Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Rant

別回答 別回答我 我愛著你也不能說
別回答 別回答我 我擔心你是否我太瞭啦 可時空變幻了這麼多 給了你我心中的王國
我不願一切就要跟你離開 隨著漩渦 漸漸沉沒
愛我吧 像是你的心不動 說完了 我都不想承認心痛 忘了吧 我也不能坐在這兒心掛 愛我吧 愛我吧

凡人的無奈 像是一袋赤手的紅塵 這倒帶 消失的愛追不來 要去忍受 在笑顏後有難過的時候 古人曾經說過 知己難求
愛我吧 我還沒有得牽掛 說完了 我都不想承認心痛 忘了吧 我也不能坐在這兒心掛 愛我吧 愛我吧

(方大同 月,爱我吧)

Don't answer; don't answer me.  I love you but can't tell you.  Don't answer; don't answer me.  Is my worry for you caused by understanding too much?  But time has changed so much - I've given you my heart.  I don't want everything to leave with you just as with a whirlpool that sinks into nothingness.
Love me - your heart seems unmoved.  Saying this, I cannot accept the pain I feel.  Forget it - I can't sit here with my heart hanging.  Love me;  Please love me.  

The helplessness of people seems like a bag of empty handed red dust.  Rewinding, the love that has  disappeared may be sought but never returned.  Learn to accept that behind every smiling face there is sorrow.  It's always been said it's hardest to know oneself.
Love me - I still haven't gotten your concern.  Saying this, I cannot accept the pain I feel.  Forget it - I can't sit here with my heart hanging.  Love me;  Please love me.  

(Khalil Fong's Love Me from the Orange Moon Album, trans. Ruo-hua)

我心很痛。我受不了。

再見。

Love,
Me


Monday, November 29, 2010

I scream, You scream, We all Scream for ...

Dear Little Friend at Chick-Fil-A,

I wouldn't have paid you much attention on my way out the door.  I had my food and we were in a hurry to catch a movie but your innocent question posed to your mother made me stop and stare:

You: "Where's the ice?"
Mom: "Ice?"
You: "Why is there no ice?  It's just cream."
Thanks for making me smile.

Love,
Me

Random

Mountain Lake Biological Station, August 2009
I went to a bookstore on Saturday evening and bought 11 books.  Two of them were books I had read before and just wanted to own.  8 of them dealt with Asian issues.

Every Sunday, I spend my morning twisting my hair around my finger and thinking about my life.  I get ready while thinking about the Saints in Taiwan.  I spend the 5 minute car ride to church panicking about the things I have failed to do that week.  I spend the first hour in church near tears about the enormous responsibility of being a member of the kingdom of God.  By the end of Sunday I have forgotten that the load I carry is too heavy to bear.

I keep thinking tomorrow is the day that I get to go to the temple.  And then I remember it's a 5th Tuesday.

The South Korean/Taiwan argument leaves me feeling confused.  

The South Korean/North Korean/China/US military skirmish leaves me feeling vulnerable.

Did you know that 'fun' is a noun?  I've never thought about its place in the grammar world before yesterday.  But it is most decidedly a noun.  Like 'love'.  Or 'hope'.

I really like the Dominoes Mexican Train game.  The more I play, the bigger the gap I lose by.  And yet, shuffling all the dominoes reminds me of friends and good conversation and I wonder if this is why people like mahjong.

I wish I knew what happened to my short story entitled, The Egg.  It was possibly the closest I have ever come to a good story or pretend good literature.  Watching Wongfu Productions' movies makes me think that it would make a good movie too.

What constitutes some great thing?  I think I keep hoping that I will accomplish some great thing in my life.  But I barely can handle the little things... like eating lunch or eating breakfast... or doing my laundry... or figuring out how to create a dll...

Makoto didn't play yesterday.  And his team didn't win.  They just tied AGAIN.

Kato got pulled over on Wednesday by a really nice cop who tried to make small talk.  It's a little unnerving for a cop to tell you he is familiar with your street when you are 3 hours away from home.  Especially when you don't know if he's just about to hand you a ticket.

