Saturday, November 24

Another Theory Flash

Noone who has the capability or best fit to be in grad school would want to go into military training. Not just because war is clearly an archaic monstrosity that should have been abolished by now, but also because a person who has the mind of a prospective PhD candidate would pose too many questions to be a propah militant.

My sample size this time is a little bigger than my last theory-flash (where n=1), so I await reprisal with a quiet, optimistic confidence.

Saturday, November 17

Theory Flash

As y'all are well aware, I hate being controversial. But still. Theories have to be given their turn in the spotlight. So.

Two things men think with: one, everyone knows, well established fact and whatnot. Two, their feet. This is why (one figures) men don't normally think about much when they run (except hot chicks if they see any - which further proves theory and acts as corollary). And this is also why, conversely, women think a lot when they run. Cos women use only their brains to think.

What dya guys think? Do I have bases covered?

Sunday, November 11

A Who's Who of Freaksville - 1

"Ooh there'll be extremely intelligent people here", I thought. "No more having to be bored during conversations so retarded that you want to claw your own eyes out with your bare hands", I thought. I even might have chuckled a little bit and rubbed my hands together (or not. but I could have). But this was three months back (or was it four?). Now, one term and a half later, numerous tests under my belt, jaded, weary and this close to being cynical, I have had to face up to the truth.

Grad school is nothing but one big, fat romp of a freak show. Freaks apparently abound in the corridors, pop out of fountains and lurk under the trees. There are (to be completely candid and scientifically detached about it) different levels of freakishness. Some are just severely socially retarded. Some are borderline normal (if you met them on the road you might even think "Awww how cute" and smile at them (but be warned. this is dangerous. hungry grad students should not be petted or smiled at. and all grad students are by definition hungry), or casually say "Have a good one" - shudder). And if you closed your eyes and pretended you were an arts major you might even believe they're normal (you'd have to close your eyes really tight, though).

I feel, you, my blogging public, requires a revue of these weirdos that populate my world (only for your own good, because I'm noble and selfless, not because I want to rant. the idea!). So, part 1 of the Who's Who of Freaksville. I introduce the One Who Scares Me (aka Nice Guy).

He is a nice guy. This is true. One of the nicest guys in class. One of the nicest guys I've met. Even, I'd go so far as to say (staking my integrity on this) that he's probably one of the nicest guys in the world. But people, people, a walking social disaster. It's not the sweatshirt that he's owned since the beginning of time and which smells distinctly of mothballs and some unidentified odor that I quail to investigate. It's not the unkempt hair which has seen neither scissors nor comb since it first sprouted out from the baby boy's bald head. Not even the mewing (he mews, apropos of nothing - which at least is normal because what could mewing be apropos of anyway unless you were talking to cats in an alley, behind a trash can) which is very unpredictable and can take you by surprise if you don't see it coming. I'd even go so far as to say it isn't the knocking over, tripping on, flailing hands into everything within a ten meter radius of Nice Guy. Lots of us sit at a coffee table and immediately knock over one glass of water, one cup of coffee, a chair and a newspaper in quick succession with fatal efficiency (well, not really, but maybe if you had some involuntary muscular contraction thing happening - one does not mock physical disabilities on this blog - ever). No, it's none of these things.

What it is, is the incessant, furious typing in class (furious as in the professors sometimes have to positively yell into their microphones to make themselves heard over the racket he makes), the ear phones in his ear playing music so loud that people 3 rows below and 3 rows above in a ten-seat-on-either-side bloc can hear Mana singing Perdito (I used to quite like the song. sigh) and worst of all his belief that everyone else is similarly endowed with blaring music and ergo, his screaming (yes, actual screaming) of comments about the lecture to the people sitting next to him, complacent in the belief that noone can hear him because (wait for it) he can't.

Once, I sat next to him. Never again. At one point the professor shone his laser beam at us and made comments about the 'bearded gentleman in the back who is typing what I'm sure are my lecture notes, furiously' (true story). I thought I'd die of sheer embarrassment (at least I hoped fervently I would) while Nice Guy through all of it (it felt like a lifetime, I'm reliably informed it was 20 seconds) didn't notice that the professor was highlighting his forehead with a red dot.

