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, April 25, 2004]
My favorite part of today was when my pseudo-study-date came into the library and looked over my shoulder at my laptop and I had a slide of a huge penis on it. With a caption of what muscles and nerves are used during ejaculation. I played it off nonchalantly. "Male reproductive system," I explained.
Sure he's a med student so I'm hoping he understands, and doesn't merely think I mean business. The old lady sitting behind me looked scandalized though.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, April 23, 2004]
Well-caffeinated. Well, not really.
There's something about starbucks coffee that makes me sleepy.
Without fail, about half an hour after drinking my standard hazelnut-soy-latte-with-no-foam, I start to drop off. If I'm in the library, I'm normally knocked out for about half an hour. Today, I nodded off in front of my laptop, sitting at a little table in starbucks - a classic Normal Rockwell moment, "Poster Girl for Starbucks Coffee".
Last night at the library was not very productive for me. It was a little embarassing to have huge power point pictures of the penis on my laptop (we're studying the male reproductive system, did you know that the scientific term for the shaft is "penile meatus"? isn't that great?). It took me a good 4 hours to get through one lecture.
Today, however, barring my little catnap, I was uber-efficient. I blazed through another lecture in 58 minutes flat. I'm always amazed at how much I can get done and how much I can absorb when I'm in the right mood for focusing. More and more, cafes have become my study-area of choice. For some reason, I seem to concentrate better there. Funny, I used to be a hard-core cubicle sort of gal. The only hard part is finding a coffeeshop that will allow me to loiter. Especially when I fall asleep at their tables. Bad advertising you know.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, April 22, 2004]
Le Joie de Finales.
Cube with a view.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, April 16, 2004]
After a week of brutal brutal work, I finished off Friday with 3 hours of sleep, waking up late for my 8 AM quiz, turning in my 10 page paper, and facing a 3-day weekend ahead of me. Part of me pondered going to New York for the weekend, but when I passed out promptly at 3 pm in the afternoon, I knew it wasn't going to happen.
Despite all my best intentions of using this weekend to get a jump start on finals, I've spent the entire evening doing frivolous things. For the past 3 weeks, I've been knee-deep doing research on insulin and diabetes, figuring out why my plasmids weren't cleaving at the restriction enzyme sites, writing my personal statement, and seeing tons of advisors for advice about med school admissions.
What I realized was that med school admissions is like the presidential elections. Everyone has an opinion on the direction you should go and everyone thinks they're right. Everyone questions your motives for doing it, and everyone has advice. Except you don't have a committee or a running mate for support, nor do you have lobby groups (or anyone) giving you money. The admissions board seems to be broken up largely into two main groups. There are the "old school" people - you know, the ones who want to check off all the boxes and are all about tradition. Make sure you've done research work, make sure you've volunteered, no one with a GPA below a 3.5 gets in regardless of whether they majored in basket weaving or neural networks. I think of them as the Republicans. As I am a very non-traditional applicant, they're probably the people I need to convince the most. The other half are the Democrats. The ones who will find me to be an interesting candidate because I have a business background. The ones who will find it novel that I worked in biotech research with computers instead of the usual lab with test tubes. I can count on those people to vote for me. I just have to make sure to get the swing voters and to cross my T's and dot my i's so I pass on the Republican mark as well.
When you're in a program like mine, you spend hours and hours discussing med school admissions with your classmates. The theory behind it, how it's done, how you heard it's done, how so-and-so got in, the interview, the psychology behind the interview, the dangers of wearing a non-black suit, the fine line to walk between appearing attractive to the men but not offending the women, the delineation between coming off as confident and competent but still humble. Let's not forget that these men and women are from two generations (if not more) ago. There's an entire subculture here that I've discovered - a subculture that parallels other underground fetish clubs. A fetish is the closest thing I can relate this to. The obsession, the endless untiring conversations that can be repeated with a million different minute variations every day, the invasion of your mind. It's like a religion whose mysteries you discuss everyday.
I handed my personal statement to a few people for feedback and everyone had a different opinion on it. "You need to talk more about your motivation for being a doctor. Talk about an experience you had that was changing." "You need to talk about the path you took to medicine, especially since yours is more of a winding one. Admissions is going to wonder about that." In 5300 characters (including blank spaces), I can hardly cover one topic, much less both of the above. The big question now is: which one do I cover. My current statement focuses more on the road I took here and why I made the choices I did. On an hourly basis, I swing back and forth as to whether I should change it to make it more personal, dramatic, and motivating. I debate over whether I should choose one experience and focus on that, thus making clear my motivation to be a doctor, but also making me like every other pre-med applicant. Or, leaving my statement as it is, which is an expanded explanation of my growing-list of past careers and how they led me here, thus setting me apart from the average applicant, but neglecting to speak of my personal motivations.
