I don’t want to do anything. (I don’t even want to write this.)

It seems like I’ve been going through cycles ever since being unleashed into the world on my own. One phase is what I like to call Super Villain Iris, where I get everything done plus some, I have fantastically profound thoughts, I’m in a good mood, and I almost maybe kind of enjoy being around people a teeny bit.

Then, there is Loaf of Bread Iris. She is the one writing this right now. Hi. It’s noon on a Tuesday, and I’m sitting on my couch with no pants on watching YouTube with a full cup of coffee next to me because I can’t even be bothered to drink it. Loaf of Bread Iris doesn’t want to do anything. She just wants to sit, and she doesn’t even really want to sit, but it’s the one thing that she hates the idea of doing the least. I hate dragging myself out of bed regardless of how late it is. When I’m finally out of bed, I just sit and sit. If I have any responsibility that day, I dread it all day, and when I get home, I feel so exhausted, all I can do is just sit and read or TV and mope.

This is a different phase from the ones I go through when my depression gets bad. I thankfully haven’t had one of those in a while. This one is just extreme laziness and apathy.

It’s really taking a lot of effort just to write this right now. I want you all to know that I’m really trying. For you. I said I’d post something once a week and this is my something in an attempt to stay true to my word. Next week, maybe Super Villain Iris will be back with something more substantial to say.

Do you ever feel like a loaf of bread? Do you feel like one now? Comment to share your apathy. Or just nod in agreement because it’s less effort.

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Posted in My life, Quickies (Less than 500 words) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Introducing Myself to the World

My first assignment for Blogging 101 is to write a post about who I am and why I’m here. I realize that after almost a year of blogging, I never really covered this topic, so here it goes.

My name is Iris. I’m 22 years old. I graduated college a month ago with a major in chemistry and minor in English, and in August I’m headed to grad school to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. My biggest passion is pursuing knowledge, which is why I hope to become a researcher. As nerdy as it sounds, I love to learn. I also love sharing my ideas with other people, which I think is why I love writing so much. It’s also why I blog.

I started this blog last summer. I was doing an internship that mostly had me behind a desk with very little to do, and so I spent my free time writing about topics that were important to me or just tidbits from my life. My blog has devolved slightly since then to also include angry rants and the occasional sad rant. My favorite topics to write about involve promoting self-love, accepting others for who they are, and tearing down the unnecessary barriers that society places on us. I hope to dive into these topics more in the following year.

I would love to connect with anyone who has ideas to share. I know this is very vague and general, but my favorite part of WordPress other than the self-indulgence of talking about myself is reading other people’s stories and what they care about.

By next year, I’m hoping that my posts will dive deeper into the core of human nature and resonate with readers as more than just speculation. Also, I’m hoping to continue to post at least once a week despite being busy with school and whatever else.

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Family Picnics: The Seventh Circle of Hell

***I tried to keep this post from being an angry rant… I really did…. However, this one still contains mild profanity and shameless whining***

Let’s start off with the full disclosure that I am by no means a person that enjoys family events or social gatherings. I prefer to sit at home in my basement with a jug of wine and a cat on my lap watching reruns of Law & Order. However, I understand that having a social life is regrettably a necessity, and so I can somewhat understand the theory underlying these gatherings.

I still hate them, though, and I can’t really see how anyone has much fun at them. They’re all the same with the same cast of characters, same melodrama, the same lofty judgmental attitudes, and the same cold burgers, lumpy, bacteria-infested potato salad, and dry chocolate cake.

My grandparents can’t drive themselves anymore, and so I had to drive them this year to my grandmother’s cousin’s family picnic yesterday. It’s an hour drive to the place, and so dropping them off and picking them back up at the end wasn’t really an option. I knew none of these relatives, but with free food in the mix, I figured I could just sit in the corner stuffing my face until it was time to leave.

To someone observing the happenings, they’re always the same, really.

Enter the cast of characters:

Social butterfly host. The person hosting the picnic was an older lady who towards the end of the evening revealed to me her gambling addiction. She constantly hops from table to table, jabbing people in the ribs with her elbows as she gives some one-liner that she finds hysterical. Every other line is often urging someone to eat more.

