Thursday, January 31, 2008

Random Conversations

Some random conversation snippets between my friends and me, just because I'm too exhausted to think of anything substantial to post.

JW-M: "Men are willing to have a relationship with practically anything that moves."
SC-F: "Really?!"
JW-M & Me: "Yes, really."
Me: "I have to post this somewhere."
JW-M: "Don't post it somewhere where my girlfriend can read this."

Me: "I hate this cold. Grrr."
JW-M: "Yeah, but think. In 4 weeks, it's guaranteed to not be this cold because it'll be the end of February. In April, it's guaranteed to not be cold - not that it'll be warm. And by mid-May, it's guaranteed that there's no possibility that it could snow on any given weekend."
Me: "Damn it, 4 weeks is so far away."
JW-M: "I know. Damn it."

ML-F: "I don't like our Chinese class as much this semester."
Me: "Why?"
ML-F: "Because they're all overachieving Asians. I sense it."

DvF-M: "Wow, is there any part of your face that's exposed?"
Me (still bundled up and looking eskimo-like): "I'm like afraid of the cold."
DvF-M: "But like, only your cheeks are exposed."
Me: "Let's keep it that way."

You can learn a lot about people from their conversations. Really, is there any other interaction?

I saw this in the news the other day about Legos. Do you remember playing with Legos and how absolutely amazing they are?! Yup, Legos are still amazing and always will be. I wonder where mine have gone. Hmmm.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Oh man it's late! But if I don't write now, this strain of thought will disappear by the time I wake up. And there's so much to tell. Where to begin? Let's just say I've been feeling defeated the last few days.
1. I got a med school interview on Wednesday! It was really short (about 30-40 minutes) but I feel it went pretty well. My interviewer wasn't the most enthused, and he more or less just asked a list of questions. It felt so much like a Q&A rather than a conversation where he got to know me. But whatever. I think I've a pretty good shot at getting in at this med school; I mean, I've done research there for the last 4 summers for god sakes. Too bad it's only 30 minutes from my house, and if I were to attend it my parents would insist that I live at home for at least the first 2 years.

I met this guy from Toronto there. He was pretty cool. During the tour he asked me if I was Chinese and then if I spoke Cantonese. I said I could only understand Cantonese, but I speak only Mandarin. We talked a little more and then he told me he was half-Vietnamese and can speak some Vietnamese as well! That was neat. I can't say I've met many Vietnamese people (or half-Vietnamese at that).

2. Well, that good news was only paired with a rejection from the med school that I'm currently doing my undergrad. That felt like a dagger to the heart. I shouldn't have expected to even get an interview at "my" med school, as it's a very good and super-competitive med school. But still, it hurt and that rejection letter weighed more heavily on my heart than the interview I got on Wednesday. For no reason really, but still.

The universe has this habit of giving me news in pairs. With every good news there is some bad news or equal/greater merit. Sigh. Such a feeling of utter defeat (when it really shouldn't be).

3. I think I've mentioned this before, but my roommates are lazy. As in, I'm the one doing the dishes 90%+ of the time, I'm really the only one who cleans. I mean, I cleaned the bathroom once at the end of last semester. And I'm pretty sure that was the first and only time it's been cleaned since we moved into our apartment at the beginning of September. So yeah, that was utterly disgusting and if my roommates do clean, they must do such a crappy job that I don't notice (and few such things escape my perception).

I'm really getting tired of this. I don't want to confront my roommates and sound like a whiny bitch, because I think I give off that impression as is when I sigh in frustration (because they don't contribute to the cleaning). I probably sound like some inanely anal guy right now, but seriously - the bathroom was only cleaned ONCE, by me. Tell me to my face that's not gross, and I think it needs to be cleaned again. My amazing friend, JW-M, suggested an "experiment."

