Archive for the 'General Posts' Category

Fading from view

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

I’m back.  And it all seems a bit of an anti-climax.  The eighteen hour flight seemed really brief, probably because I spent most of it asleep after 40 hours of being awake, driving about 600 miles and finally sprinting through the airport with too-much hand luggage (this last situation wasn’t even really my fault).

The weather in Singapore doesn’t seem significantly warmer or more humid than the summer weather I left on the Cape.

Everything seems a little too familiar, like I never actually left.

But it doesn’t necessarily make it easier.

On the final to-and-fro trips around the Cape I felt a surreal missing limb syndrome with noone else in the minivan.  I kept looking around expecting to see my father in the passenger seat or to hear my mother and sisters in the rear.

I start work on Monday.  Tomorrow I will get a mobile phone number and also move into my summer housing.

On the Cape for the week…

Friday, June 15th, 2007

We’ve been staying at a lovely house in Hyannis this past week, spending the kind of relaxing but constant-activity vacation that results from being the only designated driver in the family.  We’ve been to Salem and the MFA, to Martha’s Vineyard and the beach, and tomorrow enroute to JFK we’ll be making a last shopping-stop at the ever-incredible Woodbury Common.  We’ve had good food and taken fun pictures, and I’ve said various unwilling personal goodbyes to places and memories and habits and people.

I leave on Saturday night on the direct EWR-SIN flight.

PS: Pictures to come, perhaps when I regain internet and computer access next week.
PPS: Jo and XY, I’ve been meaning to respond to your messages, but have been really tied up and infrequently online…  so sorry!  I’ll be back in Singapore in just 48 hours.

Just because it should be recorded – senior move out was pretty much as bad, if not worse than The Great Move-Out Disaster of 2006, if that’s possible.  The hallways and courtyards of Quincy (and probably every other House) bore an eerie resemblance to the set of a disaster movie or urban refugee camp setting…  furniture, clothes, documents, food and luggage were strewn, abandoned and forlorn, as far as the eye could see.  Theft and looting felt rampant.  It wasn’t a happy place to be at all.

Commencement

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Yes, there was Bill Clinton yesterday, and Bill Gates today, and honors and ceremonies and prayers and cheering and parties and toasts and family and hugs and pictures and perfect weather…

 After Afternoon Exercises (7 Jun 2007) This was about an hour after the newly-minted Dr. William Gates gave his inspiring address to the Harvard Alumni Association.  I sat alone in a nook on the top of the Widener steps while the rest of family had great seats somewhere nearer the stage.  This gave me the space to let the profound sadness of Commencement sink in past the pomp and jubilation.

There should be more weeping, that’s my feeling about all this. 

Yes, it’s a jubilant, joyful, blessed, exciting, hopeful, inspiring, beautiful, precious time, but it’s also a time of ghosts, of memories, of finality, of fleeting youth, of loss and separation.  To weep seems to be the only appropriate response.  Weep for joy, weep in relief, weep in exhaustion, weep in mourning, weep in gratitude.  Weep for the bittersweet tang of unrealized relationships, forgotten dreams and missed opportunities.  Weep for the painfully beautiful metamorphosis of nebulous possibilities into sharpened minds, coherent personalities, and recognizable individuals.  Let the tears of rejoicing and anxiety and disbelief comingle and stream freely down in respectful acknowledgement for the kindness of time, of others, and of God. 

What else can we do but weep for the ghosts that we will add to the multitudes already wandering the hallways of the buildings we loved and the dining halls where we ate and the libraries where we worked?  The accumulation of emotions and energy and effort that we have expended here over the years echo ever and only louder and more poignantly as our rooms become empty, and we violently, unceremoniously, and even unwillingly erase the physical evidence of our time here.  Every bare shelf and abandoned bed starkly attests to the existence of their previous owners.  And these owners no longer exist – where is that boy that worried about a midterm grade, or that girl that threw everything into her student group?  We will be different tomorrow, we have no choice, and the future promises so much.  How can we not weep?  There should be much more weeping.

Weep, and you will know then that in some small way, perhaps without noticing or even acquiescing, in this place and with these people you encountered the mystery and meaning of life.

Graduating…

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

…takes a long time, and a lot of effort.  So many events: fun events, meaningful events, catered events, stand-around-waiting-for-hours events, jostle-with-classmates-for-a-good-spot events, feel-good events, noisy events, grand events, intimate events…  you get the picture.

Tonight was really fun, actually.  There was a party at the athletic fields, followed by Grad Jam.  I sang “Let’s Fall in Love”, which I’ve never sung before, so I partly confused the words and sang a hilariously confused bunch of lyrics at one point, although noone noticed and even on video it looks seamless, thank God.  I had a lot of fun, the singing was so relaxed (usually at the biannual concert we’re all wired up and rush recklessly through all the songs).

