目前日期文章:200711 (7)

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It was surreal.
One minute ago, she was there.
One minute later, she was not.

I knew she would understand that I was not there.
But I could not understand why I was not there.
I could have been there. I wished I had been.
So I could sit beside her once more,
simply that,
I just wanted to sit beside her once more.

The boys next door told me the volume of the radio
went all the way up that
they had to turn it down for me.
Was that her? Was she there one minute ago?
How about one minute later?
It was so surreal.

I wanted to blame God for not allowing more time.
Not even three weeks? so I could be there?
Almost like bargain, I wanted to yell at the stingy stupid God with no heart.
But then I realized it was just my selfish thought.
The sooner it ended, the faster the pain would be gone.
I wanted it to be longer, just so I, ME, would feel better, not her.

The next morning,
I said good bye on the phone.
It was so surreal.
One minute ago, she was there.
One minute later, she was not,
the woman who defined the word "genuine" in my world.

The world kept spinning.
Thanksgiving was time for turkey and family.
And I just wanted to sit beside her once more,
even if that was my selfish thought.

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After thanksgiving (hopefully I will write about it some time later :) ), my head and stomach are both super heavy.
While cheering for my white blood cells, antibodies, and all that (mysteriously missing all my immunology classes in college
surely was a big mistake) to beat whatever that is attacking my head and stomach, I decided now should be time for
more blogging, not experiments.

On Tuesday, we went to Tijuana, Mexico. I always prefer seeing real life over artificial sceneries. So, despite all the
bad things I heard about Tijuana, I still decided to go with a bunch of Michigan grad students. I felt that was probably my
only chance in this life to visit Tijuana. Besides, how bad could that be? The worst would be to be kept in Mexico for a few
more hours, or days, or to be robbed. "Hey, is Tijuana really that dangerous?" I asked my lab mate while waiting for the trolley
to Mexico. You know the floating feeling and adrenaline rush when being at the top of a roller coaster, right? You have been
ready for the whole time, but when the moment really comes, you feel like a tiny little ant being on top of a boiling pot, anxious
and wanting to call it a stop. "That's why XXX (one guy in our lab) is not going." my lab mate answered. " I thought it was
because his wife did not want him to go." I asked. "Yes, and to explain to YYY (my boss) that the whole lab is murdered in Mexico."
Knowing that was my lab mate's bad joke, I made a face, and felt his answer gripped my stomach. There was no way I would withdraw
anyway. The pretty blond in suit and high heals was going, why couldn't I? So, there I went, jumped on trolley, headed south to
the mysterious city where the documentary I watched about serial women killing happened.

As the train got closer and closer to Mexico, there were more and more Latinos on the train. The houses outside started
to get older and older. Some of them looked barely inhabited. A lot of the land was so dry, barren, and covered only by sand.
I watched the old on the train in worn out clothes, obese woman with young kids eating chips with dirty hands, and lots of
high school teens laughing and talking in Spanish. I felt strangely isolated and remote, just like a detective examining every
thing with magnificent lens. But every thing and every body were "objects" in a detective's eyes. They are for observation without

What was Tijuana like? I would say it was the Spanish version of Wan-Hua. There were lots of little shops along the two
sides of the roads, not in the homey hearty American way, but in the disorganized messy smelly night market way. Neons flashing,
store owners sitting on little chairs looking out from the stores, streets filling with the smell of street snacks mixed and car
gases, Tijuana was probably like Taiwan in the 50s or 60s. The fear of the environment, which I had not experienced for a long
time, started to arise in my body as the night came. The city was more awake, lively, and indescribably elusive to me than ever.
For the first time in a long time, I was afraid to be left one step behind of the group. I wouldn't say it was because of any
danger or risk, but more like the unpredictable street scenes and the unsettled atmosphere from an exotic culture. I was truely
happy there are a few big guys in our group. Hiding among them, I greedily absorb every item, every sound, and every smell
in Tijuana. What would it be like if I were a resident there? What would it be like if I were asked to stick around tourists to
ask for changes as little kids? I imagined the feeling of receiving quarters from Americans' hands. Were they Happy? Were they
worried? Why did I have the luck to be born in a financially stable family? What could be done to help people who struggled
so much to live? Maybe the way we thought we could help was just to impose our values on them? What if what they needed was not
what we thought to be good? Life was just so unfair. And it was just so difficult to find a balanced way to help. I mean,
to understand the fact, but not to be tricked by perception; to show support, but not to be over objective. It was time like this
that made me feel my life was so ridiculous sometimes.

