ei·do·lon (-dln)
     n. pl.   Image of an ideal.

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.  For  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, June 29, 2005]

There and Back Again. Back to La Leona.

Total distance of Yesterday's Trip: 20.5 km
Total distance of Today's Trip: 20.5 km
Total days spent hiking: 2 days

Reason for leaving today: Torrential downpours all night that made the rivers rise. We decided that instead of sticking around for day hikes like we'd intended, it was better to head back today.

Andrew's Favorite Animal Seen: The crocodile.
Who is Andrew: One half of Andrew and Tracy. A couple we hiked in with.

Of course, Andrew failed to mention the presence of this favorite animal until after we'd made the river crossing. After the downpour of the night before (it woke me up at midnight with its thunderous pounding on the roof), all the rivers had risen, and some creeks that hadn't previous existed suddenly popped up. All of us were sleep deprived. The rain coming down in the night had woken everyone up. The high school group that was also staying at La Sirena had an awful night as their hammocks leaked and half of them slept on wooden boards. They came in later than we did, and their river crossing was chin-high (ours was waist-high). 3 of their group didn't even make it in to the lodge and had to spend the night in the rainforest. They left at 4 am this morning for the return trip. We left at 10 am, instead of 7 am as originally planned. We were hoping the waters would recede by then.

At 10 AM, the river was still twice as wide as the river we'd forded the previous day, with muddy waters, and what looked like a pretty swift current. The girls were debating whether this was even the river we'd crossed, when we noticed Oscar, our guide, wading in. Then we noticed he had no pants on. Apparently, boxers are not the custom of middle aged Costa Rican men. Nor are white cotton briefs. Try black spandex type material. We changed shoes, and he indicated that we should wade across without our bottoms as well. To reduce drag and weight. This was a problem. Especially as I'd decided earlier that morning not to wear underwear. The previous day's hike had resulted in the result of my clothes drying (thanks to dry-fit technology), but my cotton underwear remaining wet for the duration of the 8 hour hike. I felt like a baby with a wet diaper and every bit as irritable and annoyed. As well as a vague worry about whether it was possible for adults to get diaper rash. To my relief, the rest of the girls (Meels and Tracey) opted to keep their shorts on as well, so I didn't have to explain in my broken Spanish to Oscar why I wasn't complying with his advice.

At Oscar's suggestion, we crossed as a group of 5. As we waded, all those hours spent watching Animal Planet flashed into my brain.

"Gazelles cross the river in packs, as crocodiles lie motionless in the water, waiting."

As Meels and I waded in behind Andrew and Tracey, fear suddenly kicked in.

"The straggler gazelles at the back of the pack are the ones preyed upon by the crocs. The weaker ones are thus culled from the herd in this manner."

I tried to move faster but tripped over a rock instead, almost tumbling into the water. We crossed safely, and only found out later that Oscar had waded in, in his skivvies, to bait a croc he had seen on the opposite bank. When Andrew had asked him what he was peering at, Oscar had replied simply, "Los animales." As Oscar waded in, the croc slid into the water as well, but headed towards the estuary to snack on fish. He must not have been hungry enough to take on large mammals such as ourselves. As much as I slightly resent not being told about the existence of crocodiles in a river I almost crossed in my underwear, I'm almost relieved I didn't know. Though, it was interesting how instincts to stay with the herd kicked in, even without direct knowledge of predators.

Posted by ink |  8:38 PM

[Tuesday, June 28, 2005]

Osa Peninsula.

I just endured an 8 hour long hike through the rainforest. The novelty of the flora, the macaws, the brown nosed coati, and the 4 different types of monkeys (howler, squirrel, white face, spider) wore off by hour 5 of the hike. The good news is that this hike, unlike the Volcan Maderas hike, was bearable. It was tiring, but I didn't feel like my chest was going to explode, nor did I think I might die of a heart attack at the tender age of 24. The hike was partial beach, partial jungle (what's the difference between rainforest and jungle anyways?), at least 3 or 4 river crossings, and one very muddy boot. Meels and I also had to bring 2 changes of clothing, enough food for 2 days, and a lot of water. My daypack probably weighed about 10 pounds, and I felt every pound of it on my shoulders, especially towards the end of the hike.

I've gotten to test almost every single piece of equipment I bought for this trip on this hike. I actually used the waist and chest straps on my daypack for the very first time as they were intended to be used. Its now coated in Nicaragua mud on top of Costa Rican rain. My gore-tex jacket really is waterproof as it kept me dry in the afternoon downpour at 3 pm. And my hiking boots? I'm in love with them. Even despite their stench. Our guide Oscar barely paused to rest or even take a sip of water. The trail to La Sirena (19.5 km) is poorly marked, and I'm not sure how we would've made it without him. My brain is completely fried. My legs are numb, and I'm sure I smell.

