Auditioning for Static Noyze in – July

Being a part of the dance scene in the Boston-Cambridge area this summer has been an amazing experience. The workshops offered by Norheastern’s Kinematix are really high quality, and MIT’s Constructs has people with different styles in popping that are always down to session. To end my July on a high note, I auditioned for Static Noyze, who placed 3rd in World of Dance New Jersey. Watching their set on WOD was a lot of fun, but learning the new pieces of their Ninja Set gave me a really fresh perspective on how professional dance groups teach choreography, and the discipline these dance groups whip themselves with 4 days a week is intense. These people don’t pretend to be ninjas.

I’ve also never sweated this much in life. The first few minutes, I worked up “Stage 1 Sweat” – the good kind of sweat that pumps you up and lights your body on fire. Then came “Stage 2 Sweat” – the kind of sweat that drips to uncomfortable places, that pools into dark, oval circles on your shirt and that makes you awkwardly keep wiping away sweat but you have nothing try to wipe with anymore. It’s getting tiring, but OK, OK still moving. I’ve always floated around “Stage 2 Sweat” from running, weightlifting, and other choreography pieces, but as they taught the final song, my body skyrocketed into “Stage 3 Sweat” – S3S. Before reaching this stage, my hair had gotten some of that good, sexy push-back from dancing so much, but S3S stiffened my hair like I had overdone my Gatsby. I literally lost my cool RIP. Hitting the beats in the foreground and background was like playing DDR SuperNova all over again (the best DDR). In front of me were streams of sick tuts, wrist-breaks and body rolls against the floor, and I was lagging behind trying to desperately follow everything until my energy bar depleted to zero (and later exploded). And that’s how my auditions went.

Joking aside, this experience was very electrifying as I pushed myself to my limits in their audition, and also eye-opening as I realized what it took to compete at the top level. I hope they have a really good set in WODLA, and I hope I can bring the dance energy I felt today to Ecelctics!

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Remembering the Scars of Sophomore Year in – July

An Introduction Paragrah That Un-spun Itself Into An Uncomfortable Wooly Sweater

I have a love-hate-“love” relationship with Johns Hopkins University. In my first year, I fell in love with Johns Hopkins tor the wealth of knowledge they try to pour into you. I love Biomedical Engineering for being a very Eclectic discipline in terms of combining math, biology, and a fair bit of engineering intuition to solve intricate problems and explain phenomena in the human body.

In my second year, I still loved it, but I started hating the intense academic culture the Hopkins Professors and Hopkins Student Body perpetuates. It feels intense in the sense that if you aren’t studying for 6-12 hours, you’re going to be left behind because everyone else is studying those 6-12 hours. At the same time, if you are the ones pushing to study 6-12 hours, people will throw labels at you like “cut-throat” or “pre-med” (It shouldn’t carry a negative connotation, but it somehow does around here). Year round, the culture in Hopkins has a lot of “ego”-measuring competitions to see who can complain more about their coursework of lack-of sleep schedule. In the subsection of the “Premed” culture here, everyone silently watches everyone else for the person gunning down for volunteer positions in Hospitals, research fellowships, design teams, competitions, etc – people will sarcastically jeer and put-down that person in their mind for trying so hard, while silently trying to worm their way to the top as well. The cost of conversations will be minimized to asking for homework help; you want to be above the fierce academic culture by offering help since it seems like the decent thing to do, but it wears at you when you continuously conduct these question-answer transactions that become you’re only connection to people. This hate leads into my other “love” for Hopkins, because this frustration has become a Stockholm Syndrome for complaining. On my good days, I try my best to be real and think, “The try-hard ‘Hopkins Culture’ doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just a state of mind.” On my bad days though, it infects me and I start to believe it, and I’m stuck in this poisonous equilibrium, oscillating back and forth between exemplifying all the unpleasant qualities about Hopkins students and deriding those qualities; I would scramble to diagnose the illness that I think has loomed over Hopkins, when really it’s just my ill perception of the world. Even writing this paragraph two months later, I have trouble drawing the line of being completely real and being hyper-dramatic. How much of my perception is valid? I’m not sure, but when the school spirit our institution is in the Student Study Center rather than on our football field, there is some truth to my sadness.

