Saturday, December 10, 2005

Winter Break

So today's the last day of the Fall 2005 term. I took my last final, Earlier Romantic Lit. Since it's Saturday, there was no one to watch my sis, so she came with me to the final. She was disappointed cuz I told her how my prof always wears a bow tie, but he didn't today. And he wore a sweater vest instead of a jacket! Wow, he really does get casual on Saturdays. It was nice having her sit next to me reading The Bell-Jar while I took my final. The final was like all Wordsworth, and he didn't have a single Jane Austen question on it! Then my sis and I had fun at Northpark (they had ballroom dancers!) and at Mockingbird Station.

So far I know I got a B in Biochem (although I did make an A on final), an A in Dante's Poetic Vision, and an A in Health Psychology. Access is down for maintenance until 8 pm tomorrow, so I won't know until then what I got in Seminar: Literary Theory or Earlier Romantic Lit. Now that I don't have classes, I don't know what to do to occupy my time. We'll just have to see.

Queer Theory

Last email:

Dollimore’s essay chronicles the perception and definitions of perversion throughout history. He begins with Freud and Foucault’s definitions of perversions, which are both in regards to sexual perversion, commonly known as homosexuality. Here, the idea is that perversion is the natural state, while normality is the result of repressing our perverse selves. To better understand the controversial nature of Freud’s statements, Dollimore turns to the first appearance and use of the term in literature. St. Augustine defines perversion as “turning away from God’s path.” Incidentally, in the 1300s, Dante would use this word again to signify the “turning away from God’s love.” For Dante and St. Augustine, perversion equals sin; it is not the resulting action that is the sin, but the act of turning away from the straight path. Dante considered sodomy to be a sin because it was a violation of God’s nature. In the sodomy circle of Hell, Dante places his professor Brunetto Latini, whose sin of sodomy is magnified by the fact that he persuaded his students to partake in sodomy with him. Dante’s condemnation mirrors St. Augustine’s remarks that the magnitude of perversion is based on “the innocence of those being perverted.” Thus, Latini taking advantage of his students merits his placement in Hell.

On page 17, Dollimore says, “in its splitting the natural produces the perverse as a disavowal of itself and as a displacement of an opposite (the unnatural) which, because of the binary interdependence of the two (the natural and the unnatural), is also an inextricable part of itself.” Interestingly, this is the same language that Silverman uses to describe women in films. Like Silverman, Dollimore places women in the position of the perverse, a tradition he claims began with Eve. Dollimore seems to be using the same tactic as the ethnic studies literary critics by appealing to the Feminist literary critics and white women in the case of Desdemona. He aligns the plight of homosexuals with those of women thereby connecting the two groups as victims of the label of “pervert.” He presents the struggles of the two groups as trials that all “perverts” endure, which in turn takes away the stigma attached to pervert by making it an arbitrary term oppressively attached to women and homosexuals by patriarchy and ideology, respectively.



On page 8, Silverman says that a man in a film's audience "traces his suffering ... to his being out of touch with the breathing world about him, that stream of things and events which, were it flowing through him, would render his existence more exciting and significant. He misses 'life.' And he is attracted to cinema because it gives him the illusion of vicariously partaking of life in its fullness." In Silverman's films, the women are subordinate and dependent on men. They need rescuing and, lo and behold, the only brave soul that can do it is a man. But living vicariously through film implies that you are living a life that you do not have. So does this mean that in real life men are dependent on women and rescued by them? Maybe they are: Behind every good man is a great woman who provides stability and nourishment for her husband. And many women are attracted to "bad boys" with the hopes that they can change them and turn them into their own Pygmalion (another film that men live "vicariously" through). Maybe these films reinforce the patriarchy because men know that it's crumbling, that they're really not in charge, that they would be nowhere without the women in their lives. The head of my medical practice says, "Every doctor needs a wife. I would be nowhere without mine. I'm sorry that you as a women can't have a wife. You'll have to find a suitable substitute...maybe your mother."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Iranian-American Literary Studies

Email 7:

Ahh! I had just written a whole bunch of stuff and somehow it got deleted. I guess I'll start with my second paragraph.

The way that African-American women writers used Feminism to get their work noticed is being paralled today in Iranian-Americans studies, which has only existed since 2003. In that year, Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran" was published to wide acclaim. It made Laura Bush's must-read list and was a New York Times Reading Group Pick. Nafisi marketed the book as a women's rights book exposing the injustice of women in Iran, a hot topic in the post-Taliban world. Instead the book is more of a history of revolutionary Iran (honestly, the only one of its kind in its very honest portrayal of what went down) and the role of English literature in shaping the lives of non-English native speakers...with the obligatory discussion of women's rights. Americans loved it and a year later our own Dr. Hopkins, Chair of the SMU History Dept, was proud to tell me that he had added it to the history reading syllabus.

The book cracked open a previously unexplored topic, and suddenly books about Iranian women flooded the shelves. Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis (a graphic novel that is being taught in ENGL 2327 next term) and its 2 sequels, Roya Hakakian's Journey from the Land of No (which describes the Iranian-Jewish experience), and Afschineh Latifi's Even After All this Time all described Iranian women who had lived in Iran during the revolution and had to leave to come to America and were all published within a year after Nafisi's book. The group that was still silent was Iranian-Americans, the children of the aforementioned generation, people like me. We got our turn with 2004's "Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America" by Firoozeh Dumas, which I first heard about on NPR the day it came out. It was the first good news I had heard about Iran on NPR. 2005's Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni was much more serious and is the most accurate reflection of the Iranian-American experience I've ever read, especially since I was in Iran the same year she went: 1997. I think in the coming years we will hear much more from this generation as they gain the courage these women have. And maybe the guys will learn from the girls and speak up. This will only happen once Iranian-American studies jumps out from under the umbrella of Feminism and stands on its own just like African-American studies did.


Email 6:

One thing that bothers me about Marxism is the idea that consciousness comes from modes of production and that production is what distinguishes man from beast. I don't believe this to be true. There are plenty of animals that also build and produce things. Par example, bees make honey in a very systematic division of labor. There are the bees that hunt down the flowers, the ones that grab the nectar, the ones that collect it, etc. The actual honey-making process is still a bit of a mystery, but that just shows how complex their production is. Beavers build dams, sometimes highly convoluted dams. Some primates can make tools and silk worms and spiders spin fibers into fabric. So we're not that unique in our ability to make things.

We are unique in our ability to reflect on the world around us and categorize it. I completely agree with the idea of a false consciousness and seeing life solely through the lens of ideology. I don't believe that all people think this way, but there are plenty who do. The key to overcoming the effects of ideology, however, is through education, not a classless society. I cannot tell you how many misconceptions there are about Islam and the Middle East. When people find out where I'm from, they ask all sorts of questions like, "Is your dad oppressive? Why don't you wear a scarf on your head? Do you believe in the Bible? Do you support terrorism?" These are questions out of ignorance that come from an ideology that doesn't include people like me. It isn't that these people are bad or that they think they're better than me. If we lived in a society where we were the same class (whatever that means), I don't think that these questions would necessarily go away. I think through education and teaching each other in order to understand one another, we can see how great it is that we are all so unique. As a child, I escaped a country that tried to make all women the same in order to come to a country where I was free to be myself. Marxism, paradoxically, has an ideology of its own which excludes individuality. As Americans, we know that this is a very high price to pay in the name of classlessness. If our own immune system knows to recognize non-self antigens, our minds should be free for us to know and express ourselves.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Friday, November 11, 2005

Rash --> Mono?

I broke out in a terrible rash yesterday! From 7 am to 2pm my entire body was covered with itchy red pox-like dots. It was awful. I figured that it was an allergic reaction to the Amoxicillin. So I called my cousin and she told me to come over and check it out. When I did, she looked at my arms and was like, yup that's a drug rash. She called some other doctors to check if she should send me to the emergency room in case of anaphylaxis. Thankfully, they said it wasn't necessary since I've been taking the Amoxicillin for 8 days and the rash only started that day. So she gave me a cortisone shot and a script for Prednisone and told me to take Benadryl and Zantac 75. So I have been medicating and itching.

