Plato believed that we lived in a world of
images, three-dimensional shadows of the true one. What we see with our eyes is nothing more than a cheap imitation of its true state.
example, the chair we see before our eyes is nothing more than a shabby image of the true chair that exists. We carry on everyday with
flawed perceptions of the true ideal form.
Life After College:
Year 3 - In Transit
[Sunday, February 25, 2007]
I'll teach you a lesson!
I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about my dating history. This was all spurred by a spontaneous brunch with my friend Justin, who has relationship problems of his own. At some point during the meal, the following phrase was uttered from my lips:
"I'd like to have a healthy relationship at some point in my life."
It was said half in jest, half tongue in cheek, but not at all seriously. And upon further reflection, maybe it should be taken seriously. I'm 26 years old, and I have yet to have a successful relationship. Though - the very definition of "successful" can be debated. Is a successful relationship one that ends in marriage? Or just one that ends amicably. So in a mental run-down of the guys I've dated in the past, I've realized a few important things.
1) I date guys sometimes, just because I'm bored (not good). 2) I've gotten smarter about the guys I date, but not about how I handle them. 3) I need more practice.
The last point is because with each failed dating experience, I've learned a little more about myself and what I'm looking for. In the spirit of exnomad's childhood list of things she wanted in a future boyfriend, I did some thinking of my own and realized that I know nothing about what I want in a boy. I generally assume that every guy has everything I want, and I only have to pick the cute ones. Ha. Boy was I wrong. I learn more about what I don't want every time another relationship goes down in flames. Another point to work on - no more going down in flames. Since I like lists, I thought I'd itemize what I've learned from all the not-right boys (because no one's really wrong).
Things I've Learned from the Different Failed Relationships In My Life. Boy #1: I need someone who knows how to make me feel like they value me. And no more potheads.
Boy #2: It's important to me that the person I'm dating have direction in life. And ambition. You know - a desire to be someone or do something beyond serve their immediate needs or hobbies. Being responsible is also a good thing.
Boy #3: I like boys who are gentlemen. Boys who know that whereas slapping my ass is quite okay in the privacy of the bedroom, it is unacceptable in a public place like a bar.
Boy #4: I like people who don't take themselves too seriously. And who can take my teasing without getting that hurt look on their face. No eggshell-boys please.
Boy #5: Men who know what they want and go for it are irresistible to me. This means that guys who are a bit more on the aggressive side have more success with me. Part of this is because I'm too lazy/scared to ever let on that I might like someone, so you going the extra mile will often find me receptive. I like it when people make my life easier.
Boy #6: I don't like guys who are wishy washy and don't know what they want. Make a move or don't. Mixed signals are annoying. Though - as is evident with boy #6 (Jet), if I'm bored and trapped in medical school with no other prospects on the horizon, I'm willing to flirt with you to pass the time. This goes back to rule #1 - No more dating boys just because I'm bored.
It bothers me that I'm so listless about something as important as relationships and love. Do I really expect that things will just fall in my lap and happen perfectly? On some level - yes. Though I despair at times and become convinced that I will die with my 40 cats that I'm allergic to, somewhere inside - I don't really believe that will happen. I become impatient, and yet I do nothing. I don't change my daily routine, I don't go to bars to 'meet people', I don't go out of my way to chat up the new guy. Partly because I'm stubborn and I feel like I shouldn't have to put in any effort to find true love. And partly because I just don't have the time. Or energy. And when friends try to set me up with someone? I'm the most difficult person. I can't really verbalize what I'm looking for. Like the famous judge on what defines pornography - I know it when I see it.
But who achieves anything in life without effort? One of the things I learned in business is that sometimes you have to create your own opportunities. Towards that end (and with the thought of needing more practice in mind), I'm going to join match.com. At the very least, maybe I'll learn a little more about what I don't want.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, February 22, 2007]
After washing it and a night of sleeping all over it, I woke up this morning and decided that my hair is passable. Yes, it squares off my face, but it does bring more attention to my eyes, and if I put a little wax in it - it's okay. I think I freaked out because the stylist flat-ironed my hair yesterday and it made it look all thin and limp. My hair has a lot of natural curve and volume to it that can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the morning (God gave the curves to my hair that he obviously didn't give to my body). And with the flip and curl back, I'm satisfied.
