More Stuff About Love

Dear P,

The video you posted was so cool! I like the idea of a “Love Contest.” I agree with you, though, that measuring love as activity in a single area in the brain is not exactly convincing. As unique, organic organisms, we all use different pathways in our brain to accomplish different tasks.

Since we are the subject of love,the most mysterious and delicious of all emotions, I have to show you this journal excerpts I found on Brain Pickings, one of my favorite blogs.

Susan Sontag’s As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 reveals these poignant and vulnerable observations. My favorite quote is “I am only interested in people engaged in a project of self-transformation.” For me, that’s really what this blog is about- building projects of self-transformation to become independent, self-aware and loving- exactly the kind of people Susan Sontag describes as “lovable.” Though, of course, we should become these people to satisfy ourselves and not to be loved by other people. That’s just a perk.

Have an awesome weekend!

E

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Twitter Fiend

Dear E,

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I am a twitter fiend. I’ve had twitter for about a year, but I NEVER tweeted. I just had it because I like following funny people. Since I’ve been here though I’ve been tweeting like crazy. I’m pretty sure half of my tweets are about sleep. I think the best thing I’ve tweeted so far is “Nap time….#yolo #allidoissleep” What is it with us and our weird need to document every second of our lives? It’s strange when you think about it but it’s actually pretty fun looking through past tweets. It’s like a really funny, discombobulated, batty journal of sorts. I literally just tweeted you. Telling you to tweet me. Hehehe. I’m still working on the whole hashtag thing…usually my hashtags make absolutely no sense. Anyway, I hope you’re being super sparkly and beasting all of your exams.

Hugs and Kisses,

P

Love in the Brain

Dear E,

Disclaimer: I think the reason I’ve been avoiding blogging lately is because I’ve been wanting to sit down and write a super awesome spectacular long post. But every time the inspiration hits me hard I’m either far far away from a computer or I’m swamped with homework. So for now I’m going to write you more often, but I’m going to keep it short and sweet. Even if it isn’t very inspirational.

Anyway, watch the video above!

Isn’t this such an interesting and cool study? I liked all the different ways people thought of love. I don’t know how accurate it was though. I don’t think you can pinpoint love in only one place or in a couple of pathways. It seems strange that you can measure love. I don’t know how I feel about dissecting love. I know I want to be a neuroscientist and everything, but love just seems like one of those things you could never explain, you know? And if you were able to explain it, would that take away from it at all? If we knew which chemicals caused love and which pathways in the brain were activated during “love” then would it still be as magical? Could we create love?? What if we could make people fall in love with each other? I’m wondering how long it will be before scientists claim they know the exact causes of love and how it works. I’m going to go read more about love in the brain. Even though I should probably be studying for school…#pass/no record!

Love you loads

XOXO

-P

Platypus and Gender

Dear P,

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I hope you’re having a fantastic week! I have some seriously interesting genetics learnings to share with you. This week we’ve been learning about sex chromosomes and how our high school teachers were omitting some information when they divided the world solidly into Male (XY) and Female (XX) with a capital M and F.

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First of all, as anyone who has ever read the highly recommended “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides, gender disorders in humans are very possible and confusing for everyone involved. There are many varieties of chromosomal diseases that have varying implications for their victims. Females with Triple X Syndrome (XXX) often never realize they possess an abnormality, but patients with more extreme chromosomal abnormalities, like the 25 women in all of medical literature who have suffered from XXXXX aneuploidy (abnormal number of chromosomes), have similar symptoms to individuals with Trisomy 21 (Down’s) syndrome.

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The Y chromosome is what determines official gender. If the individual has a Y chromosome, they are officially Male. If they have no Y chromosome, they are officially Female. Like many black and white rules, this definition causes almost as many problems as it solves. See “transsexuals” and any of the individuals with the above chromosomal abnormalities. The way gender ties into the way we see ourselves, and other see us, mean it can be very confusing for everyone. And you know how people hate being confused.

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In the animal world things get even more interesting. The reason there are a ton of pictures of platypus on this post, besides because they are cute, is because platypus have no less than ten sex chromosomes.So, these mammals- that lay eggs, have bills, and are venomous- just got that much weirder. And cooler. I think I have a new favorite animal.

