Friday, December 31, 2010

in the new year..

I am going to have a list of new year resolutions.  I don't know what they will be yet, but I am working on them.  I don't think that I have made any resolutions since I was thirteen.  How I wish that I had that list to crib from.  I bet that the list from the viewpoint of a thirteen year old is probably more interesting.

I wanted to make some resolutions this year because there are things in my life that I need to get done.  Oh, I will probably still continue to fly by the seat of my pants for most aspects of my life- I have had too many good adventures not to- but I have some goals now.  That's right, goals.  I need to figure out what I am saving money for, other than old age.  Do I want a home?  Do I want a dog?  Things?  I want to know what I should start working on this year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

one book at a time

I have not hope of bringing my actual library here from Ithaca.  There isn't enough room for all my books in our larger-than-the-old-shoebox-home.  I brought a few favorite architectural books but the rest are out of reach.  Or they were until the Kindle entered into my life.  I am bringing out my books one purchase at a time. 

I am a big fan of the Kindle.  Once you accept its limitations (architectural books and other designed paper works of art) it more than compensates with its own special features. It is easier to hold than a hardcover or even a paperback and also much smaller and lighter.  Since November I have amassed close to 100 books as well as PDFs that I have been sending to myself.

I would say that the Kindle is near perfect except for this one problem I just noticed: even with bookmarks it is difficult for nonlinear reading.  Five words shall explain what I mean:  The Sound and the Fury. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

the sun also rises

For the first time in my life I stumbled out of a bar in Wanchai to full sunlight.  It was also the first time for me to enter the fabled establishments of the Bridge and Old China Hand.  What have I become?

I will blame SB for this even though he is on the other side of the planet.  It was his phone call that sent me over the edge. I worked over most of the holiday for the grinch while he was drinking eggnog in flannel pants with his niece and nephews and watching snow fall all around him.  I was going to miss the festivities altogether knowing that they would be rather blue over here in overtime-land but something inside of me just snapped and I decided that I needed a good cheering up.

By 10pm I was outside of Carnage with my dear co-conspirator, T and a lively band of rugby players.  From there the evening took a turn into another dimension.  Aided by the warm glow of cider our merry band began to grow.  People came and went.  T disappeared with a holiday present that had presented herself to us but was replaced by J, who I had really not talked to until that evening.  J turned out to have good humor because I more than once exclaimed to him that I was shocked at his intelligence.  I am cringing right now just thinking of what an ass I was.  "Yes, I'm an intelligent c*nt," he kept assuring me.  Turns out that this hulking, professional rugby player is also a Jazz musician.  Such a cultured c*nt to boot! (More cringing by me)

Then we were joined by A, who used to date J, and instead of fireworks they were very pleasant to each other.  Even as he left with a woman who looked straight out of one of those devil-metal rock videos.  I practically expected her to have a forked tongue.  Fascinating, was all I could keep repeating as this woman who had met all of us just five minutes previously revealed where three of her piercings and two tattoos were located.  She stopped traffic.  A probably wasn't too upset at this because she was now wrapped around a total stranger, except that he wasn't.  He was B, a fellow ice hockey player of SB who had come over to say hello to me and ended up against the side of the wall with a woman almost as tall as him.  Sorry for all the initials but I have to maintain some privacy for these individuals.

Somewhere along the way we ended up at Dusk til Dawn having added an actor and two other women to the group.  This is the only bad part of the night.  I paid for a beer with $500 and the change never came back.  I asked my waitress for it and she said she would be right back and then that was the last I saw of her for the rest of the time we were there.  I guess she was hoping that I was too drunk to remember.  As we left the bar I found her and told her to enjoy her Christmas present.  I will not be spending any money at Dusk til Dawn again.  This is the first time it has happened to me but some of the other rugby boys have told me that the waitresses there steal, but only after 2am.

But back to the story.  I figured that it was sufficiently late so that I could see what the Bridge was all about. It was...sketchy.  Nice waitstaff, friendly people, but all the patrons looked like desperate, single people trying desperately to find other desperate, single people to grab a hold of before the night ended.  I figured a few drinks would make this spectacle go away but they did not so on to Old China Hand we went.  I think there were only five other people in the whole bar so our group more than double their numbers.  We ordered several rounds of shots and the waitress/bartender was very accommodating to our large group.  At this point I was feeling no pain.  I was also feeling very benevolent because she absolutely could have taken advantage of me but didn't so she got a tip to match the one that the other girl stole.  And then I threw open the doors to bright sunlight, gasped in horror, and scampered home.

A very merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You know you are in Cornell when...

Taken from the comments section in an Ithacan newspaper:

There are two tragedies here, although not of equal magnitude. The big tragedy is that someone lost their life through violence. Another tragedy is this sentence:

"Upon police officers arrival, a male subject was located in a parking lot deceased."


I'm sure the Ithaca Journal reporter took this from the police report, but that's no excuse. Police officers aren't paid to write coherent sentences, reporters are.  Besides, if it's a direct quote, where is the attribution?


