目前日期文章:200709 (8)

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leaves turning yellow and falling
people talking about winter and snowing
All I thought about was the gray long coldness
Oh, but how could I forget there would be mid-autumn festival
mooncake, BBQ, and family
leaves turning yellow and falling
people talking about winter and snowing
me, daughter of Formosa, looking up at the moon and smiling

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I am not an organized person.
I do things when I feel the need or enthusiasm.
Things always change, accidents always happen, why plan ?
having plans is like setting constraint for me.
So, planners have been more like decoration in my backpack.

Lately, my red planner got "activated".
Taking two courses, teaching three discussion sections, doing two projects, running back and forth between two labs, teaching an undergrad in lab,
plus unchangeable rate of having accidents, like losing my jacket, exceeding credit account balance ( I
accidentally paid too much more than my balance), forgetting my health insurance,
a lot of this and that occupied my life...and my planner.

Although life is so busy, I feel lively and motivated.
I have been wondering why.
My guess is that because my life is intervened with other peoples'.
For some reason, human factors always affect me greatly.
For example, I don't like to set plans for myself.
But I am more than happy to execute plans with "other people".
I can never motivate myself to get up at 8am. But if I have an appointment or meeting
with others at 8am, it is quite unlikely for me to miss it.
For example, I can hardly motivate myself to work hard.
But if there are others involved in the work, it is easy for me to work more than 12 hours a day.
So, over all, I am satisfied with the way I'm being busy.
Thanks to all those people around me.

Back to my planner. If I had never used a planner, why did I get one in the first place?
The story happened in summer...people in my lab were talking about getting planners.
I was there doing experiments, having no idea what they were talking about.
But I did not ask...cause there were just too many things I wouldn't know what they were talking about.
Suddenly, some one asked me, " so, do you want a planner?"
Curious enough, I said yes...that's how I got my red planner in the first place.

Ok, now, it's bitching time, as usual.
Nothing is perfect. Neither is having an active planner.
Sometimes I get tired and troubled that I just want to ignore my planner.
Moreover, when weekends come, I open my planner and feel like a stranger to myself.
For the entire week, my mind is occupied by one task after another.
Suddenly, bang, it's weekend. The only thing left is my planner and me.
It makes me feel like being in a typhoon night with no electricity.
The colorful world no longer exists.
All I can see is my finger tips, all I can hear is my heart beat, all I can feel is the air around me
overwhelmed by (fed up with??) too much of myself, this is time I ask myself-
what's the meaning of having an active planner.

Because my lab ordered planners together, I can see the twins of my red planner in lab every day.
It's kinda funny too see others' planners laying around.
It's just like watching another life hidden and trembling under the same cover like mine
I wonder what's marked down in other's calendar
just like sometimes I wonder if they occasionally feel like being in the dark typhoon night like me

No typhoon here. Just snow. Ice. White. and Cold.
So I guess I am lucky. It is never too cold in typhoon nights.





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  • Sep 15 Sat 2007 13:13
  • things

1. An old guy in the gym asked me for help. He bought some brush made by Jade on Ebay from china. The jade broke into pieces in front of him when he received it. He wanted to file a lawsuit to fight with the chinese government that gave certificate to the jade brush. He wanted me to translate the certificate for him. Actually I wanted to tell him to forget it. I wouldn't believe anything, or any certificate, from china at all. ja

2. Some stupid undergrads stopped me on the street asking for a chat/date. I just walked away, not even bothered to tell them I was old enough to be their mom. I feel very very old...so old that all those undergrads start to look like monkeys to me. I probably once jumped around and looked like a monkey, but not any more.

3. I attended several free gym classes. Now I truely think it's more important to be physically "fit", instead of just being thin. In those classes, a lot of American girls are by no means "thin" in Taiwanese standards. But they are really "fit" (or you can call that "strong"). They had no problems lifting weight, jumping ups and downs, and following the instructor, while I was half dead, trying to "touch fish (muo-yu)" all the time.

4. Its getting really cold in Ann Arbor, like 5'C outside at night. According to people in my lab, " hey, it's fall already. It can get worse!" :( :( :( I want my summer back.