The entire process leaves me with sleepless nights filled with anxiety-induced dreams of not being able to find my umbrella even though it's raining outside (an obvious symbolism for not being properly equipped to handle med school) or of not being able to find my shoes. The bug killing incident left me only more drained. Pumping adrenaline and fear through an already-stressed system leaves you shaking and feeling hollow.
Tonight, after a healthy nap in the afternoon (during which I fell asleep on my bed with my feet hanging off the bed since my shoes were still on), I cooked, cleaned, and watched "Queer as Folk" with my roommate. Then I sat on my bed and read the most shallow flaky magazine I could find - In Style. I love this stuff. There are moments when I can't stand to read another Wall Street Journal or Vanity Fair and only want to look at clothes and make fun of celebrities. I noted all the fashion that appealed to me, clipping out pictures I liked and pasting them into my little collage book - which I haven't touched since August when I started school again. It was great. Who needs articles and words anyways when you can just look at the pictures?
Tomorrow - shopping. I told myself I was allowed to buy two items - one pair of new shoes (I'm thinking kitten heel slingbacks or stiletto pumps) and one cute top. Then I have to spend the rest of the evening studying. I haven't bought anything since beginning of March when I got one single lonely shirt from Club Monaco. For a gal who used to rack up 400-500 a month on shopping (v. modest by New York standards), I'm pretty proud of myself. My credit card bill has been less than 200 for a few months running now. Even my mother asks me, "Where is my daughter and what have you done with her?" Granted, without corporate America and without a paycheck, I feel a little less sophisticated, a little younger, a little less legitimate, and less mature, but I've learned to make do. I learned to cook, I learned to use supermarket-brand frozen vegetables, and I learned how to kill bugs. And... I kinda like it. Even the calluses on the balls of my feet have started to go away since I'm more often in sneakers now than pumps. Although I have to say, nothing makes you feel better than walking out in a pair of high heeled stilettos - for the first ten minutes that is, until your toes start to kill you. Absolutely indispensable have been my flat knee-high boots, which I wore so often this winter with skirts that the zipper broke after only one season =(. Damn Aldo.
Despite my best intentions and abandonment of the corporate world for the wholesomeness of medicine, I miss the frivolity a bit. I miss oo'ing and aah'ing over a pair of shoes in the window. I miss Barney's and Henri Bendel. I miss checking out the newest fashions for this season. I miss the sample sales. I've given up on dreaming of a Vera Wang wedding dress or of eventually owning a Hermes bag. Such glamorous things have no place in hospitals with cups of pee and drunken homeless men. Bring on the the Hush Puppies. I indulge myself with In Style these days - for $3.99.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, April 15, 2004]
I just killed a really. big. bug. And I screamed like a little girl as I smashed it. Then I dropped the rolled up magazine and ran away, still screaming.
Thank God my roommate wasn't around to witness it.
The remains are lying on the hood of my stove, staring at me. Every few minutes, I look at it nervously from where I'm sitting on the couch, writing my statistics paper. The reason I'm still afraid is because it came back to life twice, and I'm convinced it's going to come back again. It's like a bad horror movie where the bad guy just won't die.
I first heard it buzzing around my apartment when I was reading scientific papers on the effect of nitric oxide on infants with hypoxic respiratory problems. I saw it coming at me and leapt off the couch, yelping. I almost dropped my laptop. It fell into my bowl of grapes instead, so now I have sticky grape juice on the bottom of my laptop. I didn't see it again for the next few hours, when all of a sudden, I heard it buzzing again. It looked like a wasp as it landed on the hood of our stove. My fear of killing bugs is overcome only by my fear that it might bite me. I grabbed Rolling Stone and rolled it up in my hand. I'm hardly a careful steady stalker. My hands were shaking and I couldn't seem to move in anything but jerky motions. I couldn't even talk to myself and tell myself to get a grip. My mind was gibbering with fear. I smashed it once, and dropped the magazine on reflex because it had touched the bug. It looked dead, but I was afraid to touch it (I can manage to kill bugs, but I can't bring myself to clean them up), so I left both the magazine and the bug and went back to my laptop. A few minutes later, I turned around and the bug had come back to life and had crawled a few inches. I had to sidle back into the kitchen and shimmy my way along the wall towards the magazine on the floor so I could utilize it again. I had to smash it twice more as it kept coming back to life. There is nothing more terrifying than keeping your eye on a writhing bug as you try to make your way back to the magazine on the floor. Over and over again. Rolling Stone was sacrificed for the cause as it's now in the trash. It's been tainted.
