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I only have one class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 0730, so I'm done with class by 0830. Originally I had planned on only taking Cantonese (which is 3 days a week from 930 to 1030), but because I was unsure about whether or not I'd be able to add the class, I also signed up for Mandarin as well (which is 5 days a week). You'd think that learning two languages at once would be difficult, but it's actually not that bad. I spend a couple of hours every day going over the material which definitely helps for the quizzes.
Mandarin class today was pretty fun. We started the lesson on measuring counters today. Those who have taken an East Asian language before should know what measuring counters are. Basically, there are different counters based on the object being counted. Even in English, there are measuring counters (pieces of, cups of, pounds of, etc), but in the East Asian languages, the measuring counters are usually classified by the shape of the object or the type of object. So you use a different counter for round objects as opposed to flat objects and so on. I remember when I was introduced to this concept when I was a first year Japanese student, and just trying to remember what goes with what. I think the concept of counters has also been reinforced by taking Cantonese (the first chapter was all on buying and selling fruit, which are counted as go(classifier for round objects and people) or bohng (pound). Anyways, I bring this up, because in class today, we learned ge, the counter for over half of the objects in Mandarin. I feel very empowered by this information, for when it is combined with knowing the numbers in Chinese, I can now go into a chinese bakery and order pieces of bread or cake, or go to dim sum and ask for things in quantities in either Cantonese or Mandarin, which is a very important thing to know, when you like food as much as I do.
Part of the joy of learning a foreign language is being able to utilize it, so I feel really blessed and fortunate that I live in the Bay Area, where I can hear it spoken walking down the street and in restaurants. There's a big difference in my Cantonese and my Mandarin class. My Mandarin class is formal, and we are taught through discipline and structure, while my Cantonese class is more informal, but we learn the practicality of the language (our current chapter is on introductions).
But, there are days when the class is different, and today was one of those days. We first did a quick review of the numbers, and stopped at 44. 44 is si shi si, and he went through the room and made us all says si shi si shi bu shi si shi si (literal translation: 44 is or is not 44?). Yes, quite a tongue twister. Then we broke up into groups and pretended to be parents of a daughter and to come up with a list of 12 things about the future son-in-law, using the Mandarin vocab that we already know. My group's list of 12 things:
Ta chang mayou he pijiu (He doesn't drink beer often)
Ta you che (He has a car)
Ta shi daifu (He is a doctor)
Ta shuo Yingwen. (He speaks english)
Ta kan shu. (He reads books)
Ta mayou xi yan (He doesn't smoke)
Ta mayou nu pengyou (He doesn't have a girlfriend)
Ta you hao fangzi (He has a good house)
Ta de pengyou shi hao. (All of his friends are good)
Ta mayou haizi (He doesn't have children)
Ta you he cha (He drinks tea)
There's one missing, but I don't remember what it was. Some of the other groups had Ta mayou airen (He doesn't have a lover/spouse), Ta mayou he kafei (He doesn't drink coffee). But most of the other groups' lists were pretty much the same, given our limited vocabulary. Our teacher made fun of one of the requirements of our ideal son-in-law. "Very important," he said, "that the son-in-law drinks tea".
I got my Mandarin quiz back today. Despite my mistakes, I still managed to get an A! I'm so happy. I have a quiz in Cantonese on Wednesday. sigh. Somedays it feels like all I ever do in my class is take exams.
The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost in a good book, or giggling with my best friend, I live in a world apart, one full of adventure and wonder and other stuff adults don't understand.
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles
From your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy, you've got a friend in me
Yeah, you've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
If you've got troubles, I've got 'em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together and can see it through
Cause you've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
Some other folks might be
A little bit smarter than I am
Bigger and stronger too
But none of them will ever love you
The way I do, it's me and you
Boy, and as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You're gonna see it's our destiny
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
"You've Got a Friend in Me" - Randy Newman, Toy Story
Whenever the going-ons in my life seems to revolve around a single theme, I start to wonder if maybe my life isn't scripted in some way. Sometimes things just seem too coincidental, you know?
