Tuesday, November 27, 2012

and you can have it all: my empire of dirt

when is it a good time to say that you're hurt?
not when the hurt has turned to bitterness.

if there is one thing that i've learned in the past year, it's that rationally saying how you feel is the best remedy to any situation when your feelings are involved - especially when those feelings are resentment, hurt, and distance.

that means, when you start to feel those creepy crawly stomach-sinking hole-in-heart feelings, you speak up when it starts or you risk forever holding your piece and onto a grudge you're sick of.
don't be a martyr. don't assume that someone doesn't want to hear your side of it, or that they will be burdened by your feelings. if someone is hurting you and they consider you a friend, it should be their problem as much as it's yours. if they're unwilling to change their actions or offer some kind of appreciation for your feelings, then maybe it's time to consider if the friendship is even worth it.

your feelings don't have to be rational, but rational people own up to their emotions, and recognize they exist.

stop waiting around for people to realize how they're making you feel. grow up, and take care of your relationships.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

some nights i stay up cashing in my bad luck

some nights i call it a draw. 

i have been dealt a fairly interesting hand in the past 12 months. this night merits reflection because it's the anniversary of an seemingly-innocuous-but-downright-insidious decision that signified a paradigm shift and has haunted me ever since.

what followed this decision was a cascade of rushed, foolhardy decisions that resulted in a deep sadness, followed by another deep sadness, followed by a few months of confusion and hurt. it seemed like this film of grey wouldn't lift from my life after a while, and i got used to it.  i got used to feeling small, and irrelevant, and i got used to expecting myself to mess up.

i also got used to being alone. being loved doesn't preclude existence, i learned, and loving what you do can sometimes replace it.

but still i was lost and flustered and i floundered and edged away from land, sailing to an island of my own creation.

sometimes i loved this place. everything existed and made sense in some alternate reality. i could be myself, and no one cared, because no one was there. i could feel exactly as i wanted as long as i was in my own room.

and sometimes the compounding blow of life going under-lived and my thoughts being under-thought would eclipse me. i was distracted, unproductive, and treading water as the weeks went on. i didn't know how to ask for what i wanted or needed with clarity. i knew i was unraveling at the seams, but slapped on a smile and went forth anyway without stopping, making excuses for myself along the way, and not asking for help.

our wounds won't close if we don't stop to examine them.

at some point, life cured me. when i went to india, i no longer felt trapped by the life i'd pushed myself into. i was in an environment that left me free to do less than i'm used to and more of everything i wanted. i decided to start living in the joy of the moment, moment-to-moment. not in that weird, drug addict way, but in that taking things slow, one thing at a time, giving every task its due attention, way. i found it calmed me to not always think about the big picture - after all, such a  thing does not exist without the careful placement of its small constituents. i moved from one thing to another to another, and i guess this is the mantra of detachment i've been living. it helps that i went through a meditation-yoga-exercise phase. through moving around, figuratively and literally, i shocked myself into realizing that there is life beyond the immediate parameters i see.

if there's one thing that all this moving around taught me, it's that being alone all the time that can really get you stuck. i notice it more now that i'm not always alone. when you have friends - really good friends, they can anticipate what thought train you are about to take before you commit to the ride. they can sense where you're going and they tell you what not to think. they can help you blow off steam by letting you belt to loud music or by letting you rant, or by making cake at just the right moment, or by introducing you to your new favorite show. they keep track of what's going on with you and have opinions about it, and don't judge you for being fallible... which is really sweet. some nights i'd hurt myself with thoughts about what i could have done better in life, but friends can show you that there's more to you than the ramifications of ill-fated decisions.

equally important as learning to be alone is learning to tell yourself to shut up. sometimes i will hang out with myself and become stale and stagnant, my mouth growing sour and dry.
i feel a dull ache for the life's hydration. i know the answer is within myself somewhere but i have forgotten how to find it. i have trapped myself. i have trapped myself because i have defined my whole existence. i am hopeless because i have forgotten that the parameters of my existence can be infinite. 

it all depends on your level of analysis.  if one cell dies that doesn't mean you die. if one heart breaks, there is still love in the world. or as my boss says, "boys are like buses." (hahaha!)

sometimes you have to do something, and do something great. you know, like write a song or an article or do an experiment or someone else a favor or decorate your room, or go watch an orchestra or something. life is completely lame if you're not building something or becoming something greater than you are today.

bad luck happens, and it seems to be happening to everyone i know. it's true, things aren't as gold as they used to be. (but gold things can stay. take that robert frost, you miserable prick.)

but our wounds close if we don't keep picking at the scabs.
new skin will grow. new life will blossom and glow. and you'll have those battle scars and all those songs you fell in love with and those articles you wrote to help you heal. they will bring you lasting happiness whenever you encounter them.

