Fifty One

Within a year,

I have done more than people usually do in a few years, said my mom. She was just trying to make me feel better, I know it. All I’ve done was get married, travel to China and Denmark, and change my career. I guess when you’re in your 20s or at least when you leave school a lot tends to happen within a year.

Currently, I’m in a love-hate relationship with my potential major (product design). Loving doing the thing, but I hate the people in my class. I just dislike people in general and I don’t warm up to strangers very well. The group last semester was fine, but this semester, I have to adjust to a whole new group of people, none of whom are that willing to be close friends with me. After most of my classmates from last semester left, I’m unwilling to make any steady friends until I get in.

Also, my career seems to be a lot of waiting and being on hold. I have classes Tuesday through Saturday except for Wednesday. My Tuesday and Thursday classes barely have any homework but I can never finish my work for Saturday!? That has gotten me down a lot. As a result, I’ve felt so inferior that I was going to quit until an admissions counselor told me I don’t suck. Everyone was happy to hear it, but the effects have worn off on me. Back to being depressed about my life and the increasingly nagging feeling that I should go back to some kind of normal school.

I miss writing. I miss reading. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I also miss science. I look at my old classmates sharing science related stuff on Facebook and I no longer miss science. Or, at least I don’t miss sharing pop science and trivial studies just to legitimize my career choice. At least I am being honest with myself when I say where I am now is leading me to what I want to do.

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Forty Five

Since an hour ago,

I only had 373 days before I graduate from this school early and begin my life with my boyfriend. As you can probably tell, I like counting things, but once I reach post number a hundred on this blog, I want to put my blogging on a countdown to the days I get out of here on a non-anonymous blog (hm… I might be prepping for it right now. No one will ever know). This is so my remaining posts on here aren’t garbage like the last one, and because I can’t link any of these posts to my new blog in any way. Some things have to end, and before I end this, I’m going to dump all awful secrets of my life on here that I can only do anonymously. I can’t be that depressed girl running a secret, anonymous blog writing about things that I don’t want anyone I know to know about for the rest of my life. I’ve changed too much over the course of the one year to see that this isn’t the only way to publish myself.

I am happy now. Yes, I’ve been through some serious mental shit, and I know my limits now. But since I’ve learned what it’s like to work for something I truly want—someone I love, happiness, sunshine, and a family—I literally have nothing to complain about except for why I could never feel happy in California, and why I could never feel happy in Massachusetts. It’s because I never had this purpose or drive behind me, or I guess, the power of love to be very very cheese.

Still though. There are so many bad things that I haven’t vomited on here, and I can’t say horrible secrets once I reach 100 posts, which is supposedly when I start acting like a real adult and keep these complaints to myself. I mean, once I start an apartment, a job, a family, using a blog to dwell on all the bad things like I have this whole time is so unhealthy and restricting. I want the world to see my happy face, my accomplishments, and my precious notebooks. In other reason, I also found a reason to keep bad thoughts to myself in handwritten diaries, which I’ve grown a habit of writing by now.

I hope I can make these last few posts count.

Forty One

On the subject of life-long love,

I am iffy. My poor boyfriend always knew I never saw myself in a lasting relationship. It was either me leaving or him leaving, but either way, I’d have my suitcase packed and ready for him to cheat and/or fall out of love with me. I even talked about an approximately thirty year contract before we started dating: I would be married for thirty years, and during that time, my husband and I would pool money together and whoever cracks before the 30th anniversary will lose all the money to the other person.

Harsh, right? I can suffer through it, no problem. It would also be his ticket out of the relationship once I lose my desirability and my ticket to buying that Newport beach house, distinguishing my career as a researcher, and living happily ever after with dogs as children. I will be lonely, but I can find love in all the strange corners of the world and love fiercely like each day was my last.

My boyfriend knows about my fantasy of divorce and happy aging, but he’s slowly making my desire to divorce/separate fade. He said that he would follow me even if I want to go my own way and get that beach house, attend worldwide conferences, and give Neuroscience lectures across the country. Sure. I came from a broken up family, so I’m really the “I’ll believe it when I see it” kind of person. What I know for sure is this: I don’t know how long we will last, so that is why we must love each other intensely and passionately.

Every day, he gives me a reason or I remind myself why I love him, why I should return his WeChats, why I should finish my assignment now so I can Skype him. I have this amazing ability to transform any feelings for a crush into affection for my boyfriend. The more I interact with prospective men, the more I want him to feel loved by me. I guess it’s my way of strengthening my sureness that he’s the one.

Thirty Seven

Although I’m still a rising junior,

I’m already deciding to take a year off after college. I need it. I need to just gather my life together after throwing myself into the sciences and getting out in pieces. Right now, I’m not sure I want to continue on this path of studying neuroscience, at least not in academic research. It’s slow, judgemental, and stifling.

I need a space where I can be creative and productive at the same time, and I need to work with people who I can connect with. I want to work with people who are just as passionate about the biological basis of neural diseases as I am. My idea lab would be a bunch of people with enough background on a subject to understand each other, but regardless of our status or experience, we treat each other and teach each other as equals. I don’t think I can find that in academia, where professors are scrambling for tenure, funding, and paper deadlines.

Yes, I will be dealing with similar things like deadlines and expectations, but I think an industry environment might be more lively. There might be clearer timelines, deadlines, and requirements, and I think a company is more open to change that an old professor stuck in his ways (mine isn’t, but I hear stories about other profs). Actually, I should take two years off before committing myself to a real career. I need two years off to get my masters and work in another lab environment. Not every school has a masters program in neuroscience, and who knows how competitive it will be. I can only hope they will take me as I am as I learn a little more everyday in lab, however painfully.