Obnoxious kids. There are always two or more kids at these ordeals that are over-stimulated with sugar or some sort of thing and decide to chase each other around the entire yard, screaming in their high-pitched, whiny voices and giggling like rabid hyenas.

Nervous dog. Without fail, someone always brings a dog that is not at all comfortable around large groups of people. The dog was traumatized at this event and ran around anxiously and barked and whined at everyone. She did not settle down until three hours in, when her owner took her to the edge of the yard, away from the people. I have no idea why people think that it is a good idea to put dogs through this sort of ideal if they obviously do not enjoy it. And no one else enjoys hearing the constant background chorus of “Dog! Here Dog! Quiet down, Dog! Dog come over here! Here, Dog, have some Cheetos! Dog, stop that! Dog! Dog! Dog!”

Person that thinks it’s funny to tease the nervous dog. There was a lady who kept teasing the dog with table food, as though the dog wasn’t worked up enough already.

Loud, old lady who thinks she’s the funniest person to walk the Earth. This is the lady that thinks this picnic is her moment to shine, and so she talks loudly, telling every funny story in her 90 years of existence, talking loud enough to be sure to drown out anyone else who might try to say something. This is also the lady that keeps telling the single, middle-aged gay man to marry her as she puts her hand on his body every time he’s within reach and cackles to her circle of friends.

Racist, old man. This is the old man that likes to randomly insert himself into a conversation by connecting whatever the crowd is complaining about to some ethnic minority as Dorito crumbs fly from his lips and his sweaty hands hold a bottle of Bud Lite like he’s the classiest shit stain in all the land.

Middle-aged man with some semblance of a hot career. He’s the one that shows up late in some flashy sports car, wearing a salmon-colored polo and sunglasses that he never takes off, even after sunset. He’s got a new phone that he always finds a reason to pull out and show everyone, and he directs every conversation around to how fucking rad he is. He also tries to connect with the twenty-somethings to show that he’s still hip or whatever. At this picnic, I was the only person above seven and below fifty, so he tried to talk to make contact with me.

“So, where’d you stay in Vegas?”

“Plafffmph…” I’m stuffing lemon cake in my face.

After describing how rad the hotel was that he stayed at and how much fun he had with his buddies while he was there when he was twenty-five: “What’s your name, again?”

“Irunmph.”

“Cool, cool.”

End of conversation.

Quirky old man who might be a little out of touch. At this event, this character carried a large, stuffed frog around with him. I can’t remember the name of the frog, but he was wearing a motorcycle jacket because “he [the frog] was hoping to go motorcycle riding earlier that day, but it rained.”

The thing I hate most about these people is how goddamn judgmental they all are, and how commonplace and okay it is for them to just start attacking someone not present for their life decisions or for criticizing groups of people that aren’t like them. There was a long conversation about how awful it is to ride the bus in the city because of all dirty people that sit close to you and talk on their cell phones. There was a conversation about how disgusting it is that young girls wear spaghetti-strap shirts in the summer. There was the classic conversation about how they couldn’t believe so-and-so was pregnant at such a young age out of wedlock and that she was so pretty surely she could’ve found a nice man to marry first.

I usually make disgusted faces at these people for as long as I can stand it, then make an additional trip to the dessert table and sit in the back with the 90-year-old man nodding off in the rocking chair. One day, I’ll summon the nerve to speak up at these things. At least, I hope I will. But for now, I’ll continue to silently shovel in lemon cake as I count all the assholes in the room.

Posted in Angry Rants, Family, My life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Men Find Attractive in Women

Okay, full disclosure: the title is clickbait. I have no intentions of telling you what men find attractive in women. I don’t know what they find attractive these days, and I kind of don’t care. This post is about my personal relationship to the concept of “what men find attractive in women.”

