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June 1, 2012

Sophia Chen ’12

Throughout my time at Oberlin, late at night, when I couldn't find a pen or my journal, and I felt jubilant or depressed or a bit drunken, I would open my laptop and type a few lines of what I was feeling. Then I would mumble to myself, "You're going to read that in a few years and remember you were a dumbshit."

One time this semester, when I was cleaning out my computer, I unearthed some terrible poetry I had written. Apparently, as a freshman, I had written a draft of a sonnet for a girl in one of my classes. I didn't give it to her, and she didn't know, and I don't remember writing the sonnet. I remember having a crush on this girl, but I blocked the sonnet out of my mind. Thank God.

My MacBook died today. Maybe it wasn't a huge loss.

When I was a sophomore, my friend Chloe would truncate every other moment with the query, "Are these the times that we'll remember?" I don't remember any of the moments she was referring to.

I do remember that when Chloe and I lived in the same dorm, I used to have an ingenious method of determining who was in the shower. For some reason, much of the socializing in Asia House's women's hallway happened in the bathroom, so I would go there to hang out. The bathroom was set up in two parallel sections. The row of toilets and sinks was separated from the showers by a wall. I would traipse in after a long day of procrastinating in the science library, greet the long line of toilets and look for someone to talk to. Sometimes no one was in there except for whoever was in the shower. If I were looking for my roommate, Rose, I would whistle a line from Avril Lavigne's "Sk8r Boi." If I were looking for Chloe, I would whistle a line from "Punky's Dilemma" by Simon & Garfunkel. If I wasn't looking for anyone in particular but wanted to know if the showering entity was a kindred spirit, I would whistle "2 Become 1" by the Spice Girls. Then I would wait for the person in the shower to whistle back in response. No one ever told me that they thought it was creepy.

I remember the summer before my junior year, I was working in DC for the mayor's reelection campaign. That was the summer I realized I did not like working on political campaigns. I met up with Savannah, an Obie who was also not enjoying her summer internship. She was housesitting for a family friend, so we commiserated for a while there. We both complained a lot about the stagnancy of our lives like we knew what we were talking about. I told her that it was important to love life more than its meaning, that faith precedes meaning and sometimes it's good not to question everything. Then the family dog pooped on my umbrella. In hindsight, it was all a great time.

I graduated on Monday, and this blog is retiring. I suppose this is the place where I would write lofty abstractions about my time at Oberlin. I don't have any at the moment, except maybe that I think Oberlin helped me figure out how to develop self-awareness without shame. I feel very comfortable right now.

You know, this all worked out. For most of this past year, I didn't think it would. I thought I was just going to keep working, and keep working, and it would all end in damp firecrackers and unemployment. When we were studying for our honors exams this semester, my friend Chris would say things along the lines of, "At least we have our loved ones." My friend Jacob and I would lie in comatose heaps in his living room throughout the semester. We would bemoan our unfinished theses and the lack of beer. Chris got high honors, Jacob got into Harvard, and I got the Fulbright.

I'm going to China next year to study coal emissions monitoring technology in Shanxi Province, and after that I'm going to the University of Arizona for graduate school in physics. I put off writing in this blog about my prospective future plans because I was so thoroughly convinced none of it would come through.

It did, though, and years from now, I'll have this blog to look back on and remember, with pride, all the ways that I was a dumbshit.

P.S. A big thank-you to all the friends, family, and mentors who shaped this experience for me.
P.P.S. I plan to start another blog, and I will let you know when I do. For now, enjoy Cookery Pokery.

Responses to this Entry

Your computer died??

Also, I request a sonnet.

Posted by: Zoë on June 3, 2012 4:02 AM

RIP Subtlety Chen's MacBook.
RIP Yogi the Dog.
RIPoop Sophia's Umbrella.

I still find that it's good not to question everything. And it was/is all a great time, wasn't/isn't it?

Posted by: Savannah on June 4, 2012 11:24 AM

this is a wonderful entry, i lol'd at your sonnet and congrats on the fulbright! best of luck to youu

Posted by: Chinwe Okona '13 on June 7, 2012 1:46 PM

I remember the silliest things from college and still wish I remembered "more significant things" -- but also not. I don't know. You'll keep on making and remembering Obie memories for years, and that's okay.

Will you have an address in China?! I hope so!

Posted by: Ma'ayan on June 19, 2012 12:21 PM

Dear Sophia:

I am a PHD in shanxi juniversiy in china. I read thesis of Two-Photon Direct Frequency
Comb Spectroscopy of Rubidium
Sophia Chen
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
Oberlin College

. Your work vrey good. In her paper,she give the mathetmatica procedure of two photon

transbility. I follow the procedure ,but it has some problem and doesn't work. Gould you give me your the mathetmatica procedure of two photon
transbility? The attachment is the procedure follow by our.

Thanks very much
your's sincerely

Yichi zhang

Posted by: Yichi zhang on December 12, 2013 2:32 AM

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