theladyrose: (Default)
First of all, many happy returns to [ profile] st_crispins on her rather belated birthday! I suspect I've missed a number of other birthdays, too, since I last posted a few months ago - hope they were all good ones :) Thanks to [ profile] eldritchhobbit and [ profile] agentxpndble

I do feel somewhat guilty about not posting in months - I've been wrangling with writing an entry for weeks but keep being tied up with more pressing matters with eminent deadlines. I've been keeping up with reading entries but rather lax in commenting :( It's strange to realize that in approximately a month's time I'll be a grad student, working on my master's in gerontology. Unlike many of my friends of a similar age, I have a year before I'm confronted with the financial realities of being an adult. In other news, it's been six years and nine days since my friend Cathy passed away, and it's the first time when I can honestly say I'm at peace with what happened to her.

Sometimes I wonder what her life would've been like if she had lived past her teens, but I recognize the futility of immersing myself in the potential energy left of a live left behind. All too often we mourn those who die young for who they could have become (or rather, who we wanted them to become), less so for who they actually were. Reminiscing about my friend is a shadow exercise in assessing my own life. Lately I've been wondering about all those other lives I've could've inhabited but have willingly relinquished to the tail ends of the probability curve. Back in high school, I was expected to go to Stanford, maybe an Ivy, and then go to law school because that's what relatively enculturated Asian/immigrant parents "strongly" recommend, outside of med school and engineering. Needless to say, I ended up at a university that used to be known for its football team but has the most badass gerontology department in the nation. (I can't believe I just juxtaposed "badass" and "gerontology" in all due seriousness.) Thankfully, my parents have been really supportive in letting me figure out my career. That, and they probably got tired of me babbling about constitutional issues at the dinner table when I was taking AP US History, in that pseudo precocious way that ambitious but not really brilliant high school students tend to talk.

More youthfully self-centered ramblings about my future )

In other news, my "gentleman caller" as my mother refers to him, will be meeting my godparents over dinner in two weeks :) I suspect that extremely nerdy conversations will be taking place, given that Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" might as well have been written the gentleman caller, and my godfather (dad's old roommate) is rumored to have been complicit in some wicked MIT pranks back in his college days. The fiery readhead (FR for short), as [ profile] dragonfly66 has nicknamed him, will be joining me the first few days of winter break after we're done with finals next Thursday. If any folks from the Bay Area are around the 17th to the 20th want to meet up with both of us, that'd be tremendously exciting!


Apr. 8th, 2009 09:28 pm
theladyrose: (Default)
I'm writing this in honor of national occupational therapy month, though I should really be working on my occupational therapy paper. A number of conversations in class and with various others inspired this.

Musings on illness, identity, activism, and suicide )
theladyrose: (Default)
We all need people to stop us.

I have a tendency to dress up messages in formal language in hopes that it'll make me sound smarter. So much of the core emotions become buried under the abstractions that the impact is lost. So here I am, simply stated: thank you for making my world a better place and for restoring my faith that people really act on their intentions to do good for each other.

Thank you to the friend who went on Thunder Mountain Railroad with me four times in a row in Disneyland.

Thank you to the friend who snuck in turn of the century romantic adventure novels in my locker senior year.

Thank you to the friends who will let me ramble about Cronenbach's alpha and Piaget's stages of development because I like having someone to geek about research to.

Thank you to the friends who let me call our bell choir group the Electric Penguin Anarchists and politely never pointed out how I had no idea what I was doing trying to figure out our chime rhythms. Or that I always tried stealing the D5 and D6 bells because the hammer wasn't loose.

Thank you to the friend who was willing to split the tempura/sashimi combo at Sushi House.

Thank you to the friends whose families have treated me like one of their own during dinners and vacations.

Thank you to the friends who drove me around when my mother was sick and after my car accident.

Thank you to the friends who dragged me down the hill when I couldn't walk in Arlington Cemetery.

Thank you to the friends who put up with my driving the wrong direction in parking lots and speeding a bit too quickly around hilly curves.

Thank you to the friends who enjoy doing nerdy things like playing Trivial Pursuit, jumping on trampolines, beading and candlemaking with me.

Thank you to the friends who let me ramble about my inner geekdoms, film music and Doctor Who and James Bond and the Internet and so many other things.

Thank you to the friends who go out to dinner with me to explore random awesome places in LA.

Thank you to the friend who left me chocolate and roses by my door even when I wasn't talking to you. No words convey how sorry I am for treating you as I did.

Thank you to the friends who've cooked and let me shamelessly mooch their food.

Thank you to the friends who make APASS the wonderful, open and zany work environment that I'll always look for in the rest of my jobs.

Thank you to the friends who blurt out the awkward, hilarious things that we're all thinking but too shy to say aloud.

Thank you to the friends who make me laugh, even when I'm being emo as all heck.

Thank you to the friends who let me be a shameless gossip.

Thank you for the fact that I've never heard of any of my friends backstabbing me.

Thank you to the friends who've changed my view of the world and made me think about all of the beautiful and astonishing things in it.

Thank you to the friends who don't call me out on being a pretentious ass.

Thank you to the friends who don't give me a hard time when I screw up and deserve to be yelled at.

Thank you to the friends who listen and sympathize when I whine and angst about anything and everything.

Thank you to the friends who still put up with me even when I flake out.

Thank you to the friends who trust me with their secrets. I'm touched and honored that you respect me enough to share so much of yourselves when it takes so much courage to speak up.

Thank you to the friends who keep me updated on what's going on in their lives, even when I'm too busy/tired/lazy to write back. I do pay attention.

Thank you to the friends who want to reconnect weeks/months/years later without contact and having the same closeness as we did since we last met.

Thank you, friends, for being the people I hope I will be.

Thank you, friends, for helping me when I didn't know how to help myself or know how to even ask.

Thank you for being there in my tie of need.

Thank you for being there because I honestly don't know how I'd do it without all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends, and may it be a good one.


Oct. 28th, 2008 11:33 pm
theladyrose: (Default)
The funny thing about studying gerontology, especially after having an opportunity to interview the ever insightful [ profile] akane42me and [ profile] st_crispins, is that I'm now more obsessed with instilling healthy habits. Reading about the potentially debilitating effects of various chronic diseases and how Social Security benefits generally screw over those who take time off work to care for families (i.e. women) does that to you.

In some ways it's easier to prepare for the distant future than it is for the time on the cusp of present and future. Eat more fruits, veggies and soy (alas, being pescetarian for 4 years doesn't mean that quitting junk food is that much easier), exercise more frequently, actually get more than 6 hours of sleep a night. And while I'm at it, write half of that paper due in a week and a half right now, clean the bathroom from top to bottom and learn to say no to nonessentials to which you can't completely commit. Changes spark a cycle in moving towards more positive changes, although there's still the occasional temptation to stay up late just because I can or to indulge in laziness. Strangely enough, 8 AM classes and work have really helped in reforming my habits; I know I wouldn't be motivated enough without those morning committments to jump start the day. And it helps that X has been doing so much better lately, too.

