What Everyone Wishes They Could Tell Their Almost-Love

Thought Catalog

This is a confession that does not matter now but should have been said a long time ago. A confession so long overdue but still needs to be heard. A confession of no longer importance but changed my discernment in an essential way. And even if all of these had become no more, I still want to come clean.

So I confess to you my friend. Bless me, for I have sinned. And that sin is called holding back.

I confess that if things had gone differently, we would be in the place where we wanted to be. I confess that I believe if one of us just said what one thought of the other, we might have been on the same page, or on the moving forward-stage.

I confess that every time I think about an episode of my life that involves you, everything about it revolves around this…

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When home is no longer home

When I left Korea, I thought I would not want to go back. I told people that I would probably drop by in two years or so, since I’m a poor grad student and I can’t afford to go home so often.

But I soon realized I liked Korea, ‘home’, more than I had realized, and I went home that first summer, and every 10 months or so since then.

The first time home, I cried midway through my stay, because I didn’t want to come back to Boston.

The second time, it got easier, but the goodbye at the airport was still hard and emotional.

But at every trip, I felt that Korea was getting away from me, once again. Or rather, I was letting go of her.

I began seeing again the ugly behind all that made her great.

I acutely noticed people’s attitude, interests, values, that I had learned to accept and even adopt, but that differed so much from my own now.

I realized that all the efficacy of life in Seoul was at the expense of a large group of underpaid, under heard, underestimated workers.

The extensive and extravagant shopping scene could only be explained by the pathological obsession the country has over looks and superficial image.

Comments that were meant to be compliments made me uncomfortable more often than not.

I realized that my friends and I were drifting further apart, and that our conversations stalled at merely reminiscing the good old days, when we were bffs, with no real substance to it.

I could no longer pretend that I was coming back home after my stint in the US when people asked when I was coming back. I had to learn to admit that I had never planned on coming back home without making it sound like I disdained Korea, and hence the lives of those who choose to remain or come back to Korea.

Because I do respect the choices of my fellow Korean friends. I am sure they are doing great at living up to their values and building a path in Korea. I believe that as everybody in any part of the world, they are trying to build the most satisfying life they can get. I bet that a few of them will even become future leaders of Korea, and in 20, 30 years from now, I will read about them in the news and tell my surrounding “I went to college with him/her!”

But I would truly disdain my life in Korea. I would hate having to go back ‘home’ permanently for lack of other options.

So what does going back to Korea mean to me now?

It means going to the dentist at a cheaper price.

It means going shopping and feeling like an upperclass citizen (aka douche), and then remembering why I do not like pretending to be an upperclass citizen.

It means good food, and karaoke on a daily basis.

It means all that Korea represents in my life now : all the superficial pleasures life has to offer, but nothing more.

Sure, it also means seeing my parents, but I would much rather see them somewhere else if that was a possibility.

Call me cold-hearted, but there’s literally just five people from those 8 years that I still want to see when I go back home, and again, I would much prefer meeting them somewhere else.

They are the ones that makes going back home a little exciting, but not so exciting that I look forward to it.

I know this is a bit extreme. Going to Korea right after high school was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. Korea is a big part of who I am now, the good and the bad. There is no reason to completely shun out a country, a culture, eight years of my life and all who entered that chapter of my life, other than my own insecurities.

But Korea, to me, is like a bad boyfriend. I keep going back to it because I gave 8 years of my life to that relationship, and as I said, it has taught me a lot. But like any abusive relationship, I feel myself becoming very small when I go back. I become hyper self aware and at the defensive, all the while pining for approval.

I have to let it go.

I don’t know at this point when my next trip home will be. Ironically, I want to make the next one a longer trip so that I can assure myself that this isn’t a passing bitterness.

That I really am at peace with no longer calling Korea home.

(This is very similar to my journal entry when I decided to stop being a catholic. giving up on the two biggest aspects that I identified with growing up… is that depressing, or what?)

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I deserve better

Angry, that’s how I feel.

After spending an emotionally destructive few days, I feel angry. At myself. At my weak self.