La Sirena lodge is... rustic. Whereas some illogical part of me hoped vainly there'd be hot showers, clean sheets, and a nice dinner, the logical part of me wasn't surprised by the lack of electricity, the creepy crawly bathroom, and the spiderweb on my bed. I think I may have to cross "rainforest explorer" off my list of possible occupations, along with "volcano climber". The good news is that there are no mirrors here. I shudder to think of what I must look like afer 4 river fordings, 12 hours of hiking, and 1 torrential downpour. The odd thing is that I've been without a mirror for almost 4 whole days. I'm starting to forget what I look like.

Posted by ink |  10:37 PM

[Sunday, June 26, 2005]

San Juan del Sur.

Last few days in San Juan del Sur have resulted in:

1. painful sunburn on my back and arms

We went to Maderas beach yesterday, which is a cliffs and ocean type of place. I should´ve knwn better than to expose my northeast winter body to the central american sun in high doses, but it just felt so good. What doesn´t feel so good is my skin this morning. I may have to wear long sleeves today. The chafing of fabric against skin is lss painful than more burnin sun on my already burnin body.

2. I met Mormon surfers.

As if that sentence on its own wasn´t interesting enough, the surfers also were rather intelligent. We discussed religion and politics on Friday night, and they answered my questions about the Mormon religion. Based on my 2 hour crash course on "Mormonism and what it´s all about", it seems to be a more modern moderate version of Christianity (no "only christians can go to heaven") with conservative values (no premarital sex and no drinking). Upon questioning on how conservative the community actually is, it doesn´t seem to be conservative in any way besides values. THere´s both Republicans and Democrats numbered among the Mormons, and they´re free to date and marry non'mormons if they say choose.

3. A stolen bag

Luckily, it wasn´t my day pack but just my purse. "Just" my purse, containing my money, credit cards, ATM card, drivers license, day planner, cell phone, and the most tragic of all - my digicam!! No pictures of my trip on the travelog this time =(. Natalie and I were sitting in a restaurant when my bag disappeared off the chair beside me. I suppose I should feel thankful since I didn´t lose my traveler´s cheques, or my passport, or my reserves of U.S. dollars. I felt even more thankful when I ran into a group of people at the police station who´d been robbed on the beach by a group of men wielding machetes. The girls handed their stuff over right away. The boys refused. Until one of the men grabbed a girl and held a machete to her neck. I got lucky as far as Nicaraguan robberies are concerned. Though, the theft of my bag included theft of the dorm key at Hotel Estrella where we were staying. Since we´d already paid for our room, we stayed the night. But we stayed the night in an unlocked room since they had to cut the lock off. They wanted to charge us for the lock, but we snuck out the next morning. Hostel Estrella was noisy as well in the morning since it´s right by the ocean, and has parrots that continually yell, HOLA!! HOLA!! HOLA HOLA! We checked into Casa Oro for last night. Leaving today for San Jose.

Meels is coming in tomorrow and bringing me extra cash. Yay Meels!!

Posted by ink |  10:59 PM

[Saturday, June 25, 2005]

Playa Santo Domingo. Day 2.

Last night, I got to see Isla de Ometepe the way God intended it to be seen. Natalie and I treated ourselves to dinner at one of the more expensive places on Ometepe (Villa de Paraiso), which ended up costing us $8.50 each for a whole broiled fish (done chinese style with the head still attached so you can recognize that this was once a living being that you´re now eating), rice, salad, and dessert, and tea. All served by waiters in uniform who would chase stray dogs away from your table. Outside the restaurant is a house that has a pigpen where a mailbox should be. But this was no standard pigpen. This pigpen only had -3- walls, with the missing wall being towards the road. The mama pig lay in there with her 8 little piglets and the huge boar hog lay nearby, sleeping. Or we think it was a boar hog. It looked like it might have enlarged teats, but it seemed too large to be female. And it somehow seemed masculine to me. Maybe because it was big, hairy, dirty, and lying on the side of the road instead of sleeping in the pen with its family like a civilized pig would.

Midway through dinner, the power went out. Natalie, who worked at a hostel in Costa Rica for 2 months, says it happens often here. Within minuts, the generators at our pricey restaurant kicked in. But we didn´t realize until after we left that the rest of the island was still in darkness. Both of us, blessed and cursed with overactive imaginations, only made it about 500 feet down the pitch dark road clinging to each other before we turned back for flashlights. It was so dark we couldn´t see landmarks or even signs on the houses nearby. There was no way to mark distance and no way to tell whether Hospedaje Buena Vista was further along, past, or right beside us. A worker from the Villa Paraiso walked us back with his flashlight. And I´ve never been so thankful. The round beam of light dancing before us seemed so friendly and comforting as it lit up rocks and stones and holes in the road that we would have killed ourselves on if we´d been in the dark. When we arrived at Buena Vista, our hostel was similarly dark, and everyone was laying in the hammocks that adorn the place (7 hammocks overall!). Natalie got her headlamp and I got my flashlight and we found our own hammocks. I went out to the water, thinking it would be nice to swim naked by moonlight on el Lago de Nicaragua from la Isla de Ometepe, but the moon was obscured by the clouds. Enough light shone through so I could see without my flashlight, though I flickered it on in a hurry when I heard a footstep behind me on the dark beach. A giant frog stared back at me. All around, I heard mating calls, and I kept waitin for my frog to chime in, but he jus stared at me silently from his place in the spotlight of my flashlight and I stared back at him expectantly. I even made a frog mating sound myself in the hopes it would prompt him to utter a sound of love, but no such luck. Like most males, he was probably scared and froze up from being put on the spot. Or perhaps my mating call just wasn´t that tempting.

