Friday, January 26, 2007
當然，在Wellesley，洗手間永遠是爆滿的。三不五時還會有hall mate的男朋友大力敲門："Is there anyone in there? May a gentleman come in here?" 然後又很自動地將門上寫著"female"的牌子往左一拉，瞬時女廁變"co-ed"，紳士進來和穿著睡衣的淑女們隔著一個半發黴的浴簾若無其事地開始他的洗漱工作。
梅ちゃん at 1:13:00 PM
More than the Economists' IssueRead this over dinner, from today's New York Times aricle titled "Is Income Inequality Really a Problem?":
"Moreover, it’s not as easy to redistribute income as it may appear. In 1993, Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress thought they were striking a blow against inequality by limiting the tax deductibility of executive salaries in excess of $1 million per year. The result was that executive compensation shifted toward incentive-based pay such as stock options, which were exempted from the restriction. The ironic result was to make corporate executives far richer than they otherwise would have been had they continued to receive most of their compensation in the form of big salaries. The S.E.C. chairman, Christopher Cox, recently remarked that this tax provision deserves a place of pride in the “Museum of Unintended Consequences.”
Then the concluding paragraph:
"Perhaps a better way of addressing the issue might be to ridicule the excesses of those with great wealth the way gossip columns and Web sites make fun of “celebrities” like Paris Hilton. It could be a better way of encouraging the wealthy to engage in socially beneficial activities, such as donating funds to poverty relief, instead of buying yachts and jewels."
Sounds sarcastic huh? But is there a better solution out there?
Ridiculing the rich and putting a gentle pat on their shoulder, hoping that they could possibly step out of their very comfort zone and care for the have-not's? Is that even a sustainable solution?
It seems to me, it's no longer an economic/political issue but an issue entering the ground of morality. We need more than just economists and politicians who speak.
梅ちゃん at 8:53:00 AM
Thursday, January 25, 2007
感謝朋友的陪伴，one of the most precious things in the world.
梅ちゃん at 1:45:00 PM
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
希望M called and said that she doesn't know what to do for Chinese New Year. She'd like to come to Boston but tickets during this hot season are unbearably pricy ...
Having gone through two holidays this past year with no family nearby and not at a place called home, I completely understand how she feels.
However - currently - I'm down to no solutions to offer.
Sometimes I wonder if all this talk about independence is all that worthwhile. Why do we need to be far away from our family and loved ones in the name of career, schooling, degree-earning, money-acculuatiing, or experience-gathering? At the end of the day, is it worth it?
Having spent 4 days (& 4 nights) doing nothing but grading, my brain is too fried to come up with a more plausible answer. But my intuition tells me - no.
Till tomorrow when more clarity in mind returns ...
梅ちゃん at 2:44:00 PM
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
On a different note - Anyone good at coding or what not please help me out! Blogger support group obviously is too busy to take care of this petty problem on this site ...
梅ちゃん at 2:47:00 AM
Monday, January 22, 2007
想念坷仔麵線的1:30 amOn the shuttle to Lamont today I saw a few students dragging their luggage around, penting.
Ah, they are going home. Again, for the 3rd time, perhaps (Thanksgiving + Christmas + intercession now) ...
Envious, absolutely envious. No other word could describe my state of mind at that moment.
I don't know what is it about me these days, but I don't think I've ever been this homesick my whole life.
Maybe it's the desire to run away from everything here (such as all the exam books still awaiting to be graded; I'm literally getting nightmires about them);
Maybe it's yearning for a warmer place (anywhere but here that's below freezing point);
Maybe it's not wanting to go home to a empty house of darkness and silence;
Maybe I'm just not getting quality sleep these day.
Maybe ... maybe ... maybe ...
Of what use? There is absolutely no way that I could possibly be home anytime soon, so why even bother toiling with the idea?
But I can't help it.
1:30 am at Lamont, my grading partner/TF colleage said - "Ah, if only we were in Taiwan right now, then I'd just walk out to the street and get a bowl of 坷仔麵線 ..."
And then we looked at each other and let out a long sigh ... 無奈之嘆。
梅ちゃん at 5:27:00 PM
世間痛苦大事之一莫過於在零度以下的酷寒天裡關在也不是很暖的室內改那85份、170篇的final essays ... 又是在72小時的時限範圍內 ...
可愛的年輕美國大學生們真的應該練練他們的字 ... 他們是從來不提筆寫字的嗎？
The comment section on this site seems to be down ... Those who wanna leave comments - email me and add some spice to my life!
梅ちゃん at 12:59:00 PM
Saturday, January 20, 2007
梅ちゃん at 1:53:00 PM
Friday, January 19, 2007
・＜Long Vacation＞的La La La Love Song以及那顆可以從一樓彈跳到四樓又被南ちゃん一手抓住的綠色小球（不就是小學時代在街口的破雜貨舖裡花五塊錢就可以自由挑選顏色的彈力球嗎？）
・＜戀人啊＞中那句細膩的「親愛なるあなたへ」或是「親愛なる君へ」；沖繩海岸邊上那片炫目的大紅花海（從此沖繩＝火紅花海的印象在腦袋裡根深蒂固 ... 雖然聽說花海實為電腦繪製而成?!?）
・＜Love Generation＞木村拓哉坐在渋谷南口附近的電影院前，看著松隆子被男友趕下車去的狼狽景象（天啊，那年暑假上班時，每天不都經過那個路口去轉田園都市線嗎？上個暑假的某一清早還在滂沱大雨中趕去那裡附近的Kinko's印東西 ...）
唉 ... 我們的青春啊~ 就在日劇男女主角的喜怒哀樂裡，悄悄地流逝了。
Now I know what it means to live vicariously through someone.
