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
[Monday, January 31, 2005]
New York is always so stimulus-laden that I cannot help but want to write.
On the Greyhound bus home, the distinguished older gentleman across the aisle pulled out his laptop. Ugh, I remember those days - the ex-consultant in me thought. Work on planes and buses. As he booted up his laptop, Windows 98 popped up. Ha, the technogeek in me thought, I hope his files are backed up somewhere. As his desktop loaded, there was a tiled photo of a man in a wheelchair. I wondered who it was. His father maybe. Perhaps deceased. Maybe he keeps it like that so his father smiles out at him through eternity, encouraging him to carry on through the dreariness of the workday. Ah ha, I thought as the first thing he loaded was Outlook. Just as I suspected. Cubicle monkey! He composed an email and starting typing carefully with two fingers, "Dear Princess." My eyes widened. Workplace intrigue!
Though I knew what I was doing was technically "voyeurism", I couldn't help but continue reading his email over his shoulder. It continued,
"Today the department chair saw the shoes I was wearing. They are the pair we purchased together I think at DSW shoestore."
The shopper in me corrected him, DSW Shoe Warehouse. And "shoe store" is two words not one.
"They are the tan pair with laces. When he saw them, he said to me, "Those are nice shoes." I told him, "My wife picked them out for me. She's in Russia now. I do not wear all the clothes she wants, but I do wear these shoes."
He talked more about being promoted, and his female coworker's shoe "calandar".
"Remember that time on the subway platform in Paris, you said that woman's shoes were stunning, and I wanted to ask her where she bought them, but you wouldn't let me. I wish I'd bought you those shoes."
My heart clenched a bit. So this is no workplace intrigue, and his writing (and spelling) are both atrocious, but something in the simplicity of this man's two-fingered typing to his faraway wife (who obviously, is a large fan of shoes like most women are), something in the innocent guileless-ness of his simple sentences, tugged persistently at my heart strings. Instead of fancy poetry, I was touched by the simple earnestness of his email. And his yearning for his wife shone through clearly, without fancy words and complex sentences to obscure it. He signed it simply, I love you.
I wondered if his wife knew how lucky she was to be in her middle age and still have a husband who hasn't tired of her. I thought of the marvels of technology, and how it really has made the world smaller. Twenty years ago, this man with the grey hair and silver at the temples would have only been able to miss his wife alone, and comfort himself by wearing the shoes they picked out together. But now, he can send his love through cyberspace. Literally. For it won't just be bits and bytes of text sent through the web, but a distinct warm feeling that he had when thinking of his Princess and writing that email. And when those bits and bytes arrive on the other side, in the form of black and white text, the warm feeling will come along with it, flowing out of the screen in waves to envelope Princess as she warms her own heart with his words. I wonder if the internet can develop a life of its own, sampling from all the feelings of lust, love, anger, laughter, and regret that are sent through it. For all those emails that are deleted unopened by angry lovers, where does the love and apology in that letter go? Do all those good intentions and feelings of regret congregate at a halfway house for lost emails? And lament what they could've been?
Sometimes, with life getting as hectic as it does, its all I can do to bind myself in a cast iron shell and protect the core of who I am from the assault of med school rejections, demanding parents and patients, and embittered friends. Distance and almost inappropriate humor is necessary in order to cope - so one doesn't become too emotionally entangled in everything, so one doesn't drown. It's easier somehow to cocoon yourself, to leave work at work, to let your eyes slide over others and not think of anything beyond your immediate needs. But today's small window into this man's life, viewed surreptitiously over his shoulder, through a window frame of a laptop, reminded me jarringly that we are all alive. And not just alive, but living and so very human. It's so easy to become self-absorbed and tunnel-visioned and lose sight of how truly small we are in the grand scheme of things. I am but one of many people with dreams and aspirations. And alone with me in this bus are 46 other people, who lead lives of their own, with loved ones and personal tragedies. And for 2 hours tonight, we all sat together in a small cramped box-on-wheels, in close quarters, inches from each other, but miles apart. Though we shared the same space, we didn't share our lives. For 2 hours tonight, the strings of these 47 lives ran parallel to each other down the New Jersey Turnpike at 65 mph, but didn't once cross paths. Except for the Ink-stained string touching Shoe-man's string, briefly and surreptitiously.
What is important in our lives anyways? Before he wrote emails for work, Shoe-man wrote to his Princess. And though my own laptop has my med school files on it, much more precious to me are my photos and my music. Memories of my family and friends. Seeing my friends this weekend made me realize that we're not just the post-feminist, post-techboom generation. We're also the pendulum generation. Though the majority of my friends lead "successful" lives working at jobs they're slightly discontent at, I could see the seeds of revolution being sown in New York City - the home of success, material wealth, and Wall Street. After a few decades of tech boom, a hunger for stuff, and a disintegration of the nuclear family (as both mom and dad put in more hours joining the cubicle culture), signs are approaching that perhaps the end is near and a backlash may be brewing under the surface.
