مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Set and match.

Setting: My home computer, three and a half minutes ago.

*Nervous wait time...what if...what if...!!*
Screen loads. Slowly.
But then:
Seven pretty little As stare back at me, along with two Ps for my seminar classes.

Fall Semester Hours Earned: 19.00
Cumulative GPA: 4.00

Okay, so I knew it already. It's still thrilling to see it in (digital) print.

Embarrassingly, my first thought was "I must Facebook this joy!"

Monday, December 29, 2008


I love Christmas break in college: no continuing classes means absolutely nothing to worry about. I'm doing my favorite things all the time without any repercussions:
1) Being with family
2) Being with friends
3) Reading whatever I want
4) Skiing
5) Eating
6) Playing Guitar Hero until 5 AM :-D

I've picked up a new translation of Crime and Punishment, which is fun because the new words give me a new perspective on the story. (Wow, that's ironic: I used "new" three times in that sentence.) Generally, I enjoy reading books written to be read in English, because I feel like I can analyze word choice and sentence structure without feeling like I'm making things up, like I do when I find myself admiring vocabulary in a translated novel. Knowing that the author originally combined the words he chose so carefully to produce different combinations of (essentially cultural!) connotations and denotations throws me off, and I feel like I'm missing something. I wish I were fluently bilingual, so I could read in a different language and experience the feelings the author intended. I’m using a skewed perspective, I guess, in analyzing something solely for thematic content, but it's valid, nonetheless. None of the critical essays I've read have been translated--but maybe that says more about me than it does the range of perspectives on the text. Maybe I'll bring this up in my literary criticism class next semester, which, by the way, I am thrilled to take. We're doing Heart of Darkness and As I Lay Dying, two of my favorites, as well as many short stories and novellas I don't recognize. I've passionately missed literature!

I hope my classes are challenging enough to keep me interested this semester. Last semester, I was incredibly bored--19 credits kept me busy, and I came away with straight As but only one (one!) intellectually revelatory concept (see Thermodynamics). I'll be taking 18 this semester, but I'll have anatomy with a cadaver lab (taught by the professor I work with in my lab, so I'll be favored :-D) and a micro class that reviews say is taught "way above the level of a typical intro class," so I'm psyched to take that. Basically, I'm psyched just to LEARN SOMETHING NEW, because with the exception of my chemistry class, I've been entirely intellectually stagnated. Here's to an awesome new year!


I love Christmas break in college. No continuing classes means absolutely nothing to worry about. I'm doing my favorite things all the time without any repercussions:
1) Being with family
2) Being with friends
3) Reading whatever I want
4) Skiing
5) Eating
6) Guitar Hero :-D

I've picked up a new translation of Crime and Punishment, which is fun because the new English words give me a new perspective on the story. (Wow, that's ironic: I used "new" three times in that sentence.) Generally, I enjoy reading books written to be read in English, because I feel like I can analyze word choice and sentence structure without feeling like I'm making things up, like I do when I find myself admiring vocabulary in a translated novel. Knowing that the author originally combined the words he chose so carefully to produce different combinations of cultural connotations and denotations throws me off, and I feel like I'm missing something. I wish I were fluently bilingual, so I could read in a different language and experience the feelings the author intended. It's a skewed perspective, I guess, analyzing something solely for thematic content, but it's valid, nonetheless--none of the critical essays I've read have been translated--but maybe that says more about me than it does the range of perspectives on the text. Maybe I'll bring this up in my literary criticism class next semester, which, by the way, I am thrilled to take. We're doing Heart of Darkness and As I Lay Dying, two of my favorites, as well as many short stories and novellas I don't recognize. I've missed literature!

I hope my classes are challenging enough to keep me interested this semester. Last semester, I was incredibly bored--19 credits kept me busy, but I came away with only one (one!) intellectually revelatory concept (see Entropy). I'll be taking 18 this semester, but I'll have anatomy with a cadaver lab (taught by the professor I work with in my lab, so I'll be favored :-D) and a micro class that reviews say is taught "way above the level of a typical intro class," so I'm psyched to take that. Basically, I'm psyched just to LEARN SOMETHING NEW, because with the exception of my chemistry class, I've been entirely intellectually stagnated. Here's to an awesome new year!


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Nothing is more fun than my annual family Christmas party.

Stories buried for years always seem to resurface for our collective entertainment--everything from my teenage uncle sneaking into the local prison while his best friend filmed so they could get an "escape" scene on tape, which led to a mass town alert and a prison head count to see which prisoner had supposedly escaped, to the fact that my great grandma actually eloped on prom night at age 15--she drove out to Wendover with the boyfriend her parents hated and got married on the spot.

This is why I love history: people don't change.

Being home for Christmas is a double-edged sword. I love being with my family, but I have realized that we eat SO much--it is no wonder that I am consistently ten pounds heavier when I live at home. In college, I live on veggie Subway sandwiches and Lean Cuisine frozen dinners, with the occasional Yoplait Light or bowl of blackberries to mix things up. At home, I eat homemade chicken salad sandwiches, chips with fresh bean-and-cheese dip, my grandma's cheesecake, and my aunt's marshmallow brownies, with sugary frappe to drink and maybe a thick chocolate malt for dessert. And that's just lunch.
Oh, man--I'm really going to have to start exercising again.
I have to tell you, though--it's worth it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


So I had this interesting dream last night.
And sometimes, smiling, I take a mental step back and think, "You know, I think I'd be happy just being with you forever."

Finals are over (and there was much rejoicing). I think I secured straight As, but the average on our chem final was 64% (I got an 80), so if that stays unweighted, I may see my first A minus. Hmm.
I'm not too worried. I know quite a few people who got in the thirty percent range, and barely anyone who did as well? as I did, so I feel fairly confident that there'll be some manipulation of the weighting scheme.

Tonight was fun. I brought a few people over to my (real) house and we ate cookie dough ice cream, made frothy hot chocolate, and watched one of those cheesy, classic ClayMation Christmas movies. :-) Altogether, a great way to end the semester.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Second final (calculus) >> first (chem).

Except I realized halfway through my calc final that I forgot to bubble in my first name on my chem multiple choice sheet. I bubbled in my last name and student number, though...! I'm kind of freaked out. Hopefully they will take the time to determine who I am--or else I am SCREWED. I e-mailed my TA in desperation. She says it'll probably be fine. (Probably?)

Anyway, the worst is over. Six more pages to write tonight for English. Ready...go.


My Facebook status right now is "Jessica was intensely owned by the second redox equation. I was conjuring up imaginary protons like there was no tomorrow. :-( Maybe there won't be."
Which is exactly how my first-ever chemistry final went.
I now have a fiery dislike for the hypochlorite ion.

I hope it isn't as bad as I think it is. I have a tendency to overexaggerate when I don't feel like I knew everything on a test, because it doesn't happen all that often. To have it happen on a final is kind of freaking me out. But only kind of. Right now, I'm more tingly-post-trauma than I am depressed. And if I've calculated the grade distribution correctly, I can get an 83% and keep my A. Truthfully, I think I did better than 83%. I've never gotten less than a 93% on a chem test, and that was an outlier, so I doubt I'd fall that far on the final. I know I missed five points for sure on the free response, though (eliminating the possibility of any partial credit), which is thoroughly distressing. The one equation I couldn't do was, of course, worth the most points. Murphy's Law. Now, that's one equation I CAN illustrate.

Worst case scenario:
MC: 62.5/70 = 89.2%
FR: 31/40 = 75%
total 83.4%

I really don't think I did that badly. I really hope I didn't do that badly.

Friday, December 12, 2008


(cue Beatles): Today I woke up
Got out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head...

I dressed professionally, in a black suit jacket and pants with my hair perfectly straightened, and went off to an 8 AM meeting with my new major advisor. At 9, I hurried over to a three-hour chemistry review session with my professor and some TAs, and at 12, I grabbed a front row seat to a calculus review. For some reason, by the fifth hour of reviewing everything I'd learned in this semester for my two most intensive classes, I could no longer keep my eyes open, and I'm sure I looked ridiculous trying to take decent notes. It was like everything hit me at once, and I almost literally ran out of the room, because I was in severe need of a break. Not just any break, though--I needed sleep. NOW. But where was I going to go? I was sure the library was packed for finals, and I couldn't think of anywhere else big enough to hold me comfortably, because I was not looking for your typical curl-up-in-a-chair-for-ten-minutes sleep. I needed sprawl-out-dead-to-the-world sleep, and if I did not voluntarily reach a comatose state within the next five minutes, I knew I would probably involuntarily reach one anyway. I scanned my surroundings from the doorway of the Talmage building and spotted the JKB. A snapshot of a third floor window nook flashed across my mind, and I ran to catch up with my memory. Though the stairs would have taken thirty seconds, I waited for the elevator. At this point, I wasn't going to risk anything. Zooming out of the elevator, I saw it and almost cried. There, in a little outcropping, lay the most perfect nap couch I could have ever asked for. It was bathed in midafternoon sunlight and faced an entire wall of window. I shot out past a guy who I think might have been making his own leisurely way to the couch and absolutely CRASHED. I mean, I threw down my stuff and drove my face into the pillows, sprawling my arms and legs over the sides and zipping my eyelids shut in grateful relaxation. I entwined my fingers around the handles to my laptop case and my purse (hey, I was desperate, but that wouldn't stop me from being practical) and had just enough time to enjoy the tingling warmth released by the millions of photons bouncing off my body before I slipped into what I can only term a perfect slumber.

I awoke an hour and half later, entirely content, and now I am ready to study for finals.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Current issues.

