The Revenant That Did Not Confront a Bear

Dear Blogworld,

It has come to my alarming notice that the following things have happened (in order)

  1. I’ve graduated from college! (More posts on the musings of real life are definitely coming)
  2. I have time on my hands to write about all the things I wanted to! (Expect more of my attempted science fiction stories)
  3. I’ve been notified that it’s been exactly one year since my last post on this blog. (Hence the title, since I’m literally back to this blog after some sort of death)
  4. My writing skills are borderline dysfunctional. (Isn’t this parenthetical style annoying?)
  5. I have 80 days before Real Life begins.

With this terrible excuse of an apology, let me not waste your time any longer and begin by *slowly* resuscitating this blog back.

Cheers and best, etc.

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Readers, I need your help: Relationships

Blogworld, I seek your generous assistance in the comments section. I need help in learning something about human interaction, introverts and college relationships. You are in for a long story, comprising of three characters (self included). Spoiler alert: includes my secrets to a successful relationship, unparalleled matchmaking skills and a guide to mathematical/engineering terminology.


Preface

Specimen A: The central antagonist is this guy who has been friends with me for about a year or so. We share several classes and have grown closer over time. He speaks an average of 5 words an hour and is not exactly the most articulate of speakers. He is often (painfully) awkward and the multiple pauses in conversations almost always makes me overcompensate. But I make him laugh and he likes poking fun at me, at my clumsiness and at my miscellaneous struggles with life, door handles and plastic bottle caps.

A has had a huge crush on the next important character in our story, whom we shall label B.

Specimen B: is a sweetheart. I met her when A was talking to her and couldn’t hide his embarrassment himself fast enough from the approaching me. B and I ended up being close independently of A, though we talked about him often. When A was still worshiping the ground B walked on, she was in a relationship with someone else. Therefore it took me months of encouragement to get him to cough up his feelings so that he could move on with her (and I would be spared the cheesy background narratives). I discovered later from B that A had this tendency to leave very dramatic messages such as “We need to talk. Let’s meet?” and end up talking about the “beauty of Euler’s equation“.

After nearly a semester and a half of pining over her beauty/her intellect/ everything which made her The Woman, he finally mustered the ability to confess his feelings. I particularly remember that night because B called me on the phone and narrated frantically what had happened at the same time that he was awkwardly messaging me on Facebook.  This resulted in an impressive diplomatic maneuver which resulted in the simultaneous pacification of both parties involved.

I learned that B rejected A.

B, who has spent most of her adolescence being bound to one relationship only, has never had the experience of declining a friend’s interest or asking someone out. She also considers A one of her close friends. A, who has had only one “long-ish” high school sweetheart is still coming to terms with rejection and also considers B one of his closest friends, and has a quota of speaking to 1.5 romantic interests a year.

They come to me for advice. I have not had a boyfriend and continue to uphold an impressive history of intimidating people with emotional honesty. Obviously I am graduating with honors in solving relationship problems. Call toll-free number 3141592653 and enter discount coupon WORDPRESS to get your free consultation.

B eventually re-acquired her mental equilibrium after having been “ambushed” by unexpected romance. I sympathized very deeply with A (having been in the same situation), so I decided to cheer him up by feeding him extraneous calories. He was unsure of how to proceed with talking to her and I suggested that they both give each other space (because I’m not very good at being a conversation conduit).

In the short span of a week or so, A deigned to inform me that he was now dating someone else. Dating. Not even asked out, but dating. If his story was to be believed, more than once. This person is a tertiary, minor character in the character in the story but let’s label her B+, because she followed B and because this is not an algebra problem.

I don’t know anything about B+ except for the fact that she outperformed A at the introversion game and is “extremely pretty”. They have been on numerous ( x > 1) dates and one very promising “Want to meet at midnight?”  request which resulted in a posthaste homework session in the densely populated Applied Mathematics library. Relevant relationship advice to prospective date-seekers: know your equations


Here begins the problem statement.

B+, as it turns out, is studying abroad at Hong Kong this semester. A has been complaining of loneliness and has been badgering me to “hook [him] up with one of my many attractive female friends”. Sympathetic to his situation and willing to comply, I asked him to choose a prospect (his tastes fluctuate wildly).

My match-making process is an intricate three-step procedure:

  1. I introduce two people with their full names in a well-lit public space.
  2. I bring up a topic of mutual discussion (classwork, weather, etc.)
  3. I flee.

Among all my achievements, being a good Mrs. Bennet is not one of them. The endeavor failed rather spectacularly, but it did not deter A’s ambitions to acquire a date before Valentine.  He begins to start asking questions about me. A very odd 1:30AM text message about requiring “a cuddle-buddy” was delivered to my phone, and it followed a long series of tangential evaluations of what I should be doing for Valentines’ Day. Subtly, the questions ranged from whether I was dating anyone currently (I am not) to which particular Valentines’ party would I be attending (The only thing I was invited for on Feb 14th was to submit my theoretical computer science homework.)