I didn't think it was possible, but I may have managed to become duller than I already am; alas, this whole system reset in priorities isn't the greatest for working in more time for a social life. We've determined that my mother went to more parties her first semester than I have in my entire college career to date. After this summer I've been making an effort to live more simply so that I actually have the time and energy to get everything that I want done. That, and a desire to lock into low health insurance rates once I have to graduate and actually find my own plan. I'm a signature away from confirming that I'll be spending another year here at USC for grad school, but I figure it can't hurt to start preparing for post-graduation life. Then again, we'll have to see what changes after the new president establishes himself in office over the next few years.

Fellow Americans: if you haven't sent in an absentee ballot yet, remember to vote by November 4!

My mother's somewhat annoyed with me because whenever I call I'm always asking her if she's taking calcium supplements or if she's had a mammogram recently. I'm trying to figure out more PC ways of checking in so that it doesn't sound like I'm implying that she's old. Though if I look as good as my mother at 50, I'll be pretty damn happy; I get mistaken for her sister or her peer at a slightly depressing frequency.
theladyrose: (Default)
If you look at my record, I'm incredibly boring.

Believe it or not, I've drunk half a shot of vodka in my entire time at USC. My record was five glasses of wine on a full stomach this past summer over the course of an evening, and if you look at any photos from that night in Florence you'll see that I don't experience the "Asian glow" or act plastered. I've never been drunk and never intend to. I don't consume coffee except for those two iced granita caffés at that place right by the Pantheon in Rome this past summer. I don't smoke or sniff or shoot up or pop pills; I take no prescription medications. Believe it or not, I actually prefer to avoid anesthesia when possible during dental procedures; besides which, my dentist is a Bruin and I don't trust him with injecting me with painkillers. I'm kidding about that latter part, although we needle each other endlessly about the crosstown rivalry during my dental cleanings. I've been avoiding meat for nearly four years now, although unfortunately I don't have the willpower to cut out seafood or dairy.

Because of these habits, people tend to mistakenly assume that I'm really conservative and super religious. Nothing could be further than the truth, though I'm not one of those new age "I refuse to consume anything that ruins the sanctity of the temple that is my body" people. I like refined sugar and french fries too much to ever give those up completely!

I've been a secular humanist for many years now, though I respect and admire the religious beliefs of those I know; I don't have the courage, at least at this stage in my life, to make that leap of faith. At the same time, I don't judge people who take drugs as immoral. I do believe that medical marijuana should be legalized and find "just say no" education to be ridiculous, even if it happened to work for me. My general philosophy is that as long as you're not endangering your own health or those around you, then I respect your choices. I get frustrated, though, when people force others to bear the burden of what's their responsibility.

Blasting music so loudly that the people next door can't get to sleep at 1 AM on a Thursday - believe it or not, that's a problem because *some* of us actually have to get to work/class early in the morning. Projectile puking on someone's floor - that's a problem. Stealing your roommate's pills and pretending that you didn't - that's a problem. Landing yourself in the hospital where you need your stomach pumped and worrying the shit out of your family and friends - that's a problem. Slapping your girlfriend because you get violent when drunk or forgetting to pick your kid up from school because you're that sloshed at 3 in the afternoon - that's a problem. If you get to the point when you inconvenience those around you, you need to change your habits.

I don't doubt that consuming certain substances in certain amounts can have beneficial effects. There are some compounds in a glass of red wine that seem to do good things for your health, although there are probably more beneficial things you could be doing for your health that don't involve drinking a glass a day - exercise, anyone? Drugs play a role in certain religious ceremonies in bringing about a transcendental state of consciousness; I can respect that people would take them in those circumstances. There's no way, though, that you could ever get me to try them; there are plenty of other ways of expanding my world view, thanks. The "it's OK for others but not for me" mentality smacks of self-righteousness and elitism, but I have legitimate reasons.

My problem is that I have a sense of what the worst case scenario looks like and frankly never want to put anyone else in a situation where they're forced to take care of me. I hate waiting around in hospitals not knowing what the outcome will be and can only hope that no one I know will find herself in the same agony waiting for me. It's more than that, though. When you evaluate therapy tapes involving alcoholics, heroin and crack addicts, you get a sobering taste of the ripple effect of damage from addiction can effect on multiple lives, even entire communities, in several generations. No behavior exists in a vacuum - you may own responsibility for an action, but you can't always control the effects of what you do on others. The potential for uncontrolled destruction is far too high - I don't trust myself to stop at the critical point (it took me three years to beat a pathological addiction to Spider Solitaire in high school), so it's best to never reach the point where I have risky cravings in the first place. I don't miss out on drinking or trying pot or smoking because I've never been interested; it's as deceptively simple as that.

The truth is, my aversion to alcohol has more to do with an unrepressable association with abuse. I don't know if I'll ever be able to overcome my ambivalence towards the alcoholic in my life - and no, that alcoholic is not one of my parents. I derive my strength to resist from my inability to completely forgive that person because that would legitimize the pain that was inflicted in someone I love. So be it.
theladyrose: (Default)
My first thought is that I'm a sucker.

I'm on my way to the supermarket, walking away from a roommate behind a closed door crying to her mother on the phone. I'm a coward for not staying after she finished the call to comfort her, but somehow making my way up the police blotter zone street. W. H. Auden wrote in "Moon Landing" that we were always more adept at courage than kindness, and at that moment I have to agree with him. The anger I have directed towards myself comes out in my stride, the guys drinking beer in front of the after hours storefront doorways instinctively moving out of the way.

I'm so lost in my thoughts that I almost miss him in the sage green tank top and black skinny jeans. "Excuse me, sister," he beckons me in a pleasantly androgynous voice, "but I'm a long way from home and I hate to say this, but I need help."

Just two days ago a 58 year old lady very rationally and very humbly beseeched me and another friend to pay for a tow truck or else her car would be impounded and she couldn't pay for the ticket. We all like to think ourselves good judges of character, and I handed over $11 while weighing the probabilities in my head of how honest she was about paying me the money back (I didn't doubt that she was in a tough spot). My friend, a native Brooklyner, reluctantly hands over $10 so that the lady has the $21 she needs. "From the hands of babes," she mutters before asking me for my phone number so that she can pay me back within the next three hours. She even recites her home address not so far away, although foolishly I don't write it down as I have no pen with me. I don't doubt that it's hard to knuckle down your pride and ask for money when you genuinely need it when you're in an area where so many people pass them by, assuming that blacks are stupid, lazy and aren't doing enough to get out of their crappy circumstances. I get that there are theoretically resources in the community designed to implement more long term solutions to these sorts of social issues, but clearly they're not able to reach enough people to a significant enough extent. I honestly don't expect to be paid back, although I have no idea if she called because I'm missing my cell phone at the moment. I just hope that she was able to take care of what she needed to get done.