There are people that reside in your life due to circumstances. You did not necessarily choose them, nor did they choose you, but circumstances led you to be closer than you noticed.

And you end up considering them ‘friends’.

Sooner or later, the circumstances dissolve, and you are still left with these ‘friends’ even when there is nothing that holds you together anymore, other than memories and nostalgia.

In most cases, this is a blessing. Especially if you have moved around, started a new chapter of your life somewhere new, it’a a blessing that your surrounding has somehow allowed you to become closer to new people, and to eventually share a big part of your daily life with them.

But in the mist of creating or stumbling into this  comfortable niche, you do not realize that some cancerous entities have slowly, but surely, and toxically, begun to infiltrate it.

I’ve always been so vanilla when it comes to friendships. Not so much when it comes to work, or to guys, or to having an opinion about other people, (i,e talking behind people’s back. yeah I do that) but for friends, I’ve been quite … accommodating.

So maybe it’s not totally surprising that  some strongly opinionated, highly confident people have come to believe that I’m the ‘follower’. The weak friend, who has no opinion, who listens to all that is said, who takes all the advice, and who needs to be protected, but also groomed and trimmed.

And because I do not give them a reason not to be, they become my self-appointed, ‘best friend’.

What they don’t know, is that I don’t do that. I don’t do best friends, I don’t do long lasting friendships.

Or at least, I didn’t. I’ve become a lot more cynical about human relationships since Korea, but this has  helped me define the kind of relationships I want in life. And ironically, this has led me to believe that maybe some of the people I have met these past few years will stay in my life long. But that’s a different story. 

One of the reasons I have been so  passive when it comes to friendship, is maybe that I didn’t care enough. Why stir problems and discomfort in a passing situation, when all I need to do is shut up and smile to just get through.

Even when I knew I wasn’t being quite the good friend they thought I was, or should I say, when I knew they weren’t quite the good friend they thought they were to me, I never actively distanced myself from them. I didn’t think it would be necessary.

But that’s the thing with cancer. When that little cell is replicating in its natural environment you don’t notice. You don’t suspect that it will keep growing, expanding, metastasizing.

And when you do notice it, it’s too late.

I’ve lately realized that some cancerous people have become such an integral part of my life.

What’s worse, is that they don’t realize either how I feel about them. Like any self-respecting egocentric people, they are completely oblivious to where I stand in the relationship. They don’t realize that they are not my best friend and they most definitely do not bring rays of sunlight in my life with their presence.

But in close proximity, at high dose, I can’t ignore it anymore. the toxicity of their words, their attitude, and their hovering beings.

We all need to excise such tumors out of our lives. We owe it to ourselves.

I owe it to myself to be near people who don’t think I need to be groomed and trimmed.

I owe it to myself to be around people that make me happy to be me.

I’m kicking the cancer out.

This bitter feeling that has been with me this whole week, surely is only a side effect of the chemo therapy I’m putting myself through. 

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2014 Resolutions

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions

Well, given that I’ve already blamed the Nor’easter for breaking …about 6 of the resolutions I had in mind, this isn’t starting strong.

But as Jeff said, there needs to be 10 broken resolutions for one to succeed so I’m going to go ahead and list them. Make them public. Go back to it a year later and lament on how little I’ve done.

No, that’s not the right attitude.

I solemnly swear that I am going to strive towards these goals to the best of my abilities.

….. I had a lot more resolutions for this year, but most of them were made during that one blessed week when I thought I could actually have a life this year. How foolish of me.

So the following  is my revised new year’s resolution list.

1. Live more healthy

Work out more / run a half-marathon

I’ve already registered for a half-marathon, so I can’t back out. I would actually like to run the marathon, not survive it, so I’d like to make the run more often.

Thanks to sis, that part isn’t going too bad.. considering it’s January 5th, I’d even call it a success :p. No but really, no more excuses of late nights/early mornings/too tired/too old. Run more often.

Eat more healthy

Remember that one time, when out of catholic guilt, I gave up meat for lent ? I think I may try that again. I remember feeling so much better during those forty days. I love chicken + fish too much to go completely vegetarian, but I want to make a conscientious choice of eating more vegetables.