"in the midst of winter," said albert camus, "i found there was, within myself, an invincible summer."

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

potential career goals

1. being the same person i am, but older, and possibly married to someone.

2. successful indie musician, touring with yet-to-be-determined band. have developed complex songwriting style and have learned how to solo on the guitar.

3. journalist at the new york times

4. better journalist writing columns for the new york times

5. radiojournalist - this guy i don't even know that well recently told me i should be this. how did you know that was my secret dream?

6. MD/PhD - virology/oncology research and practice.

7. women's rights/healthcare activist

8. professional 20-something blogger

9. non-profit work in india, senegal or for the simpson street free press

10. MPH- solving health problems by attacking policymakers.

11. science journalist.

12. social scientist studying women's health in developing countries

13. pundit/personality/talk show host

14. staff writer for the onion

15. public relations and marketing for something dope like making people get tested for HIV

16. writer for a comedy television show, OR comedian

17. regular writer

18. one of those people on "the voice"

19. glee

20. music writer/reviewer

Sunday, September 30, 2012

let's be strong together

let's bring out each other's best qualities.
let's remember why we care for one another.
let's get up and dance at this concert and let the music pass over us like a cool wind on a day drenched in sweat.
let's laugh like little kids.
let's let the rain sop on our faces.
let's fall in love with the moment, with this song, with the earth and the beauty that adorns it.
let's speak with conviction about only what we care about.
let's let the naysayers, haters, debbie-downers, fall by the wayside.
let's make a delicious omelette and eat it with too much red-hot.
let's go somewhere we've never heard of. let's see a shade of green that we didn't know existed.
let's let go of doubt, let's share in each other's joy.
let's stop hating the differences between us. they don't have to divide us.
let's not forget how many beginnings we get in this life.
let's do the right thing all the time.
let's say how we feel.
let's not be a little bitch about it.
let's get the facts first.
let's design an experiment.
let's not only listen to things that confirm our opinions. let's listen to the other side.
let's sing loudly to the music that lifts our souls.
let's give in to pleasure.
let's not find things boring.
let's push ourselves.
let's write a song.
let's call each other later.
let's make someone else comfortable.
let's build something beautiful.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Breaking up with a song

i think that songs have lives just as organisms do. well, actually, it's more that they have souls. their souls have a kind of uncertain lifespan. i know i will have difficulty explaining this, because this is a perennial image i have grown up with, and thereby it seems really obvious to me.

it starts when you first hear a song--it must be a good song, mind you--and it fills up your ears. it fills up your ears at first like any perceptual stimuli. it's just some bleats and some beats and some tones. 
it's like how when you look at the assortment of shapes in the below picture, the first thing you see is just shapes: 

then you realize it is the word "fly." this is the part where your neurons are adapting to the noise and realizing that it's music. 
maybe by the time it gets to the chorus you start to feel this sort of dull ache in your chest cavity as it slowly fills up with a semi-homogeneous solution of bubbly hot emotions and hormones. there's just something about the bass and its volume that's making you feel that weird pain-pleasure mixture like your soul is eating spicy food. something about how familiar but totally new the melody is is making you feel alive. and there's something about now-- where are you? in the car? in an airplane? with someone you just met?-- that is making the song just perfect. for right now. for here.

and you're like, well shit. i'll never be the same again. something about what is filling you is both fueling and curing whatever case of the blues you have right now. something inside you has changed in an irrevocable, indescribable, only-internalizable way. 

i picture myself doing the unimaginable when i feel this way. i picture myself running through the front doors of the an ex-love's building and proclaiming the intensity of my emotions, saying sentences that sound incredibly tacky when not felt, like, "it hurts my heart!" or "i have a SERIOUS case of you." but i know that if i just hold on through, to the last note, or the final beat, that i will feel a sense of closure, a sense of completeness that real life fails to deliver. 
sometimes i try not to listen to music because it makes me feel too strongly. i know that it's one of the easiest to find, most addictive drugs and i go on a diet from it just to make sure i can feel without it. i look at rolling landscapes, or hear the music of the street, without any instrumental accompaniment, but i still hear it in my head before i go to sleep. 

sometimes i listen to music and it doesn't work for me anymore. it's the same song that i've listened to every day for the last 90 days, and every day it has felt the same. 

