木曜日, 12月 30, 2004

Back to English (whew!)

My Japanese is somewhere around a first-grader's level, with even less vocabulary. It's somewhat fun to write the required essays--they make me flash back to the mandatory "what I did on the field trip" "what I did this summer" and "why Mom is the best" in elementary school. I wouldn't post in Japanese at all if it weren't for the fact that class restarts next Tuesday, I've gotta memorize a speech by Friday, and take the final exam the week after. That, and interviews are coming up. *sigh* Practice makes perfect.

In other news, my brother had downloaded some songs from Moriyama Naotaro 森山直太朗。 I liked them and bought the CD. He has a very good voice and hits high notes beautifully. Judging by the fact that the liner notes had no photographs, I thought Naotaro was one of those performers whose talent outstrips their physical attractiveness. I was wrong. Perhaps the man just needs a better publicity team.

Jaquandor's comment cracked me up. (Thanks.) And it got me thinking about the Arthur movie, which has finally arrived at Blockbuster. I'd already seen it on the plane, but might want to watch it again. Gillian Bradshaw's wonderful historical novel Island of Ghosts left me with a soft spot for Sarmatians, and I enjoyed the interactions between Bors, Gawain, Galahad, Lancelot, et al. Arthur himself was rather boring, and Guinevere didn't interest me at all. I'll probably prefer Jaquandor's version.

月曜日, 12月 27, 2004

十二月は大学の申込書に記入する季節だ。 弟がバカだから まだ申込書を送らない。 母は毎日心配している、 私に弟を手伝って頼んだ。 全然気持ちがないが しなければならない。 残念だ。 :(

今は日本語プログラムの二年生だ。 たくさん単語をわからなくて、よく覚えられなくて、悪い学生だ。 しかし にほんごが本道に好きだから、 勉強していくつもりだ。 

Blogging in Japanese today:

最近家に暇だったが 全然勉強しなかった。 今冬休みは九日があるから 時間がなくて しんぱいしている

ボストンを出たから、 日本語を時々使った。 テレビは日本語チャンネルがあって よくJドラマが見えて 聞き方をよく練習している。 しかし 書き方は全然使わない。 それから 今 ブログで 勉強する。

日曜日, 12月 26, 2004

Finally Finished: With the Lightnings, first book in David Drake's version of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. Lt. Daniel Leary loves the Royal Cinnabar Navy, women, and biodiversity; Adele Mundy doesn't believe she can love anyone, but can hack into top-security systems and shoot the head of a flying sparrow (African or European?). WtL is book one; I'd read books 2 and 3 first. Drake and Eric Flint's still unfinished Belisarius series is excellent, and this set is great if you love the O'Brian feel of the books.

Now reading: Keith Laumer's Retief series, based on an InstaRec, via the Baen Free Library. The first few stories are a blast; if they continue in the same vein, I'm going to buy the paperback.

The Million-Dollar Question:

Q: What do Taiwanese CD stores play for Christmas eve?

A: The William Hung Christmas album.

I'm not joking. My brother and I were checking out the latest Japanese releases when this disembodied voice starts moaning "Little Drummer Boy." William Hung does not sing off-key (I sing off-key). He emits a stream of sound that'd be more suitable coming out of his ass.

日曜日, 12月 19, 2004

One Thing to Be Proud Of

Like every other kid in the class, I told myself I wouldn't fall to Sophomore Slump. Guess who was right about that one?

One Thing to Be Proud Of:

Sewing a life-size Totoro suit. Then sewing various stuffed animals and stockings as Christmas presents. The last owl, for Professor Rosen, was frantically finished during the last lecture. He made a dramatic exit to continued applause, and I had to chase him down outside Johnston Gate. While handing him the owl, I suddenly noticed that it had ended up looking quite a bit like him. I must be the only student who's handed him a hand-made stuffed animal that shared his eyes. Who else can say that, really?

Home, and some New Year Resolutions

It was actually the most enjoyable 20+ hour flight I've had. Our room of three girls and the two boyfriends opened presents Wednesday night (I got the Darth Vader helmet I always wanted) ; I spent Thursday morning finishing an essay in Japanese, attempting an orgo problem set, and doing my laundry. The two hours of sleep I got were in the laundry room. The smart thing to do would have been to sleep on the plane, but Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment was in the airport bookstore. And then they had Princess Diaries 2 and King Arthur on the the plane. Oh well.

Winter break is ridiculously short. It technically starts on the 22nd--I left town six days early--and ends January 3. It's a great conversation starter with friends whom you haven't seen in six months: start complaining about the brevity of your break, and they get to boast about the length of theirs.

So, I have about fifteen days left, for sleep, good Taiwanese food, playing with my dog, and organic chemistry. And two New Year Resolutions:

1. Less sanctimonious opinionating from a college kid who doesn't know anything anyway. At this point, the only things I'm good at are sewing unrecognizable stuffed animals (new habit I picked up) and wrapping presents quickly.