"What seems to be the problem?" He goes on about how his boyfriend at USC invited him over for a good time but instead took his wallet so that he could buy weed. Now he can't, and home's far a ways a way up in Baldwin Hills, and the cheapest way to get there is by bus, but the buses come fewer and fewer as the night progresses and gee, this neighborhood's not concerned about public safety at all. It's not the greatest place to be "all Beyoncéd up"...I'm not really focused on the exact details of what he's saying. The eyeliner's applied with a skill I envy and the glittery silver lip gloss really complements his ebony skin. The effect's surprisingly subtle.

I hand him $5, and he shakes my hand firmly without being overpowering, holding on as he thanks me. "God bless, I feel a spiritual connection with you. You have a strong grip!" Somehow this connection gets to me, too, and I sense that he's hungry. "I'm on my way to the supermarket," I tell him. "Do you want me to get you something to eat?"

He lets go and smiles, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. "Are you sure?" He hesitates slightly. "I've been out here, and I sure am hungry..."

Read more... )
theladyrose: (Default)
Thanks so much for all of the birthday wishes - I feel so lucky to have such a thoughtful f-list :) I'm writing bunches and bunches of letters and am slowly getting around to mailing them out, but it'll be a while as I have over two dozen people to whom I'm writing. If you want a postcard, though, leave a comment here (all comments are screened for privacy). [ profile] horosha, yes, I'll accept the raincheck :)

Last Saturday I started off the third decade of my life in Venice, living out a dream that many older than I fantasize of experiencing. My roommate India - the most perfect traveling companion I've ever had who isn't [ profile] eyepiece_simile - and I trekked from one end of the city to the other, through endless calles (alleyways) and across countless bridges big and small. We visited numerous cathedrals with Maria and Marco featured in the title and the highlights of the Piazza San Marco, although sadly. Boiling our visit down to these set points, though, misses out on what you actually experience as a visitor to the city.

As I wrote in something that I'm currently working on: Venice allowed him to find refuge in eternal beauty and the allure of intrigues past, to hide away in the shadowy calles and the ebb and flow of glass green canals. The city restored his faith that even when besieged by change and decay, human achievement could stand against time and still rejuvenate the spirit. It wasn’t the ubiquitous presence of churches, as awe-inspiring as they were, but the grace of cultures melding, the serene congruity of centuries in architectural form simply existing that instilled such wonder. Il Palazzo Ducale exemplifies the tranquil riot of contrasts that is this city, the imposing paneled, gilded and frescoed splendor of the legislative and judiciary quarters juxtaposed with the cool dark jails for criminals of all stripes just behind the walls.

And this rarefied world is slowly sinking into the lagoon that had shielded its initial development and growing pains as a city, lending just the right touch of romantic melancholy amidst the tourist kitsch.

More musings about being in Italy )

On a completely unrelated note, [ profile] lilbabiangel888 tagged me for the following meme:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your LJ along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they're listening.

Technically, these aren't all songs because as an unabashed soundtrack geek, I still find the whole concept of music with vocals and words rather nifty. I'm more of a spirit rather than the letter of the law kind of person, anyway. You can download these if you click on them.

Songs to listen to when leaving Venice:

This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home: Doctor Who Series 3 (Murray Gold)
Ratatouille Main Theme (Michael Giacchino)
Theme from the Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Paul Cantelon)
Broken Hearted Melody: Sarah Vaughan (taken from Infamous)
Same Mistake: James Blunt (taken from P.S. I Love You)
Suzanne: Noel Harrison (courtesy of the ever-generous [ profile] wiccagirl24)
Kissing Through Glass: A Very Long Engagement (Angelo Badalamenti)

Meme 2, snagged from [ profile] swashbuckler332 and [ profile] lehah:

Post a reply and I will:

A) tell you why I friended you,
B) associate you with something - fandom, a song, a color, a photo, etc.,
C) tell you something I like about you,
D) tell you a memory I have of you,
E) ask something I've always wanted to know about you,
F) tell you my favorite user pic of yours,
G) in return, you must post this in your LJ. (More like highly recommended, because I don't like coercing people.)
theladyrose: (Default)
“Parting is such sweet sorrow” rather accurately sums up my last day at the family shelter where I've been spending time. I never really saw myself as the kind of person who enjoyed being with kids as more of my volunteering experience has been with senior citizens and hospital patients with chronic disorders, or tutoring older kids one-on-one. My priorities there were to ameliorate academic difficulties, act as a mentor to kids dealing with the usual teenage transitional issues and be a source of comfort and distraction to those experiencing various kinds of pain. Those experiences were certainly valuable, but I developed fewer deep relationships at those places as I had less of a chance to get to know the others there. The relatively privileged teenagers I spent time with were either going to grow out of their current problems or go through years of self-destructive experimentation finding themselves, or the more sickly people would approach the end with dignity or despair; I had a more finite range of expectations for their outcomes.

Needless to say, my experience at the shelter was different in that I had expected. I am ashamed by my initial, low expectations and am honored by how much they let me into their tightly knit community. To actually have a group of people really look forward to seeing me, even if it was just once a week — I feel privileged that they welcomed and accepted my relatively brief presence in their lives. It's so rare to feel like I actually matter to anyone my age, that my value is more than being useful by fulfilling a set number of expectations or responsibilities. What’s amazed me the most is the resilience of all of the people I’ve met at the shelter, the sense of family and community they’ve developed in the face of uncertainty. One or two of the younger children were more “troubled,” probably compounded by general developmental issues of testing the boundaries of authority and being new admits to the shelter, but overall the kids were motivated to do well in school and foster positive relationships with each other.

I’ve learned more about my own limits and prejudices, realizing that if I expect abused children to act like they’re emotionally “broken” true healing and growth can’t take place. My own academic concerns have been focused on adolescent/adult onset of psychological dysfunction and how self-destructive patterns manifest themselves, often in the long-term. Only over the course of these two months, however, have I come to really understand why early intervention is so critical. These children really have learned to look out for each other, and I find myself continually amazed by their spirit of adaptation. I can only hope that I can become as capable of moving beyond suffering as they have. [ profile] laleia, do you know if it's possible to volunteer with JEP even without taking a class?

Best words I've heard all week, while playing tag:

Mark (aged 10): You're hiding inside a playhouse made for 6 year olds. Aren't you too old to do that?