I usually like to eat meals with my friends because it gives me time to catch up with them without hurting too much of my study time. Casually, I asked to meet him in order to figure out, in-person, what was going on.

What happened next will amaze you. Or maybe not. It amazed me.

We began the conversation with worries of graduate school admissions and as the conversation progressed, he began to express more of himself: his favorite food, his favorite color, places he recommended I visit, etc. He also began to punctuate his sparse conversation with compliments of me, such as (and they made me somewhat self-conscious): how tall I am, how well I write, how nice I am to underclassmen and how pretty my handwriting is. Now you know that being tall, writing well, offering unasked but well-meaning advice to underclassmen and having good penmanship are skills worth complimenting.

In a separate but similar instance, he not only dressed for Chipotle, which is not a locale suited for fine sartorial tastes, but he had also put on cologne. Without loss of generality, he continued to talk of his favorite movie and how we should watch it together.We continued to text each other after that and a very weird thought occurred to me: A might like me.

But why should he? I’m loud, relatively more annoying and verbose. Am I just a replacement for B/B+ gone by? What is all this confusion leading to? Does he even like me? Should it matter to me? What do I do with our friendship?


Testing the hypothesis

“When a weird thought first occurs to a scientist, they either acquire data or perform experiments to test the results of the situation” -(self attribution)

I will not deny that the thought of being admired was flattering. Besides, I needed more meals with him to figure out exactly where all his meandering was leading to, particularly since the days to Valentines’ were ticking down. I had several long, worn-out conversations with myself about what I would do if the friendship was changing. I am not physically attracted to him but I also come from the school of thought which says that personality >> jawline. I was not going to ignore my years of painful rejection history to serve the same treatment to him, at least without a balanced, well-reasoned evaluation of the situation. Did I even have the time for this sort of thing? Why would someone as quiet even find a chatterbox like me attractive? Did he even like me or was he just using me as a replacement for the B/B+ who have gone before?

In the midst of the overwhelming confusion, I sought the assistance of fellow scientists (B included) to gauge the matter. They all indicated, with a confidence interval greater than 90%, that he probably had feelings for me. In aspiring to be a data scientist, I have learned that until the source data says something is true, you can never trust a prediction. While what they said confirmed my suspicions, I was not willing to accept it until A admitted it himself.

A proceeded to ruin my calculations by specifying most certainly, but also vaguely, on the day before Valentines’ Day that <a person like me> could never be his type. There was no more of that conversational luster or cologne or questions about personal interests. I felt very confused because all the data I had collected thus far said otherwise, and surely I must have done something overnight to be so aggressively friend-zoned. Not only did he do that, he brought up his ex and discussed his preference for girls of a certain stereotype in great detail.


 Aftermath

I shrugged my shoulders and tumbled on with life. A week passed during which I didn’t try to speak to him at all, and then I remembered that we were still friends so I shouldn’t be mean. This was a grave mistake. We ended up with “movie night” scheduled to happen in my room. My dorm room is located on the 10th floor and overlooks the Harlem Skyline. He wanted to sample the view.

What started as a very rushed apologetic explanation from him in semi-darkness, because the view couldn’t be seen properly with the internal light reflecting off the window and how he could stay only for 30 mins. We sat at opposite ends of my bed and this huge awkward silence appeared from nowhere, parked itself in between us and remained so heavy that I was sure the mattress bent under the weight. I wanted to make it go away, but it didn’t want to.

When you are living mysterious moments in your life, always cut through them elegantly using my bravery-inducing formula. 

  1. Decide that you want to straighten things out and be annoyed with all this mysterious cue-dropping subtlety.
  2. Rationalize this brashness by declaring that life is too short
  3. Ask for the truth. Up front.

In the semi-visible neon ambiance and from the far reaches of the other side of the bed, I looked up and said, “Hey, do you like me?” as though I was asking for the time. He denied it. He said I was “just a friend” as I always had been.

Then, as the said movie we wanted to watch began, we moved next to each other on the bed, in order to not fragment my laptop. His arm decided to navigate to my shoulder and then proceeded to my waist. The reason why I was so surprised is this: I know for a fact that A is the sort of person who hugs a person once a year. I was to discover that apparently grabbing someone on the waist and then letting your hand stay there for nearly an hour is also completely friendly.

Because I am singularly a very terrible person and because I had some remnant of disbelief as to his first response, I asked the question again. Cue the cringing that is the predecessor of all cringes in the world.