Luckily I'm a chia pet so I trust this won't last too long as my body gets to growing hair.
Last week, I also received a phone call from my gyn. As it turns out, Motorcycle (the boy I dated last year) probably gave me HPV. My pap smear came back abnormal and I tested positive for "high risk HPV". The good news is that this isn't the strain that gives you genital warts. The bad news is that it's the strain that gives you cervical cancer. I'm not sure yet how I feel about it. Is it better to have dodged incurable genital warts (which also has the gross factor) in exchange for a cancer with a high cure rate? I learned this information 2 days before my exam, and of all days - on Valentine's Day. Yay!!!!!! I decided to spread the joy by immediately tracking down Motorcycle in the library and informing him of my test results. I figured if I was going to be distracted right before the exam, he should be also. It seems slightly unfair that men are merely carriers of this HPV strain and remain unaffected by it (obviously, since they have no cervixes), but they transmit it to women. It's like he's a huge cancer gun roaming around campus, shooting down women.
I spent most of the afternoon looking up articles on MedLine (a internet reference resource for medical professionals). I don't trust regular google for medical information. I once googled "birth control" and pulled up all these scary websites about how it reduces your fertility and make you die. Which are all true in a small number of cases - but really, it's not any more dangerous than taking baby aspirin every morning (which can also make a small percentage of people die) or driving a car everyday (higher mortality rate than birth control). You don't see people refusing to drive as a result. Reading websites on topics I actually know the hard facts on made me realize the large degree of misinformation that's out there and the over-representation of negative outcomes. It's instilled in me a distrust of the internet. Anyone can throw up a website and write whatever they want on it. So Medline it was - and I thanked my lucky stars that I had access to such information.
The virus that causes cervical cancer is either HPV strain 16, 18, or 31. Most women have contracted it at some point in their lives but their immune system takes care of it. A small fraction of women, for some unknown reason, don't clear the virus. So it hangs around and mutates your cells. As it turns out, I have dysplasia - which is a pre-cancerous state. 2/3 of young women with dysplasia end up clearing it on their own over time. Half of the remaining 1/3 never progress to cancer, and the remaining half progress to full-blown cervical cancer. So, HPV strains 16, 18, and 31 don't cause cancer 100% of the time. However, 98% of the cervical cancer that does develop is from those three strains. Currently, there are no anti-virals on the market to address this, besides the HPV vaccine - which they recommend for women ages 14 to 25. It only works if you receive it BEFORE exposure to the virus. By the age of 25, 95% of women have already been exposed to it, cleared it on their own, and developed antibodies. I, apparently, am part of the 5% that haven't been exposed to it (and I'm 26) and for some reason - my immune system is not clearing it. I blame the stressful lifestyle of medical school and lack of sleep during exam periods for depressing my body's natural defenses. Oh, if only I had been more whorish in my youth...
I'm going in for something called a "colposcopy" in April. The doctor looks at my cervix under a microscope to see how it's doing. I hope my cervix cleans house by then. The only thing they can really do is monitor it to see if it progresses or regresses on its own. If it progresses to cancer - then they'll have to ablate the cells (which sounds like burning them away to my imagination). Luckily, with the pap smear, these things are caught early, so I don't have any fear of becoming a poster child for HPV (I'd like to be famous someday, but not for that reason). Or at least, these things are caught early for the women who have health insurance and the time to attend their annual Well-Woman exams. Think of all the uninsured people in our country, or the insured lower class women who work 2 or 3 jobs to feed their kids and can't find time to go to the doctor. If the vaccine was mandatory for all girls entering middle school - you could save a lot of women. After all - the ones who are currently insured aren't the ones who need saving. They save themselves. It's those who are in-need for a variety of reasons - financial, emotional, time.
Until then, I'm focusing on drinking lots of orange juice to boost my immune system (I bought the Tropicana Anti-Oxidants type) and taking lots of vitamins in an effort to lend a helping hand to my cervix. You can do it Ms. Cervix! Fight that virus!
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, February 21, 2007]
The Eternal Quest for a Good Haircut.