5. I think my boss is a really cute person. I don't mean he looks cute like movie stars. But he has really cute personality. Firstly, he is always very calm and laid-back when you talk to him. But if you look closer into his big blue eyes, you can see the sharpness and smartness hidden behind. To put it in another way, he is so smart and successful. But at the same time, he is so humble and friendly, like a college student sitting at the back of the classroom with no intention to cause any unnecessary attention. Because he is so quiet in public, especially for a big name like him, most people would have the impression that he is "shy" and "serious". So, it is actually hard for most people to imagine that he can be passionate and fun. For example, before I joined this lab, the psych. secretary actually warned me that he could be hard to talk with cause he was so quite and shy. So the first time I heard him humming when making coffee, my jaw almost dropped. Later on, I started to have the chance to see his passionate side. For example, I showed him some histology pictures which I thought were quite dumb and far from final results yesterday. But as usual, he was very encouraging and started to describe what I can try next. It was actually quite entertaining to hear him making weird sound when talking about adjusting focus of the microscope, or to hear him using the analogy of stars in the sky to describe neurons (@@ was he trying to make my potentially miserable future seem more interesting?). He even told me that I could do a bit each time, and I can stop any time I feel tired. (@@ @@ hm...i believe this implies what I have to do is gonna be tedious). Although my future task may be terribly tiring, I feel the passion from my boss. He has never asked any student about data any single time. And he has never questioned students about their progress. Students can even decide what time they want to come to the lab and how long they want to stay themselves. All my boss does is to be there when students want to or need to talk to him. If some one had told me about this kind of management earlier, I probably would laugh and thought it was way too ideal. But now I am here experiencing all these myself. Amazingly every one works hard and makes progress. Most important of all, every one is happy and does every thing out his own will, not because he feels the pressure or because he is asked to do so. I think this is all because my boss is a really cute person.

6. While scotland football team is beating other european nations, UM football team is being beaten badly. They lost the first two games to some unranked schools. On newspapers, there was a list of three things you should/should not talk about in ann arbor. "Michigan football" ranked the second, of course, on the list of things you should not talk about.

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I had my first day of teaching today. I was not too nervous before the class because all I had to do was to go through the syllabus with students, and let them introduce themselves to the class. Plus, I was busy fighting with my last-minute report which was due today last night. So I did not really have the time or energy to worry about my first day of teaching.

But when the class really started, I was actually very nervous. I felt like sitting on the free-fall that I would throw my stomach up any time. I could hear my voice tremble when I said good morning to my 9 am class.But out of my expectation, the students were quite friendly. They laughed when I told them I liked to work out although I was not good at it (??? what's so funny about this?). And they smiled when I told them I liked animals (hm...not sure why). And they responded when I asked them if they had any questions. Before the class, our lab tech, who was an undergrad in U of M, warned me how bad the students could be. So, I went into the class expecting to see students falling asleep and not caring about what I said. But surprisingly, they all looked like good kids...hm..at least for today.

The class at 12pm was a bit of a nightmare. Students looked tired and hungry. I guess I should have let them stand up to introduce themselves before I actually talked about the boring syllabus. But generally speaking, like the first class, they were very friendly. They paid attention, they smiled, they looked like good kids.

My third class started at 1pm. Before the class, I thought I would get a class of devils that wanted to get out as soon as possible. I mean I was once young. I still clearly remember how difficult it was not to skip the Friday physiology class or to stay focused on Friday afternoon. But what happened was completely the opposite. I am not sure if it was because I made them do the introduction first, or because that was my third class already, this class turned out to be the best class I had. They laughed, they smiled, they had good interaction with me and other classmates, and they were all very focused. At the end of the class, several students actually said "thank you" or "thanks for the class" to me. Ouch, as a tiny little GSI (graduate student instructor) who had never taught before, those words easily won my heart. The students suddenly all looked like angels to me.

To be honest, as a GSI, I am not expecting my students to all love me or to like every thing I teach. All I hope is that they will learn SOMETHING and have some fun from my class. That something can even be the conclusion that they will never want to do neuroscience in their lives. When I asked them to introduce themselves to the class, so many of them gave an embarrassing smile and said, " I guess it is idiotic. But I am a junior and I still do not know what I want to do." They reminded me so much of my own struggle as a college student. So, I told them not to worry about it. Me and my friends were once like that. But if they keep trying, they will get closer and closer to what they like ( haha, actually this still applies to me now! who knows what I am going to do in the future!!!). And it is ok if they find themselves not liking biopsych. at the end of the class because we all are trying to figure out what we like or dislike. What I did not tell them was that all I hope to do, as a GSI, was to be able to offer some help.

That's the end of my first day of teaching. I believe all my students are good students, or they would not be in this school. They may get lazy, bored, or absent-minded sometimes (I have been there and done that!) But I still think we will have a good time in class!

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Actually this part should be "cry full". I got lots of help from strangers. Although
I somehow agree with Jian Ze Ming's comment about Americans' being "too simple naive",
I have to admit they are generally friendly.