Course he didn't notice (what was I thinking). I fear I cannot get out of grad school unscathed. Really. A deep, disemboweling fear. Wait for the next parts. You haven't heard nothing yet. This should have been a Halloween launch (in all fairness to the grand tradition of Halloween) but I was battling with my fears about then (and visiting various shrinks for help, dear god). So, think of it as an honorary Halloween launch. We'll just have a Halloween party all by ourselves. Bring the punch, I'll bring the gossip.

Thursday, November 8

It's Called English, Pliss to Learn to Spikk it

There are many meanings for the word squeamish. I don't know how many of you know this (or care) but squeamish not only means that you are the sort who gets sick at the sight of bloody intestines on the road, it also means that you are excessively fastidious. Excessively. Which is why when I say stop being squeamish, you listen to me and stop being an idiot. Not tell me that I'm using the word wrong and I'm a dork (which I'm not. i have character witnesses ready to take the stand at a moment's notice). Or wait maybe, maybe you just do what I ask you to in the first place and then I wouldn't have to use the word squeamish and we wouldn't be having this conversation. I say come sit with us, and you come sit with us. Simple, no? What is this business of oh, someone else is already sitting next to you. What are you, the Queen of Sheba (or in this case the King. Who was the King of Sheba anyway, and whatever happened to the chappie?)? When you then make a fuss about it and say you can't kick someone off their seat and whatever other rot you happen to be thinking at the moment (I didn't ask you for your opinion, which you would know if you were listening to me, which you clearly were not), and then I accuse you of being squeamish, have the grace to admit, accept and move on.

Dork, he says. Idiot.

Tuesday, November 6


I can see why you'd want to clean your gun in school. If I stretch my imagination. Maybe you're one of those people who are anal. You didn't have time to do it this morning so you brought it along to school, took it to a classroom, spread your stuff around and cleaned it. Decided to take a coffee break and left everything behind, ended up forgetting about it. Maybe. It could happen.

I can even see how someone would do it as a hoax. Maybe to get out of a test, a committee meeting, a conference, a meeting with a particularly obnoxious PI. You bring just the cleaning kit and the empty shell box, arrange it on the desk in one of the classrooms. You sneak away. Someone will eventually find it and there, problem solved.

If I try really hard, I can see someone deciding to kill themselves. You have OCD. You need the gun to be clean before you can use it. So you sneak it into school, find an empty classroom, clean it, leave the cleaning stuff behind (it seems pointless to lug it along with you), find an empty toilet stall, lock yourself in and shoot yourself. Maybe a med student who failed a year.

But I have to actually attempt an out-of-body imaginative exploratory venture to see why someone would want to shoot random people down. You're not happy with your life, so you decide to clean a gun, load it and kill a bunch of people you don't know from Adam? Go figure.

Sunday, November 4

Another Sunday by the Pool

There was a garden lizard at the bottom of the pool. Quite, quite dead. And had been for a while by the look of it. The death of a lizard is a puzzling event. Should one feel sorry, solemn, maybe even a little grave? Or is it an incident that doesn't concern one? Should it just be shrugged off and forgotten? After all, it's just a little reptile. There are tons of them around. It's not like they're an endangered specie that you'd have to care about and show appropriate feeling for. Nor are they filled with fragile beauty (a herpetologist might disagree but whatever).

I stared at it for quite a while because I didn't know what to think (isn't it unsettling when that happens? I can deal with the whole thinking one thing, then the other and having a raging argument in my head thing but the sohowexactlydoireacttothis feeling is one I loathe).

I fished it out in the end. Trekked to the security guard office, got a fishnet from the maintenance man, waded into the pool and fished it out. This is going to sound peculiar but I followed that noble gesture by burying it. Somehow the thought of just throwing it into the bushes where ants would swarm around it and maggots grow out of it didn't seem right. These lizards (the American ones, I mean) are so fat and disgustingly well grown. Alive, they frighten me but dead like this one, I feel sorry for them. So stupid.