In an effort to avoid the soccer-mom look I got last time (no need to pre-emptively look 38 years old), I went to a punk rock hair salon for my haircut this time. This was partially provoked by my New York stylist leaving his old salon, and his old salon refusing to tell me where he went despite my tears and begging. I figured since I had to find a new stylist anyways, I might as well try to find one in Philly.
The result: I look like a Japanese porn star. In the worst possible way. My bangs are entirely too short (I'm predicting pimplage popping up), and they thinned out my hair in too many short layers. Think 80's rock star hair. Big on top. Sort of long and stringy on the bottom. But 20 years too late. I went to church since it was Ash Wednesday (and in the hopes that God would fix it), but I returned home looking the same. I don't know what to do. The hair that's gone is gone. All I can think of doing is hiding out in my room. I'm not fit for public consumption. And if I was having trouble with boys before, this definitely is NOT going to help.
Speaking of boys, Jet initiated "the talk" with me last night. Not "The Serious Talk", but the "Useless Talk." His opener:
"So, I know I've been sending you crazy mixed signals."
My response: "..." My head: "This is not news to me."
His next line: "I know usually by now, I should've kissed you. But I don't know what I want. I know I have fun with you, I'm attracted to you, and I like flirting with you. But I need to figure things out, and I don't want you to have expectations."
My response again: "..." My head: "Why is he telling me this."
Essentially, he's ruined everything!!! We were on the same page - but a talk really wasn't necessary. I didn't have expectations to begin with and I was quite okay with the way things were. I liked him enough to be happy when he called, but he didn't excite me enough for me to look forward to things. I had a good time hanging out with him, but not so much that it left me wanting more. I didn't feel we particularly clicked - but we got along fine enough. I liked the attention, it was fun having a flirtation, and it was a nice diversion from school. Can you please allow me to maintain my fantasy? I was under the impression that we were both aware of this, that we both enjoyed being single and flirtatious - but apparently, he thought I was boyfriend-trapping and figured he should put up a big "Protected Single Boy Sanctuary" sign. Talks should be reserved strictly for choices that have been made. Like "I like you" or "I just want ot be friends." Everything else should be left unsaid. Now all the mystery is gone, the sexual tension, and the fun anxiousness of "Is he going to call me?" And I'm just left feeling a little sulky. I appreciate his honesty. But I don't think he appreciated mine. I told him that I'm relieved that a) he's not gay and b) he's not slimey. The other night when he invited me over to his place, he was acting very strange and nervous, so when he offered to pour me a glass of wine, I followed him into the kitchen to make sure he wasn't going to roofie my drink.
So I'm left flirtation-less, disgruntled, and with a bad haircut. The haircut makes me want to shut myself in my room. To hide myself from public and from Jet. The last thing I need is for him to be thanking his lucky stars he didn't go ahead and kiss me, because DAMN - look at her hair.
I wish my hair would grow faster =(
Posted by ink |
[Monday, February 19, 2007]
The Boob Tube.
I sat on the couch for hours last night and couldn't get off of it to do laundry, get food, or even use the bathroom. I so rarely get a moment of leisure that I wanted to revel in it and watch television. I so rarely watch television that I wasn't prepared for what awaited me. Anyone who has seen the show The Girls Next Door on E! will have some idea what I'm talking about. A reality tv show based around the Playboy mansion and the girls who live there, I was left with my jaw hanging open. When girls talked to the camera "confessional-style" with tears rolling down their cheeks as they professed that they "want this more than anything else in the world. I want this just as much as the next girl!" All I can do is sit in my medical scrubs, with facts about acute renal failure still dribbling out of my ears from my exam on Friday, and stare at them in horror. As they primp in front of the mirror and parade around naked, I sit there with my hair that's been uncut for 3 months, my exhausted winter skin, the knowledge that 3 weeks of neurology await me, and continue to shove potato chips and dip in my mouth as I watch in fascination. It's like a horrific car accident. I don't want to look but I can't help but stare. People actually exist like this. As one of the girls excitedly calls her mother and relates in glee, "Mom!!! I got onto the spread!!!!",I can't help but think about how ludicrous this entire show is. If I called my mom with a similar message, I don't think she'd be so excited.