Ah Ithaca, how I miss your heady mix of elitism and social retardation.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Really happy? Really?

I took this time off from blogging to really, really think about things.  What things?  Well, stuff.  Sometimes other stuff that happens seeps into my bouncy castle of a life and deflates it.  I have been unhappy with the world lately- not in that angsty, teenage goth kind of way but in a similar fashion. 

I am unhappy with America; I am specifically unhappy with the United States.  I am a patriot.  I believe in imaginary things like nationalism.  I have t-shirts with the American flag.  I get teary on memorial day when I am reminded that freedom isn't free.  And lately as an American I am furious.

I telephoned my dear friend, Cousin Ian, because I knew that he could give me hope.  He is a wonderful man.  He works at Cornell by day and by night is a trustee for a credit union that serves those who are under-served by other financial institutions, especially low income, minorities, women, and non-profits. He is a community activist and mentor.  He is a bright light, twinkling in the darkness for me. 

Last week, the light went out.  As I was explaining my frustrations with our country's policies and socioeconomic positions he gently broke it to me that he was not going to tell me how to make it better.  "You know C," he said (he has almost from the beginning of our friendship referred to me by a letter), "maybe you should be happy with where we're going." 

Say what?! 

He was much more eloquent about it but I shall try to paraphrase his point.  Maybe this will be a good thing.  Maybe what I am experiencing is the fall of our civilization.  Cousin Ian wondered what it must have been like for citizens of Rome when it "fell" or when Britain started to lose it's colonial dominance.  He figured that it must have been something like what we are experiencing now- apathy, idiocy, decline.  When we take a hard look at our country we see people like Sarah Palin on every news channel, snidely referring to Obama as "the professor," as though being intelligent was a dirty thing (yes, yes, I can hear the ivory tower argument) or misappropriating the feminist movement so that it is no longer about equality for all but about voting for women no matter what these women actually stand for even if they are handmaidens of hegemony.  I see Sarah Palin waving her rifle on television and making statements that underscore her ignorance of the constitution as well as ignorance of common sense.  I see our politicians approving tax cuts that we will NEVER be able to pay back, which will add $700 billion to the federal deficit, which economists of right and left wing factions have all come out to say is madness.  I see our countrymen making decisions based on emotion and hysteria. 

But Ian says that it is all a good thing.  He is tired of fighting and suggests that the fall of the United States is for the better.  We have been the superpower for too long.  In all these years of policeman to the world and defender of democracy we have destroyed nations, obliterated governments and become reviled by the people who we are claiming to be helping.  Plants and animals disappear to feed us and let's not even begin to talk about what our petroleum lust has done to the world.  In the past few years we have weathered great economic collapses and wars that have become increasingly costly over greater amounts of time.

With Sarah Palin and American hysteria, Ian figures that our demise is imminent.  He thinks that I should relax and let it happen because we aren't any good at being a superpower anyway.  Let someone else take up the mantle.  He is doing his part but not fighting anymore.  He is stepping up his community involvement and tells me that his friends have also stepped back from politics and are focusing their efforts on making their community more sustainable to weather the eventual national level collapse.  And yes, he has read "Atlas Shrugged" and no, he doesn't think it relates.  He isn't going to be waiting on his roof for the end of the world, either, but he has given up trying to stop what he feels is inevitable.  He is more relaxed now that he doesn't care and wants me to feel the freedom from burden of being an American. He looks forward to the time when we will rebuild.  "C," he tells me, "Be happy; it is a good thing."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

things that make you lose your mind

I have been laying low these past few days.  I started a few posts but couldn't finish them because I was about to blow a fuse each time.

SB is going home for three weeks for Christmas but I will not be joining him because I have to work.  I was not aware that I was being placed on the project that is keeping me in Hong Kong for the holidays until I asked for leave.  The person who denied my leave is the same person who denied it last year, who informed me that he was just about to tell me about the new project when I submitted my leave application.  He justified this by stating that he couldn't go on leave either.  But he went on leave last year while I had to work for him.  And that is all that I will say because otherwise I will lose it.

SB and I decided that this vacation would be a good time for him to get to know my family before becoming formally engaged.  Remember fifteen months ago when he told me that he wanted to marry me?  Yeah, I have almost forgotten also.  It kind of fell to the back burner after I lost my uncle and then we got overwhelmed thinking about the logistics of planning a wedding from Hong Kong for very dispersed families who have yet to meet.  He thought that maybe he could tell his family over the holidays but I think our families should find out together..after they finally meet him.

I have also been reading about how the Republicans and Democrats are spatting like a group of spoiled, bratty children.  The Republicans are blocking any and all bills so that the Democrats and Obama will look bad for not getting anything done this year.  This means that Don't Ask Don't Tell will probably not be repealed.  This means that needy children will not be getting more nutritious meals.  This means that tax cuts may not be extended and unemployment payments will end.  I strongly despise all politicians at this moment.

I strongly despise a lot of things right now.  And so rather than sharing any more grinchiness I will just lay low and sulk in the dark corners of my bedroom until SB ruins my sulking by doing something adorable.