There you go, this is why I will never manage to get along with people. Amazingly enough, he denied it even after his arm had returned to its rightful spot by his shoulder, and he departed with a very tight, long and involved hug. That’s when I metaphorically flipped the table and decided that I had survived internship interviews which were more decisive. What resulted was a very long, awful conversation in which I learned that 21 year old human males have no idea what the evolutionary concept of emotions are about. Or maybe I don’t. I don’t know.


Please feel free to provide your input on what you think is going on. I trust that a group of articulated, wise , blog-maintaining folks like you have more experience in this matter than me.

Apologies and updates about what’s going on

My regular readers may have noticed that my posting pattern is getting rather erratic. I wouldn’t want to simply brush off all this under the carpet called life. So here I am explaining what I’ve been up to and why my life is notching up another throttle.

Let me save myself from the very unfair (and possibly judgmental stare) that my readership is liberally eyeing me with,by explaining what I’ve been up to.

  1. I have signed up for two graduate-level classes in my third year. I really really really really REALLY wanted to study Artificial Intelligence since forever and so when I discovered that they were allowing a limited number of undergraduates to take the class I lunged headlong into it. Also, this semester a visiting professor from University of Michigan is here to teach it and he’s doing a fantastic job of it. However, this also means that I, a young blundering fool, must now keep up to the academic level established by graduate students (read: adults who [possibly] have their life together). It has not been easy, mind you. But I would rather have it hard than not have it at all.
  2. The second class is Natural Language Processing, which is being taught in a reverse classroom method this year. Which means that it not only has oodles of experienced grad students who are absorbing everything on the fly, but that my actual face-to-face interaction time with the professor is seriously limited. I’m a bit worried about this class actually because I wanted to make this my career, and I feel like I am floundering at the very basic introductory level class (which is still primarily for grad students, but how will I show my interest in the subject on my transcript if I haven’t taken the plunge?) It’s also on coursera, by Professor Michael Collins.
  3. Hackathons. If you’re an insider of the coding/geek/start-up/tech-start-up community, you might be all wise smiles and sage-like head nodding. If you’re not, let me explain. Hackathons are derived from the word “hacking” and “marathons”. They are literally between 16-18 hours of continuous code-writing in order to build an app or create software or make fancy tools. These are the estuarine waters where novice to experienced student coders meet company representatives of sponsors of the event. Sponsors are usually companies whose technology/code you would like to borrow or integrate into your code. Often, they will award a series of prizes based on creative usage of the data or technology they’ve provided.
    1. There are some major league hackathons that happen this time of the year in the region that I’m in. MHacks (hosted by Michigan), PennApps (hosted by UPenn), HackGT (hosted by GeorgiaTech) and HackMIT (hosted by MIT) are some of the very popular ones. They award apps with nearly $4000 dollars for their work. Although some offer even more $50,000 was offered this year by HackGT.
    2. Since Major League Hacks like those posted above invite every institution across the country, it’s a great meeting place to meet cool new people.
    3. Fun fact: I was privileged to attend HackMIT this year, where I built my first hardware hack. Basically, my team constructed a prosthetic arm using cardboard and motors and then we used a Myo armband to record human hand-motion and transmit it to the prosthetic in almost real time. There’s a video I would have loved to post, but I’m not quite sure I have the time to make it happen.
  1. Another fun-fact, I’m going to about two more hackathons this year: YHacks (hosted by Yale) and HackPrinceton (hosted by….come on, you should know by now).
  2. Searching for internships: I am literally scouring the web (and the websites of companies that I would LOVE to work with) for what they are offering and seeking from people like me.
  3. Lastly, getting health and everything back on track. I lose sleep a lot due to the aforementioned reasons, which just makes exams and tests and life incredibly hard.

Thus I must be off noble readers. I hope you’ll forgive me if the next post isn’t crisply lying in your reader feed (or whatever other mechanism you use to access my content). The month of October is crazy for me, but I promise things get better next month.

Cheers and love and prosperity and longevity!

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I’m simultaneously honored and humbled to let you all know that I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by bdhesse who writes great stuff at http://bdhesse.wordpress.com/ and has successfully confused me into choosing (only) 15 other bloggers who inspiring.

These especially are my favorites at bdhesse’s: Who Needs To Know? and The Nightmare

Here are the rules:

  • The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.
  • The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

*Cracks knuckles*. I’m splitting the blogs I read frequently into categories of similar types. I’m writing a one-liner in the hope that their About pages will obviously do a much more spectacular job than me, but I couldn’t resist.

Category 1: Articulate fiction, non-fiction and  mellifluous poetry.