Signs recruiting teachers in a NY subway say:
"You remember your first grade teacher's name. Who will remember your name?"
"When's the last time your spreadsheet changed lives?"
This shows that the dissatisfaction is no longer just an undercurrent of fractious individuals, but a restless stirring massive enough to capture the attention of PR marketers for NYC teaching fellowships and Citibank's advertising firm, who chides the young professional:
"Remember when 6 figures meant the action heroes on your bedstand?"
Pop culture has also tapped into this, making shows like Desperate Housewives wildly popular. But is it enough to recognize the signs if one doesn't hear them? As more and more individuals leave consulting and finance to enrich themselves by being a teacher or spending more time with their own children, "rich" is being re-defined before our very eyes. After the pendulum swung to an extreme of excessive preoccupation with the collection of material goods (and the rise of the yuppie), it's now swinging back to a concern for contributions to more than just your 401K and your Pottery Barn furniture. Ironic that such a value revolution would be recognized, encapsulated, and targeted by a bank's ad campaign.
Live Richly. -Citibank
Understood by the generation of young professionals is the figurative meaning in the slogan. The only question now is - will you heed the call?
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, January 25, 2005]
Africa. In Print.
In Monday's Boston Globe - an article about the organization I worked with this past September in South Africa.
HIS SUMMER CAMPS PROVIDE FUN, GAMES, AND LESSONS ABOUT LIFE AND THE EPIDEMIC
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff | January 24, 2005
MAGALIESBURG, South Africa -- Neo Pertunia, a 15-year-old girl from Soweto, recalls nervously packing for a 10-day summer camp this month, the longest she would ever be away from home.
She stuffed two pairs of jeans, five T-shirts, and her beloved baby-blue high-top sneakers into a bag. And she carried with her the sound of her worried mother's voice, "Please take care of yourself, Neo."
Eight days into Camp Sizanani, founded by a man who ran a camp on remote Echo Lake in Maine for 30 years, the smiling teenager said she would leave a changed person. "When I get home, I'll teach my family everything I learned," Pertunia said. "There's so much to say. But I especially want to talk to my mother about sex. Before, I was afraid, but now I know I have to."
In the green hills northwest of Johannesburg, in the heat of the Southern Hemisphere's summer, a camp for children affected by AIDS has been a revelation for those from the dusty streets of Soweto, a sprawling urban township of more than 2.5 million people. The summer camp, a ritual for millions of American children, is a precious rarity in Africa. Here, the children have had their first taste of endless days of planned, fun-filled activities. And for an hour every day, they learn about AIDS and how to protect themselves.
It started one year ago because of one man's dream. Philip Lilienthal, 64, the former director of Camp Winnebago in Fayette, Maine, believed he "needed a challenge, to go where there was a need."
Leaving Camp Winnebago in the hands of his son, Andy, he opened operations in the epicenter of the AIDS pandemic, in a country where an estimated 5 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In one year, his camps have brought in 781 young South Africans for 10-day or two-week sessions, at a combined cost of just $370,000. Almost all the funding came from those on Lilienthal's long e-mail list, including families of his Maine campers and counselors.
Now he faces the challenge of getting more children in camp -- in South Africa, and eventually around the continent. He's soliciting contributions from corporations, foundations, and the US government, but securing more funds in the future is far from certain. Still, he hasn't let that stop him.
"I want to be all over Africa," said Lilienthal, a retired lawyer from Virginia and a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia in the mid-1960s. "I've wanted to get back in Africa for 35 years and do stuff. Everyone thinks I'm so philanthropic and generous, but I'm not that at all. This is exactly what I want to be doing."
For Pertunia, whose aunt died of AIDS, Camp Sizanani (Zulu for "helping each other") has left her feeling more knowledgeable about AIDS and more confident to express her feelings.
"I had my doubts about this camp. I thought maybe we would be sleeping in a forest, without blankets, and do hard things," she said during a lunch break this week. "But I've learned so much -- from different parts of male and female bodies, to swimming, to trusting other people."
She said trying to learn about sex in her Soweto neighborhood "is like a puzzle. You have all these pieces but don't know how to put them together. Now I know."
Her next challenge, she said, would be to talk about sexuality with her mother. "I have faith I can communicate with her," Pertunia said. "But in our culture, it's hard. It takes so long to get to the point."
Lilienthal formed the organization WorldCamps about 18 months ago without any funding or without any sure site to start the first camp. On a scouting trip to Africa, he met Michelle Schorn, the director of HIVSA, a South African nonprofit group that works with young people affected by AIDS, and the two agreed to work together. Schorn would locate the children, ages 10 to 15; some were from orphanages, while many others had a family member who either died of AIDS or is living with the virus. The camps would be single-sex, girls and boys alternating.
The camps, based on the Winnebago model, include swimming, arts and crafts, theater, music, and challenging outdoor activities. But the schedule diverts from the Maine camp in a significant way: a daily class on life skills focuses on AIDS, sexuality, and gender relations; teaching is tailored to the ages of the group.
The goal is to increase awareness about AIDS and "maybe save some lives," Lilienthal said.
