Friday, January 26, 2007

四月天醒來的錯覺

今早在朋友YC的房間裡醒來,有那麼幾秒鐘以為自己是在Upenn的宿舍裡醒來。陽光從塑膠拉簾兩邊的縫隙灑進,外面有卡車開過的聲音、UPS包裹小弟推著推車上坡的聲音、還有走過的學生行人們開著玩笑的聲音。或許是房裡暖氣太強的緣故,躺在床上望著灑進的一點點陽光出了神,一下子分不清自己到底是在夢裡還是在一個溫暖、飄著花香的四月天裡醒來。

一切都充滿了大學時代的影子。開始懷疑過去兩年加今年若是住在宿舍裡的話,日子是否會開心一些,少去一個人的寂寞,特別是今年。

這個,就是所謂的grown-up life嗎?

成長的代價,以前從來都沒有想過。

在宿舍的洗手間裡刷牙、洗臉,看著鏡中反射出來的自己,突然又想到剛離開家到Wellesley女校讀書的那一年。那位離我中西部出生地不遠的小城鎮來的室友,隔壁間每到半夜十二點喜歡偷放音樂跳舞的兩位瘋女孩,還有那個室友入睡後自己自動搬入寫功課、講電話、打報告的小廚房。

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。

到了東京又要開始久違的宿舍生涯了。不懷念別的,倒是樓梯間隱約傳來的肥皂香味,一種日本才有的獨特氣味。哪位下回到日本去的留意一下,電車上(只要是在晚上九點喝醉了的薪水歐吉桑們還沒在電車間睡倒前)也有如此清淡的肥皂味。很細微的,但是無法忘懷。

錯覺有時真美。

梅ちゃん at 1:13:00 PM

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More than the Economists' Issue

Read 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.”

S-A-D.

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

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

痛快

人生真是美好,當身邊有好友陪伴的時候。

房東太太臨時來電,說今天在醫院和哥哥待得太晚,開不回去,必須在家裡過一夜。好在YC回了台灣,又不曉得為何將多的一把鑰匙轉交給我保管。想想,我就到YC的宿舍裡做一夜的過客好了,這樣一來房東太太也可以睡得比較好。

本來只是想和住在樓下的朋友R打個招呼,結果沒想到一聊就是四小時,乾掉一整瓶酒。

兩個字:痛快!

雖然本來要做的翻譯工作一個字也沒動。

或許R是對的,忙起來我真是個workaholic。謝謝他的提醒。

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

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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 ...

希望大家都幸福,在家人和愛的人的身邊。

梅ちゃん at 2:44:00 PM

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

記得

感謝好友A的留言。因為upgrade到新的blogger之後有網頁留言的困難,只好在這裡貼出了:

「那真是無比自信的一段時光,在墾丁亂開吉普車都不怕。天啊,都快十年前了,但記憶仍那麼的清晰。

妳這麼一提,我也記得那天在small theater的情景!原來大家都有共同的回憶。」

還有在海灘上搭個帳棚烤肉聊天到天明,那一早搭著公路局的破公車在被胡亂放下後忍受著37度的酷熱慢步到救國團青年活動中心的回憶嗎?

清晰到不行,毫無疑問的。

聽說人老的時候就算是得老人痴呆或是有腦部方面疾病,愈年輕時候的記憶愈容易被保留,反倒是之後的事大都忘的一乾二淨。先生得Alzheimer's的房東太太如是說,父親患腦癌的朋友也如是說。

若是人生走到盡頭時我可以選擇保留人生中某一段的記憶,而且只能是一段,那會是什麼呢?

肯定的是,絕對不會是我在哈佛念書的這幾年。

話雖如此,我又要到圖書館繼續批改學生考卷了。今晚絕對是睡不了了 ...

*****

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

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Monday, January 22, 2007

想念坷仔麵線的1:30 am

On 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 ..."

「我比較想要7-11的關東煮。或許還可以去公園散個步 ...」

And then we looked at each other and let out a long sigh ... 無奈之嘆。

真的非常非常想回家。

梅ちゃん at 5:27:00 PM

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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?

