In which I go long-distance for a long time.

Apparently, it started with a game of volleyball.

It was back when I was in Sydney. I had just arrived and moved into my new residential college. The dorm had rented out some volleyball courts at the university gym, and invited all the residents to come and play.

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I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s when it began.

Although nothing happened until much, much later.

A couple weeks after I played volleyball, some kid approached me as I was going to lunch. Everyone in my residential hall ate in the same dining room. This dining hall always kept tons of fruit that residents could take back to their rooms. I have an unnatural fondness for bananas, so I would often take multiple bananas from the cafeteria.

This kid approached me, clutching two bananas in his hand.

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It was a sincere attempt to establish a rapport with me, I realize now. It didn’t work. Mostly, I wondered why this kid had a problem with my banana addiction. I completely forgot about the incident and went about business as usual.

It wasn’t until a month later that things began to move. I participated in the residential hall’s talent show, exhibiting my speed drawing skills alongside an actual artist. We needed someone to be the announcer for our act. This same kid volunteered.

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We had to rehearse for the act, of course. Check the lighting and practice walking on stage and all that. While we waited for our turn at the rehearsal, I started chatting with our announcer.

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At that time, The Legend of Korra had completed its first season. Fans had been waiting with baited breath for the next season to come out. It had already been months.

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Clever play, dude. Clever play.

So, I started watching The Legend of Korra with this kid every week. We got to talking. He seemed like a cool guy– likes comics, likes video games, likes reddit, just like me. We became fast friends.

After the 3rd week of watching Korra, he knocks on my door and asks:

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C’mon. I’m a middle-class American girl who grew up in white suburbia. Of course I was gonna say,

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Another smooth move. Props to you, kid. Anyway, you can imagine where this is going.

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We went from acquaintances, to fast friends, to dating. Just like that. For some reason we got along really well. Probably because we were both weird people and total nerds.

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But it was a doomed relationship from the start.

After all, I was only going to be in Sydney for so long. By the time we started dating, I had a month and a half left in the country. This guy wasn’t American. He wasn’t even Australian. He’s a citizen of Malaysia who is an international student at the University of Sydney.

Even as we continued to hang out…

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…it was tinged with worry.

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After all, this guy was from the other side of the world. Not an exaggeration. I had to think realistically. I could enjoy the time I had with him now, for sure. Everyone has that overseas romance, right? But once I left, we’d have to break it off. That idea, for some reason, didn’t appeal to me.

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Well, shit.

So we decided, against all odds, to try a long-distance relationship. This wasn’t the sort of long distance where you get to see each other once a week, or once a month. This was going to be a relationship where you’d see each other never, and maaaaaaybe in the far future you’d get to visit again.

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The day I flew out of Sydney– well, let’s just say it’s not one of my happier memories. He came to the airport with me and waited until I had to board my flight.

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At least I wasn’t leaving Australia completely. I dived the Great Barrier Reef after that, then toured Queensland with my friends. Then, I traveled Vietnam with my family. The day that I flew back to Boston, however…

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It was over. Everything was over. The warm sunny skies of Sydney were replaced with the sub-zero frost of the Massachusetts Bay. I got back to Boston on a Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, I immediately jumped into my new internship. I didn’t have a chance to catch my breath.

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Like that, the long-distance began.

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First, we had to deal with the time difference. Even when we were awake at the same time, we’d be busy with work, school, or life. We were really only able to Skype on weekends. We did text and leave voice messages every day, though.

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Suddenly, I went from never-answers-her-phone girl to always-attached-to-her-phone girl.

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Those first few months were painful. Anyone in a long-distance relationship knows what I mean. The feeling of missing someone so badly, you’d give up a kidney just to see them again. I would sit around, wondering why teleportation hadn’t been invented yet.

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As time went on, the pain slowly numbed. I was more and more able to function like a real human being. I really hated to admit that one person could have such a huge effect on my behavior, so this was a small relief.

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I read fluffy listicles on long-distance relationships.

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Life goes on. Months flew by. Landmark dates passed: Valentine’s Day, my birthday, his birthday, our one-year anniversary. All spent alone. We sent postcards, packages, physical presents to make up for our absence.

