There was something about salad that made the waiter almost shudder with delight. Was it the potential crunch of the leaves, the burst of fresh water held by the greens or just the magical tossing of salad that seemed like a waterfall of life before his very eyes? The waiter could not determine it but instead let himself stand before the salad to bask in the brilliance of its colors. The waiter could not and refused to imagine salad that was as good and as beautiful as the salads at the Canyon Crest Café.
The bright red of the tomatoes warmed his face as they were seated in a luscious bed of greens in three different shades. Chef only used the best of iceburg lettuces to give the salad some crunch and even then filled the salad base with a deep green of spinach and arugula to give the salad a kick. Avocado, in its calming green, was the only thing that could calm the waiter and even then, it was because its creaminess promised the tongue a bit of rest from the brightness of fresh that bellowed out in great triumph. A little bit of calmed onion, a sprig of parsley and finally a dash of the Chef’s subtle spices had the salad portion almost complete, only to be completed by the succulently grilled chicken that pyramided on top of the salad, like homage to the gods.
“It is your finest work yet” whispered the waiter to the Chef in his mind. He dared not speak and did not look up at the Chef to acknowledge his greatness for surely to Chef, of amazing talents to turn even the worst ingredients into a mouthful paradise, it was obvious to the master as it was to a mere waiter.
With a skillful hand, the waiter whizzed the salad onto his tray and whisked off silently to the dining room. It was a quiet restaurant, even during the dinner rush. It was not entirely dimly lit, but it was not a bustling neon lit bar. Its warm yellow walls were lined with tall crimson booths, underneath old 1950 baseball memorabilia. The tables that filled the center floor were by far the loudest things in the room for they were deeply marbled in dark reds, greens and yellows. All the chairs stood waiting for its clients patiently, as patiently as the tall man bustling about. For the sake of its unassuming nature, as if it was just a little boring restaurant, the waiter loved it. For then by contrast, it showcased the salads that were the liveliest pieces of the show.
The waiter presented the salad with a subtle flourish that allowed his guests to admire it before digging in, which the couple did, with gusto. He lingered, before he left them to collect the dishes from the other tables.
Oh salad. I could frolic in salad if it were ever big enough. I would indulge in its brightness and vivid conviviality. I know what chefs think of salad. They think it’s a dish that requires nothing, just simply the toss of fresh ingredients, but it not true and I know it! It’s a dish that requires the most thought, the most focus given to proportions, to a love of freshness, to a celebration of living green growth. It’s such a “simple” dish and yet its contents are so complex and mysterious that I could spend hours thinking of my last great salad dish and how each stab of my fork produced yet another taste, each different from the last and yet somewhat similar.
The waiter struggled not to let a smile invade his face from this thought. He was a man who truly believed in discovering wonderful secrets on one’s own. He could not outwardly show any emotion that he felt for these delightful morsels of heaven for they were so great that any hint that he showed would take away from the fantastic secrets hidden in the taste of the greens and this would be a travesty. He watched his guests eat from afar, which satisfied him greatly. This is when he felt truly happy.
He waited. Something was not all well though. The happiness was draining from his inward face. He approached the couple to fill the man’s glass. The man thanked him with a nod and then again turned his attention to his female companion, and away from his food.
Away from his food…
The waiter watched from the dimness, mildly touching a fork here and there, but he was distracted. Yes, the man had finished his food to the waiter’s pleasure but, he could not believe that this woman was not paying attention to her salad. In fact, it was half eaten and she was so busy gesticulating and talking with these bright shining eyes at her companion that she didn’t notice the godly salad anymore. And the man didn’t point her towards her food but, instead, sat looking at her, smiling as if happy for the first time, as if seeing a breath of fresh air had invoked life into this woman.
The waiter could not understand it. He looked at the man, his expression soft, only focusing on the woman’s face, an absolute brightness that was detracting from the color of the restaurant, from the color of the salad, as if the food was not what they had came for at all. He found that it almost reeked of offensiveness, but then again, her charming nature, as if she had been reinvigorated by some event, filled the booth. There was something magnetic and happy about that little booth and it had nothing to do with the salad. The waiter practically knocked a fork off a table with distraction. He had never seen this before.
