Monday, May 31, 2010

Fangirls and Stanley

For some people my desire to come here alone is rather strange. But I have been telling these people that I know people who will be there at least for part of the time I am here. Let me explain a little here--

I am a member of Andy World Club--Andy Lau's fan club. It has been a great way to meet people and one of the ways I keep motivated to study Cantonese (although the majority of his interviews are in Mandarin now). I am a fan but don't mistake me to be one that believes that he is the best this or that--I just like him. I can watch him in total crap and have seen films where he seemed to be going thru the motions--no problem, it is Andy. Yep, I am a fangirl. But I don't think I am obsessive about it. I support him like he is a friend or a family member. Being part of the fan club has its advantages, not only does one get priority for concert tickets but there are events throughout the year that one can attend. And here are two events this month, so at least for one weekend, I will be with some of my friends that I have met via our mutual fandom.

I met up with one of those other fans yesterday, we have known each other for years but this was our meeting. She moved here a few years ago and was kind enough to guide me around. We had lunch and I bought a cell phone and a SIM card all on one block of Sai Yeung Choi Street. Then we made a brief trip to the AWC clubhouse. It has moved since I was here last so it was new to both of us. We weren't there long, it is smaller than the previous clubhouse and there were no other fans there to socialize with, maybe the rain kept them away, but it was productive because my friend needed to pick something up.

Then we went to MegaBox since it was nearby. Hardly anything was open, we were both surprised. There seemed to be a lot of renovation and new stores not quite ready to open but nothing to keep us there.

That was our whole agenda and we finished early. So we decided to explore Stanley because she had never been there and I had, but with a tour so it a super fast vist. It took awhile to get there, mainly because we were guessing how to get there and made a few missteps.

Sadly we didn't eat dinner there, we went back to Kowloon, but then the restaurant we were plannning to go had a big queue. We had to find a not-Indian vegetarian restaurant--veg for her, not-Indian for me. We had dinner at 10 p.m. I never eat that late! It ended up being a long day, with perhaps too much walking around in a temperature I hadn't acclimated to, I was totally wiped.

Unfortunately my exhaustion didn't help me in terms of sleep. I slept well, but for only about 5 hours. I am still operating under a deficit. Hopefully all will resolve soon.

Today I decided I would take it easy. I went to Central and was walking around but I felt very underdressed in my shorts and t-shirt so didn't stay as long as I expected. I came back to my hotel to take care of a few things and ended up moving to my smaller, permanent room and resolving some problems with the bill and the room.

Class starts tomorrow. They assessed me over the phone and put me in a level 3 class. Classes are in the afternoon, which I am not thrilled about but there are only two of us in this class so there were less options.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The prodigal has returned

Forgive my fancy title, I have gotten 1/2 hour sleep in 36 hours.

My flight was uneventful--just the way I like them. The heat and humidity hit me in the face when I walked out of the airport. Quite a shock after the cool spring in NYC and the artificial cool I had been cocooned in for more than 16 hours. Last time I was here it was in December, for me it was spring like weather in the middle of winter.

I was considering going back out when it started pouring out ... maybe I will stay in, rest, start fresh tomorrow. Overall I hope it doesn't rain as much as the forecast seems to be indicating. I don't have a decent umbrella at home so I didn't pack one, looks like I might have to make that a priority purchase.

I have been watching tv, flipping channels, some sort of award show on TVB--I recognize some folks but am fuzzy on most of their names, Dodo, Nat Chan, Vincent Kok and some other guy that I see all the time but his name escapes me--he is wearing a bright pink suit which somehow works for him--are MCs. Looks like it might be for public service announcements, but I am not sure. Then there is America's Got Talent (you got to be kidding!) and Ghost Whisperer--neither show I have ever watched in the US. I don't have many channels on this little tv so there is even less selection I imagine. But I have seen an orange juice, was it Minute Maid?, commercial with Eason Chan and just saw Louis Koo hawking something ... already forgot what it was but he looked well tanned as usual.

Oh, I saw "Mulan" "Storm Riders 2" "Black Ransom" and "Bodyguards and Assassins" on the way here--I feel more caught up on my HK/Chinese films. I do plan to see some films while I am here. I really want to see "Gallants" but not sure what else will be playing while I am here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

final prep

Just a quick post here--tomorrow I leave for Hong Kong.

Ir has been great telling people about my trip and hearing "I am so jealous." I don't hear that very often. I think if one has at least once in their life when almost everyone they knows tells them that--that is much better than "15 minutes of fame."

Work has been stressful so I am very happy to be away from there for awhile. This was unproductive stress--we were engaged in a process that ultimately we have no power in the final result. But who the new dean is, what s/he does stands for and is able to accomplish directly affects us, as well as the students we serve.

So today I am going to try to shake all of that off me and finish getting ready for my trip. I have someone staying in my apartment so I want it to be cleaner than normal, "guest ready" so to speak, so I will be cleaning as well. I hate cleaning but it but I have noticed it can have a meditative effect which wouldn't be a bad thing right now.

I would like to report daily like Glenn did during his Hong Kong trips. But it depends on my internet access for one thing. Anyway, I may post much more than usual in the next 5 weeks, or I may not. All part of the Adventure. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

2 weeks to go

My trip is coming up fast and my excitement is growing.

I am pretty much ready, just have to pack which I will most like start doing next week and put my apartment in "guest ready" order. I have a friend staying in my apartment for most of the time. He is retired and has moved back to his hometown, he loves NYC, a real culture buff. It is a nice trade, I have someone to look after my place and he can stay in NYC for free for awhile.

My new theme at work is that everyone needs a vacation. It seems like every situation is going straight to argument mode, discussion is completely being bypassed. I have mentioned this to several people now and I am getting nods of agreement. Certainly it can't hurt. Even if folks don't go away, the summer schedule is generally lighter and even having less students and colleagues around can be calming. The next two weeks are going to be interesting, we are going to be meeting the candidates for our new dean. Hiring a dean is a complicated process and not particularly democratic so it presents its own drama. Having my trip to look forward to hopefully will keep me from getting too emotionally involved.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Things have been contentious at work. Lack of leadership and lack of communication are taking their toll on our little library. People are getting closer to their tenure deadlines, the stakes are getting higher and the sense of community we once had is disintegrating. Thankfully summer is coming! My trip is just 20 days away!

I was listening to NPR radio one day and they were interviewing Anchee Min about her latest book “Pearl of China” which is a novel about Pearl Buck. She said that she wanted to give the Chinese perspective of Pearl Buck. Min has her own story to tell, as a teenager she denounced Buck as anti-China without having ever read her books. It was only later in the United States, when she could read it English that she realized how misinformed and misguided she had been. I went out of my way to borrow this book from the library. The novel is a tribute to Pearl Buck but through the eyes of a lifelong friend. Perhaps this is why the dates are a bit murky and the historical events aren’t flushed out more. I don’t know a lot about this time in China’s history but I do know enough that I actually questioned one point. In the Author’s Note Min admitted she had indeed manipulated this part of history to suit her story. It is a novel, not an historical account so she has that right.

I enjoyed reading this book very much but at the same time feel as though it only gave me a taste of Pearl. Pearl wasn’t really given a character arc and her feelings were rarely explored. Min had created this lifelong friend for Pearl which should have enabled her to explore those feelings a little bit more. Perhaps she felt a little too reverential towards her subject to really do it justice. I have not read anything else by Min so it is hard to know if this is her style or not. I want to read “Red Azalea” sometime soon, which is her own memoir. And I'd like to read a good biography of Pearl S. Buck too, anyone have any recommendations?