alice in wonderland charas

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alice in wonderland

Winter

by John J. Coughlin

Autumn winds are dying
As winter rears its head.
Soon the land will sleep again
In the silence of the dead.

The gray sky seems a blanket.
The golden trees now bare;
Their branches reach out to the sky
To grasp the misty air.

Dark browns replace the orange
And grays replace the blue
Soon snow will change this landscape
As the spiral dance holds true

The silence will be welcomed
By a solitary crow.
An eerie song of mystery
That few will ever know.

For winter keeps its secrets,
The ones not hard to hide.
The answer’s all around us,
But the question sleeps inside.

Winter is a very sad season. Perhaps not so much for those who live in warm climates like California or Singapore, but for us here on the Northeastern seaboard, it’s pretty depressing. During winter, the world sits down and puts its head in its hands, like an aging woman who has nothing to do but stare into a mirror and watch herself grow old.

The college students return home from the excitement of their hallowed halls of learning, many of them unhappy to be back to a place they wanted to leave behind. The grown-ups shrug their shoulders and sigh as they turn up the heat, glancing unhappily at the mounting electricity and heating bills. Winter is definitely a depressing month.

I used to like winter. The holiday season was exciting, with presents and parties. But this year, suddenly, I feel old. As I glance outside of my bedroom window at the teenaged oak tree dangling its leaves in the wind, the white dust slowly chilling the life out of the grass, and the perpetually white winter sky, I remember all the years that have already passed (17 in total). All those memories from arriving at Central Elementary School for the first day of 2nd grade to fooling around with my classmates in Beijing compete with each other for precedence in my mind. Or maybe I’m just growing old.

People do have a tendency, I suppose, to act like this, to reminisce when they are transitioning from one phase of their life to another. Maybe that is the “secret” of winter – memories – winter is a slow drowsy month during which the world falls asleep and memories float to the surface. After all, when winter passes, a new year comes and a new spring and the world has changed again. So we reminisce during these cold winter months.

As Humphrey Bogart says in Casablanca, Here’s to looking at you winter. And here’s to remembering.

Cecilia

Yes, it is obligatory, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it :D

To start at the very beginning, because that is a very good place to start (quoth Sound of Music xD)

My daddy and I made a last minute visit down to Wellesley towards the end of September (I know I know, what kind of idiot decides to E/D to a school before even visiting it) and the campus was gorgeous. It was a stereotypical autumn day, a slight misty rain which would later metamorphise into an all-out shower, a light chill that is perfectly refreshing, and the early trees already shedding their leaves. It was pretty amazing, for me at least, to see such a different example of beauty in a school campus. Princeton, which I live close to, possesses an old world beauty that is shared by other schools of its type such as Northwestern and Harvard. NYU is modern (and techinically campus-less), striking because of its glass and metal non-conformity. But all of these schools have one thing in common: they define the area on which they are constructed, a line or painting upon a canvas. Wellesley, on the other hand, grew out of the land it was built upon. The campus is spacious and almost rural with its own lake (Lake Waban <3) and the buildings were designed so that they complement the landscape rather than dominate it. If other schools are constructed so that they are a painting, then Wellesley is a sculpture, something formed out of the material rather than super-imposed upon it.

This is also true of Wellesley’s students. Unlike the other schools, Wellesley doesn’t take a high school student and, after four years, manufacture a Wellesley graduate out of her. A Wellesley graduate was always a Wellesley-an at heart – she just needed Wellesley to “evolve” (yes, like a Pokemon =])

I really could go on and on about how wonderful my visit was. My dad and I hadn’t signed up for an information session or a tour – we just upped and came. Which, I believe, really made the difference. Entering Wellesley feels like entering a separate world. Outside of the campus is the residential town of Wellesley, a charming place that is strangely reminiscent of my hometown, East Brunswick. But once you enter Wellesley, there’s an atmosphere, it’s a different place from the rest of the world.