Needless to say, there's great value in being humbled by someone half your age and acknowledging your own immaturity :P

Now, for something completely different:

There's a pretty interesting discussion about sex in 60's and 70's TV at [ profile] cult_tv_lounge. In other cult TV news, Hulu has quite a few episodes of various hard-to-find American TV shows alongside currently popular ones; as far as I can tell, the site's totally legal. [ profile] lilbabiangel888, who I have to thank for the recommendation, told me that one of the sponsors is NBC, which is why the quality of the clips is so good because they're pulling everything from their archives. Unfortunately the version of The Invisible Man up isn't the one with David McCallum, but I really can't complain about the overall variety! I just started watching I Spy, which has been surprisingly enjoyable; I finally get a glimpse of the Hong Kong where my mother grew up because of all those on-location shoots.
theladyrose: (Default)
To be honest, Valentine's Day never really meant much to me. I've never had anything against it, but neither have I seen it as fairytale romance on crack. Calling February 14 Singles Awareness Day strikes me as rather silly.

Maybe I'm just terribly idealistic and having always been single at this time of year has skewed my perception of this day as much less passionate than the media and the marketers portray. In a weird way, I've always treated Valentine's Day as a sort of second Christmas where you give friends and family something small, preferably edible, as a token of your platonic affection for them. Spreading love doesn't have to be romantic. All of my roommates looked pleasantly flabbergasted when I gave them wrapped bundles of candy; unfortunately, I forgot to send my parents V-day cards, so I'm brining them a bouquet of chocolate roses tomorrow. I baked two dozen chocolate cookies and anonymously put them by the doorstep of a crush.

Call me childish, but that's what Valentine's Day is to me: simple and sweet (literally). If something actually develops with the guy I'm interested in, that's great; if it doesn't, nothing's changed and I haven't lost anything in the process. At least I can tell myself that I tried something.

A number of my single college friends have proclaimed themselves virulently anti-Valentine; the ones who don't have midterms tomorrow are out commiserating their single status with Jack Daniels and probably venting about why guys are clueless assholes. I decided to stay in and catch up on reading so that I have more time to spend with my parents and friends this weekend when I'm home. Being angry about Valentine's Day doesn't do you any good; vilify romance all you want, but you still can't deny how much romantic aspirations control what you want and how you feel. We're all human and do stupid, awful things to each other; much as I love those friends (and really, I do), we're partially to blame for our relationship woes as well, especially in hyping up our expectations of what a romantic partner should be and then blaming a potential love interest for not being the ideal. Treat others as you wish to be treated, and hopefully some good will come of it. I don't think I'm optimistic enough to believe in karma at the moment, but studies generally show that we end up regretting what we didn't do more than what we did.
theladyrose: (Default)
I know, I know; I haven't updated in ages, but the Internet connection is finally working in my apartment again, and I'm catching up on Livejournal. I've snagged this interesting meme from [ profile] mvmontgomery and [ profile] gandydancer that was developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University.

Privilege meme )

Occasionally I've had doubts about being where I think I should be, but I don't think I'd be as (wannabe) activist if I had gone to, say, a small liberal arts college. The ones I had considered attending are very much the relatively homogeneous bastions of intellectual, well-to-do youth; no offense, [ profile] dragonfly66. The class that I facilitated with [ profile] laleia, was a seriously eye-opening experience that forced me to reformulate my understanding of privilege. The all-girls school I attended for 7 years gave me a warped view of the cost of everything and the intangible benefits of being among or at least affiliated with the elite. I can honestly say that the majority of my high school friends' parents (and my parents' friends) have gone to grad school at Stanford/an Ivy League/other school of "that" standard; that's not quite the case for my college friends. People in Silicon Valley are educational snobs; Angelinos don't care so much about how you became rich and/or famous.

Honestly, it's uncomfortable being on the upper end of the socioeconomic scale among the people I know in college; USC has a surprising amount of class diversity among the student population for a private university especially because it has such extensive outreach to local neighborhood kids, partially for generating good PR and overturning the "University of Spoiled Children" nickname and partially for altruistic motives. (The UC system nowadays tends to attract the upper middle class, particularly at UCLA, Berkeley and even to a certain extent UCSD; poor kids who do get to go to college are channeled into the Cal State system.) As a TA leading discussions this time around for a seminar I took last semester, I felt like I learned so much more listening to various community organizers about their research and direct experience with the issues of access to some of the most fundamental services, particularly education and health care, and the barriers to them, both institutional and attitudinal/behavioral. Heck, just having students who lived in an uncle's garage for several years upon immigrating to America or who are on full need-based scholarships has made me appreciate how much I've been cushioned from reality by my family. I feel awkward advocating my students to Make A Difference considering that really, I haven't done much, if anything, after going through the same learning process they have. You need to know about the development and manifestation of prejudice and the incarnations of discrimination to be a more informed person, but what's the point if you're not doing anything about it? Changing your own attitudes is great but doesn't make much of a difference on the scale of things if you don't then take action on some issue. One of my goals this year is to volunteer more; I'm doing this program called the Joint Educational Project (JEP) for extra credit to alleviate some of my guilt about my hypocrisy. The problem with knowing so many über-involved people is that I always feel like a slacker by comparison, and that I waste my free time on relatively trivial matters that don't save the world in the end. That last statement is facetious, of course, but my conscience doesn't let up on me.

I know that discrimination is VERY much alive and well and keep discovering more and more flaws in the system, but even still I don't think I can honestly say that I personally have been a victim of injustice. There's that ambivalence about advocating for Asian American issues - I know that there are so many members of the APA community, particularly those from Southeast Asia, who have suffered from racism, classism, sexism and heterosexism and so many other -isms; immigration brings its unique set of challenges and traumas. I feel more comfortable focusing more of my energy on mental health issues/disability awareness (disabilities, occupations and the healthcare system has been my favorite class so far) because they affect everyone; at some point in time, we all gone into some kind of decline, and if we don't acknowledge the problems now we're pretty much screwing over ourselves and those we care about not so far down the line. Maybe I've taken too many psych classes, but I'm becoming a little hypervigilant about keeping an eye out for mental disorders in people I know, and part of me is prepared to give the awkward "I've been noticing lately..." talk when most often I'm missing a crucial part of the context. It's a variation of the medical student syndrome where suddenly you start spotting constellations of symptoms of various illnesses seemingly everywhere. Unfortunately, I tend to find good reasons for freaking out on friends, but self-confirming biases are also in action.