i can always tell that something within me is changing and ending when i no longer feel that ache. it's kind of a heartbreak, but i try to remind myself that songs only encapsulate feelings for as long as you feel them. if i listen to a song and feel nothing, i realize that the song has successfully ushered me through whatever phase it was. whatever it was that ailed me or exhilarated me when the song entered my life now no longer creates that soreness in my gut.  i listen to the song again and i feel no rush of serotonin, no heightened dopamine levels, no tears welling in my eyes. i know then that this song has done its work and now functions only as an old friend i can belt to when no one is around, kind, knowing, and vacant. it exists as a shell of its former self, because my soul is no longer puzzle-pieced within it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Imagined letter from my future self to my present self*

Dearest Aarushi,

It is I, you, from the future. We live in space now. And your husband is an alien.
Haha, I got you. He is a Permanent Resident. But we still live in space. Only on the weekendends.

(That's the new term for the super long weekends that happen every 3 weeks. They give everyone a nice 4 day break for moonwalking and anti-gravity love-making, which is totally something that people can do now.)

I am just writing you this note to tell you what all future selves tell their past selves. I mean, I would tell you wisdom and advice to make you avoid the mistakes I made, but I kind of like my life now, and I don't want to royally screw myself over, and as I don't remember getting one of these notes myself, I'm probably causing Armageddon as I write this. I'll go back into my study and suddenly have a unibrow. "I just plucked this," I will think, and then I'll realize my kids have morphed into a bunch of creepy internet cats (yes, those are still a thing). It won't matter because by that point, everything will have blown up.

Where was I? I was telling you something. I am going to reinforce for you what you already know, bambalina, but maybe it will sound better coming from someone other than present you. What to you is a distant hope, to me, is a memory. You may be yet uncertain, wondering what your mark on the world will look like, or even if you'll even get the chance to make the mark that you want to make. But make no mistake - you will find a way. This is partially because you will never stop being passionate. Follow your passion - it will be your map. I know this sounds disgusting, (we brought back vomitoriums!) but it is my belief that we gravitate toward the things that we really like. There is a reason you continue to hang out with those weirdos you're friends with; they make you laugh and they talk about nerdy stuff that you also enjoy talking about. There is a reason why you move on from people who are too quick to judge, or who constantly make fun of other people and give dirty looks. No one likes people who give dirty looks. Even now. We make them clean the vomitoriums. It is through these conversations and through these associations and through those other things you find yourself doing (cleaning out incubators and plating cells and re-reading papers, thinking about genetic treatments that use viruses to incorporate the better gene into the target genome, listening to the Shins and weird books about neuroscience) that you will understand what you are truly lusting after. It's not really about the songs you listen to, but about what you're really feeling when you hear them. (...but it's also about the songs you're listening to. We need to talk about some of that stuff. Yep, you were wrong about some stuff. But I'll NEVER tell, muahahahahahaha.)

So here's one for you - you have far from exhausted your potential or your resources. There are still so many people, places, and opportunities you have not yet explored that will be crucial to the development of your character, and of your career. Hell, there are even songs on your iPod that you will discover as your favorites, maybe a year from now. Right now, you are affecting people in ways that you won't begin to realize for years to come. Life is a mystery, and not everything is knowable; as an internal and slightly psycho person, you may think you have everything figured out, but there is always a crucial amount of information missing. Your experience of the world is not the only one that is multidimensional and layered. Like it or not, there are worlds - big worlds like those built of multilateral organizations-- and small worlds, like the ones that exist inside of your friends, that you will not ever be able to access. But life is wasted dwelling on what you can never do, so don't. Uncover all the worlds that you can, the ones you never knew existed. There are millions of blessings that you don't have, but the ones you do have are unique and brilliant, and catered just to you. In the age of customization, isn't that the best that you could ask for? For the sake of thought exercise, imagine if today you were given the gift of Olympic skating ability. You can speed skate with the best of them. You are no longer clumsy when you get on ice. What would you do? Gaining this new talent would be totally stupid, because 1. you're too old to get into that business now, 2. skating makes you cold and you don't understand how it works and you have a ton of other hobbies that you care way more about. Maybe this is a bad example because speed skating is starting to sound really badass. The point is, your particular talents and gifts have shaped you into the kind of person who can fully enjoy them. It's like how youth is wasted on the young, but the opposite.

That's all I really have for you. I have to tend to your alien F1s now. Labor wasn't as bad as you think it is. IT WAS WORSE. Also, you are totally never getting Alzheimer's! Good for you/me/us/the future generation of Agnis.

Yours (and mine) truly,

Future Aarushi

P.S. You should be ashamed. You know what I'm talking about.