I found out yesterday that Natalie is nursing a broken heart over an unanswered mating call of her own. Her particular frog didn´t end up to be any sort of Prince Charming a he left her for the next backpacker that came along. Like me, Nat doesn´t fall often, but when she does, she falls hard. It´s really quite an annoying habit we have.

We didn´t swim naked last night in the moonlight. Because we´re both a little afraid of water where you can´t see the bottom. Instead, we waded. And I went all the way up to my knees, quelling any fears of strange creatures nibbling on my toes. The lake remains shallow for quite a bit, so I went pretty far out. I looked back at the island, enshrouded in darkness, with the occasional flash of lightnin lighting up the sky. For a second, I felt like the Lady of the Mist from Mists of Avalon. Until I realized I was standing in the middle of a lake with lightning approaching. As I splashed back, the lights came back on, and I breathed a sigh of relief. What is it about light and electricity that makes us feel so much safer? So much more secure? Why is God always the Light and Satan the Prince of Darkness? I think Darkness may be getting a bad rap here.

Regardles oif the fear and the terrifying walk in the dark, I´m glad the power went out last night. But that´s all very easy to say now that it´s morning and the sun is out on the water. I brushed my teeth at the outdoor tap today so that I could watch the sun rise as Colgate, cinnamon flavored, foamed between my teeth. Then I washed my clothes and hung them on the clothesline. Funny, at home, I never wake up early. Yet here, I´m awake by 6 am without any alarm clocks. And I´m sleeping by 9 pm. I like Traveller Me. There´s something about travelling that brings out the best in me. I´m not neurotic (imagine that), or irritable, or cranky. even the 7 mosquitoe bites I´ve accumulated over 3 days don´t bother me that much. But I suppose everyone is cooler on vacation. There´s no stress, no parental expectations, no obligations. I think those things warp an individual like any stress would warp a piece of wood. There´s a freedom here to be myself. And spending a day in a hammock is not accompanied by a sense of guilt that I should have been doing x, y, and z.

There´s a white bird here with stilt legs and a long graceful neck that stands by the water. I tried to zoom in on it from the hammock to get a photo of it, but everytime I´d focus, it´d flap away a few feet. And I rose from my hammock to follow it, and it´d flap away again. Until it flew off into the horizon, leaving me with an empty camera and only a memory of what could´ve been.

I´m going for a morning swim.

Posted by ink |  7:57 AM

[Thursday, June 23, 2005]

Onwards. Playa Santo Domingo. Isla de Ometepe.

Thus end my days at Finca Magdalena, at the base of Volcan Maderas, on la Isla de Ometepe, in Lago de Nicaragua, about an hour from the border of Costa Rica. The lodge itself is beautiful, and I´ve learned to live with the creepy crawly bathroom (by taknig showers in the afternoon as opposed to late at night) and the mosquitoes that attack me in the night, even despite my best attempts at prevention by spraying myself, the mosquitoe net, my clothes, and my bed down with¨"backwoods DEET" bug spray. I must be too tasty a morsel for the little buggers. My body is still suffering from the punishment it received yesterday, with surprising pain in unexpected places like the abdomen. Today, I´m heading down to Santo Domingo with a girl I met here at Finca Magdalena named Natalie. A Canadian, she´s quite a character and should prove fun to travel with until Saturday. I´m planning to arrive back on San Jose on Saturday evening and spend Sunday taking care of busines like laundry, groceries, ATM, etc. before Meels arrives on Monday. Then we´re off to the Osa. Though quite honestly, after yesterday´s hike, I may be all hiked out. The clothes here don´t seem to ever dry. Clothes I washed 2 days ago are still wet, so I had to pack them up with me. I hope they dont´mold. All in all, I´d say the long arduous bus ride and border crossing to Nicaragua was worth it so far. If I can stop itching, it´d be perfect.