My roommate is so incredibly NICE to me!
She just brought me a crepe with Nutella and berries and a few slices of delicious French cheese, totally out of the blue. It is absolutely delicious. I am so happy. I want to be a better person now. :-)

Today was my last day of class this semester. I'm not nostalgic or anything; I did the work and now I'm done, and it's time to study for finals. If I work at it, I think I can use these two upcoming reading days to my great advantage (well, if I can make Facebook inaccessible). I mean, logically, two days of pain and intensity is so worth my first college 4.0, which is delightfully within my reach at this point, even though I'm taking half again as many credits as most freshmen. I'll spend most of my time on chemistry and calculus, my two 'hardest' classes, but the ones I'm probably doing the best in. I can do the work, I just have to practice, and so I will. It's that simple. :-)

I have a meeting with a major advisor tomorrow morning, and then I'll grab a free bagel from the Honors Program office and head to a three-hour chem review, directly followed by a two-hour calculus review that will end just in time for me to catch the last hour of a biology review. I'll be on campus by 8:30 and be finished with review sessions by 3:00, so it isn't really like having a day off from school, but at least I won't have anything due. I'm actually kind of excited. Finals, here I come!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Surprising growth.

I shouldn't be content.

I am sitting above the terrace at the Wilkinson Center, slowly eating an English muffin with egg and cheese and mulling over all the things I have yet to do.
Three a.m. came all too early last night, and waking up just before my eight-o-clock chemistry class followed all too quickly. My hair, though, actually looks decent, and I'm in a semi-professional outfit (dark jeans, collared shirt, black dress coat) that is working pretty well for the five minutes I spent getting ready. My skin is clear, my hair is clean, my eyes are red and I am eating breakfast for probably the second time this semester. It's a miracle, and though all the work I have yet to do has not been erased, I've stuffed it in a sulcus out of sight to deal with when I feel like it, because right now, I'm okay just sitting here.

This morning was my last chemistry lecture, and after class, I went up to thank the professor that knows me pretty well by now. He said he hoped to see me in his biochemistry class junior year, and I told him to count on it. I'll be there. Not only is biochemistry fascinating (I might consider it as a major were it not for the focus on quantitative analysis--I prefer biology to chemistry), my teacher is certifiably brilliant, and his class and my writing class are the only two I think I'll miss.

My voice is still tired from last night. I spent two straight hours explicating plant and animal metabolism on the basement white board for half of my biology class. Glycolysis, decarboxylation of pyruvate, Krebs Cycle, electron transport chain, chemiosmotic phosphorylation, light reactions, photophosphorylation, Calvin Cycle...yeah. There's a lot of material, and trying to cover it all comprehensively and in-depth at 11:45 pm sapped my energy, but it was stimulating, all the same. If I can't be intellectually stimulated in biology class, I've made do by holding review sessions and simply answering questions--thanks to the questions I've been asked and to my lab work, my critical thinking skills have skyrocketed, as has my ability to think on my feet. I've had to hold my own at lab meetings where I've been grilled on specific protocol details I'm called upon to not only remember but analyze at the drop of a hat. I've defended and designed my experiments and learned to account for each variable I alter (or don't), and I've had to respond intelligently and concisely when asked questions in lab--I have to know what I have, what I need, how long things take, whether or not I can fit a project into my schedule under someone else's deadline--thinking back, I've really grown a lot, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

I'm going to compose my application essays for the Jerusalem Center now. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yes, we can.

MAJOR: Microbiology
MINOR(s): English Teaching and Chemistry

I'm a new woman.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Happy Integrity Story of the Day!:
(Cue dramatic background music)

Once upon a time, there was a college freshman girl named Jessica. She worked really hard in her chemistry class, and she had the top scores in her section, but since the material was new to her, tests were still very scary events. There was a big test coming up, and Jessica was scared (as usual), so (as usual) she studied her heart out. Before she took the test, though, she heard through the grapevine that a TA had put up a test from last year as a practice test that had free response questions (and answers) identical to the test Jessica's class was taking. Jessica was very tempted to look. I mean, a TA had put it online, so it technically wouldn't be her fault for looking at it, right? However, Jessica decided that she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she essentially cheated on this test. Though the answers were a click away, Jessica never looked. Instead, she studied harder. When she went in to take the test, the free response questions were new to her, and she had to work out the answers very methodically, but she was pretty sure she had studied enough to do them correctly. The multiple choice questions were new to everyone and really quite tricky, but because she knew the material, she came out with a perfect ScanTron score. Jessica was thrilled that she did so well on the multiple choice section and is now excited to find out her grade on the free response questions. She felt she could be truly happy because she did not cheat. (Music slips into a contented piano riff, slowly fading out.)

The End.

EDIT: The free response also went well. Perfectly, in fact. My first flawless chemistry exam. How sweet it is. ♥


I'm currently saturated with chemistry--I've hit my mental threshold and am fully ready for my acid/base/solubility/equilibrium test.

Things I Did Today:
* Met my chem teacher for next semester and was surprised at his relative youth. His will be an interesting and straightforward class; I was very lucky to get into it, as there is now a waiting list 40 people long for my section alone.
*Maybe-almost changed my major: microbiology's sounding more and more enticing, so I might take a Medical Parasitology class next semester to try it out. It's a 400-level class, but the prerequisites are only the bio and chem classes I'm taking/will take concurrently, so we'll see.
* Recommended a novel to my English teacher. It's one of the most well-written works of contemporary fiction I've read, initially recommended to me by my Creative Writing professor when I was studying at Cambridge. I fully encourage you to check out We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, but be warned: it isn't exactly G-rated.
*Played with a mobile spectrophotometer that looks different than the NanoSpec I use to quantify my DNA solutions, and asked my brilliant chem teacher about the physical chemistry of said DNA quantification (after class), which he was (entertainingly) excited to diagram all over the board for me.
*Set up the quickest restriction digest reaction I've ever run.
*Walked all the way to Helaman Halls at midnight, where I'd parked two days earlier, only to realize that I had no idea where my car was, so I spent a good twenty minutes wandering around in the cold until I encountered it.
*Found my two-days-lost cell phone!
*Was told that the boys in my Freshman Academy group are calling my Bath & Body Works Sensual Amber lotion "an orgasm in a bottle." I guess that's a compliment.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Every day I can feel entropy tugging behind my skin, separating the outermost cells and sacrificing them to the universe in contribution to my continual offering, the tribute that keeps me alive. The environment harvests heat from my chemical reactions, and in return, I keep my consciousness, my ability to speak and think and act. I give more to the universe than I take and organize within my body, so it lets me live. And the moment those weighted scales fall out of balance--when for once I sequester more than I produce--the indomitable force will eat me alive. I will decay; pieces of me will disseminate to feed its insatiable lust for disorder. This is death; entropy dissolves anyone who can't pay tribute. As long as it destroys more than you create, it's satisfied, but don't try and come off conqueror, because there's more of it than there is of you.

And ΔS(universe) must always be positive.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I genuinely enjoy teaching.

People always thank me profusely for holding the bio test reviews I'm becoming known for, but I'm surprised to find that it's really no trouble--I honestly love doing it. I have so much fun explaining the things I love to a group, expanding on the concepts I most enjoy and including interesting applications and theories. I love answering questions and trying to respect everyone's opinions while making sure everyone knows what they need to know to pass the test. It's fun to try and combine the best things about my educational experience into a lecture that will benefit everyone--I make sure to warn people before elaborating on something that isn't going to be on the test, I base my lecture on questions that will involve my audience, I create hypothetical situations so everyone can speculate about what might happen given some interesting conditions, and I answer practice test/homework questions didactically, not just to give people the right answer.

Needless to say, I have fun.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Here's what I have so far for next semester:

Neuro 205 (neurobiology)
PDBio 220 (anatomy with cadaver lab)
PDBio 494R (mentored laboratory research)
Chem 106 (second semester inorganic chem)
Chem 107 (inorganic chem lab)
Rel A 122H (honors Book of Mormon, second semester)
Honrs 292R (honors lecture seminar)
Dance 180 (social dance...hey, it's PE credit!)

I'm most excited to take neurobiology and anatomy and to continue my research.
I'm most scared for the religion and dance classes (go figure).
I'm indifferent about continuing inorganic chem.


Wow, I suck at posting lately.
That said, let me move on to CHRIS MARTIN!!!

Yes, be jealous--I had floor seats to Coldplay in concert, and it was quite possibly the most phenomenal two hours of my life. I have seen a good number of live shows, but let me just tell you that Chris Martin alone blew them ALL out of the water. He was all over the place--grinning, running, jumping, spinning, and dancing with seemingly limitless energy, his smooth, mature voice sliding up and down his impossibly wide vocal range. The control he has over that voice is indescribable--it alone can plunge you into a mood spectrum ranging from relaxed (Fix You) to rocking (Politik) to nostalgic (Yellow), laid back (Strawberry Swing), colorful (Lovers in Japan), classic (Clocks), intense (Death and All His Friends), quiet (a slow, solo piano version of The Hardest Part), whimsical (a unique version of The Scientist with Martin on a harmonica), awesome (Lost?), sweeping (Speed of Sound) loving (Violet Hill), and magical (Viva la Vida, the show's crown jewel). The show opened with Violet Hill and closed with a rock-ish, upbeat encore adaptation of Yellow. Needless to say, I was on my feet screaming the ENTIRE time. The lights were shining bright colors onto descending, beach-ball sized sky props, and there was second-by-second video editing flashing live images of the band across the background screen in dramatic black and white. Chris Martin honestly gave it everything he had; seeing him live, it is wonderfully obvious that he puts his entire heart and soul into his music and the shows he plays. I mean, Coldplay is the number-one band in the world right now, and to see that Martin puts that level of effort into every single show is deliciously unbelievable. His accent was fun to listen to as he talked and joked with the audience, making up lines that involved our city ("Salt Lake City, won't you let me know?"). At one point (The Scientist), the band ran up into the far reaches of the audience, grabbing guitars and harmonicas to play from a different perspective. For his solo performance of The Hardest Part, Chris Martin pushed a piano into a sidebar that extended into the audience about five rows from where I sat. It was AMAZING--he literally played so close to me I could see the sweat on his face as he poured his soul into the soft, lilting piano version of the song. It was beautiful--I nearly cried. And during Lovers In Japan, crepe paper, neon and Mylar butterflies were poured into the audience from the rafters, filling the arena with pieces of glittering, vibrant color. Martin really got into the newest album's title track, Viva la Vida--he crooned the last few notes from flat on his back after skipping spastically all over the stage. I still can't believe I saw him live.
Chris Martin!

