Fei and Jing spend this winter break at Bechtel International Center. They meet quite a few new people, and do quite a few things, going to restaurants and movie theatres, playing piano, singing karaoke all night long, talking all night long, going clothes shopping at the Gilroy Outlets. Their guy friends tell them about the dating world from a male perspective, etc, MRS degrees at Stanford that they know, and so forth. Women get desperate after the age of 26, 27, and so forth. Naturally this generates some anxiety about the fact that so much should happen in the next few years. But there’s also a lot of good fun. The guys said they feel that women have an underground network of information. Fei writes happily that when we share stories of our lives with each other “maybe we are passing along this at this very moment =)!” This day she writes with particular length:

Dear Georgina,

I am at Sweet Hall right now. Jing is next to me, and Murad is at one of the computers in the row behind me. It’s quite cold right now. The walk here was somewhat enduring. It’s 44F in Santa Clara right now according to the weather report. Besides some random people doing email here, there’s also a few people programming still. Oh, the same old Sweet Hall!

Life is pretty good overall. I am quite busy. I work all day (although it seems impossible for me to get to work before 10), and when I get back to Bechtel, it’s easy cooking time or activities time for the Center. Life is planned out pretty full, so at least I feel I am somewhat productive, even though it’s in the mere field of earning a few bucks. The people over at where I work are really nice. I have an office all to myself, and a computer for my use (too bad there’s no connection). I get paid $10/hr for opening envelopes of applications and recommendation letters and filing them. It’s quite interesting, because all the applications represent all different lifes, and they are all there in a few pieces of paper. But the application essays and others make me feel that graduate studies is a very esoteric field, and there are certain rigid rules set already, and the whole thing seems to be very abstract rather than useful. These people just churn out a whole bunch of hard-to-understand papers, and in the end cap their years off with a thesis that it would be lucky if more than one person reads it. But nonetheless, it’s interesting to read about the applicants’ lives. There are quite a few people who seem to have less than desirable records, some with cumulative GPA below 3.0. I guess not the whole world has a straight record. Even though it’s a fuzzie field, all the transcripts I’ve seen would be much worse than our drawmates, which is somewhat comforting (I’m ashamed to say), and brings back some normality in things.

There’s also a four-month-old Yorkshire Terrier running around the office all day. His name is Paco. He’s absolutely adorable. I love holding him around. He’s quite affectionate.

I guess I would tell you a little more about Min Chi, even though the news is already getting old. Jing and I went out to eat with Wei-Ping. Wei-Ping offered Jing a ride to the supermarket (Jing’s quite popular we you can tell). When he showed up Saturday evening, he brought along two friends, one of them named Adrian, and the other named Min Chi. I jumped (well, figuratively) at the mentioning of the name, having heard quite a few things about him. I then proceeded to tell him all the things I know about him, and surprised him quite a bit. Then he became somewhat worried, and suspected that something bad is being spread around campus about him. He then mentioned meeting Georgina (you), and how you reacted interestingly when he mentioned that Ben Mowery is his roommate. He says he knows Jia. (I guess she’s quite popular too). Adrian is not very talkative. Wei-Ping, if you don’t know already lives down the hall from us, Tai-Wi’s roommate. You have drawn a picture of him before. We then went to the restaurant to eat.

Very surprisingly, in that small Chinese restaurant in Mountain View, Li-Cheng sat at a small table across from us. I don’t know if you have heard the story about Li-Cheng, HC’s graphics partner. He made a motion, recognizing my presence when he saw me. I was surprised that he knows me, since I have never spoken to him before. Then as he was leaving, he stopped by the door, turned around, and told me to say goodbye to Huat Chye. (I was a little stunned at the time since I wasn’t sure how their relationship actually turned out). He said he’s not going to be back next quarter because he’s going to start working. HC later told me that he had mistakened me for another Fei who’s also from Shanghai and majoring in IE, but thought he must have cleared that up with me. More interesting part followed, we decided to go to the movie, and I strongly suggested “American Beauty,” as that was my plan for the winter break and I was really glad that it could be realized so quickly. Before we reached the theatre however, I couldn’t help throwing up on Wei-Ping’s window, then all the people got down to comfort me, and asked me how I was, etc. (You know, the usual story, I’m quite used to it =). Then we watched the movie, It was quite enjoyable. It’s a funny, cynical, and philosophical. Min Chi, appearing to be a playful guy, movie-hopped to “The Insider” before “American Beauty” even started. After the movie, he talked about how he heard AB is a great movie, and has received all these reviews and such. Then why didn’t he watch it? I don’t know. In some ways, he reminds me of his roommate. Then on the way back, I threw up again.

The second night that we went out I was much more tolerant of the ride, having requested to sit in the front. We went shopping in Cupertino, the same place that we went to with Yung last year. Jing and I got a whole bunch of stuff while they waited. They were pretty nice people. Wei-Ping seems kind of quiet and depressed while Min Chi is always jumpy. I think WP must be somewhat sensitive to my physical condition in the car. We invited them to have some red bean ice cream. I put it on the glove compartment. As the car swerved at a U-turn, the box fell. He must have thought that the motion and the noise was a premonition of my throwing up, and drove up the sidewalk. The wheel rim then came out, and then we had to gather it. All in all, it was interesting.

HC seems to be doing well. He just finished reading the third Harry Potter book that he borrowed from his cousin, he says. I have no idea what kind of book it is. But I think the winter break is a good opportunity to take a break from all the emailing, zwrites, icq, etc. I’ll see if I can keep my word. Just right now, this guy called Tong, a Singaporean came by, and introduced himself. Interestingly enough, he said he has heard my name being thrown around quite a bit. He said he saw my zwrites in Sweet Hall a few times when someone went somewhere else. I guess it must have been HC. Perhaps it’s a good time to take a rest from all this business.

Okay, he got tired of waiting for us and just left. (I also told him to go away while I write to you. He’s been reading a portion of this message). Jing and Tong both asked if I am writing to my father, it being such a detailed message. This is interesting, but I guess also worthwhile.

This is pretty long I think. It’s already past 12, and I think I better go back. It’s quite cold right now. How’s life for you? Hope to hear from you.