20 September 2011

38 Things I'll Bet You Don't Know About Me and A Reflection of the Milky Way.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what defines me as not just a person, but as a character, so here are some of them.

1. Despite it's nearly constant presence, I have a mild phobia of clutter in my personal space. Part of the reason I tend to have clutter is my everlasting battle to overcome the phobia on my own.
2. When I was in kindergarten, I was one of the most popular kids in my class. My parents told me to limit the number of friends I invited to my birthday party, because they didn't want to clean the house after so many kids. By the very next year, I had a hard time filling the ten slots the Skate Factory "required" for holding a birthday party there.
3. I have a hard time completing certain tasks without the presence of background noise, namely music. This includes driving.
4. I have an extremely hard time maintaining eye contact during a conversation, so I tend to look around the space for sometimes prolonged intervals. My mind has to keep active on multiple things at once to remain focused. That said, I have a harder time talking on the phone than in person.
5. Regardless of what many think, my absolute favourite genre of music is classical, and I will generally turn to this genre when everything else fails to interest me. Generally, it renews my interest in other genres because I like to explore music influences.
6. I find very few reasons to be confident in myself. The few things I am sure that I can do well are cook and bake, and I am almost never shy about these things.
7. To my recollection, I have never actually believed that I was "cute" or "pretty," regardless of what people have told me. If I ever say I look cute, it's because something I am wearing influences the thought, not because I think it is a direct attribute of myself as a person.
8. I have never ever actually lost my temper. Any instances of anger are always simply that.
9. When I was very young, I would disagree with normal kid things, like early bedtimes and rules about candy and playtime. To rationalize my parents' "Unfair" actions, I used to tell myself that they surely were my grandparents, because my real parents would never have such unreasonable rules. I quickly grew out of this phase.
10. Generally, the first thought that comes into my head when I meet someone is that I should never take up much of their time, because they have more important things to do than to get to know me.
11. In a similar vein, the first thought that enters my head when I sit next to someone on the bus is that they are mad at me for sitting next to them.
12. I have a very hard time interpreting faces that aren't very explicit. This is probably why I often misread what some would call "indifference" as "anger."
13. I have had exercise-induced asthma since I was very young. It took until I was twenty for it to be "officially" diagnosed, and I was given medication to control it. Because I am not used to taking the medication, I often forget to use it, and deal through most of my attacks. Since I was fifteen, it has gotten worse, and I have developed more triggers for attacks which include, but are not limited to: car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and humidity. There are some days where I simply cannot get enough air into my lungs, without any logical reason.
14. I have had panic attacks since I was about seventeen. It has never been officially diagnosed because I have never told a doctor about it. In the last two year, the attacks (in general) have gotten worse, and more numerous. Most people don't realize it, because I've gotten really good at hiding them.
15. One of the biggest things that annoy me is when people talk loudly for very long periods on their cell phones in places like buses, restaurants, and stores. I feel that these conversations should be short and quiet, in respect for other people. I actually will never answer a phone whilst riding a bus. On that same note, I am generally annoyed by people who do not turn their phone ringtones from the loudest setting to at least something quieter, if not vibrate, when in a public space.
16. There have been people who have gotten upset with me because I've had an asthma attack in the presence of a smoker. In each case, I wanted to run away from that person and not stop for three miles, because I felt utterly ashamed to be with them.
17. Despite the fact that I hate his music, one of the things I am the most proud of is my John Philip Sousa award, which now hangs over my desk space.
18. I have a hard time developing "favourites." This is because I have a hard time differentiating different degrees of "like" in my head. That said, I do have a few favourites, but I cannot tell you my favourite food, movie, or television show.
19. Despite having very many bad days, and what most people interpret as a bad outlook, I genuinely enjoy my life and have very few regrets.
20. I have never believed in "God." My spiritual beliefs recognize a spiritual strength that resides in everything from man to the wonders of nature, and that every person is a part of it. This strength has no name in my head.
21. I think moving to Pittsburgh was the best thing that ever happened to me. I feel that I have become more confident in myself as an individual and as a person who portrays themselves to others. Since moving here, I have made a significant number of friends, and I readily talk to other students in the department about things other than chemistry. I have even held an extended conversation with a high school student on the bus about where the best places to eat are. As of right now, my closest friends are Chinese, a British-accented Turkish man who looks like a bear, a Korean girl, and two American-born students. I have never made friends this fast. Just a few days ago, I looked into the mirror and asked myself, "When did my shoulders become so broad?"
22. I left some of the people dearest to my heart in Syracuse, and it is painful every day to remember that I cannot walk across campus to see them anymore.
23. One of my best friends from Le Moyne is actually my former General Chem professor and Analytical/Instrumental lab instructor, Barbara Leo. Since I started spending time in her office in sophomore year, she has given me several gifts, which included a Tim Hortons gift card as congratulations for getting into grad school. Before I graduated, she took me out to dinner, and I now have her phone number. We exchange text messages regularly, and she has told me several times to just call her "Barb" from now on. I still can't do it...
24. Jamie and I have been referring to each other as "wife" for a couple of years now. When I first saw her on the bus as a freshman in high school, with her blue hair and piercings, I remember thinking that I wanted to be her friend so badly.
25. I don't care what anyone says, I think Dante is cute.
26. My brother and I actually cheated when naming Dante. The name was supposed to be entirely of my brother's mind, since I had named our previous dog, Jazmyn. He could not think of a name, however, and asked me for help when our parents were discussing how best to keep him. I suggested naming him after Dante Alighieri, the poet, and the name stuck. I wish Dante was as smart as the poet...
27. The spot where the cat bit my foot last summer left a scar.
28. My former (former) boss got mad at me when I was told by a doctor that I was unable to work for a week after the bite because my foot had swelled up to a size that could not fit in a shoe.
29. During the time that I was receiving rabies shots, I became so irritable that, in an argument with my dad, I screamed at him and walked out of the house for four hours. When I returned home, he said "Okay, I should never argue with you when you're getting rabies shots."
30. I have only gone horseback riding twice. Both times, the horses tried to throw me off mid-stride, even though I had made no other movements.
31. Several people have ended a friendship with me in the past because I was "too smart."
32. One of the things I worry about when I'm in Columbia County is running into people I know, who I don't really want to see anymore.
33. A significant portion of the girls I knew in high school have married and/or started having children. Very few have actually left the area.
34. I have a problem with losing things -- not having the ability to find something indicates extreme disorganization, and it makes me nervous.
35. When I'm nervous, I tend to fidget. This can be interpreted as: I am always nervous to some degree.
36. When I'm sick, the birthmark in the middle of my throat itches violently. No one believes me.
37. Even though I have five piercings and four tattoos, with the intention of getting more of both, I am actually terrified of needles.
38. One of the most influential people in my life is someone I've only met once. It was a twelve year-old girl named Zena, and I was fourteen when I met her. I was waiting for an X-ray in the office where I saw the orthopedist for my scoliosis. Her mother told my mother that she was getting the surgery in two months. My mom said I was still at the brace stage. Zena looked at me -- she had long pale-blond hair, green eyes, and freckles -- and said "Just wear it. Trust me, it's worth it." She said the whole thing with a smile. Not a bitter one, just a heartwarming, genuine smile. She said nothing else and I never saw her again.

