FEI, JING, AND A BUSY BECHTEL BREAK

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.

Fei

Presenting Thomasina and Other Gifts

Presenting Thomasina

Friday, November 12, I got back to the dorm around 12:30; Jia was already asleep. Argued with Fei that she should collect signatures in Castaño but ended up doing the task myself. Huat Chye and his roommate, at the time being visited by their neighbor Domi, signed the card. Their drawmate Sze Yao delayed, claiming he could not be “poetic” at 2 a.m.

Saturday after brunch, we studied in our room; Ting Ting visited. Drawmates agreed to go to dinner out to celebrate Jia’s birthday. Went back to studying, Jia and Ting Ting went out. I collected a final signature from Castaño. Nicola came back from the music library. She visited and shared news of a plan to stop out for two quarters!

Nicola drove Ying, Fei and I to all meet Jia and Ting Ting already waiting at the sushi place at the Town and Country. Afterward we looked for an ice cream place in Palo Alto, got gelato and returned to Stanford by 8 because Ying had to get to lab.

The rest of us chatted in our room a while. Jia talks about guys, though her actions never seem to carry her in that direction. I think even if she’s not actually picky she gives that impression and is so intimidating to guys. I went to task, then studied in Tresidder (got free coffee from a conference that had been there) then in an empty room outside of Meyer til finished chem problem set, back to dorm and soon to bed.

Sunday, Jia’s birthday celebration continued. A brunch group included Jia, Fei, Huat Chye’s draw group, and others. Jing joined us and sat next to Huat Chye, identified him by his unusual age. There was laughter around the table. They called Huat Chye famous. Chihiro joined us later.

After brunch I went to Green, studied til time for 4:30 mass. After 4:30 mass I joined a Catholic undergraduate dinner, sitting next to next-door neighbor Eugene. Eugene is not Christian yet, but is in the RCIA program to learn more about Catholicism. Could that be right? I thought the program was intended only for people entering the Catholic community.

After dinner, I went back to Green a while, then to TA office hours, which were very crowded. After that I bought ice cream for Jia’s birthday at Tressider Express, carried it to Green to pick up books and then stored it in Nicola’s fridge and our own. Got late night coffee and chicken and NutriGrain bars, then went to work in my room.

Jia insisted on seeing her birthday card at 12, I had not signed it yet so was time-pressured to come up with a message. Fei Ying and Nicola showed up shortly after to deliver their gifts, including a big white bear promptly dubbed Thomasina. They said they’d emailed asking me to delay until their arrival, but I hadn’t checked my e-mail frequently enough. We shared tiramisu that Nicola bought for Jia, the ice cream, some beverage courtesy of Ying. We got a neighbor to take pictures of us. Jia opened all her presents and read all the messages on her cards aloud. She was quite gracious, saying she would write to everyone who’d signed her card a personal thank you. She zwrote to Huat Chye later saying she felt “loved” and would he like to come over and have some of the fruit wine Ying had given her. But, he declined 😉

Around a Harvest Moon Festival

Woke up around 8, did some small task at Carnegie before going to my first class, math.  Followed by the two thermodynamicses.  After the chem, I had to go to a table at the activities fair being held to watch it for SWE.  Jia was also on that shift but she was late, so I had only the company of a grad student for a while.

At 12:30 I had  a meeting with my math tutor, which went until it was time for me to go to my 2:15.  The professor was not there for this class; the lecture given by the grad student TA was rather irrelevant.

After this last class of the week I went to one of my professors whom I’d like to be my advisor and asked him about declaring (this major that I’m not sure I’ll be able to complete–I’ve told him as much) and he directed me to another professor and declined to be my advisor as he already has 35 advisees!  I was surprised as in this major there’s not even 35 undergraduates per year.

So, back to room and did some reading before a nap.  Jia, Fei and Jing went to the celebration of Moon Harvest Festival at Bechtel International Center.  A friend reminded me our fellowship was hosting a barbeque; I went to this. Ying saw me as I was on my way and asked about running; I tentatively agreed but later when returned to dorm could not find her.

Back to room, read some, drew some.  Eugene stopped by and I went with him to visit Val on the third floor, but Val wasn’t in. I suspected he went to the Harvest Moon Festival celebration as well.  Eugene called it the Moon Cake Festival and left a message on Val’s door half in Chinese characters and half in English.

I read in my room a bit more before heading with my books to the Education building.  Saw Jia, Jing, Fei, Ping (a graduate friend of theirs) and Jianbo (who sat near Jia in high school) on their way to Ping’s Rains apartment.

