christmas eve

1. These past few days have been a little uneventful. Tonight was spent at a Christmas eve dinner with my mom’s college friend, her family, and her brother’s family, somewhere in the Richmond suburban area. Neither turkey nor eggnog for us, the traditional Christmas fare (?), but many courses of Shanghainese cuisine, all palatable (though few distinguished). It was a quiet evening, though the ‘adults’ had fun and made merry over a huge bottle of wine.

I find myself trapped somewhat when I’m in social situations with my family, because I really feel like Asians infantilize or coddle their children far longer than it is healthy. Perhaps it is the ease of language usage, too, because however conversationally fluent I am in Mandarin (and ridiculous essays reflecting on news articles, like the ones we had to write all the way through secondary school), conversing about tax rates or world issues in Mandarin doesn’t come naturally to me. But tonight I didn’t feel 18 at all, and I don’t think I was viewed as such, and that’s pretty much how I think we’re raised in Chinese families. Dinner conversations are the most symptomatic of this attitude, I feel; I didn’t realize that until I came over here, and had Canadian dinners with host families, and then in Austria, dinners with Felix’s family, that dinners elsewhere were places where you had Conversations that went beyond how much school sucked and the mundane concerns of family life, like what your aunt was doing in Beijing or whether we need to go grocery shopping the next day. You’re expected to be entertaining and interesting and informative, and – this is the novel part, I guess – teenagers are pretty much treated like adults, or at least persons in their own right, with their own points of view and insights. Dinner conversations last from the main meal to dessert and coffee after, with people even lingering long after, if the conversation carries. I remember being faintly surprised when Felix’s brother excused himself from the table. Back home, my family had dinner for a while as a family (without TV) before both my parents started working overseas and I started coming home late for dinner, after school, in sec 4, because of English Drama, and then finally in JC 1, when canoeing would end at 7 pm three days a week. Also, I started reading at the dinner table!

I also just got terribly distracted reading TVtropes, and so I’m afraid this post is ending prematurely here. I have a couple more Common App essays to write, and I know it’s such a pointless endeavor but I am pressing ahead nevertheless. If I get nothing else done this week, I will have finished all my university applications (I seem to have given up on Science-Po, and am only refusing to admit it) and searched for the necessary scholarships, I hope, and then I’ll have the last week of winter break to chill, work a little on things I actually want to work on, and cook.

2. Am done with my distractions. Have spent the past hour alternating between reading online and refreshing Facebook almost compulsively, for something I’m denying I’m waiting for.

My winter break has been … I had a lovely few days with G and D at our host mom’s, who was a lovely, liberal woman originally from Wales, and very independent and competent. A few epic moments transpired between G and I, because she’s – ok, both of us are fairly retarded. She walked into a door at some point, and fell off the air bed. So did I, the latter. The three of us ate Chinese BBQ pork and rice essentially squatting (well, they had chairs. I was kneeling on the ground) along the side of the street in China, blithely ignoring the disapproving stares of passerbys. My host mom also had a compact but well-stocked kitchen which I adored and made use of extensively. I made dinner (veggie-stuffed portobello mushrooms) the last night I was there, and discovered, in the process, a debilitating phobia of the seeds within a pepper. I’m not even kidding. I sliced the peppers in half and I didn’t notice the insides, initially, so I was chopping them up happily, and then I flipped the top half over, and there was a mass of icky white seeds clinging to the inside, and I had a massive freak out and refused to chop it anymore.G had to take over. It was unexpected, to say the least. Just last night, I was in bed trying to fall asleep when I remembered that episode, and I shuddered, picturing the seeds. It was gross.

With my parents, I went ice-skating twice; it was a very wobbly first hour, but I’m happy to say that after that, I felt comfortable skating again, and I only fell once! That’s pretty much all that happened. I’m a few pages shy of finishing Sartre’s Huis Clos. It could be because I’m missing a lot of it because of the French, which is understandable but I think only on a literal level, but I’m not feeling the impact of it, especially since the famous line, L’enfer, c’est les autres, appears surprisingly early as a premise rather than a conclusion, as I’d expected.

Tomorrow, we are off to Seattle, which would be a charming three hour drive, I’d expect. To be quite honest, I think I can’t wait for this year to end already.

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