People generally paid attention to their salads, or for some time even talked to each other with some mindless chatter and forgot the salads to his great annoyance, but he looked at this couple that seemed like they were almost crying happily at every word and felt strangely confused. This wasn’t ordinary chatter. He couldn’t hear what the woman was saying even though her expressive face seemed so loud.
He went up to them again, as was his habit. “How are you enjoying the food?” He said in his usual demeanor.
“Oh it’s wonderful!” She said it so genuinely that the waiter was convinced. This woman was throwing the waiter off his game and yet what could he do?
He could not get this out of his mind even when seating the next waiting guest into a cozy booth, who wriggled herself onto the seats and sat patiently waiting for him to hand her the menus.
“Are you ready to order?” The waiter said distractedly.
“Um yes. I’ll have the Soup of the Day.” Her voice was so bright compared to his but again, he took no notice. So focused was he on his little problem that he didn’t notice her gentle stare.
“Actually, I’ll have the Chicken Oriental Salad.” She said.
Her words snapped him back to reality and he almost giggled with delight. Oh, that salad was so wonderful and this girl would surely enjoy it. He could tell. He could tell these things about people who appreciated salad but he could not ruin it. He could not ruin that wonderful moment of discovery at which new clients discovered a gem in a little town that no one seemed to care for.
A momentary loss in composure came across his face as it lit up with happiness, “With the balsamic vinaigrette?”
Wouldn’t it be perfect? Would you like that?
He could feel the light on his face even though he had only just slightly lifted his eyebrows. He felt the twinkle in his eye and he almost felt like blushing. A mistake certainly! The girl had noticed for she looked at the waiter uncertainly with a slightly bemused look on her face.
“Yes.” She said slowly, looking at him curiously.
He pretended not to notice, asked her if she wanted anything else, and then slid away into the dimness of the restaurant to get her a glass of water.
First the woman and now this! He scolded himself inwardly. How could you? He asked himself. How could he possibly have let that happen? In all of his 10 years of working at the restaurant, not once had he done something so carelessly, so recklessly! He took such pleasure in delighting customers, in giving them the surprise of their life in this tiny restaurant that no one thought much of and he had never felt like he failed until now. It was all that couple’s fault surely! Always he prided himself on his unassuming, outwardly submissive nature. Even his appearance was unassuming.
Yes, he was of an unusually tall stature, but his features were soft. His face was round and long, as were the rest of his features. His great circular eyes looked forward always as if he only paid attention to you and his long nose lengthened his face and pulled it into solemnity. Why weren’t his soft charms working on this couple? And how could he take away from the great superiority of the Chicken Oriental salad for this girl who deserved no such punishment? He felt the surprise was ruined. He almost wanted to go back and prostrate himself before her and beg for her forgiveness, even though she didn’t matter much to him. He could not. It would degrade the salad further and Chef, he certainly could not disappoint. Neither could he disappoint this couple. Nevermind that girl’s strange gaze.
He retreated back into his comfortable shadows. He straightened up the tablecloths. He fiddled with the silverware. He tried to make all the tables look exactly the same, boring uniformity so that when the color of salad sat on top of them, it outshined everything else. And yet…
He turned a fork on its side. He placed one upside down. Again and again, he added some little touch to the table arrangements that seemed to him absolutely mad. What exactly was he doing? Could he possibly complement the salad in some other way? Could he, complement the intermesh of colors with the chaos of quietness? In some other way, could he make even more obvious the salad so that even this obnoxious couple could notice one of the greatest creations on earth? He went about his work, trying to look as if nothing mischievous was going on, and felt this bubbling joy in his chest from his own silliness.
He brought the order to the lone girl in the table. Without a word, he poured the balsamic vinaigrette onto the salad with the grace of French-trained waiters, one hand behind his back. His eyes focused on his work. He applauded himself. It was as if he did not care for the salad. He worked with such professional and graceful nonchalance. Did she notice though, that small drip on the side of the plate that he placed so purposefully?
