Karácsony

I am horrifically sick. So sick that when I tell liangze I am sick, it comes out as “I am thick”. Been trying to siphon my sinuses out of my nose via capillary action in a tissue, but it hasn’t been going so well. i did want to document today before I forgot it though.

After church (the special music didn’t go so well, but I did join the worship team about 10 minutes before their worship started, got liangze to copy down all the chords so i could play with them- i didn’t interfere, they asked me to play with them.. i don’t have that much initiative. but it went well in the end. i love playing with competent people.) we took dan, rose and marion to lunch at pomodoro. it was nice, they have lasagna bolognese style with green pasta sheets. we also had their steamed tiger prawns and bruschetta with prosciutto and parmesan which was excellent. it was sort of a thank you lunch, for their hospitality towards us, for taking us around, for treating us to lunch, for inviting us into their home, for inducting us into the worship team, for taking an interesting in our lives. they could have not bothered. but we are the better for it because of their friendship, and what better way to show our gratitude than to take them out to eat with us.

After lunch was when things started to get interesting. for the past few weeks, marion and rose had been crocheting scarves together through the night. they made quite a few scarves, and packed them into christmassy bags, together with rolls, juice, fruit, chocolate, and kleenex, and had about six of these christmas bags put together with a bible verse written on the label. Today afternoon we drove about budapest looking for homeless people to give these bags to. I thought it was very thoughtful of them, and they invited liangze and I along for the ride. they knew where there were certain clusters of homeless people so we went to all those spots to look for people to give the christmas bags to. here are some things i learnt:
1. cardboard is a good insulator. homeless people normally sit or sleep on cardboard to protect themselves from the cold
2. homeless people move around in the day but usually return to the same spot at night, where they leave their pile of blankets.
3. the city administration has been trying to phase these homeless people out of the city to improve budapest’s image. they transfer the homeless to debrecen and other out-lying cities where their poverty is a little less obvious. i remember jingyee telling me about how his only condition for a place to settle down is that there mustn’t be hobos. something about spending all that money buying a nice house, and each day you open your door and there are homeless people lying around outside which just spoils the atmosphere. i don’t think people who think like that are necessarily selfish. it hasn’t been easy living here with the homeless people right in your face, each time you see them you feel a mixture of guilt and pity and if you feel that every single day i think it’s quite easy to get depressed. so such a perspective is not just about aesthetic, i think.

anyway, the upshot of it is that they seem to have succeeded in moving all these homeless people out of town. we went around for ages and ages in the cold, looking under bridges and driving through alleyways peering out the car window and poking around in train stations but couldn’t find any of them in their usual spots. (that was probably how i got my cold.) we left a bag at a garbage dump (the homeless normally go through the dumps looking for food) and marion said “god bless you” in hungarian to an immobile pile of blankets there in case there was a person in there.
4. i asked dan how they survived out in the cold. he said they don’t. and many of the homeless people die every year, which really chilled me. that i could have invited any one of these people into my apartment and they would not freeze to death. wasn’t the scenario painted in the little match girl totally 19th century? how can such things still happen here?? you mean it takes more than a century to fix income disparity??

anyway we finally found a cluster of them at deli palyaudvar. i read the hungarian off the label of the bag, saying “God bless you” to one of the men there (Dan and Marion were talking to other men) and the guy I gave the bag too started talking in rapid fire hungarian and i stood there gaping at him. Marion swiftly came to my rescue and listened to him. He said that his wife died a day ago at the hospital and he knelt by her hospital bed asking her why she didn’t take him with her, and then he started crying. And he said lots of people walk by them at the train station without pausing to look or care (i was probably one of them once upon a time) and that Marion really had a good heart, to take notice of them and to try to help them. It was really, really sad.

Today was the first time I did something for these people. Put myself in their shoes, thought about where they would go and where they would stay so that I could give them some food and show them that people do care.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Stepping out

Sitting in one of the many dirty fuzzy seats in the metro.
In one of the many carriages, amongst the many faceless people, waiting to go home.
We journey together in a big wave, exhausted with weariness. Keeping each other company without saying a word.
Everyone is tired, too tired to think, to move, so we are swept en masse toward our destination.
How can we all be travelling to the same place? You ask. You don’t even know each other.
But we are. We are all going home.