Basically, I should not use anything in my apartment for 2 weeks. Mostly, don't do the dishes, don't bother with the sink, etc. He (and his roommate, DJ-M) offered his apartment for me to use, so I can cook at his apartment whenever I desired using his stuff. I really want to try this and see what happens. But I also feel bad intruding in his apartment and using his stuff, maybe even some of his supplies.

At the end of these 2 weeks, if the sink/kitchen area is in total disarray, and they haven't felt/noticed/appreciated my absence, then I should have no qualms about confronting my roommates. It seems like a fair "experiment." I feel so defeated that I just might try out his experiment idea.
I think that's all the ranting I've got in me. I'm a little sick (again). I don't get sick often, so when I do it bothers the hell out of me. I think I'm into the coughing/sneezing phase now. This means that it should pass in the next couple days, provided I'm not too stressed. Haha, not likely when I have exams and several papers/presentations due this coming week.

Such is life. The next couple posts will be more interesting, or so I've planned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

落叶归根 (Luo Ye Gui Gen)

Okay, this song's been stuck in my head for like the last 5 days now. It's called 落叶归根 (Luo Ye Gui Gen) which translates to something like "Falling Leaves Returning to Roots." It's by Wang Leehom. I found a version with English, traditional Chinese, and pinyin subtitles on Youtube. The traditional Chinese looks so much cooler than the simplified Chinese (as written above in here).

Anyway, it's practically blizzarding outside. Which is good, because it means it's not that cold (which it isn't today, only about 27 degrees - so balmy compared to yesterday). Now I need to go to research, then to my last class, then home to prepare for my interview tomorrow. It's not going to be fun driving in this snow.

Strange Emotions

It's below zero here, when wind-chill is factored in. It's freaking miserable (to me). Even though I've lived here all my life, I'm still not 100% used to this cold. Stupid frozen northern Midwest state. Grrr, I mean, brrr.

The weather affects my mood more than it should. Of late, this cold weather has been making me feel something bordering on depression. I've been stressed and frustrated before, and more so than this with fewer effects on my mood, but I don't usually feel this, um, hopeless. As DvF-M says, "You're so little but so full of rage." (I'm not actually that short/little, he's just that tall. It's okay, he has bad knees, on top of other potential inheritable health issues. He can have his height, for all the good it'll do him.)

Anyhow, my depressive mood could be the result of many things compounding on top of each other. First of all, there is the weather. Winter is my least favorite season. And apparently I whine and bitch incessantly about it, especially about how cold it is. So I'll stop here with that.

There is the stress of things. I had been good with classes. Great, in fact. Was ahead in most of them by about a day or two, depending when I had a particular class. But this week will be rough. I basically need to be 3 days ahead in everything, because on Wednesday, I have a med school interview. In the middle of the week! And I didn't even get to choose my date. Sigh. So there's the stress of getting ahead or potentially lagging really far behind (not to mention the stress of preparing for another interview). Me studying/working this hard almost makes some of the people around me seem really lazy, even though I know they're not (some of them, anyway). But it's so frustrating - and it's a weird mind trick - to feel like I'm doing so much more than them.

Then there's the same issue I blogged about last time. Haven't done a single thing to advance in any direction on that. Not one. I suck hardcore at such things. Still right where I was half a week ago. It bothers me that I can't just "do it." I can't just put myself out on a limb, and say/do something, or talk about certain things, or open up in certain ways if I'm the one who has to do the initiating.

And at the end of the last few days, I just thought, what's the use of it all? What's the use of this if I'm just going to get old and die. And the world won't really be that much better anyway. Let me preface this by saying that I'm not suicidal and never have been. But I've watched some depressive-ish movies and read some news articles, and it just amazes me at all the horrible things we do to each other. But why? What's the point of all that violence, poverty, and death?

In my great books of China class, we're currently on Confucius. And he believed, along with most of the early Chinese philosophers, that people are innately good. And that people only need to find the Way in order to manifest that good and discipline themselves in order to form a perfect society. But that good is so hard to see some days, and the Way seems like a mere illusion. And it all just makes me feel so sad.

