مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Friday night was by far the best night I've had all semester. My roommates and I joined my roommate's fiancee and his roommates at a Sundance cabin for a night of dinner and socializing. We prepared the simple, delicious meal all together--cheeseburgers, zucchini and onions, french fries, and watermelon--and gathered around a big table to eat it. After exploring the cabin, engaging each other in playful conversation, and dealing a few rounds of Phase 10, we settled down, wrapped in blankets, with warm brownies and three different kinds of ice cream to watch a movie.

Cozy cabin, warm fire, good friends, happy conversation, delicious food, funny movie.
It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Naturalistic fallacy.

"I disappointed myself by finding our perfectly pleasant lunch with perfectly pleasant people inadequate. Why would I have preferred a fight? . . . You would have no time for my nit-picking about how wasn't the luncheon a little bland, didn't you have this feeling like, what's the point, isn't there something flat and plain and doughy about this whole routine . . . These were good people and they had been good to us and we had therefore had a good time. To conclude otherwise was frightening, raising the specter of some unnamable quantity without which we could not abide, but which we could not summon on demand, least of all by proceeding in virtuous accordance with an established formula" (Lionel Shriver, "We Need to Talk About Kevin," 17-18).

I'm sick of the thousands of people I meet who seem to share the same opinion/religion/color/style/ideology/outlook as I do. Regardless of whether or not I agree with what others do, they must exist, and we must interact. I need to be friends with people I think are illogical, crazy, bad, different, and whatever else I don't consider myself to be, because that's what I am to them. And that's how it should be. Conformity is slowly suffocating all of us, but no individual can realize he is dying until it is too late to save the rest.



OH my gosh.
I never got to experience the mad frenzy of high-profile admissions decisions during my senior year of high school, because BYU offered me my scholarship before I even applied. But it's amazing to experience the oh-my-gosh-someplace-really-wants-me?! feeling one year later.

Summer Research Acceptance #1:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


During Johnny Weir's reality show, which, incidentally, is all I watch these days, I was surprised to hear him say, nervous for the future, "Am I gonna go to school next? Do I have enough money to go to school next? Do I need to get a job? Do I need to learn how to make a latte? Ice skating is the only thing that I know how to do well."

This is how I feel all the time. Remember the fig tree?

The only things I know how to do well are esoteric: science, reading, and writing.

The academic world leads people to believe that these are marketable skills, but in reality, I can't see many real-world applications. Don't get me wrong; I could write a ten-page thesis on why my skills are marketable. But that's just it. I can write all I want, but that's all I can do. People tease me because I'm “the most skilled part-time worker there is;” I’m certified in medical assisting, phlebotomy, and currently help teach Medical Parasitology, but I can't get a job as a waitress because I have no experience.


Those who, like me, delude themselves into functioning in this false reality in which what matters is where the comma goes in a periodical citation or how to correctly abbreviate "third edition" are lying to themselves.


Monday, February 22, 2010


My Life In Four Words:

March is coming, and with March comes all of my acceptances/rejections. Cross your fingers.
Cornell contacted me and said I made it past the initial round of review, which is a good sign, but I haven't heard from anywhere else.

In addition to my existing acceptance anxiety, I just applied to live in BYU's FLSR (Foreign Language Student Residence) for next fall/winter semesters. The application opened at 12:00. I submitted mine at 12:02.
This is how it goes down at the Arabic house:
  • You speak only Arabic in the apartment with five roommates, one of whom is a native speaker.
  • Every night at 6:00, you all have dinner together (and talk). Everyone switches off cooking food.
  • You watch only Arabic movies and TV in the apartment (there's a common room with a big screen for English stuff).
  • Non-target-language visitors can stay a few minutes, but then have to move to the common room.
It sounds perfect for me. That is, if I get in.

P.S. The Olympics end on Sunday. :-( My GPA would like to thank the IOC.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Celeb crush.

The honest truth: I have a MAJOR crush on a probably homosexual Olympian.
(wow, I can sincerely say I never thought I'd write that sentence.)

