scars for the rest of my life. I don't want to still be thinking in terms of "value-added", "taking it offline", and "How does your bandwidth look like for today?"
Posted by ink |
[Monday, November 24, 2003]
Idle hands are the work of the devil.
It's dangerous when I'm bored. I start to go down self-destructive paths. Like this past weekend when I ran into some kids from school at a bar and blatantly led some poor boy on. He was fun to dance with. And I felt him up. Or actually, down - since feeling a guy up in public ironically consists of running your fingers down his chest. Of course, this is generally nothing new. If I'm considering hooking up with a guy, I'll usually feel him up on the dance floor for a few reasons. A) If you're gonna do it, you might as well do it in a place that will have as little consequences as possible. Feeling a guy up in the privacy of an apartment is bound to lead somewhere. Feeling a guy up on the dance floor goes nowhere. B) It's like shaking the present before you unwrap the wrapping paper. This way there are no nasty surprises. Except, I had no plans to hook up with this guy. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing, besides the fact that I could.
I got home and then proceeded to drunk-dial OOF G. in SF and yell at him, girlfriend-style. "All I wanted was a little bit of male attention from you over the phone and you can't even give me 5 minutes." I bet he loved -that-. The next morning, I spoke to him again over AIM, this time sober (which means I didn't even have alcohol to use as an excuse) to ask him if he liked my superstar performance the previous night. Luckily, he didn't remember the conversation from the night before. But he did say that if I ever visit SF, I could go riding on his bike with him. I told him quite wickedly that I wished I could return the favor, but all I can do is offer him a ride in my shopping cart. But that I'd consider giving him a different sort of ride if he decides to visit Boston. "Is that a promise?" he said. "Sure!"
Wouldn't it serve me right if he actually showed up in Boston? I don't even remember what the poor boy looks like anymore. All I remember is that he was very cocky and acted like he could get any girl he wanted. Which of course made me want him. Or, more precisely, made me want him to want me.
This is all going to come back to bite me in the butt as I try to stave off my rash decisions. I show appalling lack of judgement in general when it comes to men. But tack boredom onto it, and it gets worse as I no longer even pause to consider potential consequences. Not only do I made poor choices when bored, but I also get the irrepressible urge to start smoking up again. I haven't smoked in -years- and will probably have to relearn how to inhale. Luckily, Spurm is from Humboldt County, the U.S. stronghold for pot-connoisseurs and home-grown weed. Perhaps she can give me some hints and tips before I go home for the holidays.
Posted by ink |
[Sunday, November 23, 2003]
That from whence you came.
Despite the wishes of most females living - regardless of race, color, or country of origin - most of us are probably influenced to a great extent by our mothers, more than we'd like to be. What is it about mothers and daughters? What phenomenon is this that makes every daughter dislike her mother but then inevitably turn into her? They say that women get along with their mothers more as they get older. Is this really a sign of maturity and final understanding? Or is it merely a grudging recognition of the fact that you're slowly becoming her, and it's hard to hate yourself? Both Spurm and I cook the "native" food of our own respective families despite the fact that we're both transplants. Me, in the cultural sense, her in the geographical sense.
I came to the odd realization a few days ago that despite all my American upbringing and my dislike for eating Chinese food when I go out, my entire repertoire of home-cooked dishes is Chinese. How much more stereotypical can you possibly be? To be the Chinese person bringing a Chinese dish to a potluck? Could it be that I'm inadvertently becoming more and more Asian the older I get? The more I pondered my reversion from Asian American to Asian American, the more I realized it had nothing to do with a return to cultural roots and everything to do with a maternal heritage that spans across cultures and time. I cook Chinese food because my mom does. Spurm cooks rice and beans, remnants of her origins in Booniesville CA, because her mom does. This is not a return to roots in the cultural sense but a return to roots in a familial sense. Spurm and I, for all our forward thinking (me as the female doctor wannabe and her as the lesbian marketing director wannabe) were unwitting participants in a rite of passage that is as old as the Earth itself - the passing down of tradition from generation to generation. From mother to daughter. The textbooks speak of oral tradition as the passing down of culture. However, they fail to recognize the strongest proponent of societal and familiar culture and tradition - food.