Cry Hungry part III started from a bus ride to the Mattress store on Washtenaw. After
being in the US for more than 2 years, that was my 3rd bus ride, also my 1st bus ride
alone. I nervously held the map and kept checking the bus route printed from the webpage.
For some reason, there were a lot of small stops not shown on the route map along the way.
For someone who had zero talent in direction recognition, I felt that the bus was taking
us to Mars.Worried about missing the lab meeting, the first one + the only one + the one
that made the whole lab change time because my Chicago trip, since I joined this lab,
I finally decided to seek help from the guy sitting next to me."Excuse me, do you know how
far we are from XXX road?" I asked. Suddenly, four people turned to me like I threw a
big stone that broke the peaceful atmosphere. I am too lazy to describe the detail. The
result turned out to be that the stop I should take off was on shown the route map at all.
So, one of them told me to just relax and he would keep me informed and ask the bus to
stop for me. Another of them went to the front to get a bus schedule for me and described
to me about how to use it. I was very touched. Without them, I could have ended up being
in the middle of nowhere!

After that, I called a taxi Van and planned to pick up my futon, table, chairs, and microwave
in three different places. I was very very very lucky to get a very friendly and kind woman
as driver. She not only drove me to those places but also helped me to carry those heavy stuff
from the store to the car..and even to the front of my apartment. I was very surprised because
that was not her job at all. Actually the longer we waited, the more she would make. But while
I was signing document at the cashier, she offered help to move my furniture without complaining.

While we were moving my furniture to the front of my apartment, a college kid walking by stopped
to help. That was another surprise.

At the end, I did catch up the lab meeting. I had a chat with another girl who was also moving
and hunting for furniture. She said sincerely, "let me know if you need help to move. I live on
XXX. I can definitely help you to move things upstairs." I was again very touched. I knew
I would not ask her for help. But to be honest, I never thought she would say so without hesitation
when I was crying hungry about moving.

It is never easy to ask for help. When unexpected help happens, I feel I am blessed, by ancestors,
by God, by the world. After all, I am a lucky one!

This is not the end of the story though. My apartment is still like a war field. That means
there will be Cry Hungry IV.... do I feel troubled or upset? Once in a while..for like 5 minutes,
but not more than that. In contrast, I quite cherish the opportunity to experience what a
true life is like here in Ann Arbor!

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My lab mate sold the UMich VS. Ohio State football ticket to a friend for $700!
That's crazy!We can buy the tickets for like $25 or so. I asked them, "did you
say $700?" for like four or five times because I thought it was a mistake. I know
Michigan VS. Ohio State has always been popular, but I didn't know it was so crazy!
According to my lab mate, the tickets are so hard to get that people are willing to
pay A LOT to get them. Now I wish I had bought the tickets!!!!!! $700!!!! Geeeee!

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After posting Cry Hungry party I, I walked to Salvation Army, which is a big market selling used stuff in the US. Things were even cheaper and clean there. I bought a bicycle, a bread machine, a leather high-back office chair, and two kitchen stuff for $100. Most important of all, people working in Salvation Army were really friendly, patient, and helpful. The way they treated customers was a lot better than many fancy stores. It was quite a special experience. Unlike Treasure Mart, which was packed with slim, tanned, well-dressed whites, you can find all kinds of people in Salvation Army. Latino families with lots of kids, overweight black people, cheap students, blue-collar workers, and of course some good looking people in nice clothes, are all in the same place. The only down side was their lack of furniture. So, I still didn't get my table.

Today I had my second visit to Salvation Army. I bought a sharp microwave ($10), and a stainless pot ($5 or 6, made in Taiwan! I somehow trusted it more than stuff made in China), and a simple cook book ($2, will i ever use it?) The place was packed because of Labor day. But..i still had no luck finding a good table.

Some one told me in my Cry Hungry part I, I seemed to be enjoying my new life here. Yes, I am doing my best to embrace every moment in Ann Arbor. Sometimes it could be really tiring and frustrating and making people want to Cry Hungry. All I have now is my legs and my arms. It took me half hour to walk from my place to Treasure Mart, and also half hour to Salvation Army. But the two places were in opposite directions. Thinking about the night I left Taipei, when I had a group of friends and my parents helping me to carry only two suitcases, I really wanted to sit down on the road side and drown myself in tears. But I keep reminding myself, this is what I have always wanted to do, to experience a different culture. In the bicycle shop, another student and I talked about which lock to buy. In Salvation Army, a guy asked me for suggestions about which computer monitor to buy. Unlike travelers who can only look at buildings, streets, and people on the street to imagine what a different life is like, I AM Living here, alive. Of course I can just go to IKEA and buy every thing I want. But it just doesn't feel right. When you are young, you do backpacking, you sleep in cheap hotels, you stack up your kitchen when things go on big sales, you get excited when there is free food, and of course, you visit places like salvation army. Sometimes I wonder how developmental psychologists would explain such phenomenon. Is it so that people can brag to their friends and children about crazy things they have done when being young? I know many students who are from families that can easily afford expensive products still do so. They remind me over and over again that I am not alone.

