Our real selves

Twitter has all of the sleaziness of stalking with none of the messy work of having to actually leave my desk. But I found a dark underside to it: it makes stalking way too easy. Sometimes I get caught in my laziness:

Out in the real world, a girl comes up to me. “Hey!”

Me: “Hi. I’m Terry Chay.” Hello, very pretty asian girl I don’t recognize.

“I know that! 😀 It’s me.”

Me: “I’m sorry, we met at a Lunch 2.0?” Oh shit! I must know her. Good thing I’m a banana—I can drop the “All of us yellow people look alike” joke if things get bad.

“It’s me, C—.”

Me: “Oh! You’ve got a new haircut. It looks nice on you, by the way.” Shit, how could I forget you—I totally twitter stalk you! Hope this dodge works.

“I had the same haircut at CNET.”

Me: “Oh, I was so busy there, you know how it is.” Please ignore the fact that I do nothing at Lunch 2.0 other than eat people’s lunch and claim credit for their work.

“Yeah, I do.”

Whew! That was close.

Now somewhere in the conversation, she mentioned that she would have never thought me a physicst until I mentioned it in my blog. On one hand, I’m thinking Whoo hoo! nine readers! On the other hand, I’m now thinking After she reads the above, I’ll be back down to eight.

But the thing is, I could never really picture myself not majoring in physics. Every choice I’ve made, even the f—d up one as majoring in physics, is part of who I am.

Cal wrote:

In other cases, blogs like my friend, Terry Chay, support the character that he is building up around himself. In both cases, with wildly different styles, the same results are achieved, a deeper understanding of the blogger.

But really, is this blog a character I’m building up, or is it my real self?

[A little bit strange after the jump.]

Being a little strange

If you knew the person above, she’d probably tell you that the external dialog part was, at least, mostly true. And yet, I made a choice to blog the internal dialog I had above. That’s me also, not some “character I’m building up.”

One time, a colleague of my brother’s told him congratulations on the marriage. My brother asked him how he knew about it and he replied, “Oh, I had to give a Best Man speech so I did some research on the internet and ran across your little brother’s speech at your wedding.”

My brother: “Yeah, you have to watch out for Terry. He’s a little strange that way.”

(An aside)

I’m only joking about the stalking stuff. Later that evening, the same girl told me about a real stalk that started at her wedding. That’s some freaky shit! Really, some of you peeps are scary.

“It sucks to be a girl on the internets.” I’m so glad I have a penis.

Stoned and stone sober

At Caltech, there were three friends in the grade above me who were killer in the applied sciences and heavy drinkers to boot. One of them was my Applied Math T.A., the other, when drunk, would re-enact the scene out of The Graduate by saying, “Terry, I’m going to say one thing: single mode fiber optics.” The third, the smartest of the three with the grades to prove it, basically spent most of his time at Caltech stoned.

I figured out his secret.

I took optics lab to avoid one of my physics lab requirements. But since I was the only one there who hadn’t taken device physics his freshman year (I took environmental engineering to avoid that), I would break into the applied physics library late at night to prepare my pre-laboratory.

The building was so empty at night that my senior year, I easily stole a tank of nitrous from there for the hell of it. (Note: My friends have since told me that engineering grade nitrous is really good shit, just in case you happen to walk by a tank of it lying around.) In other words, I was the only one in the building…except for this person.

Two nights a week I’d come in from midnight to four in the morning to work there; two nights a week, there he was, in the library, working his ass off on problem sets, stone sober.

Everyone thought this guy lived life in a THC-induced haze, but I’ve never met anyone with more clarity at 3 AM than him.

Which was the real him?

I’d say both.

A butterfly, again

Yesterday, Jeremy teased me about how I have no trouble talking to women. But if he were only privy to my internal dialog he’d understand that it’s not me talking, it’s the fear: Am I not talking to her because she’s a girl? That’s awfully rude.

You know what’s a “little strange” to me? If other people didn’t have weird internal dialogs. I wish there weren’t real stalkers out there so I could read about it on their blog. Because I only see a fraction of them, just as they only see a fraction of me.

I wonder if I get the wrong idea of others, because they get the wrong idea of me?

Getting the right idea

I learned a lot those nights working on my pre-labs. I eventually got the right idea.

When I became an upperclassman, I would find a really quiet frosh and ask what the double star’d problem was in their problem set—that’s the problem they give every week to keep the freshman working together all night. (Two years of calculus-based physics is required of every student there, even the literature majors.)

I would go to my room, open my freshman text, and work out the solution.

Then, after that little mental calisthenic, I would work on my homework.

Then, I would proceed to get thoroughly hammered.

Then, at 2 AM, I’d stagger the hallways of the dorm, walk into people’s room, and rant.

Invariably, there’d be a bunch of freshman working late on the problem set. Invariably, they were stuck on the double star’d problem. Which, invariably, I would, in my invariably slurred speech, ask them about.

The sight of a drunk upperclassman, barely able to focus on the wipe board, solving a problem that had kept a team of freshman awake all night—all as said froshlings think to themselves Oh shit! We’re so going to get destroyed at ‘Tech.—well, I like to think that was one for the ages.

And people could be surprised that I majored in physics?

15 thoughts on “Our real selves

  1. and i thought i was the only one who had a “internal dialog”. another great post…post like these are why i keep reading your blog.

    btw, i once knew of a marine biologist/mathematician who was incredibly smart..and constantly stoned. i always wondered how he got thru Diff EQ classes. Now I know. thanx.


  2. “It’s me, Cindy.”

    I just re-read this without skimming over the parts that don’t reference me. 😉 That’s really evil messing with the freshmen students’ heads like that! Don’t tell me you just gave them the answer though…

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