chinese new year

I’ve been remiss in my updates, once again. Falling back into bad habits.

But it’s more than a little – I find myself in the all too familiar position of being alone at 3 am in the morning, aimless, tired, yet reluctant to see the end of another day. The urge to write strikes strongest in times like this, or perhaps my defenses are simply lowered.

I remember being horribly, unexpectedly homesick last year during CNY. This year, whether I anticipated and prepared for that scenario or whether things have simply Changed, it’s not so much pangs of yearning but a faint hollowness, a lightness that dogs my footsteps. It has been, as usual, without much fanfare in the college, simply because we Asians are a relatively reserved bunch outside of our community, to generalize horribly, and leery of self-publicity, but we’re having a decent Chinese meal Monday night, and that shall have to suffice. We had our reunion dinner in the Anthro room, as usual, with an appropriate (though not lavish) amount of food, and it was heartwarming to get together, sit down and have a meal. It wasn’t necessarily the most fun or stimulating of dinners, but it was comfortable and cordial and warm, and I did feel a fondness for everyone at the end, though of course there were, for moments, the disorienting superimposition of recollections of last year’s dinner with this year’s. The food was, I do think, better planned, but the inefficiency in using two rice-cookers and one hot-plate to have a steamboat with 16 people is unavoidable.

The half hour spent at the musical caf afterwards was also relatively lovely, and again, that surge of affection for everyone on campus. It – it doesn’t mean that much, you know, in the grand scheme of things, but it means something. Or maybe I’ve got that order wrong. It’s only been two weeks back, but it feels like four or six. I can’t explain the curious simultaneity of my anticipation of moving on and my reluctance to leave, and increasingly, I have had to contend with the jarring contradiction of my reactions to people and things and events – even as I wish I could be done with everything, I know for an irrefutable fact that I will look back at this place with a wistful nostalgia, will lament a multitude of things. I have been trying to let that thought motivate me the past few days, when my energy seems to be flagging, and the results are mixed, I think.

On the whole, though, I am optimistic. Standing by the salad bar and surveying the people milling in the caf, I mused aloud to someone that I can honestly say that people here have mostly endeared themselves to me, that I do believe people here are, on the whole, decent and well-meaning; there are very, very few people on campus I genuinely dislike or disrespect as persons on proof of personal contact. Yet I know I’m not half as interested in most people as I should be or would expect myself to be or even were, back home. I don’t really understand that, either. Sometimes I think it’s simply the societal structure here, the nature of campus life, a sociological tendency to discriminate groups of friends. It boils down, I think, to my lack of energy to be cheerful and outgoing and public, all the time. Which is okay. I have grown to be both more frank about and forgiving of my flaws (which are numerous !)

I had alumni interviews with Princeton and Harvard this Saturday and the last, and both were incredibly stimulating and fun exercises, I think. Thought-provoking, though not necessarily frighteningly challenging, and I – didn’t realize how much I missed that. Robust intellectual discourse? Heated debates? Back-and-forth dialogue? I have definitely ranted about this before, but the preference here for turn-taking discussion is absolutely symptomatic of the dearth of … energy in a lot of the discussions here, I feel. The way active listening is touted as the height of communication here is really anathema to me, because for me, a sign of genuine listening and interest is response, because I see that the person is actually interested enough in the topic and me to question and challenge and disagree with me. I want to discuss the issue, not appreciate your opinions or have you appreciate mine simply because I’m a person. Not in this context. In any case, university would be very, very exciting. I suppose it reminded me of the range of interests I’ve had in my life,  but also that I’ve never pursued any of them fully.

This post is going everywhere. Karaoke tonight was very emotionally satisfying, too; there is something about Chinese songs that makes something in my chest clench !! The calm beauty and the innocence of the lyrics, partly. We also played a lot of Cantonese songs, and that sparked an interest in Cantonese that has been lurking in the back of my mind, I suspect. I do keep getting distracted by all these little whims, though : P I’m not sure how I’m supposed to effectively learn German, French, Chinese and Cantonese at the same time. I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME! I mean years in my life. I suppose that serves as a fitting reminder that since it is 4.30 am now, I should head to bed, get enough sleep and wake up sometime tomorrow afternoon to get started on work. But things are mostly good. I skyped home today, and it was an unexpectedly familiar sight, my house, my dining table. Suddenly, I regret a little being so caught up last summer that I couldn’t really appreciate being back home, because all I wanted to do was be somewhere else. It’s always a conflict, isn’t it. It is sublime, being a part of something bigger than yourself, but then you run the risk of losing yourself. I think more of me is back now than not.

This song is unbelievably lovely – the lyrics, I mean. The melody too, but the lyrics are amazing. The video‘s – something else!


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