[ordered chaos 9]

||Life After College:  Year 2 - Corporate Hell


(I am)
..22 years old  
..in New York
(Soundbite) || 08.04.03
(x)Prelude to Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix
:: by J.K. Rowling
(x)Bird by Bird
:: by Ann Lamott
(x)Forward the Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(3.9.03-?)One Hundred Years of Solitude
:: by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
(x)Foundation's Edge
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Small Wonder
:: by Barbara Kingsolver
(x)Man from Mundania
:: by Piers Anthony
(x)Second Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Daughter of Fortune
:: by Isabel Allende
(x)Foundation and Empire
:: by Asimov
(x)Ender's Game
:: by Orson Scott Card
:: by Jose Saramago
(x)A Clockwork Orange
:: by Anthony Burgess
:: by Asimov
(x)The Eyre Affair
:: by Jasper Fforde
:: by Milan Kundera
(x)In Our Strange Gardens
:: by Michael Quint
:: by Diana Wynne Jones
(x)East of Eden
:: by John Steinbeck
(x)Future Homemakers of America
:: by Laurie Graham
(x)Bel Canto
:: by Ann Patchett
(x)DragonLance Chronicles
:: by Margaret Weis
(x)Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
:: by Dai Sijie
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"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad enough to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved... The ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

    -Jack Kerouac

[Thursday, September 04, 2003]

The End of Nine.

Funny. The entire concept of Nine revolved around the concept of The Perfect Ten, never quite good enough but always above average. Nine only existed in relation to Ten. Somewhere along the way in the past year, I realized that I'm no longer sure that Ten exists. Or, I've simply ceased to care about it. As such, I've realized that I've outgrown Nine, I'm no longer her, and she's no longer an accurate representation of the place I'm at in my life. At the same time, I recognize that pieces of her will always exist in me, like the little schizophrenic voice that still pops up once in a while to make its voice heard.

With new places, new cities, and new people come new ideas. Farewell, corporate America. May I never see you again unless I need a quick and dirty, soul-sucking way to make a buck.

Life After College: Year 3 - In Transit.

posted by ink| 12:24 AM |
[Monday, August 18, 2003]

And just like the movies, we'll play out our last scene.

Funny how certain moments in life are just like the movies - complete with soundtrack provided by whatever CD you currently have in your car stereo. Earlier tonight - I was a 22 year old in every sense. i'd taken off after work to go shoe shopping - not something I do very often - but when I shoe-shop, I do it with a vengeance. I was a woman on a mission and I knew it. Not only did I have shoes to buy, but also a variety of other things - earrings (I've somehow managed to lose 4 out of 5), and bras (I mistakenly packed all of mine into storage for the month. The guys at work may like it - especially since the office is always cold, but I've been getting looks from the women). I came out of my shopping trip highly dissatisfied - no shoes, nothing but one bra, and a black one at that. How am I supposed to casually impress the cute guy at the office without any new shoes? I only have one more week to get him to kiss me before I leave the firm.

Yes, it's actually official now. I landed into quite a hullabaloo last Monday. I've somehow managed to decide, within the past month, that I want to go to medical school. And towards that end, I'm entering a Master's program in Boston aimed towards improving my undergraduate science GPA. Considering the cost of a year of education, it's a substantial sacrifice I'm making for a conviction that has only recently re-surfaced in the past month and a half. I can only hope that all will turn out well. I can't even really explain where this sudden desire came from. Perhaps from the LSAT's, which I only took a month before I applied to med programs. I did well enough on the LSAT's to apply to any school I want, but somehow - my drive to go to law school had died. It had never been particularly strong I have to admit, and the LSAT's only served to prove to me what I already knew - that law would not be suited for me. Perhaps it was feeling how wrong the LSAT felt, how poorly it fit, how small of an affinity I had for the test despite my scores, that served to jog me back towards things I had once felt an affinity for - despite my low grades. Regardless, the conviction existed, and I am going off into graduate school for a year in Boston.

