Monday, June 30, 2003

just watched the european F1 -- M. crashed out much to my disappointment, and kimi's car let him down yet again, which was also a big disappointment. but it was cool to just sit here and stare at the TV, disengage the brain, let the sound of high-speed, high-horsepower screaming F1 engines lull me into complacent relaxation. my brother is back from aussieland -- arrived this afternoon bearing gifts of meatpies -- and we went out to dinner in honour of dad's birthday at Long Beach. so we both got our fix of chilli crab. mmm. =)

oh, it's past midnight here in Singapore, which makes it monday morning: Happy 53rd Birthday Dad!!! -grins- we decided not to embarrass him in the restaurant by singing loudly and off-key, which was a pity -wicked smile-


there is poetry scattered around my room, and yet --

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

-- Talking in Bed, Larkin

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13

watched Hilary Rodham Clinton's interview with Barbara Walters this evening -- mom and i rushed home from dinner to make it on time -- and was struck anew at how much i like and admire her. granted, a lot of people don't like her as a human being, but i think she gets a lot of support for what she is trying to do and how she is willing to work for it and not be overly concerned with what people are saying about her. i like that she is concerned about education and healthcare in the United States, i like that she is willing to step over party lines to get what she needs to get done completed. i respect the fact that's she smart and hardworking, and i like the fact that she seems sincere.

most of all, though, i think i admire what she's doing with her marriage. in these times it would have been all too easy for her to give up on him -- i don't think she would've been blamed if she had left him. people would have been sympathetic; unfaithfulness is seen as a greater sin than divorce these days. but despite that, she took the time to come to terms with his betrayal and to decide that this relationship was worth the pain that he had put her through -- and i'm deeply touched by the kind of love and friendship and yes, even trust, that this decision means. how hard it must be to put this kind of betrayal behind you. i once thought that infidelity was the one unforgiveable sin in a marriage -- at least for me -- i thought that unfaithfulness would be the one thing that i would be unable to accept and put behind me, because it's a sundering of trust, and trust is a hard thing to give and then have to learn to give again. but perhaps i was wrong then -- now that i see that there is a kind of love that will withstand that kind of battering, a kind of love that can learn to forgive it.

heaven only knows why we fall in love with people, why we make things hard for ourselves in the name of, for the sake of love, why we spend so much of our lives missing what isn't here -- the person who isn't here. what determines who we love, and why we love and how long we love?

i'm feeling a little strongly about love right now: met up with Dan and Shereen who are now setting up house in Holland V, and as always, after i spend some time with them, i find myself wishing and hoping and praying that one day i too will have a love like theirs. a partnership, a friendship, a companionship and faithfulness and a love that is so rare it gleams in the light. the look on Dan's face as he watched Shereen walk down the aisle to him; the joy in their faces as their marriage was blessed in the eyes of God in front of the masses of people who love them. one day, i want to see that look on my husband's face, in my husband's eyes, when i walk down the aisle to him on dad's arm.

one day.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

This was pointed out to me by ruimin.

at least the Esplanade aka the Durian/Cultural Wonderbra serves some legitimate function: it has decent concert halls with amazing acoustics, even better than Victoria Concert Hall -- though many a chorister i know wouldn't mind singing in VCH, it's still bloody decent acoustics in there. this ferris wheel thing, however, seems to be to serve no function except to be really really ugly.

i hope it falls down before they even get a start on building it, however impossible that wish is.

dear lord.

taken from Neil Gaiman's online journal: a rap composed by Britain's Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, on the occasion of Prince William's 21st birthday can be found here. and it is appallingly bad -- what i want to know is how this man became poet laureate and is there some way we can have him removed and replaced with someone with real talent? for example, joshua yap comes to mind. or koh tsin yen.

i want more sandman comics from Neil Gaiman, but failing that i want some kind of repeat performance along the lines of Good Omens which was coauthored with, of course, the incomparable Terry Pratchett. i think the release of a new Terry Pratchett is more cause for celebration than the new Harry Potter. i know, i'm going to be stoned for that remark. but it really is an entirely distinct genre and mode of writing. in the meantime i return to my old copies of Discworld novels, and snigger at all the in jokes i now understand, having survived two years of being educated at a liberal arts college.

and i near the end of Globalisation and its discontents -- this is what you get for reading three books simultaneously -- all three go slower. though it might benefit the reader more.

a shout out to adrian: many thanks for my own copy of Dance Dance Dance! gotta love murakami.

Friday, June 27, 2003

I'm a Bluemarine girl!
Bluemarine: Soft and subtle and definately
feminine. You are classy and cute with a
little girl all grown up appeal.

What fashion designer fits you
brought to you by Quizilla

hmm. time to go shopping. need pretty dresses.

just realised that the times on my blog are all wrong -- my laptop is set to US central time otherwise it won't be able to talk to the U of C servers shutting me out from my email. so no, i haven't lost my mind and started posting in the middle of the afternoon; subtract thirteen hours if you're in chicago, and twelve hours if you're on EST, and you'll get a much more reasonable number.

was reminded two days ago that i have read Robert Fagles' translation of The Illiad and The Odyssey. don't you get a strange chill down your spine when you come across something you too have read in a book? -- like a connection, however spurious, with the person you're reading. a little mental monologue: 'i have read Herodotus, Anne Fadiman, i know precisely which passage and what words you mean.' how sweet is that?

There's no one to hear
You might as well scream
They never woke up
From the American Dream
And they don't understand what they don't see
And they look through you
And they look past me
Oh, you and I dancing slow
We've got nowhere to go...

in the spirit of brevity, inbibed from rereading Jean Webber's Daddy Long Legs; and also because of sleep deprivation:

I. watch Finding Nemo if you haven't already; i think we laughed and screamed and shrieked more at the screen than the rows of kids seated on either side of us -- a word to the wise though: buy your tickets well in advance, or wind up seated in the second row, staring almost straight up at cartoon shark's teeth in a most terrifying manner;

II. had supper with fengyuan, who arrived home from oxford yesterday, and now trots out his nice snotty oxford accent over ice cream and water at the Cafe Cartel. we could make quite a terrifying combination -- the one at the table tonight: londoner, oxfordian, chicagoan. i'm glad he's back; feng makes life more exciting when he is around;

III. lunch with the gang tomorrow at holland v. i hear things about how holland v has changed; i guess now i get to see first hand...

Under the Bell Jar
(For Sylvia Plath)

Did even poetry fail you?

I understand it well.
For we who have let the unutterable
etch crazy lesions on our hearts
think of redemption in terms
of the saving word:
that the word could make things new,
or gather up our griefs so
to hang them on a nail outside us
for dispassionate review.

But the word is itself
living, a tortured thing;
both death and life we crucify again

--Lee Tzu Peng.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

am rereading one of my favourite books of all time, Anne Fadiman's Confessions of a Common Reader, and am constantly reminded what a bibliophilic family i am a member of. when i run into words i don't know they aren't obstacles but new friends, who send me running for either our copy of the OED in one volume, with print so tiny they give you a magnifying lens to read it with, or my personal copy of the Shorter OED, my pride and joy, given to me as a birthday present on my eighteenth birthday. i've been known to read the OED just for fun, because it gives you the etymology of the word, and they boggle the mind.

listen to this: In Memoriam, Alfred Lord Tennyson:

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

it stirs the soul.