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I ran my first half-marathon. He finished his final exams. I completed my internship. He landed a part-time job. I traveled Europe with my sister. Things kept changing, but one thing remained constant: Us. We continued to keep in touch. Neither of us wanted to let go, despite all the naysayers.

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They all had a point, though. Text messages and video chats can only go so far. Relationships require physical presence, and we were severely lacking in that.

Something had to shift. But what? It’s not like I could fly to Australia, or he to America, for a casual weekend visit. There was no way our relationship could continue like this for long. One day, he asked me to talk.

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He told me the details: for the last few months, he had worked at getting his grades up. That way, he could qualify to study abroad. It’s a long process, though. First, he has to choose the top schools that he wanted to go to. Then, the University of Sydney has to approve one of his choices. Then he needs to wait for the exchange institution’s approval, and then he has to go through the painful process of getting a visa.

Well, he’d only have to do all that if he got approved in the first place.

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I’ve never been so mad and touched in my life. The waiting began. The University of Sydney took a few weeks to respond. We waited impatiently, hoping that they’d approve his top choice– Northeastern University, my school.

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Finally, he got an e-mail.

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Then, Northeastern had to accept him. This took another month.

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It was a horrible waiting period. The Northeastern study abroad representative was unresponsive and slow. The visa process couldn’t start until Northeastern sent their approval documents. As the weeks crawled on, we texted and worried.

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And, then, the magic happened:

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At that moment, we realized that this was real. There was no turning back. He still had to go through the long and excruciating process of getting a visa, finding housing, and booking plane tickets, but it was set. This was happening. We were going to be reunited– not for a week or two, but for a full semester.

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He flew in right before Christmas, on a 25-hour flight.

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My dad and I picked him up from the airport.

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I looked around.

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And then, I realized.

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He was right.

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Despite all those months– over a year– of waiting.

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Even if it’s hard, it’ll be worth it.

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It sure was for us.

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Help, I’ve fallen and I won’t get up until May 2015.

Schools are always full of sick kids. I mean that literally. College students are stressed, sleep-deprived, and living off canned soup and instant ramen. Then, they get crammed into little classrooms together, where they spend hours coughing and sneezing and trying to understand the exact mechanism of a Hell-Vollard-Zelinsky reaction (whatever that is). Combine that with the freezing, bipolar weather of the US Northeast and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

And I’m part of the problem. I think I’ve been sick lately. Seriously! Call me a hypochondriac, but I’ve been kind of “off” for the last few months. This semester has been unlike any semester I’ve been through before.

You see, before, I was like this:

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Now, I’m like this.

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Before, I used to be on top of my game.

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Now, I’m at the bottom of the 9th inning with 4800 words to go.

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I used to never skip class.

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But this semester, I actually skipped a class. Once. Alright, I’m a huge nerd.

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Maybe I’m getting old. I used to be able to run on five hours of sleep per night.

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Now, I need to sleep. Like, all the time. I even have favorite spots to take naps on campus.

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It’s getting ridiculous. When I went home for Thanksgiving break, I was hoping it would go like this:

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Instead, it was like this:

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I kid you not. On my first evening home, I immediately took a three hour nap. I woke up, attempted to study for about 15 minutes, then went back to bed for another 12 hours.

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What is happening? I used to freak out when assignments piled up.

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But now…

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As for my grades?

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Basically, I give ZERO F#CKS. About ALL the things.

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What is the deal? 

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Some kids get the flu. Some kids get a cold. I’ve been stricken with the most common illness among college seniors…

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Oh, no! This can’t be! Not the dreaded senioritis! There has to be some sort of treatment, right? I consulted the source of all knowledge, Urban Dictionary.

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Looks like I have another semester before I fully recover. Until then…

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Is it Christmas yet?

Getting attacked by squirrels in Central Park.

I was sad when I left Sydney. During my time there, I had made some really good friends. One in particular was my running buddy. Despite our cultural differences– she’s from Denmark, I’m from the US– we got along really well. It was one of those friendships that would last a lifetime.