I dreamed last night, of work and school. At first I was in my Chinese class, taking a quiz, which wasn't too hard, and then all of a sudden I'm in an auditorium with an overhead projector, with a contract being projected onto the auditorium size movie screen, and being told that we're going to need to wait until December 15th to sign a contract.
I think this means that I've been spending too much time on work and school and not enough time for anything else.
This has been a tough week. Personally, professionally, scholastically. I'm glad it's over, and that the weekend's here so I can relax a bit, and catch up on some much needed sleep. I've only been getting an average of 4 hours of sleep these past few days.
I think I did pretty well on my quiz today. I still messed up a few chinese characters: yinhang (bank) I reversed the second radical, xuesheng (student) I wrote xuexian and I wrote cidian (dictionary) wrong, and I couldn't remember how to write benzi (notebook). To be fair, benzi was on the list of supplementary words, so we shouldn't have been required to know it... But overall, not bad, and I'm sure all my studying yesterday helped.
My Cantonese and Mandarin class are very different from each other. In Mandarin, there's no one in the class taking the class for an easy 'A'., because it's quite a bit of work. From a class of 30 students, there are only 14 remaining. The reason we are all taking the class is because we want to learn the language. Our instructor isn't strict, but is very focused on teaching our class, and does drills and exercises. If you come prepared to learn, you get a lot out of going to class.
My Cantonese class on the other hand...The majority of my Cantonese class already speaks Cantonese, so they're taking it for an easy A. The professor doesn't like this, because those students don't come to class, and when they do, they're gabbing in the corner, and not paying attention. I've become acquainted with most of the other students who are taking the class for other reasons, since we're usually the ones with the confused look on our faces when the Dr. Leung goes into full bore Cantonese.
It's a class I have a love-hate relationship with. Sometimes I love the class, and sometimes I hate it because I feel like we're wasting class time. But it usually gives me my laugh of the day. Today, we were doing gaaisiuh(introductions), and he went around and asked questions. This is what he asked one of the non-native speakers in the class:
Dr. Leung: Neih giujouh matyeh meng a? Neih bindouh yahn a? (What is your name? Which country do you come from?)
Kelly: Ngoh giujouh Kelly. Ngoh haih Taiwanyahn. (My name is Kelly. I am from Taiwan).
Dr. Leung: Neih sik gong matyeh wa a?" (What do you speak?)
Kelly: Taiwan sik gong Guandongwa (They speak Cantonese in Taiwan).
The class bursts out laughing at this point, because the professor lets loose a huge hearty laugh...
It's hard to think of Cat as an ex-girlfriend, but she is. I'd take her back in a second if I could. I'm a mess still because I really did love her... and I probably always will. She's still the last thought before I go to bed at night, and the first when I wake. Being with Cat was wonderful... and yet, it stirred up things I thought I had moved past. Old insecurities, old feelings, and somehow, I knew that I would be the one getting hurt at the end of it all, because that is the way it always is. I don't like to think of myself as fragile, but emotionally, I can be. Part of this is the problem of having a good memory... it's hard to let go of things.
I have yet another quiz tomorrow. I must study and put aside my emotions. I was pretty productive this morning, working on my Chinese, but now... I shouldn't let things affect me like this, but they do.
My landlord, Daniel, is a guitar teacher and the former president of the South Bay Guitar Society. As I was pulling into my parking space this evening, he invited me to come to their Open Mic night at Espresso Garden & Cafe. While most of the guitar players who went up were amateurs, there was an amazing guitar player who played tonight named Rico Stover.
I've already linked to Espresso Garden, but I wanted to point out one thing. Take a look at the picture of the cafe on their website. Doesn't that look like a nice place to relax, drink coffee and study? Well, guess what? That isn't a photograph of the cafe. It's a mural done by John Pugh. At 1:1 scale, it's incredibly realistic and just melts into cafe. You must visit and see the real thing -- it's quite extraordinary.
I had an amazing night of art and music tonight. Life is good, and life goes on.
Knowing other people is intelligence,
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Overcoming others takes strength,
overcoming yourself takes greatness.
Contentment is wealth.
Boldly pushing forward takes resolution.
Staying put keeps you in position.
To live till you die
is to live long enough.
