oceantheorem: (was lost now I live here)
I've been thinking a lot lately. This is probably a bad thing, and is likely a product of me not being in lab and class all day long. Luckily my normal hectic life resumes tomorrow, and I become a prisoner of science once again....

Before I get into all the thinkingness, I just wanted to mention that I had a really good spring break, despite being bitterly lonely for most of it. I don't know when I became a social creature; the transformation seems to have snuck up on me. I used to be so antisocial and so afraid of other people. It seems weird that these days I'm so dependent on the company of others. But I did have a good break, and the solitude allowed me to some things I hadn't been able to do in all the hubbub of grad school academic and social life. I watched The Chronicles of Narnia, which made me cry. Such a good movie.... I finished knitting the Cascade 220 bag I've been working on forever, and have learned 1) that it really does matter how long the cable is on circular needles and 2) you really can't felt something in the bathroom sink unless you're a lot more patient than I am. I shall have to bribe a friend with a washing machine. I've also read about half of the second book of the Bridei Chronicles, which I bought about a week ago. I love Juliet Marillier. Her books are amazing. They seem to take hold somewhere inside my heart and then proceed to pull out all of my most secret inner longings about love and life and honor and strength. Her stories speak to me in a strange way that most other stories don't. Then again, I cry at commercials, so maybe I'm giving her too much credit. But this book is amazing, and it makes me wish I had the first one here in Connecticut so I could read it again, since I don't remember most of the minor characters, and Ms. Marillier has a nasty way of making her sequels about minor characters instead of about major ones.
Also, I saw 300 on IMAX the other day, and it had a weird way of actually making me feel violent. Actually violent. I got into the bloodthirstiness of the Spartan killing tactic, and I WANTED the Persians to die. And when the Queen (all right, I won't say anything for those of you who haven't seen it; I don't want to spoil it) does that awesome thing she does, I relished the violence of the moment. It felt good. This led me to realize that I am, in fact, withholding a great deal of anger. This, again, is probably a bad thing. I think I need an outlet for all of this anger, or something really bad is gonna happen.

Anyway.

I've been thinking a lot about my life and what I want out of it. What I want to do with it, who I want to become, where I want to live, how I want to make my living. I listened to last week's This American Life last night, and they sang "California," and for some reason the song hit home in such a strong way that I actually stopped knitting so I could stare out my teeny tiny cell window. I felt like ice. I felt like I had this huge, momentous decision before me, and I knew the way I was supposed to choose, and I knew the way I would choose, and they were different. I'm supposed to go home to California and be something else, do something else, follow some other life path. But it's easier to take no action, to continue following a course already set out, and that's what I've chosen to do. Besides, what kind of other life would I lead? There seem to be so many options, and all of them are terrible, or at least depressingly difficult.

1) Stay here, follow current path, do postdoc in California, etc. Be geneticist.
2) Re-apply to grad schools this coming fall, transfer to UCSF, Berkeley, or Stanford. Be scientist.
3) Move to California (or, more realistically, Reno) and buy a flower shop. In Reno, I bet you anything I could talk my mom into helping me do this, because she tried to about three years ago, and would have succeeded if someone hadn't outbid her on the shop she was trying to buy.
4) Throw a ton of money at a really nice camera, and somehow fight my way into the realm of respectable photography. I could then either be a travel photographer (and writer, there's no way I could travel and not write), or photograph weird inner-city wildlife like deformed pigeons and tame rats. I have no idea where this idea came from, but my dark and twisty brain really likes it. Photography would be so much fun.
5) Re-apply to grad schools, except this time for marine biology. Like Woods Hole and Scripps. Be scientist. Study whales, like I planned in the second grade.
6) Stay here and work on PhD and write a novel. Publish novel, become horribly rich, drop out. Become writer.

Most of these options seem to be horribly flawed in at least one way. Several of them, I know, are completely inviolate (that's a word, right? too lazy to look it up).

In the end, I don't even know why I bother updating about this sort of thing. I know in my heart that, even if being here is utterly wrong for me, I'm too weak to take any action on that decision. I've made my choice in coming here, and am too terrified of being left alone and starving in the cold to leave my current career path. I have no money and so much debt as it is; how could I possibly end the only income I've ever had to throw myself at a dream that may turn out to fail horribly? Or that I may turn out to be bored with? Perhaps I underestimate myself, and I'd be bored to tears as a florist or photographer. I know that spring break is boring me to tears....

I can't help but wonder if all of this insanity and upheaval over HIM is because I'm really all insane and upheaved about ME. I think I'm projecting. I think my own life is a crazy mixed-up confusing mess right now, and I'm living something I'm not sure I believe in (haven't I always yelled at people who don't follow their dreams?), and I'm transferring all of that upsetness over to him so that I'll have something concrete to be frustrated at.

I'm angry. I want to throw things. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure I'm mad at myself. I shouldn't have made the decision to come here, and once I did I should have given myself over to it completely. And since I haven't, I should make up my damn mind about what I want to do, and then I should have the balls to follow through with it and DO something about my misery. I'm so mad at my own unwillingness to help myself. That's a quality I despise in other people, and it makes me livid to see it in myself. AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH.