For me specifically, I just had a bad semester and I want to dig the salt of the Earth with this post. When you start making appointments to the Student Health and Wellness, maybe the silly, sarcastic grudge you have against this school is manifesting into something actually horrible. When you finally crack and lose your motivation to study before one of your Final Exams and have resigned yourself to failure, you might remember the bad memories just a bit better too.  During the end of my Sophomore Spring, I hated how I hard I’ve worked myself, how much I started caring about what other people think, and how much I started to micromanage my day to the half-hour where all activities are allocated a certain amount of time and breaking my study schedule leads to mental segmentation faults. Maybe my ill perception of Hopkins is all in my head and I’m not thinking straight, however, I saw some of these same struggles in my peers at the time, some took it better, some took it worse, and it’s disconcerting to see how much the academic pressure can bog our minds and corner us to value academic success over our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Sophomore Spring is over, I did OK in the end, but I still feel hopelessly institutionalized, still being able to vividly recall memories two months later as if it were yesterday.

I’m reading this blog post over again right now and I can’t help but laugh. I wanted to write about my summer experience in the Boston-Cambridge area and all the exciting things I’m seeing, but my introduction in explaining my pre-summer mental state spun into a bitter tangent that wants to remember the scars of Sophomore Spring. I didn’t really want to revisit any of more of these thoughts. I’ve hammered them enough in my own Amygdala, triggering a bottomless cocktail of anxiety, fear, and stress, however I’ve already written this much, so I might as well get my thoughts into something physical on WordPress, and maybe I can let this moment pass. Some of my thoughts might be over the place, but I don’t feel like I have the authority to provide a systematic, analytical breakdown, since everyone has a different experience, and I don’t want to perpetuate cycles no’ mo’. Some of my thoughts might also be spurious and it ironically perpetuates “The Hopkins Culture” by complaining, but at that time, it was what I felt and it was real to me.

My experience in a nutshell.

What Went Wrong

Um. Not sleeping enough, not exercising enough, having unhealthy relationships, falling behind in my routine and then not respecting some of my classes. That’s about it.

It Wasn’t Really That Bad

Sophomore Year made me an emotionless husk of the person I used to be, but I still had a lot of new positive experiences.

I’m really glad I met Andy Tsai, who made programming hella fun, and taught me the importance of finding value. We would spend countless hours programming only small UI improvements, making 3 AM cheese steak runs and scouring Princeton and MIT CS lectures, and it was all worth. He has a blog here, but it’s kind of bad so you might want to stay on this page.

New groups I joined such as Hopkins Christian Fellowship and Stepping Stones Ministry through Michael Good and Andy helped reforge my relationship with God, and I realized my flesh and soul can only go so far without being empowered by the Spirit. Academic groups such as Engineering World Health made design teams fun, serious, and thought-provoking for me under the tenure of Adarsha Malla. I also grew closer to the people in Eclectics and CSA, however, they are honestly too caring and friendly, and the way they empathize and make me feel warm irks me to a great deal. When I am around them, I remember that existing can be beautiful.

That all goes away when I hang out with my rag tag friend group, “307”. That’s what we call ourselves, since that was the dormitory where everything happened in Buiding A, freshman year. Dank memes were shared, drinks were spilled, furniture was broken, gossip was spread like the plague, and it was pretty glorious. No one gets a shout out though.

Conclusion

This might be the closest entry I’ll ever write in summarizing my Hopkins Experience. I’ve learned some of the coolest, most niche areas of study in biology, I’ve learned how to complain,  I’ve learned what it means to fail and suffer, I’ve learned that failing will happen again in the future and its OK, I’ve also learned how to not complain, I’ve developed a thick outer core that makes me bitter and sarcastic and a small inner core that just wants to dance to “Elastic Heart”, and I’ve made strong friends that’ll last a life time. That is Hopkins in a nut shell. So, eh? It’s OK so far.

