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MIT blogger CJ Q. '23

uncertainly by CJ Q. '23

i am writing a blog post about another song

it’s been a while since i talked about my life.

  • the east campus house team sent care packages to the residents housed in baker. there was chocolate, and granola bars, and a note. “we look forward to gathering with you when it’s safe again.” i love the ec house team.
  • our move out day was supposed to be may 31, but because of the situation, we could (again) submit a request to remain in on-campus housing. i applied. i also requested for financial assistance. both were approved. it was a relief to hear that, after two weeks of uncertainty over where i was going to stay in the summer. baker isn’t east campus, but it’s more than i feel like i deserve.
  • i watched frozen 2 last week, fulfilling my months-old promise to watch the movie. i thought it was pretty solid. i feel like frozen is one of the films i can remember the animation well enough to comment that the animation of the sequel was noticeably better. i guess i stopped watching animated films past the age of sixteen. or films altogether, really.
  • we now wear masks going into dining. i am not sure if i am getting sick of dining hall food, or getting used to it. i will be eating from dining for at least the next two months.
  • there was this book giveaway that the undergrad association did, where we wrote a blurb for one of our favorite books, and then prefrosh who signed up for the giveaway get a copy of some book shipped to them. i picked the unbearable lightness of being. two prefrosh got my book. they emailed me within the past week to let me know that they received it. i’m looking forward to discussing it with them.
  • i finished violet evergarden three days ago. i thought it was a pretty good anime. it’s the kind of story where there’s really only one way to take the plot, given the setup. but even if it was predictable, it was well-animated and strongly emotional nonetheless. i cried straight through the last three episodes.
  • round 2 of google code jam was yesterday. code jam is basically this algorithms competition, where people have a couple hours to program solutions to solve programming problems quickly. anyone who gets more than several points in the qualifying round makes it to round 1, the top 4500 people make it to round 2, the top 1000 make it to round 3, and the top 25 make it to the finals. while making the finals is certainly impressive, my goals are far less ambitious. i want to make round 3, because everyone who makes it to round 3 gets a code jam shirt. everyone knows the purpose of life is to collect company-branded apparel. why else would the career fair exist? and last year, for the first time in my three years of joining code jam, i won a shirt.

    ice bear on my code jam tshirt. a black shirt with "code jam" written on front

    ice bear is here to increase website traffic

  • the thing about code jam is that you only see a portion of the results during the contest. to get full points for a problem, you need to get both the small and large dataset right. during the contest, you only see results for the small data and not the large data, so you have this uncertainty. you don’t know exactly how many points you’re going to get. i got the small data right for the first two problems, and i thought my solution would have also worked for the large data. my solutions failed both large datasets. i won’t be getting a shirt this year.
  • a friend made a post on facebook asking people for their favorite songs that share the same title. my favorite pairs are probably always, by panic! at the disco and rex orange county, and birds, by coldplay and imagine dragons. but i also have a favorite triple, fools, by three filipino bands i like, the ransom collective, nathan & mercury, and lola amour.
  • i got my first urop. i’ll be working with cpl this summer. we know that ai can use language, but what does ai tell us about how humans use language? a friend linked the listing to me, so i applied, had an interview, and got the urop. after writing a proposal and dropping buzzwords to appease the funding powers that be, i now feel uncertain about my own skill. i feel vastly underqualified. i get mildly worried when i think about it, so i try not to. i tell myself i’m in this urop because i’m learning, and that there would be no point to it if i already knew how to do everything. but i wonder, sometimes, if i misrepresented myself somewhere in the process.
  • everyone has impostor syndrome, but not me. i’m the real impostor.
  • one of the songs i’ve put on repeat recently is kodaline’s sometimesmaybe i’m crazy / maybe i’m blind / maybe we all get lost sometimes.
cover art for sometimes. a forest in the background. in the foreground, a hand holding a sparkler.

i liked the cover art

  • by august 8, which is my (current) move out date, i will have been housed in baker for five months. this is almost as long as i stayed in east campus, which was a little over six months. and then what happens after that? i don’t know. i could be staying here for even longer. but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be that long. it feels like i lived on floorpi for a year and a half. it feels like it’s been one really, really long day since i moved into baker. maybe that’s the way i want it to feel.
  • the last time i talked to my therapist, i told him that i knew where i was going to be staying this summer, what i was going to do this summer. and he says, wow, that’s so good, it’s great that you know where you’re going to be, and not worry about that any more. i was not as enthused. i still felt worried, afraid, uncertain about the summer. i told him that i’m fine. i’ll be fine, as long as i don’t think about it too hard. as long as i don’t think about the future too much, i’ll be fine, i’ll be fine, i’ll be fine.
  • one of my friends got accepted to an reu, a research experience for undergraduates, which is the math major equivalent of doing an internship. in a blog post, he writes “i would like some reassurance that i will not completely fuck [it] up.” this is my prevailing mood right now.
  • i just want reassurance. i want to look in a crystal ball and see my future self six weeks from now, six months from now, six years from now, and see that he’s doing okay. the uncertainty of the future terrifies me. statistically speaking, things in my life have turned out to be okay. better than okay, even. look, in the span of two years, i have transformed from being homeless to an mit student! i have rigged my life’s lottery over the next few years to be in my favor just for being here.
  • but my mind refuses to do the logical induction. refuses to think that all the good things in my life will continue. believes that something really bad will happen to me, and then my life will be permanently fucked up.
  • i’m fine.
  • i’ll be fine.
  • as long as i don’t think about the future too hard, i’ll be fine.
  • petey shared to me this quote from el doctorow. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”