In the meantime, I need to figure out my new research schedule as I'm transferring into a new lab focusing on clinical psychology. Evaluating multisystemic therapy FTW! It'll be loads of fun trying to fit that in with peer counseling, admissions and film music research (more Elmer Bernstein rejected film scores and wrangling with the cinema archives about photocopying material), but my inner psych geek is really excited. Let's just hope I pass the treatment evaluation tests after training in February.
theladyrose: (Default)
I'd like to think that I've pioneered the "procrastinate by doing other work" method because I only really have my history of physiology paper left to do and a really short paper on career development theory. Except for the first time ever (seriously - I think I might've been the only person in AP Euro my year who did ALL of the supplemental reading), I didn't actually do all of the reading for one of my classes just because there's no feasible way of reading three books of Nietzsche, two Decadent novels, C.S. Lewis's Til We Have Faces and all of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents in a three week time span with two presentations, five papers of varying lengths and five finals, three of which are take home. Strangely enough, I don't feel terribly guilty as I don't know of anyone else, even my roommate, who's had time to do all of the reading, either. I have to admit, the class has really grown on me - the professor is the only one I've come across who doesn't use any notes, can consistently keep everyone's attention and actually address all of the random questions students throw at him without deflecting any. We ended up having an interesting discussion after class on Monday about what the Decadents would have thought of dystopian science fiction. Thanks to the f-list, I was able to not sound like a total airhead. I swear, anything I know about culture has come from Livejournal - I'd never be able to pick up on all of his Firefly and Buffy references otherwise.

For the educators on the f-list: from a student's perspective, take home midterms are only less stressful when you're given the same amount of time to finish the exam that you would've been given if the exam was held in class. If you have to write at least a page-long response for seven questions and you're supposed to cite specific lecture note dates and pages in the reading, then trust me, it's more stressful. Take home exams are generally a bad idea if they follow not long after the deadline of a major paper (page length > 5 pages). Just something to keep in mind next time you devise your syllabi...

I've come to the conclusion that I rely on luck far more than any sane person should to get work done; if my physiology professor hadn't granted everyone an extension until next Wednesday, I'd be sunk. But from a terribly egocentric point of view, much of luck is setting up the likelihood of situations to be in your favor, or learning to predict the probability of certain events and preparing yourself to capitalize on those moments.

On the whole, I've feel like I've learned more than I ever have this semester. Generally all of the classes I've taken have been pretty good, and the ones I'm taking now are no exception, although I'll be really glad to be done with the honors core requirements soon. But just having the opportunities to spend time with peers and learn from them - now that's been the most rewarding. I really cut back on activities last spring just because I was so burnt out from the fall, but the stuff I did and continue to do is rather solitary. Doing research has only deepened my interest in psychology, but as the perpetual observer-scientist you feel distanced from the interactions and behaviors you're supposed to be analyzing. Sure, you gain perspective. And all of the admissions recruiting stuff is a lot of fun (they actually think you know what you're talking about), but the interactions with prospective students are fleeting. That, and you never really know if your individual contributions actually make a difference in helping them figure out where they want to go for college.

What's been the most incredible was being a TA for CIRCLE. Sure, there's the incredibly pretentious satisfaction of being able to tell people, "I basically taught a non-credit seminar called Critical Issues in Race, Class and Leadership Education," but I'm not kidding you when I say I can't believe I got paid to do a job I would've gladly done for free. Even from my brief work experience so far, I think I can safely say the people you work with make or break your job satisfaction, and the APASS office has become my second home on campus. I was so lucky to have a great group of students in my discussion group and Sumi, the head of the department, to be our faculty facilitator, and on the whole my co-TA and I had a good work dynamic. After participating in this program last fall, I've gained a new perspective on how people slowly absorb new views on how institutional barriers relating to race, socioeconomic status, gender and sexual orientation really play out in this country and how cultural factors facilitate our understanding of these issues. Retreat three weekends ago was really intense - I've never seen so many people cry as they began to intellectually and emotionally work out how damaging these prejudices can be. But it was incredibly worthwhile to learn about the experiences of those who've grown up in much more diverse circumstances and who haven't been sheltered as I have their entire lives. Thankfully I didn't run into any situations where I couldn't answer participant's question, although Sumi fielded a lot of the complex academic stuff; I was able to pull a lot of stuff from research and some of my course readings. I really am excited to see what these kids (funny I should call them kids when at least half of them are my age or older and the other half's but a year younger) end up doing and how they take action on these issues.

Each year I tell myself that life can't get any more mind-bogglingly complex and maddening, and each year I'm proven wrong. That's not necessarily a bad thing, although there are times when I think I might literally keel over from exhaustion. Emotionally, I keep being stretched in all directions and have to constantly evaluate whether or not I can actually do what I'm supposed to do. I know I've disappointed a lot of people as I try to figure out what my limits are, but you have to learn to compartamentalize and find a way of separating the emotional from duty so that you can function. In a funny way, though, the most effective way of building up resiliance is when you don't think you have a way out.

Once again I have to figure out what the heck I'm doing next semester and the year after and the year after. My course schedule; the big debate is work vs. research or some combination of both. I'll still be volunteering with admissions and copy-editing writing for a quarterly news magazine (which, really, is less work than it sounds) although I'm really tempted to become a weekly columnist for The Daily Trojan. There's this other part of me that just wants to veg out and get back to finishing all of the scraps of writing littering my desktop, but the only thing I get out of that is personal satisfaction, and I'm afraid it won't be any help when applying to grad school and looking for jobs. I actually had something of a social life this semester, which was a first, and I don't know if I'm willing to give that up although with CIRCLE being over I suspect my opportunities to spend time with a more diverse crowd will greatly diminish. At the same time, I'd like to claim back more time for myself for no particularly noble reason other than to relax and recollect myself. But then I look at everyone around me and think wow, if they can handle everything, then why can't you?

And now for some study break stuff, although I should finish editing this paper due at noon today.

Recommended by [ profile] st_crispins: Scorcese paying homage in a Hitchcock parody for a champagne commercial

Seriously, this is the only time where I've watched a commercial more than once and couldn't stop laughing. Unfortunately, I don't spend enough time with the cinema students anymore.

If anyone's curious, the musical cues used from North by Northwest as played by the orchestra are:

The Elevator (up to 0:11), briefly interrupted an unidentified bridge passage reusing the fandango fragment, quickly cuts into
The U.N.
The Information Desk (intro played a little slower in the Scorcese film)
Unidentified cue when the lightbulb's broken (the closest I can come up with is "The Balcony," but I think for this orchestral suite it's just a bridge passage)
The Knife (the brief introduction recaptiulation of the fandango prelude when Thornhill's running away from the U.N.), quick transition into the end part of the fandango of The Wild Ride
The Reunion
Finale (roughly the end 0:30-0:46; the orchestral recording for the Scorcese film is the most different from the original score recording as the former is a little more legato on the love theme but draws out the concluding notes a little more slowly)

On another film music-related note, I'm not a member of [ profile] doctorwho, but I know someone there was looking for the lyrics for "My Angel Put The Devil In Me" - seeing as Doctor Who is the most popular show on my f-list, I was wondering if someone could pass the link to this entry with my transcription of the lyrics as non-members can't post? Thanks!

My Angel Put The Devil In Me )
theladyrose: (Default)
I blame [ profile] evan_nicholas for readdicting me to Simon and Garfunkel.

"Old Friends, Bookends Theme" reminds me of so many people. "The Dangling Conversation" always gets to me, maybe because I find it easier to express myself in writing than vocally.