I performed minor surgery on myself today. The blister on my heel from the hike yesterday started to collect sand. Sand on the skin is great, sand trapped in the skin is not so great. Considering how squeamish I am about even normal things like getting a splinter out, I was surprised I took out nail clippers to my heel as viciously as I did. I even doused it in rubbing alcohol without even flinching. All this in the beautiful setting of Santo Domingo. The beach here is just beautiful. Its isolated and we´re the only people here. I feel like its the ocean, even though its really just Lago de Nicaragua. The bottom of the lake is pure sand and the water is tepid warm. Natalie turned out to be quite the riot. Considering that our relationship started in Finca de Magdalena with ¨her innocuous question of "Do you think potatoes are vegetables?", we´ve come quite a long way. We missed the 11:30 AM bus from Magdalena (which came at 11:15, pulling away as we came down the trail). We managed to hitch a ride on the back of an Englishwoman´s truck. My tab at Magdalena for 2 nights including all meals, water, and one tour of Volcan Maderas came out to 495 cordobas. Approximately 30-some U.S. dollars.

We´re staying at Buena Vista hostel at Playa Santo Domingo. Natalie and I picked a coconut off a tree on the hostel property, and the owner cut it open for us with a machete. We drank right from the nut. An orange nut. It comes in green and orange. Funny, even the flies here dno´t bother me, and I´m normally extremely bug phobic. Even more funny is the fact that Natalie seem to be the Canadian versoni of me, down to our odd sense of humor and best friends named Ken. Santo Domingo is one of those places that´s great with the right peole, and just isolated enough to eb lonely if you´re alone. Lucky for me and Natalie, we´re each others perfect company. Flies and all.

Posted by ink |  9:25 PM

[Wednesday, June 22, 2005]

Finca Magdalena. Isla de Ometepe.

The hike up Volcan Maderas today nearly killed me. Quite literally. I was genuinely concerned I might have a heart attack on the mountain, and only the fact that a physician was in my hiking group comforted me. Between the humidity of the air and the steep upward rise of the trail, my lungs were struggling, my vision was wavering, and my heart was on its last legs. We hiked up the equivalent of a creek bed towards the lake in the crater of Volcan Maderas. We paused at the halfway point to take in the view, and I seriously considered turning back. Me, who hiked the Grand Canyon with no problem at all. Our guide barely broke a sweat and didn´t even take a sip of water. The guide bringing up the rear was nice enough to lag behind with me when I slowed down, and tried to make small talk, asking me about life in the U.S. It was all I could to do gasp out a "No puedo hablar ahora. Lo siento." (I cannot speak right now, I´m sorry). I grew a habit of grabbing onto every tree beside the trail to lend me a hand up. I must´ve touched every single tree on that mountain, as well as collected every single molecule of mud on the seat of my pants. The rest of my group struggled up as well. The lake at the top though, was beautiful. We swam in it, despite nagging suspicions about the hygienic quality of it. The mud on the bottom was so thick I sank in up to my knees immediately. I wonder what makes up the sediment at the bottom of a crater lake. The clincher on the day from hell happened when I saw the rope we had to use to get out of the crater. Apparently, slipping and sliding our way down was quite alright, but climbing back up the rock face is a different story. I couldn´t even climb a rope in gym class in high school, so I clung as best as I could while the birds screeched and the guides called out to me in too-fast-Spanish where to put my next toehold.

The trail, summarized, consisted of 1 twisted ankle, lots of mud on my shoes and clothes, scrapes on my hands and legs, and one bared ass to the cloud forest (I had to take a bathroom break halfway through and had no choice but to drop my pants while the howler monkeys looked on).

I have never before been so happy to see Finca Magdalena. Getting to Finca Magdalena itself was a hike. After taking the bus from San Jose (Costa Rica) to Rivas (Nicaragua), I had to take a taxi to the shore, a ferry to the Isla de Ometepe, and then a bus ride over pot hole roads to Balgue, where I was dropped off with my backpack on the side of the road. The Finca is another 2 km along a dirt trail, but it is absolutely beautiful. Even despite its creepy crawly bathroom. I sleep in a room with a mosquitoe net and the food is comida tipica (typical food). Having a good time so far. But I´m not looking forward to the muscle aches tomorrow.

Posted by ink |  9:11 PM

[Tuesday, June 21, 2005]

Mental NoteÑ Avoid all individuals under the age of 23

I made the mistake of reserving a night in a hostel filled with kids. I gave up trying to sleep at 3:30 AM when the music was still pounding and the drunk girl in the bunk underneath me started making out with someone else. Complete with lip smacking noises. She cried when he had to catch his shuttle to the airport for his flight. Half an hour when I was packing, I found the scrap of paper that he'd written his email on. She left it behind when she herself left to catch a bus. Ah, young love.

Today: hopefully find space on a bus to Nicaragua. hopefully get a good night's sleep tonight.

Posted by ink |  7:11 AM

Arrived physically intact. Not so much mentally.

Quick summary before I keel over in grief.

Flight to Miami couldn't land due to weather. Ran out of fuel, had to detour to W. Palm Beach to refuel. Flight to Costa Rica delayed 4 hours. Finally landed. No single rooms available in hostel. Am living in cramped quarters with 4 girls who I haven't met yet, though I've made good acquaintance with their backpacks as I spent quite a bit of time in the room trying to figure out my money situation (Costa Rican money is colones).