I do not know any of them, and I keep my hood lowered. They cannot see my face.
I plug in my ipod, for all intents and purposes, inert to my general surroundings. I could be a pole in the train. Or a dog on his leash with sympathetic eyes. Or the doors, sliding open and close, open and close.
I have reached a point where I no longer need to stare anxiously out the window or at the map to make sure I don’t miss my stop. I simply wait. And then, I know.
The city has become familiar to me. It is my third, no- fourth home. Which also means it is time to leave soon. I am swept from city to city, I lay down roots, and they never let me go.
I am held down to each city that I call home. I know the people there, and I know what makes them happy, what gives them pain. I know where to find soy bean milk, and sesame oil, and I know where to seek spiritual refuge. I have laid down roots, and also hiding places in all of them.

The hiding place of each of my homes is the most beautiful, sacred place. In it I can find peace in nature, but also be free to cry buckets of tears without being judged, without people staring and pointing, as if sadness is unnatural. I can walk through shimmery leafed boulevards, next to rivers or lakes, and I can cry about things that have not yet happened, or about tragic ends of loved ones, or about hatred, or neglect. Completely in my imagination, of course, but that’s what a hiding place is for, isn’t it? The free rein to dream the worst about yourself, the worst about others, the free rein to be as insecure as you actually are, because there is nobody there to be strong for. No facades.
Just you, and your Maker,
all the other things He has made-

and a promise of faithfulness.

=.=

It’s finally over.
i’m also officially screwed for the rest of the week.

even though it was totally draining and filled with hopelessness i can’t say i didn’t enjoy it. like the bits where three geps hang out night after night after night, torturing themselves with a program that doesn’t work, getting high on caffeine and each other’s company. after awhile everyone was just saying the strangest things and talking to themselves and responding to each other’s talking to themselves in the most surreal fashion, and everyone was laughing. at everything. pretended to be a no life engineer overnighting in duffield, even slept for an hour on one of their couches to get the complete engineering experience and it was depressing. the place was filled with ‘em friday night! and saturday night! and sunday night! O.o

sorta like pregnancy. after all the pain, i can’t imagine why someone would want to go through the whole thing all over again. if i ever had to go through it i think i’d swear off the experience for life. in fact i can probably swear off it now lol. but it seems even though we’ve been through this once, somehow we forgot how painful it was and promptly signed ourselves up for another dose of sleep deprivation for some unfathomable reason. masochism? we’re not even going to win anything.. tangible. i guess a part of me felt bad if i were to waste the school’s sponsorship of us for the competition. although given the amount i pay for tuition (or someone does, at any rate), i should feel entitled to their sponsorship.

it’s also rather nice to find out how much of a subject you can grasp given 4 days of concentrated work.

someone had to bear the brunt of my whiny emails and general unhappiness and hopelessness at the utter futility of what i was doing. but he took it like a man~ and brought us lots of energy food. boyfriends are a brilliant idea why haven’t i thought of it before! he also passed my mum’s and chris’ interrogations with flying colours (the aunty 杀手 has successfully 杀ed all the aunties in my life they’re all more besotted with him than i am at present). but he didn’t pass mingsee’s/my dvd test (which is of course the most important one); in fact he failed worse than miserably but that’s okay, i can’t expect not to have any work to do at all.

poor tiffy has 2 prelims tmr. i had one but i moved it to wednesday, fat lot of good that does given my analysis proposal is due tmr, i have to review an italian movie by friday, my prova d’ascolto e di lettura was moved to wednesday, there is the combi problem set due thurs and the analysis problem set due fri. ALL of which are undone/unstudied for. and none of which i have any time to do.

italian vocab for the day: fannullone. that’s my ambition. i want to be a fannullone. it’s easy to parse: fa (do) – nulla (nothing) -one (person) = fannullone.

Point form #6

So many things happening before finals. I suppose pictures will be up at fb at some point in the far future if/when I can be bothered.

– I love the sound of everyone simultaneously crunching on their communion cracker when the pastor concludes the eucharist prayer. Did i tell you about the time when i was 5 or 6 and i didn’t understand the eucharist at all and i wanted to try the cup and the bread coz all the adults were doing it and coz i was hungry in church (who asked the pastor to keep talking about (the) lamb?) and so while they were passing the communion plates around i snatched not one, but two wafers (oh yeah, always the over-achiever) to the shock and horror of my sunday school teacher who was too far away to prevent me from eating and drinking judgment on myself lol. i don’t take it now because i’m not baptized yet, because i’m not ready yet. and even if i am ready i will only get baptized in singapore so my parents can be there.