Every time I post here, I feel like I'm a different person. Not in a pathological way, mind you. It's just that with each day you can feel a little part of yourself turning inwards and getting woven into the fabric of existence and then some new pattern emerges and becomes altered in another interaction with some other person or their life product. The sheer amount of messages we come across is staggering - one of my e-mail accounts hast literally 1300 e-mails, and that number grows each other. And I'm only 19 as of very soon, and I can only imagine how many more messages will be passed, more lives (mostly my own, but I hope others, too) that will be altered when in contact with each other, however briefly.

Something of [ profile] st_crispins from "Uncertainty Principle" that always stuck with me:

Remember that Heisenberg's so-called "uncertainty principle" is less a question of uncertainty than indeterminacy. That is, the problem is not that a property has a definite value unknown to the researcher, but that a property may have no definite value at all. It is always in flux, and can be affected by various operations, such as the mere act of observation.

Human beings are in constant flux as well. And we are not always what we appear to be: we are often quite a bit more. Just as Einstein demonstrated that light can have particle-like properties, de Broglie showed that matter can have the properties of a wave. Wave and particle; particle and wave. Which nature becomes apparent depends upon the circumstances --- such as when the waves from two sources pass through the same region of space. Then, they are likely to interfere with one another, and the particle nature of one becomes more apparent...

Which form is apparent at any particular moment --- well, just as in physics, that depends upon the circumstances. But in the end, isn't that what the nature of all good and true friendship is ultimately about?

Yes, [ profile] laleia, I'm nowhere near as clever as I pretend to be.
theladyrose: (Default)
My mother and I were having a conversation yesterday on our way back from the supermarket about albino alligators.

She asked me if I thought nature was cruel for cursing such beautiful creatures with extreme fragility.

Nature is neither moral nor immoral, I told her. It just is.

I mean no disrespect towards nature; I merely believe it is a fallacy to impose our own moral beliefs on something that's been around far longer than any of us. I'd like to believe in a higher power of some sort - whether it's actually God or fate or the universe, I don't know, and I doubt I'll ever know for certain in this lifetime. I don't have any particularly good reason for this belief, which I find problematic. That's my one personal issue with religious faith - I have to find a rational reason, something with its own justifiable internal logic.

It is my firm belief, though, that we have to look to people to solve our problems. If we don't trust each other enough to work together for the common good and out of genuine respect for each other, then we're sentencing ourselves to destruction. Perhaps there's a higher power that guides our actions with or without our knowledge, but we can't just expect that this force will miraculously fix everything for us. Secular humanism is the closest I get to a formal belief system, but it's possible that I will find religion or religion will find me. Improbable, I think, but not impossible.

Despite the freaky coincidences and strange patterns I find within my own life, to a certain degree I have to believe that there is a certain amount of randomness in the universe. I don't want to think that there is some higher reason for my dad's neurological disease or my mother's cardiovascular defect or Cathy's constellation of mental illness other than the arbitrary misarrangement of genes, the infinitely subtle effects of environment on biology and the transmutations of character from interactions with others. In my personal world, true faith is as incomprehensible as a black hole - in theory a comprehendable and coldly rational concept, but the reality is foreign and overwhelming.

On a fairly unrelated note, I wish I sent this in to Postsecret.

theladyrose: (Default)
I'm not a religious person, but seriously, Thank God Jerry Falwell's dead.

In other news (rather trivial in comparison) was contacted by a reporter at the Daily Trojan for this article, but unfortunately we never did catch hold of each other at the same time. I really don't want to buy into the hoary old PR cover up business, but Rowan-Badger, the director of admissions of USC's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences did not contact the current non-exec College Ambassadors about participating in the admissions office's officially helmed version of the current College Ambassadors program. If it weren't for the e-mail that Scott sent all of the current Ambassador, I would've never known that the student-run Ambassadors organization was being dissolved in the first place. Saying that I'm disappointed by all of the misinformation and miscommunication is an understatement - I expect better of our admissions office and used to have great respect for the admissions officers I encountered. (Well, save for that one time I found the Facebook profile of the person who admitted me. That was mildly scarring.) I'd really like to continue meeting with prospective students and conducting scholarship interviews and the like, but I'd like to work with people who actually respect current students, too. We'll see how the power struggle plays out.

How is it that each semester one of the student organizations I belong to has some messy front page story attached to it? First semester there's the whole Daily Trojan editor resignation/firing mess, and now the Ambassadors. I'm almost afraid for CIRCLE now - thankfully there's actually the funds to run this seminar to educate about and advocate Asian Pacific American (APA) issues. We need this kind of community awareness raising, especially in light of the Virginia Tech tragedy. I'm really hoping we can add a unit about APA attitudes towards mental health and disability, issues that particularly drive me. Luckily I'm a TA for this program next fall with several of my friends such as [ profile] laleia, so this should be exciting.

In a semi-superficial way, I suppose that if I've changed at all after my first year of college, it's that I've transformed into "Asian activist girl." I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that I'm probably one of the 10-15 most "involved" freshmen in APA issues at USC; roughly 22% of USC's undergrad population is of Asian descent. The truth is, though, that activism is such a nebulous concept; how the heck do you go around "spreading awareness" anyway? And what makes a certain class of issues more worthy of personal dedication? I'm wary of narrowing myself intellectually; yes, we do discuss how socioeconomic, health, media representation, etc. issues affect APAs, and we're particularly trying to shed light on gender and sexual orientation matters. But the more we talk about how fragmented the APA community is with the geographical and cultural divisions of India and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines) and East Asia and the lack of any kind of common language, the more difficult I find it to convince myself that we do have any kind of core Asian identity outside that which others impose upon us.

There's a lot of talk of cultural genocide and oppression by the Man, but I find it's too easy to forget there are the bigots as well as the tolerant in any group of people. Honestly, I think I've come across more prejudiced Asians than enlightened ones; I think I can safely say that most Asian immigrants lean towards the politically and culturally conservative. And yet with most people, I don't believe that they are by nature hateful or purposefully discriminative people; they just grew up with a narrow-minded battery of beliefs. I can only hope that when they're introduced to other, more generally humanitarian views they'll re-evaluate their own perspective. But how you can persuade the conservative to accept other alternative ways of thinking, I don't really know. And I refuse to believe that my own views are necessarily the best and necessary to impose on others. In this way, I don't think I'm the greatest activist because I'll always have a certain degree of doubt, and I wonder if I have enough resolve or even assertiveness. It's not that I don't think that advocating a certain class of issues is important; it's just that there are so many matters that I think are important that are just as worthy of attention that I find that my attention is diffused. No, you can't really focus on all issues at the same time, but in the end I find certain other causes, particularly mental health, to have more of a personal calling. I don't know why that feels like such a paradox, though, with being involved in a current set of issues while always wondering about others when they all find ways of intersecting and relating to each other. I guess it's because very rarely do I find closure about anything, and I'm learning how to manage with this perpetual sense of ambiguity. And that's OK, really.