I don’t want to be one of those people that brag about how awesome they used to be, but when I was in high school, I was attractive in the conventional sense. My face happens to be symmetric, which is good, but I went the extra seventeen miles. I straightened my hair to a crisp and ensured that there was never a hair out of place. I covered all blemishes in makeup and evened my skin tone completely with foundation. I wore eyeliner and mascara and sometimes even lip gloss (although I played the clarinet, so usually lip gloss was a bad idea). I wore earrings, a necklace, and a ring every day, just enough bling to look classy. I wore skirts and dresses just as regularly as I wore jeans. I never wore sweatpants to school until my senior year, where I enacted casual Friday. Boys took interest in me—boys I went to school with asked me out often enough, and strangers would flirt with me.

Flash-forward to right now. I’m about to head into the city with my friend. I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt. My only makeup is eyeliner. I’m rocking glasses and semi bed-hair. I’m wearing Old Navy $2 flip flops and no jewelry. This is how I look every day now. I probably don’t turn the heads of strangers anymore, but you know what? When I look in the mirror, I like what I see. I find myself attractive because I look on the outside like how I feel on the inside (part nerdy chemist, part hot mess). You know what else? I am so much happier now. I’m not slaving to get the approval of other people. I’m doing what I want, and other people can just deal.

The progression from neurotic Barbie doll to the real Iris has been a gradual progression starting senior year of high school. The transformation has been incredibly liberating, much more than I could ever have anticipated. Not only am I able to scratch my face without getting buildups of foundation under my nails and drive my jeep with the top down without having a nervous breakdown over the status of my hair, but also I feel less like I’m hiding myself or trying to change myself into someone else.

I met my partner two and a half years ago. I had an exam that evening, and it was raining. My hair probably resembled a poodle, and I was wearing a Pi Day shirt and sweatpants tucked into rain boots. He approached me to tell me he liked my shirt. A few months later, we started dating. My point is that I did not draw him in with my looks, and there was no point in our relationship where I wondered if he was just interested in my because of how I looked. I drew him in with my nerdiness, and kept him ensnared with my award-winning personality (or something like that). I’m not worried about what I look like when I wake up in the morning with him or what I look like after waking up in Tennessee to the realization that our hotel has no water and then driving five hours to get home and then falling asleep because I’m too tired to get a shower and then waking up again with greasy hair and blemishes.

This post is just a public service announcement reminding you that you don’t have to be what society says is attractive in order to really be attractive. But if you want to be what society says is attractive, that is okay, too. Do what you want, and others will either respect you for it or have to figure out a way to get over themselves. That is all.

Posted in Beauty/Body Image, Life in general, My life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Future Is Decided

The most eventful thing that has happened since my disappearance from WordPress was that I more or less decided my entire future, particularly the next five years.

This was a huge decision.

I had been applying to chemistry Ph.D. programs in the United States, which entails a commitment of roughly five years. Some get out early, some stay later, but the average is five. These five years will ultimately determine where my future takes me. Basically, as with pretty much every form of higher education, once you’re accepted into an institution, the one you attended previously doesn’t matter very much. Therefore, where I attend grad school will most likely determine where I end up working once I stop being a student (if that’ll ever happen—it seems like I just keep tacking on extra schooling). This is also a huger deal than deciding on an undergrad because, if I make the wrong decision, I can’t just switch schools. Switching programs once I’ve already started looks kind of bad, and so, unless I absolutely hate it and for some reason cannot fathomably finish out at a school, I’ll have to stay there until the very end.

This puts a ton of stress on the decision-making process, but on top of that, I’m entering a whole new territory geographically, too. I was born in a small town in Pennsylvania, lived in the same exact house from conception to high school graduation, and then attended college at a Pennsylvania school merely hours away. I’ve never really branched out.

When I started applying to grad schools, my number one criterion was that it could not be located in Pennsylvania. I figured if I don’t get out now, I never will. There’s nothing wrong with this state; I just don’t want to live my entire life in a small town bubble. All of the schools I applied to ended up being in the Midwest, except for one in California and one in Arizona, just to spice things up.

Now, as you may remember, I had never even been on a plane prior to last August, so this was a huge leap for me. I would officially be completely out of my comfort zone, and it only served to raise the stakes on my decision.