Fadiman's observations just ring in my brain -- i know what she's talking about, i understand what she's talking about -- her opening essay is on 'Marrying Libraries': she had known her husband ten years, she'd lived with him six, been married for five, and had a child with him before they merged their libraries and -gasp- gave away the duplicates. i can't imagine doing that right now -- looking at the library i've assembled piecemeal over the years, and how it reflects the person i was two years ago when i left for college, and how soon it will come to reflect to person i am now, after two years of college [i think my christmastime baggage allowance on board is all going to be books -- my bookshelf in chicago is severely overloaded!] i can't imagine taking that apart and interleaving it with someone else's books, no matter how beloved. but i guess in time that will happen.

i live in a room overrun with books, in a house overrun with books, on all topics and in all shapes and sizes. i think i'll want my kids to live in a household like that. books everywhere, in the bathrooms and in the kitchen and the living room -- i'm tempted to say no TV but i don't think that would go over well with the as of yet imaginary husband, plus i like my rugby and my movies too much to give them up entirely -- and i'm not going to bother about them being kept pristine, like virginal lovers waiting for The Prince to ride up on a white horse. i think i'm a convert to 'carnal love' , as Fadiman puts it -- i scribble and dogear and argue vehemently -sometimes out loud- with my books, fling them across the room in disgust at what the authors have to say, sleep with them, eat with them, everything.

one last observation before i take off for the next couple of days: she writes -- '...of Thomas Jefferson, who chopped up a priceless 1572 first edition of Plutarch's works in Greek in order to interleave its pages with an English translation?' now i may not be as precious about my books as i used to be, but i'm still going to wince at the destruction of a first ed -- my question is -- why didn't Jefferson chop up the english translation instead?

exhausted, for some reason, and sentimental, for yet another unclear nebulous perhaps completely unfounded reason. considering i did almost nothing strenous today, i shouldn't be this tired. weirdness.

for the record i love the Northeast Line. -beams- it gets to me town in fifteen minutes and makes the prospect of staying out late and buying lots of things including alcohol so much more savoury because i don't have to get onto a bus at AMK and endure another twenty minute ride after the train, or have mom or dad pick me up from the station 'cos they think it's too late for me to take the bus alone. hrrrrmph. =) though they haven't done that very much lately; i think they've finally accepted that i'm old enough to take care of myself. the NEL makes things like staying out to dinner with friends even better than it used to be. speaking of dinner with friends -- dinner with evan and eun at Spageddies at Tanglin Mall tonight was a blast. [i'm surprised i managed to find it; at first i wasn't sure if the building i was staring at was, indeed, Tanglin Mall, and surreptitiously walked around it until i saw the tall white letters over the entrace proclaiming that i had found the right building after all] catching up with old friends is the best part of returning after an extended period away from home.

i think perhaps it is time for bed, before the sentimentality takes over, i become maudlin, and this post becomes twenty thousand miles long. =) tomorrow is another long day --

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

the heat is stupefying: i just want to lie on my tiled floor and sleep all day. then the night comes, and i come alive -- the headache fades, the tired aches leave me, my brain wakes up from its stunned slumber -- and here i am! spent my first full day at home, not even leaving to get the clear nail polish i need, and oh, how this heat prostrates me. tonight i have been reminded of Hamlet for some unknown reason:

'Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.
This must not be.'
-- II.2

don't you hate the feeling -- that there's someone who is forever out of your grasp, someone you wish could be part of you and yet you know never will?

...Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.
-- III.2

and for a certain friend -- you know who you are -- the other side of the world is not so far away these days :

Love? I will tell thee what it is to love!
It is to build with human thoughts a shrine,
Where Hope sits brooding like a beauteous dove;
When Time seems young, and Life a thing divine.
All tastes, all pleasures, all desires combine
To consecrate this sanctuary of bliss.
Above, the stars in cloudless beauty shines;
Around, the streams their flowery margins kiss;
And if there's heaven on earth, that heaven is surely this.

Monday, June 23, 2003

spent the entire day with some of my favourite people in the entire world: eunice, ying, and cecilia. -beaming- plus i went to St. Andrew's cathedral for service for the first time in nine months, and it was wonderful to be back in the familiar, beloved space, participating in the well-remembered ritual, the liturgy, the singing. slightly changed by SARS, but mostly the same nonetheless. seeing all these friendly familiar faces again was a really wonderful thing: little karen who is now so tall -she was tiny when i left!- and looking forward to being my godbrother's flowergirl at his wedding in two months; her two brothers and her mom; my godparents and my godbrother and his wife-to-be, joy. i love my church and am greatly attached to my congregation, and it's like feeling something inside of me snap into place to be back here with the church and the churchgoers.

and a completely different feeling of something snapping into place to be with eun and ying and cece again. oh i haven't laughed this much or this long in a very long time, haven't felt the happiness of being with people who understand what i'm talking about and know what i mean even when i don't have the words. people who use 'efficacious' and 'rictus of fear' -grinning- in everyday conversation without flinching, and think nothing of continuing a conversation by yelling up an escalator in the middle of sale-crowded takashimaya. -laugh- it was a great day, and i'm looking forward to more great days like it while we're all home.

everyone is on their way home, i can barely keep track of who is where. really looking forward to the time when everyone who is going to be home is home, and we can all hang out together for a few brief moments before we all scatter to the winds again for another arduous academic year.

...the blue rose fair
one cannot gain
if glove or guard be worn
'tis only when one risks the pain
of flesh against the thorn...

Sunday, June 22, 2003

why do you come here, when you know i've got troubles enough
why do you call me, when you know i can't answer the phone
make me lie and i don't want to
make someone else some kind of unknowing fool
you make me stay when i should not
are you so strong or is all the weakness in me
why do you come here, and pretend to be just passing by
allow me to see you
allow me to hold you...

Saturday, June 21, 2003

it's good to be home, in familiar -bug-infested- territory again. it's warm and muggy but it's home, you know? and i haven't been home in so long. nine whole months. when we were descending toward changi international airport i had my nose glued to the window just like the ten year old boy sitting in front of me, and when the lights around changi came into view i had to suppress the urge to cry. it was just so great to see the familiar outlines come into view, and then as we touched down on the runway i had the insane urge to clap...and i rue the fact that i'm flying United, because if i were on SIA, as the plane taxied toward a gate someone would have said: to all the singaporeans on the flight -- welcome home. and that always was the first thing that made me feel like finally, after a long long time, i'm home.

so now i'm back in singapore after my first full day here, getting used to the heat and humidity and wondering how i survived this before...i'm sure that upon going back to chicago in july i will wonder how i survived the dryness and the cold. -grins- people are strange. have already consumed my favourite BBQ sambal stingray from Chomp Chomp and had my sugarcane juice -- not yet the Goreng Pisang but hey it was midnight, they were closed, gimme a chance...=) -- and done some shopping...the sales are about to begin and i can see myself owning lots of new pairs of shoes soon. and clothes from Zara. the Zara in Taka is huge and full of pretty pretty clothes, i can't even begin to list the ones i wish i owned. or could wear.

and then -bells of doom- i went to the dentist. i really like Shirley, she makes dental appointments almost-stress-and-pain-free, and she's very fun to be around. but still, sometimes, she is the bearer of bad tidings. verdict: surgery in two weeks to remove both wisdom teeth on the left side of the jaw. at least i'm going to go under -not GA, but IV-sedation- and therefore will sleep through the entire procedure. i'm still wary of post-op pain though. why do we HAVE wisdom teeth? they're a bitch.

on a high note: ying is already home and eun supposedly landed four hours ago at changi and cece is here. so we're going to try and have a get-together sometime this weekend. yay! it will be so cool. it's been 14 months since i last saw eun, which is 14 months too long. =)

Friday, June 20, 2003

belated posting of something written while in transit:

You Know You’re A University of Chicago Economist-in-training when:

(1) you have learned the entire greek alphabet through your core economics sequence and the attending required calc 150s and math 190s; you can read entire lines of text that don’t have english words in them, and regularly use the words ‘maximisation problem’ and ‘solving first order conditions’ in conversation with other people [who turn out to be other U of C economists]

(2) you read Stiglitz’s Globalisation and its Discontents on the flight home as light summer reading, and borrow a pen off a crew member because you realise that you can no longer read anything academic with feeling the intense desire to annotate and underline the ‘important’ parts in your book such that the original text becomes almost obliterated under the weight of your comments, such as ‘The IMF is so full of shit.’

(3) in fact, you’re having more fun with Stiglitz than with In Style magazine or Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything which you have been dying to read but cannot bring yourself to read as long as Stiglitz remains unfinished, and you’re showing signs of finishing the entire book on this flight home, sleep be damned. the flight attendant comes over with another flight attendant and asks that you show her what you’re reading, and when he says ‘just reading the title makes my head hurt’ you just laugh sheepishly and think to yourself ‘but I’m having so much fun…’

I feel like I’m being sucked into the world of developmental economics. I mean, I’ve known for a while that I’m really more interested in macro issues than in micro issues – other people can take care of that, I guess is my attitude toward it, they don’t need another microeconomist poking around asking what the demand for microchips is. reading Stiglitz right now is making me rethink my stand on market efficiency and ‘market fundamentalism’ as he calls is: I think I’m as guilty as the IMF is of too robust a belief in the power of the Market. I would like to imagine that markets, given conditions like perfect information, will always clear. and perhaps they do, and they will always produce the efficient outcome for the given set of circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that the outcome they produce is socially optimal. markets are amoral and contain no values other than efficiency: trusting the future of the poor and the young to the power of the amoral market is something that I don’t think I’m willing to accept just yet. hopefully I will never be brainwashed into thinking that the market will take care of everything.

