Thursday, February 28, 2008

Torn Internal Reflections

I really dislike it when someone says something like "Don't put a label on yourself." Yes, I know I'm much more than any particular label, whether it applies to my gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. But still, such things sometimes help one sort things out and right now, I need something. I'm not sure what that is exactly.

My Mask of Duality has been fighting itself; in fact, it may have two independent sides that just happen to lie side-by-side to create a mask. I don't even know how to best describe this. It suddenly feels like there's a schism somewhere.

Let's start off simple. I've been feeling like a "bad Chinese-American" in my Chinese class. Yes, I'm fluent in Mandarin Chinese, but this semester I'm going up against people who're more fluent. I'm more or less only fluent in conversational Chinese, the day-to-day stuff that I need to get by. Some of these students utilize "advanced" vocab and I can hear the differences in their inflections and tones. I find myself stuttering but for no good reason. Now I'll use this as an analogy of sorts.

While I (still) "label" myself as bisexual, it doesn't feel quite right. Again, there is a "heterosexual" side of me and a "homosexual" side. And man do they like to duke it out sometimes. If I were to place attraction on a 100% scale, I'd say I'm attracted to men about 60-70% of the time, and the remaining 30-40% to women. It fluctuates in ways beyond my control, and I don't even know what to do with it.

It's evident that both sides reside in me, but in a similar way as Chinese and English. Both present but not simultaneously usually. I either speak Chinese or English, and rarely mix the two. It's similar with sexuality. But that leads to confusion. Argh, it's frustrating. Stuck in the middle, one foot (or part of) on either side, sometimes leaning this way or that.

Okay, I've rambled too much and this makes no sense. It made a lot more sense in my head, or last night. And I've blogged about this before, in much the same way. Why am I so torn still?

Two more blogs I came across, check them out if you haven't!

To Thine Ownself Be True
In or Out?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Great Learning

That title's actually taken from a work by Confucius; but as with all ancient Chinese texts, it's impossible to say if he actually wrote that or not. Anyway, the point of this post is to commemorate some of the amazing teachers and professors I've had or met.

Throughout most of my education, English was one of my least favorite subjects (right down there next to history and gym). But in high school, I had some amazing teachers. Freshman year I had a teacher who taught me to write concisely, a worth skill. In my junior year I "perfected" the essay form from my English AP teacher. She also had a law degree, so she knew how to write, how to analyze, and how to argue and prove a point.

At my university here, there have been a handful of amazing professors. The first guest lectured for Dante's Divine Comedy in my English class freshman year. He had this amazing aura about him. He was dynamic, engaging, and had a theatrical drama about him. You walk into class because of him. He always brought a smile to your face. He was someone to be admired and respected; he was legendary. It turns out he's gay. He came out sometime in my sophomore year I think to the campus. He's also quite elderly with a wife and grown kids who all still love him dearly and vice versa. Really, it's a non-issue. His sexual orientation is more of an aside, nothing of importance compared to his amazing self.

Last semester I interviewed this professor from the school of public health. It turns out she's the only female tenured professor in her department, an amazing accomplishment. She has such a motherly tone about her, it's almost difficult to imagine all the hardships that she went through to attain her position. I never had her for a professor, but I wish I did. Along this same line of thought, one of my professors right now attained tenured professorship quite young (she can't possibly be older than mid-30s or so). These professors are to be respected. And for many women on campus, these professors are also inspirational.

And this gets me wondering - what kind of person do I want to be (eventually)? Someone to be admired, someone to be respected, someone who inspires. All these would be great. I hope to achieve some of this on some small level in the mini-course I'm teaching, but somehow I doubt it. At best, I'll have achieved the status as a good instructor (which isn't so bad).

One day, I hope to become someone who is respected and inspirational, who exudes that aura of intelligence but is still personable. For right now, I should concentrate on finishing this semester and getting into med school. Sigh.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The First Time . . .