-Lao Tzu, "Tao Te Ching"
I found this passage amazingly inspirational and relevant to me at this moment in time. I know I don't need to decide everything this very moment for the rest of my life, but I do need to build towards a future, and push myself. It's something that I've forgotten since I graduated. I came out of Berkeley with a plan -- I was going to work for a few years, get a Master's and work, eventually starting my own business.
There's many a fairy tale about some poor lost traveller going through an enchanted fairy wood, and being bewitched to stay a while, he stays until he comes out, surprised that hundreds of years have passed. That was me while I was working within Blizzard's enchanted glade for 6 years. Time has passed, and I need to put my life back on track. There were lots of courses I enjoyed at Berkeley, and lots of courses I did well in. I think I've drifted far from my original course, but I know I can steer my life to somewhere I want to be. I will change what I can, and accept what I can't.
Hooray! My quiz is done. I did ok. Yesterday I wasn't sure if I would keep the class or not, but now I'm sure I'm going to keep it. Going to stick through with it, because despite the fact that I don't really like his style, I have to learn to adapt to it, because at some point in my life I'm going to have teachers whose teaching methods I dislike in classes I won't be able to get out of. Have I always been this spoiled?
I haven't decided where I want to go for the weekend, or if I want to go at all. I might not go after all, since I've had a lot of time to think about things today. I've talked to Cat, family and friends about some of the issues on my mind, so I feel alot better, and I can see some resolution in the near future.
Some quick paraphrases of the things that were said during the week:
"All of us have to do things we don't like sometimes. Just don't make a career out of it."
"School is for finding out where your interests lie."
"Everything requires a certain level of commitment. Are you sure this is really what you want to do?"
"You need some credentials. It's not hurting you now, but it might in the future."
The following is my plan for the forseeable future:
Keep going to school to enrich my education. Study hard and get good grades.
This serves two purposes, actually. The first is that it gets me back into the mindset of school. If my future is grad school, then I need to do this. The second reason is also grad school related: to get some good teacher recommendations. Maybe some of this can help boost my GPA and thus help in my admittance.
Work at friend's start up at least until January.
I may not like the type of work, but at least I'll have a job.
Not purchase anything I don't absolutely need.
There is already too much stuff cluttering up my apartment, and I do need to get rid of some of the excess.
It's not just the issue that I haven't finished anything yet, but having this much time to do writing doesn't happen often, and I need to take advantage of it.
I made a resolution in January to finish at the very least one, and I intend to do just that.
Figure out what really makes me happy in life, rather than who.
I know I like to help people, and feel like I've affected their lives in a positive way. I know that's broad, and there's many things to do jobwise that could result in that outcome, so the challenge will be in narrowing that focus down. As for the who part, I already know the people who make my life worth living, and they know it too.
With the exception of the last one, I'm setting the deadline for the completion of all of those in January. In January I'll re-examine where I am, make the appropriate extensions if necessary and make new resolutions.
The year is close to be 3/4s done, and it has been a roller coaster of a year for me so far, both professionally and personally, but I wouldn't trade a moment.
One of my tires had a flat today, but because I have horrible luck with tires when I bought these tires 4 months ago I actually sprung for the lifetime tire replacement plan on the tires. Basically, if you get a flat, they'll fix it for free. If the tire can't be fixed, they'll replace it for free.
I skipped work today so I could do some more errandy type stuff and have time to do my mandarin homework and study for my cantonese quiz.
I also went to the Bank of America on 4th Street (across the street from the library) where they need a better air circulation system... there's a pretty nasty odor in the bank that really makes the place smell. It's no wonder that bank is always empty...
I went to the library today and finally got my library card. I also checked out a book. It's one of the more recent translations of Tao Te Ching.
I'm watching a program on Discovery Channel about the Hanging Coffins of China. This particular tribe was called the Bo, and are legendary, not just for having these ancient coffins ascend the cliffs, but also because it was said that they could fly.
What would it be like, I wonder, to be able to fly. To be able to soar like a bird through the sky.
It's just another day... the oral quiz in Cantonese didn't exactly happen today... My prof is so slow. He wants to basically interview each one of us individually for the quiz. I got my quiz in Mandarin back. It was extremely low, but the entire class did really poorly on it, because our pinyin is bad.