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She wasn’t kidding. Several months ago, her family planned a trip to New York City this October. New York City isn’t too far from Boston, so I made a vow:

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And I, too, was serious. My friend gave me the dates that her family would be in New York. I booked the bus tickets. I could only visit her for two days, because school– but it was better than nothing.

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So that’s how I, Vy, was adopted by my friend’s Danish family for the weekend.

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And it was an interesting experience for all of us. I’m used to traveling out of the US and having to adjust to new cultures. Now, the roles were reversed. I’ve been to New York countless times since I was young. My friend has never been to the States before.

Watching someone from a different country react to the US with is highly amusing. In the hopes of sharing my amusement, I present to you…

MY DANISH FRIEND GOES TO NYC

And gets surprised by a bunch of things

 

1. Copious amounts of sugar.

Americans, for some reason, like to put extra sugar in just about everything. Other countries are not used to this. My friends were no exception.

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2. Jamba Juice.

Some foods weren’t as disappointing, though. When I met up with my friend, she enthusiastically told me about a great breakfast place her family went to.

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Sometimes I forget how many fast-food chains are only common in the US. I was expecting her to name some fancy, NYC-exclusive froyo shop, but no. It was Jamba Juice.

3. Times Square.

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4. Everything is tall.

My friend hails from Denmark and has traveled much of Europe. She’s seen a lot of cities. She’s even been to Sydney. But they don’t really compare to the skyscrapers of NYC.

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The scale of everything in NYC is simply bigger. She excitedly described to me some of the stores her family visited.

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I, the United States native, wanted to impress her even further. At the Rockefeller Center, I pointed out one of my favorite childhood stores.

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5. Everything is cheap (in comparison to Denmark).

By my standards, shopping in Manhattan isn’t cheap. I’m used to being in the ‘burbs, where the strip malls are plenty and the sales are season-round. In Denmark, though, consumer prices are sky-high. America seemed like a bargain basement to my friend and her family.

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They knew this would be the case, and came prepared.

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We all felt a bit bad for the men of the group, since shopping isn’t their thing.

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But, how often would these gals get to shop in the US? They took advantage of the opportunity.

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6. And finally, the squirrels.

My Danish friend and her family visited Central Park. Do you know that Pixar movie, Up? And the one character, Dug?

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It was kind of like hanging out with six Dug’s.

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I didn’t get it.

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My friend and her family even tried to unload their ultra-sweet Dunkin’ Donuts on the squirrels.

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But those cute little guys are feistier than they appear.

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Yep, it was a fantastic weekend. It was refreshing to see a foreigner visit my home country, rather than the other way around. Though I too had my own moments of surprise. We visited two locations in New York that I had never been to before.

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The next location was even more stunning.

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And, of  course, it was great to see my friend again. She’s the greatest! I swore to visit her.

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So, hopefully, we’ll have more of this happening in the future:

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Central Park!

Brooklyn Bridge!

Brooklyn Bridge!

Top of the Rock!

Top of the Rock!

Because some friendships can span continents!

I have a smelly new friend, and his name is Mr. President.

When I was younger, I wanted a pet. I mean, what little kid doesn’t want a loyal dog or adorable kitten? Unfortunately, my parents didn’t think the same way.

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It’s true that having a dog is a big commitment. They live a long time and require a lot of care! Even as I grew older, though, I still wanted a pet. My IQ drops at least 100 points every time I approach an animal.

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I still wanted a pet by the time I reached college. But my parents had a point: owning a dog or a cat is no joke. They cost a lot of time and money. Was I responsible enough to have a pet like that?

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I just wanted something cute and fuzzy to play with! Is that too much to ask for? I kept obsessing over the idea.

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This went on for months until my birthday rolled around. This year, my sister bought me a special gift.

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She had bought me a pet cage! And some pet bedding! In other words, the first steps to getting my own pet mouse.

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I always joked about getting a pet, but I never thought that it could become a reality. Now, the possibility was there. I wanted a mouse. I needed a mouse!

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So, a few days later, my sister and I drove to the nearest PetSmart. There were only two mice in the rodents section.

The first mouse was white with brown spots. He was sleeping peacefully, curled up into a little ball of fluff.

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The other mouse was black and lean. He was frantically running on his exercise wheel like there was no tomorrow.