And then there was a random party in the Eliot courtyard, which was surreal, and fun and did I mention surreal?  There was very random food (burgers and oreos and Reese’s peanut butter cups) and fairly random drink (champagne and Budweiser and pineapple juice and brandy) and an even more random location (the partially set-up Diploma Cemermony tent for Eliot House with all kinds of random tables and lawn chairs lying sideways and in folded-up piles).

I had a blast.

And here’re the amusing results of an online “gender role” quiz I just took:

Your Score: Androgynous

You scored 53 masculinity and 60 femininity!

You scored high on both masculinity and femininity. You have a strong personality exhibiting characteristics of both traditional sex roles.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on masculinity
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on femininity

 

   
Link: The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test written by weirdscience on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

 

Wheeee!

Monday, June 4th, 2007

 Senior Soirée (3 Jun 2007) What's a Harvard formal without an ice sculpture?  Class of 2007, baby.

I just got back from the Senior Soirée, which was beautiful in the rain, and I’m currently feeling deliriously wobbly.  Not because I had anything to drink (I stuck to Sprite), but because I’ve had so little to eat today. 

Emily and I were going to have lunch at Wagamama, which would have been a big meal, but it turned out we were there an hour before it opened for lunch at noon, so we went into Fanueil Hall instead, where I had a cookie and a bowl of chicken vegetable soup that I didn’t finish because it wasn’t very good.  Then after our visit to the precious-jewelry-box-like Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (a must-see!  Amazing!), I promptly took a nap until the Senior Soirée was already well underway (and I had missed all the pre-party receptions and get-togethers).

So essentially in the last twelve hours I’ve eaten two slices of brownie and had two cups of soda, all at the soirée.  That’s why I’m feeling wobbly.

Thank goodness Andrew has a huge box of barbeque pork jerky in the fridge and substantial leftovers from his dinner at Grendel’s 🙂

 Thayer players reunite! From left: Oyin, Sandra, me, Natalie, Daren, Christina

In six hours I must leave to drive to New York… to pick up my family from JFK!!  🙂

Now that the blog server is back up…

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

No time to blog now.  Must run to dry-cleaners.

Family arrives on Monday in New York for Commencement week.

Las Vegas trip last week was very fun.  Won money, ate good food (buffets!), saw Jenny McCarthy (at a club) and Celine Dion (wow!).  But fell very sick with cold I can’t seem to shake.  Still coughing now.

Still don’t want to graduate, but completely resigned now.

Senior trip to Six Flags was…  fun?  Yes, it was.

More later.

This is the last time…

Friday, May 25th, 2007

That’s it.  I took my last final exam for my last college class today.  And of course it had to be, erm, Ec1010b (ugh), and of course the exam was almost inconceivably long and hard.  I mean it was literally almost inconceivable – during the exam I wondered a couple of times if I had somehow become drugged or affected by heatstroke (it was about as hot as Singapore today – high 80s) because everytime I looked up it seemed 35 minutes had passed and I had only completed three points worth of questions despite working as quickly as possible.  This was a problem because there were 180 points on the three-hour exam, i.e. you had to work at a rate of one point per minute to finish in time.  In the end I completed the first 30 points in 90 minutes and the last 100 points in 40 minutes.  Awful.

But it doesn’t matter anymore.

🙂

I’ve been reflecting a lot about my Harvard experience, unsurprisingly, to fill out the many various surveys and end-of-course evaluations that accompany graduating college here, and also in preparation for Experiences, for the admissions office tours and other related projects.  I’ve already said all the harsh, critical things I’ve wanted to express about my academic, social, extracurricular, advising and residential experience (lots of appreciation to the people who listened to my rants), so I shall not repeat them.  But it must be remembered that in the end I am overwhelmingly happy, and grateful, and very, very sad to leave. 

I remember Jeff telling me last year about how he cried before we left on Tour, and now I think I will cry too.  Even just typing that makes me a little tearful. 

Ryan and I have been indulging in so much nostalgia recently.  Every day is the last day now, every time is the last time now.  The last time we’ll work HUCEP, the last time we’ll turn in blue books, the last time we’ll use Board Plus.  It’s a little heart-wrenching to think about, which may be partly why we don’t think about it much and usually don’t remember.  But then we do, and it’s a little blow. 

The last chance to say goodbye to the underclassmen, the last opportunity to take pictures, the last access to that favorite professor’s office hours…

Right now I’m finishing up my last two CUE-guide course evaluations, and I’m writing the most glowing praise I can come up with for this particular class. 

For the question “Would you recommend this class to other students, and why?”  I indicated the most positive possible response: “recommend with enthusiasm”, and then wrote in the reason:

Professor L. is one of the best professors at Harvard, no question.  She is brilliant and willing to share her wealth of scholarship and incredibly rich first-hand knowledge, yet also wonderfully down-to-earth, irrepressibly curious and eager to hear about new ideas and technology.  Professor L. is warm and interested in students and genuinely concerned with gently but firmly pushing them towards excellence in this class and all other areas of their lives.  Anyone who has the privilege of taking any class with her is blessed, and will likely remember the class as one of the most motivating, intellectually invigorating, relevant one they’ve taken.  This is what all Harvard courses should be like, so perhaps you shouldn’t take this if you don’t want most of your other classes to pale in comparison.

