..:: Kellog ::..


Thursday, January 30, 2003

In my International Area Studies section:

TA: Can someone name me a society based on fear?
2 different students from 2 sides of the room, instantaneously: Singapore!
Me thinking: Interesting...I don't even hear one Iraq! or Afghanistan! or even China! Singapore really fucked up our image there...
Girl 1: Like, in Singapore, when you like, spit gum or something, they cane you.
Me thinking*: Ignorant bitch. You got gum confused with Michael Fay dear.

* Of course I did speak up to clear that one up later. Can't let these stupid Americans stay stupid, can I?
kellykelly, 1/30/2003 03:09:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Despite my bitching, I'm still resolved to keep up with current affairs. So of course, reading Bush's State of the Union address today (or yesterday) is a must. And I was bored. He needs to hire better writers. Or is it just him? Big big big disclaimer here: I've only just read through the transcript of the address. I know very little (relatively) about American politics. My judgement is isolated, in the sense that I'm critiquing the style of his speech solely. And it's boring. Unimaginative. Maybe the last part of his speech defending his position on Iraq was vaguely interesting, only because of the very nature of that contentious and horrendous topic. But it was preachy as hell, and I just didn't like the tone of it.

So ok, I thought, maybe State of the Union addresses are meant to be boring. Singaporean leaders hardly ever make for good speakers. You should watch 'Today in Parliament' on Singaporean tv. It's frightfully boring. Since this was the first American State of the Union address I've read, I went to read a couple of Bill Clinton's addresses for comparative purposes. And it is just that much more interesting to read, and I'm sure to watch as well. Because say all you want about Clinton, there's no denying that he is a great speaker. I miss the era of the charismatic leader, illusory as it is.

Therefore, about that State of Union 2003 speech, I'll leave the critical analyses up to your Washington Posts and what not, for I'm too lazy and ignorant to scrutinize it. I'm just saying that a political speech for the masses in an educated, democratic society can and should be intelligently engaging.

But what's up with that yearn for war? No, it is not the Berkeley anti-war/liberal sentiment, because I'm not convinced by their arguments (which are mostly written down in 5 supposedly witty words on a cardboard). I think it's the influence of good (non-American) media sources, like the Guardian, whose journalistic writings I've long admired. So I've not researched anything about that whole war/anti-war debate going on, except from reading (and therefore having had my opinions influenced by) The Economist which has been quite consistently an advocate of pro-war Bush. Now I'm starting to read alternative arguments, and read Bush's annoyingly preachy justifications. So I'm unconfidently holding out my opinions/stand (as usual) on that issue indefinitely (like that matters).

Speaking of Iraq. I don't know why I suddenly wondered what say, Lonely Planet, would write about it. Lonely Planet has guides to just about everywhere and it is scary. Honestly, I expected to see stuff like "...and in the city center, you might want to resist taking that can't-be-missed portrait of Saddam Hussein (turn to p35 for biography) lest you get arrested or shot (by guns) on the spot" or something like that. But nah, they logically had this to say on their website with no templated guide. But I wasn't far off...even Afghanistan, though it had a similar "warning", was granted a proper full-scale guide. Even under their "events" section, they have "Even if you're brave (read: suicidal) enough to visit Afghanistan these days, you should still avoid large gatherings, particularly those marking national and Muslim holidays. But, should curiosity get the best of you, cover yourself according to the strictest local custom and check out these celebrations." I know, I know, it's evil because people suffering in the Middle East is not funny, but that cracked me up. For only 3 seconds. Really.

kellykelly, 1/29/2003 05:38:00 pm | link | 0 comments |
"The Kremlin and Warner Bros...have declined to comment."*

After a guilty drought of not really keeping up-to-date with current events, I decided to attempt paying more attention (for it's my civil and individual responsibility to be educated with world events, is it not?) to world news this semester. This (and all of my previous entry) reminds me why I stopped bothering with daily newsbits and read weekly journals instead.

