the kids are all right

double mint cold to soothe your mortal bones

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I got a face potion on, hair potion on, hand cream giving my formaldehyde-abused hands some much-needed reprieve and I’m taking a little study break.

Adjusting to this sort of a study routine and this vast a coursework is difficult, and I didn’t do the best in the series of tests we have every week, but I did pass in all of them so I’m hanging on. By my fingertips, sure, but still.

I had some bad couple weeks a week ago; I got sick one Monday and missed a test and an entire day of class and that gave me a lot of anxiety and it was just a lot of ‘hey maybe I’m not cut out for this’ and I felt like everybody else wasn’t having as difficult a time keeping up, but friends are good. Friends make you realize that you’re not in this alone, and everybody feels like everybody else is doing much better than they are and it’s normal.

There’s a learning curve to this whole thing because school was mostly messing around and now I’m studying things I actually want to be studying which means I have to put in an effort now, which is something I’d forgotten how to do, and I’m allowed to take my time. When things seem like they might be getting too much, I remind myself that grades aren’t everything and I shouldn’t place my self-worth on my academic performance. I could be a terrible, boring, untalented, unkind person and still ace the exams.

Another thing about college is that you can’t help but feel a little insignificant–just because there’s just so many people and the professors are still only getting to know you and it’s very different from the sort of atmosphere high school had where everybody knew everyone and you felt like you were heard. Not that the teachers aren’t always available and willing to listen if you do approach them, but I did feel a little alienated. I’m going to college halfway across the country from where I grew up in, and the kids here are different, and while I have a solid group of friends, I still do sometimes feel like a stranger on the outside looking in. But I felt that way when we first moved in the 8th grade as well and then I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had and we’ve stayed together for 5 years so I’m guessing that feeling will pass.

Speaking of things that will pass, time is going by so fast. I haven’t painted or really written anything these past two months even though I keep telling myself I will on some weekend. I have classes 6 days a week, and then Sundays off, but I have a test on a different subject every Monday so the weekend feels more like a study leave but I’m managing. I pulled an all-nighter this week and then got maybe 3 hours of sleep for 3 consecutive days because I had an Anatomy part-completion examination on Friday and all the tests are held alongside regular workdays so you have to keep up with the daily portions while studying for these, and even though the test didn’t go very well, I’m okay with that because I did as much as I could and there’s always the next test to do better in.

I then slept for a solid 8 hours last night, so this past week has been good.

We have our first semester exams just before Christmas, and then I get 3 whole days off where I don’t have to study anything before we start with the second semester and I’m very excited for that. I’m also super excited for the 3 months long break we’ll get at the end of the first year after the university exams as well. Its only like 7 months away.

So, yeah I had a rough patch briefly and I’m kind of struggling with time management and someone gets yelled at, at least once every day, but there are also girls who swoop in and put your hair up before the teacher notices when it comes undone while you dissect, and frantic, collective, last minute gross anatomy diagram prep an hour before submission that makes you feel so good once it’s done on time and you can all laugh at all the silly panicking, and hanging out with people you don’t even really know post-exams on the top floor, laughing and bonding over shared sleep-deprivation, staring at the trees and blue rooftops and feeling like the only people in the entire world.

The only thing I’m really worried about is feeling like all my youth is going to be spent on tests and classes because and I’m not going to be drawing or painting or writing until I’m suddenly 32 and wondering where it all went. But I’m sure once things settle down, I will learn how to juggle academics with my more creative pursuits (which currently have been relegated to the occasional hurried verse at the back of a notebook between classes, and sub-par pencil sketches) and everything will be okay.

Getting all that out felt nice. I shall now go and shower and then prepare for the biochem exam I have tomorrow.

 

love letter #18

I took a bus for the first time by myself
and by myself I mean with a friend that I made a week ago
and I saved the ticket stub. Pressed it between pages behind other pages behind other pages behind other pages behind other pages at the back of the cupboard
except that doesn’t make sense so I just stuck it on the front page of a notebook I keep by the bed.

I took a bus for the first time by myself
and by myself, I mean with a friend I made a week ago and realised I’ve never felt so lonely.
Which is a strange background score to the sound of my friend’s laugh and the echoes of my own.

I miss you
are words I’ve never felt. Not like this, not this…what? Something that whips around my head slow and heavy until I have no words except
the constant litany of I’m happy I’m happy I’m happy I’m happy
which I am
because I took a bus for the first time by myself
with a friend I made a week ago and shared ice cream with

Ice cream that tasted like the future and I swear I was so happy I skipped my way back to class.
I’d never known the taste of missing you.

(it tastes like the glass of water I had at 4 am today)

sounds like every call to prayer I grew up hearing.

