Failure is the condiment that gives success it’s flavor.

I shipwrecked myself.

I had a goal and a deadline. I had a plotline and a series of characters that would interact with each other wonderfully and awkwardly and every bit in between. And somewhere along the way, I took a wrong turn (or deliberately ignored my GPS) and decided not to go to the final destination that I chose for myself nearly one month ago.

I had a dream of completing another novel this summer. I’m sure you guys heard about the plan in one of my previous posts — I think I even posted about it on another blog!

But I failed.

Worse than that, I made a choice to fail.

I got home every night from my second internship and told myself that after dinner, I would write. I would write because I spent at least 8 hours thinking about science and contemplating complex ideas like chromosomes and florescent DNA stains and fruit flies with legs coming out of their heads (oh, its a thing!) and I need to switch my brain into English mode.

But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit myself down and force myself to write anything worth keeping. I tried everyday for the first week and a half until I realized that there was no possible way that I could finish 50,000 words in two and half weeks. My characters were perfect — a good friend forced me to do a writing sprint where I wrote as much as I could in 10 minutes and I wrote everything I possibly could about my characters.

Heck, the main one was actually supposed to be like me. My protagonist never usually represents me and this time, she was! Oh, I had goals. I had dreams of a witty book, full of one-liners and humor that people would try to emulate. A tale that everyone could relate to and yet was shrouded in a mist that clouded people from true understand — after all, how many people have worked with fruit flies and the segregation distorter gene?

I barely breathed one page of life into my book. And as I look upon the dwindling days of June and see July hovering in it’s sticky humidity, I wonder if I truly failed?

Don’t look at me like that. It’s true! Maybe I didn’t fail after all.

Maybe last summer was a summer of growth. Maybe it was a time where I got to do whatever I wanted in order to discover exactly what it was that I wanted. Maybe I was able to settle my roots into a new city and meet new people and see how strong my roots could be. It was a happy summer and one that nourished my creativity and inspired me to write over 50,000 words of a book that I could be at least a little proud of.

And maybe this summer wasn’t meant for any of those things.

Maybe this summer is a summer of testing. Maybe it’s a time where I don’t get to do whatever I want so that someday I can do whatever I want since I fattened my resume. Maybe it’s so I can learn how to be transplanted somewhere I didn’t expect to live. Maybe this is where I find out just how strong my roots are when things don’t go my way and I don’t know anybody. This isn’t a happy summer, but it’s one where I get to see just how much I can take and see how many gardening puns I can dig up.

And you know what? I think I can be proud of that.

Advertisements

These flashes of irrational happiness: probably a vitamin deficiency.

Firstly, if you’ve never read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, do so immediately. However, side effects include: pondering what exactly makes someone human, wondering about the bioethics of genetic engineering, and bemoaning the two-sided coin of the beauty and sheer ugliness of this world.

If you’re up for that and constant overthinking for about three days on your morals (and enduring some very base language and situations — it is a dystopian society), pick it up.

This dystopian book (a trilogy actually, which I am currently making my way through and am loving so much that I bought it for my own personal collection) entertains the possibility of the extremes of genetic engineering for profit. Without giving too much away, the people in this book are loosely split into two categories: science types and wordsmiths. The goggle-wearing clans compete for the top-paying jobs at the large corporations that have more-or-less taken over the class structure. Meanwhile, the nose-in-book nerds are shuffled around depending on how competent they are at advertising for the scientific discoveries.

Since I do my best to balance on this see-saw, you can imagine how much I connected with this book.

What Atwood does phenomenally well is her manipulation of language. Two best friends (the scientific prodigy, Crake, and the mediocre master of words, Jimmy) are forced to live in this rapidly evolving world on both sides of this interesting divide. However, it isn’t necessarily what is said; rather it is how it is said.

Crake and Jimmy are both romantically involved by the end of the book (no spoilers here). What is fascinating is how Crake is reduced to nothing but the basic human drives: food, water, and sex. There is no description of emotion when he pursues his woman, if pursuit is even the right word. It is all very matter-of-fact and the reader (myself) is left wondering how this relationship is even at all fulfilling.

But for Crake, it is! He is fulfilling a basic human drive. For all this knowledge and all his ability to cut and paste genes into a sequence, he is reducing himself to nothing to but needs. His brain is simply a machine that functions to keep him alive. What kind of life can that be?

Falling in love, although it resulted in altered body chemistry and was therefore real, was a hormonally induced delusional state, according to him [Crake]. In addition it was humiliating, because it put you at a disadvantage, it gave the love object too much power. As for sex per se, it lacked both challenge and novelty, and was on the whole a deeply imperfect solution to the problem of intergenerational genetic transfer

And Jimmy. The entire book is told from his perspective. Can you even imagine the torture of being in this black and white world that’s melting into a cacophany of grey and never being able to find the correct words to describe any of it? Even if you could, words are useless; there are nothing but sprinkles on a cake that has already been genetically modified to thrill your taste buds. What the point of sprinkles when they have no taste or color??

Stupid sprinkles. Stupid science.

When any civilization is dust and ashes,” he said, “art is all that’s left over. Images, words, music. Imaginative structures. Meaning—human meaning, that is—is defined by them. You have to admit that.”

Just as Crake is reduced to nothing but needs, Jimmy is described as being so much more than that. There’s a depth to his life that Crake simply cannot understand.

So here I am, reading this book. I understand both sides. I’m the zebra. Part of me is the white lab coat, data-oriented, goggle-wearing scientist. The other part of me is the tragically understanding pair of reading glasses, the dark writer who broods about what I’m trying to say, the dictionary-toting girl who knows the ultimate power of words.