Today I came to work and told one of the doctors about this. He said that this was a classic sign that I had mono. He pulled mono up on the computer and, sure enough, a symptom of mono is that when the patient takes antibiotics, she breaks out in a rash. This is not an allergic response because later in life the patient is not allergic to the same antibiotic. The mono would explain why I've been so tired, but I thought that I was tired from the drugs I've been taking.

This is so crazy. I have no idea what's wrong with me. Everyday there's a new problem and I'm just so frustrated with all of this. I can barely study with all the pain and discomfort these diseases have been giving me. The doctor today told me to rest and relax, but how can I? I have to work 3 times a week and go to school everyday. There's no way around it. So tired now...must sleep...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Which Degrassi Guy Should You Date?

Yay, I got Craig! He's dreamy...

You Should Date: Craig

Craig is troubled. And high maintenance. And tends to be clueless about other people's feelings. Oh, and he has a little problem with monogamy. But hey: he plays the guitar and looks good in a leather jacket. These are the trade-offs we make in life. Have fun!

Click here to check out Craig's video timeline

20% of the people who tooks this quiz got the same evaluation.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


So from last Wednesday (like in October) I had this sore throat. Two days later I asked one of docs at work to take a look at it cuz I noticed that my throat was white. He said it was mucus and no big deal. So I toughed it out through the weekend. By Monday, it had gotten really bad and I felt like I couldn't eat anything from the pain and my voice was starting to go. I told that same doc that I hadn't gotten better, and he said that I should take a decongestant cuz it sounded like I had a cold. By Wednesday I had dealt with too many sleepless nights and too much pain, so I asked a different doc at work to look at it. She said I had a huge infection with a risk of abscess and that she would talk to our head doc about getting me a sample of antibiotic. When he looked at it, he said that I did need the antibiotic, but that it was his policy to not treat his employees. So I had to go to someone else. Then I remembered that my cousin's office (she's an MD) was in the same hospital, so I called the hospital directory and got her number. She said I could come right over and when I did she said that my infection was pretty nasty and wrote me a script for Amoxicillin. She said that if I didn't feel better w/i 48 hours I should call her. Well, I'm happy to report that it has been over 48 hrs, and I feel a lot better. I have some fatigue from the antibiotic, but other than that I am healing.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Jane Eyre

Email 5:

I've always preferred Jane Austen's realism to the supernatural darkness of Bronte novels (both sisters). I just don't get why the ending could be considered a happy one. Jane, who has reached the sole possibility of female empowerment through her inheritance, throws away all of the possibilities that that inheritance presents to marry herself to a freak with a castrated arm. I mean seriously! This sooo would not happen. Part of why Jane is happy to be with Rochester is because she's so plain and has nothing to offer and is totally flattered that this rich, charming guy is noticing her. She hasn't been involved with any man before, so this is quite thrilling for her. The second guy she's with seems okay to marry, except he's weird, and she would have married him if she didn't know that she could have done better (cuz she was able to catch Rochester).

But a woman with money is in a unique position to actually have a choice as to who to marry, and Jane has the opportunity to see the world and find the right man for her. This man cannot be the maimed Rochester. There's just no way. Not the guy to made his first wife crazy and then stuck her in an attic. Not the guy who dresses up like a gypsy. Not the guy who has no problem being a bigamist. There has got to be a better man in England! And now she has a chance to find that man because she has that money. It's just like Jude the Obscure and how he can't find the right woman, he just meets the two and thinks he has to choose. At least in Jane Austen the right guy is there somewhere, you just have to figure out which one he is. I'd take a Darcy over a Rochester any old day.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Lacan's "The Mirror Stage"

Email 6:

Lacon begins his essay with a definition of the “mirror stage”. This is the stage of childhood development when the child is first able to recognize his own image in the mirror, even though the child’s brain is no more developed than a chimp’s brain. The chimp, however, quickly tires of his reflection, while the human child sees the mirror as a continuous interacting stimulus. It is through this special stimulus that the child begins identification and the development of the self. The reflection of the child in the mirror serves as an example of Gestalt, the concept that objects embody certain qualities of the viewer.

Lacon claims that the function of the mirror-stage is to establish a relation between the organism and its reality – the same function that all images serve. The mirror is the reflection of the self just as much as art is a reflection of the artist and his world. During the mirror stage, the child begins to see himself as a subject and object simultaneously, a concept similar to the “reflexive” part of speech. Thus the child sees not only himself in the mirror, but also the way that others see him. The mirror begins his initiation into the social world, with all of the self-consciousness and insecurities that come with it. His word, méconnaissance, cleverly expresses self-knowledge as it literally translates as “knowing me.” While the mirror stage may seem idealistically revelatory in this regard, it may also be the beginning of psychopathology. No matter how much this child will want to know himself, he cannot completely do that. And suppose, years later, the child sees something about himself that he does not like. This leads to self-loathing and a desire to change himself into something he can never be in order to satisfy others or himself.

Lacon’s final statement is a quite poignant comment on the limits of psychoanalysis, as well as all other clinical practices. As clinicians, we can help our patient know himself and his disease, but we cannot go back in time to correct it. We can only perform an intervention at the primary, secondary, or tertiary levels. Just as scar tissue remains in the body after medical procedures, the mind also remains scarred after intervention. The best that we can hope to do as clinical psychologists/psychiatrists is to expose the disorder to the patient so that he may come to understand it and cope with it. The disorder will not go away; it is naïve to think that it will. Psych disorders are preventable precisely because their origins can be traced. But this can only be done through the benefit of hindsight, and there is no guarantee that if a different path had been taken the disorder would not have occurred anyway or that a different psychopathology would have emerged altogether.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Email 4:

To me, deconstruction really drives to the meat of literary criticism: the identification of critical problems and the resolution of them. Without binaries, we would not see the aspects of a literary work that do not fit into them. And aren't those anomalies what we as literary critics are most interested in? It's so interesting how the structuralist notion of binaries is portrayed as an inherent part of Western culture, while the deconstructionist idea of anomalies is painted as something often only an intellectual can see. Deconstructionism encourages the mind to push the envelope and keep looking at the text. When the lay-reader reads a text, he is only understanding it at plot level. But when we as trained literary critics read it, we find that certain aspects of the text nag at us, and that is the time when deconstruction can provide us with guidance as to how to treat textual anomalies.

Who Are You From Instant Star?


Lord knows you'll pay if you call him Little Tommy Q to his face, because with his boy band past firmly behind him, Tommy demands respect from everyone around him -- without throwing tantrums about it. While he's a little more jaded than Jude (as in realistic about just how much crap one has to put up with to keep moving forward in the music industry), he's still confident (uh, VERY confident) in his own decisions, directions, and tastes.

29% of the people who tooks this quiz got the same evaluation.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

How I Used Biochemistry to Interpret Coleridge's "Kubla Khan"

This is an email I privately sent another English prof, that he promptly forwarded to the rest of the class.

I had an epiphany of what rhymes with dulcimer...multimer! OK, so the rhyming dictionary says that there are no perfect rhymes for the word, but multimer sounds close, as do its derivatives: homomultimer and heteromultimer. So what is a multimer, you ask? It is a protein with more than one peptide chain. A homomultimer has multiples of the same kind of chain, while a heteromultimer has different kind of chains - Hemoglobin is made of 2 alpha helices and 2 beta sheets, thus it is a heteromultimer. My fall break Tuesday was spent making up a biochemistry exam over this material because I missed it due to my interview, which went extremely well, and I thank you for your constant support in my medical school journey.