高三下學期，大學申請表全都遞交出去之後，the legendary senioritis began. 那時候的人生就像是盛夏燦爛的陽光，每天閃耀著炫目的光彩。誰心情不好了、被人甩了，一通電話聊到早上五點半。中午45分鐘的空檔也要去Mary's Burger喝杯奶昔爛用一下senior的特權；下了課把locker的門重重一關，到朋友家一坐就是幾個小時的日劇馬拉松。星期五到了，士林夜市的豆花坷仔煎炸雞排不能不吃，錢櫃的歌要一邊喝著彭大海一邊唱。誰過生日交新男女朋友或收到理想大學來的通知，Apocolypse的啤酒不能不乾，復興南路上的清粥小菜要去嘗嘗，最後外加個大安森林公園的清晨六點一遊。
「喂 I，你第一堂free period也幫我簽一下啦！哎喲，Kiku阿姨在的話就ok啦 ...」
「A啊，昨天看到你弟在music room練習他的sax ... 真是越來越像王力宏耶 ...」
Mr. Hahn在small theater的assembly裡發下那張關於“Third Culture Kids“的資料的那天，我們是那麼不將他說的話當一回事。
"Very soon you guys will realize that you have become a 'third culure kid,' someone who is always in between cultures, in between languages, in between people ..."
怕什麼？我們能說能看能聽懂能寫好兩國語言，在世界各地走過玩過和那麼多文化交流過 ... 沒問題的啦！
梅ちゃん at 4:07:00 PM
Thursday, January 18, 2007
踏出家門，迎面而來的是攝氏零下9度的凍寒天。喔，對不起，說錯了，加了寒風指數(wind chill factor)後，實際感覺溫度應該是零下17度。
決定了要留下來好好衝刺完下個學期的我有些彷徨。東大的接受信就擺在客廳的餐桌上，駒場国際交流会館的單人部屋也申請了，但是和他們解釋了我的正式入住日不會是春櫻滿天亂舞的四月天，而是進入梅雨紛紛的六月初。四五月的房租就算是他們賺到了吧，好在一共算下來還是會比在外面租個不到6疊塌塌米大，廚房是"disgustingly small"(a courtesy quote from F)，家具還得自己找的私人小屋要來的便宜。
因為還有責任，因為還可以再撐一撐，因為人生應該是要學習著如何去建築一個「根」，而不是像候鳥一樣地拍拍翅膀就走 ... 因為這些無數的因為，我，決定留下來。
在忠於自己和盡好責任之間，我做了妥協。起碼在這個當下，這不是一個"follow your heart"的選擇，但好在「做個負責任的人」也是忠於自己的部分體現。否則我就不會花兩天窩在家裡批閱那些時不時要令人抓狂的暴寫期末報告。
梅ちゃん at 3:58:00 AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Can Safety Be Guaranteed?Following the scary report from univ. police a few days ago, here comes part II (and finale I hope!) of the robbery incident:
COMMUNITY ADVISORY UPDATE
On Monday, January 15, 2007 at approximately 3:30 PM, Harvard
University Police Department officers were dispatched to the Harvard
Yard on the report of an assault that had just occurred. The victim,
an undergraduate student, reported that while walking in the Yard near
Lamont Library he was approached by two unknown males. One of the
males demanded the victim's iPod. The victim began to yell for help at
which time one of the offenders struck the victim in the back of his
head with an umbrella. The two offenders then fled the Yard. A search
of the area was conducted by both the Harvard University and Cambridge
Police Departments. The suspects were observed in the Law School
area. After a brief foot chase both suspects were apprehended at the
corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Garden Street.
The iPod stolen in the January 13th armed robbery that occurred in the
Yard was recovered in this incident. The two suspects will be charged
in both robberies.
3:30 pm, Lamont Library, walking around with an iPod in hand ... Hm, that sounds like my daily schedule ...
梅ちゃん at 12:28:00 PM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Beaches for the Rich ... & the Rich Only - Cancun 雑感 IIHonestly speaking - I'm very glad that I didn't save Cancun for my honeymoon hot spot.
After an hour-long, delayed-baggage fiasco with United at the airport, I hopped on the GreenLine shuttle bounded for the "Hotel Zone" and "Downtown" and started my vacation with a pair of thick jeans, 2 layers of sweaters plus a heavy winter jacket.
The digital temperature template in the shuttle reads: 28 C.
When the shuttle pulled into the driveway of the first luxury hotel (either called "Playa Oasis," "Mayan Plaza," "Oasis Palm Spring" or some combination of any of these few key words), all the passengers in the car went in unanimity - "W-O-W ..."
A long stretch of pristine, turquoise water sandwiched between a body of fine, white sand and deep ocean blue in sight. Absolutely amazing. Postcard-like quality.