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And things get even more bizarre when we move beyond the land of mammals. For most bees species, only the female sex is actually fertilized and have the full set of chromosomes. So the male sex have a haploid set of chromosomes. And the female bee egg cell doesn’t have to be fertilized to give birth to males. So, in bee world, a male bee is just half a female bee.

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Thinking about all these striations of gender make me consider that humans have it pretty good, equality-wise. I mean, imagine if we were only attracted to a sex that had half the number of genes that we did. I am going to remember that the next time I have to struggle to coax a guy to have a conversation in more than monosyllables.

This weird, wonderful, gray world of gender is the center of much controversy and false stereotyping. I hope, as we move throughout our lives, we can consider people without limiting by the expectations of their gender. People, like platypus, are bizarre and impossible to pin down.

And if you ever feel a little bit claustrophobic from the box people try to fit our sex in to, just remember:

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Always.

(I saw this ad and was reminded of your quest for the perfect sunglasses. Found them yet?)

I hope you are having a super-spectacular time! Give Steven Pinker a big kiss from me!

Love,

E

About Politics

 

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I don’t talk about politics with strangers. It makes me uncomfortable because others always seem so positive that they are right, whereas I often feel completely lost and indecisive. P and I have talked about this (it is probably the territory we avoided for the longest time) and we feel very similarly. Talking about politics is a very quick way to lose friends and have people jump on your throat.

I am not against bipartisanship. I believe Democrats and Republicans exist in a yin-and-yang situation that spans history-from Cromwell England’s Tory and Whig parties to Renaissance Italy’s Guelfs and Ghibellines, there has always been a party pushing liberal ideas and an opposite party pushing conservative ideas. Balancing these ideas will never be easy, but in the struggle we will hopefully create the best America we possibly can.

I have avoided debating politics for pretty much my entire life. My strategy has been to listen carefully and gather wisdom so that, when I have to vote in an election, I will be able to exercise some sense and contribute to American democracy. Now that I am eighteen, however, I realized I still feel nowhere near qualified to help (a minuscule and possibly inconsequential amount, but help all the same) choose the next leader of the free world.

So, to help myself uphold the responsibility of being an United States citizen, I have been doing some research. I figured the best way to hear something is from the candidates themselves (or from the candidate’s public relations team, but close enough) and so I have been trying to glean facts from their official websites. I have summarized my findings in the following small diagram (but you should really try to read it for yourself):

 

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I hope you can find the candidate whose values resonate the most with your own and the strength to vote for them, whatever your friends or family may think.

Happy Election Year!

E

The Beautiful Room of H

Hey y’all! Today’s post is about our friend H’s gorgeous room! A cute/ organized room can totally change how you feel about your space and can totally affect your mood. I believe in all the feng shui nonsense. Anyway, check this girls room out!

 

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H’s giant bed and beautiful rug.

 

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This is the perfect way to display AND organize jewlery!

 

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Little cubbies are perfect for showcasing your favorite things! H has her Betsey Johnson watch, souvenirs (like the Honeydukes from Harry Potter World!) and earrings and perfume.

 

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The Harry Potter section…pretty self-explanatory.

 

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Cute corkboard/dry erase display. These things are PERFECT. Corkboard is awesome for displaying pics and dry erase is great for writing little notes or reminders for yourself.

 

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Stacks of magazines and books (: Also, in case you’re wondering what’s inside the box, they’re BADASS yellow sunglasses. So chic and SO amazing. They totally stand out.

 

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Nail polish display! The mini shelf is the perfect way to display nail polish so you can see all your colors! I know I’m always forgetting which nail polish colors I have…

 

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Purses and hats.

 

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Cute little air freshener, keeps the room feeling fresh and adds a touch of adorable-ness.

 

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Daffy Duck Hat, nuff said.

 

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And again (:

 

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Awesome shoe collection! Storing shoes where you can see all of em like this is PERFECT! That way none of your shoes feel left behind. The only sucky thing about college? Not having all my shoes and clothes. And not having storage space for said things.

 

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So there’s the wonderful room of H! Aren’t the colors great?! Isn’t her room so lovely? I adore it. For more wonderfulness go check out her blog at liveitothefullest.tumblr.com.

All pics were taken by E.

Hope y’all are having a good week!