The journey of cry hungry hasn't stopped. I have been sleeping on plastic bags and blue pads (I stole them from lab. They are thin cotton sheet we use to wrap rats up). I do have a futon that's still in the store. But I am still negotiating with my landlord about the dirty carpet (this is another story). Before I am certain about what's going to happen to the floor, I have no plan to unpack or to move tables in.

Enough Cry Hungry, life is still good. Today I had the best Pizza I have ever had in Ann Arbor in Silvo. Unlike most over-flavored, greasy, salty American pizzas, the Margaretta pizza I had was topped with fresh cheese and flavorful sauce. The dough had crunchy crust and elastic inning, and it didn't leave terrible grease on the plate at all. Although the price was twice higher and the size of the slice was 50% smaller, the pizza was worth every cent. Among all the Pizza places, which include Pizza House, Cottage In, Backroom, In'n out, Damino's, Pizza Hut, Zas's NYPD, some unknown pizza places, Silvo will be my first choice if I want pizza next time. Actually not just pizza, their dessert, pasta, and bread looked fantastic as well. The only bad thing was probably that I couldn't understand the italian owner's English ...when he tried to explain to me about his bread and pizzas.

Life is like music. Despite crying hungry sometimes, I decide to play mine cheerful.

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This is a "cry-hungry (cow-yao)" article.

Today I went to Treasure Mart, which is a famous store not far from farmer's market and sells used stuff. My landlords got all their furniture from the place and highly recommended it. Since I need table, chairs, microwave, coffee maker, knives, basically every thing, I decided to walk there. So, here is the story. On may way to the store, I made my first mistake- buying produce at farmer's market. I bought a bag of baby carrots and a bag of tomatoes. What's wrong with buying healthy, good quality, cheap food? Nothing's wrong...at least not until you have to carry them to the ridiculously crowded store. Thank to the football game and those monster-like undergrads who just got back to school. Treasure Mart was packed with people with middle-agers wearing ( is there such word? I made it up) "Michigan Mom" " Michigan Dad" T-shirts and white-headed people proudly wearing "Michigan Grandparent" stickers on their polo-shirts. The atmosphere was so different, almost way too funny, that I almost wanted to laugh. When living in the old apartment with those rich drunk party princess and prince, I felt like antique, like qualified to be buried in the grave. But being in the treasure mart with michigan parents and michigan grandparents is another story. Basically the highest and the only tip to get good stuff in treasure mart is to be fast, precise, and cold-hearted, like fighting. Surrounded by the older generations, I felt like an egg that wasn't even born...small, fragile, naive, and ready to be smashed. Ok, enough garbage. So, I saw a nice panasonic bread machine, which costs more than $100 in market but only $15 in treasure mart. I was thrilled..I always wanted one but had been hesitated because of the high price. But I told myself, "wait, fat Jao, let's focus on the table first. A table and chairs are why you're here today, remember?" Being very self-controlled, I kept hunting for my table. It was kinda like playing Japense "shan-pu". Every one walked around the circles..hunting, waiting to knock down others. Finally I found a decent folding table, which was exactly the size I need. I went to ask about the price. And they told me to wait for a second. So so so , the second mistake here was that I decided to go to the bathroom. Five minutes later, I was back to Treasure Mart...but...WHAT, some one just bought my table. THAT WAS MY TABLEEEEEE! Frustrated and tired, I went upstairs, wanted to pick up the bread machine, and found...dong dong dong...it was GONEEEEEEEE. SOLDDDDD. Some one took MYYY bread machine!!!!! I almost wanted to throw the heavy bag of tomatoes on whoever that got the table and the bread machine.

Did I buy anything? Yes, I walked out of the store with one stupid coffee maker. I do want to buy a coffee maker, the kind you pour water on the top, grind at the bottom, and press down the filter after a few minutes. I did not plan to buy a stupid Mr.Coffee coffee machine at all. Why did I buy it? I don't know. I guess I felt I needed something to prove the trip was not a waste of time. I was truely an egg after all, boiled and fried.

Life is full of suprises. I couldn't believe two things disappeared in front of my eyes in 10 minutes. But it is said that if a window is closed, God will open another one for you. So, what/where is my next window? The only way to find out is to keep walking.

Thanks for reading my "cry-hungry" article. Maybe your reading is the window I am waiting for. My voice is heard. My heart is touched. And now I am comforted.

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