Archive for the 'school' Category

ahoy again

It’s been a very, very strange year. I wish I could get a do-over, but at the same time I’d MUCH RATHER NOT have to go through all that crazy shit a second time. I graduated and transitioned into the real world of unemployment and despair. I went to Burning Man (again). I got dumped (again). I went to war with and cut myself off from some crazy, pushy, confounding, conniving people, stressed to the point that I had to question my priorities, my morals, and the very nature of my character, and sometimes I still have to remind myself why I did what I did. I moved back in with my parents and got a sweet little dog who cries when she’s alone. I’ve got lots of free time now, and I spend it working on two novels I’ve written for NaNoWriMo, tinkering with GarageBand and my resume, learning how to drive, and trying not to get cabin fever.

I realized that the three-year cycle that keeps me ever “transitory” is coming around again, and after a two-week jaunt to NYC in October, the “Empire State of Mind” song is stuck in my head. I really might go back to where I came from, that ghetto-ass Chilltown that my sister and I spent years trying to forget. I think I want to finally live in the city proper. I think I’m finally prepared.

Then again, I’ve got a bunch of loans to repay, and maybe staying under my parents’ roof would be a better idea. I don’t know. I’ve talked to so many people this past month. Some of them are my age, or younger, or decades older, with kids a decade younger than I am. Some of them are still at Stanford, some graduated with me and are still unemployed, some have been working the same insanely cushy job for the past five years, some are my parents’ friends who have been working for the past five decades.

I’ve told each person something different about myself and what I want in a job. Everything I’ve said has been true. Everything I’ve said has been me talking out of my ass. I’ve gotten more advice than I know what to do with.

My sister scared me best: You have a degree that will make you more money than mine will, but because of that you also have more debt than I ever had. Pay your dues.

A thirtysomething friend and father of two put it this way: It’s never too late to do what you want to do.

I feel like my clock is ticking, but this is a recession. Despite all of those newspaper articles on people finally chasing their dreams because they lost their jobs and are retooling their priorities, I need to be making bank.

I’m clinging to hope. A friend currently at Columbia told me about a fellow neuroscience Ph.D. candidate who is in a fairly popular Brooklyn indie band. The guy spends all day at his job and all night rehearsing and doing gigs. Sure, you can always make time. Am I really that dedicated, though?


with high internet connectivity, user productivity approaches zero

Since I am now anchored to one location and probably will stay that way for the next year or two, I think I’ll be turning my thoughts to digital global culture more often. The Internet has shaped a lot of who I am– I got my first AOL account at age six!– and only when I had to live without it did I realize how much of an impact it has on my life.

Living with the Internet makes everything much more convenient, but it also makes my life infinitely more complicated. In the span of fifteen minutes online, my curiosity and insatiable thirst for information led me from vegetarian recipe searching to a Wikipedia entry about a character from His Dark Materials. (Whoever can name all the connections I took to get there wins a prize.) Think about how much havoc I wreak on my work and sleep schedule when my house on campus has high-speed WiFi! I can hole myself up in my room for weeks and just pull a hikikomori on everyone.

This means I can’t work in my room, and I can’t work in the public spaces of my house because the social interaction is just as distracting. I also live at the top of a hill, so I’m discouraged from venturing out to study, but good *god* it’s almost finals week, I have to. (At least the weather’s a whole lot better than it was a month ago…)

I’ve found that I work best outside of my dorm, sans laptop, in a public place that isn’t too quiet— on campus, The Axe and Palm in Old Union does the trick. I usually can’t work with people talking in the background, but somehow I don’t mind random people talking. Maybe it’s because it’s an improvement from the background noise I get at home, which involves my family talking instead of random people. Or maybe it’s because I’m afraid of making embarrassingly loud noises (i.e. passing gas) in a pindrop-silent study hall. Either way, I don’t have to deal with the knowledge that I have a wealth of information at my fingertips. Seriously, the convenience of a WiFi-enabled laptop destroys me.

But hey, it could be worse– I could have an iPhone.

new year’s round-up

Once again, sorry for being MIA and back-posting erratically. You guys probably don’t check this blog out as often as I do anyway, but still, I have a lot of catching up to do.