Could Coleridge have used the word multimer to rhyme with dulcimer? The answer is a resounding no. Alpha helices and beta sheets were not discovered until the 1950s by the great Linus Pauling, therefore combinations of them to create secondary protein structures would not have been known nor named in 1798. But the description of the intricacies of Kubla Khan's infrastructure does sound awfully close to the intricacies of protein structure, however unintentional that may be. The Alph river sounds like an alpha helix to me, and alpha helices often shoot up in the middle of a large protein for the purpose of protein signalling. Maybe C.P. Snow would appreciate my analysis, but perhaps I should not mix disciplines so. Just thought I would share my thoughts.

I Even Worked a Med School Rant in Literary Theory!

Email Five

I'm with William on this one. In class we talked about how Heidegger's stages of human being parallel the struggle of students. I can totally relate. In high school, I worked really hard to make perfect scores on my AP exams. Then in college I worked really hard to make A's and do well on the MCAT so that I could go to medical school. This summer I worked really hard on my med school applications, and all the money I made working really hard at the hospital went to my applications (around $3000). Now I have my first med school interview this Friday at UT Houston, and I have tons of pressure to perform well there as well. Then once I get into med school there will be boards (a series of three licensing examinations) and the science classes of the first two years, and then after med school there's residency with 48 hour shifts and call nights. It seems like it will be forever until I'm an actual doctor who can just chill.

The reason I am going through all of these obstacles is so that I can find something like what Heidegger calls "forfeiture," what we Persians call "aramesh." I want that moment when I can rest on my laurels and bask in the glory of success and achievement instead of this constant state of anxiety about my future and if I'm really ever going to make it. Yes, Herr Heidegger, I do agree that creating meaning out of my life before I am dead is a fantastic motivating factor, but so is the chance to relax and not have to work so hard. I don't want to work myself into the grave! But that seems to be exactly what Heidegger says I am doing. Maybe he's right, but that's certainly not my intention.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

UT Houston Interview

My interview was great yesterday! I got to see the whole campus, and meet med students and professors. The professors and administration really seem to care about their students, and the environment is not competitive, which is such a relief. It's nice to be around people who aren't trying to stab you in the back. My interviewers were both women and very nice. They never mentioned my taking courses at other schools or anything. My second interviewer never mentioned grades at all. It was a very exciting day in a fun city. I like this school a lot, and I hope that I'll hear some good news February 1, just in time for my birthday.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Hafez Poem

Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly
Let it cut more deep. Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,
My need of God

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Henry James's "The Figure in the Carpet"

Email 4:

"The Figure in the Carpet" traces a literary critic’s journey to discover the ultimate truth of author Hugh Vereker’s work. The story portrays the author as the ultimate source of authority, without whom all truth is lost. The protagonist is a fan of Vereker and enjoys his work very much. Notably, that enjoyment ends once the author reveals that all of his works have a hidden unifying message. Regarding reading for the purpose of literary criticism, the protagonist says, "My new intelligence and vain preoccupation damaged my liking...I found myself missing the subordinate intentions I had formerly enjoyed...Instead of being a pleasure the more they became a resource the less...I had no knowledge - nobody had any." Sadly, the protagonist’s plight reveals reading for literary criticism can take the fun out of reading.

If this is so, then why do George Corvick and Gwendolen Erme find so much enjoyment in Vereker’s works once they start reading them critically? The key is in the different ways Corvick and the protagonist pursue Vereker’s truth. The protagonist is not willing to work for the truth; instead he leeches off of the ideas of others. Like the student who solely reads Cliffs Notes, he just wants someone to tell him what it all means. Corvick, however, works diligently with Gwendolen to find the truth behind the texts. While his initial pursuit of the truth is communal, it is not until he is alone in India that he undergoes the Wordsworthian enlightenment and sees the truth before him. Much like the author’s inspiration, truth strikes the critic when he least suspects it.

"The Figure in the Carpet" presents an interesting contrast to Barthes’s "Death of the Author." While Vereker is alive, the protagonist has some hope of finding the truth. But with the death of this author and all those who verified their critiques with him, all hope for finding the truth is lost. It appears that Miss Poyle spoke the truest words of all: "Nobody sees anything!" Nobody, that is, except for the author. The now-deceased author "was still there to be honoured by what might be done - he was no longer there to give it his sanction. Who alas but he had the authority?" The story does not allow for the possibility that literary truth can be found without the author’s verification. If this is true, then the practice of modern literary criticism is invalid. The story instead seems to point toward the futility of relying on authorial intent to reveal the truth. The text and its truth will remain long after the author is gone. Why should they die with him?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Remains of Dante's last inferno

Ashes from the corpse of Italy's greatest poet, Dante Alighieri, were found lying in a bag on a Florence library shelf yesterday

By Reuters, Florence
Tuesday July 20, 1999
The Guardian

Ashes from the corpse of Italy's greatest poet, Dante Alighieri, were found lying in a bag on a Florence library shelf yesterday.

Two employees at the national central library in Florence stumbled across the remains by chance while searching in the rare manuscripts department.

'They came across an envelope on one of the shelves on the second floor,' the library's director, Antonia Ida Fontana, said. 'They opened it and found a bag of ashes along with documents which identify them as those of Dante.'

Dante, whose Paradise, Purgatory and Hell were among the most influential texts of medieval Europe, was born in Florence in 1265 and banished for his political views in 1302. He died in bitter exile in Ravenna in 1321.

On the 600th anniversary of his birth in 1865 scientists opened his tomb and donated a few of his ashes to the Florence library, then based in the Uffizi gallery.

The relics were displayed in Florence in 1929 but went missing, possibly when the library moved in 1935.

'We have been without these ashes for 70 years,' Ms Fontana said. 'It's a very emotional find for us. It's the only relic of Dante we have in Florence, which was always such a bitter-sweet city for him.'

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Email Three

I find it ironic that in order for us to understand Barthes's "The Death of the Author," Dr. Schwartz had to "resurrect" the author and talk about 1968 and the Paris protests. She did this so that we could get a feel for the environment that produced such rebellious language. Obviously, 35 years after Barthes's publication, we still have not had the heart to murder our authors. We have to know the circumstances of works in order to analyze them. It can be something as simple as a general time (Shakespeare wrote in Elizabethan England) or as specific as motivations (The Communist Manifesto was a pamphlet specifically written for and given to workers). There needs to be some kind of context. I agree that often we look at authors as a categorization. Dr. Schwartz described Barthes as one of many 1968 Parisian writers who wrote with similar inflammatory language. If she hadn't said that, Barthes would have looked like someone making a mountain out of a molehill, but in the context of intellectual uprising, his language makes sense. She didn't need to tell us his biography or what he had for breakfast the day that he wrote "The Death of the Author." We only need a general context, and that's fine by me.

Regarding Rotman, I found the book to be very interesting, although I questioned some of his statements. He calls the new number system "Hindu" numerals. This is an inaccurate label because Hindu is the adjective form of Hinduism. There is nothing religious about these numbers, as the name implies. If he meant that they were Indian, he could have said "Hindi," although even that label is a little off. Zero was not invented in India; it was invented in Sumer. But if we want to play the "Columbus discovered America" game, then, all right, it was invented in India. Mathematicians and scientists (and almost anyone else I can think of) calls these numbers "Arabic numerals" because the Europeans learned about them from Arab traders. There is a running joke among Arabs that goes, "Everyone uses Arabic numerals...except Arabs." This is true: Arabs, Persians, and Indians all use different numerals albeit the same method of notation. Visit this website to see how I learned to write numbers: I think we could do a whole class on the semiotics of numbers, but then again, I hate math. Here's another flaw I find with Rotman: the origin of the word "cypher." OK, so the Rot man says that "zero" came from "cypher" without explaining how such a big leap took place; fine, I'll live with that. But then he says, "the etymology of the word zero, via 'cypher' from the Hindu sunya (= void)." OK, Mr. Rotman, I have to stop you there. Again, you used "Hindu," a word that refers to religion. Are you trying to make "void" sound mystical? Sunya comes from Sanskrit, the origin of all Indo-European languages, including Persian and English (not Arabic or Hebrew, which are both Semitic languages). The word "cypher" actually comes from the Persian word "sefr," which means zero and cypher (sound it out, gang, and you'll see how it makes perfect sense). How does this connect to Indians? Persian was the court language of India, the unifying language like Hindi is today. Persian was the trade language that was used with the Arabs (remember your geography, the Arab traders had to cross Persia via the Silk Road to get to India). The word "sefr" is today used by both Persians and Arabs to refer to zero, in fact it's the only name for a number that we have in common. It's okay with me that the Webster dictionary calls it an Arabic word; that's who the Europeans learned it from. I have this feeling that Rotman is British...I won't get into why, but it would help if this author hadn't killed himself by not supplying an "About the Author" page. He must have read Barthes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Email 2:

While I believe that Angela articulated her argument well, I have to disagree with her on Structuralism's validity. I think that Structuralism gives voice to a phenomenon that I have encountered many times when reading a text: I read something, and it reminds me of something else you've read. This becomes Structuralism when the text is meant to point to that "something else."

