Monday 9 Oct
11:30am It’s a slow start to the day; I get out of bed way later than I intended to. I’ve just finished staffing BarMUN, the collegiate Model UN conference Boston University hosts every year. Although it was a fun weekend full of meeting new people and creating chaos (my personal idea of entertainment), I’m looking forward to this extra day of rest.
I sit down to check some emails and plan my next steps for the independent research project I’ve been working on since June. I spent my summer doing linguistics research on phonetic features associated with Asian-sounding speech, and I’m finally presenting my work this coming Friday. It’s exciting, though there’s quite a bit more work I need to do to prepare for it. I read up on some poster guidelines and map out what I need to do tomorrow.
2pm After a delicious turkey burger for lunch, I’m scrolling through Facebook and notice an event I had previously marked myself “interested” for— The Institute of Contemporary Art in the South End is free for the holiday, and – not having much else planned for the horrid rainy weather – decide to hop over and check it out.
3pm We take the T to Park Street, where we pop in the Gamestop to buy a puzzle for later. I haven’t done a proper puzzle in over ten years, I think, but it’s a nice activity for a rainy day. I’m optimistic about our chances— I predict we’ll finish the 1000-piece in three hours.
After a short walk to the ICA, we wander around the fourth floor (galleries) and see a few interesting exhibits— we both think the Dana Schutz exhibit is particularly pleasing to the eye, and the subject matters paired with the perfectly matched colors make me want to look at them for a long while. Another piece that sticks in my mind is by Mark Dion— a tree-like sculpture with taxidermied animal corpses hanging by strings from the branches. It’s grotesque, and the longer I stare, the more I want to look away. The presence of death is dangling on a few strings, coated in oil, and I cannot help but imagine how horrible it would be if these were human corpses and not those of animals. Taxidermy is a strange hobby— the direct mimicry of past life.
6pm I overestimated our abilities with the puzzle. We pour out all one thousand pieces and get to work flipping each one, but the backs are blue instead of grey and I am already weary. Soon we decide to move our work to a larger table and transport the pieces by color group. I begin sorting each color group into even smaller groups of shade and tone. Hours pass.
9pm We are losing this battle to complete the outer frame of the puzzle. Pieces seem to want to be together, though when they try, they cannot. Perhaps it is all a metaphor for life, for love. Perhaps we cannot conquer the puzzle.
11pm The puzzle has conquered us.
Tuesday 10 Oct
9:30am It’s a strange phenomenon unique to Boston University, the BU Monday. Here’s how it works— many federal holidays fall on Mondays, creating lovely long weekends. However, the BU scheduling system has certain classes on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and certain ones on Tuesday-Thursday. Missing so many Mondays causes an imbalance, and so the school attempts to balance this out by turning all the Tuesdays after a long weekend into Monday schedules. It throws everyone off, but my Mondays are better than my Tuesdays, so I’m not complaining.
Class doesn’t start until 11:15, so I make a few cups of English breakfast and sip away while watching some Youtube. I’m still recovering from the hectic BarMUN weekend and the equally busy week preceding.
11am I take the scenic route to class down Bay State Road. It tends to be less crowded with humans and more with trees, a nice start to the day. I arrive in Chinese class with my brain in Chinese mode, ready to go.
The professor goes over our impending midterm format and I panic ever so gently. There’s a lot of studying in my near future— and in my far one, too.
12pm I grab a sandwich – turkey, cucumber, tomato, swiss, on whole wheat with avocado crema and basil pesto – and hop down to the basement where my friends and I usually have lunch. It’s a fairly quiet, less crowded area without much light, as basements often are. We have a lot of good memories in the booths down here. We spend the hour aimlessly chatting and scarfing down our food before we reemerge from our little dark hole into the world again.
1:30pm In preparation for the spring semester, I’ve made an appointment with my academic advisor to talk over the courses I plan to take. It’s a quick meeting— I’ve already made a plan and she approves it without much hoo-hah. I do find out that the courses I took while abroad are being counted as 400-level, which is a pleasant surprise.