Although I lead a busy life that has its daily random adventures, I secretly wish I was a creature of habit who spends her evenings cooking meals, doing laundry and dishes and ends up curled up with a good book.

I miss Asia every day.  I wish I didn't.  I wish I could turn off my heart.  And my thoughts.

Love,
Me

Monday, November 22, 2010

Leaf Jumping

Dear Undergraduates,

You see us at the front of your labs, TAing or teaching.  You watch us complain about our papers and our proposals and we always throw out the intimidating but nebulous RESEARCH.

And yet, you intimidate us more by the fact that you know what you want to do with your lives and you do research on future jobs and graduate school and fellowship opportunities.  We used to be where you are.  Will you ever be where we are?

But where are we?

Jumping in big piles of leaves with all abandon; we are children, once again, without a care in the world and without the weight of our research on our shoulders.

And you just stare at us in shock.

When you get where we are, maybe you will understand why.

Love,
Me (a graduate student)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Act II

Dear Self,

It bothers you, doesn't it - that your story doesn't have an ending. At least not yet, at least not ever. You keep hoping for the perfect little ending where something marvelous happens and we all live happily ever after. But in the stories, that's when you move on to another book, another character, another plot or just hope for a very well-written series. (Hardy Boys was SUCH a disappointment, wasn't it?)

And it bothers you too, to have loose plot lines. Last week you watched a movie with a character that you loved introduced early on and never reappeared - it frustrates you even now. Perhaps that is why you continually check your email hoping from some line from Isao or you drive around town looking into the face of every Japanese person you see hoping that it is that law student you met a few weeks back or continually attend every seminar you can to find that man you've dubbed as your "future husband". (笑) You keep searching for signs that the people that you easily learned to love and care for will reappear - that their lives will have been intricately tied into your own.

Not to mention those weird, unexplainable moments of your life. That time that you listened to a Chinese song over and over on your media player on your computer. It was beautiful and all you wanted was to find out the artist and the title only to discover that no such song existed anywhere on your computer. Or that short story that you spent a week working on only to find out that it disappeared completely.  If I was the author, shouldn't these events have to do with the ending in some elegant and masterful way?  Instead, I think they're gone forever.

And then, here's the kicker:  Here you are stumbling through the hardest period of your life (up to this point).  Past trials make for good stories with morals threading their way through every frustration.  But this one has no end in sight and you don't what events will transpire to get you through it or what sort of person will emerge.  Truly, this trial as no other is testing you as you've never been tested before.  Failure seems as likely - or possibly more likely - than success...


From the words of your friend, President Packer: 
"W e sometimes wonder, if the plan really is the great plan of happiness, why must we struggle to find fulness of it in mortal life? If you expect to find only ease and peace and bliss during Act II, you surely will be frustrated. You will understand little of what is going on and why it is permitted to be as they are. Remember this! The line “And they all lived happily ever after” is never written into the second act. That Line belongs in the third act when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right." (The Play and the Plan, May 1995)

Double rainbow, Utah 2009

加油!

Love,
Me

Monday, November 15, 2010

Koreanglish

Dear Friends,
The wealth of English phrases in Korean pop songs yields some absolute gems that I feel Americans undervalue and appreciate in our own musical stylings:
Leeteuk of Super Junior dressed up as Your-Guess-is-As-Good-As-Mine
"He's no Superman, He must be Mama's boy" (Super Girl by Super Junior M, Korean version) - Words cannot describe...

"Fantastic, Fantastic, Elastic, Elastic" (Ring Ding Dong by Shinee) - Just because two words rhyme does NOT indicate its necessity to appear in any song.

"Every day I shock <shock>; Every night I shock <shock>"  (Shock by Beast) - Finish the thought please.  Shock what?  Is this a Physics lesson in static electricity?

"[You] Shoot, Shoot, Shoot; [I] Hoot, Hoot, Hoot" (Hoot by SNSD) - Okay, I get the idea about Cupid's arrow and shooting but why are you hooting?  How is that a good response?  Again, just because two words rhyme does NOT require you to use it in a song.