I’ve also had so much trouble with stomach pains that I think it’s dumb of me not to be more careful.

Caffeine, alcohol, fat from fried stuff, and fat from ice cream… I’ve gotta give up on something, right?

Cook more

Which leads to cooking more. Not that I cook healthy – I barely cook at all – but it’s hard to use as much spices, sodium, oil as the restaurants when you cook at home.

This should also help me reduce meal portions (Damn you America and your awesome portion sizes!) and..

Nope. no cooking. no time for cooking.

2. Be more organized

Budget

… save money.

I’m doing an absolutely terrible job saving money. Getting paid in the middle of the month is really throwing me off, because I think I’m richer than I actually am at the end of the month and spend more than I should.

Lame excuse, I know.

So, I will try to budget more. Especially with all the travels planned this coming year. Eat out less, drink out less. Buy less clothes (It pains me just writing these things …. 😦 )

Clean room more often

No. Really. For once, I really really want to keep this resolution. I like my room/house so much more when it’s livable in it. And again, Sis is giving me tips.

Like… put away your clothes after doing the laundry..  whaaaat revolutionary.

…. throw away stuff you don’t need. You don’t say.

Seriously, going to clean more often. Time to at least pretend to be an adult.

Waste less time on the internet (buzzfeed/thoughtcatalog/facebook)

I am ashamed to admit that this is probably the hardest resolution on this list. Quitting is impossible. I know myself, so I don’t want to  But if I could just wean off it… you know?

Seriously, my quality of life would shoot off the roof. I don’t know what I think I’m missing out on when I don’t check those sites.

So I’m going to limit my Facebook checking/buzzfeed browsing/thoughtcatalog reading to twice a day: on my way to and from work.

There. I’ll be the annoying girl who’s always on her phone and miss out on the beautiful view of the Charles. Fuck the Charles.

Budget

Apparently, I really  want to budget, because I had this written twice. heh.

3. Learn more

Learn to code 

Time for career development. I don’t know if I’ll ever use it, or if self-learning will ever lead me to a level that will allow me to use it, but I still want to try.

Not that there is limited things to do on a molecular level, but once you can work with big data sets, so many more doors would open. I want to at least peak through that door.

And honestly, if not now, when? It should have been something to pursue earlier, but well, bette late than never.

Learn/brush up..?  on more languages 

Duolingo baby.

This is also kind of a career development move. I don’t know where I’ll end up next. And since I always worry 2 to 5 years in advance ( no, my new year’s resolutions do not include ‘worry less’. I like my neurosis damn it) , it’s about time I think about my next step. 

I want to expand my choices. I think my english will get me to most of the places I want to go, and at the end of the day, I might stay in the States, or I don’t know, not have a job… you know… but… oh well. Dream big.

Watch more documentaries 

Read more books

Yeah, no. If I have to give up something, I’m, sadly, like the uneducated dunce that I am, giving up this. The two things that would enrich my life and my personality.

I’m not saying I’m swearing off books and documentaries. I’m just saying I don’t think I can read any more than I do now. 

4. Live better 

Take 1 day a week completely off

Yeah right. I meant a day completely off, and do one activity from the ‘learn more’ section above, but I think I’ll have to do some work-related writing/reading at least. Can’t let this brain of mine rust even for a day! 😉

Get a tattoo 

I don’t know if this necessarily falls in the ‘live better’ section – mom would strongly argue that it doesn’t – but getting something that I’ve wanted for years, I think, deserves to be in the category of things that make my life better 🙂

Need to find a design I don’t doubt after a couple of months since choosing it!

Take superficial comments less seriously and learn to take a compliment. 

And lastly this rather. abstract new year’s resolution. 

Most people go through some confidence issue or other, even those who seem absolutely perfect.

Even then, I realize that this self confidence issue is something that goes a little deeper for me.

There is something very debilitating on a psychological level when you grow up being told and thus being painfully aware  that you are not a pretty thing to look at.

Over the years, I have made my peace with my looks and for several years now, been pretty happy with who I am.