What a joke. It is a good laugh. But why that nagging sense of annoyance within me? Maybe because it's being headlined as news. What do I, should I, make of this era of dumbed-down joke called journalism?

* [Disclaimer: Possibly unjustified, gratuitous bitching to follow]
kellykelly, 1/29/2003 06:33:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

It's raining 60 cats and 500 dogs.

Nope, it's not the title of a Disney song, nor a environmental studies lecture. It's just the headlines for today.

And apparently, Mardi Gras/Halloween-at-Castro-esque acts by Girls Gone Wild! aren't allowed in everyday life in Wisconsin. Oh and don't forget, a bioterrorist attack by Fundamentalists Gone Wild! will be inevitable. You've been warned. Boo!
kellykelly, 1/28/2003 10:51:00 pm | link | 0 comments |
The Institute of East Asian Studies lists events/lectures/seminars coming up in Berkeley.
Amidst lectures titled "Women and gender equality", "The Geography of Exchange", "Art Movements in Japan", you know, the usual academia stuff, comes this one, gloriously encompassing title, and I do quote:
"The Story of 'Heart of Fortune,' A Wandering Buddhist Monk in Eighteenth-Century China, Who Became a Cross-Dressing Actor, Prostitute, and Confidence Man -- Only, in the End, to be Beheaded for Foolishly Impersonating an Imperial Censor".
February 7th my friends. Mark your calendars.

Incidently, there will be decal classes on boobs and beer this semester. The former is entitled "Breasts: Their Natural History" ("Course Description: We are obsessed with boobs. They are infused with social importance “myself and yet not mine” ". Now, what is that supposed to mean?); the latter "The History and Craft of Beer" ("Class does involve a small beer-tasting portion, student contribution and participation in the class is strongly encouraged" I thought I already had that in my Simpsons decal, where there was free beer drank in class bought from our 5 bucks "course fee"?)
2 units each! Takers? Anyone? Your life will be better for it!

Only in Berkeley...

kellykelly, 1/28/2003 04:17:00 pm | link | 0 comments |
So I walked into Barnes & Nobles in El Cerrito Plaza (Kelly's now natural habitat) yesterday at noon, resolutely resolved to finish the week's political science-slash-economics readings I had ahead of me (I didn't pay 100 bucks for these 2 fat-ass readers to neglect them), still imbued with that this-semester's-gonna-be-different-I-will-do-all-my-readings delusion. I ended up leaving the place at 8 freakin' pm. No, the readings did not get read. Well, one article did. What did get read was Vladimir Nabokov's 'Pnin', which is bloody hilarious, despite being marked with pathos.

It somehow reminded me of both Zadie Smith's 'White Teeth' and Salman Rushdie's 'Fury'. Of course my lumping together of these writers did not come by accident, or from some comparative literary intellect of mine. I discovered 'White Teeth' from a serendipitous pick at a bookstore, did some research about Zadie Smith afterwards (just cos I looooved that book so much), whom many reviewers liked to compare with Salmon Rushdie (why? not sure), who picked Nabokov's 'Pnin' as one of her favorite books because "being human is a constant embarrassment". So of course, after reading her and that, I had to pick up Rushdie's book 'Fury' which was just out then. Which of course, I looooved just as much. I skimmed through the first few pages of 'Pnin' while in Bordeaux, but was unwilling to pay 16 euros for the thin 200 page book that I was gonna finish in a day and then have to carry with me throughout my trip. So I did the cheapie thing and finished it at Barnes & Nobles yesterday instead. Incidently, all 3 books are about disaffected, awkward past middle-age men, which is a segment of society I least identify myself with, but it's just so fun to read.

