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
[Saturday, April 21, 2007]
I think I might be the only person to have the dubious honor of getting hurt in an adult dodgeball tournament. Even worse, I was a bit apprehensive to begin with. It sounds violent (especially when you're playing with boys), and I had a sneaking suspicion that I probably throw like a girl. But, my friend's team needed a girl to play so they could qualify for the tournament, so I agreed. My team members included a Jew, a Mormon, and a Jehovah's Witness. I represented the Catholics. We were team Berries and Cream, until the Jew decided we needed something more fierce and competitive. The boys were vacillating between "Go Fuck Yourself" and "My Balls, Your Face." As you can see, I wasn't really a large part of this decision-making process. They settled on Go Fuck Yourself, and part of me thought it was bizarre and strange and funny that I was on a team with this name.
The refs didn't think it was funny at all since we got disqualified before the tournament even began. Even after we apologized, noted that we didn't realize there were rules for team names, and offered to change it, they wouldn't budge. Being disqualified meant we could still play, but couldn't win the prizes. So then the guys vacillated between renaming themsevles, "We Want Blood, Not Prizes" or "Fuck you and your rules" or "Team Pedophilia."
As it turns out, none of it mattered. I was the first to go down, and according to crowd response, it wasn't pretty or graceful when my foot landed on the ball and seesawed me backwards into the floor. I felt nauseous for an hour or two afterwards (probably because of the head-to-floor contact) and was confusing left and right for a bit, but now I'm down to just simple pain when climbing stairs, or picking things up off the floor. The left lower part of my back hurts, but I take comfort in knowing that my winter love handles on that side probably cushioned most of the blow. I think I strained or pulled my iliopsoas muscle there. Or at least, banged it up pretty good. The good part is that I think this will help my posture (one of my New Year's Resolutions!) since slouching sends shooting pains up my back.
I'm likely to have some beautiful bruises pop up in strange places tomorrow morning. It's a shame since it's so nice this weekend and I was hoping to go for a bike ride tomorrow. I won't be riding bikes for a while.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, April 18, 2007]
Monday morning quarter back.
A lot of attention has gone around about the ease of getting guns in this country, especially with the recent Virginia Tech shootings. In fact, when I travel abroad, it's the most commonly asked question. Not "Why does your president suck?" but "Is it true that anyone in America can own a gun?" (yes). Followed by, "So does your family own a gun?" (no). And then, "Why are Americans so fat?" (I don't know).
I'm not sure how I feel about the gun control situation. Though - I do think it's a relic of revolutionary times when the original purpose was for people to own guns in case they had to overthrow a crappy government. But at the same time, we have a crappy government right now, and I don't see anyone exercising their Constitutional right for anything besides hunting, murders, and the occasional school rampage. The point of having an armed populace was part of the whole "checks and balances" system that currently exists in our judicial system. The citizens owning guns was supposed to balance the power shift a bit, so the government couldn't just impose martial law when it decided to. Though admittedly, handguns and shotguns can't really hold a candle to military power. But the sentiment is there. To that end, I can't say that I'm completely for abolishing the Constitutional right to own a gun. For everyone to give up their guns is essentially ceding all power to the government. You'd have to have a lot of trust in your government to do that, and I'm not sure I trust our government.
There's also been a lot of buzz about all these 'warning signs' that Cho Seung Hui exhibited. Perhaps I move in dangerous circles, but I didn't think a lot of what he did was specifically warning-like. There's always the one kid who's a little bit weird and does strange things, and he wasn't really any weirder than the token 'strange kid' that every school seems to have. Do you have any idea how many guys I knew in college who had slight stalker tendencies? I always chalked it up to the adolescent angst. And the lack of technology like Facebook that now allows you to indulge your stalking tendencies in 'safe' ways. Or perhaps I'm simply defending 'weirdos' all over the world since I fell into that weirdo slot myself in my younger days. If I was to go on a shoot-'em-up rampage like my mom predicts, I'm sure people would look back Monday morning quarter-back style and talk about how I had exhibited warning symptoms as well. She hung out a lot alone in her own room. She was a loner. She started seeing a psychiatrist recently and he thought she had serious problems.