The concert was worth the $110 ticket a million times over. I only wish I'd bought more than one commemorative t-shirt--this'll live in my memory for a LONG time.
Viva La Vida world tour = ultimate win!!

Monday, November 17, 2008


This morning, I sat on the front row of my calculus lecture and just cried.
It was interesting; I wonder if my teacher noticed. I couldn't pinpoint what was wrong; it was just one of those mornings when bad things seem to culminate and run together like wet watercolor paint, dripping into a brown-grey smudge and ruining the picture. It felt strange copying down definite integrals through the large, warm teardrops that streamed freely from my eyes, but what else could I do?

∫(12,13)jessica dx = overactivetearducts + c

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stress equation.

I pull up this page at least once a day and stare blankly at the screen, searching my mind for something to write. I've figured out that my writing-creativity is inversely proportional to the time I spend doing math and science, which makes me sad.

W = k/S

where W is "creative writing ideas (in observations/day)," S is "time spent doing science (in hrs/day)" and k is a constant of proportionality that represents the derivative of the equation for my stress level at the midpoint of the interval of how many hours of sleep I get (currently d/dx (y= ln(x)) evaluated at (7-3)/2 ==> 2/5). Today, though, it's tricky; W is undefined (S=0) because it's Sunday. Ha.

Monday, November 10, 2008


By popular request, I held a well-attended test review session for my biology class last night, where I talked through everything from chi-square tests for Mendelian ratios to population ecology and the finer points of meiotic cell division. I had a good number of people sitting before me on the basement floor as I scribbled all over our white board, defining terms, elaborating on concepts and providing relevant examples as requested. These days, I genuinely like to teach. It's a way to feel important, to feel necessary and even impressive. Since coming to college, I don't get much recognition anymore--in huge lecture classes, I have no chance to actively expand the things I know in front of a teacher or group of students, which is the way I learn best. Being a math tutor over the summer really fine-tuned my teaching techniques, I guess; before then, I felt like I couldn't adequately explain anything. Now, I don't get frustrated when people can't understand--it's a fun and interesting challenge to present material in different ways, and I honestly enjoy explaining the things I love to people who care to listen.

*Self esteem 1up*

I got some nice compliments from my biology teacher today. I went after class to ask whether he needed a TA for next semester, but he isn't teaching the bio class I'm in again until next fall. :-( "I'd take you as a TA in a heartbeat, though," he told me, grinning. "Can you wait around till next fall?"
He also said I would be a good Genetics TA after I'd taken the class (PWSci 340). We got into an interesting conversation about learning styles and educational philosophy, and I told him some of my ideas for utilizing Fridays in our class (currently, the TA does a superficial review and we get out early, but if I were the TA, I'd prepare an actual lesson based on an interesting, real-life example and use that as means for review while teaching new concepts and applications at the same time). He seemed to like my ideas, and asked me a little about myself, my major and my life plans. Upon hearing my current/future schedule, he asked if he could give me some advice. "You are bright enough to blow through BYU in three years," he said, "but don't do it. Take your time. Have some fun. Meet some people." Basically, this is what my parents have been saying to me for the past three months. People keep telling me this--I should probably listen, but it's hard for me because I see the world through such clear-cut lenses: I know exactly what I want (medical school), and I know exactly how to get it (kill myself with three straight years of perfect classwork, service learning, mentored research, heavy scheduling, etc.). It's that simple for me. I see my goal, and I see a clear path to reach my goal. It would tear me to pieces not to step on every last cobblestone I've ordered so perfectly to provide me with the most efficient path from Point A to Point B.

Hopefully, though, my biology teacher will prove right: "You're bright enough to do anything you want to do, Jessica. Just make sure to have a little fun in the process."

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Generally, I like BYU.
This past week, though, we had an evolution unit in my bio class, and I was reminded why I didn't want to be here. The teacher prefaced the 'discussion' with a lengthy disclaimer about reconciling science and religion, and then opened it up to the class. It's not that I mind discussing evolution--on the contrary, I think it's interesting and definitely worth explaining. Much to my dismay, our conversation quickly swung from fascinating areas of structural homology to controversial religious hearsay, and I was sad to hear my colleagues ask questions like "What do we think about this?"

I mean, what a question.
Listen to yourselves.
What do we think??
Wake up, sheeple!

Look. I am religious. Very religious, by some standards. However, I cannot emphasize this enough--no one is telling me what to think. And no one should. Religion is the result of a conscious personal choice. "We" don't think anything. My religion is not based on people telling other people what to do. If you take part in my religion, you understand that each person thinks for themselves, and you can take the alignment of our thinking on some issues as a sign that God really does reveal truth. Okay? Whatever you do, don't ask someone else what you should think. Ever. (insert Gob Bluth: COME on.)

In other news, I got my third perfect score (on a bio exam I barely even looked over material for). :-) I have another calculus test and a Book of Mormon test coming up this week, and I am not excited. I'm sick of tests. I've learned that in college, you really do have to do well on every single test. There is no room for failure or even mediocrity. This does horrible things to my nerves, no matter how prepared I am.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I didn't expect college to do this to me.

Sifting through the old files on my computer tonight, I realized that I miss the intellectual stretches I performed so often in high school. I read over specific poem explications, in-depth historical criticisms and intense literary analyses, and I marvel at my words. Did I write that? Did I think that? How? Why?
College classes so far have proven to be exhausting, but not enlightening. This stems mainly from the fact that I am not taking any classes that I haven't been fully exposed to beforehand, so I am quite literally bored all day. I sleep through calculus, space out in biology, take writing lightly (though I do enjoy it) and sit passively through Book of Mormon. Chemistry is the only class that requires even mild attention, but there isn't anything I can't get from lecture that the book won't tell me faster.



I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the Socratic method. I miss answering questions incorrectly and being guided toward a different response. I miss the satisfaction that comes from being publicly right. I miss competition--I have found none here. I'm pre-med, for heaven's sake--challenge me! Take me on! Tell me I'm wrong! Please! My only choices at this point are insanity and apathy.
Take your pick.

On the other hand, I don't know enough to be considered intelligent in my lab. I'm a freshman, but I'm treated like a senior--something I'd usually love, but I honestly feel like I don't know enough to take on my responsibilities. I haven't taken a molecular biology class (ever), but molecular biology is what I'm doing every day, and when the molecular biologist my lab is collaborating with tells me I've interpreted my experiment incorrectly because the residue I worked so hard to see on my gel is excess genomic DNA, not badly-inactivated nuclease-cut fragments like I supposed, I don't feel qualified to further troubleshoot the process. Plus, why didn't I include another positive control? Two proven-viable samples are not enough as a contrast to my experiment; I should have lysed another two living adult tails and run them against two additional fetal isolations from my last successful set. Oh, and I should have used a 10-basepair ladder, not a 100 one, because for this mutation, the fragments are 20 bp apart, not 200 like the others. She exclaims disparagingly over my cloudy cell lysis solution, but I didn't make it, and I didn't know it's really supposed to be clear. My DNA primers are eight months old; how am I to know they expire in six?

This is what I see:
There are smaller fragments than I want to see on my gel, so somehow the DNA is being cut before I introduce any secondary enzymes (???).
Proteinase-K inactivates nucleases at 55 degrees Celsius. Ours is old, but has been kept frozen at -20 degrees C, so it should be fine (right?).
PCR seems to amplify more than I want to see on a final gel. Could the DNA be folding back on itself because it is so highly concentrated? Is the annealing time too short? Is there not enough primer? Is the primer nonspecific? Should I include an additive?
I need to fix this--people need results, and when I can't deliver, everything piles up.
I need to know more to fix this--I feel like I'm wasting valuable resources in my vain attempts at experimentation. Polymerases aren't cheap, and neither are primers, dNTPs, ladders, gel rigs, or even agarose.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The edges are sharpening; things are coming back into focus and I am happy.
A perfect score on my most recent English paper combined with very-near-perfection in calculus and some highly concentrated fetal mouse DNA isolations boosted my mood, though I'm still waiting for the results of that chem test I can barely remember. Eh. My average is high enough; I'll be fine.

I sat alone in one of our colleagues' labs tonight, my concentration accompanied by the snap of the spectrophotometer as it smashed and stretched drops of my samples, graphing perfect calibration curves for me in real time.

So, um, I'm scared my interests are getting so narrow that I won't remember how to make conversation outside of school-related stuff.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If you want to destroy my sweater...