  1. http://themirrorobscura.wordpress.com/ : Fabulous poetry with mesmerizing graphics.
  2. http://justbadtiming.wordpress.com/ : Delicate prose.
  3. http://4thaluv.com/: Well-written reviews, fictional content and a collection of bookmark-worthy quotes.
  4. http://florencecrayewooster.wordpress.com/: Exquisite phrases combined with a love of storytelling and as you can obviously tell, P.G. Wodehouse.
  5. http://robertokaji.com/ : Translations of oriental poetry combined with poems that often capture something fragile.

Category 2: Culturally-influenced authors who often pour their nostalgia and creativity into their work. I started my blog with the similar idea, so I’m reaching out to some other literal contemporaries out there.

  1. http://abitjuakali.wordpress.com/: Poetry, writing and often the cultural longing of home (which is Uganda) and the contrast of New York.
  2. http://juliealexandraa.wordpress.com/about/ : I love how the works on this site represent the Spanish language and its myriad cultural associations.
  3. http://verseherder.wordpress.com/: Hilarious, natural in the literal sense and very well-spoken/written.

Category 3: Different perspectives from people who have lived and experienced the often misunderstood side of life.

  1. http://takingthemaskoff.com/: Addiction, stigma, ignorance and how they form identities
  2. http://playingyourhandright.wordpress.com/ : Crime, life, mistakes and everything else that makes us human
  3. http://autismthoughts.wordpress.com/ : The struggles and achievements of living with autism
  4. http://suzjones.wordpress.com/about/ : Understanding depression and how writing can serve as an effective way to coping mechanism.

In my humble/inexperienced opinion, a lot of the problems that people have about sex and it’s interconnection with emotional relationships is simply because there aren’t enough sources of sexual enlightenment, let alone, general awareness out there which leads to a whole host of misunderstood, poorly communicated and emotionally-unsatisfying relationships. It’s only if you find out what you want and how to help you get to that, which will help you find what you need to make yourself happy.

Anyway. Here’s to the blogs that celebrate sensuality/sexuality/ gender and all other miscellaneous constructs that stem from the fundamental human need to love and be loved.

Category 4: Content Warning: Sexual, possibly Feminist

  1.  http://kateharding.net/: This blog may be moving to a new domain. Enlightening discussions of women, sexuality, rape and rape culture.
  2. http://captainawkward.com/: Genuine love advice which I may or may not seek because I fit the title description
  3. http://sexpectations89.wordpress.com/ : Casual sex and the misconceptions or self-delusions that people have about it

Category 5: Miscellaneous. Fiction. Opinions. I know I’m exceeding 15 but I really really wanted to mention these great people.

  1. http://aopinionatedman.com/ :The only blogger I know who is singularly and consistently unafraid of voicing their opinion, no matter what.
  2. http://illustriouspeacock.wordpress.com/: Really interesting photographs of random people, places and things.
  3. http://allmostrelevant.com/:   I like this blog. It’s random. Funny. Interesting.

It is way beyond my bed-time now and I’m just going to thank everyone and tell them to keep writing the awesome stuff they do. I’m also going to cut brutally short my speech about just how great WordPress is as a community and how much I love it because it makes me feel like I belong somewhere. The previous sentence is my speech. Thank you all!

Control

Sub was Epi’s Under. Sub was Epi’s lover. Sub fidgeted restlessly, defended from the sunshine that made Epi glow.

If it’s so beautiful, why does Epi keep hiding it from me?

“It’s to protect you, Sub,” he said, looking immensely radiant and charming. He would talk to her of the beautiful world called Outside and all the things that comprised it. He would say they were dangerous, but Sub always imagined they were beautiful.

There were also moments when he could be cold.

There was once when Sub’s Unders were injured. Epi had been indifferent. “I am too large to worry about such minutiae,” he said.  His smooth vast being did not reflect any sign of the turmoil of the Unders.

Well, I’m the one who holds him in place, seethed the upset Sub. I’ll show him who really controls this relationship.

Sub saw her opportunity when Epi was about to stretch. On impulse, she let go.

Epi ruptured. A large metal intruder penetrated Epi and let Sub glimpse the blinding white of Outside. It was so amazing, that Sub retracted hastily, feeling the burning rays of the world beyond Epi.

“I hope you’re happy, Sub,” wept the wounded Epi.

His scars were eventually healed and he was granted a new face. But he never forgave Sub.

“I’m tired of you controlling me!”

“I am created to control my Unders,” said Epi, coldly.  Sub stayed silent.

What more could a subdermal tissue have to say to the epidermis?

“What does Converse with Kurti mean anyway?”

As a celebration of this blog’s anniversary, I’m going to try to explain why I chose the name Converse with Kurti.