Then another few rounds of "wow's" and "woo's" and "oh my god ..." and "すーげー" (or other versions of such exclamations in other unidentified foreign languages) before all the passengers unloaded themselves from the car. Empty seats around me, all of a sudden I became the lone passenger in the car. The driver was singing along a well-blasted Mexican melody streaming from the radio.
I see ... So, I'm the only *poor* backpacker bound for budget hostels in downtown.
Matters not! "March along!" I thought to myself. One spends her day not in the hostel but by the beach, and beaches are not subject to standards of 1st-star, 2nd-star, or 5-star ranking system employed by big-name, international hotels.
Because here in Cancun, all beaches - though not having any golden plaques of "5-Star" quality rating attached to it (this somehow reminds of those wooden plaques hung near every front desk area in all the hotels in China) - all belong to the big-name, international hotels named after "Playa Oasis," "Mayan Plaza," "Oasis Palm Spring" or some variations of these key words.
Maybe this is why Cancun is esp. popular among cash-crashing honeymoon couples.
"In the 1970s, the Mexican President of the time saw the beauty of this coastline where you happily stayed out till 4 am last night, sipping your margaritas and swaying your butt along with the club music. More than beauty, he saw business opportunities," the Mexican tour guide for our daytrip to Chichen Itza days later told us during the 2-hour boring ride.
"Wanting to stock up his personal - not national, folks, personal - revenues, he went ahead and gathered all the major developers/investors of grand, international hotel corporations. And one by one, piece by piece, he sold every part of the coastline to these int'l corporations," he continued.
"And this is the reason why, today - on a beautiful Christmas day like today! - I may not bring my lovely daughters and wife to the beach for a nice morning stroll or a quick beach dive. Because as soon as I lay my feet on the beach, I will be turned away by the hotel security guards. Why, folks?" He asked.
A 30-sec pause. No response.
"Because I am a local!" He at last said.
The bus continued to move itself fast down that bumpy dirt road with half-dead tree branches flying by, legacy of the previous hurricane.
I'm not sure how many people on the bus heard the quiet anger and frustration in his voice.
"This is OUR beach, OUR land, OUR coastline," he said, finishing his little Cancun History 101 there. "However, it is first and foremost enjoyed by int'l travelers spending their vacations with their newly-wed wives or cute little daughters."
On the 2nd day of our trip, D and I walked for 10 minutes along the one and only dusty main road served as the main transportation line for the hotel zone. At last we found the entrance to the public beach tugged behind the parking lot of a newly constructed shopping mall. LV and Escada flashed expensive-looking seasonal merchandise in shinny display windows.
In fact, it wasn't even much of an entrance. Just a dirty little path, so small that we missed it twice.
On the beach, we saw no postcard-looking bungalows, no palm trees, no margarita bars that serve drinks with blue, pink, and orange little umbrellas as decorations. Just the white, sandy beach and the turquoise water that was too wavy to swim in that day. We saw a few white tourists (we being the only Asians) and quite a lot of Mexican families. Somehow, the water is blocked off from the sandy beach by an elevated dike. Lying on our colorful beach towels (where we were actually on the top of the dike), we could see the clear blue sky and the distant navy sea, but the view of the turquoise green was completely out of sight. And to get to the water, one needs to either *jump* off from the sandy dike by 10 feet (hopefully unscratched) or - in the case like me - ungainly *crawl* down the dike to have my little swim.
"Hmm ..." D and I looked at each other, speechless.
The beaches in Thailand were dearly missed.
The 3rd, the 4th, the 5th, and the 6th day, we took different day trips to neighboring cities/islands/Mayan sites in the area. The Cancun beaches were utterly dropped from our travel itinerary. I, at least, don't want to crawl through another 10-feet-tall sand dike in order just to have a little swim.
On the last day, we decided to give the Cancun beaches another try. "There's gotta be better beaches out there to make all these honeymoon lovers' money worthwhile, right?" I said.
So we ventured out to another public beach. This time, one that was located on the northern tip of the shoreline that, according to my guidebook, promises shallower water and milder waves.
After a 20-min bus ride, we reached our destination. A rainy morning with scatters of medium rain. D and I trekked through pools of dirt water by the roadside and found the little public beach promised to be shallower in depth and milder with waves.
Yet another empty beach with no postcard-quality bungalows, palm trees, or margarita bars. There was, however, an ugly fence that blocked off the beach from the big hotel next door.
"Well, we've given it a try," I said. D and I decided just to take a walk down the jogging path along the main road.
Somehow, wanting just to get a glimpse of some of the highly-raved, 5-star hotel scenes for one last time, though, D and I decided to camouflage ourselves as honeymoon love birds and 大搖大擺地 walk into a hotel lobby. Inter-Continental Hotel, Cancun, was picked to be our first target.
"I have no idea what he's talking about ... He was telling me that by booking this tour, we could get a 20% discount but this other travel agent told me that ..." I was in a very serious conversation with D about which tours to book for the next day when D and I walked past the security guards and ignored their greeting smiles.
That is the trick - to speak English and to look like a tourist (wait, but we were tourists) who is rich enough to afford a bed in Inter-Continental Hotel for at least a night (alright, so that disqualified us).