I know I said in an earlier post that I have a strong belief in the markets, but with some reservations. well these are precisely my reservations – the ones that Stiglitz raises in Globalisation. that economists, and markets, don’t necessarily take social costs into consideration when making their decisions on where to allocate resources or what policy to follow. the markets don’t see the greater picture: that economic macrostability must support social stability which in turn support economic stability, and this leads to sustainable growth of a desirable kind, rather than the flash-in-the-pan followed by long decades of recession or stagnation and then collapse, as experienced by the Latin American countries in the last decades of the twentieth century. as human beings we have to make decisions about what we think is desirable, and then ask the markets to find a good way for us to get there, instead of letting impersonal market forces make those decisions for us. I guess what I really want to argue is that on a micro level markets clear, but on a macro level this isn’t true, and also that even if they do clear consistently, their results may not always be socially optimal. [CAN you argue that? can you have micro markets clear and not macro ones, if macro markets are aggregates?]

I know this isn’t the most economic of arguments, and if I tried I could probably come up with some economic arguments associated with the notions of social cost and economic stability being tied into social stability, as Stiglitz does [constantly reiterating that it’s not just bad policy but bad economics to have policy that causes society to fall apart] but honestly, that’s not really what I’m concerned with at this point. as a human being and an economist I’m more concerned with education systems and healthcare and eradicating poverty. it would be nice if there were some efficient way to do this, but if the cost of gaining efficiency is too high –in human cost, in the numbers of children who will not be able to attend school and get out of the cycle of poverty grinding them into the ground in their rural agricultural societies—then I don’t want it. so there. I guess I’m finally starting to realise that macroeconomics and indeed the entire discipline of economics doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it has to be part of a greater social plan because it affects all areas of human existence, not just the breadwinner’s.

all right, I’m going to have to ask for some leniency here: I’m sitting in Narita waiting for my connecting flight to singapore –we got in early, I have an hour and a half to wait, why don’t I recognise anyone singapore isn’t that big- and I’ve just gotten off a twelve hour flight and barely feel human. but Stiglitz’s book made me think and I wanted to get this down before jetlag wiped it out of my brain. [they’re calling for people to board a United flight to new york. I’m seriously tempted to jump on that and go to new york. but that’s the exhaustion speaking, plus the THOUGHT of another thirteen hour flight makes me want to kill someone] it’s also really hot. I mean REALLY hot. it’s airconditioned in the terminal and I’m still roasting – and I’m wearing a short dress with no sleeves. I can’t imagine what singapore will be like when the sun rises tomorrow morning.

so back to the IMF: to think that I once wanted, really badly, to work for the IMF. I mean, the whole POINT of going for an MAS scholarship was to get central banking experience so that I could eventually wind up at the IMF in Washington. or perhaps I’d have to get a Ph.D before I could do that but well that was the idea. I thought the IMF was a good and necessary idea. I barely remember the Asian Economic Crisis that swept our part of the world in 1997-1998: I was still in secondary school, my brain was barely awake much less able to grasp simple economic concepts, and I thought – hey, the IMF sounds like a good idea to me. and then for some reason I learn more about the IMF in History7 of all things, as part of the international institutions part of the paper, and I think to myself: ooh, lender of last resort, central banker to the world, sounds like a good idea to prevent precisely the kind of thing we lived through, without really thinking about what they were doing and what had happened to our neighbours back in 1997-1998.

it’s disappointing for me to realise now that the IMF is a failure at what it’s supposed to do –provide liquidity to prevent banking collapses around the world, to provide geoeconomic stability in partnership with the World Bank, which provides funding for development—and consistently sticks its nose in where it has no mandate to be: Stiglitz calls it ‘mission creep’. [incidentally I’m very proud of myself for remembering the World Bank’s real name, IBRD] it because it is backed mostly by US Treasury money and will is as much a tool of american foreign policy as the UN –another great disappointment. and the worst thing is the IMF is both very bad at what it’s supposed to do and what it’s not supposed to do but does anyway. which is really sad. even taking Stiglitz with a pinch of salt –which is hard to do because he sounds eminently reasonable and backed by fact, which is more than the IMF can claim at this point- the IMF has done a really bad job in recent times, in fact since the Reagan-Thatcher partnership took over the global economy with their emphasis on free markets and breaking the backs of the labour unions. I’m not sure what the record of the World Bank is –as the former chief economist of the World Bank Stiglitz has very little to say about its track record—but I don’t imagine it could be worse than the IMF’s at this point. fewer people seem to hate it in comparison.

why is it that we have such crappy global governance? it’s depressing to realise that people really are constantly driven by partisan, personal interest or special interests rather than the interest of humanity or even the interests of the countries that they are proposing to help. taxation without representation, we call it, and on a global scale: and we come back to the issue of collective action problems, and we come back to the problem of concentrated benefits and diffuse costs. unfortunately the costs are diffused over the groups of people who can least afford them: the poor, the uneducated; and the benefits are concentrated in the groups that least need them: the rich, the multinational conglomerates, the special interest groups that can make or break an election result.

and people ask me why I don’t LIKE humanity. can I please stay in academia for the rest of my life, where I can pretend the real world with all its problems doesn’t exist except as a theoretical problem for my brain to solve?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

i'm so confused. everything is different on janice's laptop. oooh. =)

anyways, here is the sum total of what i wanted to say on today's post:

I HAD SMOKED SALMON TODAY. voluntarily, in sushi. and i liked it.

now everyone sit back, take a deep breath, and wait for the world to end.

[janice says: burp!]

Monday, June 16, 2003

Kwekkie's Quote of the Day: As she's walking by the lake with janice: "I can't decide whether I should go to the Reg or to eat."

i can't decide which is more sad: the fact that the quads are echoingly empty and barren of people, or the fact that i am here in CRERAR, my least favourite library, because the Reg is of course closed on the weekend of finals week spring quarter. see what the lack of internet access will do to me? it makes me do such ridiculous things.

walking through hyde park at eight pm reminds me that the core of hyde park life is the four thousand or so undergraduates who live and work here in hyde park nine months of the year. because right now the streets are silent, there are no cars parked along university or along ellis, and the libraries are dark and cold. it's melancholy-inducing. -sigh-

time to head back to janice's for dinner -- i'm finally starting to feel like eating...we had brunch at Orly's this morning, the kwek-lee-shum gang, and the food is so good. alex: i was making orgasmic mooing noises, in honour of you crazies -giggle- after a two mile walk along the lake and a two hour nap, i think i'm finally ready to round off the day with some homecooked food...

Kwekkie's Quote of the Century: "Do you think they make fat-free whipped cream...wait! wait! I didn't just say that!!!'