In the meantime, a couple of things that’ve crossed my mind since coming back:

1. Who are you and what did you do to the other girl??

I feel like a completely different person now. For one thing, I’ve been dressing more stylishly. I haven’t left the house in a sweatshirt and sweatpants since March, and I intend to keep it that way. I seem to have lost my appetite lately, so hopefully that’ll offset all the macarons and pasta and choc-nut I had over the past nine months and I can go back to my 110-pound self. I don’t cuss as much as I used to– in Paris I was constantly muttering putain merde de bordel! for some reason or another, but I was high-rolling in the Philippines so I couldn’t come off as an uneducated low-life. :P I’ve also been speaking more Tagalog, but I don’t think that’ll last very long…

2. What the hell are you gonna do now?

The year’s adventures had to come to an end at some point, and now I think I’ll be grounded in the Bay Area at least for the next two years while I finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m still trying to figure out whether my horrible academic record is really just me being lazy or if there’s actually something up with my health, so a trip to Vaden is in order (once I get my student health insurance back in January!).
Even if it is all in my head, I guess I’ll have to be a hermit for a while and focus on not screwing up my $200K education. The twenty years of loans I’m gonna have might as well be worth it!

3. What about the Sorbonne/Peace Corps/grad school?

Maybe in 2009 or 2010 I’ll go back to France and try my hand at Sciences Po or Paris IV again (while trying to break into the French rock scene). I’ll need braces and laser eye surgery– and some moolah– before then, though, so pfft (it sounds more like “pffuu, euh…” in French).
The Peace Corps can also wait. As for grad school, I still have no idea what the hell I’d want to study as a grad student, so that plan is definitely the least pressing.

4. Are you ever gonna learn how to drive?

I like being eco-friendly, and if that means taking a lot of inaction, so much the better. But the freedom driving affords would be pretty nice… as long as the first car I buy is a hybrid.

5. Who reads this blog, anyway?

The other day, one of my mom’s co-workers mentioned that she’s read my blog. I nearly passed out when she went on to tell me that my mother passed on this blog’s address to a lot of people in her office. I don’t know how long ago that was, but according to WordPress’s Blog Stats, I got 500 hits in June, so I’m guessing it was then.
This made me curious– who’s (still) reading this? At the risk of exposing myself to TMI and e-mail contact from creepy stalkers, I’d like you to post a comment here. It doesn’t matter who you are; if you’ve spent more than three minutes on transitory residence, you’re fair game.

This is the end of my 2007 posts. It’s been a fun first year. For 2008 I’d like to wish everyone Bonne Année, あけおめ/ことよろ, Manigong Bagong Taon, 新年快乐 and Happy New Year. Hope it’s a good one!

how NOT to enroll in the sorbonne: a cautionary tale

My plans have again drastically changed, and I’ll be taking a French Civilization course in the Sorbonne for the fall. It’s a program of the University of Paris IV: Paris-Sorbonne, but it’s not part of their regular curriculum. I really WANTED to enroll as a regular third-year student and take a regular curriculum, but I made a few harrowing discoveries upon talking to their Acceuil des élèves:

– If you’re from the U.S. (and other countries with four-year college systems):
To transfer in as a third-year Sorbonne student, you need to have completed your fourth year at your American college. French kids do three years of undergrad then go on to their Master’s, so this apparently makes perfect sense.

– So I had to have enrolled as a first- or second-year student. But for foreign students, registration to enter a given year as a first- or second-year student ENDS IN JANUARY. Compare this to the regular enrollment process, which starts in fucking JULY. The extra seven months seems to be due to getting a carte de séjour, but it’s French bureaucracy, they’re probably just trying to screw foreign students over.

Thus, I will now be paying €2,250 for three months of a single French class instead of €471 for an entire year of university.

France, I LOVE it when you screw me. You do it slowly and take a lot of time, but when you finally bring me to a climax, I’m completely helpless in your grasp and it takes all of my willpower not to scream out loud.


This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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