The funny thing is that I don't really feel like the APA activist type to begin with; I'm probably one of the most (if not the most) assimilated people I know - my knowledge of Cantonese extends to being able to name dim sum dishes. I'm not kidding when I say that my nonexistent Italian sounds much better than the pitiful few Chinese words I mangle. I've managed to pass among my college friends by smiling and nodding a lot. The sad thing is that I don't think I could squeeze in any Chinese language classes into my schedule, and honestly, I'd rather perfect my French or brush up on Italian or take Czech or Japanese or something crazily interesting. I still have so much to learn.

It's nice that I finally have the time now to figure out where my mind has run off to. If I ever manage to land a job at this rate (thanks to [ profile] leflyingolive about the Teuscher's tip off). Besides last summer, this is the first time since 2nd grade I've found myself not participating in some kind of academic course in between the official school year, and I'm afraid that my brain is going to melt into a puddle if I don't occupy it. Finally I can get around to reading all of the books I haven't been able to touch during the regular months; I've just started John le Carre's A Perfect Spy after finishing Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi's Creativity, which I'd highly recommend to anyone who's interested in original thinking and how people learn to form new connections across and within symbolic domains - science, politics, the arts, you name it. I find that now that I'm older I read a lot more non-fiction for fun.

I have a lot of my own writing that's in progress and hopefully will leave my brain and form itself into real words at some point. Maybe I'll finally get around to that Elmer Bernstein retrospective concert review I started sometime last fall. Really, it's embarrassing how tardy I can be in finishing the assignments I give myself for fun and responding to messages I've shamelessly shoved to the bottom drawer in the priorities filing cabinet of my mind. I think I meant to elaborate on that Supergirl Dilemma article [ profile] st_crispins first commented on and respond to [ profile] agentxpndble about John Barry and the Lion in Winter soundtrack? Sometimes I think my memory is as cluttered as my desk, and I swear I'm trying not to neglect anyone.
theladyrose: (Default)
This is going to sound unbelievable, but I actually enjoy being single this Valentine's Day. 

This is not to criticize those who are in romantic relationships right now; if you're happy with your relationship, then more power to you.  Ever since I've come to terms with my asexuality as of last spring, I've felt so much freer with who I am, cliché as that sounds.  I used to think there was something pathologically wrong about me for having no desire to have sex, but knowing that there's another one percent of the population out there who can identify with such a ''problem'' has been empowering.  I have finally realized that I am not somehow psychologically damaged or less capable of emotion because I don't conform to society's beliefs about what constitutes a healthy sexuality.  I understand that my life choices are going to be limited because of my asexuality, and I've increasingly come to terms with the fact that I probably won't be able to marry because I doubt that I'll find a partner who is willing to sustain a long-term, committed asexual relationship.  But I'm also grateful that all of the friends to whom I've come out have been honestly accepting of this facet of my identity, that though you may have difficulty understanding asexuality as a concept - heck, I know I do - you still treat me the same, without prejudice.  And what more can I ask of my friends?

It's reassuring to think that I've come to a point where I don't feel that I need someone else to ''complete'' me or to actualize any residual, egotistical perceptions of self-potential; I recognize that I am the only agent of change in my life, and I do take pride in my self-sufficiency.  To be honest, I have a slightly pathological craving for autonomy, or maybe a pathological fear of dependence.  The idea of long-term romantic committment right now sounds claustrophobic and chafing; I see restrictions rather than possibilities.  I think I make a much better friend than lover, although I firmly believe that true love is not possible without friendship as a foundation.  The loves of my life are not romantic - family, friends, learning, beauty, freedom, the mind.  I know that I'm not unique by any means in my choice of these loves.  I find that these more abstract loves are existentially fulfilling and don't need to be replaced/supplemented by a romantic relationship.  Some have claimed that I'm really good at repressing/sublimating/projecting my unconscious desires into abstract outlets and that my actions are a manifestation of a fear of rejection.  This may very well be true, although for some obvious reasons I object to such an interpretation; my introduction to psychology was through B.F. Skinner's school of behaviorism, taught by a professor who's been debunking the ''repressed traumatic memories'' hypothesis.  But even if such a theory were true, I find that the expression of this supposed repression/sublimation/projection to still be satisfying, and I have no desire to change my ways.

I am only talking about my personal experience here, and I don't mean to sound like I'm criticizing those who are in or who are seeking romantic relationships.  Realizing a meaningful existence is obviously different for everyone, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of you will disagree with what I've written.  There are strangers who would probably look at me and shake their heads in resignment over the fact that I'd rather analyze some of the soundtracks that I've been waiting for ages to listen to than find someone who'll buy me drinks at a sketchy cheap Hollywood club.  I don't believe that my form of expression is superior nor inadequate compared to anyone else's.  It's quite possible and probable that the way I think about love will evolve, but under the current circumstances I find that the way I process love works for my individual situation.

Through all of this self-absorbed rambling I almost forgot - happy Valentine's Day.
theladyrose: (Default)
My 10th grade chemistry teacher once recommended that everyone should try fasting for a day at least once in her life. I've meant to try it for years but only got around to it yesterday.

It's strange - my head feels a lot clearer. Perhaps that's a side effect from actually getting more than 5 hours of sleep. But somehow I feel that I've unloaded a lot of extraneous mental clutter and regained some control over what I do, how I think; it's sharpened my sense of what is necessary. I've spent too much time worrying - maybe angsting is the more appropriate term - over matters that shouldn't be overtaking my life. No wonder fasting is associated with religious purification.


Jan. 1st, 2007 11:33 pm
theladyrose: (Default)
For once I won't make some pessimistic, pointless remark about the arbitrariness of measuring time, so happy new year everyone.

I might even come up with resolutions that currently are along the lines of:

-Do more community service.
-Stop avoiding people and actually respond promptly.
-Don't accept defeat so easily and maybe even stand up for myself occasionally.
-Find a job that pays more than $1.50/hr, at least for this summer/next year. (Already for copy-editing, all newspaper staffers received a 50 cent raise this semester, seriously.)
-Find a study group.
-Write more often.
-Go back to soundtrack reviewing.
-Stay active and avoid eating random!crap. (Then again, I only gain weight when I'm home. Hmm.)
-Meditate more when stressed.