This method of transmission lies not in any flimsy means of conveyance like oral tradition that is dependent on conscious deliberate passing on and memorization of information. It lies in merely living life with your mother . It lies in playing at her feet as a 3-year old as she cooks in the kitchen. It lies in hanging on to her apron strings when you're a little older, as she cooks. It lies in scarfing down those underappreciated meals - newly appreciated upon a return from college. It lies in a phone call to mom when you realize that you can no longer to eat out on your student budget. I like to tell my mom that my weekly calls for recipes have nothing to do with my becoming domesticated and more to do with financial constraints - but really, it likes in being a child of a mother. No amount of cultural gap or geographical gap can erase those memories made in early childhood. The comfort and smell of your mother and the kitchen, before you've learned to shun the kitchen as a sign of the enslavement of women to men and their families, before you've learned to try NOT to be your mother because society and school tell you that it's better to be empowered. In times of need and poverty, those memories come back to rescue you, should you need rescuing.
I used to lament my new financial situation and think longingly of the days when I never had to cook and just ate out all the time - but now I'm seeing that instead of dumping me into a financial pit, perhaps school has saved me. My mother and I used to yell at each other from across a canyon. Spurm's mother and her used to do the same. Families are similar across all cultures. Both our mothers told us constantly we were fat. Always, food was an issue. "Sweetie, don't eat so much. How much do you weigh now? You're dating someone? How'd you manage that? Men don't like fat girls you know. Maybe you should learn how to cook." Food and men were always the sticking point between me and my mother. Men remains as a sticking point, and for Spurm - she's removed that only to replace it with women. Food however, has ironically brought my mother and I together even as it drove us apart before. I speak to my mother weekly to get a new dish, and our relationship has improved dramatically. I see now, that perhaps her desire to domesticate me had less to do with finding me a husband than simply having an unconscious desire to pass on parts of herself. It is, after all, the natural way of things throughout the animal kingdom. Perhaps humans, with all their intelligence have managed to muddy the waters of nature instead of leaving them clear. Perhaps my relationship with my mother has improved because things such as my job and my stubbornness are no longer blocking the natural way of things. Mothers need to be needed. I understand that now. Perhaps it took poverty for me to mature a little and finally see it. My hotshot job in New York, the glamorous new clothes and new sense of fashion had clashed headlong with my mother. I had essentially cast off my parents like a cocoon and emerged adult. Perhaps as much as I needed to be weaned off my parents when I was in college, they need to be weaned off of me. And perhaps my semi-weekly calls for recipes are just enough for her. She feels like she can still contribute to my life, and in return - I'm gaining the knowledge that every woman needs. Oddly, I feel no sense of guilt towards the feminist cause, nor am I a grudging participant of this mother-daughter tradition. Why bother to reinvent the wheel when generations of women before you have used recipes that work? Innovation always occurs off of a base idea that has been previously established. And feeding oneself and the family has, if anything, always been the greatest power of a woman, besides obviously - sex. She is the creator of sustenance needed for the well-functioning of the body. Women have always been able to bond with each other across cultural and racial lines, because all cultures and races share one thing in common - the family. Women's roles in the family and their relationships with their daughters especially is something that has remained remarkably unchanged across geographical borders and time spans.
My mother has dedicated the greater part of her life to raising me and perhaps I haven't given her enough credit for that. I am who I am, largely because of her. I used to be afraid of having my own children when I thought of all the ways my parents had inadvertently scarred me. But I see now that they tried their best. Wouldn't it be grand if children came with instruction manuals? I'm sure they were as terrified then as I am now. And I'm sure they didn't set out with an agenda of "Let's try to mess our kid up as much as possible." I used to be annoyed by my parents constant phone calls but this break from the corporate rat race has allowed me to step back and really take a long hard look at myself and my relationship to my parents. To my mother, I'm probably like a bad habit of 23-years, and everyone knows that old habits are heard to break. No one can quit cold turkey. And if my calling for recipes makes her feel needed and comforts her beliefs that I'm in the process of becoming domesticated, perhaps I shouldn't tell her that I'm merely calling her because I am slowly starving to death. I am her methadone. With 4 dishes and counting.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, November 19, 2003]
It's a hardknock life for us.