Still, I was able to add some degree of tangibility to the schools I applied to. I applied to eight, and I ended up flying out to visit my top four choices. This really helped me to determine where my place would be.

One of the schools I was able to rule out right away. As soon as I got there, I hated it. The town was almost as small as the one I grew up in. The current grad students seemed tense and generally unhappy. The professors didn’t really get along with each other, and the department seemed to cater to one high-profile professor. The research wasn’t diverse, and there was an air of snobbery lingering in the department. Most importantly, I had an awful feeling about the place. I could not wait to get out of there.

Another school was difficult to rule out, but it was clear it wasn’t the best choice. There was nothing wrong with it, and I the research and professors were fantastic, but it clearly wasn’t as good of a fit for me as the remaining two.

However, it was excruciating trying to decide between the last two. The one school I had visited in September (you may remember) and fell absolutely in love with. My second visit only further intensified this love. I’ll call this school Marco. I was pretty certain I was going to go there until I visited the second school. I’ll call this school Polo. I immediately fell in love with Polo as soon as I arrived there and, again, the feeling only intensified until, the last night of the visit and after a few tequila shots with two of the professors, I decided Polo was the one.

But, of course, you can’t make decisions like this while you’re caught up in the moment (and a few too many drinks deep). I had to go back to Pennsylvania and think about things rationally.

While Marco and Polo both appeared to be the school of my dreams, they were very different. They were both very highly ranked, but only Marco had the competitive spirit in its students. They worked long hours in the lab, anywhere from sixty to eighty hours per week. Students competed for lab groups and didn’t seem to mingle a whole lot outside of their groups. Every student I talked to seemed very happy, but also very, very stressed. The professors seemed like great people to work for, but they were entirely down to business and always focused on getting stuff done.

Polo was almost the exact opposite. Located in a much smaller town than Marco, students were relaxed. They worked nine to five and had weekends off. They were all friends (at least, in the analytical division because those were the only people I met at Polo) and hung out a lot together outside of the lab. The professors were fun and laid back. It was a wonder how both schools had similar national rankings, with Polo being slightly higher.

I would have gone with Polo just because of how nice the atmosphere was with all else being the same, but there was one factor I just could not ignore: the research. The research is without a doubt the most important thing because, obviously, that’s what you’re there for. There just weren’t enough projects at Polo I was interested in, while at Marco, there were at least seven that I know I’d be interested in, and the professors working on each project seemed like great people to get along with. There was only one research group at Polo that I knew I’d be interested in, and I just could not justify settling on this matter.

Therefore, I made the decision to go to Marco. It was, after all, my first love, and looking back, I realize that I work much better in a stressed environment, even if it is a killer on my nervous system. I made the formal decision three days before the deadline, and, after sending some sad emails to Polo, never looked back.

Life is full of difficult decisions like this, I’m realizing, and they get even harder as we get older because they become more definitive. We have less and less of our lives ahead of us, and so the decisions we make have more of an impact on the rest of our lives. Marco will be better for me in the long term, and it will still be an enjoyable place to be for the short term, and so I know I’ve made the best decision for myself, and now I get to rest knowing that my future is pretty much set in stone for the next five years, aside from still needing to choose a research group.

I’ve realized that Polo is the kind of place where I would like to be a tenured professor. It has a nice environment and fantastic resources, and as a professor, I would determine my own research projects. Then again, there are so many places out there I still have yet to discover, and so who really knows where I’ll end up?

Posted in Academics, My life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Poisoned

***Mild profanity, ranting, etc.***

THIS.

THIS.

It started out as just a tiny bump on my arm that I started scratching while watching Mad Max in 3D last Saturday.

The next morning, the itch had spread, and the bump had multiplied, forming a row of bumps about three inches long. I noticed it while watching my mom weeding her flowerbed. “I think I might have poison ivy…” At that point, it was just a label I threw out there as a vague possibility.

I found cream for it in the house, and as soon as the infected area was entirely covered with skin-colored cream, I noticed more itching on my inner thigh. The rash had already travelled and two red, bumpy patches spread across my leg.