But the experience has had other benefits, as well, causing some to change their behavior, he said.
"We thought the best we'd get is progress on AIDS," Lilienthal said. "We didn't expect much more out of 10 days. But these kids glom on to everything as if they are starved. They take anything they can get. It's just marvelous."
Fortunate Mathabela, 15, said she especially enjoyed activities that built trust among her peers. Standing in front of a 12-foot wall topped by a platform, counselors urged the teenagers to devise a plan to get all 19 of them over it.
One by one, the campers hoisted one another over the wall, to great applause with every success. "I wasn't nervous at all," Mathabela said afterward. "They must lift me over. I trust them."
At the end, counselor Katlego Skosana, 23, of Soweto, told them: "What you learned here doesn't end here. This is just the beginning. When you go home, that is when life really starts. Remember, guys, have fun all the way."
A fellow counselor, Chris Kolb, 23, of Kansas City, Mo., added, "If you can learn this, you can learn everything. See this huge wall? Think about it. If you work together as a team, you can do it. Nothing is too tough. You're tough, you're a team, you're powerful!"
He then led them in a single-word chant: "Power!" they shouted.
Afterward, Mathabela, who had scaled the wall, said the other campers in her cabin would likely discuss the accomplishment that night, after lights were out. Every night, she said, the nine of them stayed up till 1 a.m. talking, switching seamlessly from language to language.
Most of the girls know Zulu and English. Mathabela, whose primary language is Tsonga, speaks seven languages.
"We laugh, we talk, we tease each other," she said of the nighttime discussions. "We talk about AIDS and sex. I am very open to them. Even though I didn't know them before, they are good friends now."
The 114 campers from Soweto left for home this week on two school buses. It is always a tearful moment, said camp director Jacob Makgato, 23. "You feel a part of you is being taken away," he said.
But the experience is not meant to end there. For one thing, the camp encourages the children to attend gatherings in Soweto on two Saturdays every month, in hopes of reinforcing messages and friendships among them. And for another, Lilienthal, Makgato, and the counselors hope the few days of fun, camaraderie, and life lessons cause some to set new goals.
"I won't fully claim that we change lives in 10 days," Makgato said. "But we lay a foundation for that. At home, they hear many negative things, that they can't do this and can't do that. Here, we tell them different things; we tell them they can do things. The activities we do are not just for fun, but they are meant to be lifelong lessons."
For more information on WorldCamps, go to www.worldcamps.org.
John Donnelly can be reached at email@example.com.
Posted by ink |
Weekend in Boston was interesting.
1. Friend G. (who I was staying with) came out to me.
2. Friend G. then educated me on the biological location of the prostate gland (he thinks it's God's idea of a sick joke that the male G-spot is located in his butt, where most males are too afraid of going). Apparently, it's not 7 inches up as my co-worker has insisted. Friend G. knows this for sure because he says he's done it to himself before, and his finger is not 7 inches long. It was an educational conversation, to say the least. I was half-mortified to be discussing this, but kept my best poker face and nodded intelligently through it all. G. thinks that hetero guys are really missing out, though I'm sure if you ask most hetero guys - they prefer it that way. In his opinion, liking your prostate stimulated doesn't mean you're gay. You just like to have your prostate stimulated. Liking guys means you're gay. Obviously, G. also shed his shyness and conservative nature when he came out of the closet. Where is my friend and what have you done with him? He gets an A for enthusiasm though. Why is it that I've had two conversations about butts and prostate glands within the past month?
3. Lunch with Bald Eagle turned into dinner and a movie at his apartment. Nothing serious happened, but it wasn't because of our admirable self-control. I totally caved. Halfway through things though, I elbowed him in the face and gave him a bloody nose. I wish I could say it was a well-placed blow, but I did it by mistake. It wasn't one of my best moments. But it saved me from making some bad choices.
4. The blizzard covered my car completely. All that was left was my driver's side rear-view mirror, sticking out of the snowdrift like a hand calling out for help. It took G. and I three hours to dig it out. And only with the help of a shovel borrowed from one of the people who live in the projects where I parked my car.
5. I submitted my thesis.
Oddly enough, ever since I got back from Boston, I've felt... dumped. Now that my thesis is done, there's that same strange feeling of suddenly having all this time to yourself and not knowing what to do with it. Like when you first break up with a boyfriend.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, January 21, 2005]
The Eagle Has Flown.
So, I'm in Boston this weekend, to turn in my thesis. Bald Eagle called and said he wanted to have dinner tonight. A little fishy, but I agreed. I'm being very brave and wearing a skirt even despite the freezing conditions up here.
I'm hoping to cough all my germs onto his car when he comes to pick me up tonight.
Posted by ink |
Today, I have printed out what is (hopefully) the last version of my thesis before I have to print it on thesis-quality paper. After 3 brutal months, I think I'm finally finished. I've gone through 7 revisions, and 5 reams of paper. I practically have my own "kill the trees" campaign going on here.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 17, 2005]
Apple ipod. 4G.
