Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ke Qin Ke Jian

Sometimes it's more relaxing to write up a post in Word and post it later, when it feels right. Right now I'm panicking and I'm panicking hard. I have something like 26 days left before the MCAT, before the exam that is the gatekeeper to determine if I'm worthy to continue on the long tortuous path that is the life of medicine.

I have to be honest with myself. I work better under pressure. Of course it's nice to work at something bit by bit and never feel rushed or stressed, but I live for epinephrine flowing through my veins (and arteries I suppose?). Arteries go away from the heart, veins go towards the heart. A for away. This has become my life. Every mention of a word and I will immediately begin to draw out maps. Wonderful, but my Physics is still suffering. I really tend to avoid my problems until the last minute and choose something more comfortable, something easier to do while I'm busy avoiding. That's how I became so good at anthropology, psychology, languages, and now biology. Ack.

I have Animal by Neon Trees looping indefinitely on iTunes. I really need to listen to all the random crap on my iPod more. I'm so anal retentive, typing that appropriately with the capitalized P. It does bother me when my MCAT prep books misspell things. You would think with all that money they're robbing students of, they could afford spell check and a cooler mascot than a crazed saltine named "Salty." Upbeat music drives me. Without it, I'd move at the pace of the earth rotating through our lives, wearing us down so that before we know it, no anti-aging cream will fill the cracks on our faces.

"Writing in a pressure cooker" is how my Power of the Pen coach describes creative writing. I really miss those days when I thought I was a hotshot writer. For 8th grade, it wasn't bad. As I reviewed my pieces in high school though, I laughed at my childish syntax and floundering between stylistic decisions. Now I'm comfortable writing. It's soothing. It's the stability that glues the pages of my life down into one cohesive entity.

My hands are sore from writing up notes. I have this bad habit of taking notes, taking notes, taking notes until my ink runs dry but never reading them again. Of course the few times I manage to, I can cram in an hour before the test and get 98%. In anthropology, that is. I'm not trying to be an arrogant braggart, but I do have a nice photographic memory. What I lack are application skills. Thus, I suck at chemistry, physics, math and rock languages, humanities, artsy things. But I can't let that bog me down. Flipping to the back of the book to only discover you're wrong makes a huge dent in your ego, especially if you've been at this since May. There goes my summer. Sometimes I want to push back my test date from August 5th but that would mean I really won't have a summer. I've been depending on those two weeks before school to keep me afloat in this self-torture. I've made my hopeful list already. It's all I have to look forward to.

I hate standardized tests. And I can't stand people being nice to me, including myself. One minute I pat myself in the back and the next, this whole week is gone. From watching the Office to I have no clue what I've been doing this week (killing my future on the internet probs), each day slips through my fingers like sand. I've always wanted to just grab a handful of sand and keep it there. Physics is always kicking my dreams down with a force of mg.

I kind of like thinking nerdy things like this. And writing about them. Of course at school whenever I make a joke like that people give me disgusted looks and walk away. I hang my head defeated. But I am a nerd, not a genius, but a quirky geek who doesn't get worked up on the difference between nerds and geeks. Heck I'm a dork too.

I have to beat myself up mentally. I have to panic. I diesel on stress. I work best in a high pressure cooker. I have to say mean things in my head to motivate myself. It comes from growing up with Chinese parents who always expected too much. Only when I started thinking did I realize that grades were pish-posh, all these achievements disappear when we die, and there's nothing worth living for except life itself. If you wait for something cool to happen, you've wasted your only chance. I may be bleak, I may be a born pessimist, I may just be honest. I know on my blog I pose as a nice, cheerful girl who wants to cater to everyone, but I'm pretty selfish. Blogging is my guilty pleasure. People won't say mean things to you here. It's my own little corner of the universe. It's not like Youtube, where people pride themselves on how hateful they can be. I admit, sometimes I want to say something nasty, like "Wtf MP, you're promoting panda eyes? You look like you either got beat up or took over the title of Miss Pandaphilia." I also remember the time that I made the mistake of posting a review on a Facebook fan page for some product and a bunch of people wrote things like "She's so ugly" and "She needs more than that product to fix what's wrong with her face." Thanks creeps. Btw, now I know where to find you, where you live, and your name. Smartass.

Now I've got myself all down. There's the fine line between saying mean things to keep you going, keep you writing, keep you learning and outright defeatist thoughts. I often find myself slipping, with no one to talk to, no place to go. Yes, I am whining but my family and my life weren't built for excitement. I'm the caged bird but I don't sing. Sorry Maya Angelou. I want to travel everywhere but I don't want to move. It's the great paradox of my existence.

Today I learned something cool about my family's history. I was talking to my Dad about something after watching the Jay Leno Show (which was outright brilliant jabbing at Lebron and featuring finally a Vice President who has a sense of humour). He was talking about the origin of family names and said we're lucky to have the last name Chen because it's quite common and Americans can pronounce it most of the time. I would rather have a cool eccentric last name but I think I would be bashing heads together too if people mispronounced my identity all the time. My Chinese name means "Pretty Jade" and it sounds almost exactly like my English name. My parents were all prepared when I was born for my transition to the United States. How thoughtful of them. 'Cept it's a hugely popular Asian girl name here. I'm going to name my kids something crazy. They might hate me but someday they'll be cool and unique and glad they're not like every Sarah and Emily out there (don't worry, I have lots of friends with both names and I love them). I hate it when my cool idea was also everyone else's cool idea. That's why when I wear something weird 5 years ago and it JUST becomes hot, I want to say, "Hey, I had dibs on that trend. Suck it losers!" That is the catty world of fashion.

