January 30, 2011

This Has Been

A lovely weekend, all told. Nyx came over on Friday, and we lolled about, chattered, and made origami. On Saturday, I went to SHP for the first time in ages. I was placed in cosmology along with Gopika, Rube, Sarah, and this random talkative girl who seems really familiar (there was also a girl from Rube's school who had heeled rainboots (no comprendo) who sat next to a different girl who looked really familiar (I think she was at Math Prize for Girls, and is one of those people who is all into math competition gossip, because that was the discussion while waiting in line for the bathroom)). I don't know if Rube signed up for cosmology because of me, or if he landed his second choice, but I'm not going to ask. I was kind of late (I wanted a latte more than I wanted to be on time), so I ended up between him and this adorable girl from New Jersey (not Gopika, actually). It should also be noted that I really wished the namesake for the Gopika I usually talk about was still around (she's two years older than me, sadly), because our instructor is quite cute. Based her comments to the 15-year-old me back in our neurobiology days, she's the sort to appreciate a good-looking teacher.

I've also been devoting much time to rereading Anathem, which is every bit as engrossing the second time around (I'm hoping to finish it up today, in keeping with the three days I managed it in last time...I also don't think I'm going to get any homework done until it's finished, so I ought to take advantage of this brief period of no-homeworkness).

After class on Saturday I took the 1 line really really far to meet Chao in Chinatown. Her family took me out for dim sum, which was just as yummy as I remembered, though she was on the whole very disappointed in my inability to identify or remember what I'd eaten in the past. I always figure I'm not allergic to anything, it smells halfway decent, I might as well eat it (we discovered, however, that chicken claws (or whatever those were) kind of weird me out). It was nice to meet her family, and the food was yummy. After that, we spent a few hours wandering through Chinese groceries. I saw fish (alive, dead and whole, dead and chopped up, dead and dried, dead and dried and chopped up...I could go on), and all sorts of unusual (to me) fruits and veggies, including something that looked like giant grapefruit. On the whole, though, it was mostly just nice to see Chao.

Since then, I've been at home. I messaged with Gaea a little bit last night, and I think I sent her some ramblings around midnight (though probably before...it was before I left bedcheck (where "bedcheck" refers to "discussing international politics with James in a forum visible to members of the RSI '10 community")) regarding my current internal debate, which is what I want to do with my life. For some reason, "SCIENCE" is insufficient. I have this urge to find a meaningful place in society. I could probably do this by having children, but I was sitting on the train last night and listening to a group of mothers discussing how they managed to get their children enrolled in public school gifted programs (because, as we all know, those are designed to assist whichever students had the most outside help...), and it struck me that I couldn't do that. I am not a person who will be capable of making her family into her life--I love family, I think I want to make my own someday, but that will never be enough for me. I need more--I need science.

But what sort of science? I love physics, but where in physics. Do I do something that has the potential to actually change the world--nuclear fusion, for example, the plasma physics Julie so adores--or do I follow the piece of my heart that wants me to leap off the deep end into the math-heavy world of something like particle physics. I'll probably end up in the former--I love math, and it's beautiful, but I put it under a header more like art, and while art is beautiful, I probably will never create a masterpiece, and I don't want to sit at the edge of my life and realize that for decades of work, I've created a few small pieces of a few small formulas that will be rendered obsolete by the tides of history. But who's to say I'd make a mark anywhere else--how do I know? Why am I so obsessed with creating something enduring when nothing truly endures in the first place?

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I found out yesterday that I'm still in the running for the Thiel Fellowship. I think, if I land it, I'll take it, because it might be a chance to do something. But I'm also terrified that I don't have the expertise, that the funds won't be enough, or that living by myself would do me in, or that my ideas have no merit, I'll find that out within a month and then be stuck twiddling my thumbs for two years (realistically, I'm not the sort of person to do that, but I worry nonetheless). It would mean going to college while feeling like an adult--I'm not sure how well that would work--and also heading into one of the most rigorous undergraduate curriculums in the country while not having done any schoolwork in two years. But if I actually accomplished something meaningful, it would be worth it, I think.

But that argument is likely irrelevant, as it's highly probable I won't land the fellowship and it won't matter. I'll still be stuck under wondering how I want to change the world--I'm a bit worried my daydreams of academia have become another microcosm of the "what if I just gave up all of this ambition" question--but then, getting to a point where I'm doing research is ambitious.

I have a feeling when I'm older I'll look back at this and laugh, regardless of whether I'm doing theoretical work or telling a large group of engineers what to do.