I apologize for the lack of activity on this blog. Partly, I'm too lazy. But mostly, since Blogger merged with Google, it keeps asking me to sign out of my Gmail and sign in to my blog, which was registered eons ago under a different email account. This is actually a pretty annoying and tedious process, especially when I'm also having five Gchat conversations with people over very important topics such as which Mulberry bag to get. Okay so the conclusion of this paragraph is that I'm an extremely lazy person who perhaps spends a tad too much time on Google products. Just a tad. (I have however been updating Tumblr rather frequently! Such a feat.)
Anyway, updates. I've been in London for two months now doing an internship that I had secured via the Center for European Studies at Harvard. I've also spent my weekends in Germany, France, and Spain. I guess I just can't stay away from Europe. It's funny how when I was little, I always dreamed of going to the States. When I was actually there, I kept running off to Europe. Perhaps it's a manifestation of my never being contented with what I have and always wanting more.
Or perhaps I just really like the attention that comes with being perceived as "exotic" in Europe. Exotic! There's something I've never heard before. When I was in Vietnam, I was one in forty million people who basically look the same. Half of my secondary school homeroom class (of 50) have my last name, and three girls share my first name. There are a handful of kids in the entire school with my exact same name. I then moved to Harvard, where you can't swing a purse in the Yard without hitting at least several small Asian girls. But apparently, being a fair-skinned Asian with an American accent (and a rather "interesting" personality?) makes one a rare breed. Throw in "Look at the freckles on my face," and "I speak German" and I'm practically a white tiger in the zoo. Though I do like being different so I'm not complaining that much.
London has been amazing, save for the godawful weather - apparently the worst they've had in a century or something. It hasn't stopped raining in about a month and a half. In approximately 10 days when the Olympic Games start, this already-overpopulated city is going to be taken over by mobs of tourists, sports enthusiasts, and patriots who wear their flags on their cheeks. I'm going to run the risk of getting squashed on the train, in shopping malls, and basically everywhere else. I've never been a fan of crowds, or people in general. This is why when people gushed and squealed at my mentioning that I'll be spending the summer in London - "Oh my god, you're going to get to see the Olympics!" - I squinted my eyes and smiled hesitantly. For the record, tickets for the Games are about as hard to find as hair on Bruce Willis' head - and I had checked every country for which I could produce a legitimate residential address. I also checked Yemen, as an homage to Chandler Bing.
But enough with the whining, the city is actually a lot of fun and just breathtakingly gorgeous for those 20 minutes in the day when it's not pouring. (Check out my photos on Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook!) The bars are incredible, the shopping overpriced but great, and the gorgeous view that you get on the side of every activity that you do is just icing on the cake. As I bar-hopped, I have so far run into the Jonas Brothers, Liev Schreiber, and a litany of soccer players whom I shamefully do not recognize. (Since moving to Singapore and then the US, there hasn't been much opportunity to watch the EPL, you see.) (Also, a couple of self-proclaimed European tennis players. I don't know if I trust them but I sure trusted their biceps.) I can actually imagine myself living here, though maybe not so much in the summer, and definitely not during Olympics seasons. Oh and all the amazing Asian food!! I don't see myself as very much "Asian" at all but I do love the food. I can have sushi/bibimbap/Vietnamese vermicelli/pad thai every day, a couple of times a day.
Some stuff has happened as well, which I'll probably be more comfortable discussing in about a month when I'm away from London and able to gain a level-headed assessment of things, and when I'm not using the company's computer during work hours. (In my defense, it is Monday and I need something to pull me out of the post-weekend depression.) My beloved MacBook Air is basically out of commission aside from playing music and videos, since I spilled my favorite champagne over the keyboard and I was told that I'm going to need to change the entire topcase. I don't know what "topcase" means exactly, but I know it costs about £400 so I'm putting off repairing it until I'm home and my dad can pay for it. At least the laptop died in a classy fashion, drowning in French champagne and all.
A friend commented that I'm doing London "as well as humanly possible" and it made me laugh. I guess I'm becoming an expert at short-term "vacations" in Europe - I have an idea of what to do to have fun and how not to look like a tourist (especially not the cliched Asian tourist with a massive camera and an assortment of sun-shielding facilities). Though the thing about having a lot of fun in a place you know you're leaving, is that what do you do when you actually have to leave? My first instinct is always to reach for a bottle of wine and remind myself that I'm coming back to the old continent in a couple of months or so. My god, the concept of time is so depressing. Sometimes it feels like I just landed at Heathrow a couple of days ago.
On a related note, I took a long weekend two weeks ago and visited Denia, reuniting with my two best friends from Munich. Then, it struck us in a flash of amazement that the last time we were all together was about a year ago in the Netherlands. A year! Twelve months, 365 days. It was nice to see how we all meshed together perfectly like nothing has changed and no time has elapsed at all. We made plans to see each other again, in twosomes, at various points over the next year. As two of us shared a parting meal at Burger King at the airport (I think they have amazing burgers and you can't judge me), we thought about the near future, with marriages and kids and life inching in, and agreed that we should try to meet up at least once a year. But this was perhaps the last time we would all be together, carefreely and backpackingly, as college kids in Europe. Transcontinental friendships - there is something incredibly posh and inexpressibly melancholic about them.
It is funny how people you have known for a mere couple of weeks could become some of the best friends you have. You banter like you've known one another your whole lives, and you
could trust them with anything. This is monumental for me especially because I don't make real friends easily even though I could fake comfortableness in just about any situation.
Ultimately though, I don't believe in forever. I don't let myself believe in grandiose promises. I make plan B and plan C so I don't have to rely on anyone. I don't expect anybody to come and I never expect anyone to stay. Is that self-sufficiency or jaded cynicism?