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
[Wednesday, March 31, 2004]
Walking in the rain.
My old college roommate was in town today on business. Though today was one of the most hectic days ever, and the past few days have ended with two Advils, I think I've rather settled into Boston. I tend to make this statement once ever few months or so, each time -really- meaning it. But this time, I think I do mean it. Things in Boston started to take an upswing during Spring Break. I spent 2 days in New York and then headed back to Boston to study for my exams. The next 5 days were spent discovering Boston's Best Places To Study. Or, the Best Places To Study So Far. My favorite places tend to be little out-of-the-way sort of cafes or bookstores, but I haven't gotten to the nooks and crannies of Beantown yet. But, I did manage to hit a few biggies that served me well. The Boston Public Library - smaller and not quite as glamorous as New York's, but infinitely quieter and wired with wireless internet service. Big bonus points for Boston. The Christian Science Reference Room - so quiet even my own breathing sounds loud. They have wonderfully big windows to sit by during the day, and no one seems to ever be there. Ultra modern and ultra comfortable, I fell asleep there for 2 hours straight. I woke up with a crick in my neck, which I considered punishment for studying medicine in the Christian Science Library. Starbucks on Tremont St. - Generally crowded, but you can always squeeze in with someone and share a table until another one opens up.
I've been hitting these places more and more often, and they've become a welcome respite from the dreariness of the medical library. Today, as I was walking home from dinner with my college roommate, I realized that I'd spent half the night extolling Boston's virtues - a first since normally I spent most of my time grumbling about it. We walked through the Pru and marveled at the fact that the mall was still open to passersby even though the stores themselves were closed. In NY, there would be metal gratings in front of every store. Here, there's just glass, and no homeless bums on the benches. I stopped by to pick up some groceries at Shaw's. Ha, at this time last year, I didn't even know what Shaw's was. At this time two years ago, I didn't know what Duane Reade was. Double ha. As I struggled home, trying to balance the umbrella with an armload of groceries and my purse, I peeped into the brownstone homes. Oddly, I didn't find myself minding so much. I didn't curse the rain or curse Boston's weather as I normally do. I simply juggled my things and tried not to get too wet. There's something beautiful about rainy Boston at night. The way the brick walks shine and the street lights glow.
I could really make a home here, I thought. Now that's funny, I had thought of myself as a New York girl. I contemplated returning to New York and realized that it would be different now. I could no longer live in Manhattan in a 10 x 10 bedroom in a doorman building. I live in a 12x12 room in a brownstone in Boston. Not much of an upgrade, but enough to give me a taste. If I was to return to New York, I'd live on the upper upper west side. Or in Queens or Brooklyn. I'm ready for a bigger space, and I'm ready to pay a little more for it - though not quite an arm and a leg. Although I've loved all the roommates I've lived with in all the different cities, I think I'm ready to live by myself also. Have my own place. I'm selling all my furniture now so I can start over. Only my bed will go with me, like the log of wood you bring from the hearth in your old home to the hearth in your new home.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, March 29, 2004]
Have it your way. -Burger King
Apparently, this applies to summer sublets in Cambridge as well. Since my lease ends in May and I'm graduating in August, I decided to move to Cambridge for the summer, largely to save on rent. Boston housing is pretty pricey. Apartments are a lot like porn. You know the right one when you see it. And my right one is unfortunately in a divinity school dorm, further away from the T-stop, and also $100 dollars more than the other front-runner (aka Dingy Room, one block away from the T-Stop, complete with high speed internet). Both are $200-$300 less than what I'm currently paying. After much handwringing, I reluctantly settled for the Dingy Room. Owner Of Dingy Room had contacted me a few times, and offered to drop the rent to $550 including utilities and high speed internet, plus some money off my last month's rent if utilities ended up being cheaper than expected. You just can't beat that. So yesterday morning, I called the Divinity School Girls and left a message saying I'd decided to take another room for cost and internet access reasons. Last night, I received a voicemail from them matching Dingy Room's offer, but still internet-access-less. I talked to them today, and we settled on starting a Verizon DSL account for the summer and splitting the cost of the internet.
Which brings me to a grand total of $575 a month including all utilities. I absolutely loved the room. It's huge, with hardwood floors, and two tall windows along one wall and one tall window along another. I still can't believe that it suddenly fulfilled my needs and fell into my price range. I'm so thrilled I haven't been able to keep the grin off my face all night. This summer, I will be singing to the tune of $660 in rent savings plus an extra $2500 back from the government. True, I'll have to take the bus to school instead of being across the street, but I'll be closer to the dance studio. And, I'll be living with a bunch of priests and nuns-to-be, which will be so interesting. Especially since I'm now a recovering Catholic.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, March 27, 2004]
Cuz I'm leaving on a jetplane. Don't know when I'll be back again.
There's something about your friend's windfalls that are ultimately disheartening. Not because you begrudge them their good fortune, but because you're so impatient to see your own dreams come true that it hurts to see other's dreams come to fruition while you're left there hopping from foot to foot, wondering "when's it my turn? am i next? am i next?"
