Advice for Incoming Grad Students

Places to find cheap/free books

  • Jstor : Your institution may have access to full online pdfs of textbooks 😉
  • : If you’re taking a lit class, this is the place to go for cheap novels and often textbooks as well + FREE SHIPPING over $10 + you can earn points toward a free book



Reflections of a someone who dreams in color: Do you dream in color or black and white?

DREAMS I thought everyone dreamed in color, too, until my friend, Rachel, stated, “I only dream in black and white.” My dreams possess a color scheme synced with reality, if not brighter.  A cherry-colored balloon floating across the sky was the boldest hue I have ever seen, and I saw in the dreammind of a middle-school aged me. But every dream is not as vivid as the others. Some are tinted with literal and figurative darkness. In middle and high school, learning about the Holocaust entailed viewing Schindler’s List, Anne Frank documentaries, and yellowed and faded photographs of survivors, culprits, and innocents. Throughout this experience, I realized I had a predisposition to undergo a strong form of vicarious traumatization. The tint of aged photographs filtered the coloration of my dreams. In these dreams, I was still Catholic, but somehow a target of Nazi soldiers who burned down my dimly-lit church and murdered my family in a sea of shadows. Sometimes, the nightmares are filtered in a sepia-like haze. Other times, my eyes linger in that state of adjustment from being out in bright light to going into a room. These dreams do not do colors justice, complying to the notion, as noted by Tacita Dean in Magic Hour, “that nothing can keep its color under the cover of darkness.” They are colors with diminished saturation, but retain distinct hues. This is the closest I have come to dreaming in black and white.

Depression is a Bacteria

We were at a pizza place. She told me that a wise friend had told her that for different people, our ability to be happy ranges on a spectrum. “Some people need to work harder to be happy,” she told me.

“Isn’t that obvious?” I responded. It was not the reaction she probably hoped for, and I felt that she was surprised by my lack of surprise.

“Not to me,” she answered.

“You could exercise. Exercise releases endorphins. Oh, and you could listen to music. Do what makes you happy.”

In my head, I thought “I know. I know. I’ve heard it all before. From parents. From counselors. From myself. From lovers. From teachers. From friends.” In my words, I said, “You don’t understand. But thank you for trying… I really appreciate it.” I really did.

“Thank you?…” A pause. She did not let the conversation fade. “How would you describe how you feel (depression)?”

I could not say anything so coherent in that moment, which is why I am cringing at myself, why I am taking this moment to try to describe what it is I feel. How do you describe your depression to someone who, presumably, has never been depressed? Well, it helps that we are both Biology nerds.

Depression is like a bacteria

It is not an innate part of my being, but feels like something from the outside trying to infect me, trying to become a part of me, live inside me.

Depression is like a phagocyte

And I am the cell it engulfs. I become part of it, which contradicts the bacteria metaphor, but bear with me, because depression is complicated. It can feel like bacteria. It can feel like a phagocyte. It can feel like both at once.

Depression is like a virus

And I am its host. It injects its genes which code for dissatisfaction, discontent, self-loathing, irrationality, and comparison. They replicate. They spread with the goal that the host cell dies

I have tried to cure it.

First, I tried using antibiotics.

They stopped depression from growing for a while.

Antibiotics were movies, music, friends, and art.

But then depression grew resistant to music by altering its shape in such a way that it still functioned but the drug could not bind to it anymore. The depression grew and grew.

It became resistant to movies, deciding that it could feed on feelings of failure and harness the energy to pump the drugs out of its cells as to become untouchable.

Depression became resistant to friendship. It closed its membrane off to love.

Finally, it tried becoming resistant to art. It did whatever it could. It mutated. It got stronger. It continued to grow. But so did I.

The antibiotics are within me. They are not external. I am, at present, not on antidepressants. I am not clinically diagnosed as depressed. I cannot validate these experiences with anything other than my words. But this is what it feels like.


Winter Haul 2016

With the holiday season comes a bounty of holiday sales. Here are some of the pieces I recently picked up from Anthropologie, Madewell, and Crossroads (a second-hand boutique). All of these pieces were the last in the store and happened to be in my size! I always take that as a sign that I have to buy it 🙂

Mockneck Knit Tank

Anthropologie “Mockneck Knit Tank”

Orig: $68. Sale:$39.99 + 40% off = $23.97

Ella Turtleneck Tank

Ella Turtleneck Tank

Anthropologie “Ella Turtleneck Tank”

Orig. $98. Sale $69.95 + 40% off = $41

Madewell “Anthem Boatneck”

Orig. $35, Sale $24.99 + 30% off = $19.99

Image result for madewell etched shield ring

Madewell “Etched Shield ring in silver”

Orig. $28, Sale $19.99 + 50% off = $10





Image result for j crew quilted puffer jacket

J.Crew “Qulited Puffer Jacket”

Orig. $168 Sale $38 (at Crossroads)

Main Image - Free People 'City Lights' Open Back Cowl Top

Main Image - Free People 'City Lights' Open Back Cowl Top

Free People “City Lights” Open Back Cowl Top

Orig. $68. Sale $18.50 (Crossroads)

Burn Out

Burn out is real. As real as a quarter-life crisis.

I didn’t know how much I needed to get away from Colgate and be back home until I landed in San Jose, joking with two Indian guys who I met from my stopover in Chicago about being first generation Americans. We were calling horrible things “cancerous.” I realized that for me, Colgate was cancerous. I was never relaxed, never fully myself, and always had a stark, stress-induced strain on the back of my neck. On that plane, the ache disappeared.

A week after that plane ride, I’m on my bed eating Pumpkin Spice Caramel Popcorn from that Lolli and Pop shop in Oakridge Mall and binging on Quantico before revisiting my GRE study plan. I feel comfortable in a way I hadn’t in six months. I feel like myself again. Isn’t it strange not to realize you have lost yourself until you’ve found yourself again.