مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Monday, March 30, 2009


And now, an xkcd tribute to the fact that we're covering reproductive anatomy in my 220 class. Nothing to brighten your day like passing around a box full of floppy, formaldehyde-preserved...well, I won't go there. Needless to say, this has been an emphatic strike two against my personal desire to have sex. Strike one was the first time I saw a man naked during my first week as a hospital intern in '07. He was 96.

Oh, and have an inspirational video to get you through these last two weeks before finals.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Dear Ms. ______,

Thank you for your interest in our program. This letter is a confirmation that we have received and considered your application. As you know, being designated as Someone is a coveted position that requires demonstrable intelligence, poise, beauty, and maturity. You will understand, then, that on these criteria we regret to inform you of your gross incapability to function in such a capacity.

Based on the materials you have submitted, we have compiled three suggestions that will help make you a more competitive applicant in the future. First, we suggest that you learn to speak more slowly, loudly, and coherently. Too often, you allow your mind to run away with your mouth as you babble incoherencies to a rightfully confused audience. Secondly, we encourage you to become more knowledgeable. Speaking frankly, your deficiency in this area is inexcusable. If, for example, your presentation even peripherally involves interleukin-1-beta, you must not only understand and be able to articulate the diagnostic properties of this proinflammatory cytokine, but the complex processes by which it is activated, expressed, and suppressed. Finally, it would not hurt if you were more sufficiently endowed with beauty. We strongly suggest you locate and apply large quantities of this rare commodity in the near future.

We wish you luck in all your endeavors and encourage you to re-apply next year.

March 25

(And sadly, March 26 was not half as cordial.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Today was a miserable day
and tears are unproductive.
My fingers glide against a roll of packing tape,
searching out the broken end,
stripping sticky sections slowly,

I tape things away
because looking them in the eye takes time.
They're not real.
They're not mine.

I'm not real.

Corners cleanly creased,
my package leaves to join the rest,
--the neatly labeled
--the unacknowledged
that form my .

Monday, March 23, 2009

Conrad personified.

Everything belonged to her--but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what she belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed her for their own. You can't understand. How could you? I've done enough for her to give me the indisputable right to lay her, if I choose, for an everlasting rest in the dust-bin of progress, amongst all the sweepings, and, figuratively speaking, all the dead cats of civilization. Her very existence was improbable, inexplicable, and altogether bewildering. She was an insoluble problem. It was inconceivable how she had existed, how she had succeeded in getting so far, how she had managed to remain--why she did not instantly disappear. For months--for years--her life hadn't been worth a day's purchase; and there she was, thoughtlessly alive. Whether she knew of this deficiency in herself I can't say. I think the knowledge came to her at last. But her surroundings had found her out early, and had taken on her a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to her things about herself which she did not know, things of which she had no conception until she took counsel with this great solitude--and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within her because she was hollow at the core . . .

Being memorable FAIL.

Today I went to my chemistry professor's office hours.

"Hi, Dr. M______, I said. "I'm conducting a personal student-teacher inventory, and I was just wondering if you knew who I am."
He kind of paled a little bit and tried to play off the fact that he had no idea who I was with a smile and a string of vaguely related words (um-I-know-you-are-one-of-those-students-who-look-like-you-pay-attention-and-um-some-people-just-sleep-the-whole-time-and-you-are-not-one-of-those-people).
I felt bad and said, "It's okay; I didn't expect you to know."

I have a 97% in his class and make it a point to be on time to his lectures every single day (it's the TA session that I'm always late to).

Sometimes I hate college.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Yesterday, I found some time to spend at Barnes and Noble (read: six hours) after attending a literary conference put on for my university's senior English majors (don't ask me why I went; I was curious, I can easily pose as an older student, and there were free cookies). Anyway, after indulging myself by picking up a vanilla frappuccino from Starbucks and a bran muffin from Mimi's Cafe (read: heaven on a plate), I drove to the bookstore. Starting light, I skimmed the psychology text that served as the definitive reference on all things teen-social-scene for the movie Mean Girls, perused Fitzgerald's original short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (which, as expected, had a plot quite different than that depicted in the movie), and then picked up the novel I'd come for, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (which was as deliciously intense and microbiology-laden as I'd hoped; I highly recommend it if you have time for an exciting literary diversion).