I wrote last year about crying because my friend's boyfriend went to Costa Rica. I wanted to go to Costa Rica. He was going on my vacation. He was doing all the things I wanted to do, with the friends that I didn't have. Most of my friends are the "sit on a white beach by a resort with a cocktail in their hand" type. I'd been trying to go to Costa Rica for two years now. I eventually came to the realization that if I wanted to go anywhere fun, I'd most likely have to go by myself.
Ironically enough, it was exactly this time of year last year. And this year, I find myself in much the same position. Fisher is going to Belize next week for 10 days. I wanted to go for a long weekend and join him. I found tickets on hotwire for $435 round trip. Tack on meals, housing, and expenses for 4 days though, and you're pushing an $800 dollar price tag right there. But I thought about it. For a very very long time. I even went so far as to take my credit card out and almost punch the numbers in for that ticket. I felt like this was my chance. My opportunity. When else can I just take off for a weekend and go to Belize? And with a friend. I thought about the Kaplan MCAT course I needed to take for $1500. I thought about my quest for a sublet and my reasons for it (so I can save money). Was I willing to blow it all on Belize for 4 days?
I whittled myself down to a whining splinter.
"But what are you saving for anyways. It's not like your financial situation is ever going to change. If you go to med school, you'll be in this same situation for the next 5 years. What are you gonna do, never go anywhere?"
"You can't put a pricetag on memories Ink. When you're 40, are you going to look back and remember that 800 dollars you saved? Or are you going to remember that weekend in Belize with Fisher."
I considered the fact that I have no income right now and that I'm 40 thousand dollars in education debt. It hardly seemed right to go on vacation like that. But then again, since when was vacation ever cheap?
What it boiled down to was one simple fact: my dream is to travel. I have a list. I have a globe with countries marked off. Belize, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, SE Asia, S. Africa, W. Africa, Nepal, Tibet, China, Egypt, Gabon, Galapagos Islands. I want to climb Mt. McKinley at the very least, and hopefully Mt. Kilamanjaro as well. I hate myself for being a talker. I'm nothing but talk. I talk about wanting to go places all the time, but I never actually do it. This is my chance. Make the dream a reality. Then I thought about it some more. What it really boiled down to wasn't Belize and Fisher at all - but just going somewhere. I sent my application in to the S. Africa program 2 weeks ago. If S. Africa had accepted me already, then I would turn down Belize without even batting an eye. Practically, it makes no sense to spend that kind of money when I'm in the situation I'm in now. But because I haven't heard back yet, I live in perpetual fear of the worst happening. What if I give up Belize, and then I don't get accepted to S. Africa. I'll just have to hurl myself off a building and cry for weeks. Belize is equivalent to "a bird in the hand is better than one in the bush." If I don't get into S. Africa, then at least I'll have gone to Belize. Wouldnt my dad be proud of me now. He used to use that adage with me all the time in concerns to saving money and warning me about spending against future earnings. Now I use it to justify vacations I can't afford.
But can I really not afford it? I have 5 digits in my bank account. True, a lot of it will have to go to rent, med school applications, MCAT's, and flying to med school interviews (hopefully I'll get invitations to some of those).... And I'm not replenishing my account at all since I'm a student... Part of me is sick of being practical. Practical is what I am. Practical is why I'm a talker with all these big dreams that never come true. Practical is why I plan imaginary vacations that never happen.
I'll most likely decide not to go to Belize next weekend, but not before I cry my heart out about it tonight as I go to sleep. All I can do now is pray fervently that S. Africa will accept me into their program. Because then, it will be worth it. I'll be able to spend the Belize money by staying a few extra weeks in S. Africa. But if I don't get in, then all this sacrifice will be for nothing.
I hate having all my eggs in one basket. It bears the potential of emotional suicide and trauma.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, March 26, 2004]
No, it's MY turn now!!!
There are times when I wonder - why do I want to be a doctor?
Is it for no other reason than the fact that it's a straight-shot road to respectability and middle-class, without the pain of agonizing decisions? After all, I hate hospitals and I don't even really like people all that much. Medicine, to me, is nothing more than the glorified service industry. Like waitresses, you have to deal with people even when you're not in the mood to, and you must be nice to people who aren't nice to you. In fact, medicine is even worse than the service industry in a lot of ways. If you're not nice to your customer, they can sue you.
Today, I went in for my volunteer shift. I kinda dragged my feet on the way there. I absolutely detest hospitals. It's like the NATO convention for germs. They're sterile-looking, completely unfriendly, and generally unappealing. Even more, I don't like sick people. They smell funny, they pee in bedpans, and they seem to think that being in the hospital means they're entitled to everything. But med schools want to see that you've had volunteer experience, so I took the plunge and signed up to volunteer in pediatrics. I figured with little kids, at least I wouldn't have to worry about some dirty old man ogling me while he hobbles down the hallway with his hospital gown hanging half open in the back.
During orientation last week, the volunteer coordinator told a story about a male volunteer who just didn't have a knack with kids but was there because his parents told him it'd be a good experience. She said it was really sad because he tried as hard as he could, but kids can tell when you really want to be with them or not. That's going to be me, I thought. They'll magically know I don't like their snot-nosed little faces putting their grubby hands on me. Yuck.