千篇一律的答案,無趣到爆 ...

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

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

神田・古本屋さん

第一次去神田是大三過完升大四那年在東京實習的暑假。一個梅雨季的週六下午,天色灰灰暗暗的,街上的行人特別少。事前沒特別做調查的我在池袋坐山手線到新宿換中央線,咚咚咚地以為只要在過了四ッ谷附近的美麗水渠道之後再坐幾站在「神田」站下車就好了。結果一下來沒看到傳說中的二手書店街,倒是在周圍還算清靜的住宅區裡閒晃了半天,才又慢慢來到真正的書店街。可惜不知是天候不好的關係還是在街上閒晃的太久,到了之後才發現大多數的書店已拉下鐵門,最後只好在大街口上幾層樓高的「三省堂」之類的聯鎖書店裡過完了下半午。

第二次造訪神田的古本屋さん是兩年前在橫濱念書的暑假,一個可以熱死人的七月天。我那年歲增長的腦筋當然又是忘了幾年前的教訓,這回從橫濱坐湘南新宿線的快車直達新宿,然後又是糊里糊塗地坐上了中央線,在看著四ッ谷附近的美麗水渠道之後到神田站下車。一下來就知道,啊,不對,又被這個JR的站名給唬了。下了樓梯出了車站,又開始在附近沒幾個人走動的商店街上閒晃,還貪小便宜地在某巷口的小雜貨鋪裡買了一個500日幣的平底炒菜鍋,想著回家可以為隔天的便當增添菜色。也還好因為實在是個可怕的酷熱天,走了不到一會兒指間的手絹已經全濕,心想著再不到古書街上的書店裡吹個冷氣馬上就要曬成人乾,也就狠了心不到目的地不再瞎晃敗家。好在這回聰明了點,帶了個東京23區的分區地圖。一邊找路一邊擦汗,結果不到二十分鐘路也就走到了。

與其說古書街還不如說是古書「路」或古書「區」來的恰當。一條寬闊的靖国通り貫穿其中,一間接一間的小小古書屋就坐落在大街的兩旁或是大街後面更為安靜的小巷裡。沒有特別想要找什麼書的我從大街兩邊的書屋開始逛起,通常是一本100日元的文庫小說會引起我駐足的興趣,要不就是有著美麗寫真畫冊的美術書店。偶看到一家外文書店也會進去一探究竟,順便瞧瞧美國那兒又出了些什麼新書。是的,說是說古書店,但是很多書店裡倒也有一兩櫃的原價新書。

東看看西走走,一個下午下來大街兩旁的書店都沒逛完腳就酸疼到大喊救命,更別提那些藏在巷子中的專門書店。又後悔沒多帶一個空的背包可以將書扛回橫濱的我,最後決定過一星期再來繼續攻略剩下的書屋。

當然,要將神田古書街上的書店全部走過一翻不過是個空想,或許也沒必要。神田的古書店一般是年代久遠的古書行,各家著重於一兩個種類的書籍搜購與販賣,所以喜好文學的可以事前調查好以文學類叢書為主的書行,到了一頭栽進了得。喜歡藝術、音樂、科學、歷史甚或是實用性書籍的也有專門的書屋讓你進去挖寶。像當初頭一回去沒啥頭緒就想過過逛舊書店乾癮的,那就像個劉姥姥逛大書齋似的隨便閒晃也可以開心個一下午。

最喜歡的,就是小心地將那扇擦得不是特別光明几淨的老舊玻璃門拉開的瞬間,在還沒被迎面而來的古書味撲倒前聽到要不是上了把年記的老闆就是打零工的小夥子那句輕聲的「いらっしゃいませ」。接著完全是你和比你年歲還長的書群們的對話世界。

沒有刻意安排的古典樂,沒有小巧玲瓏的文具精品充斥,也沒有大排長龍的書客迫使收銀機裡的發票卷條發出吵人的嘎嘎作響(或許有個快退休的風扇哼呼個幾句就是了)。只有書,頂到天花板的長書架,還有正在擦拭舊書外層那張像裹著牛扎糖的米紙般薄薄的透明外皮,再將那「吹彈可破」的外皮重新沿著書角仔細包好的老闆。一切都是那麼的樸實又有秩序。