I'm not saying that Cho Seung Hui didn't have serious problems. Shooting 30+ people and then killing yourself clearly shows that you have problems. But all the looking-back is a bit useless in my opinion because nothing was really glaring. Was he torturing small animals? (that's a big red flag in my head). Even the plays that everyone keeps saying is clearly disturbing and violent left me unfazed. I thought they were not only elementary in writing style, plot development, and grammar, but also elementary as far as violence and sickness is concerned. Has anyone seen what's being shown in our theatres these days? Silence of the Lambs showed more sickness than these plays did, and didn't that movie win an award? And the sexual language in the plays? Very minimal and light. Kids in school always joke around about being "raped" by an exam, or "taking it up the ass" from a teacher because they got yelled at. This type of language, though lewd in my opinion, is part of boys' every day vocabulary. You hear it on college campuses everywhere.
What happened at Virginia Tech was incredibly tragic. But I don't know if anything could have been done to prevent what happened. What are we going to do? Start censoring creative writing classes for violence and sexuality? A Clockwork Orange showed much more twisty-sickness and no one argues of its merits as 'literature'. Admittedly, Stanley Burgess didn't follow his book up with a massacre. But it's hard to differentiate what is part of a writer's development and what is distinctly 'psycho'. And it's even harder to make a blanket statement that all people who write as such should be watched.
We shouldn't be worried about the government chipping away at our rights. People simply respond to events that happen, and the government is made of people. It's natural to think of future preventive measures in the wake of a disaster. What's actually chipping away at our rights and our freedoms are the mavericks of the world. The psychos who unilaterally take something that we all enjoy and ruin it for the rest of us.
We'll never know what motivated Cho Seung Hui. I just hope I'm not there when the next one pops up. Or that I'll have the presence of mind to pretend to be dead already.
On behalf of weirdos everywhere, signing off.
Posted by ink |
Cho Seung Hui.
In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, parents all over the country have been calling their kids in concern. Jet's mom called him, worried because she has 3 sons on college campuses, and told him that if he's ever in a shooting situation - don't play the hero. Just run. My mom, on the other hand, called because she was worried I might be the shooter. "Honey, I know you're really stressed with medical school and all, but please - if you ever need help, just talk to me and I won't be judgmental. Please don't shoot your classmates and then yourself."
Though I was talking to her on my cell phone, I looked around me unsurely. Can anyone else hear this? This is ludicrous. I think the fact that the shooter was Asian really affected her.
She continued, "Daddy and I invested so much time and energy into you. College wasn't cheap you know - it was hard for us to save up, and I carried you in my womb for nine months. Do you know what a difficult pregnancy you were? How much pain I was in? You can't do this to daddy and me." Even though I knew I was tempting fate by doing it, I interjected, "Well, it's also a crime and completely morally wrong. I think those are larger reasons for why I wouldn't go on a school shooting rampage."
I got a lecture about how I'm not a good listener, and why did I interrupt her, I'm going to be a bad doctor if this is how I am, and my brother was so much more understanding, why can't I be more like my brother, etc.
Things ended on a bad note. But luckily, I didn't get phone calls from both my dad and my brother asking me why I upset mom. That's usually how these things play out.
Posted by ink |
[Monday, April 16, 2007]
I've never been a super-sports girl. Team sports especially eluded me because I never had any field-sense. Meaning that I never knew where any of my teammates were at any point in time. I tend to do better at solo sports. Like tennis. Snowboarding. Racquetball. Standardized tests. Sports in which the only person I risked disappointing was myself. After a lifetime of growing up with Asian parents who had high expectations, I've become very averse to disappointing others. And I tend to become a little high strung in types of situations where people depend on me.
Which was why when I was asked to be on an intramural volleyball team this year, I was apprehensive. But hey, I told myself. Volleyball isn't as aggressive of a sport as others. There's a net between you and the opponent. Besides - they needed two girls on the court at all times, and they needed a spare in case a girl got sick. I knew that the only reason why they'd asked me was because my brother was a volleyball champ in high school, and they were hoping that maybe there was some genetic inheritance involved. But it's intramurals! This is all for fun, right? ...Each game has since become an exercise in public humiliation. I remember staring at our setter during the first game as he yelled, "FUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!" at himself. I think he might get mad if I mess up, was my immediate thought. He hasn't gotten mad, but I've gotten a few looks. Each time I'm on the court, I don't focus on performing, I concentrate really hard on simply not messing up. And staying out of the way. I must not have been that bad, because they asked me back for this season. Or perhaps, I'm just not as bad as the other female options they had.