This morning, I walked into the hospital and couldn't suppress a sigh of exasperation as I smelled that mixture of sickness, latex, and ethanol. I logged in, locked up my things, and then proceeded to spend the afternoon playing Uno with Lauren (8 yrs) and Cheyenne (3 yrs). They had to teach me since Uno was something I was deprived of in my childhood. I still don't quite understand the rules since they seemed to change with every round, but I did learn a few things. 1) Kids are germy. Very germy. Lauren kept hacking up a lung onto her cards right before she passed them to me. And Cheyenne is apparently a very sloppy sneezer.
Watching a three year old sneeze is so cute. That is, until she brings her hand away from her mouth and you see the aftermath.
"... Um, okay, don't move. I'll be right back with a tissue."
Three year old's also don't really know how to blow their noses too well, however hard they may try.
"Erm. Here, let me help you. Okay... now blow."
Lesson 2 learned - always ALWAYS have multiple layers of tissue between your fingers and their nose when you tell them to blow. Lesson 3 learned - always make sure to wipe their nose one final time before bringing them back to their room. Poor Cheyenne saw her doctor with a moist dangly hanging from her nose. Though I felt slightly awkward the whole time, I had a surprisingly un-disastrous first day, barring the fact that I was beaten at a card game by an 8 year old and a 3 year old. No kids ran screaming from me "SHE HATES KIDS!!! SHE HATES KIDS!!!" And no babies cried upon laying eyes on me either. As I started to pack up to leave, Lauren came up to me and shyly asked,
"Are you coming back later?"
"Well, I'll be back next week."
"No!! I'm leaving today!!"
"That's okay honey. You're going home!"
"Well... can I come back and visit you?"
I was so touched, I couldn't speak for a moment. I don't think anyone's loved me like that since my little brother got old enough to be embarassed to be seen with me. I gave her a hug, without flinching at her germs this time.
"You don't want to come back here cutie pie. Stay healthy. But if you have bad luck and end up sick again, I promise I'll come and visit you, okay?"
She offered me a Dorito as a parting gift. I knew she'd been coughing into that bag of chips all day, but I solemnly took one out and ate it, crunching simultaneously along with her. I couldn't help but wonder whether those Dorito fragments hurt going down. She had awfully inflamed tonsils, but that's little kids for you. Crazy. Crazy enough to turn someone around and think that maybe having babies won't be so bad after all.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, March 20, 2004]
It's good to have money.
Money gives you credibility I've realized. In my search for a summer sublet, I've encountered a variety of different people. My lease ends in May, but my roommate is willing to extend it till August if needed. I love our place, but at the same time, with Boston being such a college-town, there are a lot of summer sublets available for super-cheap. I can save a lot of money if I sublet for the summer instead. I spent the past two weeks looking at different apartments in Cambridge and I've got one thing to say - I am a Craig's List superstar.
Apparently, I am at the top of the list for a few different apartments. I am crackerjack at roommate-interviews and didn't even know it! One of the potential subletters even emailed me and told me that the remaining roommate really liked me, so he's willing to sweeten the deal for me a bit and beat out the other apartments by offering to pay for my utilities for the summer. I feel like I'm the winner in some TV GameShow or something.
If only I was this successful in love and education...
Sadly, the one apartment I really liked is the only place that doesn't have me as their first-choice. So while I'm staving off the other offers with a stick, I'm desperately waiting by my laptop, waiting for that email to tell me he's seen enough subletters and has made a decision.
Whereas I'd love to think that the cause of all this sudden popularity is my natural charm and good looks, I think it really boils down to money. At most apartments, I asked how much their utilities were, asked how they were running Operation Sublet (is it first come-first serve? Or are they interviewing potential subletees and then picking one? Should I contact them or should I wait for them to contact me?), and then I say that if I decide I want it, I can put down a first month's deposit to hold the room and serve as assurance that I won't suddenly tell them in May I will no longer be needing the sublet. Plus, I'll most likely just give them the entire's summer's worth of rent money at once so I won't have to bother with writing rent checks every month.
If I didn't have a decent-sized savings account, I wouldn't be able to make that sort of offer. As much as I gripe about being poor (and I am), I do realize that my year as a corporate slave has served its purpose. Although I am slowly chipping away at that savings account, I do still have enough to make payments like "first months last months plus security deposit" up front. A lot of my fellow students don't.
I'd like to say that I live in relative luxury compared to them. But at the same time, I recognize that it's hard-earned. I don't know if any of them work part-time jobs in addition to being in school.
I'm looking forward to this summer. Even though I'm going to hate leaving my current apt with its fun furniture, colorful paintings, exposed brick, and fabulous roommate Spurm, I think the new sublet will be alright. It will definitely be a downgrade as far as apartment quality is concerned. I live in a brownstone now, and I'll be living in some sort of squalid highrise for the summer. But I will be within walking distance to the dance studio, which is a God send. I haven't been able to dance at all this year because I've been so far from the studio. And, I'll be within walking distance to the Kaplan Center as well, for the dreaded MCAT's in August. Besides, new neighborhood means new people. New people means fun!