. . . I jerked off. This could be an incredibly embarrassing post, but whatever. Put yourself out on a limb, right? At least it'll be entertaining (hopefully).

So the first time wasn't that special for me. It was around Chinese New Year - so late January/early February - when I was somewhere between 11 and 13 (can't remember which year exactly). Must've been 6th grade or so. Anyway, we were calling relatives to wish them a happy new year. And I was idly playing with my erection, rather absentmindedly (and secretly). Several months before this I had "discovered" that the foreskin can be pulled back, and the area underneath can/should be cleaned. So that might've been part of it. Suddenly I felt something, and I thought I was about to pee or something. So I ran to the bathroom.

When I got there, the feeling had subsided and no urine came out. A few slippery drops did; I wasn't sure exactly what it was yet. I did remember thinking, "Hmm, maybe this is semen." Thankfully, the woefully insufficient sex ed curriculum was sufficient enough for this.

A few days later I woke up and was squirming about. I had an erection, as guys are wont to in the morning. I was kind of grinding it about into the bed, but that didn't feel so great. So I turned over and laid on my back, took off my underwear, and just sort of played with the skin - pulling it back and forth over the head with two fingers. That felt good.

Then the feeling started to build up again, and again I thought I was going to pee. But this time I decided to stick it out, because I had "thought" I saw semen before and this might be it. So I kept going. Right before ejaculating, I instinctively grabbed my penis with a full fist and just pulled down towards my body, stretching the skin and making it taut. I may have thrusted a bit into my hand too, don't remember that so well.

I remember closing my eyes and making a little sound (I'm generally really quiet, unless it feels really good - allows me to jerk off in secrecy). Well, a little did spurt out this time. It covered my penis and hand a bit. I took the bit on my fingers and moved it around - it didn't feel like urine. I brought it to my nose - it didn't smell like urine. Well, the logical conclusion was that it was, indeed, semen. It was dark so I didn't examine it with my eyes, but what else could it have been?

After I was sure I was in the clear (dad had gone to work, brothers still asleep, etc), I went to go clean up in the bathroom. And that was that. I felt satisfied and kind of happy about "growing up." I don't think I jerked off for 3-4 days after that thought, mainly because I sort of forgot about it, lol.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

There Goes Another One

And my roommate, AW-M, makes three . . . that is, the number of people I know who are or are going to get engaged. I asked him whether or not he was doing anything interesting over Spring Break in a couple days, and he said, "Well, I might go buy an engagement ring."

Everyone's getting married but me! Actually, I don't really care. It's just that, it must be nice to have loved someone like that since high school and can now commit fully. It's not something I've ever experienced, and I'm a little envious as a result.
On a completely different note, I've come to realize that a career as a physician is truly what I want. I mean I knew that before, but applying to public health right now only accentuates that fact. I'm sure I'd like public health too, just nowhere near as much, I think. I also don't really notice this, but I tend to spout biological/medical stuff at times (depending on the subject).

God, just let me get into med school already!

Oh, and my other roommate, DvF-M, got into grad school for math. In Louisiana. He's going to HATE it there, haha. According to JW-M, he didn't tell me directly because he thought it'd upset me. And it does. I'm a far better student than him; I actually care about learning and working hard. I actually go to class on time. He just sits there and watches anime all day (that's not an exaggeration).

If I'd have known that getting into grad school were so easy, I'd have taken the GREs and applied months ago. And then I'd at least have a backup, even if I wouldn't enjoy it that much. Life's unfair sometimes. Sigh.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Inebriated Musings

So, while I'm still (slightly) inebriated, a post!

Some background. I was working on my statement of purpose for public health, then I got stuck and just stared at it for about an hour or so. So I went to JW-M's apartment to talk about our mini-course with him for about 15 minutes. After that, I let SN-F convince me to go out with her and her roommate, RZ-F.