Saturday, June 14, 2003

this is it: the final push to get out of the dorms, the flurry of goodbyes and 'have a good summer' and hugs and 'we'll see you again in the fall' and knowing that now that i'm no longer in housing, and they're no longer in housing, the odds are against our ever being this way again. and today, the seniors and the graduating juniors are walking through Hull Gate to the Harper Quad dressed in their robes and their caps to receive their hard-earned and well-deserved A.Bs. it's sad because i've grown accustomed to their faces, to misquote Henry Higgins, i've grown used to knowing they are here and seeing them around, greeting them on the quads, talking to them late in the night/early in the morning, going to dinners and parties and just hanging out with them. because in a strange way, we have become connected by virtue of our race - language religion - nationality - beliefs, by bonds of friendship and duty and work. and now they will be gone, dissolving once more into the mass of humanity, and perhaps we will meet once or twice more in our lives, but never again will it be like this. and soon they will be gone.

i'm being sentimental now. there is a sense of loss, and a subtle unhappiness settling into me. there always is, at the end of something this beautiful. i've loved being here this year -- learning to live a little more, learning to love a little better, learning to deal with the loss of love with a little more strength and clarity. learning what kind of person i am and what kind of person i need to be.

time to leave.

this time tomorrow, i'm going to be sleeping in my own bed in my nice new place -i built the bed today with the much appreciated assistance of janice and emily. mr electric screwdriver and i do not get along well -- he screws my screws in crooked. there will be no internet in our new place, at least not before i leave for home, so this is probably the last chance i'll have to update my blog for about a week. [ok maybe not there is still the library after all]

it's sort of weird to see my room all barren, the walls stripped of posters and pictures and random photos and scribblings and postcards -- it's like the insde of a padded cell here, all white and everything, only it isn't padded. -grins- there's nothing but junk under the bed -the fridge has been moved to amanda's for safekeeping, so alex can have it in the fall- and the closets are mostly empty. the dressers are empty. there are random bits of odds and ends lying ard which will arrive safely in my apartment by three pm tomorrow, when the dorms close for the summer. many many happy memories in this room, memories which are sad and painful to leave behind. it's been a great great year with a great great roommate - i don't think we've fought at all, it's so strange - and it's going to feel just a little Wrong for us not to be in the same place next year, making weird noises and having __saurus conversations incomprehensible to anyone else. to not look out my windows and see the law school fountain and the weird happenings of 60th street. but life is full of changes, and we must move along with them.

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the world was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on a carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in a circle game

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like 'When you're older' must appease him
And promises of someday fill his dreams

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to carwheels through the town
And they tell him, take your time, it won't be long now
Til you drag your feet to slow the circles down

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams, and plenty
Before the last revolving year is true...

And the seasons, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in the circle game...

Friday, June 13, 2003

it's been a weird sort of day this far -- woke up this morning at 1030 just because i didn't have to be anywhere at any time, and because my room phone rang multiple times [multiple calls were made] this morning at some unholy hour, because H was moving her stuff and needed to have keys and stuff like that taken care of...thankfully she jumped on the phone before it could ring more than twice, but in my half-asleep not-quite-coherent stage i think i must have been turning the air quitequite blue with swear words.

visited the apartment that paul eric and bob are going to be living in for the next year. it is HUGE, they have hardwood floor and tons of space and lots of's a relatively nice apartment complex, and i'm pleased for them. i'm also jealous of their space. though perhaps not of their view: paul and bob face a brick wall -the wall of the building next to them- and eric sort of maybe has a little bit of a view of the street. unlike my view of downtown.

which was obscured today, when H and i went to the apartment in the afternoon to drop off more of my crap, by fog. it was really sort of pretty, but still, it meant we couldn't see past the boundaries of hyde park, even from the seventh floor. even my little sliver of a lake view [which ironically is a much bigger sliver in the winter, when it's cold and grey and not pretty, because the leaves fall off all the trees between us and lake michigan] was erased by the bank of whiteness descending on the world. eerie. but also really beautiful, it blocks out the ugly bits of the world. sometimes i wish i could have selective fog just floating around me and obscuring the parts of the world i wish didn't exist.

it's sort of weird to still be in BJ. the dorm year is clearly winding down, though a surprising number of people are still around on thursday night of finals week. i remember last year i just SHOT out of here, i think the day my last final was over. or perhaps the day after. it was weird. but here i am, sitting in my dorm room that is slowly but surely being cleared of stuff, and people are starting to leave. paul's off home for a week, and rachel is leaving tomorrow, and then i'll be out of here either tomorrow night or saturday morning depending on whether the bed gets built tomorrow or not. i'm thinking maybe even then i'll stay here, 'cos H isn't leaving til saturday morning. we'll see what happens. but yeah, BJ is slowly becoming strangely silent, settling down for another summer dozing in the sun, waiting for a fresh crop of firstyears to arrive in the fall, and the familiar, welcome noise of the returning upperclassmen moving in the weekend before first week fall quarter, throwing things around, yelling greetings up and down the stairs, hugging each other and catching up on all the stuff they missed over the summer. it's going to be strange not to be a part of that next year, but well -- things change, people change, we all move on to hopefully better if not just different experiences. i'm sort of looking forward to apartment life: i spent an hour in there today, alone with the music pouring out of the speakers of mike's computer -yoyo ma playing Bach's Cello Concertos, i'm so thankful that Musi 104 made us listen to that [nights of sitting up in H's old room, both of us poring over the scores which we'd tracked down, and trying to figure out what is going on...i think i will be able to recognise the sounds of yoyo ma playing the concerto in C and G until the day i die] because it rapidly turned into some of my favourite music in the world. but yeah, pattering around the apartment in my bare feet, putting things away where i think they should be put, enjoying the light pouring through the north wall of windows and the silence other than my music and myself -- it was peaceful. i like it.

back to the apartment in a little while. there is yet more stuff to be carted over...

One Winged Angels

Can you draw me the shape of love?


John Donne was right after all;
the body is the book.
He is written into me, into every line
and recess, scored into hair skin bone,
etched on the pattern of the cell, carved
on the door of the heart. My fingertips
are branded with his name. He reads me
as a blind man does, with fingers and tongue;
his hands delve into the deepdown places,
the spaces between the ribs, melting the secret
emptinesses with the sweet solvency of touch.
He finds me in the chaos of myself,
and draws me into being.
And I am learning him, learning
the journey of him, the journey of the
cobbled spine and the contours of muscle,
of tongue and lips and teeth, of the old scars and
the steel-toed heart. His warmth winds around me
and his voice binds me with a whispered word.
I trace his veins to their fire source and
dissolve into them, and find the shape of him
in the heart of a flame.
He is the poem I travel.


I am the shell by the sea, hollow, emptied, quiet,
burnt by the sun, lipped by gentle waves, waiting
for him to fill me.

I am the leaf dancing on the broad blade of wind,
spiralling up to graze the stars and drifting back down
to alight on his hair.

I am the bowl he shapes, looks in, lifts to his lips;
I am the clear water rippling his reflection,
locked in his hands.

I melt into the inky darkness of his shadow
and sheltering in his strength redraw the outlines
of a curious grace.

I am the drop of rain just learning the storm,
drawing the curve of a snow-petalled flower,
shaping a clear peace.


My phantom lover in the deep black jazz night,
his ghost hands whispering down the strings
of the heart and playing them with the lightest touch,
drugging the dreams with rich saxophone notes
of deep longing, binding the soul, shivering down
the bones and infusing them with a mute cry,
a sudden sharp ache of loneliness.


I want you to miss me when I'm not there -
I want you to watch after a disappearing back and wound yourself on the
sharp edges of an
absence -
I want a sudden remembrance to flood your senses, to wake a terrible
longing under the skin, to slice
into the heart and leave you crying out on this side of the night -
I want your arms to ache with emptinesses, your hands to clutch at forlorn
air, your ears to ring with
silences -
I want you to search the night and trace in the pattern of stars a foetal hope,
to listen for a breath of
voice in the haunting wind -
I want to haunt you, to lurk in the unknowing mind, to scorch your
fingertips with a remembered
warmth -
I want you to eat fire for me -
I want you to want me too.


Love brute and beast, rubbing against you hungrily, hesitantly, lapping at
the salt of you, wrenching at
your mouth-sweetness.
Love a savage knowing, a shock of recognition ripped from you, more than
feeling and deeper than
consciousness, rapped into the frame of bone.
Love a clarity of blindness, exhilarating and frightening, a mirror for a
flawed vessel, an act of faith,
forcing you to your knees.
Love an invisible circle binding you, anchoring your flight, building you a
Love a violence to shatter your peace.


Will you leave me here on the other side of the glass
with only a snatch of voice and the faint memory
of a fleeting touch to keep me?


We are one-winged angels just learning to fly,
riding the piercing sweetness of hope with a pair
of dreamer's wings, shaped of a song tender
and tremulous, soaring high into the clear night
and waking all the stars to dance, a great golden
shower of exuberant exquisite joy.
This is our time, this diamond night, the
bewitching hour, this dreamtime perfumed
with the sandman sleep, this velvet wilderness
of a wondrous grace; and these our hands
will find each other.

