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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Our mother shoulda just named you Laika! by Jess K. '10

Come on Alex, you can do it.

Here is something that always makes me laugh:

My sister (a Harvard student) and I actually bought these on separate occasions, and I think I had intended to give mine to another relative but forgot to, and so they sit together on my mom’s desk at work. Obviously it proves that her youngest daughter’s love > her oldest daughter’s love, but we don’t really like to talk about it.

(I am, of course, kidding. My sister and I love my parents equally, despite appearances, i.e. that one time my sister wrote my mom a poem for Mother’s Day and I only made a phone call. She definitely won that day – er, I meant to say that you, too, will soon be able to buy embarassingly large-sized teddy bears for your parents that make comical statements. Aren’t you thrilled?)

I had actually planned on deleting this dud of a post because I had left it unpublished for a month with nothing to write about, but then Sam wrote me an angry email demanding I finish this post in which he addressed me as “kamber”, and I knew that I had to finish it. It’s like when your mom calls you by your first, middle, and last name, except my mom never does that (she just makes kind of a harsh coughing noise) and “kamber” is really just a weird nickname my friends made up. It’s also apparently a term having to do with Course 16, although I think that’s spelled “camber”.

Can you tell I’m trying to put off getting to the point of this entry?

Anyway, some time before finals I went to see The Arcade Fire perform at the Orpheum in Boston, which was one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever been through, for reals. Maybe it was because the Orpheum has arranged seating and as such I was stuck next to a man with the least accurate sense of rhythm EVER (and as such, insisted upon clapping to every song and never quite recognized when to stop), or maybe it was because they played one of my (and apparently, Spam‘s) favorite songs, Neighborhood #2 (Laika). I had to look up Laika on Wikipedia because I wasn’t even a fetus in 1957, when Laika the Russian space dog was sent up into space as the first living thing to go into orbit, away from all of Laika’s friends and family to learn new things and see new places.

(It would probably be appropriate if I was listening to the song right now, but I’m actually bouncing along to Muse and freaking out the guy on the computer next to me – he keeps looking over at me, as if me tapping my toes indicates that I’m going to drool all over him any second now.)(I’m at the Apple Store. They probably didn’t intend all this free wifi to be used by someone who’s already a Mac user to blog, while listening to her already-purchased iPod, but I mean, the guy on my right is using MySpace, and I’m pretty sure MySpace users* are lower than bloggers on the ladder of internet scum, so, whatever.)

My point is that soon, you’ll be going off into the world, much like Laika the Russian space dog. HOW EXCITING! There are a lot of things you need to do before you’re prepared to take off (see the analogy between you and the space dog?? TAKE OFF??). The thing is, though, no matter how you vow to reinvent yourself, you will still be yourself at the end of the day. If you’ve never taken physics before, you will have a difficult time with 8.01. You might fail a class when you’ve never gotten below an A or a B in your life. And though I know nothing I can say will convince you of it, that’s fine – it happens at MIT. That’s why we have all those upperclassmen who struggled through those same classes – you just need to ask for help. That’s why we have pass/no record.

The space dog analogy continues to apply elsewhere as well. Once you leave home, no matter how many times your mom yells at you to pick up your clothes, you’ll still probably pile up everything you’ve worn for the past week at the foot of your bed, especially when you have tough weeks. Even if your mom calls you to yell at you over the phone! Even if you tell yourself you’ll eat healthy and exercise, if you don’t do it on your own now, you probably won’t in college. You’ll probably get lazy and gain some weight. Or you might forget to eat, just like you forget to cut your toenails. When you leave home, a lot of things change, and some things you want to be second nature don’t fully come together. It happens.

Another reason why I decided to give up on this post is because I knew these words of advice would have no weight on you now. I know for a fact if I had read this a year ago, I would’ve gone “WHATEVER, FUTURE ME. I AM TOTALLY GOING TO TELL EVERYONE THAT I’M A CHAMPION UNICYCLER, AND I’LL PROBABLY HAVE REALLY GOOD EATING HABITS AND BE EVERYBODY’S FRIEND. I’M DEFINITELY STARTING A BAND, AND I’LL GET A’S IN EVERYTHING, FA SHO.” But then I got there, and there were actually real champion unicyclers who played rhythm guitar like something crazy. And I forgot to wash my sheets sometimes, and occasionally I went to sleep with the window open and my hair wet and I froze to the pillow. Future Me who is actually Current Me is okay with this.