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, March 17, 2004]
I had the best day today. I spent the afternoon at Starbucks with a hot drink in my hand, my laptop, and the snow falling outside all day. Snow is so much prettier in Boston than it is in New York. With the brownstones and everything, it really gives you that cozy feel. The Starbucks boy gave me a coupon for a free drink, and I got a good amount of studying done in addition to my daily dose of daydreaming out the window. Now it's dark, I've got my long underwear on, and even the itchy tag on the back can't ruin my night. I love our apartment at night. The living room has a hardwood floor that's this wonderful warm gold color and our kitchen is super-quaint. We have antique retro brightly colored chairs and exposed brick along one side. I have the place to myself tonight, and there's some slow jazz playing while I study at the kitchen counter. Nothing mixes better than some serious Ella and Histology slides of the respiratory system.
I'm feeling romantic tonight and I love it. Feeling romantic is best done on one's own. I don't particularly like to share romantic moments as it's almost always ruined when you invite someone else into it. They either come tramping into your beautiful space and then flip on the television. Or they start complaining about work, or they say something that makes you mad. Then the night is just ruined and you must retreat to your own room, dismayed by reality. And even the beautiful voice of Ella Fitzgerald can't recapture the exact magic of that moment when you were by yourself, crooning along with the bluesy saxophone, and watching your reflection do awkward pirouettes in the living room windows.
Posted by ink |
Funny. Funny ha-ha.
A few weeks ago, I received a very odd postcard in the mail. "Congratulations Ink! You are the lucky recipient of a gift subscription to.... YM Magazine!!!" I blinked. I haven't read YM since I was 15. And even then, I didn't do more than flip through it at the grocery store. Try Wired, Vanity Fair, National Geographic. I was a very serious child. Who could this possibly be from? It didn't say. I shrugged, threw it away, and forgot about it. Today, when I climbed up the stairs, laden with snow, what was sitting in my mailbox, but next month's edition of YM. Printed neatly on the front on the sticker label was my name and address. Talk about being startled.
I glanced at the magazine as I made dinner and realized that not only did I not recognize the boy on the front cover, but I didn't recognize any of the names printed in fluorescent pink either. Who is Chad Michael Murray? Although I generally like to think of myself as young and hip, I suddenly feel merely.... old. Like my mom. She used to look at me blanky too when I posted up pictures of Eddie Furlong as a young 13 year old (remember Eddie?). It was a thankfully short phase. I marinated my meat and flipped through it. Apparently, this is the Prom issue. I didn't even go to Prom as a teenager. In fact, I fervently prayed that no boy would ask me, so that I would be spared the effort of having to reject them without hurting their feelinigs.
I wonder whether my daughter will ever be an avid YM fan. Most likely, I'm already closer to being my mother than I'd like. "Jason Schwartzmann vs. Jason Bigggs: Who would win in a fight?" Who the hell is Jason Schwartzmann? I suppose I can catch up on all the teen idols since tucked inside my first issue was another card that said "Congratulations on your first issue of your TWO year gift subscription!"
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, March 16, 2004]
This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.
Science has this awful way of ruining all the fun things in life.
In today's Histology lab, I spent 3 hours looking at a slide of a 70-year old male smoker's lungs, identifying the pits of tar and the macrophagic cells. Macrophages crawl along the surface of your lung and engulf foreign particles and then crawl up your airways to be expelled with a cough or swallowed into your stomach. They keep your lungs clean.
Unfortunately, with tar, the macrophagic cells never make it. They engulf the tar and then crawl off into the connective tissue of your lung to die, becoming "dust cells". Dust cells are the macrophages who just gave up. They never leave your lung.
Now if that isn't a "Stop Smoking" message, I don't know what is. I'm never smoking recreationally again.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, March 15, 2004]
I truly admire some of my classmates. For me, this journey down the road of medicine is relatively new. I'm at the beginning of the road and still feeling out my path. I have yet to take the MCAT's and I'll be applying for the first time this fall. While I was studying at the coffeeshop this afternoon with a few classmates, I learned that a lot of them had already applied twice, been rejected, and were applying again for the third time this fall. What's sad is that one of the girls jokingly asked the boys "If Dr. O'Bryan was interviewing you and asked you for a blowjob in exchange for admission, would you do it?" The pregnant pause after the question was enough to show that they would at least consider it. I couldn't believe this was how badly people wanted to get in.
I have to admit, I want to get into med school pretty badly too. I know it sounds sick, but I've never NOT gotten something that I really wanted. I'm afraid of failure because I've never experienced it, and I'm absolutely and utterly terrified of it now. I'm like some sick twisted perversion of the normal person. I've been so blessed that it's almost incapacitated me to handle failure. It's like I'm operating with a handicap. If I don't get in anywhere next year, I don't know what I would do. It'd be like a complete negation of my whole past year's worth of existence. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I pulled out my friend's AMCAS application. He printed out a copy for me so I could see the types of questions that medical schools ask. The most popular question was: "Please relate your greatest non-academic achievement." My heart sank. I have no extracurriculars to speak of really. I spent my year in New York traveling on business and trapped in a corporate cubicle. I've spent the past year studying like crazy. My greatest non-academic achievement is screwing up the courage to quit my lucrative consulting job. But somehow, I don't think that's something that will particularly impress the admissions committee. I started to quietly panic. Being rejected would probably be healthy for me, but I could feel myself getting lightheaded just thinking about it. No, it couldn't happen to me. And somewhere in the back of my head, a little voice whispered that I've been spoiled. So so spoiled. I sacrificed too much for this. I went into debt for this. I have to get in. I HAVE to get in.