I think it's dead now. It hasn't moved in half an hour. I left it on the hood of our stove. I can't bear to go near it or even touch it with a napkin. I wrote my roommate a terrified email (she spends the night with her girlfriend these days) and apologized profusely for the dead bug, but she'd have to clean it up when she comes home tomorrow night because I can't. Lucky for me she likes me.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, April 14, 2004]
Something wicked this way comes.
The Al-Jazeera reports on hostage killings bothers me on a level that I can't even put words to. It brings back all those previously hazy memories of Sightings and Unsolved Mysteries - where they predict the end of the world by Mayan prophecies crossed with Nostradamus prophecies. I used to watch those shows as a child, even though they terrified me to no end. They held a sort of unhealthy fascination for me - like roadkill that you don't want to look at but can't help but stare anyways.
They always predicted that the end of the world would come in the first 50 years of the 2000-3000 millenium. They said that the end would start in the Middle East, where everything began. The second coming of Christ will occur, but he will be demonized, and Satan will be reborn as a Savior who will betray us all in the end. I have no doubt that if Christ was to come again, the media will be responsible for demonizing him. He will be portrayed as another David Koresh, who was pretty much crucified by the American government. Despite the media's reporting of him as a terrible person, there must have been something kind and charismatic about Koresh that attracted such a large number of people to follow him.
If Christ was to come, would I recognize him as our Saviour? How many of us would scoff at a man who showed up and declared himself the Son of God? How many of us would write it off as yet another cult? How many of us would mock him as the Pharisees did? How many of the intellectual elite would turn their noses up?
The meek shall inherit the earth.
The fundamentals of "proper" war have been violated as human rights workers are kidnapped and killed. As if you could really put rules on war anyways. The first one to break the rules and fight dirty is always the one who wins while the rest of us reel with the bloody nose resulting from the sucker punch and cry foul to the celestial referee. Who's officiating this game anyways?
Every player has a finger in the pie somehow, willingly or unwillingly. The advent of technology, airplanes, and the internet have not only brought countries, individuals, and ideas closer but they've also inextricably linked all the countries to each other, tangled up so that tugging on one end causes stress and strain on the other.
I don't know who the kidnappers are, nor do I believe that they represent the Muslim faith. What I do know is that Palestinian suicide bombers have been killing civilians and children in Israel. I know that Israel, for some reason, believed that putting a missile through a paraplegic Palestinian as he's leaving morning prayer would help things. I know that the U.S. is somehow tangled up in all this through its ties with Israel. I know that every country is somehow tangled up in it as we all consume oil. I know that there must be a reason for why 9/11 happened. I know that we're all trapped as we continue to trade punches, one for one, claiming an eye for an eye each time, until infinity.
And somehow, beneath it all, I'm convinced that I am of the generation that will see The End, the Armageddon, the Second Coming. I have this uneasy feeling that it will come in my lifetime, and it somehow makes the daily struggles seem so trivial. I thought about talking to a priest about it, but then realized that priests too - are but mortal men. They can only guess and conjecture as much as I can. They have no answers because no one knows the future. All we can do is wait to find out.
But then again, every generation thinks they're the ones who will see the End. My father said he thought the end was near with the advent of nuclear power and nuclear bombs. My grandfather thought the end was near when people began flying in airplanes. My greatgrandfather thought the end was near when he saw the changes in the earth and global warming.
What governs each generation is the sharp reminder that we're human and mortal. Given only faith and no proof of the Afterlife, we can only cling onto what we do know - and that is This Life. Like parents with children, we worry and fret over that which we care for most - and at the end of the day, who else is that but ourselves? At the end of the day, despite all our cries for human rights and NATO and Geneva conventions, what are we but just another animal on this planet, concerned for survival and trying to be top lion so that our own pride will be the ones left standing? Little do we realize that the ecosystem exists on much grander scales than rainforests and desert. The world is a grand political ecosystem, and destroying one part of it will have ripple effects down the chain much like destroying one bacteria species has far-reaching consequences. We don't seem to understand that do we. But how can we be expected to, when we can't even understand it on a microcosmic level as we continue to indiscriminately destroy rainforests and mine the mountains for the sake of profit and greed and self interest.