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Because Spring Sucks – April

Come Spring, blooms of the spores of my demise,

spreading pollen around Homewood that’s hell in disguise.

Ten milligrams of antihistamine, for my itchy nose and sneezing,

bleeding phelgm into my aveolies, that suffocate my lungs from breathing.

The tundras of Hopkins have melted,

and the plagues of nature rise,

A fate worse than boils are tiny locusts in my eyes.

Peeking with my fingers, between the blinds of a window.

I imagine lying down on the beach, and feeling the wind blow.

I dare to dream of snow, and the envy makes my sin grow,

As I do my homework for Computational Medicine,

taught by Professor Miller and Winslow.

When it rains, I raise my hands and in the Lord’s name I praise,

as God took a break and finally lifted the pollen haze

With the cleansing of Spring, there is temporarily enough peace

to ease the tension in me,

what’s between Palestine and Israel,

and maybe the rest of the Middle East.

To those who enjoy the nice weather, I meant not to offend,

but can you wake me up when this purgatory finally comes to an end?

Because Spring sucks.

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A Phantasmagoria in – January

2:00 AM

Tap. Tap. Tap.

The imperishable nights of January – oh how you vex me into staying awake, with the cold air biting at my toes, the lingering smell of spices and cooking oil that got circulated through the air vents, and that incessant tapping I hear from the ceiling, that breaks rhythm every now and then just to vex me further from slipping into my quiet reverie.

Tap. Tap.

Only two taps? Where is th-

Tap.

There it is, we all thought you lost your nerves and couldn’t jump. Around this time of night at 2:39 AM, in this invariable cold weather and rain (approximately), the taps of water usually come down in threes. I know because I’ve studied them, with a growing sample size of now 8 nights. By the end of January, I’ll have course credits in both fluid dynamics and an academic literary study of Vladimir Nabokov. I even have my clever opening line for my thesis: “Tap. tap. tap: the drip of a single droplet taking a dip of three drops down the palate to tap, at three, on the tabletop.”

Tap. Tap. Tap.   Tap. Tap….Tap.

But alas, if only sound of these triplets were as rhythmic as Jeremy Irons’s “Lo-lee-ta,” as every now and then, there is that one bead of water that refuses to drop. Twas a cheeky, yet futile move to cling on for so long, as gravity eventually wiggled and writhed that previous bead of water out of its wintermolecular forces with the wetting agents on the ceiling. That bead of water has been quite the rapscallion in not only throwing my sleep in disarray, but also holding up the queue of the other busy droplets that might now have to cancel their plans for the night – a truly imperishable night to lay awake on your bed and hear the beads of water in bedlam.

Over a period of an uncountable amount of time, I stopped blaming that one black sheep for throwing off my count in falling asleep. It couldn’t help having maybe stronger colligative properties than the previous bead of water.

Tap. Tap. Tap.   Tap. Tap….Tap.

To become the better man, I let it be. I tried my best to brush off the tapping, and for a while, I was at peace. Then the water nation attacked. dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnn

6:00 AM

Alright, I’ma just cut the writing (cuz it got cheez-E lol) and just jump straight into why I’m writing up until 6:00 AM at night over winter break. I didn’t realize this, but the taps I’ve been hearing weren’t from the outside, but rather against the plastic cover over the light bulbs in my room, and water was leaking through the orifices of the electrical circuits. No drop of water ever thinks it is responsible for the flood, and because of this ignorant looking water, I woke up to a cascade of water splashing my entire room. So now, I’m awake, cold as hell, with no bed, writing about a stupid drop of water I feel real salty about, ya naw sayin? Tried to personify the water, give it some character traits and maybe a background story you can relate to, but nahhhhhhh, screw  that, I just realized why awake writing this in the first place. I hate this weather, and the rain dat be comin with it. Aight, i’m outie. Tonight gunna be living on as a phantasmagoria in January (name dropped the title of the blog, omgg) that I will never truly forget, or forgive.

