Commencement


Today was Columbia Commencement, and Ban Ki Moon gave the opening address. It was a pretty good speech, and completely unexpected because he called out climate change deniers and politicians that played on hatred in order to get votes (hello Trump!) I felt quite impressed, especially given that earlier I had commented that Ban Ki Moon had a rep for not actually saying anything substantial to a bunch of my classmates. Today was also overall a lot more fun compared to yesterday's TC Convocation, as it was a less solemn affair, although I saw comparatively less friends around. Overall, it feels funny to think that my Columbia experience has now ended, but at least it ended on a very meaningful and high note for me.

Begin, End, Begin


On the way to the United States, I visited Romania with my parents in Summer 2014. Romania was unexpectedly cold, and so I found myself in need of socks. This pair of socks, stripy purple and weirdly hitting just above the ankle, was one of those socks that I took from my Mum and obviously didn't return. Every time I see it, I am reminded of the fact that it's an article of clothing that belonged to my Mum (though of course I doubt she noticed it went missing), which makes it feel particularly significant to me. It makes me think of how I was and how I felt when I first acquired these socks (shucks, this really makes me think of Dobby), when I was about to start a new life in a new country and simultaneously afraid and excited by the things that lay ahead.

Today as I did my laundry and started to begin packing up my apartment, I couldn't help think that this would be one of the last times I would do such a thing in this place. For example, these socks: I don't think I'll be wearing these socks now as the weather gets warmer, which means I probably won't be washing them in this same laundromat when I do my laundry for one last time in a few weeks. Whenever and wherever I wash my socks next, it will be me in another yet-unknown place and in a different stage of my life. This is because I'll soon be moving out of my lovely place with Marina on Broadway Terrace, and moving into a place in Gramercy with Jonathan.

At the same time, my life as a Masters student will officially end next week with graduation, and a new phase of my life will begin. A physical uprooting mirroring an internal change in status. So now when I walk around my usual haunts of Washington Heights/Inwood, Norwood, Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, I cannot help but think that this could very well be the last time in my life that I would ever walk on a particular street. Mundane things have now become imbued with an odd and sentimental significance. But such is life and the human condition, that we arbitrarily romanticise the world around us as we attempt to make senses of things. 

Teaching

I have decided to return to teaching, but in a foreign land. I cannot help but feel extremely anxious at all the unknowns that lie ahead of me, fear that I won't be able to do a job as good as I would want to in a school culture that is foreign to me. I also think of the times I have walked away from a lesson and felt like a utter failure, or felt so exasperated. At the same time however I also feel optimistic and hopeful, because I remember all the good parts of teaching and the love I felt for my students. This decision to return to teaching feels strange because I over the past 2 years, I have undergone a whole tumult of emotions and changed mindsets about teaching as a career for myself, and worried personally about the future trajectory of my life.

At the end of the day however, I cannot deny that even though teaching might not feel like the number one best career I could and want to do (number one in Development Aid being out of my reach because of job conditions and timing), it is number two. Number two above many, many other things that one can realistically work at in this life, and perhaps that is good enough. Now, fingers crossed as I go through the whole job application process. 

Disconnection

I have spent the last few days of waking consciousness with thoughts interspersed with memorises of a recently deceased friend. Part of a problem why I feel it's so hard to grapple with my feelings towards this is because I haven't seen the guy in about 5 years, and that I am no longer part of that friends circle that we used to be in. If I haven't really seen someone in 5 years or even spoken to them in that long, am I even entitled to feel sad that they are gone? Yet when old memorises rise the surface as I do mundane things, it's startling to realise that oh gosh, he was there too, and I cannot help but feel weighed down.

If only life was easier on everyone.

Human Misery

There is a massive jam building up on the Southbound lane of Broadway, from 200th St onwards down, probably towards the GW Bridge. Earlier when I set out with my laundry, two firetrucks went by. Then, the traffic was still flowing. After putting in my laundry and going to Key Food, I came out to see a massive jam as far as the eye could see. I counted 6 Bx7s and 4 M100s stuck along the stretch from Key Food to the Dollar Tree.
I feel slightly bad for the people stuck in traffic now, but I am sure as hell glad that it's not me.

