مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Sometimes I hate BYU.
Idiots like this make me sick and give all of the students here a bad name.

Daily Universe, Letters to the Editor, 30 March 2010:

"There is one problem on campus that is frequently overlooked. This problem has caused many potential Honor Code violations, relaxed standards and, if left unchecked, may lead to further decay in our moral principles. This problem is the wearing of shorts on campus.

Although shorts have become commonplace in society, they lead to destraction [sic] from the learning environment that BYU is striving to provide. They may lower our body heat, but is wearing shorts really worth lowering your personal standards? Our dress should reflect the moral commitment of the university.

BYU-Idaho's dress code doesn't permit shorts or even capris. Their dress code promotes an environment for higher learning in a wholesome environment.

When a university permits the wearing of knee-length shorts, it seems the knee keeps getting higher and higher. Where are we going to draw the line?

Do we need to go back to a time where people kneel on the ground to see if their shorts are long enough? Do we need to have a lower standard than BYU-Idaho? No, we need to abolish the wearing of all shorts on campus."

~ Jeremy Hindman

Jeremy, let me be the first to inform you: You're a freaking imbecile.
But for the sake of conversation, let's get to the real meat of your problem. Are you honestly that stupid, or have you just been royally screwed up? Was it your mother who made you kneel on the ground to see that your knee-length shorts touched the floor? Or maybe shorts make you feel vulnerable and exposed, and when you see others wearing them, well. We all know how erotic two inches of bare knee can be.
People like you turn out like this. I'm religious, which some consider illogical, but I am not an idiot. I refuse to affiliate myself with you. There's a fine line, pal.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I've always been embarrassingly bad at remembering people. Old classmates, students, or colleagues regularly rush up to me on campus or in the mall, and I'll smile and fake my way through a short conversation, but in reality, unless I talk to you often, have lived with you, or have some reason to use your name, there's at least a 90% chance I have no idea who you are. As a way of compartmentalizing things, my mind places people in context rather than remember them as individual entities. For example, if you are in my molecular biology lab group, when I walk into molecular biology lab I will know you and interact with you just like I would a friend. But if you later run into me as we pass through the Bookstore, I won't have the faintest idea who you are. My memory of you is one with your context; to me, you do not exist outside of molecular biology lab.

Which is why I found the results I earned on this BBC facial memory quiz (take it; it's fun!) so surprising. I'm obviously better at this in theory than I am in practice. Cool.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I went to pre-registration for imminent Honors graduates today (because sometimes BYU likes to give me free food and make me feel like they care about having me around; OH HO HO, aren't I funny) and came out in consternation.
Along with Infection and Immunity and Second-Year Arabic, I want to take some combination of Egyptian History, Dostoyevsky, Biblical Hebrew, Ancient Manuscripts, and Magazine Writing in the fall, but I have to take Organic Chemistry, Mission Prep, and History of Creativity. Aaauuuugggghhhhhh.

Can I design my own major? Please?
I'll call it "Pathophysiology, Creative Writing, Ancient Near Eastern History, and Semitic Language." Added bonus: This major also fulfills all premedical requirements.

I scrunched my eyes shut to reality and actually registered for Egyptian History and Ancient Manuscripts--just to spite myself, I think. I mean, with my workload next fall, I obviously can't take both (or, probably, either one). BUT I REALLY WANT TO, OKAY?

I also don't know whether I can be a TA again next year. I love my job, but TAing for the MMBio department is so low-paying (400-level course or not) that I can barely support myself as it is. So job searching in the fall becomes an issue in addition to my courseload and hinges on the fact that I have designed (and procured) a job-friendly schedule.

