Your wildchild is entering the real world. Setting out on a new journey, equipped only with a bad sense of direction and a faulty Google Maps.
I’m off to work.
Really, it’s only an internship and so under the adamantium shield of Intern I get to make every mistake in the book, and get away with it, but it doesn’t make things less real, and I say that because I’m sitting in office.
Before you ask why I’m sitting in office, on day one, and typing up a blogpost, I’ll specify I’m sitting in the reception. The wait begins.
You know, it’s diplomatic strategy. You make someone wait, and then they seem more important. Well, I’m handling that game really well: it’s blogpost time!
You’re probably just glad I am not drawing a comic in here.
So far, my journey’s been great. I misread my watch this morning. In the dim morning light, my watch seemed to read 6:55. I said great, I’m up before my alarm.
You know that sweet, sweet feeling when you get up on your own, and see that there’s some time left before you’re scheduled to drop out of bed? Yeah, it’s even better than waking up on time, because you feel like you’ve snatched away those five extra minutes of sleep, never mind the fact that had you not woken up then, you’d have scored them anyway. Heck, by setting your alarm to 7:05, you’d earned them the night before!
Well, guess who thought they’d earned 20 extra minutes.
I don’t know about you, but once I’m awake, the anxiety that my alarm will shoot off, “any minute now”, is very real. It’s awful, and it doesn’t let me sleep again. It’s nearly pointless, I don’t get those ten minutes back!
So I lie there, waiting for the drill sergeant to scream. I used to have a siren as an alarm once, it was proven to be the most effective, yet it gives me absolute shoots in blood pressure, the cold sweat, the entire package.
At least I know I’m bodily ready when a real emergency hits!
So I lie to acting for what seems like forever, and nothing rings, there’s no sound.
My first thought is, shoot, the alarm isn’t working!
My second thought, shoot, I missed my alarm?
My third, and finally, action driven thought, let me check the time.
It’s 25. Shoot, I was scheduled for 7:15!
… but wait, what’s that? 6?
And then I lay waiting for 7:15. Turns out, I’d misread 5:50 for 6:55. That’s an hour and 20 minutes of my sleep I’ll never get back.
But I’ve mostly been on schedule since.
Then I got pranked by Google Maps this morning. As I stood at the bustop, I was texting a friend, and two seconds later, Maps shows me, with an A-OK in green text colour, that my bus was on time and had departed three minutes ago.
Okay, I was talking it was semi-important, but did I just let my bus pass me by? I was trying my damndest to be early too.
How early, you ask? Well, I live about ten minutes from work, and I begin at 9 AM.
I left home at 8:18.
But something tells me, my not so asleep senses aren’t wrong today, no bus did come!
I stood there panicking, almost considering walking the whole way, and I’d have done it too, but my footwear stopped me. I’d have looked quite a sight, stomping and struggling my way to work in a shirt and 0.05 mm heels. I’m really bad at this.
So I waited, and a bus did come. But before it did, with me at the stop, Maps tells me, “you are scheduled to arrive in one minute.”
Yeah right, smart mouth.
The bus I did get on came smack in between the two scheduled timings. So now I don’t know if I was late on my bus, or early on the next.
And now I’m sitting and waiting, for formalities, casualties (me), and forms—oh god, forms!—must be filled.
And as I sit here and wait, I can hear a high-end meeting beginning in the room next to me.
They’re discussing Pokémon.
Here we go, it’s finally over. I’ve reached the end of the game. Whether or not I’ve crossed the finish line, the game’s over. The suspense may have been killing me, but I’m too exhausted to feel the suspense at this point.
Year 1 is over. I’ve finished a whole academic year at university, my first big change since high school began. It’s had its ups and downs and sheer ecstasy moments; I’ve loved the freedom that’s with being on my own in university, I’ve enjoyed being able to prove myself wrong— in good ways! I’ve loved what I’ve learnt this year, not just in that typical ‘personal growth’ way, but also academically: it’s nice to fall in love with an area you may be in for a long time to come!
I’ve also come to fall in love with the area we live in: downtown Toronto, the heart of the city. I’ve always been a city kid, but my “city” ended in the suburbs—I never fancied living in the rush of the sprawling upward expanses with square glass fingers desperately stretching higher skywards in a place where you’d enjoy it if you live for the thrill of the fast lane 24/7.