Hopefully getting on bus to Nicaragua tomorrow for 10 hour ride to Lago de Nicaragua. Not sure if I'll be able to get a ticket as you're supposed to book 1 day in advance.

Browsing the web here is strange. Instead of 'create post' on blogger, it says 'crear'. And 'editar entradas' for 'edit posts'. The keyboard is also odd, and I can't for the life of me find the double quotation marks, so I'll have to do without them for a month. A shame really since I do love quoting people. I think I'm going to be a pooper and turn in for the night. Exhausted. And have 5 am bus to catch tomorrow.

Posted by ink |  1:09 AM

[Monday, June 20, 2005]

Anchor her up, matey!

My dad's been thinking of his own mortality a lot lately. He mentioned it briefly in the car the other day - that him and mom sometimes talk about who'll get to meet God first. It's funny, the way he says it, it almost sounds like a happy coincidence, like "I wonder who'll get to run into God on the street." He personally hopes it will be mom. Not for any malicious intent, but for quite the opposite. He doesn't want mom to know life without him. Again not for any selfish intent, but because he doesn't want her to be alone. I protested. Me and my brother will be here! He shook his head, it's not the same, he said. You'll each have your own families and mom will know that. Now that you two are grown up, he continued, mom and I pretty much just have each other. He doesn't think mom will make it without him. I think mom has private reserves of strength. After all, sometimes people don't buck up until the situation calls for it. But privately, I had my doubts as well. Mother, perhaps because she's a woman (and as a woman myself, I can say this), is more emotional. I could see her health failing rapidly after dad is gone. Dad on the other hand, is much more of a Zen personality. Any death of a close family member is always devastating. But it wouldn't cripple my dad. He'd limp along with half his heart missing best as he could.

What prompted all this thought about death from a couple who thinks so little of their own demise that they don't even have a will? A family friend of ours died about a week and a half ago. I personally didn't know him all that well (he was just one of the many people my parents would invite over for karaoke parties), but it hit my dad hard. He's been saying for the past week - you never know Ink, I could just keel over one day. Like Mr. Gao did. I scoffed at him. Pssh... You're still young dad. You've got years on those old bones yet! He told me I didn't understand. And he was right - I didn't really understand. My dad seems 54 years young to me. He still helps me move in and out of the various apartments I live in during various stages of my life. He gardens intensively, and is always doing some sort of home improvement. That's my dad.

But this morning when I woke up, I finally had some sort of sense of what it'd be like to really be alone. My eyes snapped open at 6 am and my first thought was, "Damn it. Apparently, I'm still nervous." Today is my flight to Central America. I arrive at 8 PM in the evening and get to spend all of Tuesday travelling to Nicaragua by bus. I swung my legs out of bed and immediately could sense an emptiness in the house. Just like how you can feel when a TV is on in the room, even when it's on mute, the lack of other breathing beings in my space felt palpable. My parents had left this morning at 4 am for their own flight to Hawaii. I wandered downstairs and realized with a shock that the kitchen table was empty. Though I often roll my eyes and sigh at my doting mother, who leaves me little "have a good day!" notes inside my lunch bag... even at my ripe old age of 24, NOT having the goodbye note on the kitchen table felt jarring somehow.

This morning was all about absence of things. And how the absence itself can sometimes be a palpable presence.

I felt that presence all too keenly. I was feeling petulant that my parents hadn't left me a goodbye note. I think everyone who's leaving should always leave an indicator behind that they thought of you before they took off. No guy has ever left me in the middle of the night, so for that, perhaps I should be thankful. But I imagine this is what it must feel like. The sudden surprise of being alone. The search for a goodbye note. And the lack of results. I thought about the weekend as I showered, and about my dad's newfound sense of mortality. What would it really be like if my dad was to pull a Mr. Gao? We'd have to divvy up the assets of course, I reasoned. My brother and I could probably share the house. I'd be living in it and showering in an empty house... like I am now... Then the significance of it set in. Who would take care of my dad's garden? And his roses? The only thing I'm good for is pulling up plants. I can't keep them alive very well. Hot tears sprang up immediately. My dad's garden... That's what he would leave behind if he was to suddenly go. And I wouldn't even be able to take care of it for him. Not just physically, but I'm not sure if I'd emotionally be able to handle it. There'd be no mom and dad. No mom and dad. The enormity of that began to hit me, and I started to feel very small and very alone as I dried myself off from the shower.

I don't think I give my parents enough credit. Even despite the fact that we fight constantly, and I always claim I'm trying to get away so I can be independent, they are the pillars that hold my life up. After all, I've never known life without them. Even when I'm far and we don't speak often, psychologically, I know they're there, and if I was ever to get into trouble, they would come for me. If they were gone, and I was in trouble, ...no one would come. I felt strangely adrift and lost. I think our parents are our anchors in the sea of life. And I suddenly wished that I would go before both my parents. So I wouldn't have to know life without them. Because even though I'm my father's daughter, I'm also mother's daughter. And it could be a toss-up between my inheriting the Zen personality or the emotional personality, with the odds favoring the latter.

