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Desired things by Lulu L. '09

a youthful aside.

I just had the busiest, craziest summer of my life.

I remember a high school teacher who had high hopes for us. She owned not a small fraction of the most difficult course at my school. A course on American History and Literature– interdisciplinary and brutal like we’d never seen. For 35 ambitious Juniors in an average high school, this was our first taste of academic rigor. We learned with assembly-line urgency; papers, essays, tests, revisions– to and fro like clockwork. When the bell sounded for the end of the period no one stood up; instead, heads bent to clear desks- packed with papers, binders- to gather pens and notes, to close the open textbooks on our laps and shove them into our backpacks. We were fighting a war we couldn’t win. The Seniors watched with satisfaction.

But the end of the year found our numbers strong. We had suffered the losses of only 6 of our classmates, who now marched proudly in the ranks of Honors History and Honors Literature. We were tired, but we were changed. Some of us had sensed our limits, run up against them, and pushed to the bitter end; but more than a few who had found no resistance where they expected a wall, now wondered what they were capable of.

It was in this setting, deep and breathless in the end-of-the-year shuffle, that we received her advice. I folded the unassuming piece of advice once the long way, then once again, and pushed it into a pocket of my notebook.

Years later I discover it in a box under my bed. I don’t remember putting it there. Yellow paper with a poem. Desiderata.

I guess I bring it up because here I am. MIT. And my classes have begun their downhill roll, hitting bumps, gaining momentum, always just a lurch away from breaking free of my grip, getting out of control. And you, whoever you are, reading this, you, too, are here, or belong here, one of us, walking at a running pace, trying to appear casual playing with fire, juggling more responsibility than is reasonable. And that’s how you like it. Contentment with exactly the way we are is not what brings us to MIT. Pushing to find your limits is not masochism. We understand.

We do this, too.

But a finer point is sometimes lost along the way and only after many trials can be rediscovered. Here is the one I’m thinking of: Please, please, please, don’t forget to be happy. Don’t make time your enemy. Sure, take 8 classes, but don’t skip out on going out for ice cream; don’t work through your favorite TV show (no, really). If you’re here, don’t miss out on Boston. Get a bike (and a lock that could pass for a tank), get out often, it’s 5 minutes to Central and 15 minutes to Harvard Square. Pick the room with two windows ;), find a scenic route to class. Create things, collect things. Even nobel prize winners have hobbies.

My blogging duties are such: talk about my life here– what I do and how I feel and what I learn. This is what I’ve learned.

 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

– Ehrmann (“Desiderata”)
Photo: off CA-1, northern california. This picture makes me happy.

-lulu

34 responses to “Desired things”

  1. Anonymous says:

    That’s an awesome picture. I stole it for my desktop background. Great entry again, Lulu!

  2. Basant'11 says:

    awesome Lulu! ’twas a beautiful poem! smile

  3. Anonymous says:

    OMG… this is the most beautiful (and true) post i have ever read!!! thanks, Lu Lu.

  4. Christina says:

    Lulu, this is beautiful! Ironically, I have two sayings posted on my wall (from those cards they sell at The Coop) and one is one line of this post and another is the preceding line. I had no idea they came from this poem. Awesome. smile

  5. Wow, that was really enlightening, and moving. Thanks!

  6. David says:

    Thanks for this. Great post. I feel like I know what you mean. It makes me even more excited about MIT than I already am smile
    now to get in…

  7. ICE says:

    We want see more Pictures,hoho

  8. Constantin says:

    Sincere post — rare these days.
    Thank you!

  9. Edgar says:

    *takes deep breath*
    wow, this post is…different. Great post! smile

  10. Isshak says:

    Now that’s really good litterature, even though I can’t relate to what you’re saying, I still appreciate the writing. It’s a beautiful message you’re trying to pass, but it’s only theorical. If missing our favourite TV show can give us more chance of accomplishing our dream, then it’s a sacrifice to make. But great post still !

  11. Hunter '11 says:

    *sigh* Northern California is so much prettier than southern.

    But I’m at MIT, where it’s ALL beautiful! So it’s OK =P

    After a week of MIT, I already realize how different things are from high school. Psets are REALLY not meant to be done in one night. Reading the book ahead of time (heck, reading for subjects like calculus at all) is a good idea. You’re going to need a lot of help. These are all big changes for me – but part of MIT.