In my peripheral vision, I spotted someone approaching me. I recognized him. He was the young homeless person who I saw last week. His modus operandi is to walk into starbucks and solicit people for money. His story last week was that his mother threw him out. At that time, I told him I didn't have any change, so he took my gum that was on the table instead. I was shocked, but then decided that I wasn't about to get into a bumfight over a stick of gum. As he approached me today, I could feel myself starting to feel hostile.
"Excuse me miss?"
Before he could say another word, I cut in, "Hey buddy. Could you spare some change for me? I'm 40 grand in debt and I could really use a little cash." He stared at me. I added, "And that's not even including undergraduate debt. You wanna help me out or what?" He said nothing. I looked directly at him, "You have some gum at least?"
He walked away. As I walked out, I heard another woman say to him "I'll buy you something at Dunkin Donuts."
I haven't been able to sleep all night.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, March 13, 2004]
I love going grocery shopping.
I have an unhealthy addiction to the following expensive items:
1. genoa salami
2. hummus and pita
3. seafood salad, coleslaw
4. seedless grapes (red and green)
5. fuji apples
6. snacking cereal (honey nut cheerios, cinnamon life)
7. tropicana orange juice (low acid, homestyle)
8. strawberries + honey
9. hot cheese anything (hot cheese curls, hot cheese popcorn, hot cheese salsa, etc.)
10. any kind of dip (veggie dip, onion dip, etc.)
12. celeste microwave pizza
13. gourmet potato chips (pirate's booty, smart puffs)
14. ribeye steak
The above items are why I am continually over-budget (plus any regular produce purchased to make meals). There's nothing that makes you feel more like a fat kid than having your parents ask you "What are you spending all your money on?!" and you have to meekly answer "....food."
Posted by ink |
I hate it when friends make me regret nice things I did for them. Like when you just sent off a little goodie-bag through the snail mail yesterday and then they do or say something that makes you want to chase down the mailman and get your stuff back.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Prophecies of doom.
I used to lament the humdrum-ness of my own life in comparison to my preferred drug of choice - fantasy books. There, people led meaningful lives, they worked towards a greater good of saving the world. Their lives were rife with significance by the sheer fact that they -lived- during such times when the world may be taken over by Sauron. Meanwhile, I struggle through my taxes and my friends slowly rot in cubicles. On nights like these though, my irritation with the blandness of my life starts to wane a bit. Perhaps my idle wishing was dangerous. On nights like these, when I'm sitting in the apartment alone, I watch the news report one tragedy after another - the Spain bombings, the possibility of Al Qaeda being involved, the possibility of another U.S. attack, the potential American woman spy for Iraq, the impeachment of S. Korea's president, the huge demonstrations that are going on over gay marriage - and the night seems to take on a different tone. Suddenly the darkness outside doesn't seem so friendly. Suddenly, the certainty of tomorrow doesn't seem so sure. In this odd surreal environment, all my nerves are on edge as I begin to consider that maybe we will be the generation that sees the end of the world. Today, 911 days after 9/11, the old fears come back.
I was standing in a candy store when I heard about the Spain bombings. The radio was on, and I froze as I listened. As I walked out with a candy (unknowingly shoplifted and clutched stickily in my hand), I felt that same darkness invade the pit of my stomach, making it feel empty and cavernous but still full as if I was carrying a heavy weight. Last time I felt that was when I stood in my living room watching the Twin Towers collapse on live-video feed. The same sense of numbness. I wondered vaguely whether this was how Vietnam veterans felt during flashbacks brought on by their kid's beebee gun or the neighbor's car backfiring.
Tonight, when I look out my window into the darkness, it doesn't seem like a humdrum world anymore. It feels like a chaotic one. One in which commuters are killed in subways on the way to work, one in which old established tenets like marriage are challenged and the average bystander gets confused as to what's right and wrong, one in which you can't tell who is and isn't your friend. A world in which a well-known actor turns out a movie about Christ and presidents are impeached amidst a fistfight. Tonight, it feels like the world has gone mad. I wonder whether this is nothing but my own paranoia and my imagination working in overdrive. Or, is this a moment of sudden clarity when I can see the speeding train barreling down the track towards us, unclouded by the daily fog of errands and to-do's. Is this the deterioration of order and confusion of what-used-to-be-known-to-us that is foretold in the Bible's Revelations? The slow descent into chaos from which Satan will be reborn again as a seeming-hero to lead us out of the mess, only to betray us?