If I learned anything from last year, it's that a) the more you strive for harmony and order in life, the more the universe (fate, God, whatever else you might call it) and b) all plans go out the window when it comes to organizing large groups of people. The number of calls I received this past week alone for New Year's Eve board game night exceeded all of the calls I've had from old friends this past semester in college. I did end up coming out to my parents about being asexual on Christmas Day; my father looked politely puzzled but sympathetic, and my mother acted as if there was nothing strange about the situation but did suggest that sexuality was a trend, which I'll admit did sting a little although I can understand her skepticism. (Then again, I don't think she's read Plato's the Symposium and Socrates' speech about his views on the most ideal form of love, which is spiritual/asexual in nature. And now I'll restrain myself from making further pretentious references.) I think they got lost in my attempts to explain the difference between aesthetic and sexual attraction. The sex as bungee jumping metaphor (not like THAT, perverts) wasn't nearly as easy for them to grasp as I thought it'd be. My sexual views in a nutshell: sex is like bungee jumping; I don't care if other people are doing it so long as they're not harming anyone else or themselves, but it's not something that really appeals to me.

I've been writing more random thoughts down in the paper journal [ profile] shakeitdown gave to me after graduation to avoid emotional hemorrhaging here. I must confess I've never really liked January or February, but I'm hoping that with the start of the new semester I'll avoid slipping into bad habits.

But on a more light-hearted note: apparently large concentrations of mint can still make me hyper (why this happens, I still have no idea), as my family discovered after I drank five (small) glasses of Moroccan mint tea. Actually, me being hyper now seems to result in some attempts at exclaiming random things in a really bad Dr. Strangelove accent and a lot of sliding on wood floors in my socks while attempting not to crash into the walls. I'll probably become more loony within the next few weeks as I undergo the joyous process of trying to find an apartment with reasonable rent for four people in South Central Los Angeles. ENVY ME. Or not.

Going back to college will be interesting; unfortunately because of the timing with my parents' trip to China I won't be able to go visit friends on the East Coast during spring break after all this year. I'm starting to understand why the student crowd can be considered spiritually homeless, but I don't think I'm experienced enough in these matters to have a mature, legitimate viewpoint on such matters.

(I will get around to replying to comments, but I have been horribly lazy and neglecting the Internet lately. I can't apologize enough.)
theladyrose: (Default)
I'm not sure what strikes me more: human potential or human faliability.

I'll write about the CIRCLE Asian Pacific American issues retreat later as I've got a paper and a midterm coming up for tomorrow. (Famous last words. I just realized I still haven't posted up my Elmer Bernstein concert review from earlier this fall...)
theladyrose: (Default)
The Supergirl Dilemma: Girls Feel the Pressure to Be Perfect, Accomplished, Thin, and Accommodating

(Many thanks to [ profile] st_crispins for the link.)

I've posted up before this article on the overlooked psychological detriments of all women's secondary education, but I think it's an appropriate parallel article. And heck, while you're at it, did you know that women are outperforming men at the university level?

What's shocking me is the increasingly younger age at which girls feel the pressure to be perfect. Virtually everyone I knew in elementary school, both male and female, wanted to go to college, but I always assumed that was more a matter of class expectations. Of course girls should go to college; it's practically expected of all middle-class and higher. The trend now seems to be heading off to grad school.

This article is so frighteningly true. As the graduate of seven years of an all-women's school, I've probably witnessed more of my peers in the midst of breakdowns or near-breakdowns than not. (That's what happens when you spend too much time in the senior lounge.) The concept of pleasing others, though, has evolved; a lot of girls (myself included) think of fulfilling our families' and peers' expectations for success in that category while the study seems to imply that pleasing others mostly involves fulfilling others' personal needs.

More simply put, if you can't ace your 5 AP classes, tutor underpriviledged elementary school children, make banners for the graduating seniors on your soccer team and bake brownies for your depressed friend, you fail at life. I know of a fair number classmates who have done all the above and still feel inadequate. To be honest, I can think of relatively few who would say that. There's such a big push, really starting with my generation, to. We expect ourselves to volunteer in the community, pitch in during family crises, comfort friends having a bad week and create the most memorable six-month anniversary gift for our boyfriends (if we still have time to be in the relationship) while maintaining good grades in challenging classes. The group of people we want to please keeps expanding: parents, friends, teachers, get the picture. I wouldn't call the expectations placed on girls as passive; it's a more dyanmic evolution of the approval seeker.

With older girls nowadays, there's a sort of perverse pressure to be really good at math and science; it's almost an understood requirement to take at least AP Calc/Stats and/or an AP science course even if you don't plan on dealing with those subjects much in college. I don't know about others, but I feel like I'm perpetuating the 50's housewife stereotype because I am not going into engineering, pre-med, pre-law or business. So many of my friends from high school are going into engineering, the hard sciences or pre-med ([ profile] melee_melo, are you still considering gynecology?); they easily outnumber those who are studying the humanities and social sciences. The vast majority of my female friends in college now are business majors, some of whom are double-majoring in the humanities. The rest are majoring in bio, engineering, architecture (not known to be a particularly "feminine" discipline), communications or cinema/theater. Friends (you know who you are, *cough* dear [ profile] eyepiece_simile) often joke that I'm taking a "fuzzy" courseload, and that psychology isn't a real science. Apparently the cognitive science and neurobiological requirements, never mind the prerequisite calc and statistics courses, for the major don't seem to count :P

The article doesn't really touch on the body image issues mentioned in the headline, but they're definitely an issue. It does feel rather simplistic to say that the general obsession with perfection extends to the body, but anorexics tend to be high achievers. [ profile] eyepiece_simile, correct me if I'm getting this wrong, but our old high school hospitalized more female students than any other local high school. Our college admissions counselor told me that the anorexic students she encountered were A students. I could try tying in the article about anorexia I wrote a few months ago, but I don't have a copy, and virtually no one ended up reading it anyway. In simple terms, not only do girls have to perform perfectly, they have to appear flawless and effortless in the process.

I know I'm speaking in vast generalizations here; I'd love to hear any rebuttals or general comments. The post is locked for viewing by female viewers only.
theladyrose: (Default)
Like the eponymous character of Marcel Ayme's short story, "Les Sabines," I would like nothing more than to be able to duplicate myself at a moment's notice and have my identical sisters, sharing one consciousness, live out all of the scenarios and play all their respective personas. No one's ever just one person-there are so many facets of a personality yet never enough time to really polish and display every side at once. Put much more simply, there are too many things I want to do, but I just don't have the energy to play out all these parts.

Sometimes I really don't quite know why I made the choices that I have (*cough* college */cough*) And that's OK, I guess. My problem is that I tend to come up with too many supporting and detracting points for each side that the arithmetic of persuasion cancels out to nothing; it is lucky or mysteriously convenient, then, that I've gotten really good at rationalizing my actions and judgements. I'm neither terribly happy or unhappy about my decision; I figure once I get to campus I'll find some quirky subculture or three in which to entrench myself.

I only get this pretentiously cryptic when I'm really sleep deprived, as I am right now.

I've come to the conclusion that I don't really have enough hot weather clothes as I donated a lot of my old T-shirts and such a few weeks ago as they're too small now. How hot is it usually in LA in the fall?


theladyrose: (Default)

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