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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Spoiled Milk by Jess K. '10

I wrote an entry so long overdue my milk has spoiled in the process. So much for cereal.

Once, when I was younger, I poured the entire contents of a carton of milk down the drain because it was past the “Sell By” date listed on the side. My dad, being the upstanding keeper of never throwing anything out except when he throws everything out (including receipts, magazines, and perfectly edible cheese) roared ferociously at me. “WHY DID YOU DO THAT!”

“It was past the ‘Sell By’ date, Dad!”

My dad then proceeded to explain that the “Sell By” date should be taken in a literal sense – “the milk should be SOLD by that date. We already bought the milk before that day. You can still drink it for two weeks after.”

I have a strong feeling that he would have drank the entire carton, or at least a significant fraction, to prove this point to me. All he really proved, though, was that my father has a hard time letting things go, and that the indigestion following would have been a wonderous experience for both of us. It really is too bad that I poured the entire thing down the drain.

Yeah, so I was going to leave this as a comment to Mitra’s question, “Does anyone know if milk is okay past the Sell By date?”. So basically, this entry is brought to you for my dad’s desire to keep expired milk in the world a little longer. (I felt a little like Big Bird, writing that. “This week’s episode brought to you by the letter E! EEEE!”)

In a perfectly formed and completely intentional segue, this post is waaay past its “Sell By” date. It’s been too long since I’ve really written something – this plane flight home for spring break is the first breath of air I’ve had in a while – and for that I apologize. MIT can give you a lot of things, but free time is not one of them.

(Ironically enough, though, there’s actually milk spoiling in my refrigerator at Next House as we speak. And that’s not because I don’t have the free time to drink my milk. It’s because I, unlike Mitra and Sam, forgot to clean out my refrigerator before I left, and now Neha will have something fun to come home to.)

So I’m flying home again, two months after the last visit. Things have been completely and totally insane, to say the least – I’m waiting to see if I passed my EMT state exam, which I took after having taken a month-long eight-hour-a-day class over IAP, am enjoying playing a serious and thought-provoking character that is completely necessary to the plot of the Next House musical (Silly Girl #1, in Beauty and the Beast)(it could be better – Matt Cohen ’10 is playing Fish Man; Tiff Chu ’10 is playing Lady With Baby/Napkin), and have also possibly broken my clock radio.

To say the least, I’m excited to be going home so I can finally get some sleep – between learning all eight of my lines (one of which is “WAAAAHHH”)(we’re performing this at CPW, though, so if you’re here you should come see my crying debut) and breaking my clock radio, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. As it must have been for you guys! (I am so smooth. Did you even see that segue coming?) I read Laura’s post and all your comments a couple times, and I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to add to it.

College applications are crazy, aren’t they? You convert entire moments of your life that have made you into who you are into a couple ordinary lines on an ordinary sheet of paper, craft a few hundred words to try to actually illustrate who you’ve become, and hope that it’s enough to convey that you’ve got more personality than two dimensions can contain. Then you send all that off to somewhere you don’t even know with all the hope in the world that somebody might understand that what you do for fun actually reveals you’re someone they’d want to meet.

(And they do, actually.)

At the end of it all, though, you’ll hopefully find you have something to show for it. Maybe you got your dream and get admitted, in which case you ROCK. You’re on top of the world, you can’t put that feeling to words – and you shouldn’t have to; nothing is better than just knowing for sure that all that hard work and pouring your heart out and every moment was worth it. (Especially since the admit rate dropped to 12%.. the ’11s MUST be superstars!)

But if you didn’t?
Is it really possible to dust yourself off after something you’ve really, truly wanted doesn’t actually come together? To move on from all the hope in the world?
I think it is, though you don’t have to take my word for it. But I go to MIT. I know a thing or two about hard work, and how doesn’t always pay off like it should.

12% also has an 88%. Statistically speaking, it isn’t possible that 88% of 12,443 applicants aren’t also phenomenal off paper, especially when they put just as much of themselves into their applications. There is no reason why you should feel like your work didn’t mean anything, even if it didn’t culminate in what you wanted; if you put all of yourself into it and you were brave enough to hit “send”, you’ve already got something to show for it. And if you can handle putting all of your life-changing moments down on paper for some strangers to read, your biggest baseball games and your heartbreaks and the time you discovered in lab that you might want to do gel electrophoresis for the rest of your life, you can absolutely handle accepting that MIT might not be the best place for you.

But you don’t just send that much of something that really matters out into the universe without having it mean anything. I promise that it does, and you’re better for it.

I wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors, whether your brush with MIT ends here or is just barely beginning.

19 responses to “Spoiled Milk”

  1. Craig says:

    Wonderful. It was worth the wait. Thanks.

  2. leah says:

    if youre looking for prejudice against lefties, korea is the place. many eastern cultures view the left hand as evil, dirty ect, while the right hand represents justice and whatnot. you use your right hand when eating and writing, and your left hand in bathroom. nobles in korea were also not allowed to touch money with their right hand, it being materialistic and vulgar. this doesnt apply as much as it did 50 or 100 years ago, but there are still very few lefties in korea, and some mothers will still tie their lefty kid’s hand behind their back to make them righties(my mother included…my older sister was originally a lefty but not anymore. my mom didnt bother with me though..).

    anyway if you search in this general direction youre sure to find plenty of stuff. good luck on your essay!


  3. Liz says:

    Milk and other products with sell by are good at least one week after that day. Or at that’s what I’ve been told (and haven’t died yet from doing so).