Oh and speaking of fun novels, 'Anna Karenina'...is not. I finally got it finished last Friday. It's fucking depressing. Shows you how life can feel completely meaningless and empty even with all the beauty you experience in it. And I couldn't really grasp the ending. I understood why I went "poor Anna" the whole time. But Levin confused me. I understood his agnostic confusion. But not Tolstoy's resolution, or non-resolution of it. Did he find his answer? Did he become religious in the end? Was Tolstoy mocking religion? Was he exposing the delusion of religion? Or did he truly believe in faith? I felt frustrated and stupid. (Duuuude...that's like soooo like, intense...) I need someone to explain it to me. Maybe I'll just audit that Slavic literature class and beg for an explanation. Incidently, Michelle put up a link to a lovely poem called 'Missing God' by Dennis O'Driscoll, which relates to Levin alot. It's another theme alien to me, given that I've never been brought up religious. But concepts of agnosticism, atheism and antagonism still mystify, interest and confuse my dilemmas.

So I think Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment' would be next for me. Not because I'm a depressive masochistical maniac. (I'd like to believe I am fundamentally happy. Although reading too much sometimes seems to risk that natural state of being. PMS does the same thing.) I'd like to say it's for the random just-because reason of being in a mood for authors with weird last names I can't pronounce. (And speaking of pronunciation, my 2nd 'speaking of' aside of the day, my linguistics teacher Professor Douglas Pace, who has been training me in American 'r's, so I can ask for a "fork" at a restaurant without weird or lewd looks, has indicated to me that I have been pronouncing the word "academic" wrongly. It's not er-CA-de-mic, as in 'academy', but air-cer-DE-mic, like in ' economics'. Useful. Since I sometimes rant self-importantly about how I hate non-academic courses (air-cer-DE-mic couRRRses). Future embarrassment saved. Hurrah.)

Oh, so fuck it. School work can wait. That delusion of diligence wasn't meant to stay for more than a week into the school semester anyway.

kellykelly, 1/28/2003 01:11:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Why must they be so goddamn good?

There are 3 categories of courses you sign up for:
(a) The classes you have to take for your major requirements
(b) The classes you want to take because they are interesting
(c) The classes you hope you want to take because they just seem to fit your schedule so damn well.

Fortunately, (a) and (b) usually occur simultaneously

Unfortunately, (b) and (c) seem to be mutually exclusive.

I attended Ken Foster's political science course this morning. Ken was our instructor in the summer abroad program I did in China, and he's just such a great guy. However, his course meant that I'd no longer have that glorious 4 day weekend, since his class meets on Mon, Wed, Fri. So I go to class hoping it'd be boring, uninteresting, irrelevent. But nooooo, he had to impress me with his impressive introduction and clear syllabus on a topic (Associations and the State) that is just so novel and interesting. Dammit! Why did he have to be so good? Now I want to take this class.

Being already signed up for more courses than I can/want to handle, I told myself, ok, I'm not gonna take Econ 105 (History of Economic Thought) for sure. I only signed up for the course because I was interested in the historical evolution of economic paradigms. But it falls at a shitty time (Mon, Wed 4-530), meets at the shittiest lecture room (155 Donner Lab) in a god-foresaken corner of the campus, and it's only 3 units for a course that seems to require so much of your time (tons of reading! weekly journal entries! to be graded and checked regularly! class presentation! >20 page seminar paper! no fucking way!). I told myself, ok, I'm just gonna attend the first lecture, but I'm not gonna wanna take this course; I'm sleepy, I'm tired, the professor will probably bore me, yes he would. But nooooo, Professor Bhandari just had to be probably the best professor I've witnessed in Berkeley (aside from Professor Ken Jowitt , whose Political Science 2 class on comparative politics I took in 2001 was just awe-some).