I feel haggard, like my soul is fraying around the edges.
The thread unravels, ripping through seams as I am pulled in a million directions at once.
I've been up for 32 hours, 2.5 of which have been dedicated to sleep, and all I've eaten is a banana, string cheese, and a granola bar.
I stayed all night last night in the lab, repeating PCR and running electrophoresis and restriction digests over and over again in a vain attempt to get viable product from my (crucial, no less) samples. I slept crunched up in a lab chair from three to six a.m., waking every few minutes to adjust my badly angled position across the desk. I remember standing in the middle of the floor at four-thirty and staring at the clock above the door, one word on my mind: why?
Why can't I get data we can use?
That's one third of the grant proposal that officially can't be included, thanks to us.
I can't stand it.

And never take a chemistry exam after all of that. Trust me, you won't even be able to get your letters in the right order, let alone remember how to calculate bond order and molecular orbitals. The sad thing is, I had the potential to do really well on that test--just try doing technical chemical work for literally twenty hours beforehand and then see how well you remember the orbital hybridization of your polyatomic ions. I'm exaggerating; I think I probably hit the high A-minus/low-A range, but still--this was a test I could have aced had I been halfway coherent. It's entirely frustrating.

Above all, I need to sleep. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon; I have at least three hours of homework. Needless to say, I can't wait for the weekend. I am experiencing a desperate lack of "me" time. And by "desperate lack," I mean I haven't had one single moment to myself all week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Under pressure.

I am so sick of molecular genetics.

I have completed genotyping protocol five times in the past ten days, but something is still going wrong. I stayed until 12:30 am last night running a restriction enzyme digest on what we thought might be product, but was actually contamination.
Our protocol has been immaculate.
I even had new DNA primers shipped to us on Monday.
The entire grant proposal is due to the NIH Friday at the latest, and it is basically a given that we will get the hundreds of thousands of dollars we are applying for IF my genotypes can be successfully determined by tomorrow. If not, our case has no strength. Everything rests on my results. You have no idea how horribly stressed out I am. Though I am the youngest member on my genotyping team, I am the one that seems to take this most seriously.
And today, I had to go to lab meeting all alone and explain to the lab that, after five rounds of complete protocol, we still have no results.
I feel so useless and incompetent.
Why won't this work?
I feel like it's all my fault, but I know it isn't--my team has done all of this together, so the blame should be shared between us. It just never seems like anyone else is around to take it with me. :-(


AND, I have a chem test tomorrow that I've barely looked over the material for.
I honestly haven't had time.
I'm past saying "This had better work" and have arrived at a quiet, total desperation. I don't have the energy to scream any more; all I have left is a whisper.



I will stay in the lab all night if I have to. And when I say "all night," I mean "all night."

Monday, October 20, 2008


Walking into the lab this morning, I offhandedly noticed a soft buzz directly over my head. I looked up to see a large wasp zipping through the light fixtures. "Hmm," I thought. "A wasp in a fifth floor laboratory with no windows. That can't happen very often." I ignored the insect and went to work. A few seconds later, however, I heard faint, shrillish girl-shrieks from somewhere down the hall. "Get it! Get it! Augh!" they screamed, and I poked my head out of the door only to feel two more wasps fly in right over my head. "What?" I thought. Pretty soon, I was ducking, gasping and flinching as the wasps zoomed around our lab. One of the senior boys was brave enough to grab a binder to smack them with, standing in the middle of the room and taking heavy, wild swings at the flying specks as they terrorized us. The sight was entirely absurd: a roomful of science students ducking behind expensive pieces of chemical equipment to avoid the wrath of three confused wasps. As soon as our wasps were successfully knocked out of the air, a girl came running down our hall at full speed, stopping in our doorway. "Wasp killer," she grinned, handing us an industrial-size bottle. "You have them too, right?"
Apparently, a large group of wasps had flown in through a broken fifth floor window earlier that morning, probably drawn by the scent of a solution some lab was making. They had basically infested the floor, and labs had been fighting them off all morning.
I returned later in the afternoon to find a hastily drawn message scrawled across the white board in big, shaky, block letters: DON'T WORRY. 523 HAS WASP KILLER.

I couldn't stop laughing.


I'm not sure what I want to do this summer.
Therefore, I present to you my options:

1- Study abroad in Jerusalem
2- Research internship at a different university
3- Stick around, take spring term classes, TA for bio and work in the lab


Pros for 1:
Four months in Jerusalem. ENOUGH SAID.
Makes for sweet interview material/resume builder.
I'd get to learn and speak a language (Arabic or Hebrew).
I can't make money (my parents would pay, but I wouldn't earn anything).
Random drawing determines which applicants merit an interview.
I'd be gone for four months...no real "summer."

Pros for 2:
Awesome and looks great on a med school resume.
Ten weeks, paid ($4000).
I'd get to live alone in another state.
Intensely competitive. I am a lowly freshman, and my GPA right now is "not applicable;" I haven't even finished a full semester yet, so I have little to no chance of landing a spot.
I plan to do things like this the summers after my sophomore and junior years; why start now if I have other options?

Pros for 3:
I make money.
I stick around, so I can see my family and the Friendship.
I get to go on vacations.
I move up in the lab hierarchy.
Simply not as cool.
Doesn't build my resume.

Of course, I want #1 the most, but I need to be making money...
And #2 sounds great, but I will be doing that for two years anyway...
And #3 has its good points, too, even though it is less exciting.

Saturday, October 18, 2008



Thursday, October 16, 2008


It's been a day for having interesting things said to me.

From professor feedback on my first intensive writing assignment:
"Enjoy the highest score in the class. Not that you haven't had that little enjoyment on many occasions before this one."

After a passionate argument over the bell curve grading system:
"I'm sorry I called you a fascist."

In other news, I received my first perfect midterm score! Yep, I aced my first bio exam, even pointing out a test error to my professor. :-) College = sweet. I have another calculus exam tomorrow, and I'll devote my weekend to studying chemistry before my next chem test on Wednesday, which will hopefully go as well as the last one did.

My schedule for next semester:
PDBio 220 (anatomy with lab): 3.0
PDBio 494R (mentored research): 1-2.0
Neuro 205 (neurobiology): 3.0
Chem 106 (inorganic chem): 3.0
Chem 107 (inorganic chem lab): 1.0
Engl 252 (literary criticism): 3.0
Rel A 122H (honors B of M): 2.0
Hon 292R (honors lecture series): 1.0
= 17-18 credits.
I'm thinking of...eliminating my lit class?? But...I love lit...
We'll see.
Maybe I'll just be as insanely busy next semester as I am this semester.

Monday, October 13, 2008


~(Thanks, Lee.)

3 names I go by:
* Jessica
* Jess
* Jen/Jenna (my bio professor can't seem to remember to substitute the "n" for "s")

3 restaurants I love
* Los Hermanos (smothered burrito + oasis bliss + fried ice cream = divinity + three extra pounds)
* Macaroni Grill (caesar salad + chicken marsala + lemon dessert = heaven + fat)
* Zupas (tomato basil soup + panini + chocolate strawberry = not as guilt-inducing)

3 trips to plan on this year
* Thanksgiving in SLC (I honestly, totally and completely love my family.)
* College football bowl game (BCS, hopefully!)
* Hopefully...study abroad in Jerusalem (I'm considering applying for spring/summer semester)

3 things I want badly
* My first university 4.0
* To be accepted to either the BYU Jerusalem Center or a research internship for the summer
* Eh, maybe a guy friend or two

3 pets I've had
* Skittles, the cannibal rabbit
* Mabel, the one-eyed dog
* The water frog that froze to death in the winter

3 things I did yesterday
* Saw "Dial M for Murder" with my writing class
* Froze at the football game (21-3!)
* Went home and held my baby sister :-)

3 things I ate today
* Macaroni
* Burnt brownie bits
* Frozen peas

3 fears
* Mediocrity
* Small, repeating, three-dimensional patterns (holes, especially...*shudder*)
* Wasting time

3 things I plan on doing today
* Finishing this blog post
* Brushing my teeth
* Sleeping (what can I say; "today" is essentially over)

3 things I plan on doing tomorrow
* Attending a seminar at the business school
* Attending a bio test review
* Restarting PCR on my DNA samples

3 favorite holidays
* Christmas
* Thanksgiving
* Easter

3 favorite beverages
* Jamba Juice, "Berry Fulfilling:" 150 calories and relatively low sugar/fat.
* Raspberry water (mmm)
* Normal water

Sunday, October 12, 2008


"As the moon kindles the night
As the wind kindles the fire
As the rain fills every ocean
And the sun the earth
With your heart, kindle my heart."

Watch this movie. It's one of my all-time favorites; I bawl uncontrollably every single time. One word: heartwarming. The soundtrack is exquisite; I bought it last night and haven't stopped listening.

So, um, eloquence. Remember that? I think college has vacuumed out what little I had. I've undergone an emotional D&C, a procedural term that in medicine doesn't have the austere, sacred feeling it does in religion. I think in alternating streams and fragments,


Hand me that green spatula.

Patients, when I can't see your cervix, but your doctor can, I ask, "Green or white?" The doctor pretends to think for a bit, making his choice seem entirely spontaneous: "Let's go with green today." Really, though, I'm asking, "Large or small?" and he's replying, "Give me the biggest one we've got."

methylated cap and poly-A tail
introns out
exons in

I got 99% on my most recent chem test and 105% in calculus with the curve.