The good news is that we made the playoffs! Now if I can only manage to be sick for the entire playoff season...
I was recently asked to be on a dodgeball team as well. I suffered the same apprehension as I did when I was first asked to be on a volleyball team. That, plus some fear. I haven't played dodgeball since elementary school, and I get the feeling that adult dodgeball might be violent, especially with guys involved. Besides, I think there's a distinct possibility I might throw like a girl. This was confirmed by my friend PB, who told me - You look like you would throw like a girl. You look like the type that might try to shoot hoops underhanded.
Do I also look like the type who can run a 5K for a good cause called Legs Against Arms that rallied for an end to gun violence in Philadelphia? Because I did it. I ran my first 5k on Sunday through the Noreaster. In 30 degree weather, through the rain and hail, through the ankle-deep puddles, and up and down the hills. I did it, despite the fact that as of Thursday, I couldn't even make it down to the river and back (a measly 20 city blocks, which added up to 1.5 miles). I made myself do it, and I crossed the finish line at 30 minutes and something. And I didn't even vomit at the end! When I set my mind to things - I generally get them done. My main problem is that I'm really indecisive so there's very few things I decide to actually do. I have a tendency to float through life. Must work on that.
Posted by ink |
[Saturday, April 14, 2007]
Sometimes when someone I formerly thought was attractive says the word "plutonic" when they mean "platonic", I want to groan inside.
Posted by ink |
[Thursday, April 12, 2007]
What is this ‘bodega’ you speak of?
Fisher wrote recently of the Whole Foods phenomenon and how he finds himself passing up the bodega to shop at the all-organic-super-conglomerate. I consider Whole Foods to be analogous to Apple in a lot of ways. Except I hate Apple a lot more and I refuse to patronize any branch of their electronics excepting their ipod. And even then – I’m only waiting for a competitor to rise up before I’ll switch over in a heartbeat. Like many other chains (Starbucks notably), Whole Foods has moved into a market where the individual mom-and-pop shop used to reign. When I was living in New York, the closest ‘chain’ grocery store we had was Gristedes, which I consider to be fairly local since being from New Jersey – I had never heard of it before. Most of my grocery shopping was done about 7 blocks away from my apartment at a ‘supermarket’ called the Food Emporium. And I dragged it home with all the strength of my feeble arms, and once in a while when my pride allowed it – a granny cart. This was city living, my dad told me. This is what you get when you insist on living in the city, he’d say in triumph in his best “I told you so” tone. And I agreed with him.
The convenience of the suburbs are the large malls and the sprawling supermarkets. Many a city-dweller scoffs at these things. Pssh – I know my grocer, they’d say. I shop at the corner store. But times are changing, and these self-same city dwellers haven’t noticed that they now are shopping at a suburban icon that’s moved into the city. And they do so happily, re-applying their scorn only where it’s convenient to them. To malls. Though, with the new Columbus Circle development, malls too are arguably moving into the city. The ‘burbs are bringing themselves to the city, and there are no words of complaint or protests being held. In fact, it’s welcomed with open arms. I want to hear no-more-scorn from city dwellers. Hypocrites. Hrmphf.
This does make me wonder. With the movement of Whole Foods into the city, what does this spell out for the bodegas? Will this be like the coffeeshop movement where the advent of Starbucks on ever corner put a lot of independent coffee shops out of business? But who will stand up for the bodegas? They’re usually run by immigrants, and hold no “cool grunge” appeal for the young hipsters of New York to hold a torch for. “Yeah! I shop at a bodega” (insert boisterous voice) will hardly add to your indie-alterna image the way “I like independent coffee shops that support fair trade” (insert grungy-pseudo-pothead voice) will. And though New York is known to be grounded and scrappy and cut-to-the-crap, it’s also just as image conscious. Bodegas aren’t a ‘cool’ cause to champion. A lot of the independent coffee shops weren’t saved, even with all the ruckus. Who will save the bodegas? I find it funny that the same crowd that shuns Starbucks for independent coffee shops will nonchalantly patronize Whole Foods over the bodegas.
Starbucks received a lot of flak for pushing out the mom-and-pop coffeeshops. Whole Foods is welcomed with open arms. Why? Microsoft was sued for being a monopoly due to their bundling of IE with their operating system (you could still download netscape onto your OS on your own if you wanted), and yet Apple – which won’t allow their itunes format to play with anything else but the ipod receives accolades all around. The difference? PR. Likewise, Whole Foods isn’t any different then Starbucks. They’re just better at handling the image.