Professor Bhandari was intelligent without sounding arrogant, clear without being boring, sharp without being curt, funny without trying to be. He went through the syllabus, which obviously required so much (too much) effort and time, and by the time he took roll at the end of the class, 1/2 of the class had left intimidated. I so wanted to leave. I don't want to be laden with all this work! No! I wanna kick back, have my lovely weekends, read my novels, go clubbing, the works. I don't want to spend my time closely reading Adam Smith, Karl Marx and J.M. Keynes. No I don't. But he went on, just being himself, speaking as frankly as possible about the requirements, expectations, and intensity of the course. And by the time he made a comment about (I paraphrase) "this is not your watered-down, wishy-washy business economic course", I was won over.
(*NB: Some of my friends know about my quibbles with business courses (at the undergraduate level). They know my irritation with those gung-ho, arrogant and basically not very intelligent (I-have-no-intellect-and-I-just-want-an-Investmentbankingjob-to-get-lots-and-lots-of-money) types. (ok, so I know I'm stereotyping, but you gotta expect stereotyping when one generalizes). They know my irritation with business lecturers, most of whom are mere part-time lecturers who have lucrative consulting businesses on the side and lecture not as teachers/academics (as they should be), but business consultants, in their snazzy power suits and their snazzy powerpoint presentations and their schticky presentations they think are snazzy. There's this whole arrogance about a non-academic, non-rigorous department who are great at marketing themselves and impressing others that I can't stand. I'm probably wrong. There are probably concrete and rigorous biz course one can take. I just haven't seen any yet. But his comment made me think my naggingly unjustified criticisms could be more concrete than I thought.)

Still undecided though (it's that 20 page seminar paper thing!), I stayed on. Towards the end of the class, which had already slimmed down to 1/2 its size, which made me comfortable enough to raise my hand, I asked him if this course will be offered again. The answer was "I have no idea", because this class has not been offered for almost 5 years now, and there's a general trend in universities to push out such theoretical courses for application ones. Which, another quibble I must voice, is such a complete TRAVESTY to me. It can't be true that an Economics major can graduate with an Economics degree without ever having taken a course on the history of economics (which is not the same as economic history, mind you), especially vis-à-vis the philosophical side of it. But it is true. And not only is it not a requirement (while econometrics, which as it is taught in UC Berkeley, is basically basic statistics, is), it has not been offered for years, and may not be hereafter! A travesty, travesty, travesty.

I digress again. I told him I would love to take this class, but because of the sheer amount of engagement I have to commit to this course, I cannot afford to sacrifice the time this semester, not with the other political science and econ classes I'm taking. At the end of the class, turning in a sheet of paper with my name and a brief introduction he asked of us, he looked straight at me and said warmly (and that's the key. It's amazing how many professors intimidate, talk down, speak to you so vacantly or disinterestedly you fell like they not really spoken to you) "Well I hope you would find some way to take this class. Even if you don't, pick up the course reader, I think you'd find it interesting." I told him I'd love to because this class seemed just so relevant and reminded me of another great course I took (PEIS 100, Classical Theories in Political Economy. Another great academic course, where you read primary sources of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, Marx, Tocqueville, Keynes, the great works), and maybe I can take the class pass/not pass (which basically means it's not gonna be counted for my major, which I'm in no hurry anyway given that I probably can graduate with an economics degree right now if I wanted to. hushhh....). He said "yes, and you'll probably enjoy and learn more from this course if you did that too! Come see me at my office hours next week, and we'll talk about how you can schedule your time", etc. Throughout that brief conversation, I felt more engaged with this professor than I've ever had with any UCB professor. Just that receptiveness to my comments, and his engagement in my engagement with the intellectual challenges with the course.

I left the class in a a buzz, not unlike feeling of being in love. It's that sense of serendipity, excitement of expectations. The course material and professor just knocked out this side of me that I really like, that desire to just absorb and learn. I'm a terribly impressionable person; how I am and feel is very dependent on who I am reacting to or my surronding contexts. Some people bring out at ugly side of me, some people bring out the warmest side of me. Reading bad books, attending business courses, and watching bad movies/crappy tv (although, I blush to admit, American Idol is soooo fucking hilarious. I find it embarrassingly entertaining. Guilty pleasures!) makes me bitchy, irritable, and I-can't-help-feeling-like-an-intellectual-snob. Reading great books/classics and challenging courses like these just inspire, astound and humble me.