– here’s an intriguing question: would you fly back in-term for a funeral or a marriage? i think i would fly back for a funeral (that did not clash with exams or something) but not a marriage. cause a marriage can be should be scheduled in my holidays but funerals can’t. and also i think it’s more disrespectful to not fly back if my grandparents passed away than if my brother got married. he won’t even care that i’m not there if not for the fact that he’s lost his free-labour pianist and i’d more likely than not be snarky to the bride about her questionable taste in men.

– made a new friend in analysis. it’s weird, because as i said math guys don’t really talk to you. i think they spend most of their time just trying not to look at you, until they need to borrow your stapler (since they are too adorably inept to possess one) then they are forced to say hi and to learn your name (some just borrow your stapler without bothering to even find out your name haha). we only started talking at the end of the semester for some reason. he’s canadian and he stays on north too but is a junior. we’ve been working on the analysis final tgt and i like how he’s v. direct about what he feels or about what thinks of me, which is rare in a guy. well at least he says the nice stuff, maybe he’s just politely omitting the mean parts haha but even that is more than you’ll get from an avg singaporean male.

– went for the RnJ matinee and the graffiti on the set was quite something! Brigitta was amazing as Juliet and I finally found out what her real, non-Italian name was from the programme lol. Eri una bellissima Giulietta! C’era una brava rappresentazione e mi sono goduta molto.

– I put my name in the florist’s cup in the commons. they have a sign in the window that says “If your name is _____, you get a free flower!” or something like that and the name changes every day/week and I was like they’re never going to have Ivana! I went in to look at their flowers and enquired how much the roses were and the woman was like “they’re $4. well, unless your name is rachel..” and i was like no it isn’t! but how do i get my name in the window?? and she pointed me to a slip of paper on which i wrote my name and put in a cup and eventually it’ll get up on the window which is awesome. choosing flowers are difficult, especially for someone of the opposite sex because then flowers actually have meanings that i wouldn’t have to care about if i were getting one for a girl. the purple roses were beautiful. So were the irises. but I got a pretty pink carnation in the end, should have gotten him to pose with it in his pretty pink jacket lol.

– While waiting for the bus back to ris from the florist i went to urban outfitters (that shop is in such a convenient location for people waiting for the bus) and got a key for my eurotrip.

Guess what it does. :) Ireland here I come.

– The AG performance was a blast! the moves, the singing, the kawaii pianist (of whom nicole helped me take loads of sneaky photos hehehe), and of course ze in his myriad costumes and personae. I loved Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof (was that the box-step waltz??) and also Perfect, which was a really impressive solo.
I will be perfect
It’s not hard to do
I will be perfect… for you.

– Lunch today was strange. because i haven’t done something like that in such a long time. but it wasn’t that bad. apart from having to take his car. When Sindy wanted to learn Chinese parolaccie awhile back I taught her to say 你的屁股很臭 to him (yes i use my friends as weapons) but she didn’t wanna :( what a bummer. that was one of the all-important stock phrases we used to teach our non-chinese friends back in rg (i.e. seema) to say and she always did it with such savoir-faire.

– So Ted and I finally met up after the longest time to practice. We have both been intensive-practising individually for Tuesday, which will be awesome. One more rehearsal tomorrow, and I think I’ve nailed most of the crazy passages AND conquered the impossible page turns! go me. ze will probably record it for me and if it is at all decent i may put it up online for all you die-hards who can’t get enough (who can blame you?)

– Vespers was lovely. the combined cornell choirs were singing and they sounded so mysterious and warm and sacrosanct all at the same time, even though i don’t think the service was inclined toward any particular religion, which is a pity. and people clapped at the end, which would never have happened at tab. it made me a little sad though, to think of who i went with to vespers last year and who i went with to vespers this year.

disconcerting. that’s what today is.
i’m just gonna push it into a little corner of my brain and commence the studying- life is far more complicated than it needs to be.