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You can guess which one I chose.

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Even the PetSmart employee wasn’t convinced.

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It was too late. I had already fallen in love with the hyper mouse. The PetSmart employee opened up the cage to transfer the mouse into a box…

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She was right. Soon after getting my mouse, I noticed that he had some interesting quirks.

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Male mice, like many other animals, have a habit of marking their territory. This behavior increases when the mouse feels nervous or threatened. This particular mouse is one of the most nervous, high-strung creatures I have ever seen. Accordingly, he pees constantly.

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To make matters worse, mice usually like to pee and poop in the same location in their cage. My mouse chose a problematic area as his toilet.

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Yeah. All night, my mouse will poop in his exercise wheel. Then he’ll run in it. By the time I wake up each morning, the wheel will be caked in a layer of trampled poop. Every day, I have to wipe it off.

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And that smell. He really likes to mark his territory. I stuck boxes of baking soda around his cage. I bought air fresheners. I opened all the windows. Finally, I resorted to drastic measures.

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Even with the air filter , the smell has only been reduced and not eliminated. I wash his cage weekly and remove the dirty bedding every day. As soon as I do, he makes a point to poop and pee immediately after.

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What’s even dumber, though, is my mouse’s name.

When I got my mouse, I pondered over what to name him for days. Finally, I consulted my friends for advice.

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Then, my dad came along.

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Although I rejected my dad’s suggestion, my dad continued to call the mouse Obama.

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Then, my mom caught on.

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Finally, my sister picked it up.

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Out of all the names I considered, this was the one that stuck the most. A few weeks later, I moved back to school and introduced the mouse to my friends.

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Thus, nowadays I regularly say stuff like this: 

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And stuff like this:

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Thanks, Obama.

In which firefighters get shirtless to save the day.

Since I’m back in school, I’ve started volunteering again. There’s a really handy website called One Brick that lets you sign up for events and simply show up the day of.

It’s a convenient way to find out about volunteer opportunities around Boston. It usually consists of normal stuff, like working in a soup kitchen or handing out water at a charity run. But last weekend, I saw an event that looked a little bit different.

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A non-profit called Project Smile was putting on a charity date auction, naming it “Boston’s Largest Fall Singles Event.” With such a declaration, how could I not be interested? Me and three friends RSVP’d for the event.

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Not that we’d be participating– we all signed up as volunteers. Still, it sounded like an interesting way to spend a Friday evening. Date auctions are one of those things I’ve only seen in the movies. Were they really the same in real life?

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The event called for “cocktail attire.” So, after class that day, I ran home, geared up, and got my game on.

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My friends and I headed to the venue, appropriately named “Venu.” Inside, we found a fancy nightclub, decorated for the occasion.

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There was a silent auction…

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…a backdrop for photos…

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…and a table full of vibrators.

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This was going to be interesting.

I was assigned to the money-handling table. Here, the auction winners would come up and pay for their date. My job? To make them sign a waiver.

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As we set everything up, more and more people started filing into the nightclub. Soon, the entire place was packed. The bachelors and bachelorettes being sold wandered around, chatting with prospective bidders. Finally, at 7:30…

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The auction started out strong. Miss Massachusetts was at the event, presumably as the celebrity guest. She was invited to the stage to say a few words. And then, a surprise:

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Whoa, you can’t just spring that on someone! Onstage, she has no way to say no! What if she wasn’t okay with this?  The bidding began, quickly escalating higher and higher. She is a beauty pageant winner, after all. Man, I was getting nervous for her.

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Finally, when the bids reached over $300…

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To my relief, Miss Massachusetts’ own boyfriend had stepped in and offered the highest bid, which ended up being over $300. This was a hard act to follow. Maybe we had a tough crowd that night, but it became hard for the MC’s to get anything beyond the initial bid.

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It started to get kind of desperate.

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For one lady, the awkward silence got so bad that the MC bought the girl himself.

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The MC’s even encouraged people to buy more than one date. One gentleman ended up buying three or four girls.

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As weird as that sounds, though, I think he did it out of goodwill.

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Well, and he got some cheap dates with cute girls.