She thanked him, but it was almost as if she refused to eat in front of him. She looked at him carefully as he stood before her. She only began as he quietly slipped away. Why were these people so infuriating? He could never win. Perhaps the next guests would see the strangeness in their table arrangements and start to give a little attention to the restaurant, but he could not think of that now. He had to go back to this other little problem of his.
Instead of merely pouring the glass of water for the man away from the table, he held the decanter up high, letting the water flow in front of the salad, magnifying its beauty. To no notice for the man however, for the man only studied the woman’s face in the greatest of detail. In defeat, the waiter left the check on the corner of the table, so as not to disturb them. The woman asked for a box sheepishly.
Sheepishly she should! Thought the waiter to himself as he boxed up the rest of their food. How he hated this little woman! At no point now would he ever know what she really thought. He would now be deprived of the satisfaction on her face to have truly enjoyed a salad as it should have been made in every restaurant across town. He secretly wished he had added a little too much salt to her salad.
He sighed inwardly and left them their food. They paid their check and went cheerily out of the restaurant. He watched the back of their heads bob away with the remorse of failure and a slight feeling of pity at their not having discovered the greatness of salad. It would be the regret of their lives if they did not come back and have some appreciation for Chef who so richly deserved it.
He could only sigh inwardly for he had one guest left and he could not show his frustration for it might cause some displeasure in his guest, which would again detract from the Oriental Chicken Salad. He instead cleaned the booth of the couple, methodically wiping the table, arranging the plates for the easiest pick up and brushing the crumbs off into the garbage. This act of cleaning was calming to him. It reminded him that with salad, everything was wiped clean when finished, until another group of guests sat at an empty table, waiting to be entertained. His mind went back to the soothing solitude of the café. There was only room for one bright dish in his life…
He went to check on his last guest who was still eating slowly, savoring every bite. The waiter almost smiled. He knew this girl would appreciate it. He just knew it. Something about her toffee colored skin, her small dark eyes, her short round face, called to him in the silence of the café. Somehow, he knew that she was a person who could enjoy salad, the way it should be enjoyed.
“How do you like it?” He asked gently. Let his voice be like water. Let his voice be like balsamic vinaigrette, complementing, quiet and light.
She turned her face again to look at him and finally, he looked back. Finally, her eyes held his gaze. Her eyes bright and shining, her hand placed gently towards him. She dipped her fork in the vinaigrette excess on the side of her plate, tasted it thoughtfully and smiled a gentle smile. All these things in front of her she liked. All of these things were wonderful. He could see in her, the beginnings of green and growth and blooming endless surprise.
The world has to live without someone like you. It can only grow if you leave.
When Dasani first arrived at home, she slept and dreamt of nothing. She could see nothing stretching out for wide expanses in distant planes. It passed through time and bound time together in a single knot, looping in and out in whirls. Nothing passed through her ears and spoke in tantalizing languages that she could somehow understand. It was as great as the biggest giant that existed and as small as the tiniest mouse. It shined down on her and wrapped her in a warm blanket and whispered her to sleep. From her conscious mind in the realm of Nothing, she went to sleep and went back to dreaming nothing and then she woke up. Or she thought she did.
“Hello” A voice said. She couldn’t see her face or at least she thought it was a she. Her voice seemed very familiar as if Dasani had once been with her before and the feeling that she exuded seemed like she had at one point been quite happy in a way, but now it was somewhat sad and desperate.
“Hello” She responded. “Who are you?”
“I am nothing.”
“Why hello there. My name is Dasani.”
Silence ensued if it could be called silence and then again Dasani spoke. “How are you doing?”
“Not very well.”
“How can nothing feel ‘not very well’ You’re nothing!” Dasani exclaimed and then giggled.
nothing shrank away slowly and began to leave her presence. In black swaths, it moved, pulling a wind of nothing in its wake. Dasani did not actually feel cold but in her mind a world of ice swept around her and enveloped her in colors of orange and green and yet, she still saw nothing.