去年暑假又去了神田古書街,一次在御茶の水的JR站下來經過明治大學(旁的許多樂器行)往北走,又一次是直接在地鐵神保町下來,一出站就是那條書店林立的大街。目標明確,書名都抄好了的我以為兩三個小時內可以攻下專賣與中國研究相關的內山和東方書店,結果卻費了四五個小時,又花了比原先預算超出頗多的大把鈔票。

好在內山書店有體貼的免費宅急便服務(因為買的實在太多 ...),且在隔天送達,否則我或許得考慮去隔壁的100円小店買個看起來像是主婦們平時買菜用的克難推車,再狼狽地在又是一個可以熱死人的炎炎夏日裡將寶貝愛書們扛回那坐落在五座墓園旁的狹小公寓。

今年暑假,絕對會記得在神保町下車,再帶上一個空的背包。

梅ちゃん at 1:53:00 PM

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Friday, January 19, 2007

上演的經典

最近迷上了You Tube。最開始是在搜尋幾個喜歡的J-pop歌手的MTV,結果找著找著居然能找到下列幾個「經典」片段:

・<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?)
・<東京愛情故事>裡莉香和完治的雪中起舞(哎,上回去箱根怎麼沒挑個大雪天去 ...)
・<跟我說愛我>的手語傳情(他們居然用手語唱著幾年前平井堅再度翻唱的「大きな古時計」!!!)
・<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?!?)
・<壯志驕陽>中年輕熱血到不行的划船隊夥伴們(以前還真的以為大學生活就應該是這樣的,有一群可以出生入死的友達!)
・<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 ...)

差點沒感動的痛哭流涕,想要衝動地用Skype打給高中時代的好友們一起重溫舊夢。

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.

我們的戲碼呢?還在上演嗎?

我們的連續劇,演的又是什麼樣的情節呢?是會刷新史上收視率的動人好戲、荒謬至極的三流鬧劇、還是那種兩齣好戲之間的過檔(墊檔)肥皂劇?

誰是主角,由哪位來導,演什麼樣的劇本呢?

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 ...」

「N, 昨晚三點半你怎麼還在ICQ上?今天不是要考Chem?」

「M,怎麼又睡死在沙發上?才早上九點半耶 ...今天有assembly你忘了嗎?」

「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 ...」

我們是那麼的年輕。

那時候的我們,對未來是那麼的充滿希望。要出國要離家終於要單飛;要背起包包帶著老師和家人的祝福去新的地方闖闖。我們是那麼的努力,堅持了那麼久,就是為了那個充滿了未知的,在地球太平洋另一邊等著我們的未來。

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!

是沒有問題。時間一久,不止是兩國,我們甚至是開始能說能看能聽懂能寫好三國語言,走過玩過和更多的文化交流。

不同的是,當年是複數的「我們」如今變成單數的「我」。「我」,開始以第三國語言思考聽音樂辨別小說世界裡不同的美學感受;「我」,在世界各地行走玩耍交流做田野研究。少的,就是聊到清晨五點半的電話,以及連續幾個小時的日劇馬拉松。士林夜市的豆花坷仔煎炸雞排只能腦繪不能口嘗,錢櫃的歌到了Quincy怎麼唱就是不大一樣。通宵喝酒玩山手線電車遊戲的夥伴沒有,想要在日初時分去哪個公園裡散個小步並在「加油囉!」的互祝聲中採著晨光回家也是白日夢一場。

Cambridge的治安不好嘛,晚出早歸為妙。

「我們」的戲碼,還在上演嗎?

還是經典的片段已經過了?