I am currently annoyed by:
  • The fact that my university essentially requires me to minor in religion (12-15 required credit hours), which throws off my course planning ALL THE TIME
    • Don't think for one second that religion classes are easy As, either. You wait until you're asked (out of the blue) how many verses are in Helaman 12 or how many years, on average, are spanned per chapter. Frustration builds all too quickly as you spend the time you need to study for the classes that will get you into grad school looking up every footnote in John 9, "just in case," and then realizing that you must reproduce the only one you skimmed on your exam, word for word.
  • Impossibly huge, stressful, and impersonal premed classes (physics, chemistry, biology)
  • Required general education classes in topics I already know backwards, forwards, sideways, upside down, asleep, and impaired
  • The idiocy of science lab classes in general; I have experienced four so far, and in all honesty I can say that not one was worthwhile in the least
Who knows what my schedule's going to look like next year. I've spent way too many hours stressing about it. And the fact that my Cairo study abroad is taking place Fall 2011 instead of Spring/Summer of the same year (thx, Arabic program administrators) consistently throws everything off. At this rate, I won't graduate until 2013 (or later, if I keep taking what I want to take instead of what I need to take)--no exaggeration.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Now that I've (almost) successfully completed five semesters at BYU, it is high time to introduce the event we've all been waiting for. Welcome to the newly instituted Course Awards, hosted by none other than everyone's favorite Olympic figure skater, Johnny Weir!

The candidates for each award are painstaking considered by the Academy, and though many courses may deserve a win in several categories (Klein's class, for example, could sweep the Goods), each is allowed to take home only one trophy. 
And now, without any further ado...

The Good
Most Influential
Ilona Klein, Honors 303 (Voices and Legacy of the Shoah)

Most Empowering
Gretchen Belnap & Doug Bradford, Arabic 101 & 102 (First Year Arabic)

Most Intellectual
Ophir Yarden, Modern Near East 349 (Judaism, Zionism, and the State of Israel)

Makes Me Want to Change My Major to Something Highly Impractical
Andrew Skinner, Ancient Near East 336 (Ancient Near Eastern History)

Most Personally Lucrative
Eric Wilson, Microbiology & Molecular Biology 417 (Medical Parasitology)

The Bad 
Biggest Letdown
Hal Miller, Honors 261 (Evolutionary Psychology and the Arts)

Most Annoyingly Underqualified
Brother Masters, Religion 311 (New Testament)

Most Maddening
Random Staff Member, Chem 107 (Inorganic Chemistry Lab)

Most Hated
Professor I've Never Seen, Physics 108 (Electricity, Magnetism, & Optics Lab)

Biggest Waste of Everyone's Time (and Old People's Tithing Money)
Jellen/Wood, University 101 (required Freshman Introduction to Science seminar)

The Ugly

Have Directly Caused Mental Breakdowns (listed in order of increasing severity)
Modern Near East 347 (Arab and Islamic Civilization: The Palestinian Narrative)
Religion 311 (New Testament)
PDBio 495 (Advanced Undergraduate Research)
Physics 108 (Electricity, Magnetism, & Optics Lab)
Honors 205 (Philosophy of Medicine)


As a teaching TA, I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. With discretion (I'm definitely no doormat), I let my students take late quizzes (and once, even a late test!), go out of my way to accommodate them when they are absent, and try to treat every question someone asks with respect, even if I've already explained the diagnostic features of the Onchocerca volvulus cross-section four times. I try to be approachable, smiley, and real, and not distant, snobby, and conceited (like some of the TAs I have). Pretention gets no one anywhere. I'm a student, you're a student; let's work together.

I flood the margins of the term paper drafts I edit with red scribbles because I want every one of my students to know that I read every word, no matter how boring or badly stylized, and I want their papers to be the best they can be. Maybe that's cliche, but it's true.
Today one of my girls admitted that she lost her draft--the copy I had written all over so extensively. The final copy is due Friday, and my students were supposed to be putting their previous drafts into final form for the past month. Embarrassed, she asked if I possibly had time to rewrite all the revisions I'd made before tomorrow morning.
I didn't have time. But I felt good that she felt comfortable enough with me to ask.
I did it anyway.

Sometimes I feel like a good TA.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In flames.