For example, last semester I took Later Victorian Lit and studied the poems of Dante Rossetti. Rossetti's poems often have a common theme of the continuum of time and refers forwards and backwards to different poems in the time frame of a particular poetic situation. While my professor taught this theme, he drew a diagram on the board of an X with two lines pointing horizontally out of either side. At the time, I was also taking Early Italian Humanism taught in the Italian department and had just studied how Italians view Rome as the Eternal City because the Empire to them has never fallen; it has just been moved. Empires, that is, are always the same just moving from different locations: Persian to Egyptian to Greek to Roman to Byzantine to Holy Roman, ie Christendom. Therefore, Italians view history as being on a continuum where the past points to the future and the future points to the past per the theological study of typology.

Obviously, this view of history is very much engrained in Italians and Italian Humanist scholarship. Rossetti's father was a Dante Alighieri scholar (he loved Dante so much that he named his son after him) who moved from Italy to England. Rossetti's father was an Italian and a scholar and would have raised his son in a similar fashion with a similar literary background. In fact, the diagram of the X with two arrows that my English prof drew was the exact same diagram that my Italian prof had drawn! Thus, Rossetti's poem and it's theme were playing on an Italian literary and historical tradition of viewing time/history as a continuum where previous events are prefigurations of future events. I found further evidence of Rossetti's Italian Humanist scholarship by reading his sonnet sequence, which takes almost verbatim elements of Petrarch's Canzoniere, as does his sister Christina Rossetti's sonnet sequence. Hers is more interesting because it is a sequence told from the perspective of Laura and Beatrice, the object of Petrarch and Dante's sonnets, respectively.

OK, so what does this have to do with Structuralism? My professor had little to no awareness of the Italian literary tradition. When I explained the tradition to him, he was very happy to learn about it because it provided a label for the unity and common themes of Rossetti's poetry that he had not been quite able to put his finger on. Without this knowledge of other works, he lacked a basic understanding of Rossetti's purpose in writing the poems and the deliciousness of his application of Italian ideals to English poetry. Rossetti was Italian-English, and he was able to express his own duality by combining the two sides of himself intellectually and aesthetically in his painting and poetry. If we are not aware of the tradition behind his works, we cannot fully appreciate Rossetti's poetry. We are missing a vital piece of information that Structuralism encourages us to pursue. Instead of staying closed-minded and focusing solely on the one poem, we can look at it as a part of an entire literary tradition that goes back centuries. This is crucial to fully appreciating a work from every angle. This form of literary criticism is not a "dissection" that kills the work. It is instead a vivisection that allows us to see the poem's beating heart and read it's genetic code to see where it came from and where it is going. We do not "murder to dissect" the poem; we instead use Structuralism to "see into the life of things."

Literary Canon

I'm required to send weekly emails to my literary theory class, so I thought that I would post them here as well so that y'all could get a feel for what I do as an English major.

Email 1:

I remember the first time I asked the question, "What is Literature?" I was sitting in Dr. Bozorth's British Authors I class after we had just read Addison and Steele's essays and before we could even begin the class discussion, I said, "Dr. Bozorth, these essays do not seem like literature to me. These are just magazine articles. Shouldn't we be spending more of our time reading great poetry instead of the equivalent of our Vanity Fair magazine?" He then said, "Class, this is a great opportunity to discuss 'What is Literature?' The answer is that if it is in the Norton Anthology it is Literature, otherwise it is not. Maryam, the essays are in the Norton Anthology, so they are Literature." He was (sort of) joking of course, but I think what he said had great merit. A literary work is only called Literature if it has been labeled as such. Holy Semiotics, Batman!

This brings us to the subject of the "Literary Canon" and the exclusion of works deemed not worthy. For example, the obsession with "Orientalism," a term which actually referred to Persian, not East Asian, poetry, was prevalent in Victorian-Era Europe, particularly in England and Germany. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as translated by Edward Fitzgerald was the reason that T.S. Eliot became a poet (it's true; Google it!) and outsold many the works in the traditional canon. Lord Tennyson began his literary career translating Persian poetry at Oxford and produced great poems inspired by Persian poetry, such as "Recollections of the Arabian Nights," and his "In Memoriam" owes much to Rumi's poetry about Shams. Matthew Arnold’s "Sohrab and Rustum" published in 1853 further demonstrates the influence of Persian poetry. The list goes on and on. However, "Orientalist" poetry and traditional Persian poetry are not considered part of the literary canon. There is no mention of them in the Norton Anthology even though this was a major phase of British and World literature and is studied very deeply in England (my mother earned her A levels in Persian literature after studying with an Oxford professor). It seems that politics, or as Eagleton says, "ideology" has pushed crucial and valid influences like Persian poetry by the wayside in order to make room for whatever "Literature" fits the mold of the Powers That Be. In fact, Cecil Lang's second edition of his anthology The Pre-Raphaelites and their Circle replaces Fitzgerald's The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with Swinburne's "The Leper" and "Anactoria" to "show a new aspect of Swinburne not discussed previously." Mr. Lang has little regard for showing English students an aspect of British literature not discussed previously.

We have no Persian lit courses at SMU, which is sad considering how large the Persian studies department is at the University of Texas and Ivy League colleges. I encourage you all, as students and scholars of Literature, to indulge yourself with the riches to be found in Persian poetry, even if it's not part of the canon:

from Tennyson's "Recollections of the Arabian Nights"

Then stole I up, and trancedly
Gazed on the Persian girl alone,
Serene with argent-lidded eyes
Amorous, and lashes like to rays
Of darkness, and a brow of pearl
Tressèd with redolent ebony,
In many a dark delicious curl,
Flowing beneath her rose-hued zone.

(lines 133-40)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tennyson's "Recollections of the Arabian Nights"

Then stole I up, and trancedly
Gazed on the Persian girl alone,
Serene with argent-lidded eyes
Amorous, and lashes like to rays
Of darkness, and a brow of pearl
Tressèd with redolent ebony,
In many a dark delicious curl,
Flowing beneath her rose-hued zone.

(lines 133-40)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Livin in the Past

So I'm checking out my old high school crushes on Facebook, and they're all doing such cool stuff now. One is campaigning for his future presidency (of the US!) and prepping to ride a bike marathon from Austin to Anchorage. Another one is kicking ass at Rice, another's in Denver, and the rest are all shacked up at UT. It's so crazy how everyone's got their own life going on after high school. When you're in HS, all those people seem so important. But once it's all done, they're just blips on the radar of life. All you have left is the memory of the few things you said to them and how they made you feel. If I knew then that someday I would be so far removed from them, maybe I wouldn't have been so shy in high school, and I would have actually talked to them more. Whatever, I'm the same way now, and I'm gonna be even farther removed from the guys I know in college. Maybe it's just my personality.