But I am still very touchy on the subject. I once went home and cried for two days because of some comment a very close friend made, a comment that was clearly meant to be joke.

But I also realize that I use that excuse, that ‘childhood trauma’, to be bitter for no good reason.

As a good friend likes to say, that may be an explanation of the way I am, but it shouldn’t be an excuse.

I need to grow out of that phase, not take anything bad, or even anything neutral (my sister knows how good I am at twisting words, said and unsaid…) to heart, and learn to accept some compliments genuinely.

I’ve always had my family appreciate me for who I am of course. But that’s the thing with family, isn’t it. You know they truly believe what they tell you, you just can’t believe it with the same intensity.

But, again, this year, more than ever, I’ve been lucky enough to have 1) a lovely friend just listen to me while I was explaining this issue in tears, without interjecting with empty ‘no you’re not ugly’ comments.  And empathize, not just sympathize. 2) my personal rock-of-a-human-being get genuinely upset at my self-disparaging remarks and give me one of the most heartwarming lectures.

So I’m going to make a conscious effort to really , completely, wholeheartedly accept, and more importantly, appreciate me for who I am.

This doesn’t seem so daunting after all. 2014 me will be better than 2013 me.

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2013 wasn’t so bad

Marking the end of a, all taken into account, pretty good year

Marking the end of a, all taken into account, pretty good year

December 29th 2013, the last Sunday of this year, I got my piercing #6.

Other than the first two (the regular ones), that I got at 14 as a regular teenager, the following ones all have some sort of special meaning.

Mostly hard times, when punching a hole in my ear seemed like some sort of relief. (Hard times that, in retrospect, weren’t that terrible. But you know me, nothing if not dramatic)

Not even worth a Kardashian marriage

Not even worth a Kardashian marriage

I still love every one of them and haven’t regretted them, which is why I felt comfortable, and ready to get another one. (That I’ve told mom would be my last, but so did I for the past one…)

But this isn’t related to a heartbreaking event or anything.

This is to commemorate a year that meant something special to me, in various aspects. So, before moving on to 2014, and all the new year’s resolutions that come with it, I think it is time to reflect on all that I’m thankful for.

The lab 

Academically, it’s been a pretty good year, actually. There were months in the middle, when I felt like doing absolutely nothing, when I showed up in lab at 11 to go home at 6pm and when my productivity reached the absolute lowest in my career (라고 부르기 민망하지만….) , but I still managed to

1- coauthor a paper and get that published

2- wrap up a collaboration that was handed over to me, and get a 2nd authorship on it (whenever it gets published…)

3- be included in an invited review and learn to play around with making figures.

4- Go on that field trip that was long long overdue, and bring back something from it.

For this, I am thankful. I’m thankful for this lab. I haven’t been in such a supportive environment before. There’s always been some sort of pettiness or other that created rifts and decreased the level of excitement that comes with scientific progress

I’m thankful that there is always somebody to listen to my sometimes warranted, sometimes irrational frustration. Somebody who would just give me a hug, no questions asked, but also somebody who would ask the right questions at the right moments and say just the right things that only one in a similar position would know how to.

I’m thankful for all that I have learned this year.

One perk of publishing early is that you have some assurance that you will graduate in a timely matter. But the ‘hey, you can graduate now!’ jokes that followed the initial acceptance of my paper always made me a little uncomfortable because I felt like I hadn’t learned anything.

I’m not saying I’m ready to graduate now. Far from it. But I feel like I’ve learned so much more this one year than I have the other 5 years I’ve worked in a lab, combined.

I’m less afraid of starting a new assay. I’m more used to thinking in terms of papers. This means that I (theoretically at least…) can avoid wasting time, plan better, and hold an argument when discussion with the boss.

I’m surrounded by  a group of such smart people.  Every day, I’m grateful that I’m part of this lab, and this year, more so than before.

My boss 

Which leads to my boss. He’s exasperating, aggravating, childish and stubborn. He’s unorganized, greedy, annoying and cheap. 

sorry-boss-asshole-workplace-ecard-someecards

But he still manages to be a good boss. Or at least, I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from the positive aspects he has as a boss.