So, now that I've had my ipod for about a week, I think I can make a relatively fair assessment of it. Granted, I ask a lot of my electronics, and the ipod has measured up in most ways. What I love - I love the small size, the light weight, and the touch wheel. Of course - I love the fact that I can carry around every song in the world on it, and it won't skip when I'm running. I love that I can use it as a portable hard drive for traveling.
However, considering how much detail Apple seemed to have put into the ipod (including the nice packaging), I was disappointed that the in-line remote is so poorly made. The clip is so small that it won't even clip securely to the edge of my kangaroo pocket on my hoodie. And its impossible to even use the clip without putting the remote on hold first, since the buttons get in the way. Speaking of the buttons - it'd be nice to make the buttons touch-able. The "Play/Pause" button is the same size and shape as the "volume" button. Since I can't seem to clip the remote onto anything, there's no way to "feel" for the right button in my pocket and click "pause", without occasionally deafening myself with the volume button instead. This means I have to pull out the remote and look at it before pushing the appropriate button. In my mind, this defeats the purpose of the remote. I may as well pull out the entire ipod, look at it, and then push "pause/play".
I'm also unimpressed with the mirror finish. Finger prints galore!!! And a mirror finish on the in-line remote? Give me a break. Having an ipod mini-like brushed metallic finish would have been much more practical.
The touch-wheel is very nice, and I'm impressed at how quickly I can whiz down my list of artists. But, how come if I start at A, I can't roll my thumb counter-clockwise and immediately get to Z? Instead, I have to go through all the letters of the alphabet. From a programmatic standpoint, it wouldn't have been a huge deal to loop the alphabet.
The battery life has been bashed in numerous internet forums, so I'll refrain from it here.
This last item never occurred to me until I was walking out of work listening to my ipod. As I walked with my shoulders hunched over from the cold, through the streets of Philadelphia, I found myself wishing that the white ipod earbuds were a little more unobtrusive. Perhaps it's because I'm a hardened veteran of city-living, but to me, those glaring white cords coming out of your pocket felt equivalent to wearing a huge sign that said "Mug me." It's like wearing your expensive digicam around your neck in plain view as you troop through the Bronx at night. Or flashing your big fat engagement ring in a foreign country where you're a tourist. Needless to say, I think I will be purchasing black earbuds in the near future, just for my own peace of mind.
Future additions I'd like to see:
1) FM tuning. With a screen already available, putting digital tuning on shouldn't be a problem. Plus, when traveling, I like listening to what's on local stations.
2) An LCD screen on the remote so I don't have to pull out the ipod to see what song I'm listening to (especially important if you're listening to new music you just bought off of itunes)
Overall though, I love this piece of equipment even more than my cell phone (I can tell because I know at all times where my ipod is, whereas I search frantically for my cell phone every morning). I've taken to listening to music before I go to bed and writing in my journal. And, I bought clothing so my ipod wouldn't have to be naked. I think the rubber ipod cases are hideous (like putting plastic over your furniture. tacky!), so I settled on a nice foofpod instead. I got the paisley, for now. But I can't wait till the kimono fabrics are available in February. I'll probably get another foofpod at that point in time.
Anyone know whether I can have the ipod NOT sync to whatever computer I plug into? For example, if my friend has a song on his computer that I want to put onto my laptop, I don't want my own stuff to be wiped out. I just want to add that one song to my ipod.
Posted by ink |
[Sunday, January 16, 2005]
whoaaaaa.... we're halfway the-ere! WHOOOOAAAAA, LIVING ON A PRAYER!!!
I'm about halfway through the med school interviewing process, more than halfway through my thesis, and just beginning the break-in period of my new ipod. I love Bon Jovi. I used to rock out to him when I was 14, playing air guitar alone in my bedroom. All tall and gangly, more arms and legs than anything else, very bony, and definitely awkward. But Bon Jovi made you feel so cool. I actually believed that I gave love a bad name, even though I'd never even spoken a word to my high school crush of 4-years.
Even though itunes is on my laptop, I insisted on testing out the battery life of my ipod by rolling through all my songs. Bon Jovi, being a "B" came pretty early on. And rocking out when you're 24 is not much different than when you're 14. I can see the movie of my life now. The screen would be split down the middle, left side - 14 year old Ink rocking out on her bed. Right side - 24 year old Ink, jamming in the dining room instead of working on her thesis.
Just like when I was 14, my dad came busting in on the scene and asked me what the hell I was doing. But this time, instead of following that up with telling me to keep the racket down (yay for earbuds!), he stuck simply with asking me what was going on.
"Nothing dad. Just singing."
"Oh. I thought you were hurt or something."
Posted by ink |
[Friday, January 14, 2005]
For all the bashing that New Jersey takes, I don't think I've seen as many beautiful sunsets as I have when driving down the turnpike. Tonight's repertoire consisted of mostly pinks and oranges, with a smattering of gray clouds rat-tat-tatting through, like wavy lines in the sand at the beach.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, January 13, 2005]
I learned a few important lessons some days ago. 1) I should always remember that no matter what I do, if it's something that involves being scandalous, the odds are ALWAYS against me. 2) When I think I cannot possibly be more embarassed, I'm always proven wrong.