This is a photograph of the Milky Way Galaxy, our galaxy, as we can see it at night. In other words, this is how our galaxy looks, looking from the inside. I've always found this "shape" very interesting. Doesn't it look like there's a tear in the sky? As though our solar system, or maybe just Earth, is bursting through the seams of our galaxy, pushing out, expanding (just as some theories say). I think it's interesting to think about it this way, since many people have speculated that mankind will someday expand its civilization beyond Earth, and will colonize other planets. Is this theory not a social, cultural, and physical example of Earth, as well as man, bursting at the seams? Will the universe as a whole ever have this appearance?
Still, I think mankind is already pushing against the threads that keep it bound to our soil, in very real ways. We rely so heavily on computers in our modern lives, what's to stop us from turning towards an existence in which the mind is transferred to a machine, removing man's physical limits to Earth a la Ghost in the Shell? Even the movie Surrogates gives exploration of man's drive to be removed from the absolute physical and into the surreal physical.
Last week at graduate seminar, one of the presenting professors discussed his research, which mainly dealt with the use of carbon nanotubes. One hypothesis accompanying the use of these nanotubes is that we can use these things to create an elevator that goes into space, i.e. the International Space Station. Can you imagine hopping into an elevator, and instead of hitting a number, you hit "S," for SPACE?
Perhaps the tear in the sky isn't so innocent looking after all.