“Wait! I didn’t mean it. I don’t mean to be mean. Please go on. Tell me. What’s wrong?”
nothing looked at her with hollow eyes and wrapped around her thin tall frame. It snuggled under her black hair and fit into the nape of her neck. It whispered softly in her ear.
“You are nothing! How can nothing be trapped?”
“Because I am nothing.”
“Can’t you be not trapped?”
“No. I am trapped.”
“Do you mean you feel trapped?”
“No. I feel nothing.”
“I see nothing. I don’t see a trap.”
“It’s here. Right here.”
Dasani threw her hands in the air in mock exasperation and felt only nothing’s touch. She squinted her tiny eyes and saw nothing. Her tiny hand, like a child’s, reached out to feel nothing and she could not understand.
“I don’t understand.”
“Use your eyes.”
“I see nothing!”
“Yes. You see nothing. Now you see the trap.”
“No. I don’t. You’re not trapped. You can’t be because you’re nothing. That’s stupid.”
She thought about it. “Ok…I see the trap.”
nothing nodded back.
“It’s still stupid.”
nothing said nothing.
“You’re stupid! nothing is stupid. I’m going away!” She stamped her tiny feet and turned away. She marched across the ice, created of nothing and to the far north of the tiny planet. Only one fruit grew on Pluto. It hung from low hanging branches ready to pick. The fruit was from a tree whose roots reached down to the center of the earth and came out the other side as another tree. If you cut the planet in half, it looked like a fungus seeding itself out towards the surface in blooms of trees, bearing the fruit of the world. She picked the fruit and sat down to eat. She thought and thought and thought. She ate and thought some more, consumed by her thoughts.
She ate until the whole tree was bare and she became empty of her thinking. She felt she wanted some company to share her silly thinkings with but only nothing was around. nothing seemed to have followed her and it slowly dawned on Dasani that she was never alone because nothing was quite attached to her.
“Why did you follow me?” Dasani asked.
“I have no where else to go.”
“Leave me alone.”
“I can not for I am nothing.”
“You are a nuisance.” She looked at nothing again.
“Are you afraid of me? Are you afraid of the trap?”
“Ha! I am not afraid of nothing”
“So you are. A double negative.” Said nothing.
Dasani sat for a moment and then laughed. “You are a strange creature, nothing. I think I could like you.”
“Could I like you?”
“I should hope so. I am quite likeble in my own right.” Dasani puffed out her little chest.
Dasani danced. She imagined a fairy wand and leapt nimbly from side to side blessing everything with her little wand. She made faces at nothing and juggled fruit from another tree. Her step was light, her dance was good. She twirled and frolicked in great swirls of dandelion sunshine. Occasionally, she stopped to muse, tip toing this way and that way in green grass blades that she made up to be in this realm of nothing and for her, they were there.
“What do you think?” She finally asked.
“It is a fine jig.“
“What can you do?” Dasani asked brightly.
“I can be nothing.”
“No. no. no. You can do anything because you are nothing.”
“Yes. I am whole worlds and people and things. I leap through space and time in a single bound, and I can do nothing.”
Dasani stepped back horrified. Suddenly, everything became quite clear. She felt her physical shape wavering and quite nothing. Under her feet, the planet began to rumble and give way.
“Yes…and now you see…”
“No ! Stop!” The planet lost its shape until Dasani fell onto nothing. The bars rose up from the nothing ground and surrounded nothing . It materialized out of nothing and solidified before Dasani’s very eyes. Now she saw all that she feared.
“It’s not true!”
She banged on the bars with her hands and feet. She screamed into the nothing within. “No! Stop! Please come out. Please… “She tried squeezing her tiny body through, but the bars grew into great tightly bound grids. She backed up and ran, ramming herself into the bars, again and again. She screamed. She kicked. She fought. She ran around the cage looking for the door but there was none to be found. And then she cried herself into exhaustion. “Why? Why can’t I do anything?”