Every week, I walk to the grocery store, shivering as the wind whips around me, wheeling along my little grocery cart. I huddle down in my coat through the 20-minute long walk as I maneuver my way around the line outside the methadone clinic between my house and the grocery store. I fight with the cart as it bumps mistakenly into homeless men, only to arrive at the grocery store and constantly worry about whether I'm spending too much on food. According to my financial aid officer - I am. What I miss most about my former life isn't all the high-spending on alcohol, clothes, and shoes. What hits me the hardest are the little things. Being able to buy gourmet potato chips without a thought. Not having to worry about the price of cereal. Never having to buy "Stop and Shop" brand food. Calling my friends in New York makes me all the more aware of exactly what I've given up by coming to this program. They're buying living room sets and puppies while I'm at the grocery store wondering whether I can afford to buy pitas and hummous.
I trundled my groceries home steeped in self-pity. I can't believe I gave it all up. Then I marveled at how dark it was already, and it was 5 pm. At this point last year, I probably wouldn't even see the light of day. I went to work before it was light out, and I left after it was dark. The realization set in slowly that at this point last year, I was thinking "This is no way to live." At this point this year, I'm thinking "I'm poor", but there was not a doubt in my mind that this was living. This winter, roommate "Spurm" and I may have to warm our hands by the space heaters in our living room and warm our innards with alcohol, but I'll experience every moment of my life.
Perhaps I made the right choice.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, November 14, 2003]
It looks like there may be water in the desert after all. A drop of moisture for this parched tongue. Parched on so many levels. The desert of singlehood - 4 years long and counting. I'm quickly approaching the 7-year long drought of biblical proportions - or past the halfway mark at least. More importantly though, this may mark moisture in the drought that was my life in Boston. Dreary, blah, filled with nothing to occupy my mind with besides chemical pathways - and those aren't much better than the Power Point rubbish I used to fill my mind with. Perhaps more meaningful, but equally as boring.
As is typical of my shallow existence, this salvation comes in the form of a boy (will I never tire of the thrilling fact that boys now notice me for reasons that don't involve wanting to copy my homework?). This boy, sadly, is probably the salvation of 90% of the single girls in my program. Since most of my program is already attached to their other half, that would be all of 20 or 30 girls. But that's no number to scoff at. 20-30 girls drooling over a single lone boy is quite a spectacle. The desert I speak of is not merely the desert of my love life and the desert of my life at large, but also the desert of my graduate program. There is a pitifully low number of attractive men here, much less available attractive men. I suppose that's to be expected of a pre-medical program. "Berfect" may not be the sort of man you paint a picture of while giggling with your best friend at age 14 (he's a tad on the short side), but he's the damn best thing we've got. In the land of blind men, the one-eyed man is king. And the girls fight over him like he's the last cashmere sweater on sale at Barney's. They flock to him like flies to rotting meat, and I have to resist the urge to swat them all away, even as I simmer in a pool of self-despise. I hate being attracted to men like that. It's hard for a guy to worship you when he's being worshipped by millions of other women. But even those lost at sea will eventually be driven to sip urine - just for the sake of a little fluid, a little moisture to wet the lips with.