Feels a little like heartbreak.

Feels a lot like telling myself the hurricane’s really a zephyr,
like the string lights I don’t put up that have found their way around my lungs, tighter and tighter until all I have is copper bittersweet flowing into them and words can only help if you speak them, I once heard

And what I would give to have the words but all I can offer is the zephyr I’ve wound around copper wires,
and memories of stolen mornings I woke up early just to be able to lie in bed in. Trace the sunrise as it moved across my wall

I did that the day I took the bus for the first time by myself. It doesn’t feel the same, it feels a little like heartbreak.
but

I am happy
and I miss you.

animation3
in which I am homesick and tried to animate for the first time.

Pancakes

200

I started school today. By which I mean we had the orientation today and actual classes will start tomorrow.
I don’t exactly know how to deal? I spent my entire childhood saying I want to get into med school and now that I’m here I don’t know how to handle it not being a distant goal to work towards. I suppose becoming a good doctor could be the new, currently distant goal to work towards.

I also got my textbooks. And I bought gouache paints (which I’ve never tried), dip pens (which again, I’ve never tried) and an entire embroidery kit (also never been tried). All this in addition to my regular acrylic paints and watercolours. I don’t think there will be much time to dedicate studiously to these pursuits but I don’t want to let them go but also I don’t want to get behind on my academics either. We’ll see how it goes. Five pancakes, right?

Anyway, these sort of things aren’t very entertaining to read so there won’t be much of these, but there will still be tiny updates.

Do I call myself a med student now or do I wait a couple years?

A Break

a single manly tear rolls down my paper smooth skin yO MOMMA

I will be taking a break. From blogging that is (and just social media and writing and anything that brings me joy in general? except going biking at the local national park because ey monsoon’s here and everything is green–i saw a fawn playing with a baby monkey and a peacock dancing during a light drizzle and a turtle maybe communicating with a bird and okay so maybe I’m not giving up everything that brings me joy).

giphy

Not that very many people would care or even notice but in case some poor unfortunate soul stumbles by for the first time in a couple months and wonders why there isn’t any recent stuff, this blog isn’t dead just resting. Feel free to click over to some of the older stuff while you’re deprived of any new content.

Not like doing this will even make any difference, seeing how normally I posted maybe once in two months anyway (barring the last couple recent stress-infused months).

But yeah I’m taking a break, albeit reluctantly, but I gotta keep reminding myself this is all in favour of achieving something I want to do. Which is to go to med school. Which I hopefully will next year if I work hard enough.
I’m taking a drop year to prepare for the pre-medical tests and I’ve been known to be distracted by this platform instead of studying so it is probably for the best, even if it will take some getting used to.

I won’t enjoy it but hey this something I want to do so gotta make sure I do end up doing it instead of, to quote internet sensation, faniel towell, “procrastinate on our one shot at existence”.

Whoop-de-do.

 

giphy2

Yours Truly,
Simran

p.s. rice has the prettiest of the plant scientific names: Oryza sativa, as does the sweet pea: Lathyrus odoratus 

p.p.s. rice + Arabidopsis thaliana were among the first plant genomes to be sequenced before the Human Genome Project.

p.p.p.s. carrots were originally purple.

And that concludes your botany lesson for today. Tune in same time next year for some juicy deets on the rich and famous from the sorta-journal I will maybe kinda hopefully keep while away.

Pied Beauty–Gerard Manley Hopkins

Yes, I believe it was Shakespeare that said, “Shall I compare thee to a brinded cow”

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The title itself of this poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins is a clear indication of what follows: a celebration of imperfection; of diversity, forcing upon the reader a new perspective—an alien perspective not tainted by the artificial, human ideals about beauty. It sends the reader into deep contemplation. Having always associated beauty with perfection, the idea that there is beauty in the ‘pied’, that is, the blemished, is downright absurd, really.

However, the poet insists that is not the case, for the opening lines of the poem go: “Glory be to God for dappled things—“; instead of just stating that there is beauty in the flawed, he goes one step further and thanks the Creator for his imperfect creations. The existence of what others perceive as ‘mistakes’ only deepens Hopkins’ devotion to God.