As I wandered around the empty house, I knew my parents were likely safe on a flight to Hawaii. Hopefully safe (I did inhert my dad's sense of Worst Case Scenario coupled with my mom's worrisome nature). But I still couldn't shake that sense of being lost and adrift. All because of the lack of a note that I usually make fun of my mom for. Who's laughing now. Certainly not me.

As I packed up my backpack, I decided that no one should ever be allowed to leave without leaving a note of some sort. A proper goodbye is only polite after all. What if the plane was to crash? Wouldn't they wish they had said goodbye? I was going to have a nice talk with my parents about this when they got back. Then my laptop beeped at me. I had mail. I loaded up my gmail thinking it was a friend wishing me farewell, and instead, blinking at me was an email from.... my mom. I started to laugh. My mom never uses the computer. The only website she knows how to access is Oprah.com. I set up a yahoo account for her last week and taught her how to use it, and apparently, it had stuck!

"Hi sweetheart." It said. I bristled a bit out of habit. I'm no one's sweetheart! I'm not even sweet! But, I was proud of her. Last time, she'd spelled it "Sweatheart". She'd used the spellcheck function like I showed her! "Have a wonderful trip," it continued, "Enjoy, and be careful. Love you, always."

I felt much better. Now I can pack up and go with peace in my heart.

Posted by ink |  7:26 AM

[Sunday, June 19, 2005]

Nervous Energy.

I couldn't fall asleep last night. And this morning, I woke up with a start at 8 AM. On a Sunday morning!! I laid in bed with my eyes closed, and then called out tentatively, "Dad........? Dad...? DAD!!" There was a pause, and then from somewhere on the second floor, I heard, "What."

"Where are you?"


I had made the assumption my dad was in the library working. I climbed out of bed and crawled into his and felt a little bit better. But not much. For an unexplainable reason, I feel nervous about this upcoming trip. And not the anticipation-type of nervous. More of the apprehensive-type of nervous. Apprehension. The evil brother of the happy Anticipation. You'd think that after tramping to South Africa on my own, Central America would be small beans. And yet underneath it all is this vague worry - why am I so nervous? Does this mean I'm going to become my mother and have panic attacks when I get older? Is this a sign of impending doom? Part of me scolds myself and tells me to stop being such a silly girl. Another part of me insists on grabbing on tightly and loudly proclaiming all the things that could happen to me. Like ending up dismembered at the bottom of Lago de Nicaragua.

I thought about it when I was brushing my teeth.

There's no sense in constantly calculating risk. After all, living your life in fear means you'll never get to do anything. My dad groggily mumbled that I shouldn't be nervous, I chose to go on this trip. Which is a good point. And if I remember correctly, I had a slight attack of fear right before I went to S. Africa too. I suppose it's because I'm not blind to the dangers of travelling solo as a female. Anyone can poo-poo it and wave their hands in dismissal, saying that tons of women travel alone and are perfectly fine. I know this, because I myself have done it quite safely. Just be smart, is another one I hear a lot. And I know that also. One doesn't spend their college years in West Philadelphia, and their post college years in New York, and not learn a thing. Add onto it my natural suspicion of just about everyone (you can blame New York for that one). But, saying that travelling as a solo female is safe is painting the canvas with too broad of a brush stroke. Travelling alone is safe, but it's less safe than travelling with a group. Because no one notices if you don't return at night. No one notices if you don't arrive where you're supposed to. Though - according to the Simpsons, the Buddy system is flawed in the same way, so I suppose by that logic, travelling with someone else is not necessarily safer.

Like most things in life, it's all relative. Travelling alone is probably high on the scale of dangerous ways to travel. Travelling alone to developing countries is probably a little higher. Travelling alone to developing countries as a girl is even higher. Travelling alone as a girl who's stupid is probably the highest, topped only by travelling to a Middle Eastern country as an American citizen. So, I take comfort in the fact that I'm only third down.

Now, to take care of all those things I have to get done before I leave...

Posted by ink |  8:43 AM

[Saturday, June 18, 2005]

Last Minute Frenzy.

Current Causes of Happiness:
1. Finished last day of work on a positive note. Think may get my name on a publication!
2. Secured housing for the upcoming school year! Am getting my own bathroom (bliss), and my own washer and dryer. The roommate is a writer/editor for a small paper.
3. Leaving on Monday for Central America!
4. Finally made reservations. Chose Hostel Pangea not for any reason besides the fact that they were the only hostel that picked up their phone when I called to make reservations.