And so I lick my lips everytime I see him. I hunger for him, not because of his inherent wonderfulness (although he is pretty damn cute), but just because he's something to fill myself with. Something for my brain to latch onto that isn't biosynthetic mechanisms or physiological pathways. The desperate will cling onto their own killer just so they don't have to be left alone with the voices in their head - the madness. My voices speak in the language of amino acids and DNA base pairs - they talk incessantly of action potentials and neurotransmitters, myosin kinase light chains and ATP, ATP, ATP, ATP. This is my brand of madness. And I love Berfect for what he represents - an escape. Like the doorway of light in The Matrix, he offers me a peep at a world utterly different than the one I've been living in for the past few months. An alternate reality. One in which even biochemistry lecture takes on the rosy light of anticipation. Will I see him in class today? Did it mean anything last time when I asked how we first started talking, and he said "Well, I first saw you at orientation, and then in class when you went to ask the prof a question, and then outside of class, and then...."? Is he seriously dating that girl? What should I wear to class? Sadly, my life has deteriorated such that those simple questions are enough to inject a modicum of "different" into my life. Sometimes I wonder - would it be any different if the position of Berfect was filled by someone else? I'm not sure. And I'm not sure I care. I don't know Berfect well enough quite yet to differentiate between a fantasy crush and a real one - but I'm not sure it matters. I'm like a toyless child who's just been given a headless Barbie. I'm blissfully happy with it and can spend hours thinking up scenarios for Headless Barbie to get into. But in absence of Berfect himself, I'm really quite satisfied with Berfect Barbie.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, November 12, 2003]
Ink (6:14:54 PM): did i tell you that i came -this- close to throwing a fit when i was sitting in your living room that morning? lucky for you, i was very nice and just introduced myself to the girl coming out of your room.
PooTieSNEL (6:14:59 PM): no... do tell
Ink (6:15:31 PM): i actually thought about throwing a hissy fit and saying "JOHN! How could you cheat on me like this! With this floozy!!! How dare you! And to think, I came today to talk to you about my test results." And then burst into tears.
PooTieSNEL (6:16:26 PM): heh
Ink (6:16:22 PM): and then call her a bitch and throw her clothes outside the door.
PooTieSNEL (6:15:53 PM): that woulda been funny...for u and me...not her.
Ink (6:16:32 PM): i've always wanted to do that. but, i never want my boyfriend to cheat on me. And to think, I didn't seize the moment out of consideration for you in case you actually liked her.
PooTieSNEL (6:16:55 PM): I didn't like her.
Ink (6:17:10 PM): Aw, talk about missed opportunities.
PooTieSNEL (6:17:24 PM): or u could have said, "john, i'm more attractive than her"
PooTieSNEL (6:17:36 PM): "i'll prove it to u", and then both of u strip in front of me
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, November 11, 2003]
Oh them high school days. (yuck)
Being back in grad school with a class this size isn't all that much different from high school. The same cliques exist, those same walls are up. The only difference is that whereas you can still pick out the "popular/cheerleader" type, they're no longer envied or viewed as the coolest ever. Although I have to admit, as a past have-not, I still harbor resentment towards those types. One such girl, Snicker, fits Oprah's expose on the alpha female to a T (my mother cried over that episode). She has a beta female Chubs, and has recently even acquired a gamma female Freckles. What puzzles me about Freckles is that she had a set of friends who seemed relatively nice and cool. Why would she stop sitting with them in class and move to sit always with Snicker and Chubs? I have to say, I still feel threatened by girls like Snicker and avoid any sort of interaction with her. Old habits die hard. Beat a dog once and he will always be suspicious and cringe at a raised hand.
Everyday in Biochemistry, I have a variety of things to occupy my mind with. I used to daydream about my OOF, pick out names for our children and dog, the city we'd live in. Then I stopped dreaming about fantasy men and fantasized instead of having a dog. And now, I merely watch in fascination at the sociological experiment that happens around me. I watch how the same girls sit together all the time, how certain guys act certain ways around certain girls, and how others are relegated to wallflower status. Not much has changed since high school. I still hold wallflower status, except I no longer am resentful about it. I've learned through Corporate America that being below the radar has more benefits than fallbacks.
And of course, if we're talking high school, how could we possibly not talk about The Perfect Man? The one all the girls love and talk about and cluster around at a party. Last night was the first unofficial program party. A keg party actually - which really brought back the memories. The last time I drank from a keg was in college. It was odd to have that strange juxtaposition of the college environment with the perspective that I've gained since I've graduated. I've improved. I no longer hang out in the corner with my friends and just look at the boys. I no longer make faces at the thought of drinking from a keg. I no longer titter and draw the circle closer when a boy approaches. I suppose you could say that my stint in Corporate America has taught me how silly and stupid certain things are. I'm less tightly wound, or so I like to think.