I'm beginning to think that dreams are continuous. Think back to a time you were so exhausted that it seemed every single molecule in your body was focused on staying awake. Forget about being functional; at this point, keeping your eyes from rolling back in your head is like climbing a mountain without oxygen, and you strain every single fiber in your possession to tighten those extraocular muscles. It doesn't work for long, though; your eyes snap back crazily every few seconds into the dreamscape of your subconscious, and for a second, you're dropped in media res into a complicated plot you know and understand--something with no semblance of logic or order, yet it's somehow...perfect. Snapping back just as quickly catapults you into the real world with half a second elapsed, and in fear and awe you wonder at the fragments that glitter just below the surface: nonsensical scenes from a mad art movie or the mind of a painter savant, smudged around the edges with sweet LSD. My subconscious doesn't rest. It's complicated there, in the regions I can't access unless I'm devoid of conscious control, and every so often I see the things I'm constantly creating and destroying. Maybe one day I'll fall there entirely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I'm in a weird mental position right now, like my brain's training to be a contortionist, but it keeps getting all tangled up in itself like this guy.
Let me just say this: I'm not used to not being the most competitive applicant. I'm not used to knowing less. Granted, the students I work with now are four and five school-years more advanced than I am, but it's still maddeningly difficult for me not to have something to contribute.

More than anything, I want to participate in the scientific discussions and ideas that go on in my lab, but everything moves so...quickly. And if you know me, picture me honestly repeating that last part. It's as weird to me as it probably is to you. I zip through the professor's words with my extensive memory for Latin roots (seriously, no background's been more valuable to me) and try to compartmentalize them into coherent concepts. Despite my best efforts, I can barely deduct what the charge on a proteoglycan has to be before they're on to how it affects hemotoxylin staining and the immunohistochemical indications of said stain, leaving me to connect the (Lewis) dots. I need organic chemistry. I need microbiology. I need molecular biology. I need biochemistry and electrical physics and cytology and pathophysiology and everything else these seniors and grad students have taken! What is probably most strange to me is the fact that I can't just read up on these things and magically understand, like usual. These students have been working for four long years on science I've never seen, and when I try to follow it, I get insanely frustrated. I want to have all that background knowledge. NOW. It doesn't help that in my biology class, we're learning transcription and translation. Honestly. The conflict kills me. I am expected to understand all possible realms of university science in one sphere, and expected to be asking questions about DNA base pairing in another.

Lab: "Therefore, in the disproportionate micromelia samples, murile electron microscopy indicates hyperdilation of the rough endoplasmic reticulum with excess collagen-2, preventing it from forming a functional complex with collagen-11 in the extracellular matrix."
Bio: "Wait, C bonds with...A? T? Oh, this class is SO confusing."

I'll just say it: I'm used to being the best, and you have no idea how difficult it is to comprehend the fact that in places where it matters (bio, for one, doesn't count) I no longer am. This feeling has been exacerbated by my desire to apply for a research internship this summer. For me, applications have always been no problem; I've always known I was competitive. With my perfect GPA, my string of AP 5s, my national awards and honors, and my extensive service involvement, I was the perfect all-around applicant, and, riding on my solid resume, I won far more positions than I lost. Now, I'm a first-year college student with a GPA of "zero" or "not applicable," because I haven't officially finished any courses yet. No one cares whether or not I'm a National Merit Scholar or a medical terminology medalist. To them, I'm a freshman, and that makes me not good enough. As I look over internship applications, it's maddeningly frustrating to see how many of the boxes I honestly cannot fill in...

"List all collegiate biochemistry courses above general level." Um, zero.
"List all collegiate physics courses above general level." Zero again.
"List all math courses..." Yay! I have...one. Calculus 1. Embarrassing.
"Overall GPA." Not applicable? I'm getting As so far...I swear...
"Science/math GPA." Please.
"Please provide two faculty recommendations." Okay, I've only known these people for a month, and I'm just a second-row face in their 300-student lectures. There is NO way they can write me decent recommendations, nor should they have to.

IN CONCLUSION, you should take me on a summer intern because...I like science?


I hate being...young! inexperienced! noncompetitive! AUGH!
and knowing it will be years before I regain the application-confidence I had.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Things I Currently Miss:
The Friendship
Having a literature class
My new baby sister
Leisure time
Music (playing and listening)
Real food (I eat Wheat Thins, yogurt, spaghetti sauce, pickles and granola)
You (probably)

The increasing physical and emotional distance between the Friendship members seems to accentuate our differences; last weekend, when a few of us got together for the Oktoberfest, I got a glimpse of how entirely opposite we are. Our coming together as functional friends occupies such a small probability--we were the one chance in a million where something like that works, and I don't think we even realized it. Now, we're living like the people we've always been, but since our lives became our own, we've had far more control in shaping our time, and we're turning out as photographic negatives of each other--everything in reverse. It's both fascinating and sad; we aren't the same anymore; we never were. I hope we don't drift far enough apart that the Friendship dissolves entirely.

I miss people.
I'm a natural workaholic, so leaving me to my own devices doesn't always turn out so well. These days, I work. That's it. I push myself to the limit every day and fall into bed at two in the morning, exhausted. I thrive on wearing out every inch of the day I'm given before being blessed with a new one. I've lost ten pounds since starting college; often, I honestly don't have time to eat. I pride myself on being so good with balancing my time, but I'm starting to think that I'm just on the 'acceptable' side of sucking at it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I've been in a time lag all week, catching the seconds as they drip from the clock in order to make sure I have everything accomplished. Today, I finally caught up. I found myself with an unexpected two-and-a-half hour surplus, which I exhausted blissfully by consuming an entire novel, and I'm happy to report that things are at equilibrium again.

I read a shared blog today by an anorexic support group, and I looked down at my own arms and thighs, feeling kind of disgusted. The girls' photographs showed bundles of acute angles gilded with perfect sheaths of flesh, and I was almost jealous. I mean, I try and eat under a thousand calories per day for controlled weight loss purposes, but these girls are going on seventy-five to a hundred. I know enough to calculate all the ways that isn't healthy, but still...

In the lab today, I made a 4% agarose gel to definitively genotype my samples and ran it all on my own. It's kind of tricky; you have to supersaturate the buffer with the agarose while keeping all of it in the flask (it bubbles over extremely easily), but it went as well as can be expected. I'm getting tons better with a pipette, too; my hands don't tremble as much, and I can load my gel beautifully every time. My favorite part of running gels is loading the samples; I love watching the tiny drops of golden loading dye transform into royal blue solution as I add the PCR product, pipetting up and down to ensure homogeny before sucking up all five and a half microliters and transferring them into the tiny gel slits.

In academic news: I haven't gotten my calculus test back, but I think I might very well have aced it. I mean, after a math test, you kind of know, which is nice. My second chem test went equally well, but I may have missed a couple points on the theoretical explanation behind Schrodinger's wave equation...we'll see. (Quantum physics...it gets me every time. I like intuitive science, with changes I can measure and observe, so with quantum, I have to reduce it to memorization, or I get caught up in why it shouldn't work.) I had a Book of Mormon test today, too, which was more difficult than expected. It asked for many precise references, and there were a lot I didn't know/was unsure of...augh. I seriously ran to the bathroom and cried after that one, especially because it's worth one third of our entire course grade. I'm praying to see a percentage prefixed by 9; otherwise, I don't know what I'll do. I mean, I'm sure med schools aren't going to care if I fail Book of Mormon, but I don't need my GPA to drop because of it. I wish I didn't have to take religion classes, but it kind of comes with the territory.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Every cliche about a beautiful morning applied to today's.
The sunlight tangled itself through the trees, knotting in branches and throwing dappled patterns onto the grass as we walked up her driveway. Her children had carefully taped "Welcome, BYU!" signs on the door, and the crooked, neon-markered letters reached out from the confines of white printer paper to touch my heart. We entered to warm smiles and a beautiful breakfast, all laid out for us in dishes that reminded me of home. The house was an antique beauty, where framed child's art hung on the walls next to professional paintings. What made this so idyllic, though, was the tangible happiness, which seemed a natural quality of the air. It wove soft ribbons through the room as we sat on the floor, its wavelengths interacting with those created by the children on their violins and the college students taking turns on the piano. Two parents, three children, a writing class, a yard, a tire swing, a halfpipe, a breakfast, a talent show, a tour, and an irresistible feeling of contentment.
Love is spoken here.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Things I Currently Am
Busy premed student (19 credits!)
Research lab assistant
Physical therapy secretary/aide
Ward Service Committee chairwoman
Math tutor
and, as of today, Provo Youth Mentor.

I kind of wonder if/when I'll reach a saturation point. Maybe I'm like one of those leptin-deficient people who can eat for hours on end without ever feeling full.
How much can I do without sacrificing the quality of my work?
I don't know if I want to push the limit much farther.

In other news, I got an 97.5% on my first college chem test! I'm off to my first calculus one in approximately three hours; wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Dear Really Enthusiastic Math Kid,

Wow. You really love this stuff. I can tell. And trust me, no one appreciates the rush that comes from doing a problem on the board in front of our class more than I do. It's a great feeling, I know. However, you seriously need to consider toning it down. You're at least 21, and waving your hand up and down while literally bouncing out of your seat with joy for a chance to demonstrate every question the class members ask to see is a little much. I think it'd be different if you were right more than 50% of the time, but please consider sparing us your long-winded, public apologies about why you went wrong and let someone else try. You aren't the TA. After the fourth or fifth loud, self-righteous solution you express on the board, I'm sure you can imagine that things start to get a little old, and I start to imagine shoving the chalk down your overly enthusiastic throat.

Quiet Blonde Girl from the Second Row

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Eucloudian geometry.

Today I measured a straight line up to the cloud above my head and thought about how if I knew the angle of elevation between you and the cloud, I could figure out how far apart we are.
This is good for something after all.