The people I met were also very different from those of other schools. Mrs. Karen Shih, the Advisor for Students of Asian Descent, made me feel at home, even though I had accidentally walked in on a welcome party for the first year students. Serendipitously enough, I also ran into a former Middlesex girl on the library step – she’s a 3rd year premed student who used to attend church in East Brunswick and knew some of my classmates.

And the Poly Sci building. It was perfect. Photographs on loan from the New York Times, portrait sized pictures of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and so many other presidents. Bookcases filled with Foreign Affairs. And a two sided elevator that gave my dad and I a pretty hard time =)

Nov 9/10 (and again, I know it’s strange to visit a school after the fact, but there you go …): Wellesley ALANA open house

Oh the people I met! Before attending the open house, I was really very excited about Wellesley. After the open house, I was even more excited about the classmates I could have there. Savannah, Brie, Caroline, Stephanie … the list goes on. All the girls there were people I would love to spend the next four years of my life with. They were smart, independent, funny, and very aware of the world we live in. And to top it all off, they were attracted to the same college as I was – great minds think alike, after all.

Karaoke Night courtesy of the Asian Students Association: I was a little drunk by that time. Not drunk on alcohol, but on the excitement of finally being here. Therefore, I gave a solo rendition of Under the Sea in which I forgot half the words. Very embarassing I am sure. haha. But it was fun. After the mikes went out of use, everyone who was left just sat around in a circle and sang whatever came to mind at the top of our lungs. Then we moved onto Cafe Hoop to chat about everything and anything – the Wellesley students reminisced about their high school lives, gave us some erudite advice, and commiserated with us on people in high school cheating and all that drama. Though I am still curious about the tunnel.

Monday of: Part II of the Wellesley Open House was class visitations. The French class taught by Madame Masson that I visited was wonderful. Unlike most high school french classes, it wasn’t a class on grammar and the other logistics of the language, although those were taught. It was a class on French, the language. Professor Masson led the students in an analyzation of a passage of Le Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac and the way she presented the text finally decided me. Yes, if I attend Wellesley, I will definitely continue studying French.

The second class I visited was Chinese Politics taught by Professor William A. Joseph. This class was slightly larger than the previous one so I did not really participate in the lecture, but just took notes and tried to absorb all the information =) The way Professor Joseph presented Mao Tse-Tung and his two deputies Liu Shao-Qi and Deng Xiao-Ping was fascinating and unique from what I learned in high school. In fact, our high school history classes barely even mention Liu Shao-Qi, glossing over him in its generalization of history. I had a chance to chat with Professor Joseph after the class ended and his knowledge and passion of/for Chinese politics was very present and I truly look forward to studying these topics with him.

Finally onto the city of Boston. Well, I must admit, it was just a tad disappointing for me, growing up next door to NYC. Boston isn’t NYC by any means – it’s smaller, more intimate. But it is beautiful in its own right – I especially adore the location of City Hall. You basically see this small, quaint old world building on an island by itself between two streets and on either side of it (across the streets of course) there are these huge sky scrapers. Something like this ||_11_|| It’s supremely adorable :D

But now onto the most important part of all this: Friday, December 12th, 2008.

I will admit here that I was absolutely distracted during the two weeks leading up to this date. The amount of homework I have BS-ed while my mind was clearly elsewhere is unbelievable. The night before I couldn’t sleep.  (Therefore I did not go to school the day of) I actually ended up playing Maplestory the whole day. Pressing the Space Bar incessantly is surprisingly distracting and supremely relaxing.

So my younger sister comes home, takes over the gaming from me (at which point I begin banging on the piano “He’s a Pirate” and “The Butterfly Lovers”) until 5 pm. Women being naturally curious creatures, she asks if she can check online without telling me the results (“I don’t want to know I really don’t want to know” running like a mantra in my head). So she checks and I run some place to calm my palpitating heart, cardiac arrest being imminent. What do you know, the little darling becomes so elated with the result that she completely forgets about her promise and screams the result out. At which point I start laughing and don’t stop until my mom comes home. The end.