Last night was actually fun. I met a few new potential girl friends, and of course, committed the usual party fouls. I just no longer agonize over them the way I used to. I even spoke to Dimples. Told him I loved his one dimple, that it was very cute and particularly charming in my opinion. I heard the stadium inside my head cheering at my newfound suaveness with the opposite sex. Perhaps wisdom does come with age. Then with my next breath, I told him about Jose, the Magic Pimple who hasn't shown himself since the first Biochemistry exam. Now if that doesn't eliminate a girl as a dating prospect, I don't know what does. Some things really don't change all -that- much. And all night, I avoided The Perfect Man even though I always knew exactly where he was. Towards the end of the night, when the string of ladies lining up to talk to him had died down, I chatted with him a bit, cracked a few jokes (none quite as bad as the Magic Pimple story, thank God), and told him I would play bass guitar for him if he ever started a band. How wonderfully platonic Ink. Guys don't date girls they jam with. Not that it was ever a real concern anyways as he recently started dating a girl in our class. I know this only because Crazy, the girl I met last night, was practically crying over it. The word spread like wildfire and everyone knew within the hour. The poor girl that he was dating was ripped apart by the womenfolk of the program and dissected. "She's too mousy for him." "They don't match well at all." "She's cute but not that cute." "I suppose she's nice." All those barbed things that girls say about each other. And last night, when Phoebe crashed at my place because it was too late to catch the bus back to her apartment (buses in Boston stop running at 1 am. I do not live in a city, I live in an overrated suburb), she asked me whether I believed the rumor that The Perfect Man was dating someone. I told her I'd seen them studying together. She sighed disconsolately and asked why, oh why must he be dating someone. I shrugged as if I didn't care and said that I'd never date someone like him who attracted women like a light does moths. But inside my head, I sighed too. Despite all my pretensions of being above the fray, even I had fallen prey to The Perfect Man, as much as I hated to admit it.
Posted by ink |
[Sunday, November 09, 2003]
In Living Colour.
I woke up this morning in the best of moods. I felt... happy. The sun was shining into my window, my radio alarm was playing by my head, and I was snuggled under my down comforter, which was laid over the blanket that my mom made me. For the first time in the past 5 weeks of exams, I felt alive. Like I was really someone, someone unique and different from every other person out there. Like I had a voice. Like I had thoughts that were my own and no one else's. I felt deliciously myself.
In a burst of organized productivity, I set out to do what I hadn't done in ages. I went shoe-shopping. I drank coffee. I browsed Coach and Louis Vuitton and looked wistfully at things I could no longer afford. I did my laundry, danced in my bedroom to the radio, talked to friends, and laughed. I laughed. And in the midst of doing all the things I hadn't done, I felt the urge to also study. Oddly, when given enough time and the option to not-study, I felt like I wanted to study. I brought my Genetics with me to a cafe to look over while I sipped my soy latte (a remnant expensive habit from my corporate days), and I studied Physiology while doing my laundry. When forced to study by the pressure of an impending exam - I don't want to study at all. I feel like I have rebellious teenager mentality when it comes to these sorts of things.
