Fifty Five

Last Wednesday,

A classmate said, “You don’t smile.” “There is no joy in school,” I joked back. It was more of a half-joke, because I really don’t find any joy in school. My friends know it, my husband knows it, and even my teachers know it with my daily “unimpressed” expressions that make it very obvious I am a non-traditional age student. Only my husband knows that my lack of smiling is completely intentional. Smiling means weakness and approachability. I help people who ask me to help them out and share my opinions and experiences with them only to the extent of not making any relationship stick. This time around, I am refusing alliances, jealousy, and attachments.

I don’t know why I’m doing this, actually. Maybe it’s the spirit of competition, or maybe I stayed in Europe for too long and absorbed that comfortable coldness. Being alone in college made me notice why I was so successful in high school. Yes, I was a sleep-deprived over achiever, but take away the “sleep deprived” and “over.” There’s just “achiever” left. Effortless, isolated achievement that gives me time to myself and room to think. This also reduces emotional damage in case my bipolar symptoms pop up. I still get rages every couple of weeks and these strange bouts of sadness and happiness.

I also signed up for a counseling appointment and a health check up. I don’t know if I am playing too much Diablo or stressing out about the skeleton I am drawing for Life Drawing, but I have been having nightmares about my worst days, skeletons, and zombies for the last two weeks. Hopefully, the counselor can help out with that. Maybe it’s midterm stress? I experienced nightmares at Smith too that drained me of my energy on a daily basis and made me jumpy and anxious. Since it’s a pattern, I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have nightmares anymore.

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Fifty Three

On our first anniversary,

My husband and I went to iHop, the Getty, video chatted with this mother, and then went home to eat dinner with my family. I always felt the usual idea of an anniversary is so bland. Especially for couples without children, wouldn’t you want to spend your day surrounded by mutual friends and family rather than isolating yourselves on a weekend trip? After all, it wasn’t just the two of us at the wedding. The least you can do is drop a hello for your witnesses.

Anyway, that’s today. We have also been using Duolingo to retain the little Danish we learned while he was doing his PhD in Denmark. Right now, I’m still on Clothing. It’s going to be a while before I can post my new “skill” on LinkedIn. I’m also working on Italian and Spanish despite my horrible memories of Spanish class from high school. I guess my overall goal is to become a designer who doesn’t just design for your own company, country, or demographic. Learning a new language reminds you that there are whole other ways of living that we aren’t considering in our design.

Speaking of design, I noticed how tired design students are all the time. Their weariness makes me scared for the relaxed lifestyle I lead. Will I really be so caught up in my work that I will have to spend all-nighters at school? Or will I manage my time and know myself enough to product quality ideas without sacrificing my quality of life? Those are my questions for the tired design student. In the race to grow your brand, make your name, I’d rather be a turtle than a hare.

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.

Fifty

With family,

Sometimes you never know. Today, I picked up my sister from school and dropped off her friends and all was fine. Then I shared this awesome notebook called “People I Want to Punch in the Face” that I want to buy, and she retorted “Stop spending Mama’s money!” So then I ended up going to Yoga all depressed and moody, so depressed and moody I couldn’t keep my balance during the easiest poses.

After that disappointing yoga session, I went back home in an awful mood, in this awful chilly weather (It’s 60 degrees in California right now), and curled up in bed. Then she made bacon and chicken soup! And my grandma made my favorite food! And most of all, my mom made juice and didn’t force me to drink it. I drink some anyways, and no argument happened. No argument whatsoever. So, what started out as an awful day ended up okay.

As for school, I believe it’s going to be a while for me to go to Art Center, and still I’m going to keep applying until they let me in. I don’t suck, but I’m not  great either. I don’t stand out at all in terms of my work as the best in the class. I’m not talented enough to make it into Art Center within a year or obsessed enough to try. Overall, I was also upset today, because I’m bored. At least I had some routine, somewhere to go when I was in science. 20% of me miss reading meaningless research and lab work, but most of me believe I have a happier future. It’s just it seems farther than ever from where I am now.

I see my classmates from Smith appreciating the fall weather, but I have to remind myself that 60 degree Californian weather almost made me push everything off my shelves in a fit of rage today. Also, I need to refill my lamictal pills, which was something else that was pissing me off during yoga. Ugh.

Forty Nine

After a long and unforgettable summer,

I am finally starting art classes. I took a design and business class at a local UC, and I’m glad I did. Everything was so fresh after being stuck in the science world for so long. Discussions were more about every day life than medicine, biology, and research. Although people were no less humble, at least they were real. It was just art or business. Nothing about bragging of whose lab you are working for or hiding which lab you are applying for. It’s all about helping or competing with each other—straight up, no secrets.

With that done, I’m finally starting product design night classes. That leaves my morning to sleep and do whatever the hell I want during the night, because everyone just bothers me in the morning. If I’m not interrupted, I have to go out to get something or do something with someone else or else I will feel trapped. That’s what’s tough about dropping out of school and moving back in, the suffocation. However, I have no fear, because doing extra work for my product design classes gives me calm and some feeling of direction. I hate nothing more than a lack of control over my own decisions.