So we go out to this place that has some good food. I forgot that it turned into a bar at night. We went in and had one drink each - the "stoplight." It was okay. Then we went to the place above that bar, which is another bar at night. They got some tequila, I just got something quick to eat.

Then we ended up back at SN-F and RZ-F's place. There RZ-F mixed vodka (35%), blue Curacao (27%), and green apple pucker (15%) in a cup for all of us. That took up about half the cup, and we filled the rest with water. It tasted pretty good. It was also like 3 shots at once.

SN-F got tipsy fast. She's a small person, so that's expected. RZ-F prides herself on needing lots of alcohol to get drunk, though she's never actually gotten drunk yet. Then she felt the tipsy coming onto herself as well. Soon, I felt it too. I had a grand total of about 5-6 shots total tonight. Normally that'd barely affect me. But I actually felt a bit tipsy. Normally, I'd need about 8 shots to get to this same stage. I think my tolerance has decreased from not having "significant" amounts of alcohol in many months.

Now, when I'm tipsy (I've only been truly drunk once), I tend to be quiet (I know, no fun) though I laugh a lot at things. Anyway, SN-F wanted to go hang out with her boyfriend, but we wouldn't let her for fear that she'd get run over by a car as she walked to his apartment. RZ-F proclaimed her love for WW-M, a person in her Chinese class. I met him today. While I don't personally find him attractive, it's clear he's more attractive than me.

Sigh, why does this always happen to me? I always wait just a little too long (or a lot too long) and the person I want to ask out gets taken, in some form or another. The fact that I felt jealous that RZ-F "proclaimed her love" for him while tipsy must mean I have some feelings towards/for her. I'm pretty sure it's not "just because I'm drunk." I suck at this. T.T

I give up (for now). My limbs feel all heavy and such, that delicious inaccurate feeling of tipsy-ness. If I sleep now, it'll be the most wonderful sleep I've had in days or even weeks.

P.S. If there are any glaring spelling/grammar errors, you'll know why and will have to excuse me. Good night!! :P

Friday, February 15, 2008

Just Another Day

It was Valentine's Day? What? Lol, it felt like just another day. Though I must admit - for as long as this week has been, for as long as this day has been - it hasn't been that bad.

In Chinese class today, we watched part of a Chinese movie called “天下无贼” which translates to "A World Without Thieves." Apparently it's the Chinese version of "The Italian Job," but the two movies are not similar at all - except for them both being about thieves. Now I really want to see the rest of this movie.

I went to my next class, Great Books of China discussion. We talked about Zhuangzi's philosophy of life and death - but particularly death. Haha. After class, I was accosted in the halls by the Valentine's Day ninjas - people dressed in pink sweatshirts and sweatpants with ninja hoods who gave out candy to random strangers. It was amusing, to say the least. I know not what university group they're affiliated with, but they have my support.

But by far, lunch was the highlight of my day. I was finally able to attend SBS (Society of Biology Students) for the first time this semester! Okay, I know it sounds incredibly dorky, but first hear me out. There was free pizza. Who can say no to free pizza?! And the speaker was this amazing EEB (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) professor. His topic: the evolution of sex.

He was a very entertaining speaker. I now wish I was able to take on of his courses (particularly Bio 116: The Biology of Sex). Grr, graduating. Anyway, he talked about how people choose mates who have a MHC (multi-histocompatibility) complex that's different than theirs. Basically, people tend to choose mates whose immune systems are most different than theirs. This is correlated with natural male and female body odors as well as the symmetry of men's faces.

He then moved on to the mystique of the female orgasm. These 2 guys had to go to class and when the professor mentioned the female orgasm, they were clearly torn. Admittedly, I would've been torn too. Apparently, about 29% of American women ever get orgasms from vaginal sex, although over 95% of these women are able to attain orgasm when masturbating. That's somewhat telling. And we went through all these theories as to how the female orgasm may have evolved or been adaptive. So apparently in some non-human primates, the males suck so bad at vaginal sex that the females "get off" only by stimulating each other. Facultative lesbian primates? Hmm.