I also stopped by Barnes and Noble and bought books, which brought a new anticipation and excitement to my life that I hadn't had in ages. I could spend hours in B&N, given the opportunity. As it was, I spent 3 hours on Saturday night looking at books. I narrowed it down to 4 books that I wanted, but then decided that on my student budget, I couldn't afford to spend 50 dollars on books. I spent the next hour trying to decide which one I -really- wanted, and then bought it - Raymond Feist's "Shadow of Dark Queen" was the big winner. I was so excited to have a new book that I started reading it on the bus ride home. About 10 minutes into it, I started to get a strange feeling in the back of my head. I've read this book before. The plot sounded familiar to me. I flipped quickly through it and realized that I'd seen the character names before. Erik Von Darkmoor. Roo. Rosalyn. I couldn't believe it. I was absolutely and utterly crestfallen. I got off and got right back on the bus to go back to B&N and buy another one. I brought it home today, glowing in my arms like a new puppy. I can't wait to start it. Forever - by Pete Hamill. I hope it's good. I hate it when you finish a book and realize that you'll probably give it away because you can't stand to have it take up valuable space on your shelves.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, November 08, 2003]
I went hiking today with a bunch of strangers in New Hampshire. I had a moment of squeamishness when I had to send my description to a strange man who told me only that he would pick me up at the train station in a blue VW Jetta. I registered with the Appalachain Mountain Club Young Members for a hike in New Hampshire. I was relatively certain that it was perfectly safe, but all my mother's warnings came to echo in my head even as I pushed them away. It turned out to be quite the interesting event. A twisted ankle and a scraped hand later, I had somehow managed to learn not only about the importance of good ankle support in a hiking boot, but also about the singles scene in Boston.
Blue, one of the female participants on the trip, had been part of quite possibly all the singles event available in the city of Boston. Which are quite a few in number judging by the non-stop chatter that came from her for the entire 4 hour hike. She was part of Single Young Professionals as well as Single Volunteers, participates in Singles Swing and Singles Salsa, and has done 7-minute dating, 5-minute dating, and 3-minute dating. In fact, her next event was a speed dating tournament coming up. She'd also done match.com, nerve.com, and craig's list personals. Within the span of one afternoon, I got a whirlwind tour of all the possibilities available. It was actually rather entertaining. I also got a bird's eye view of what awaited me if I turned 33 and was still single. I would be her. I wondered how transparent I would be when I hit that point. Would I be also so obviously very single? Would I drop little factoids about myself all the time in passing the way she does? I looked at her and wondered how close or far I was from becoming her. It seems so odd that just a small turn of fate, a small twist of nature, a minor decision point in your life, could turn you one way or another. There was nothing discernibly wrong with her that would cause me to think that obviously - no man would ever like her. Fate had happened to deal her a bad hand. And I realized that it could happen to anyone. It has nothing to do with how uncute I'm feeling on any particular day or how good or bad I am at talking to boys. I also realized I was growing up in an era when dating itself was being revolutionized. The internet has done for dating what the Model T did for transportation. It's put more people in touch, put more resources at their fingertips, and allowed them to have more options. And strangely, for someone who prides herself on keeping up with the latest developments in anything technical - I felt strangely out of touch. And I wasn't sure whether this was something to be proud of (Hey, I'm single but I don't need help becoming un-single) or ashamed of (Am I really so egotistical as to look down on online dating when I, Ms. Single-For-4-Years, could obviously use some help?).
A few moments later, I was chatting with the hike leader, who mentioned that he was also on match.com. But that the most success he's had was with AMC Young Members. I paused and realized - I'm on a singles hike and didn't even know it. I -am- officially a part of the social phenomenon even if I don't want to be.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, November 07, 2003]
You left a stain on every one of my good days. -Matchbox 20
I have officially taken the last of my exams until finals roll around in December. Oddly, instead of feeling elated, I feel drained and tired. And strangely interested in all the men around me. Since when has stress and Biochemistry exams become an aphrodisiac? I hung around outside class today and skulked around in my black fleece, black windpants, backpack, and tired eyes. I skulked around, checking everyone out. And even as I scanned the crowd, I could feel the thought going through my head, "What is -wrong- with me?" Everyone looked cute, and I knew it couldn't really be possible. It's November. There's no way I would've missed cute boys in my class for two whole months. It was like I had beer goggles on, but without the beer. Delirium goggles. Sleep-deprivation goggles. Or perhaps, it was merely School-Goggles. A relative of Camp Goggles, School Goggles are denoted mainly by standards that steadily drop until they're met. When you first get there, you don't think -anyone- is cute, but by the end of camp - there's always someone that you have a crush on. It's a survival mechanism built into the human psyche to prevent self-destruction and despair during tough times. In the absence of actual interest and hope, interest and hope is created. You make do with what you have - yet another trait of human nature and survival. An often-observed and proven phenomenon. Perhaps I can name it - "Ink's Law". After all, Aristotle's Law of Identity (A = A) states the obvious. Aristotle just happened to say it first so he got to slap his name on it.