Again, I ask: why must they be so fucking great? Now I can't take that Slavic 133 class on adultery-themed novels. Which I decided against taking anyway, for a very questionable reason. I was about to buy all the texts for the course, and the sheer amount of reading I had to do repelled me. If I took the course, I can no longer use reading Tolstoy and Flaubert to be my tool for procrastination (gee, I don't want to study, I'll read this book instead, which is a source of entertainment/amusement to me, but because I'm reading, which is a good thing, I am not really procrastinating, or being lazy. very self-deceptive. but oh-so-useful to justify skiving), because reading those texts will become studying. But Professor Knapp was just great in her first lecture. Maybe I shouldn't attend her 2nd lecture and just drop the course, lest I get impressed again and fall into that trough of messy dilemmas.

But I'm a sucker for brilliance. There goes delicious 4-day weekends. Hellllloooooo Adam Smith, Marx, Keynes...

To top off the tiring but great day, Teddy takes me out for a sushi dinner at Kirala which had the best Maguro I've ever had. Yum yum yummy.

Told ya college life was fun.
kellykelly, 1/23/2003 10:27:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

This is just so bizarre. It scares me how my body can go through the motions of routine without thought.

I wake up to go to use the bathroom. Somehow, my mind thinks that it's already time to get up and get ready for classes. So I go through the motions of grabbing my tower, stripping, putting on the shower cap, taking a shower, drying myself off, putting on my contacts, brushing my tee...and hey! wait! I realize that something was missing right in the beginning of the routine. I never did hear the alarm clock ring, did I? I look at the clock in the bathroom...4 freakin' am. What the fuck am I doing taking a shower and putting on my contacts and getting ready for the day after only 3 1/2 hours of sleep, when I have 2 1/2 hours before the alarm clock rings, 2 1/2 hours of sweet slumber to get me through my 8-5pm day of classes with only a 1/2 hour break at 3?

What an idiot. I'm going back to bed now.
kellykelly, 1/21/2003 08:30:00 pm | link | 0 comments |
It's the lull before the storm

School begins tomorrow. Tomorrow, there'll be a flurry of stufftodo, placestogo, peopleto see.

The first week of classes represent what you believe college life to be like. It's the only time where you (or maybe it's just me) attend classes with a religious discipline. You (or maybe it's just me), who have registered for 20 units of classes, will have to attend all the classes, and guage from the first couple of lectures which you are interested in, to pick and choose which to keep, drop, sign up for. You (or maybe it's just me), spend the day before looking at all the new courses available that you didn't notice while signing up for classes 2 months ago and wanting to attend them. (Like discovering to your (my) greatest joy that Slavic 133 teaches Russian literature emphasizing on the theme of adultery, and has 'Anna Karenina' and 'Madame Bovary' as a couple of the texts, which is such the perfect course to take while on my current Russian writers/adultery theme frenzy.) You (or maybe it's just me) then have to spend the week deliberating which courses to take, how much effort you are willing to put in, juggling between a course that fits into a lovely timetable (3 day week, 4 day weekends!) or courses that would really, truly sharpen your intellect and make your college life what it is really meant to be, blah blah blah and yadda yadda yadda and all that shit.

But then, the agitation and flurry settles down, as decisions get made, timetables get fixed, and the routine begins. And then, the true college life of work, skiving work, attending classes, skipping classes, enjoying lectures, falling asleep in lectures begin. And then, my true college life of interspersing effort and indolence begins.

It is a fun life. The anticipation, not of the explicit are-we-there-yet type but more of a tinge of expectations, of the semester ahead is begining to excite me. Thing about categorizing periods of your life by school semesters is that you can believe that every semester has brought and will bring something new, when simply, that 'something new' is occurring all the time. But it's nicer and more romantic to believe that each semester has brought and will bring me the novelties of new contacts, new experiences and new perceptions that truly make my life so wonderful as it is.
kellykelly, 1/21/2003 05:29:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Monday, January 20, 2003

Sensory Overload!

X dream is making my other techno tracks feel boring.

kellykelly, 1/20/2003 10:51:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 18, 2003

I am the most un-systematic chore-doer ever.

I spent the entire morning and afternoon doing just 3 things: unpacking, laundry/cleaning, packing.