Mostly, I need space to explore. While taking classes, I can — who knows — work at Francesca’s or Khol’s or Barnes and Nobles or the library or an after school tutoring program. Being in a master’s program can help me look for something I love without feeling like I’m letting myself go (intellectually. Physically? Let’s not talk about that…).

 

Thirty Four

Whenever I hate science,

I think about the other dream careers/majors that I could have pursued. One of them would be art and design, but there was always someone more creative and talented than me in every school that I gave up that passion. Same goes for piano, singing, and writing. I learned a lot from those better than me on how to tap into creativity by experiencing more and practicing more, but those passions would never earn me the lifestyle I wanted. So I killed those dreams for the sciences – the field that everyone wants to get into if they want a steady life nowadays. That, or accounting and pre-law. Everything else is unstable.

That is why I’ve dropped everything related to work and school and spent the last few days going out with my friend. I went to an art museum, the beach, a mall, and I envied every single person who I assumed isn’t a science major: the guy making pizza, the artsy looking girl working retail. I wanted to be them so bad. I wanted to handle beautiful clothes all day, making customers feel beautiful and welcomes, and then go home and write an essay for my English, Fashion Design, or Architecture major.

I have a good eye, and I’m not afraid of the grudge work that comes with creative careers. The grudge work in creative careers are already part of the creative process. They don’t have that much room for creativity in science – maybe just room for instinct, which I don’t have.

My dream job would be this: one that has room for creativity, my personal input, clear purpose, enough pay to rent out an apartment somewhere on the edges of LA and pay the gas, and interaction with different people every day. I can’t that out of a university research job or some plain old office job, so I’m looking and searching for something I can do with my Neuroscience degree that satisfies my requirements for my dream job. I’ll give myself next week to figure it out.

Also, I still hate my school.

Twenty Five

If you know the way I work,

Then you know I don’t “work hard.” I don’t care what Angela Duckworth says about having grit, I am not going to struggle. Yes, I will encounter hard, but I will not have a headache over it. I will solve things. For me, as long as something feels solvable, it’s not difficult. Messy, yes, like a plastic bag of food thrown together and tied by your Asian grandma, but I don’t think I need “grit”, just determination. “Grit” and “struggle” carries this feeling of an uphill battle rather than an adventure up a mountain with a satisfying view. They are both uphill, it’s just the latter isn’t a battle, and that’s how I want to live my life. Not fighting myself or anyone else, just learning and experiencing as I go.

In reality, I don’t live this way. I fall into the trap of struggling with everyone else – being lazy and burned out at the end of the day and not studying until a few nights before the exams. This has definitely taken a toll on my self-confidence and sanity, because I felt completely out of control for the past month. Completely. Out. Of. Control. I hate myself so much last week that I started cutting. Like I said, my therapist told me I’m numb. I wanted that inner pain to be visible and know my struggle will eventually heal, just like those cuts.

If you’re reading this, don’t be alarmed. I’m not suicidal. In fact, that one episode of cutting has made me less suicidal. It made me feel in control and it was only once after I had a bad exam that I almost handed in blank. Some coping mechanism is better than no coping mechanism (aka death). Yes, I was tempted to do it again after, but I knew that spring break was coming up and I didn’t want to come home with fresh cuts. That’s the real reason why I want the chance to transfer. It’s a way out of that hell hole. I don’t know if I’m going to cut when I get back or if I will throw my blade away, because there’s not enough time to fix myself before the next exam – and I have the worst test anxiety. The worst.

Fourteen

After an adventure in Los Angeles,

I’ve fallen in love with Southern California more than ever. We had a long day, but driving back on a winding highway with the car lights, dark suburbs, and passing billboards as I talked with a best friend made me feel at home. The evening was warm, and we enjoyed the museum and Hollywood Boulevard as much as we could without coming home at an unreasonable hour. We complained how unorganized Los Angeles traffic is, but the city itself is a beautiful mess. In fact, I think I’m starting to fall in love with the messiness of L.A. the same way I fell in love with the messiness of New York City. Los Angeles, especially Hollywood, has this air of glamour, diversity, and optimism that Boston and my small college town lacks.

The people in Los Angeles are so diverse and so American, but not Americanized. I heard accents of all sorts talking about American food and admiring the icons and studies that created American dreams with their American smiles and American problems. These studios created a heaven that we all know is a big lie, but we aim for it anyways. Of course, there’s the flashing lights of souvenir shops and images of the spirit of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, or Elvis Presley everywhere. Their all-American smile seducing you to chase your dreams through rebirth and becoming a new person with a new identity that’s ready to be loved by all. I especially see Marilyn Monroe everywhere: beautiful people or places that have been trampled on and worn down by their own passions, yet they blossom more beautifully and mysteriously than everything and everyone around them. They are the vagabonds roaming the city’s shadows and the street artists dancing, singing, or back flipping around the names of America’s idols on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I could just watch the guitarist in front of American Eagle or the jazz trumpeter across the street play until my nostalgia is satisfied with smooth jazz songs or a haunting rendition of “Hotel California.” Everyone in Los Angeles here for different reasons, but for a moment, we were all dreaming in the same place.

I felt the magic today in the terrible roads, shabby downtown shops, and Hollywood lights underneath the Californian sun or the Santa Ana winds that hugged my soul. Still, as my soul stays in SoCal, I should remind myself that I’m leaving in six days for a cold, dull New England town. When I am reminded of that cold place, my comforting, bittersweet love for southern California–no different from a slow, simmering sunset—will remind me that I might check out of California, but I can never leave this beautiful mess.