One of the so-called cute boys (Dimples) approached me and invited me to a party that's going on on Monday. There will be people from my program there. Told me I should come. I smiled and said "Sure, I'll think about it." I thought about it. Dimples will obviously be there, as will his friend - Greasy Hair. Greasy Hair is wonderfully cute, even despite his short height and greasy hair. And greasy hair can always be changed. The problem didn't really lie with them though - it lay with me.
I meant it when I told Dimples I'd think about it. I -needed- to think about it, because I wasn't sure whether I really wanted to go. I've felt terribly uncute for the past few weeks. I got my first Boston haircut and I hate it. Absolutely hate it. I could not look more soccer-mom-ish if I wanted to. My short haircut went from trendy and cute to Jamie Lee Curtis. It didn't bother me so much for class because I roll straight out of bed more often than not, but going out is a different story. For a girl - going out isn't so much about getting dressed up and looking cute, it's more about feeling cute. Part of the ritual (and it is a ritual) of showering, shaving, lotioning your body, donning clothes, and applying makeup is about feeling good. It's a process that's all aimed towards one goal of making you feel like maybe... just maybe, you're not too hard on the eyes tonight. There's nothing that makes you feel better than walking into a bar or party and feeling like you're screaming GIRL at everyone around you. When I was working Corporate America - I wanted to scream GIRL because I wasn't a girl all day at work. I took on masculine qualities, didn't laugh as much, gave directions confidently, wasn't so understanding when things went wrong, and only furtively shopped online (and would never admit it). I was the utmost professional and occasional hardass because I knew I needed to be one - as a woman in the corporate world, you always have more to prove than the men do. Now when I'm a student, I want to scream GIRL because I'm studying all day in the library in sweats and sneakers. I'm not a hard-ass but merely hard-core, because being a woman in science isn't all that different than being a woman in business. You have more to prove. You can't be squeamish around the corpses, you can't even be friendly to the TA's for fear of having your good grades be attributed to flirting.
Despite all this power-woman verbiage, I still -am- a woman. And this means that little ridiculous things like hair affect me as much as I'm embarassed by that very fact. But any girl who's had a bad haircut before can sympathize. Bad hair can ruin you for weeks until it grows out. It's there every morning to stare you in the face, and there every night when you get back. Unlike a monster zit, there's nothing you can manically apply to it to give yourself the false feeling of being in control and doing something to help it. With short hair especially, there's nothing you can do to hide it. I can't tie it into a ponytail, or put it into a clip. All I can do is wear this helmet of hair and hope no one notices. As if. I look like a giant Q-tip. Going out to a party or bar when I'm feeling uncute is practically a waste of time. I know I won't have fun. But the practical side of me says "Pssh. It's not like guys notice anyways." Guys never notice when you get a haircut, or what you're wearing for that matter - unless it's something particularly revealing. So perhaps I will show up on Monday. After all - I did get an invite from Dimples, who obviously thought I was worthy of an invite despite my helmet head. Maybe I'll just take a few extra shots before I go to the party. Do Beer Goggles work on one's own reflection?
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, November 06, 2003]
I've decided that I hate studying in groups. You're just not as efficient. And you end up moving at the pace of the lowest common denominator. The one who gains the most is the one who's least prepared. You're hindered. Inefficient. And I hate it when people are photocopying my notes the night before the exam. There's just no reason for that. I don’t have half an hour to sit around twiddling my thumbs while you photocopy my notes because you didn't bother to show up to lecture. The thing I hate most is when you're held up for two days because you're re-teaching the material to someone who didn't go to class, and then you end up making no forward progress on your own studying. Teaching does help you cement concepts, but not at the expense of not-learning other material that will be on the exam. I can't afford to sit here holding your hand while you study and explaining every single concept to you. I have to study for my own grades. Mom and pops aren't paying for my education.