3:30pm After a relatively uneventful discussion section for my international relations course (we talked over the Cold War in Asia and Sino-Soviet relations, which I find interesting), I head to the linguistics lab where I work. I’m planning to spend the rest of the afternoon working on my research poster presentation and get it in to my PI before the day passes.
I spend a few hours formatting and filling in pieces of my presentation, and before long, I’ve finished all I need to do for the day. I email my PI, look over the lab work that needs to be started next, and clock out for the night.
7pm It has gotten so dark while I was inside! I grab dinner and go home, where I pick up a couple packages that have come in— nothing glamorous, just a few household necessities and a pair of Levi’s I ordered on sale last week. My roommates are excited to have a stockpile of toilet paper, and I’m thrilled that the jeans fit perfectly.
I watch an episode of Masterchef (my favorite reality television show) as I draw out my bullet journal’s weekly spread a day too late. My bullet journal keeps me on track as I go through the week, organizing my thoughts, notes, tasks, and events in neat little boxes so I won’t go insane. I’ve developed a format that really works for me, so there’s not much variation. Though I appreciate the creativity and artistry behind some bullet journals, I enjoy the constancy and dependability behind my trusty structure. As I get older, I’m beginning to increasingly value routine and consistency rather than spontaneity and newness. There’s a comfort in being able to rely on things, on people.
9pm I catch up on some reading for my international economics class and reply to a few more emails about work, then check the writing center schedule to see if I have any appointments tomorrow morning. I also work at the writing center as a consultant, and the students sign up via an online database, so I need to be aware of any appointments coming up. I also pull up notes and brainstorm a bit for my creative projects, including Cocoon and Spooky Hooky, a true crime podcast that we released last week. Everything seems to be on track, so I start to get ready for bed in an effort to turn in a bit earlier than I have been.
10:30pm I close out my day browsing Instagram and Twitter before I set my alarm app and fall asleep.
Wednesday 11 Oct
7:30am Yanking myself out of bed, I put on the kettle for my morning cup of tea. It’s about to be a long day of classes and work, so I’m going to need the comfort of some warm caffeine. I get ready with Crooked Media’s Pod Save the World in the background and hurry over to the writing center.
9am I don’t have any scheduled appointments for the morning – and really, who would want to come in so early on a Wednesday? – so I use the time to fully wake up and start some homework due later in the week. There’s a homework set due tomorrow in Syntax, and as always, I’m baffled at how challenging it is. My supervisor walks by and mistakes the worksheet as Chemistry, so I suppose grammar really is science.
As I sit and struggle with explaining adjuncts and complements, my writing professor from last year walks by and invites me to come chat later in the afternoon. I’m quite fond of her and we share similar interests, so I’m excited to further our relationship.
10:30am Actually, I don’t mind having morning shifts— the writing center is conveniently located in the same building as one of the dining halls, and I shuffle down to get an omelette (real breakfast, a rare occurrence indeed!) before class.
12pm After Chinese class, I pick up some sushi and a smoothie for a quick lunch before heading back to the writing center. Only one of my three shifts is booked— a relief, because I really do have to finish my homework before the evening.
3pm I have a productive session with a student primarily concerned with her paper’s structure – my personal favorite aspect of writing to work on – and really, she has nothing to worry about. I find that most of the students who come in are in far more need of affirmation than of actual assistance— a lot of the writing I encounter is quite good.
I pop in my professor’s office, which is on the same floor as the writing center. We chat about life, poetry, and career plans— I’m reassured by her stories of youthful mistakes, and she urges me to remain open to whatever opportunities peak my interest, regardless of my self-perceived inexperience. After laughing over tales of her young children, I leave recharged for my evening class.
6pm Feeling worn out, I eat an apple and some salad for dinner, then head home to unwind, where I watch a couple episodes of Masterchef and start reviewing for my impending Chinese quiz. I try to tidy my room a bit— last weekend really blew through and left a trail of material debris all around my floor.
