...muses the second-term senior. Yippee! Hopefully, I'm going to graduate in a term, if I don't mess anything up in my classes. Technically, I could graduate at the end of this term if I passed everything. I've accumulated over the Institute-mandated 486 units and completed the last of my chemistry major requirements. However, I'm staying to complete my senior thesis and to take the two more classes I need to get my minor. Also, with an easier course load, I'll actually have some time to hang out with my friends before I leave.
3 2/3 years of drinking from the fire hose of knowledge, Caltech undergrad-style, has taught me many things, and chief among these is to not take myself so seriously all the time during stressful periods such as finals week. So, like a good senior, I listened carefully to the weight of all the wisdom I had gained since graduating high school and proceeded to engage in some procrastination--I mean, study breaks--over the next 7 days, in between the lab report and three papers I had to write.
First, the same evening I returned from Chicago, I went out to dinner with my roommate Sandra for some Thai food at Nine-and-Nine on Colorado Blvd. Nine-and-Nine is cheaper than the other Thai restaurant near campus, Daisy Mint, and no less delicious. The only objection I have is that their fried rices tend to be a bit on the wet side. I had the red curry fried rice, which really was more of a mixed rice:
There's this ice cream place called Afters that opened in Pasadena a couple of years ago. Their specialty is something called a "Milky Bun," which is a scoop of ice cream inside a donut. Sandra and I decided to try Afters for my first time ever, and I ordered a jasmine ice cream Milky Bun. Ahhhh. The tea flavor of the ice cream was strong and pure, and the donut came steaming hot, dripping with melted glaze. Within a minute, the temperatures had equilibrated, and the ice cream began melting as the donut turned cold--I had to eat it fast before it melted.
On Monday of finals week, I was invited to see the art exhibits courtesy of the Art for New Media class. Below is the final project of Joe, Frank, and Rohan, an enclosed space with mirrorlike walls, hung with lights that flash in time to your heartbeat:
On Tuesday night of finals week, Sandra and our friends Starry and Gyu Bin ended up playing cards instead of studying. One hour quickly turned into two... At least everyone looks much happier than they would have hunched over a text book or computer:
Tuesday was also March 14, Pi Day. It's a Caltech tradition to eat pies out on the Olive Walk at 1:59 a.m. of 3/14. See the mob below, gathered and ready to delve into the 5 types of pies that our student government had prepared:
Sometimes, one simply needs comfort food. For me, that's fried eggs and bacon. So I ordered a custom burger at the grill for lunch, complete with a side salad to make me feel slightly less guilty about myself:
I also played some violin during finals week, heading down into the basement complex of the South Houses to a private practice room to get away from the test-taking vibes of my dorm building:
Another amusing experience was observing Housemate Sasha's homemade coffee filter at work one afternoon. "The key to not having your coffee taste like paper towel," Sasha told me, "is to not wet the paper towel beforehand when you use it as a filter."
We made matcha milkshakes using tea powder, vanilla ice cream, and milk:
On Thursday at 11:30 p.m. was Midnight Madness, "Chandler Interhouse," breakfast in Chandler cafe at midnight with fantastic spread and a live band and very rave-like decorations.
Finally, after exams and deadlines were over on Friday afternoon, some friends and I went to Griffith Observatory near Hollywood to look at the stars:
And the LA pollution--I mean, cityscape:
And see a live-narrated show at the observatory's planetarium:
And that night, procrastinating on packing to go home the next day, my best friends Anjali and Jagriti and I had a midnight meal at IHOP and caught up on life for the past term:
That's not to say finals week was all smooth sailing. The other 99 percent of the time I was frantically doing research for my papers or actually writing them. For Gothic fiction, an essay on how Alfred Hitchock's "Vertigo" pursues the singular Gothic moral function of provoking unease in the viewer. For my budgetary politics class, PS141a, one essay on American budgetary politics in the early 1900s on the transition of federal revenue source from tariff to income tax, and another essay comparing expenditures and political, economic, and social assumptions of the Union and Confederacy during the American Civil War. I enjoyed not having any exams this finals period, but I think time is definitely more manageable with exams rather than reports or papers because you could spend infinite time on the latter, whereas the former is usually timed and you're done after you finish. Also, much as I love writing, my creative juices do dry up a little after doing so much of it in such a short amount of time.
And we are off to spring break!
Till next time,