The entire date auction wasn’t a bust, though. No, sir. There was a savior up ahead. The crowd started out lukewarm– but it wouldn’t last.

You see, my friends and I hadn’t signed up for the event just because it was a date auction. We signed up because we saw the flyers.

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You read that right.

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Yup.

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We were interested.

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The MC’s brought the first firefighter on stage. Not only was he a firefighter, but he was also a paramedic. A double-whammy lifesaver. This was the guy that we had all been waiting for.

You could hear the panties dropping. Or, more literally, the bids escalating.

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The bids stalled around the upper 300’s. Then, the MC offered:

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Almost immediately, an old lady raised her hand, pulled out her wallet, and bid $400. High-pitched cheers erupted across the room. The DJ put some sexy music on.

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Luckily, the firefighter was a good sport. He proceeded to strip down– first his vest, then his shirt, then his undershirt, then: no shirt. The MC even gave him a pink firefighter cap to complete the look.

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As this was happening, of course, the bids continued to rise.

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Finally, the MC pulled out the big guns.

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The crowd went wild, and the rest was history.

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After that, everything seemed to loosen. Bids went higher. The crowd seemed more at ease. And, most importantly, clothes just kept coming off.

"C'mon, ladies."

“C’mon, ladies.”

It was the most awkward and hilarious spectacle I’ve ever seen.

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Project Smile raised $18,000 in just that one night– all thanks to the shirtless firemen.

I’ll take any excuse to dress up in costume and ride on a boat.

Last weekend, I went on a cosplay cruise.

That’s exactly what it sounds like. A boat full of costumed otaku, doing whatever it is otaku do. It was being hosted by Boston’s local anime store, Anime Zakka, who kindly reduced the price for us.

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What a deal! Dozens of the most hardcore anime dorks in the same boat? That had to be a good time!

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I really wanted to go, but I really didn’t want to go alone. Luckily, my friends were interested in coming as well.

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Alright, I may have pestered a couple of my friends into going. Hey, that cruise was a great bargain. And the more, the merrier! Thus, last weekend, my friends and I woke up bright and early Sunday morning to get ready for the cruise.

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The cruise was taking off from the Boston Harbor, which meant that we had a nice, long ride on the subway to get there.

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We arrived at the port.

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We had indeed gone the right way.

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A Madoka crossplay from Madoka Magica.

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A police Stocking from Panty and Stocking!

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Anime Zakka had rented out the entire lower deck for the cruise. Although the deck has a capacity of 200+ people, they restricted the event to 100 tickets to avoid overcrowding. My friends and I got our own table.

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As promised, there was food…

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Cosplay…

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Aladdin from Magi.

Hatsune Miku.

Hatsune Miku.

…and a cruise in the Boston Harbor.

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That wasn’t all, though. There was a Yankee Swap, where people bring in anime-themed gifts and exchange them anonymously between attendees. There were no guidelines on the event page, so I wasn’t sure what to buy. I went with a keychain of one of my favorite characters.

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What I didn’t know was that people would be going all out. 

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Though I wasn’t the only person to bring in a small gift, I ended up feeling pretty guilty at the end.

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Also unexpected were the people on the boat. The nerds might have occupied the entire bottom deck, but the upper two decks were taken by perfectly ordinary people who just wanted to enjoy a cruise on this lovely day. Little did they know that they would be interrupted.

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But, the most unexpected of all?

How normal it all felt.

I always go to conventions and enjoy them. Yet somewhere, at the back of my mind, I’d feel ashamed. Every judgmental onlooker gave me a twinge of shame. I really am a dork. People think we’re such losers. 

It’s true. People do think we’re such losers.

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But, that day, there was no embarrassment.

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On the contrary, I felt pretty alright.

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I mean, who cares? Really, we were just a bunch of friends enjoying the beautiful weather. In costume.

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SO FIERCE, RIGHT?

On that day, I cosplayed and didn’t feel like a freak. I felt like it’s OK to like what I like. I was on a boat and having a great time, just like any other person. Just because I like anime doesn’t mean that I should feel less about myself. Just because I like comics and cosplay doesn’t mean that I have to be a socially awkward, stereotypical dork.

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Though I can see where the stereotype comes from.

