This blog has been a bit quiet recently. This past semester had me wrapped around its little finger and I faced what was probably my most challenging several months, academically and personally. But it’s over, and with a finished semester and a holiday vacation comes time for reflection. Google did a fantastic job recapping the year for the world in Zeitgeist 2013. What has this year meant for me?
2 new countries on my passport (UK and Mexico)
Finishing a year-long endeavor to watch all of the FRIENDS episodes with two of the besties
Putting on the best a cappella concert at MIT this fall (alright I’m a bit biased) with my favorite singers on campus.
The sweetest of friendship
Sweat, tears, success, failure… and so much more.
And now it’s time to welcome the New Year with some of my closest friends and family. Decorations? Check. Dance playlist? Check. Fondue? Check. Champagne/sparkling cider? Check. Anderson Cooper in Times Square? Check. 2014, we’re ready.
Almost exactly a year ago, I posted my second entry on this blog, titled “On my own.” It was a post inspired by the thrill of living in Singapore for an entire summer with a small group of other MIT students, living a 9-5 working life, “cooking” for myself, and booking flights and hotels for exotic weekend travels.
This post is the equivalent of that one from a year ago, with one important addition. Alone. I have been on my own plenty of times– traveling to perform in music programs, summers in India without my parents, college. For the first time, however, I am actually on my own, alone. I have come to Oxnard, California, a city where I know nobody, working at Procter & Gamble in Product Supply Engineering, a company and work I have no experience in. And so I began my summer at the beginning of June, living and working with complete strangers. No college friends, no relatives, not even distant family friends. Armed with a crash course in cooking from my mom, allergy medicine, and a window in my summer room that perfectly frames the rising sun each morning, I hugged my dad good-bye exactly a month ago when he came to help me settle in.
So what exactly does “living on my own alone” mean? It means knowing how to use my time in the evenings wisely if I ever want to get anything done. It means starting to think about what I’m going to eat for dinner almost as soon as I get home from work. It means that my breakfast isn’t magically ready in the morning and I have to wake up 10 minutes earlier to make that happen. It means waking up on my own in the first place (damn my deep sleeping habits for which I have to set at least 5 alarms with different tones and various time intervals apart if there’s any hope of me hearing one of them).
But being on my own alone has also meant that I have been given the opportunity to make new observations about myself, because when you have time to yourself, you naturally do the things you actually want to do. It means I have the privilege of going on a walk or a run in the neighborhood alone to just think. It means I get this adorable dog’s love all to myself when I get home from work (until, of course, her actual owner, Shirley, comes home). Being on my own alone without a car, although definitely annoying at times, has meant that I’m back in high school mode, asking new acquaintances for rides, having new conversations, listening to new music in different cars with different personalities to and from work, restaurants, LA, etc.
Most importantly, being on my own alone has given me a new family– a new P&G Oxnard family. Armando and Shirley, from whom I rent a room in a beautiful house, have been incredibly welcoming. I can always expect an interesting conversation with Armando on my way to work, and great laughs in the evening with Shirley’s spunky personality. And of course, Zuri, my beautiful, golden-brown Pomeranian, who reminds me of a Pomeranian who used to be with my family in India, and who greets me every time as if she hasn’t seen me in years and keeps me company wherever I am in the house.
And of course there’s Corky. Corky Clevenger– a man even more interesting than the name itself. I don’t think I have ever met anyone like Corky, and I sincerely doubt I ever will, which of course is exactly what he’s going for. How do you describe in words someone who has been a professional motocross racer, mission worker in Thailand, Laos, and the Philippines, who flew to the Philippines to propose to a woman (Beth, who is a second mother to all) he had met for two months and known for a year through letter-writing, who partners in managing the best Thai restaurant in SoCal, who has built a bamboo jungle in his backyard with twenty-something motorcycles, who sends the most ridiculously hilarious emails, and who has the most incredible stories, the tightest hugs, and the warmest smiles? This man single-handedly has created a community of P&G Oxnard employees that extends beyond the workplace, and he and the rest of the employees have welcomed us interns with open arms. And of course, how could I forget the interns themselves? A more genuine, unique, quirky, and friendly group of six engineering college students from across the country never existed. 🙂
Being on my own alone may not be what I’m used to and it will probably rarely happen again, but right now it’s giving me the experience of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Grabbing sand in their small fists, they giggle and share seashells, blissfully ignorant of the deceptively serene ocean before them–its depths and secrets untold to those sheltered in sunshine and childhood.
On this brisk May evening at the end of a second year at MIT, I remember summers and innocence long gone–perhaps having already slipped into that ocean, barely treading and wistfully glancing back at what once was.
I had a terrible case of voting fever today. Voting fever: a condition in which one’s ability and decision to vote causes severe emotional attachments to the map of the presidential race. It would have been much more tolerable had this been all I was doing. As a newly-voting college student, the worst possible thing that could have happened to me on election day did– I have a paper due tomorrow. How could I be expected to concentrate when states were changing colors before my eyes?
It’s not that I have never paid attention to the presidential elections before; in fact that is pretty far from the truth. There is just something different about knowing that this time, your pen, your dark-filled bubbles, your choice will actually enter the pool of votes and make a difference. Something invigorating, exhilarating. Something that influenced me to run around MIT’s campus for an entire day trying to find a place to notarize my absentee ballot on a day when I had multiple exams. Why anyone who has the ability to vote would not do so is beyond me. For how can we discuss, complain and contemplate our government and our future as a country knowing that we hypocritically did not try to affect it when we were given the chance?