She reached her hands through the bars and nothing held her hand softly. The cage opened up its bars to let her hand through and melded back willingly into place again. Dasani could feel her touch as equally childlike as hers. She cried softly as the hand appeared slowly in front of eyes. She looked up and to her surprise found herself staring at a little girl with black hair and soft almond eyes as every bit like Dasani as she was herself, but the little girl stared at Dasani as if she did not see her and only felt her hand. The child was blind and even more, desolate. Dasani gasped out of shock to see what she thought was a younger doppelganger, standing before her in a cage.
“Who are you?” She cried.
“I told you. I am nothing.” The little girl said. “Who are you?”
“I’m Dasani. I told you. I left Earth and traveled here, to my home.”
“Why did you leave?”
“I left because everyone told me to leave.” Her breaths came out in deep puffs. She slowed her thought. “At the time, it made sense that I should go. They seemed so right. There were so many people who thought so.”
“I didn’t want you to go.”
“I thought it would have been better if I did.”
“No. I needed you.”
“You didn’t know who I was. How could you?”
“But something told me that I needed you. I wanted you to stay.”
“I know. Nothing needs me. Isn’t that funny?” She giggled again.
“I’m here now. Isn’t there a way?” Dasani said.
“No. There is no way. I am trapped.”
“You’re not trapped. You’re not trapped.” She pulled her hand out and looked at the cage. She dug under the cage, but the cage had a floor. She jumped on it, but the bars wouldn’t bend. She wrapped the bars with rope and pulled with all her might. She found a gun and butted its end against the bars. Nothing worked silently on.
“Why do you care?”
“Because I do. Because I want to.” Dasani’s tiny face set fiercely around her eyes.
“Is that all?”
“It’s the only answer that I have right now. I’ll tell you when I think of a better one.”
“Because… you’re me. How about that?”
A small glimmer seemed to light up the blind girl’s face, but the girl could not see it. It disappeared as quickly as it came like a shout in the dark.
“How silly…” the little girl said.
“No. It’s not silly. It’s important.”
“Nothing is important.”
“Yes. Nothing is important and that’s why I’ll stop at nothing to change it. I will stop here and I will find a way” She looked into the eyes of nothing and saw a lonely face in a lost sea. It seemingly had nowhere to go, nowhere to think. It looked around nervously at a crowd of swarming people and shrunk away until it had nothing. There was nothing for this face. A whole world appeared in front of Dasani’s eyes and the lonely face became swallowed in the depths of that world. The face became fainter and fainter and fainter.
“Hey! Hey!” Dasani cried. She waved her hands and jumped up and down, but nothing seemed to work its magic into everything. Nothing happened. “Wait! I’m here!”
But the face didn’t seem to hear anymore. She had become deaf. Dasani touched the last remnants of the face and it didn’t seem to respond as if it too had been frozen in the ice of the planet. “Please. I’m so close”
And nothing replied.
Why not just stop? Give in to me. Give into nothing.
“No! I will not stop. I don’t want to. I will think of something and I will do it and I will change you. I can change nothing and I will tear it apart if I have to until I find what I’m looking for. I will do it my own way.”
You’ll never find it. I will never let you.
“Then I’ll wait. I’ll wait for you to come out and I will keep wandering and I will keep wondering until I find a way to get back to you. I will find something in this nothing and I already have. I will not stop until I get to you. I will make you something.”
She wandered away from the cage, but it followed her wherever she went. She wandered for a long time and she waited until she could find a way to come streaming back in flying colors that were vibrant and full of life. She saw a road stretching out in front of her as if to lead her the right way. She couldn’t see its end as it curved around the planet but she walked upon it. In the distance, she saw the great flows of ice that had towered over her the entire time, holding so much promise.
In her mind, she wandered forth tentatively and wondered and wondered and wandered and wandered…
I just wrote the most important letter in my life and it wasn’t my decision for graduate school.
It was the final culmination of over four years of a lot of unhappiness as an undergraduate, the observations that I’ve gathered during that time and it served as the cap to the final transition of finally being happy with myself. I’d like to think of it as the opposite of a “final straw” because at the very moment that I hit the “send” button, I finally understood myself. It’s so important. I want to take it and frame it on the wall, just as a reminder of this very moment. That’s how important it was to me as a person.