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I guess I’m an awkward turtle after all.

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But even awkward encounters can lead to great things.

My friends and I with Haruka Nanase from Free!

My friends and I with Haruka Nanase from Free!

Anime Zakka, if you ever host another cruise: I will be there.

I might run like a snail, but at least I can run for 13.1 miles!

When I arrived at my first half-marathon, I didn’t think I was nervous.

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Maybe it was because I had been having a ball. The past few days had been pretty awesome, after all.

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My family even came to Boston to see me, adding to the fun.

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When I think about it, though, I bet I was pretty nervous.

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But I managed to keep that nervousness down, mainly because my family was with me. At my insistence, we arrived at the start zone an hour early. We spent the time taking photos and messing around.

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The race was set to begin at 7AM. The closer it got to the start time, the more crowded it became.

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Finally, only a few minutes remained before the start.

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That’s when it truly hit me. Today was the day. The time was now. This half-marathon that I had spent the last 5 months training for was about to happen.

The runners lined up, the national anthem was sung, and then…

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There were so many runners that for the first minute, I didn’t move at all. Finally, the crowd surged to a walk. Then a jog. Then, finally…

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Off I ran, joining the stampede of runners through downtown Boston.

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Dozens of people strode past me, but I didn’t care. I knew from the start that I was slow. I would finish this race at my own pace, no matter how fast people were!

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Each mile had a timer set up, allowing the runner to see how much time had elapsed. I guess I was letting the people around me set the pace, since I was running a lot faster than usual.

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Alright, I’ll confess: when I started training back in January, my pace was around 11:30 per mile– really freakin’ slow. By the end of my training I had reduced it to 10:30 per mile. But now I was running a good 30 seconds faster than that, out of nowhere. What’s the deal?

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Maybe it was all the runners around me, maybe it was the adrenaline. Whatever it was, at each mile marker, I didn’t seem to be slowing down. I pushed on without pause.

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Well, ok. I did stop at the many water stations set up along the route. Volunteers handed out cups of water and Gatorade. However, there were not enough trash cans to keep up with the water consumption. Cups were simply tossed aside in massive piles.

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In spite of these stops, I kept up the pace.

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I kept it up even as my legs started to burn.

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And as my breathing grew steadily heavier.

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By the tenth mile, I had pretty much had it.

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The maximum I had run before the half-marathon was 12 miles. So when I reached that 13th, final mile, I was out.

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But at the end, I had a surprise waiting for me.

My family was waiting faithfully for me at the finish line, that I knew. Since they couldn’t follow me during the rest of the race, I tried to keep them updated. I kept my phone with me during the race (to listen to music, the ultimate essential for running) and also sent them periodic texts.

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As a result, they were ready for me.

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My sister ran along the last 200 yards or so of my half-marathon, taking photos like a madwoman. My mom and dad were lying in wait as well.

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I was too exhausted to model for long, though. My sister got plenty of unflattering shots.

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Though amused, I didn’t slow down for my family. I couldn’t. Not after running for so long. I had to finish strong!

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And thus, in 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 20 seconds, I finished my first half-marathon.

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At the finish line, there were bagels, chips, and bananas waiting for us.

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And, of course, our medals.

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It was hard to believe that this run– this darned half-marathon that I trained for months to complete– was actually over. I had actually finished, with a personal best! I met up with my family, who congratulated me.

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Completely and utterly sore, I limped triumphantly to the car, where I proceeded to lay on the ground.

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A week later, I’ve finally gotten over my soreness. I still carry that little medal wherever I go, though. I’m the girl who hated running, after all. I’m the one who could barely run a single mile a few years ago. I know, I know: half-marathons have been done so many times before, by people much faster than I am. But to me, that little medal– it’s kind of a big deal.

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The Real Life of a Newbie Runner, part 2

Read part 1 here!

Although I acknowledge my status as a newbie runner, I admit I’ve been getting more confident lately.

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However, every since returning from Sydney, I have always run alone. I haven’t had anyone to measure myself against. My concern isn’t speed, it’s distance. Thus, while I think I look like this… 

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…the reality is a little more like this. 