This post started out about me wondering if my soul overpowers the three basic human drives and I came to the conclusion that I’m a zebra.

Oops.

Imagination is the preview to life’s coming attractions.

It’s the first time I’ve been off the oxycodone and the first time I’ve trusted myself on a keyboard. Not doing so bad, eh?

That being said, I’ve finally decided on the format for the new blog, Gotta be the Genes, and I’ve updated the “About” page. I don’t have any new posts yet, but I included the link here, in case you wanted to see the little preview.

I have also decided to announce the new idea for the book I’m writing this summer! Drumroll, please…

It will be about a girl in her early 20’s (authors write about what they know) who is performing research on sperm. Sound familiar at all? The basic plotline goes like this: after much pressure from her family, she is going on dates to see if she can find “the one.” Needless to say, it always fails. Biologically, she knows exactly how men work (the sperm research), but she can’t seem to land a date.

The twist on the story comes from the research. The sperm will have certain defects that correspond with the issues the female character is having with her male counterparts. For example, one guy is running from commitment and one sperm squiggles away from the microscope lens. Another example would be the alpha male personality as compared to sperm fratricide (a concept where one or more sperm develop faster than the others and the others are killed in order that the maturation process can be completed).

I’m playing around with the title right now but I’m working along the lines of: “X, Y, and Z: a guide to dating” or something like that. It won’t be the dating how-to book but it will be a fictional spin-off of something similar.

Turns out I’ve been pretty productive on the strong drugs! Thoughts?

The first bite of an apple is always the best.

Preface

Go then, my little Book, and show to all
that entertain and bid thee welcome shall,
What thou dost keep close shut up in they breast;
and wish what thou dost show them may be blest
to them for good, may make them choose to be
pilgrims better, by far, than thee or me.
tell them of Mercy; she is one
Who early hath her pilgrimage begun.
Yea, let young damsels learn of her to prize
the world which is to come, and so be wise;
For little tripping maids may follow God
along the ways which saintly feet have trod.

adapted from John Bunyan

Image

Books are a uniquely portable magic.

Why hasn’t she been posting “happy day” pictures? Not because she hasn’t been happy. Au contraire, ’tis because she hasn’t had the time to post!

I shall correct the error at once!

I’ve been so busy lately studying and getting my schoolwork done while managing other commitments (seen my post on my second Beacon article? Do you know how hard it is to get an interview with the president of your college? …exactly). In one of my many study sessions in the library here on campus, I noticed a bookshelf next to me with all the major classics.

library

Aren’t they gorgeous? I wanted to take one and flip through it but I was on a tight schedule and had to finish some Literary Criticism homework before the rest of my night whirled by. But they still made me happy 🙂

Image

One good thing about music: when it hits you, you feel no pain.

The heavy rain was followed by a splash of sunshine and I went outside to work on some homework and take advantage of the nice weather — between the water falling from the sky and the water in the air that makes it hard to breathe, a nice day has been few and far between.

I was listening to Pandora and I smiled when this song came on.

luke bryan

It was as simple as a song, but it made me happy 🙂

If you like nerds, raise your hand. If you don’t, raise your standards.

My idea of “getting down” on Friday night is reading my Organic Chemistry textbook in the campus coffee shop at the corner table by the window, sipping a decaf mocha so I can get my coffee fix without the caffeine. At least, that’s how it is tonight. If things get really crazy, I might even paint my nails.

I know, I know, I should really tone it down.

But seriously though, the fact that I don’t have exciting plans on a Friday doesn’t bother me. Too much. The fact that I’m writing a post about it is probably a signal that it bothers me just a little. I DO have a lot of friends here. Several of them have gone home to their families for Labor Day plans and the others are already doing something or are already busy.

I like people. I may be introverted, but I do like to see people. As I was texting a friend the other day, I commented how I could talk his ear off and he agreed that I’ve gotten a lot more talkative this year! I like to hang out with my friends so that we can get even closer and I love to have fun and play euchre with a bunch of people or go to a bonfire (which are my plans for tomorrow night). See? I do have plans!

But there’s something nice about being alone and being able to watch the world go by at a slower pace. I like being able to have no deadlines and to sit here for as long as I want to. I like being able to sip my coffee without wondering if I can finish it before I have to take off to the next place. I like being able to read my Chemistry textbook and take notes in fun, color-coded pens so that my notebook looks pretty. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. Society would frown upon me doing those things on a Friday night and I’m reminded of that more and more with every glance that comes my way from those who are “having fun.”

What’s so wrong with being a nerd? Why does the word “nerd” carry such negative connotations? I’m wearing my soccer stuff right now so I don’t look like the quintessential college nerd, but what other type of person would be studying on a Friday night? I’m disappointed in myself that I feel bad about doing so. I shouldn’t be apologizing for the type of person that I am and the types of activities that I enjoy! I should take pride in my intellectual abilities.

I guess it’s hard to remain confident for so long when no one else is there to remind you how awesome those parts of you really are. I’ve experienced the single life and the dating life and I’m beginning to remember how important it is for you to be the biggest supporter you have. Sometimes when you’re sitting at the corner table all alone, you are the only company that you have. You should at least like yourself. But it’s better when you can support yourself and the type of person that you are and it’s best when you can compliment yourself and find pride in the person that you have evolved into over the years.

So after a long blogpost and an even longer thought process, I’ve come to this conclusion: I am a nerd.

But most importantly, I like myself.