• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


    from Twitter


    Tuesday, April 10, 2007


    I was walking with my companion, Thuan, when he stopped suddenly. I turned, a couple steps ahead of him due to my slow reflexes, and noticed him reading a poster. Here in Little Saigon, glossy posters covered with famous Vietnamese faces and advertising everything from plays to Paris by Night were commonplace--more than commonplace. On this particular wall the poster melded into a sea of posters, all taped up with clear packing tape, one right next to--and sometimes on top of--the other.

    (example of the posters I'm talking about)

    For the most part, we ignored the ubiquitous posters, but this time was different. Thuan had found a word he didn't know. We searched are pockets for our faithful "girlfriend Kimmy" (electronic dictionary). "Những nỗi thăng trầm của cuộc đời" or "The vicissitudes of life."

    Vicissitudes...I have never forgot that little moment, and it is just those times that make language live. At that moment on Bolsa Ave. "vicissitude" gained a second meaning outside of the dictionary--that memory.

    The other day, while reading a post on Virtual Doug, I realized one more time how life moves in circles. However, after finishing Block III exams, I realize it's more complicated than that. It's like photons--at once both a particle and a wave.

    Everyone in life deals with vicissitudes while at the same time circling back to where we were before. It's like a wavy circle, if you can picture it. For me, a medical student's life runs in four-week waves. The first week (this week) is very low key, because you're exhausted from the exams you just finished. You sleep 8-10 hours a day, and your schedule is malleable. The second week starts the dip. You start to focus, and play catch-up on what you missed during week 1, because studying is immensely difficult. Week three is near the bottom of the wave. By this time you're in your last week of studying, so every minute is spent looking at a notecard or memorizing some random fact that could be on the test. Sleep has now dropped to four hours a night or less. Time spent with the wife is even less than that. You have a blood caffeine content of probably 0.05%, and you've got sharp headaches from the tension built in your shoulders from reading constantly.

    Week four is actually on the upside of the next wave. You see, taking the exams is horrible, but it's mitigated by the fact that you're now knocking them off one-by-one. No more juggling time to study for every exam--just spend all day on the next one up. Then it's over with and out of mind. Once Friday evening hits, you're back to the top of the next wave, and coincidentally, you've made a circle back to the beginning of the cycle.

    Take a deep breath! You've gotta do it again...

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