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A few weekends ago, I met up with some of my buddies for my school’s annual Holi festival. One friend is actually signed up for the same half-marathon as me. He’s been a long-time runner– a person who used to do cross-country and runs consistently in his free time. A real runner! But hey, aren’t I a runner too now?

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As soon as I said it, I immediately regretted it.

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Hey, I thought. Maybe this will be fine. I can handle running a little faster than usual, right? Sure, Vy. Keep on telling that to yourself.

Later that day, my friend and I met up and took off.

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I ignored the feeling and kept on running.

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But only a few miles had passed. We kept going.

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Around the 7-mile mark…

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My friend and I stopped for a few minutes, allowing me to drink some water and stop hyperventilating. My legs and lungs were burning. Man. How fast had we been running, anyway?

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We couldn’t stop for long. My friend had a dinner date to get to that evening, and we had to make sure he got home on time.

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My bravado was soon defeated, though.

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By the end, I think my friend was seriously fearing for my health.

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After what seemed like an eternity later, we reached his apartment.

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Despite still being a few miles from my own apartment, I couldn’t run anymore. Instead, I stumbled home…

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…and moped in bed for a while.

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That day, I didn’t reach my target distance. How was I going to run the even longer half-marathon in only a few weeks? Despite all my training, I still lacked speed and endurance.

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Just to make me feel worse, the Boston Marathon was two days later.

This Boston Marathon was going to be a big one. After last year’s bombings, people were determined to make this year a success. The number of participants increased to 36,000, 10,000 more than the previous year. Literally hundreds of thousands of people lined up along the route to cheer on the runners, alongside more police officers and security guards than usual.

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One of the many security checkpoints along the race route.

I entered the marathon zone around the 25-mile mark, slowly walking my way towards the finish line. The closer I got, the more crowded it became. By the time I got to Boylston Street, it became difficult to see.

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I arrived pretty early, around the conclusion of the wheelchair race. Only the fastest runners were nearing the finish line. I’m sure at that point, the runners must have been absolutely exhausted. Yet they pushed on.

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Perhaps the crowd was helping them along. For some reason, the cheering seemed more tumultuous than usual. Every runner brought a new round of clapping and shouting.

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A big screen set up by the finish line allowed people to view the runners’ struggle up close.

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And, of course, their victories.

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Regardless of the runner’s pace, they were all met by equal amounts of applause. Each one, as they crossed the finish line, had the same expression as well. Complete exhaustion. Utter relief. And– regardless if they placed first, third, or 1000th– an expression of personal victory.

A Boston Marathon bombing survivor finishes the race. From popsugar.com.

A Boston Marathon bombing survivor finishes the race. From popsugar.com.

People have knocked me for my super-slow running. They’ll first express disbelief, then smugness. Then they’ll sanctimoniously offer advice.

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But when I watched the Boston Marathon, I remembered the words of one of my runner friends.

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And as I watched those runners cross the finish line, I finally understood what she meant.

A week from now, I’ll be running my first half-marathon. I’ll be the out-of-place looking girl who has neither the lean body of a runner nor the fancy athletic gear to match. I’ll be the one running like a snail. And I’ll be the one who will still run proudly, because I’m going to finish. That’s all I want.

To prove to myself, and no one else, that I can do it.

 

 

 

 

The Oatmeal has a great post on long-distance running, which I have found more and more to be totally true. 

Also, if you have any good workout songs, let me know! I need a playlist for the half-marathon, and using Pandora is getting old. 

 

In which I discover that I’ve learned nothing for the past three years of college.

When I entered college three years ago, I took a free practice MCAT offered by Kaplan.

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Three years later, I took a practice MCAT again. This time, I was trying for real. I had been in college for three years already, so I had to do better– right?

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Apparently not. After three years of schooling, my score raised only by a nominal point.

Unlike during my freshman year, where I could just brush it off…

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…I can’t really ignore it now.

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Since I’m graduating college in a year, I actually have to think about my future now. Part of this has become studying for the MCAT, also known as the Medical College Admission Test. Among all of the grad school exams, the MCAT is particularly notorious. It is long, hard, demands a great deal of memorized knowledge, and is designed to weed out the weak.