Note:

Forgive my absence, school happened :'(. The time I wanted to invest in writing went into dance and research, which isn’t so bad I guess, but the streak is over, and the dream is dead….

But maybe not for long! I’m taking Introduction to Fiction & Poetry this semester, so maybe if I write something good, I’ll post it here :3.

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An immersion into Vinyl – August

I’ve been on a 3 month blogging streak so far. I do not plan on ending it now. Here is my blog for August xoxo. As my summer is coming to an end, here is something cool I’m up to.

An immersion into Vinyl

Lured by my curiosity, I stepped into my first record shop, Dimensions Music, on August 11th, and a smell hit me – a combination of musty odors and dust that relayed to me this place has not been disturbed in a very long time. I found this shop sealed in a perfect time capsule on the corner of West Lexington Street and Park Avenue, shielded away in a bubble of anachronism from the streets of Baltimore that have withered away into phosphorescent landing strips for crime and destitution.

Fold out! =

Fold out of EWF’s “I Am”

The shop wasn’t dirty, but obviously ancient. A finger through any surface of the shop would amount to a lonely pile of debris. The objects for sale were records, large discs coated with polyvinyl chloride and precisely etched with the vibrations of music such that when a needle moves along the spiral grooves, it echoes the music back perfectly. These records were stored in crates neatly arranged in a government warehouse-esque operation, all lost in transcription as the only way to rummage these records was to manually pull one out. Muddled in an ocean of grey-white labeling, I decide to pull a record out of one of the crates, unbeknownst that it was an impressive-looking cover of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s album, “I Am.” The record’s dust jacket lived up to its name as when brushed, dust particles scattered in the air in a colloidal suspension, revealing  the full hand-drawn artwork on the album cover. To no surprise to even the microscopic dust mites that might have found cozy living spaces in the shop, the record itself was also dusty; however, one quick wipe gleamed two iridescent conic sections at an angle of 30° that shined bright red, green blue, and white on opposite sides of the record. Against the light of an old incandescent light bulb, as I moved the record in a gentle lemniscate rotation, these bright conic sections moved with my hands around the record, revealing the full, intricate grooves of the laser etching. $15. That is how much the cashier departed with my money, as I picked up 3 Earth, Wind and Fire Albums, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Chuck Mangione’s “Feel So Good.”

Tried to capture some of that sheen. It's really hard to capture on camera! Light's always trying to escape.

Tried to capture some of that sheen. It’s really hard to capture on camera! Light’s always trying to escape.”

My experience seeing, holding, and smelling a record taught me that vinyl is a medium that strongly appeals to the senses. The holographic sheen of the record and the beautiful 12” by 12” artwork of the album covers, the weight of the record and the texture of the fine grooves when you run your fingers across it, the crisp smell of must when you open the dust jacket  – all of these senses, sight, touch, and smell, become naturally associated with the music you hear and refines the way you listen to music. As I played some Earth, Wind, & Fire on my Magnavox Turntable, I felt a stronger connection to the music after bonding with the album in my odyssey of finding it, admiring the artwork, rigorously checking for scratches, and feeling the grooves. I didn’t even mind the crackling too much on the turntable, as I felt it added more texture to the music. Vinyl is a hobby I’m slowly getting into, but it’s something I hope to grow and grow with as I journey to experience more records.

Vintage Magnavox Turntable. I didn't know they made turntables.

Vintage Magnavox Turntable. I didn’t know they made turntables.

 

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August 25, 2014 · 5:42 am

Ratatouille: Confit Byaldi – July

Another month, another post!