There are several reasons as to why it was important. I had never written a letter like this before. I had never written something so unapologetic, so disrespectful and yet respectful at the same time. I had never written a letter so long. Most importantly, I had never wanted to be someone’s friend so badly even though they made me absolutely fucking furious. I was actually feeling something, for someone so much, that I wanted to do something about it.
To build into this and to explain how this came about, I will have to get a little personal which I don’t feel comfortable about and you may not feel comfortable about, but try this experiment with me.
Very early on in my undergraduate career, I fell into a deep depression. When I finally came out of it, I was fairly miserable and also vulnerable. I didn’t have any friends physically near me that I felt comfortable relying on and while this didn’t bother me before, it now bothered me. It was dawning on me that I had to have “contacts” and network in order to further my career. Now I had to care what my teachers thought because they could actually affect my career and it became quite obvious that the values that I thought were important (hard work, not complaining, being thoughtful etc.) were sometimes misinterpreted as a disinterest in what I wanted to study. Passion for knowledge or to be an interesting person has become measured by how much we vocalize and how much we do. People questioned my passion simply because I didn’t go prancing around, throwing hypothetical lizards in the air (I do this with real lizards but that’s besides the point). This is especially true when you consider that colleges, medical schools and such look for the extroverted, friendly, candoeverythingatthesamegoddamntime and enjoys social interaction types. While I understand the reasoning behind this, I disagree that these are the only quality and passionate people. Extrovert has become the norm and anything else is considered not competitive enough to survive in this world. Surprisingly, there once was a period of time when it was quite the opposite and quiet people were revered and respected to a greater degree (McCain 2012).
University communities don’t always make it easier, especially in large schools where everyone is certainly “friendly” and “outgoing” but also don’t actually go out of their way to get to know you. This is quite fine when you don’t feel like talking about yourself, make stories about yourself brief and unassuming and you’re fine with that. It is not quite so fine if the betters you respect assume that you are actually not interested in your work. For high-sensitive people such as myself, this tends to lead to a lot of self-doubt even if it is completely irrational. This leads to more withdrawal, the feeling of invisibility, anxiety about standing out in a respectful way or rejection of all of this, yelling loudly about everything you do and failing because it is not the best thing you do.
From these thoughts and many other aligning situations (McCain 2012), I thought there was something wrong with me and so put myself in all these uncomfortable situations that I didn’t really like participating in, but I felt I had to go to for the sake of my career. This didn’t mean that I wasn’t genuinely interested in other people’s research or them as people, but rather that I felt pressured to constantly be talking to many people, attract attention or otherwise look awkward at the party as the person no one was interested in talking to, who was antisocial and wasn’t doing anything productive. I was trying really hard and it wasn’t working. I finally gave up and decided that I was just going to wallow in my recurring depression that waved in and out. I had the love for my work to keep me going but I was in despair.
I tried to be happier with myself but I couldn’t really figure out this stupid “be yourself” shit because I thought I was “being myself” and it didn’t seem to be working. People who say “be yourself” have the best intentions but don’t quite realize that they figurethat everyone is naturally “extroverted and open”. Therefore, if you are “yourself”, you will be naturally friendly and social and everyone will like you. What exactly do you tell a serial killer? (See Dexter). However much I might be amused by that thought, I don’t think anyone wants to give a serial killer such a ridiculous notion.
There were many people who I quietly observed and heard, who told their stories of being introverted as a child and enjoying the same things that I did and faced the same social pressures. This was a validation that I was not alone and that their success meant that in the future, I could be quite comfortable with myself and successful and it was that comforting thought that I could finally say, “It’s going to be ok.” Not that I internally believed this.