*Disclaimer: I'm sorry.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

a creature of habit has no real protection

[this post is dated april 5th, 2012]

i write today sitting atop moving ground - no, that can't be right. indeed, i am in relative motion with the ground, soaring away from the horizon and into trees. well, okay, now the horizon appears directly left, which means we're going north (right?).

that's how i've been telling where i am lately. new york is all about east and west - everytime i get off the subway i do a quick and rough assessment of where the sun is and then try to figure out whether the numbers ascend or descend going to the west (they ascend).

anyway, i'm on a bus to ithaca, NY from new york, NY. i've never published anything while bouncing  up and down on the roads - i'm kind of worried as to what this level of turbulence will do to my hard drive. i'm going up to visit some dear friends at cornell university, but i never realized how peacefully smooth midwest buses seem to be in comparison.

i have been in new york and 21 for about 4 days, and as such, i've been thinking a lot about habits.

it started when i recorded the song "bait n' switch" by the shins back in september at their concert, and resurged when it became one of my favorite songs on the new album (plug, plug, plug). the lyric that plunged me into this rumination adorns the title-slot of this blogpost. it stuck out to me because i tend to really respect people who have good habits. the lyric, however, captures the instability that exists within a person who steadfastly adheres to habits over time - when you do something again and again without thinking, you may unknowingly steer yourself into ruin. that's what happened with my bad posture, anyway.

this book i have been listening to - thanks to an accidental subscription to audible.com and a chance listening of an NPR radio program documenting the author - is all about the science of habit-formation. written in the style of blink and other such gladwellian work, the power of habit by charles duhigg, more or less takes the reader through case studies of people who utterly transformed their habits and have emerged as triumphant, better versions of themselves, and of organizations and movements that have succeeded by analyzing the habits of their own bureaucratic inner-workings and of their customers.

listening to this book in the time of my birthday and in one of the most statically dynamic cities on earth has created me a whirlwind of self-reflection.

if you had to sum up a person, you might describe them via their habits.
he always kept a pen in his breast-pocket. 

she was painfully severe to her youthful students, but a baby never failed to crack her hardened face into a grin. 

she is hopelessly punctual. 

even on the stillest day, his hair is windswept. 

the very concepts of "going through the motions" or "with the flow" or "being stuck in a rut" speak to the nature of habit.

some habits are neutral. for example, i have a tendency to stop everything when i see a beautiful baby child just to coo at it and then resume life just as quickly. me and like 10 other people i know share this incredibly relaxing leg-shaking habit. every time i order noodles, i order the same thing even if i don't know if i want it. these simple acts of sameness provide a sort of order in my chaotic, sometimes haphazard existence. and it's easier than trying to be or do a different way.

at 21, i realize that most of my habits are not intentional. rather they are half-grown reactions to life. yes, the tendency toward entropy. there are not many habits i have put into place to make me better, other than the compulsive need to study and do schoolwork in light of a deadline, or that showering-teethbrushing-sometimes hair-brushing instinct. also, i have this particularly good habit where i respond to emails and texts responsibly and quickly.

those that are intentional, however, blend seamlessly into my day-to-day existence and bring me a lot of happiness. it infuses so much joy into my day to listen to music that i know i like on my way to class.

another good habit is is acknowledging, greeting and smiling at other people. talking to people or not talking to people is a habit like any other. in some classes, i am pretty bubbly and interact freely with my peers. but then there are classes in which i never got into the pattern of speaking with my peers, perhaps out of some intense focus i've had on the material, on being distracted by something else, or a fear of poli-sci majors. in those classes where i don't have the habit of chatting with people, i find it incredibly difficult whenever i do want to ask someone a question ("when is that due?") simply because my habit is inaction.

(digression begins.) but as the lady (whose name incidentally was janice stewart) at ellis island said in her rather unorthodox introduction to the this-is-what-happened-at-ellis-island video, "it doesn't cost you anything to talk to people. it doesn't cost you ANYTHING to ask how someone's day is going, and you may have given that person just what they needed."

it was true. (/digression)

but my habits are mostly bad. so much hedonism... staying up late, writing blog entries on a whim instead of doing homework, drinking too much coffee, writing long emails to friends detailing the actions of others who surround me, not reading for class, messing up my room simply because i don't feel like putting everything in specific places (that's how things get lost!)

according to duhigg, bad habits cannot be extinguished - they can only be replaced. a habit is built around a cue and a reward, associated in a Pavlovian way. something triggers your habit, and some good feeling is associated with the result of the action. however, a habit isn't real until a craving for that reward is established.