For the better half of July, I’ve been stuck in a torpor – the weather here in Baltimore alternates between sunny skies to a maelstorm of  heavy rain, the summer course I’m taking, Discrete Mathematics, constantly stupefies me with proofs and theorems, and my injured hand has rendered me pretty much incapacitated. I haven’t been able to properly lift and dance due to my injury, but at the same time, I haven’t been able to let it heal either since I have to always write and take notes, which works the tendons and the wrist in my hand.

However, I haven’t allowed these debilitating circumstances to completely sap my motivation to try new things and be productive with what little free time I have. This weekend, I made Confit Byaldi, which is a stylized version of the french dish, Ratatouille, that was made for the movie, “Ratatouille” (Quite a mouthful to type out)! I made this dish for a friend’s birthday, who was vegan, and being that I never cooked without meat before, I thought this would be really fun to try!

The specific recipe I used was Bruno Albouze’s Ratatouille Casserole Dish, which I liked very much. If someone like me, who has had very little cooking experience, can make it look good, you can probably too!

A text version of his recipe if you want to copy/paste:

Piperade Sauce

Piperade Sauce

Piperade Mixture

  • 1 onion, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 carrots, washed, unpeeled, and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter and olive oil (if you’re making this for your vegan friend, don’t use butter!)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, charred, peeled, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 poblano pepper and 2 chili peppers, charred, peeled, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 can crushed tomato
  • 1 tsp herbes de Provence
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, minced

    Sliced vegetables fanned out

    Sliced Vegetables w/ Piperade Sauce

Sliced Vegetables

  • 2 yellow squash, sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
  • 2 zuccihinis (green sqaush), sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
  • 2 Japanese or Chinese eggplants, sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds

Seasoning

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp thyme leaves, chopped
  • salt pepper to taste

The video explains everything. Follow it, and you’ll be golden. Here are just some tips that I would have found very helpful on my first attempt:

  • If you don’t have a gas stove, you can roast your peppers by putting it in the oven at 500 C for 40 minutes, which will also char your vegetables.
  • The size of the pan I used was only 9 inches in diameter, and I used 1 yellow squash, 1 zuccihini, 1 eggplant, and 3 roma tomatos, with lots of leftover slices to spare!
  • Make sure you get all of your vegetables to almost the exact same diameter! If your eggplant is just a little bit bigger, you won’t be able to make the beautiful fan.
Finished Product!

Finished Product!

I had a lot of fun making Ratatouille, and its colorful pattern and vibrant taste makes pretty great to bring to a party. I think what made this dish really stand out was the Piperade Mixture; It had a strong, spicy taste on its own, while also packed with flavor from the tomatoes. When roasted underneath the sliced vegetables, everything caramelized altogether, and it made eating these vegetables a treat. I’ve never been a fan of eggplant or zuccihini, but after making this, I’m going to be rethinking my old diet of chicken, curry, steamed bok choy, and Chipotle.

This dish was a great wake up call to an overall lethargic July. I would love to make this again if given the time, and I hope you can share this recipe as well!

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The Romance of BME, The Woes of being Indecisive – June

The Romance of BME: For Incoming Freshman :>

BME. Beta Mu Epsilon.

It really stands for Biomedical Engineering, but its more of a fraternity with four year hazing than a credible major. However, seeing as I haven’t taken Systems Bioengineering I yet, I have no right to complain. All joking aside, Biomedical Engineering is an eclectic discipline that applies engineering principles to answer questions in biology and medicine. Industry-related career opportunities in BME include designing prosthetics, building medical devices, making pharmaceutical drugs, translating stem cells into clinical applications (hopefully), and tons and tons of consulting. There is also tons of research developing in BME, which includes improving image modalities such as CT and MRI, profiling tumor supressor genes using computational biology, and lots more! People say that BME is a dead major with no job opportunities for undergraduates, as you aren’t as skilled as an electrical engineer, programmer, or a biologist who specialized in their respective fields. However, I say give it some time. As we become an ageless generation where there is an exponential interest in the application of stem cells and human augmentation, who knows what the job market for BME will look like? If all else fails, you can always apply to medical school, as the course curriculum for BME is identical to that of the requirements for going PreMed. It’s tough, bleak, and unpredictable major, but it’s rewarding in the sense that it develops your intuition to be good at problem-solving and thinking, and encourages you to be creative with different disciplines and combine them in a way that can become meaningful in the world.