He has so far been supportive of my work. Understanding of my vacations (I am definitely using more than my allotted 15 days of vacation). Overlooked my mental breakdown and didn’t make things weird. Remains approachable. Despite loving and creating useless meetings, he makes it up with one very inspirational and productive one once in a while. And at the end of the day, he’s the one who managed to maintain such a nice group.

No grad student graduates without having had at least one semester of strained relationship with the boss. And man, does he make it difficult to maintain a good relationship sometimes. But it could be so much worse.

The many grad school acceptances around me. 

I’ve been invested, in one way or another,  in the path of three people in their endeavor in joining me in hell, otherwise known as grad school.

hahahahahahahah....(sob sob)

hahahahahahahah….(sob sob)

I complain about it, but I know how much you want it when you’re applying for it.

And, again, I’d like to believe I deserve to be here, but my stars lined up way too perfectly when I was applying. It shouldn’t have been that easy for me.

So for two years, I suffered alongside these three people as they went though so much, and ultimately also through painful realization that they have to go through it again.

I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending, because that is the last thing I’m trying to convey here. But  I felt like that what meant to be encouraging words had somehow given them false hope, and it was my fault that some of them didn’t approach this in the right set of mind. I felt like there was a limited amount of good luck and happiness allowed to one family, one group, and that I had taken all of it by coming here.

I can’t pretend my pain and disappointment matched theirs, but it still weighed on me.

So I’m very very thankful that all three are now in different parts of the States, studying what they’ve wanted to study for so long. They deserve all of it, and I hope they get the most out of it.

Circumstances that led my sister to Boston

I believe things happen for a reason. I got one more confirmation this year when my sister moved to Boston. I am very thankful that the series of circumstances, as convoluted as they were, ended up leading her here. So much to do together, so reassuring to know that she’s in the same city. 

Being comfortable being on my own

But having her away for three years, and then having her here now, also made me realize that I’ve finally become my own person. I no longer seek the parental or sibling approval. I am quite ok being on my own, and maybe have changed more than I had realized. And I’m completely ok with that.

Good friends, fun trips, and Mandatory fun. 

Friends keep you sane and grounded when you’re on your own. They take you out for drinks, they bring you ice cream when you’re down, they have hours-long conversations with you over a single beer, even when they are miles away. I honestly don’t know how I could have survived parts of 2013 if it hadn’t been for them. So thank you, every one of you.

We’ve all become so busy over the years, that it’s hard to hang out as often as we used to in our first years. More often than not, it’s easy to just drift apart, go from besties, to good friends, to just acquaintances. And yet, we still find ways to hang out, even making it a mandatory activity. All relationships require effort, and I’m thankful that this group of friends do make the effort, go that extra mile, 4 years later.

The emotional roller coasters 

Honestly, I haven’t had so many different emotions and more importantly daily emotionally changes since… maybe senior year of college. As with anything that lasts (too) long, I had gotten used to a pretty stagnant state of mind. I was ok being single. I kept with my version of stories of how I had never been in love, and as a very independent person, was totally ok being on my own, and that relationships were really more of a waste of time that I couldn’t afford right now, etc. etc.  But the months of hoping, agonizing, falling in and out of love and in again awakened a part of me I thought was gone/never existed/I was better off without.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t gone through a big chunk of this year. I could have done without it, I probably would have been more productive, eaten fewer pints of ice cream, written less pages of dramatic over-thoughts and reenactments of passing moments.

Still, it kind of rekindled a… kinder side of me, if I may say so myself. I’ve become more tolerant, more accepting of personal flaws and quirks, mine and others’. I’ve become less (professional) goal oriented.

I’m still ok with being single. I actually like it more than before for some reason.

But these roller coasters came at a good time. And ended without a crash. And I’m thankful for that, and I’m thankful for all the people who took me on those rides.

... and I don't even think real ones are that fun ....

… and I don’t even think real ones are that fun ….