Stretching myself laterally across a grey armchair, with my legs crossed over one armrest and my head cradled by the other, I was entirely content. At least, I was until some socially inept idiot with an equally clueless girlfriend pulled up two chairs and began reading the complete works of Ann Coulter out loud. Seriously? I mean, the whole place was silent. All the people in my section were quietly reading; what in the world made this guy think he could start yelling "incisive conservative hardball" to everyone in the area? After a good fifteen minutes of rants about the Godless Church of Liberalism, I'd had it. I not-so-subtly mimicked throwing my novel at the guy's head, and the man sitting across the way from me clapped. This mutual annoyance was one of the very few instances of human interaction I had all day. There are very few people I find interesting anymore, but bookstores seem richer than most places in terms of social extremes (which, though not particularly interesting, definitely have their entertainment value).

Saturday, March 21, 2009


One thing I've learned in college is that knowledge can increase without learning.

Speaking quantitatively, I know much more than I knew in high school. My measurable volume of knowledge has at least doubled over the past eight months. For example, I've gone from being a qualitative biology-based scientist to a quantitative hard chemist; when once I could describe calorimetry, now I can decisively perform a complex experiment and provide you with a perfectly extrapolated temperature at time of mixing thanks to applied calculus and linear regression. When once I could tell you about the properties of different anions, now you can give me a clear solution and I can determine exactly which are present and in what quantities.

My learning, however, has not experienced the same exponential growth. Much of the time, I teach myself from my textbooks; lecture is pointless more often than not because it is lecture and not discussion. Personally, I learn through discourse, and lately I have been starved for it. I don't know why I pay (or don't, I guess) to sit in the back of a huge lecture hall and hear a professor dictate mechanisms described in my textbook. Though I'm interested in the material, I can't even allow myself to read before class, because if I do, I'm bored before the professor gets started--lecture never presents any new insights. I don't listen, and I get As because I can read and memorize, not because I can apply, connect, or challenge. We move over concepts far too quickly, neglecting to explore any intricate possibilities or implications of our new knowledge before changing topics entirely.

I came to college eager to learn and understand, to speak, listen, and ask. The reality of this place is that most professors are too busy to listen to a freshman's questions. I am one of many, and they don't care to know my name. They don't care to apply things across disciplines or integrate theories and possibilities. Most of the time, I am simply given material to memorize. And then I do. I do this well. What I don't do is learn. I can already feel my zeal for questions slipping away, victimized by the "large-class mentality." When my chemistry class has 250 people, I don't ask about the solubility of B-vitamins or why they apparently function within a membrane regardless of what I presume about their polarity. I don't ask because I know my classmates don't care. I don't ask because I know my professor will tell me he isn't a biochemist and we need to move on. I don't ask because I don't want others to think I'm trying to impress anyone, though in all honesty, I just want to know.

There are very few ways out of this mental prison. One, I guess, is to take at least one small class every semester (easier said than done). For example, my Pathogenic Microbiology class has probably 15 people in it, and our sole purpose is to discuss current research. Currently, I don't consider myself knowledgeable enough to fully participate, but as I learn, classes like this will save me from intellectual death. Another escape is through involvement in research, because it's constantly evolving. Actively searching for new scientific truth is a good way to hold off the numbing boredom of knowledge without learning. I'm not saying college has been a complete disappointment. I've grown in areas I never thought I would. I like the fact that I know more. It just wasn't what I thought it would be, and the intellectual atmosphere I so wanted is painfully absent.

We all fall down.

Why am I so okay with being alone?
Shouldn't I care? Everyone else does.
Shouldn't I want people around me, people with which I can laugh, cry, play, share?
And yet...I don't.
I truly, honestly, completely don't.