Date: 2007-03-26 05:26 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] pewter-surfer.livejournal.com
Publish novel, become horribly rich, drop out. Become writer.
I would love to do this. Right now. Even better - dropping out of a grad program that I'm not even in!

And I like listening to "This American Life" too. :) I sorta have a crush on Ira Glass. I tend to like dorky/geeky yet really intelligent guys. Especially ones that wear glasses.

And even though I still only know you online, I wish I could be a better friend to you. I am going through the same grad school agonies - and I haven't even gotten in anywhere! Well, technically yes, but you know I'm in limbo. All I want to offer is that people change their mind all the time. If you have a gut feeling you're not in the right place, be brave and take the steps to go where you want. There have been several instances where I've thought - "Gosh, Kara got into Yale....she'll definitely be successful." And then I remember how you told me the actual circumstances of your grad school application process. But I still think you're insanely intelligent, and worthy of being there. Are you really supposed to be doing something else? You have a mind. A good one. You have figurative balls. And you are able to use them to follow through on what you want. I think that us being young people, we fall into the trap of thinking that where we are NOW is the ONLY POSSIBLE THING WE CAN BE DOING (until the next stage of life springs on us). What would your squirrel say? Is his life of sneaking into your crawlspace his only option? Couldn't he forage elsewhere? He chose your building because he thought he could get what he wanted. And he has. But maybe he'll choose to go somewhere else tomorrow. It may be hard to pack up everything and do a complete 180 degree turn (or in your case, maybe 45 degrees). I just wanted you to know that I think you're able and willing to help yourself.

Date: 2007-03-26 02:07 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] oceantheorem.livejournal.com
Sadly, I feel like becoming a writer is the least reasonable of my options. I haven't written much of actual substance since high school, and I'm dreadfully out of practice. And being a writer is so hard....

I totally understand your crush on Ira Glass--I think I'm developing one! I'd never seen him before this week, but he definitely has that dorky intelligent thing going on. So cute!

Thanks for the encouragement. I think I just need to be told over and over that I'm not a complete waste of human life.
*sigh* I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing. It's definitely easier to just stay put and deal with things here, but it's not making me happy. So I'm not sure what to do about that. I feel like what I really need to do is sit down and make some more lists (aaahhh, I'm so Rory) and figure things out inside my head, because everything seems so fuzzy right now, but I'm terrified of what the ultimate decision would be. It's one of those horrible decisions--if I decide to leave Yale, I can't come back.

Date: 2007-03-26 07:26 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] bananasofdeath.livejournal.com
Hmm. What is it, exactly, that you don't like about Yale? And what would be different if you went to a California school? Because research is going to be similar, and the people in the program are going to be similar (presumably those are the people you'll interact with most), and weather doesn't really seem like a very good reason to transfer.... I dunno, it just seems like a case of the grass on the other side, right now.

On a more positive note, I don't really see why you should beat yourself up over staying at Yale. It doesn't seem that bad, and you had your reasons for going there, so I don't think you should regret your decision. In fact, as I was suggesting above, you don't really seem to have complaints about Yale; you're just mysteriously unhappy. Did you ever go see a counselor?

Also, maybe you should not worry so much about what you "should" be doing? I mean, what's the basis for deciding that kind of thing? It seems like something that should not really be worried about much, or not taken very seriously.

To be honest, I think you should just buckle down and have the strength to perservere with what you undertook, going to Yale, but if you're absolutely convinced you're going to be miserable there, and it really would be better elsewhere, maybe you should change something. I guess, in a way, applying for transfers isn't really so bad, because you're not committed to leaving, but I'm not sure if it will really help.

Date: 2007-03-26 02:26 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] oceantheorem.livejournal.com
It's not that I don't like Yale. I do like Yale. In fact, Yale itself is wonderful and perfect, and I don't have any complaints. They treat us well, the classes are interesting, there's always free food, the research is good, even the architecture is great.

The difference, if I transferred, is location. Being closer to friends, being in an environment I actually like (New Haven is such a terrible, terrible, miserable town), being closer to family. Being closer to my sister, so I can watch her grow up. I don't have a support network out here, and it's harder to form one at this stage--a lot of people have significant others, or know people here from undergrad, or whatever. So they don't need to bond as badly as I do. I have a couple of very good friends, which WOULD make it hard to leave, and they DO make it easier to be here, but still. It's not the academics I don't like here; it's everything else.

I did go see a counselor. But I was having a good morning when I went, and while I did my best to convince the lady that things were NOT, in fact, all happy and roses, I think she thought I was nuts. Granted, I seemed happy and normal when she asked me questions... they said they didn't have any openings right then, and would get back to me within four weeks. It's been more like ten or twelve weeks now, and I haven't heard a word from them. I'm reluctant to go back, since they clearly thought I was insane for seeking help when I didn't seem to need any.

As far as "should" goes, I don't mean like what society thinks I should be doing, or what my mother thinks I should be doing, or what I should be doing to make the most money. I mean, what am I SUPPOSED to be doing with my life? If there is a higher organization to the universe, what is my place in it? Is there something I should be doing, something I'm meant to be? Is this it? Science?
This is a tricky line of questioning, because I'm pretty sure I don't believe in fate. Unfortunately, it keeps coming back into my logic and thought processes as though I DO believe in it. Blah.