The people who have helped me open up 

Last but not least. You know who you are.  Circumstantially, we are probably not going to be as close as we have been this past year. And we weren’t that close the previous year either. So I’m thankful that the two people , who know me better than anyone by now, have been here, at the right moment, at the right time.

Gawd this post is making my skin crawl a little bit. It’s too touchy-feely, it’s too… ‘american’,as my sister and I like to say it. (Asians don’t share emotions….except anger… you should see drunk ajeossis fight) . But giving thanks when and where they are due.

Bye 2013.

You weren’t so bad.

Field work dread

I feel dreadful.

I don’t mean in the way of ‘I feel bad’ , although that’s also true, but that I literally feel full of dread.

It’s funny isn’t it.

All the big talks, all the complaining, all the planning, all the anticipation, all the hopes and dreams and glory and what not.

And two days before leaving for field work, all I can feel is dread.

This is what’s going through my head right now

“What if I get arrested, what with all the lab supply that I look like I’m smuggling across oceans?”

“What if nothing works? $12,500 !! that’s how much I was awarded by well-meaning people of the Global health Institute, and that’s how much I will be wasting, because of my silly, silly desire to do some ‘field work'”

“Also, what was I thinking? what made me thing that I can actually set up a new collaboration and get field data? why couldn’t I have been just satisfied with doing ok work in the comfort of my lab, and maybe, you know, maybe accompany some of the other people in already established field sites?”

“I just want to come back to Boston. I know I haven’t left yet, but I want to come back.”

And then there are little moments of excitement.

I mean, half of the time I’ve spent here was spent on making this happen. And it’s happening! It’s actually, finally happening. And you know, I’ve had my fair share of failed experiments. What’s one more? At least, it’s something no-one has done before.

And isn’t this what I’ve wanted as my PhD experience? This will broaden my perspective so much! I’m gaining such valuable experience, with not a single dollar of my own! In fact, I’m being paid for this. I get to work in and visit a whole new country. Not every PhD student gets to do that.

I’m sure that once I get there, I will be fine. Whatever works, works. I’ll come back with some data, even if negative. It’s no big deal.

I’m somewhat prepared, and really, it’s only 6 weeks. It’s not like it’s my first time going to a new part of the world on my own.

Still, I can’t wait to be back in the comfort of my lab.

A few days ago, as I was saying bye to one member who may or may not be here when I get back,  she told me that I was the linchpin of the lab.

I didn’t know what that meant, so I just said a casual thank you, but after googling it, I was tremendously touched.

That is probably one of the nicest things I have been told, and it applies to both my personal and professional self.

However, I have to say that our lab is an exceptionally wonderful lab. I am quite sure that I won’t ever be able to work in a lab like this in the future. So yeah, maybe I get to be appreciated a little bit more in this lab, and it’s an honor anyone would ever think that about me, what with all the complaining and the tantrums I throw once in a while (more than once in a while…?)

I didn’t bring this up just to be a humble brag, but because the wonderfulness of the lab is probably why, ironically, I am feeling so dreadful.

I can’t imagine a place where I feel safer than with this group of people, supported, advised, and understood. I don’t have the confidence, or the strength, to establish that somewhere new, in such a short time.

I may be the ‘linchpin’ of the lab as it is now, but I would be a totally lost, unfit piece, had it not been for the lab, yes, even my oh so annoying boss.

Anyways.

This is happening.

With some warm fuzzy feeling in my belly when I think of lab, and what turns into churning pain when I think of the actual lab work, I am off, this coming Monday, to Malaysia.

Let’s go cure monkey/human malaria!

Ps: I am going to try to write a little bit more about this experience but I sincerely doubt I’ll have the time/energy, although I’m sure I won’t be short of inspiration.

No promises made, but who knows!

Competition is the wrong word

Was this ‘let’s write a blog post a month as a sister thing’ really my idea? It’s a lot more pressure than I had anticipated. I started this a few weeks ago and I am still writing, on sept. 30th.

I can already predict that on the last day of every month, I will be receiving a ‘not done yet? ha, I win!’ text from my sister.

Which brings us nicely to the keyword for the month of October : Competition.