2. More posting. Even if it's just dog-blogging. Powerline made TIME's Blog of the Year, and I need to keep this thing going to maintain my politics junkie cred. Never mind trudging through New Hampshire on Election Day.

火曜日, 12月 07, 2004

A Happy Thing Did Happen Today...

Went to visit Vladimir, Slavic professor into photography who randomly started chatting with when he was standing outside for a smoke. He shows me his photographs (especially the beautiful white nights in St. Petersburg). I bring food and a crude knowledge of Chinese history.

I was starving, so I just started eating while he talked. Then he decides to pull out his camera and capture me wolfing down a banana in unlady-like eagerness. By now, I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that his idea of a good picture is the direct opposite of mine. Then again, he's looking at composition, good lighting, and sense of action. I'm just looking at that double chin.

In the middle of this, a former grad student pops into the office. And--it's the sweetest thing in the world--he has an orange ribbon knotted on the jacket zipper. Though I haven't been following the events in Ukraine that closely, that instant sense of euphoria--just at the sight of an orange ribbon--is beautiful to experience. This is what it must have been like to be at the Berlin Wall in 1989. I was born after or don't remember the crucial DPP protests in the 80s ; when full victory finally came in 2000, it was a beautiful culmination, not this heady revolution. Keep your fingers crossed for December 26. It still might turn into blood and tears--but for now, just savor this flowering of courage.

月曜日, 12月 06, 2004


This semester has been like...gah, I'm too tired to think of a hackneyed metaphor right now. Basic story: my roommate and I (to prove Prof. Rosen's general theory) learned from our mistakes last year and then overcompensated. She was on the student council and spent most of the day running from meeting to meeting--now she doesn't even go to class, but stays in the room studying. I was anti-social, passing my days in the library or lab; next month, I'll be running for (and probably winning) two time-intensive officer positions, both of which have to do with money.

How I became a money person in the Taiwan club and yearbook is quite beyond me. I'm not actually good with finances--secretarial, worker bee tasks are rather relaxing (you don't use your brain), but the actual process of calculating which bill you can put off paying is not so fun. However, I appear to have a moderate talent for writing grant applications: a useful skill in this school. Well, any school. Lately, the summer internship search has begun; I originally felt quite lost, but a cover letter really is just like a grant proposal. Now, the problem is writing a resume. Skills: Chinese, Word, Excel, more than passing familiarity with the Library of Congress system, ability to sort things alphabetically, gel electrophoresis, Western blot, immunohistochemistry, wax and cryosectioning. Oh, and (sort of) translating poetry and writing grant proposals. Central problem: Jack of two unrelated trades, master of none. Other problem: Don't want to name-drop name of lab I work in, because I love these guys but don't feel like any kind of significant contributor there. Gah.

This summer will either set me on the path of no return for biology or give me the opportunity to try some other field for a change. Volunteering at the lab during term time has been a positive experience, but my time there just taught me that molecular biology does _not_ set me on fire. Biodiversity tutorial is much better, but it involves more discussion and less actual field work. On the other hand, perhaps this is the year to apply for government internships; the politics junkie part comes in handy, and I already spend my day writing proposals for panels discussing "The December Legislative Elections and Their Effects on Constitutional Reform." I suppose it's also a way to find closure: if my current activities and GPA (which peaked last spring and has been going down since--thanks for nothing, organic chemistry) aren't good enough to get me the internship I want, then I'm just not good enough. Rejection will be harsh, but at least the answer to "what if?" will be "no."

The irony is that I'm much more tired precisely because I've tried to be more socially involved and academically responsible. Last fall was spent mostly sleeping on the commute to lab and reading Patrick O'Brian novels. This time, I started studying for orgo on the Greyhound back from New York. (So much for that.) In retrospect, I did better in classes though working less. And sleeping more.

There is this project in Arlington, VA on studying sleep deprivation. The goal, I recall, is to build the supersoldier. A worthy goal--perhaps they'd be willing to take on a student guinea pig. Nah, scratch that: if I am to do biology work this summer, it will either be in Japan or the beginnings of senior thesis research.

I wish I had someone to ask about this. Any time I try to discuss summer plans with friends, it feels a bit like boasting or insinuating a certain level of confidence in being accepted that I just don't have. I KNOW what I what job I want. The many reasons (to find out if something that has always appealed to me is attractive in reality or just more drudgery, to shut up and do something instead of just talking, to live up to the example set by my friend Eddie's brother) still stand. But I turn it into a running joke with my friends, because anything else would allow their indifference to this small wish to hurt me. It'd be nice if my faculty advisor actually knew who I was and give me _advice_. It'd be nice if I could talk to my parents without being criticized. Yes, yes, criticism builds character--but even the strangest characters need a break.