Or perhaps it was by the sheer fact that we look Asian - not Mexican - that we could walk past the security guards and 大搖大擺地 talk ourselves into the hotel.
One of the ugliest hotel lobbies I've ever seen. No floral centerpiece, no lobby cafe, and very few cozy-looking sofas for sleepy guests to lounge.
5 more minutes walking past the lobby and arriving at the poolside in the back, however - One of the most luxurious vacation resorts I've ever been
2 pools and rows of blue/white beach chairs; a by-the-beach spa/massage room and a classy-looking buffet restaurant under a thatched hut. Hotel guests were leisurely sipping their late-morning coffee and tea and reading their papers. Everything looked so lovely and dandy, like an 18th-century European beach party with classy ladies and courteous gentlemen demonstrating the book of social mannerisms on the lovely Christmas Day morning ...
No high dikes, only plentiful palm trees. Everything postcard-like quality.
"I guess a beach may be dressed up too, huh?" from the corner of my eyes, I could tell that D's mouth was dropped ajar.
We leisurely moved our bodies towards the blue/white beach chairs by the spa room and lounged. Both of us were very quiet. For a moment, only the distant waves and chattering of the neighboring families and honeymoon sweetie birds could be heard.
Like I said - I'm so very glad that I didn't save Cancun for my honeymoon destination.
梅ちゃん at 12:46:00 PM
Felt like I just came back from a long trip from hell. But coming out of that horrible trip, everything seems to be looking up on the bright side here. 雖然系上的TF program給我擺起烏龍，東大那兒倒是前所未有的好說話，看來今年春天日本的櫻花看不成，倒是要勤奮地去Widener/Lamont/Dado Tea報到了。
Dado的音樂都聽煩了。上星期走的時候店員甲（店員乙丙丁戊也很熟悉了！）還說："Have a great evening. I'll see you tomorrow!"
On a totally different note - I LOVE my kids in the Chinatowns class. Reading their final papers at the moment and it's been a surprisingly pleasant experience. I LOVE these young social activists who go out of their way to care for the Chinatown community here and do so persistently and with so much energy. It also makes teaching such an enjoyable experience when you know that you have, somehow, played a tiny part in shaping their character and encouraging them to move further along with their passions for social activism.
不管是也還在改報告的、學期剛開始的、還在地球的某個角落玩耍的（或正準備去玩耍的）或是仍在努力寫報告完成incomplete的 - add oil, 頑張って，加油吧！
Gosh, please forgive my horrendous chinglish language ...
梅ちゃん at 7:01:00 AM
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Harvard ... *Sigh*A report from the campus police today ... I refrain my comments this time.
On Saturday, January 13, 2007 at approximately 3:35 PM a male
undergraduate student reported to the Harvard University Police
Department that he was robbed as he entered Harvard Yard through the
Widener Gate. As the victim was walking in front of Wigglesworth Hall
he was grabbed from behind by an unidentified male while another male
struck the victim in the head with his fist and then displayed a
knife. At that point the suspects demanded the victim's iPod and
cellular phone. The victim complied with the suspect's demands, and
the suspects then fled the area. The victim then went into a business
across the street and contacted the police. A search by both the
Harvard University Police Department and the Cambridge Police
Department failed to locate the offenders. The victim was not injured
and did not require medical attention.
The victim was unable to provide a detailed description of the
Finally they are not able to say, "Since this incident did not take place on Harvard univ. campus, it is currently under the investigation of Cambridge Police Department."
梅ちゃん at 12:37:00 PM
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Where Goes Media Professionalism?The other day we had a staff meeting to go over some of the papers together in order to reach a uniform grading standard across all the TF's. We deleted students' names from their cover page to make their ID anonymous, and then we passed the papers around in the room for each one to look at and then to come up with a grade. Then, discussion.
When one of the papers came under the spotlight, 2 of the 6 people immediately felt that the paper is plagiarized. Not that the person was suspected of plagiarizing from an online source or a published article/book, but that the person may have recycled another term-paper for this one. One of them suggested calling the student in and confronting the person directly. The other person seconded, saying that this paper draws too many outside sources uncovered in class that this is suspected of a term paper from another course that deals with a very similar topic.
The TF who is the section leader of the student, however, spoke up and suggested that it's best to first find out if the student had in fact enrolled in the other course mentioned. If it is indicated that the student has never taken the course before, then he/she naturally is proven innocent.
"But the person could still easily borrow a friend's term-paper and turn it in as his/her own," one of the 2 people who earlier argued for a finding of plagiarism disagreed.
"In the case of plagiarism, we should confront only when we are pretty confident that this is going to make a case ... But even so, I think it's best to call the student in and confront straightforwardly," the remaining one who also suspected a case of plagiarism added.
I was utterly frustrated by then.
"Guys, hold on a sec ... What if this person just has this amazing interest in the topic? Come on, I myself went out of the way to do a ton of reading on this topic even when I was 15. I mean, couldn't that be the case for this student?" I finally opened my mouth.
The discussion then took the tangent of talking about the student's background and the possibility of this person taking a strong personal interest in the topic. The conclusion - though by no means conclusive - was that yes, given this person's background, that possibility is valid.
