Let me tell a story….. I don’t know why I want to tell this story. Maybe its being in MIT again. Maybe its lessoning to Lessig’s talk on read-write culture. Maybe it has something to do with data schema. I don’t know….. I just want to tell this story. I’ll leave it up for a few hours, and maybe I’ll just delete it later.
I’ve been writing a lot about the “fairy princess” in this blog. Let me tell you a story about her.
It was the spring of 1990, and she was my entry tutor at MIT, and the frustrating thing was that she was never around the entry. Just like now, she was doing fifteen things at the same time.
You could usually find her when you had a problem or issue, but I really wanted to do was to just hear her talk. It was one of those situations where I just wanted to see her and hear her talk, and I could care less what she was talking about.
Our rooms both were connected to the entry lounge where there was a common area. I figured out that at 7:30 she would leave the entry and go to her classes. So that at 7:15 AM, I’d get up, take my books to the entry lounge, and start doing my problem sets. Kerson Huang’s yellow book on thermodynamics was what I was working on at the time. It was a nice lounge in a high rise dorm, with a beautiful view of the Charles. The funny thing was that I was dead tired. I’m not a morning person, but I managed to get myself up at 7:15 AM. At exactly 7:30 AM, she would come out of her room and walk to the elevator, and pass through the entry lounge where I was. The doors in that dorm make a distinctive click when they open, and I can still remember the exact sound that door made. We always talked for a few minutes. I cannot remember a single conversation because I just wanted to hear her voice.
While we were talking, I always made a detailed mental note of everything I could remember. How did she do her hair? Was she wearing glasses? What was she wearing? What type of earrings did she have on? What was the expression on her face? On a few occasions, I was wondering how she would look in a white wedding dress. And then after a few moments, she’d head down to the elevator, and I’d have a mental picture of her which I kept for the rest of the day.
That worked for about three or four weeks. Then one day the door opened, and I didn’t see her, but I saw her boyfriend who was visiting from London for Spring Break. I don’t think he saw me, the door opened and he was turned away talking to her, so I think I was able to leave without his seeing me. I went back to my dorm room, cried for about an hour, and then wrote yet another of the dozens if not hundreds of letters that she has never gotten, and does not know the existence of. The problem was that I had my mental camera working, and I remember the click of the door, and seeing a male with black shoes, blue shirt, and khaki pants.
The irony in all of this is that despite being a physics major. I added incorrectly. She was inapproachable, because she was my entry tutor and I thought she was five or six older than me. It was only three or four weeks ago that I found out that she entered college early, and that she was only three years than me. I found this out when she was listed in a list of under 40 achievers. This is more than slightly annoying because in one of the letters I wrote to her, I explicitly wrote, it is unfortunate that she was so old because if she were just a little younger, things would be very different.
I don’t know why I’m thinking about this story. It make have something to do with storage of schema information, since I mentally developed a database schema to store my mental snapshots. It may be the fact that people are talking about storing 40 terabytes of information, and missing the one key bit of information.
One of the things I’d like to do someday is just to let her know what was going through my mind, and to find out what was going through her mind. Unless she was totally oblivious, the fact that someone is studying the in entry lounge each morning should have been odd.
One day, I’d like to find out what was and is going through the mind of the Chinese government when it blocked wikipedia, and to let the Chinese government know why is going through my mind when it know about the block.
I suspect it is going to be far less difficult to talk to the Chinese government and get that information than it will be to talk to the fairy princess.
I’m sure why I’m telling this story. It’s personal. It’s embarassing. It’s none of anyone’s business, and I don’t think anyone really cares.
But one memory that is deeply ingrained in me is my looking at her closed door. Most of the time I passed by her room, her door was closed, and I spent about fifteen minutes each morning looking at the locked door.
The “fairy princess” right now is now tenured faculty at a major university, and she just landed a major grant. She’s on the admissions committee for her university, and she’s also on the selection board for a famous scholarship program. (It was while she was on scholarship in London that she met her boyfriend, so you should be able to figure out which one it is.) In addition to all of that, she’s also playing supermom.
And I’m just this academic nobody waiting outside her door.
Here is a wikipedia question. She is definitely famous enough at this point to have an article written about her. I hope to be famous enough in a year or so to have an article written about me. How should, or shouldn’t those articles be cross linked with this blog.