A childhood goal of mine was to read the Bible from cover to cover. I almost succeeded. I stopped about a quarter of the way into Revelations because it frightened me. I don't like reading predictions of the future. I feel like we're not meant to know it, and reading predictions about it felt wrong. But mostly, it was because I was afraid of what the future might hold. I comforted myself by calculating the probability that I would be born in the generation that would see Revelation's predictions come true. The probability is pretty small. But on nights like this, it starts to feel probable.
On nights like this, I start to think that my pre-occupation with having a Vera Wang dress is silly. In fact, I almost want to laugh hysterically at the thought. My new backpack purchase suddenly seems much more practical. I start to wonder whether maybe I should take self-defense lessons. In case the world does go mad. Or at least learn basic survival skills. Suddenly, the thought of living in a time in which the world may end doesn't feel so exciting anymore. Merely terrifying.
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, March 09, 2004]
And God made man in his own likeness.
How many of us want to have children that are exactly like us? For all our complaints of how our parents don't understand us, we're dangerously close to falling into the same trap. Can it be that it's only human to want a mini-me? Maybe it stems out of a desire to understand our children, something that we felt our own parents never did. And who do you understand more than yourself? Ironically enough, this seems to be the crux of the problem. In an effort to understand our children the way we were never understood, we recreate the problem. We try to make them into ourselves, because that's the only thing we -do- understand, and then just like that, with a snap of the fingers, we've become our parents. How many children are resentful for not having met up to parental expectations? How many kids are not just resentful, but illogically so, as they know that there's really nothing wrong with the choices that they made in life - but somehow, it feels wrong without parental endorsement. What it boils down to is childhood imprinting. At a young age, our parents are the moral authorities. They dictate to us what is right and what is wrong. They punish us when we inadvertently cross the line. Even as adults, a part of us still bows down to the Judge and Jury that we see in every mother and father. When your parents don't approve, a small part of you wonders, "Maybe I'm wrong" even as you resolutely (and resentfully) hold your position. When you're conditioned into believing that your parents are right for 18 out of your 22 years, it becomes a hard habit to break.
I questioned myself today. I was sitting in the library cubicle thinking about my parents and how I would never treat my own children like this. I would never force them to accept my definition of happiness and I would allow them to find their own path. They will have the opportunities I never had. They'll have the chance to travel abroad, they will go on international community service projects in Africa with my blessing and financing, and they will have an unlimited amount of money to buy literary materials. They can even major in literature if they like. That is, assuming they're free-spirited thinkers who enjoy traveling and like to read. Just. Like. Me. Those three words settled into my brain with three thumps like the Drum of Doom. They sat uncomfortably in my brain as I processed what I had just said to myself. Am I already further along the path to becoming my mother than I'd like to admit? Or, even more frightening, perhaps I'm not on the way to becoming my mother, but simply that my mother is... Normal. I thought about it some more and decided to expand. What if my child was not like me. I could handle it I think. As long as she wasn't some bimbo-headed cheerleader who spent her time giggling with her friends over boys. Then the ominous thought grew in my brain - what if my kid doesn’t like to read? The answer to that was a long silence.
I had shocked myself.
I don't know what I would do if my child didn’t like to read or play imagination games. I have already started collecting all my Halloween costumes into a trunk for dress-up and saving some of my favorite books. What if my child is a rambunctious video game player who's favorite thing in the world is watching TV? Or a Britney Spears-worshipper who makes googly eyes at the boys? What if my child has no interest whatsoever in rambling the woods with me to find where the stream leads to? What if my child doesn't -think- beyond what they're going to wear tomorrow or who to bring to the prom?
The potential repercussions were terrifying. I am at risk at not understanding my child. At all. Even more terrifying was the realization that I was at risk of committing the fatal error that every parent makes and that I swore I never would - molding the child into my own image, giving them what -I- would've liked to have as a child, pushing them into things that -I- think are cool. What's funny is that molding them into my own childhood image would mean that they would not be popular at school, they would never be fashionable (because I had this contrary streak of refusing to follow fashion trends. I scoffed at the "sheep"), and they'd pretty much be a geek all around. If my child is in any way "normal", I'll be at a loss. God forbid my child is actually POPULAR and well-liked. Then the relationship would really start to get warped as I would begin to see in my child the makings of my own childhood fears. Yes, I feared the popular people for I feared what they were capable of. I wasn't picked on, but I'd seen enough to know to stay under the radar. You don't have to beat a chimp to terrify it. Just beat another chimp in front of her. I'm sure many of the popular kids were nice, but when someone has equivalent of a gun in social power and you don't, you're not exactly trusting of their nice-ness. You were at the mercy of their whim, and I've never been particularly confident of the stability of teenage nature. No, I am not a Trenchcoat Mafia supporter, but I have to admit to being a sympathizer.