to put it more simply, if you eat 2 bags of flaming hot cheetos and like them, you have not created a habit. but if you eat 1 bag of flaming hot cheetos and then super crave them for like 4 days and then buy another bag of them and eat them and repeat this process until it gets to the point where you see a bag of cheetos and start salivating and emptying your pockets, you have a habit.

so how do you get rid of this habit?
you can avoid looking at bags of flaming hot cheetos. you still have the neural capacity to salivate over the bag, but you have removed the cue. OR you could make it so that you associate a cheeto cue with something else that delivers the same reward but is not cheetos. maybe you can listen to your favorite song whenever you see cheetos and knock-down your initial reaction to the cheetos that way. you can also replace your bad habit with new habits that offer even stronger rewards. maybe when you crave cheetos, what you really crave is excitement in the middle of your busy schedule, which could be accomplished by a brusk walk around the building or a change of scenery or texting someone you think is cute.

anyway, that is some food for thought. i really want flaming hot cheetos now. new york is wondrous. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

gotta be green, gotta be mean, gotta be everything more

i've had a good outlook lately. i love myself when i'm like this -- rushing into the world with boundless positivity. every person to me is a vessel of vast potential put onto this earth to enact the intentions of the kind universe.

there are low moments, of course. for example, yesterday i spent 7 hours in my new lab. this is not because what i had to do took 7 hours, it's because i am slow and mediocre at doing stuff independently in lab at present. i was thus the last person to leave. my luciferase assay, which is supposed to be the easiest assay in the world, did not go so great (at all), but i guess it was my first time... i'm pretty sure i just pipetted stuff incorrectly. pipetting is hard, i don't care what you say. i always overthink it, redo it, and end up introducing bubbles where there didn't have to be. fail.

in general, i'm doing fine, but all of my work from previous weeks seems to still be making me mentally and physically tired, so i've been allowing myself to relax way more than i should in the small amount of time i have free. as a result, i end up staying up late relaxing and then being unproductive in my spare time the next day. i try to rationalize this by believing my free time is negligible, but it's not, oh well.

life right now is funny for me because it's the only time in ever where my primary motivation is me. i want to eat well/study well/work hard because i want me to do well. at this point, i'm no longer proving myself to the world, i'm proving myself to me.

this semester is about becoming better at handling things quickly, at harnessing my big-picture thinking just as much as i think critically, at making important practices (like reading papers, luciferase assays, being efficient about homework) second nature. it's about only stressing about over the stuff that i legitimately HAVE to stress over. it's about being flexible, and not fixating on things.

that's all i have time to say right now. peace out.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

pages upon pages


i am not a great writer. i don't think i'll be a great writer until i write something that can't be said better. id don't think i could have ever said this better

Thursday, January 12, 2012

these days i wake up and i just want to go back to sleep

but then i have to get myself up, get myself out, and then i feel better again. 

i know slowly this will get better, even if nothing makes sense right now. sometimes i just get lost in the fact that break makes it so there's nothing to do unless i initiate it on my own. sometimes i get crippled by go-nowhere relationships- the fact that they don't work convinces me that nothing works. but things work, like my ability to move, and move on. 

i played the guitar for 2 hours today, or what felt like two hours. i can feel myself getting better. i recognize chords more, how they're positioned and shaped, it's even getting a little bit easier to change between them. i can feel myself becoming better even though there's no real proof of it. it just feels a tiny bit easier. i feel stupider now when i play the easy songs. i find myself hungering for songs that let me try new barres, or faster switches. as a challenge, i played one of the songs my band plays, and it actually didn't sound too awful. i hope that someday i will know this big log well enough to make my own songs out of it. 

i figure that's what rebuilding things is like- it comes one day at a time, one song at a time, it slowly gets a tiny bit better. that's really the only way to get better, by a tiny chunk at a time. nothing that really sticks with you can happen all that quickly, except for getting a job, or that boost in oxytocin you get after kissing someone. in general, life is kind of slow and gradual, but wonderful all at the same time. i know someday soon i'll wake up fixed, and i won't even realize it. tomorrow i'll wake up better than i was today, and one day i'll wake up and this knot in my heart will have finally completely dissolved.

i decided i'm not the type of person that wants greatness to happen quickly, as much as it pains me to have to wait. when good things are thrown at me, i fumble and i don't know what to do. i need them to be tossed slowly into my hands. i want to step toward them faithfully, having decided that they're what i truly want. i have to practice being good, getting better one day at a time so that when something truly amazing happens, i'm prepared and welcome to it. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012


that trick your brain plays on you when you have a fantastic dream that fixes some huge problem in an amazing way, but then you have to wake up and live your life like normal. something in your brain chemistry changes about the situation, because you feel like what happened in your dream felt vivid and real.