Lastly, someone asked him about homosexuality. What he said isn't too far off from what I know/believe. Of course there are genetic and factors in the womb. According to some statistic, if one fraternal twin is gay, there's a 25% chance that the other's gay too. And among identical twins, that probability increases to 50%. This clearly suggests that there's a genetic component to homosexuality, and some studies suggest that certain hormone changes in the womb at the right time can influence the sexuality of the fetus. But even with those numbers, it's also clear that there are external post-gestation factors such as socio-cultural aspects. Lastly, I also appreciated how he said that sexuality is obviously not determined by a single gene, because that's too simple, and that sexuality is multigenic (aka, affected by many genes). Oh yeah, and he bashed Huckabee as a moron. His reaction was priceless.

The rest of my day was a blur, of sorts. I went to research, did what I had to do, and then went to work. At work, I helped people understand genetics. I'm somewhat impressed that people showed up at all, but hey, their genetics exam is next Monday - so studying trumps Valentine's Day. For the second week in a row, I actually felt productive and useful. Hurray!

Now, for some amusement/humor:

This Wang Leehom song has been stuck in my head lately.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Shoes Please!

One of my pet peeves is wearing shoes indoors. It's always been a taboo thing to do in my house. Shoes come off right at the door. And I never liked wearing shoes for long periods of time anyhow, I'll sometimes take them off and keep them off during a particularly long lecture class. Shoes just track in all sorts of dirt and mud and such, and lots of salt in the winter here. I like being able to walk barefoot in my own house/apartment and know that the ground is more or less clean.

In this respect, my roommate is hopeless. I've already relinquished most of the apartment, so I don't really care anymore if people wear shoes in. I wear flip flops around the apartment because I don't want to walk barefoot or even with just socks on. Except in my room. No shoes are ever allowed in my room.

I just vacuumed the room yesterday. And I repeatedly tell my roommate not to tread in with shoes on. He's usually good about it, unless he's in a hurry/forgot something in the room. Well he just left like 10 minutes ago, but just before he left, he walked in to get something. With shoes on. Did I mention I had just vacuumed the room so it was practically pristine?! Omg, what's wrong with this kid?! I guess I'll have to vacuum again tomorrow, in addition to doing laundry. I hate doing laundry.

In other news, it's so cold here that our water pipes in the kitchen froze. So we were without water in our kitchen this morning. One of my roommates put a space heater right up to the pipes, and they seemed to have thawed. Now we're afraid of turning the faucet all the way off, lest it freezes over again. With windchill, it's still in the negatives.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


So much to update about, so where to start?
1. 新年快乐! 恭喜发财, 身体健康!! Translation (roughly): "Happy new year! Have a prosperous year, and good health!!" It was Chinese New Year on February 7th.

Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays. It's up there with Thanksgiving. So much food, and a holiday that revolves around food is always good. Too bad I didn't get a chance to go home this year - it's the first year I haven't been home at least for a weekend near Chinese New Year. That was a little sad. It means I didn't get my 红包 (red envelop/red packet) of money. Oh well, that'll come later I'm sure.

The night before new year's, I went out to dinner with RZ-F, SR-F, and JW-F instead of going home. We went to this Chinese restaurant that I hadn't heard of, but RZ-F said was good. And it was. Apparently, when SR-F and JW-F walked in, all the Chinese people there stared at them for a brief moment (SR-F and JW-F are clearly not Chinese, haha). The waitress gave us forks and glasses of water instead of chopsticks and tea. I was amused; JW-F was not. The waitress also tried to explain what was in some of the dishes on the menu, obviously directed at JW-F and SR-F, and JW-F found this insulting as well. Sigh. I mean, it's clearly not intentional and some of the dishes would need some describing to a non-Chinese person (and even to some Chinese people too).