So today, the Wellesley matriculation packet comes and I can’t help feeling that all is right in my world. Even if the economy is falling apart around my ears and people who truly deserve to be accepted into the best of the best are rejected and deferred (I will still bitch-slap MIT for Arun and Pranav but I added NYU Stern to my college blacklist as well – Stanford be #1 on there). John Locke: “Humans are inherently good, but self-interested” I’m afraid that’s true. But I do know I’d be even happier if all my classmates had been accepted. About a sideways 8 times happier.

But back to Wellesley. I love you. I truly do. I’ve been in love with you ever since the beginning of senior year (which is the period of time that matters). And I’m so honored that you chose me as well. So our love is mutual <3

Cecilia <3 Wellesley 4eva

First: Wishing everyone a happy holiday season (or as merry as it can be with the pending financial crisis)

There’s a lot about people that you never really find out. I’ve been exploring some of my classmate’s weblogs/facebooks – you never really pay attention to those notes in the facebook you know, unless you’re mentioned or it’s about a schedule or something – and some of the things people wrote really surprised me. Now that I think about it logically, it really shouldn’t be so surprising, there were whiffs of it flying around, I suppose I was just oblivious to everyone around me. Selfish.

I suppose I lost the people in attempting to quantify them: “Oh, that’s Arun, yea, he’s super smart” or “M—-na? She’s such a brown-noser, have you seen the way she acts with Mr. B—ak?” or “C——a ——-? Yea, she’s not in that many AP Honors classes, really.” That’s the downside of the school system we grow up in, as elite students – we conventionalize, we trivialize, we rationalize. Myself perhaps more than others: I’ve always been too wrapped up in conventions, in traditions because they give security and meaning to the things we do. But when you always live according to them, all you meet are conventions and traditions, not real people.

But onto the grateful part: I’m really sincerely grateful for the people I have gotten to understand and know more or less – my family, Harmony, Janice, Kathie, Kelly, Maggie, Kathy Cheng, Yin Yin, May … more than I can really list, especially since I realize how hard it must be to let me know you when I really didn’t care much about knowing people, just who they “should” be

I’m also grateful for at least being able to glimpse a small part of the people I never really knew – Arun, Wayne, Dani Lee, really so many people that I interact with on an almost daily basis.

Of course there’s much more that I’m grateful for than just the people around me (awesome as all of you are), I’m grateful for the fact that my family is still together (cliche, I know, but true) despite the fact that my dad was recently laid off and finances are a bit tight; I’m grateful for the fact that I was accepted into the college of my choice, much more than I can say for most of my more intelligent peers with this year’s crazy admissions system; I’m grateful for the chance to learn and grow as a person; and most of all, I’m grateful that I was able to move closer with God this year. I don’t presume to understand Him, but I do know that I believe in Him unconditionally.

Moving on to resolutions (a little early for the New Years, I know, but then, I never really felt that resolutions should be allocated solely to one date)

This year I resolve to understand people a little more. To be a better friend and classmate. To try to help others rather than always asking others to help me. To become stronger and more mature. Perhaps it is not too late. Perhaps it is never too late. I can always try =]

So, if you read this post, please think about the people around you with a little more interest this holiday season, with more than the obligatory class ranking  and daily rumor. And to everyone around me. I’m sorry. I’ve been childish. For almost 18 years. But I’ll try to grow up, I promise I will.

Lots of love, Cecilia

So September comes again :D

There’s so much to do and so little time – college applications, running our respective clubs, schoolwork, internship, volunteer work – that it’s hard to believe that we’re already seniors and that goodbyes are just around the corner, yet if we just stop a moment and BREATHE we’ll realize just that.

So let’s step back a moment and take a peek at the larger picture. Time isn’t infinite you know, not even for us. Someday we’ll wake up and find ourselves fat, stagnant, and middle-aged. Oh the Horror.