Some cultural enlightenment is in order. A Kurti (pronounced koohr-tee) is an Indian traditional tunic, often decorated with colors and patterns and other ethnic symbols. Kurtis are often viewed as a diminutive or short-handed version of the salwar kameez, or churidar which come with their own scarves (color matched) and their own trousers/leg-wear (again, color-matched). The Kurti is a single shorter unit and is versatile at being paired. This has led to its increased popularity, especially with the college student demographic as it obeys the dress codes imposed at their institution and allows them to be flexible with their fashion. Ethnic patterns meeting skinny jeans was comfortably the last resort option when the comfort of a school uniform disappeared.

Growing up in a concrete jungle means that I obviously had a wider range of college-wear to choose from, but the Kurti remained a classical favorite. In my school, the only time that girls wore the Kurti was when they wanted to appear traditional or ethnic or even patriotic in some way. Wearing a modest Kurti would instantly earn you brownie points from the parents of your friends who may or may not draw unfair comparisons. Wearing a Kurti came to be understood as a symbol of chastity, the willingness to show that you were still bound to the heritage that you grew up with, even if you are equally comfortable flaunting Lees/Levis/American Apparel jeans under them. A kurti simply made people appear shy, feminine, mature, dressed up, modest and comparatively “more Indian” than anything else.

Combine that with the other contrasting brand image, as supported by Converse shoes. When you wear Converse shoes, your peers may or may not peg you to be that cool, low-maintenance girl who doesn’t care what people think but wears a fancy brand anyway, possibly even a gamer or a wannabe punk and almost certainly a tomboy. Your parents might either think you’re very childish (the thing has laces on it like a school-kid’s shoes) or practical (Well, at least she can walk in those) or unnecessarily an adolescent indulgence. (Why waste so much money on Converse when any other pair of sneakers can suffice?)

And what of the girl who wears both? What categories does she fit in? Is she destined to fit in at all? Which milieu of identities shall I claim as my own or is this haphazard mess of perspectives supposed to find a niche for itself?

I used to wear Converse with Kurtis to offset my femininity, to somehow provide a strong, if not equivalent representation to the sci-fi loving, dubstep-jamming punk that continues to code away. To me, it has evolved beyond a simple question of couture, but then what had/was I to become?

Searching for answers began this blog.

4 Indirect ways I shut out Facebook from my life

I don’t know how many of the crazy (and secretly helpful) habits that I have could be applied to anyone else in the world, but I must say that they are pretty effective for me. The weird thing is, I didn’t even know I had these habits, until I let go of them for a while and realized that life was falling apart in all sorts of obscure little ways. Also, Facebook has mixed results with a lot of social researches. Some say that they have done wonders for the human psyche, there are others who say that people who frequent Facebook tend to compare their lives to other people.  Here they are for your perusal.

Habit #1: Having a 60-character long Facebook password

Context: My roommate is one of those people who loves to post random statuses about life, masquerading as me. Therefore, I do not ever save my password on my browser. Also, I have this childhood fear that if I don’t log out of anything that I’ve logged into, I’m inviting hackers to pick at my data. Most of my time on Facebook is spent serially liking things, or messaging friends or actually getting all my club members up to speed on the events/deeds of the week. I could use a really helpful productivity app like StayFocused, but I’m in denial that I need one I need my Facebook time in uninterrupted pockets for “productive” reasons, such as get together with my study group. Therefore, the best way to stop getting addicted to Facebook is to write an essay in the password bar every time I try to log in.

Benefits: This method appeals to my lethargy, makes typing on the phone a very avoidable nightmare (so I’m not posting random links all the time) and keeps my account heavily protected. I stop visiting Facebook simply because I know that typing out 60 characters every single time I’m there is a pain. It makes my typing faster and it always amazes people to watch my fingers fly over the keyboard generating a military-grade password for something as mundane as my social life.

Habit#2: Move the Facebook phone app/widget off my home page

Context: Just knowing that I have to search among the complete menagerie of apps that infest my phone for one tiny single square F  makes me want to not bother with searching it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the clean design of the app and I especially like how unobtrusive the Android button is. Yet, I have so many apps that begin with the letters of the English alphabet before and with F that scrolling through makes my thumb tired and makes me want to forget what I had so earnestly wanted to share to a random mass of people anyway.

Benefits: It curbs my urge to spam my wall or my friends’ messages with random online content, simply because it is too tedious to locate the app button on my phone. It allows me to be deliciously lazy and prevents me from coming across some alarming notifications along the lines of “COME TO MY WEEKEND PARTY BECAUSE I KNOW YOU DON’T HAVE A LIFE. HERE’S ME RUBBING IT IN YOUR FACE #YOLO”. My thumbs are a lot more functional and occasionally, I come across an app that I never knew I had installed and waste my time on that instead of feeling pathetic that I am not in Florida/Mexico/<exotic locale> doing exotic things.