9pm Having checked in with my family – I haven’t been able to properly do so in a few weeks and should soon – I finish drawing some Syntax trees for the homework after emailing with my professor for a bit. I look over at the puzzle, still unfinished, but can’t bring myself to put a real effort in tonight. I’d rather be in bed early to steel myself for my Thoroughly Terrible Thursday™.
Thursday 12 Oct
8:30am I wake up later than usual and drag my sorry self to my first lecture of the day. My Thursdays are scheduled poorly, with no break whatsoever from morning till night. Every week I go on autopilot for the day in an attempt to just slog through it.
12pm I don’t even have time for a lunch break on Thursdays, which is why I’ve affectionately dubbed them “starve days.” In an effort to combat this, I pick up a blueberry muffin from the basement of my building before Syntax begins.
2:30pm The day is barely half over and my phone is dying without a charger in sight!
3:30pm As I drop off my things at my desk in the lab before my meeting with my PI, I have a little time to catch up with a coworker whom I haven’t seen since the summer. We chat for a bit before my meeting, where my PI and I discuss the spoken blurbs I’ve prepared in anticipation of the research symposium tomorrow. We then discuss my plans for the upcoming semester, since he’s also my advisor for the program. Though I’m concerned about some scheduling issues, we work out a tentative plan for the rest of my undergraduate years.
4pm I continue working in the lab for the next few hours, trimming and adding sound files to my eposter, finalizing my presentation. By the time I leave, it’s already dark again. I eat a burger and some french fries for dinner— I read somewhere that fried potatoes may shorten or at the very least deteriorate one’s life, but at this rate it’s far more likely that I work myself to death, so I’m not too concerned.
Friday 13 Oct
7:15am After a lengthy routine which allows me to masquerade as a professional individual, I skim some Economist articles in preparation for my International Economics class— they’re just on commodities and middle-income nations, neither of which I’m particularly interested in. I write out this week’s quiz words for Chinese for the fifth time, make sure the USB containing my presentation files is on me, and take off.
11:45am My Chinese professor lets me off class early— I’ve told him in advance that I need to leave to set up my presentation. I arrive at the hall where I’ll be presenting, and since I’m early, decide to walk around looking at the first installment of presentations. There’s a lot of hard sciences in the room— most of the project titles go way over my head, but it’s heartening to see so many people my age doing such interesting, important work.
12pm I present my work for an hour, talking to passersby who giggle at my title— “Do I Sound Asian? TH-Stopping in Chinese American Speakers” and explaining my summer work many times. It’s fulfilling, having the opportunity to speak about work that felt tedious and insignificant at times throughout the process. Though the project is far from complete, this feels good, like a small step forward.
3pm At the writing center, I struggle to understand a student’s convoluted thesis and am astonished that she has brought only two – ahem, very rough – paragraphs since her paper is due tonight. We outline the rest of her paper after puzzling out what she’s trying to say and all I can do by the end of the session is wish her good luck.
4pm I’m excited to go to the station today, where Emily and I host a laidback show on BU’s radio station WTBU called “Left of the Dial,” because we’ve just started using a newly renovated space and the facility is absolutely divine. It’ll be my first time using the equipment, and I’m so ready to get my hands on all the shiny new gadgets. Once I get to the station, however, I swipe my ID through the box in all sorts of directions and nothing seems to work. Knowing that I paid my dues and everything should be in working order, I contact several people who should be able to help to no avail. Rotation continues to play as I stare into the empty new station, four feet from the control board, unable to do anything.
Emily comes running soon after, and we go about our show as usual, playing Christmas music— because what else is October besides the time to begin playing Christmas music? and cackling about ridiculous things. I always think of these two hours as the best way to end every school week— they’re a great time to unwind, and because “Left of the Dial” is so open to a variety of content, we can feel relaxed as we chatter on about whatever passes our minds.
