Sunday, February 28, 2010

the scary thing

Add date is next Friday, March 5.

I have now officially decided I am not staying an extra term for a second major in biology, and thus not turning in the proper forms by that date.

I make this decision because:

a. I don't want to go to grad school in biology. I had this revelation this week. While I enjoy 7.02, I don't want to do it forever. Or even for three more years.
b. I'm not sure how this degree would help me in my eventual career, whatever that may be.
c. There are definitely some classes I am excited about in the biology department here, but I would only get to take one of them next term, plus three I'm not as excited about.
d. I am finally starting to get some ideas for what I'm going to do for graduate school in fall 2011, and they are not biology centered.

I hate being almost-an-adult sometimes. I really, desperately want someone to validate my choice, to say "This is the best idea, and here is why." I'm used to being an overachiever, but all the paths traditionally open to those of my ilk -- med school, law school, MBA (maybe) -- all make me wince. I think the only thing worse than slogging through something that is not always particularly enjoyable with some vague hope of a light afterward (a la high school and MIT, thank you very much) is slogging through something with the knowledge that even if you can't find a job you like in your field, you'll be saddled with enough student debt to bring a pack of camels to their knees. This has frankly channeled a lot of my decision making in regards to grad school, because I'll be on my own paying for it. It damn well better be worth it if I'm going to be paying for it for ten years.

(It seems odd to think that maybe I am being asked to do what makes me happy, what I can dive into with joy, and not what will make me the most prestigious person with the most clout and the most money to make people listen and good things happen. (And perhaps it says something about me that this seems odd.))




One of the blogs I read is written by a fellow student at MIT who I know peripherally (as, I'm convinced, she knows virtually the entire campus.)

She posted a video of one of her friends singing Beyoncé's "Halo," with various inducements to watch it. The funny thing is (because we don't so much run in the same circles), I know the girl in the video, because she was my first freshman year roommate.

The funnier thing is, because she was only my roommate for maybe two and a half months before she moved into a different room, seeing her reminds me of a very short, very specific frame of time, the time when I was still discovering MIT, still discovering the people here, when some people who would later become good friends seemed new and strange, and others (who I would later regard differently) seemed marvelous and exciting.

I wrote this during my first month here --

Thursday, February 25, 2010

yes, three posts in one day is a bit much

But I actually wrote MOST of this post a couple days ago, so it's okay. Really.

It turns out this whole site is worth visiting, not just for giant bunnies: VULGARE > Landscape. Landscape architecture favorites, sort of.

Mammoth. This feels like a blog that I need to get to know better before judging. It deals with architecture -- theoretical, infrastructural, fictional. It also looks to contain a lot on the marriage of architecture and building technology, a subject on which I am shamefully ignorant given my concentration. (I learned some of the technology, and I learned some of the design, but I never skilfully incorporated the two. . . ) I am a bit skeptical, but I feel that I could stand to learn a lot. . .

Hipster Puppies, also known as PUPSTERS! The only problem is that as I look at the pictures, I keep saying to myself, "But this is clearly a NICE puppy! This puppy would never say that!"

I first discovered this website when I was a senior in high school:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

rain sucks.

I got home with every. single. fucking. particle. of my being dripping with water.

Also, it hurts to chew gum. Why? WHY DOES IT HURT TO CHEW GUM?

I am now sitting at my desk which is next to the rainy window with my space heater running with no pants and no socks.

The last few days have not been so hot on the functionality front. I have been off on my sleep schedule, unproductive, and feeling mightily stupid about the whole thing. I should go to the gym now. But it's raining. I have pottery class tonight. But it's raining. I don't know which of these problems I will be solving. (Not the rain one, unfortunately.)

My body is still pissed at me for the crap I shoveled into it yesterday -- i.e. somewhere around 7-8 cookies worth of oatmeal-coconut-almond cookie dough/finished products. (COCONUT IS SO DELICIOUS. Unfortunately so are sugar and butter.) There is an enormous bowl of bread dough waiting in the fridge to receive similar treatment -- i.e. have me eat 1/6 of it and then bake the rest. Sometimes I feel like my diet is a person, and he likes to go vacationing in the Bahamas every weekend and drives to Wisconsin sporadically during the week.

no entiendo

In Spanish, there are words of death. They are "no entiendo" (I don't understand.)