Perhaps my parents really aren't guilty of anything but a misguided effort to understand me by trying to mold me into something they can make sense of - themselves. Perhaps we've been knocking heads because I want them to understand me, and they're trying to understand me, but somehow, our wires are getting crossed as our efforts negate each other. Maybe I'm starting to see that my parents really are nothing but people. They're not demigods as they were for most of my childhood. They have flaws like everyone else, personality quirks, and regrets. Maybe... they even make mistakes. And maybe, like I do with other people, I should forgive them and shrug it off. Not nurse the wound in my heart. Parents don't seem to be aware that by virtue of being parents, they wield the most powerful most hurtful weapon against their children. After all, the most hurt and pain is created between people who care for each other, the amount of pain created being proportional to how deeply you care. Perhaps our constant infighting is nothing more than a symptom of how much my parents love me and how much I love them.
Maybe, I should learn to let it go.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, March 04, 2004]
Did you know that Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream has 27% of your daily intake of saturated fats?! I committed a sin on several levels by eating it today after dinner. First, I gave up chocolate for Lent, and I caught myself mistakenly chewing on a chocolate chip. I pondered ceasing and desisting, but then thought that letting the remainder of the ice cream melt seemed like an awful idea. And God did state "Thou shalt not waste." So I ate the rest of it, sprinkled with jimmies of guilt. Especially when I idly turned the carton over and saw that terrible 27% figure. No wonder my belly's been growing lately. I eat ice cream every day after dinner. And here I was thinking that perhaps I was just bloated.
I hate my belly. It's okay when I'm standing, quite unnoticeable really, but I hate it when I sit down and goes BLOOMPH! over the top of my pants. Like Nightcrawler from the XMen, appearing out of seemingly nothing. It's alright when I'm lying down on my back too, but not-so-okay when I'm lying down on my side. Then it just... flops over. I always prop myself up on one elbow to peer at it with interest. I bear a remarkable resemblance to the nude paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The women with "curves" lounging on a chaise lounge of some sort. Oh the curse of advancing age... The worst is when your arm brushes by something and you're all startled like "What's that?!". Then you realize it's just your belly.
I've taken to chewing gum on a regular basis to suppress my urge to have something in my mouth all the time. Now that I'm a victim of slowing metabolism, I have to take measures. I've gone through 2 packs of gum already tonight.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, March 03, 2004]
Parental Units II.
There are times when I wish I didn't care what my parents thought of me, but I do. I care overmuch. I asked my dad today about our family vacation to Beijing. I was looking forward to it because it was my idea, I'd planned it, and after 3 years of convincing them, it was finally going to happen this summer. It's supposed to happen sometime in August/September, and I wanted to know when it would end in September so I could plan around it. I'm not sure yet what I'm doing in the fall but I applied to a few programs in South Africa to volunteer for a few weeks with HIV/AIDs orphans on the recommendation of my med school advisor, and if I don't get into those programs, I'd find a job. Going to be a camp counselor in Africa for AIDs children was the sticking point around which we battled.
I thought my dad would be proud that his daughter wants to spend some time doing service to others, that she'd want to help the needy. God I was so naive. Everything went to hell. The plane ticket would be about 2000 dollars, which granted, is a lot of money. But I had enough in my savings that I could go without too seriously compromising myself. The ensuing conversation was like being hazed.
"Why don't you spend that 2000 dollars on people who really need help? Why couldn't you have contributed that 2000 towards your grandpa's heart surgery? Or towards your little brother's tuition at MIT? You think your mother and I slave everyday so that you can frolic around in Africa on your glorified vacation?"
I was stunned. Going to ghetto an hour north of Johannesburg is hardly a vacation. He pointed out my student loan debt and called me irresponsible for spending money to help others when I'm the one who obviously needs help. I pointed out my savings account and lack of credit card debt. He called it "lip service" saying that I'd do more good if I donated 2000 dollars to some African family who can live off of that money for months instead of spending 2000 dollars on a plane ticket so I can go and pat children on the head for 3 weeks. I could only open and close my mouth in silence.
The fallout was an un-invitation to the family vacation in China. I'd been called irresponsible, stupid, silly, feather-brained, and my mom flared that she couldn't believe she'd raised a daughter like this. My dad claimed that it was a mistake to send me to an Ivy League university (because obviously, that's one of the worst things a parent can do).
What it boils down to is their view of an irresponsible financial decision on my part that has little to no benefit and my view of an option that will enrich my life, not cripple me financially (but will force me to tighten my belt), and increase my chances at medical school. But what it really boiled down to was me being a crying mess of tears even though I had sworn to myself before I called them that I would NOT get emotional.
I know my parents want the best for me, but it really breaks my heart that their opinion of me is so low. Today I received an email from my dad containing a bullet point list of why I'm irresponsible, spoiled, and have no regard for consequences. Ever the engineer, he cited my purchase of a laptop (as opposed to a desktop) as concrete support for his claims. Right on cue, tears of anger and frustration sprang up. Even as I wept, part of me was irritated. I didn't understand why this entire thing had become so ridiculous. And why am I so damn needy for approval?
God bless my parents. Their biggest problem in life is a daughter who wants to spend her own money to run off to Africa and help the HIV/AIDs children.
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, March 02, 2004]
"You have to be a real loser to be born a Libra. Libras are born with two left hands, both of which grow out of their ass. They are tone-deaf and generally have poor eyesight. The senses of self-esteem and humor are in embryotic states at best. Libras never have any money, their love life is usually a non-starter and they have notoriously bad luck both at work and at home. Pictures of mediocrity, they are incapable of standing out, surprising, outperforming.