I haven't decided where I want to go yet for my weekend retreat. On one hand, I don't think I want to go somewhere else and be alone rather than staying at home and being alone. I know I'm totally looking at it at the wrong way though... All this time I've been laid off, and I've always been constantly busy with one thing or another, and I've never really given myself a moment to recollect all my thoughts, and really make some decisions in my life. Since the layoff, I've simply just been reacting to everything that's been going on around me, and not really taking the time to 'chart my course'.
Right now, I think I lack a sense of purpose. I feel like a piece of wood drifting along a slow stream. It's weird too, because there's so many things I want to do, and yet I never quite have the time to do them all.
I've got wanderlust again... I want to travel. I don't want to work, I don't want to go to school. I just want to escape and think for a while. My sister says I should go away for a weekend. Now I'm trying to figure out where to go to get away. I'm not a bed and breakfast type, but I need a place that I can walk or drive around in and not feel weird. Anyone have any travel suggestions? Anyone want to be my travel buddy?
I have a quiz this morning in Mandarin. I do not feel prepared for it at all. One of the hardest things about working and going to school is learning how to juggle all of these responsibilities. There's just too much new vocabulary -- about 50 new characters. I should have studied more this weekend, and I would have, if I had known. I'm tired and sleepy, and I know I need rest before the quiz.
Acocdrnig to an elgnsih unviesitry sutdy the oredr of letetrs in a wrod dosen't mttaer, the olny thnig that's iopmrantt is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer of eevry word is in the crcreot ptoision. The rset can be jmbueld and one is stlil able to raed the txet wiohtut dclftfuiiy.
I think spelling tests now need to give partial credit if you get the first and last letters right.
I woke up early this morning, so I decided to go for a run, which I haven't done for about 3 months -- running is my stress relief exercise -- a way to convert my idle energy and restlessness into something more productive. I jogged my way down to Kelley Park, which MapQuest says is about 1.75 miles from where I live. When I think 'park', I think of wide grass covered hills with playgrounds for the kids, some b-ball courts, maybe a baseball field or two. That's what parks were like in my hometown. Kelley Park is not one of those parks. Kelley Park is one of those 'picnic' parks, you know, the kind with picnic tables and areas all outlined and laid out, where people need to reserve space to use the tables and barbeque pits there. It's the kind that requires you to pay for parking, because it's more than a park, it's an attraction. They have a small zoo at this park too.
I visited the Japanese Friendship Garden within the park, and although the garden is quite large, I still like the Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver more. Going to Japan and visiting the various Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines there really gave me an appreciation for what these temples are supposed to be like, and the Garden here just felt too modern, and was too much of a departure from my expectations.
While I was in Vancouver, the guide at the Classical Chinese Garden said that there was another one in Portland, Oregon. I want to visit that one someday. Seeing all the gardens and temples recently have really started me thinking about Architecture again.
I have to wonder though, if it is too late to start over, to put all those years of work experience in a completely unrelated field to rest, and to start doing something completely different. While I don't think it's impossible, I do think it is challenging and difficult. New, challenging and difficult scares me, even when I know there is a safety cushion below me.
It's been hotter than the sunny side of Hades here in San Jose these past few days, and over the past two days, I've drunk about 5 liters of water.
My sister and I ran some errands this morning before having our weekly brunch together. We decided we'd go to Sono Sushi in Mountain View this time around. My sister, unbeknownst to me, had never been in a sushi boat restaurant, so she marveled at the little bamboo boats as they floated along carrying their delicious cargo of rice and fish. Along with the little plates of sushi, a lollipop was placed on the ends of the sushi boats, a pleasant aftermeal treat. It's easy to forget sometimes the little things we take for granted, and sometimes it takes someone pointing things out for us to recognize these things.
My living room is coming together, at the cost of my bedroom (which is now filled with all the refugee boxes from the living room). Tomorrow they'll deliver my desk, and I can begin setting up the study/computer area.
I took the day off from working to run some errands, but while I was running errands my mind kept drifting off into la-la land.