Take origami, for example. Origami is a traditional Japanese art, but within the past decade, engineers and mathematicians have found an enormous amount of mathematics in the crease patterns. Like math, origami has its own axioms that it must obey in order to successfully develop complicated structures that won’t collapse. The particular beauty of Origami in science is that engineers can calculate the right ratio and pattern of mountain folds and valley folds that will minimize or maximize the shape of paper objects. In astrophysics, the James Webb Space Telescope was sent to space using origami, as it was designed to compact in a small structure during launch, and then fold out into a large telescope once it was in space. In medicine, scientists have been able to develop an origami heart stent, which it enters the arteries as an extremely small device, and then folds out to keep the walls of the arteries from being blocked. Not to mention the other possibilities it could have in Biomedical Engineering as we could make more efficient devices using origami and better compact and fit it into the human body. Origami is a mathematical art that is designed so precisely that in the common eye, we don’t see clever uses of theorems or axioms,  we see “art.” When I think of BME, I think of elegant, beautiful math coming together that you can eventually end up holding in your hands, and marvel at how it can potentially end up saving hundreds, thousands, or millions of lives.

The Woes of being Indecisive

(In this part of my blog, I’ll be giving you a real plight in my freshman year that lasted around January to April, and it’ll be a bit personal. Sorry, it’s a bit academic ranty, but it provides an example of a real life choice I had to make, and hopefully, you can learn from it too. Also it’s a blog about BME. L0lz, how cool did you think it could be? I’ll share my many tales of sexiling roommates and chugging Everclear left n right, you know meeee, but not now~~)

The mysterious, uncharted areas of research and career paths in BME, however exciting they might be to explore, can also become a double-edged sword that hacks at soul for nights on end and tears your dreams asunder. Literally. For those of you who are already set on a particular profession or school when you leave Hopkins, that’s great! For those of you like me who are susceptible to really technical-sounding (but cool!) descriptions of professors, concentrations and research papers, you might be stuck dwelling between choices before even making a move.

Before I even chose BME, I always wanted to do some clinical work with stem cells. My research experience at the National Institute of Health during high school has all been stem cell-related, so it made sense to concentrate in Cell/Tissue Engineering as I had already built the foundation. This was a science I extremely enjoyed learning about, and I wouldn’t have minded devoting myself to this specialty for the next 6-7 years in a PhD program (that’s how much I loved it).  Coming here though, I was exposed to medical imaging, computational biology, essentially “the works” of exciting science. I was window-shopping through tabs and tabs of different professors in (http://www.bme.jhu.edu/people/primary). Nitish V. Thakor be always looking pretty suave in his profile.

To be serious (and goofy because I love metaphors), my struggle of picking a concentration or career path is much more than just a fleeting infatuation with “cool science.” I wanted to devote myself to the application of Cell/Tissue Engineering, be it through becoming a doctor or a staff scientist working in a lab, because I believe that one day stem cells will be a viable therapeutic treatment for a majority of illnesses, especially large neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. I was a disciple that eagerly received the gospel of stem cell applications in review papers that got published, as every step of progress means so, so much to those inflicted with someone they know that have these diseases. I was a believer, ready to participate on the next crusade of exploring the unique qualities of stem cells. But when it came time to accepting a research position from Professor Warren Grayson at the Wilmer Eye Institute, I couldn’t 100% accept. One of the hardest offers I had to turn down. (Pretty dramatic writing this l0l) Even as I write this, I have a sinking feeling if I even made the right choice, but I knew that if I committed myself to his lab, I would have had to at least stay 2 years, and forbid myself from having heretic thoughts of switching labs. Wet lab experience is something that can’t be really obtained from a book or the internet, and as a result, Principal Investigators working in wet lab don’t like their undergraduate researchers leaving after teaching them a valuable skill set.