Not my kind of thing. But I’ve come to love it. It’s not entirely an about turn, though. Our campus is 1865 powering its way into 2019 and adamantly staying that way, and it’s beautiful. It’s neo-gothic style architecture drives students crazy (and me; sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s a tourist and who’s a student because even as recently as this month, eight months in, my phone camera is still out. This was on the way to an exam location, no less. I guess imminent death makes everything look prettier! (Naw, it’s pretty as it is)
Now that I’m sitting home, it’s kind of this bittersweet wait. A long, anticipated wait.
I’m awaiting grades and major decisions. It’s been a chaotic last few weeks, and my finals weren’t even half the reason. Finals don’t stress me out, as you’ve clearly seen. All my best work (a twenty-six and counting comics included) comes during my highest periods of pressure. And I’m not even talking academic work. My creative output skyrockets under pressure. When people bring up the whole debate about the tortured artist, I hide my face and run away. It’s not something I can pretend doesn’t happen!
But it’s been a tiring year.
I am, or at least, at this point, I think I am, a computer science student. I can’t pretend I knew much better when I signed up for this, but apparently it’s a well sought-after major. Which means resources are limited, but the demand is pretty high. Which means stuff gets competitive. My school is one of those that selects majors once you’re already in college, so you have a bunch of people scrambling around for places in a pretty limited program, because everyone can take their shots. At the end of the year, based on how you’ve fared compared to the rest of your class, you’re either in, or you’re not.
And guess what, it’s the end of the year.
So it boils down to this. Numbers will be concrete now. The hypothesisations are out. Over. I could be out and over. The possibilities are literally limitless and are veritably driving me nuts.
I’ve been doing more math than computer science this last month, and there are so many loose ends. I don’t normally think of myself as someone with loopholes. It’s a challenging field out there, and while I can’t say the actual coursework has been stressing me out—no sir, I’ve loved it—the consequences of messing something up are killing me. Getting an assignment back is no longer about look! So much of this is right, I’ve learned—maybe even mastered—so much!, it’s about oh no, I’m below the class average this time! How much better am I going to have to do on the next assignment to make this up? Back to the calculator it is!
At this point, I genuinely don’t even remember why I liked computer science in the first place. There’s this hazy mist above my head that’s saying “I remember I used to like it, so I must’ve liked it. Can’t recall why though.” I’ve forgotten what I wanted to do after college, what area of computer science I wanted to specialise in. Goals have shrunk down to micro-goals. What do you want to do in life? I want to get into second year. I don’t remember what came beyond that. Was it research of some sort I’d wanted to do? Go into graphics or interaction or something? Jump on the AI bandwagon? (Look, I’m open, but that probably wasn’t it. I feel an internal need to run away from the mainstream, even if it may end up being something interesting. I wish I could change that, but my internal magnet repels way too strongly.)
The point is, I don’t remember, I’m just so exhausted and worn out, that me saying anything about this will have me sounding like a broken record (ask my poor roommate). I used to be kinda interesting, you know. I used to talk computer science stuff like I was really interested, and I’d leave the conversation having you hooked onto something you’d never imagined you’d find interesting or remotely imagine spending the day with (I can vouch for myself here because I’ve had a twenty minute conversation with a self-proclaimed luddite on binary storage. Better times! Talk to me about it if you’d like, I’ll see if I still have it left in me).
Well, here’s the thing, me not knowing is worse, because it means I’m going to have to do the painful discovery process thing again. If I need to get my ass out of this place and at a new place that’s not quite as much of a gladiator showdown, I’ll need to write another bunch of long and thought out essays on why a college should have me as a computer science major. Last year, I’d swore I wouldn’t do that again.
So here we go, it begins again.
The hunt, the search, the outputting. If you missed the shitshow last year, here’s a repeat telecast.
Man, I just want to be sure, for once. Just know that there’s something out there that I can come back to, and bank on. Maybe you’d call it a backup.
I really don’t want to have to go. I love the place, I love the people, I love what I do. I have friends (I am personally surprised by the number of people I’ve discovered in the last month that would vouch for me) and I was really settling in quicker than I ever have before.
Starting uni, I really just hit the ground running. Things weren’t out of place, culture shock didn’t really hit me, I was weirdly not homesick either (hurray for WhatsApp!) and I really just clicked. It was a beautiful feeling, almost like Toronto had been waiting for me since forever. Even if it wasn’t me in question, Toronto can make anyone feel home and familiar, I’ve noticed, but hey, this here is my theatre production, so back to me.