But that took hours because I'd do something halfway, get distracted by something else I had to do, and do that instead, so I'm running around here and there, seeming to have a whole bunch of stuff to do, and because everything gets to be in a state of flux, my entire room and house looks completely awful because everything is out and in the transition of being placed somewhere else.

I really should have a system. It would have been faster. I think.

~~~On a random note that I thought of as I was packing my clean (CLEAN!) socks: I have a pair of completely mismatched socks (one black, one beige) because I lost one of the black ones, and the other beige one had a hole in it, so I decided to use the remaining two as one pair. Which doesn't matter when I wear my ankle high boots with jeans, right? But I set off the alarm at the Paris airport, and they had me take off my shoes. It felt like one of those situations where your mom tells you to always wear nice underwear in case you get into an accident and doctors/nurses have to get your clothes off. Is that how that story goes? I don't know why I thought of that. Très bizarre! But that was what I was thinking of when I plodded through the metal detector in my funky black-and-beige socks.~~~

Et je suis distrait encore...
kellykelly, 1/18/2003 07:42:00 am | link | 0 comments |
Big, contented Ahhhhhhh!!!!

It's 60F, it's sunny, beautiful blue-skies. When Berkeley welcomes me back with such warmth, how can I not fall in love with it?

I look forward to:

--Sunshine Sunshine Sunshine!
--Clean clothes, clean clothes, clean wonderful fresh smelling clothes! (it's amazing how gross I can be/how much I can ignore exactly how gross I am when I needed to, due to limitations of space when you travel round Europe in a backpack, and you are really too lazy to do laundry...)
--Having to wear only 2 (at most 3) layers of clothes and one pair of pants like a normal person, and not having to loll about like a chunky sack of potatoes
--Using normal-sized, permanently-placed bottles of shampoo and soap (instead of those tiny-ass little portable things you have to take out and pack back in your toiletry bag with each hostel you move to)
--Smoke-free cafes
Using the internet when I want to, however long I want to, without having to clock and check myself in a smoke-filled internet place.
--Finishing my 'Anna Karenina' Tolstoy novel (which I left here because I was at the very end of the novel, which I knew I was going to finish in the first couple of days and didn't want to lug the thick book around Europe. I ended up bringing and finishing Jane Austen's 'Sense and Sensibility' instead, and buying and finishing 'Northanger Abbey', and buying and finish half of 'Persuasion'.
--Dancing my ass off at 1015
--Driving my car
--Shopping at Safeway
--Meeting and hanging out with my friends here
--Being alone and reading at my favourite cafes

DAMN! I missed this place!
kellykelly, 1/18/2003 02:45:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Wheee! I go back to good ol' SFO tomorrow. Although that 'Wheee!' should be read in a tone that is slightly less enthusiatic that a usual 'Wheee!'. Because while I have been dying of cold in Bordeaux and dying to go home to Berkeley where I didn't have to spend 20 minutes putting on and off clothes and a total of 5 minutes pulling off and tucking in my 2 thermal tops into my 2 jeans and tights like a pure geek each time I needed to take a piss (which in usually tinyyyy and dirty French toilets is quite the reason to stop drinking water during the day), I have been spending the final 2 days of my 16 day Europe holiday in Paris, which is the most magnificent Big City ever, and the weather in all of France has turned 10-15F warmer, which makes TONS of difference. And I have been completely enjoying my last 2 days, doing a whirlwind of the Pompidou, Hotel des Halles, Notre Dame, St-Michel area, Sorbonne and the whole of the Latin Quarter, the Pantheon, the Eiffel Tower, a partial Seine walk all in Day 1; and a walk to Sacre Coeur which was more beautiful than I last remembered, just-as-tacky Moulin Rouge, magnificent stroll from the Concorde to the Louvre, then 3 hours in the Musee d'Orsay which I enjoyed soooo much I stayed till it closed (I have realized that while I am wildly straight, I LOVE looking at paintings and sculptures of naked female bodies, just love them), down to the Opera and the Republique, then back to my Peace and Love hostel which is the coolest goddam hostel I have ever stayed in (the lobby is a bar, and the people are just so friendly and laid back and awesome, filled with students and travelers...).