God said that he would never destroy the Earth by water again. But he doesn't need to. The seeds of destruction lie within us and our gloried intellect.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, April 12, 2004]
What's in a name?
My cousin is pg. That's net-talk for "pregnant". Her and her husband have been picking out names for their little girl-to-be, and the lucky winner is "Ashley Michelle". For now at least. That's what guys would refer to as a "hot" name. You know, the kind of name you hear and then automatically associate an image to. To girls, a "hot" name would be Tyler, Colin, or Shawn.
All this talk about babies and naming had me thinking - a name is pretty important. It gives an impression of you. It defines you. It adds to your aura. And you define it - how many times have you disliked a certain name because you once disliked someone who had that name?
In Chinese culture, names have power. For that reason, your full Chinese name is never used in the household. You're normally given a family pet name of some sort - this way the evil spirits won't capture you and take you away. Thus, being called downstairs by your full Chinese name is always more terrifying than your average American parent calling you downstairs in that threatening tone of voice using your full English first, middle, and last name. As a Chinese child, not only are you terrified by the formality of using your full name (you must -really- be in trouble), but you're in SO much trouble that your parents don't even care of the spirits hear your full name and take you away.
Luckily for me, the Chinese naming will be left up to my parents. It is their right as grandparents to name my children, although grandparents in the past have been known to abuse that right. My mother cried for days after I was born because my grandfather had given her baby a boy's name. As such, I've had to battle teachers and camp counselors for a lifetime. "Yeah that's me." "...Are you sure?" "YES."
But the English name, ah, that will be my joy. For my parents, English names were a matter of convenience. They chose names that they would pronounce easily with their Chinese tongues. But for me, the English name will be where I can imbue my child with an essence even before their budding personalities are formed.
In the forerunning is Alexandra Evening. "Alexandra" pronounced as in "a-lex-auuuuwwwn-dra", not "a-lex-aaaaand-ra". My roommate claims that I am scarring my child with a middle name of "Evening". I claim that it is one of the few joys a parent has in life - the freedom to scar their child and thus gift them with funny childhood stories to tell when they grow up. No one successful in writing or entertainment ever had a normal childhood. In fact, they usually use their childhood for sources of comedy and inspiration. I would never deprive my child of that. Besides, considering that I was originally thinking of naming my child "Tree", I think "Alexandra Evening" is quite respectable. Having a less-conventional middle name is okay. No one ever knows your middle name anyways. "Alexandra E."
Besides, I like the certain words. They sound nice. They kinda roll around in your mouth and then come out all silken and smooth. That's like the word "Evening". It starts off kinda velvety and rolling in your mouth, like a butterscotch candy, and then slides off your tongue like hazelnut, smooth and yummy, leaving you with a slightly fuzzy feeling in your tummy
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, April 10, 2004]
Solitude: a blissful absence of looks.
I skipped my afternoon class today and headed off on my own. Stopped by the house to pick up my laptop, hiked up my backpack onto my shoulders and set out on my usual routine - walking the 10 minute walk to the Boston Public Library. Somehow, it's never really ten minutes though. I dawdle and dangle my way along, stopping for coffee at Starbucks and taking my own little windy way. I discovered the most enchanting flower shop on Tremont St. and decided last minute to study at the Christian Science library instead.
Four hours (and one nap later), I left the Christian Science Library to finish up the evening at the Boston Public Library. Somehow, on the way to the BPL, I ended up wiling away an hour at the Virgin Megastore sampling cd's, walking out with the Outkast cd and the Waking Life dvd, calling my brother up on a whim to have dinner, stopped by J.P. Licks for some ice cream, before finishing up at Barnes and Nobles instead of the BPL.
It felt so good. I felt happy walking home at 11:30 pm. What is it about a day spent alone that just fills you up with goodness?
Having someone along is never quite the same. What I love about being on my own is the same thing I love about driving - the endless possibilities. When I'm out in the city on my own, -anything- could happen. I can go anywhere at a moment's notice. I probably wouldn't have dawdled away an hour at Virgin if a friend was there. I would have felt compelled to leave after 10 minutes so we could get to studying like we planned. Oddly enough, dawdling on my own is only enjoyable after I've made friends. Moving to a new city is always hard, and I find myself awfully lonely during times like those, feeling wistful that I don't have anyone to explore this new city with. The irony is - once I've made friends in the city, I don't explore with them anyways. That is when I enjoy being alone the most. So what's the difference between solitude then and now? Perhaps it's because the latter feels more like a choice, and the former feels merely pathetic. I like being alone when I feel loved.