I think I may be the worst Spanish student ever.

There is a massive post coming tonight expounding on my feelings, Luke, and my thesis.

I find it amusing and saddening that I am motivated to blog more largely because I don't like what my Wordle picture says my blog (i.e. my life) is about: Things and Coworkers.

It's a bunny! A pink bunny.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The only way that Lenten resolution #3 is going to work is if I actually get ahead enough to do tomorrow's work one morning ahead. After I exercise I am simply not mentally functional; doing the work in the evenings is just not my style (unless I'm desperate. See studio. See tonight's mad thesis crunch.)

We just finished El Espinozo del Diablo (Spine of the Devil) in Spanish III, directed by Guillermo del Toro (same dude as Pan's Labyrinth. Scary movies usually suck, but this one was pretty awesome. Admittedly, it wasn't a "horror" movie per se -- too much plot and character development for that -- but rather a Gothic-ish ghost revenge story. I saw most of it last term before I dropped the class, but now I can fill in the bits that were missing. And, conveniently, I knew when to cover my eyes. Santi the ghost kid is creepy as all get out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

moral of the story

If a demure layer of cream cheese frosting is good, then a one-inch layer is better.

No one can tell the difference between allspice and cloves after it's baked.

Do not add extra salt to the French Pains au Lait; they have enough already. Adding two eggs and a cup of flour to the recipe, however, is okay.

I HEREBY RESOLVE to do the following for Lent:

1. Read, study, and pray on one chapter of Luke each and every day (this only covers 24 days, but I'll figure something out.)

2. Give one genuine compliment to a different person every day.

3. Do my work one day before it is due. (Already failing at this one; will begin tonight.)

Dear God, please help me . . .

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lent + work makes me sad

I am deeply puzzled by the pset I am supposed to be doing right now. This means. . . I should blog.

What to do for Lent? (yes, I realize I'm a bit late.) Last year I gave up pop, and took up incessant swearing. This year I would like to do something a bit more proactive and hopefully less detrimental to my temperament. I was thinking about trying to read a chapter of a book of the Bible every day and trying to implement something from it in my life that day or the next. (I would also find the "look up the cross-references and historical background" part of this fun.)

This should probably include praying. I suck at prayer. Prayer requires two things from me that I do not care for: a) Effort in an area I'm not already good at and b) faith that it will matter. I'm okay with the whole chatting-about-my-life-with-God thing (when I remember), but I'm not so hot on the ask-for-this-and-it-shall-be-given-to-you part. I don't know what's good to ask for (the trip to Italy is probably out, getting As in all my classes is probably sketchy, and asking to be a better Christian makes me doubt my own sincerity), and I'm not very confident that my prayer will make a difference in someone else's life. This is probably because I always suspect that if I'm praying for someone, it's because I'm too much of a chickenbutt to actually do something for him or her myself. (See: Sad, lonely, nasty people that I don't really want to try with but wish God would make less of a problem for me.)

And theoretically God is supposed to be answering these prayers. How? As someone who has been a Christian for three-ish years now, I'm still uncertain about the actual mechanism. Will I be poked to read relevant Bible verses? Will I get some kind of premonition? Will words be put in the mouth of someone close to me? Do I just have to sort of guess and hope? (I'm afraid it's the last one, which I find depressing.) Frankly, at this point in my life, I feel like God is just saying to me, "Kiddo, I'm just going to wait to talk to you until you're a little less deaf and a little more perceptive."


Anyhow, what book should I look at? Some of the histories are decidedly difficult to apply, though I like the Old Testament, and sometimes Paul just gets on my nerves. I'm thinking maybe Isaiah, or a re-reading of Psalms (except they would both be MONUMENTAL.) I do like the Old Testament, because I have a better sense of actual human beings moving around underneath the words; unfortunately, this also makes certain books (Joshua comes to mind) a challenge to my faith, because sometimes I have a hard time seeing the people as being motivated by God rather than by their own weaselly plans. I also (I think) have only read one complete Gospel, which are rather markedly important, so maybe I will just go with Mark or Luke.