梅ちゃん at 4:07:00 PM

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

候鳥之停留

看完了每份「平均」25頁(40頁的暴寫文就有3份!!!)的11份學生期末報告後,我決定逃離被那鼻水流不停、腦袋昏沉的感冒折磨到不行的48小時居家狀態。

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。

要在零下17度的氣候在外趕路、還書、辦雜事、等公車是不人道的。還好連綿不斷的陰雨天停止了,否則今天一定會是個勉強算浪漫的大雪天。

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。

留下來,真的是對的嗎?每晚躺在小小的單人床上許久才能入眠的我總是不斷地問。去年五月在前公寓裡花了24小時瘋狂打包時,就是做了要以最快的時間離開這裡的打算而忍痛將所有的家具變賣,把在世界各地做背包客旅行時搜藏到的字畫飾物通通收到紙箱的最底層,又在走前12小時將睡了兩年的full-size床墊硬是塞入S家已經爆滿的地下儲藏間。一切的準備都是為了離開,以最快的速度,趁自己還沒被這裡單調、朋友走光、還有現在連白天在校園裡都有可能隨時被搶的環境逼到窒息前。

過去的十年,好多時候都是為了「離開」而選擇捨棄。挑選小娃娃的時候任何超過兩個手掌大的必須忍痛割捨,看到想買的書時又怕國際郵寄費會讓自己傾家盪產而放棄。在上海冷到不行,卻因不想徒增一個最後又要轉手的電暖爐,而夜夜腳套三層襪入眠。「可是,馬上就要走了耶」最後變成「反正馬上就要走了嘛」;猶豫不決的困難變成揮揮手、不帶走一片雲彩的坦然輕鬆。當然,除了踏上飛機前的24個小時獨自一人整箱束裝時,那會讓整個胃糾結酸痛到無止境的sentimentality。

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。

小小的外科實習生Meredith曾在第一季裡感嘆成年之後做大人必須面對的「責任感」。多麼地令人喘不過氣,卻又是不得不去面對的生活態度。

候鳥決定將停留時間延長兩個月,雖然傳說中的暖冬已回到零下十七度的寒冷。

梅ちゃん at 3:58:00 AM

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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
Armed Robbery
Harvard Yard

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

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Beaches for the Rich ... & the Rich Only - Cancun 雑感 II

Honestly 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.

HOT.

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.

WRONG.

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

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爛天中的Positivity

Boston的天氣真是爛到不行。氣溫再低一些下點小雪也好,就是不要再持續的陰雨天了好嗎?骨頭都要長黴了。

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

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Harvard ... *Sigh*

A report from the campus police today ... I refrain my comments this time.

Speechless.

-----

Armed Robbery
Harvard Yard

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
suspects.

-----

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

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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

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Drama to Go On

Sometimes 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

2comments

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

Burrrrrrrrrrr ...

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

1comments

Friendly Sky In Doubt

I 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.


Sincerely Yours,

MS

梅ちゃん at 6:16:00 AM

1comments

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.

真的是把我惹毛了,這次。

(深呼吸 …)

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" -

上辺ばかりを撫で回されて
急にすべてに嫌気がさした僕は
僕の中に潜んだ暗闇を
無理やりほじくり出してもがいてたようだ

真実からは嘘を
嘘からは真実を
夢中で探してきたけど 

今 僕のいる場所が
探してたのと違っても
間違いじゃない
きっと答えは一つじゃない
何度も手を加えた
汚れた自画像に ほら
また12色の心で
好きな背景を描きたして行く

いろんなことを犠牲にして
巻き添いにして
悦に浸って走った自分を時代のせいにしたんだ
「もっといいことはないか?」って言いながら
卓上の空論を振り回してばっか

そして僕は知ってしまった
小手先でやりくりしたって
何一つ変えられはしない

今 僕のいる場所が
望んだものと違っても
悪くはない
きっと答えは一つじゃない
「愛してる」と君が言う
口先だけだとしても
たまらなく嬉しくなるから
それもまた僕にとって真実

差点 信号機
排気ガスの匂い
クラクション
壁の落書き
破られたポスター

今 僕のいる場所が
探してたのと違っても
間違いじゃない
いつも答えは一つじゃない
何度も手を加えた
汚れた自画像に ほら
また12色の心で
好きな背景を描きたして行く
また描きたして行く

そのすべて真実

A great song. 超すすめ。

Moving on.