Koh Tsin Yen

Thursday, June 12, 2003

my roommate is standing at her whiteboard which is posted on the wall in my room, drawing protein structures and screaming at me...welcome to finals week, spring quarter, university of chicago...

speaking of finals week -- I'M DONE! i am officially halfway through my college career at the U of C. i'm done as a secondyear. isn't that cool? i'm still reeling from the unexpectedness of it. i'm completely done with Core, i'm done with Econ core [i just have four electives left and i will have finished my econ concentration!] and am all prepared to start the political science grind come the fall. and i'm celebrating, of course -- i'm moving stuff to the apartment in stages, all my clothes went tonight [my dresser is almost empty] and my books are already there. going to the apartment tonight was really cool too -- i haven't seen the view after dark before, and the lights of downtown are really pretty! despite the fact that the crappy pollution turns the sky orange and makes it hard to see the pretty lights. and i've realised that we have tons of light in the apartment, way more than we need. the one lamp in the living room already lights everything up, and we have a couple more lights in there...and my room is well lit by just the one lamp standing in the corner next to the bed. i guess when all the furniture is set up and in place there will be less white-wall to reflect light, but as it is right now i have plenty of lights, and three more lamps to come!

more building tomorrow -- i think i may start on the bedframe tomorrow. yay! and friday when we're all done, we're going to go out and PARRRRTEEEEE. =)

before i go to bed, one question: what is an evolutionary biologist? what do they do? what is their function in this world?

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

this headline greets me in my morning email from the NYTimes:

Will Beckham Bend and Move to Barcelona?
David Beckham's long career at Manchester United may be ending, and news about one of the world's highest-paid and highest-profile soccer stars is spooling incessantly.


it's one am the night before my stat final and i've just stayed up reading Queen Noor's autobiography Leap of Faith about her life after marrying King Hussein of Jordan instead of studying for it. but i have all day tomorrow, when i'm not freaking out over moving out. i've also just read evan's post in her LJ about wanting to work for the legal dept of the UN, and i am reminded of several things:

(1) reading Leap of Faith i recalled learning about the events that she talks about -the Camp David Accords stand out in my memory in particular- back in J2, for history 7. i was a middle east specialist -among other things- and i remember watching the news and reading the papers and scouring The Economist obsessively for analysis related to the situation in the middle east. i remember we all joked about praying that Yasser Arafat would not die while we were preparing for the final push to the A levels; the groans of disappointment and despair as the hardliners were once again elected in Israel -- we had so much invested in this paper for that one short year leading up to the As! and getting a different perspective, the perspective of a american woman who adopted Jordan and her King as her new country and family, and made the problems of the middle east peace process her own, is simultaneously a little disconcerting and absolutely fascinating. i'm really enjoying this read.

(2) like evan i wanted to work for the UN or the IMF or the World Bank -in that order- at some point while i was studying for the A levels. while reading The Economist [taking a break from scouring it for references to Israel, the Palestinians, and Egypt] i would page through the ads for 'economist for the IMF' and look at the requirements: work experience, degrees, everything. i thought that i would plan my life around getting to my eventual goal: working for the UN in new york. wow. [evan, i can totally sympathise with your complaint about living in the future: i spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about grad school even now, never mind what's going to happen post-Bond-Completion when i'm thirty] i mean, my main motivation for applying for an MAS scholarship was that working for the IMF requires central bank experience, and what better way to get it than an MAS scholarship right? i thought then, and perhaps even now, that i WANTED to be a central banker.

my chosen profession -at least for the next ten or so years- in the civil service back home may still put me in line for a job at the UN eventually. the question is, when the time comes to make the decision to go for it, will i do that? just like asking myself if the chance came for me to become an academic, would i do it -- i don't know.

i have just this one life, and so many options to spend it on!

no more metrics for me. the final is over. i'm not sure i did ok on it, and i'm fairly sure that at one point, at least, i was just making stuff up as i went along, creating new and not necessarily improved ways to test hypotheses, but you know what -- i'll survive. i'm prepared to take a hit. as H reminded me this morning, in the words of one Stuart Fox: 'You don't have to outrun the bear, just your friends.' [when asked what he would do if a starving bear were chasing him and his group of friends]

i know there will be people who want to shoot me for saying this, particularly the people who have spent the last ten weeks or even the last two weeks listening to me whine and complain about how i don't understand what's going on, but i really enjoyed taking metrics this quarter. i take great pleasure in stretching my brain, and metrics definitely did that for me: i always felt like i was on the edge of understanding something much more significant than the little piece that i was grasping, and when it did make sense on the larger, interconnected scale it made me feel like i've accomplished something, i've learned something, i am a different person for having taken this class and done this work. even when problem sets have reduced me to tears, to panic attacks, to walking the hallways in Mathews clutching my hair and asking myself why i am an econ major at the university of chicago --and my abject apologies to (a) everyone on the third floor and (b) everyone on the second-and-a-half floor for the spectacle i made of myself -- i think i've really enjoyed these ten weeks struggling with the math and the greek letters and the weird concepts. i can now say 'heteroscedasticity', 'multicollinarity' and 'autocorrelation' and have some idea of what they mean -- i know what they mean but i can't write down in math-speak what precisely they mean, you know? so i have more knowledge than i had at the beginning of the quarter, and more confidence that i can struggle through tough material and sort of make it my own. that's the greatest part of my education here. that's why i don't really like taking easy classes. although the high grade would come in useful to balance out my crappy crappy-ass metrics grade...

"I imagine it's like love, when you close your eyes and leave your body but at the same moment you feel more intensely physical than ever before. And as time rushes it also suspends itself, hanging in the air like something tangible but meaningless, no longer a shot fired from here to there, but a vapor dissipating slowly. Then come tremors from the outside in and the inside out that meet just below your skin and when you open your eyes nothing looks different but you are not the same and the mind has no way to wrap around what has happened so only the body understands and remembers."

Monday, June 09, 2003

We are stardust
Million year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in a devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden

-- Woodstock, Joni Mitchell.

perfect multicollinearity exists when one or more of the regressors are perfect linear combinations of the others. =) ok, so i'm starting to find metrics cool and fun, if purely out of self-defence - otherwise my brain would explode from all this unenjoyable stuff i'm attempting to stuff into it [like a christmas goose!] before the final on tuesday morning.

Question Of The Day: What Is A Civilisation?

my contention is that a civilisation is defined by the way a group of people conceptualise reality - how they make abstractions from reality, how their worldview is formed, how they produce meaning out of events. it's more than what language they speak, what their geographical boundaries are, or even what philosophical texts they read - though those are probably going to come closest as an indicator [i want to say estimator] of what outlines a civilisation. language is of course a powerful component of any civilisation: it is a means of transmission for the civilisation, it is the way in which thoughts and ideals and behavioural patterns are communicated between peoples and between generations. a written language, one might argue, is the hallmark of civilisation - maybe there's room to argue even that each linguistic family really marks just one civilisation, rather than being an overarching body that holds within it several civilisations. [i am going to be so glad when i no longer live on 60th St, and feel the insane urge to dive for the ground whenever i hear tyres squealing outside. drive-by, anyone? -shudder-] geographical boundaries are convenient when they are contiguous, like in the case of the east asian civilisation, or the south asian civilisation, or the american civilisation [i'm highly doubtful of the word 'civilisation' when applied simultaneously to both China and America. i mean, honestly -- i guess it's leftovers from when the word was coined as a means of separating the great from the not-so-great, back in colonial times]. and civilisations tend to be contiguous. but then you run smack into the problems of european civ - sure western europe is all in one place on the map, but it's also spreading its tentacles all over the world in the colonial period -- is singapore somehow part of the western european civilisation because it was colonised by the british? what about all the Dutch influence in our part of the world? hmm.

for example, i'm perfectly willing to contend that japan, china and korea all share the same civilisation -which i'm going to call chinese, for convenience, purely because you can trace chinese influence back to the beginnings of japanese and korean history, at least from the time in which an entity called 'Japan' came into existence. and korea has always acknowledged its place as China's Little Brother. all three countries were shaped by the same core texts: the Confucian classics shaped the ethics of a society, the mental processes of the various peoples in almost comparable ways. they exhibit the same social structures, albeit in slightly adapted ways: a hierarchical society based on a patriarchal primogeniture, a aristocratic scholar-gentry, a centralised state bureaucracy centred around that very scholar-gentry. i would like to argue that Japan China and Korea are all members of an East Asian civilisation rather than claiming that each of them is a civilisation in itself. otherwise the word 'civilisation' would be no different from the word 'culture' or perhaps even the word 'nation-state'. it needs to have a bigger, more abstract meaning to have any real use in this argument.

final thoughts on the rise and fall of civilisations: to quote Mao Zedong, when asked about the effects of the French Revolution: 'It is too soon to tell.' -- civilisations need to be dead before we can comprehensively and conclusively state that they are 'declining'; otherwise, as living breathing entities shaped by the behaviour of living breathing people, who continue to adapt their pasts to suit their futures, civilisations are constantly evolving creatures, and studying a 'civilisation' that is still in existence is in a way looking at a photograph of a moment in time and generalising from that one picture a whole movie of lifetimes. how can you really define a moving target?

on quite another note:

(1) i have snickers bars, precious precious snickers bars, that are currently awaiting my greedy fingers in mr. staniland's room; and
(2) my pretty nightgown from VS has arrived and it is so girly, i feel like a tiny child again wearing it. awwww...