These words don't fully reflect what I actually want to say and feel. They're woefully inadequate and make me sound emo or something. And none of this actually reflect what I personally believe on anything; it just feels like it's all overwhelming me at once somehow. But really, I've been going to sleep the last couple nights with this weird - how should I describe it? - emotional pressure on my chest and mind, as if the weight of some invisible thing was wrapped around me.

Last night, I had agreed with JW-M to go to the gym. I was running late but still wanted to go. So I went up to his apartment in shorts and all. Again, bear in mind that it's below zero outside. And he didn't want to go. For some reason, I instinctively punched his wall with the side of my fist. That got his attention, and he was kind of shocked. And when I went to sleep later last night, there were tears in my eyes. Not like "crying" tears that stream out, but kind of like "there's something in my eyes" tears. Except there was nothing in my eyes. It was strange as I almost never cry. Maybe once a year, that's about it.

Today I'm much better. I think I'm getting used to it all and this depressive mood is wearing off. I'll be okay again soon, I think.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What Now?

I had debated internally about whether or not to blog this. However, I've come to realize that it's far better to write it down and have it sort itself out than to have it ferment inside my head. So this will be a massive mind-dump and I'll let the thoughts fall where they may.

To start, I've never been in a relationship, with a girl or (obviously) a guy. I think I get scared, or I'm uncertain, or something. Point is, I see it coming and I waver. This has happened in the past a couple times before. I don't know why I freeze up emotionally like this. It's weird and I try to rationalize it in a hundred different ways.

While I've settled on being bi with a tendency towards guys, I still don't actually know where I stand. I don't even know how to go about objectively determining this, as I'm still stuck in that very hazy (and broad) middle. Compound that with my no experience whatsoever. I think even if I did know I wouldn't really know how to proceed.

So several things lie before me. I sense the relationship coming from both ML-F and RZ-F (both girls, if you forgot my name coding). I think I sense something coming off me back at them.

ML-F is in my Chinese class. She's an English major with a French minor. She was in my Chinese class last semester and I basically convinced her to take my section (and indeed, the 2nd semester of Chinese at all) this semester. We get along great and it's been fun. We talk about such random things (like the abnormally fat squirrels on campus), albeit only briefly between classes. The other day she waited for me after class. This really isn't a big deal, though it was the way she said how she waited for me after class . . . it almost hints at something. Then again it could all be in my mind. But really, the only thing that makes that class worthwhile this semester is her. This could be me projecting something here, I don't know.

RZ-F is in my Great Books of China class, that I convinced her to take with me (I'm fairly good at these things half the time). She's a biology major, like me, and pre-med, also like me. We have lots in common actually, and somewhat of a history.

We got quite close to each other around last March or so. For a couple months some people suspected we were going out, as we went to each other's apartments to hang out and such for extended amounts of time. Sometimes, I almost think my parents secretly wished I would date her. She confronted me about this, as she did want something more. At the time I was just coming around to "forcing myself" to come to terms with my sexuality, and I really needed to concentrate on my classes to bring up my GPA a bit. So I backed off. Maybe too much.

Last semester we didn't really interact much at all except on Fridays. But this semester things are potentially escalating again. Last Saturday we studied together all day. Then we went to the gym together (though we worked out in different areas of the building). She had also invited me to her lab department's annual winter dinner. Of course, since she invited me as her guest, some people might conclude that I was her boyfriend. Afterwards we went to an orchestra concert (my insistence), which was a nice concert.

At the end of the night I went back to her apartment to watch a Chinese movie called Lust, Caution in English (though this movie has only Chinese subtitles and no dubs). It starred the amazingly talented (and hot) singer-actor Wang Lee-Hom. Anyways, I'm sidetracking. The point is, this movie is quite controversial because of its content. There were a couple scenes that literally bordered on porn (none with Wang Lee-Hom in it, such a shame). Well, RZ-F basically "watched" those scenes with a pillow covering her eyes as I "fast-forwarded" through. I didn't think about this at the time, by my friend JW-M said that it's somewhat of a big deal that she felt comfortable enough to watch it with me. He does have a point.