Instead, I chose computer science double major! Kind of left field, eh? After all of that description of my passion, I abandon it mid-blog to talk about something else. I’ve already droned origami and stem cells, I’ll save you some dribble about the “magic” of computer science, blah blah I’m tired rambling. A bit lame. Assuming I don’t like computer science for dumb reasons, to cut it short, I already had wet lab experience with stem cells, and computer science experience, no matter where you go, will always end up being extremely pertinent. A switch from CS to stem cell work looked possible, as computational biology can involve stem cells, while on the other hand, a switch from stem cell to CS seemed unrealistic. (I’ll let you know how this turns out)

Regardless of whether I end up making the right choice or not, in general, when you are at this kind of crossroad in your life, where the next academic step you make can become the foundation of the career you end up following, choose not only wisely, but also decisively. As you might have picked up from this blog, choosing Computational Biology over stem cells was an extremely difficult choice for me to make, and I let it drag on for months before I finally decided to concentrate and also double major in Computer Science. People will say you have time to explore in your four years of Hopkins, but me, if I had this crisis even a month later, I wouldn’t have oriented my summer schedule to be able to finish my double major in 4 years. Had I not realize I would need to take Linear Algebra and Discrete Mathematics over the summer, I would have been overburdened in my Sophomore or Junior year, and probably fallen under the weight of an extra 4 credits. I would have also wasted a summer not specializing in computational biology by doing different research, as experience is everything in terms of getting into lab positions, getting papers, getting into graduate school or start ups, and etc…. It’s this harsh, results-only-matter reality that hits your fantasy and aspirations, and you have to micromanage these differing thoughts extremely efficiently if you want to follow through on at least one of the academic passions you enjoy.

In this time span from January to April, I stopped dilly dallying in my choices after reading a paragraph in “The Bell Jar”, by Sylvia Plath (recommended by a friend!), which I think might be one of the most important paragraphs I have read, as I can relate to this in my entire life.

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” 
 Sylvia Plath, Bell Jar

If you become too indecisive on opportunities, especially in college, these opportunities will pass on to someone else who can make the right choice quicker.

Quick self reflection while I’m already talking about it

On a personal note, I realize that one of my most horrible qualities is my inability to realize what’s best in front of me. When people give me a yes or no choice, where a yes would require me to come to a banquet, party, or do some extra work,  to my chagrin, every now and then, I answer yes for the sake of having options. I realize that as I’m writing this…I like having a giant fig tree, for the sake of having lots of figs to choose from, because I believe somewhere in my self-centered logic, if I have more figs to choose from, the better opportunities that will come to me. Actually that’s a bit unfair to myself. Some times I just say yes because I think I have the time, and then something unavoidable happens that I have to re-prioritize things. For example, I told a coworker 3 days ago I was going to work on Thursday, but I ended up being dragged back home from Baltimore that Thursday because of Father’s Day. Honestly, I try really hard to avoid pulling this kind of stunt, because it’s always unfair to the person who’s time I’m wasting or getting their hopes up. Overall, I strive to be a more dependable person, and it’s one of the few aspects I believe I can self-improve on. I actually started this blog to try and have some good habits, but as you might have seen from my activity, I’m not the most active blogger (at least I haven’t totally abandoned this blog! haha). Maybe if I wasn’t such a perfectionist, I would have more time to reach for more figs (I would probably want to write more blogs if I didn’t feel the urge to write 2000 words for every single one of them!)  I’m thinking maybe 1 magnum-opus-sized blog each month? No, that’s too much. I’ll figure it out, get off meee.

Anyways, this quote means a lot to me, and it’s something that sticks in my head every day. In almost every decision I make, I think of this quote often beforehand to remind myself that I should always plant smaller fig trees.

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