I also feel like maybe I should complement this somewhat introspective study with a more obvious outward effort to be a better and (perhaps) more responsible person. A sincere compliment to someone different every day? Doing my homework a couple days ahead of time? Trying to volunteer my time somewhere each week? (I get a fair amount of emails from the Public Service Center, as well as "please help us make food!" messages from all different places.)

O Lent, what shall I do with you?


If you want to track patterns in your blog, this is an awesome site: Wordle. (Courtesy of Cristen's blog.) It picks out words that are found frequently in your blog/site and makes a pretty picture with them.

Here's the Wordle for this site, with some editing to remove random web addresses:

I find it interesting that, even though well over half of the entries in my blog have been since I left Japan, words relating to Japan definitely dominate here. Clearly I must write more.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Self-awareness is a game you cannot win.

See this guy. He writes plays that are supposed to upset "p.c. liberals," though he is a liberal himself; he is a self-described racist because he recognizes the total lack of diversity in his upper-class background.

So what?

What does this self-awareness gain him besides some kind of hip edginess? Not only is he an obnoxious bastard, he knows it, too. Great.

It's very hip to be "self-aware," to be patently aware of the ridiculousness of one's own life. And in some ways this kind of self-awareness can save you possible humiliation and can lead to enlightenment about the world you live in and your relation to it.

In some other ways being self-aware strips you of the last of the human dignity that you might have scraped from the dregs. The only thing sadder than a pointless person who does irrelevant things is someone who knows he is pointless and irrelevant. See dude above; although he may not think himself pointless, he clearly believes the battle he is fighting (against presumption, self-congratulation, et cetera) is already lost, at least on his own front. So why bother fighting?

I think sometimes we accidentally end up destroying our own reality when we try to remove all of its illusions; just because it's constructed doesn't mean it's not real. See the Prudential Center vs. a mountain. Just because one is man-made and will doubtless be destroyed before the other does not, for the time it exists, make it less solid, less defining of space.

I will now quote C.S. Lewis because he is brilliant, and because if C.S. Lewis knew what was up then some other people must know too. (We aren't totally doomed as a species.)

"The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ’see through’ first principles.

If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ’see through’ all things is the same as not to see.”

Yay Clive Staples.

I took another walk today nstead of doing work, because I am lazy. I walked up Boylston, around the Boston Common, and back down Beacon. Then I met Mary Beth and walked to Harvard to get frozen yogurt. Life is good, even if I'm not productive.

Can't get the photos to format correctly, so bear with me. * Le sigh. *


Okay, so most people probably know Obama is not my favorite person.

That said, A History of Obama Feigning Interest in Mundane Things.

Seventh photograph. It was taken at MIT. All my course 2 (mechanical engineering friends) have had the professor on the left; he is well-known for his penchant for Utility-kilts and looking like a homeless man. The president of MIT (Susan Hockfield) is on the right.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Vagina Monologues

but first, this blog.

The Uniform Project.

It is effing AWESOME. This designer takes one black dress and wears it every day for a year, while also making sure she doesn't wear the same outfit ever.

I have never been to see The Vagina Monologues, even though it is done at MIT every year on Valentine's Day. I sort of like the idea of it, as a medium for brutal honesty about what it means to be human and female.

But I also am hesitant, because so far as I can tell, vaginas serve three purposes: 1) To menstruate 2) To have sex 3) To get the kid out.

One of these purposes is not to be celebrated, unless you're on acid, and two of these purposes are not part of my reality at this point in time.

A show focused on vaginas, therefore, seems to be a very narrow representation of womanhood.

The vagina can serve as a metaphor, I suppose. I think part of the show is supposed to be about "reclaiming" that part of the body from male domination, and in turn reclaiming the power of defining womanhood from the domain of men. And that is legitimate. But I don't really like the idea of boiling down a person into one (kind of ugly, possibly even superfluous) part of her body even as a metaphor. Synedoche is less bothersome when it involves a more useful organ.