أعرف هذا الشارع
. هو في القدس ، و مسيت هناك كل يوم
كل يوم
I know the East Jerusalem street in the picture, the one beneath the hurt people and guns and debris. I walked down its sunny slope hundreds of times last summer and I know every bump in the sidewalk-- where to jump because of the old, protruding power lines; where you can see the horse in the nearby meadow; where you can volunteer to feed newborn babies at the hospital; where the little boy in the upstairs window always waves.

Today's Jerusalem Post:
"All of Jerusalem is on fire today . . . Forget about a third intifada. This is war."

I don't care about the politics. I don't want to take a side. I don't want to point fingers or break out tear gas or torch tires in the streets. I only want my city to be left in peace. And I know it's impossible.
But when Jerusalem burns, somehow, so do I.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I just got my hair did (1:45) for the first time in a very long time, much to the prospective delight of everyone who sees me on a regular basis. For the last three weeks I have existed as a sleep-deprived, test-laden zombie kid with huge, dark eye circles and last Friday's smudged makeup who wears only beanies and sweats because even when she bothers to do her hair she is embarrassed because of the major roots she never seems to have the time to cover. But no more! I have once again become Miss Happy-well-adjusted-perfect-motivated-bright-eyed-all-American-blonde.
Or maybe not.

But on a whim I asked my stylist to include a deep red streak on a bottom layer of my hair that I absolutely adore. You can't see it well right now; it's small and too far back, but I like it so much that next time I get my hair did I will ask for replicas of this streak all over the deep layers of my hair, and for my blonde to be cut so that the rich, purpley color can show through, and for one dark, thin streak in the front to tie everything together. The finished product will (hopefully) look kind of like the pic below, but less dramatic. My hair will still be long, and the blonde will be deeper and more prominent. My color right now is the color of the back of her hair--the deep wine-purple at the bottom, near what I think is her dangly earring. Love it.

I will allow myself this visual reward after I finish my final exams, probably.

Time to go rent The Blair Witch Project and wallow in verb forms, optics equations, project outlines, oatmeal cookies, and self-pity, or (more likely) in slackjawed, drooling apathy and soggy Cheerios, whichever comes first.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Let me tell you, spending three hours in optics lab every Wednesday does something to you.
Lenses, mirrors, focal lengths, img/obj distances, and magnification equations may look friendly at first, but after a few hours of working with equipment assembled in the seventies and the (non)help of a novice TA without a master key, you will indeed go insane. For those of you non-scientists out there, think of the most excruciatingly particular and involved high school science lab you have ever completed. Then multiply its duration by three, your frustration by twelve, and the lab's level of difficulty by junior-in-college status. THIS IS PHYSICS LAB.

Of course, I have had firsthand experience with physics-lab-induced hysteria on multiple occasions. Today, I started bawling and giggling simultaneously after stretching out over our table somewhere after our three-hour mark in Dante's inner circle. I leaned across the light table with complicated measuring equipment in my hands, ready to measure the image distance of a virtual object projected between two lenses aligned in parallel (ugh; don't ask), when much to my surprise, I discovered that my torso was too short to make the necessary measurements. I simply could not reach. All that work and I couldn't reach. This realization promptly sent me into a hysterical fit in which I cried my eyes out while hiccuping and laughing madly at my ENTIRELY STUPID PREDICAMENT. Of course, then the TA rushed over to ask if I'd burned myself on the heat lamp, which made me laugh/cry even harder, and after that everything went to pot. Seriously? Three hours of perfectly calculated positioning and I'm too short? Realizing something so factual and normal as that put my ridiculous context into sharp, stinging perspective: The last three hours of my life have been completely meaningless. COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS. And now I am impaired from making my final meaningless measurements due to being too short to stretch across the table. F M L.

