:: Pedantic Platitudes ::

Greetings! My name is Sam J and I am a student at Harvard University. Perhaps this blog will present a little look into the mundane yet unique events that make up my life.
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:: Thursday, March 23, 2006 ::

Last Friday was St. Patrick's Day, so everyone here in Irish-heavy Boston was in high spirits celebrating it. I went to an amazing open house tea in Adams House, where I ran into Marion and Angela. The event had lots of nice snacks including pigs in a blanket, corned beef wraps, soda bread, and fruits to dip in a chocolate fountain. Tasty. Also, to top things off, the host was serving Guinness for the special occasion. It was a really nice touch when he created a four-leaf clover in the foam. A small band was playing traditional Irish tunes, while members of the Celtic cultural club here did Irish step dancing. It reminded me of my obsession with the short-lived Disneyland nighttime "streetacular" Light Magic, which "replaced" the classic Main Street Electrical Parade and featured plenty of Irish step dancing... and fiber optics, which are pretty and change colors, but I digress.

Afterwards, I had dinner with my friend in Mather House, and then I joined some other friends for a screening of Disney's classic animated feature The Little Mermaid. It continued our trend of seeing ocean-themed movies (we saw Titanic just the week before). I enjoyed watching a Disney movie again; I want to watch at least a couple more Disney films before heading off to Walt Disney World for spring break.

The Little Mermaid's happy ending made me go awww. "Now we can walk... now we can run... now we can stay all day in the sunnnnn.... Just you and meeeee... and I beeeee... part of your wooooorrrrrrrllllllllllddddddddddd!" I then went with my friend Molly, along with her brother who was visiting, to Felipe's, where I got a grilled chicken quesadilla. 'Twas oh-so-tasty. That is why we all love Felipe's. I then met up with my friends Ben and John, and we went out and had good times by going out to various parties as well as Charlie's Kitchen in the square. I had never been to Charlie's Kitchen before, but I enjoyed the loud and lively atmosphere. We were dismayed by the early closing time of Cambridge establishments, so we went back to John's room and chatted for a bit longer before we all headed back. I stayed up into the morning to watch lecture videos to prepare for my positive psychology and psychology of leadership midterms this week.

Saturday night, the feeling was right. I was watching lecture videos from my positive psychology class, and then another friend joined me to watch another lecture video from the class so we could be more focused and watch it without pausing. I felt really great and motivated after watching these lecture videos, but little did I know how much better the night was going to get after hanging out with friends. I met up with John and Ben again, and we went to a birthday party in Lowell House. The music was dreadful, but I still had a lot of fun hanging out with friends, dancing, and seeing cool people again. We ended, of course, at the Kong with delightful greasy food to fill our stomachs in the middle of the night. Soooo good and satisfying. I was having the time of my life. I finally got back to my room at about 3:30 and tried to go to sleep because I was so tired, but I was still so happy and high on life from my "peak experience" (haha, positive psychology) from hanging out with friends that I couldn't sleep. Instead, I chatted with friends online and listened to music.

I realized I had to return a DVD to the library by the morning and that I would never wake up in time. So I put on my jacket, kept on listening to great tunes on my iPod, and journeyed out to the library that's four blocks away to return the DVD. It was 4:30 in the morning, I was blasting music through my headphones, and there were no people and no cars around, so I danced to my music in the middle of the street. I turned in the DVD and danced some more in the middle of Harvard Yard. I sat down on the steps of Memorial Church and was looking at the twinkling stars and the low moon. It was such a happy moment; everything was calm, quiet, as one. I couldn't get over what an amazing weekend I was having. I'd have to say it was one of the happiest specific moments in my life.

It's hard to describe, but this positive psychology class is really turning my life around. I've always considered myself a pretty cheerful person (memory: reassuring my depressed friend that life would be OK; we go on and make it through our difficulties), but I'm really seeing life in a whole new way now. I guess it's hard to put into words, but it's true: You are what you believe. If you believe that you can experience happiness in life, that's the first step toward becoming happier.

On Sunday, I studied all day and all night for my midterm on Monday in leadership psychology. The exam turned out to be not too bad. Thank goodness for reading study guides. I then slept through the day and studied through the night for my positive psychology midterm on Tuesday. That was my last big thing before spring break, so now I'm all done and coasting until the much-anticipated vacation.