Down with Whole Foods!
Disclaimer: I shop at the Whole Foods a block away from my apartment. However, I hold myself apart from all hypocrisy as there are no bodegas in Philadelphia.
Posted by ink |
[Friday, April 06, 2007]
Do you know what my problem is? My problem is that I was raised almost entirely on Disney movies and musicals. THIS IS WHY I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO FLIRT WITH MEN. Do you realize I know all the words to every song in Sound of Music (and the accompanying dances)? I still can sing Little Mermaid's "Part of Your World" as if it was yesterday. And did Fraulein Maria have to resort to flirtations to get her Captain? NO. She was simply herself and the man fell in love with her. In fact, the Baroness with her fake eyelashes, bleached blonde hair, makeup, and flirtatious ways is vilified. Did Belle have to change her headstrong ways to get the Beast? No. And Ariel didn't even have a voice to flirt with! But she still got her prince. These characters were my role models growing up. I related to them. They were scrappy, went against the grain, and NEVER HAD TO FLIRT. They simply were, and they got their princes. But Princess Jasmine never had to contend with men in bars. Nor did she have to deal with a million other women flashing skin and cleavage. How does a girl make it in this world?
I think on some level, I still believe in fairy tales at the age of 26. This is pathetic. But I feel like the guy I'll end up with should fall in love with me without my having to resort to feminine craftiness. But realistically, we all know that men like it when girls act coquettish. They just EAT IT UP. And this idea is reinforced everyday by shows like The Girls Next Door and the million and one dating shows out there. Any foray into a bar or apartment mixer supports this as well. In this world, Belle would've died an old maid. And Maria would have rejoined her convent. And Ink? Ink will die alone, quietly singing "So long, farewell, auf wiedershen goodbye."
Just think - my imaginary children will never enjoy the spectacle of me dancing out every part of the 7 Von Trapp children. Such tragedy.
Posted by ink |
[Wednesday, April 04, 2007]
After 3 weeks on match.com and realizing that I seem to exclusively attract balding, overweight white males over the age of 42 - I've gone on the BEST DATE EVER, thanks to match.
Osh and I went to sushi at my favorite sushi restaurant on the Upper West Side, and then we went to the chess shops on Thompson street and played a game of chess. Or, more accurately, I taught him how to play Chinese chess, since he's already a chess expert in his own right, and has played thousands of rounds of speed chess online. It was the best date I've been on in years. Good conversation, and I loved the chess shop. I'm such a nerd. I'm playing board games on all my future first dates from now on!
Maybe it was great because neither of us had any expectations. Osh and I never intended to meet up. Match has a "Make Love Happen" guarantee, where if you don't meet anyone within 6 months, you get another 6 months free. In order to qualify for this, you have to message 5 different people per month (to prove that you've been trying to find someone) and keep your profile visible the entire time. So when I saw that Osh mentioned playing chess against the men in Washington Square Park in NY in his profile (very ballsy to mention an addiction to chess in a match profile!), I sent him a quick message, noting that this wasn't a "let's have a date" message, or even a phone-call message, but simply to tell him that I had played the men in Washington Square park as well, and had been hustled! He responded back that he too, was looking to date someone more local, but that he appreciated my message.
A few weeks later, he sent another message, asking me if I knew anything about Chinese chess, and where he could find a board. As it turns out - I was going to be in NY this week since I was on spring break, so I told him if he wanted - I could teach him how to play in person. And so it was! But it unexpectedly ended up including dinner beforehand also. He was shorter in life than he seemed in the pictures, and his voice wasn't the masculine baritone I had hoped for, but he had a hysterical sense of humor and wasn't at all pretentious about being a lawyer at one of the best Manhattan firms. It was great on so many levels. a) It reminded me that normal boys do exist out there b) it was such a relief to go on a good date after years of bad ones. There's really only so long you can have new "worst date ever" stories before it starts to reflect poorly on you.
This is such a change from all the other tugs on the line that I've been getting from match. Besides the middle aged balding men, I managed to have an online chat conversation with one boy who spoke to me the entire time in "business-speak", including use of the words "broad array of diverse talent" and "I'd like to touch base..." and "synergy". He also waxed poetic about how much he loved business school and told me the other b-schools he gained admission to. I also had another phone conversation with someone who spoke in sine waves. His volume would alternate between VERY LOUD and very soft at regular 5 second intervals. It was amazing. I could almost set my watch by it.