However, the other 2 still insisted that if there is a case of plagiarism, we should not let the person go. At the end of meeting, one of the two people - by sheer fact of being in a position of higher authority - made an executive decision to call the student in for a talk.
"Alright, but can you guys make sure to at least look up the past registrar's record and see if the student actually took the other course?" The TF in charge of the student finally said. I sense a little frustration in the tone of voice.
Now - what is my point?
My point is - besides the fact that from this incident I realized that I'm naturally a very trusting person and terrible at suspecting people's ill will or malicious intentions - here in the U.S., PLAGIARISM IS TAKEN SERIOUSLY. By plagiarism, one means not only just the copying of passages or paragraphs or phrases of another person's work. Even PARAPHRASING falls into the same category of plagiarism as long as no citation or acknowledgement is given.
However, in Taiwan or in most of the East Asian countries (at least in my limited understanding), plagiarism - either in academia or mainstream media - still seems like nothing but a distant bell ringing far far away from, possibly, this place called "the Western tradition."
The other day, a piece of my original writing was massively used in a 3rd party's personal blog space without any notification or request for my consent of publication. Worse than that, there was no quotations whatsoever given except a little "PPS" (note: "PPS" not "PS" even) that spells that the particular entry takes "consideration" or "reference" to the original piece of writing that I composed.
Actually, the person didn't even say it was from an original piece of writing. "A record written by so-and-so," the person stated.
A "consideration" or "reference"? "A record"? You call something that's 90% close to the original (including not only the content but also the style of writing, the tone of voice, and even the particular choice of words) a mere "reference"? Come on! Even "paraphrasing" would be too far-fetched.
Btw, this was the blog space managed by a very senior media professional in TW.
I decided to say nothing and let the matter go.
However, the situation saddens me.
Now, today I realized that my original piece of writing, later on published by a mainstream newspaper, was treated with incorrect professional editing. There was a huge mistake concerning a part of an important dialogue that I discussed in my writing. By erroneously indicating the "comment" of an audience member that day as, instead, the "answer" of the lecturer, the entire context changed and the credibility of the lecturer eroded.
I literally went face-down, with my forehead sitting against the desk surface in front of me for a good 15 seconds. Thank goodness I didn't start banging my head against it.
In any educational institutes in the U.S., a case of plagiarism usually results in an academic probation if not expulsion from school. In fact, that is a stern, heavy message that I've learned since American School back in Taipei. Teachers take this policy seriously, and students dare not trespass the rule recklessly.
Even starting from my ESL class in 9th grade, I have been told the golden rule of - edit, edit, and edit some more. There are reasons for having 1st draft, 2nd draft, and final draft. There is also solid validity for why one needs a 100-pg MLA handbook if not a water-downed version of it FOR FREE from the library.
Someone just told me today that in their Communications Dept., anyone who messes up a date or mis-spells an URL address would receive an automatic "F" for the paper. A standard of professionalism that the senior professors proudly behold.
Don't complain to me and say that these are meticulously harsh and unreasonable standards for students to keep up with. When you make it clear to the students that you mean every word that is said when you say, "plagiarism = bye-bye to your school/degree," trust me, they don't go there unless they are truly desperate. And when you start penalizing them for seemingly careless spelling or quotation mistakes for incredibly important passages, oh ... they learn fast.
And then, when they graduate and go off to become professionals - they won't bother to go there.
梅ちゃん at 2:43:00 PM
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Drama to Go OnSometimes I need to imagine myself as one of those characters in Japanese TV drama in order to go on.
For example, at 2:10 am when I'm completely wearied of reading yet another 7-pg paper on "The Effects of the 1st Opium War" or "The factors of manipulations during Cultural Revolution," I need to image myself as one of those strong, beautiful career women staying up late trying to finish a grand business proposal due the next day in a nice, cozy high-rise apartment somewhere within the Yamanote-loop in Tokyo. I wouldn't ask for something near 六本木; 白金台 would be good enough.
Even though my apartment is no where comparable to a cozy high-rise apartment with glassy windows or potentially a view of the Tokyo Tower in a distant even.
Or I could imagine myself as one of those studious mid-20's, trying to prepare for some kind of life-and-death entrance or qualify exam (well, this does ring a huge bell in real life though ...) in the middle of cold winter nights with flurries of white snow flakes dancing outside my, this time, 6-tatami-wide but still cozy apartment somewhere tugged in a tiny alley in one of the outskirt neighborhoods of Tokyo. Potentially there could be a train line lying nearby, and there has to be a vending machine where I may step out for a quick coffee break. Even better if there's a small park 5 mins away so that I can just call up a friend at 2:30 am and have one of those key philosophical discussions on life or love while swaying ourselves back and forth a bit on swings.
Oh yeah, and there should be a kotatsu where I could tuck my frozen feet underneath or a white florescence light above.
In either scene, there has to be some kind of 3-sec reminiscence of a dear friend's 「頑張れ〜」message ringing in the brain space or some blood-pumping J-pop music rising in the background to make it an ideal case. If not, at least a お守りor some kind of cell phone strap given by a person of significance that keeps one looking forward to tomorrow.
Know what I'm sayin'?
I'm sure you do, if you've seen enough Japanese drama.
