As I set my book aside and climb out of bed to cross the room to my desk, I glance at the open window. It’s nearly 1AM, yet my room is cushioned with a comfortable warmth, like the complimentary dinner rolls you get at nicer restaurants. As I’m standing in a pair of old basketball shorts, a baggy T-shirt, and my shower sandals from college, I feel as if it were still August 2011. The month I moved here: the bewilderment and amazement at the God-awful weather, the newfound freedom of being on my own, the anxiety about how I would survive my first year at an Ivy League graduate school, and the cuffing pull of solitude, no–loneliness, that one can only truly feel in a big city. The burning red leaves, the perpetuity of naked branches, the blindingly blooming flowers all wisp by into thin air. The older I age, the more I lose Time.

There is never quiet outside. The soft, continuous whirring of electricity.

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Janvier

I was so sad to leave California last week, especially since I knew that I could have stayed for at least another week if Eric didn’t have to go back early for his grad program’s fieldwork. The warmth of SoCal’s weather, the convenience of having my own car, and the comfort of being with best friends made the thoughts of going back to a creepy, empty apartment (my roommate is gone until February), walking ten minutes to the subway while never taking my eyes off the ground in order to avoid dog poop, and squeezing antibacterial into my hands every half-hour so daunting.

Although time spent at home with family and friends is irreplaceable, this past week back in the city has been one of the best weeks I’ve had in New York so far. These past few days have been a time for Eric and I to be together without having to spread ourselves thin amongst work, school, cohorts, different friends, and small, sporadic opportunities to sleep. Each day has been filled with the simple pleasures: sleeping in, trying out different Trader Joe’s meals, walking those extra 30 blocks together instead of taking the subway, and, of course, watching episode after episode of Parks and Recreation: Season 3.

We’ve been together for over two years now. I’m in no way implying that we/I had begun to deteriorate or backtrack in our relationship, but at the same time, no couple can escape the ever-so easy downhill slope toward settling into comfort. Of course, there is nothing wrong with comfort, and I for one have no issue with routines. But it’s nice to have that moment when you’re in the middle of laughing with your partner about the most ridiculous joke that you’d never tell anyone else and you think to yourself, hey, I love him, and I’m so happy to be with him.

Family

brings along stress, burdens, fights, headaches, vows of never going back, impatience, shame, anger, guilt, frustration, exhaustion, regret, clutter, complaints, pressure, pride, pain,

& leaves behind a fridge filled with groceries, a drawer crammed with vitamins, and an empty room filled with love’s lingering warmth.









My first time

It’s quite a funny story, you know.

“She looks like Mrs. Chin!” I could hear whispers multiple times throughout the day. Perhaps to a young middle school student who has around 3 other Asian schoolmates total and one Korean American teacher, I looked like Mrs. Chin’s twin. But to any other Asian person, it was like saying I looked like Trini from the Power Rangers. In other words, I look nothing like her other than also having an Asian face. By no means was I offended, nor was I preparing a long, comprehensive sit-down lecture about the oppressive and racist implications behind these children’s statements. I knew it was going to happen, and I was ready to slowly make my way into their lives as Ms. Su, the student teacher. Not the Asian student teacher, but just the student teacher.

Today, the Chinese teacher didn’t show up to teach her very first Mandarin class. The principal, faculty, and staff all asked me, “Do you speak Chinese? Do you speak Chinese? Please go teach the Chinese class!” They didn’t even ask if I actually spoke Mandarin, just “Chinese.”

So, I taught my first official class, asked to do so literally 2 minutes after the starting bell rang. I can’t read or write characters, so I taught a classroom full of white, black, and Latino&Latina kids the four tones, and had them pronounce ni hao (ma), jai jien, xie xie, and laoshi. It was, by far, the most fun hour I could have imagined.

Afterward, every time I entered a classroom or walked down a hall, I would hear someone excitedly yell, “Ms. Su, ni hao!” and “Xie xie Laoshi!” and “Ni hao ma, Laoshi!” Out of context, you’d think this school was full of ignorant and racist children, and that I was the most passive and discriminated student teacher. It’s still so hilarious to me, the irony of how it all happened. I’m so excited to hear another atrociously pronounced, American accent-ridden “Ni hao!” tomorrow. Because of course, they had all forgotten the four tones the second they ran out of class.

New York City

In order to spare you all of a ten-page essay as well as the fact that I owe it to my friends and family who have been asking me about life in the Big Apple so far, I will resort to listing:

1. NYC is not exactly “mean,” it’s just blunt and refuses to suck up to anyone. When they’re nice to you, they mean it. When they want you to get out of the way, they tell it. Personally, I’ve encountered more people who have completely appalled me with their rudeness and disrespect in Orange County, because at least in New York, I’ve definitely met [less] people who react out of a sense of self-entitlement.

2. In relation to my first point, Raffy said it perfectly when he described New Yorkers as being just as nice as they are mean. I’ve had more genuine, sincere, honest conversations with strangers in grocery stores, subways, parks, and sidewalks in the last two weeks than all my 14 years in Irvine (the city, not the college). It reminds me of Vegas in that aspect!

3. I’m almost done with a book that I’m reading voluntarily for the first time since the last Harry Potter book came out (I am dead serious). Why? Because as fast-paced as this city can get, I also find myself relaxed and alone (in a good way) very often, like sitting in a train, lying in the grass in Central Park, or waiting at a bus stop. I’ve had more moments of peace and quiet here than I did in California, so much more that I’m actually reading. Who’da thunk?

4. I am in awe and will most likely remain in awe for the duration of my stay in New York (however long that may be) at the fact that, no matter where you are in Manhattan, you could be walking by a dumpy street corner that smells like urine, then you’re suddenly walking by a string of multimillion dollar apartments, then you’re walking by the cutest row of mom-and-pop restaurants&bars, and then you’re abruptly strolling past a giant 200-year-old cathedral, all within 5 minutes. “Boring” and “dull” do not exist here in these parts.

5. The food here is unbelievable. I don’t know what else to say. Everyday I’ve eaten something that has made me want to cry out of pure ecstasy.

6. I am so humbled and appreciative of the friends who have taken care of me from the moment I got here. People who unconditionally befriended Eric and me immediately over the unspoken bond that yes, we may not have been the closest of friends in California, but we’re all in New York now, and friends stick together and help each other out. Elaine, Tim, Connie, Ambreen, Sarah, Laura, Minh-Vy, James, even Jimmy, Melody, and Grace who I haven’t physically met up with yet, as well as friends who aren’t even in New York but are on the east coast like Sarah Bana, Christina, Jeff, Diana, Albert, Eric Ly.. and so many more people that I may have forgotten (I apologize!). I am beyond grateful and blessed.

7. To end on a lucky number, this last point will be… *drumroll please* PHOTOS! I finally got my memory card adaptor 🙂 Enjoy! I’ll be uploading the rest onto Facebook tomorrow.

Until next time…