Hugs and Kisses,

P

Catching Up

Dear E,

OHMYGOSH. It’s me. Your best friend you’ve probably forgotten about by now. I’m so awful…I haven’t written you in THREE WEEKS. Let me preface my letter with this….ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

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The past three weeks for me have been absolutely crazy—filled with days of making amazing new friends, partying super hard, stuffing my face with an enormous amount of dessert, trying to navigate my way around campus, exploring Boston, crawling around in tunnels, climbing things, shopping, decorating, and pretty much anything you can think of. Here are the highlights…

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the amazing friends I’ve already made (:

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Uhm, went to a freaking Andy Grammar/Gavin Degraw/ TRAIN concert. (For free.) It was AWESOME.

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p-setting like a mad person…

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cupcakes from Georgetown cupcakes! My big bear brought em to me(:

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The shopping ROCKS here (:

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awesome wall art errrywhere!

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MY LIFE ❤

Doing FLP! Freshman Leadership Program. Around campus, we’re kind of thought of as a cult. Probably because we play stupid games and run around chanting ASA. But seriously, I think that was one of the best experiences ever! Hearing some people’s stories was really heartbreaking but I feel like I’ve changed so much after that experience. My cluster leaders were fucking AWESOME.

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My roomies! My roommates are SO awesome. Priscila (the one on the right), is like a super chill, does her own thing, goes with the flow kinda person. She always says randomly funny things. And she brought like 4 tubs of listerine. It’s hilarious. I really like her. And Katie (the one on the left) is this HILARIOUS (in a strange way), kind of sarcastic person who’s also super chill. Except I know she secretly thinks I’m super messy. Oh and she does this thing where she randomly winks at people. She’s a super awesome winker. It’s the best thing ever. Katie is one of my closest friends here! She did FLP too. She’s pretty freaking awesome.

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Being in a sorority! I’m officially a member of Alpha Phi! Recruitment was kinda sucky but it was totally worth it because I love all the girls in A Phi! Everyone so far has been super nice and I love my pledge class! Also, my big bear (like my big sister/mentor) is this girl named Hailey and she is SOOOO sweet! She’s also super pretty. She brought Katie and I cupcakes from Georgetown cupcakes! (In case you don’t know what that is, it’s the famous cupcake place in DC Cupcakes). She’s super cute, I think you would really like her! Anyway, I am really excited to get to know all of my sisters ❤

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The rain! It never rains in Texas! I think I’m really going to like having seasons. Plus, fall fashion is like the best, come on. SPEAKING OF FASHION, omg it’s like fashion week or something. Yesterday was fashion night out and there was like a red carpet on Newbury Street and all of the stores were having open houses and giving out free things! This place is so awesome.

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(I don’t have a picture of the rain….so here’s some jellyfish we saw at our aquarium party)

Joining crew. OMG WTF. If I stick with this then I will be a D1 Varsity athlete. Okay, not if, when. Because I’m totally sticking with this. It’s going to be SO AMAZING. I won’t get to compete for a while (since obviously, I’ve never rowed a freaking boat), but I’m excited to meet a ton of new people, get in shape, and have order in my life.

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Look! We baked a double layer birthday cake for our friend Alex! (That’s super impressive when you’re working from a college dorm.) He’s from Mexico. He’s super duper cool.

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MIT. I LOVE THIS PLACE. I love it so much. I love the people, I love that Boston is just right over the bridge, I love going out with my friends and I even love staying in with my friends and just p-setting and eating oreos. This is the best place EVER. There’s always stuff going on and I seriously never have a spare second. Anyway, I’ll end this post here, and hopefully I can give you details and specific stories sometime soon. Sorry I keep missing your calls. I’m so busy all the time. I want to talk to you soon. I miss you so much it makes my stomach hurt when I think about it. I hope you’re having fun all the way over there in Austin.

Love,

P

How Watercolor Helps Explain Why People are Beautiful

Dear P,

“I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…”

— Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

 

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All of the watercolor featured in this post is from the blog of Marion Bolognesi, my favorite modern watercolor artist. 

 

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Yesterday, I decided my computer life needed organizing. I made some new folders, created a twitter account, and looked at my Facebook to see if I could delete anyone from high school that I would never speak to again. 