Well, in 5 months, all of these may come true, in one way or the other (alright, maybe not the high-rise apartment in 白金台). I may still have loads of papers to read or books to devour, but - hopefully - all such imaginations would come closer to reality that I could for once live in it rather than always play the mind game of longing.
Back to yet another paper on "The Effects of China's Defeat in the First Opium War," with Mr. Children flowing in the background ...
梅ちゃん at 4:10:00 PM
Where Goes My HEAT?!?*According to Yahoo Weather.com:
Current temperature in Cambridge, MA: -3 C (27 F)
Feels like: -9 C (16 F)
*According to house thermometer:
Current room temperature: 16 C (60F)
Feels like: Cold feet & frozen fingers after two layers of sweatshirts and heavy socks
Winter has returned, folks. This is not very far from the winter in Shanghai experienced 3 years ago ...
梅ちゃん at 12:38:00 PM
Friendly Sky In DoubtI know I have better things to do at the moment, say, to finish grading my students' papers or what not. However, I know that if I don't sit down and pursue this matter further I'd never get around to!
"Thank you for flying the friendly sky!" Well, the sky just can't be that friendly when my baggage always goes missing! G told me that she wrote these complaint letters all the time and more than half of the time she'd get some kind of response if not compensation back. We shall see how wise United may be this time.
Just for your amusement ~
Dear United Airline Central Baggage Services:
I am writing to report two delayed baggage incidents that occurred to me over the past few months.
1) Situation One
The first incident occurred during my travel from Taipei to Boston in early September. One piece of my luggage was not properly transported at Chicago O’Hare Airport when I was making my connection, and it took 2 days for the bag to finally arrive.
During those 2 days I made more than 10 phone calls to the 1-800 number for United Baggage Claim Service. None of calls gave me any updated information on my missing luggage, and all that the representatives could tell me was either my bag was still somewhere in Chicago or that system was not quick enough to update the latest status of my bag.
Upon my arrival in Boston that night, the ground baggage claim office at Logan Airport told me that because Boston was my residency location, I was not entitled for any compensation unless the delay goes past 72 hours. At the time I explained that even though Boston is my residency location, I was moving into a brand new apartment with nothing set up and that my situation was not any different from an out-of-town traveler coming into a new city with nothing to change into. At that time, however, the United representative said it mattered not and that I could only pursue the matter further if my bag does not arrive after 72 hours.
The representative did mention if I keep my receipts and fax them back to United, I might be able to get up to 50% of refund. However, given no clear instructions as to how to go about doing so and due to my new arrival in an empty apartment with so much to set up for, I decided to let the matter go and not pursue it further.
Just for your reference information, the following is the flight itinerary of that particular incident:
- Sept 10th, 2006
- Itinerary: Taipei → Narita (UA 882); Narita → Chicago (UA 882); Chicago → Boston (UA 182)
2) Situation Two
Over Christmas I took United again from Boston to Cancun, Mexico. Upon my arrival in Cancun, I realized that my bag was delayed in Washington Dulles Airport and was not going to arrive until the next day. At that time, the ground baggage claim representative told me that as United compensation policy, each passenger is entitled for $50 for each day of delay. However, at that time he was not able to assist me with filing a compensation request. He told me to show the delayed baggage report when I return to Boston a week later and go from there.
A week later upon my arrival in Boston, I went to the baggage claim office in Boston Logan Airport and was hoping to file a report. The representative there, however, told me to call the 1-800 number for baggage claim service and said they don’t handle any compensation issues there.
Today I finally called up the 1-800 number and was told by the representative that I could only claim for compensation if I had kept my receipts from Cancun that showed purchases of basic clothes or toiletry items. I expressed that that is not the same information that I was given at Cancun airport, so I likewise did not keep those receipts. After some unpleasant exchange of words, the representative finally gave me your address and ask me to write directly to you if I want to pursue the matter further.
Just for your reference, the following is the itinerary for this part of travel:
- Dec. 19th, 2006
- Itinerary: Boston → Washington Dulles (UA 325); Washington Dulles → Cancun (UA 1697)
Now, having explained both of the delayed baggage incidents to you, there are a few things that I hope to address.
First of all, it is very apparent to me that the baggage service of United is unable to cope with the large amount of travel traffic these days. Secondly, it is also apparent that the representatives of United baggage services – whether being the ground crew or the customer support line – are extremely ill-trained and highly unprofessional in their ways of handling customers’ questions and complaints.
Out of my numerous contacts with the baggage services either on the phone or in person, almost every time I was given different pieces of information that later on required more personal time and energy for clarifications or follow-up actions. In my first situation, given that I had traveled across the globe for close to 24 hours, the unfriendly and unhelpful service at Logan baggage claim office was very upsetting. Their inability to tell me more about how I could possibly pursue the matter further also revealed ill professionalism. In my second situation, more stress and annoyance came afterwards when I returned to Boston and wanted to seek compensation. Your 1-800-221-6903 phone line is extremely hard to maneuver even for someone who’s only in her late 20’s; out of my 3 calls to that number, one of them even transferred me to an international reservation desk after a long wait of 10 minutes. Had the ground baggage claim office been able to provide clear instructions or explanations of compensation policy in the first place and upon the first hour when the incident occurred, United could have saved the passenger a lot more stress, frustration, and time wasted on making more follow-up phone calls.