Tonight, after my rather unsuccessful shopping trip, I detoured into Barnes and Nobles to look at books on medical schools. My intent had been to look up the average MCAT scores for schools I was interested in, but it turned into a 45 minute reading of books entitled "How to get into medical school" or some variation thereof. What I read sobered me up like no other. I read about how there is likely to be a surplus of doctors in the future. I read about how "older" students with other experiences had a lesser chance of being admitted. I read about how students with seemingly perfect applications could apply and be rejected. I read about how re-applicants have a decreased chance of admissions although they statistically do better if admitted. I walked out of the bookstore wondering if I knew what the hell I was getting myself into. Only a third of fully qualified applicants are admitted. What am I goign to do? Am I really serious about this? Suddenly, the shoe shopping seemed so frivolous and every aspect of my life came under a magnifying glass as I questioned my decision. How serious can I be when I'm pondering spending over 200 dollars on shoes when I should be saving money for my upcoming tuition? How serious can I be when part of my reason for choosing Boston is because it's a college town? How serious can I be if something as small as a book can make me question myself like this?

Why are those books so discouraging anyways? In a world of cheery "You can do it!" self help books and comforting Chicken Soup For The Soul books, the "How to get into med schools" books are depressingly bleak. Are they written as such to weed out the uncertain and leave out only the truly dedicated who are unswayed by such depressing statistics? In which case, was I effectively being weeded out? Is it possible that there are med students out there who have never experienced a moment of doubt on their chosen path? Who are these people and what sorts of fantastical creatures are they to have never experienced anything but certainty in their choices? Do I really belong in their ranks or am I a fraud, a wannabe, a big fat fake? After all, I was so easily undermined as a freshman when I went to see the premed advisor with my 3.3 gpa and she told me I would never go to med school. How easily I gave up then. How easily was I knocked off my confidence and my mind turned to more "practical" choices. The same practical choices that have led me to my present misery which thankfully I will be escaping next week.

Part of me is relieved I didn't do this "research" earlier, or perhaps I wouldn't have reached the conviction I have now. I would've been discouraged earlier on and the gnawing self-doubt I perpetually suffer from would have taken over my fledgling idea easily. What am I going to do if I don't get into medical school? I didn't even have to hesitate to know the answer. I would cry like a big baby. For days. It'd be like the final decay of the last of myh self belief. My parents... I don't know how they would feel. Probably a mixture of disappointment and sadness for the pain I'm going through. To be rejected is like a nullification of all the time and effort you've put in. Like it was all nothing. A complete cancellation of your entire past year's worth of existence. Worth nothing, or at least - not enough. I imagine being rejected from medical school must be the most heartbreaking thing ever. It's a negation of you, your very soul, your lifelong dream and years of dedication. Who applies to med school that -isn't- dedicated? The very premed process is designed to leave only the most faithful alive to face the final slaughter. The very nature of premed students is that of one not accustomed to failure. And first failure is always a slap in the face.

Do I have what it takes? I don't know. I hope I do, but I won't lie - I have my doubts. I like other things in life too much - like shoes. Will my love for medicine overcome my love for material goods? Only time will tell as I journey into a year of student poverty. Am I being unrealistic in giving up my lucrative career when I know I like the creature comforts? Perhaps. But if there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that this job holds no future for me. I'm wasting my time here. There are other lucrative jobs. What if there is a surplus of doctors in 10 years and I'm only making 40K? Surprisingly, I find myself not really caring. The only thing that I'm really truly scared of is not making it. The fear is there in the back of my throat, and that's when I realize that my uncertainty doesn't really lie in my uncertainty of medicine. I am certain of that. My uncertainty lies within myself. I know I want to do medicine. I do not know whether I can cut it. For the first time, perhaps ever, I'm venturing into territory where I'm not relatively certain I can kick ass. I'm not a gambler really, I tend to pick fields where my chances of success are pretty much guaranteed. For me, this is a huge risk, and the fear lies in the fear of failure. I've never failed before, I've never been crushed. I've been very spoiled in that sense, but it doesn't make me look any more forward to potentially tasting my first defeat.

Because my uncertainty lies in my chances of success, that translates to uncertainty of whether this is the right choice or not. Therein lies my difficulty in feeling complete conviction. Why can I not be one of those fantastical creatures that med school seems to have? Those that seem to have unflapping certainty about everything? How can I ignore the laws of probability that calculate and recalculate the odds in my head? I'd have to take a huge leap of faith in order to ignore the thousands of unknown variables involved. The majority of these variables lie within me. Yes, I am the biggest variable of all , the largest unknown, can I resist the temptations of social events? When the stakes are so high, I'm not sure whether I'll be able to pull through on my own investment. It seems silly to be afraid of myself, but that truly is the crux of my fear.