Whenever I start wishing that I could go back to high school and redo a whole bunch of stuff over, I suddenly get Don Henley/the Ataris' "Boys of Summer" stuck in my head: "The little voice inside my head saying, 'Don't look back; you can never look back.' I thought I knew what love was; what did I know? Those days are gone forever. I should just let them go." I guess I'm just getting nostalgic now that I'm in my last year of college and my best friend from HS is starting pharmacy school. It just seems like my youth is ending. I know that sounds totally ominous and possibly even lame, but I just feel like I should be having fun while everything about my situation is telling me to get serious. Basically, I'm exactly where I was four years ago when I was applying to colleges: I didn't know what I was doing then but I thought I knew everything, now I know what I'm doing but I think don't know jack.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


400 of the Tulane undergrad students are being hosted at my school, SMU, in Dallas! They got here this morning, and our school is giving them a free meal plan and dorms. They're even offering to enroll them for the fall semester, even though we started classes on 8/18. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for them. I think the day before the hurricane hit was freshman orientation. Can you just picture kids on their first day of college being faced with one of the biggest natural disasters to hit the US? I'm glad they're here, though, and hopefully I'll get to meet some of them. I'm organizing a supply drive for the hurricane relief with Metro Mustangs. I think we should all do whatever we can to help them. It's funny, when we heard the hurricane was coming to New Orleans, my mom was like, "What's going to happen to your Tulane application?" I then got this image of the photograph I sent in floating on the water. Of course, there are more important things to worry about than my Tulane app, even though it was one of schools that was higher on my list (around my 3rd or 4th choice). The devastation in New Orleans and Mississippi is unbelievable, though. I can't imagine what it must be like for your entire life to just disappear like that, as if you were nothing. It's absolutely horrific. My prayers go out to everyone that's been affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I had to take this quiz on Dr. Trouble's blog. Check out my results. Man, certain people in the mother land would go crazy at numbers one and two! Since I got the same score for Sikhism and Islam, why didn't they just put it in alphabetical order so Islam would be #3? I don't must have been God's will. ;) Take the quiz here.

1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Orthodox Judaism (85%)
3. Sikhism (83%)
4. Islam (83%)
5. Liberal Quakers (74%)
6. Baha'i Faith (70%)
7. Unitarian Universalism (63%)
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (60%)
9. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (53%)
10. Orthodox Quaker (52%)
11. Jainism (51%)
12. Neo-Pagan (50%)
13. Jehovah's Witness (43%)
14. Seventh Day Adventist (40%)
15. New Age (38%)
16. Eastern Orthodox (37%)
17. Roman Catholic (37%)
18. Mahayana Buddhism (37%)
19. Hinduism (36%)
20. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (36%)
21. Secular Humanism (36%)
22. New Thought (31%)
23. Scientology (30%)
24. Taoism (25%)
25. Theravada Buddhism (24%)
26. Nontheist (17%)
27. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (16%)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

First Interview Invite

I just got my first invitation to interview and it's from UT Houston!!! I can't believe I got this and it's at a school that I really want to go to. I'm so excited!! Today was my first day of class too and it went really well. My health psyc prof was out of town, so he videotaped the lecture and we watched it during class! I'd rather we just didn't have class so I could meet up with friends. Oh who cares? I got a med school interview!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Senior Year

My senior year of college starts tomorrow. I am so excited. I have Earlier Romantic Lit, Health Psych, and Dante. It's gonna be so cool. Today was the Activities Fair at SMU and I had a lot of fun manning the booth as the President of Metro Mustangs. Sunday was cool too cuz I got to give a speech in front of the dean and all of the commuters and transfer students. I think we're gonna have a great year in the club. I got off work at 10:30 am and then headed to school and worked on the poster for the fair with our treasurer and historian. Can you believe we made this entire board in 2 hours?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I Don't Care

I love Ricky Martin's new song, "I Don't Care." Listen to it here. He's so talented. He collaborated with Amerie and Fat Joe on it. I don't care what anyone says, I still think he rocks. For the love of the Mike, bring back the boy bands. This indie rock crap just depresses me. (Holds up arms in anticipation of the indie rockers throwing tomatoes at me.)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

What's Your Religious Philosophy?

You are a Believer

You believe in God and your chosen religion.
Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu..
Your convictions are strong and unwavering.
You think your religion is the one true way, for everyone.
What's Your Religious Philosophy?

Isn't it weird that she looks like me? Spooky!

World's Shortest Personality Test

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Dog Days Are Upon Us

TMDSAS was processed on Wednesday. Can I get a YEEHAW?

I've heard from all of my schools, and I decided to add two more. I came to the realization that even though I have backup plan to strengthen my app if I don't get in this cycle, I still really want to get in this cycle and I have to do whatever it takes. The easiest thing to do is to add more schools and up my chances.

Why do I feel like I only see the same three people at work? Where is everybody else? And what's up with people telling me they're only working one day a week in the fall? We've fired really good people because of that before! We always had a 10 hrs/week minimum policy. I think things are gonna be really different in the spring when we go back to the old shift arrangement. Speaking of the fall schedule, why don't we have it yet?

I can't believe my summer is coming to a close. In 2 weeks, my sis will be off to start her own college destiny at Baylor, and she moves in on the same day as my first day of class. Doesn't that suck? Baylor is so cool, I wish I went there. I wish I had done a lot of things differently my senior year of high school. I should have treated my college apps the way I'm treating my med school apps and applied to tons of schools and BA/MD programs. Well, I can't go back in time. All I can do is learn from the past and make a better future for myself.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

AMCAS Processed

Can I get a WOO HOO!!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

App Update

So I'm getting in secondaries, which is really cool cuz the schools are actually reaching out to me instead of me pursuing them. At work I got to translate an Iranian postop yesterday and today I got to translate his hospital visit. I'll be doing it again this weekend. It's cool because I'm actually taking on the role of the doctor because I'm taking the H&P and rounds myself - the ultimate in direct patient contact. Plus it's nice to have the doctor depend on me for a change ;) The patient and his wife were so happy to have someone there who could actually communicate with them, and after I talked with them, the wife said that I was a sweet girl and she wanted me to see them everyday. It felt so nice to know that I made things a little easier for them. If I hadn't had been there, the patient and his wife would not have known what to do to treat his atelectasis, because they had not understood when the other health care workers had told them. They also didn't know why the patient wasn't allowed to eat, so they were glad to get an explanation.

After work, I stopped by the premed office and delivered my stamps, address labels, and LOR request sheet. The premed advisor said that she was bogged down cuz everyone was bringing that stuff in this week, so it may be 1-2 weeks before she actually sends it in. That's okay, since I'm still waiting for my primaries to be verified. I sent in my pics, certification page, and check for TMDSAS and my secondary check to OU yesterday. On my way to the post office there was a car in front of me with a TX Tech logo (a TMDSAS school) and then later there was an Oklahoma license plate in front of me (home of OU). Wow, talk about your good omens!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Live 8

So Live 8's going on the TV, and I gotta say that I don't really see the piont of it. The original Live Aid of 1985 held in London was meant to raise money for the African poor. But Live 8 is only meant to raise awareness. I think instead just having a big concert to "raise awareness" (a huge screening of Hotel Rwanda would have done more in that regard), the artists should either donate all the money they raise to Africa or meet with politicians to present their views (lobbying). Hopefully some good will come out of Live 8, and we'll see some legislation passed next week at the G8 summit.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

One Down

I submitted TMDSAS last night and boy did that feel good. I went ahead and started on my UTSW, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech secondaries. I'm working on AMCAS now and I'll probably submit today or tomorrow. I just need to finish up adding my activities. Then I can start my Tulane secondary. Tomorrow Glamour Shots opens at Stonebriar, so I'm gonna go there to take my med school app pictures. I want to get all this primary stuff sent in so that I can have concentrate on my secondaries. Of course, this means I will have to deal with my special friend...yuk! Well, I won't let her get to me. I know everything will be okay.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Line Up

Here's my lineup of schools I'm applying to:

Baylor College
Boston University
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Loma Linda University
New York Medical College
Texas A & M University
Texas Tech University
Tufts University
Tulane University
University of North Texas
University of Oklahoma
University of Southern California
University of Texas, Galveston
University of Texas, Houston
University of Texas, San Antonio
University of Texas, Southwestern

My top choice is UT Southwestern, followed by everywhere else in TX. For the out-of-states, my top choice is USC (I have family alumni), followed by Boston and Tulane. I finished my TMDSAS app today, but I'm afraid to hit the submit key. They have my transcripts and MCAT scores already, they just need my app.