I have been a long-term United flyer as well as your Mileage Plus member since more than 10 years ago. Throughout the years, I’ve seen United services grow progressively worse, and out of my utter frustration with the past two incidents, I am hereby composing this letter to you in hope of not only bringing to your attention the grave degree of the matter but also requesting for some form of compensation from your company.
If I do not hear from you or cannot be given any legitimate explanations or reasonable compensation, I would have to change my mind and choose to fly friendlier sky of other competitor airlines from now on. Please take my letter into serious consideration, and I look forward to hearing back from you.
梅ちゃん at 6:16:00 AM
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
12色の心で、好きな背景を描きたして行くIt's another stunningly beautiful day in Boston, except it's a little cold.
I don't think it's within my nature to cut off human relationships. Last night, however, a record was made.
狠狠地將對方痛罵了一頓。然後，結束。No more cushioning of nice-sounding yet virtually fluffy and empty words, no parting messages such as, "nice to meet you, hope to see you again, take care" or what not. No "we can still be friends and continue to care for each other" bluff, and no more trusting in "the best of each other's attention." No pat on the shoulder, no final hug, no waving goodbye, no strings attached.
"Get out of my life," I said.
Moving on ... The road remains uncertain if not rocky in sight, but I will be strong. Can't fully describe how I feel inside but this song resonates deeply inside:
- Mr. Children, "Any" -
A great song. 超すすめ。
梅ちゃん at 10:05:00 AM
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
梅ちゃん at 2:44:00 PM
別以為我在開玩笑，我是說真的。我真的會他們說話。我也真的相信在他們極端純真可愛的笑容背後是一顆顆善解人意的心。The smile says everything.
能和高中以來的好友A透過skype聊上一個小時是痛快的。還能像十七歲的高中女生們在相互報告感情近況時歇斯底理地大呼小叫也是開心的。看來倫敦的天氣不比波士頓，三月底春假期間的英倫之旅或許應該重新考慮。不過我們能在台灣老是碰不到，跨過半個地球卻在印度大陸上湊起來旅行就表示在不遠的未來一定又會再見面的，who cares where it is.
Yes, A, thanks for the reminder, as always.
梅ちゃん at 8:57:00 AM
Sunday, January 07, 2007
背生字背到累了，就打開收音機聽著怎麼努力也不能完全理解的DJ談話聲，躺在床上看著天花板上的油漆細紋入眠。要趕功課的夜晚會在十一點半 take a break，拿著密碼欄刮得亂七八糟的AT&T電話卡來到飯廳，在おばあちゃん的固定坐位上開始長達二十幾位數的播號儀式。偶播錯一碼就要跳腳一陣。
梅ちゃん at 7:27:00 AM
Saturday, January 06, 2007
AppreciationSometimes what keeps me going is knowing that the students - even just by a fraction of an inch - have suddenly got a certain concept figured out, made a quantum leap forward in their previously stagnant writing progress, or simply increased in their understanding of things. On a personal note to me, one of my students wrote:
"Thank you for a great semester! I've really enjoyed HSA-13 relative to the other cores I've taken at Harvard. I really appreciated your photo exhibition in the last section; it helped me understand and appreciate modern China in ways I simply was not getting out of the lectures and readings."
And all the students who gave their final presentations did a fantastic job! Such great social activists - I love them all! ~~~ It's even more comforting to see them actually putting my comments/suggestions into serious thought. Seeing them coming all the way from mumbling through their vague ideas in head to putting their passion down on paper and conducting concrete, ethnographic research is exhilarating.
Something that keeps me in perspective as I'm making an important decision here ...
People like to say "teacher's appreciation," but I'd rather go for "student appreciation." They've all tried so hard and there's nothing I can say but ...
I'm extremely proud of them!
梅ちゃん at 9:08:00 AM
Friday, January 05, 2007
Addendum"Thank you for a great year. I also appreciate your talk after the midterm. My opinions on the class have changed dramatically. My Dad asked me yesterday about the class. Two months ago I wouldn't have shared my answer with him, but now I told him: 'Imagine a class that could teach you the history of China from its birth until to today. I blew it off at first but I am going to take the exam very seriously.' We both agree on the fundamental importance of China in the new global economy.
Anyway, thanks for helping me through my obstinacy."
- excerpt of a student's email ... He's also about to embark the journey of learning Mandarin.
This moves my heart.
梅ちゃん at 9:04:00 AM
What Moves Your Heart?What moves one's hearts?
Listening to Mr. Children's "くるみ" or "Not Found"
Seeing someone who runs the race alongside, just as hard and fast if not a hundred times more. One who never quits, never jumps ship, one who sticks to the end.