Tijuana, Taipei, San Diego, Ann Arbor, and a puzzled Jao. That was the end of my mexico trip.

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On Monday, we went to a "beach party" that neither had camp fire nor was not on the beach. Several students rent a beach house near the beach. I had nothing else to do so went to the beach party. The weather was too chilly for us to actually do anything on the beach. People started to talk about crazy stories and funny things that happened in East Hall, where our department is located. I have to say American students, even graduate students that are considered more mature than undergrads, are genreally more like to do things that are funny, crazy, and sarcastic. For example, at one time, people complained about guys not being considerate when using the bathroom shared by both genders. A public email was sent to the whole department about how guys should "aim better" or at least whipe off pee drops after using the bathroom. One day after the email, a lot of stickers in the shape of dart tartgets appeared in the bathroom. Some were on the toilet, some were on the wall, some were on the ceiling, basically every where. It amuzed all students but drove one female faculty crazy. Faculty even considered shut down that only bathroom in the biopsych. area. I truely enjoyed this kind of silly jokes. Although we can not go on vacation all the time, we can always have fun in daily life. I guess that is why I do things that do not make sense, like drawing on my notes or writing meaningless articles. I just want to have some fun every day, do something out of order, and then I will feel I am alive. That night ended with a little frustration though. I could not stay longer to chat with my old lab mate I had not seen in a while. It was not the fact that I had to leave early that made me upset, but the fact that how I thought or felt was not considered. But I guess this is just the real world. For some people, they know what they want, and they have their own rules, very solid and unnegotiable.

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I did not feel well because having eating too much before bed last night. While standing in the shower idling, my
cell phone rang like crazy. I usually ignored my cell phone in a situation like this. But I thought it could be
my grand mom that happened to be in the mood of talking to me. So I struggled out of my shower, and ran to my phone.
That was my project partner, who was supposed to go in to finish the early morning task. "More accident?" I thought,
"No accident would be an accident in my life." So, I picked up my lonely phone being punished to stay on the
floor because of waking me up in the morning. My partner told me she was extremely sick that she could not make it
to the lab. "Oh...don't worry... ( jao thinking about grabbing a towel)... I am about to go to the lab now ( jao
speaking with a crappy monring voice)..." My partner kept apologizing on the phone. " Oh, that's ok... it is very
bad that... ( jao trying to think of some words to stop her worries but in vain)..I mean it is not good.... (
1000 tangles in jao's brain...while trying to say it is not fun feeling sick, she actually made it sound like it
is "bad" feeling sick)... oh, I can test them today. Take.....oh..a good rest...." Finally, I "successfully"
communicating with my lab mate.

After hanging up the phone, I felt wanting to run a marathon. "Maybe if I can finish a marathon, I will become a better
person." I was not sure where the thought was from, maybe because of Katie Holmes' marathon report in some gossip magazine.
What a bad beginning of the day. I felt terrible. It was not because I had to come in to do extra work, but because I wanted
to be a good person, to myself and to others, but failed. My body did not feel right. And I think my project partner,
who I really like to work with, might have felt offended.

I am determined to make today a good day. Although the beginning is terrible, it has to be good. Nov.14th has all
the right to be better than any other day, because it's my mom's birthday. Happy birthday, mom. Today has to be good.
And I will make it good.

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I am getting lazier and lazier. I must be getting old. Seven hours' sleep is never enough for me. But I think this is the best proof that I am my parents' biological daughter. None of my family sleeps less than 8 hours a day. I feel lazy every evening. I am starting to feel that I will never be able to finish this series of articles about san diego. Is this some kind of rat syndrome? Too much rat interaction?

On Sunday, we had lab dinner in a nice Mexican restaurant. After that, we went to some party I had no idea with in Hyatt lounge.

The mexican restaurant was nice. The food was ok. I had some chicken dish that was too dry. But being a fan a cheese, as long as there was a lot of cheese, I had no complain. Although the food was so so, the Margarita was great. I never liked the sharp bitter taste of Tequila, not even when it was mixed with juice. But I really liked Margarita there. Not too sweet, not bitter, not sharp, perfect. But for some reason I kept dropping things into my drinks that night. I first dropped my chicken in my Margarita, and later dropped cheese in my water. My boss was extremely entertained by my incapability of keeping my food in my plate. While feeling a bit embarrassed, I thought to myself, "maybe I am using up all my bad luck for this trip (which was proved to be totally wrong in the next few days!! >< )" Other than food, I had a good time. Every one was a lot more relaxed, talked, and joked. I wondered if I would become good friends with some of them, more than just co-workers, if we spent more time out of lab together. But that was just a thought. I knew we would always , and only, be coworkers.