  4. Emily says:

    JHC – I can’t help you too much with modern-day prejudices, being all righty myself, but left-handedness was certainly considered shady and unlucky in ancient Rome – the Latin word “sinistra,” meaning “left hand,” became the English “sinister,” which gives you some idea.

  5. Jess says:

    JHC – you can start with MIT. The desks in the big lecture hall, 10-250, are ALL right-handed. In lectures where there ARE a limited amount of lefty desks (i.e. 4-270), you have to run to class in order to ensure you get one, and then people climb all over you smashing their backpacks in your face because you’re sitting on the end, exiled and alone, while all your right-handed buddies laugh in the corner about the weirdo with ink all over their hand.

    (We smear every word we write and get ink/pencil lead all over our hands because we’re dragging over previously written words.)

    Also, I remember reading an article one time about how left-handed men get less pay, but I can’t seem to find it anymore : Hope that helps, though. Good luck!

  6. JHC says:

    I am one of the 88%, but right now, I’m a bit too busy to care that much. I am supposed to hand in the first draft of my essay on “prejudices on left-handed people” coming Tuesday. The thing is, as I was born ambidexterous, I don’t really know that much about the topic. If anyone experienced any prejudice or inconvenience because of left-handedness, please tell me. I know my post is totally irrelevant to Jess’s entry (sorry!), but please try to understand and HELP ME OUT.

  7. Reg says:

    well, the textiles scissors I used when I took textiles were for right-handers only .__.

  8. Chessy says:

    In some eastern European cultures it is believed that left handed people are all clumsy and have no dexterity. So much so that many people who were left handed were forced to learn to write right handed early on in school.


  9. Steve says:

    We do smear every word we write. It’s a sad truth.

    Boxers don’t like to fight us either.

  10. Anonymous says:

    i’m left handed and it’s a hassle for me to write in binders because of their rings, the desks in my school (ALL right handed), scissors and knives (but i’ve gotten used to that), and then we do smudge every word we write.
    But we’re great fist fighters though…

  11. Monica says:

    i am also a lefty and we do face some trouble when we eat, because unless we sit at the left end of a long table, we’re most likely to end up having an elbow fight with our neighbor, we get more injuries using right handed tools, and let’s not forget about taking notes too…
    but on the contrary…we do excel in sports

  12. Melissa says:

    Random question – Does MIT have a (senior) retreat?

  13. amrita says:

    jessy jess jess my baby doll let’s play smash
    give me a call?

  14. JL says:

    lawl, thread hijack…
    well played Mr. JHC, well played.

  15. M says:

    speaking of spoiled milk… if any prefrosh visit Random Hall over CPW, they should asked to be introduced to The Milk. It’s 12 years old and lives on the fourth floor in a mini-refridgerator that it has all to itself (except for a jar of peanut butter that may or may not contain salmonella). Every year, we celebrate its birthday by eating (fresh) dairy products and singing to it…

  16. JHC says:

    Everyone, thank you so much! I probably should have thanked you ages ago, but I was down all weekend with flu. I have no idea what I am going to do with chem quiz and bio exam, but thanks to you all, the essay should be a lot easier to write now.

    Leah-So are you Korean? As a matter of fact, I am, too. As a little kid, I was technically ambidexterous, but used my left hand more often. But someone (presumably in the family, or maybe it was one of my kindergarten teachers: can’t remember who) trained me to be right-handed on the way, and I am almost all right-handed now. But I’ve been right-handed for so long, I can’t really remember being ambidexterous that much.

    Jess-Um… sorry for the thread hijack. I didn’t think of it that way until JL pointed it out. Thank you for your generosity in not only tolerating my heinous deed, but also helping me out with my topic. And about spoiled milk… Your father reminds me of my father. My dad grew up in a poor family, so he can’t bear to throw out anything, even if it is weeks after expiration date. On the other hand, he can’t bear to feed his family (my mom and me) on spoiled food, so he tries to finish it himself. My mom and I are constantly on alert, and try to throw things out before he notices. Unfortunately, we are not always successful.

    JL-I’d like to thank JL whoever he/she is for enlightening me of the magnitude of my crime. However, I’d appreciate it if you address me as Ms. JHC in future entry, if you should be compelled to point out how I am wronging other bloggers.

  17. m from d 88% too… n yea… i understand the whole thng… n honestly, i’ve picked the pieces and moved on…
    hmmm… anyways… i’m sort of ambidextrous… i do stuff most of the stuff with whtaever hand i feel like… its kinda weird in india when you are supposed to all the “good” stuff with your right hand… i mean… my parents are totally cool with it… but sometimes… in temples or in religious ceremonies, some weird conservative relatives point out to me use my right hand… as apparently, my left hand is too “SINISTER” to be used…!!!

  18. leah says:

    to MSjhc-
    yeah im korean too but only half actually. i guess i make up for it though by having been living in korea for the past 3 and a half years.
    i dunno if i could call myself truely ambidextrous cuz i do use both hands but for different things. i write and draw with my left, but do sports with my right. i use a knife with my left hand and scissors with my right hand. actually now that i think of it i think a long time ago i used scissors with my left hand but it hurt my hand so i changed to my right.

    also a little bit on spoiled milk.. yesterday i poured myself of cup of milk thats looked and smelled a little questionable..having just read jess’s blog i checked the sellby date and it was NOT overdue. so i spooned the funny looking part off the top and drank it.