So my yearn to go back has been repressed by the final surge of activities and wonder. But I still will hop on the plane tomorrow all excited to go back to my normal life. I know I am truly a blessed girl if my everyday life is so looked forward to.

And I have 5 min left on my Internet cafe time, so adios and au revoir and a bientot à Berkeley! Hurrah!
kellykelly, 1/16/2003 03:40:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Discoveries of the Day

(1) I have discovered that Ikea in France, America, and Singapore are exactly the same, and sell the exact same Swedish meatballs. And they are all evil in inducing people to buy and accumulate stuff that their marketing ploys make people want but don't need. I had a tough time restraining Jane from buying more than the 2 lamps and 2 chairs and dish rack that she needed for her new apartment.

(2) I have discovered the root of (one of) my nagging frustration(s) while in Europe. I have *gasp* become one of those FOBs you see in San Francisco, those stereotypical Asian chicks that cannot speak English properly so they seem all quiet, inarticulate and submissive, who don't hang out with anyone else but other Asians. Except for my case now, it's not being able to speak Spanish/French properly.

I am frustrated by the lack of ability to communicate, articulate and accurately represent myself. Instead, when I hold up the line at the supermache because I forgot to weigh the bag of tomatoes I bought, because you are supposed to weight your fruits and vegetables before you reach the counter in France, and because I can't tell the cashier quickly "No problem. I don't want to hold up the line. Just forget about the tomatoes", therefore holding up the line further, ending up me looking confused and embarrassed, and then I become conscious of the pitying "tsk tsk, poor little young Asian girl who can't even do her supermarket shopping correctly" looks.

Because je parle un peu de francaise seulement, I don't feel confident enough to express myself, hence I just stay silent. And I feel relieved and comfortable when I meet up with my own English-speaking friends.

I am so much more empathetic to those Chinatown Chicks now.

(3) I have discovered that wearing (squeezing into) 2 pairs of jeans above tights (c'est possible!), 2 pairs of socks, 2 gloves, 5 layers of tops, a hat and a big scarf that wraps around your whole face makes zero degrees celcius much more tolerable.

(4) I have discovered that typing on the French keyboard is easy to get used to...

(5) I have discovered that Bordeaux boys are way cuter than the Parisian ones that I saw. I take back the second sentence of point (D) in my previous post.
kellykelly, 1/12/2003 05:42:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Adios Spain! Bonjour France!

Fresh (not!) from an overnight 12 hour train ride from Madrid to Bordeaux, I sit here in Jane's French beau's apartment, cowering from the 32F cold outside, typing like a retard on an unfamiliarly arranged French keyboard.

Random stuff I have observed while in Spain:

(A) I have taken the comforts of growing up and living in a predominantly Asian society for granted. While placing the disclaimer that I am making a very cursory and sweeping generalization based merely on 4 full days in 2 Spanish cities, there was that uneasy negative vibe of being different that I couldn't help feeling (and questioning that it could be a figment of my imagination) while there. Nothing explicit...well, there was one weird dude along the busy street of La Rambla in Barcelona who was decked in a Taekwando-like robe, who upon seeing me and Jane walk down the street, suddenly ran towards us like a bull, arms flung up, and yelling samurai yells. I made my whothefuckareyou face and side-stepped him, while Jane just stood in his way rooted to the ground out of shock. After he reached Jane, I think he was surprised by her just standing there and simply turned and return to conversing with his friends. It all happened on a very busy street in about 10 seconds--a golden whatthefuckwasTHAT moment. Upon more thought, we decided (too late) that our reaction should have been either to stomp our feet and clap our hands and yell OLE! a la a flamenco dancer (in reaction to his samurai yells), or pretend to wave a cloth by our side like a bull fighter (in reaction to his charging at us).

But that was an exceptional experience which was far less subversive than the subtle looks turned at you; or subtle glances away from you, or that sudden glaze of inattention when you come to the front of the line at the ice-cream store, or that ignorance from the waiters where they serve everyone else, or that wave from the asshole in the shop that indicated that he did not want to sell us anything. I was amused by Weird-ass Samurai Man, whom I believe is less likely to be racist; but hella pissed off at that icky vibe.