I don't think staying here will take strength. I think staying here is the easy thing to do. I think changing my mind would take a lot more strength. And if I've been miserable here for nine months, why do I expect that to change in the next five years? Should I really spend the greater part of my 20s doing something I'm not sure about? Should I really be in graduate school if I'm not 100% dedicated to it?

Date: 2007-03-26 11:40 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] bananasofdeath.livejournal.com
I thought you hated your sister, and couldn't forgive your mom. Good you've gotten over that, though. Being closer would be nice... but you didn't come back to Reno particularly often... so to some extent, you're still going to not be with people you know, and you'll still have to face the same problems of people already having friends and significant others and so on. Also, as Meru pointed out, your friends aren't necessarily going to stay in Santa Cruz/the Bay area forever.

If you think I'm being discouraging, I am. I just think you'll be better off at Yale, even if you're unhappy, than unhappy and flitting around from this to that and going nowhere with your life. I'm not necessarily against your moving and making big changes, but you should be sure you're not just making up pleasant fantasies about what life would be like over there doing that before you gamble away what you've got.

I knew what you meant about what you should be doing, and I don't think you should take it very seriously, because, really, there's no way you can ever know if you're doing what you should be doing, according to whatever grand scheme. The hills are not going to break into song if you are, nor is the sky going to fall if you're not; you're just not going to get that kind of information. So I think the best thing to do is just not worry about it. I suppose what you're trying to ask is "do I really want to be doing this?" and you have to answer that.

I guess I also still think you should give the counselors another shot.

Date: 2007-03-26 11:54 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] bananasofdeath.livejournal.com
Also, yeah, I think you should be in grad school even if you're not 100% sure about it. I mean, who is 100% sure about anything? He's probably a moron, whoever he is. As long as you think you should be doing it more than not....

Also, things could very well change. Didn't you make new friends your last year in Santa Cruz? Could you predict, freshman year, the arrival of Alicia, or the formation of the Goons? Did you predict in eighth grade that Clark would follow you to McQueen? Or from the beginning of freshman year, did you think that I'd be your best friend and we'd traipse around having a grand old time for the next four years? You don't know what's coming up.

I don't remember if I told you this before, but last summer I went to this intensive grad school workshop, and the guy doing the workshop said "You will hate your first year of graduate school. Stick with it; it will get better." He in fact made everyone promise to keep going past their first year. Keep your hopes up, love.

Date: 2007-03-27 03:18 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] oceantheorem.livejournal.com
School isn't the only path to happiness.

Date: 2007-03-27 04:06 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] bananasofdeath.livejournal.com
But it is the best one. =P

Date: 2007-03-27 03:17 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] oceantheorem.livejournal.com
Of course I don't hate my sister. I'm not crazy about babies, and she screams more than the average infant, but I've never hated her. She's a child. She can't help that she screams. And she IS my family, and she's only going to grow up once.
Just because I haven't forgiven my mom doesn't mean I'm not close to her. She's one of my best friends. Sometimes things aren't black and white.

I'm not expecting everyone to stay in one place forever; I don't think that moving back to California is going to magically surround me with a perfect circle of close friends who will dote on me and serve me grapes while fanning me with palm fronds. But most of the people I know and love are west coast people, and it makes sense to be closer to those people. I fucking hate Connecticut. The east coast is NOT my thing. People here are different, and I miss the sun.

I wasn't looking for someone to make a decision for me. This post wasn't a call for "please tell me what to do with my life." It was a "I'm confused and would like to sort things out in print" post. If you'd actually read it, you would have noticed that I implied rather strongly that I'm not going to drop out of Yale, at least not without an actual plan of some sort. I'm not stupid. I'm not going to throw away Yale for no reason. It took a shitload of hard work to get here, and that's not something I take lightly. The next sixty years aren't something I take lightly, either, and I'm not sure I want to spend them with my hands in a fume hood. That's what this post is about.

Date: 2007-03-27 04:34 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] bananasofdeath.livejournal.com
I wasn't trying to make a decision for you; I was giving you advice on how to make your decision, not ruling out possibilities for you. I am trying to help you sort things out. I did, in fact, read your post, and while you implied strongly that you aren't going to drop out of Yale, you also implied strongly that you are deeply unhappy about that decision, and it is some sort of character flaw that you cannot bring yourself to leave. You are suggesting, in your post, that you really ought to leave, but you don't have the guts to end the status quo. I also never said you are stupid, nor do I think you would leave without a plan or a reason. It's just that even if you do, carrying out your plan might not fix all your problems, and I'm concerned that you could end up no happier, and worse off in terms of your career and so on. And of course, it could all end up happily ever after, but the point is it's high risk (depending on the plan), so you should be sure before you undertake something like that. I have been negative intentionally, because if you can think extremely critically about your plan and still want to do it... you can be more sure it's the right thing. And in that sense, I'm actually encouraging you to think about leaving. Not that I think you should, but that you should think about it thoroughly.

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