Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Time for Everything

"We live and we die by time. And we must not commit the sin of losing track of time." -Chuck Noland, Cast Away (2000)

Life is all about timing.

What we do, who we meet, the decisions we make, the opportunities we have depend on a series of coinciding events and, I believe, the divinely guided passage of time. The seconds tick by, the day passes, and in a succession of hours we have done, or not done, many things.

Today was our first real day of spring. After weeks of blustering wind, sheets of rain, and stormy skies, the 80-degree sunshine was delicious. As I walked to and from classes today, I couldn't help but marvel at the tiny leaves beginning to sprout on the branches' ends. A soft, warm breeze rippled across the uncut grass and tickled my sandaled toes. I wanted to just stop to sit in the grass and admire this sunny day, but classes are not canceled due to organic beauty.

There is another major chem and calc test next Tuesday, so my weekend is a flurry of study groups and practice tests. I'm trying not to stress out or panic when I think about how much depends on these upcoming tests. However, I've found it's easy to surrender yourself to your work, devote every waking moment to it, and still not reap impressive results. My professors have urged me to stop, take a break even if it's just for an hour, learn to put aside the homework and go to bed at a decent time, or simply pause to eat lunch, and I'm beginning to realize the truth in their advice. The past few months, I've felt if I stop for even a moment, if I'm not constantly working on something, tackling homework, reading ahead, memorizing charts....I'll fall irrevocably behind. I've just been go, go, go. And yet, this strategy hasn't worked very well for me. I'm just exhausted, not necessarily that much smarter. And so, when my chem professor let us leave early after lab today, I didn't go to the library to study again. No, I drove home, made myself a sandwich and sat in the beautiful, deliciously warm sun.

And just breathed. Yes, life is all about the timing.

"You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip." - J.M. Barrie

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Homework Response:

Sebastiao Salgado states, "I believe that there is no person in the world that must be protected from pictures. Everything that happens in the world must be shown to the other people around the world. I believe this is the function of the vector that the documentary photographer must have, to show one person's existence to another."

I completely agree with Salgado's assertions that truth must be exposed and displayed for all to see and know; be it a thing of beauty or of horror. Salgado speaks of how a true documentary photographer must immerse himself in the story, invest in the people who's lives he is trying to portray, and surround himself in the problem that he is working to present. I believe that Salgado would agree that capturing photographs that change the masses' perhaps misconceived ideas regarding global issues is of greater importance than the moral questions we like to ignore on a daily basis. Seldom do we stop to think of the injustice we take part in when we eat while the poverty stricken in our city do not. Rarely do we pause to consider the rights of the oppressed and persecuted when we stand and demand our own. Considering this general lack of concern, albeit usually due to our own ignorance, in most aspects of our daily lives, why suddenly criticize photography for exposing the truth? No, photographing reality continually proves to be the mechanism of awareness, change and reform so desperately needed around the world. While I have limited experience photographing social injustices or problems in the world (or even our own society), I believe I would choose a similar platform as Salgado. While I would be careful who I would allow to publish or circulate my photographs, I believe it is important, no, vital, to photograph the stark, sometimes eery beauty that is truth.

A picture is worth a thousand words and it sometimes takes the image's silence to awaken an apathetic mind. It is exactly as Salgado says: "when you show them, when you discuss the situation with them, they become integrated with the problem, and the problem becomes part of their life."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The last 48 hours:

* Stayed up until 1am painting the old schoolroom. We'll be renting it out in the next couple weeks, so we had to get it emptied, cleaned, caulked, puttied, and painted.
* Got up at 8ish and painted off and on until 4pm.
* Calc homework
* MUN bonding night - 20+ college students squeezed around our dining room table to eat pizza, talk international politics, prep for competition, swap jokes, laugh at/with each other, debate and get to know each other better before spending four days competing together in San Francisco (only a week and a half to go!)
* Said goodbye to the last friend well past midnight and cleaned for a while.

* Scholarship applications
* Chem homework - quantum mechanics and VSPER theory
* Calc homework
* Forensic anthropology test
* Emailing financial aid offices at UCSD and working out potential housing
* Got absolutely freaked out by a massive spider crawling right by me on the couch I was studying on. You know that spastic, flailing "dance" people do when they walk through a spider web or find a spider on them? Yeah, that was me in the living room.
* Trying to study enough to get a little ahead before tests start anew
* Found this and have been listening to it ever since:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Picasso's Nerd

Hi. I'm Risa. I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with my lab partner explaining why emission spectrums prove atoms are quantized. And now I'm going to start working on calculus until midnight. I'm a nerd.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Canto Della Terra

Somewhere amidst the hustle and bustle of school, between running to classes or lugging my heavy backpack, sometime between finishing lab reports and studying for my osteology exam, somewhere amid laughter and studying and waving to friends - I sprained my back.


You know that awful feeling when you kink your neck and it's so painful to turn your head just a little? That's my back. :( I've decided to use this as a beautiful excuse to ditch class tonight and curl up with calc homework and my book The Hot Zone. Classes were hard again today and my brain feels sore, but in a good way. A do-100-mental-pushups kind of way. So now I'm listening to Andrea Bocelli and trying not to move. I guess its a very effective way to be forced to do homework.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Drove home at midnight from Davis. The Yolo Causeway was tormented with 50+ mph gusts of wind which made driving exciting. And scary.

Stayed up with a sick mom.

Had a coffee date with a dear friend who was willing to share some insight into the medical field and offer much-needed encouragement. Thank you.

Spent 4 hours in the ER with mom only to receive a pacifying diagnosis when, really, they have no idea.

Came home and finished lab reports.

....and got accepted into UCSD.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sigh No More - Mumford and Sons

Mumford and Sons has beautiful songs. My heartbeat slows and pulses in rhythm with their mesmerizing guitar and percussions. The long day melts into history as I quiet my mind and warm my hands before the small fire someone started with the remaining kindling. Heat is so therapeutic. Mumford and Sons is so therapeutic. Stillness is so therapeutic. The rain beats ceaselessly against the window, streaming down in winding rivulets. The composition is magical; the pattering rain, the crackling fire, the comforting guitar of Mumford and Sons. The moment is magical and soothing...washing it all away.

Last week was one of the most stressful I've had in a very long time. Averaging 2-3 hours of sleep per night, my life was chemistry, calculus, running and organizing MUN submissions and competition preparation, study groups, work and research papers. Life has an uncanny way of making everything due during the same week - or the same day. I spent 12-13 hour days at school and would come home, grab something quick to eat, and work on chemistry until 3 or 4am. And get up at 6. A massive test was coming and I recognized my frustratingly slow ability to absorb concepts.

Well, that was last week and I've since recovered from my state of utter exhaustion. Today we got our tests back. I got an C-. And that's only because of the curve....without the curve I got an F. How does that happen? How does it work that you stay up later than all your classmates, go to two (or three) different tutors, organize study groups, call people for help at midnight, do all the homework, and still get a C-?

It's getting late and the house settles and creaks in the rain. I close my eyes and listen to the beating rain against the windows; you can almost hear patterns. The rain falls in waves. It has a clean, beautiful smell that makes the earth feel so fresh. Deep within the blackness of the night, the rain falls and washes the city. I think about the good things around me; I must. My MUNers are fantastic. I will be in three more photo galleries by my 21st birthday. I have wonderful friends. I may be grey by the semester's end, my GPA might suffer from a bad grade in chemistry, and I might become dangerously addicted to espresso shots, but for now there is Mumford and Sons. And a fire. And rain. Clean, pure, beautiful rain....washing it all away.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Test week

Seven hours of sleep in the last three days.

Can it be the weekend please?