I'm going to Boston next weekend to get my thesis taken care of. I still have friends in Boston, but that's also where Bald Eagle lives. I debated whether I should call him up and see if I can stay with him. See, the one other time I slept with a guy I wasn't in a relationship with, I didn't want anything to do with him afterwards. Even seeing him made me feel sick. I guess it's my Catholic side talking. I didn't want to talk to him, and I didn't answer phone calls. In a nutshell, I didn't want to be reminded of my indiscretion. Even though I didn't mind talking to Bald Eagle when he called on the phone, even after our soiree, there was no guarantee that I'd still be okay if I saw him. The last thing I wanted was to knock on his door with a bagful of my things and start to feel gross when he opened the door. Then I'd have to pretend I had my period. Besides, what if he says no when I ask if I can stay over? I'd just die of embarassment.
My best friend Kenmore urged me to do it. "No guy says no to a girl staying over. Trust me." And since Kenmore has never been wrong before, I took the plunge. I IM'ed Bald Eagle and asked whether I could stay with him next weekend since I'm going to be in Boston. "Sure". Wow. That was easy. Half an hour later, it all fell apart.
"So, I was thinking in the shower. I think it's a bad idea for you to stay over."
"Well, if you stay over, I know we're going to end up hooking up. And not just once, but a lot."
That's the point, jackass."And that would be bad because...?"
"Well, I'd feel guilty about it. Things with me and this girl just got serious."
What girl? He obviously wasn't thinking about her last week when he took me out. Bald Eagle had given me the distinct impression that he had hooked up with a few girls here or there, but nothing serious. He only directly mentioned one girl that he shags pseudo-regularly, but he only referred to her as "great, because she doesn't expect anything of me, and she calls me once in a while for booty calls and such." This girl turned into the Serious Girl of now. But I didn't believe him. What are the odds that things suddenly turn serious within one week since he got back to Boston?
My theory is that since he spent 4 nights in a row with her when he got back, his conscience was biting at him. I asked him why he didn't bother to tell me they'd gotten serious. He embarassedly confessed that he liked me and since this might just be an upswing with Serious Girl that would die off later, he didn't want to tell me until he was sure. And, he didn't expect me to come to Boston so soon. I pointed out that there was a good chance we'd end up down the street from each other next year since he was going to dental school a few blocks away from where I'll be going to med school. I called him a player. And he defensively shot back, "I'm not a player. I've only been with two girls."
I sat in stunned silence for a second. He'd only been with two girls, ever, including me. The missing part of the puzzle was the misleading impression I had that he'd fooled around here and there. If I'd known he'd been fooling around with the same girl for the past year, it would've sent the red flags up in my head and I would've seen this coming. Even worse, he was the only person she'd ever been with. And vice versa for him, that is, until last week. As it was, I was embarassed enough just by the entire situation. My ears were burning, and I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
Looks like Bald Eagle isn't quite the frequent flier I assumed him to be, despite his immaculate grooming (I found out that his secret to avoiding some serious stubble is to tweeze).
I can't believe I defied the odds twice - once that he would find a serious girlfriend within one week, and secondly - that someone who spends that much time "down there" turns out to only be showing it to a few people. Sounds like an awful lot of work for little reward.
"So. It's gonna be hard for me not to call you since I know you'll be in town that weekend. Do you want to hang out? You can meet her if you want."
I was speechless. The neurons in his brain obviously aren't firing correctly. What am I supposed to do, introduce myself and then say "Yeah, I slept with your boyfriend last week"?
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, January 11, 2005]
Pardon me, while I burst into flames.
Does anyone realize how ugly and tacky the thank-you-card selection is?
In all my excitement, I decided that I had to thank all the people who helped me to the precipitous moment. At the top of the list are my faculty recommenders, who I know also sat on the admissions committee. Most med schools accept 80% of their class in April, only accepting a small fraction earlier on. I have no idea how I made the first cut, but someone must've been really pulling for me in that board room. My bets are on the professor who wrote my recommendation and constantly hits on me.
I visited two different artsy card stores, Barnes and Noble, and Borders, all to no avail. I didn't want anything with little flowers on it, I didn't want anything with cute little cartoon animals on it (or even real animals), and I didn't want anything that looked kitschy or funny. I wanted something elegant, conservative, and sophisticated. I ended up paying 14 dollars for 2 (yeah, read that, TWO) thank you cards at Blue Tulip, a paper store down the street from me. For 7 bucks a card, you'd think I would've gotten exactly what I wanted. But all I really got was a lesser poison. There are still little flowers on it, but at least it's only 1 little flower, with tiny beads for the petals instead. I went for the 3-d look. It had a beautiful pearly finish, and has that little extra flap of tissue paper before you see the writing on the card.
Then I went and wrote on it with my sentences slanting slightly upwards to the right. Gah.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 10, 2005]
Okay, now that I've composed myself a bit...