As an angry side note,

Experience has taught me my university's priorities:
1) Undergraduate humanities
2) Graduate business
3) Football
7) Cosmo maintenance
8) Undisclosed BYUSA retreat budget
42) Science programs

Compare the MARB (science lecture building) or the WIDB (bio lab building) to the beautiful JFSB (humanities lectures/offices) or even the SWKT (neuro/nursing/psych). And don't even get me started on the stunning HFAC.
FACT: We poor science majors are crammed into lecture rooms with hundreds of seats, bad visibility angles, zero leg room, and old equipment, AND IT SUCKS.
End side note.

After my hysterics, I walked to the duck pond and watched the ducks for a while to calm down. I love ducks. Then I went to Mimi's Cafe and had a honey oat bran muffin (my favorite) and sat in a big squashy armchair at Barnes and Noble where I read Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games in its entirety, all four hundred or so pages. I felt immensely satisfied, as I always do when finishing a book in one sitting, so (luckily) the day wasn't a total waste. Almost, though. That was a close one.

Be happy.
 This pic will help.
 Evgeni Plushenko and Johnny Weir arm wrestling! Aww.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Do you ever read something and feel like you wrote it?
Like its spirit had been growing inside you, amorphous, until you heard someone else give it form?
Well, this is my song. Or should have been. It's perfect.

Disclaimer: Explicit (Language)

Monday, March 8, 2010


In the spirit of free love, intellectualism, and fabled indie credibility, I took out Vladimir Nabokov's infamous novel, Lolita. Excited, I cracked the cover and perused the first page only to find myself having to force my way through ninety-nine more before I could in good faith let myself quit.
What can I say? I tried, right?

Call me immature, call me uncultured, tell me I am without any semblance of mental finesse, but I honestly could not take any more than a hundred pages of the delicate, elderly Humbert mewing for sexual favors from his thirteen-year-old protege. Bleh. Yes, it is as gross as it sounds--in fact, probably worse. And sure, the writing itself is fine, and whatever, I guess the novel is revolutionary in its way, blah blah blah one of the hundred best novels of the twentieth century, but to be completely honest I really cannot read it anymore (though I did manage to work it into an Evolutionary Psychology essay before I stopped).

Conclusion: I will voluntarily opt out of any possible indie cred available here BECAUSE I AM JUST GROSSED OUT, OKAY?

P.S.  Do not innocently Google "Lolita" for a blog picture, thinking that all that will come up is pictures of the book. Ew.



I can squint my ears; can you?
Listen hard to your insides and perhaps
you too can hear Babel.
Vowels and consonants duel
over the thin corpse of my ambition,
and already the eyes are mottled
and the head half eaten.

Maybe not dead yet, maybe two days gone
for beneath your gaze I fell too gentle into that good night.
No rage against the dying of the light,
just one sad yawn. Too long.

So call it a rapture,
call it my fault or yours but regardless
they were right--I see
a space to fill a lack, her body
hollow at the core, sitting
home alone with nothing whatsoever to chop;
she frightens me because she is familiar.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Summer Research Status!
(I'll update this post as the confirmations pour in)



Straight-Up Rejected
(Adcom: "Eff no!")
Johns Hopkins

I'm going to Harvard anyway, haha; at this point, I don't care who else wants/doesn't want me.
pics from Google

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


My next few days:

  oh thx, google, for the DIVIIIIINE pic.

* Host a smashingly fab masquerade ball for my roommate Amanda's 20th birthday
* Eat dinner at The Melting Pot in SLC (cheese fondue!) for my friend Louisa's 20th birthday
* Surprise a good friend! (Shh)
* Somehow study for the magnetism test I'll have to squeeze in between my office hours and the fondue session
* Take four quizzes
* Write one paper and start another
* Teach two hours of medical parasitology lab (fluke diagnostics!)

I have to admit, I'm most excited for the fondue. (Hence the picture.)

Monday, March 1, 2010


Today I discovered theoatmeal.com. Go there. You'll like it.

I think this one should be entitled "Med School Interviews."

P.S. I don't know what to do with myself now that the Winter Olympics are over.
The next time I see them, I will be 23.