You can’t seriously be telling me at this point that I’m going to have to pack up and move. Not after I’ve worked that hard. Not after things have worked. Not after everything had been blue skies (actually no. Grey skies with a 40% chance of snow; this is Toronto, guys!) and wind in the sails and a 90 on cruise control. The blow those finals dealt me has me kind of stunned, because me numbers don’t predict graceful nosediving worth a perfect 10 in synchronised swimming.
Basically, I’m confused. I didn’t see that coming and I am not prepared for it. Denial may kick in soon, but I need to plan my bust before that happens.
Look, there’s nothing pretty about this piece of writing anymore, it has descended into a pure mad rant. This is Lady Macbeth checking in, deliriously washing the blood of her murdered grades off her hands and whispering, what have I done? Or more precisely, when have I done this? Can someone tell me what is going on here.
You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to, it’s a one-person tragedy now. There’s no more script, just rants. Just someone who doesn’t want to write FIVE more personal statements and who wants a tiny little bit of security in life.
Ironically enough, here’s a computer science major insecure. I heard an english major whining about it the other day and sympathised. Well guess which one of us knows they’re gonna be at this uni in four years time and actually graduate.
The irony kills me.
The competition just killed me. It’s almost not fair.
If you’d have told fifth grade me about this, you’d have gotten a smirk.
Trivial. All you’ve got to do is get from first year to second year!
Yeah, it’s totally that simple when you’re not in my major. Really. I have nothing remotely optimistic or witty or quirky to say. I can’t say I’ve learnt how to deal with anything better than I would have without this kind of failure. I’m a little bratty about not getting my way and this isn’t a humbling learning experience. I’ll probably remain a brat. All those easier colleges we collectively shit on because ‘we’re so hard’, I shall probably not feel sorry or take back all that, shall we call it, letting off steam? It’s not a learning curve, we genuinely are harder. I’ve compared course syllabi with other schools, and I like ours better. Call it a learning curse. I shall be sorry to not have access to the incredible stuff my uni’s computer science department has to offer if I leave. I just wish I could still have made it.
I just wish for once I could go to bed thinking I’m a tiny bit of a satisfactory success.
But I’m also quite a heat of the moment sort of a person, especially when things happen after 11 PM. Which means, for all the stories I string about being up till 3, I’m there, but I’m really not.
My friend and I have a theory that after 11:30 PM, my alter ego takes over. And after some inspection, we’ve come to realise that my alter ego is in fact a monocle-wearing, Fedora-tipping, moustache-sporting, English journalist called James.
Too bad half my best work seems to come after 12 AM.
So I’d promised comics twice a week, and now I’ve put out more. Feast, dear readers! (Actually, I don’t really recommend eating while you’re reading comics. I’ve done that with my Spider-Man comics (with a hyphen, as the guy himself has said!). It doesn’t end well either for your food, or for the mag.)
No, I don’t think I need to do this either, but it’s 12:10 AM, and I’m feeling weirdly restless, and have a final that I’m currently taking a break from, and feel the need to justify in the form of some concrete output, and hence you, poor reader, may just have to bear the brunt of my anxiety and live through yet another post.
Well, I’m keeping my word about updating the comics regularly. And so here’s the next one, albeit on a much nicer looking blog. This blog remains a black background, and majorly just because I’m adamant about that. As a matter of fact, my obsession with dark backgrounds, as clearly influenced by the fact that I’m pretty much a computer science stereotype with the penchant for coding on dark backgrounds, has kind of spilled into my new blog as well. As of twenty-four hours ago, it was a clean, pristine, cold, spacious white. Now it’s dark blue, but a very comfortable dark blue indeed, or that’s my opinion anyway. The cool thing is that while the background is blue, the text and the comic are still on a white background, so I found a good loophole right there. Everybody wins!
Do let me know what you think of the new blog though! It’s kind of shiny and new right now, and I’m eager to see what I end up doing with it. Hope you are too!
I’ve picked possibly the absolute, singularly worst time of ever to decide to do this, but I’ve decided to do this, so I’ll say it here.
I’ve been drawing a lot of comics of late. My current record stands at 7 in 24 hours.
Of course, as you can probably guess, I have had a math exam recently. My inspiration to do everything that’s not math peaks around math exam time.
To put that mathematically, we hit a local maximum on the inspiration function around the input time “math exam period”.
Some of you have probably seen a few of my works as well in the past week, and in general the response seems pretty positive; I’m impressed someone’s reading my scribbles on a tissue paper, but hey, I have this ego of mine and I’m gonna assume you liked it.
So I’m going to try and make a bit of a habit of this.