(B) That aside, Spain was really quite lovely. I am more convinced than ever that I am a city chick.

(C) If ever I were to become mayor of a city, my top priorities will be:
(i) to have a great metro system (which SF shamefully lacks and I don't understand why). I love great metro systems. Am always astounded by how convenient they are. On that point, there were some trains in Barcelona that had the simplest concept: at the top of each door; there was the train line with all the stations listed, each with its own light. So the approaching station will have a blinking light, which stays lit after you have passed it. It is such a simple and clear thing that caught my attention. Especially after being on the train from the airport to the city center. They had one of those digital scrolls which you had to wait for to see what is the upcoming station; with no maps around, so clueless visitors like us had to look up and down to figure out exactly where we were. Ok, granted, it still is figurable after some effort, but I say why not keep it simple and clear so as to not was unnecessary effort?
(ii) hire one person (British, or just someone with a great command of English) whose job will just to be to make sure all signs in the city that have English translations are grammatically correct. It's is the simplest thing, and it will impress your visitors if they didn't have to laugh at weird translations, if street signs and notices are clear and grammatically accurate.
(iii) to make sure there are as many trash cans peppered around the city as my city budget would afford me. There is an obvious and logical inverse correlation between the number of trash cans you see on the street and the amount of trash you see on the ground. And because I believe that people are fundamentally good, if you make it easy for them to be civically responsible, they will be. I believe Singapore is clean not because people are daunted by all the fines for any social deviance, but because the govt did a good practical job in making sure civic responsibility is easier than to toss your used tissue that you held in your hand for 3 blocks waiting to come across a trash can (shame on you Berkeley!) and eventually toss on the ground cos you got fed-up.
(iv) to ban smoking indoors (yay California!). God how I hate that the Europeans smoke like chimneys. How I hate that I have to be affected by their life choice (which is not supposed to concern me). I hate having my peace broken because I am watching that spiral of smoke from the cigarette of the dude next to me and hoping a gust of wind would save me from its inevitable course to my hair (which will linger with me all day) and up my nostrils. And the worst thing is that I, and not he, would have to get up and leave to prevent that from happening. It's infuriatingly illogical!

(D) Spanish boys are cuuuute. French boys are disappointing. But overall, my eye has a preference to the more open American look than the darker aristocratic/European look (something I can't really describe) for sure, for now.

(E) Contrary to popular sentiment that American culture is dominating the world, I have observed that America seems to be the one big anomaly instead. In terms of way of life, the way people position themselves vis-a-vis their perception of the community. Europe seems so much more similar to Asia the way family/community is still very fundamentally prioritized, an embedded consciousness and focus. Seems to me no where more than America embeds and encourages individuality as an almost moral duty. Narcissistic Moi prefers the American way, which made me glad for the choice to go to an American, not European, university (refer to point (E) as well pertaining to the latter part of previous sentence.) That's a long issue to ponder over (concept of American anomaly of individualism, not American boys), and I am not going to ponder; but just go curl up on the couch and look through the 128mb worth of photos I have taken in the past 6 days.

(F) I really really really love my Kelph.
kellykelly, 1/07/2003 01:43:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Emerging from the Metro station into Madrid, I´m taken in by massive buildings, honking of cars, and people people people--which explained why I felt strangely bored in Barcelona. I love the Big City. Madrid´s fuckin´ amazing. I´m drunk with the city.
kellykelly, 1/04/2003 02:37:00 am | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Hola, from Barcelona! Traveling is awesome. That´s all I have to say for now...=)
kellykelly, 1/02/2003 05:37:00 pm | link | 0 comments |