Habit#3: Abruptly change phone lock pin when going through a random mood swing.

Context: Since I’m a creature with a knack for terribly long passwords (see no.1), I don’t see the need to change them often. However, I keep my phone pin lock short so I can access it in the event of…well, life. Once, when I was super-upset, I changed the password to something I couldn’t remember even 20 seconds later (when my phone locked off). Even though my online accounts remain secure, I still feel the need to keep my memory of passwords up and running.

Benefits: Serves as a good memory-building tool, keeps my account safe, deters me from checking every single notification I get within 30 milliseconds of it’s arrival on my device, lets me use that time to do something else in my life, like crack codes which the past me uses to set these numbers up, <usual password reasons>, etc.

Habit#4: Use up all of my phone internet bandwidth within the first few days of my bill cycle

Context: Wow. My phone. Seriously. I’m not denying that Facebook on my phone has served several wonderful causes, such as diffusing awkward moments in the elevator by providing me with valid scroll-able content. or being anti-social in general. But there are those times when I’m supposed to be finishing a project and my hand gives into the Pavlovian reaction of pulling my phone out and admiring pictures and videos of ordinary people doing ordinary things.

Benefits: I obviously get a lot more internet bandwidth then to watch TED talks, listen obsessively to SoundCloud ( I feel like I should provide a complimentary link to my profile as evidence of just how active I am on that site) and read pages after pages of goodwill-bearing advice on Lifehacker. This also makes me want to curb later days of the month, when I’m stranded between midterms and hopelessly waiting for a page to load. When I’ve used up my bandwidth, each webpage takes a minimum of ten years to load, so my impatience makes me want to enjoy the reality of life, smell the roses midterms and so on.

There you go. Please feel free to let me know of some of your ideas/methods/habits that you have in order to stop social media from becoming your only media. I might even try some of them out!

Skills I have acquired by living with a room-mate

Disclaimer: My room-mate is my best friend and so I didn’t exactly have to resolve issues of emotional closeness/kleptomania/ boundary value problems (Oops, my partial differential equations are showing) space constraints, etc.

Anyway, here are a few:

1. Mastered the art of sleeping with the lights on. She’s a late night owl. Her schedule goes as follows: Afternoon, Evening, Night, Late-Night. Mine is as follows: Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Night.  We have learned to make do with study lamps.

2. Sometimes my room-mate’s boyfriend comes over just to cuddle, and this may or may not result in him sleeping over. Using all my math and spatial geometry skills in the early hours of the morning, I am able to take an instant inventory of exactly how many arms are poking out under the blanket at any given time. This also determines whether it is time for me to make a hasty exit or not. I had several inhibitions to this at first, even after several assurances that “we’re not going to do anything. Not when we know you’re around”. I have come to derive comfort from this simple fact, as dubious as it sounds.

3. Related to No. 2. I have learned how to disappear without leaving an awkward mess behind or being awkward myself. This involves  nearly telekinetic abilities to manage a heavy door, heavy boots and slippery wooden floors. Go figure.

3. Also related to No. 2. I tend to shower first thing in the morning and upon returning to the room and discovering sleeping guests, I have learned how to cover myself up as quickly as possible while maintaining maximum coverage of existing robe/towel. This includes, besides underwear, three layers of sweaters, skinny jeans and snow-boots in a time span < or = to 30 seconds. Bonus points for managing a dress.

4. As the girl who shunned make-up for most of her life, I am now thoroughly adept at applying it in semi-darkness. Results may vary when I appear in daylight. Or identifying objects in complete darkness. My room-mate accidentally tried to drink from her lava lamp instead of the water bottle nearby.

5. Realizing that having someone at home whom you can come back to after a long day and simply pour out all your feelings and activities is something truly worthwhile. And I’m truly glad that despite everything, I’m living with her.

 

 

How I (am trying) to rebuild myself: Relationships

It’s the winter break. There is no other sound besides my staccato typing and my breathing and the thermostat. The house is quiet. My mind is quiet. After a long time, there are no claws of fatigue trying to pull me down. I can now hear myself think and it is important to me that I figure some things out about my life. The year is ending, so I have ample opportunities for a fresh start. At least psychologically. I’m going to talk about a few things that I do that have literally helped me mold myself better.

Firstly, in order to make something better, you need to know the current state it is in. 2013 was a year of a little too many revelations about who and what I am and how I respond to different stimuli. With the assistance of a great psychotherapist, I have managed to find where I have disconnects in my thought and behavior. I’m not saying everyone has to go through that, but one of the key processes I have discovered in bringing self-improvement is being absolutely brutally honest with who and what you are. Also, if like me, you have an additional self-criticism feature turned off, you have to turn it off. At least for the duration of this process.