Sunday, June 08, 2003

i'm dying for some chocolate right now -my fridge, unfortunately, no longer contains any, although it holds a truly mindboggling amount of vanilla coke and mountain dew in two flavours, maybe i should host a party- and there's a bunch of firstyears playing 'I've Never' down the hall. [don't know what that is? it's a drinking game. you take turns to say things like 'i've never wanted to have sex with a goat on new year's eve by candlelight on a cruiseship' and everyone who has had such desire/done such a deed has to drink.]

i'm also enraged at all korean men, because of comments like these:

"It is genetically ordained that men should win over women. Think about it: can a dog give birth to a rabbit or a rabbit have a puppy? Men and women are physiologically different. If you don't agree with my opinion now, you will in the future. God made it this way; that's why He made two sexes. I am on the outside, and my wife is on the inside. Is that system not efficient? Of course, if I were a woman, I might not like it, but I am a man." -- Dr Y. director of a cancer hospital in Seoul, 1987-88

"In the old days, everything was set up for the men and the women just endured it. Things have changed, but I think it's getting out of hand...They are not polite and respectful as in the past. They are just concerned about their rights, not their responsibilities...I think men should have their work and women theirs. Women are the ones who should serve coffee. It looks so good seeing them do it."

it outrages me that these people and these attitudes still exist in the world. you would hope that these mindsets would have been eradicated along with the dodo. it makes me so dizzyingly angry that i can't see straight, and i have to physically work off my anger by pacing around the Reg like a wild animal. it would drive me to drink if i were korean. it would drive me to murder, because suicide is so not worth it. it makes me infinitely wonderfully thankful i am not korean, but it also sucks ass because korean women have had to put up with this kind of crap from stupid stupid korean males with Madonna/Whore complexes for the last millenia. oh dear god. i cannot believe how infuriated this makes me.

no one in their right mind would call me a feminist -at least not with the negative connotation that 'feminist' has these days- and i am far from likely to rush out and smack someone because of some perceived slight to another person because she is female. i'm just not militant that way. but i am a firm believer in female equality -that we serve an equally vital function in society, we are capable of doing almost anything men are capable of doing, and when it comes to our minds there is NOTHING inferior about them. women are perfectly capable of looking after themselves and keeping themselves alive, and they do not deserve to be subjected to the crazy fucked up social constructions that men want to put on them to make men feel better about their useless little selves.

this is totally unacceptable behaviour. it makes me want to go outside and hunt down every korean man over the age of thirty and shoot him behind the ear from point blank range. that's really what i want to do right now. 'Of course, if I were a woman, I might not like it, but I am a man.' well, Dr Y, i hope you live a long and healthy life paralysed from neck down, totally dependent on your wife, who will then proceed to abandon you because you are a cripple and no longer able to provide and therefore are no longer 'masculine' by the definition of your messed up mind. that's what i hope. because anything else would be too good for a chauvinist, misogynistic, arrogant rat like you.


Saturday, June 07, 2003

i'm back in! -sticks tongue out at adrian- so there. =)

my stat prof, David Clifford, in an email sent at some unholy hour last night:

Please note the time of this email, this is the first time in my life I stayed in on Friday night to do statistics, and like I guessed, it wasn't so much fun, but you are all worth it!

ruimin's fault i'm thinking about my previously posted problem with regression analysis: now i have to find myself some reasons that families stay together that are different from eating together. like perhaps if low income families are more likely to stay together, or perhaps if low income families are more likely to eat together. hmm. in the meantime --

joni mitchell morning:

See You Sometime

We're in for more rain
I could sure use some sunshine on my apple trees
It seems such a shame
We start out so kind and end so heartlessly
I couldn't take them all on then
With a headful of questions and hypes
So when the hopes got so slim
I just resigned
But I'd still like to see you sometime
I'd sure like to see you

Urge For Going

He got the urge for going when the meadow grass was turning brown
And summertime was falling down and winter was closing in

Now the warriors of winter they give a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying, all that lives is getting out
See the geese in chevron flight
Flappin' and a-racin' on before the snow
They got the urge for going and they've got the wings so they can go

They get the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown
And summertime is falling down and winter's closing in

Help Me

Help me
I think I'm falling
In love too fast
It's got me hoping for the future
And worrying about the past
'Cause I've seen some hot hot blazes
Come down to smoke and ash
We love our lovin'
But not like we love our freedom...

studying for finals is hungry work -- the apartment is mostly empty but we have an abundant supply of junk food and one bigass armchair. i sat in that armchair reading for three hours this afternoon without realising it. and then i promptly fell out of it when emily came back and i tried to get up. hmm.

question: what is a civilisation? this is the third quarter in a row where i've had to tackle this question, and i'm sort of glad that the notes from previous quarters are currently somewhere in the boxes that are slowly piling up in my new bedroom on 55th street. because that means i sort of get a clean slate with this quarter's question, particularly re: Korean civilisation. do the Koreans have a civilisation that is distinct from the Chinese civilisation? after all, it is clear that the Chinese influence on Korean history and society and culture was all-pervasive in the early times of countryhood. another question we have to ask ourselves is if the act of creating a civilisation is one of dividing yourselves from outsiders --the creation of an inside and an outside, and therefore does a civilisation require an 'outside' to exist?

Korea is the 'Hermit Kingdom': the rest of the world was firmly repudiated. but it was not so much a rejection of the outward than a turning inward, a focus on the Korean self and the Korean social identity, rather than seeking to wall out the Outsider, the Other. after all, walls in Korea were made of clay -- not the strongest material in the world to keep people out. they were symbolic, symbolic of the desire to be left alone, in peace, to contemplate its own existence.

what precisely is a 'civilisation' and who came up with the idea? we have to struggle with the notion that 'civilisation' itself is an idea coined by those who have to keep those who have not below them -- the West's way of differentiating themselves from the barbaric East they encountered in the great imperialist expansion of the 1800s. they were a 'civilising' influence on the barbarians -- i have to constantly remind myself not to fall into that trap with the study of 'civilisations' -- to stay on the fence between insider and outsider however tempting it is to come down on the side of the insider all the time. i'm beginning to think of objectivity as the Holy Grail of historians, and i would like to believe that i can aspire to be some kind of decent historian one day.

anyways, since i'm studying for finals, no real deep thoughts: just a couple of things to leave you faithful readers with -grins-:

Faustus: Where art thou damn'd?
Mephostophilis: In hell.
Faustus: How comes it then that thou art out of hell?
Mephostophilis: Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think'st though that I, who saw the face of God
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being depriv'd of everlasting bliss?

i too have forgotten my Tempest, and remember only this:

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Friday, June 06, 2003

several thoughts:

Kierkegaard (1957, The Concept of Dread, 38) on dread (angst): 'A presentiment of something which is nothing'.