Also, I guess that there's one piece in it where the performers repeatedly answer the question "What My Vagina Smells Like," and I am just Not Interested.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

glum today.

Probably due to a poor choice of reading material upon awakening: Pictures for Sad Children.

This is cool, though:

I wonder if I could make something this awesome in pottery class. . .

Monday, February 15, 2010

why is it

that whenever I end up in the North End, where there are absolutely NO public toilets, I find myself desperately having to go to the bathroom?

Walked 6.5 miles today -- up Boylston Street, around the Boston Common, through Government Center, and into the North End. Then back, obviously. Good walk.

Whole wheat grain cereal is okay tasty. It's kind of like brown rice. I think I like oatmeal better.

If I hadn't taken studio last term, I could have taken two -- even three -- biology classes last term, and probably graduated on time with a double major.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

dear american apparel

your ads look like cheap porn. you are scum.

love, sharon.

dear h&m,

you are good. I love my gray skirt that drapes at the front; I love my silk-and-cotton blend shirt; I love my ugly-yet-fun turquoise shoes (which were the only flats I found today that neither a) cut into my feet nor b) cost more than $40.)

love, sharon.

dear victoria's secret,

theoretically, seamless panties are a good thing. they help one avoid the horror that is thongs and also not feel awkward about having panty lines and not caring.

however, why do all your seamless panties feel like they are made of recycled plastic? or possibly tires?

love, sharon.

dear zara,


(after I have money.)

(and I learn to walk gracefully in heels.)


love, sharon.

I obviously have been reading far too much girly blog of late; must control myself. It's rubbing off.

today is saturday. . .

I want to go shopping. I should know better.

I should clean. And do laundry. Maybe buy a new calendar, maybe go through a box of papers, maybe package something to be mailed home.

Continue my story. (I was unable to buy whole wheat grain at Whole Foods to test the breakfast food in my story. It might be repulsive. We'll see.)

Work on my portfolio. (Argh. That is forever and always an ARGH.)

Strategize homework for the week; finish my late Japanese homework.

A pleasant blog: A Cup of Jo. Mainly a list of favorites, but still fun.

Friday, February 12, 2010

dumpety dump dump



lack of focus.

I have Japanese writing homework to be done right now. I will try to make this quick.

Last night I went with the CCC girls to a motivational-speaker type talk with Marian Jordan, who wrote a book called Sex and the City Uncovered. No, I haven't read it; I am more interested in her two other books: Wilderness Skills for Women (on the blurb it says, "going through a season of waiting? facing unmet desires?") and The List (the blurb: "Figuring out Prince Charming, the corner office, and happily ever after.")

She was an engaging speaker. She was funny and pithy, and the two "take-away" messages were sound: a) You will not fill up your soul with things, or travel, or people. b) God holds your body and your soul as precious; treat them as such.

She was a little weak, unfortunately

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I am lab fail.

I am lab fail. Today in 7.02 lab (introductory biology lab, with a molecular focus) I discovered that "PE" and "PB" buffer are not the same thing.


I need to set up some sort of pottery photography location. Most of my pottery thus far has gone the way of Christmas presents with nary a whisper of documentation, but I think (I hope?) I have progressed far enough that some of the things I have made are decent because of actual personal intention.

Notes about glazes:

* "Ron Roy White" on top of "Rosy Dawn" on the white clay was a good idea; sort of a peachy-pinky base with a white cap. The pot is ugly as hell, unfortunately, but the glaze is nice.
* I am sick of browns.
* "Randy's Red" on the interior of a brown clay pot is sort of streaky rusty red with medium brown and chocolate brown. V. nice.
* Mix the cobalt blue better.

Monday, February 8, 2010

life lessons

1. Parsnips are stronger-tasting than carrots. They will make your entire soup taste like parsnips, which is a peppery, musty sort of taste.

2. You will never feel good about time you spent on facebook.

3. You will ALWAYS feel good about time spent writing a story, even if you think it might be a crappy story.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I have been shushed.

Skype is great.

Working sucks.