There are times in one's life when you've got to face down the demons. I thought of this as I drove. How I've spent my entire life being safe. I can't end it in one day, but I can take it a step at a time. The fear will no longer dictate the course of my life. Being logical and practical all the time means security. After all, shooting for a dream is never safe. I don't know what's going to happen to me... Even if I do everything right, it's out of my hands. Out of my control. Funny how doctors - people who play God, have to let go of control to get that very job.

Part of me wishes I could know whether this is the right decision or not. But I suppose that would take some of the fun out of it. After all, youth is not knowing the future. So after my unsuccessful shoe shopping trip, I felt like my life was a movie, complete with soundtrack provided by whatever cd I had in the stereo at that moment. I was 22, young, and driving. The road is always such a metaphor for life, and my life at that moment was the pivotal epiphany period in my own coming-of-age movie, except there are no guaranteed happy endings. But then again, part of the thrill is not knowing how it ends.

posted by ink| 11:43 PM |
[Saturday, August 16, 2003]

When the Lights Went Out.

1. Thursday night, I arrived on the last flight to NYC from NC. We landed on a runway lit only by emergency lights and with half our baggage still in Charlotte. The airport was eerily like a scene outof 28 Days Later. Bodies were sprawled on the floor everywhere as people slept in the airport.
2. A cabbie charged me 60 bucks to take me into Manhattan, where I then had to climb 21 flights of stairs in the pitch dark to my friend's apartment.
3. I had to wash my hair in the fire hydrant in the street with borrowed shampoo from a passing girl.
4. My luggage still has not arrived. Figures, I got off the plane with two laptops, but nothing even remotely similar to a toothbrush or underwear.

posted by ink| 2:12 AM |
[Monday, August 11, 2003]

The Beginning Of The End.

It all started last Thursday.

1. I left my work badge at home and had to trade in my license for a temporary badge.
2. As I was rushing out of work to pack up at my apartment and catch my flight, I forgot to turn my temporary badge in and pick up my license. I showed up at the airport without any ID, and somehow magically was let onto the plane (scary).
3. I realized I would never board a plane from New York back to NC without ID, so I had my friend break into my corporate apartment in NC and overnight my passport to me.
4. Once I got back to NC this morning, I could not renew my lease on my rental car since I did not have my license (still at work), so was forced to empty out the contents of my car and drag it with me to work via taxi. This means that I was seen trekking across the corporate breezeway with a 12-pack of Charmin toilet paper.
5. On my way out of the office, I run into the partner of the project while dragging my jumbo-pack of toilet paper behind me.
6. Tomorrow, my senior manager (Watery Eyes) requested a talk with me. I have a feeling it has to do with my resignation and Big Dawg. I'm nervous.

posted by ink| 11:53 PM |
[Sunday, August 10, 2003]

One Year Reunion.

My start group and I got together on Friday evening for dinner and drinking to celebrate our one-year anniversary with the firm. We were 18 strong, but already, 4 of us had quit or given notice, with 2 more planning on giving notice within the next 3 months. Mr. Potato Head (Lux's perpetual crush that defies all logic) left for construction management and Mr. Manikin had left one month after starting but joined us for our dinner. I was leaving to try my hand at medical school, and my favorite start-group boy - Curls, coincidentally was leaving on the same day as I was and had given notice on Friday just as I did. He was taking off to Southern California for kicks, hoping to find a job temporarily while he tries to get into sports media. When I heard, I felt a slight pang of jealousy. Good grief, I am SO BORING. Curls is leaving to do all these exciting new and different things, and I'm leaving to do this uber-responsible thing. How much more boring and predictable can you get than medical school in Boston? Because of course, anything that would be approved by parents can't be anything good. Wouldn't it be so much cooler if I was leaving to go write for Stuff magazine or join a nudist camp? Or if I was leaving New York for Seattle or San Francisco?

Last night, I went shopping in New York for the last time. Last night, I swiped my metrocard for potentially - the last time. I'm really into Last Time's. My dad used to make fun of me when I was younger. Everything was a Last Time.