After church, I shut myself into the tiny room under the stairs and locked the door. The bench pulled just far enough away for me to slip between it and the pedals, and I propped up my sheet music against the ancient ledge. Twenty minutes, I promised myself.

But pressing the keys filled the room with an atonal, reverberant jumble of sound that bounced wildly off the concrete floor and split into rainbows of audible color, and an hour melted away under my fingertips before I realized I'd missed my meeting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I watch the world with the mute button securely fastened inside my mind, and I like it that way. I experience things quietly, without the mind-blowing passion that seems to combust inside of you like an acetylene balloon. In this way, I find that college is making me more me than ever; in my most memorable moments of contentment, I sit alone on the blue couch by the window in my dorm room with a blanket, a novel, and a bowl of oatmeal. I understand that there is danger in pulling away from the social world entirely, and I do not plan to become absolutely introverted, but the truth is, I am simply happier alone. It is tiring, time-consuming work for some to read and study, but it is a task never left unfinished, because everyone knows the importance of education. My collegiate social life is an inverse product of the same formula.

The material that is beginning to pile up in my mind has tangible mass and volume. I can feel the turbid flow of information as the words swirl around each other, embedding themselves between my sulci. They travel in through a constant stream for absorption and processing, and in an effort to validate what I have learned, I fluoresce careful bands of refined light in an emission spectrum all my own. My developing capacity for quantitative analysis is dense and sturdy, expanding as it is applied every day in calculus and chemistry. I access last year's statistics knowledge to supplement my current biology lectures, tutoring those who don't understand to growing accolades; every day, more people come to me with questions, and I show them the answers. This is one area to which I have always had ready access: answers. True insights may be few and far between, sucking my concentration in a greedy desire to manifest themselves in a place where others can admire them, but answers have never moved from their space in my mind's statue garden: devoid of life, maybe, but beautiful all the same. I pull the simple facts from my mind's frothy soup and string them together to explain citations, chemicals, ratios, abstractions and methodologies. In so doing, the ideas flesh themselves out under my careful grasp, and the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Practicing, I slide the microtome across my careful trapezoid of paraffin wax, peeling down slices eight micrometers thick.

Eight micrometers. Do you have any idea how thin that is?
A piece of paper is 0.1 millimeters thick.
It would take just over one hundred of my slices to equal the thickness of one piece of paper.

In an attempt to transfer a string of my slices to the warm, distilled water solution waiting on the counter, I accidentally let it rest against my finger. It takes no more than a second of contact for the wax to liquefy, melting into the grooves between the lines of my fingerprints.
I can't help but smile.
It's beautiful.

I love lab work.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I just posted this on the blog I share with the Friendship and realized that it probably works for my more public audience as well. Enjoy.

No college boy life for me; at least, not yet. I surprise myself by realizing that I quite honestly don't care. As long as I have a few friends/people that will say hi to me, I'm good. I've never really been one to crave social interaction. Besides, the boys in my ward just seem so mentally young (even though they're older than I am). It's kind of gross.

I want someone older, someone who is legitimately intelligent, realistically ambitious, intensely hardworking, and generally serious about his life plans. I mean, this is LIFE. I am focused entirely on preparation; at this point, dealing with someone who isn't is equivalent to babysitting.

The freshman boys I have met are the mental equals of messy, slack-off kindergartners when held to this standard, with no more intellectual foresight than pieces of roadkill. I am honestly grossed out by their immmature lack of focus.

In other news, I earned the highest score in my 100+ person class on our first PDBio test! I skipped class the following day to run the restriction digest on my DNA isolations through an agarose gel for genotyping, though, so I wasn't there when the teacher called me up in front of everyone for recognition. Talk about a contradictory first impression.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I work with solutions so small I can barely see them, let alone suck them into my pipette to mix and redeposit. My strings of little vials contain tiny drops of fluid, and from those I suck ever smaller samples, combining them at concentrations I never thought possible. How in the world can we learn from one microliter of anything? Imagine a drop that fits inside the "o" on this page, and then imagine you can determine the concentration of DNA it holds to two decimal points. Stop imagining. It's not only possible, but commonplace.

The total volume of my experiments over the past week could easily fit inside a toothpaste cap, but they probably cost more than their weight in gold. 4 µl of an isolated polymerase, kept on ice until the last moment. 1.7 µl DNA template from each of my eppendorf capsules. 2 µl dye, one of distilled water, a few of buffer solution, and a few more additions combine to yield no more than 20 µl in any one tube at any given time (equivalent to approximately 5 drops). I hold my tubes to the light so I can see the tiny pools of sample barely covering the pointed, plastic apices.

The juxtaposition of my lab work with my class work never fails to make me laugh. This morning, I pipetted barely-there DNA isolations and the toxic carcinogen ethidium bromide. This afternoon in chem lab, I weighed out a mole of pennies. Wow. I'm incredibly grateful I have my lab work to keep my interest.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Science is accountability.
It is precision and accuracy, exact mass and perfect notation.
It is verifiable, repeatable, quantifiable, amoral.
Its shadow falls, cold and majestic, over me, and I look up in reverent awe, but can't resist a shudder.

I am human.
I am shaky and capable of forgetting.
I have the capacity to misinterpret, to cause irreversible damage.
I am fluid and imperfect, more soul than machine, as much as I don't like to admit it.

I am trying.
I am learning.

But I am scared I'll accidentally knock over the perfect scales, disrupting the balance, and all the hard-earned, ivory marbles of knowledge will clatter to the floor, scattering every which way and leaving me standing alone to blame: conspicuous, clumsy, and contrite.

What if I ruin everything?
Still, I guess fear is better than complacency.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Essential hypertension.

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
~ W.B. Yeats

My honors writing professor begins each class with a poem. We don't analyze, discuss or critique it; instead, we just listen, letting the melodic words flow over us like river water over smooth, silent stones. This was today's poem, and against my better judgment, I felt the last line. It nearly pushed me over the top, and in my haste to right myself I accidentally let slip the tightly guarded stress I hold captive in my mind. Finally free, it came cascading down, pooling into the space behind my eyes, and it was all I could do to keep from sobbing.

Today, I've been going nonstop; this is the first time all day I've been able to sit down and breathe. It's nearly four o' clock, and I haven't even had time to eat anything. These days, I'm an optimization problem; maximize my yield by setting me equal to zero. There is something in me that takes genuine, exhilarating satisfaction in being a machine, but at the same time, I've recognized that this is why my writing class is so essential. I push myself so hard all the time in science and math: quantitative, impersonal subjects I love for just that reason. Science is easy; there's no pressure to contribute to a discussion or take a side, there exist only questions and answers. However, they include only a limited creativity; I can't write a research proposal the same way I can write a personal essay. I can go on for pages about articular cartilage's patterns of decomposition in a murile knee joint over time t, basing my explanation on experiments I perform myself, but the perfect, concise draft I write won't tell you how I don't eat anymore because I'm too busy to stand in line for lunch. I need an outlet, a blade with which to slit my veins and feel the words come rushing out, hot, painful and sweet against my skin. This is my writing class, and this is why I have to minor in some form of English: my strange permutation of sanity needs sustenance.

Friday, September 5, 2008

No, this is Sparta.

Registration Status: Beginning Freshman
Registered Credit Hours: 19.0

This is madness.
I'm loving it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I listened to a girl throw up in the 2nd floor HBLL bathroom tonight. I don't think she knew I was there; she walked around and listened for people before she entered the stall and started retching.
I wasn't disgusted; I was sad.
And she wasn't fat.

I'm beginning to find that time management in college is very different from the way it is in high school. In high school, it's easy to quantify things. You can look at your night and plan to complete x assignments for the next day, and then you're done. In college, you get all of your assignments at once on a syllabus, and you get to plan which nights you're going to do which things for which class. I'm the type that does an assignment the night I get it, so it's been weird for me to leave things on my list undone. I plan out full days in advance, assigning myself sections, readings and papers according to the proximity of each class and the approximate reliability of my short-term memory. Math has been the most difficult to plan; I am able to do blocks of assignments at once, which gets me ahead, but I don't want to get too far ahead, or I'll lose the class and have no reason to study. Chem has been easiest to quantify; today, we were given a huge worksheet that isn't due until next week, so I work on it whenever I have a spare moment.

My classes, in order of relative work required:
1) Math 112 (Calculus)
2) Chem 105
3) Book of Mormon (surprise)
4) Writing 150 Honors
5) PDBio 120
6) Univ 101 (hands-on biochem seminar)
7) Lfsci 101 (freshman seminar)

On top of this, I'll also be spending six hours a week in the lab (PDBio 494R: Mentored Research), so I hope I have enough hours in the day to finish everything!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I walked into my very first lab meeting this afternoon and came out with goosebumps.
These people are hardcore.
I know I'm a freshman, but I've worked hard, and I pride myself on knowing my biology/physiology better than most of my demographic. During the course of this meeting, however, I was blown entirely out of the water, and I can honestly tell you that I enjoyed every second. I'm working with one junior, a group of seniors, two grad students and a full professor on the degenerative cartilage link between osteoarthritis and chondrodysplasia, and I am happy to report that compared to these people, I know absolutely nothing. We spent the meeting discussing murile electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, genotyping, microtomy, and much, much more that soared straight over my head and into the intellectual atmosphere.

This doesn't happen often.
In fact, I don't think it's ever happened.

I walked out completely lost, but completely ecstatic that these people think I, as a barely-18-year-old freshman girl, have the potential to comprehend and contribute to all this. Remember, at BYU, sophomore boys are 21 (LDS mission). This makes me four to six years younger than anyone else on the team, and that's not counting the grad students, either.
"Any questions?" the professor asked when we finished, turning to face me.
At this point, I was both overwhelmed and entirely speechless.
"Um...hours?" I managed to choke out. "I need to know when everyone is going to be here, so I can learn..."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


There are so many people.