All in all, it was good food. I ate at another Chinese restaurant for lunch the following day with RZ-F and her roommate, SN-F. And that evening, I got pizza with JW-M and others. So much eating out! >.<
3. I went to two concerts this weekend. Yesterday's was a double quartet/octet concert. The first several pieces were "modern contemporary" pieces. So they sounded horrible. It's like horrible abstract art that the general population finds difficult to appreciate. Instead of being an eyesore, the music was auditorily painful. It sounded like some amorphous cloud-blob of dissonance, without melody or proper harmonies, and united only by random rhythms.

But the Mendelssohn octet easily made up for all that. To think, Mendelssohn composed such a masterpiece at age 16! Who does that?! I heard a brief segment on NPR this morning about Mendelssohn, and they mentioned his octet. There's something eerily apt about all this. Anyway, his octet piece had direction, it had melody, and the players were clearly enjoying it. It sounded like suspended joy - purposeful, directional, refined.

Today I went to a pipa and shawm band performance. They played mostly traditional Chinese music, and it was really really cool. A part of it resonated with me, like a nostalgia I never knew existed. It was kind of weird. But whereas the Mendelssohn octet the night before represented joy in a Western and highly refined manner with linear direction, the pipa and the accompanying instruments played with unadulterated and raw happiness. It had this habit of building up to a climax, then backing down, then building up again, over and over. The music was almost cyclical, like it was trying to describe something or tell a story. The styles between the two concerts were worlds apart, but that's not surprising at all.
That's the highlights for now. Right now I'm in the library, studying for the first time this weekend, haha. It's really cold today. According to the, it's 1 degree outside but it feels like -15 degrees. It was also really icy yesterday, could've slipped all over the place if one wasn't careful. Is it spring yet?

Hmm, something happened to #2 in this post. I don't know what, but a large chunk of it seems to have disappeared. It had something to do with my "social experiment." I'm too lazy to go back and re-type it all in, so this'll suffice. And suffice to say, my roommates will only clean/run the dishwasher only when things are practically all used up.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Current Obsession

The other day, W from Whittle et al. asked me what kind of guys I'm into. Honestly, I don't know. It depends on the guy. I will, however, "lower" myself for a moment and indulge you in my current pseudo-obsession.

Wang Leehom (王力宏) is amazing, and I will admit to having a celebrity crush on him. I will also admit that if not for Hish of Minding the Heart and my friend, RZ-F, I would not have known about him. Judge for yourself.I don't know what attracts me more - his looks or his talent. He is very talented - he can play like 10 instruments and he has a really good voice. And I can honestly appreciate how he's trying to create a synthesis between Western and Chinese music. But yeah, that's about all there is to my pseudo-obsession.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Oh the Fickleness

Oh the fickleness. Is it possible to go from almost-completely mentally/emotionally/physically drained, to something akin to clinically depression, to a "bring it on" attitude in the span of a few days? Well, apparently it happens to me. Somewhat frequently.

I had been so drained and exhausted the last week or so, because everything keeps piling up over each other and it doesn't relent till next weekend. On top of that, the mini-course I'm teaching with JW-M started on Monday (yay! It went really well actually) and we had to prepare lots for it. Why I'll never be a full-time teacher/professor. Which is kind of ironic, as you'll soon see.

I'm also a genetics study group facilitator. It's kind of like tutoring, except you're helping the students teach each other the material (in this case, genetics). So you're phrasing questions and deflecting questions in such a way to help them learn from themselves and each other on this material. The problem is, the genetics program - for whatever ungodly reason - keeps changing from semester to semester. And this'll be my 4th semester doing this job. So every semester I've had to do something very different. This semester's the most difficult because the professors are trying a new interactive way of learning, instead of the standard lectures. Also, they students have weekly quizzes from problems taken from their homework. So they come into the study group, and all they want to do is go over the answers to the homework sets. But they're just numerical problems, it doesn't help them learn the concepts. And when I tried going over the vocab with them - basic stuff - they couldn't tell me what a lot of it meant, or it took them a long time. And I feel so bad.