BUT it seems the real gems come from things my sister thinks she hears when she listens to kpop music.  And it's awesomely hilarious because once you hear it, you can't seem to hear anything else.  Try it out for yourself:

"Last night I would be your obso" (0:34 of It's You by Super Junior) - Okay, so we don't know what an obso is but everything else makes sense.

"Oh, my super girl makes you want a baby girl.  Oh, my super girl - what you need's a super man" (1:03 of Super Girl by Super Junior M, Mandarin version) (This one is harder to hear for me since I speak Mandarin)

That's Okay, I rolled in Kashi" (0:47 of So I by Super Junior)

"Taco. Mexicans, they love me" (2:13 of Angel (Haru OST) by Super Junior)

"I'm a good Mormon guy" (3:37 of Beautiful by Beast)

Disclaimer: While I get tickled over the use and mis-use of English in Korean pop songs, these examples are not an indication that all use of English in Korean music is wrong.
Disclaimer: I may or may not listen to incredibly large quantities of Korean pop music on a daily basis.  
Disclaimer: If anyone thinks this is an indication of my insane love of Asia... it is.  

Love,
Me

Currently listening: Beautiful by Beast.
Currently reading: Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Currently noticing: 尤其 Yóuqí -In particular 

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Charlie Brown Life

Dear Chinese,

Unrequited love - it was always a theme that bored me to death.  And the whole Charlie Brown/Lucy football thing always infuriated me.  Why didn't Charlie Brown ever just move on and give up?  Lucy was NEVER going to let him kick the silly ball.  And then she would crow over him about it too.  "Haha, Charlie Brown!  You failed again!" What sort of friend does that?!

And yet, isn't this how you treat me?  I study and study and study and beg and beg for any kind of sign that I'm improving or being accepted... It's like a bad rerun where I run my hardest and fall flat on my back over and over and over again.  And yet, do I give up?  No, because for some really odd reason that I am unaware of, I still believe that one day effort will result in success.  One day I tell myself, I will be able to express myself in Chinese.  One day, I naively believe, I will be treated like family rather than like a white foreigner.

And now look at my relationship with Korean:

The other day I walked into a Korea restaurant and ordered in butchered Korean, dukbokki and kimchi jun.  While my roommate pondered over the menu, I casually looked at the kdrama being played on the TV and asked the restaurant owner/manager about it.  She responded and I noted that a few of the faces were familiar.  So then I challenged my roommate to figure out the entire drama while we waited for our food - this was fairly easy since both love triangles showed up in the five minutes we were there.  I casually re-translated one of the words from what the subtitle said to what the Korean actor actually said and soon the owner/manager was at my elbow asking me where I had learned so much about Korea.  She was enthusiastic and said she thought that I had lived in Seoul and had wanted to know for how long.

You see?  I casually know something about Korea and suddenly I have a fan.

But with you?  Somehow it's all mixed up.  I get mad at myself at a soccer game and find myself yelling in frustration in Chinese.  I have a dream with a war veteran who I'm talking about his home state of Pennsylvania with in Chinese.  I think all day by myself in Chinese.  But get me around a Chinese person and my mind goes blank.  Instead, I stumble around with a suddenly-limited Chinese vocabulary slapped together with American grammar.  It's an absolute mess.  There is no casual conversation about music or dramas or Chinese current events.  There is no casual conversation at all.  It's more like me running after that silly football and just landing flat on my back.

I think I'm still hoping for a George Albert Smith/Lucy Woodruff ending.  (or perhaps more appropriately,a 惡作劇之吻 ending) (or we could also go with the Korean counterpart: 장난스런 키스)

Love,
Me

For my dissertation, I propose to speed up time...

Dear Time,


We had a debate about you last night.  My friend, Lissa, insisted that I figure out some way to speed up time.  We had half an hour before rehearsal started and she had nothing to do and she didn't want to keep waiting around for it.  So we decided to add it to my dissertation topic: figure out the equations to jump time ahead.  And we went enthusiastically along with the idea.  The conversation ended though with her demand, "Erin, whatever you do, don't you EVER stop time."  