Why would you jump into a pool full of chlorine when you labor under the weight of a body that cannot adapt. When you're pampered from birth with everything you need, the sudden appearance of a chlorinated pool in your path does nothing other than invite you to take a refreshing dip. Nothing wrong with that. Try it out, be adventurous you think to yourself. But then you end up dead at the bottom of a pool. Because adaptation is a skill. And the only way you can acquire it is to be up against a wall. It just can't be inherited or bequeathed or bought. It has to be earned the hardest way there is. Mostly, by death.

An Indian lizard, one feels, would definitely have jumped into the pool. But then, an Indian lizard would not have flinched at the chlorine. An Indian lizard would not have ended up at the bottom of the pool. Toxic schmoxic, it would have thought and swum right along.

I think that's why I buried it. I might have some deeply hidden guilt for the unadapted ones. I just might.

And *ta da* this is the 150th post. Who'd have thought.

Thursday, November 1

He Ate a Slice of Wonderbread

Isn't it weird the number of things we forget? I figure if we count the number of things we've forgotten (which of course, logistically, we wouldn't be able to), we'd find that they far, far outweigh the things we remember. It doesn't even seem biased towards happy things. Right? We forget with equal frequency sad things, happy things, important things, trivial things.

One of the oldest memories I have is of walking in circles on a tire that had fallen over on its side in my school play ground. With this other boy from my class (I don't even remember his name). It was a 15 minute break between classes. We didn't talk. At all. The whole time. We just balanced on that tire for 15 minutes (it was a large tire, I think from the school bus, we both could walk on it at the same time, easy). I can remember that 15 minutes of my life in graphic detail down to the grains of sand around the tire. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Obviously. For whatever reason. But that's it. That's my enduring memory from something like the first ten years of my life. Neat, no?

I remember my first kiss. Also in graphic detail (but it's not because it was perfect-which it was- because I also remember some awful kisses - the sloppy kind, eww- and it's not just because it was a kiss (I'm sure I've forgotten quite a few)). I remember everyone in my high school class hitting this fat kid (not really hitting, but kinda fooling around with her). I walk up to her and go "Are you ok?" and she bursts into tears and when the biology lady comes into class all concern, promptly accuses me of bullying her (you can see why I'd remember that, my first taste of the injustice that is life). Several dramatic things happened in my life around the time. And either my folks or my friends from back then are forever going "Dya remember.." and I invariably go "Nuh-uh, I don't. What did he do again?"

After that it only got worse. Those were the good years, memory-wise. Maybe as you get older, things just run into each other. You don't know if you went to that really cool taco place at 4 in the morning this weekend or last weekend or maybe last year. Where A threw up. Remember? Oh no wait wasn't it M who threw up and then S carried her home? And wasn't that in UK?

Memory cues still work. But again for the most random things. I associate This is the Last Time with a snowy Saturday morning that I spent in my dorm room (dreadfully depressing) sitting on my windowsill. That's it. The whole story. Nothing happened. Noone came. The cute Brit boy whose window opened out on the opposite side of the square from mine didn't stick his head out the window and wave. The carpet lady didn't dust her carpet out into the square. Nothing. Just me, the snow, the windowsill and the radio.

The point though (should I write this in bold for all of you who skipped the last two paras?) is that we do remember life lessons, by and large. Maybe the human brain is wired to forget details (like names and places and people and bfs and bffs and phone numbers and the time you thought you'd die because you were so embarrassed and could never show your face in school again) but to remember the big picture. The thoughts, the theories, the major mistakes and why it's important to drink tons of water when you're six vodka martinis down, they stay. Could that be the way it works? Maybe not. Because I know lots of people who do remember the details, every last one. Is it a question of recycling? Maybe, if you have a job that makes you think a lot your brain accommodates by letting you clear up headspace. Maybe this is the difference between thinkers and doers. The thinkers forget and the doers don't.

I don't know the answer. I do know, however, that the most persistent guilt I have is the one associated with not remembering people who were really important to me at some point in my life. Or only vaguely remembering them. Or remembering them but not remembering why I do. This, I know (and yes, I am also aware of the random youtubing in this post - I have three words for you: It Was Fun). The cure, for the curious and the similarly afflicted, is to abase yourself at the altar of their injured expressions with disarmingly candid admissions of ignorance. Always works. And once they remind you, you generally tend to remember.

Reconstruction is a marvelous thing.