梅ちゃん at 10:05:00 AM

1comments

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

凝視


岩倉・夕焼け


大阪・梅田


保津川下り


嵐山・天竜寺


京都・木屋町


金閣寺の近く・定食の一部


三条・名前を忘れたビル


鴨川・最後の日

梅ちゃん at 2:44:00 PM

2comments

A Rise

最近總是睡得特別淺。一天再長再忙碌,肩頭上自兩年前去南西班牙回來後就沒好過的肌肉拉傷再怎麼難受,一頭倒栽在床上時卻總是東想西想、難以入眠。最後要不是打電話給西岸的D和他一同作個禱告,就是在找不到D的時候開始和床上的小朋友們說話。

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.

起碼他們永遠了解我在說什麼。無須大費週章解釋。

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.

能在工作到煩悶的時候匆容地做出一桌子菜是幸福的(雖然現在不太想要去碰那一水槽的碗)。感謝上海那年較為自由悠閒的生活加上徒步離家不到五分鐘的傳統市場(還有每回都會免費幫我把花椰菜剝好,蘆筍的厚皮削掉,走時還不忘抓上一大把小蔥的老闆娘),從那時學會了以做菜減壓的藝術。再煩的事情在反覆的洗洗切切之下好像也能想得比較清楚。就是不解為何工程浩大地做了一桌菜之後,筷子動不了幾口就飽了?看來吃飯還是要有同伴一起吃會比較香,而且電視機或網上新聞不能算數。

又是陰雨綿綿的天氣,不過不知從何而來,有一股新的力量。過了今天,振作的日子要開始了。目標定好努力向前跑就是了,不要想太多。

Yes, A, thanks for the reminder, as always.

梅ちゃん at 8:57:00 AM

0comments

Sunday, January 07, 2007

暖冬時初春的回憶

今天的波士頓是像初春般暖和的天氣。天空晴朗的只看得到飛機飛過尾隨在後的兩條雲彩,人們好似也感染了突如其來的溫暖而放慢了腳步,和同樣坐在草坪上曬太陽的陌生人天南地北地聊了起來。

雖然是透過圖書館的落地窗享受這意外的暖冬(手邊一堆厚厚的學生報告還擋住了部分視線),能有一天拋下厚重的冬衣,讓圍巾留守在家,一瞬間錯覺一陣:已經四月份了嗎?

只差枝頭上蠢蠢欲動的花朵。

懷念京都木屋町小橋流水旁綻放的粉櫻,也懷念午後三時先斗町拉開木門、掛上門簾、準備在向晚的夕陽中迎接第一桌客人的料亭老闆娘。更懷念在四条大橋上看了看傍晚時分一手啤酒、一手飯糰零食外加焼き鳥來到鴨川邊上的大學生出遊之後,穿過四条河原町周邊擁擠的下班人潮回到新町的住宿家庭家中。

「ただいま〜」

「おーかーえーり!」賢ちゃん總是喊破了喉嚨、隔著客廳在餐桌上大聲迎接我的歸來。

「賢ちゃん!うるさいわよ〜」お母さん每每這樣面帶微笑地斥責一句。

聽不到賢ちゃん的大呼小叫的話,一定就是幼稚園中發生了什麼不開心的事。那時候的他會很安靜地坐在客廳的地板上、畫畫或是練習ひらがな的筆劃。

「賢ちゃん、ただいま!」我說,摸摸他的頭。

「うん」,頭都不抬一下,他會自顧自地畫著,一副很酷的樣子。

お母さん在客廳的另一邊給我一個會心的眼神。

舜ちゃん還在補習班裡,要到八點才會回來。

「それでは皆さん、いただきまーす!」好不容易逃脫補習班算術習題魔掌的舜ちゃん會在八點零五分整很準時地宣布。之後,一陣兄弟間的狼吞虎嚥競賽開始。

當然,賢ちゃん心情不好的話是不會搭理他那臉曬得黑黑的哥哥的,像小大人似地慢條斯理地用著筷子。

雖然不過是年僅四歲的小男孩。

飯後,我坐在おばあちゃん的對面閱讀京都新聞夕刊,お父さん切著水果,洗澡間裡傳出お母さん和賢ちゃん唱著童謠的聲音。お母さん和賢ちゃん洗完,お父さん和舜ちゃん接著昨天什麼什麼戰士和什麼什麼超人之間的水中大戰。

