Friday, September 26, 2008

Blending Dichotomies....

Can it be done?  And, if possible, what would it be?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about dichotomies and if they are really necessary.  Well, I guess they are necessary for some things (like a girls and guys bathroom...I don't like the idea of combining these two!), but why must we be so quick to apply them to ALL things.  For the love of God, let's BLEND a little and rejoice in the gray.

For example, why must we have salt separated from pepper?  I have never thought about this until I went to a Japanese restaurant and they gave me "pepper" to put on the food.  I thought, "Holy cow...this is the best pepper I have ever had in my life?!"  Upon further investigation, the "pepper" really was a mixture of salt and pepper, which is SO smart and efficient.  Ah, Japan.

Granted, this is a little dichotomy that exists, but there are much bigger, badder, and uglier dichotomies that exist in this world.  Even in Japan.  Even if they don't qualify as meeting the true dichotomy definition, they are things that might be perceived as mutually exclusive.  Here are a few:

1.) Women and politics - Hillary Clinton is a fan of the gray.  
****Check out this video (thank you, Ellie!):

2.) Kindness and Stress - the random citizens of Japan who helped me set up my life here are fans of the gray (or at least they can fake it like nobody's business!)

3.) Eastern and Western philosophy/culture - The Japanese women who prey on the giajin (foreign) males are LOVERS of the gray. Man oh man.  I do not have enough room on this friggen blog to document the specific people who I know have delved into the gray here.  But, props go to my mom and dad for making me gray ;)

4.) Women in science - Sally "the genius" Temple is a fan of the gray.  The "old boys club networks" out there are, however, not.  To which I say, BRING IT!  I'm not hatin' on the playa, I'm hatin' on the game.
****Check out this video:

5.) Efficiency and resources -  Thank you, Japan, for being a fan of the gray here!  Japan has to be one of the most efficient nations in the world.  If a train says it is going to arrive at 3:52 pm, it will be there at 3:52 pm.  It has almost been a game to see if the train will, in fact, be late. Come 3:51 pm and I don't hear the grinding of a train, I think "HONTO (really?)"  Then, like clockwork, a train hauls butt into the station, cause you know the conductor was racing to meet the 3:52 pm deadline.  Impressive.  Moreover, Japan does not sacrifice the environment or resources in order to meet this high expectation of efficiency.  Japan shows us that you can get it done well and on time, while also thinking about the environment.  Mother nature thanks you.

Instead of people using tons of energy on driers, Japan hangs their wet clothes outside to dry.  Instead of trying to burn trash that is non-combustible or merely hiding it in reservoirs that future generations will have to deal with (thank you, Wall-E), Japan separates their trash.  Instead of purchasing huge gas guzzling cars, Japan has mini-cars.  Moreover, the majority of people utilize the subway/metro system anyways.   Very cool.  Believe me, I am not a huge environmentalist, but Japan has caused me to think twice about things I may not have even thought once about before.

6.) Success and kindness/integrity - I have met a few AMAZING people who have shown me that this can exist. I have met an even greater number of people to show me otherwise.  Cheers to the rare birds out there!  You are an inspiration.

7.) Moving to Japan and having it be easy - Unfortunately, these two are meant to be mutually exclusive.  Sorry.  It has to be one of the hardest places to move.  Not only is everything takai (expensive), but trying to do it all via awkward hand gestures has been an experience.  Try getting national health insurance, a giajin (foreigner) card, a multiple re-entry visa, a bank account, an operational phone, utilities, etc. set up with strange grunts and body language.  I make the Flintstones look like the Jetsons. It is my own fault for not being fluent in the language, but then again it does add a certain spice to my experiences ;)

8.) Cultural comparisons of Schizophrenia AND genetics/developmental approaches to studying Schizophrenia....all rolled up into a PhD project - I would like to be a fan of the gray, but all I can see right now is the darkness of a tunnel, dangit!  Where is the light ;)

Hahaha....that last one is awesome.  I am not sure if what I want to do can be done.  Oh well, it has never stopped me in the past.  Just gotta keep going and do what you love.  In the end, you will be better for it. By no means is it easy, but it is always more worth while to fight the good fight. Lately, I have been spending at least 12 hours a day in front of my computer working....just trying to stay on top of my commitments.  Though it has been challenging, I do love this stuff!  As my dad always says, "Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are 'it might have been.'"  

Gotta love dichotomies. I am sure there are so many more interesting ones out there!  Suggestions?