Moondance

hehe i was out with the frosh tonight and rode on their orientation week activities which made me feel.. old. like i’ve been there done that and am all out of youthfulness. they were all so excited and fresh and twitchy and oh-so cute! asked a million questions and when i took them up the clocktower they immediately proceeded to destroy everything in their path lol. we left it in a semblance of normalcy so it’s all good, just that the next person who wants to change the clock face colour for like halloween or saint pats might find some doors.. unhinged. hehe.

i was originally going to pass my dsta junior my CS notes plus the math soln manual (it’s strange to think of him as a junior when he’s actually one yr older than me) and it turned out all these freshmen guys were having an instant noodle party at bauer and he invited me to crash so i did. well you know me, free food, and instant noodles are a scarce commodity up here in no man’s land. anyway i was only gonna eat by myself (hehe as usual) after that it’s not like i had big plans. they were watching some weird reality tv programme where shaq tried on different sports to prove that he is a world class, all rounded athlete and not just an awesome bballer and i felt so manly sitting there chomping my grub and listening to all the sporty talk and pretending to know what’s going on. in my defence i did know of shaq beforehand and have actually seen him play! with the lakers, cause the lakers were always bullying the 76ers. and i still haven’t found out why the 76ers are called the 76ers it’s a popular number in philly i think it might have something to do with the routes that go to philly.

and then dinner turned to cards, and there were 6 of us so the games we could play were rather limited. i asked them where the girls were and they said they didn’t invite them -_- i guess the girls and guys are still relatively distant given it is only the first week and cornell just isn’t the ‘swooping’ sort of school. haha. also the fact that they’re almost invariably gep might contribute a little to the lack of swooping lol. we decided to trip off to the museum (some things are just better at night) and did the scavenger hunt the Johnson organised for tonight’s event to acquaint us better with the permanent exhibits and i must admit i know a lot more now than when i first started out. bumped into some singaporean girl freshies there (gosh is going to a museum on a tuesday night a singaporean thing?? i suppose ithaca has limited options) and then we all went to the ice cream social, y’know the one where they serve your batch flavour (i asked all of them what it was but none of them knew.. some chocolate+random things inside confection) come to think of it i don’t know what my batch flavour is either although i distinctly remember being there at that part of ezra fest with the crap band. their band played Modest Mouse’s Float On from their Good News For People Who Love Bad News album! and i was so excited i told liang ze it was one of the songs i really liked and he was shocked that i knew pop music. haha awesome street cred, yo. i actually don’t. i only know that song cause “I backed my car into a cop car the other day” was one of the cornellians’ fb status and i looked it up cause i thought she really backed her car into a cop car and i am just noob that way.

we all loitered ard a bit and finally decided to go up the clocktower just because i can get ‘em in and singapore is so repressed that doing anything vaguely illegal/exclusive makes people excited. lol. ithaca looks really different at night. like there are tall buildings, because there were tall lights, when i thought there was just a lake right there, and i don’t remember any tall buildings. we are going to investigate this further in the day. the map on the iphone didn’t assist us much since obviously there are no satellite produced images of ithaca (do satellites even look at ithaca? i bet they just skirt around it) so we couldn’t figure out what all the lights were. showed them the bells and the practice stand and the database etc. and they were all really intrigued, which i was quite surprised by. i mean i am interested in the chimes but most of my interests are not universal nor shared by many people. even when i introduced myself to the girls they were like “oh is she the chimes girl?” which was hilarious. will be playing at noon tmr and if you bother to come i might do Coldplay’s Scientist, which ryan’s arranged and i tried today and it’s quite good.

anyway i’m really glad i met them. they seem like rather weirdunique people. here’s why.
1. four of them bought bikes not asking/thinking about the lolling hills/6 month winter in cornell that makes biking super difficult and unfeasible. AND they subsequently biked those up from collegetown to north campus and had cramps/blisters the whole day. it’s like they live in a parallel universe where it’s cambridge or amsterdam or paris with the vélib (cool information from stephen clarke’s Dial M for Merde which i got the cornell library to buy for me over the summer) and where land is actually flat.
2. even though they are all on meal plans and have lots of meals left (the meal cycle ends tomorrow night!) they decided not to have dinner in the dining hall today and have their instant noodle party.

i kind of love the way they don’t really care what other people think of them. like they’d sit around and be sad if the mood so took hold of them. or be annoying, or be lame (esp. liang ze of the “if i say ‘two threes’ in bluff and put down a six is that considered bluffing?”), or be shameless (i.e. going to the christian fellowship fair and koping all the free food) or anything. they are just ‘them’, and they expect you to deal with that. and that’s amazing, isn’t it?