I’m going to try and make the comics a biweekly thing, and while I love being able to use this ambiguous statement to hide under a rock uninspired and lazy for two weeks before coming out of my cave with a comic, I’ll clarify here that I mean the twice-a-week sort of biweekly.
At least, I’ll try to mean that.
Some weeks if I can, I’ll try to push out three. I haven’t decided on the days yet, but let’s work this through elimination.
Peeking at my exam schedule, I have all my tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That counts out all days beginning with a T (and my lazy alter ego yells, “Tuesday, Thursday, today and tomorrow!” Shoulda done this yesterday.)
So maybe Mondays and Thursdays. I don’t know, I have no idea how my schedule will look in two weeks time, or if I may sneak back here at 4 AM and try to silently delete this post and wonder, in all my exhaustion, what on Earth I was thinking when I wrote this up.
But for now, I’ll try to keep it to this!
I have a new blog I had to make for my portfolios, and it actually is a little friendlier to centred images than my comfy black background baby blog here, so I’ll post them there, but will put out links to there on this blog because everyone’s even lazier than I am.
So I will try my best, I will see you there this Thursday! (Glances nervously at watch and realises she has exactly three days to get her act together)
Assignments can be a little woozy sometimes
Especially at 4 in the morning
I get that
I also get sleepy
And I care, you know?
I’ll see us through
I need to see me through too
And I have a strong back
And a stronger stomach
I’ll carry you
Sure I will
But not if you press down on me
And pretend you’re a hundred and four fucking kilos
And if you’ve a lot on your mind
Mine has blanked from exhaustion
And if I say, sure, I’ll take the heavier load
It means you take a load too, good sir
We learned in class
Of divide and conquer
That doesn’t work if the only dividing is between us
It’s slower if I need to look behind us
And go back to pick up the pieces of a mess
And when I say you get shit done
You get shit done, okay?
Because it might be my assignment too
And incomplete outputs might fail a test case or two
But I wonder what it’s gonna be like
When assertEqual returns an error:
“Expected return: True
Got “This method ain’t implemented cuz my partner didn’t do shit”.
This isn’t me, and I’m super thankful, but one of my friends is seeing a slightly less specific variant of this. It amazes me, and while I’m no one to judge how you’ve planned out your semester, why on earth would someone do that? It’s horrible. It’s disgusting. I try to imagine how many hours of my life I could’ve saved had I not spent all my weekend in a study space working on a problem set. How many more nights I am just not going to be able to sleep because we have an assignment due next week, and it’s big. It just irks me. It irks me a bit that I’m working. There’s no getting around it for me, sure thing. I’m not planning to. I’d feel awful if I did, and if I’m being honest, as hard as they might be, there isn’t too much to resent them for but time and the stress. I learn a lot from them. But someone absolutely shirking off their share of the work and still getting a grade, then flying high and coming down crashing after the final and then bitterly shitting on our school, that just disgusts the fuck out of me, it’s horrible.
And rant almost over.
As for my own case, I sometimes feel like my own assignment partners are more moral support than actual working partners. Some days, it just feels like I’m doing a proof or writing an algorithm or something, and they’re nodding along going, “yes, that makes total sense!” Sure it does, buddy, but can you also write the next proof so we’re done quicker? I really, really, want nothing more than an unbroken, undisturbed 11 hours of sleep. Just one night that I can sleep without planning for and booking off the first thirteen hours of the next day. Once.
Now for the better stuff! I’m going to see Muse this Thursday! I’ve been waiting for this day since November, and after five years of absolutely adoring the band, I’m finally going to be able to go see them live, and I almost can’t believe it!
No assignment, not even the finals could have kept me away, and nothing will!
[An edit added a few hours later: I didn’t even use my ruler. What a shame, there must have been a sine graph on that test just waiting to be drawn. What a shame. I spent my entire test flying high on proofs.]
But as of right now, I’m here, and in a good space. Sample this.
I’m sitting next to something of a waterfall. The sound is pretty calming, and I’m feeling weirdly good about this test. That doesn’t normally happen, and that’s either a good sign or a scary one.
But it looks good, and I feel ready. Kind of. Maybe. Here goes!
And so I head in. A good picture deserved a good post, and hopefully a good post deserves a good proof.
[Post midterm edit: It wasn’t bad! Hooray for bubbles and good proofs!]