My dad called me this evening and said,
"I have the smartest daughter ever."
I didn't need to hear anymore. He'd already opened the letter, but that's nothing new. My dad follows my med school applications like its a fantasy football league. He rips open all of my med school mail. I usually come home to a pile of opened rejections, so what a relief to find this one. Its sitting on my kitchen table and I still can't believe it. I'm in. I'm going to be a doctor! Fear for the healthcare system... I feel like I took the biggest gamble of my entire life, and somehow, incredibly, won.
I'm smart, kids!!!
And I'm not just smart because I say so, but OTHER PEOPLE BELIEVE ME TOO (the people in Boston especially!).
I'm home alone tonight. After work, I went out to eat with my coworkers, then stopped by my high school friend's house to tell her the good news. My parents are gone for the week. They left after waiting for the mailman (ha). I want to dance. But I'll settle for prancing through the house naked.
[insert photo of acceptance letter here. My memory card in my digicam is corrupt!!!! Boo...]
Posted by ink |
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
I JUST GOT INTO MED SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!
Posted by ink |
[Sunday, January 09, 2005]
"I walk the empty streets, on the boulevard of broken dreams," - Green Day
I think the road may end here for Ink. My run of luck has ended. You know, that luck that somehow landed me into a prestigious whatever-I-was-applying-for at the time. 7 interviews, 3 rejections, and 1 waitlist later - here I am. The line of sickeningly elitist brand names marching across my resume ends in a brick wall of unyielding admissions committees who won't see past numbers and that infernally pesky undergraduate GPA. All the interviews I've gotten so far have been from third tier schools, with the exception of two second tiers. I have a feeling that I somehow slid by on personality in previous years, but the medical schools seem to be immune to my unwitting charm. Every few days, I fall into a stupor in which I'm demoralized, de-scouraged, and every other de- you can think of, including - paradoxically enough, de-void of all feeling.
This is quite possibly the worst process known to man. What other institution keeps you hanging for a full year and 3 months (potentially) and doesn't tell you when they'll notify you? Any day could bring news. I feel like a man at death's door who is told that at any point between now and next year, I could be cured. Obviously, the man loses hope after the first 8 months of fruitless hope. If I was to assign female stereotypes to med school, I wouldn't call her a high class lady who only puts out after certain ceremonies have been performed. Law and business are lady-like. They follow these nice proper convenient little things like deadlines and notification dates. Med school is a tease, the neighborhood girl who sometimes puts out if she feels like it. Of course, the constant daily prospect of maybe getting some makes the rest of us want her more. Why must it be like this.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, January 08, 2005]
I wrote that number for the first time yesterday in my journal. 2005. It felt strange and wriggly, the way all new things do. Slightly foreign and thus suspicious, but exciting all the same. 2005. And I can already add a name into my little red leather book of "Snogs" that I received upon college graduation. On average, the yearly number probably hovers around 0.3, since I tend to skip entire years at times. Despite all my grand declarations, I tend to slide on the conservative side of the sexual deviancy line. I'm never a victim of the office christmas party. The holidays don't make me lonely at all (in fact, I'm usually thankful I have one less present to worry about. I have a tendency to overgift - in the sense that while I'm shopping for the required 4 or 5 people that I know are definitely getting me gifts, I find perfect presents for other individuals. And I feel like there's a certain karma to Christmas gift-giving. If the perfect present for someone presents itself, you can't ignore it and hold back. It's a sign. Besides, considering what some of my friends put up with on a yearly basis, a $40/year "subscription" to their services still means I'm getting a damn good deal. This tendency to overgift due to this semi-chaotic sliding scale of chance meant that I spent entirely too much on gifts this year, $250 on my brother, plus some on a variety of other people who, as luck would have it, had their "gift" thrown in the path of my holiday shopping).
"Take my photo off the wall if it just won't sing for you." - Jet
I love that line. Certain lines in songs just capture my imagination. My brother's sassy ipod gift (on which he engraved "To my sister Ink. We're even now, okay?" A wonderful way to ruin an otherwise nice gift. The first Christmas gift ever, actually, that I've received from him. Quite the nice way to mark the occasion, eh?) has made me rediscover music. Along with the rediscovery of music has been my rediscovery of angst, love lost, and drug-induced lyrics. Funny how when you're 14, a mix tape can change your life. Funny how at 24, a mix playlist can still change your life. Now that my thesis is winding down, I find myself slowly stirring back to life. The detached surgical way I've been approaching life for the past few months is fading. I can tell my emotions and my voice are rusty by the way my hand cramped up last night when I wrote in my journal. The muscles haven't been used in a long time. I haven't written much since my return from Africa in October. Coming back to middle-class suburbia and its vacuum-like dearth of stimulus, especially in comparison to Africa, probably shocked my brain into withdrawal. It would be music that would draw me out, wouldn't it. Though, emotions have been on my mind as of late, anyways.