Tomorrow, I've invited a friend to come along. After tonight's orgy of solitary revelry though, I'm wishing I could have it again tomorrow. But un-inviting someone is hardly acceptable. Things like this make me think that maybe I'm not designed for marriage. When you're married, you don't even get your own room.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, April 03, 2004]
5300 characters or less.
So, I've been working on my personal statement for medical school for the past few months now. Every few weeks or so, I pull it out and work on it a bit. I think I've got it spruced up pretty well. It flows nicely, its concise, and I've trimmed most of the fat that I'm guilty of adding in an orgy of word-usage pleasure. The basis of every personal statement for ANY graduate school you apply to is: Why do you want to be become a [fill in profession here]. Considering that I took such a long and winding road to medicine, I've got some serious explaining to do. And explain I do, in 1100 words. I'm quite proud of myself. Eloquent, structured logically (thanks to my engineering background), some positive spin on it (thanks to the bullshitting skills I learned in consulting), and persuasive. I lay down my arguments and evidence like any good lawyer, and sell myself as well as any good used car salesman.
While I was sleeking back my hair in pride, my friend AIM'ed me and asked how it was going. Whether I'd stayed under the 5300 mark. "Yup," I responded smugly, "I'm at 1100." There was a long pause. He said, "You do realize I mean 5300 characters, right?"
5000 CHARACTERS. Including blank spaces. I have to justify my life from the age of 16 on within 5300 characters. I kid you not. I'm at 6300 characters currently, meaning that I have to cut out almost 20% of my current essay. There's no way I can do that without seriously ruining the flow of the essay. How can anyone make a CHARACTER limit instead of a word limit? How am I supposed to convince a higher education institution to take me when I'm forced to use the shortest simplest words I can to communicate?
Know what I'm doing right now? Yeah, you got it. I'm going through my essay and deleting the extra space between a period and the beginning of a new sentence. I'm breaking formatting rules - only one space allowed between sentences now.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, April 02, 2004]
It's funny. As I get older, I find myself becoming more and more of girly girl - the type I used to hate. I find myself becoming more and more like my mother, taking on traits that I associate with older women. Ever since I had an overdose of babysitting gigs as a teenager, I haven't particularly liked children. I didnt' mind them so much, but I had no desire to have any of my own. So my stint as a Pediatrics volunteer was more out of obligation - I felt like it would be good for me to have a wider range of hospital volunteering experience.
Each week I go though, I find myself disliking children less and less. For some reason, little kids don't gross me out as much as adults do. Having a child pee on me by mistake elicits a reaction of "....great," whereas an adult peeing on me would make me want to go burn my own skin off. I regularly wipe the snot off their faces and maintain a poker face as they hack up phlegm in my presence and then display it proudly. Yes honey, green!!
Today though, made me sad. The pediatrics unit was unusually quiet. Slow day. The nurses were relieved to see me. There's only one little girl in the unit, and they'd been taking her with them as they cleaned the rooms - so she would have company. As soon as I put my coat and backpack down, I went to find her. I found her sitting in a highchair in her room. I was surprised to find out she was 2, as she didn't look to be any older than 1. Then the nurse whispered Desire's story to me. She's undernourished and her growth is stunted. She's an abused child you see. She's in the hospital with a broken arm and a gash on her forehead. We're hoping she'll eat more if she's happier. I kneeled down and whispered, "Let me see your booboo..." and she proudly whipped her arm up and showed me her cast with the Tweety bird sticker on it. I wanted to cry. I carried her to the playroom and set her down on a blanket. She didn't speak at all, but she shook the green box of crayons happily and pointed and nodded her head or shook her head. She had the sweetest smile I had ever seen on a little girl. It really broke my heart. She drank almost all of her strawberry nutrient drink while I was there, and even went poo!! I have never been so proud of smelling a dirty diaper before.
When I left at the end of my shift, Desire had been taken away. The D.A. had showed up at the hospital to take pictures of the injuries before releasing her into foster care. She whined and cried as they were taking her out of the playroom and had one green crayon clutched in her hand. I wanted to take her home with me and tell her it would be okay. Yeah, me. The person who can't even handle picking up dog poo.
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.