Tuesday afternoon, I went to hear a talk from Ma Ying-jeo, the mayor of Taipei (capital of Taiwan) and chairman of the country's KMT political party. According to my parents, he's the current frontrunner to run in and win the 2008 presidential election in Taiwan.

Mayor Ma talked about wanting to improve Taiwan/China relations... for example he said he thought it was silly for it to take 5-6 hours to get from Taipei to Shanghai because of a Hong Kong connection when a direct flight would only be 1.5 hrs. He also talked about wanting to offer more opportunities for Chinese students to study at Taiwan universities to promote a cultural exchange.

A lot of people asked him about running for president in '08, and he always demurred, saying that the KMT party will find a suitable leader in '08; apparently he hasn't yet announced his candidacy, according to my parents, who actually follow the politics; I don't know anything about Taiwanese politics, let alone have any strong positions on the matter.

I thought the mayor was really charismatic and he really lightened things with humor. He gave the talk in Mandarin Chinese, and I could understand most of it but not all of it because some of the topics were more obscure, like political party reform or pan-Asian relations - topics I never really learned the vocabulary for. He really expressed a lot of patriotism and love for Taiwan. It was cool because I haven't thought about my Taiwanese heritage in a while (I mean, "I Have To Deal With Something Racial Every Day," but I never think about it in the context of actual Taiwanese heritage). Mayor Ma's talk and the audience's questions reminded me of the pride people have in the beautiful island of Taiwan, regardless of political differences.

When his talk ended, I somehow made it out in time to find him exiting out the side door of the building, so I was able to get his autograph and talk to him briefly before he was bombarded by the Taiwanese media that had trailed him to the US. My mother said that she saw me on a Taiwan TV station news report. Coolness! The last time I was on TV was in '04 when I appeared on MSNBC asking then Democratic presidential candidate Carol Mosely Braun a question on Chris Matthews' Hardball.

Last night was the night before housing day, which is when all the freshmen find out which house they have been placed in. We in Leverett House celebrated by making signs welcoming the freshmen and enjoying food and drink. Today at lunch, we all went to Annenberg (the freshman dining hall) and welcomed the freshmen placed in our house with t-shirts, loud music, and people dancing on tables and waving large posters. I had so much fun. Each house celebrated and welcomed the freshmen with their own unique traditions and style. Even though all the houses are different and the rivalries between them spring forth on this day, there was a sense of unity in everyone getting together to cheer on the freshmen and having an excuse to party with house pride. The loud cheering kept drowning out the already loud music, and the atmosphere was fun and festive, fitting in perfectly with the almost spring break mood.

This afternoon, after going to classes, I socialized and enjoyed tea in Lowell House, which had invited the writer Gregory Maguire to speak. I stayed for the talk by the author of Wicked and other fantasy books and sequels. Wicked, of course, was the inspiration of the current hit Broadway musical of the same name. It was interesting, because just two months ago I had heard a talk from Stephen Schwartz, the composer for Wicked the musical, when I was visiting my sister at Yale. I enjoyed hearing Maguire's stories about collaborating on the production, as well as his inspirations for writing the book, some of the things he cut out of the original manuscript, and his advice for being a novelist.

Tonight, the housing day celebrations continued with the freshmen coming to visit our house and individual rooms hosting welcoming parties. A couple of friends and I room-hopped to get lots of good food, including samosas, pizza, tiramisu, and ice cream. Yay! Funny, too, because I had just had samosas the day before when my friends Alex and Alex and I went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. I was exhausted by the end of the night, walking all around Leverett House, eating so much, and seeing so many new faces. These are the kids who will be replacing my classmates and me next year! Sad tear.

Finally, after all the excitement, I went with a few other friends to the Eliot Grill, where we socialized a bit more before I returned to my room to retire after a long and productive day. Exhausted, but exhilarated. Happy, and enjoying life. This has been a long week, but it's been good times, all around.

Quote(s) of the Day: "Today was the fourth day in a row I saw the sun rise." "That sounds like the first sentence in a novel..."

"Have you seen the movie Ghost? I could die like that, you know."
"Please don't come back from the dead to feel me up..."
"Yeah, through a psychic black lady."

"The tea was bitter to the end, to the bitter end."

"Suppose you ask someone out on a date, and they said yes. What would be a pessimist's interpretation of that scenario?"
"They were drunk."
"They felt sorry for you."
"They were desperate."
"They go to Harvard."

"Well, I suppose [selling your English class essay online] is no worse than being a sperm or egg donor for money..."

:: SL 5:00 PM [+] ::

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