Sunday, February 10, 2008


So much to update about, so where to start?
1. 新年快乐! 恭喜发财, 身体健康!! Translation (roughly): "Happy new year! Have a prosperous year, and good health!!" It was Chinese New Year on February 7th.

Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays. It's up there with Thanksgiving. So much food, and a holiday that revolves around food is always good. Too bad I didn't get a chance to go home this year - it's the first year I haven't been home at least for a weekend near Chinese New Year. That was a little sad. It means I didn't get my 红包 (red envelop/red packet) of money. Oh well, that'll come later I'm sure.

The night before new year's, I went out to dinner with RZ-F, SR-F, and JW-F instead of going home. We went to this Chinese restaurant that I hadn't heard of, but RZ-F said was good. And it was. Apparently, when SR-F and JW-F walked in, all the Chinese people there stared at them for a brief moment (SR-F and JW-F are clearly not Chinese, haha). The waitress gave us forks and glasses of water instead of chopsticks and tea. I was amused; JW-F was not. The waitress also tried to explain what was in some of the dishes on the menu, obviously directed at JW-F and SR-F, and JW-F found this insulting as well. Sigh. I mean, it's clearly not intentional and some of the dishes would need some describing to a non-Chinese person (and even to some Chinese people too).

All in all, it was good food. I ate at another Chinese restaurant for lunch the following day with RZ-F and her roommate, SN-F. And that evening, I got pizza with JW-M and others. So much eating out! >.<
3. I went to two concerts this weekend. Yesterday's was a double quartet/octet concert. The first several pieces were "modern contemporary" pieces. So they sounded horrible. It's like horrible abstract art that the general population finds difficult to appreciate. Instead of being an eyesore, the music was auditorily painful. It sounded like some amorphous cloud-blob of dissonance, without melody or proper harmonies, and united only by random rhythms.

But the Mendelssohn octet easily made up for all that. To think, Mendelssohn composed such a masterpiece at age 16! Who does that?! I heard a brief segment on NPR this morning about Mendelssohn, and they mentioned his octet. There's something eerily apt about all this. Anyway, his octet piece had direction, it had melody, and the players were clearly enjoying it. It sounded like suspended joy - purposeful, directional, refined.

Today I went to a pipa and shawm band performance. They played mostly traditional Chinese music, and it was really really cool. A part of it resonated with me, like a nostalgia I never knew existed. It was kind of weird. But whereas the Mendelssohn octet the night before represented joy in a Western and highly refined manner with linear direction, the pipa and the accompanying instruments played with unadulterated and raw happiness. It had this habit of building up to a climax, then backing down, then building up again, over and over. The music was almost cyclical, like it was trying to describe something or tell a story. The styles between the two concerts were worlds apart, but that's not surprising at all.
That's the highlights for now. Right now I'm in the library, studying for the first time this weekend, haha. It's really cold today. According to the, it's 1 degree outside but it feels like -15 degrees. It was also really icy yesterday, could've slipped all over the place if one wasn't careful. Is it spring yet?

Hmm, something happened to #2 in this post. I don't know what, but a large chunk of it seems to have disappeared. It had something to do with my "social experiment." I'm too lazy to go back and re-type it all in, so this'll suffice. And suffice to say, my roommates will only clean/run the dishwasher only when things are practically all used up.

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