Today, she actually called, slightly upset, that I had told another friend I was going to the library to study and she had found out second-handedly. She wanted me to notify her the next time I was going so she could decide if she wanted to as well or not. I don't know what to make of this. Her classes are not difficult this semester so she doesn't really need to study. Something is definitely coming from this. The last time it started here, we ended up cooking dinner for each other every other 2 nights.

So that's much of the background. I know I'm not really that physically attracted (only mildly so) to either of them, but their personalities and everything else easily make up for it. But I also think personality is more important anyway. I had meant to ask RZ-F out at the beginning of this year but clearly, if I did, this post wouldn't exist. I guess part of it is self-esteem. I've never really considered myself to be attractive, and thus "unworthy" of being in a relationship. But is that what's stopping me? I'd like to think no.

So the choices lay before me. Ask ML-F out. Ask RZ-F out. Do nothing. It's a bit late now, being my last semester of undergrad, to seek out a gay/bi guy (somehow, I don't know any personally) and develop a relationship in this time (much less a friendship). I do feel like I should start somewhere. And while I consider myself bi, might as well start with "what's safe." Still, what now?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bad Student of History

DvF-M: You're a bad student of history.
Me: I'm not a student of history! I'm a student of biology! And sometimes of culture.

There's a back-story about this. I said I didn't like learning about wars throughout history. I was more interested in learning about inventions and socio-cultural developments/changes. Frankly, learning about wars themselves bore me to death. Of all the things I learn in history classes, wars are too often one of the first things I forget. I'm just wholly uninterested. I don't mind learning about the events leading up to wars or the consequences and aftermaths of wars; I just find learning about the wars themselves boring.

DvF-M thinks this is an aberration or something. Wars are dynamic - a mechanism of rapid and exciting change. Technology advances, progress is made, political structures change, etc. One of the reasons he finds Chinese history more boring is that, to him, it "fast forwards" quickly from time period to time period. It goes from one invention/development to the next, as there aren't many wars (of significance) that are talked about. To him, European and American history are much more interesting because of all the wars.

Interesting how I find the exact opposite to be true for me. American history is so boring. I hated learning American history; and I forget most of it. European history is pretty cool, lots of stuff happened other than the wars. But I find Chinese history (or Asian history in general) fascinating. Then again, I may be biased. What I find interesting is how different Chinese history developed in contrast to the West ever since its beginning. I like learning about the evolution of Chinese culture and how gradual it develops.

To me, wars represent the worst in humanity. Yes, it brings about great changes. But at what cost? Is that cost worth it? And when technological advancements are often in weaponry, is that progress? Is the ability to cause more death easier and quicker progress? Arguably, lots of other things resulted as a "byproduct" of wars, such as the space race, radar, etc. I argue that some of the best human developments weren't the result of wars. The invention of language and particularly written language. The development of medicine. Culture, art, philosophy, science, social changes, economic changes, etc. These things are perhaps more subtle, but no less interesting nor important.

And part of this might be because I am a student of biology, the study of life. Unnatural death is an aberration; the potential for global warming to cause a mass extinction is an aberration. And as a pre-med (hopefully med student soon-ish), wars and unnecessary deaths are antitheses to me. I don't tell my ROTC roommate (RG-M) about any of this, though I suspect he knows my position.

So anyway, I'm apparently a bad student of history because I don't like wars and find learning about them uninteresting. So I don't like learning about when lots of people die for the same damn reasons throughout history in more or less similar ways. Is that so wrong?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Written Words

I get these . . . moments of epiphany, I guess. All of a sudden I'm hit by a profoundness in something and my mind dwells on it for hours, or even days. It can be the simplest thing, or it might be something entirely esoteric.