Here are my EC's:

TA General Chemistry Lab, Scribe for Internal Medicine Group, President of Metro Mustangs, Member of Sigma Tau Delta and National Society of Collegiate Scholars, SMU University Honors Program, English Departmental Distinction Candidate, Beecher Senior Scholarship for Excellence recipient from SMU English Department, Bronze medalist at HOSA National Competition, AP Scholar with Distinction, Teach Farsi and Islamic Studies

Let me know if any of you want to read my personal statement and optional essay. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

That Darn MCAT

I love puns. So I got my MCAT score back, and I feel pretty happy about it. I'm really glad about not retaking. I know I could have done better in verbal, but my score is still good and I'm really happy with my bio score. Now I've just got to concentrate on making my application super awesome so that no one can turn me down...based on non-GPA/MCAT factors, tee hee. I'm almost done with TMDSAS except for the "optional" essay. I still have to put my 15 activities into AMCAS. I'm anticipating I'll finish all these by the end of the month. I wish it was Feb 1, and I knew where I stood. The worst part about this is not knowing. But I have faith, and I'm sure I have a chance for at least some interviews.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Summer Nights

Last night I had a great get-together with some of my friends from school. It was Jiroko's birthday so we got together over dinner at the Noodle Bar. I had the chicken lo mein, which rocked, and we hung out there until they closed. Then we headed over to Paciugo and chilled (get it? we ate ice cream, which is cold) and enjoyed our gelato. We walked around the shopping center until we found a cozy spot in front of Whole Foods (ahh, the nightlife of Plano). We hung around for another couple hours before we called it a night and parted ways. It was a great night and it was nice to meet up with my friends and have some fun and get my mind off things. Yay, summer!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

I'm back from Vegas, and I had a great time as usual. We saw a couple celebrities on this trip, which was cool. Within the first two hours at Bellagio we saw Jennifer Tilley at the Petrossian Lounge. The next day we saw Ed McMahon at the VIP lounge and then we saw Mahasti (a Persian singer) twice: once at the Fashion Show Mall and once at Bellagio. We also saw David Spade's standup act at the Mirage, which was fun. For the first time, I got to actually play in Vegas. My favorite slot machine was Super Cherry, where I dropped a dollar and won $75. Later, I won $235 at Black Jack, then spent $35 of it on a slot machine and won $300. Then I spent $150 of that on slots. So I didn't come out too bad, and it was pretty fun. Who knows what will happen if I wind up at Tulane med? Speaking of med school, the best part of my vacation was that I didn't have to think about it at all. I could just relax at the Spa, the pool, the malls (dude, I totally splurged at Burberry's sale!!), and the casino. But all good things must come to an end, and I returned to Dallas with lots of work left for me.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Under the Knife

So I had my surgery yesterday. I had four wisdom teeth extractions: 2 soft tissue and 2 partial bony. It's so ironic how I've spent the past two years providing medical perioperative care and now I finally am a surgical patient. I had it done at Baylor College of Dentistry with a surgical resident. This was the first time I've ever had IV sedation. First thing they did when I came in was slap on all those stickers for the vital signs and put the O2 stat monitor on my finger. Then they stuck the oxygen tube in my nose and covered my hair with a cloth cap. The surgeon came in and explained what was gonna happen and then he started the IV sedation. Everything started getting blurry as I heard my mom say, "You know doctor, she's a premed student. She just took her MCAT." Now you know where I get it from.

Right before I fell asleep they blindfolded me with a long bandage wrapped around my head. I woke up intermittently throughout, usually once the surgeon would start drilling. On my partial bony teeth, he had to break them into pieces and then take them out. I kind of wish it was video taped so I could watch it. Once it was over he took off my blindfold and called my mom and sister in. My legs and arms were shaking, and I wanted to tell the doctor to give me anti-anxiety meds in addition to the Vicodin and Keflex. But of course I couldn't talk. So I motioned for a pen and paper and wrote down my request. He told me that my IV had some anti-anxiety med in it and that my shaking was because my body was cold. He had given me so much fluid in such a small amount of time through the IV that my blood vessels were cold. Isn't that freaky?

When I got home the pain started, and I downed the Vicodin. It became my new best friend (I'm from Plano, what do you expect?). My cheeks swelled like chipmunk cheeks, and according to my sister I look like a cute baby. I don't want to leave the house though, my face is too embarrassing. Hopefully the swelling will go down soon. The doctor said I can't work out until it does, which sux, but then again I also can't eat as much so that may make up for it. So here I am S/P wisdom teeth extract x4, passing in and out of my consciousness thanks to the Vicodin. Ain't life grand?

Friday, May 13, 2005


Now that school's out, I a little bored. Since my mom's at work and my sisters are still in school, I'm pretty much stuck at home all day. I run errands over the phone and try to clean up around the house, but there's only so much. Good thing I'm not trying to be a housewife. I'm fixin to put my school books up for sale on, then maybe my days can be filled with mailing off those puppies. Passions has a storyline in Las Vegas, which just makes me more antsy to go. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

School's Out

Yes! I am totally done with school and I got A's in all of my classes! So 19 hrs this term = 4.0. I put all my scores into AMCAS and TMDSAS. I flinch everytime I put those C's and W's from my sophomore year, but I cheer up when I put in straight A's from junior year. I've decided not to take any classes this summer. Instead, my summer plan is to
  • Have surgery
  • Go to Las Vegas
  • Work on med school applications
  • Work at the hospital
  • Work out
  • Hopefully go on some interviews and enjoy my MCAT score
Notice I did not put study for August MCAT on that list because I really hope I don't have to do that. I may study Spanish on my own, but that doesn't sound too realistic. No, I'm gonna finally enjoy some time to myself and just relax and read all those books I keep saying I'm gonna read and never get around to, like Lipstick Jihad and Eliot Possessed.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

"There are ... things ... that if I’d let be, they’d eat away at me and destroy me in the end...there are things you can’t back down on, things you gotta take a stand on. But it’s up to you to decide what them things are. You have to demand respect in this world, ain’t nobody just gonna hand it to you. How you carry yourself, what you stand for-that’s how you gain respect. But, little one, ain’t nobody’s respect worth more than your own."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My Personal Dating Profile

This is very relevant to a discussion I had on Tuesday. Thanks, Tiffany, for the link.

Your dating personality profile:

Stylish - You do not lack for fashion sense. Style matters. You wouldn't want to be seen with someone who doesn't care about his appearance.
Liberal - Politics matters to you, and you aren't afraid to share your left-leaning views. You would never be caught voting for a conservative candidate.
Traditional - Modern culture does not move you. You hold traditional values dear to your heart.
Your date match profile:

Conservative - Forget liberals, you need a conservative match. Political discussions interest you, and a conservative will offer the viewpoint you need.
Traditional - You aren't looking for someone who is sexually repressed. You want someone who is adventurous under the covers.
Religious - You seek someone who is grounded in faith and who possesses religious values. You believe that a religious person can enhance your life.
Your Top Ten Traits

1. Stylish
2. Liberal
3. Traditional
4. Wealthy/Ambitious
5. Intellectual
6. Religious
7. Big-Hearted
8. Adventurous
9. Sensual
10. Romantic
Your Top Ten Match Traits

1. Conservative
2. Traditional
3. Religious
4. Shy
5. Stylish
6. Intellectual
7. Wealthy/Ambitious
8. Practical
9. Adventurous
10. Romantic

Take the Online Dating Profile Quiz at Dating Diversions

Saturday, April 30, 2005

A New Day

"Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."