Lloyd

One of my all-time favourite boy names is Lloyd. don’t you just love the extraneous consonant? like the extra ‘a’ in aaron. of the extra ‘f’ in ffion. he emailed my mum btw and told her he hadn’t bathed in a month. i’m pretty sure even kerouac bathed on the road. and i packed him off to find mf at berkeley! now she’s gonna think my family produces hobos. which isn’t that far from the truth, i suppose. still, i put up a pretty good pretense at being a functional human being, i don’t see why he can’t try harder.

i’ve just finished the last battle, which concludes the chronicles of Narnia. The pevensie children met up with Reepicheep at the end of the world, which gave me waves of nostalgia about my mouse. as in my micromouse. ruiyi and i named him reepicheep after the very brave rat in prince caspian and the voyage (if you aren’t acquainted you are obviously a literary pleb), and he may have won a few prizes here and there. the other raffles mice were raxiel (rax for short), raphael, and rae, but reep was my mouse and i loved him. he wasn’t particularly cooperative and broke down many times in competition despite our prize winning algor, which is a hardware fault of AI or our own ignorance re. eprom handling. the micromouse room is locked up now, and i’m not sure if we have withdrawn from the annual ISMC held at great world city given that the club has closed down due to a lack of participants. isn’t it funny? i am so antique that my CCA no longer exists in my alma mater. i loved the ISMC though. it meant 3 days off school, heading down to a shopping centre (instead of a smelly old track or stadium like the inter school sports competitions) to picnic beside two huge mazes in the middle of the first floor, watching strange guys flirt with your seniors and occasionally with you just to borrow a download cable, window shopping for jigsaw puzzles or precious thoughts beanies, stuffing your face with beard papa choux puffs, and having the yearly celebratory dinner at kenny rogers with our prize money. yep. squandered the minute we get it, there’s no such thing as saving for a rainy day in micromouse. good times.

well after the last battle i’ve moved on to dahl’s tales of the unexpected, which i’ve read a million times already but it never ceases to charm with his morbid sense of humour. rather like the perry bible fellowship. i’m looking to borrow the roald dahl omnibus though, does anyone have it? because i’m particularly looking for the great switcheroo, which isn’t in my collection, and i can’t find an online version. i know zheng yi has a copy (he bought it out from under me at a second hand book sale in thomson plaza, the conniving little thief) but i shld probably finish his flowers for algernon first, which i gave him for his birthday, borrowed to read (haha), and subsequently held on to for over a year.. hey but i’m not the only person who does that. *looks pointedly at certain people* remember charlie and his progris riports and raw-shok tests? that’s the one. i was reading it before meeting jingyee the other day and apparently his batch had to read those short stories in ri too. the other two were the scarlet ibis, which i really liked, and the lottery. i was talking to sindy one day and she told me she had to read charlotte’s web and a wrinkle in time for school too, so i think our primary school english programme must have been modelled after the american system, although obviously we read those books much earlier than they did or they wouldn’t be writing crappy SAT essays graded by word quantity.

La campanella

My right arm is taking a severe beating from this etude (bad technique?). it’s a beautiful if overplayed piece, so i’m trying to do it properly. drat liszt and his RH jumps which you can see below.
la campanella

if i am to balance out my practising i’d better work on scriabin’s prelude and nocturne for the left hand.
nocturne
it looks like a joke, but it ain’t. the whole thing has to be done with the LH, which will kill it off so i suppose my arms will be evenly handicapped.

qiong ye has apparently made it to korea – i got a postcard from him from pyongyang today. i wish i could write back, it’s too bad he’s backpacking and has no return address even though any return mail from me will all be from boring ol’ singapore or usa. i wonder when he’s heading back here. i have the coolest mortals ever. just adopted another cornell freshman today since her uncle is from my company and he emailed me/tiffy to settle her in. a classics major! that’s a first. haven’t seen any s’porean classics majors yet. may hook her up with tedward or tiffany.

he came back last night. silent as a cat, he’s padded into my dreams again. reminds me of the red stain in the carpet of Wilde’s canterville ghost – won’t go away, won’t be gotten rid off by pinkerton’s champion stain remover, just got to live and let live. i’ll bleach ‘im out, if it’s the last thing i do. although for that one night, i wouldn’t mind going to C.S. Lewis’ Island where Dreams come True.