I say "probably homosexual" because this is all he'll say about it: "There are some things I keep sacred. My middle name. Who I sleep with. And what kind of hand moisturizer I use." If that doesn't say enough about quintessentially controversial Johnny Weir, I don't know what does. And now all I do is watch videos of him on Youtube, follow his Twitter account and read obsessive news articles about him on sexually questionable websites. I really don't understand why I find him so attractive, but I seriously cannot help it. He is just incredibly sexy. I like his anti-Establishment attitude, quick-witted comments, androgynous beauty, and confident individuality.  Plus, he's smart, despite his diva image--he studied linguistics for some time at the University of Delaware, picking up French and Russian. Interestingly enough, he's rooming with Tanith Belbin, a US women's ice dancer, at the secure Olympic Village in Vancouver after he and his costume designer received death threats from crazed PETA disciples about his fox-fur-lined ensemble. He removed the fur, but quipped, "I don't think PETA will ever realize that wearing fur is fabulous," and "You know, animals wear fur coats, so I don’t see any reason why I can’t. It’s discrimination, I think." He decorated the apartment he and Tanith share with neon pillows, pop star posters, and scented candles. And the precious three-time US national champion doesn't limit himself to skating. He has modeled for a friend's fashion label and posed shirtless in three-inch heels for his documentary film and subsequent reality show. At five foot nine and 135 pounds, it's beyond logical why he's so appealing to a girl used to crushing on beefy celebs.

And imagine this little scene (2006, maybe?):
"All of a sudden I was causing a stir because I was wearing a chinchilla scarf that someone thought was a boa. First of all, boas are so out. Secondly, I would never wear a boa to a press conference."
At next press conference: "Is the writer from USA Today here?" (writer raises hand.) "That was a scarf, not a boa -- dead chinchilla, not feathers."
But there's more to Johnny Weir than sparkles and designer labels. He's the dark-haired, edgy, gorgeous, young, bad-boy artist-type every girl has a right to want sometime in life. Right?


You go on rocking outfits of pink sparkles and animal fur and worshiping weird good luck charms, the Zohar and Lady Gaga, Johnny. I'm (inexplicably) on board one hundred percent.

Friday, February 19, 2010


My favorite Olympians:

Shaun White, of course! What a sweetheart. I cried after his world-class victory lap and giggled as he air-guitared the national anthem during the gold medal ceremony. I adore this guy for his friendliness and accessibility. He shares sincere happiness and passion for his sport with the whole world. Plus, he loves Park City. Maybe I'll stake out the resort sometime so I can meet him. After you watch him in all his Olympic glory for the eighth time (link in last post...um, I don't have three papers to write or anything), check out this fall at the X Games earlier this year--during an attempt at the impossible trick he rocked on the halfpipe yesterday. Epic. I'm surprised (and relieved) he didn't break his neck.

And Johnny Weir. This fabulous figure-skating fashonista makes a habit of scandalizing fans and foes alike both on and off the ice. I've been watching clips from his Sundance channel reality show, Be Good Johnny Weir, all day, and I admit to loving every pouty, glamorous second. This kid's as controversial as he is sparkle-studded, and I honestly can't get enough. [Btw, imho, after an awesome display, he was totally robbed in tonight's long program.] After oohing and aahing over his shiny short program outfit and watching him blow sassy kisses to the judges on the Olympic stage (link in last post), check out a sensual routine to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" here; I promise you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This is what I want:

A small, rectangular, white room complete with soft, white carpet, a flatscreen TV against one wall, and a king-sized bed with lush white pillows and a white down comforter. There's no door; at least, not in my imagination, but I can go in and out as I please.

I daydream about it all the time.
If I didn't want to be at my apartment, or at my real house, or at school, or at a friend's house, I could be in my little white room with no windows. No one could see me in there, so they couldn't judge me for being somewhere or not being somewhere. I could wrap myself in the big white blanket and curl up on the bed to watch the Olympics and Lost or do my homework on the floor or listen to music or sleep or possibly eat a cupcake or some strawberries.

Is that so much to ask?