When I first suggested it, I thought I would have so much soooo much to write. After all, isn’t competition part of the natural dynamics between siblings, especially siblings of the same sex, and especially with only a couple of years apart? Isn’t that what defined us growing up together, especially since we literally did everything together, up till college? Surely, this is not just a one-time-subject of conversation!

But then as I decided to start compiling all the times I felt the frustration of lagging behind my perfect sister, or the victorious uplift when I did catch up, I couldn’t. I couldn’t think of a specific competitive situation, good or bad.

That is not to say that they didn’t exist. They probably did. I’m sure competition was a omnipresent feeling in our lives. It probably still is.

But.

Competition is the wrong word.

Up till a certain age, up till middle school, my sister wasn’t competition, she was the model.

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In middle school, she wasn’t competition, she was in a whole different world.

In high school, although that was the one time we were in direct competition, in the same class, taking the same tests, she still couldn’t be competition, because we were all we had to each other.

College, and life after that was… a time of finding ourselves, both in our own ways. That was the first time we were truly allowed to be our independent self, not the Lim sisters.

So no, I don’t remember wanting to beat her, surpass her.

What I do remember is that initial feeling of envy before happiness, whenever something good happened to her. And on some rough times, I remember the guilt of realizing the envy could turn into bitterness, because things always seemed so easy for her.

But what I mostly remember is that fear when I felt we couldn’t compete anymore.

Not because one was better than the other, but because we were drawing different paths in our lives.

I’m sure that period was a rough patch in my sister’s life and I can’t presume I suffered as much as she did. However, her initial decision to maybe stay in Korea, and find a job there made me sadder than any other real event in my adult life. Not by any means, because it wasn’t the right decision on its own right. Not because I thought that staying in Korea was disappointing or anything; but because I thought I would never get to share what I am going through with her. Because this -grad school, life in the States – just wasn’t as meaningful if it were to be my experience, not ours.

Because I didn’t need a spectator, no matter how supportive, but a protagonist in my journey.

Because I guess, at the end, this sibling dynamics, this ‘competitive presence’  is a big part of who  I am.

I have never felt great envy or jealousy towards anyone in particular. In fact, I have never understood petty jealousy for people’s success. Because I know there is always someone better than me, and that’s just ok. Deal with it.

And although self-confidence has always been an issue in some aspects of my life, I can truly stand confidently when I need to, because I know that if I get my shit together, I can be as good as, if not better than, that person. And that’s good too.

At the end of the day, real, healthy competition only exists between two true companions. I’m glad we are just that. companions. And I’m glad we get to be that, yet again, in this city.

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And for what it’s worth, if we were to compete in a world stage, I would, a hundred times over, choose to be known as  Seulgie’s sister, rather than have my sister known as Gaeul’s sister.

So here’s to many more ‘competitive’ blog posts, career decisions and personal victories. 374197_10152788667855332_891481114_n

ps: ha, you did not think this would be a sweet sentimental post, did you? well, that’s what happens when you only write past 9 pm…

There is order in my chaos

Cleaning has never been my strongest.

I like things being clean of course, as long as it does not require me to make it happen.

This was much more easily achievable when I was living at home, and a lot of the mess I left behind was picked up on a regular basis by my mom and sister.

Since living on my own, I got to witness what happens when there is no fairy godmother (also known as mom or sister) cleaning after you.

But I still thought, you know, I was doing an ok job for someone so .. disinterested in keeping a polished order. But it took one (thorough) visit from my sister to realize, boy, was I wrong.

In two days, she had cleaned (thank you) and re-organized (no thank you) my room and closet and drawers.

I don’t mind the cleaning. Yes, I realize my place is dusty (but to my defense, I had just gotten back from Korea). So I appreciate that she took the time dusting and sweeping the place while I was in lab, working.

However, I do protest the re-organizing.

My sister insists that those two go hand in hand, but I disagree.

Not exactly disagree… no. Rather, I contest her definition of ‘organization’.

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There was a reason some of the things were on the floor.