8pm Chris and I work on the puzzle for a bit longer before taking the quick walk over to the Museum of Fine Arts, which is having a late night event tonight. We’ve been meaning to attend one of these since last year but always got conquered by the cold. Now, it’s a surprisingly mild October and not very far at all. Upon entering, the museum is decked out in neon colors and special exhibits like a new gallery of Japanese art and a creepy dancing woman who seems to move like a different animal with every act, head tilted, eyes wide, leading us through themed rooms. We follow her for a bit before going about looking for the food— five chefs are presenting their Japanese street food-inspired dishes tonight, and we’re feeling hungry.
Along the way, we happen upon a crowd of people dancing to blaring music and a strange performance art piece with cat-people touching random objects on the floor. I’m inclined to join them – one beckons to me – but Chris is creeped out and pulls me away. The food is lovely— every station is delicious, but we decide that the wagyu beef brisket with rice and pickled vegetables was the best dish. After casting our votes, we head home, sated with the delicious food and strange sights.
Saturday 14 Oct
11:30am We go to a late breakfast at Thornton’s, where I have a decent eggs benedict and we laughingly bicker about the pronunciation of “grocery” (which, by the way, I pronounce as /groshree/). It’s a rainy Saturday, and I can think of nothing worse than studying for my upcoming exams, so I glance at the puzzle before taking a nap.
3pm I decide to get cracking, having wasted enough time letting the weather get me down and drowsy. The next hour is just me alone in my room, reading aloud the texts that will be on my Chinese oral exam next Wednesday. After a while, I think I’ve memorized them instead of actually knowing what the words read as. Whatever works, I guess.
5pm A fog of studying blurs my ability to focus, so I take a shower to clear my head and talk to Emily for a bit. We’re having dinner and recording an episode of Spooky Hooky tonight, so we plan our evening.
8pm I meet up with Emily and we chow down while watching the first episode of Netflix’s new series Mindhunter, which chronicles the efforts of two FBI agents trying to study serial killers. It’s beautifully filmed, and we rave about it while recording our episode right after. We also discuss the newly released LA Times podcast Dirty John, recapping John Meehan’s sinister con of Debra Newell and its grisly end. The episode goes well; I plan to edit and release it by Wednesday.
Sunday 15 Oct
12pm After a calm morning, I walk over to the lab for a few hours of work. I enter through the back door – the building’s dark and quiet, empty – and get to transcription review. I was conducting interviews and transcribing them over the summer, but I’ve now taken on a new role in the lab— quality assurance. Essentially, I review others’ transcriptions for accuracy and begin systematically formulating a manual of transcription protocol. It’s dull work, but it furthers our research and it’s necessary to stay organized in these early stages.
3pm I leave the lab and head to a board meeting of Boston University’s chapter of Camp Kesem, which is in its first year. We go through updates and discuss fundraising tactics— I am continually awed by how much work goes into planning a single week of camp for children whose parents have or have had cancer. There’s still a lot to do, but we’re dedicated to the cause.
4:30pm Arriving a little late to the Economics review session because of my meeting, I frantically jot down notes for the exam on Tuesday (yes, I have a total of three midterms this upcoming week— horrible, I know). Review sessions that are run only on students’ questions bother me— there’s so much time wasted and not much direction. Regardless, I gather some information that will hopefully be useful in the near future.
6pm I meet Chris at Park Street— we’re headed to Cambridge’s Brattle Theatre, where we have tickets to go see Baby Driver, which I’ve been wanting to see for ages. The Red Line is undergoing some kind of repair, so we have to take a bus to Kendall instead. It’s slow going— Chris always claims that buses are the worst form of human transportation, and I’m beginning to agree.
Though we planned to have dinner at the lovely Border Cafe, the bus detour has put us a bit behind schedule and we decide to eat quicker at Felipe’s around the corner. We then head down the street to the movie, my belly full with a nice al pastor burrito. Baby Driver is fun, if not groundbreaking. The choreography of actors’ movements to soundtrack is a nice touch, and I’m glad we got to see it in such a quaint theatre.
11pm It’s been a long week, full of various shenanigans and exciting opportunities, but the week ahead is looking to be even longer and far less exciting, so I gear up and rest while I still have time. The air outside is still. Our puzzle is finished.