Sunday, February 28, 2010

Paul and Harry

When I first moved to NYC I wanted to experience all the culture it had to offer. I went to museums, plays, and dance performances regularly and saw films from all over the world and the whole range in terms of size and budget. Gradually I realized that I didn't like alot of it and I started to become more picky. I grew tired of looking for meanings within meanings within meanings, it just made me feel stupid. I was looking for culture that created connections to my own life and how others are similar/dissimilar to me and to really sound shallow-for beauty. I have never been the fan of art that is created to shock me. Real life is shocking enough. I do like how it can make me look at an idea/concept in a different way but at the same time I hate being hit on the head with a hammer in the process. And I don't know what it is but no matter how much I am enjoying an exhibit, I start yawning and can't wait to get to the last piece.

So I started going less and less frequently and often lost track of even what was going on. But luckily I have a friend who breaks me out of this mode periodically. He buys 2 or more tickets via TDF for things he wants to see and then goes down his list of friends to see if they would like to join him. I am not at the top of his list, but he knows I am on a budget and only have time to do these things on weekends. Last night I went with him to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company perform. There were three individual pieces and although the third was clearly the best I will probably always remember the first one because the first evoked wonderful memories for me.

The opening is a guy alone sitting crosslegged getting high dressed in a tank style t-shirt and blue jeans. As the piece goes on, more dancers join him and they all dance in a carefree, exaggeratedly relaxed style which I am sure much harder to do than it looks. They are all wearing jeans in the styles that were popular in the 1970s--various degrees bell bottoms, the flat front with the double row of black buttons (how I wanted those at one time!), all that very pale blue. And the music--all Harry Nilsson songs, songs that I knew, songs that I heard on the radio when they first came out. I was very young in the 70s but this piece brought me back to that time in a way that I had not expected.

Frankly I felt so connected to this piece that although I appreciated the other two pieces on a intellectual level, they seemed too serious, too mechanical, which I am sure is an unfair assessment. And because the Olympics are still at the top of my brain, I started comparing moves to those I have recently seen in the figure skating competitions. LOL so clearly I wasn't in the moment like I had been in the first piece. For me, that piece should have been last because it set an emotional standard that the others couldn't reach. I didn't ask Larry what he thought, I didn't want to sound uncultured but also he is older and I am sure that piece didn't affect him in the same way.

My friend walked me to the closest subway station but I wasn't ready to sit on a train. I felt like moving and it was a beautiful night to be in Manhattan. My head was full of the better part of the 70s and Harry Nilsson. I walked past the next station and was about to continue walking past the third when reality set in, my boots aren't the best walking shoes and it was 11 p.m. with at least a 45 minute ride home.

But today I am listening to Harry, thanks to Paul.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hong Kong Planning

Flight reservations, done. Hotel, also done.

The idea is to immerse myself in the language and the culture. I dream of living oveseas but I wonder if I am truly capable of it. So this is kind of my experiment. At worst I will just a wonderful vacation in the land of my dreams.

After some research I decided I would take a 3 week intensive course in Cantonese at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. But the application and the student visa required are making me rethink this. Maybe this is a bigger deal than I want it to be. I want to improve my Cantonese but do I want to work that hard on my vacation? I could study Cantonese more informally while I am there, it might even be more fun. I would be taking the beginner class and I am not strictly a beginner so it wouldn't be all brand new material, but it is 3.5 hours in class every day for 3 weeks with nightly homework. I like the idea of having somewhere to go everyday and it would fortify my foundation.

Then I think that I have been learning the language in a classroom long enough, now I need to go out and use it more informally. So maybe just some tutoring sessions or less formal classes would be fine. Again, I am thinking--my vacation. And having such an academic routine may not achieve my objective of immersing myself in the language and culture--I will be living the life of a student, enveloped in an academic bubble for 3 weeks. But adding a CUHK certificate would look good on a resumé, really good.

Pfft. Clearly I need to think on this some more. Maybe some divine inspiration would be good.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter blah

I have been in winter blah mode. Part of it is that it got colder, windier and snowier. Then I caught some sort of sore throat/cold that has been dogging me for at least 10 days now, it has been up and down, some days I feel I am almost over it then I start feeling sicker again. I am not one of those people that go to the doctor when they have a cold normally. Nor do I take a lot of meds, I believe in extra fluids and lots of rest generally. Being sick always puts me in the dumps, I am a bit of a drama queen when it comes to these things.

So I have been living even more monastically than usual. Work, the Olympics and lots of sleep. I don't usually watch the winter Olympics. Even though I have spent half my life in winter weather (so it seems) I am not a fan and so people who enjoy activities on ice and snow are kind of freaky to me as a rule. Then I look at the crowds in the stands wondering how many layers of clothes are they wearing? And because I tend to drink a lot of water I always have toilet facilities in mind--now there is a detail NBC has yet to cover LOL--I would hate to have to use a portapotty in below freezing weather.

I did go out yesterday to celebrate Chinese New Year with my fellow Cantonese students and our teachers. Chinatown was awash in dancing lions, flying colorful paper and I even had a little colored string battle at one of my friend's storefront with both adults and children. I had never done that before and it was fun. It was funny to see the variety of reactions of those who accidentally would get streamed, it was so crowded on Mott St, it was bound to happen--one woman was really annoyed, clearly not in the spirit of the holiday. CNY is not the time to be in a hurry walking via Chinatown or expecting not to be accosted by a dancing lion or something else colorful--but maybe she was in winter blah mode too.

Now I am feeling somewhat better and the weather is actually pretty nice again--for winter that is--so hopefully this winter blah is on its way out.