* * * * *

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact'ry
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love; --then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

J. Keats

attenuation: 1. The making thin or slender in transverse measure; diminution of thickness; emaciation. 2. The making less dense; diminution of density. spec. in brewing and distilling. 3. The process of weakening, as if by dilution; diminution of characteristic force. spec. of a disease, or of the pathogenicity of a micro-organism.

there is a rhythm to academic life, a musical pulse that I have let myself slide out of in the last five weeks. trying to get back into it at this point in the rhythm is like trying to fight my way into the heart of a current rushing down the middle of a cold cold river, just at the point where it’s picking up speed and depth and strength. it’s insane, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to succeed, but oh I really have to. and I’m not so sure it’s not going to pick me up by the scruff of my neck, fling me around for a while, and then spit me back out somewhere, worn out, soaked to the bone, and dying for more. so much work to do! at the same time, though, I am glad that I feel this renewed urge to participate in the life of the mind, as the U of C likes to call it: when I’m browsing the shelves and shelves and rooms and rooms of books in the seminary coop, and feeling the intense desire to buy all of them and move them to my library where I can live and read the rest of my life, or when I’m walking through the quads, bookbag over my shoulder head down walking fast in the sunshine between two crazy economics classes, I can feel the pull of academia and sense of belonging that made me fall in love with this college when I arrived here last fall. never mind that all my seniors and upperclassmen housemates were confidently predicting that I would learn to hate this place and it would break my soul =) I love how everyone in the Sem Coop walks around conversing in hushed voices as if they were in a library despite the fact that every thing in there you can buy and take home with you, to scribble in and dog-ear, and love to pieces – and in a way the Sem Coop is like a giant library, a repository of books on everything you could ever want to know about anything, just waiting for you to come and take them out and pass them on to other people. ‘hey, you need to read this, this is amazing.’

it’s on days like these when I am reminded of how I really want to live the kind of academic life that people like Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath, and Ted Hughes used to live. or perhaps like Hedda’s husband Jorge in Hedda Gabler who delighted in cutting the pages of brand new, unread books, looking forward to making them his friends, more so than his flesh-and-blood friends. people who didn’t seem to be concerned with the publish-or-die-because-you-can’t-get-tenure mentality; or the backroom politics that seems to pervade so many departments all over the country until that’s all you seem to hear about. I want the sleepy cambridge/oxford -lots of reading and writing about what you’ve read- lifestyle. I want the life of Virginia Woolf in The Hours where she sits in her room with a board over her knees scribbling industriously and painfully with a quill pen and an ink bottle in the mornings, forgetting and not caring about eating or drinking or other mundane things. except, of course, her cigarette. =) Plath’s scribblings in her journals about ‘must read _____ and write a paper about what he/she thinks about ____’ and ‘must write tomorrow: a poem about ___’ made me yearn, really yearn, to be able to do that, to constantly be inspired to write, to read good stuff constantly... I can see it in my head: a house in drizzly but beautiful cambridge, a fountain pen filled with pitch-black ink, parchment-style paper or perhaps smooth smooth lined foolscap, a pot of tea on my huge walnut desk, and surrounded in every room on every surface with the lovely lovely vision of stacks of books read and unread. to walk around permeated by the scent of paper and ink.

I want to be a small, forgotten piece of history somewhere, left alone to read and write and learn by herself from the great voices of the past and the present. I want to be the eternal graduate student. I don’t want to make a name for myself, but I do want to be able to write something that I can be proud of and that means something to me. fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose. especially poetry, my first love.

will I ever get a chance to do that? and if I do, will I feel that I can take that chance, leaving other responsibilities to put myself to work elsewhere behind?

Thursday, June 05, 2003

i hope to high heavens that i don't oversleep tomorrow morning and miss my final. that would be horrible. if people who live here or even in this country are reading this, please somehow make sure i wake up tomorrow morning at seven am and STAY AWAKE not go back to sleep like i have been doing. because my final is at eight. so somehow, telepathically, prevent my brain from falling back into slumber.

i think perhaps it is time for one last review of:

(a) Money
(b) Financial Intermediation including a model of bank runs, yay
(c) International Economics including a discussion of the Big Mac index. yes, mr R, i still remember when you first told us about the Big Mac index. long live The Economist.

and then bedtime. good night, world. =)

* * * *

Listen as the wind blows
From across the great divide
Voices trapped in yearning
Memories trapped in time
The night is my companion
And solitude my guide
Would I spend forever here
And not be satisfied...

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

a postscript:

have been reminded of the importance of getting your explanatory and dependent variable right in regression analysis, for fear of drawing stupid conclusions from upside down regression lines. for example, see statement: '..American studies that have found that the family that eats together, stays together.' now i would think it's much more likely that the family that stays together eats together, wouldn't you? so which is your explanatory variable? =p

* * * *

my roommate and i are on the verge of completely losing our shit. -shaking head- i am seriously looking forward to next thursday. next thursday has become my holy grail. and the thursday after that, i'll be home. looking forward to shopping at Kino -- M. Atwood has a new book out i might want to read, though i have yet to read Blind Assassin [i know, i know, don't shoot me] which i will do over the summer, i promise. after getting such a lovely cheap hardcover copy last spring in a little bookstore in Cambridge and carrying it all the way around the world [uk to chicago to singapore] how could i not? =) and of course there is always the new Harry Potter, which will be many hours of pleasure curled up in my armchair at home. what else do i want? oh if i had an unlimited book budget...

a postscript to a postscript:

the Seminary Co-op here on campus is having a booksale. the co-op is the best academic bookstore in the country and it even has some pretty cool non-academic books. so since i'm feeling generous -and- the bookstore is on a 20% members-only sale this weekend, i'm taking book orders at this address until the weekend. -grins-

exerpts from The Economist's City Briefing for Singapore this month:

Off the list

The World Health Organisation (WHO) removed Singapore from its list of SARS-affected countries after the city-state went for 20 days without reporting a new infection. Dr David Heymann, the WHO's executive director for communicable diseases, said that Singapore's handling of the crisis had been “exemplary”. But Khaw Boon Wan, the incoming health minister, promised to remain on the alert.

Eat at home

On June 6th, hundreds of busy Singaporean fathers will be sent home from work early to dine with their families. Some 30 companies are participating in “Eat With Your Family Day”, in the hopes that such dinner-table bonding will help the country's families. The event, which was conceived of by Singapore's Centre for Fathering, jump-starts Family Week. Edwin Choy, the centre’s co-founder, points to American studies that have found that the family that eats together, stays together.

i wish i could be home for this. the height of irony: both the kids will be out of the country on that day. in fact, for all of family week.

* * * * *

reading evan's LJ is always great fun -- evan, you guys kick ass [re: movie tickets]. i can so imagine a bunch of prospective lawyers really getting into gear and arguing the hot air out of the poor manager...-laugh- i really enjoy reading her comments on life at a law firm, and all the stuff she's doing with all these people -- although i must admit that i am highly envious of the wonderful food she talks about. like BBQ stingray, which i haven't not even smelled in MONTHS, and fried carrot cake, and char kway doesn't help that amos just sent out an email telling us that he's on his way home, and he's prbably at home eating chok and kway chup by now. -whine- i wanna be home chowing down on BBQ stingray and sugarcane juice and goreng pisang at Chomp Chomp too!

well it seems that i am finally done with econ core -- had my last 203 class today, and only the final stands between me and freedom from 'Elements of Economic Analysis I-IV'. -grins- i'm sort of looking forward to taking my final, despite the fact that it's at eight am on thursday of reading period -oh the torture- because it'll mean i'm done. i also sort of enjoy taking finals --don't shoot me!-- because they're such one-off things, i get to sit there and stare and puzzle and pull my hair, but when i walk out, i'm done, completely done. and i never have to deal with it again.

i'm really glad i took 203 with Mauro instead of Casey Mulligan like the rest of the singaporeans. -grins- partly because Mulligan seems to have wandered quite quite far afield from the stuff that the rest of the 203 classes are doing, but mostly because i really like Mauro's style. he explains things in a clear manner, he's endlessly patient with questions -which, considering this class is a nine am class, tend to be a little on the random, what's-going-on-here side- and he displays a surprisingly dry sense of humour which is greatly appreciated. he also seems to understand what it's like to be an undergraduate taking a full courseload with a full complement of problem sets, midterms, and finals to go with. =) if anyone reading this intends to take 203 at some point in the future here at the U of C -grins at teddybear- bear this in mind when picking classes...just today we had an hourlong discussion of the asian financial crisis and various other financial -i want to say monetary/currency, but that would take some defending i think- crises around the world in recent years, and it was fascinating. i stayed awake the entire time, on short sleep, at a nine am class. how often does THAT happen? oddly enough, very often this quarter. wow.

it's so weird to think that i'm almost halfway through my undergraduate career: in approximately nine days Spring quarter of my second year will be over, and i will be officially halfway to graduation. i know a lot of people who are graduating this year, and it's almost impossible to imagine that once upon a time they were at the same stage i am now -- whoa. of course a lot of those people are graduating thirdyears not seniors -herbert, serjin, weekiong- so i don't know why i can't imagine it -- i was HERE last year when they were rising thirdyears. i guess it never registered that they were going to be leaving at the end of this academic year! i think i'm still mentally in the middle of my firstyear, timewise, it's hard to comprehend that it's been two and a half years since we graduated from RJ. the only thing that's making it real for me is the string of msgs and emails i've been getting from guys back home proudly proclaiming that they (a) are busily clearing leave and are free from camp! or even better (b) have ORDed. and then proceeded to go on long Europe holidays. -grins-

* * * * *

Dance with me forever
This moment is divine
I'm so close to heaven
This hell is not mine
This hell is not mine...