Now is the brink. Like The Fool of the Major Arcana, we stand at the edge of either the cliff of great disaster or great discovery. What we make of this last year will be what we remember and what we will be remembered for, not that all those other years don’t count, but this is IT. The last chance. The last chance to make good. To confess to that guy you’ve thought was cute since middle school. To tell that back-stabbing b*tch that you never thought of her as a friend anyways. To really, really get to know your friends (cause, confess it, we really don’t know our friends that well). This is also the First time. There will be many others to come, but this is the First. For the first time, we are the presidents, the SGs, the team captains – we totally own! The school, the clubs, the froshy sophomores – the whole kit and caboodle. For the first time we get a chance to hone those leadership skills that will be so useful when we really do become CEOs and Editors-in-Chiefs and Presidents. So treasure it. And learn from it.

And then, of course, there are the itsy-bitsy details of mundane, day-to-day life. Ever heard of the Common Application? It’s my best friend as of August. There are the endless forms, the essays, the bell-to-bell life of the harassed first semester senior. But there’s a charm in this after all. This is life at its richest, its most exciting, because, well, it’s a little hard to be bored when you have no TIME to be bored.

My classes are all highly satisfactory. I never thought I’d enjoy AP Statistics as much as I do, but I do, despite not being a math and science student. Not having a science course this year is a plus of course – the lack of labs and formulas is a very blatant blessing. Of course there’s AP Euro, it’s always interesting to read about dead monarchs and bloody rebellions as long as the ghosts of said monarchs don’t come back to haunt you. And Mrs. Maier is a darling. AP IPLE of course <3. And my English teacher is a riot.

On the downside, I’m too used to authority. It gets a little harder to hold it all in each year =D especially when I can so clearly see the difference between us and them. Well as in AP/Honors and Dumbos I suppose is the best way of putting it, albeit a little harsh. I’m too used to leading, it just gets harder and harder to tolerate incompetence that I can’t punish, even at home. There’s this team of girls we play against in Ultimate Frisbee for Phys. Ed. and My God do they cheat. Whenever we do something, even according to THEIR rules, it’s cheating, but for them, anything goes. And invoking senior privilege against seniors. What (there is no word strong enough in the English language to distinguish their extreme obtuseness so forgive me for using French) – Quelles Boudins!! I’m afraid I totally lost it with them today by my standards. I let my sarcasm get away with me – they’re just lucky I didn’t attack them. They were just way too annoying – they crossed the line between mere stupidity and sheer idiocy. Normally, I’m very self-controlled, it’s quite impossible for people to tell how upset I am if I don’t tell them. But there is just no excuse for me to continue tolerate their hebitudinosity. And they’re fat. And dress in extremely poor taste. Total failure at life.

But that is my vent for the day =] To regain the couple decades that have just dropped off my life from reliving that, say, 30 minutes or so, I am going to think happy thoughts. Research at Alexander library. Reading about constitutional theory. Danny Ma!! Never really “met” him, but he’s been my role model writer since I read “Daydream” back in 8th grade. Recently I got in touch with him via Facebook and we’ve been discussing this that and the other thing. And of course my saving graces: Yin, Harmony, and Kevin Yu. And stories about Mr. Brodman of course :D

So that’s all for now, my daddy dear is on my case about college apps encore. Au revoir!

P.S. – Two of the offendants look like something along these lines:

Fat Goth

They say summer strawberries are the best – the sweetest, the ripest, the most divine – it’s as if they soaked in all that cheery sunshine which shimmers into shiny heat waves and causes that nice cold cone of vanilla icecream to look positively delectable.

But there are many other summer things that are also the best. Summer friendships are some of the purest, formed out of sheer, uninhibited fun when we aren’t hackled down by the double millstones of school and work. And summer love stories, although they rarely develop into serious romances, are light-hearted and whimsical.