15 September 2011

A basic recap of me.

The blue ones are true.

I am a boy.
I am a girl.
I am shorter than 5’4.
I think I’m ugly
I have many scars.

I tan easily.
I wish my hair was a different color.
I have friends who have never seen my natural hair color.

I have a tattoo.
I am self-conscious about my appearance.
I have/I’ve had braces.
I wear glasses.
I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free of cost, and scar-free.
I’ve been told I’m attractive by a complete stranger.
I have more than 2 piercings.

I have piercing in places besides my ears.
I have freckles.

I’ve sworn at my parents.
I’ve run away from home.

I’ve been kicked out of the house.
I have a sibling less than one year old.
I want to have kids someday.
I’ve lost a child.

I’m in school.
I have a job
I’ve fallen asleep at work/school.

I almost always do/did my homework.
I’ve missed a week or more of school.
I’ve been on the Honor Roll within the last 2 years.

I failed more than 1 class last year.
I’ve stolen something from my job.

I’ve slipped out an “lol” in a spoken conversation.
Disney movies still make me cry.
I’ve peed from laughing.
I’ve snorted while laughing.
I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried.

I’ve glued my hand to something.
I’ve had my pants rip in public

I was born with a disease/impairment
I’ve gotten stitches/staples.
I’ve broken a bone.
I’ve had my tonsils removed.
I’ve sat in a doctor’s office/emergency room with a friend
I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed.
I had a serious surgery.

I’ve had chicken pox.
I’ve had measles

I’ve driven over 200 miles in one day

I’ve been on a plane.

I’ve been to Canada.
I’ve been to Mexico

I’ve been to Niagara Falls.

I’ve been to Japan.
I’ve celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
I’ve been to Europe.
I’ve been to Africa.

I’ve gotten lost in my city.
I’ve seen a shooting star.
I’ve wished on a shooting star
I’ve seen a meteor shower.
I’ve gone out in public in my pajamas.
I’ve pushed all the buttons on an elevator.

I’ve kicked a guy where it hurts.

I’ve been to a casino.
I’ve been skydiving.
I’ve gone skinny dipping.
I’ve played spin the bottle.
I’ve drank a whole gallon of milk in one hour.
I’ve crashed a car.

I’ve been skiing.
I’ve been in a play.
I’ve met someone in person from Myspace.
I’ve caught a snowflake on my tongue.

I’ve seen the Northern lights.
I’ve sat on a roof top at night.
I’ve played chicken.

I’ve played a prank on someone.
I’ve ridden in a taxi.
I’ve seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I’ve eaten sushi.

I’ve been snowboarding.

I’m single.
I’m in a relationship.
I’m engaged.
I’m married.

I’ve gone on a blind date.
I’ve been the dumped more than the dumper.
I miss someone right now.

I have a fear of abandonment.

I’ve gotten divorced.
I’ve had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back.
I’ve told someone I loved them when I didn’t.
I’ve told someone I didn’t love them when I did.
I’ve kept something from a past relationship.

I’ve had a crush on someone of the same sex.

I’ve had a crush on a teacher.
I am a cuddler.

I’ve been kissed in the rain.

I’ve hugged a stranger.
I have kissed a stranger.

I’ve done something I promised myself I wouldn’t.
I’ve snuck out of my house.
I have lied to my parents about where I am
I am keeping a secret from the world.
I’ve cheated while playing a game.