After hours of constantly refreshing Politico.com, exclaiming when a state’s current numbers switched to an Obama-majority, expressing frustration when the first group of states counted all turned red (in case my affiliation wasn’t clear already, here you go 🙂 ), the end came quickly. With every state that turned blue, my heart went back and forth between hoping and not daring to hope, and suddenly, before I knew it, the world declared that it was over. As of my first election, I am one for one. As I wait for the speeches to begin, I realize there are few things I would not give to be in that massive crowd of people with waving flags, grinning faces, and upbeat music.
If I may be so bold, I have one request for this country. Although, we know the man who will be in the White House for the next four years, we still do not know the results of the popular vote. News channels are already declaring that President Obama will win the popular vote, but I think this is a dangerous prediction to make without knowing the results. Regardless of that result, however, the constitutional winner of this election is now President Obama. Even if Romney and his supporters continue to complain for the next few weeks that this should have actually been his presidency by the popular vote, it really doesn’t matter; according to the Constitution, Obama is the winner. After that, the best, most effective thing you or I can do is embrace this fact, and work to ensure that our ideals are reflected in the progress of this nation. I make this claim independent of the winner of the election. After the selection of our president, nothing can be gained from extending the ugly bickering. The hope and change, the movement forward depends on us and our cooperation. No matter what each candidate promises, no single man can take upon the challenges facing this country and completely turn it around. Let’s pledge to move forward from this moment, work together, and help our president help us.
Update (post-Romney speech): Thank you Mitt Romney for a short, gracious speech with little political rhetoric. I hope that you, your supporters and people on both sides of the aisle live up to your words of moving forward.
Two words: Slow. Down. I mean, is it really necessary to flash through 8 weeks of summer so that it feels like literally yesterday when I landed in Singapore? So that in 1 month, I’m going to be entering my second year at MIT? I understand the need for your steady yet relentless march forward, but I demand an explanation for the unreasonable discrepancy between expectations and reality. Just because we are all forced to walk to your beat does not mean you can take advantage of us poor, unfortunate souls and toy with our hearts and minds.
And would it really hurt to give us a few minutes every now and then to just stop and stare? Even for those of us who love to fill our lives to the brim, would two minutes really kill you? I mean, “managing” you has become a skill all on its own.
My new-found movie love from this weekend says it best: “From the moment we enter this life we are in the flow of it[time]. We measure it and we mark it, but we cannot defy it.”
Seriously, I had higher expectations of you, oh Fourth-Dimension.
So after a super long week and super short previous night’s sleep… it’s Friday! Friday’s kind of an end but it’s sort of a beginning too. The end of a week of “work,” or I guess if you’re lucky, a week of exercising your strongest passion in life that you also get paid for (gotta work on figuring that out). But also the beginning of the weekend. The week end– the end of the week. The beginning of the end of the week? Well that was enlightening.
Okay so it’s not just that. It’s the beginning of…plans. Of free time (at least, supposedly..I’ve yet to experience the meaning of those two words). Of fun. Of sleep. And on this particular Friday evening, I’m on a bus–typing away on my phone, probably (definitely) looking like a stereotypical, self-centered teenager, wrapped up in the cyberworld Right now I’m on my way to a family friend’s house. It’s the first time I’m taking the bus to their house so I decided to count the number of stops until Merrimont Convent, where I have to get off (even though I know the name of the stop). 25. Right now I’m at #7. Or maybe it’s 8…Yeah I totally got this. (Fun fact: it can’t be 6 because 6 is afraid of 7 because 7 8 9!) (Sorry couldn’t help it. I would totally understand if you never visited this site again… just saying).
So the other day I was completely baffled when I saw a sign on the bus door that said:
Like the idea that you could actually scan your card before your stop so that you would be charged less, never even OCCURRED to me. How am I that naive? It’s such a brilliantly evil idea! And after reading the sign, I pretty much thought, well no one would actually do that anyways. It’s Singapore. Land of the rule-followers.
And then TODAY, on stop #2, I saw someone do it! An old man (at least I think he’s old considering he had like no teeth), simply reached back and scanned his card, but didn’t leave the bus. People actually DO THAT?! My mind was literally blown. And the worst part was that.. no one DID anything. All of us on the bus sat there, like accomplices to a crime. Actually I’m pretty sure I was the only one to notice, because no one pays attention to anyone else on a bus (side note: that’s why whenever my friends and I get on a bus, it gets really noisy… we are pretty much the only ones talking…) But I’ve been thinking about it, and well, that’s kind of what we’ve been socially trained to do. Like in school, if someone finds the answers to a test online, you don’t tell on them. If people are sharing answers on homework, you’re not supposed to be a taddle-tale. You can’t judge. Because then you’re not cool. You’re not cool because you’re not indifferent. It’s indifference that really makes everything work sometimes. But if you can’t judge anything then how is anything right or wrong? Plus if you don’t have a vested opinion or interest in a matter, then you get distanced from it. And whether or not you want to believe it, the ability to not “judge,” possibly one of the most valued qualities in society today, might just lead you down the road of simply not caring. And when you don’t care anymore, who are you?
Stop #25. Over and out.
Bits of madness, a little rationality, hints of ambition, and a pinch of pixie dust: take a look through my eyes.