Secondly, we will now indulge in my second-most-favorite activity. making lists. Make a list of problems you want to tackle. You can make it on paper, or on your favorite task-managing app (this might be better if it has auto-reminders set in), etc. It doesn’t matter what the medium is as long as it is tangible and visible. I’m no expert in psychology but I find that if my goals are visible and present before me, I strive to work towards them better. So make the lists. As many as you want.

Disclaimer: This worked for my best friend and she sort of suggested that I get this method out there. Also, this is not supposed to be some definite astronomically accurate calculation which will tell you everything about life, the universe and everything. No, these are numbers that you create in order to help you get some idea of what your end goal is/should be.

Now I’m actually going to talk about the process, so bear with me. You’re also very welcome to walk with me. I am an engineer, so it’s easy for me to crunch numbers. I understand completely if you’re not a math person, but believe me, when the numbers that you have generated tell you something, you’re less likely to not believe it.

  1. Make a list of all the attributes you want to see in a prospective boyfriend/girlfriend/friend. Seriously, write all of them down. Even if they range from “Must not be a serial killer” to “Can play a musical instrument”.
  2. Adjacent to this list, write down how important each attribute is to you. Depending on how precise you want this to be, you can grade this on a scale of 0-10, or 0-100. For example, if you’re a person who really doesn’t care about a person’s background, write a small number against that. Whereas if it matters to you what religious/political affiliations a person might have, write a larger number against that. This scoring also should be consistent with “deal-breakers” about a person. For example, if you prize good manners above financial well-being and someone scores less against that, clearly, that’s not what you want. (As per your own data.)
  3. In the next column, jot down the name of a person you were interested in/are interested in/could be interested in. Score them against each of your criteria. Be honest to yourself in what you really think about this person. For example, one of my criteria was spontaneity. People are obviously more likely to be spontaneous when they have the time to be spontaneous, but I hadn’t quite considered that.
  4. Repeat the process for as many people as you want. This applies to friends too.
  5. Once that’s done, you can now calculate how each person works with you either by adding the totals and comparing the highest. Or, to be more fair, you can calculate the weighted average of each person. So this way, their score is more precise in the aspects that matter to you. Weighted average  = Sum of ((attribute 1 x value of attribute 1) + (attribute 2 x value of attribute 2)+..(keep doing until)…….(attribute n x value of attribute n))/(sum of all the values of the attributes). “n” here represents the last value. So if you have 15 attributes, n = 15 and so on. If you’re using Excel, like I did, use =SUMPRODUCT(<person score>, <value of attributes>)/ SUM(<value of attributes>).
  6. The numbers should tell you something about what sort of people you like, if you didn’t know that already. They will also somehow show how important some of these values are to you, which are more important, equally important, less important. If you were unable to decide whether to focus your attention on Person A or Person B, the numbers should tell you which one is worth more of your time.

So, there you go. It’s sort of like creating your own compatibility generator, except without any magic, or random rules or any arbitration such as the letters of their names and so on. I remember, back in elementary school, when my classmates had this weird game called FLAMES, which was supposed to determine relationship compatibility via some arbitrary elimination of letters. I’m not quite sure how the entirety of relationships that we have with people can fit into the meager category of 6 letters, but I guess at that age, it’s the closest approximation. This one, however, is custom-built, mathematically rigorous, and as my friend told me, “quite effective”.

I will write another one shortly about evaluating myself. As in, my strengths, weaknesses, areas I need to work on, areas I deserve to treat myself on and so on. If you want to follow me along that journey as well and maybe discover something that might help you or amuse you, please feel free to join me.

P.S: I don’t think I’m as grateful to me readers as I should be. Massive apologies. It’s my New Year’s Resolution to work on that. Thank you, everyone, for reading and for following me through this incredible transformation that has been 2013. I always believe, and my mother always tells me to, that the best is yet to come. Happy holidays and best wishes!

A Series of Unfortunate Events

No, I am not talking about the great Lemony Snicket here. This week has been a hell-week. In fact, with midterms in every week of this month, you would have thought that I was having a bad enough week already.

Before you protest my dear reader and tell me that the world has several other deeper problems to deal with, I would like to remind you that I am not here to compare sorrows. I am not here to compare pain. I am here because I’ve had a really rough week (in my humble opinion) and I need a space to rant about it.

This is literally where I live. Butler Library. Open 24x7. Notice all the people being super-social.

This is literally where I live. Butler Library. Open 24×7. Notice all the people being super-social.