P.S. Want to be happy?
Watch Shaun White win a second gold medal in snowboard halfpipe.
Watch Johnny Weir rock a pink-tasseled outfit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


"Good is better than perfect
Scrub till your fingers are bleeding
And I'm crying for things I tell others to do without crying."
~"Man of a Thousand Faces"

Photo courtesy of Google ImageSearch, which found this on a blog by Daniel Hope (click for original).

I started crying in the physics homework lab today. I felt bad for the TA helping me. We were talking about magnetic fields and right hand rules and my eyes just slowly started to well up with tears. I could tell he noticed because he started talking faster and stopped making eye contact, but I couldn't help myself and soon a steady stream of vulnerability was pouring down my face. He didn't know what to do (and what could he have done?), so he just kept talking, and I didn't have the heart (or the capacity) to tell him I'd lost him and his little spatial explanations five minutes beforehand. I told him I understood and thanked him for his help, even though I hadn't listened and he knew it. He told me the answer to my problem and I typed it in and left. As I stood outside the door, dripping emotions into my hands, a girl saw me, put her hand on my shoulder, and asked if I was all right. "Is there anything I can do?" she inquired, surprisingly sincere. "No, thanks; I'm fine," I replied, and tried to smile. She didn't buy it, and neither did I. I broke down again in the space between the two sets of north doors, with deep, fragile sobs that came from a place I can't find without cause.

I have cried more in the past two months than I have in the past two years.
Something is wrong with me, and it bothers me because for some reason my mind thinks I am strong. Maybe that's the only reason I don't fall apart on a daily basis, why the atoms and ions that make me me still hang around each other. My patchwork quilt is knit together with sheer, stupid self-concept.

Then I went to lunch at the Museum of Art and grabbed a red velvet cupcake with my normal half-sandwich and soup because, oh well, the lunatic wants a cupcake, and who am I to deny the freak? She might just start crying again.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Every time I see police lights on the road, they remind me of something from my past--like some distant memory I've never been able to place. It's bugged me for four or five years.
And today I placed the memory.
The relief was immense and physical, like all those synaptic ties to my childhood were finally realized and validated.

Police lights remind me of:

This is a '90s PC computer game I was obsessed with as a child. In it, you play a pizza boy on a skateboard who throws donuts to police cars and pizzas to escaping criminals. You build cars and drive around the island and throw things at people and go jetskiing and listen to music and you FIND things...clues? I don't remember what they were, but you drive around and find clues and eventually you get to fly around in a helicopter and trace the escaped criminal...wow, it's all coming back to me. I was brilliant at this game. I won every time.
And to this day, this is what police lights remind me of.
Here's a poster from it--I think it was at the little restaurant on the beach.
 (P.S. Is this Lego girl topless??)

Monday, February 8, 2010


I took my first electrical physics test today {99%!}, and now all I want to do is play Rock Band. Too bad I don't own it.
I feel bad for so many of the kids in my physics class. They try so hard. They do all the reading, highlight their books, and annotate the margins. I could sell mine back to the publisher as new and they'd take it, no questions asked. If time and effort made up physics grades, I'd have a NG (no grade) and these other kids would have As. Luckily for me, it doesn't. And unluckily for them, they can't figure out why that isn't the case. So, I present to you:

How to Get an A in Electrical Physics:
A Tried and True Formula

Caveat: Extensive math experience necessary.