I have a totally new outlook today. I just know that everything is going to be all right and that my life can turn out the way I want it to because I believe in myself and my family, coworkers, professors, and community believe in me, too. In fact, the English Department believes in me so much that in addition to me becoming a departmental destinction candidate, I just earned a new scholarship for my achievement in the English department!! I am so happy and I am definitely out of the funk I've been in the past couple of days. I took my Physics final, so I'm completely through with all my med school pre-reqs and now I can just focus on my med school apps and making myself in to an awesome candidate. I know I can do it, and I know I will make it. I will be a doctor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I Will Be a Doctor




Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Thrill is Gone

Ever since I took the MCAT (last week), I've had little motivation to do anything. That test really took a lot out of me. I was kind of hoping I'd have some time to slack off at school before finals, but no such luck. This week is the last week of classes at SMU and finals week at UTD. So my schedule this week:
  • Monday - Meet with our scribe coordinator to plan summer schedule
  • Tuesday - Formal interview with SMU Health Professions Advisory Committee
  • Wednesday - Later Victorian Lit paper 3 due (4-5 pages) and Psych Disorders of Children Test 3 (last day of class)
  • Thursday - Children's Lit paper 4 due (4 pages on a novel for young adults) and extra credit due (write a children's book!) and Physics final exam and extra credit due (last day of class)
  • Friday - Scribe in the morning on my day off from school
So I'm pretty busy this week. Which sucks when you're not motivated at all b/c you took the biggest test of your life and all you're thinking about it what your score is and you won't find out until June. And med school apps start May 1, so I'm really just wanting to focus on that, but I've got my finals in Victorian and Children's Lit and my final paper in Italian Humanism. Then the week after that I have my last test in General Nutrition. AAAHH!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

MCAT April 2005

I'm freeeeeeeeeeeee! I took the MCAT today, and I feel great! I woke up on my own 5 minutes before my alarm clock went off (this never happens to me). I felt calm, almost euphoric, as I brushed my teeth and got ready for the day. I hooked up with some of my friends when I got to UD and we all felt pretty good (yay, TPR!). Overall, our classroom had 1 1/2 hrs added to it because our proctor kept delaying everything. The PS section started out easy, but then got hard. It was about as hard as the AAMC tests, though, so it wasn't completely unexpected. There were some things on it that I don't remember covering in class, but I used POE and the passage and tried my best. I had 2 passages left over, but I always do and I got a 9 on my last AAMC test so I know I can still make a good score. My VR section was so easy! I had a passage on Islamic scientists and 2 on scientific revolutions. Boy am I glad I took that class on the History and Philosophy of Science! And one of the sci rev passages was straight out of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a book I've studied in 2 classes. I had read the passage before! I even had time to do the "killer" passage on Modernism. So I finished that section right on time and went on to do BS which I finished w/ 5 min to spare. My prediction: 8PS, 12 VR, and 11 BS. Here's hoping.

Friday, April 15, 2005

April Is the Cruelest Month...

Tomorrow is the day that will determine the rest of my life...but I'm not supposed to think about that because it will increase anxiety and the most important tip for the MCAT is "don't freak out." I feel well prepared. I scored a 29 on AAMC 8, which is supposed to be really hard. I'm really glad I took Princeton Review classes. If I hadn't, I'd be screwed. Today is supposed to be a day of rest and relaxation, and we're not supposed to study (but I'm still glancing at notes, tee hee). I skipped my SMU classes yesterday (well, one was canceled and the other was a quiz that I asked to take next week). I was planning on skipping classes today, but Dr. Cox said that we're going over sleep disorders and that it was kind of an important lecture. Could it be that TS Eliot was referring to the MCAT when he started The Wasteland by saying, "April is the cruelest month"?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Practice Makes Perfect

So I've been practicing for the big MCAT test this Saturday. I've taken AAMC 6R, 7 , and 3R. I've started 8 in that I'm doing one section a day just to get familiar with real MCAT questions. Today I did the Bio and I'm happy with my score. Overall, I'm feeling pretty confident, but I of course still want to improve. I pulled a 12 on the verbal for 3R, so I'm hoping to do that on the real deal.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

My First Diagnosis

Guess what: I made my first diagnosis today! I'm serious, it was a real diagnosis. We have a patient in the ICU, and we didn't know what to do (hey, that rhymes). We have this software called Diagnosis Pro where we can put in some symptoms and check out the differential. OK, so we put in some info and the comp kept saying he had a diabetic coma (no, the guy was talking) and cancer (ok, we already thought that, but the CT scan kept coming up negative). One thing about this patient was that he had acetone in his blood (and no, you're not supposed to have nail polish remover in your blood). We checked out the differential some more and one possibility was chronic alcoholism (ding ding ding!). When alcoholism is suspected, the patient is automatically given Thiamine. The doctor went ahead and wrote that order and moved on while one of the patient's other doctors said that he had no idea what was going on with this guy.

As we were walking away to another building I said, "Doesn't acetone build up through ketosis?" and my doc said yeah and I said, "Well, ketosis occurs during fasting. So if our patient has acetone in his blood, he must be starving." My doctor said, well I checked his Hemoglobin A1C and it was normal. I said, "But our patient is an alcoholic...didn't you say that he looked 'emaciated and wasting'?" Yeah, he said. I said, "then maybe he's not eating at all, just drinking. He's choosing alcohol over food. His alcohol is depleting his niacin and he doesn't have enough niacin for the Krebs cycle. So now he has sugar in his body, but he can't metabolize it. Since he can't metabolize glucose, his body is going through ketosis since he's fasting. How much acetone was in his blood?" My doc said, "A very small amount...but there shouldn't be any at all. That's why it's a big problem." "So," I said, "that means that he's in the second, not the third, stage of fasting. We can still help him. Shouldn't we give him niacin?" "You're right, Maryam!" he said, "We have to give him Thiamine first to save his brain and then Niacin to save his body. I'll let the orders stand because if I go back and write for Niacin too they'll give it to him in the wrong order. But I'll go back later today and write for Niacin. Great job!"

I was sooo happy! I really can be a doctor. I do have the qualities that make a good physician: breadth of knowledge + analytic reasoning + critical thinking (+ compassion). I have to do well on my MCAT so that I can show the admission commitees that I do have what it takes, and I can finally begin the career that I was born to do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Registration Time

It's the most wonderful time of the year...Registration! I love registering for classes because it promotes the idea that there is something new and exciting just around the bend. There's so much promise and knowledge to be gained in the coming term. Today I registered for my SMU classes for Fall 2005. Check them out and let me know if you want to take a class with me. I've taken classes with 3 of the professors, so I can give you the heads up.

  • ENGL 4339 Earlier Romantic Lit
  • ENGL 5349 Seminar: Literary Theory
  • FL 3393 Dante's Poetic Vision (I'm petitioning for Honors)
  • PSYC 3380 Health Psychology
So I'll have no SMU classes Wednesdays or Fridays! How cool is that? Sweet!

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Today I took the AAMC MCAT Practice Test 7 and scored a 28!! I got an 8 on Physical Sciences, 10 on Verbal Reasoning, and 10 on Biological Sciences. This is soooo awesome! I met my goals for VR and BS, now I just have to do it on PS, and I will rule the school. I was so excited when I graded my test. It's so funny that I did well because when I was taking it I thought I flunked it. Here's hoping I'll do even better on the real thing -- it's just 2 weeks away!

Friday, March 25, 2005

How Hard Do You Crush?

"It's Just...A Little Crush..."