that thing where you like someone more after you've hugged them. oxytocin. what a trick.

when you eat smaller versions of food, you actually eat less, and the same with small plates.

the cheerleader effect (as seen on how i met your mother)- you see a group of people and they all seem really cool, but actually the cool that you're seeing is the cool within the group that has been amplified by the fact that they're in a group, and fit together well. when you look at one individual member of the pack, they are not that impressive. this also happens at stores when they put all the pretty colors near each other of shirts. even though you'll only buy one shirt, you're impressed by how the shirts look against each other.

when you shove all of the clothes that normally adorn your floor in your closet in a garbage bag, your room seems a lot cleaner.

when people like you, think you're pretty, or whatever, they are more inclined to believe what you say, even if you're wrong.

that thing zooey deschanel does to her voice to make it sound old-time-y and weird. a trick.

that thing where school makes you feel like biology is totally boring and rigid, but really it's crazy badass and sexy.

when i was little i would try to play that "pick a card, any card!" game. i would organize the entire deck by suit and make the person hold onto the card while i looked through the entire deck to ascertain which card was missing. that was not a trick.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

[my excessively long post about] two thousand 'leven

i'm in my bedroom, which isn't in the worse mess of its term as mine, but isn't is exactly something i'd want to clue my parents, future boss or mother-in-law in on. i feel like i should be having this epiphany, but this year i am coming up somewhat empty. i've made some progress this year, but i mean it's impossible not to have done so in a year, i suppose.

i feel as though this year has been broken up fairly rigidly into phases. rich and varied as it were, i feel like it might be one of those years i confuse with the year before it or after it when i'm in my thirties.

currently i'm listening to modest mouse on shuffle. something about modest mouse. they're one of my favorite bands, but their discography is not one that i have sunk to the bottom of. sometimes i'll discover something new they wrote that i love, for example: "sleepwalkin'" from building nothing out of something. the grittiness of isaac brock's voice, the tinniness of the guitar, the random bursts of anger and emotion interlaced with stoicism- it can go from lo-fi to hard core in like 12 seconds. i like the way they say things. what i mean to say is that i like their lyrics, and that's one of those things i unknowingly go for with artists. it doesn't always have to be particularly eloquent, but if the lyrics don't sit well with me, i can't like the artist.

We named our children after towns 
That we've never been to. 
And it's true that the clouds just hunger around 
Like black Cadillacs outside a funeral. 
And we were laughing at the stars 
While our feet clung tight to the ground. 
So pleased with ourselves 
For using so many verbs and nouns. 
-"Black Cadillacs" 

i guess this modest mouse digression has little to do with the new year. i probably could have written this in any year since 2005. something randomly new is that i've started watching the show louie. it turns out i really like louis c.k. and he kind of puts me in the mood to listen to modest mouse somehow.

 i tend to have these associations with music and fiction and feelings. for example, there was a period of time when i associated the decemberists with a series of unfortunate events- there seemed to be a similarity in both wit, fancy, and a slight nautical theme.

louis c.k.'s brand of humor is kind of gritty and ironic too, i guess- in a way that is reminiscent of the irony and bitterness espoused by isaac brock, when he makes statements that are true, yet deeply sad and funny at the same time. he also never portrays himself to be a terribly good person, but he isn't a bad one either. at the same time he is the hero and the antihero.

oh wow, it's late. resolution 1 of every year is always sleep better. why do i never learn? i suppose we're only young once.

stuff about 2011

1. i made several good recordings with my (dynamically member-changing) band, the rose lights, that has now more or less dissolved or gone on extended hiatus. in case you are wandering through, you can listen to/download recordings at our last.fm page. we also played about 7 shows, i think. we kind of got into a nice groove. i'm proud of a lot of the songwriting i've done this year, although i suspect it will be enjoyed by few people in the whole world.

2. i saw The Shins in Philadelphia with Hannah! (note- inconsistent capitalization due to excitement.)  we also recorded a lot of video of us as we slowly deteriorated into madness on our no-sleep 900-mile road-trip adventure, which hannah edited and presented to me as a present. yay for friends with thoughtful creative streaks.

3. i probably read like 3 books. two of them were bossypants (book on tape!) and is everyone hanging out without me? and other concerns by mindy kaling. i started a ton more, but i have a kind of high default rate with reading books. i became a really active blog reader, so at least there's that.