    It’s a bit frightening, but I love the hustle and bustle =)

  12. Hunter '11 says:

    Oh, um, sidenote. This is the girl previously known as Wings previously known as Melissa/Mel =P

  13. Aakriti says:

    after a long long long time i found ur new blog and i love it…cheers lulu…

  14. A more expansive reply:

    “And you, whoever you are, reading this, you, too, are here, or belong here, one of us,…” (Emphasis mine)

    Thank you, Lulu, for not making this exclusive. I think that’s what meant the most to me. Sometimes I feel like an intruder as I read these blogs, because I wasn’t accepted. But you included me, and the folks like me. Thank you.

  15. Nihar says:

    Wowww!!…I wish everyone saw life the way you do Lulu, though I think students at MIT surely do.

    Little do people realise that, as your post clearly shows, the time you spend for urself is actually the most well-spent time of the day…….Grrreat post!

  16. Paul '11 says:

    Desiderata. Things desired.

    Yes, I can relate.

    Thank you. smile

  17. Nan says:

    Hi Lulu,
    I started reading/viewing your blog a while back. And I just wanted to comment and say that I really enjoy your fresh outlook o nthings, especially the pictures and stories that you tell! Your story about American History, reminds me especially of last year where I, along with 16 other juniors took Ap US History. It was a brutal course, where we went through American History so efficiently and quickly that I’m still amazed at the stuff I learned. Yet, we managed to have fun with our “battle of the sexes” debates and bonding against the evil AP history textbook author. Your post, as cliche as this sounds, makes me perhaps work a bit harder to get into MIT, so I can enjoy what you do now. Sorry for the long post!:)

  18. Hunter '11 says:

    So can I, so can I…

  19. Hunter '11 says:

    @Nan – APUSH was one of the most rewarding classes I’ve ever had =) That, and AP Bio. The good ol’ days..

  20. I love poetry. It can express things no other art form can.

    P.S. About time you posted another entry. =)

  21. Hawkins says:

    Oh, wow. I hope you realize what an amazing post this is. Well done, Lulu. I can only hope I’ll remember this advice next year!

  22. lbj says:

    Great post. I like your blog very much. I am a high school student in Beijing.I am trying my best to go abroad.I can learn more things here than in English book.Your post make me know the lifestyle you have in America.

    thanks a lot.

  23. adam ionescu says:

    brilliant!
    you made my day. =].

  24. Steffi C says:

    Thanks– I needed that.

  25. donaldGuy says:

    Wow. Thank you. I’ve been going crazy just in the first two weeks of school.. 8 classes—5 APs, Chorus, Theater, and a Multivariable Calc class–plus a play (where my lines are all in German, which I don’t speak), a modest social life, and college applications!!

    For the most part I’ve felt alright, but already I’m losing sleep a bit.. but I know I can do it and thats how want it to be. Your entry reassures me that, though where I come from most of the smartest people just slack, that I’m not crazy.

    ~Donald

  26. Hank R. says:

    Hrm. Seems all I do since classes have started is classwork and my few extracurriculars.

    But am I happy?

    Sometimes I wonder.

  27. Kristin says:

    I JUST NOW realized that *you* are the Lulu who lives on my hall. Kinda slow, hehe.

    And beautiful post, by the way!

  28. Lulu says:

    yeah, lots of lulu’s- lots of ambiguity

  29. Nan says:

    @Hunter
    O yes, AP Biology was a blast. There was only 8 juniors in the class. We all ranted and raved about how difficult it was. However, I have to say that I miss that class along with Ap US the most!

  30. Mia '10 says:

    I needed that.
    Thank you.

  31. Rich O. says:

    That kind of rush sounds very familiar… ever taken
    AP Chemistry? Yeah, having an hour-and-a-half class before lunch really only means you have a two hour class four out of five days a week. It’s a pretty close-knit group, though. And don’t get me started on Marching Band – it’s like the same thing, but outside of regular school hours (and twice as long).

    Gotta stay sane, though, and if procrastination means I get to read or play a PC game occasionally, then I’m all for it.