 

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I found that it was impossible. I am aware that Facebook is a stilted and artificial representation of real human beings, but as I scrolled through my friends list I could only smile. The way his lips curled, the way she scrunched her nose, his words of assurance during math class, the bright bows she used to wear. Mumsey has always urged us to find something to collect (so she knows what to get us at Christmas) and I have never had much interest in the idea. Sounds like clutter to me. But I realized as I scrolled through my list of friends that I do collect something. I collect people. We all collect people. We collect laughs and smiles and lips and hands and smiles- we even collect flaws. 

 

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Flaws you say? 

 

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Of course we collect flaws. Human beings are myriads of imperfections, striations of stray hairs and misplaced comments. Flaws gives us footholds with which we can connect with one another’s paths-acknowledgements to the fact that we are all fighting the same battles. 

 

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It is our imperfections, our vulnerabilities, that make us truly beautiful. 

Ian McEwan can phrase this more eloquently than I can:

“Now and then, an inch below the water’s surface, the muscles of his stomach tightened involuntarily as he recalled another detail. A drop of water on her upper arm. Wet. An embroidered flower, a simple daisy, sewn between the cups of her bra. Her breasts wide apart and small. On her back, a mole half covered by a strap. When she climbed out of the pond a glimpse of the triangular darkness her knickers were supposed to conceal. Wet. He saw it, he made himself see it again. The way her pelvic bones stretched the material clear of the skin, the deep curve of her waist, her startling whiteness. When she reached for her skirt, a carelessly raised foot revealed a patch of soil on each pad of her sweetly diminished toes. Another mole the size of a farthing on her thigh and something purplish on her calf—a strawberry mark, a scar. Not blemishes. Adornments.” 

― Atonement

 

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None of the parts of Celia that Robbie admires are considered particularly sexy. Small bust, pale skin, scars, a mole. But, because he loves her, he thinks Celia’s flaws are the most beautiful parts of her. 

 

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Anyone who has ever created a piece of watercolor can understand this. You are doing your thing, painting away, when a splotch lands far away from where you intended it. 

 

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You curse yourself and look at the splotch. You decide to move on with your painting because it is too bright of a splotch to wipe away.

 

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And the splotch complements your work in a way that you never could have imagined. 

 

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Life is the greatest art. The human body is as close to perfect as you can get, but it’s imperfections only complement it. 

 

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It is pretty easy to love other people’s imperfections. Your mother’s face may be lined and worn, perhaps pudgy, but you (hopefully) think it is beautiful. You find your best friend’s flaws endearing rather than annoying because it is what makes them, them, the person that you love. 

 

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It takes true strength to love your own flaws. 

 

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I have not yet mastered this act, but gotten some hints of it. To love yourself, to be able to wield your vulnerabilities with acceptance and understanding while always trying improve upon them, is at the core of art, empathy, and love. 

 

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To love yourself, and most especially to love yourself with your perceived flaws, is quite possibly the most powerful act in the world. 

 

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It is what gives you the strength to truly love others and live your most fulfilling and magnificent life. 

So, go out into the world and appreciate people, especially the little things they say and do. Then notice those things in yourself. 

 

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Good luck. 

 

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I’m going to try following my own advice now. 

 

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Love, 

E

 
 

E’s September Playlist

(Source: National Geographic)

Dear P,

Before we parted, we traded ideas about sending each other a CD every month so we could share music like we always have. I was considering sending you one, but then I realized I would have to buy the songs myself and then find a blank CD. I am kind of on a tight budget and have limited transportation so I am just going to make you a list and then you can find them on grooveshark:

  1. Hazy by Rosi Golan
  2. Sea Green, Sea Blue by Jaymay
  3. Do You Remember by Jack Johnson
  4. The General by Dispatch
  5. Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons
  6. Blue Eyes by Timmy Curran
  7. Our House by Crosby, Stills & Nash
  8. Reasons to Love You by Meiko
  9. Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  10. Cat & Mouse by Nikki &Rich
  11. Race You by Elizabeth and The Catapult
  12. Don’t Forget to Call Me by Ali Milner

I hope these songs see you through brisk autumn morning, getting ready for your first exciting days of class, leaves brightening, shopping in Boston, and relaxing on not-quite-chilly-yet afternoons.

Happy September! Good luck with recruitment!

E