I’ve cheated on a test.
I’ve run a red light.
I’ve been suspended from school.
I’ve witnessed a crime.

I’ve been in a fist fight.
I’ve been arrested.

I’ve consumed alcohol.
I’ve passed out from drinking.
I have passed out drunk at least once in the past 6 months.
I’ve smoked weed
I’ve taken painkillers when I didn’t need them.
I’ve eaten shrooms.
I’ve popped E.
I’ve inhaled Nitrous.
I’ve done hard drugs.

I have cough drops when I’m not sick.
I can swallow about 5 pills at a time no problem.
I have been diagnosed with clinical depression.
I have been diagnosed with one or more anxiety disorder.

I shut others out when I’m depressed.
I take anti-depressants.
I have been anorexic or bulimic.
I’ve slept an entire day when I didn’t need it.
I’ve hurt myself on purpose.
I’ve woken up crying.

I’m afraid of dying.
I hate funerals.

I’ve seen someone dying.
Someone close to me has committed suicide.

I’ve planned my own suicide.

I’ve attempted suicide.
I’ve written a eulogy for myself.

I own over 5 rap CDs.
I own an iPod or MP3 player.
I have an unhealthy obsession with anime/manga.
I own multiple designer bags, costing over $100 a piece.

I own something from Hot Topic.
I own something from Pac Sun.

I collect comic books.

I own something from Gap.

I own something I got from e-bay.

I own something from Abercrombie.
I can sing well.
I’ve stolen a tray from a fast food restaurant.
I open up to others easily.
I watch the news.

I don’t kill bugs.
I hate hearing songs that sacrifice meaning for the sake of being able to rhyme.
I curse regularly.
I sing in the shower.

I am a morning person.
I paid for my cell phone ring tone.

I’m a snob about grammar.
I am a sports fanatic.
I twirl my hair
I have “x”s in my screen name.
I love being neat.

I love Spam.

I’ve copied more than 30 CD’s in a day
I bake well.
My favorite color is either white, yellow, pink, red or blue
I’ve worn pajamas to school.

I like Martha Stewart.
I know how to shoot a gun
I am in love with love.
I am guilty of tYpInG lIkE tHiS.
I laugh at my own jokes.
I eat fast food weekly.

I believe in ghosts.
I am online 24/7, even as an away message.

I’ve not turned anything in and still got an A in a certain class.

I can’t sleep if there is a spider in the room.
I am really ticklish.
I love white chocolate

I bite my nails.

I play video games.
I’m good at remembering names.
I’m good at remembering dates
I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life.

11 September 2011

Keep the Organic Layer. Discard the Aqueous Layer.