In fact, the entire show goes against everything that I know about family values. Moms aren't supposed to be excited that their daughters are posing naked for the viewing pleasure of men everywhere. Pay $5 for this magazine and you get to see my daughter naked. You won't even have to buy her dinner or pretend that her chatter is interesting. Girls who are getting their degrees in business should know that posing in Playboy will result in men not taking them seriously. I should not find myself liking Hugh Hefner, but I do. He doesn't come off as slimey as all, and seems rather intelligent in fact. Oddly, I find myself respecting him. I keep expecting this not to be a reality show, but a satire on reality. Like a ridiculous real-life version of the Simpsons. Or Family Guy. But that's the thing, this is their reality. Somewhere in the world, someone lives a life that is essentially a satire of mine. And the clincher is - they think it's perfectly normal.
It just blows my mind. As I switched the channel to get away from the boxom blondes (why are they always blonde?), I was only inundated by news of Anna Nicole Smith and the fight over her body. Whatever happened to burying bodies? Or cremating them? With that, I switched the tv off. I was reminded of why I could exist in blissful ignorance of our media for weeks and not notice. I may hate learning about all the ways the body can break down and go wrong, but at least it's more relevant than what the media reports on. To think - I once wanted to go to journalism school.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, February 08, 2007]
And the band played on.
So the search continues. I switched off of Ortho Cyclen (which was a great pill. Minimal side effects, but gave me cystic acne which left scars on my face. Would like to go through life un-disfigured) and started Yasmin 5 days ago. So far - general fatigue (more than usual) and ZERO sex drive. Not that it's a concern right now since I'm not sleeping with anyone. But it's not good when you want to feel sexy and be flirtatious with a boy tonight.
Jet invited me out to see a band playing at a local bar. I have exams next week (and so does he), but I've decided to go regardless. I try not to think about how embarassed I'd be if I failed an exam because of a boy. It's hard to feel excited about tonight when your interest in boys is purely theoretical. The way little girls like little boys but don't feel the hormonal surge yet. There's no wondering of "I hope he kisses me!" It feels odd and strange to be this way. Unnatural. 26 year old women are not supposed to having such innocent thoughts of men. We're supposed to be confident sexual beings! Our power lies in our womanhood and femininity! I'm hoping that these are side effects that will go away with time. They say you need to stay on it for 3 months for things to balance and figure out which side effects are due to the pill switch and which are due to the pill itself.
I've spent the morning trying on clothes for tonight and trying to think of old incidents of awesome sex to get myself revved up (didn't work. My mind kept straying to thoughts of my clogged shower drain, of all things). The pros to this pill are that it's cleared up my skin (hurrah!) and decreased bloating and water weight. My slim jeans feel ever so much more comfortable.
Posted by ink |
I'm rather protective of my own space. I realized this when one of my classmates asked me whether I'd be interested in living in a house with him and a few other people next year. Instead of being overjoyed and excited at the idea, I found myself hesitating. My room is my sanctuary. It's where I go to get away from things. It's filled with things that I like and is very much a reflection of my personality, down to the bare wall that I keep meaning to fill with artsy photos but never get around to. I spent 90% of my time here, to the chagrin of my roommate who just moved to the city - and I'm sure was hoping for someone more friendly to live with. I have a constant guilt complex about it, but I can't help it. My room has always been my space. I didn't have friends hanging out in it ever (I'd rather hang out in their room), I didn't have parties very often, and boys weren't a concern at that age.
Boys at this age are more of a concern, but not much has changed. I don't like my space to be invaded, so boys don't make it to my room unless I'm somewhat assured they'll stick around. No one's made it yet - not even Tad. Boys are too much of a wild card. In a Worst Case Scenario (because I'm a Worst Case Scenario girl. I take after my dad), I can't imagine anything more terrible than breaking up and having your room attached to all these memories. It's like you can't get away from it. I like my space to remain unsullied.