4. i had my "i am just too stupid for this" moment with physics last semester. i am hoping to start fresh with lamer, easier physics this semester. wish me luck. dropping physics was okay, and it was actually kind of a relief to not have to do physics anymore, but the spare time killed me. physics shook my faith in my science abilities. it was quickly followed by a break-up, which basically bummed me out for the rest of the semester.

5. i stopped working in the gilroy lab, and basically did no scientific research (sans a biocore lab) for the rest of the year. i learned a lot mostly from the friendships and exposure to research i had in the gilroy lab. i really felt like i was part of a nerdy family, where people would be nice to me when i'd randomly sing. i liked having some other purpose outside of school to exist- as insignificant as i really was. it was cool to have that introductory experience, it was really cool to learn how to use a confocal microscope.

6. i got drunk for the first time.

7. i visited london and paris, chicago, philadelphia, and seattle.

8. it was one of those messy relationship years. that's quickly shaping into like every year of my life past the age of 16. i suppose every day i'm learning. it's hard to balance circumstances with caring for people, which is why i think most relationships at our age don't always work. sometimes it feels like we're all too busy figuring things out to be able to truly commit to someone. some people more than others, of course. i sometimes wish that people could just all chill out about each other and just get to know each other without making it all such a big complicated deal, but of course, when people's blood is all rushing to different parts of their body, and there's a bunch of oxytocin involved, it's impossible to tell anyone to do anything like 'chill out' and have it really sink in.

9. i performed in the UW summer choir.

10. i continued having a radio show, and started a new one called "tin can diamonds," which i enjoyed making musical themes and playlists for. a good one was "in C." i played songs that were all in C and its relative minor. i also played "commissioning a symphony in C," even though it wasn't in C.

11. need i say 11/11/11? an interesting night was had by my person.

see how much we love each other?
12. i got infinity better at the guitar, which has basically become my loneliness companion. some people have body pillows, i have a noisy instrument that i'm not good at playing. it's okay though because i can sometimes hide the fact that i suck with the fact that i'm a decent vocalist. becca gave me the guitar. (thank you.)

13. my spring semester taught of the wonder and magic that was human genetics and cell biology. i found it frustrating while i was learning it, but once i knew it, it was kind of insane to know the language of existence. it's funny how strangely ordered this chaotic system of proteins floating around in cells actually is. some salient topics and possible future research interests include RNA silencing, epigenetics, and disease transmission at the cellular and signal transduction level. i also learned physiology my fall semester, which was also interesting, but may have been too physical at times for me to love it. i liked learning about how the parasympathetic nervous system controlled only the blood flow to the sexual organs, while the sympathetic one did everything else. i liked feedback loops and stuff, but i wasn't as intrigued by how much resistance the lungs had. that stuff was kind of a bummer. i grew to appreciate how complex and wonderful the kidney is, but i kind of wish i had taken the optional lab component so that i would have cared more about the material.

14. along the lines of biology, i finally had a successful biocore lab project with real results. i'd like to say it was all my accomplishment, but it was really mostly brian's statistical tests that helped us to really know what we knew. i remember it was a really difficult experiment that i had to go to lab and re-do all by myself when our data was not conclusive. i am really glad that i did that though, because our final data supported our hypothesis and yielded significantly different results, so we had a really shiny conclusive data set to present to the class on the last day. i think we were like the only group in our whole class that did a successful experiment, and i just glowed with pride over it. it was also really cool because we were also the only 3-person group (the rest were 4 per), so we were like "suck on that! diffusion of responsibility." it was basically about whether the alpha factor (which induces shmooing of MATa-cells of yeast) of a yeast that was truncated at its signaling domain would still bind to the yeast receptor when combined with regular alpha factor. but that's probably more than you wanted to know. it was a very cool experiment. it turned out that the alpha factor that was truncated bound antagonistically with the receptor on the yeast, so less cell cycle arrest and shmooing. ISN'T THAT COOL? it's actually really cool.

15. i applied to journalism school, decision pending. i don't think i will go though if i get in. for a while it seemed like everyone wanted me to be a journalist-- i was offered a really neat position at the daily cardinal, my journalism professor was on the same plane as me, i spoke at a panel, etc. but i don't know if my career should be in telling the stories of others instead of creating something of my own. i also think that if i really want to be a journalist or something public relations-y in future, my experience serves me better than a degree (that could be used for something more rigid and school-based) would.