This has got to be my slowest unpacking ever. (Those boxes looks perfectly happy where they are, why disturb them?) I need more furniture before I unpack, but even then, the process of unpacking is emotionally hard on me, as is the process of buying furniture. You see, furniture suggests a permanance to the place, and I have a hard time thinking about staying here, when my heart is not here.
I'm back home in San Jose today after a long and boring drive up I-5. I'm still in the process of unpacking (and will be for the weeks to come, I am sure). Yesterday, I went down to San Diego and drove back home really late. It was fun, but I was ridiculously tired by the time I came back. Today I'm back in San Jose and tired. I want a few more days added onto the weekend...
I've been here the whole day waiting for the cable company to show up. I haven't been wasting time while waiting however, as I've been studying for my quiz tomorrow in Mandarin and getting in a lot of practice writing Chinese characters. It's pretty amazing when I stop to think about it that the characters being written are coming from me.
I'm kind of glad I was home today though, as my DSL Modem was delivered today, and since I'll be gone for the weekend to visit my parents in L.A., I was afraid that I'd have to be here on Monday to get it.
After about an hour of getting "Internal Server Errors" on the SBC Yahoo site, I was finally able to register my account and get online.
Although class has been going on for the last week and a half, today was the first time our Cantonese teacher, Dr. Leung, actually came to class (he was away at a conference in Hong Kong last week). The door to our classroom is a self locking door that requires a combination to be entered before it can be opened from the outside, and usually the way the students enter the classroom is that we wait for the previous class to leave, and then grab the door before it locks all of us out. We're sitting in our seats waiting for the teacher to enter into the classroom when we hear the sound of the doorknob rattle, and a Chinese man in his mid to late 60s trying to enter into the classroom. We jump from our chairs and open the door for him. It's Dr. Leung, and as he drags his small luggage-style suitcase in, he wears the look of a man who gets right down to business. He unpacks his suitcase and in a methodical style begins to lay out his books and papers. He mutters a word or two about the stuff left on the white board from the previous class, says a short and terse jouh sahn and as we wonder what exactly this teacher is like, he asks us in a voice that can only be heard standing 2 feet away from him what we've learned in the week that he's been away. The class murmurs an answer and he asks us to speak louder. His English is crisp and clear, without a hint of Mandarin or Cantonese influence. We answered that we learned fruits and introductions and we watched a video on Friday. "So you finished lesson one, then. Maybe you are ready for a quiz now." We all gasp in surprise at the mention of a quiz, as he says "Let's go over the material. Turn to page 18." He begins going over the fruits with us. We're all sitting there, dreading the thought of the quiz.
One of the students asks him something about grapes, and why is it that he learnt it as pouhtaihji while the book just abbreviates it as taihji. Dr. Leung provides an long-winded explanation about how grapes are from the area of the Silk Road and Turpan, but never manages to really give the answer to the question, and I thought, oh great, he's one of those teachers.
He starts on going over the introductions and starts off with "ngoh meng Kai" (I am called Kai) and then he adds "That's Kai, as in Kaiser, which means prince, not hospital". As we go over introductions, he makes us go over everyone who has gone on before. I say, "ngoh haih Mike, neih haih Kai, neih haih Winnie, neih haih Barbara." At this point, Dr. Leung bursts out laughing and says "Why are you changing my name?" I repeat it, and he gets frustrated with me, and still laughing he says "Okay, next!" and moves on. I realize at that point what I had been saying and why it was wrong. Neih means "you"... and what I was supposed to be using was supposed to be "keuih" which means "this person"... We go around the class and we introduce everyone, and then we count off one by one. "Yih, yiu, saam" Dr. Leung and the two students ahead of me count off. "sei." I say. "Higher!" Dr. Leung says. "Sei" I say again. "Higher!" he says. "Sei" I say, as he says "Good, next".
Even though from what I've written he probably sounds like a rough teacher, he had the class (including myself) in laughter for most of the hour, as he explained the romanization of Cantonese in his flawless British accent, and introduced new vocabulary to us. He made us look at the sylabus and repeat "ching chaau choi ngauh laam mihn" to get us used to hearing the 6 tones of Cantonese. Then he broke it up to "ching chaau choi" and "ngauh laam mihn" Choi is like bok choy and chaau is like "chow" which means fried... and then as he explains ching he goes into this story about how he lived during World War Two, and how they had to have stir-fried vegatables everyday... and how ching doesn't really have any meaning at all...