I watch the ex-missionary next to the window murmur a quick prayer before unwrapping his sandwich. The hooded boy in the corner fishes his cell phone from his pocket, shattering his too-cool facade with a quick grin that reveals his youth. Three loud girls at the center table laugh in mutual derision at someone who isn't present, and I can see unease on the redhead's face. A blonde couple giggles over what seems like nothing, touching hands. It's obvious the girl against the wall has taken care in styling her hair and coordinating her outfit, but her loneliness is tangible. She looks over the afternoon chaos with wide brown eyes, evaluating her position.
And I am here, too.

If I could experience your thoughts, how would they differ from the quiet roll of mine? The clear timbre that permeates my mind moves slowly, articulating each syllable so as to relish the flavor of each beautiful word. I allow thoughts to linger on my mind's stage long past their normal exit cues; it amuses me to tease them out into long strands of poetry I can knot or braid, each one falling perfectly into the constant rhythm inside my mind that can be taken as steadily reassuring or ominously inevitable, I'm never quite sure which.

Monday, September 1, 2008


My college ward has two girls for every boy. I was looking around in church today and thinking how pretty all of the girls were with their perfectly curled hair. I don't really have a chance. I'm not hideously ugly, but I'm not strikingly beautiful, either. Usually, people look right through me, and I just sit there and watch them with eyes conditioned by my characteristic silence. I don't mind. I'm not one for being concerned about taking part in the social scene. Things will work out. I just want to be me, and I am surprising myself by succeeding as of yet.

I don't quite know what to expect from college. I feel like I'm immersing myself in the culture. I plan to stay pretty busy, what with my intense schedule and (hopefully) research work (it'll total out to about twenty credits if I can manage to procure Mentored Research Experience hours). Aside from all that, though, I can honestly say that all I want is for someone to notice me (professionally, not romantically). I thrive on acknowledgement; I guess I'm the typical oldest child as far as all that is concerned. I'm never happier than when a teacher or other adult I admire takes the time to notice and/or compliment me. During Late Summer Honors, my professor told me that the dress I wore was "lovely," and I beamed for approximately one week after the fact. I don't need constant praise, but I feel loved and needed when you make small comments that let me know you know who I am. Acknowledgement isn't difficult, and one use of my name while speaking to me or a small comment on the way I look, think or speak will never fail to make my day. I hope my professors understand this. If not, I'm scared that I'll lose something--my self-esteem, my goals and desires, or my happiness. I'm scared that they'll treat me like a number, that they won't care whether or not I speak up in class or write a perfect paper.
I'm not a number, but if I'm consistently treated as such, I just might become one.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Some nights, I listen to you drown yourself inside my mind.
I see the flood come up through your hands and wash away your capacity, and as you go numb, I take the pain you push away. It flows into my chest as I watch you abandon your body, your screams immortalized in a mosaic of stained glass and anguish, both beautiful and terrible.
Worst of all, I don't stop you, and your potential seeps slowly into the atmosphere, a negligible tribute offered up to the ice cold laws of physics.


Yesterday was our final Machiavelli class, and I surprised myself by taking on a ridiculously idealistic girl in an emotionally charged argument about human nature. Usually, I sit back and let people believe whatever they want to believe, but this time, I really stepped it up (and in a BYU class; go figure). She insisted that people are inherently benevolent and kind, and I argued that they are primarily unpredictable and self-motivated. I destroyed her, with cold empiricism and genetically predisposed survival instinct as my key witnesses. My teacher approved, but I saw the self-righteous anger in my antithesis' eyes as she condemned me silently from her corner. I took an extreme position, maybe more so than I believe, and I won. She was honestly disgusted at my opinions, and I felt radical for the first time in my life.

In other news, I was complimented on my words today. Those are always the best sort of compliments--the ones that highlight an area in which you've been working to improve. I interviewed for a position in a research lab, and the junior I talked with told me I "sounded smart." I got to use my medical vocabulary as I discussed the indicative pathology of osteoarthritis, explicating everything from the components of the extracellular matrix in articular cartilage to symptoms and risk factors for the disease. I need to remember to speak more slowly, though, and to get less excited when he mentions medical things; I think it gives away my age and lab-oriented naivete, which are my main obstacles to getting this position. Everyone in the lab is much older than me; at BYU, sophomore boys are 21 (LDS mission), so accepting a barely-18-year-old, inexperienced freshman is kind of a long shot. I really hope it works out, though; I'd be incredibly enthusiastic about having lab research experience this early on, and the subject matter is fascinating.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I'm a tiny speck in the midst of a dense university mosaic, so I meet new people every day.
What interests me most is that when I meet these people, they aren't so new; the patterns of speech, vocabulary words, tones of voice and nuances of body language are familiar to me. I'm slowly realizing that I've had these discussions before, both verbally and emotionally; I've sifted through Marxist theory, liberalism, egocentrism, utilitarianism, nihilism, humanism and pragmatism with the people I know, and finding bits and pieces of them here is not only a surprise but a comfort. I see new people in terms of the old, the unfamiliar in terms of what I know: each person a unique concoction of my friends, teachers, and acquaintances. It's interesting to see what a difference everyone has made in the way I see the world; pieces of acquaintances I never expected to remember shimmer suddenly from a new friend's ideology, nudging me effortlessly into nostalgia.

Every one of you shaped me, and now every one of you is me. I am beginning to recognize that we are in everyone else. I think about humanity, and how much we must truly resemble each other--every person I have ever known is absorbed into what I now call "me," each addition altering the mixture slightly but irrevocably.

I am he as you are he and you are me and we are all together.
I think I get it.

Friday, August 22, 2008


For the past week, I've been caught up in the whirlwind of pre-college preparation, buying storage bins and Ethernet cables, cleaning out my closets, and creating collages of wall art for my dorm room. I'm at BYU now, in the Late Summer Honors program, and I'm taking a class on Machiavelli. My professor is intelligent, confident, and (thankfully) not what I expected in terms of BYU homogeneity. It's obvious he has his own (somewhat radical) opinions about things, which makes me happy. He speaks well, and I like listening to him. I'm still struggling with my own speech--I know I speak too quickly and don't make use of the vocabulary I've worked so hard to know, and I'm trying to remedy that, but I think it's just going to take time. Our final, though, is a Socratic method oral questioning session in front of the entire class, which kind of freaks me out.
We'll see.
As is to be expected...I'm learning.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I laughed. And then I decided to review applied calculus.

(ds/dt) s(t) = s'(t) = v(t) and s''(t) = v'(t) = a(t)
s(t) = position
v(t) = velocity
a(t) = acceleration
with respect to time t.

Better late than never.

I was pleasantly surprised by an e-mail that appeared in my inbox this morning--my notification for a $1500 renewable scholarship I'd applied for in February and written off as my loss when I was never contacted! Yay!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my final financial aid totals:
* National Merit ($2500)
* Utah Hospital Association ($2500)
* National HOSA ($2000)
* Robert C. Byrd ($1500/renewable)
* DATC ($150)
* Full tuition from BYU
= $8650 + full tuition

Sweet. I love how being a nerd in high school actually pays off.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I saw a matinee yesterday, and the teenage girl in the seat next to me was drunk. It was only four in the afternoon, but she was completely trashed. She was loud and obnoxious, and I was annoyed, but at the same time, I felt for her. I wanted to apologize for whatever it was that drove her to voluntarily lose control so early on a Wednesday afternoon, to buy her a Gatorade and some simple carbohydrates and drive her home so she could get some sleep.

It's a pull I can't resist, taking care of people too impaired to do it for themselves. When I think about my four years in high school, I am unable to count the times I've driven for intoxicated friends, talked them calmingly through late-night phone calls, bought them food, made them drink water, or kept them from embarrassing themselves in front of others who would not be so understanding. I don't know why it's so deeply embedded in my personality to look out for these people--when a person chooses to drink or do drugs, they elect to lose conscious control of their actions. It's a choice, and the consequences are more than clear. The concept is selfish on paper, opting out of conscious action so someone else has to make sure you're all right, and I guess I should view it that way, but I've never been able to see it differently. When a friend is impaired, I am taken from my usual social indifference into a warm rush of instant familiarity--I feel secure and capable because I've handled the same situation countless times. I don't have to worry about appearances, try to impress anyone, or be anything other than me--someone whose help is needed and appreciated, if only for the duration of the night. The next morning, all my friends are left with are blurred memory watercolors accompanied by brief flashes of emotion, and my help is lost in the faded, incomplete picture.

The sad thing is, I really don't mind.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I'm a natural optimist tempered by the realism of the rationale I create and maintain.
Some incomprehensible part of me is always building things up in my mind, embellishing my world through impossible, glittering lenses until my other half finds an angle from which to shatter the fantasy: a single shot through the middle of the head with the detached efficiency of a military execution.
Will I ever learn?

I guess I have to figure out which one is more me, the pastel panoramic with the dopamine aftertaste or the minimalist xeriscape's majestic wrecking ball.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mirror image.

I think it's time to diagram my new personality.
College is a chance for me to become the person I want to be without having to allow for existing stereotypes about myself. No one will know me, so I can carefully shape my public image. I can't wait.