So let's talk about this year's snog - The Bald Eagle. The utterly fastidious Bald Eagle. What is nice about Bald Eagle is that he mixes a bit of boyfriend/couple-ness in with everything, but without that scary commitment thing. Pretty smart of him. The interesting paradox of all this is that Bald Eagle is probably the most anti-hookup material you can find. Over dinner, he talked about choosing a career that will be lucrative because he's the man, and he feels like he should be able to support his future family. But, he also wants to have time to do what he likes - such as spend time with the kids, and be a soccer dad. He must not have seen the stunned look on my face because he continued talking about how he wantes to coach peewee soccer. I'm ashamed to say that against my better judgement, and against all logical reasoning, I felt a panic attack encroaching with those words. I don't know why I have to be such a guy about this. Isn't this what all women look for in men? Bald Eagle is one year younger than me, but he's obviously eons more mature. My hopes that he may be a freak of nature were dashed when my friend Welling echoed similar sentiments about peewee soccer.
How can I be so emotionally behind in development? These are boys, they're supposed to mature slower. Is my biological clock broken? I want to grab it and rattle it, just to make sure its ticking. Is it permanently broken? Or does it just need a new battery? The prospect of children itself doesn't bother me, but perhaps the prospect of me being "mom" is what does. I have a hard time reconciling who I am now, with someone who will cart children around to soccer games and clean up spilled juice. Will I be a soccer mom? Probably at some point. But why does becoming that, feel so much like losing who I am now? Why do I feel like Ink will be swallowed up by "mom" and "wife"? Why am I so irrationally afraid of it? After all, millions of women go through the change and emerge intact.
Funny. I tend to feel lonely, not during the holidays, but during the fall. I think because the fall, with its change of seasons, reminds me of the passage of time. There's something about the fall that makes me want to spend it with someone. Its no fun being nostalgic alone. That and, the change of seasons reminds me that I'm another year older - and still single. Though it doesn't worry me as much on a personal level (it definitely worrries my mother), it does worry me a bit more on a pragmatic level. I feel like I should be dating someone. Luckily, this strange sense of obligation to a weird arbitrary guideline for life-scheduling doesn't last longer than the few anxious weeks of fall. Another part of me wonders whether I'm capable of love. I show appalling lack of emotional reaction to most men, including those with stellar resumes. Am I doomed to float through life alone in my bubble, sampling from this or that when I'm bored or when the fancy strikes me? It sounds like a lonely existence. Pseudo-Amelie-like, the rest being Miss Havisham.
"Every single one's got a story to tell," -White Stripes
As foreign as the thought of being in love seems, the prospect of living a life without it sounds even more daunting. Is it possible for ying to exist without her yang? For Alice to not have her Knight? Am I Elphaba?
"Cuz all that's left has gone away and there's nothing left to prove." - Jet
Bald Eagle called last night and expressed his worries about this girl in Boston he's been hooking up with pseudo-regularly (apparently, I was his "mini-holiday"). It didn't particularly bother me since I never had vested hope in Bald Eagle to begin with. But it did bother me that this girl did. I asked him whether he was reading too much into things. He said he could see it in the way the girl looked at him today when he returned to Boston. When I hung up, I thought about it. I thought about how bad that girl must feel, to like Bald Eagle so much that it shows in her eyes, and to not have it be returned. I thought about how she must retain so much hope, and all of a sudden, I felt really really awful. Not because of my own shenanigans, but because I suddenly remembered how it felt like to be in that position. Unrequited love. As I fell asleep, I felt the abysmal feeling of sadness that she must be feeling, and it played in painful harmony with my own memories of the breakup with my ex. I woke up this morning remembering why I decided to take a break from boys. The breakup itself wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the long recovery period. I remember being miserable for so long, and being so tired of being sad. I remember wanting to fast forward time so that I could be done with moping already and finally be normal.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, January 05, 2005]
The Bald Eagle.
I met my first ever, "shaved", guy.
I initially met him a few years ago, on a group trip we were on with mutual friends. My sole contact with him (outside of the group introductions at the beginning of the trip) consisted of one drunken night, in which I decided that I didn't want to sleep on the floor. So I picked a bed, crawled into it, kissed the current inhabitant of the bed (him), and then snuggled down and promptly fell asleep.
Last night, he took me out to dinner, and afterwards, dropped me off where my car was parked. I kissed him good night, and then suddenly realized I was giving him a much more involved kiss than he was returning (a peck). Oops. As I got into my car, he floored it and sped away, vrooooom, screeeeeeech!!. I stared after him with my mouth open. Was I that bad?
Apparently not, since he called me a few minutes later as I was pulling onto the freeway. He suggested swinging by so we could finish the bottle of wine we started at the restaurant, since my parents were out of town for the week. Pretty gutsy, considering that the date theoretically ended when we both drove away. I shrugged and said, "Sure." Later on, he ended up complimenting me on my sheets and then promptly ruining them.