I am physically lacking the need for companionship that so consumes those I associate with. It simply isn't there. I'm beginning to think it never was.

And yet this feeling isn't impermeable. Every so often, I catch myself thinking, "I wish you would pay attention to me." Soon, though, whatever makes up me kicks in, bitterly commenting, "To what end?" The desire is no more than a social construct to which I know I should adhere. I'm no more than an act of performative identity, hypocrisy incarnate.

To what end indeed.

Ashes to ashes.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The list phase continues, in all its glory.
Ten things I would like to say to ten different people:

1. I know you're happy, but your laugh drives me insane.
2. My week would be detestably boring if we didn't have class together.
3. Just because I know how to ask the right questions doesn't mean I care about what you're saying.
4. If you weren't married, I bet I'd have a huge crush on you.
5. I'm jealous of you, but not of your name.
6. You're incredibly annoying, but in a twisted way, I enjoy the attention.
7. Don't look at me, okay? Your eyes are soft and make me lose my train of thought.
8. Do you honestly think I have that kind of time?
9. Actually, that really, REALLY bothers me. Please stop.
10. Can we just, you know...be friends?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Lately, I'm partial to lists.

11 nitrile gloves
+ 1 large Sensual Amber lotion
+ 1 small Pure Seduction lotion (man, my lotions sound sexy)
+ 1 receipt from when I had to buy a whole pack of binder clips because I needed ONE
+ Piano music to Postcards from Far Away (Coldplay)
+ 7 tubes of lip gloss, ranging from a deep, professional berry to a flirty pink shimmer
+ 1 bottle of sparkly pink nail polish
+ 2 bottles of black, sparkly liquid eyeliner (sparkly is a definite theme here)
+ 1 camera case containing 1 dead camera
+ 3 Regular tampons
+ 1 sky blue hair tie
+ 1 bottle Extra-Strength Advil
+ 10 writing utensils, 6 of which are functional
+ 1 colorful pair jeweled earrings
+ 1 brown, leathery Mom-wallet (really; a 40-year-old would squeal in envy)
+ 1 pack Ice Breaker mints
+ Mascara
+ Black cell phone with a few new cracks around the edges
+ My favorite Clinique face powder

= Me, as defined by the contents of my purse.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To do list.

Today I:
- was late to chemistry, as usual
- comprehensively organized the lab freezer
- didn't fall asleep in BoM
- revised my cover letter and second application essay at the last minute
- had miserable printer troubles trying to print said revised documents
- turned in my application
- crammed for anatomy
- performed a perfect chemistry lab
- got an A on my anatomy test

I have yet to:
- memorize all major veins
- attend a BoM test review
- memorize four new parasitic lifecycles/epidemiological distributions
- read/understand three journal articles
- finish my chemistry homework
- choose a literary research topic (wtf?)
- eat a decent meal

Monday, March 16, 2009


Dear Pre-med Posers,

You make me laugh (but only in the most vindictive, sarcastic way). When I know you got a C in first-level chem or bio (seriously?), you're doing no better in this semester's classes, and/or you are simply a BLABBERING IDIOT, please don't tell people you're "going to be a doctor." Do a little research. Guess what? You aren't. During the time it takes you to figure that out, though, you're giving all of us who honestly work for our position a bad name. No wonder professors hate pre-meds.

I fill my schedule to the brim with science classes, maintain a perfect GPA, work three jobs, am head of genotyping for my lab, am active in on and off campus service organizations, and fill any extra time reading journal articles and teaching myself immunology. Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to sound self-righteous, but quite honestly, I kill myself for my work. When you show up with a 3.2, ask obvious questions that have already been answered, and then inform our professor that you're pre-med, I am embarrassed to put myself in the same category. You call yourself pre-med, you obnoxious, stupid fool?! Don't. Just--don't.