And then to the prompt “Please comment on this person’s teaching”, I write: 

Superb.  Almost beyond superlatives; the quality of Professor L.’s teaching is matched by only a very small, precious group of professors at Harvard or anywhere, I imagine.  What more can I say to laud her ability to put students at ease and make them feel engaged and valued despite her intimidating intellect plus her daunting scholarly AND noble (humanitarian) accomplishments?  I have never encountered such a thoughtfully and successfully designed seminar – one proof was that we never wanted to end discussions on time, and I wouldn’t be able to decide which sessions were most highly anticipated, useful or generally enjoyed, those where Professor L. lectured, those where invited guests spoke or those where fellow students presented.  Professor L.’s leadership of the class must be credited for this exceptional learning experience with quite literally never a dull moment.  I will stop only because I imagine my praise will start to be undermined by seeming to be embarrassingly effusive and hyperbolic.  But I stand by what I’ve written as my accurate and well-considered opinion.

I *heart* my professors.  Can you tell?

Coming up

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

View from the Quincy Master's Residence (8 May 2007) OR Sunset over Cambridge

It seems so unreal.  The end of the semester (in just 3 days!) will mark the end of my college career.

I feel as if I’m wasting time not thinking carefully about what I should be doing and people I should be spending time with before the opportunity slips away forever.  Already lots of underclassmen have completed their final exams, moved out and taken off to start their summer vacations, which means I won’t get to say goodbye to them.

But the truth is I don’t really know how to say goodbye to this place.  Will these four years worth of relationships and experiences all turn into a distant, hazy memory of a mirage in the years after I leave?  I don’t know, and not knowing is also scary.

I’m no longer very scared, in truth; I suppose I’ve reconciled myself to the inevitable, and I also feel some excitement for the dim promises of the future.  I’m tired of trying hard, so I’m just going to relax for a while, and see where God takes me.

UNEP Executive Director at KSG (8 May 2007) 
Achim Steiner, the new Executive Director of the UNEP spoke at the JFK Jr. Forum at the Kennedy School earlier this month (May 8th).  He is outrageously only the second speaker I’ve ever seen at this public forum, which hosts several speakers a week, from former Iran President Khatami to the current Director of the FBI to Queen Rania of Jordan.

 My first Red Sox Game! (12 May 2007)

Can you believe this was my first time at Fenway Park? Ryan was very good about explaining what was happening – the Sox trashed the Baltimore Orioles (May 12) 🙂 

PS: I got my thesis comments and final grade today.  Meh.  I thank God for the (emotional) damage control.

PPS: I got a blood titre drawn today to check if my previous Hep B immunization worked.  And I managed to pass out.  Huh?!  I will declare that I am not consciously afraid of needles or blood.  I’ve also felt faint before when having blood drawn, but this was my first full-out loss of consciousness.  Very odd.  When I woke up I didn’t realise I had fainted until I discovered that I was in a different part of the room in a different (reverse reclined) chair that I must have been carried into.  I didn’t even think to ask how long I’d been out.

Yay Terence!

Monday, May 14th, 2007

And just because I think I might never have time to blog about the past weekend’s flurry of activity (some 700 miles of driving around NYC, Boston and Cape Cod, only three-hour naps on either end, Dins and Din alums, my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park, the SIAMA end-of-year dinner), I feel compelled to record that I saw Terence in NYC!  It was a wonderful coincidence that Terence had flown in from Stanford that morning and that I happened to be (very briefly) in the city as well for Dins.

Catching up with Terence (who was very nice about having to fight jetlag and general fatigue at the end of a loooong day) was really, really nice.

The last Q-ball

Monday, May 14th, 2007

I almost cannot believe how busy I’ve been these past few weeks.  It’s gotten to the point where it’s now normal to operate on three or less hours of sleep every day for a week at a time.  And still loads of important tasks go neglected, even highly time-sensitive ones.  Not ideal.

Have also been feeling very loopy for days now, with allergy season (and the accompanying remedies) accounting for no small part.

Tonight’s formal was…  misfortunate.  For me at least.  I can actually see how it is in fact funny (i.e. tragicomic) that my bag broke soon after I left the building, and my date lost a bangle, and I broke the middle of her orchid corsage (leaving the single giant bloom unrecognisable), and they took away the chocolate fountain right before we got to it, and that the sound system experienced a glitch right when we were ready to hit the dance floor, and my right eye became irritated enough (like swollen and furiously red) that I had to remove my (permanent) contact lens which promptly got blown irrecoverably out of my hand onto the nighttime street etc. etc. 

Overall quite ill-fated, it felt.

Of course the location was lovely, and my date was a lot of fun (and a very gracious good sport), and the restaurant was a blast.  So it wasn’t without its happy, rosy moments.  If only they weren’t so regularly interrupted 🙂