"Dad, this is the LAST TIME I'm asking you for homework help as a non-teenager!"
"Dad, this is the LAST TIME I'm going to the dentist here. I'll have a different one in college!"
"Dad, this is the LAST TIME we'll have Christmas as a REAL family. From now on, I'll just be visiting home for the holidays!"

Not much has changed. I still think in terms of nostalgia, and whereas I'm quick to initiate change, once the fruits of my labor start to come around, I always begin to cling needily and semi-regretfully to my usual routines. What is this resistance to change that all mankind has? This inertia to move? Perhaps it's fear of the unknown, and nothing represents the unknown like change. True, it could be a change for the better, but it could also be a change for the worst. And if the status quo is quite alright, why bother? After all, if you stay where you are, you may not ever get better - but you'll also have the guarantee of it not getting worse. This is comfortable - what I know now. I know that I love New York. I know that I have a lot of friends here. I know that I can live here and be happy. I have no such promises about Boston. I'm already beginning to think pessimistically. I'm predicting that the first few weeks will be miserable. I won't know the city, I won't know anyone, and I'll have nothing to do. Boston isn't going to be like New York. There will be no Zara or Club Monaco! There will be no talented homeless people, there will be no people wearing crazy things with nary a glance thrown at them. There will be no Union Square, no Central Park, no cur.ve to hang out with, no Lux, no Dot, no BABAE J., no Alien to humiliate myself continually with. All I will have is my younger brother, who's in school at Cambridge. And we all know how thrilled -he- was when he heard I was coming to Boston to stay with him for a few days while I looked for housing.

"You'll ruin my game. Man, I was just starting to get on a roll."

Great. When they find my body floating in the Charles River, I hope he feels SICK WITH GUILT. I feel sick just by thinking of leaving the New York area. I hold Columbia University completely responsible for my misery. It is due to their lack of diversty in graduate programs that I was forced to look in other cities for a Master's program that would fit my needs. What is it about this city that calls to so many people? It's dirtiness, its griminess, its "freaks" and homeless people. What is it about this city that induces such fierce love for it? Its racial issues, its sometimes-corrupt-government, its ancient subway system that wreaks havoc on the eardrums. What is it about this city that makes so many people reluctant to leave it? Its overpriced closet-sized rooms, its rude bouncers at bars, its crazy traffic patterns. What is it? I don't know. But I wish I did. I wish I could bottle up whatever it is, shrink it down, and put it in my pocket - have a mini New York essence to bring with me wherever I go.

posted by ink| 11:46 AM |
[Friday, August 08, 2003]

The Edge.

I told my HR rep I was planning on giving notice today. She checked the calendar. "I guess this means you don't have to give any of the bonus back. You're quitting on the first day after your one year anniversary. I can't believe it." She laughed at me. Everything went well with her. She understands. Now however, comes the hard part. I'm trying to write my resignation letter. How does one write those things? I started with:

S and G.
I am writing to inform you of my intent to leave the firm on August 22nd, 2003.

Bland and boring.

S and G.
Although I have highly enjoyed my time here, I regret to inform you that I will be leaving the firm on August 22nd, 2003.

Could be construed as sarcasm.

S and G.
I quit. Here are the reasons why:
1) I am disappointed in the lack of leadership shown by project management.
2) I am appalled at the lack of support given to analysts in high visibility situations.
3) The firm promotes work-life balance but then does nothing to support it. Considering that travelers have a hard time maintaining work-life balance because of the situations created by the firm,it should be the firm's responsibility to help enforce work-life balance, not mine.

Ergh. too wordy. Too disgruntled.

How about:
S and G.
I quit.
Later suckas!

Brief. To the point. Honest. Why don't I burn all the bridges I can before I leave?

Despite all this fantasizing about all the ways I can write my resignation letter, I know I'll end up with the bland and boring one. I can't even start to imagine the uproar that I'll land in when I go to work on Monday. Not looking forward to it.

My finger keeps hovering over the send button. Everytime my mouse cursor goes over it, I get this weird feeling like my life is going to change. I can feel it in my body. It's like one of those movie moments where the music gets all intense, you're suddenly super-aware of your surroundings, what you're wearing, the room you're in, the way it smells, and the camera zooms in on your face.

Here goes. Here goes...

posted by ink| 9:38 AM |
[Thursday, August 07, 2003]

Today marks my one-year anniversary with the firm. Tomorrow, I will be giving notice.

posted by ink| 12:00 PM |

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