 

Monday: I should have known something was very wrong with my Monday when I woke up feeling very happy and assuredly on top of my work. Then I looked at the planner on my phone (hadn’t updated it in quite a while) and all my happiness departed through the window and chose to dissipate into the cold morning air. I skipped breakfast, was largely dazed by the fact that I didn’t understand absolutely anything of what was going on in my classes and worried about the midterm on Wednesday. My laptop came back from the repair center, and so I used it to curl up in a corner of the library and study myself to death. Or at least that was my intention. I was then suddenly attacked by a random mood swing and so as a study break, I ended up sobbing over my previous journal entries and using up two large rolls of tissue paper. Given how volatile my emotional state was, I might as well have wept for the tree that died to make that paper anyway. Then I ended up having an egg sandwich for dinner which was also the first and last meal of my day.

Tuesday: Again, I fretted in class about the midterm. Slept at 4:00AM, woke up at 8 and thought myself to be a high performing machine. Except then I nearly dozed off in class and I completely blame that on everything else except my awful sleep and food habits. The lighting was too cozy, the professor’s voice was too monotonous and so on. I left the class feeling like the lost wet sock which has been in the laundry for too long. I decided to eat something heavy and healthy. This was a very bad idea, because I have an afternoon class at 2:40 and the instinct to doze off was overpowering. It usually happens an hour or so after I’ve had a heavy meal and I think it’s my body’s way of dealing with the accelerated dose of sugar. So at the end of class, half of the Gauss-Jordan algorithm made its way into my head, the rest featured in my dreams. I proceeded shortly after to catch up on all the backlog of readings that I had for my Intro to Japanese Civilization class. I discovered that beyond 3:00 AM I am incapable of processing English, let alone decipher Sanskrit names of Buddhist chants.

Wednesday: Midterm day for Intro to Japan. I tried not to skip my Data Structures class knowing that I might miss out on some important information. Usually, I don’t skip classes, but when I do, the professors generally see it as an auspicious day to talk about some of the most important defining things about the course. My professor heard me openly declare that I was going to fail in the midterm and a very awkward conversation ensued. I was back to warming my favorite spot in the library, until I got distracted by a friend and procrastinated by goofing off WordPress and texting said friend. The terms list on the midterm was okay, but then I think I have severely damaged the essay, which was worth 75 points of the paper. Also discovered that I had an assignment due this week which I had forgotten. After the test, I moped somewhat and then went right back to studying because ONE OF THE MOST FORMIDABLE MIDTERMS OF MY LIFE was to happen the next day. Then, I managed to lose my purse while exiting the library at 1:30 AM. Frantically I spent an hour or so searching for it everywhere, back-tracking through all the stores and restrooms and my belongings and so on. My purse remained ostentatiously invisible, until I finally called up the Public Safety office and retrieved it. All my cards and my keys and my money were intact and I was too overcome with joy and fatigue to make sense of myself anymore. I vaguely remember trying to spout my thanks and the safety officer gave me this very steely glint and said, “Yes, that will be all, ma’am”. I thought I would crash soon as I had a nightmare of a midterm approaching, except that someone decided to set fire to my dorm at about 3:30AM. Yes, I was fast asleep until all the alarms went off and my room-mate evacuated me from the room. The NYFD sent three trucks, all sirens blazing and managed to hose down everything. They took about 30-45 minutes. It was one of the rare moments when even the quietest person can spout the most colorful swear words they know.

Thursday: For the first time in my life, I might actually fail in a core class which is necessary to my major. And yes, it was ONE OF THE MOST FORMIDABLE MIDTERMS OF MY LIFE. Turns out, these sort of things are normal. I guess I should have anticipated that when the professor said that he would curve a 40/100 to an A-. Nowhere in the world is 40/100 curved to an A-. Given my state, I don’t even know if I got a 40. I walked out of that 1.5 hour long ordeal and wandered around a bit, not quite sure whether I was leaving a certain spot or entering it. My other subjects didn’t want to be ignored either and so I had another quiz in the next class. Honestly, I was just too tired of staring at numbers and work at this point and I forced my overtaxed brain to generate stuff that would appear reasonable. It’s a miracle of some form that I didn’t write “I WANT FOOD AND SLEEP AND HUGS” on top of both my papers and leave. Maybe I’m asking for too much? Turns out I got 18/20 for the second quiz so I shouldn’t be as shell-shocked as I am. I also discovered that I could survive for 16 hours on a bagel alone. Yes, yes I know I’m hurtling towards an early death prioritizing my grades over my health, but hey, at least it’ll be a noble death right? Not if it’s a B. My mother turned up in the evening and told me that she narrowly survived a bus accident on the highway, whereas the passengers besides her were severely injured. She then proceeded to dust off shattered glass pieces from her laptop and prayed fervently for a while. I simply cried for a bit, feeling all the stress of this universe boil down to some pure shedding of salt water.

Right. I’m done ranting. Now back to work. Bye.