It’s quite something to have wonderfully unapologetic people to admire and respect, but it’s quite another to have someone, without asking you, ingratiate him or herself into your life. Instead, having a person like this, changing little things that he feels that he wants to change and doing what he feels is necessary is quietly life changing. All of a sudden, I wanted to be like this person and it helped me figure out all the people that I would like to emulate because I personally liked it. At the same time, I was scared shitless of this person. But because I respected him so much, I thought he was so smart and fantastic. So, when he made me mad, I was furious.
I’ve never been so mad at someone. I yelled at him in my mind, composing a large ranty email in my head, even had nightmares where he finally told me all the things I was afraid that he would say. But it was occupying my work time and I couldn’t take it anymore. I wrote it down. It was better. I wasn’t mad anymore. The important part is not what happened. The important centerpiece was the fact that I wrote this letter and what I got out of it.
I thus introduce to you, the “Fuck you” philosophy.
Even though this letter might make him hate me or mad, that’s ok because in the end I’ll still like this person anyway and it doesn’t have to go both ways. I suppose this is what you call, “unconditional appreciation”. Your feelings towards a person, whether they were reciprocated or not, is important to you because you know now that you are capable of these unique feelings. You might actually not be able to help it. Friends are friends because they are friends and a common misconception is that this has to be a mutual thing. Shit. I’m friends with this person whether I like it or not. You don’t have to be friends with me but shoot, you’re my friend even though I’m not putting in any more effort. You’re stuck with me buddy. Get over it. I like you but I don’t give a fuck whether you like me or not. Fuck you buddy.
I don’t give a fuck.
What does that mean? It means, you’ve decided that you’re not afraid anymore. You’ve decided what’s important for yourself and not what you think is important to other people. You’ve decided that if people can’t be patient, then fuck it. You’re going to be patient and make yourself happy and not waste your time with things that don’t make you happy. You’ve decided that you tried the best that you could, in the most respectful way you know how and you still can’t get what you want. You’ve decided that it’s ok that you feel this way and that other people don’t.
Now let us discuss word choice because this is quite important to me and many people who believe that the way you say it, makes it easier for people to agree with you. It is no use in thinking you’re right if you can not create common definitions and ground. Friends who have known me for awhile, tend to say that I am level headed, and that I disagree respectfully. I pride myself in this skill, in loving to play “devil’s advocate”. It makes conversations interesting.
So why am I using this disrespectful word? I would say instead, that it is a powerful word and a very forceful word, so it is in very few situations, pleasant. However, that is why it is necessary. Why not use “I don’t care anymore”? While this is necessary and necessary to understand, the word “care” in that phrase really means that you do care even if you wish not to. But this is an important transition phase because it is the recognition of this wish.
The carrying out of this wish, is to say “Fuck you”, “Fuck this”, “Fuck this shit”. Very forceful words. So forceful are they as words, that they are an action. While you may change your mind in the future, it carries you into that stage where you are not going to spend any more time thinking or feeling irritation until a good reason comes up, until you, yourself, agree that you need to give a fuck. You are now free from constantly repeating “I don’t care anymore. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care anymore” while still wondering and still getting angry at whatever is causing you anger.
Someone insults you? “Fuck you” Someone, who you consider your friend, constantly makes you feel inferior and invisible? “Fuck you” That university didn’t accept you based on how many things that you did in high school and not you as a person? “Fuck you” Your workplace is unappreciative, isolating and uncaring? “Fuck this” The professor that you wanted to work for ran away during your presentation? “Fuck you” People are ungrateful and never think to thank anyone? “Fuck you” You think that dress is pretty and it’s pink and you “just don’t wear pink”? Fuck you. Why not? How is a dress going to hurt you? You are going to still be grateful and not stop being what you personally want to be.
Choose happy things. Choose happy people (Introverts can be happy too). Make an effort to understand people that you would like to be with and if it doesn’t work out? “Fuck you”. Appreciate people even if you don’t quite understand them. Decide whether you wish to associate with them or not and then say “Fuck you” no matter what you decide. It is an inward validation of the fact that you don’t need this person to be successful or happy to do what you want even if it would be really nice. If someone with significant clout is rude and has done horrible things, it doesn’t mean you have to be that way towards them or other people. It also doesn’t mean that they have any control of your career. You just need one person to say “yes” out of a sea of “no’s”. Convince someone to say “yes” and if they won’t still? “Fuck you!” I’m going to someone else or I’m going to fucking do it anyway.