Next, he told us to go to the Chinese restaurant on Jackson Street and ask for ngauh laahm mihn. mihn of course is mein or noodles, and ngauh laahm turned out to be cow stomach, or tripe.
Very funny teacher. At the end of the class, I couldn't help wishing that I had taken Mandarin with him as well. It's pretty rare (at least for me) to find teachers that I genuinely like. I found myself much more impressed by the teaching staff here in SJSU than I ever did at Cal, and I find myself realizing that better education doesn't always equate to bigger or more prestigous or more expensive school, but that the true value of a university education is in the teachers that support it, and the willingness of the student to learn.
I went to the Admissions office to turn in my forms to add classes today, and they said that since I had completed my Bachelor's already, I was registered as a Grad student. One of the Administrative assistants for the foriegn language department saw me outside a classroom studying my Mandarin, and asked me what I was taking. I told him I was taking both Mandarin and Cantonese, and he said that if I minored in Chinese, I could probably get a scholarship. Events like this sometimes make me wonder why I didn't take more advantage of university resources when I was an undergrad.
I've learned from packing and unboxing that the bulk my belongings can be categorized into a few categories:
By far the most numerous boxes are books. I was always taught that you could never have too many books, and as a result, it definitely shows. At present, I have 28 bankers boxes full of books.
DVDs make up a pretty good amount of my belongings, and I remember initally when the format was new, I often had more titles on DVD than the local Blockbuster. I have 3 large bookshelves full of DVDs.
While they are a neccessity, I have way too much. If it was easier to donate to places like Salvation Army, I'm sure my closet would be much cleaner.
I have way too much in terms of Home Electronics... TVs, audio and video equipment, etc.
These are all the odds and ends I've picked up over the years. Often called stuff, but more commonly referred to by most outsiders as junk.
Happy Labor Day, everyone. I spent nearly the whole day and night moving yesterday, starting at 7am, going until 7pm, taking a little break for dinner with my sister Grace, Betina and Hans, and then getting back to moving until 4am in the morning. But it's all done. I'm officially moved out of my Foster City apartment. For over six years I lived there, and it became my post-Berkeley graduation home. It was comfortable living there, and I'm sad to leave. I always get emotional when I leave a place and turn into a complete worrywart when I need to start somewhere new. I remember my first few days in Foster City, I really missed being in Berkeley... and now in San Jose, I find myself really missing Foster City. I guess part of it is the with the area -- I'm not even sure where to get get gasoline here. But I do know where the library is. I feel really sorry for the garbage men who will go to the apartment complex today -- there were 5 move outs yesterday, and the trashbins were overflowing with garbage.
My new kitchen is really small, but I did find an interesting feature in there yesterday -- a ironing board that comes out of the wall. The only thing in my fridge right now is blueberry waffles, an assortment of various condiments, and some mango ice-cream. My bedroom faces the east, so I see fresh sunlight shining through my window each morning. I want to get a compass and do some feng shui so that I can have a happy and prosperous life here.
There's a analog clock in the kitchen that I must replace before it drivings me completely bonkers -- I can hear the second hand ticking away from my bed at night, and often find myself tempted to count along with it. While counting sheep is relaxing, counting seconds tick away is quite stressful, as those seconds are gone forever.
The older I get, the more I realize we have the power within us to follow our hearts, but more often than not, we take take the safe, practical approach, never daring to reach further than we need to, and that makes me sad. I have been blessed with living a free life -- that is not to say that I haven't made mistakes during that time, but I do try to live each day to it's fullest and I try to change the things I can so I won't regret any decisions I make.
I may sound like one of those personal life coaches, but we really do have the power to take control of our own lives and live the life we want, but it doesn't come from sitting on your butt and complaining. You must take action. I have never heard of positive action coming through inaction. Sometimes the road taken is hard, but often the harder the road, the more rewarding the outcome.