P.S. I'm considering going the MD/PhD route instead of practicing as an MD, if only because of the people.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


There is something you should know about me.
This is what I live for.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I am ENTIRELY frustrated with myself. My worst grade right now is--get this--ANATOMY.
Anatomy?! Um, wait. That's kind of MY THING.
It's incredibly annoying. I spend hours in the cadaver lab TEACHING countless other students relevant structures, directions, and orientations, and then I take my pinned quiz and perform poorly. LIFE IS NOT FAIR.
Inevitably, I misinterpret a pin or two, regardless of how perfectly I understand the structure, and all those lost points are adding up--almost unalterably so.

Prediction: If I don't make some miraculous turnaround soon, I'm going to get my first A-.
If I'm going to ruin my GPA, why can't it be in a subject I justifiably don't understand??

Middle age.

Today I looked in the mirror and realized what I am going to look like when I'm middle-aged.
It was strange and sudden; I stared at myself, and my eyes didn't change, but everything else did, and now I know.

Have you ever seen the movie "Big Fish?" It reminded me of when the little boy looks into the eye of the old witch and sees the way he is going to die.
Like him, I'm calm. Weirded out, but calm.
Like him, I'd rather know.

In other news:
I've accepted a senior-level TA job for next fall semester. I've interviewed to serve as program director of a service organization. I stayed up until 5 AM last night because I wanted to finish reading a memoir, which is my current favorite type of literature. I live for the mornings I wake up early enough to eat oatmeal from Jamba Juice for breakfast. On Tuesdays I take a one-hour nap on the squishy couches at the art museum. I'm getting better at immunology. I can separate and identify random cations from a clear unknown solution. I'm getting ready to go to Jerusalem, and the whole process seems unreal.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I have a love-hate relationship with getting my hair done. I love retouched highlights and newly razored ends, but at the same time I'm always scared my hair person will majorly screw up. Consequently, I always hate SOMETHING about my new hair and convince myself I should never let anyone touch it again. This time around, it's the fact that my stylist convinced me to put more lowlights in, which looks okay, but she put one RIGHT in the front, so the first piece of my hair is dark. Yeah, it's just a little streak, and no one has commented about it yet, but it REALLY bugs me. I feel entirely self-conscious about it.

In other news, life goes on, and I have nothing of particular interest to write about. Actually, I should be in the anatomy lab right now, studying for my quiz, but it's snowing like I live in Antarctica, and there's absolutely no way I'm walking all the way to the lab building.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Most of the time, I'm an ascetic paragon of restraint; brutally, I constrain myself to occupy the strict steel frame I build according to the niche it will fill among life's cogs and wheels. Denying everything but the master plan, I sever parts of my personality that don't belong, leaving what in my wildest dreams will be called a machine. Hollow, I proudly classify myself, until, rarely, I spring a leak. Embarrassed, this compels me to remember that there is hot, dark liquid inside: fallibility, jealousy, self-doubt, and an insatiable desire for approval.
The ascetic watches, disgusted, as the emotions she denies flow from the tiny hole in a continuous, radioactive stream. With cold, admirable efficiency, she slides nitrile gloves over her hands, plugs the hole, and attempts to take inventory of the self she has left. The catch is that she doesn't know how much self she had to begin with, so there's no way to determine how much is lost.


Centration (psychology): the tendency of young children to focus attention on only one salient aspect of an object, situation, or problem at a time, to the exclusion of other potentially relevant aspects.

It's pathetic how well that describes me.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Sometimes when I dive into someone else's words, they stick to me. After a deep swim, I emerge slick and smiling, prepositional phrases caught in my hair, adjectives filling my eyes and mouth, and tiny nuances of punctuation coating my skin. The words mold themselves to my form, and fragments swell, dripping slowly from me as I dry.
Any words can take my shape; the pool does not discriminate. I can see my outline in every analogy, in every crafted image--taking handfuls, I can sculpt language, padding my deep places and softening my sharp edges until the finished product looks something like me.
Clearing the vocabulary from beneath my fingernails, I know it isn't real--anyone and everyone can be made, and the fact that I'm among the possibilities is a statistic, not an epiphany.