“For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

                            For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh fire-coal chestnut-falls; finches wings;”

He then proceeds to list exactly which imperfections he adores: the sky, with its many, many hues of brilliant blue and fiery red and everything in between—now that of course, is acceptable, except he then compares it to a two-toned cow. Yes, I believe it was Shakespeare that said, “Shall I compare thee to a brinded cow which dost cheweth mindlessly o’er and o’er again that which it regurgitates sev’ral hours posteth ingestion”. The poet uses a simile because, just like the cow, which is usually white with streaks of brown or black, the sky too is streaked with different colours: red, yellow, purple, blue, white and orange. And while most of us acknowledge the brilliance of the sky (“most of us” meaning those who take the time “to stop and smell the roses” as the saying goes)  we rarely ever give a second thought to cows— let alone ever perceive them as an object of beauty. In our quest for ‘perfection’ we tend to overlook the earthly kind of beauty. But if perfection was the key word, then clear, blue skies should hold more appeal than cloudy, stormy ones; instead, though we might wish for one now and again, blue skies would bore us pretty soon; it is the variety that keeps us enthralled.

It is spectacular how the poet finds the beauty in these common, everyday objects; for example, trout—hardly the epitome of exoticism—primarily seen as a source of food, here it’s described as something which most definitely would (or should) earn a second glance. Gerard Hopkins opens the portal to a whole new world. He gently dissolves away the thin veil around our eyes and exposes us to the beauty in the ordinary. Once we’re privy to this enchanting world, it is impossible to ever look at the world the way we used to. When a foreign object catches our attention, we’re infatuated with its unusual, intoxicating beauty, however no matter how heady the feeling was it eventually goes away. The beauty in the everyday, on the other hand, is of a quieter, lasting kind. It’s quite lovely.

Fresh fire-coal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings” Here, chestnut kernels are compared to smouldering embers; the reddish-brown meat inside the chestnut, being similar to the fiery reddish-orange hue of glowing coal. An alliteration, this line is a contradiction of sorts. Chestnuts, when ‘fresh’, are green and covered with spikes. It is only once it is ripe and falls to the ground that the red meat inside is revealed and semblance to fiery-hot remnants of a fire can be observed.

Hopkins uses the hyphen (-) to string together words which normally wouldn’t be associated together: ‘rose-moles’, ‘couple-colour’, ‘chestnut-falls’. He joins a word associated with beauty with one that doesn’t exactly seem very appealing: example: moles which invariably invoke the rather ungainly imagery of warts, when paired with ‘rose’, immediately go from being flinch-worthy objects to that whose brilliance can now be openly admired.

Finches’ are black and white, but as it spreads its wings and takes flight, the sun glinting of its airborne feathers transforms this common bird into a mesmerising kaleidoscope of colours. The blurred image of a multi-hued bird in flight is conjured and marks the departure from concrete visuals as the poet moves on to more abstract references.

“Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.”

Hopkins now talks of one of the most ancient and relevant occupations: farming. What was once the source of a scared bond between man and nature has now become…mechanical; lifeless. The joy which our forefathers felt as they sang and tilled is painfully absent, having given way to routine. Which is why the poet feels the need to thank God for “Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow and plough;” (alliteration), the result of a farmer’s daily toil. And though farming has changed the land and it no longer looks natural and unspoiled, it bears harvest, which gives way to joy.

The poet then goes on to thank God for all the other occupations which have brought us closer to Nature and God: “And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.” He also expresses gratitude for the everyday tools, those which have been taken for granted by us. When have we ever thanked god for the sledgehammer or the mining machinery or the fishing nets?

His next line serves to include every component of nature: “all things counter, original, spare and strange;” The poet celebrates all things unique, through the words “original” and “spare”—as in those things which are sparsely found. “Spare” also refers to things which are considered ‘extra’ and which are not intended to have a place—for example, those extra bolts and screws that are provided upon purchase of furniture have no place in the original piece—they are there simply to be called upon in time of need, until then they lie, useless, in the bottom drawer of some dusty cupboard. They are outcasts, and yet the poet deems then necessary. “Counter” refers to opposing creations. The poet is highlighting on their key role in creating a balance in nature and how even they should be appreciated no matter how unseemly: for example, if the sun never set, if darkness never engulfed the land, the brilliance of the stars would go unsung. “Strange” includes all things weird.

This tone is carried forward in “Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)” Even though fickleness in humans is not a very appealing quality and looked down upon, this very fickleness in Nature is exactly what is so alluring about it.

                    “With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.”

The poet uses the oxymoron to illustrate how it doesn’t matter if something is “swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim”, they are all beautiful. The poet plays on all our senses with this line. He is once again, celebrating fickleness in nature, for what was once sour, eg: unripe apple, can become sweet upon the passage of time; a river, in its early stage may be exciting with tis fresh water and swift pace yet it is just as important in its slower, lower course; the dazzling diamond is simply a lump of carbon, just like the dull graphite.

He fathers-forth” gives a sense of continuity; the only constant thing about nature is the fact that it is constantly changing. Yet, no matter which form it morphs into, it isn’t any less lovely.

The poem ends with a simple “Praise him.”—the Divine Creator. These two words sum up the poem very beautifully.