Genetically unable to make any decision, they begin to convulse and sweat profusely whenever faced with a choice more important than "paper or plastic?". This is why their whole life they let others decide for them.
While they love to present themselves as patrons of the arts, their knowledge in the area runs no further than they can throw a grand piano.
Libras often end up writing tear-jerking memoirs full of half-truths and embellishments."
There are firemen outside my window! Lots of them =). There's four firetrucks and everything. I think the brownstone two doors down from me is on fire. They've attached the hose to the hydrant and they're walking around in those uniforms of theirs, with the big jacket and big pants. My roommate and I climbed onto her dresser so we could get a better view. Firement are hot =). I waved to them, and my roommate told me to stop distracting them. I told her she should flash them. They started to extend the ladders up until it was right by our window. Suddenly it didn't seem so funny anymore. Are we going to have to evacuate? What would I take if I had to leave the building? I decided I'd take my laptop, my new camping backpack, my stiletto boots, and my journals - volumes 1 through 14. My roommate made some joke about phallic extending ladders, but instead - I was brought back to childhood. The firetrucks in real life really are like the toy matchbox firetrucks. I remember that ladder and the way it extends out like a telescope, each segment a little thinner than the one before. I remember distinctly how it felt to stick my finger into the ladder and pull it out, section by section.
I looked down at the firemen. Looked like they were packing up. I wondered if they knew we were up here watching them. I decided that what makes firemen hot are the suspenders. I love suspenders on men.
Posted by ink |
I used to think my brother was a real jerk. He broke my heart on a pretty regular basis, with little things, like pretending he didn't know me if we ran into his friends at the mall. I'd generally roll my eyes and ignore it, but it started to sting a little more when I moved to Boston. He'd been here for a year already, and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to spend more time with him.
I've been banned from MIT campus, and I'm never allowed to meet any of his fraternity brothers. Ever. In fact, if we run into anyone he knows while I'm on campus with him, he speaks to them without bothering to introduce me. I'm like the shameful family secret. It's like I have leprosy. He didn't even bother to call me when I first moved in to see if things were alright or if I needed anything. Over Christmas though, he tried to explain it to me. He said that he knows he's been negligent and that I've been miserable in Boston, but that he really needs his own space. He apparently thinks I'm way cooler than him, and needs to be sure that his friends are truly his friends, and not just friendly with him because of me. Then we got into a fight in which he accused me of turning his hallmates against him when I stayed with him for a week while I was looking for an apartment. It was jaw-droppingly shocking that he thought I was cool, considering my social life so far in Boston. Didn't he -notice- that I've done nothing since I've gotten here besides hole myself in my bedroom and be miserable?
What broke my heart the most was the unavoidable fact that despite this nice little tidbit, he considered me to be a negative influence in his life. I know he was trying to explain himself in his own awkward way (he also explained that his fraternity has a culture of teasing brothers for having hot sisters and moms, and he hates those sorts of jokes so he'd rather me not meet any of them. Can you believe that? My little brother thinks that I would be considered hot. I almost died laughing), but it just upset me. Why don't I just stay in my own little corner of Boston, on the border of the gay neighborhood and the projects and be poky. So much for being new to a city and having a family member to lean on.
We had dinner tonight. Once in a while, he feels that it is his brotherly duty to have coffee with me. I know he generally hates these sessions as he's expressed his sentiments before. Tonight though, it seemed like he was putting on a better act than usual. I was suspicious. As always, he didn't have anything to say about his life, so I chatted about mine. Instead of shooting down my ideas as frivolous, flightly, and flibbertigibbety, he actually said that he thought I should pursue them. I narrowed my eyes at him. Is he being patronizing? But it actually seemed genuine. On the way back though, it almost fell apart. We had to stop by his fraternity house to pick up some socks that my mom had given him to give to me. He started off with "I know this is a really jerky thing to do but... There's a lot of people at the house right now because there's a mixer going on with a sorority..."
I cut him off. "Oh I see. Do you want me to get the socks later?"
"What, you want me to wait outside so no one sees me while you go in and get the socks?"
"No. We can go in and get the socks together. I just feel bad because I can't walk you home. Would you mind if I paid for a cab instead? I don't want you to take the subway by yourself since it's so late."
Where is my brother and what did you do with him?
I instantly felt bad for assuming he was going to be a real jerk. I obviously don't give him enough credit these days. I don't know what caused this sudden change and it's startling and puzzling all at the same time. In the past, all my guy friends told me that males are jerks when they're young, and he'll grow out of it. But I had my doubts. Maybe though, it's finally happening. He did mention that he wanted to invite me to one of his fraternity events later on. I asked whether he was only inviting me because mom made him. He admitted that it was at her prompting, but that he did want me to come. Granted, attending an undergraduate fraternity event as a 23-year old is hardly appealing, but I may take him up on it, just out of sheer disbelief. Call his bluff. Is he really going to be cool with it?
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.