(…There was no reason whatsoever why some other things were on the floor, for example, my protein bar… , but that’s another story…)

There was a reason my accessories were on my desk, not on the bookcase.

There was no real reason why some scarves are in one drawer, and the rest in another, but it didn’t hurt anyone and I liked it that way.

I also always knew where the important things were. Granted, there’s always a panicked minute or two before actually finding the things I am looking for, but ah, the rush of relief that comes right after that is so thrilling…

See, I believe that organization is a personal choice, and a personal style. There is no need to force those poor inanimate objects to be part of one arbitrarily defined category. A scarf, for example, does not need to be defined as ‘grey’ or as ‘polka dotted’. What if it wants to be both grey and polka dotted?

My point is ,there is no advantage in finding a strict order when cleaning. No need for color coding, no need for re-labeling.

I understand that my life would be much easier and probably sanitary if I could make cleaning a regular and obvious part of my daily life.

However, as long as I can find my shit, my shit stays where I put my shit in the first place.

 

Second chapter

Not to be a drama queen, but if I may be so dramatic, the past.. four months or so have been emotionally draining both in and out of lab. 

I think I feel this way every time I go home, but this time, I really really feel like I need a break from Boston. 

I’ve already mentally checked out of lab. And already on my way to Korea. 

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I kinda have made a big deal of my past few months to some of my labmates + friends, and can’t help but wonder whether they are secretly happy to have me gone for a week. 

I sincerely hope that I will come back normal, motivated, pleasant. 

Not so irritated by little things, not so jaded by small experiments, not so overwhelmed by relationships. 

But I know that I will be happy, at least, because… guess what.. this is chapter two of my life in Boston, a chapter where my best friend and main protagonist of my life-book joins me 🙂 

I am beyond excited that my sister gets to join me in Boston. Especially after the past few years, which, I’m sure, was harder on her than anybody else, but still an ever-lingering weight in my daily life.

She will probably be pretty busy settling in, starting grad school, etc. so we will probably not see each other as often as I would like, but just the fact that I could  see her if I wanted to makes the whole difference. 

All the places we can go, all the food we can eat, all the shows we can watch together again! 

It’s going to be amazing. It’s probably going to be the one constant in my life that I didn’t have the past three years. Maybe that’s why I was going crazy. 

so yay for Chapter #2, yay for life in Boston again. 

 

What happened to my french education?

The problem with hanging out with non-scientific, artsy, literary guys, is that you feel extremely uneducated for someone who has not left school, ever. 

Of course, I could hold a conversation about malaria and reference scientists of a century ago, the theories tested and retested, general consensus and issues of debate. 

This may make me sound smart, but not educated. 

In some aspects, I think it’s unfair to compare myself to people who actually major in humanities, but in some other, I feel like I am not giving justice to my french education. 

Especially given that I am so proud of my french education.

It wasn’t the best environment, but there was a time where I could write pages and pages on philosophy, on the dichotomy of body and mind, of the meaning of reason, of the relativeness of good and evil, quoting Descartes and Spinoza, going back to Aristotle and Socrates. 

There was a time where I could dissect a passage from Zola’s Germinal, and refer to some other Rougon-Macquart book and relate it all into the social situation of the second French Empire. 

There was a time when I could read a paragraph in 10 minutes, think about it for 30, and give my spiel, and the hardest question for me to answer would be ‘what tense is this verb conjugated in?’, because, frankly, I was way over these silly grammatical stuff. This was a literary analysis damn it. 

So what happened? How have I not retained any of that, when I studied as if to never forget?

Is the amount of scientific knowledge that I amassed since then so extensive that it had to push away 11 years of french education?  

So I am going to remedy this before it’s too late. My new year’s resolution, 6 months too late. Starting small.

I should at least be able to talk about Honore de Balzac, Emile Zola, Gustave Flaubert, and Guy de Maupassant as if they were my long-time neighbors. 

If nothing else, I should be familiar with 19th century french literature that tortured me and shaped my life for two years back then. 

If I can do that, maybe go into philosophy a little bit. 

All in french of course.

Science and literature should not be mutually exclusive. Non, pas pour une francophone/francophile!