So here’s to summer – beautiful, capricious summer who marks the end of school …. & the beginning of life.

Updates on the SzeChuan earthquake greeting card sales will be forthcoming shortly.

But, all the same, life goes on.

AP exams are officially over (YEESSSSS!!!!) so my life is looking pretty rosy as of the moment. Great American Debates in History and Satire in English. What more need I say?

For the debates, I am/was representing Millard Fillmore, our forgotten 13th President. In my opinion, I did a pretty good showing against Truman, but Fillmore definitely didn’t do much to help his own reputation (though I must admit, he didn’t do much to hurt it either, Fillmore was as clean as Nixon was dirty). But, it must be remembered that we have Fillmore to thank for sushi, manga, Toyotas, and pineapples – he sent Perry to scare the living daylights out of the Japanese and warned the French to keep their croissant-eating hands off Hawaii.

On the topic of Presidents, I am officially endorsing McCain. After being a Democrat for 17 years, I have immigrated to the Republican camp. All I can say is(, unseriously), I am very disgusted with Democratic presidents and their marital/sexual relations with(out) Monica Lewinsky & co.

President Grover Cleveland: not only had relations with a woman who slept with both him and his mentor, fathering a child, but also married a girl he was acting as a surrogate father to

President Woodrow Wilson: even though the US was on the brink of entering World War I, he still contemplated suicide after his first wife died. He then went on to use state secrets to seduce his second wife who was, I regret to say, a bookstore clerk or something like that. She was even taught the secret codes used by the Allies and allowed to translate the coded messages.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: he not only was once about to divorce Eleanor Roosevelt (who was his cousin, by the way) for a mistress named Lucy, he also resumed relations with Lucy when he was President and, instead of Eleanor, Lucy was the one by his side when he died

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy: ask Marilyn Monroe

President William Jefferson Clinton: need I say more??

“The Presidents” by the History Channel is a wonderful venue for the lowdown on all our nation’s leaders =]

May 12, 2008.

Most of the world was stunned. Many cried or scrambled to contact loved ones. Some laughed and said China had it coming (and I hope those people are able to do the same when its their turn. Otherwise, just shut up, nobody wants to hear what you have to say.) But all the same, over ten thousand people – parents, children, husbands&wives, friends, enemies, debtors, employers – lay dead. A whole province was flattened. If you’re still able to claim divine judgement now, there’s something seriously wrong with your moral compass.

Out of the many touching stories, I have selected this one.

An elderly man lay buried underneath the rubble for about 22 hours. When rescued, he used the last of his energy to write some words in blood on his forearm. Pointing to his arm when his daughter rushed to her dying father, he told her, “This is my last will and testament,” and then passed away. On his arm, using the blood that wouldn’t stop flowing from his wounds, he had written, “I owe Mr. Wang $500.”

These are honourable, upright people who deserve our sympathy and help.

To add animal tragedy to human deaths, Sze Chuan province, the most shaken area, is the home of the Giant Panda, an endangered species that is native to only China. The homes of these gentle giants have been decimated as well as those of their human counterparts, leaving many pandas traumatized and in desperate need of therapy.

My friends and I are currently in the process of organizing a fundraiser for the benefit of those (animal and human alike) who are affected by the earthquake. Harmony & Sharon, both excellent artists, will be designing a greeting card. These cards, once the design is completed, will be available for sale online. Please, help these people who have lost their homes, their families, and maybe even their limbs. I will have further details posted in about a week.

Through the Looking Glass

me

Read Me

An Asian American girl named after a once-upon-a-time Bavarian princess turned Austrian Queen who spends her days laughing and dreaming and obsessing (over K/J-dramas). Dark chocolate is sensuous and makes me melt. Frappucinos are my (legal) drug. Pikachu is mon cheri amour and Tomoko is my hero. AP French worksheets and SAT practice tests are great time-killers. And, above all, I love the sound of R.A.I.N

The Rabbit Hole