九點半,我在房間裡寫著隔天一早買完便當之後固定去投郵的明信片,聽到お父さん光著腳走過門外的木板地,抱著打著甜酣的賢ちゃん到主臥室的布団上去睡。光著腳走起來,木板地的嘎嘎嘎嘎的抗議聲會小一些。再過半小時,輪到舜ちゃん。

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。

看到我懊惱跳腳的お父さん會忍不住笑出來,把報紙收一收,從沙發上起身,在經過飯廳時輕輕地拍我一下:「じゃ、おやすみ。」。再慢慢地帶上客廳的門,留下我一人在飯廳裡重來那長達二十幾位數的播號儀式。

十二點整,遠方京都タワー的燈準時暗去,冰箱的馬達還在低聲地嗡嗡響著。

距要離開的四月底又近了一天了。

距那段京都生活是五年十個月又加一天。

無法忘懷。

梅ちゃん at 7:27:00 AM

0comments

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Appreciation

Sometimes 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

0comments

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

1comments

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

Nostalgia

A pair of sympathetic eyes that say, "Yes, I understand"

First snow

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

Serendipitous encounters

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

1comments

Thursday, January 04, 2007

跑步的同伴

人生就像一場長途馬拉松,終點遠在何方看不甚清楚,卻沒有退場的權利。既然必須要跑還不如盡力去跑,不要去想偷懶、妥協、或中途放棄的可能性。

但是跑步嘛,總是有個一起跑的同伴才有意思,可能還能跑得更快更好。一直在找尋幾位可以一同勇往前衝的夥伴。一個階段一個階段地過了,有時短暫跑過一段路的夥伴選擇進入另一個坡道,有時以為會一直同我跑下去的又臨陣脫逃,好在自己的腳步尚未停止。

有時候看到一位不斷努力在堅持、在追尋、在思考、在實踐的參賽者就是最大的辛慰。

最近跑得慢了,甚至想一屁股坐下就不要再前進了。不過想歸想、速度再慢,也還正跑著,就是思考著該如何調整腳步罷了。

感謝文字的存在,陪我渡過無數難熬的夜晚。這個險坡一定會過去的。

大家都努力吧!

梅ちゃん at 3:14:00 PM

1comments

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

家常便飯

新年第三天深夜,感受只有一個:

累斃。

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。


「你很喜歡流浪嗎?」昨天,一位朋友問。

「流浪? ...」我倒吸了一口氣,不知該從何說起。「流浪是會上癮的,當那已成為唯一熟悉的模式而你不知道人生是否還有別的方式可以去過活的時候,」最後好像是這樣回答他的。

流浪畢竟是有自主權的。逃跑,卻大多是被迫的。

年紀不算太大,也自然沒有什麼可以倚老賣老的東西。唯有一事卻相當篤定自己經歷體會地比大多數人來的深刻。那就是在這世界上,沒有什麼事情、什麼人是可以一直存在或停留在生命裡的。神給予了我相當多的東西,卻也不斷地將帶入進生命中的人事物霎時間從身邊收回。這一站的風景還沒看夠,下一站就要展開。我沒有說要或不要、好或不好、喜歡不喜歡的權利或力量。

唯有二事,我是有自主權的。

一、 行李隨時預備妥當,在最短的時間、用最輕便的方法。

二、 盡情努力地去體驗、去感受,在本站行程結束,或是在該地曾經短暫相遇過的深友或點頭之交離開之前。

"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。

因為沒有別的選擇。

現在,我又面臨同樣的抉擇。

此為逃乎?為流浪乎?

此乃吾之家常便飯也。

梅ちゃん at 3:31:00 PM

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