Sure, you might have your eye on that hunky quarterback on your school's football team, but that doesn't mean you're sprinting with pom-poms to join the pep squad. "You know what's important to you, like friends, family and after-school stuff, but you keep your crush as just that -- a crush," says singer Jennifer Paige, who knows all too well about those heart-pounding moments; her hit song, "Crush," was inspired by a former relationship. So although you and Mr. Hottie mutually complain about Mrs. Friedlhofer's cooking class, you wait until after he's left the room to high-five yourself for keeping your cool. "If you and your crush feel comfortable talking to each other, then a date might not be too far off in the future," predicts Paige.

Which Spring Trend Was Made for You?


Polka dots perfectly express your timeless (but fun!) style. Sure, they're a little retro, but they're also very hot and one of spring's best trends. Right now, you can find them on everything from basic belts to formal dresses. Besides traditional all-white or all-black dots on a solid fabric, look for patterns featuring dots of several different colors. This graphic design is cute, cheerful, and also classic! Another trend to try: Floral.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Guess what? I proved myself with great benefits. Hooray!! I actually have a weekend this week thanks to Easter. I'm off today for Good Friday and there's no TPR this weekend (although there'll be a review this Monday). A crazy thing happened today. I was walking out of my Italian Humanism class at 2 when I realized that my Victorian Lit paper was due today at 3. I was like, "Dammit, what am I gonna do?" Then I remembered that I had emailed my professor a draft during spring break so I ran to the library and opened up my email. I checked out the sent email folder and sure enough, my paper's Word document was there. Thank God!! I opened it and my professor's email response and proceeded to correct the paper (meaning adding a paragraph). I printed it, but the library printers were acting up and they had to call a tech to come figure it out so that I could get my paper printed. I was like, please hurry, I don't have much time. It finally printed and I ran out of the library back to Dallas Hall. I made it just in time and turned it in to the professor's box. WHEW!!! Thank God above I remembered and was able to turn it in in time. Otherwise I would have been screwed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


So all day, I've been doing the whole "how could I have said that better?" thing. I was in a situation this morning where I was defending myself and in the end I "won," but I wish I had said a little more on my behalf, so that I could show my true self to the other party (who knows me in a very limited capacity). I think I may later on meet with this person privately so that she can know me better and my actions won't be such a surprise to her. This is why I prefer to interact with people in this capacity that I have interacted with before. They already know what I'm capable of so they don't judge as quickly.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

My Celebrity Soulmate

ETonline: Who's Your Celebrity Soulmate?

I only say "woohoo" because I know that my real celebrity soulmate is Ben Affleck (Who else loves the "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" as much as I do? He wrote a freaking TV series based on him!), and Matt Damon is the closest celebrity to him. Cool beans!

On another note, my MCAT score is improving with a new 24 composite. Yay, now I just have to go up 1 pt in VR, 2 in BS, and 3 in PS. Must study now...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Which Housewife Are You?


You always mean well, but somehow things don't always work out as you'd planned. It doesn't matter. You take your tumbles with good grace and always come up smiling. But try to remember you're the grown-up in your family.

Take the quiz here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Spring Break (?)

So it's been Spring Break since Saturday and what have I done. Well, here was my checklist when I started the break:

  1. Physics HW and reading
  2. Physics reading and lab
  3. Write med school essay and print photo for Health Professions Recommendation Committee
  4. Study for Physics Test on 3/22
  5. Write Victorian Lit essay (on the Mill on the Floss) due 3/24
  6. Nutrition Assignment due 4/1
  7. Study for Nutrition Exam starts 4/2
  8. Write Children's Lit essay (on The Persian Cinderella) due 4/7
  9. Write Psych Paper due 4/8
So I've done numbers 1-7!! Yay! Now I just have to write my children's lit essay and my psych paper. Good deal. My strategy was to finish all my assignments up to the MCAT so that I would be free to study. So the whole Persian Cinderella thing happened because I was sitting in my children's lit class and we were talking about minority representation in picture books (at my school when they talk about minority anything, they mean African-Americans). So we had a couple of African-American students in the class saying, Yeah we were never in picture books. But the thing was, we were reading 8 picture books in class that featured African-Americans, esp. children: Corduroy, Meet Addy, Uncle Jed's Barbershop, Ben's Trumpet, Snowy day, Amazing Grace, etc. So obviously, as a group they are represented in picture books. So I was talking about one aspect of one of the books and said in the middle of something, "There are no picture books about Iranian-American children, so I really never saw myself in picture books growing up." My professor said, "Oh, I think there are books about Iranian-Amer's and you should look them up on Amazon. I was planning on telling y'all later, but your next paper topic is to critique a picture book. I want YOU to write your paper on an Iranian-American picture book." I told her that they are all Arabian Nights tales, not about American children of Iranian heritage, but she told me to do my paper on it anyway and just address that in the essay.

Thus, I got the most popular picture book regarding Persian culture, The Persian Cinderella. Why? Because there are no picture books about Iranian-American children! Here's a link to all Persian/Iranian related picture books. I searched for hours and all the books have a common theme that they take place in medieval Persia after the retreat of the Arabs but before the Mongolian invasion (roughly 9th century) and there are princesses/genies/thieves AKA Arabian Nights stories. They aren't about the lives of Iranian children growing up in America and what that means like books about Hispanic or Asian-American or African-American children. There are lots of memoirs about this (Funny in Farsi for example), but not picture books or books intended for children. Researching and going through all this makes me think that I should write a children's book for Iranian-American kids. Why not? This will be a great work-in-progress for me.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

How Well Do You Know Your Inner Social Climber?

Social Climber-at-Large
You're good. You know what you want and you grab it. And when things go wrong? Well, you know how to make it look good. Even when you're caught red-handed. And because you're more direct than diabolical, mostly people sympathize with you when you do let the social climber out. You're just doing what everyone wants to do. But to really be a tour de force, you might do a little more calculating. After all, social climbing is big business. Ask Paris Hilton.

Find your inner social climber here.

Monday, February 28, 2005


Hey you're 21 girl, that's all right. Tell me if a shake comes with those fries. If so, baby can I get em supersized!
Today's my 21st birthday everyone!! It's so fun to finally be a full-fledged adult. Now I can actually do stuff in Vegas instead of gorging myself, swimming, and lounging at the spa and I can rent cars. I finally got what I've been asking for for 2 years. I told one of the head nurses in the hospital that it was my birthday and he goes, "Lemme guess: 21?" I said yeah and he said, "You make me sick. You're so young." Then he paused and said, "When are you gonna stop working for these people?" It was so funny cuz I've been working there longer than he has, and he's already seen so many scribes come and go. I told him another year if I get into med school this cycle. He was like, "Good, get on with your life. Then come back here and boss me around as a doctor. And bring your own scribe."

There's this girl who works with us who' s known across the campus as a big drunk, and she was like, so are you gonna hit the bars? I said, "No, I don't drink." Then she looked at me like I had just slapped her across the face, then she looked at our office manager who had a look of approval on her face and said, "Uh, I guess that's good..." Then she said, "Well, how about just one drink?" I politely said, "Naw, I don't think so" and left. I told my friends about it at school and they were like, "Why didn't you just tell them it was against your religion?" I told them how I don't feel like I need to shove my faith down everyone's throat, especially in the workplace.

Then one of my buddies came in and, as usual, told us about how he got stoned again. I swear, every sentence out of his mouth starts with, "Man, I got so wasted last night. I don't even remember what happened." Today he had a deep bite mark on his arm and he didn't know where it came from. We were like, um that doesn't look like your mouth. He goes, Man I wonder whose it is. It was pretty funny. Then he was describing what he sees when he's tripping and he's all like, You're know what I'm talking about, right Maryam? Everybody goes, "How would she know? She's the most non-stoned person on the planet." He goes, "of course she knows. She's a premed. They know all about drugs. " He's full of crap most of the time, but he's still hi-larious.