I guess at this point in our lives, we're really just looking for someone normal. After all, most of the good ones have been snapped up by the others, and it's about sifting through the remaining quirky ones for the one with quirks that you love. Osh and I exchanged an email after our date. Neither of us is interested in long-distance relationships, but that doesn't mean we didn't have a good time despite it. I thanked him for dinner, and he replied - telling me that if I'm in the city again in a few weeks, he'd find some excuse to hang out with me again.
It's nice to know that good guys still exist in the world. Even if they're not in Philadelphia. It makes me feel good and hopeful. And it's been so long since I've felt positive.
Posted by ink |
[Tuesday, April 03, 2007]
Have you ever ridden the NY subways at 1 AM in the morning? Not on a Friday or Saturday night when it's filled with drunken party-goers and young professionals wearing too-expensive shirts. But on a Monday night when the proper denizens of the city are in bed, catching their sleep before another hard day at work in a marble-clad office with secretaries and plush carpeting. I rode the subway at 1 AM in the morning, coming back from Columbia where I was studying with my friend Ting. The cars aren't filled with hipsters, but with the people the city forgot. A teenage boy who was on his way home, where an angry mother probably awaited, asking him why he was out so late on a school-night. A girl writing in her journal. People in ill-fitting suits and greasy hair - the type that make a solo girl feel uneasy. And the homeless. When I got off at Penn Station, the homeless congregated there in amounts I had never seen before. They'd all come out of their holes and were socializing, huddled together, heads leaning against shoulders, supporting each other in their quest for comfortable sleep and a quiet mind on the hard benches of the platforms. Dark down jackets, bulging bags, and the occasional panhandler - making his appeal for money even at this late hour. The man had a patch over one eye and was obviously in poor health. Dirty, disheveled, and a mouth with a tongue too thick for it. He garbled loudly in the subway car and jingled his cup. Asking for help. Telling us his plight. I turned the volume on my ipod up higher out of habit, and ignored the underlying sense of guilt.
A few years ago, I would've shut him out nonchalantly with the sound of indie pop music coming from my expensive electronic. By virtue of my standing in the city (gainfully employed, educated), I felt I could marginalize others. After all, we've all read the articles about how we shouldn't give money to the homeless, we should donate to organizations that help the homeless. Because we don't know whether this man is going to use our generous-hearted change for booze or drugs. Because we assume that's all they would do with it. They're crazy, remember? The majority of people living on the street have mental disorders, as my Sociology class taught me. This makes it okay for me to ignore the human being in the subway car with his hand out in supplication. This makes it okay for me to ignore his story. It's probably false anyways.
But this time, it felt different. I'm in medical school now. My job is to listen to people's stories and ask questions. How long has this been going on for? How would you rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10? Does it hurt anywhere else? My job in of itself, is to help those in need. To respond to those who implore me to help them, please. It felt wrong somehow, to be a medical student and act in the manner I used to. I turned the volume up on my ipod with guilt and wrestled with my conscience. Though realistically - there was little I could do to help this guy besides give him a quarter or two, it still felt wrong somehow. And my conscience warred with my fear and instinct for self preservation. The hairs on my skin were telling me not to go too close to this man. But my ears were hearing his groans and pleadings.
These are the people the city forgot. They come out at night. The Underground lights up when the Upstairs goes dark. Communities come out of the woodwork, and the tunnels are brightly lit with construction workers bringing garbage out of the city. The graffiti along the walls are spotlighted like murals. The sound of hammering, of murmurs, and the smell of humans. The true smell of humans. Not the smell of soap, or perfume, or whatever else we've invented for ourselves. But the animal smell. How we must've smelled as cavemen. How we must have smelled to lions.
I got off the subway and navigated the simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar walkways with a sense of trepidation. This was a world in which I didn't know the rules. I was an outsider. My Kelty backpack and Gap jacket gave me away. But I also felt like a traveller. This was a foreign country, right in front of my doorstep. And though all my senses jangled DANGER DANGER, a small part of me wanted to spend a day or two down there. Talk to the people and see what they say.
Naive, I told myself. Typical suburb girl thoughts. Don't you know you can't just go out there and be friends with people? It's brutal out there. Not your dad's garden. Stay to yourself.
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.