I want to speak confidently and more slowly, so I can be someone people listen to. I want my vocabulary to reflect my personality. I want to be an intelligent conversationalist. I want to dress in a way that will make me seem professional, capable, serious and efficient--mildly unapproachable, but not overly intimidating. I want to genuinely smile and be happy and friendly, but not annoyingly outgoing or socially obsessed. I want to be a nice person, someone who sees a need and fills it before it is noticed. I want to work hard so I can be confident in my study skills and my academic knowledge, and I want to share my love of learning with my classes. I don't want to be arrogant, selfish or power-hungry, but I want people to know that I am very serious about what I am doing, and I want them to respect my love of honest competition. I want to be taken seriously. I don't want to be petty or gossip about other people. I want to be secure in who I am. I want my opinions to be true to each other and to my moral and social philosophies, and I want to be able to defend them adequately in arguments. I don't want other people to exert undue influence over my beliefs and judgements; I want to be okay with myself and not regret my choices.

Most of all, though, I want to be me, finally free from all controlling influences-- unadulterated and unique. I will not have to act like someone I am not to satisfy everyone else. I'll make some bad decisions and some brilliant ones; I'll make some friends and some enemies, but all of the making will be mine, and I will take the credit and the blame with not just responsibility, but pride.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm still grinning.

I have officially lived one full day as an legitimate eighteen-year-old.
Anticlimactic, eh?

I slept late, had sushi for lunch, watched Arrested Development, had dinner at Riverside, participated in a fire pit, and watched House. It was a good day, made hilarious by a prolonged interaction I didn't expect to have, in which I actually learned a lot (but mostly things I didn't ask to know).
Thanks to everyone involved for making me smile!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I'm eighteen.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


They hit me in waves, or is it particles?
Innumerable, sightless specks surround me as I ride,
swirling and twisting in mass discontent.
Beating wild and breathless against my skin,
they goad their cousins in my blood into passionate rebellion,
overthrowing my hypothalamus in a violent coup d'etat and
forcing my vessels to relinquish control as my water molecules are stolen,
one by one.

Kinetic energy in air
is my enemy.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Number theory.

My birthday's on Thursday, and yet I don't feel eighteen.
I never felt seventeen, either.

There's a dissociation between the numbers and me; I don't feel part of any of them anymore. It wasn't always this way; I remember the days before my early teenage birthdays, feeling a new number overtake me and gradually melt into my consciousness. I always knew my birthday was coming because I could feel the new number's warm breath on the back of my neck, inviting and yet strangely forceful, conveying the inevitability and the excitement of a brand new year. I absorbed it into my psyche, embracing it, feeling it slide perfectly into place against the contours of my spirit. I felt familiarity in my annual rebirth, because the number was already a part of me; it'd snuck up on me in the weeks before my birthday and carefully mimicked my mannerisms, my habits and preferences; the day it moved in for good, I was pleased to see it, but not surprised in the least.

Things are different now. I see eighteen, but I can't grasp it. It's somewhere else, somewhere I'm not, and though I know I'll take its name in four days, it will be in proxy, a simple formality. There is no excitement, no colorful blending of my soul with something new, and the loss is tangible. I wonder if it's part of growing up; will I be as detached the day before I turn twenty? Forty? I hope the numbers will rediscover me somewhere along the way. In the meantime, I'll watch them from my lonely distance, hoping that one day I will feel the breath behind my soul again and remember that I am changing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hide me.

I spent all day in the hospital with my baby sister, who is inching out of the critical numbers and back into the "high intermediate risk" zone. My mom hasn't slept for more than an hour at a time in a day in a half and hovers over the baby's little crib night and day, adjusting the phototherapy lights and making sure everything is perfect for her baby, whom she can't even hold for more than half an hour after every session. The baby has to wear a special hat and eye covers when she's under the lights, so she looks like a pathetic little Martian in there, and you just want to pick her up, snuggle her in a blanket and run away from everything, but you know it's impossible, so you just sit next to her and stroke the glass on the window, feeling horribly inadequate. I don't feel prepared for college, and I don't have anything I need for my room or my classes, so I'm stressed out about that, and to make matters worse, my eighteenth birthday is on Thursday. I don't know if I'm sadder that it's going to be passed over in the midst of all this baby drama or that it's going to be another source of stress for my parents, who like to make things special, and I know they're feeling bad about not having time to plan a celebration or shop for presents. My little brothers (ages 9 and 12) can't seem to stop fighting and screaming at each other about pointless, trivial crap, so I'm in a perpetual state of annoyance whenever I have to be around them, and my little sister (age 5), who is used to being the center of attention, is acting up because she feels neglected in the wake of this new baby and all our family stress.

Through all this, I've felt emotionally subdued and totally helpless; at the beginning, I was affected, but now, it's like my capacity to feel has been shot up with transcutaneous Lidocaine. I don't seem to have an attention span anymore; it's easier to keep my mind on the trivial things I don't have to remember. I read no more than a few sentences from books, watch idiotic television shows, and just sit there and stare off into space. Maybe I should see a psychotherapist or something--with college starting in just a few weeks, I desperately need to regain the ability to focus.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Critical care.

So, um, the baby's back in the hospital.

My family's kinda stressed out, because her numbers went way up today. My mom was crying this morning as we packed up all the pretty baby things we had organized so carefully, and my dad canceled all his patients so he could drive them to the hospital. We had to call my aunts and uncles who were driving down from Salt Lake to see her and tell them not to come.

When I look at Baby's tiny face, I want to do everything I can to protect her. She's so innocent and beautiful, and there is no way she can know what is going on. It's especially hard because no amount of love and attention can bring those numbers down, so we have no choice but to put her back on the pediatrics floor under industrial strength phototherapy lights to try and stop her RBCs from destroying themselves and flooding her liver with their byproducts.

Religious or not, pray for her.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Perfection incarnate.

I'd like to introduce the newest member of my family...Sandra Grace!
Yeah, we named her Sandra in honor of my grandmother (weird, I know). Don't hate (I'm finally getting used to it). Regardless of whether you like her name, I can promise that you'll just melt when you see her little face! She is incredibly cute--five pounds, ten ounces and seventeen inches long--small and sweet, with dark eyes and tiny tufts of dark hair. Needless to say, I love her already.

I held her for the first time yesterday, all wrapped up like a baby burrito, with a cushy little hat on her head and a hospital blanket scrunched around her teensy body. She opened her mouth in the shape of an O and opened her eyes, looking up at me for one perfect second before settling back into her quiet sleep. She is warm, soft, and light, like a little living cloud, and I just want to hold her forever, to make her part of me and never give her back.

It's odd to me that she was created; nine months ago, the soft, trusting little person I hold in my arms was no more than two separate sets of chromosomes. Just looking at her amazes me; I run my finger lightly along her ear, which feels paper thin and can't be any bigger than a coin, and wonder at its immaculate formation. I slide my finger in the pattern on her foot I know will elicit the reflex response inherent in all babies, marveling every time it occurs just like I know it will.
She is perfect, she is beautiful, and now she is ours to keep.
I can't think of a better birthday gift (mine's next week).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


My mom's in labor...

While we await the baby, I'll provide you, my loving readers, with something funny. In the ample time I spend at work, unable to leave my desk or my laptop, I cruise around on the Internet, bookmarking interesting medical blogs and cool YouTube videos. Here's a post from a physician that really made me laugh:"I Saved a Horse (and I liked it)."

The phrase "cyanotic palomino" is enough to start me giggling again, not to mention the spotty capitalization.

I LOVE the things random people feel inclined to write about! Blogs are the most entertaining Internet time-wasters I've ever encountered (and that's saying something). There's nothing more fascinating than eavesdropping on the thoughts of Someone Else--it's kind of like mind reading, in a way. The author could be anyone, which really gives me an appreciation for other people in general.
After all, everyone is Someone Else to someone else.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Idol worship.

Take a little time out of your busy day to meet my idol!

Dr. Atul A. Gawande

General surgery with endocrinology and gastrointestinal concentrations (esp. cancer)
Associate professor of surgery, Harvard Medical School
Associate professor of health policy/management, Harvard School of Public Health
Associate director, BWH Center for Surgery and Public Health
Director, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Challenge for Safer Surgical Care
Staffwriter, New Yorker magazine

Undergrad: Stanford
Masters': Oxford (Rhodes scholarship)
MD: Harvard Medical School
MPH (Masters' of Public Health): Harvard School of Public Health
(Academic degrees in philosophy, politics and economics)

Complications (2002); Better (2007)

My life would be complete if I could accomplish 1/100 of what this guy has.
Read his books and articles (try "The Itch," published by the New Yorker (and available through my link), as your first sample)...they're nothing less than FASCIA-NATING (hehe...medical joke).

Sunday, July 27, 2008


This morning, I straddle my bicycle seat and roll into the visible heat waves.
I take a trail past the busy roads and into the canyon, coasting up through the dappled shade and feeling my leg muscles grow accustomed to the rhythmic contractions that keep my pace. I picture the bundled fibers sliding in unison, responding to my brain's chemical signals like trained soldiers, no questions asked: Activate the actin, myosin, troponin, tropomyosin, and everything in between. ATP, phosphorylation, electrolyte concentrations, conduction, catabolism, protein synthesis, hydrolysis, feedback inhibition...I am the emergent property of my biology, and that's okay with me, because I can see and feel and comprehend; I can be, and I can induce this accepted psychosis, this surreal dreamstate.
I can feel my heart pounding in blissful overuse, diverting my blood from normal metabolic processes to my lungs and brain, coupled with reflexive vasodilation in response to the heat I generate and now exude, each consecutive push making my outermost epithelia more flushed and shiny with the ecstasy of positive endorphins.

No makeup + wavy hair + a bike ride, completely alone + physiology + spirituality = identity.