Anyways, special thanks goes to:

1.) The random Japanese guy who helped me in Shinjuku to buy my washer, microwave and refrigerator. If I hadn't of met you on the street with my beat up map and broken Japanese, lord knows what kind of appliances I would have purchased!

2.) Iijima-san for taking me to TRY to open a bank account two times, a cell phone 3 times, and taking me grocery shopping.  Oh, not to mention showing me how to use all the appliances in my house that are written in Kanji.  Wouldn't want another toilet misshap.

3.) Numakawa-sensei for hooking me up with a TV!  I haven't had a chance to tune in just yet, but I am gonna search for Law-and-Order as soon as things calm down.  Arigato!

4.) Mizuho for taking me to successfully open a bank account (third times a charm!).  Also, for informing me that I needed to get a multiple re-entry visa to get back into the country from Rome.  Oh, yes, I am flying to Rome today for a week-long training course in behavioral genetics.  I am SO excited to attend and not JUST because it is in Rome (really).  I have so many questions and I am sincerely hoping people can help me blend culture, genetics, and behavior into a nice PhD project.  Yikes.

(Here is the brief bio of the program:
The aim of the school is to foster learning in an interdisciplinary symmetrical environment. It is intended for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows engaged in neuroscience research or in historical or social studies of neuroscience.

The topic of this year’s NeuroSchool is behavioural genetics. Together, we will critically assess the current methodologies of experimentation in this branch of research and will discuss its implications in the context of contemporary society. Lectures will cover the history of behavioural genetics, the latest scientific evidence in the field, as well as the history and sociology of psychotropic drugs.

Tutors and lecturers include Cornelius Gross (EMBL), Klaus-Peter Lesch (University of Wuerzburg), Nikolas Rose (BIOS, London School of Economics) and Ilina Singh (BIOS, LSE).)

5.) Hori-sensei and Kunugi-sensei- for collaborating with me on the fulbright project!  Yes.

6.) The random Japanese girl at the Mini-Mart who literally hooked up my phone for me!  She called the phone company, spoke in Japanese, AND made sure the phone was operational before I left.  It is amazing how far the look of utter confusion can get you in Japan.

7.) My new Japanese sensei for taking on the biggest project of her life: teaching me Japanese!  Oh yes, and for driving me to the police station to pick up my transportation card that I lost (and was later found!).  This bad boy had $90 on it!  

8.) The JCOM guy who was a little TOO nice in setting up my cable and internet.  Does it really take 2 hours to turn on a TV...or multiple visits (without the proper tools) to get it wired correctly?  Hmmm.  Wakarimasen ('I don't understand'...a valuable word in my vocabulary).  I think he just likes hanging out to practice his English, but to him I say 'thank you and good night!"

8.) Keicocco (the most talented artist ever) for meeting with me (and the cable guy...don't ask) over dinner to discuss her artwork.  I am going to buy a few pieces!  And, thank you keicocco for taking one look at me and saying in broken english, "Ret's go shopping."  Hahaha...oh man, I am a fashion train wreck!

9.) Theresa Weinman, Anny, Mom, Steph, John, Susan G., Jackie, Ing....(the list goes on and on) for all things Engeye.  You have brought this little clinic-that-could (Engeye) to life and we are so grateful for your energy, enthusiasm, and passion.  Oi!

10.) Olivia - For your generous donation towards Engeye - and for just being you!  I am floored.

11.) Dad - for being a rock amidst all the craziness. Thank you for managing my life in the US while I am way over here.  LOVE YOU.

12.) My AMWA ladies - for bringing your passion to life with this year's leadership.  We are doing damn good things!  While the slope is steep and slippery at times, you all have chosen to persevere.  Yay to this.

13) The Japanese little old lady who cleans the outside of my building - Thank you for helping me take out 9 bags of trash....while smiling!  And, thank you for accepting my gift of Skittles with glee, and then making me a fantastic Japanese card the next day.  So cute!

After reading this, otsukaresama (you must be tired).  Thanks so much for reading.

I feel like I am trying to tie together so many dichotomies in life right now...both professionally and personally.  Not sure if it can all be done, but one thing is for sure....never a dull moment.

1 comment:

ingyphans said...

ahh...i love the topic of dichotomies... my professor used to always say, "use the categories to get your head around the concepts... then throw it all out and REALLY understand the concept cuz the dichotomies just mess us up." our American society loves to set things up in the "either/or" dichotomy and because of our love of debate and obsession with winning "our side," we completely miss the possibilities of "and." question is, how do we live so that your world AND my world exist together instead of existing in EITHER your world OR mine?