It's been a long time since I've really been on this site. So much has happened. In an effort not to go totally insane from grading labs, I am writing here.
  • After graduation, I adopted little French Toast. She's a Cream Self rat. She has since gotten to be the size of Bielle, who has since stopped growing longer and has started becoming fatter. Both rats like to annoy me by chewing on the bars of the cage, because they know it gets my attention.
  • I worked pretty much all the friggin time over the summer, back at Otto's. I made decent money, but it all went to rent and security for the apartment, as well as gas to get here and groceries. It's really nice not to have to hear "I'd like to place an order TO GO: I'd like a cheeseburger deluxe, and a pepsi -- and this is TO GO -- and I need a kids nuggets and a small coffee. And that's all TO GO." Oh. sure. Ugh... (This really does happen...) Sometimes they got their food, sat at the counter, and then ate it there. Jerks.
  • My apartment is huge (By living-on-my-own-for-four-months standards). It's really nice, and I have a patio, which is always good, even though I haven't used it yet, beyond drying the shoes I washed. I don't have outside chairs...
  • Moving here was atrocious, but also pretty fun. I'm glad I had people to help me out.
  • Possum's tumor has gotten unfortunately large. At this point, I'm waiting for her to let me know that she can't handle it anymore. Right now, she spends lot of time cuddling me. She still runs across the floor when the food bag comes out.
  • Cinder has begun to develop hind leg paralysis, and she sort of drags her back end along. She still has some pretty extensive use of her back legs, but it is apparent at this point that moving them is hard for her. She is currently on an anti-inflammatory to see if there is any improvement, but some muscles have already atrophied. Sometimes, she can only eat with one hand, because she has to use the other one to keep her balance.
  • When training started, we had to take exams in Organic, Inorganic, Analytical, and P-chem. Two per day, beginning at eight in the morning. The exams sucked, and the department said "Statistically, you will fail out of the program." I know I am better than what the exams say. I have a hard time testing at eight in the friggin morning, no matter how much I study. Especially when I had to get up at five to catch the bus. Besides, a Ph.D is based on performance over time. So eff that bullocks. I can't wait to punch those guys in the face with my awesome degree.
  • I'm teaching two labs right now, and I hate grading. Also, my students don't know how to follow directions.
  • My Organic Synthesis professor, Kay, says I'll ace the course because I took Advanced Organic (and was the only person in the class to take anything beyond sophomore organic), and her class is like, an easier version of it. Awesome.
  • Descriptive Inorganic sucks.
  • I love living in this house. I love cooking (usually), and I've already had the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen, all of which have turned out delicious.
  • I threw a house-warming party last weekend. It was so nice to have people in the house, making noise and keeping me company.
  • I have not yet moved into the Natural History Museum, but I am planning on it.
  • I bought all my own furniture for the house (with a few exceptions). I now have a fantastic platform bed.
  • I constructed all of the furniture I purchased. I had help only with the desk and office chair, which Kevin and Ricky were available to help me with.
  • As it turns out, I HAVE to go downtown to get to Oakland, because no buses run directly from West View to Oakland. Not fun when I have to be in Oakland late at night.
  • There are a thousand malls in Pittsburgh.
  • I may or may not obtain a hookah in the near future.
  • I've made a lot of friends since arriving here. Only one of them is an American. The rest are international students. Mostly Chinese. And one Turk. Who sounds like a British man. And is hairy like a bear.
  • Erin is my best Pitt friend. Within days of meeting her, we were talking about religion, politics, family dynamics, and boys. This never ever happens to me.
  • Because of some scholarship I was unaware that I had, I can order a new computer for my home, as well as computer accessories, up to $2000. I am going to buy a fantastic new iMac for my desk, with a 2TB Time Capsule external hard drive to back it up. Can't even wait.
  • Living alone is lonely business, but I also like the quiet that comes with it. So, I have mixed feelings about living alone.
  • Having Shana around last weekend was really nice, because we had some time to talk about the apartment, and discuss our favourite boys in our lives.
  • I miss my wife, Jamie.
  • I miss vacationing in Rhode Island.
  • I miss video games (and also my mom).
  • I miss my whole family, actually. Including Dante.
I guess that covers all the recent things that have happened around in my life.

In life, everyone has wishes. Some of them are impossible to have granted, like the revival of a dead loved one, or reconciliation between old friends, when one person now hates another. Some are wishes for love, or money, or whatever. Everyone has a wish that they want most of all, above all others.
My greatest wish is to be pain free, for just one day. In recent years, I have become fairly ill as it relates to how my body feels. It has caused a change in my mental state, and I've become distant to people, because it gets harder to fake an atmosphere of well being.
What I want is to just wake up one day without my back hurting. Walking without my feet and back hurting. I want to have a day when getting up from this chair, or the sofa will be easy, and something I won't regret doing. I want to be able to lay in any position, and sit in any way I want. I want my back to just stop hurting. Just for one day. Everyone says they feel themselves getting older. At twenty-two, I can feel it, because the back pain gets worse every year. I'm turning into an old man.
Analgesics don't work. Neither do stretches. What more can a doctor recommend?
I really shouldn't complain, though. I should be happy that I can still get around. I feel that, by the time I'm forty or fifty, that won't be entirely true.

Everyone knows that there's nothing important in the aqueous layer.

Oh good. This train has a JETPACK. Where the eff is mine, Soviet Russia?