مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

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.