16. i started working at the one of our campus newspapers as the diversity editor. i really like it, and hope to do better things in the future with this beat. i think that diversity is important in a newsroom because it affects how sources are selected and whose voices they reflect. i can thank my ethnic studies course that i took over the summer (Journalism 662 taught by professor hemant shah) for teaching me all about the correlation between media portrayal and societal acceptance of certain groups.
picture credit: s. lewis

17. this.

picture credit: j.stewart
18. i think this list would be lame if i didn't mention the completely amazing halloween i had this year. while last year, i was in boston and met john kerry on halloween, this year, i had a gig with my band that i had previously thought would never again play a show. we played in costume. it was my best friend's birthday and i actually got to engage in some festivities, and we ended up throwing a large halloween bash at our apartment, by far the biggest party we've thrown. we got our first and only roommates picture (i'm pretty sure), with the exception of the cartoon renditions of us a la the scott pilgrim web site and jason shao.

19. becca moved out of the apartment and janet moved in. i will miss becca while she's in germany, and never forget how instrumental she was in making my first real apartment into a home-y collection of cold rooms with inexplicable sinks in them. we battled the elements together, the three of us, as well as multiple power outages, choppy internet, and pest-related scares. also of note, scott and sasha moved into the apartment building, but then sasha moved out.

20. sasha and i owned (survived) our organic chemistry and biology courses.

21. i'm really happy about the friendships i've made and maintained this year. it's been a good year filled with nice people. it's funny that you never really know who is going to end up being a good friend, who is going to end up really meaning something to you in the long run. i should really make a list of the people i know and how much i think about them at the beginning of every month and see how it shifts as the year passes. actually! i think i WILL start doing that. it's fascinating how people float in and out of your life and some insignificant specks become enormous blobs of importance.

22. The Arab Spring and the Walker Riots came around April. the only thing i really want to say about the collective bargaining/scott walker protests is that i know that mass action changes things, but wide-scale loud complaining only changes things if it causes mass mobilization that goes beyond awareness. protests are not an end-all, they are just the start of a change. it was also exciting and encouraging to see previously-repressed nations fighting against their corrupt governments because i believe it's true that democracy can only really come from within the populace of a nation- it can hardly be implemented from outside. that being said, there are very real obstacles these people face in their journey toward self-government.

some resolutions:
1. spend more time with my family.
2. floss more.
3. send more thank you notes, be more considerate and gracious in general.
4. be cleaner and more organized with room and belongings.
5. spend more time with close friends and don't take them for granted.
6. exercise more frequently, and try to build core strength.
7. market myself better, be more focused on hobbies than 'hanging out'
8. focus less on social life, focus more on school and career-based aspirations.
9. spend more time at the daily cardinal office.
10. get less carried away.
11. be more focused on health-related needs- doctor's appointments, subscription refills, taking the right meds, etc.

by the end of this year, i want to...
know how to make fish, chicken and my own daal.
know how to better play guitar. perhaps purchase electric if i get reallllly good.
have a new band or musical project
have had an excellent, life-changing health-related india experience
have actively participated in hindi conversation tables
be on track to graduate in 4, maybe 4 and 1/2 years
have joined a lab and started a research project that i'm really interested in and almost finished with
have a normal sleeping pattern
have lived to tell the story of it

Monday, January 02, 2012

in whatever time we have

it's not that i need anyone else. it's not that anyone needs anyone else, really.

on the list of people you actually need, it's like people who harvest and plant food,
followed by whoever employs you,
followed by someone who invests in you (a research mentor or an employer),
then come your collaborators,
and after all of that, then you need your family and friends, maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend, in that order.

remember, i'm talking need. not like, optimal emotional healthiness.

obviously no one wants to be alone, but human beings are capable of being pretty much lonely for weeks and weeks and totally surviving by their books, their fan fiction authorship, their over-blogging, their music collections, or their research. they can pour themselves over the guitar, treadmill, computer screen, or preoccupy themselves with hours of syndicated television.

and you know, they can be smart, they can be accomplished, they can be amazing, interesting people, all on their own satisfied by their own hobbies.

but they shouldn't have to be. they should talk to each other, they should bond with each other, they should fall in love with being alive on an earth where someone besides them can appreciate how amazing they are, and in turn appreciate the beauty of others' creation and independently-derived thoughts.

if you're busy with your own life that doesn't mean you can't take the time to connect with someone, even if you might only know them for a week or three. you shouldn't be alone in the small amount of time you have. i don't think you should live for others, but i do think part of the reason you cultivate yourself is to share it with others. i think that it's kind of unfair to the world to withhold your perspective from it.  we don't need each other to survive, but it sure as hell is better to have people to chill with.

i could make it on my own, but let me know that i don't have to. no one really wants to be alone in whatever time we have.