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

If a picture paints a thousand words
Then why can't I paint you?
The words will never show
The you I've come to know
If a face could launch a thousand ships
Then where am I to go?
There's no one home but you
You're all that left me to
And when - my love for life is running dry
You'll come.. and pour yourself on me...

If a man could be two places at one time
I’d be with you
Tomorrow and today,
Beside you all the way
If the world should stop revolving, spinning
Slowly down to die
I'd spend the end with you
And when the world was through
Then one, by one, the stars would all go out
Then you and I... could simply... fly away.

remember this song anyone? i remember learning it back in secondary two in RGS and falling absolutely in love with it. and learning to sing it. and with that the desire to sing in the RGS choir was born. oh those were the beautiful days. i miss singing. lots. =*( you know how some songs have people associated with them, and moments in time? this is one of them that will forever be associated with a particular person at a particular stage in my life. =)

so H is giving a presentation on leucocytes and their function with regard to your body's healing functions, and she showed it to me -or tried it out on me rather. while most of the compound names were completely lost on me -alpha kappa what? sounds like a mixed up frat to me- the gist of the presentation just amazed me. do you have any idea how complicated the whole process that brings leucocytes to the site of a wound/infection/injury to begin the whole healing process is? i didn't, before tonight. a whole process of signaling and ending of signaling. when you're injured the stimulus causes some compounds to be released that kick inhibitors off other compounds, producing other stuff that sets up integrins which act as redlights, stopping the leucocytes from rolling on their merry way, causing them to squish themselves flat and slide through your membranes to cluster around the site of injury. once in a while i am reminded by something like this how amazing a machine the human body is -- how complicated the processes by which we remember to breathe, and clean our blood, and think and move and heal ourselves. how feedback loops aren't something abstract to be read about in Natsci classes, but something that happens in our bodies whenever we get a papercut, or hyperventilate. =) [i can hear my roomie practicing her presentation behind me...]

now if my leucocytes would work a little faster on that damn infection in my ear. update: it's better today -thanks eun for asking about it!- but it still stings like crazy when i swab it down with alcohol. at least i did little to no whimpering today...H was making sure i didn't die.

Quoting from Eun's blog: Later that afternoon IR Professor M Cox had this to say at a panel on 'Crisis in Iraq': ''If you'll believe lawyers then you'll believe economists.'' Hey, i resemble...i mean resent that remark. -grins- then again, i rarely if ever believe both lawyers or economists. i think perhaps i would rather believe an economist than a lawyer, so there. =p and no, eun doesn't count as a real lawyer, she's not out for blood. or not out for MY blood anyway. =) -looks around the Wormz- we are a rather mixed bunch, aren't we: a bunch of economists, a couple of political scientists, a lawyer, a linguistics major, a couple of doctors in there for good measure...-grins- my children have nothing to fear; their every need can be taken care of by their mommy's closest friends. and in about two weeks i'm going to be SEEING some of those closest friends in the world -- ying will get home before i do, eun gets in twentyfour hours -approximately- after i do, and about a week after that alex will be home from his Grand Europe Tour. i'm sure at some point feng is going to pop up =) and i know amos is going to be around for a week while i'm back in singapore. and of course my she'enedra is going to be home too! oh glorious times =) -spreading hugs around the Wormz-

two more weeks. damn the fact that one of them has to be Finals Week.

I’m not sure what this could mean
I don’t think you’re what you seem
I do admit to myself that if I had someone else
then I’ll never see just what we’re meant to be

-- Frente, Bizzare Love Triangle

Monday, June 02, 2003

short post tonight in deference to my exhausted-beyond-all-reason state -- i'm only posting because of my incredibly exciting day. =) yes, it is Move In Day. emily and her parents and i moved stuff into the apartment today -- we currently have one chair set up in the living room, one dining table, the kitchen is all set for us to move in, dishes and knives and frying utensils and my pride and joy, a new Tefal pan i'm so looking forward to seasoning. =) a bunch of my clothes and towels and sheets and bedding all moved in, and more to come over the next week. it was a brilliant day, and the view from our living room window was simply breathtaking, i don't think i've seen downtown quite so clearly from up high before...

but all the moving did mean we started work at seven thirty, which means i had to haul my lazy butt out of bed at the ungodly hour of six forty-five AM on a SUNDAY MORNING =) and to top it all off i have picked up a nasty infection in my left ear which makes moving my earring burn like the fires of hell, and had me clutching an icepack to my ear, sitting on the ground and whimpering after i cleaned it and Put The Earring Back In -whimper- this evening. but other than that minor -ok not so minor- glitch, everything went according to schedule, and my aching body can attest to the amount of heavy lifting we all did today. =)

imagine that. jeanette is moving into Her Own Apartment for the first time ever. wow. i owe lots of people including my parents email regarding this, AND i forgot to bring the camera to record the moment for posterity, but i'm too tired to do anything about it at this stage. short sleep = bad.

goodnight, sweet world! =)

Sunday, June 01, 2003

if the world never makes another WWII movie it will be too soon. i can't imagine what draws me to war movies -- this is the third one i've seen this week. oh wait, i didn't say which one i went to. janice and i made a little trek to Doc films this evening to watch The Pianist, a Roman Polanski film about warsaw in world war II. it was so depressing. as janice puts it -- it was so arbitrary: if our Pianist had run into another less forgiving german officer he would have died; if there hadn't been brave Poles who risked their lives to save his he would have died...the list goes on. in the manner of all WWII movies, it was dark, it was filled with painful images of executed Poles, shot at point blank range by rabid Nazis, it was pretty much unrelentingly driving your nose into the dirt. even the bright images of our Pianist -Adrien Brody- were bittersweet -- he plays a beautiful beautiful piece at a piano that is miraculously unharmed in the middle of a bombed out shell of a house to a German officer who might have just shot him on sight, and as i watched those pianist's hands fly over the keys, nailing each final chord perfectly, his fingers flying over chromatic scales as if they were somehow being magically guided -- it was so beautiful it made me cry. there's something so filled with pathos about that scene -- he hasn't eaten properly in years, he's dressed in rags, he's cold emanciated probably sick as a dog, and yet when he's seated at the piano he forgets everything and his hands, oh his hands remember what it was like to play on a grand piano, his fingers fly over the keys, he forgets the existence of the world around him. i heard people around me stifling sobs and sighs, and i thought to myself -good. maybe we will remember this time. maybe this will never ever have to happen again.-

let us just pray that the world never again sees the like of Nazi Germany.


Make a whole new religion
A falling star that you cannot live without
And I'll feed your obsession
There is nothing but this thing that you'll never doubt
This thing you'll never doubt

-- Garbage

according to Channel Five, i make a better kid than a scholar and a better scholar than either a chef or a housewife. i would, however, make an excellent taxi-driver, if i could perhaps drive without getting into an accident. -grins- ok someone shoot me now for doing the 'self-test'...

this conversation must be preserved for posterity. it reads like something on the cover of Dan and Shereen's wedding invitation. which they sent to me anyway despite the fact that there was no way in hell i was going to be able to make it back home in time, because they wanted me to feel like i was a part of it too. taken from icq log, with many apologies to amberstar -grins- you know i love you, right, babe? -grinning- :

Windsong: we sound like elephants.
amberstar: bwahahah.
amberstar: -eeeeehhhhhh!!!-

Windsong: -raising an eyebrow-
amberstar: that was an elephant noise.
Windsong: oh. ok. i would never have guessed. =p