Basically, run wild with your dreams. But not like, overnight wild. You’re still you, at the end of the day. You still have weaknesses, even if they’re small potatoes like cleaning up after yourself, or remembering to sleep, or kryptonite. And the people you meet who won the National Geography Bee and have already been first author on a paper in a major science publication? They have weaknesses too. Regardless of where you come from, though, there’s a lot college has to teach you – calculus lessons, life lessons, or otherwise – and the best thing you can do is to let it.

(Do you kinda see why I didn’t really want to finish this post? I’m embarassed. I not only admitted to forgetting to wash my sheets, I also wrote something mostly unrelated – considering Laika died in orbit due to overheating – to a great song. I tried anyway, though.)

You can, however, take this completely unrelated and yet totally AMAZING new skill with you off to college, and maybe all the time you’ve saved from tying your shoes in a flash will leave you more time to remember basic stuff like personal hygiene.

*(I was actually talking about MySpace at work the other day, and I was like, “Who uses MYSPACE anymore??” and Tim of Two Cubicles Down was like, “Uh… I do,” and then rode away on his scooter, because that is what we do at Pixar.)

18 responses to “Our mother shoulda just named you Laika!”

  1. Felsa says:

    DUDE Sunmi
    first of all you are funny and amazing omg omg omg a bit of a kick in the pants thing with the bear thing, don´t you think?
    second of all sam is hilarious and I wanted to say he was effing hilarious on his blog but it wouldn´t let me (sad bear face! or as we say in German, bär kopf müde!) (actually that is literally ²bear head tired² and AGHAST those are not the ´speaker´punctuation marks whose name I forgot because I no longer speak English…

  2. milena '11 says:

    The Laika analogy wasn’t that bad!!!

    Oh, and I’m staying at Next House right now, and I HATE the showers. Ew. I think I’m going to be claustrophobic by the end of the summer. If that influenced your decision to move into BC, I totally get it now.

  3. Hudson A says:

    That shoe thing is amazing.

  4. JKim says:


  5. Arkajit says:

    Hahaha, the bear picture is priceless! smile

  6. Sam says:

    wow, you finished it in an apple store. This was the best entry of all time on MITblogs, I think, or maybe second to the one where Mitra’s camera broke so she drew pictures of her great haircut in MS Paint.

  7. Snively says:

    NOOOOO! Jess, how could you post that video?! That’s how I tie my shoes and I was the only one around that knew how to do it. Now everybody is going to know how, there goes my show-tying-technique monopoly. Sad.

  8. Vytautas says:

    One word – cool.

  9. Hawkins '12 says:


  10. Grace '11 says:

    Snively, I’ve totally been tying my shoes like that for ages too!

    omg, I know all my clothes are going to be piled in the closet for a month before I can muster up the will to go launder them =(

  11. milo'12 says:

    Love this post! I was born in 1957 and I did’nt know about Laika!

  12. Keri says:

    kamber frag.

    That is all.

  13. JKim says:

    snively, i thought of keeping this great knowledge to myself as well but decided it would be better shared for the GOOD of the PEOPLE.

    lol @ danielhawkins. you are my favorite defer for sure.

  14. Wings '11 says:

    Wow, “Kamber”, I’m glad Sam yelled at you – this was a really great post! =P Of course, accepting that failure *isn’t* the end of the world isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I promise not to go completely off the deep end if… well, when *dies*… I fail my first test.

    The Shoe-torial = amazingness of AWESOME
    but I can’t do it =(
    Am I still allowed to come to MIT?

  15. JKim says:

    It’s not hard, just takes a little practice. Flag me down when you get here and I’ll help you out.

  16. ia_krevetko says:

    what a simple answer!
    what a spesial name for Kanada!
    the name of all russian dogs, all dog say lai-lai. (gaw-gaw, bow-wow, so, dogs languaje named lia)
    and i think, that this song is not about our cosmo-dog.
    maybe, laika is a woodoo-doll?
    lets speak about this

  17. mitch '11 says:

    this post is awesome! everyone should have to read this before their freshman year lol

  18. iry says:

    *lol* I like the while little cute bear very much.. haha