I just simply enjoy it. Especially on mornings like this when I'm propped up on pillows, still under the covers, still in my pajamas, with my little space heater on, surfing the web on my laptop (internet access in bed!!). Part of me worries about what I'll do when I get married and have to share a bedroom. I'm not sure if I can handle it.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, February 07, 2007]
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Sometimes I look in the mirror and I'm surprised by how much of my parents I see in myself. My mother's eyes. My dad's square jawline. In Chinese culture, the "gua zhi lian" is idealized. The "watermelon seed face". Long, oval, with a pointy chin. It's so idealized, in fact, that my mother took specific pains to place me on my stomach when I was a baby, so I could "sleep" my way to a longer face. I was a fat-faced, round-faced, moon-headed baby. She's very proud of herself and mentions it whenever she can. Little did she realize though, that genetics kick in even late in life. My cousin Harry and my brother were the spitting images of each other when they were little. Almost exchangeable, except my brother was a lot more cheeky and less well-behaved. Now, in their 20's, they couldn't be any more different. Like my dad, my brother became a square-faced young man. And like my uncle, Harry became more pointed. I, also, squared out a lot in my 20's. Evidence of my father's fingerprint even though he wasn't really around when we were growing up.
My mother used to lie in bed and put her feet up against the wall. Elevating them because her calves ached. I'd do the same - placing my 10 year old legs beside hers, and I'd look a them and marvel... Would my legs ever be that big?
.....Yes. Without a doubt. I have my mother's body. The same trouble areas in the tummy, and the same proportions. And when I prop my own legs up now, it's like seeing double. My mother's legs superimposed over mine in time. Was she like this when she was younger? Before she became the stressed-out, over-anxious, pill-popping woman that she is now. Did she ever imagine she'd become like this? What is to happen to me?
Now that I'm older, I have a greater sense of mortality, a greater understanding of my parents as human beings and not minor demi-gods, and a better idea of what human hope and desire consists of. All young people want to change the world and make a difference somewhere. Who doesn't? But what happens to all the people who fall by the wayside and don't become Paul Farmer. They become one of the masses, producing 2.5 children, their lives delineated by the boundaries of a white picket fence. But is that really such a terrible thing? Because beneath the veneer of everyday and the trappings of the common man, is still a desire to make a difference and leave something behind to mark their presence in this world, however brief. And I am that effort. I have become their hopes and dreams. I represent all the goals they didn't pursue because they had to raise me instead, all the sacrifices they made - financial and personal. Who doesn't want to change the world when they grow up? Are we so blind as to think that our parents were never like us at one point - young and full of ideas and ambition?
At some point, they decided that my brother and I were loftier goals to pursue than the chase for becoming a hero. Millions of people make that same choice every day. Setting behind them their higher educations and hippie ideals to play domestic. There is only one Paul Farmer. He's a hero to Haiti, but never sees his family. Could so many others be wrong? When I look at myself in the mirror and see my mom and dad in myself, I realize that I too, am a labor of love. And there is nothing wrong in not saving the world. Because within all of our choices, some more well-concealed than others with minivans and soccer games, lies the same ideal of leaving something worthwhile behind. The only difference is whether you leave an organization that will continue good work when you're gone, or a small child who represents your love, your genetic heritage,and who will carry around a piece of you for the rest of their lives. Can you really say that one is worthier than the other?
Posted by ink |
[Friday, February 02, 2007]
Girls' Night always results in overdrinking. Sometimes we end up at some posh bar that rich businessmen frequent. Sometimes we go dancing. Last night, we ended up at a gay bar dancing with lesbians - completely unintentionally. It was a great time. Lesbians are much better dancers than many men are. We started off at a wine bar, polished off two bottles, had shots at the lesbian bar, and the usual shenanigans ensued. As usual, it devolved to boy-bashing and subsequent tears. One of the girls cried the entire night, walking to the next bar, taking her shots, using the bathroom.
I woke up this morning and my nightie was on backwards and inside out. But as I turned over, the other side of my bed was relievingly empty. That's the nice thing about girls' night. Worst case, you do a couple drunk dials and leave messages on a few of your ex's voicemails. There's never the startling discovery of having a stranger in your bed.
One of my New Year's resolutions was to get through this year without embarassing myself. It's been on my list every year, and I've never been able to make it. But one can hope for 2007!
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.