A couple days ago I read a very short selection of the I Ching (or The Book of Changes) for one of my classes. And as the professor lectured on the profoundness of this text - of how it was the "first crystallization of the Chinese mind," I was struck with a certain nostalgia. Listening to him recount the ways in which this text has influenced Chinese culture for millennia, and listening to him discuss how the Chinese world-view was so radically different from the West, there was the feeling of a kind of connectedness.

It's the kind of feeling that almost whispers, "This is a part of me, and has been ever since before I was born." That I can hold even but a sample of a version of this text, and even though it has been translated and commented on and edited, it's still the work of my ancestors. And their voices were calling out through the words of my professor.

Sounds strange, doesn't it? But perhaps not so strange. I felt something eerily similar when I last read Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War. Through reading that text, discussion on the readings, and the words of the professor, I could almost hear his warning to Western, and perhaps all, societies.

The voices of the past have only ever been maintained in their most pure form in writing and texts; and by "pure" I mean relatively unchanged. For but a fleeting moment - a second, a few minutes - I could almost hear them. I think I'm really going to like this class. We'll be reading selections (if not the entire works) of books and texts that I have always wanted to, but probably wouldn't have been able to, if not for a course on them.

This is completely unrelated to any of the above.

So, 2 nights ago, my roommate tried to invalidate chemistry to me, saying it was useless. He stated that if one took enough physics (and math) courses, and knew the concepts underlying everything, the entire chemistry major is irrelevant. Then he almost tried (again) to extend that to biology. He also does this to my poli-sci and other social science friends.

It astounds me how he see no value in almost anything beyond his own majors of physics and math. He once told me that biology hasn't given us (human society) anything useful, and that physics (and math) has given us all these wonderful things. Umm . . . okay then. I still think math is but a tool to be used by other disciplines.

Here's what I think of him:
Original link:

::drop kicks roommate:: Sigh.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

And So It Begins (for the last time)

My last semester of undergrad began on Thursday. Break was way too short. Already I have a quiz in two classes and homework due in two classes, all on Monday. My professors are really jumping into things without delay. Fortunately, I don't have many books to buy this semester, so that's a lot of cash saved. And so it begins . . . for the last time.

I know I've said this before, but it feels weird. It feels as if the last 4 years passed me by while I stood still. Where have they gone?! I know I must've learned something, and I must've "grown up" at least a little. But in some ways, it doesn't feel like it. I know I've changed since coming to the university, but it's subtle and slow.

Here I am, in my last semester as a senior, and the most important things I've learned are Spanish, Chinese, and how to load DNA/protein gels (and sometimes why they do/don't work). I jest, obviously, as there are many things I've learned that I found useful, applicable either now or in the near-ish future. Still there are lots I wish I had the time to learn. I wish I could've learned more languages such as French, Japanese, Hindi, to name a few. I wish I could've minored in medical anthropology (which I technically could have, had I known that minor existed 2 years earlier) or Asian studies. I wish I had the chance to study abroad rather than just doing research every summer for 4 years, though I did enjoy my labs.

Would I have done things differently? Probably not. At most I would've taken some classes in a different order, not taken a couple, and taken others to fulfill a minor requirement. I liked the people I've met and the friends I've made. I can only wonder and imagine what it would've been like had I gone to UC Berkeley instead for undergrad (for one, I would be in a lot of debt). If anything, I wish I had come across such blogs much earlier and gone through this earlier, rather than at the end when I'm about to part ways with most (if not all) of my friends, spatially across the US and the world.

Anyway, as a "kickoff-of-sorts" to the beginning of this semester, I made sushi with SR-F and JW-F. We made LOTS of sushi (some shrimp sushi, the rest were chicken). I took the leftover ingredients with me so I could make sushi tomorrow; I'll take a picture of it when I'm done before I eat it, haha. I ate so much sushi that I still felt completely stuffed like 5 hours later. It's kind of amazing how much sushi one can eat without noticing until it's "too late."