And beliefs. I have also been going to church with a very close friend of mine who I’ve known since forever. I have no other consistent friend in Southern California than her, except that the best way for me to see her is to go to church with her. She invited me to go the first time. And when you go to church the first time and everyone is just so welcoming and in need of some new members for this start-up Baptist church, you go the second time and the next. I made it clear to her that I am not a Christian, and yet I still go. In fact, I’ve joined the book club for crying out loud. This weekend, I’m setting my foot down and telling her I will only show up to an intelligent book discussion and not the [very-extremist-not-very-well-thought-out] sermons. I’m going to a Buddhist temple nearby instead, because it’s so peaceful there. I also need to scout out some spiritual activity for my sort-of Buddhist boyfriend and his family to go to when they fly over.

I should write about my summer that I spent with my boyfriend and his family later, because I learned a lot from it about one thing: love and family. All I have room to say for now is that although some of my family have grown distant over the years, I have gained new, wonderful family through my soon-to-be husband, and what a lucky girl I am.

Forty-Seven: I QUIT/(medically withdrew from) COLLEGE. (Long post)

I have never been happier. I have been avoiding it, but I’m just going to go ahead and reveal what college I attended: Smith College. I don’t regret going there. In fact, I’m wearing my Smith sweater right now, because I almost graduated. I was two semesters away, but I decided that I didn’t want that 3.52 GPA with a B.A. Neuroscience that’s “going to open so many doors for me” (roughly quoting my concerned advisor) or whatever.

Let’s just say my relationship with Smith was toxic, and it was a happy breakup. The before I left, I hung out with my dearest friends I met in Bridge and a dear friend who I only knew for one semester. They were one of the top three reasons I stayed there besides needing to know I can do this college thing and also not knowing what other career I will have than a miserable one in Neuroscience or teaching biology. Might as well stay in miserable Western Massachusetts if I have nowhere else to go.

I learned a lot in my three years there. I might learn a little more if I stayed for one more, but that night, when I was working on a paper for Systems Neuroscience, I decided: I know don’t want to do this in the future now. When I worked on that paper, I got so frustrated that I threw my butcher knife against the wall, my hairbrush, tin jewelry container, etc., screaming. I’m pretty sure I woke up some of my poor floormates. Looking back on my semester, I got dry eye from all the reading I’ve done for the semester and cuts on my shoulder out of self-hating frustration at my Neurophysiolgy professor. I couldn’t live like this anymore.

I guess from the past year of going through all the rough spots with my boyfriend, I learned that life is too precious to be with someone you don’t love and too short to have a career that I am no longer inspired by. I’ve changed so much from that girl who wanted to do research, be a high school biology teacher and eventually, a university professor who cares for her students, because she (still) thinks neuroscience students are very special and intelligent. Being in the neuroscience world, however–the classes, professors, and overall research culture–broke down the last bit of curiosity and drive I had for the subject. I loved neuroscience, once, but I no longer have a future in it. In fact, I might have committed suicide before even getting a job (see previous posts), and my dean knew it. Don’t worry, the school put me on Lamictal (…will write a post later about my meds and being bipolar), thank goodness.

I made the exit the moment my boyfriend suggested I should do something with my artistic talent and taste, so I decided: Design. I have a good eye, and not only would preparing for art school heal me psychologically from three damaging years studying science at Smith, I can help make things instead of being stuck in a dead end job that involves no creativity for the rest of my life. I would work five years to a B.S. in Industrial Design or Product design than get a B.A. in Neuroscience in a year any day.

Forty Six

Regarding my friends on the East Coast,

I haven’t been making any effort to see them, because I feel like honestly, it’s time for me to move on. We haven’t fought, we haven’t argued, but I feel like I’m in a world so different from theirs now that I feel alone whenever I hang out with them.

I don’t want to splurge personal secrets that may hurt my boyfriend on here, but they knew things that I told them thinking they were mature enough to handle it. I was so wrong and so unsurprised when I watched one of them (who talks non-stop anyways about everything that pops into her head and was a very sheltered child) basically shout what I told her throughout the dining hall. Another friend sat next to her and shrugged, “Well, these are your decisions and shame is one of the consequences.” I learned that the motor-mouth friend also told another friend, who we all know can’t keep a single thing to herself, and I felt so alone.

I forgive my friends, because they, like many people at my school, are naive. The world works only one way and it’s obvious who the bad guys and good guys are to them.  Going through the things I told them has made me learn how to stand my ground and feel invincible, so they do not hurt me when they judge my boyfriend and I and our dreams whenever I see them. They can still be my bridesmaids. Two of them can still be my kids’ godmothers. I am just tired of being verbally beaten down by them all the time and being thrown things I’ve already been hit by.

There are so many things wrong with this. I know I shouldn’t sacrifice my friends for my relationship, because they care about me. I am not sacrificing them. I still care about them. When they are hungry, I give them food. When they need somewhere to be because they don’t want to go bed yet, they can hang out in my room. When they want to see me, I go downstairs and hang out with them. I make them laugh, give them the same bad advice, and voice the same questionable opinions. We are still friends. It’s just that we are too different for me to say that we are friends, because we all have so much in common, because we really don’t anymore. My friends on the West Coast though, they’re chill, and I’ll talk about them in a later post.