The weak, including me.

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So I registered for one of Kaplan’s online MCAT courses.

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I knew that I would have to study hard for this exam. It covers organic chemistry, general chemistry, biology, physics, and verbal reasoning– all subjects that I have struggled with in the past. But I was still a little shocked when I received my Kaplan review books in the mail.

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I was even more shocked when I started to read the material.

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As it turns out, I haven’t learned 50% of the content I’m supposed to know for the MCAT, ever. The other 50% I studied years ago. In between my full-time internship and increasingly time-consuming half-marathon training, I continued to study.

My first MCAT class rolled around.

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Try as I might, I could not keep up.

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But as life got in the way, even the weekends failed me.

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Falling so behind started to get to me.

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There was only one thing to do.

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So now, I’ve bought myself a little more time (literally, as changing your MCAT test date costs $65) to prep for this exam. In other words, I’ve delayed my inevitable collapse until October.

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Maybe I should go into business instead.

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers

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Hey y’all! So, this may come as a bit of a shock, but people other than my mom read this blog. Well. It’s shocking to me, at least!

The lovely Little Misadventures nominated me for the “Sisterhood of the World Blog Award”– not an actual award, but another cute little meme where bloggers can appreciate each other’s sites. It’s like a nice pat on the back. I’ve done a few of these things before, I know. You’ll have to forgive me for doing another one!

Anyway, the “rules” are as follows:

1) Link to the blogger who nominated you and say thanks.

2) Nominate blogs that you find a joy to read.

3) Link to the nominees and tell them about the nomination.

4) Include the award logo in your blog post.

5) Answer the ten questions listed below.

1) What is your favorite color? 

At those darned get-to-know-you-icebreakers, I usually tell people my favorite color is green.

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And I do like green. But honestly, I think colors look best in combination with one another. My favorite color combo, then, is cerulean and spring green.

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Though what I should really do at those icebreakers is tell people the names of Crayola crayons.

2) What is your favorite animal?

This is going to sound odd, but in elementary school I used to have an obsession with beavers.

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I used to draw them on everything.

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For one of my school projects, I even made a board game on beaver trivia.

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It’s Castor fiber, by the way. The American beaver is Castor canadensis.

My love was short-lived, though. That same year, I bought my first Gameboy along with the game Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland. My obsession with beavers soon gave way to an obsession with Kirby.

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3) What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Almond milk. Is that weird? It’s weird.

The thing is, I don’t drink it because of this whole deal:

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Nah, while all that is very concerning, I drink almond milk because:

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Unfortunately, my gallons of unsweetened almond milk has a high price. It’s literally double the price of milk.

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4) Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?

I’m a Facebook person, I admit. I’m just not witty enough for a Twitter. Besides, I like taking photos, and Facebook is photo-friendly.

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Facebook is fun!

5) What is your favorite pattern?

I always thought fractals were pretty cool.

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Fractal art is even cooler!

6) Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Man, I’m just going to say it straight: receiving presents is awesome. What kid at Christmas didn’t like receiving presents? Not me, that’s for sure.

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But I also like giving presents. The only problem is that I really, really suck at gift-buying. So while giving gifts is sometimes fun…

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…sometimes, it’s not so fun.

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7) What is your favorite number?

Back in 9th grade, I joined the lacrosse team on a whim. It was the only season that I have ever played lacrosse. As a total beginner, I sucked at it.

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That year, we got to choose our own uniform number. The coach piled up all the old jerseys and let the girls have at it.

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By the time I got to the pile, only one jersey was left.

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It was the number 13.

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An abandoned, unloved, unlucky number.

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And for the rest of that season, I continued to suck at lacrosse. But even now, I’m fond of the number 13!

8) What is your favorite day of the week?

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9) What is your favorite flower?

An idea I stole from my sister– Gerber daisies! Because they’re so bright, obnoxious, and in-your-face.

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10) What is your passion?

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Yeah. Not surprising, I guess.

And now, some blogs that I happen to enjoy reading!

This Japanese Life.

Wings for Liberty

The Japanese Role Playing Game

Incidental Comics

Zen Pencils

Mister G Kids

Gourmet Gaming

Enjoy!