I was VERY TIRED today at work. But not for the right reasons. The coffee we had after dinner was caffeinated, so even after the nighttime romp, I couldn't sleep all night. The covers were too hot, then they were too cold. Then he was lying too close to me and making me hot. Then my feet were cold. It was awful. To be fair, I was the only one being horrid that night. He was extremely nice and respectful, asking if I was okay with this or that. And, he cuddled me, all night, even despite my general crankiness. Man, this guy knows how to work it. Taking off in the middle of the night is the most certain way to make sure a girl never does you any favors again, but nothing assures future action like making a girl feel good about it. He even told me I smelled good. My mother wouldn’t agree with him, but I kept that to myself.
Last night was not my first encounter with one-eyed Ben, but it was my first encounter with one of the smooth variety. Technically, I'm not sure if it was shaved or waxed. I imagine waxing is better, since shaving would probably leave you with some pretty painful stubble. If he waxes, I'd be impressed. That can't be a pleasant experience. A naked little guy wasn't half as freaky as I thought it was going to be. Luckily, I was spared any visuals since it was dark. In the darkness, it seemed a lot nicer and less threatening, without its crowning mane of glory around it. Less menacingly rough and foreign. Less angry. Much more friendly. It definitely seemed a lot cleaner somehow. Not that bugs actually live down there, but when it's a hairy jungle, you gotta wonder sometimes. It was kinda nice. I might insist that all future boyfriends shave.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, January 03, 2005]
My brother and I had a spat in New York's Central Park today. I sat on a bench that some other man was already on, but I didn't care. I sat for half an hour, fuming. That is, until the man tapped me on the shoulder.
"...Excuse me. Are you Candy1465?"
Before I could answer, a bird flew by and pooped on me.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, January 01, 2005]
The New Year.
I spent this New Year's at home with the family. I think it's the first New Year's in... seven years that I've spent sober. Considering how the past 7 years have gone (not so stellar undergraduate GPA, a corporate job that made me miserable, my renewed application to med school), I'm hoping that perhaps my new "sober" and "non-scandalous" approach to New Year's will result in a turn of luck for 2005.
We watched the ball drop on television and toasted with our own wine, made from the grapes in our backyard. It's got some kick to it. It burned all the way down. There's something about New Year's that always makes me feel a little more sad than celebratory. Perhaps it has to do with my tendency to wax nostalgic about most things and hang on to things to the past. Another year is gone. Gone, never to return again. I will never have another spring when I'm 23 years old. All those lost opportunities I didn't take... To be fair, it's also been a year in which I finished my "transition" year at Boston U. (and kicked ass), a year in which I grappled with the MCAT and surprisingly won, a year in which I fought yet another battle with my parents and (also surprisingly) won. It was a Pyrrhic victory as my trip to South Africa culminated in a return to a family that showed zero interest in the thousands of photos I had stored in my laptop from the experience. But a victory nonetheless. I got to go! It was a year in which I traveled as a solo female, and came out unscathed. A year in which I felt like I truly made a difference in the lives of children. It's rare that any individual gets an opportunity to have such a large effect that you're remembered forever in their memory. And I had that opportunity. On the flip side, it's made me all the more hungry for more of those opportunities, as my life since then has seemed inordinately shallow and filled with things. 2004 was a year filled with the usual fights, tears, and despair, but also filled with laughter, joy, and the occasional one night stand. I'd say it's been an educational year. A transitional year definitely.
2005 will also be a transitional year. But, I hope that the transition ends in 2005, and that at this point next year, I'll be in medical school, and well on my way to starting my life. Hopefully, 2005 will mark the end of Ink and Eidolon: In Transit, and be the beginning of something less angst-ridden.
It's 12:45 am, I'm 45 minutes into the new year and I don't feel any different. For once - my mind is clear. I sit at my laptop, surrounded by my loot from Christmas, to remind myself of how lucky I am to have so many people who love me. I'm literally, surrounded by my loot, in a pseudo-ridiculous but comforting way. I'm wearing the North Face jacket my mother bought me, as well as the fleece hat. Under the jacket, I'm wearing the bright red fleece hoodie that my high school friend gave me. In the CD-ROM of my laptop is the Italian audio version of The Little Prince (from my college roommate). In the mug beside me is some tea, made from the bag of loose rooibos and violets, that my other high school friend gave me. I'm also wearing all 4 pairs of knee high socks my dad got me. The ipod from my brother hasn't arrived yet since he inadvertently maxed out his credit card on other items, but the ipod is represented by the ipod earbuds and Griffin iTrip that have arrived ahead. On my back is the rucksack I bought for myself with Christmas money, and inside the rucksack is the Nalgene water bladder that I bought with the EMS gift certificate I received. All this - while I'm sitting in my dining room, inside a little house in a little suburb in South Jersey, that's in a big badass country called the United States of America, that is the middle portion of a continent called North America, which was unaffected by the tsunami (thus far at least) because it resides in the Western hemisphere of a little blue green planet called Earth, that orbits a big fireball we call the Sun in a galaxy called the Milky Way, that resides on the edges of the Universe.
Me. A little insignificant girl among millions of humans (and potentially aliens) in this World we live in, with nothing but a laptop to project herself through. Signing off.
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.