Have you ever entered a library with the intention of staying and studying all day, determined to last as long as the summer sun (which lasts a while once the DST cycles kick in again, which is also a royal pain when you happen to be up and studying at 1:50 AM, comfortable, only to find that ten minutes later, it’s 3 AM), garner sole attention from the librarian when she comes around at 9 PM to specifically kick you out since they need to close, and then trudge home with the feeling that you’ve done something simply because you weren’t at the table beside your bed, in your nightdress all day?
Oh come on, come finals season, you will see someone in their nightdress down here. It’ll probably be me, for all you know.
Well, if you do plan this like I do, you probably bring everything you can think of with you and try to find the sunniest, most comfortable spot. You’re gonna be here a while.
And then you notice, there’s someone sitting next to you
Or at least, there should have been. But they’ve probably gone to the restroom, and/or asked their neighbour to please watch their stuff for them.
Do you sit there and wonder who’s sitting next to you?
Do you sit by, and ignore your proofs to play Sherlock on someone else’s major? Wonder what they’re learning, what they find hard, what assignments they’re working, grinding on today?
I probably shouldn’t.
I plan on being here a while, and I’ve a midterm tomorrow. I should be curious about my proofs.
What goes into a Big Oh proof? Can I play Sherlock and sniff out the shape of a graph? What might I deduce from this squiggly line on a paper that my cat would produce as art?
(That’s the point. I don’t have a cat. No cat in their right mind would draw a graph that’s Theta of n squared. Not even accidentally.)
But I should. I should go do it.
The library’s probably thankful that it’s midterm season and not yet finals.
They’ve seen me till 12:30 before, and they sure would see me again once the library’s finals-only 24 hour runs begin.
Yeah, no, I don’t in fact know why I’m writing this in the first place.
So I’ve been slacking off schoolwork recently in the most counterintuitive, dumbly geeky way possible (it’s almost recursive, except I can no longer use that term ironically being a CS student, except when I’m using it HYPER-ironically): I’ve been shirking off my CS work to work on my own little CS project.
It’s a tiny little thing. It was something I started working on last weekend at a hackathon that focussed on sustainability. As a tiny contribution to a team of first years in a sea of third years, I started working on a search engine enhancer that randomly adds sustainability hotwords to your search.
So if you were trying to be a little more environmentally conscious with your day to day choices, looking up a coffee through my little code might lead you to organic coffee, or sustainable coffee, or something related.
Of course, given I’ve been working on it in little snippets, it doesn’t do anything super impressive. At the moment, the code doesn’t know enough about your search term to add sustainable words related enough to your search. It simply picks a random word from a bunch of hot words my team and I spent half a day googling up.
Just to be perfectly clear, there was more a reference to a White Stripes song hidden in there than an actual expectation that anyone in the year 2525 will still be able to read. And any 26th century readers that have a beef with me can take it up in the comments.
So yes, we had some funny results coming up, and here’s one that’s particularly stuck with me.
My friend was testing my search function out today, and decided to see what kind of sustainability a cat could have.
Mono-unsaturated fat cats.
I’m pretty sure that came from mono/unsaturated fats being not so healthy and having somehow snuck into my Ctrl+C.
Either way, this one just stuck. I like the name. Drop one unwieldy “un” and it sounds even better.
Monosaturated Fat Cats.
It’s brilliant. It’s chemical, its edgy, and it’s the perfect band name.
If I ever do numb my brain long enough to go bandmate hunting (and I really might), I call fucking dibs on this name, it speaks to me.
So, in summary, the point, if there is any at all, in this long, pointless post, is that you all know where you heard it first. Watch out, world. ∀ n ≥ n0, I mean, eventually, the Monosaturated Fat Cats are taking over.
You’ve got to keep warm, leave early, brave the winds, activate X-Ray vision to see through the snow, perform the most elaborate rituals to ensure a snowstorm brings down that crucial midterm taking place tomorrow…
It’s definitely an elaborate season. And running around all the time, it’s easy to forget to breathe in, even when you can see your own breath in front of you, and Moreno importantly, to keep warm, in spite of the numerous white reminders tapping on your forehead.
So I decided, in the general spirit of doing good, to make people a little reminder.
I drew it up on a particularly snowy day in my residence dining hall while studying French from a library textbook, and I did, for two whole minutes, seriously consider returning the book with an added token of gratitude slipped inside.
In fact, I’m warming up to the fact again.
(See what I did there?)
So be a nice person today.
Pass this around and remind your friends to keep warm, and above all: snort soup, dress warm and snuggly in your velvet mystic robe, and practice them dark arts of snowing days in!