Tonight is the night before my exam. And I have to go to this kid's house so he can photocopy my notes. Of course I'm going. And as much as I hate the fact that I'm the one who has to suffer for his mistakes, I'm dragging myself there anyways because without this material, he's screwed.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, November 03, 2003]
Far and away.
She's gone. With a slam of the Buddy List door, Lux left my life for a year. I've never been a huge sap for goodbyes. I believe that the world is a small place and people will inevitably run into each other again. But, Lux set new records by squirming her way within a year into my affections until I grudgingly loved her. Usually there's a pledging period, a probationary time of sorts. For all the upheaval and change that's happened in the past few years of my life, for once - I'm not the one leaving this time. It's dramatically different being on the other end. There's a sense of finality about it.
Dot (3:24:16 PM): shes gone........
Ink (3:24:37 PM): i know =(. i'm kinda tearing up again.
Dot (3:24:41 PM): me too!
Ink (3:24:48 PM): are you really crying at work?
Dot (3:24:47 PM): thank god for cubicle walls
Ink (3:28:17 PM): why'd she have to love us and leave us!
Dot (3:28:33 PM): I know
Dot (3:28:41 PM): it would have been better to never love at all
Posted by ink |
Sweets to the sweet! Farewell! - Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
Lux is flying out tomorrow for Australia. Funny, I haven't cried over someone leaving in a long time, and I've moved an awful lot in my youth and young adult-hood. I've known she was going to travel for a year for the past 6 months. I even bought her birthday present with travel in mind and got her audiobooks. But for some reason, when she mentioned tonight that she was packing up to fly out tomorrow, I got a lump in my throat, even as I crouched in the corner of the library during my study break, talking to her on my cell phone. After we hung up, I had to leave the building to cry for a little bit in the bushes.
We met last year, August 7th, to be exact. It was our start date for work at Big 5 Consulting. One year and a few months later, we were best of friends. She'd lived with me in my tiny 10x10 bedroom for two weeks over Christmas when she was homeless. I'd flown with her to North Carolina to visit her family and then shared the 16 hour drive back to New York to bring her car back. We gabbed about our quarter-life crises, the variety of sub-par men in our lives, the lack of decent ones, and went rollerblading in Central Park. We shopped, shared a love for shoes, swapped favorite books. We had a vicious Scrabble rivalry (I like to think it's a rivalry, even though she neatly trounced me each time) with wine on the side, which didn't help my cause. We talked everyday on Instant Messenger and sent each other one-off messages via textpaging after we'd both quit and I'd moved to Boston, and Lux back to North Carolina. I suppose it won't be much different. After all, Lux and I were often on different projects so weren't in the same office anyways. Psychologically though, it'll be different, because she'll no longer be on Instant Messenger, I can't call her cell when I have a minor life crises, and we won't be txtmessaging about the funny little things that we see during the day. Perhaps the internet and the wireless phenomenon really has made the world a smaller place. And now that she's moving into the very un-tech-connected world of backpackers and hostels, I'm going to be left very Lux-less.
I've done enough crying for the day. Especially since you can add to it an element of envy-crying. It's always harder being the one left behind. Left behind studying, of all things, while your friend takes off to travel the world. I'm convinced she's going to meet tons of perfect men while I'm not there. I'm saying goodnight to Lux. I've managed to hold my tears in and swallow the lump in my throat even as we're cracking jokes at each other, but I've learned that tears once shed can't be held in - they just come out in the form of surprisingly dry eyes and an extra runny nose instead.
Fare thee well Lux. It's been a fabulous year. Be safe on your travels. And make sure to bring back an Aussie hottie for me. Preferably not pygmy sized.
Posted by ink |
[Sunday, November 02, 2003]
big change, the choices we make
in life, gut instincts, on-the-whim
hairpin turns, the search for truth, the desire to be happy, the journey to finding out what
makes us happy.
being young and clueless, hoping
that we're not blindly leading ourselves to our own demise with every
tentative step we take, the pitfalls of dating, the trials
and travails of being a young woman in the post-feminist era.