Except sometimes that's exactly what I want to do.  


i.e. When I realize that I am getting more white hair in my head that I would like to admit
i.e. When I discover that 20 minute halves in intramural soccer games are wearing me out. 
i.e. When I find at the end of the day that I am not entirely sure that I accomplished ANYTHING
i.e. When I'm with my family and I have to go and I wish we had time for one more hug, one more long conversation...
i.e. When my roommates and I sit at the table after eating a fabulous dinner and we just chat for hours
i.e. When the trees and the sky are so beautiful that I wish I could explore the world over just as it is as that moment
i.e. When I am with my friends and we just can't stop laughing over silly little nothings
i.e. When I meet a new friend who will only be in my life for a short time
i.e. When I realize that the wonderful moments of NOW will never return


Love,
Me

Monday, November 8, 2010

Snapshots of the weekend

Dear Self,

Lest you forget...

Do you remember showing up at 10:30 pm at the Huntwood house only to have one Peter completely confused and to leave the other Peter confused because of a random text message from a number you didn't have saved in your phone asking you to do a favor?  Not sketchy enough to be too unsafe, just sketchy enough to make for a good story.

Do you remember that time that you helped throw a tea party for your friends Emily and Colleen?  Emily spent most of the party running around exclaiming that this was her first tea party! but refused all offers of the tea.  Meanwhile, the adults tried to figure out what actually happens at tea parties while avoiding politics - so instead we told stories of our childhood.  Its hilarious to tell undignified stories while sitting around properly drinking tea from tea cups with hats of every variety atop our heads.
The tea party spread, by Kendra Ogzewalla
Do you remember gloriously spending a quiet Saturday evening on the couch, eating up the story of A Scarlet Pimpernel?  When was the last time you spent an evening just reading?

Do you remember Sunday's wonderful busyness as you and your roommates and friends managed to simultaneously prepare snickerdoodles; apple dumplings; chick pea, spinach and potato soup; homemade Italian tomato sauce; pasta; and risotto?  It was a blur of running between cutting onions, coring apples, stirring tomatoes and begging Aaraina to taste the sauce once again since you were fasting and couldn't taste it yourself.

Times like this remind you of the sweetness of life.  But also, you need to find your camera soon.

Love,
Me

Chance encounters

Dear Friend,


I wasn't supposed to be where I was when I found you with that map flipped upside down as you tried to make heads or tails of where you were.  The scene was almost just like a movie - you completely lost and possibly a little worried? while unassuming students passed without even giving you a second's glance.  And since where I was supposed to be actually wasn't and what shouldn't have been my own time now was, I was at leisure to stop and give you a smile and my offer of help.  


Of course, it doesn't take much for me to care about a person.  The moment you put down the map, I knew we could have the potential to be great friends.  And that feeling only deepened in our few minute walk as you told me of your plans for your very bright future.  Already accepted into the Japanese bar and in a Japanese law firm, you came to America to get a Masters of Law degree and to become a trainee in a big law firm in NYC for some time before returning home to Tokyo.  When we parted, I was sorry to see you go but wished for your every success.  


Isn't it funny that I never asked your name?  I don't even know if I will ever see you again.  But thank you, for touching my life just a little.  I will never be the same.  


Love,
Me 


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making Mountains out of Molehills

Dear Self,

Don't you feel silly?  You knew that your over-empathetic heart and your impossible-to-be-turned-off brain would get you into trouble some day.  But really?  Everyday?  How do you manage it?  No wonder you're getting grey hair.

Let's just pretend that people don't really care if you care about them or not.  Because in all honesty, most of them get along just fine without you.

Scraped up elbows, bruised and swollen knees, and cramped muscles don't a 'friend in need is a friend indeed' make.













Love,
Me

Currently reading: Polite Lies by Kyoko Mori
Currently noticing: kore, sore, are; kono, sono, ano; koko, soko, asoko (Japanese)
Currently listening: 一心二用 by Yen-j