Current Causes of Stress.
1. Student loan consolidation sent me a letter saying my application is incomplete, but failed to tell me what I was missing or what I should do. Phone lines are only open on Monday through Friday. I leave on Monday morning! And interest rates go up on July 1!! Stupid Direct Loans!
2. Still have not packed.
3. Site of meningitis vaccine is red and swollen (boo...)
4. Promised director of WorldCamps that I would finish the photos section before I left. Still have not done it (boo...)

Last Minute Decisions
Decided to go to Nicaragua today for the first week. Instead of purchasing another guidebook (in addition to the 2 guide books I already have for Costa Rica), I went to the library, photocopied the relevant pages, and scotch-taped them together. How wonderfully ghetto. Wouldn't it be just my luck for these pages to dissolve in the rain. Isla de Ometepe is on the list for Nicaragua. Just the name alone gives me shivers. There are 2 volcanoes on this island. One which is pseudo-active, and one which is dormant. You can hike both! The dormant one requires you to scramble over the rim and rappel down into the crater, where there's a lake. I hear it's very Middle-Earth-ish in there, and you can take a dip in the cold cold water. You can peep over the rim into the crater of the active one while the earth burps sulfur out at you. I guess this means any gaseous eruptions from my own volcanic belly will be masked. This slide show of Ometepe from the L.A. Times sold me on it.

Of course, even with everything that I have to do (and despite the fact that I haven't started packing yet), I somehow managed to fiddle around with Photoshop long enough to create an approximate itinerary of where I'll be. This means that if I am to suddenly disappear Natalee Holloway style, an audience of anonymous internet readers will be able to notify the police of my whereabouts.

Posted by ink |  11:06 PM

[Friday, June 17, 2005]


My lab gave me a stethoscope as a going away present. And this is no ordinary stethoscope, but a raspberry colored one!!! I love it! My lab knows me too well... One of the undergrads I work with was so impressed she was convinced I'd be able to pick up guys with it. Ha. Somehow, I don't think guys are like, "Yeah, check out the stethoscope on that girl. Get me a piece of that..." Perhaps if my lab had gotten me breast implants instead.

I came home and showed my parents proudly. My first stethoscope. I almost feel like it's my first bike. And like my first bike, the novelty of its shininess and symbolism of my graduation into "adulthood" (or in this case, "doctor-hood") was sullied by a scraped ego on my first time taking it out for a ride. I couldn't hear my dad's heart. I furrowed my brow and moved the stethoscope to a different spot on the left side of his chest. Hrm. Still nothing. Though I did wish he would stop trying to give me advice on how to do it better. The sound of his voice echoing through his chest cavity would almost deafen me each time he tried to "help". I tapped on the end of the stethoscope to make sure it was working, and almost burst my eardrums in the process. At my wit's end, I put the earbuds back in my ears and put the bell on my own chest, listening for the thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP, ink-IS, a-doc-TOR. Nothing.

My dad made fun of me. He said that he can even hear my heart if he just puts his ear against my shoulder. I glared at him and put the bell under my shirt, convinced it must be the shirt that's muffling the noise. Still nothing. I'm going to be a horrible doctor.

Posted by ink |  8:18 PM

[Wednesday, June 15, 2005]

Beauty is painful.

Or at least, it is by today's standards of beauty. I got my first bikini wax today. And it was the most painful thing I have ever endured. Even worse than lethal seafood, because it seems like there is no end, and your fate is in the hands of a seemingly masochistix waxer at the salon. As the pain receptors set off the wailing alarms and the nerves jangled in my head, the only thing I could think of was, "Why am I subjecting myself to this?" along with "I was a maniac for thinking this was a good idea." As the girl handed me the bill, I couldn't believe I had just paid 25 bucks for someone to torture me like this. Obviously, S&M isn't for me. The entire way home on the subway, I stood. Whose sick idea was it to pour hot wax on your nether regions to take off the hair?

According to my co-worker Terry, once quite a diva in her heyday as a cocktail waitress, this waxing phenomenon is something that happened in the last decade or so. She claims its because the bikini's are getting thinner and smaller. My friend actually sort of likes it. She says it hurts, but it feels so good afterwards. Me? I think I'll be avoiding it in the near future. Luckily, waxing is not a necessity for me. But as a novelty? This is one I can do without.

Costa Rica. Coming soon (monday) to a blog near you!
Originally uploaded by eidolon Ink.

Posted by ink |  8:08 PM

[Monday, June 13, 2005]

American Psycho.

I met up with Krazy this past weekend. We met back when we were in high school at a summer camp. There was a bit of a mutual crush back then, with him being admittedly infatuated, and me wavering on the fence, back and forth, depending on my daily teenage mood. Since then, we tend to speak once every 5 years or so. And last weekend was one of those instances when we met up.