That evening, I noticed my neck itching pretty badly, and my only thought was, Not my face… Anywhere but my face…. The next morning, the rash covered half my neck and had spread. To my face.

Now, as I sit here typing this, my inner left thigh is covered, the inside of my left forearm is covered, my neck is covered and spreading to my chest, and a significant patch of my forehead is infected. Also, I just noticed my thumb is really itchy…

Wednesday, I am flying out to Seattle to accompany my cousin as she transports her car from Washington to North Carolina. I’ll be with her from Washington to Pennsylvania, which will take about five days of travelling. I will not miss out on this trip. I haven’t seen my cousin for three years, and she is without a doubt my closest friend. Poison ivy, if you fuck things up for me, so help me God…

And I am sooooo itttcccchhhhyyyyyy. And I look really nasty, like something out of a sci-fi movie.

I’m thinking I should go to an urgent care center, but, really, what can they do? They’ll give me some cream to put on it and tell me to come back if it isn’t gone in a week. I need something right now. Give me a scalpel and I’ll cut the rash off right now.

I had a really awful experience with poison ivy once before when I was in eighth grade, but it had never spread to my face before.

The only break I’m getting right now is that my tube of poison ivy cream is 2 ounces, so I’ll be able to take it on the plane with me. Here’s to five severely uncomfortable days of travelling that lie before me…

Do you guys have any advice for handling it? Or any poison ivy stories of your own?

Posted in Angry Rants, My life, Quickies (Less than 500 words) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reality

On a quick side note, I can’t remember if I said this or not, but I’m going to try to draw something every day, and so some of the things I draw I’ll post here for your viewing pleasure. Today’s drawing is of my backyard. It’s a gesture drawing because it was cold outside so I wanted to do it quickly. It doesn’t really show up well because my camera is broken and I don’t have a scanner, so I had to use the camera on my computer to take it. The title is “Drawing of Trees.”

Drawing of Trees

While I’ve had a passion for writing as long as I can remember, I didn’t take an interest in poetry until I was in fifth grade, and even then, it was rudimentary. I had no real understanding of what poetry was. I didn’t understand how it was so powerful. The poems I wrote back then were of fictional scenarios that seemed like they should be emotional, and so, in my mind, poems about them should feel emotionally powerful.

I had no formal instruction on poetry until seventh grade, when we did a unit on poetry. Then, all we did was learn structure and form, and then craft poems that fit into these rigid formulas. My poetry still felt mellow and forgettable. I tried to make it powerful with concrete images. I started to write about real events. It still didn’t cut it.

Throughout high school and college, I had more poetry instruction in my creative writing classes and English classes, and my poetry did get better. I think this was because I started writing about myself. However, everything was masked behind extensive metaphors that made it impossible for anyone else to be let into my poems. They meant something to me, but only me.

It wasn’t until this semester, taking an advanced poetry class, that I learned what a poem really is.

Poetry, like every other form of art, provides us with a glimpse into reality. In life, we very rarely encounter reality; we’re usually caught up in our minds and so everything that reaches us is filtered. A poem is a moment of clarity, where we’re seeing the world as it actually is. If we can put that moment of clarity into words, that is a poem. I learned a similar thing in my introductory drawing class—we can’t draw things as we think they are supposed to be; we must draw them as they are. Art cannot lie. Even fiction writing and abstract paintings must contain an unwavering honesty. This is why art is so powerful.

I have a rancid television addiction that I think I’ve written about before, and this is dangerous because TV and movies are entertainment, as is most mainstream music. Entertainment removes us from reality, and the more we are removed from it, the harder it is to reenter. Losing touch with reality deprives us of the chance to gain satisfaction and happiness from life because you cannot feel fulfilled from life if you are not connected to it.

I’ve noticed that I am much more at peace and much more tuned to my emotions and my surroundings when I go without television. Meditation helps, as does yoga (or my rendition of yoga that is really just glorified stretching). Sitting and drawing while listening to classical piano music also helps. Anything that keeps you tuned into the moment and aware of all that is around you can help bring you closer to reality.

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