Acquisitive Behaviour

When I am stressed I buy things.

Now as I look at my bookshelf - exactly one day after I have submitted my thesis in final, hard copy form to the department office - I find myself amazed at the sheer number of books that fill its shelves. I don't think I've ever bought so many books within a single year of my life before. Amazon simply makes buying books far too easy, but leaves the problem of where to store them afterwards especially when one is done reading the book.

I need to find a place to give away the books I no longer want before I move.

26

I am 26. Or rather 26 + 1 week, because I neglected to post anything earlier. It is funny to think of myself as 26, because sometimes when I don't think about it, I still think I am 18 or something. Anyway I had the best birthday I've had in a long time last weekend. My lovely roommate Marina, and Jon helped organise a birthday dinner as a 3/4 surprise. 3/4 because they slowly told me about it, but not until it had been organised, and then not where it was until the day itself and who had been invited. Then Shirin brought Jerrine along and it was a proper 100% surprise. I haven't felt quite so special and pampered in a long time, and I guess I can't think of when I last felt that way.

In other news my tendonitis in my left foot has been giving me trouble since last weekend. It has prevented me from running, which I find aggravating because I've slowly been building up my stamina and hoping to do a 5k race in 30 mins sometime during the Summer.

I am also suffering from extreme procrastinitis on the second draft of my thesis. Fun stuff.

The Final Day of Writing

Today is the last day I have left to submit this draft to my lovely stand-in academic advisor, and I'm so tired that I no longer know what I can and can't do in academic writing. Nonetheless, I am also slightly past the point of caring what is kosher and what is not, and have put my faith into the idea that my advisor will hopefully catch whatever is not quite acceptable for academic work at her stage of checking:

A Song

The first draft is the hardest,
Baby I know,
The first draft is the hardest,
When it comes to being lucky she's cursed,
When it comes to finishing on time, she's worst.

Hello to postponing the first draft of my IP for 398398492 days, and finally being super mentally committed to finishing it by the end of this upcoming Sunday.

Sheryl Crow song link for the clueless

Haircuts and Dismay

Last week I went for a haircut across the street from TC. To my delight, my hairdresser turned out to be a Malaysian and told me that a PappaRich outlet had just opened in Flushing and she had loved it. However towards the end of my haircut I started worrying about my fringe, and thought maybe it didn't look very good. She then trimmed it a little bit more. This turned out to be a mistake, because later when I looked at my hair in the bathrooms in TC (not sure why I didn't notice it on the spot at the hair salon), I realised my fringe now looked really wonky. It was now quite short, with some parts at the farther end of my head shorter than the other bits. This annoys me incredibly especially since I have a conference to attend next week in Vancouver, where I'll be presenting a paper for the first time. Talk about nerve-wracking in itself, daft haircut that makes me look like and feel like a child not withstanding. 

Running

Decided to go for a run today after feeling simultaneously lethargic, bored, and unmotivated, and managed to spend at least 15 minutes running (or jogging) at 5.7 mph. I feel better now, although I also now realise that there is a certain sort of ache in my tailbone area from sitting on my arse too often for too long, and that I can smell all sorts of weird things in the air because my sinuses have cleared/opened up.

Since the start of this academic year I've managed to run (mostly) at least once a week, if not twice, which I think has been quite helpful for my overall well-being. I've never regretted going for a run, although it does take a fair amount of time. For instance today it took me about 2 hours in total because of the time needed to travel to the campus gym and to visit M2M to buy a drink afterwards. During times where I'm stationed at Jon's place in the Bronx, it takes me at least 50 minutes to travel to campus, if not longer.

Still I suppose this is a luxury I enjoy as a person who is not yet working. Although my time is limited, its not as limited as the people who have to work 9-to-5 jobs. In fact since I've started working at my internship on Mondays and Wednesdays, I've found my ability to conduct daytime errands like visits to the Post Office severely limited, which is annoying. Can't say how I'll be able to do things when I get a full time job.


 

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