After dinner, we went to Hyatt for some event I had no idea with. The lounge was on the 40th(?) floor and had a nice view of downtown San Diego. The view was so much like what we could see from Zoology department in NTU that for a moment I thought I was in Taipei. Ever since I moved to Ann Arbor, such night scene had disappeared from my daily life. I used to like and be scared of the night scenes . The colorful lights were so pretty and distinguished in the dark, but also so lonely and lost. While every street, every store, and every tall building went quiet, I could only hear myself. No other distraction, just me. It was the inescapable fact of living my own life in this world that made me hard to breathe. Alghouth I was surrounded by lots of people in the loundge, the exact same feeling suddenly occupied my whole body. And then I was asked again about why I changed labs.

The above was my Sunday in San Diego. (oh, did I forget to mention
how comfortable it was to talk on the street even at night? :~~)

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On Friday, I visited UCSD and Old Town. UCSD is very "Californian" to me. The first thing that amazed me was to hear students speaking with californian accent. It was almost like they had too much sunshine that all vowels were baked jumpy and curly, and they just could not help adding "like" to every sentence they spoke. Without heavy clothes and red noses, lots of students were skating around making loud noises. Oh, and there were so many asian students, and asian restaurants on campus. The only thing I did not understand was why all buildings were built gray. They reminded me so much of buildings donated by "tru-zi" (the buddhist organization). I have to say buildings in Ann Arbor are more beautiful. Well, maybe people in cali do not care about pretty houses. They can always WALK to the beach ANY TIME they want anyway (Yes, I am jealous!). Old town is just an area with old houses ("old" in an American sense). It was quite fun to see those buildings that we no longer see today. Also, I was again delighted by the mexican atmosphere in the area, not that I liked Mexican culture in particular, but it made me feel " cool, I am on vacation!" We ended up going to a randomly-picked Mexican bar. There I had very tasty Quesadillas ,
fried ice cream (yummy!), and some booze that I do not remember the name. I was happy and satisfied.

On Saturday, I spent most time in Downtown. Originally, we planned to meet with Dr.Yen, my old boss from Taiwan. But because of some accident, we ended up facing the situation of going back to hotel to rest, or roaming around in downtown ourselves. We (or maybe it was me?) decided to walk around, for it seemed lame to watch TV in hotel. Downtown was crowded on Saturday night. There were a lot of bars and night clubs, lots of young people hanging out, and lots of neuroscience people who were obviously bored just like us. Food and alcohol were about the same price as those in Ann Arbor, which was quite surprising to me. The highlight of that night was a huge glass of Chirardelli ice cream. Just like having treats when dining out with my parents in my childhood, the ice cream made me all happy and satisfied.

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The title 'sunny San Diego trip' describes better about how I felt rather than the fact. Although the weather was actually cloudy when we were in San Diego, the pleasure of going from 25'F to upper 50s still made me feel so light-hearted and free. "Sunny california, here I come!" I whispered to myself. Well, I could not really see sunshine, but I could feel it living in my heart.

Since the trip was in name of neuroscience, I think I should start this article by talking about the Neuroscience conference ( oh, are you about to skip this paragraph? ha! I got you! But I promise this will be the least nerdy scientific paragraph you have ever read!) To me, the most amazing parts about the society for neuroscience (sfn) were networking and people watching. I actually felt that the main purpose of the conference was to provide an environment for people to meet old friends, to have non-rat/non-monkey/non-machine interaction, and of course to watch big names you always read about in papers. For example, even me, some quiet, non-alcoholic, social phobic grad. student went to several social events. At first, it just seemed strange not to do so. You would not want to stay in hotel after flying all the way from Ann Arbor to San Diego. It turned out that I actually had a not-so-bad time talking to people and hanging out with people I work with. Of course it was not fantastic in terms of depth, but it was simply good to get out of daily routine with screaming rodents and have some interaction with primates that talk back. Another interesting thing at the conference was "star watching". All those big names we always read about suddenly became so real and substantial. I even had dinner in the same Mexican restaurant with some Nobel prize winner, and as usual, heard some gossip about him. I actually wondered if Conventional Center in SD was the spot that had the highest density of Nobel prize winners in the past few days! ( I saw two...just by walking around)

Other than the conventional center where sfn was held, I also visited UCSD, Old Town, Tijuana in Mexico, and Conorado Island in SD.

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