Fei hosts Jing, Henry & me

Fei, Sze Yao, and I were chatting in Fei’s room. We saw Huat Chye through the window. He came in from São Paulo, where he’d been visiting an aunt, Saturday night.  Sze Yao told us to call him but we hid and had Sze Yao call him instead.

Huat Chye asked him what he was doing there in Kimball and Sze Yao joked that he’d been split from his draw group and housed in Kimball; but Huat Chye correctly surmised that it was Fei’s room and she came to the window to wave to him.  Her window has a good view for people watching; it overlooks one of the main paths entering Manzanita Park.

Huat Chye talked to his drawmate about getting a room key for one of their other drawmates, who won’t be coming in until late, then went about his moving-in business.

I was typing up some stuff for work around 6 o’clock and Fei came in with Jing and a freshman from Shanghai (he calls himself Henry). They were going to go visit his place and then get dinner, Fei’s treat, and asked if I’d like to join.

We went to Ujamaa, where Henry lives, and saw his room. Fei likes the dorm better now it’s been remodeled–brighter.  Henry’s room is not as large as the ones in Kimball (or any other dorm I’ve been in) but he and his roommate have a sink in a closet-like enclosure.  Afterward we biked to KFC.

We saw Colin, my and Fei’s former drawmate, along the way, and Fei stopped to talk to him and to Huat Chye, whom we saw walking back to Kimball with a freshman who graduated from his high school in Brazil.

We had dinner at KFC and then biked back to Kimball. Henry came in hoping to meet Jia, but she was not there. Also, we could not reach the other freshman from Shanghai, whom we thought she might have been with.

Ben Longoria, our neighbor from Lantana last spring and now in Kimball, stopped by and was telling us how he served as an escort for the queen and princess of Bhutan (the princess is now a SLE freshman).

Jia hosts hometown newcomers

Did some work at Carnegie in the morning; my boss came in with her daughter for the last time before taking off on vacation.  I had got something for the girl’s birthday, which will pass before they return, so I had my boss drive me back to Kimball and ran upstairs (where Jia was sitting on her bed, after beginning to move in) grabbed the gift and gave it to my boss, before going back upstairs and reading in my room…

Ting Ting came to visit; at the same time Jia came in with her Fei came in, freshly arrived from Shanghai.  Some new students from Shanghai, two people who had gone to Jia’s high school, one of whom will live in our dorm this year, visited. Then they and Jia and Ting Ting went out together.  Fei went to pick her bike up from outside Jia and Ting Ting’s summer residence.

When she returned, I looked at some pictures of hers, and later agreed to accompany her on a trip to Fry’s to get speakers for her discman.  While we were preparing to do so, Jia got back, having had dinner at Jade Fountain with the new students from Shanghai and Ting Ting.

Fei and I stopped at KFC to have dinner before continuing to Fry’s; we got to that store too late, it closed at 9 and by the time we’d got there it was about 9:30.  We walked back; saw some people we know in Castaño through their open window, with visitors.

When we got back to Kimball, we did some walking around the dorm.

At long last, needing to declare a major

I barely had time to read messages before departing to Colorado join the rest of my family in visiting my sister at the Air Force Academy.  There, I was struck by the tight limitations on my access to the internet in general, and telnet in particular.

My trip to Colorado was pleasant, despite this affliction; I had the pleasure of seeing some workings of the Air Force Academy, rafting, and, my family’s favorite, watching a movie (“The Sixth Sense”).

My return to Stanford, too, was pleasant, albeit marred by the discovery of my own “Dear Undeclared Junior” letter in my P.O. box.

Mama’s expressed concern. I reassured her, I’m not confused as to what I want to do.  I want to complete a major that will allow me to get a job that will in turn allow me to pay off my student loans, and also interest me.  I have two major options; I’m only uncertain as to whether my math background is good enough to permit the undertaking of the more practical of the two.

Dinner and a walk, a movie and “pig face”

Jia and Ting Ting had begun preparations early, so we could start eating soon. Huat Chye commented he could only make pancakes, whose recipe he’d learned for a class presentation.

Jia had received an e-mail from a guy with whom she had spent a considerable amount of time dancing the previous night. He reminded her of her invitation to have him over to dinner. His message included many smiley faces and the assertion that he knew Jia’s salt and oil are no ordinary things. Throughout the evening Jia pondered aloud and took suggestions regarding how she should respond.

Later, when there was more talk of such things, I asked Huat Chye if he had met anyone “interesting” at work. He was evasive, and I reluctant to press. Jia asked him, then, if he was open to an interracial relationship and he said himself, yes, his parents maybe not.

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