So fuck this. Ungrateful people have had a profound effect on my life. They’ve made me grateful and even though I say thank you and what not, I’ve never gone out of my way to say, “I’m really grateful for what you’ve done for me”. Negative people have made me positive. Impatient people have made me patient. Stubborn people have made me flexible. Stupid people have made me smart? I don’t know about that one. But yes, I like to be contrary and yes, I’m a goddamn rebel. I used to be proud of it. I want to be proud of it. I will be proud of it. I am proud of it. And I want you to be proud of it.
You’ll start to find, at least in my experience, that the “fuck you” starts to become internalized (You certainly don’t want to go running around waving a sword when people don’t know what you’re using it for). Instead of being embarrassed, ashamed or angry and annoyed, you might just start to find everything, ridiculous and therefore interesting. Life has become infinitely interesting the very moment I said “fuck you”. So try it, I want to see if it works. I’m very excited to see because I’ll be amused. I don’t know if you’ll be amused but I will be because I want to be a scientist and I find everything interesting.
Let us have a little patience. It’s very hard but let’s do it. Let’s be patient and understanding, believing that people have good intentions that don’t always get carried out. Let’s do what needs to be done and things that we feel like are unnecessary but feel like doing anyway. Let’s say “Fuck you” and decide to do it or not to do it or not to care or to care. Let us be bold, thoughtful and grateful. Let us have a little bit of faith and hope. Let’s point out what’s wrong and leave others an out so that when they retreat to think for it themselves, they can consider whether they feel the same way. Ask. Ask. Ask. What do you mean? This is my intention, how do I phrase that? Why do you think that? Extrovert, introvert, “good person”, “evil person”. That’s what we all can do.
To the people who have already met me before today, Hi! I’m Vicky. Nice to meet you! I’ve been lost, wandering around deserts of Pluto for about 6 years but now I’m back. To people who knew me before I left, I’m also very different. I’m more patient, kinder, more excited and less restricting on myself and others. Hi! I’m Vicky 2.0 and it’s fucking good to be back on Earth.
There are really too many people to list of the IB department and the MVZ that helped me feel comfortable to write this and share this and develop this idea and too many people outside of these institutions to thank. These were some of the wonderfully unapologetic people that made me feel like it was going to be ok: Sarah Werning, Talia Moore, Michelle Koo, Jenna Marbles, Mel Gordan. Thank you, Danielle Christianson for questioning me with no pressure. Thank you to Sima Bouzid and Theresa Wong for asking. Thank you, Perry Pearson for your caring nature. Thank you, Casey Tsai who seeded this idea in me once upon a time. Thank you, Sofia Chang, for being my extrovert companion through this, who listened and debated with me to develop these ideas and take the fantastic photo that goes with this. Thank you, Marina Gerson for your guidance on introversion. Thank you, Dean Adams, Jonathan Losos and Tim Higham for saying “yes”. Thank you, Carol Spencer, Monica Albe, Nancy Finkle, Yu Zeng, Dennis Evangelista for how I’ve learned to be a kind supervisor, treat people, how to ask and understand them.
The writing portion is dedicated to Kurtis Watanabe, whose life I borrowed to live for when I couldn’t live for myself.
Please visit Sofia Chang’s and my blog that we’ll be setting together up soon! It will include writings and photos that we have compiled together for our own amusement and hopefully yours. Also thank you very much for reading! And if you like the experiment when it is set up, and would like to contribute in some way (an editor would be nice -.-), contact us! If you do comment (and please do if you feel like it), I ask that you not pick on trivial things like grammar (hopefully this is what the editor would be for) unless it’s getting in the way of the writing. It’s fine, but please ask for clarification on unclear phrasing or say something about the content. I feel it is useless to just point out misspellings alone (although pointing out some of it is appreciated).