Walking out of long hours of seclusion in the library and seeing the first streak of white left behind by a cross-continental flight across the pristine blue sky
Crossing the street and smelling a familiar scent from adolescence
A pair of sympathetic eyes that say, "Yes, I understand"
The quick burst of recognition on the other side of phone line that goes, 「啊，梅儀是你呀~」. Even after years of lost contact
Mom's opening words on a voicemail message (unfailingly): 「喂，梅儀啊，我是媽媽。現在是我們這裡(or 台北)的 ... 點鐘。沒什麼事，就看你好不好 ...」
The green little buds on a bare, open branch that signal the arrival of spring
A bowl of 關東煮 in mid-winter at a neighborhood 7-11/Lawson. 12:30 am
Choosing between a sakura-pink or baby-blue towel at a 100円 shop on the first day of arrival in Tokyo
The first sip of Cafe Latte after a long, stressful day
Waking up early and walking out the apartment greeted by rays of morning light down a quiet, empty street
The soapy scent of Japanese お風呂 on the way home from JR 桜木町 station past 9:30 pm
Guzzling down the 3rd 梅酒ソーダ割りin hot summer days
Browsing through picture-filled menu of whichever 居酒屋 in Tokyo
A prayer by a broken heart
Catching the tail end of a shooting star (regardless if the wish was made in time or not)
A re-watch of "Long Vacation" or "あすなろ白書"
Seeing students who work so hard towards their passion/dreams, crying out loud for social justice
The hearts of social activists
Writings by deep thinkers
A book whose last check-out date writes "August 17th, 1965"
An email of encouragement or honest sharing of heart
Those who are unafraid of crying
Those who live for a passion
Those who live for the well-being of others
Those who love, deeply and unconditionally
An old couple who walks in front, holding hands
The moment when the plane takes off, off to a new destination with the unknown awaiting ahead
The fall of a crimson leaf, mid-October
A look of assurance and faith in moments of doubt
The architectural design of MoMA, NYC
Scenery of green rice paddies flying by while riding on 新幹線
Heartfelt chats with friends till 4 AM
A phone call from across the globe, not necessarily for b-day or new year greeting though that could be nice too
Listening to the elderly who talk about their stories of diaspora while squeezing your hands tight
Old photos of family members who were younger than the viewer's age
A song that speaks one's mind
Walking by faith, not by sight
A simple sentence that says, "I'm really sorry."
First mouthful of Pink Berry yogurt (original flavor, with blueberries on top)
The smile of マルちゃん、蛙蛙、冰冰 or 平平
When the line "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" flows from the radio
The skyline across the Hong Kong Island, the night view from New Heights on the Bund, the sight of massive train tracks on the pedestrian overpass near 新宿新南口
The last trace of orange sunset setting behind the Patala Palace, Lhasa
The cup of coffee that calms one's heart before a long long awaited meeting
Searching through the pockets of an old winter jacket and finding a piece of old old memo with faded pencil marks on top
Honesty from a genuine heart
Children who are always ready to play & laugh
Adults who don't forget the importance of being a child who's always ready to play & laugh
Women of much much wisdom
A song from high school era
A joke that is meant to make bring out a hard laugh that eases a heart in pain
The fact that this list doesn't end ...
The world is still beautiful after many moments and facets of brokenness, isn't it?
What moves your heart, my friend?
梅ちゃん at 7:55:00 AM
Thursday, January 04, 2007
梅ちゃん at 3:14:00 PM
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
坐了四個半小時的Greyhound從紐約回到波士頓（還不包括在候車大廳冰冷地板上席地排隊的40分鐘）。晚餐是在 W 4st station 旁不知名雜貨小店買的 carrot pound cake 外加半瓶 Poland Spring Water. 而現正一邊打著這個 blog entry 一邊以剩下不到二分之一包的油炸洋蔥圈垃圾食物裹腹。
聽著昨天從 41st/5th Ave 附近的日文二手書店購入的光永亮太 "Independent" 專輯。价格不算便宜，然在有張日本的信用卡可以在日本版的 iTunes Music Store 上採購前也就將就著點吧。
這是九月底開學以來第五個 out of town trip. 第一次 Chicago, then NYC, then LA, then Cancun, then back to NYC again. 除了去芝加哥是一趟開心出門、盡性回家之旅之外，其餘全為「逃跑之旅」。有以 "to give myself some time to think" 之由而自願離開，也有因為臨時被放鴿子而被迫離開。去紐約過新年則是為了逃離那有可能持續72小時以上一個人閉鎖在家的孤寂。自願不自願？分不清了。
閉鎖之事 is out of my character，逃跑之事卻是家常便飯。從女子學院 Ｗellesley 逃到"未來" I-banker 會萃之地 Upenn, 又從 Upenn 逃到みやこ京都，再因夢想著經歷自己的東京繁華錄而逃離古都搬入只有五個塌塌米大的 weekly mansion。畢業後到了北京，四環線外的人事地還沒摸清卻又為了遠離 SARS 而逃到上海。最後忍受不住每晚洗澡時巨大「小強」蟑螂的突擊拜訪而從只住了一星期的 studio 逃到最後破記錄地安居了整整13個月的小區宿舍。
連 114 街的宿舍都有著落了，卻又在老師的一 通電話下飲淚「別離」從來就沒有居住過的紐約，一個人強拖著兩件大行李做上中國城的十元客運來到波士頓。第一、二、三晚在同學家和焦躁不安、拚了命地採著滾輪徹夜活動的小小 hamster 共睡客廳。
"Make the best out of it." 收到寄自 Upenn's transfer admission ，決定離開的那晚開始，我就知道我必須學會這句話的道理。
梅ちゃん at 3:31:00 PM