Anyhow, I found out that one of my dad's ancestors was one of the top civil service bureaucrats during the Qing Dynasty. He was pretty rich and had lots of land, but some relative of the Manchu Emperor wanted to take it and there was a long lawsuit that drained a lot of our ancestor's money. So when the Commies took power, they kicked my dad's family out of the countryside into Beijing. Isn't that odd … in most places that's like being promoted. They were left with nothing and they're still pretty poor.

We saw something on CCTV and my Dad suddenly pointed and said, "Hey look! 克勤克俭 ! (ke qin ke jian)" That's his name and his brother's name. The phrase means, "Be hardworking and frugal." I guess my Dad was stuck with "Be frugal" and he is. He never wastes. He doesn't waste food, he doesn't waste money, he doesn't waste much time. He is also hardworking but he claims his brother is more hardworking. I don't know. My Dad managed to work as a farmer for two years during the Cultural Revolution and study for only two weeks before getting into the top medical school in the nation. That was at 21 or 22. I feel like everything's been handed to me in my life on a silver platter. I haven't had to haul my butt around and work like that one day in my whole existence. I admire who my Dad is and where he came from. He's really lived up to his name. So can I live up to mine? I'm not really pretty and I'm not sure what to think of Jade. If I were a piece of jade I'd probably be one with little black dots that decrease the value anyway. I'm not exceptional. Maybe that's what my name really means. I'm not special to begin with, I'm no genius, so I've got to make a name for myself. I've got to defy limits, prove the universe wrong. I get emotional now because I have no idea how I haven't thought of this before. It's like my life purpose fell out of the sky and hit me. It sounds so simple but the flow of logic makes it all come together.

This revelation makes me happy. My boyfriend's Chinese name has a character that means "middle, or medium." He says that he would have rather his Mom named him with the character "dragon." I think he's spent a lot of his life trying to push his boundaries, trying to become much more than average. And he his so brilliant, so motivated, and pretty much unstoppable. I guess we're just two people that somehow bumped into each other on Planet Earth and ended up compatible. I guess this could be why. We're different in so many ways, yet similar in others. Now I'm just being cheesy and speculative.

So this is a look inside my head, the evolution of my thoughts. Uncensored.

[written at 4:37 AM]

9 comments:

Vincent July 10, 2010 at 7:55 AM   said...

Goodluck with the MCAT. It's always good to know your family history. (Y).

Vincent July 10, 2010 at 8:09 AM   said...

Haha. It's the thumbs up emoticon on MSN. :P

Steve Sun July 10, 2010 at 11:34 AM   said...

Wow. This is a powerful post, mei mei. You won't be lonely during those long nights, I'll be up and willing to help, haha. Find me. :)

☆★ shirley July 10, 2010 at 2:00 PM   said...

Hey Angie :3 I like reading your posts, you're a good writer. If you're only worried about physics, I suggest REALLY sitting down and isolating yourself for a few hours--after you do a few problems of each kind, it becomes REALLY routine and you'll be able to see the "patterns" of strategies. I remember when I was studying for physics last year (uh oh, now that I don't take physics anymore, will I forget it all?! D:) it was almost relaxing compared to some more "creative" subjects like Chem and Bio, because I could work problems in an almost zoned-out, mechanical way :) Work hard, fight! Live up to your name~

Apparently my mom's side of the family also used to be rich until the Communist govt. took away their land D: My mom's side is still pretty rich though, because my grandma and my mom(backthen) worked in Education...

My chinese name clearly shows how my parents wanted me to be smart, so I can't disappoint them more than I already have~

PetiteXXS July 10, 2010 at 11:50 PM   said...

I think to make it through medicine, you really have to be driven because it's a long LONG road. I've had people ask me for advice whether or not they should choose medicine, and I always tell them that if you have to ask someone else, then you probably shouldn't do it. And it's stupid but all the stress you feel is probably necessary, so I'm not going to tell you to not stress... but rather to try and channel it into productive things. And if you truly want to become a doctor, you WILL.

Btw I didn't do that hot on my MCAT but I got into a pretty good school, so it's not the only thing that matters! :)

Nicol July 12, 2010 at 1:26 PM   said...

awwww if you believe that medicine isnt right for u, all you can do is try it to see if it is. believe and aim for it :D and i know what u mean by chinese parents ¬¬

good luck <3

burnt sienna July 17, 2010 at 12:52 PM   said...

I have never done well on standardized multiple choice exams either, so before I have to take one, I already know I'm going to be working 3 times harder than everybody else. And really, that's all there is to success. I'm in law, as opposed to medicine, but I know you will succeed in your industry. You can take on the MCATs. It's all about focus and drive. Good luck! - S

Pop Champagne July 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM   said...

ohh hope you come back blogging soon! and lol you've never been to a concert? you should try, it's a lot of fun and the energy in the room is so overwhelming at times! :D

Pop Champagne July 20, 2010 at 12:16 PM   said...

P.S I used to not do well with standardized tests but I think university made me good at it, sigh. hope you did well!

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