1) Do not read before class. Do not look at the topic before class. Do not waste any precious time on this class before you absolutely have to. (If you HAVE to read, say, to pass a reading quiz, do so quickly and without too much thought.)
2) Attend class, but do other homework while half-listening. Maximize the hour you're compelled to spend in there. Above all else, do not try to "conceptually understand." Regardless of who you are, attempting to visualize electricity and predict its movements based on complex strings of abstract reasoning will drive you insane. You cannot do it. Accept that and move on. It is okay.
3) Jot down any necessary equations. You'll need them for step 4.
4) Do all homework the last possible day it is due. The purpose of this step is twofold. First, if you need help from the TA lab, every TA in there will know immediately how to do the problem you are asking about, because ten million other more prepared students have already asked them how to do it. So by the time YOU ask for help, they are already exasperated over having to explain the problem ten million times and they will not ask you "leading questions" meant to "guide you to the answer." They will just show you how to do it, which is why you came to see them in the first place. The second reason for waiting until the last day is because you don't want to think about physics until it will affect your grade not to do so.
5) Repeat steps 1-4 until it is time for step 6.
6) Okay, it's test time! You might think, "Hmm, I've kind of slacked off in this class. Some kids have been studying for months. Am I going to be ready for this test?" The answer is YES! You will be just as ready as those poor saps who pore over the textbook and have developed an emotional attachment to the direction an electron will zip off to in a positive electric field. Know why? Because you will only know what you need to know. And this applies to the big picture. Don't think "knowing what you need to know" applies only to this test. It applies to larger tests like the MCAT, too. Abstract reasoning drives you mad and won't get you anywhere except maybe a padded room. Memorizing simple statements of truth, like "Electrons move from low potential to high potential, and into lower potential energy," or "The cross-sectional area of a wire is inversely proportional to its resistance" is all you need to do. Make sure to cover everything.
FACT: It's all math.
FACT: You can do math.
It follows from Facts 1 and 2 that you can also do physics.
7) Receive the test (equations included) and simply match up the letters ("Find capacitance." Hmm, okay, we have three equations that involve big C, even though I've never seen two of them before.). Manipulate equations to fit your purposes. Dominate conceptual questions with your for-sure-true statements.
8) Walk out of the Testing Center satisfied. Repeat until semester ends and an "A" appears on your transcript next to "Electrical Physics."

side note: i love the word "elapsed."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The worlds illustrated in "Sum" manage to fuse incredible ambition with surprising sincerity. The byproduct of a neuroscientist's creative overflow, this text threads its reader into iridescent tapestries of imagination, weaving a future into each poignant product. Each vignette is only a page or two long and radiates the eloquence that exudes from the intersection of poetry and prose. I feel a  kinship with the author; he is a Baylor College of Medicine alum with a PhD in neuroscience who researches synesthesia (my longtime favorite neuroscientific phenomenon) and writes brilliant fiction at night. Can you spell my dream, please? Anyone who takes pleasure in abstract and beautiful thought will treasure this volume.

My favorite, "Mirrors," is reprinted here (if this is a copyright violation, please comment and inform me, and I will be more than happy to remove it):

"When you think you've died, you haven't actually died. Death is a two-stage process, and where you wake up after your last breath is something of a Purgatory: you don't feel dead, you don't look dead, and in fact you are not dead. Yet.

Perhaps you thought the afterlife would be something like a soft white light, or a glistening ocean, or floating in music. But the afterlife more closely resembles the feeling of standing up too quickly: for a confused moment, you forget who you are, where you are, all the personal details of your life. And it only gets stranger from here.

First, everything becomes dark in a blindingly bright way, and you feel a smooth stripping away of your inhibitions and a washing away of your power to do anything about it. You start to lose your ego, which is intricately related to the spiriting away of your pride. And then you lose your self-referential memories.

You're losing you, but you don't seem to care.

There's only a little bit of you remaining now, the core of you: naked consciousness, bare as a baby.

To understand the meaning of this afterlife, you must remember that everyone is multifaceted. And since you always lived inside your own head, you were much better at seeing the truth about others than you ever were at seeing yourself. So you navigated your life with the help of others who held up mirrors for you. People praised your good qualities and criticized your bad habits, and these perspectives--often surprising to you--helped you to guide your life. So poorly did you know yourself that you were always surprised at how you looked in photographs or how you sounded on voice mail.

In this way, much of your existence took place in the eyes, ears, and fingertips of others. And now that you've left the Earth, you are stored in scattered heads around the globe.

Here in this Purgatory, all the people with whom you've ever come in contact are gathered. The scattered bits of you are collected, pooled, and unified. The mirrors are held up in front of you. Without the benefit of filtration, you see yourself clearly for the first time. And that is what finally kills you."

David Eagleman