A part of me feels like I've been letting them down, that I should've prepared more for each study group session. Honestly, I should've, but I don't even know what to do with this new learning system and with these homework sets. The students in the group are like hellbent on doing these problem sets and then leaving. But that's not the point of the study group - if they wanted to just check answers, they don't need to come. It's almost a waste of their time to use this valuable learning/studying time to check homework and how to do problems without understanding the concepts.

And I do care and sincerely want them to learn. I want them to know the material. I want them to be able to see its usefulness in the biological field. But this semester, I just don't know how to get that across to them without being brutally blunt. There are some facilitators that just sit there and gather the money, but I don't do this for the money. Heck, I barely notice that I make money at all. I do this to help others.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with the PI of my lab to discuss my failing project. I'm glad my research was sitting there with me, otherwise the sheer intelligence aura my PI (and verily, all PIs) give off would intimidate me to such a degree that would preclude me from speaking coherently. Thankfully, she's really really nice. And also really really helpful. She gave us lots of ideas on what to do, what we could do, what to check. She was motivating too, and that's good. Too bad this also means I'm going to be spendings lots of time in the lab for the next 2-3 weeks.

And I called the med school I interviewed at last Wednesday. It was the one I had the best shot of getting in. And I'm on the "alternate list," which is effectively a waitlist. Well, that was depressing (quite literally). To top it off, I was talking to my parents later that evening. And they took that wonderful "opportunity" to tell me that, on the one hand I shouldn't lose hope of getting in, but on the other hand to consider alternatives and worst case scenarios.

While I completely agree 100% with them, that was NOT the day to be talking to me about it. They should've waited a week or something before bringing that subject up. They suggest that I should find some entry-level job with my biology B.S. at a pharmaceutics company, and work there for a year before reapplying. I, however, have my own Plan B, C, and D (and now E as well). Still, it was depressing that I actually had to consider this possibility of not getting into med school. I proceeded to gorge myself on hot wings, cheese bread, and pizza that evening. JW-M also partook in the gorging and the drowning of woes.

Anyway, I'm actively enacting Plan B (and maybe Plan E soon thereafter). I was depressed when I started it last night, but now I've reattained my "bring it on" attitude. So what is Plan B?

Public health. I began to apply to my university's school of public health. Fortunately, they accept MCAT scores instead of GRE scores if you've taken the MCAT but not the GRE. I'm applying to 2 separate programs.

The first is "hospital and molecular epidemiology." I believe this could be very interesting work, where I could perhaps work on opportunistic infections in hospitals (i.e. MRSA). This could greatly complement all the research I've done, as well as give me exposure to hospital settings and hospital administration/politics. The second is "international health." With that, I would go to China and research public health issues surrounding major diseases such as malaria, avian flu, and/or HIV/AIDS. With my fluency in Mandarin and my HIV/AIDS mini-course for freshmen, I feel this is a good match and will make me an excellent candidate.

Both MPH programs are 2 years. So in my second year I'd reapply to med schools, while I'm still within that 3-year window during which my MCAT scores are still valid. I feel I'd be very interested in both programs, could get a lot out of them, and would make me a very strong re-applicant to med schools.

I have this inkling of a feeling that my parents won't be too pleased with my choice to pursue public health rather than other things, like dentistry, as my backup. They don't see it as a very good career choice that pays well. Well, whatever. I'm doing it for several reasons. One, it would be something I'd be interested in doing, even if I failed to get into med school a second time. Two, it would make me an amazing re-applicant to med schools. Three, it's a 2-year program, so I'd still be in the 3-year window for valid MCAT scores. And four, this was my Plan B all along anyway, and I'm choosing to enact this path.

So, bring it on.