Prior to meeting up though, I received an inkling of what was to come - in the form of hours-long phone conversations in which he'd tell me (multiple times) that I was incredibly cute, even though he hadn't seen me since I was 15. I was a bit apprehensive. I'd been down this cute-on-the-phone road before with a certain other boy and had it go down in flames shortly after I moved to New York. Regardless, we met up this past weekend, and he brought a single pink rose with him. Ever un-graceful, I wasn't sure what to do with it, besides accept it and stammer a surprised and slightly embarassed "Thanks." I rested it carefully across my legs as I climbed into his SUV. We spent the day walking along the beach, eating hot-dogs, and then sitting on the beach listening to music and talking. He told me all day that I was completely adorable, in his words. And told me admiringly at one point that he thought I looked great. Both of which made me slightly uncomfortable and embarassed. He bought me dinner at an expensive seafood restaurant, and we spent the larger part of the evening lounging comfortably in his living room on separate couches. That is, until he picked up my hand and began to stroke it, massaging my palm and pulling gently on my fingers. I was a little weirded out. No one had ever stroked my hand before. But I let it slide for a few reasons - 1) it felt sort of nice 2) I was too pre-occupied with my stomach, which was clenching up in pain. Dinner most definitely did not agree with me. And nothing is more lethal than bad seafood.

To make matters worse, he had mentioned earlier in the day that he's uncomfortable with bodily functions. He doesn't fart when someone's in the same room as he is. In fact, he doesn't even like hearing the word "fart". In probing him curiously about this strange hang-up of his, I had to keep substituting "pass gas". And poop? Forget it.

I had diarrhea in his bathroom.

I tried to non-chalantly hide it by turning the light off when I came out, but leaving the fan on. I was torn between pretending nothing had happened and announcing "I just pooped in your bathroom." Because sometimes its better to just announce it when you have no chance of hiding it. But I lost my nerve right as I drew breath to say something. Then he kept bugging me for the next half hour "What were you gonna say to me?" and by that point, I was too embarassed. The moment had passed. But I think he knew. He offered me Pepto later on. Not exactly an ideal way to end a day-long date.

Posted by ink |  8:47 PM

[Friday, June 03, 2005]

Why do you want to be a doctor?

I had a pre-prepared answer to this popular med school interview question. Something along the lines of liking science, having an affinity for people, and a desire to do something meaningful with my life. The usual blather. More recently, I've been wondering if my interest in medicine has more to do with the "freak factor" than anything else. I've been addicted to Discovery Health lately. The most recent shows I followed with great fascination are:

I Am My Own Twin: when mothers give birth to babies, but then DNA tests show that the mother cannot possibly be the biological mother of their child.

Face-Eating Tumor: the odyssey of a Batam boy with Gigantiform Cementoma (pretty much the equivalent of a tooth that never stopped growing) that destroyed his jaw and cheekbones. They removed over 2 pounds of tumors from a 5 year old boy's face!

Archie, The 84 pound baby: 4 foot tall 2-year old with a 36 inch waist and a third nipple.

My favorite show is Medical Incredible. Where they talk about gigantism, people with "Fish disease", people with "mermaid disease", and people with lobster claws for hands.

I can't help but feel guilty about this fascination I have.

Posted by ink |  9:38 PM

[Wednesday, June 01, 2005]

Apartment Hunting.

Apartment hunting is much like dating. You only have a vague idea of what you're looking for, so you see a whole bunch of places, most that you feel "eh" about. But you know when you've found the right apartment. When you find your apartment through Craig's List the way I normally do, finding the right room isn't enough. Then you go through the waiting-by-the-phone phase while the current inhabitants interview roommates and decide who gets the room. Originally, I thought The One was the medical fraternity I visited two weeks ago. Who would've thought that someone as anti-Greek as me would eventually rush? For $200 a month including all utilities and household supplies (like toilet paper and dishwashing liquid) though, I was willing to give it a shot. And surprisingly - I liked it. There's no pledging period, which makes it more of a "club" in my book than a "fraternity". Sadly, like many failed relationships, the attraction was only one-way. I haven't formally received the rejection notification, but when someone won't return your calls or emails expressing continued interest (in the low rent... but no one heard me say that), it's not looking good. Though the fraternity people keep stringing me along, saying that they haven't chosen their new incoming class yet. I suppose I should remain positive since other kids have already received formal rejections.

Today though - I think I found The Real One. It's definitely without a doubt the apartment I liked best so far. And I think the current inhabitants liked me as well. The only problem is that our lease dates don't match up. They're looking for someone for June 15th, and I'm looking for a July 1st lease. I should find out by this weekend whether they'll be willing to compromise on the lease start date for me. It's a little further from school than I'd ideally like to be, but I'm excited about the prospect of having my own bathroom. Of course, I'll be living with boys - which will likely be an experience all in of itself. I've never lived with boys before. I guess this means no more prancing around in my underwear. Keeping those fingers crossed.

Posted by ink |  8:59 PM



 about a 25  year old girl, ex-consultant, ex New York City inhabitant, newly minted med student, (still) largely single.

  about 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.  

  about 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.

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